Archive | March, 2015

Netanyahu facing challenges, criticism from liberals

Posted on 25 March 2015 by admin

By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu facing escalating criticism and pressure from the White House, he could use some help from Israel’s erstwhile allies in the American Jewish community — especially those with sway in liberal and Democratic circles.
But several leading Jewish liberal critics of Netanyahu are working to rally American Jewish opinion against him by stepping up their condemnations of the prime minister and calling on the United States to ratchet up the pressure on Israel.
The epicenter of this liberal Jewish push is the annual J Street conference in Washington, where in a speech Saturday night to 3,000 attendees, the group’s executive director, Jeremy Ben-Ami, accused Netanyahu of harming the U.S.-Israel relationship through “partisan gamesmanship” and called on the Obama administration to put forth the parameters for a resolution to the conflict at the U.N. Security Council.
Ben-Ami’s remarks came days after another harsh Netanyahu critic, Peter Beinart, called for the Obama administration to “punish” Israel on several fronts — including by backing Palestinian “bids” at the United Nations and denying visas to and freezing the assets of Israeli settler leaders. Beinart also urged American Jews to ensure that Netanyahu and members of his Cabinet are met with protesters at Jewish events.
While more establishment liberal and centrist Jewish organizations show no signs of writing off the prime minister or endorsing such aggressive steps, some have expressed concerns about Netanyahu’s 11th-hour campaign tactics — specifically his vow that no Palestinian state would be established on his watch and his urging supporters to counter the “droves” of Arabs coming out to vote.
Leaders of the two largest religious streams in American Judaism, the Reform and Conservative movements, both issued statements last week condemning Netanyahu’s comments about Arab-Israeli voters.
“Because we proudly and unreservedly continue our unflagging support for the State of Israel, its citizens and its values, we must condemn the prime minister’s statement, singling out Arab citizens for exercising their legitimate right to vote,” the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly said in a statement Thursday. “It is incumbent upon Jews around the world to denounce the prime minister’s divisive and undemocratic statement and we do so here.”
Rabbi Rick Jacobs, the president of the Union for Reform Judaism, called the statement “disheartening” and a “naked appeal to his hard-right base’s fears rather than their hopes.”
For his part, Netanyahu moved quickly post-election to contain the damage from his pre-election remarks, holding interviews with several U.S. media outlets in which he insisted that he remains committed to a two-state solution, but circumstances do not allow for one because of Palestinian intransigence and ongoing turmoil across the region. In a sign that Netanyahu was seeking to send the word out beyond his conservative base, the prime minister not only did an interview with Fox News, but talked with two leading liberal media outlets, MSNBC and NPR.
Several mainstream centrist organizations — including the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and the Anti-Defamation League — were quick to embrace Netanyahu’s postelection insistence. AIPAC criticized the Obama administration for having “rebuffed” the prime minister’s efforts to put relations with the United States back on track.
But Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff who spoke Monday at the J Street conference, held his ground.
“We cannot simply pretend that those comments were never made, or that they don’t raise questions about the prime minister’s commitment to achieving peace through direct negotiations,” McDonough told J Street.

Fallout from ‘droves’ comment

Netanyahu has also sought to contain the damage from his Election Day appeal to supporters to counter the “droves” of Arabs heading to the polls. Netanyahu said he did not intend to suppress Arab voters, only to inspire his base, and Tuesday he apologized directly to a group of Arab-Israeli leaders gathered at his residence in Jerusalem.
Yet even as Netanyahu sought to defuse the controversy over his remarks, reports suggested that the makeup of his emerging coalition could keep U.S.-Israeli tensions boiling on several fronts.
The first party he invited into the government was Jewish Home, which rejects a Palestinian state. Another likely coalition partner, Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu, who recently said that disloyal Arab-Israelis should be beheaded. The coalition government is also likely to include haredi Orthodox parties, whose rejection of non-Orthodox streams has been a cause of tension with U.S. Jews for decades.
Still, the mood at the J Street conference was one of jubilance in defeat, as speaker after speaker spoke of “clarity” now that Netanyahu had repudiated the two-state solution.
“There’s more fuel in advocacy movements when you’re fired up in opposition to something,” Ben-Ami told JTA.
One star of the conference was Stav Shaffir, the 29-year-old Labor Party member whose pre-election Knesset speech accusing Netanyahu’s government of abdicating Zionist leadership by neglecting the marginalized went viral online.
Saying her message to J Street was one of hope, Shaffir told reporters that when she encountered a depressed conferencegoer, she counseled activism.
“I don’t accept despair as a political strategy,” she said.

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Teaching teachers: Akiba staff talk Reggio-based education

Teaching teachers: Akiba staff talk Reggio-based education

Posted on 19 March 2015 by admin

By Rosie Bernstein
Special to the TJP

Walking down the hall of any preschool, one is likely to see bright colors and little feet. One is likely to hear giggles, nursery rhymes and gleeful songs. The most precious sight of all: that of teachers inspiring the curiosity of the blooming young minds in their classrooms and fostering the growth of the children. What is more unprecedented, however, is the sight of teachers teaching teachers. And walking down the hallway of the Akiba Academy of Dallas Early Childhood building over Presidents Day Weekend, that is precisely what was taking place.
Eight years ago, Rabbi Meir Muller, the head of school at the Cutler Jewish Day School, traveled to Dallas for a National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) conference. Every year at the NAEYC conference, the National Jewish Early Childhood Network (NJECN) hosts its own conference simultaneously in the same city. As part of one of their events, NJECN toured the Akiba Academy campus with a special focus on the Early Childhood Program. Muller was one of about 100 educators who toured Akiba that day.
Four years later, Muller returned as an assessor for Akiba’s accreditation with the Jewish Early Childhood Education Initiative (JECEI).
The Cutler Jewish Day School is a community school in South Carolina that offers dual-curriculum education to both non-Jewish and Jewish children of all denominations ranging from age 1 until fifth grade.
Reggio Emilia is an approach to early childhood education that influences both the program at Akiba and that of Cutler. The Reggio philosophy believes the child to be strong, capable and resilient, rich with wonder, curiosity and knowledge.

Akiba Academy Pre-Kindergarten teacher Gail Mabel explains the importance of classroom setup to teachers visiting from Cutler Jewish Day School.

Changes for Cutler

Cutler is currently preparing to add onto its building, and the staff is trying to find ways to renovate both the physical environment and enhance their teaching practices. Since Muller left Akiba in 2010, he planned for and thought about the day when he could return again with his staff at his side. Visiting Akiba was a two-year plan for Cutler, using professional development funds from both this year and last year to make the trip to Dallas happen.
“I was extremely impressed by the environment,” Muller recalls. “I have visited so many Jewish schools across the country; Akiba just stood out in my mind as a really wonderful early childhood model, and I wanted to share that with the teachers in South Carolina.”
The much-anticipated trip began Sunday, Feb. 14 with a full tour of the Akiba campus as an introduction to the events that were to come. Next, Gail Mabel, Kochava Malka, Lindsey Silvis, Marissa Caspary and Miriam Nelson, the Akiba teachers who participated in the day, gave various training sessions. They discussed long-term project work in early childhood, creating an art studio both in the classroom and as its own space and the intentionality behind how Akiba sets up its classroom environments. Some of the teachers from Cutler were interested in taking a closer look at some lower school classrooms as they teach kindergarten through fifth grade. Following the sessions, more in-depth tours were given of the early childhood environments. On Tuesday, the Cutler teachers saw the entire Akiba Early Childhood Program in action, as they observed a regular morning at Akiba and sat in the classrooms.
“At Akiba, we are very thoughtful and intentional with everything that we do, from setting up the environments as a third teacher to planning a curriculum that is designed to build on each child’s strengths and interests while supporting their growth and development,” Akiba Director of Early Childhood Jordana Bernstein explained. “We explore topics of interests through long-term project investigations and through hands-on experiences with a variety of interesting materials.  The teachers and children engage with one another as researchers, developing the confidence in the children to think critically, ask questions and continuously find the wonder and joy in their learning.”
Cutler was looking to learn from Akiba about how to better implement Reggio-inspired practices in the classroom. A few of the teachers from Cutler that visited had never even seen the environment working as the third teacher that the Reggio Emilia philosophy encourages. As they look forward to the new addition to their building, the Cutler staff seeks ways to utilize it in the most effective manner.
“Our philosophies of early childhood are very much the same: very nurturing, putting the children first, encouraging them to ask good questions. The difference is that Akiba has the space to grow and to allow the children to grow; the teachers have room to facilitate the learning and the best practices for young children. We are on the road to that, but we are not quite there,” Cutler Assistant Principal Kelly Stanton said.
The entire weekend was deemed very successful. Both Cutler and Akiba staffers learned valuable lessons that they will apply to their teaching going forward. Billie Green-Smith, a preschool floater from Cutler, and Becky Lourie, a Cutler kindergarten teacher, learned how to document the children’s work, something Green-Smith believed Cutler could do a better job of. Other reflections of the visit to Akiba included high admiration for Akiba’s use of the physical space.
After a full weekend of preparation and presentation, the Akiba Early Childhood staff gained more knowledge and pride in their program. Gail Mabel, a pre-kindergarten teacher at Akiba and a greeter and presenter during the weekend with Cutler, said she learned more about her program and the intentionality behind the environment she teaches in that she did not know or realize before; teaching other teachers helped her learn more about herself. Akiba’s other participants echoed similar feelings. Overall, an affirmation of pride in Akiba, specifically Akiba’s Early Childhood Program, is what the Akiba staff took away from this experience.
“What we do every single day has just become second nature to us, while it is just fascinating to other educators who are coming to observe our program,” Bernstein reflected. “Sometimes we take for granted the wonderful experience that we provide for the children and families in our program. I learned about the things that are exciting for an outsider looking in and about the amazing experience that is being a teacher of teachers.”

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‘The Lady with All the Answers’

‘The Lady with All the Answers’

Posted on 19 March 2015 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

The play is named “The Lady with All the Answers.” The teaser I received touting it promised to reveal the one and only time that Ann Landers couldn’t help someone with a problem, because the problem was her own.
I wasn’t teased; I already knew what that problem was. Back in late June 1975, I read the column in which America’s leading adviser to the befuddled revealed that she was totally befuddled herself: Jules Lederer, her husband of more than 30 years, had taken up with a woman as young as the couple’s daughter. The one who had been writing for years about ways to save every marriage at all costs couldn’t save her own.
I remembered that I wrote about Ann Landers and her new life status myself, soon after that, in the Illinois newspaper I worked for at that time. I even recalled that I had started my column with something about poaching fish in the dishwasher. I’ve always been big on making connections between things that don’t seem connectable at all, but what I couldn’t remember was what the connection here could have been. So I went to my files to find out.
“Files” puts it kindly! Those were pre-computer days, and I’d clipped and saved them — one column per week for close to 10 years. Do the math! Visualize the box overflowing with dog-eared, yellowed newsprint! But I found it, published in July 1975 under the title “Of Poached Fish and Broken Marriages.” I had to read it to learn what kind of glue I’d used to stick those two disparate things together. And I found that, too. But first…
Ann Landers, born Esther Pauline Friedman in Sioux City, Iowa, used a combination of brains and chutzpah to become America’s leading advice columnist. Her nom de newspaper belonged to the Chicago Tribune, and “Eppie” Lederer was in the right place at the right time with the right approach when the first “Ann” had to be replaced. Her winning technique was asking experts for advice before she gave any herself. Soon enough she was challenged by her identical twin, Pauline Esther Friedman, nicknamed “PoPo,” who struck out on her own as “Dear Abby.” After that, the sisters were never quite as close as they had been before.
The play, staged by One Thirty Productions at Dallas’ Bath House Cultural Center, was a one-woman tour de force. Equity actress Gene Raye Price worked from a script liberally laced with bits of Jewish lore and non-religious learning. She brought the late icon to life using excerpts from real readers’ letters, punctuated by musings on the marriage that Ann had honestly, but mistakenly, thought would last “’til death do us part.” In conclusion, she read the entire brief column in which Landers touchingly revealed her personal pain to all her readers, ending with a plea: “Just wish us both well.” And then moved right on with another letter, to solve another problem.
So what was that elusive connection I couldn’t remember? Well, I’d just learned a strange-sounding fish-cooking technique from a neighbor, and since my column ran on what in those olden days was always called The Women’s Section, it seemed logical to me to pass on the “recipe” while at the same time noting that Ms. Landers “had gone down the drain, just like dishwater.”
So now you know about the new play. And now, here’s how to do that poaching: Take a nice-sized slab of some firm fish (salmon is good), lay it on a large piece of aluminum foil, season it as you wish, fold the foil to make a tight seal, place the packet gently on the top rack of your dishwasher, and run it through the entire cycle. Without soap and dirty dishes.
I ended my column with a snide suggestion: Ann Landers “might do well now to fish up some help for herself from Dear Abby!”

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Unshakable Bonds: George W. Bush, Pinkus highlight King David Award Dinner

Unshakable Bonds: George W. Bush, Pinkus highlight King David Award Dinner

Posted on 19 March 2015 by admin

By Ben Tinsley
TJP Staff Reporter

DALLAS — Lillian Pinkus and George W. Bush made for a fascinating double feature during Monday’s Israel Bonds King David Award Dinner at the Omni Dallas Hotel.
The event spotlighted Pinkus, pro-Israel advocate and enthusiastic president-elect of the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, for her service to Israel. Former President Bush, staunch supporter of the state of Israel, was there as featured speaker.
The event ultimately helped sell $60 million in bonds for Israel projects, programs and improvements.
It is believed to be the largest Bonds event since an inaugural event at Madison Square Garden in 1951 — attracting as many as 1,500 people — children, teenagers an adults.

President George W. Bush participates in an event for Israel Bonds. Photo by Grant MIller

The program began with powerful renditions of the national anthems of America and Israel by students of Booker T. Washington High School.
Texas Leadership Cabinet Chair Kenny Goldberg and National Board Member Jason Schwartz greeted the audience and officially began the event.
There also was a videotaped presentation from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who delivered a tribute to Israel Bonds and commended the impact the bonds have on Israel’s economy.
Jaime Karakowsky, 26, from Monterrey, Mexico, spoke with the crowd about how he perceives Israel bonds as a way of promoting and strengthening the ability of the state of Israel to help the world Jewish community.
Karakowsky said the Monterrey Jewish community from which he comes is very close-knit — about 500 people. But in recent years people haven’t felt as secure there, so many have moved to Israel. Karakowsky said he developed his feelings for Israel as a result of this tight-knit community and because of time he spent at Camp Young Judaea, a Zionist summer camp in Wimberley, Texas.
There, Karakowsky met young people from around the world, which he said opened his eyes to the world of Judaism beyond his small community.
Bonds Chairman of the Board Richard Hirsch and President and CEO Izzy Tapoohi were on hand to present the King David Award to Pinkus.
Pinkus is the child of two Holocaust survivors and the first of several Dallas-Fort Worth residents to be named to the national board of AIPAC. She holds a B.A. from Brandeis and an M.Ed. from Harvard.

Desire for safe homeland

During her comments she spoke of family, unity, and the of keeping Israel a safe homeland.
“Israel is the homeland of the Jewish people,” she said. “It is a holy land for many great faiths.”
She said the Jewish people belong in Israel forever and their presence there is not “reparations for the Holocaust.”
Pinkus briefly touched on the subject of the current U.S. negotiations that could limit Iran nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of political and economic sanctions — a move some fear could lead to a Middle East nuclear standoff.
She said AIPAC will continue, unequivocally, to foster the relationship between the United States and Israel.
Pinkus will begin her term as AIPAC president in March 2016. Her voice, meanwhile, has reached a lot of people — many of whom have gone on to support the state of Israel by purchasing debt securities from its government.
As far as Israel bonds are concerned, Pinkus said investing in the security of Israel is an investment in a “country with a soul.”
President Bush was up-close, candid, warm and incredibly funny. Because of his administration’s close relationship with Israel, he was very warmly received at the event.
During his remarks, President Bush spoke about his first visit to Israel, referring to it as one of his most meaningful experiences.
The president (who served the country from 2001 to 2009), recalled a 1998 visit to Israel — while he was still governor of Texas — during which he took a helicopter ride with then-Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon.
Looking straight down at Israel from the helicopter, Bush was astonished at how small and vulnerable the country seemed to him.
And after the 9/11 terror attacks, Bush said, he completely understood what it was like for Israel to be attacked.
That understanding strengthened his resolve to remain an ally of Israel — and to take on a certain responsibility for the country’s survival, Bush told the audience of 1,500 Monday night.
“There is no doubt about the relationship between Israel and the United States,” Bush said.
The former president said when it comes to the foreign policies of the U.S. and Israel, “there is no daylight.”
President Bush’s presentation wasn’t as much a keynote address as it was simply a candid public conversation with an old friend. Houstonian Fred S. Zeidman, former national chair of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum — the person who actually helped recruit the former president to speak at Monday’s event — interviewed him onstage. Zeidman is Israel Bonds’ national chair.
Bush commended Pinkus for her service to Israel and added to her point about Iran — that he believes Iran remains a threat to the U.S. and the entire Middle East.

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Around the town: Supporting Israel through bonds

Around the town: Supporting Israel through bonds

Posted on 19 March 2015 by admin

Photo: Ethan Schackman Members of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville trekked to Dallas recently for a Passover shopping trip at Tom Thumb. Pictured, from left, are Olivia Zelling, Sandy Silverman, Stacey Silverman, Michelle Salzman, Nora Bushlow, Tirzah Van Buskirk-Hodges, Camille LaDrew.

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

For years, to me it seemed that most Jews expressed their love for Israel through two vital organizations: Hadassah and Israel Bonds. The Fort Worth and Tarrant County Jewish community has been stalwart supporters of both.
It was wonderful to see such a large turnout of folks at the Israel Bonds event Monday night. In addition to hearing honoree Lillian Pinkus share her passionate remarks about the importance of a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, the audience was treated to what felt like, to this writer, very candid and warm remarks from President George W. Bush, whose support of Israel is legendary.
Among those in attendance, a number of whom represented Eagle Mountain Church, were: Janet Ainsworth, Ina Bennett, Andrew Bloom, Michal Bloom, Irwin Blum, Lee Ann Blum, Bette Chapman, Sarah Entwistle, Sanford Finkelstein, Stefani Finkelstein, Kevin Garsek, Leigh Gernsbacher, Craig Goldman, Kay Granger, Rebecca Isgur, Stuart Isgur, Howard Katz, Pearl Katz, Dorie Kaye, Stephen Kaye, Howard Lawler, Judith Lawler, Michael Leeper, Danny Lunow, April Nelson, Traci Newberry, Phathanakone Norasingh, George Pearsons, Terri Pearsons, Howard Pierce, Vanessa Pierce, Rodney Quickle, Susan Quickle, Mark Rosenfield, Naomi Rosenfield, David Sander, Janet Sander, Ethan Sironi, Julie Sironi, Melissa Swindle, Kelli Dee Swisher, Braden White, Camille Wilder and Christopher Wilder.
Approximately $60 million in Israel bonds were purchased by the 1,500 attendees — the largest Israel Bonds event since the organizations first Madison Square Garden event in 1951.

Get registered
for Camp Shalom

At the Bonds event, Rebecca Isgur reminded me of her recent email that the Camp Shalom early registration discount program deadline (6 p.m. April 1) is approaching quickly. Don’t miss out on these discounts for your children’s summer of Jewish fun in Fort Worth.
Campers from the youngest to the oldest are set to enjoy the many new and enhanced outdoor features this summer including: swimming, field trips, arts and crafts, indoor and outdoor games, as well as gardening in the Camp Shalom section of the Congregation Ahavath Sholom Community Garden. Each week ends  with a joyous Shabbat program of singing, dancing and tasty treats.
Beginning its 60th year of serving the Fort Worth and surrounding communities, Camp Shalom offers a traditional summer day camp, encouraging kids to just be kids. Over the years, preschoolers through teenagers, their children and their children’s children have enjoyed the many activities of Camp Shalom.
For additional information and registration, call Camp Shalom at 817-737-9898 or visit the camp office at 4950 South Hulen.
Press Note:
Congregation Ahavath Sholom’s gourmet brisket and chili team, Chai on Smoke, will compete in this Sunday’s Kosher Chili Cook-off at Tiferet Israel in Dallas. The team is made up of Hal Ratner, Reed Cohen, Chad Herman, Mike Lavi, Ebby Lavi, Michael Linn and Ben Herman.

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Middle East briefing: Hurry up, wait on PM election

Middle East briefing: Hurry up, wait on PM election

Posted on 19 March 2015 by admin

By Gil Elan

By the time you read this column, the Israeli elections will be over, the votes tallied and the results published. But unless a miracle happens, it could be days…or even weeks…before we know who the next Israeli prime minister will be.
This is because in the Israeli political system of indirect “proportionate representation,” voters elect members of the 120 seat Knesset (parliament) by voting for one of the more than 20 parties running in any given election.
After tallying all the votes, all 120 legislative seats are allocated in proportion to the percentage of the votes each party received.
So if Party X received 40 percent of the popular nationwide vote, it will get 40 percent of the seats = 48 seats; a lot, for sure…but not enough.
Since the prime minister and government are elected and empowered by the Knesset in a simple majority vote of at least 61 members of Knesset, our hypothetical Party X would have to form a coalition with other parties to get the necessary minimum of 61 votes, and potential coalition partners, even those who are ideologically similar on most issues, will come with demands based on their own political and personal agendas. Let the horse-trading begin.
After a week or more, the Israeli president, a normally ceremonial and non-political office, performs his one and only political role: After non-binding consultation with all the parties that won seats in the recent election, he nominates a member of the new Knesset to try to form a coalition government that will have the minimum 61 seat backing for a vote of confidence in the new government, with the nominee as prime minister.
Usually the president’s nominee has been the leader of one of the larger parties: Labor and its earlier incarnations down to David Ben-Gurion’s Mapai Party in the first years of the state, or Likud and its predecessors down to Menachem Begin’s “Revisionist” Herut party. But … not always! By Israeli law, the only requisite is that the prime minister elect must be a current Member of Knesset.
And here’s where things get really interesting and unpredictable this time.
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: 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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Dallas Doings: Community conference, Couples Club, RoughRiders announcer

Dallas Doings: Community conference, Couples Club, RoughRiders announcer

Posted on 19 March 2015 by admin

By Linda Wisch Davidsohn

JFS Dallas 2015 Community Conference March 22-23

Jewish Family Service  (JFS) and the UNT Health Sciences Program will present “When the War Comes Home: Trauma and the Military Family,” a community presentation and professional conference featuring Dr. Harold Kudler, chief consultant for mental health in the VA Central Office, Washington, D.C. Other speakers are Julia Wharton, executive director of Hope for the Home Front; Dr. Abel Tomatis, licensed specialist in school psychology and supervisor for Dallas ISD; Charlene Stark, founder and president for Hope for the Brave; and Dr. Ken Graves, clinical child psychologist with Brooke Army Medical Center.
As the military downsizes, over 26,000 veterans are expected to settle in North Texas over the next three to five years. Re-entry into civilian life can be full of challenges. Many veterans find themselves unemployed and even homeless. Trauma experienced during their service, and even preceding their enlistment, underlies mental health needs, family violence incidents and even thoughts of suicide.
JFS is collaborating to meet the needs of these veterans and their families. This event is open to the entire community including leaders, mental health professionals, non-veterans, veterans and their families. Professional speakers and panelists will address the challenges that veterans and their families may face upon returning from the military — challenges such as traumatic stress, depression, substance abuse, family violence and other difficulties adjusting to everyday life.
The Dr. Sol Lurie Community Presentation, “It’s Our Time to Serve the Military Families,” will kick off the two-day conference beginning Sunday, March 22, at 7 p.m. at Congregation Shearith Israel in Dallas.
This evening presentation, which is open to the entire community, will focus on the difficulty many veterans and their families face as they readjust to everyday life and the steps that our community, education and mental health professionals can take to aid in their transition.
The 18th annual Janis Ablon Professional Conference will continue Monday, March 23, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Congregation Shearith Israel. Conference objectives include identifying clinical guidelines for assessing and treating military- related mental health issues; learning to understand the impact of sexual trauma in the military; describing best practice treatments and resources for increasing awareness and competence; and specifying steps that every citizen can take in building a community of care.
Continuing education credits will be available for physicians, nurses, social workers, licensed professional counselors, psychologists and licensed marriage and family therapists.

Temple Emanu-El Couples Club has new officers

Congratulations to Temple Emanu-El Couples Club’s new officers. The 2015-2016 slate was presented at the group’s most recent luncheon meeting at the Prestonwood Country Club.
Nelda Golden, founder of the club in 1989, conducted the program and installed the new officers, who are as follows: presidents, Edie and Paul Singer; vice presidents, Shirley and Maurice Nurenberg and Roberta and Donald Spector; vice presidents (social), Renee and Buddy Gilbert with their assistant committee, vice presidents (membership) Roslyn and Richard Polakoff and Phyllis and Paul Rifkin; secretaries, Lois and Alan Kohn; and treasurers, Sandra and Dan Gorman.

Photo: Buddy Gilbert New Temple Emanu-El Couples Club officers sworn in for 2015-2016 are, from left, Vice Presidents Maurice and Shirley Nurenberg, and Presidents Paul and Edie Singer. (Not pictured: Vice-Presidents Roberta and Donald Spector)


Appointed chairpersons were also acknowledged. They are: parliamentarians, Carole and Barry Cohen; historians, Susan and Morris Hasson; sunshine, Joyce and Jerry Zellman; publicity, Renee and Buddy Gilbert; and communications, Elaine and Bernie Weil.
The Temple Emanu-El Couples Club, founded 26 years ago, is a social club open to Temple members as well as other Jewish couples in the community. One member of the couple should be 55 years of age or older. For more information or to join, call Roslyn and Richard Polakoff at 972-701-8721, or Phyllis and Paul Rifkin at 972-380-2594.

RoughRiders Broadcaster Alex Vispoli speaking at Beth Torah

Alex Vispoli, the voice of the Frisco RoughRiders and the team’s manager of broadcasting and media development, will be the guest speaker at Congregation Beth Torah Men’s Club Sunday morning breakfast March 22.
Vispoli, who handles radio and TV broadcasts for the team, will discuss the upcoming baseball season, focusing on the Texas Rangers and the RoughRiders, the Rangers’ AA minor league team. The Rangers’ opening game is April 6 and the RoughRiders start the season April 9.
The public is invited to the monthly lox-and-bagel breakfast, which begins at 9 a.m. and costs $10, $5 for students. Beth Torah is located at 720 W. Lookout Drive in Richardson, near the crossroads of Bush Turnpike and Central Expressway.
For more information, call the synagogue at 972-234-1542.

Alex Vispoli, the voice of the Frisco RoughRiders and the team’s manager of broadcasting and media development, will be the guest speaker at Congregation Beth Torah Men’s Club Sunday morning breakfast March 22.

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Children’s independence a vital step

Children’s independence a vital step

Posted on 19 March 2015 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,
This article is a little different from many that I write. As a camp director and educator, I keep up with all information, both formal and informal, about kids, parents and families. The big concept out in the field is “Free-Range Parenting.” Please Google it, but in short — a while back, scientist Danielle Meitiv was found responsible for “unsubstantiated child neglect” after letting her 10- and 6-year-old kids walk home from a neighborhood park. Police were called and it has become a concern of all parents, those on the side of letting our children have responsible freedom and those who do not let their children out unless adult supervised.
Today in the daily Tablet update that comes direct to my computer, the story came from writer Marjorie Ingall titled “Letting Go of Our Kids Isn’t a Form of Neglect: the stereotype of the Jewish mother depicts a hovering, overprotective maniac. The truth is very different.” In her article, Ingall says, Judaism is pretty clear on the fact that fostering children’s independence is vital. The Babylonian Talmud tells us we have three obligations when it comes to childrearing: Teach your kid Torah. Teach your kid to earn a living. And teach your kid to swim. Wait, what? “What is the reason?” the Talmud queries rhetorically. “His life may depend on it.” If we take this as a metaphor, what this means is that you won’t always be there to rescue your kid. So, you need to teach a kid to deal with adversity. For those of you who are not parenting young children and for those of you who are grandparents, think back to your childhood — most of us played outside and many walked to school!
The free-range proponents have statistics on their side – the United States is safer now than it was when we were children. Yet the media has us running scared and our litigious society adds to that. So what are we to do? Two Jewish mothers, Danielle Meitiv and Lenore Skenazy, are leading the movement. They are arguing for all children and fighting against the Jewish mother stereotype as a Rottweiler protecting her turf. That was perhaps the mother of a certain era, however, Jewish mothers have always been strong and both loving and demanding with the goal of raising competent adults who can handle anything the world throws at them.
This is hard for parents — letting go is never easy and no one said you get to stop worrying. However, our goal, as described today, is to encourage children’s “executive function” (the ability to coordinate complex tasks and meet goals independently). Jewish families have been doing this for thousands of years and we have Torah role models to prove it.
Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Service at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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Ask the Rabbi: Jewish calendar origins

Ask the Rabbi: Jewish calendar origins

Posted on 19 March 2015 by admin

Rabbi Fried,
We all get Jewish calendars at the grocery store or in the mail and take them for granted; who actually wrote the Jewish calendar and what are its origins? I’ve been wondering this for years and hope you can provide me some insight.
— Marvin G.

Ask the Rabbi By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Marvin,
The very first mitzvah which the Jewish people were commanded, while still in Egypt, was to sanctify the new month. “This renewal [of the moon] shall be for you the beginning of the months, it shall be for you the first of the months of the year.” (Exodus/Shemos 12:1-2) This means that the Jewish people are not to simply calculate our dates; we need to sanctify the first day of every month, which is called Rosh Chodesh, or the “head of the month.” From the time of Moses for nearly 1,000 years, the high Jewish court, or Sanhedrin, calculated and sanctified the new month. Each month the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem would wait for two witnesses to appear stating they have observed a new moon. After testing the veracity of the witnesses, they would establish the sanctity of Rosh Chodesh by the power vested in them, and by proclaiming “mekudash, mekudash,” “it is sanctified, it is sanctified.”
For all the centuries from the time that Joshua led the Jews into their land, the conditions existed to carry out the sanctification of the new months. As long as the months were sanctified in this Divinely ordained manner, there could not be an annual set “calendar.” Since each new month required new testimony of witnesses, no one could guarantee whether the current month would be 29 or 30 days. Since the Jewish holidays, such as Passover, depended upon when the Sanhedrin proclaimed the new month, Jews would wait to be informed when Pesach would fall out that year, an uneasy feat in a pre-electronic communicative world. A system of bonfires, lit atop mountains across Israel, would announce from Jerusalem when the new month was established. When saboteurs maliciously lit fires on the wrong days to mislead the people, the Sanhedrin had to send actual messengers by horseback across the country to inform all of the new month.
This process continued until one of the last generations that its leaders still had actual smicha, or ordination through an unbroken chain from Moses. This type of smicha is a prerequisite to sanctify the new month. Because this smicha was in danger of cessation, the entire institution of Rosh Chodesh and Jewish months was in danger. In order to ensure the continuity of Jewish months, Hillel the Last and his court, who still held that form of smicha, calculated and sanctified all the coming months until the time of Messiah. By doing so, they established the first actual calendar, in the year 359 CE. From the establishment of the calendar and onward they no longer needed to wait for witnesses; they relied upon calculations sanctified with the smicha power vested in them.
The Torah established that our months be lunar, or moon-based, as opposed to the general, or Gregorian, calendar in use today in most of the world. The Torah also commands that Passover always fall out in the spring. (Deuteronomy/Devarim 16:1)  For this reason, an extra month, or leap year, was established to synchronize the solar with the lunar calendar, seven out of every 19 years. In this way, the months have remained successfully synchronized for over 3,300 years since we received this commandment!
It is fascinating to further notice the precision of our sages’ calculations. The Talmud (Rosh Hashanah 25a) and Maimonides (Code, Laws of Sanctifying the Moon 6:2-3) calculate the length of a solar month as 29.53059 days. A number of years ago, NASA made the following statement: “After years of researched based on calculations using satellites, hairline telescopes, laser beams and supercomputers, scientists at NASA have determined that the length of the ‘synodic month,’ i.e., the amount of time between one new moon and the next is: 29.530588 days” (!!).
As we approach Pesach, the time of our redemption and the time we were first commanded this mitzvah of calculating the months, we have an opportunity to take a fresh look at the Jewish concept of time. We see, as explained above, that the Jewish dates don’t just arbitrarily fall out; they are calculated. We don’t just follow along with the flow of time; the Torah, rather, empowers us to actually change time and dates. The Torah puts us above time! To live above time is to connect to the eternity of the Jewish people!
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

Dallas Doings

Posted on 12 March 2015 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

Herzl Group of the Dallas Chapter of Hadassah’s Lifesaver Luncheon

The Herzl Group of the Dallas Chapter of Hadassah will hold its annual Lifesaver Luncheon at 11 a.m., Monday, March 16, at The Legacy at Willow Bend, 6101 Ohio Drive, Plano, TX 75024. The cost for attendance is $25, and checks should be mailed to Mrs. Sunny Shor, 7806 Royal Lane #120, Dallas, TX 75230. The annual event is well attended. One can count on entertainment, door and raffle prizes, excellent food and warm companionship. Membership in Hadassah is not required — both female and male guests are welcome.

A bus will depart from the JCC at 10:30 a.m. and return to the J following the luncheon. To utilize bus accommodations, pleas write “BUS” on your check.

So, do you think you know Hadassah? Did you know that in 2014 Hadassah received an outstanding rating from Charity Navigator, which helps inform intelligent giving decisions through objective ratings and in-depth analysis of U.S. charities? Charity Navigator bases their top 10 list on criteria which include exceptional financial management, operational complexity and global reach. The 10 top charities on the list were selected from more than 7,000 evaluated by Charity Navigator in 2014. In Charity Navigator’s category entitled “Charities Everyone Has Heard Of,” Hadassah received a score of 98.75 and ranked No. 3, behind Direct Relief and the United Nations Foundation. Hadassah may be over 100 years old; however, it has a strong present-day relevance. Hadassah’s motto is “Hadassah — The Power of Women Who Do,” which speaks to the value and strength of their volunteer organization whose goal is to provide healing, care and medical miracles every day — to repair the world.

Hadassah’s Mission Statement is: “Hadassah is a volunteer organization whose members are motivated and inspired to strengthen their partnership with Israel, ensure Jewish continuity and realize their potential as a dynamic force in American society. In Israel we initiate and support pace-setting health care, education and youth institutions, as well as land development to meet the country’s changing needs. In the United States Hadassah enhances the quality of American and Jewish life through its education and Zionist youth programs, promotes health awareness and provides personal enrichment and growth for its members.”

Please support Herzl Hadassah as they celebrate their annual Lifesaver Luncheon Monday, March 16.

News from Michigan State University College of Law

Good wishes to Aaron Chapman and his partner, Katie Oberer, who recently won the regional Texas Young Lawyers Association National Trial Competition held in Detroit Feb. 6-8. The pair will advance to the National Competition (TYLA) Texas Young Lawyers Association competition, which will take place this week in Houston. This is quite a feat!! Aaron grew up in Richardson and has attended Congregation Beth Torah his whole life. He is also the president emeritus of the Jewish Law Society at Michigan State University as well as an alumni member of Sigma Alpha Mu. His presence and participation with the fraternity at Michigan State has allowed the fraternity to have an active charter on campus. Dallas is proud of Aaron’s accomplishments. We wish Aaron and Katie best of luck as they compete this week in Houston against 28 teams from across the country.

Rachel Drazner named National Merit Finalist

Added good wishes to Lakehill Preparatory School senior Rachel Drazner, daughter of Laurie and Mark Drazner, who has been named a National Merit Finalist, an honor reserved for the nation’s most academically talented students.

Rachel was initially named as a semi-finalist in January from a highly competitive pool of students in Texas who were selected to apply to the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Competition. In the fall, Rachel advanced to Finalist standing by meeting high academic standards and fulfilling several requirements that included submitting a detailed scholarship application and presenting a record of high academic performance. Finalists are now eligible for National Merit Scholarships, which will be awarded in March. We look forward to hearing more great news from Rachel.

JFS Klein Internship application deadline approaching

The Jewish Family Service Klein Internship program is open to all sophomore and junior students in the Greater Dallas area. The applicant must be at least 16 years old by Sept. 1, 2015. The interns are chosen through a competitive process involving a written application and personal interview. Students are selected based on merit without regard to religion, race or ethnicity.

All applications are due by March 20, 2015. For additional information, contact Jewish Family Service at 972-437-9950 or contact bschwitzer@jfsdallas.org or visit http://www.jfsdallas.org/getinvolved/kleininternship.

Temple Shalom welcomes Coooperstein and Roseman Feb. 22; wraps leadership class

From left, Rabbi Emeritus Ken Roseman and Temple Shalom President Dennis Eichelbaum at Roseman’s Feb. 22 presentation | Photo: Lisa Rothberg

From left, Rabbi Emeritus Ken Roseman and Temple Shalom President Dennis Eichelbaum at Roseman’s Feb. 22 presentation | Photo: Lisa Rothberg

Sunday, Feb. 22 was a very busy and exciting day at Temple Shalom. Chuck Cooperstein, radio play-by-play voice of the Mavericks on ESPN 103.3 FM, spoke to over 70 people at the Brotherhood Breakfast. Then, Rabbi Emeritus Ken Roseman spoke about his new book, “Trials and Tribulations.” It was a fascinating topic and Temple members enjoyed catching up with Rabbi Roseman. Finally, the Temple Shalom Leadership class held its final session. The group of members have met monthly since September to learn about volunteer opportunities at Temple Shalom and how to successfully lead in a congregational environment. Members of the leadership class, which has been facilitated by Julie Eichelbaum and Josh Goldman, are Julie Gothard, are David Arndt, Robin Ashman-Terrell, Brenda Butnick, Hollye Ferreira, Roy Flegenheimer, Abby Freeman, Jason Gadsby, Mandy Gold, Stephen Gold, Richard Kahn, Diana Krevo, Gregory Krevo, Mark Lerner, Ellen Liston, James Liston, Leanne Mallini, Amy Milton, Barry Pierce, Alicyn Rhodes, Janna Smith, Lisa Speckman, Moy Speckman, Anita Warner, James Warner and Robyn Young.

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