Archive | February, 2015

Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 26 February 2015 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

Lizzie Velasquez: an inspirational speaker not to be missed at CSI

Following Special Needs Awareness Month, Lizzie Velasquez will share her inspirational story.

Ms. Velasquez is a global motivational speaker, anti-bullying activist, author and producer. Born with a syndrome so rare that it does not even have a name, Lizzie has turned what she once considered a curse (having zero body fat) into her life’s biggest blessing.

Lizzie will speak at 11 a.m., March 1, at Shearith Israel, 9401 Douglas Avenue in Dallas.

Lizzie’s journey to find beauty within and staying true to oneself is a powerful message for all to hear. From cyberbullying victim to anti-bullying activist, her personal story has been featured on multiple shows and all over the media. Her TEDTALK “How do you define yourself?” has garnered over 9 million views across the Web.

Yavneh Academy student, Liat Levkovich, reaches out

“My school, Yavneh Academy, has given me the unbelievable opportunity to participate in the 2015 Jerusalem Marathon March 13. This Marathon raises money for SHALVA — The Association for Mentally & Physically Challenged Children in Israel. I am thrilled to combine my passion for Israel and helping others while running.

“SHALVA is an Israeli organization that works with special needs children of all religions, free of charge. They provide a loving and goal-oriented environment where children with disabilities from ages of birth-through-young-adulthood can develop the skills required for better, more normative lives. SHALVA is staffed by professional educators and therapists and assisted by scores of trained volunteers. Children are admitted to the program on a first-come-first-serve basis regardless of ethnicity, religion, or financial status. They have become a leader in the field of disability awareness and intervention in the Middle East. I am honored to be supporting them, giving a brighter future for children with special needs.

“Because I so admire SHALVA’s goals and the impact they have made in Israel, I’ve set a personal fundraising goal of $3000. Hopefully, you will cheer me on in both my training efforts and by helping me meet my financial objective and help give a brighter future for special needs children in Israel. All donations go directly to SHALVA and are 100 percent tax-deductible.

“You can learn more and donate by clicking on my personal page here:”

Liat added that any and all donations are greatly appreciated. “Thank you in advance for supporting me and the children with special needs of SHALVA and their families. I look forward to sharing my progress with you!

“Thank you so much for your support!”

From left, art contest winners Jolie Reiman, Jordan Schildcrout and Sophie Krajmalnik with Levine Academy art teacher Wendy Cramer | Photo: Levine Academy

From left, art contest winners Jolie Reiman, Jordan Schildcrout and Sophie Krajmalnik with Levine Academy art teacher Wendy Cramer | Photo: Levine Academy

Levine fifth-graders win first place in art contest

Good wishes to Ann and Nate Levine Academy fifth-graders Jolie Reiman, Jordan Schildcrout, and Sophie Krajmalnik, who were awarded first place in the Mixed Media and Sculpture (ES) category of the 2015 RAVSAK Judaic Art Contest. The judges stated that they were deeply impressed by the students’ creative interpretations of this year’s theme, “Journey.”

Mazel Tov to art teacher Ms. Wendy Cramer who not only worked with the students on this project but was also one of the judges (in a different category to Levine’s entry). All the Levine fifth-grade entries submitted will be combined into one piece to be auctioned at the Levine Gala March 29.

The winning artwork and artists’ statements can be viewed at the RAVSAK website. The artwork will be featured in the Spring 2015 issue of HaYidion, which will be received in March. Levine students joined more than 650 students from 30 day schools across North America in this competition.

Rabbi Shai Held is CSI Scholar-in-Residence March 6-7

Congregation Shearith Israel will welcome Rabbi Shai Held as its Scholar-in-Residence March 6-7.

Rabbi Shai Held

Rabbi Shai Held

On Friday, March 6, services will begin at 6 p.m. in the Beck Family Sanctuary. Rabbi Held will speak on “Why Amazement Matters: Abraham Joshua Heschel’s Vision of Theology, Spirituality and Ethics.” Dinner will follow at 7 p.m. in Kaplan Auditorium. Reservations for dinner can be made at

On Saturday, March 7, services will begin at 9:30 a.m. in the Beck Family Sanctuary, where Rabbi Held will give the D’var Torah on Parashat Ki Tissa. A Kiddush lunch, which is open to the community, will begin at noon.

At 1 p.m. in the Fonberg Chapel, Rabbi Held will continue with the topic “Flipping Self-Worth on its Head: Towards a Jewish Approach to Human Dignity and Value.” Rabbi Held will lead attendees on a personal journey toward a powerful and unmistakably Jewish message about how we value our lives.

This Scholar-In-Residence Shabbat is sponsored in part by a generous grant from the Center for Jewish Education as part of LearningFest 2015.

Rabbi Shai Held is co-founder, dean, and chair in Jewish thought at Mechon Hadar, where he directs the Center for Jewish Leadership and Ideas (CJLI). Prior to that, he served for six years as Scholar-in-Residence at Kehilat Hadar in New York City, and taught both theology and halacha at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He also served as director of education at Harvard Hillel.

A renowned lecturer and educator, Shai is a 2011 recipient of the Covenant Award for excellence in Jewish education. He has taught for synagogues and educational institutions all across the United States and Israel and has served on the faculty of the Wexner Foundation and the Hartman Institute.

Shai has a Ph.D. in religion from Harvard. His main academic interests are in modern Jewish and Christian thought and in the history of Zionism.

Indiana University Press published his book, Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence, in the fall of 2013. His weekly essays on the Torah are read by thousands of people around the world.

For additional information, please contact Heather Kaplan Weatherly at

Press Notes: Jordan Cope

Jordan Cope, son of Lisa and James Cope of Dallas, is literally making news at UT Austin. Jordan co-founded Humans of the Forty Acres, a photo blog which was recently written up in the Daily Texan.

Jordan and the HFA team walk around campus every Sunday afternoon and interview seven random strangers. The group then posts one photo and one quote per day to spotlight different people around campus.

Also on the HFA is Cope’s fellow Yavneh grad Jason Epstein.

You can check out Humans of the Forty Acres on Facebook. At press time the page had 1274 likes and counting.

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4 Purim mitzvot

4 Purim mitzvot

Posted on 26 February 2015 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Parents and Children,

seymourforweb2Purim is almost here and this is a holiday that requires some pre-planning and some “work” as we get ready to do the mitzvah of mishloach manot.

“When it comes to mitzvot, mishloach manot is a slam-dunk,” says my favorite Jewish educator Joel Lurie Grishaver. Each mitzvah is an opportunity, and Purim provides a wonderful way to celebrate and CONNECT! Most of us have a pretty good memory of the story of Purim, but the holiday comes with four easy and fun to do mitzvot: SLAM-DUNK JEWISH STYLE!

1. Hear the story — read the Megillah of Esther! This is a serious must read for parents because it is filled with intrigue, power plays and S-E-X!

2. Celebrate: Wear costumes, eat, drink and enjoy! Eating is crucial as in most Jewish holidays.

3. Give tzedakah to the poor — yet another opportunity to give to those in need.

4. Mishloach manot, gifts of food to send to friends.

The giving of mishloach manot is a special opportunity to reach out to others and, of course, there are traditional rules:

1. Begin by making your list of family, friends, teachers and all people who are important to you. This includes Jews and non-Jews.

2. Prepare your package of food by these “official Purim rules”: 1) These gift packages must include at least two different kinds of food; 2) that’s it — hamantaschen are traditional but not obligatory!

3. Create (or buy) a container for each and include a little card.

4. On or around Purim, hand deliver all the gifts. This step provides the real connection!

There are many “opportunities” for talking to children about this fun-filled holiday. Try a discussion on women as heroes, costumes/masks and hiding, standing up for ourselves when it is hard, and living in a diverse world. One of the most important values for Purim is “Courage — Ometz Lev.” The most interesting thing about the Hebrew phrase is that it translates as “strength of heart.” It is not just about being strong in a physical way but doing the right thing when it is hard. More than that, it is also about doing something new and different. Here are a few sections from an article titled “Giving Ourselves Permission to Take Risks” by Elizabeth Jones. The article was written primarily for early childhood but it is really a message for all of us.

“Courage, as we’ve learned from the Cowardly Lion, is a virtue that is hard to sustain. New experiences are often scary; we don’t know what will happen next or what we should do. Yet all new learning involves risk. We learn by doing — and by thinking about the past and the future.

“Risk is inevitable; it’s a requirement for survival. The challenge is to name it, practice it, enjoy the rush of mastery and bear the pain when pain is the outcome.

“A child who climbs may fall. But a child who never climbs is at much greater risk. Fall surfaces under climbers aren’t there to prevent falls, only to make them less hard. And hugging doesn’t make the pain go away, but it does make it more bearable.”

Now think of each of these quotes in relation to Esther’s bravery. What would you have done? Was her plan a good one? A risky one? A brave one? Think and have a great Purim.

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

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No prayer is lost

No prayer is lost

Posted on 26 February 2015 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,

With regard to what you wrote me about prayer that one could, through prayer, potentially change the way they fit into the “master plan” of God, I have a question: What if I aspire to fit into a certain place and I’m simply not fit to fill that place? Is my praying in vain?

— Hadassah B.

Dear Hadassah,

friedforweb2In the Jewish Weltanschauung of prayer, the concept of “praying in vain” is, in fact, an oxymoron. The way we view prayer is that an individual should pray as intensely for what they feel they want or need but leave it up to God whether to, or not to, grant that prayer. This is because only He knows if the request is ultimately for the good of the beseecher.

For this reason, we add a line (from Psalms) at the end of the Amidah prayer: “May the expressions of my mouth and the thoughts of my heart find favor before you, God, my Rock and Redeemer.” The question has been raised, why is this line inserted at the end of the prayer and not at the beginning? The answer given is that after we pray we ask God to answer only those prayers which are truly for our good and fit into His will; please do not answer my prayers, even if they came from deep within the heart, if what I requested is ultimately not for my own good!

The question then remains — what happens to those prayers which are uttered from the heart but are not for one’s good?

We addressed this question this past summer with regard to the untold thousands of tearful prayers uttered for the rescue of the three teenagers in Israel, only to find out that after weeks of praying they were already murdered and buried; were all those prayers for naught? We explained that God has a “bank” for prayers in Heaven where they are all deposited. At times they are withdrawn for the sake of what those prayers were beseeching. At other times, when the answer is “no” to that very request, those prayers remain in the “bank,” very dear and close to God’s heart, waiting for a different time when they will be needed and withdrawn at that time. This became so clear when, after the boys were discovered, thousands of rockets rained upon Israel with barely any casualties. All those heartfelt prayers were then withdrawn, protecting the citizens of Israel from what should have naturally been impending doom!

I first learned this lesson from an incident which happened many years ago, when two members of a very non-religious kibbutz entered the Talmudic academy Kollel Chazon Ish in Bnei Brak and asked to study with the rabbis. Shocked by the request, two rabbis approached the sage Chazon Ish asking what to do; he replied, “Go study with them!” Afterward, the rabbis asked the Chazon Ish, how could it be that two kibbutzniks from Hashomer Hatzair secular kibbutz should come to study Torah? He answered: “I’m going to tell you an important idea. All the secular Jews you see today in Israel had holy Bubbies (grandmothers) who cried, and Zaidies (grandfathers) who prayed that their offspring should be righteous, observant Jews. But then came along different movements in Europe which swept away their children, and many of them decided to join these movements and rebel against their religion. When one utilizes their free choice to rebel, all the prayers and tears won’t change them against their free will. But not a single prayer or tear gets lost; they’re all stored in a great Bank in Heaven, waiting to be utilized at the right time. Now that we have a generation that never decided themselves to rebel, but are simply carrying on what their parents decided, it’s no longer their own choice to do so, so now all those tears and prayers will pour out from Heaven to help this generation return back to their observance. And if you saw two yesterday, tomorrow you’ll see 20, then 200, then 2,000, then you’ll see an entire generation returning back to the ways of their ancestors.”

Keep praying; it will never be in vain!

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 26 February 2015 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
Edna Paget celebrated her 99th birthday with family in Fort Worth. | Photo: Myra Shussler

Edna Paget celebrated her 99th birthday with family in Fort Worth. | Photo: Myra Shussler

Mazel Tov to Edna Paget, who celebrated her 99th birthday recently with some of her family: daughter and son-in-law, Myra and Irwin Schussler of Fort Worth; grandchildren: Jeff and Helene Schussler and great-grandchildren Paul, Benjamin and Sarah of Dallas; Doreen and Erik Landrum and great-grandchildren Jack and Ellie of Austin; Kim and Paul Loar and great-grandchildren Zoe and Max of Austin; Elissa and Steve Ducar and great-grandchildren Morgan and Adam of Denton.

Incidentally, Edna shares the same birthday, Feb. 24, with great-grandson Paul Schussler, who will be called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah March 7 at Shearith Israel in Dallas.

Artist Kim Goldberg’s ‘Texas Sky Series’ on display at Beth-El

I first met Kim Goldberg in Israel at a Partnership meeting in the Western Galilee in June 2010. Her talent was clear and when she arrived in Fort Worth in the summer of 2013, when husband Bob became the executive director of the Federation, I knew that the community would be in for a treat when it came to enjoying her myriad creations.

Kim Goldberg’s photo exhibit “Texas Sky” will be on display at Beth-El in March and April.

Kim Goldberg’s photo exhibit “Texas Sky” will be on display at Beth-El in March and April.

A new art exhibit featuring Kim Goldberg’s “Texas Sky” compositions will be on display in the Art Alcove at Beth-El Congregation throughout March and April. A reception for the artist is set for Friday, March 6, following Sabbath services.

Goldberg, a multimedia artist, became captivated by the Texas sky when she moved to Fort Worth from Omaha. She began taking photos of cloud formations, enlarging and arranging the images, sometimes adding words, often letting them speak for themselves.

“I’m fascinated by the clouds here,” said the artist, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute. “Every time I walk outside, it’s a new sky. … Depicting something we cannot feel or touch conveys an expansive, spiritual, and meditative feeling.”

Goldberg moved to Texas with her daughter, Lily, and her husband, Bob, director of the Fort Worth & Tarrant County Jewish Federation. She heads an art and design firm, with clients from Ann Taylor Stores to Wells Fargo, and the Institute for Holocaust Education. Kim’s website,, shows the many facets of her creativity.

Recently, she designed the website for the Texas Jewish Arts Association,, a two-year-old group of which she is a board member. The association’s website includes artist profiles with links to their websites. Beside visual artists, membership in the TJAA is open to patrons, collectors, and those involved in the performing arts, literature, art therapy, and art education.

Goldberg’s art has been part of two TJAA exhibits — one at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center and a juried show at the Dallas Jewish Community Center. Throughout her career, she has had gallery shows in San Francisco, Omaha and Israel. In 2013, 70 of her paintings were exhibited at Haifa’s Rappaport Performing Arts Center. She is a five-time artist-in-residence in the Western Galilee.

The exhibit in the Temple Boardroom is the third in a series of displays featuring local Jewish artists. The Beth-El Art Committee, headed by Elaine and Jim Stanton, plans to showcase individual artists throughout the year.

Many thanks to Hollace Weiner for submitting the above information.

Showtimes Film Series will screen ‘The Jewish Cardinal’

Congregation Ahavath Sholom has announced the next installment of its 2015 Showtimes Film Series, “The Jewish Cardinal.” Everyone is invited to the screening Sunday, March 8, at 6:30 p.m. at the shul.

The film is the moving and true story of Jean-Marie Lustiger, son of Polish-Jewish immigrants, who maintained his cultural identity as a Jew even after converting to Catholicism at a young age and later joining the priesthood.

Quickly rising within the ranks of the Church, Lustiger was appointed Archbishop of Paris and found a new platform to celebrate his dual identity as a Catholic Jew, earning him both friends and enemies from either group.

When Carmelite nuns settled down to build a convent within the cursed walls of Auschwitz, Lustiger found himself a mediator between the two communities — and was asked to choose his side.

Posy McMillen will lead the post-film discussion of this very interesting film.

The 2014-2015 Showtimes Series films have been carefully chosen to interest everyone. Moderators will lead the discussions after each film. There is no cost; the films are a gift to the community and the popcorn and cold drinks are complimentary.

Thanks go out to the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County for supporting the CAS 2014-2015 Showtimes Film Series. Without the Federation’s help, the series would not be able to proceed.

Showtimes committee members are Liz Chesser, Hedy Collins, Kim Goldberg, Stephen Karten, Lisa Laudato, Foster Owen, Jane Guzman Pawgan, Debby Rice, Reggie Rog, Jayna Sosland, Jim Stansbury, Sheila Stocker, Roz Vaden, Men’s Club President Sonny Brister and Congregation Ahavath Sholom President Ebi Lavi.

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

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‘Helena Rubinstein: Beauty Is Power’

‘Helena Rubinstein: Beauty Is Power’

Posted on 26 February 2015 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebThe current Hadassah magazine touts an exhibit now at the Jewish Museum in New York, titled “Helena Rubinstein: Beauty Is Power.” I haven’t seen it, but I‘ve read the book with the same title, about the woman who inspired it.

Rubinstein was a feminist long before the word existed. Her fearless approach to life, tenacious work and love of art brought her from poverty to riches that no one of her time and place ever dreamed of. But Helena never just dreamed; she took action to make dreams come true.

When my late husband and I visited Poland, we walked on the cobbled streets of the old Krakow ghetto and saw the humble building in which Helena Rubinstein grew up. Born there in 1892, she was the oldest of eight daughters in a poor family with no sons. But before her life ended, she had brought all those sisters to work for her — and made them rich.

All the Rubinstein women had one thing in common: uncommonly beautiful skin. And if the family had one secret, it was the beautifying cream that made it so. A relative produced this “miracle,” regularly sending jars of it to Mrs. Rubinstein, and the girls lined up every night before bedtime for their mother to apply it. When Helena decided it was time to fly the Krakow coop, she took a dozen of those little jars with her.

After living briefly with an aunt in Vienna, she moved to the Australian bush, where there were family members who were sheep farmers. Helena kept receiving those little jars from home, and her smooth soft skin seemed miraculous to the local women who had to battle wind and dry weather every day. During those days, Helena worked with the animals, and at night worked on replicating the “magic” skin cream formula. She hated sheep herding, but took what was best from this experience: how to use lanolin!

Helena called her new cream “Valaze,” Hungarian for “a gift from heaven.” “It was cheap to make,” she said many years later, “but women won’t buy anything that’s cheap! When it comes to improving their appearance, they need to have the impression that they’re treating themselves to something exceptional.” Obviously, she was good in psychology as well as cosmetic chemistry. She often said “Beauty is power,” but she would also add, “The path to beauty is science.” In 1902 she opened her first salon, “Valaze House of Beauty.”

In those days, only actresses and prostitutes wore makeup. Helena changed that as she kept creating, going far beyond simple skin cream. Growing success inspired her to “import” a sister to head the Australian business so she could look for greener pastures — minus sheep! — in Europe.

The rest of Rubinstein’s life reads like a juicy novel. The only man she ever really loved was a womanizer. She married him because his marketing and publishing expertise helped advertise her business, but every time he had an affair, she bought herself a beautiful, expensive piece of jewelry. After divorce, she wed a much younger man who claimed descent from Russian royalty, mainly because she craved a title. When her archrival Elizabeth Arden introduced a perfume called “My Love,” Rubinstein countered with the iconic “Heaven Sent,” an English translation of “Valaze.”

Helena also “collected” a long list of artists and authors including Dali, Proust, Picasso and Hemingway, and amassed a fortune in pieces of primitive sculpture deemed worthless in her day. Chanel and Schiaparelli designed her clothes. When she died in 1965, her brand was selling in more than 30 countries, she had salons, laboratories and factories in 15 of them, and her personal estate exceeded $100 million.

“There are no ugly women,” she believed. “Only lazy ones.” Which Helena Rubinstein certainly never was! See for yourself if you’ll be in New York before March 22, when the Jewish Museum exhibit will close.

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More than 600 attend JFGD Men’s Event

More than 600 attend JFGD Men’s Event

Posted on 26 February 2015 by admin

By Ben Tinsley
TJP Staff Reporter

DALLAS — Israel Defense Forces hero Izzy Ezagui offered an emphatic “Thank You” to Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas backers last week for their support of Taglit-Birthright’s heritage trips to Israel for young adults.

Ezagui has gone on record many times saying his very first trip to Israel, with a Taglit-Birthright group at age 18, was one of the major turning points in his life. It was an important point for Ezagui to make during his Feb. 19 speech at the JFGD’s 2015 Men’s Event.

The 20-something Ezagui said positivity — not a negative event such as a war or tragedy — should always be the driving force behind the not-for-profit educational organization program.

Left to right: Nate Levine, JFGD Annual Campaign chair; Izzy Ezagui, featured speaker; Cindy Sweet Moskowitz, JFGD Board chair; Bradley Laye, JFGD president and CEO | Photos: Winn Fuqua

Left to right: Nate Levine, JFGD Annual Campaign chair; Izzy Ezagui, featured speaker; Cindy Sweet Moskowitz, JFGD Board chair; Bradley Laye, JFGD president and CEO | Photos: Winn Fuqua

Taglit-Birthright allows young Jews to develop and nurture a love for Israel from a positive place, he added. Since 1999, the Dallas Federation has helped send more than 2,000 of its young adults on Birthright trips.

“We need to help [young adults] get their feet on the ground and help them feel what it means to be Israeli,” Ezagui said. “Each of you is allowing that to happen. Thank you for supporting the Federation, which supports Birthright. I owe you so much.”

Ezagui is famously known as “the one-armed warrior” after losing his arm in combat yet regaining readmittance to the military.

His status as keynote speaker at last week’s Renaissance Dallas Richardson Hotel JFGD event attracted an estimated 600 people. The event was co-chaired by Allen Feltman, Paul Rubin, Steve Schachter and Bob Weinfeld.

2015 JFGD Men’s Event chairs, left to right: Allen Feltman, Bob Weinfeld, Steve Schachter and Paul Rubin

2015 JFGD Men’s Event chairs, left to right: Allen Feltman, Bob Weinfeld, Steve Schachter and Paul Rubin

And if that sheer audience volume alone wasn’t any indication, the Men’s Event brought in nearly $700,000 with nearly 100 new donor gifts, Bradley Laye, president & CEO, of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas confirmed Tuesday.

On average, donors increased their gifts by 15 percent over last year, Laye said.

In all, Annual Campaign has raised more than $6.5 million, he added.

Ultimately, the Men’s Event made “a significant amount of money that will allow us to continue to help build and sustain Jewish life in Dallas, Israel, and around the world,” according to the JFGD webpage.

Left to right: Brad Strauss, Brian Bertcher, Jamison Hochster, Jared Hochman, Brett Diamond, Brad Altman

Left to right: Brad Strauss, Brian Bertcher, Jamison Hochster, Jared Hochman, Brett Diamond, Brad Altman

Ezagui was born and raised in Miami, Florida.

Charged by the positive experience of his Taglit-Birthright trip, Ezagui enthusiastically joined the Israeli military. But, only two weeks after his training was completed, he was hit by a mortar and lost his left — dominant — arm.

Determined to return to combat, Ezagui somehow, almost impossibly, met a general a couple of months later whom he convinced to let him rejoin active duty.

Overcoming his disability to such a great degree won Ezagui worldwide acclaim. In May 2011, Shimon Peres, the president of Israel, awarded him the “Citation Of Excellence,” which is the highest honor a soldier outside the battlefield can receive.

Ezagui now works as a public speaker and blogger for the Times of Israel.

He also remains a reservist attached to Israeli’s special forces. According to Feltman, who introduced Ezagui to last week’s JFGD crowd, the one armed warrior’s job is to protect his commanding officer as a sharpshooter.

During his comments, Ezagui spoke of the anguish he felt a few weeks ago when learning through the impersonal medium of a Facebook post that one of his former officers had been killed while part of a convoy near the border of Lebanon.

“There’s always something to be sad about,” he said.

Ezagui also discussed “Operation Protective Edge,” initiated to stop rocket fire into Israel from Gaza.

On June 12, Israeli teenagers Gilad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach were kidnapped and murdered by two Hamas members. An Israeli crackdown on Hamas in the West Bank followed, resulting in the aforementioned increased rocket fire into Israel.

After “Operation Protective Edge” began, seven weeks of war followed — ground fighting, Hamas missile attacks and Israeli airstrikes.

During this conflict, a major objective of Israeli forces was destroying a series of “terror tunnels” beneath Gaza. According to the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Hamas constructed the tunnels under the Israel-Gaza border for the purpose of terrorist attacks against Israel.

The tunnels were basically used for three purposes, according to reports: smuggling between Gaza and Egypt; weapons storage and defensive command centers inside Gaza; and offensively for cross-border attacks on Israel.

In mid-August, the IDF announced the existence of a new system — essentially a combination of sensors and special transmitters — that could be used to locate underground “terror” tunnels and could possibly even be deployed within the year. But the cost could be as much as $1.5 billion.

Ezagui said he recalls being asked to speak at the Israeli consulate in Manhattan after Gilad Shaar, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrach initially went missing. While there, he disagreed with a moment of silence being held on behalf of the missing boys. He felt they might still be alive.

“Then we got the news that the bodies of those three boys had been found and that they were killed when they were abducted — so my gut was lying to me,” he said.

Ezagui said he and his reserve unit were not called up to participate in “Operation Protective Edge,” because it took place in a different corner of Israel than they are charged with protecting. But he wanted to help his comrades and felt frustrated he wasn’t in a position to do so.

“But it is not because I think there is any kind of glory or anything about going to war,” he said.

So Ezagui took to a different battlefield: interviewing on Al-Jazeera.

“If I couldn’t take live fire at ground zero, I could do it in a studio,” he said.

Ezagui’s speech contained a few light moments — one of which was at the very beginning of his speech. He initially faked out the audience with a bogus “Israeli accent.”

“Shalom everyone,” Ezagui said to the initially-puzzled audience. “Eet is a, great — ey — pleazure.”

Ezagui then quickly shifted gears to his American accent, prompting a wave of warm laughter from the audience.

“I know what you’re thinking,” he said with a smile. “‘The speaker said he was from Miami, Florida. Why is he talking in a funny accent?’”

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Iran has won the diplomatic battle … but the war is not over

Iran has won the diplomatic battle … but the war is not over

Posted on 26 February 2015 by admin

By Gil Elan

elanforwebOne picture published over the weekend by AP says it all: a gaunt, stressed and worried-looking Secretary of State John Kerry walking in the streets of Geneva next to a rested, smiling and confident Iranian foreign minister Zavad Zarif.

While the U.S. negotiators tried to spin the weekend talks about stopping Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons as having been somewhat productive, citing “long-awaited progress on some elements that would go into a comprehensive deal,” they also described the discussions as a “moving target.”

Ynetnews reported Monday that according to several news agencies familiar with the negotiations: “The United States and Iran are working on a two-phase deal that clamps down on Tehran’s nuclear program for at least a decade before providing it leeway over the remainder of the agreement to slowly ramp up activities that could be used to make weapons.”

The U.S. initially sought restrictions lasting for up to 20 years; Iran had pushed for less than 10.

The idea presented in the current talks would be to reward Iran for “good behavior” by gradually lifting constraints on its uranium enrichment program.

Iran could be allowed to operate significantly more centrifuges than the U.S. administration first demanded. Several officials spoke of 6,500 centrifuges as a potential point of compromise. Iran is currently still running at least 10,000 centrifuges, at full capacity, despite having committed to cut the number down in the November 2013 agreement with the P5+1 group. And these are the ones we know about. There are reports of secret enrichment facilities built over the past few years.

And still unclear, from all the reports so far, is the status of Iran’s underground enrichment facility at Fordo and heavy water reactor at Arak, which potentially could produce enough plutonium for several nuclear weapons a year.

In other words, the U.S. has officially now conceded Iran having nuclear weapons in 10 years!

But that was not enough for the Iranians. Sensing a desperate urgency by the U.S. negotiators to close a deal at any cost, Zarif told Iran’s Fars news agency: “We had serious talks with the Americans in the past three days … But still there is a long way to reach a final agreement.”

U.S. negotiators hope to meet a self-imposed March 31 deadline for an initial political deal. The approaching deadline has caused a rift between the U.S. and Israel, which calls the talks “dangerous” and “astonishing.” A “U.S. official” has accused Israel of distorting Washington’s position in the talks.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Monday: “The agreement with Iran as it is coming together now is a great danger to Western world peace and a threat to Israel’s security.”

Ya’alon said the deal would permit Iran to be freed from current economic sanctions while continuing to enrich uranium. He called Iran “the most dangerous regime” and a central factor behind instability in the Middle East.

The talks will continue March 3, at a location yet to be determined. Iran is playing for time, feeling that it will get even more concessions because the U.S. needs a foreign policy “achievement.”

But the accord will have to receive some sort of acceptance from the U.S. Congress to be fully implemented. Given the hostility to any Iranian enrichment from most Republican and many Democratic lawmakers, which hopefully will increase after Bibi’s speech, however it is delivered, this may not happen.

Kerry’s picture says it all — Iran already knows it has probably won the diplomatic battle. But the war is far from over. Israel is still very much in play…

Agree or disagree, that’s my opinion.

Lt. Col. (IDF res) Gil Elan is President and CEO of the Southwest Jewish Congress, and a Middle East analyst. Email: Upcoming briefings and SWJC events are listed at: 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 19 February 2015 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Fifty Hadassah members from the State of Texas traveled to Austin and on Monday, Feb. 9 met with Speaker of the House Joe Straus, State Senator Chuy Hinojosa from the Rio Grande Valley, State Senator Rodney Ellis from Houston, State Representative Craig Goldman from Fort Worth and other state and local officials.

Debby Rice introduced Rep. Craig Goldman (R-District 97) to members of the Hadassah Date with the State Delegation.

Debby Rice introduced Rep. Craig Goldman (R-District 97) to members of the Hadassah Date with the State Delegation.

They discussed U.S.-Israel relations and domestic policy issues such as women’s health concerns, countering human trafficking, and affordable child care with top government officials.

The Date with the State program equips Hadassah volunteers with the most current information they need to be effective citizen activists. The program also helps to bring the collective voice of Hadassah to key influential leaders.

Debby Rice tells me that ourtowner and State Representative Craig Goldman (R-District 97) gave everyone once-in-a-lifetime insights into the inner workings of state government.

On Sunday night Rep. Goldman spoke to the group and answered as many questions as were posed to him. He met up with the delegation at the Capitol Monday morning.

Rep. Goldman secured a special room for the meeting — the old Supreme Courtroom upstairs in the capitol, according to Debby. He escorted the whole group to the House floor and spent about an hour showing everyone around, and sharing the back stories of about this and that: desks, photos, light fixtures… you name it.

In an email, Debby wrote that “he just exudes love for the building and what he is doing, for the participants. He is so positive in everything he says.” Debby forecasts a bright political career for Goldman beyond Austin. “He is truly good at what he is doing,” she enthused.

Free loans from TCHFLA

The Tarrant County Hebrew Free Loan Association is looking for qualified borrowers.

Funds can be used to pay for a bar or bat mitzvah, books for school, bridge loan, camp, high interest debt consolidation, medical payment, medication, nursing home payment, rent or utilities bills, school tuition, trip to Israel and other needs.

TCHFLA offers qualified Jewish community members a no-interest loan up to $3,500. Borrowers must be at least 18 years old, reside in Tarrant County, and have one or two co-signers — preferably Jewish members in the DFW area — who will be required to have a credit check and capable of repayment if loan is defaulted by borrower.

Requests are reviewed on a case-by-case basis and must meet the TCHFLA lending guidelines and qualify through the application process. All requests are kept confidential between the borrower and the TCHFLA advisory board.

For further information about the Tarrant County Hebrew Free Loan Association and qualifications for the NO-INTEREST loans, please check the TCHFLA website at or email

Members of the TCHFLA board include David Bekerman, chair; Lynell Bond, vice chair; Jackie Bzostek, Robert Chicotsky, Marty Goldsmith, Susan Luskey, Lisa Moses, David Nudelman, Marcy Paul, Carole Rogers (ex officio), Marc Sloter, and Cheryl J. Visosky. The mailing address is 4750 Bryant Irvin Road, Ste. 808 (PMB# 206) Fort Worth, TX 76132.

White Elephant Auction at Beth Shalom

Congregation Beth Shalom will hold a white elephant auction at 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 28.

Invite your friends and be prepared to have a fabulous, fun, frolicking evening at this “fun(d) raising event,” says Stuart Snow.

Everyone should bring at least one item that is wrapped. You can use your imagination to do that using gift wrap, comics or whatever you think will make your gift item appealing. The more gifts, the more fun the event. Items can be fun, useful, provocative, creative, gently used (within reason) or new and valued at $10.

Fun-loving auctioneer Randy San Antonio will start the bidding at only $1 per gift. Please respond to the Beth Shalom office, 817 860-5448, by Feb. 20 if you plan to attend. There is no charge for the event (just bring gifts) and dessert and coffee will be served. Only cash and checks will be accepted for auction items.

Another plug for Maccabi Games

I’m told that a couple of kids have tried out and made teams for the Maccabi Games which will be held in Dallas in August. The JCC is making a big push over the next couple of weeks as they wind up tryouts. Since they would be competing as members of Team Dallas, I’m told that there are an unlimited number of spots available in the individual sports.

To see the tryout schedule, visit If you have questions, call Matt Rowland at the JCC, 214-239-7147.

In addition, there are still a number of $750 scholarships available for Tarrant County kids who want to participate in the games. For more information, contact Bob Goldberg, 817-569-0892.

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UTD forum to cover South African apartheid

UTD forum to cover South African apartheid

Posted on 19 February 2015 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebApartheid. This loaded word officially entered the South African vocabulary in 1948, when the government’s white majority decreed total separation — physical and political — for the country’s blacks; for all those natives whose ancestors had been there from the beginning.

The whole world knows of Nelson Mandela, who spoke up for his people and suffered for it before his ultimate triumph. But too few know about a most unlikely champion of the many who were banished to “townships” of poverty and distress. A woman. A white woman. A white Jewish woman. Helen Suzman.

When you say the name aloud, it should be pronounced Soos-man, not Suzz-man, a white Jewish Dallasite who moved here from South Africa has told me. There are many like him; currently, they are working with the Dallas Jewish Historical Society to compile their “Roots to Boots” history. And they are also sharing the story of this compatriot who never left home.

A traveling exhibition, “Helen Suzman: Fighter for Human Rights,” originated with the Kaplan Centre of Jewish Studies and Research at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. It spent several recent weeks on display at the Dallas JCC, and now may be seen at the University of Texas at Dallas. The exhibit has inspired a special program there: the Helen Suzman Forum on Life Under Apartheid, scheduled for next Wednesday evening, Feb. 25. Everyone is invited to a reception and exhibit viewing from 6 to 7:30 p.m. in UTD’s Edith O’Donnell Arts and Technology Building; the forum’s panel discussion will follow.

Joan Gremont, a South African Dallasite who has been championing this event, tells me that the panel “is a very diverse group — like the population of South Africa. What the panelists have in common is that they all lived in South Africa during the apartheid years, and were old enough to be aware of the political climate during that time.” They are:

Peter Anderson, 65, who came to the U.S. from Johannesburg on a Fulbright Scholarship, earned his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at Boston University, and is now an associate professor at Austin College in Sherman, teaching post-colonial literature.

Lorimer Arendse, 42, who came to the U.S. from Cape Town at age 16. After years of Ohio residence, he moved to the Dallas area in 2007 to become associate principal at Grapevine High School; he is now Grand Prairie High School’s principal.

Warren Harmel, 65, who graduated from the University of Cape Town and interacted with Helen Suzman as a member of her Progressive Party in Johannesburg. He came to Texas in 1986 to work with an advertising agency, and is an advertising consultant today.

Harshad Lalloobhai, 58, who came to Texas from Johannesburg in 1984 for a job with American Corporation. He has long since become an entrepreneur, an owner of retail wine shops and hotels.

Peter Lewin, 67, who came to the U.S. from Johannesburg in 1979 when he was 23 years old. He has studied the economics of apartheid and is now at UTD as clinical professor of managerial economics.

Moderating this panel will be Jill Kelly, professor of African history, including South African history, at Southern Methodist University. She studied in Durban and lived in Pietermaritzburg while researching traditional authority in rural KwaZulu-Natal for her doctorate.

Apartheid finally died in 1994. Did Helen Suzman’s often-lonely voice of white opposition to South Africa’s racial politics contribute to its demise? She once answered the question herself: “It is hard to say if [I have] achieved anything, except to keep certain democratic values alive in this country…[but] You have to take a stand against something you know is wrong.” We do know that when she died peacefully in 2009 at the age of 91, flags across all of South Africa were lowered to half-staff in her honor.

For more information on the Suzman exhibit and forum, contact Lisa Morgan at 972-883-2952 or Come — and learn!

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 19 February 2015 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

Barbara and Jack Wilpon to celebrate Golden Anniversary

Barbara and Jack Wilpon ... then (right) ... and now (left) | Photos: Submitted

Barbara and Jack Wilpon
… then (right)
… and now (left) | Photos: Submitted

Good wishes to Barbara Davidoff Wilpon and Jack J. Wilpon, who will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary Feb. 20, 2015. Barbara and Jack were married at Congregation Beth Yeshurun in Houston The ceremony was officiated by the late Rabbi William S. Malev.

The daughter of the late Sadie and Jake Davidoff, Barbara attended Bellaire High School in Houston, the University of Texas at El Paso, and the University of Oklahoma. Jack is the son of the late Mary and Isidor Wilpon. He attended Bronx Science High School, City College of New York, the University of Oklahoma, and Texas A&M. The couple met at Hillel while attending the University of Oklahoma and then lived in Bryan, Texas while Jack continued his graduate studies in meteorology. They became Richardson residents in 1971, where they still reside and are currently enjoying their retirement. The Wilpons have three children: Matthew (Rebecca), Melissa (Scott), and Joanne (Andy) and are blessed with six grandchildren. Mazel Tov to the Wilpons on this special occasion.

Saul Zimmerman poses with his sister Molly next to the logo he designed for Levine Academy’s annual Zimriyah evening of song. Saul was recently named to the American Hebrew Academy Honor Society.

Saul Zimmerman poses with his sister Molly next to the logo he designed for Levine Academy’s annual Zimriyah evening of song. Saul was recently named to the American Hebrew Academy Honor Society.

Saul Zimmerman inducted into American Hebrew Academy’s prestigious honor society

Mazel Tov to Saul Zimmerman, son of Rabbi Brian and Mimi Zimmerman, who recently was accepted into the American Hebrew Academy Honor Society.

The Academy, an International Jewish college-prep boarding school, recently extended invitations to a select number of students worldwide for admittance into its exclusive organization. Currently in its sixth year, the American Hebrew Academy Honor Society is an international honor society that acknowledges exceptional eighth- and ninth- grade students, such as Saul, who have demonstrated excellence in academics, athletics, the arts, leadership and service to their communities. The Honor Society is modeled after The National Honor Society, receiving recommendations, applicant questionnaires and transcripts in an effort to identify the most outstanding young Jewish students in the U.S. and beyond. Saul is a warm and caring young man who can always be counted on to do the right thing and to help others. A true team player, Saul has competed on Levine Academy’s soccer, basketball and track teams. He is also a valued member of the school’s yearbook and nature club.

Saul is deeply committed to his Jewish identity and feels especially connected to the Jewish value of tikkun olam (repairing the world). Saul will receive an impressive award certificate designed by world-renowned artist Mordecai Rosenstein. Saul has the opportunity to compete for substantial annual merit-based scholarships, along with other honorees, with the option of attending the American Hebrew Academy. Students who are nominated and accepted into the American Hebrew Academy Honor Society are not required to attend the Academy. “To be named a member of the American Hebrew Academy Honor Society is a great achievement,” says Mark Spielman, director of the Honor Society. “We look forward to meeting each of the honorees and following their successes as they make great contributions to our society.” Academy Executive Director Glenn Drew added, “The Academy is an exceptional institution with an outstanding faculty and student body. Identifying stellar students follows our mission of mentoring the Jewish leaders of tomorrow.”

To learn more about the American Hebrew Academy Honor Society, please visit their website at

Also shepping nachus are Saul’s sister, Molly, and his grandparents Jody and Dr. Mel Platt and Judy and Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman.

Weddings and Events by Ruth receives honor

Weddings and Events by Ruth recently won a WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Award 2015. WeddingWire, the nation’s leading online wedding marketplace, has named Weddings and Events by Ruth as a winner of the prestigious WeddingWire Couples’ Choice Awards 2015 for Wedding Planning in Dallas. The award recognizes the top 5 percent of wedding professionals in the WeddingWire Network who demonstrate excellence in quality, service, responsiveness and professionalism. The esteemed awards are given to the top local wedding vendors in more than 20 service categories, from wedding venues to wedding photographers, based on their professional achievements from the previous year.

There’s still time to try out for the JCC Maccabi Games

An email from Matt Rowland asked that we help spread the word that spots are still available for tryouts for Team Dallas at the 2015 JCC Maccabi Games hosted by our own Dallas JCC. Rowland stated in his email, “We are halfway through the 2015 Team Dallas tryouts, and we’ve had a great showing from athletes across the Jewish community here in the Metroplex. As everyone knows, we’re trying to build one of the largest host delegations in JCC Maccabi Games history, and we are well on our way. To continue to make Team Dallas great, we ask that you and your athletes continue to recruit and spread the word! I want to take this opportunity to thank each one of you for taking the time to come to a tryout, and we hope to see each of you again at another tryout (only one is required; however, you’re welcome to come to all).”

For additional information, please email Matt at or visit

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