Archive | December, 2014

If you want to be happy, go to Israel

If you want to be happy, go to Israel

Posted on 25 December 2014 by admin

By Gil Elan

elanforwebIf you only got your information about Israel over the past year from news reports and “talking heads” on TV and radio, you could be excused for having the impression that Israelis would be among the most distraught, paranoid, mistrustful and fearful people on the planet.

After all, what other country is surrounded by armed enemies that constantly declare their commitment to its destruction? What other country is told by a soon-to-be-nuclear enemy that it is a “cancer that must be eradicated,” or “blight on the face of the earth that must be “burned to the ground”?

What other small country suffers almost daily terrorist attacks and occasional rocket barrages, and yet is criticized, threatened and sanctioned by its supposedly “good friends” when it dares to take the necessary measures to defend its people and its homeland?

I could go on about anti-Zionism demonstrations on college campuses or the worldwide anti-Israel BDS (Boycott, Diversify, and Sanction) movement, and frequent elections…but you get the picture. The Israelis have every right to be…well, at least a bit uptight.

And yet, with all that, the Israelis are actually happy…happier than almost all the other people in the world — including the U.S.!

Proof — an annual survey ranked Israel the 11th-happiest country in the world, ahead of the United States, and far ahead of its neighbors in the region.

As reported in the Times of Israel Sept. 10, The World Happiness Report, published three months ago, was based on data collected for 156 countries between 2010 and 2012. Denmark, Norway and Switzerland took the top three spots.

The report ranked the happiness of the world’s nations based on a “life evaluation score,” a number between 0 and 10 that measures several factors including health, family and job security, and social factors like political freedom, social networks and lack of government corruption.

The index was a collaborative effort between the Vancouver School of Economics, the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, the London School of Economics and Columbia University.

Israel jumped three spots in the rankings from last year, coming in just behind Australia (10th). The United States dropped six spots, coming in at 17th and the United Kingdom placed 22nd.

Israelis are much happier when compared to their neighbors in the Middle East. Jordan ranked 74th in the survey, Lebanon 97th and Egypt 130th.

War-ravaged Syria ranked 148th on the list, and Togo’s citizens were ranked least happy.

One of the goals of the report was to challenge the assumption that happiness is directly correlated to wealth. While the countries that are happiest by and large do tend to be the wealthiest ones, it is social factors that play a larger role in the happiness of those countries, including the absence of government corruption and the degree of personal freedom.

So now, as 2014 draws to an end  —  we can add another great category to the Israelis long list of world leading achievements. In addition to being pioneering, resourceful, dynamic, groundbreaking, industrious, inventive, compassionate, courageous, ingenious, revolutionary and more than occasionally a little bit “chutzpadik” …Israelis are HAPPY!

Agree or disagree, that’s my opinion.

Lieutenant Colonel (IDF res) Gil Elan is President and CEO of the Southwest Jewish Congress, and a Middle East Analyst. Email: gil@swjc.org. Upcoming briefings and SWJC events are listed at: www.swjc.org. DISCLAIMER: Opinions are the writer’s, and do not represent SWJC directors, officers or members.

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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 25 December 2014 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
TOP: From left, Nathan Press and Calogero Moor MIDDLE: From left, Ethan Rosser and Isaac Stuart BOTTOM: Asher Sandler and Emma Oderberg

TOP: From left, Nathan Press and Calogero Moor
MIDDLE: From left, Ethan Rosser and Isaac Stuart
BOTTOM: Asher Sandler and Emma Oderberg

In keeping with the photo dominant theme of this week’s paper, I’d like to share a few snaps from the Beth-El Religious School Hanukkah Fair Dec. 14.

Students learned about Hanukkah through different exciting experiences together with their community of friends and some parents who decided to join. It is part of Beth-El’s new approach to learning this year — to transform the school into an experiential Jewish experience.

The fair included lighting the chanukiyah with help from the new children’s choir the “Stars of David” and learning the important Hanukkah lesson “Why the rabbis decided to celebrate the miracle and not winning the war”? The rest of the time was spent experiencing the holiday through the five senses.

There were many fun centers around the room for all learning styles. Each one taught something about the holiday.

For all those who like craft brews

I recently sampled two new brews from the Jewish-themed craft brewery Schmaltz Brewing Company. The company recently rolled out three limited-edition holiday releases straight from their newly expanded brewery in Clifton Park, New York.

First up is the debut of Shmaltz’s long awaited homage to 8 crazy nights: Hanukkah, Chanukah: Pass The Beer, a dark ale brewed with eight malts, eight hops, and 8 percent ABV.

Next in line is the Anniversary beer, Jewbelation 18 (18 malts, 18 hops, and a highly sessionable 12.4 percent ABV), which marks the birth of an entirely new take on the award-winning Jewbelation series.

The beers are available at Goodfriend, The Ginger Man, Choice Beverage, Lonestar Beer & Wine, The Bottle Shop: WBC, The Pour House, Total Wine — Lewisville, Total Wine — Dallas, Total Wine — East Plano, Total Wine — Fort Worth, Total Wine — West Plano, Whole Foods Market Park, Spec’s 150 — Dallas, Spec’s #154 — Fort Worth, Spec’s #155 — Fort Worth, and Spec’s 160 — Fort Worth.

L’Chaim!

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Some Jewish wedding customs explained

Some Jewish wedding customs explained

Posted on 25 December 2014 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,

We are getting married this spring and studying up on customs of the Jewish wedding. We are debating whether or not to do what we have read about and seen at some weddings that the bride walks around the groom seven times. We haven’t found a good explanation for it, so are concerned this custom might be some type of superstitious thing; if so, those types of things are what we want to stay away from. Also, is there a reason the bride circles the groom and not vice versa? We’ve heard some say it shows the man is the center of the wife’s universe and everything revolves around him, which is totally chauvinistic and the reason some people have rejected this custom. Is there another explanation? We’d rather check it out before rejecting it out of hand.

— Jody and Ron

Dear Jody and Ron,

friedforweb2Mazal Tov on your upcoming wedding!

It’s good you are studying up on the ceremony. The Jewish wedding ceremony is interlaced with deep symbolism and the more you study about it the more it will mean to you.

It’s important to know that Jewish customs, which have been performed by Jewish communities throughout the world for long periods of time, are based upon deep and profound Jewish principles. They were, for the most part, established by leading sages of Jewish law and Kabbalah of early generations. These customs weave the beautiful tapestry of Jewish life, enriching our fulfillment of Judaism with life and color.

The custom of circling the groom seven times is no different. Although this is not customary in most Sephardic communities, it has been the norm in Ashkenazic Jewish communities for centuries. As other Jewish customs, this one is a meaningful symbol that greatly enriches the wedding ceremony. (Some do only three circles; I will explain the predominant custom of seven).

The bride, by circling her new husband, exercises tremendous power over him. The seven circles are reflective of the seven times the Jewish people, led by Joshua, circled around the city of Jericho. When the Jews first entered the Land of Israel they were told to conquer the city of Jericho to begin their conquest of the land. Jericho was a walled fortress city and impregnable. God commanded them to circle the city seven times, and when they did so the tremendous walls tumbled in upon themselves, leaving the city open to conquest.

Similarly, a man often has a “wall” around his heart, hides his feelings and keeps his guard up rather than leaving himself vulnerable to sharing his innermost feelings to another. By circling around her new husband, the woman, like the Jews circling Jericho, causes those walls to go tumbling down. This is done by encircling him with the love and protection she will provide in their new home, and appreciating him for whom he is. When she does this with wisdom, showing him she feels he is her anchor and the focal point of her life and trusts him for her needs, then the walls of his heart tumble down and she has indeed conquered his eternal love.

The woman, in Jewish tradition, represents the Jewish home. Although the husband may build the shell of the home (hence he enters the chuppah first, which represents the home he has built for his wife that she then follows him into), it is the wife who provides the warmth, ambiance and atmosphere of the home. This begins by her encircling him, representing a living home, under the roof of the physical home, the chuppah.

The number seven pervades the wedding; the seven blessings (sheva brachot) which correspond to the seven days of the week. Like the earth revolves around its axis seven times each week, so too the bride rotates around the groom seven times showing their love will pervade their lives every day of the week. Like a man wraps the tefillin straps seven times around his arm in an expression of being bound up in love to the Al-mighty with every action he does, so too the new couple are bound up in eternal love.

Mazal tov, again, and may your new lives together be a fulfillment of all we described and more!

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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Modern-Day Miracle

Modern-Day Miracle

Posted on 25 December 2014 by admin

By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Alan Gross was imprisoned while trying to connect Cuba’s isolated Jewish community to the wider world. The deal that got him released five years later may do just that and much more.

Gross’ flight home to suburban Washington Wednesday, Dec. 17, with his wife, Judy, was part of a historic deal that overturns over five decades of U.S. policy isolating the Communist island nation helmed by the Castro brothers.

“We will end an outdated approach that for decades has failed to advance our interests and instead we will begin to normalize relations between our two countries,” President Obama said in announcing Gross’ release and radical changes in U.S. Cuba policy.

Jewish-American aid worker Alan Gross arrives at the Joint Base Andrews military facility in Maryland Dec. 17, 2014, the day he was freed after spending five years as a prisoner in Cuba. | Photo: White House photo by Lawrence Jackson.

Jewish-American aid worker Alan Gross arrives at the Joint Base Andrews military facility in Maryland Dec. 17, 2014, the day he was freed after spending five years as a prisoner in Cuba. | Photo: White House photo by Lawrence Jackson.

U.S. officials in a conference call outlined sweeping changes, including the resumption of full diplomatic relations, the opening of an embassy in Havana, and a loosening of trade and travel restrictions.

Dina Siegel Vann, the director of the American Jewish Committee’s Belfer Institute for Latino and Latin American Affairs, said Gross’ release and the opening of ties with Cuba is a twofer for the Jews: In addition to the benefits accrued to all Cubans from open relations, she said, Cuban Jews “will have stronger ties to Jewish organizations, they will be much more in the open.” An estimated 1,000 to 1,500 Jews live in Cuba.

Gross, who is now 65, was arrested in 2009 after setting up Internet access for the Cuban Jewish community while working as a contractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Never formally charged with espionage, Gross was convicted in 2009 for “crimes against the state.” He is the brother of Bonnie Rubinstein of Plano.

Back in the United States Wednesday, Gross held a news conference, which he began with the greeting “Chag sameach,” noting that his release coincided with the first day of Hanukkah. He thanked political leaders, the Washington Jewish community, the local Jewish Community Relations Council and other faith groups that pressed for his release.

“But ultimately — ultimately — the decision to arrange for and secure my release was made in the Oval Office,”said Gross, reserving special praise for President Obama and his National Security Council.

Vann said improved U.S.-Cuba relations would have a rollover effect, removing obstacles to U.S. ties with other Latin American countries — and this in turn would remove tensions that have affected Jewish communities.

“Cuba and Venezuela have a very interdependent relationship,” she said. “Anti-Semitism and anti-American rhetoric are being used by the regime in Venezuela, and with this that’s being undermined.”

Daniel Mariaschin, who directs B’nai B’rith International, a group with a strong Latin American presence, said a new era of ties “will raise the profile of Latin American communities and interest in those communities.”

In a deal American officials said was technically separate from the Gross release, the United States and Cuba agreed to exchange the three remaining incarcerated members of the “Cuban Five,” a Florida-based spy ring, for an American spy held in Cuba for 20 years and whose identity remains a secret.

Obama insisted that Gross was not part of the spy exchange and that, in fact, his imprisonment held up changes to the U.S. Cuba relationship he had intended on initiating years ago.

“While I’ve been prepared to take additional steps for some time, a major obstacle stood in our way,” the president said, referring to Gross’ “wrongful imprisonment.”

Republicans who have opposed easing the Cuba embargo blasted the deal.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), the son of Cuban immigrants, told Fox News that Obama was “the worst negotiator since at least Jimmy Carter, and maybe in the history of this country.”

Many Jewish groups welcomed the deal, however, and noted the political difficulties it must have created for the Obama administration.

“We know the decision to release the Cuban three was not an easy one,” the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations said in a statement. “We appreciate the efforts of President Obama and Vice President Biden in bringing this about.”

Gross is in ill health. He has lost more than 100 pounds since his incarceration and suffered from painful arthritis.

A senior administration official who spoke to reporters before Obama’s announcement said the Vatican played a key role in negotiating the deal, in part through Pope Francis’ pleas to Cuba to release Gross as a humanitarian gesture.

The official, however, also noted the significance of the Jewish holiday season of freedom.

“We believe that Alan was wrongfully imprisoned and overjoyed that Alan will be reunited with his family in this holiday season of Hanukkah,” the official said.

Bonnie Rubinstein said she is grateful that the local Jewish community never let her brother slip from their thoughts and prayers.

“We are thrilled that Alan is home and in good spirits minus a few teeth,” she wrote to the TJP in an email. “All his health issues will be addressed in good time. Now he needs to readjust to his new and much improved life.

“It is wonderful to call and speak with him whenever, I want. Today, he discovered Face Time! Of course, my only regret and great sadness is that our mother did not get to see him or give him a hug,” she added.

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 25 December 2014 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

JBA supports the community

From left, Brad Schweig and Mark Lowey present a check from Jewish Business Alliance to JFS CEO Michael Fleisher.

From left, Brad Schweig and Mark Lowey present a check from Jewish Business Alliance to JFS CEO Michael Fleisher.

Jewish Business Alliance, a business networking organization, held its annual holiday luncheon Dec. 11. Each year JBA contributes to two local Jewish based organizations from funds that the group has raised over the course of the year.

This year, checks were presented to Jewish Family Service and The Legacy Senior Communities, two outstanding organizations make a difference in our community.

Now in its fourth year, JBA was founded by Mark Lowey, owner of Stonebridge Insurance Group; Jay Levine, owner of Energy Brokers of America; and Robert Fischer, owner of Custom Integrated Systems. JBA meets on the second and fourth Thursdays of every month at the Coffee House in North Dallas.

 Stephanie Hassan of the Legacy at Home, center, accepts a check on behalf of the Legacy Senior Communities from Lindsay Feldman and Mark Lowey representing the Jewish Business Alliance.

Stephanie Hassan of the Legacy at Home, center, accepts a check on behalf of the Legacy Senior Communities from Lindsay Feldman and Mark Lowey representing the Jewish Business Alliance.

For more information on the group, please contact Mark at 214-558-2727 or mark@stonebridgeinsurancegroup.com.

The positive impact of the Araon Family JCC’s fall fundraiser continues

On Thursday, Dec. 11, the past presidents of the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center hosted a luncheon to honor the staff and the committee involved in the planning and execution of the event. Not only did they cater a wonderful meal, but also they put together a small presentation complete with piano accompaniment. The staff was surprised when the presidents re-wrote the words to the “We Are The J” song they sang at J’s Got Talent, however this time they turned it around to reflect “You Are the J” to honor everything the J staff does for the community. Ashley Bundis, marketing director commented “I was truly touched by the event and felt appreciated. I know many other staff members felt the same way and that means a lot. Sometimes it’s the “little” things that go a long way. Thank you for making that happen!”

JCC past presidents sing “You are the J” to staff and volunteers at an appreciation luncheon for their hard work at the Aaron Family JCC, Dec. 11. | Photo: Courtesy of the J

JCC past presidents sing “You are the J” to staff and volunteers at an appreciation luncheon for their hard work at the Aaron Family JCC, Dec. 11. | Photo: Courtesy of the J

Chabad lights up Frisco: On Tuesday, Dec. 16, the first night of Hanukkah, Chabad of Frisco held a Hanukkah celebration with a public menorah lighting and festivities for the whole family. More than 250 people attended the event. Pictured from left, Chabad of Frisco Directors Mrs. Mushkie and Rabbi Mendy Kesselman  and son Nosson, Frisco City Council Member Tim Nelson and Frisco Mayor Maher Maso. | Photo: G. Levine

Chabad lights up Frisco
On Tuesday, Dec. 16, the first night of Hanukkah, Chabad of Frisco held a Hanukkah celebration with a public menorah lighting and festivities for the whole family. More than 250 people attended the event. Pictured from left, Chabad of Frisco Directors Mrs. Mushkie and Rabbi Mendy Kesselman and son Nosson, Frisco City Council Member Tim Nelson and Frisco Mayor Maher Maso. | Photo: G. Levine

Elise Austin explores a Hanukkah board book at the Temple Shalom Religious School Hanukkah  celebration. | Photo: Lisa Rothberg

Elise Austin explores a Hanukkah board book at the Temple Shalom Religious School Hanukkah celebration. | Photo: Lisa Rothberg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 films of Jewish interest

2 films of Jewish interest

Posted on 25 December 2014 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

seymourforweb2I love this time of the year — not for the holidays but for the movies. Filmmakers try to get the best blockbusters out, or at least something, for us to do on Christmas. Two new movies have a Jewish connection: “Exodus” and “Paddington Bear.”

Sadly, I have heard that “Exodus” is not great (haven’t seen it yet and a bad review doesn’t keep me from seeing movies). Apparently, the plot and the acting are questionable and controversy surrounds God’s depiction as a moody and demanding child. I will go to any Biblical movie just to see the commentary and, yes, a movie is commentary. It is how the writer, director, producer, actors, etc. view the story. Is God moody? I can see that interpretation. Demanding? Definitely! The challenge is to go with an open mind and a desire to learn. Charlton Heston may not need to worry about being replaced, but that older version left us with some questions as well!

Now to “Paddington Bear.” The previews draw us in, and it appears to be a great family film. I hope children will see the movie and rush home to read the books! The Jewish connection, I got from Tablet Magazine. Michael Bond, the author, said that he received his inspiration from the Jewish evacuee children he remembered seeing in the train stations of London during the Kindertransport of the late 1930s. He is quoted in The Guardian saying, “They all had a label round their neck with their name and address on and a little case or package containing all their treasured possessions. So Paddington, in a sense, was a refugee, and I do think that there’s no sadder sight than refugees.” In the books, you also meet Mr. Gruber who fled Nazi-occupied Europe and the xenophobic neighbor, Mr. Curry, who is intolerant and foul tempered and definitely an unsympathetic character.

I cannot wait to see how this plays out in the movie, but the timing is perfect. With racism and xenophobia on our minds, a little bear who is concerned with injustice is just what we need. Paddington says, “In London nobody is the same, which means everyone fits in.” A very important message for all ages!

Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.

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

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Remembering Bel Kaufman

Remembering Bel Kaufman

Posted on 25 December 2014 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebChristmas seems an appropriate day to remember and honor a Jewish writer whose grandfather, through his own writing, has brought understanding of shtetl life to millions of gentile Americans.

Bel Kaufman, author of the 1965 smash hit novel “Up the Down Staircase,” died in July at age 103. Her mother, born Lala Rabinowitz and a prolific short-story writer for the Yiddish press, was a daughter of the great Sholem Aleichem, author of many stories that culminated in the fame-insuring “Fiddler on the Roof.”

Bel (actually named Belle; she later shortened it to something less feminine, since in her time women writers weren’t always taken seriously) grew up in Odessa, which she later called, somewhat romantically, “a city of poets and sailors, merchants and musicians, Jewish intellectuals and exotic strangers from beyond the Black Sea.” But the Russian Revolution forced the family to flee, and they landed in the Bronx when she was 12. Since she spoke no English, Bel also landed in a public school class of first-graders.

A course in education when she was a Hunter College undergraduate captured Bel’s imagination; after getting her master’s degree in English at Columbia in 1936, she applied to teach in New York, but because she still retained her accent, she was only allowed to substitute for several years until finally earning her license. Talk about turning lemons into lemonade: it was the part-time experience in many different city high schools that gave her the material for the book that spent more than a year on The New York Times best-seller list.

“Up the Down Staircase” began as a short story told through the notations and memos of a young teacher like Bel in a high school like many of the ones she had subbed in. Her introduction to 1991’s new edition of the book began “One morning, a boy came to class three months late. I greeted him with a feeble joke: ‘Welcome back! What happened? Did you rob a bank?’ ‘No,’ he said. ‘A grocery store.’”

There were some rejections before the Saturday Review finally published Bel’s story, with the title “From a Teacher’s Wastebasket.” She was paid $200 for the story and it resulted in a Prentice Hall editor asking her to make a book out of it.

I must say here, after thanking New York Times obituary writer Margalit Fox — whom I’ve also cited in a recent column about the death of ancient language researcher Alice Kober — for making much of the above information easily accessible, that I had my own personal experience with Bel Kaufman back in1979. It was a literary high point in my life, but an unfortunately negative encounter.

As a columnist for a suburban Chicago newspaper, I was thrilled beyond words when a reader who worked for Prentice Hall invited me to attend a downtown reception for Ms. Kaufman, honoring the publication of her second novel. (Sadly, “Love, Etc.,” based on another slice of the author’s life, this time about the experiences of a middle-aged woman going through divorce, never rose to the level of her first offering.) I was so over-awed at the chance to shake the best-selling author’s hand that I thanked her profusely for writing “Blackboard Jungle,” Evan Hunter’s 1954, much less humorous — to the say the least! — commentary on teachers and violence at an inner-city school. That book launched a writing career for Hunter much more successful than Kaufman’s ever was, although both his debut novel and hers became important films. To say the very least, she was not pleased!

My face still reddens when I think of my faux pas, even 35 years later; it’s a kind of embarrassment that will never fade from my memory. I also remember that it was the woman who had invited me to this event who reminded me, not too gently afterward, that the word “ass” is aptly imbedded in the action as well as the word “embarrass”!

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The simplicity of Hanukkahs past

The simplicity of Hanukkahs past

Posted on 18 December 2014 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebMy Christian friends may be spending their nights now with visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads, but my head is filled with visions of Hanukkahs past and my Boubby the Philosopher, the guardian angel of all Jewish holidays during my childhood.

Boubby would make a visit to our home on one of the eight nights without prior notice for me and my sister, so we would always anticipate a surprise. Not quite like waiting for Santa Claus, whose arrival date never varied. And she didn’t come with a sack of toys, either. Boubby carried a worn leather change purse, which she slowly unsnapped, then ceremoniously drew out 88 shiny new pennies — 44 for each of us, equaling the number of candles that are used on every menorah during the eight nights of lighting. (Do the math! Don’t forget to count every shamas used to kindle the others!!)

Then Boubby would pull from her commodious purse a stash of almonds in their shells, and the three of us would settle down on the floor for our annual game of dreidl. Meanwhile, Mother was in the kitchen, frying up the crispy latkes we’d enjoy after one of us had won all the almonds. With sour cream, of course, since this was not a meat meal but a special all-by-themselves potato pancakes treat.

Finally, we’d light the old tin menorah that Mother had placed on a chrome tray centered on the dining room sideboard. Nothing was ever cleaned up until after the holiday, by which time the menorah was coated with wax drippings, many of which fell onto the tray but did not cover the neighboring pile of burnt matches.

How innocently sweet those Hanukkah nights were! In public school then, there was no “equal time” for Judaism or any other minority worship, so we joined our classmates in saving the colorful foil caps that covered the tops of glass milk bottles in those olden days, to be cut and carefully manipulated into bells that would decorate the large tree centered in the entrance-way. The rest of its simple décor consisted of loops of colored paper we also made, plus lots of tinsel. When we gathered around for the yearly holiday sing, it was all Christmas carols. Those of us who were Jewish left out certain loaded words as we sang, but otherwise we were as lusty as the rest.

That was the lesson we learned, long before Hanukkah “graduated” to competition with Christmas in the gifting department. We did not expect more than pennies and almonds and bright candles for our winter holiday, and we were content. We were more than allowed — we were actually encouraged — to visit our Christian friends, to admire their trees and wreaths and enjoy playing with their many new toys, but we knew that we were visitors, and those December trappings did not belong to us. Judaism flowed so deeply in our veins; it was taken for granted.

When we grew up, my sister and I bought our parents a “real” menorah. When they were gone, I — as the elder child — fell heir to it. When my daughter married, it was the first thing she requested for her own home.

Keruv, the welcoming of those not (or perhaps not yet) Jewish into our religious communities, has become an important facet of our lives today. The initial adverse reaction to intermarriage — indeed, the fight against it — has been replaced in many if not most quarters by the desire to see a new generation born of these unions raised as Jews. Hanukkah now competes on most fronts with Christmas. But when I saw in a recent gift catalog a large blue Magen David offered as a tree-topper for families that celebrate both winter holidays, I started to wonder if certain unions might be going too far. One thing I don’t wonder about: my Boubby the Philosopher would not have approved.

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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 18 December 2014 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

It’s a small world …

Imagine the surprise when Elizabeth Blum Savetsky and Rhoda Bernstein ran into each other in New York City!

New York fashion blogger and former ourtowner Elizabeth Blum Savetsky, left, and Rhoda Bernstein had a chance meeting at The Rebecca Minkoff store in New York City, Dec. 9. | Photo: Courtesy Marvin Blum

New York fashion blogger and former ourtowner Elizabeth Blum Savetsky, left, and Rhoda Bernstein had a chance meeting at The Rebecca Minkoff store in New York City, Dec. 9. | Photo: Courtesy Marvin Blum

The chance encounter happened Tuesday night, Dec. 9, when Rhoda was in the Big Apple for a Hadassah event at the Rebecca Minkoff store, where a percentage of sales benefited The Hadassah Foundation.

Elizabeth was covering the benefit as a New York fashion blogger, as part of her ExcessoriesExpert.com blog.

Small world!

Congregation Beth Shalom Friday Night Shabbat/Hanukkah Service

Stuart Snow shared that Congregation Beth Shalom in Arlington will observe both Shabbat and Hanukkah during its Friday night service Dec. 19

Cantor Sheri Allen and her Herbrew School class will lead the blessings and Kabbalat Shabbat service. Here are the details:

  • A potluck dairy dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. so please bring a dairy dish to share and bring your favorite Chanukah cookies for dessert!
  • Families are asked to bring their own Hannukiyot to light before the service
  • All will engage in a Hanukkah sing-a-long
  • Families will have the chance to test their knowledge as they compete against each other in the annual Happy Hannu-quiz! There will be prizes!

Contact Thressa at the Beth Shalom office by phone at 817-860-5548, by email at info@bethshalom.org, or visit www.bethshalom.org for more information and to make a reservation. Congregation Beth Shalom is located at 1210 Thannisch Drive Arlington, TZ 76011.

‘The Frisco Kid’

We all know Dec. 25 wouldn’t be complete without a good movie. Mosey over to Congregation Ahavath Sholom for the next installment of its Showtimes Film Series and catch “The Frisco Kid.” It’s Gene Wilder at his funniest with Harrison Ford as his straight man.

The movie starts at 3:30 p.m. Admission is free and all are welcome.

Hanukkah Sameach to all the TJP readers.

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 18 December 2014 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

DJCF’s Sylvan T. Baer Fund to open grant process to eligible Jewish organizations in Dallas

More than 40 years ago, Sylvan T. Baer created an estate plan that continues to benefit the Dallas Jewish Community in perpetuity.

When the grant was established in the early seventies, Mr. Baer endowed a trust to honor his parents with a bequest of approximately $700,000. His instructions were to benefit needy Jewish individuals in the Dallas Jewish Community through allocation of those funds through existing Jewish agencies at the time.

His forethought has allowed the distribution of almost $7 million to benefit needy Jewish individuals in our community through 24 Jewish area organizations over the last 35 years.

The Dallas Jewish Community Foundation administers the Sylvan T. Baer Foundation and beginning this year, the fund’s advisory committee would like to annually add one new beneficiary that offers scholarships to its members. For a list of the qualifying criteria please visit www.djcf.org.

Congregation Nishmat Am to host casino night Dec. 20

Join “Lady Luck” at Congregation Nishmat Am’s casino night from 7-11 p.m. this Saturday, Dec. 20, by supporting the Food Pantry of Jewish Family Service.

Participation in the evening will include a deli dinner, poker, black jack, craps and mah jongg. Cost for the dinner and 5,000 chips is $35 if paid at the door.

Attendees who bring three cans of food will receive five casino tickets. Those bringing five cans of food will receive 10 casino tickets.

The public is invited to attend the event. For RSVP’s and information, contact Congregation Nishmat Am at 972-618-2200.

Nishmat Am is located in Plano at 2113 W. Spring Creek Parkway. Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen is the congregation’s spiritual leader.

Calling all singles: Dec. 24 dinner, dancing at Cheddar’s

Dallas Jewish Singles will host its fourth Triple D Event (dinner, drinks and dance) at Cheddar’s Casual Café and Bar, which is located at 12355 Greenville Ave., (75243) on Christmas Eve.

There is no cover charge for attending the evening, and we’ve heard that Cheddar’s features a large menu of popular food, a fully stocked bar and an area for dancing.

The organization is growing and evolving, and for additional information on the evening, please contact Jan Naxon , 214-662-3455 or Peerly Butbul at 214-929-8159. More than 100 attendees are expected.

Mazal tov to Sally Levine, who recently celebrated her 102nd birthday with family and friends at Windsor Senior Living. Sally is still a sharp lady, who journals every day. Pictured from left with Sally are her niece Marilyn Gray, her great nephew Neal Gray with his daughter, her great-great niece Allison Gray, her great nephew David Brill and her niece Ilene Brill. | Photo: Courtesy Ilene Brill

Mazal tov to Sally Levine, who recently celebrated her 102nd birthday with family and friends at Windsor Senior Living. Sally is still a sharp lady, who journals every day. Pictured from left with Sally are her niece Marilyn Gray, her great nephew Neal Gray with his daughter, her great-great niece Allison Gray, her great nephew David Brill and her niece Ilene Brill. | Photo: Courtesy Ilene Brill

Dallas Annual 3 Stars Jewish Cinema Dec. 24 screening will feature ‘Jewtopia’

As has been its custom for the last 13 years, 3 Stars Jewish Cinema will screen a film of Jewish interest Dec. 24. This year “Jewtopia,” will be shown at 6:30 p.m. at the Angelika Dallas.

The film is based on the off-Broadway show of the same name and is billed as a romantic comedy centered on a gentile who pretends to be Jewish in order to win the affection of his love interest.

Bart Weiss will lead a Q&A after the film.

The screening is free for 3 Stars members who must RSVP by Dec. 23 to 3starscinema@gmail.com. Non-members can purchase tickets ($10, general admission, $8 seniors, $5 student with a valid ID) either online at www.3starscinema.com or at the door.

I’m told that due to popular demand, 3 Stars Jewish Cinema will host a dinner immediately following the screening at Mei Mei Buffet 10455 N. Central #123 Northwest corner of Meadow and Central. It was such a great success last year. Cost for dinner and a soft drink is less then $15. You can BYOB.

Please RSVP to board president Allen Mondell allen@mediaprojects.org. For more information about 3 Stars Jewish Cinema programs call 214-769-7047.

Team Dallas tryouts for Maccabi Games will begin Jan. 4 for some sports

Excitement is in the air as sports minded Jewish teens get ready to pre-register for upcoming tryouts for Team Dallas Jan. 4-March 6. Applicants must be Jewish, and be 12-16 years of age. The Maccabi Games will come to Big D August 2-7.

There is a wealth of information on the tryout process, sporting events, as well as applications for being a host family. This information is vital for both parents and potential participants and can be accessed at www.dallasmaccabi.org.

Save The Date:

From 7:30 to 9:30 p.m., Monday, March 9, 2015 the Center for Jewish Education’s Night to Celebrate Jewish Education will honor community leaders Helen and Frank Risch. The evening will feature Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Chief Rabbi of Tel Aviv.

The location of the venue will be forthcoming.

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