Archive | May, 2015

Houston flood: Helping city’s Jewish population; Jewish values and reporting

Houston flood: Helping city’s Jewish population; Jewish values and reporting

Posted on 28 May 2015 by admin

Rabbi Joseph Radinsky, rabbi emeritus of United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston, was among those who had to be rescued from their homes by watercraft after Houston was hit with heavy flooding, May 26. (Robert Levy photo)

Here are a few resources for Dallas-area residents who want to help a few fellow Texans:

 

The Jewish Herald-Voice has been covering the flooding, which has affected many Jewish buildings and families. Here are a few stories:

Rabbi organizes cleanup

School dried, to reopen June 1

Meyerland Minyan begins flood clean up

Rabbi rescued

Pulling together for recovery

**********

 Here is a JNS.org story on coverage of the flooding.

By Jacob Kamaras/JNS.org

As Jewish media far and wide started picking up on the story of this week’s devastating flood in Houston, which hit Jewish-heavy neighborhoods particularly hard, JNS.org has been (in my own estimation) conspicuously late to join the reporting. That is by design. I am both our editor and a resident of Houston, and in the days after the May 25-26 storm, the flood was a life event rather than a news story.

But as I type these words on this Thursday morning, while my local Jewish community continues to engage in inspirational relief efforts for its affected members, I feel some measure of distance from the event itself and am finally ready to write about the flood—but as a human being, not as a news reporter. For many others who suffered much worse material and emotional damage than I did, I’m sure that such “distance” isn’t possible right now, so I hope my writing can serve as somewhat of a holding space for their feelings.

The night of May 25, which coincided with the end of Shavuot, started normally enough. Sure, my wife and I could see persistent lightning outside the window of our third-floor apartment, but it was initially more of an artsy light show than a concern. After a few hours, however, we saw some cars flooding outside and figured it would be a good idea to check on my wife’s car, which was parked in the bottom level of our building’s lot.

On the way down, the elevator stalled at the bottom level, and some water started to spill inside. The doors initially wouldn’t open. At that point, my wife and I weren’t aware of how much water was actually outside the elevator. When the doors did open after perhaps the longest minute of my life, the water was up to our knees. When we saw my wife’s car inundated with water, it was clear that there was nothing to do to save it. But after averting a disaster in the elevator, the car was the furthest thing from my thoughts at the time. I was simply grateful to be alive.

Looking outside my apartment window the next morning, to call the scene akin to the Great Flood from the Book of Genesis isn’t much of an exaggeration. The surrounding area was, quite literally, a lake. We learned that the flooded cars we had visited in our parking lot just hours earlier were now completely underwater. After the perfunctory call to our car insurance provider, I began to obsess a little more about our car than I had in the immediate aftermath of the “at least I’m alive” gratitude that followed the elevator experience.

But as we regained power and Internet access later in the day, we learned of the far-worse damage sustained by those living in homes near our synagogue, United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston (UOS). Numerous homes of our fellow congregants were destroyed, and almost every area of the synagogue building was significantly damaged. At that point, despite my angst about losing a car, it was clear that we had gotten off easy. That doesn’t mean I stopped thinking about the car altogether—far from it—but it was the ultimate lesson in perspective-taking and putting myself in others’ shoes.

The way I see it, the historically severe Houston flood presents an opportunity to reflect on some important Jewish values—which are also human values. Some of the values that follow below can be difficult to embrace or understand in the heat of the moment, when disaster strikes. But with time, they carry the potential to be comforting, empowering, and inspirational.

Kol Yisrael Areivim Ze La’ze 

Translated as “all the people of Israel are responsible for one another,” this value has been strongly manifested in my Jewish community during and after the flood. On the night of the deluge and continuing into the next day, Facebook transformed into a mission control center, with residents of the area surrounding the UOS synagogue frantically—but oh so efficiently—spreading news on which families needed rescuing, tagging the names of both the individuals in the most dire situations and those with the rafts and canoes to save them. Particularly iconic—as well as viral on traditional and social media—has become an image of the elderly rabbi emeritus of UOS, Rabbi Joseph Radinsky, being rescued on a canoe by fellow community members Donniel Ogorek and Morgan Davies. Looking back on the Facebook “news feed” that chronicles the immediate Jewish communal response to the flood is a true inspiration.

Also inspirational is my community’s ongoing grassroots flood-relief effort. The frantic Facebook tagging has shifted to more methodical online spreadsheets that are recruiting help for affected individuals and families, who are in need of shelter, clean clothing, food, cleanup help, and peace of mind. Indeed, “all the people of Israel are responsible for one another” has been taken to heart here in Houston.

Tikkun Olam

The Jewish value of “repairing the world” is frequently invoked in communal circles. Some would say that it has become almost a catchphrase, or even a semi-politicized term associated primarily with progressive/liberal Jewry rather than traditional Jews who are also looking to repair the world. But in the aftermath of the Houston flood, there is no such polarizing debate about Tikkun Olam. The “world,” in this case our local community, is literally in need of repair. To that end, Jewish organizations are doing their part to raise disaster-relief funds. Among the fundraisers—I apologize in advance to those I am inevitably missing in this space—are B’nai B’rith International (here), the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston (here), and the Orthodox Union (here).

Hakarat Hatov

“Recognizing the good” is particularly difficult in the immediate aftermath of a disaster, especially for those who are most severely affected. My personal loss of a car turned out to be relatively insignificant within the spectrum of the losses experienced by other members of my community. Besides for the important understanding of “it could have been worse,” the car loss presented a unique opportunity for Hakarat Hatov when juxtaposed with being stuck in the elevator, even if only for a minute. My wife and I lost a car. But we did not lose our lives by drowning in an elevator. Nor did we lose a home or any other vital personal possessions. And of course, the car is both insured and replaceable. There is so much good to be recognized. I have seen fellow community members, particularly those who lost their homes, show much more impressive Hakarat Hatov. Despite their significant material loss, they are expressing gratitude for their safety, their future, the assistance they have received, and the replaceability of their possessions. This is another instance in which my Facebook news feed has been inspirational.

Gam Zu L’tovah

“This, too, is for the best.” It’s a Jewish expression that can be seen as an extension of Hakarat Hatov, yet goes even further by saying that there is not only good to be recognized amid a disaster, but that the disaster itself is for the best. As difficult as it is to recognize the good in the context of trauma, what is even harder is to view the actual traumatic portion as a benefit. For those who lost homes and everything else they own in the Houston flood, or worse, those who lost family members, acknowledging “Gam Zu L’tovah” must be a virtual impossibility. Even if a traumatized individual speaks those words aloud, and even for the most emotionally mature and balanced victims of this disaster who are able to show remarkable perspective-taking skills, it must be so difficult to actually believe inside that everything that happened is “for the best.”

But at least on a community-wide level, this value is already being internalized in Houston. Yes, there is a long road ahead. The repairs will be costly, and will require much time and patience. Yet the remarkable display of Jewish unity resulting from the flood will have an enduring positive effect, bringing the community closer together than ever. Inspiration, it seems, sometimes comes with a heavy price tag. In the process, both internal character and meaningful interpersonal relationships are built.

This, too, is for the best.

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Jan Ayers Friedman’s art on display

Jan Ayers Friedman’s art on display

Posted on 28 May 2015 by admin

By Hollace Weiner

Twelve Views, by artist Jan Ayers Friedman, is an acrylic, oil, and gesso on canvas. It is part of an exhibit at Beth-El Congregation featuring her art work.

Jan Ayers Friedman, whose paintings and sculpture are on display at Beth-El Congregation through the end of July, connects her art with Kabbalah — Jewish ancient mysticism that delves into the nature of the universe. Her favorite tools include graphite powders and pastel chalks, which blend art and science at a primordial level. Among her works on display is an 84-inch tower, titled Level of Soul, created with shards of selenite, a quartz-like mineral. Her paintings, often filled with patterns, grids and color gradations, are upbeat yet serene and open to interpretation. They also reflect her previous employment as a draftsman drawing blueprints for engineering firms.
A Dallas native who grew up in Grand Prairie and Arlington, Friedman is a relative newcomer to Fort Worth. She and her husband, Jerry Friedman, moved to the west side of the Metroplex from Plano during the summer of 2012 to be closer to his work. He is coordinator of the University of North Texas Health Science Center Simulation Lab.
For Friedman, whose art is regularly displayed at Dallas’ Modartists Gallery, the move proved transformative. “Creative and spiritual avenues opened,” she said. She found studio space in a converted warehouse in the Riverside Arts District. Among the seven artists sharing studio space was Gloria Sepp, Beth-El’s Religious School art teacher.
Friedman also connected with the local Jewish community through her high-school classmate Gail Berlin. Gail’s daughter, Angie Kitzman, is program director at the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. She put Friedman to work as a volunteer designing, block-printing, and hand-coloring notecards sent to more than 200 donors.
In conjunction with the exhibit in the Beth-El Board Room, there will be an artist’s reception at 8:30 p.m., Friday, June 12, during the Oneg Shabbat following services. Come enjoy a glass of wine, meet the artist, and reflect on Friedman’s innovative work.

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Staring down the new face of Middle East conflict

Staring down the new face of Middle East conflict

Posted on 28 May 2015 by admin

Photo: Ben Tinsley Michael Makovsky speaks to a gathered group, discussing what Middle Eastern problems can mean for America and how they can transfer here.

By Ben Tinsley
bent@texasjewishpost.com

 

DALLAS — Dr. Michael Makovsky covered a lot of ground May 20 during his presentation “The New Face of Conflict: Lessons from the 2014 Gaza War for America.”
As the chief executive officer of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a pro-Israel nonprofit think-tank, Dr. Makovsky also reviewed at length JINSA’s opposition to “Goldstone II” — the name many Israelis used to describe the three-member commission set up to investigate allegations of “war crimes” following Operation Protective Edge.
Goldstone II originally derived its name from the infamous Goldstone Report set up following Operation Cast Lead in 2009 — which was slammed as one-sided and anti-Israel by critics.
JINSA officials selected Dallas for one of Makovsky’s presentations because of its size, political influence, and large Jewish population.
Makovsky had a lot of information to impart over the course of an hour:

  • The U.S.-Iran nuclear talks aren’t slowing Tehran’s production;
  • Hamas bent the same rules of war that it accused Israel of doing during last year’s Gaza Conflict; and
  • Both Israeli and Arab media skewed coverage of last summer’s events.

Makovsky conducted several vigorous discussions with audience members regarding Israel and the Middle East.
He had prepared several folders for audience members packed with documents and copies of news stories, which provided background on several of Makovsky’s talking points during his presentation in the Old Parkland Pecan Room, 3819 Maple Ave.
“I thought what I would do is talk a little about my organization, talk a little about the Middle East, and then have a conversation,” Makovsky said.
The folders contained at least two articles referencing the Israeli-Arab “War of Narrative” — the distortion of the historical record on both sides of the conflict.
On the subject of Iran and nuclear arms, Makovsky passed out documents addressing his belief that the Iran nuclear arrangement with the U.S. is not slowing any increase in nuclear arms — as had been hoped.
“The Iran deal is (speeding up) nuclear proliferation in an unbelievably unstable part of the world,” he said.
Then came the subject of the investigation into soldier conduct during the 2014 Israel-Gaza Conflict. A special task force of retired U.S. generals visited Israel and conducted an assessment of conduct during that conflict, Makovsky said.
The results of that investigation were listed in a May 2015 document presented to Congress.
The conclusions:

  • The study showed that Hamas violated the law of armed conflict and exploited misunderstanding of its requirements to undermine Israel’s perceived moral standing and international support.
  • The study indicated Israel’s military did everything it could to avoid civilian casualties — and also did what it could to reduce the risk to the civilian population.
  • The conduct of the Israel Defense Forces during battle was an “admirable case of restraint,” according to the study.
  • The study indicates Hamas and its supporters substantially manipulated the Law of Armed Conflict, or LOAC, to allege that collateral damage from Israeli was illegal, while concealing the fact that Hamas simultaneously encouraged collateral damage.
  • Hamas, according to reports, supported false claims against the IDF by distorting stories and images to serve their organization’s narrative and by manipulating stories in the international media.

After Makovsky’s presentation, he spent much time in back-and-forth conversations with the audience:
“The star of the war was the Iron Dome. It was a great success.”
“These aren’t your grandfather’s tunnels — 7 feet high and cased with cement.”
As the evening concluded, Makovsky specifically thanked Harlan and Amy Korenvaes for being his hosts.
Dr. Michael Makovsky joined JINSA in 2013 as CEO. A U.S. national security expert, he has worked extensively on Iran’s nuclear program, the Middle East, and the intersection of international energy markets and politics with U.S. national security.

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Zell: Why the pope recognized a Palestinian state

Posted on 28 May 2015 by admin

By Rabbi Shawn D. Zell
Guest columnist

Because I am neither a Catholic nor the son of a Catholic, I have no compunction whatsoever in second-guessing the recent announcement that the Vatican is granting recognition to the state of Palestine.
At the risk of sounding like the fictional Hyman Roth of Godfather II, I truly believe that when pressed for an explanation, the Pontiff, with a modicum of remonstration in his voice, would say: It had nothing to do with Israel.
As a rabbi, I believe him. I also can’t help but believe there’s a strong possibility that any or all of the following three theories might help shed light on a move that is disconcerting, to say the least, to many Jews and others:
Pope Francis is pulling the same shtick as Pope Pius XII. It’s the smart move. With the rise and spread of Islamofascism in the world and the inability of the West to contain it, much less eradicate it, Pope Francis is buying an insurance policy. Should the time come when the Muslim extremists vanquish Europe, His Holiness is hoping they will adopt pretty much the same hands-off attitude toward the Vatican as did the Nazis during World War II, and leave it intact.
The Pope is expressing teshuvah. With the 50th anniversary of Nostra Aetate on Oct. 28, when after close to 2,000 years the Catholic Church chose to bury the hatchet and absolve us Jews for killing their lord, the Pope feels it’s no longer necessary to wait another 2,000 years for a mea culpa of an entirely different nature.
The Pope is doing teshuvah for the Crusades, and all the innocent Muslim blood that Christians shed as they wrested the Holy Land from the infidels. What better way of saying “I’m sorry for soaking the soil of Israel with Muslim blood” than granting recognition to the state of Palestine? Only thing is, the Pope has yet to do teshuvah for the Crusades. And all the innocent Jewish blood that Christians shed as they traversed Europe on their way to wrest the Holy Land from the infidels.
The Pope is expressing Christian love and forgiveness. By recognizing the state of Palestine, he is sending the following message: We peace-loving Christians forgive you Muslim murderers for eradicating and cleansing any number of Israeli and Lebanese villages inhabited by Christian Arabs, thereby causing mayhem and carnage, only to turn those very same villages into terrorist strongholds where further acts of mayhem and carnage can be carried out with abandon and impunity. In true apostolic tradition, it’s as though the Pontiff is pontificating the following: Verily, it has been said, Do not bite the hand that feeds you. I, however, say unto you, feed the hand that bites you.
A big yasher koach to you, Khaled (Mashal), and to you, Mahmoud (Abbas), along with the rest of your subhuman thugs and murderers. You are that much closer to fooling all of the people all of the time. You’ve even succeeded in duping a well-meaning Pope.
Rabbi Shawn Zell is the spiritual leader of Congregation Tiferet Israel in Dallas.

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Around Town: Six13 concert, Freed family says howdy

Posted on 28 May 2015 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharonw@texasjewishpost.com

When the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County convenes its 79th annual meeting at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, June 2, at Beth-El Congregation, a highlight of the evening is sure to be the presentation of the Wolens Award to Diane Kleinman.
The Wolens Award was established by the late Jerry and Sylvia Wolens to inspire leadership for the Federation through a subsidy to attend the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly. This year the GA is Nov. 8-10 in Washington, D.C.
Diane Kleinman is a Canadian transplant who spent several years in El Paso before making Fort Worth her home with her husband Sam and their two children Mallory and Bryce. Diane, a registered nurse, happily put her career on hold to raise children. She has served on the Jewish Education Agency board, the Beth-El Congregation board and is currently on the board of the Jewish Federation and has served on its programming committee. She is slated to become the new vice president in charge of the Annual Campaign. Diane participated in this year’s Federation leadership program and mission to Israel along with 12 others from the community.
“As the saying goes, I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could! I wasn’t born Jewish, so I’m making up for lost time! I believe in the importance of Israel and I love the Fort Worth Jewish community. I am happy to give back and be involved as a volunteer for the Jewish Federation,” says Diane.
In addition to the Wolens Award presentation, special guest Daniel Agranov, deputy consul general of Israel to the Southwest U.S., will speak. A dessert reception to honor outgoing and incoming volunteer leaders will follow the meeting.

Don’t miss Six13

Six13, an a cappella group, is coming to Fort Worth to perform at a free family concert presented by B’nai B’rith at 2 p.m. this Sunday afternoon, May 31 at Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Fort Worth.
The high-energy, six-man contemporary pop group’s Jewish songs are anchored by a thumping beatbox, intricate arrangements and soulful harmonies. Their songs range from dance tracks to rock anthems backed by hard-hitting “drums.” The members of the New York-based group sound like a full band while using nothing but their voices. The group, which has performed all over the world, mixes Jewish favorites with clever parodies of today’s hits. Along the way there are laughs, sing-alongs, demonstrations and words of Torah.
Anyone who has ever seen them perform has been ecstatic about their show. Says Cantor Sheri Allen of Congregation Beth Shalom, “These guys are amazing! I saw them perform in person a few years ago at a Cantors Assembly Convention, and they blew me away! They are incredibly talented, wonderfully entertaining and extremely funny to boot. If you haven’t already seen their Passover parody, Uptown Passover, go online and check it out.”
The concert is free, but tickets are required for admission and are available at all Tarrant County synagogues. The concert, a gift to the Tarrant County Jewish community, is presented by B’nai B’rith Isadore Garsek Lodge 269, with support from the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, and the Dan Danciger/FWHDS Supporting Foundation.
Another way to get tickets for this unique Jewish family concert is by connecting with Rich Hollander, 817-909-4354, or Jim Stanton, 817-307-9167.

Howdy from the Freed family

What a joy recently to hear in one week from both Sandra and Buddy Freed, my former Fort Worth neighbors and carpoolers extraordinaire. Sandra wrote,
“Hope this finds you and your family doing well. We are doing OK (for our ages) here in Austin. Its a great town and there is so much going on it is impossible to take it all in. We do miss our Fort Worth friends.
“Want to let you know that Leslie’s daughter, Hannah Frishberg, is graduating after two years from Reed College. She is a very talented photo-journalist and has been published since high school in several online news organizations. One of her articles was picked up by the Huffington Post. She presently has a column (In Focus) in the online magazine Curbed. After graduation she will be employed by another Internet news organization.
We are getting ready to go to New York, where Shari’s daughter, Emily, will be sworn in as an attorney. She has been working at Baker Botts since graduating last June from UT Law School.
Sandra added, when I inquired, that Shari’s boys Sam and Charlie are also up to great things. Sam graduated from Rice two years ago with a degree in electrical engineering.
He went to work two days later for a company that makes thermocouplers and has traveled all over the world supervising their installation.
Charlie is a sophomore at Trinity University, where he is a mathematics and computer science major and is a member of a jazz band.
Later that week, I heard from Buddy Freed, who wrote to say he liked the story package we ran on his alma mater Texas A&M. You can read Buddy’s letter on Page 9 of this week’s issue.
Sandra tells me that they love Austin, but they do miss their Fort Worth folks. Incidentally, Sandra and Buddy were honored last month in Austin by Israel Bonds.

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Author: Daring journalists must defend Israel

Author: Daring journalists must defend Israel

Posted on 28 May 2015 by admin

By Ben Tinsley
bent@texasjewishpost.com

Shavit

DALLAS — Ari Shavit, whose complex love for the land of Israel transformed his book My Promised Land into a New York Times best-seller (and possibly an HBO documentary film), will be the featured speaker at AJC Dallas’ Tuesday, June 2 fundraising event.
Anna Popp, director of AJC Dallas, said Shavit was specifically selected to be the AJC’s “Defining Moment” campaign speaker because he is a daring journalist.
Daring journalism is needed to identify and address the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe and the increased campaigns to try to delegitimize Israel on college campuses, she said.
“We consider this a ‘defining moment’ for the Jewish people,” Popp said.
Shavit, 58, a leading Israeli columnist and writer, is regarded as one of the most respected journalists in Israel.
His comments are expected to be well-received at the event, formally titled “Israel, America, an the Challenges of the Changing Middle East: What Does the Future Hold?”
Shavit’s speech takes place at the Communities Foundation of Texas Mabel Peters Caruth Center, 5500 Caruth Haven Lane in Dallas.
Kim Kamen, associate director of the Department of Regional Offices at AJC, explained in a recent email that Shavit is quite popular on the speaking circuit right now.
“He is one of the ‘hottest’ tickets around the country right now, a well-known journalist, author, and commentator,” Kamen stated. “We anticipate this will be a sell-out crowd for AJC’s ‘Defining Moment’ fundraising campaign.”
In the book — which The New York Times describes as a “must-read” — Shavit explores his own family’s history in Israel, using it as a window through which to glimpse the story of the Jewish state.
He’s an exciting guest to have speak, Popp said.
Shavit is a senior correspondent and a member of the editorial board at Haaretz newspaper.
Born in Rehovot, Israel, he was a paratrooper in the IDF. He went on to study philosophy at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.
In the 1980s he wrote for the progressive weekly Koteret Rashit.
In the early 1990s he was chairperson of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel.
In 1995 he joined Haaretz. This is where he serves on the editorial board.
Shavit, who lives in Kfar Shmaryahu with his wife and two children, is also a leading commentator on Israeli public television.
According to Variety, his best-seller is set to be made into an HBO documentary film.
Shavit discussed the issue with HBO higher-ups in Jerusalem last month at Keshet Media’s third annual INTV conference. This is a two-day gathering of top global television executives.
Meanwhile, in regard to the program, a VIP reception for sponsors (minimum contribution $1,250) begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by 7 p.m. registration and the 7:30 p.m. program.
Chairpeople for the event are Deborah and Chuck Gilbert; Esther and Michael Meyers; Jill and Benton Middleman; Janine and Charles Pulman; Bryan Rigg; and Karla and Larry Steinberg.
Additionally, there will be a dessert reception following the event.
To register — or get more information — email dallas@ajc.org or access www.ajcdallas.org.

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Mercy has no place in war against ISIS

Posted on 28 May 2015 by admin

At a briefing in McKinney last week, I was asked who is supplying and replenishing ISIS with its vast stockpiles of weapons, ammunition, armored personnel carriers, Humvees, tanks, artillery pieces, rockets, shells, mortars, advanced communication and control systems, field hospital equipment, body armor and more.
My answer was, of course, the United States of America.
I wasn’t joking. Though we see many ISIS fighters carrying AK-47s in pictures and videos of the recent impressive conquests by ISIS of Ramadi in Iraq and Palmyra in Syria, even more are fighting with M16s. Their light and heavy machine guns are U.S. made, Their mortars and shells, artillery pieces and rounds, body armor, communication systems and the massive amounts of ammunition ISIS is firing are all top-of-the-line, spanking brand-new … and American.
If you’ve been following this column you’ve probably already figured it out. It is impossible to capture strategic modern cities like Ramadi in Iraq (population around half a million) or Palmyra (biblical “Tadmor”) in Syria (population 150,000), without first taking control of the military bases and security installations in and around them.
This is exactly what ISIS does. It launches well-coordinated attacks with disciplined forces on the military bases of Iraq and Syria. In the case of Ramadi, the recently retrained and resupplied Iraqi army didn’t even pretend to put up a fight. They just ran away.
This was not surprising to those who understand the region’s complexities and customs.
Fanatically Sunni ISIS was established to essentially kill every Shiite in the world, starting in the Levant — a large area that was once part of a Sunni Caliphate.
The government in Baghdad is Shiite. Many of the officers and soldiers in the military are Shiite. And they all know exactly what ISIS does upon capturing a military base or civilian town: The Shiite men, together with Christians, Yazidis and anyone else who is not a Sunni Arab, are immediately and very sadistically massacred.
The women and children are brutally abused and then sold into slavery. The Sunnis are given the option to pledge fealty (“Baya”) to the ISIS leader and join the ranks … or join the Shiites in death.
So when the Iraqi army evaporated in Ramadi, as did the Syrian army in Palmyra, they left newly delivered American military weapons and supplies for ISIS to commandeer. And in both cases hundreds of Sunni officers and soldiers, from both countries, happily joined ISIS, pledged to the “Caliph,” joined the ranks … and no doubt briefed the ISIS intelligence units as to how the Americans trained them and what the new tactics and strategies of the U.S. are.
Which brings me to an announcement that the U.S. and Turkey will jointly train, arm and support “vetted” Sunni rebel units to fight … ISIS. Not Hezbollah, not what’s left of Assad’s once-mighty military. These estimated 7,000 (initially) “moderate” rebel recruits, will be expected (after a few months’ training) to defeat the largest, best trained, best commanded (by battle-hardened former Iraqi and Syrian officers), best equipped, highest motivated and cruelest terrorist army the world has ever known.
Are they serious? American trained supposedly moderate Sunni Syrian Arabs, coordinated by the Americans and the non-Arab Turks fighting against ISIS. Gee … what can possibly go wrong?
The good news is that there still is time, and a proven tactic, to diminish and degrade ISIS. It has been used in similar situations throughout history. Kings Saul and David used it against the Philistines. The Assyrians used it to defeat the Kingdom of Israel. Napoleon Bonaparte used it to conquer Jaffa, and the Ottoman Empire were experts at using it to put down rebellions.
More recently the French used it very effectively against rebels in Algeria, as Israel did against Fedayeen terrorists in the ’50s and ’60s, and Hamas, Fatah and Hezbollah to this day. Today it’s used by Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, Egypt, Turkey and others.
The tactic is simple and very effective. But it takes a full commitment and the intestinal fortitude to keep it going until the specific threat is dealt with.
What we’re talking about is a sustained, ongoing series of operations to decapitate the military and senior political leadership of the organization. It is not a single one-off event, like killing Bin Laden and assuming that al-Qaida is finished.
If the U.S. wanted to destroy al-Qaida it had to immediately follow up with the elimination of Bin Laden’s replacement Ayman al-Zawahiri, together with 20-30 of the top al-Qaida franchise heads and senior military planners worldwide. If they run, follow them to the ends of the Earth and eliminate them there. Family members should not be targeted but neither should their presence as human shields be a deterrent — just think of 9/11.
Capture and trial should not be an option. It’s risky, and way too lengthy a process to be effective.
The goal is to create such fear that even the most fanatic jihadists will think twice before joining this or a similar terrorist organization.
But make no mistake — even after eliminating a critical mass of the current political and operational leadership of ISIS while continuing the daily punishing bombing raids against the rank-and-file fighters, the organization will eventually reinvent itself, and this war against extreme Islamist Jihadism will continue for many years.
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: Freshman of the Year, Couples Club, new principal, theatre

Dallas Doings: Freshman of the Year, Couples Club, new principal, theatre

Posted on 28 May 2015 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharonw@texashjewishpost.com

Speedy recovery wishes to TJP Dallas Doings columnist Linda Wisch Davidsohn, who underwent successful knee replacement surgery last week. We look forward to Linda getting back in the saddle when she’s ready. In the meantime, keep sending your news to sharonw@texasjewishpost.com!

Congrats to Sam Shane

Temple Emanu-El’s Couples Club, which introduced its new officers recently at the Greek Isles Restaurant, was founded 26 years ago. It’s open to Temple seniors and other Jewish couples in the community. Photo: Buddy Gilbert

Sam Shane, the president of the Rashi USY youth group at Congregation Beth Torah, has been named Freshman of the Year by the organization’s Southwest Region.
The award was presented at the region’s annual convention, which was held at Camp Young Judea in Wimberley. The region encompasses high school youth groups at Conservative synagogues in Texas, Oklahoma and Louisiana.
In his freshman year, Sam served on the USY regional board and co-chaired two conventions.
“Sam showed what separates him and the great potential he has to make an impact on this region in the years to come,” said David
Kuchinsky, Rashi USY’s adviser.
Sam continues a long Beth Torah tradition of leadership in the region. The chapter has won many awards for individual programs and overall excellence, and many of its members have served in regional and national posts. Rashi alumnus Maury Jacobs currently serves as the Southwest USY regional director.
Rashi USY, and the Kadima chapter for pre-teens, welcomes Jewish youth whether or not their families belong to Beth Torah. For more information, call the synagogue at 972-234-1542.

TE Couples Club officers

The Temple Emanu-El Couples Club for seniors introduced its new officers for 2015-2016 at its recent event at the Greek Isles Restaurant.
The new officers are: presidents: Edie and Paul Singer; vice presidents: Shirley and Maurice Nurenberg, and Roberta and Donald Spector; secretary: Lois and Alan Kohn; social chairpersons: Renee and Buddy Gilbert, Sandra and Dan Gorman, Eileen and Thurman Ray, Toni and Frank Aaron, Esther and Maurice Bramnik, Frieda and Max Glauben, Sarah Yarrin and Jack Repp; membership chairs: Roslyn and Richard Polakoff and Phyllis and Paul Rifkin; treasurer: Sandra and Dan Gorman; parliamentarians: Carole and Barry Cohen; historians: Susan and Morris Hanson; sunshine: Joyce and Jerry Zellman; publicity: Renee and Buddy Gilbert; and communications: Elaine and Bernie Weil.
This past TECC “Get Acquainted” event also invited prospective new members to attend. The Temple Emanu-El Couples Club, founded 26 years ago, is a social club open to Temple members as well as other Jewish couples of the community. One member of the couple should be 55 years of age or older. For more information about the club, call the membership co-chairs Roslyn and Richard Polakoff at 972-701-8721 or Phyllis and Paul Rifkin at 972-380-2594.

Levine Academy’s new principal

Photo: Michael Precker Sam Shane (fourth from right) celebrates his Freshman of the Year award with fellow Rashi USY members at the regional convention.

Ann & Nate Levine Academy is pleased to announce the hiring of Elizabeth Lawlor to serve as Levine Academy’s K-8 principal, effective July 1. A native of Ireland, Liz Lawlor obtained her bachelor’s from St. Patrick’s College in history, geography, and sociology. Here in Texas, she earned her Master of Science in education from Texas Woman’s University.
The Levine community will fondly remember Ms. Lawlor as dean of students from 2006 to 2008, when she left to take on school leadership roles during the charter school expansions in Dallas. Ms. Lawlor has been a school principal in both public and private schools in the Dallas area, and in recent years has led the Williams Preparatory World School through its full International Baccalaureate authorization process.
Ms. Lawlor’s appointment is the culmination of a search process that thoroughly vetted a competitive field of prospects, from coast to coast in this country and even spanning three continents. Head of School Tom Elieff shared the following remarks in his announcement to faculty and parents: “Liz has the background, knowledge, and skills necessary to advance the School’s goals in the areas of curricular strengthening, technology evolution, and teacher professional development.”
The search team, comprising faculty representatives and parents, was especially impressed by the showering of accolades on Ms. Lawlor’s professional and personal qualities during the search process — “a tremendous principal,” “her relationships with teachers are a very strong suit,” an “exceptional instructional leader.” These qualities, alongside her professional and academic credentials, made her the perfect candidate to help further the implementation of innovative and enriched 21st-century best-practice teaching and learning at Levine Academy.
Levine Academy looks forward to sharing additional news regarding Levine’s academic leadership team in the weeks to come.

Save the date: 5 p.m. June 10
at the Wyly Theater

The Dallas Holocaust Museum will present an evening with classical pianist Mona Golabek, June 10 at 5 p.m. Ms. Golabek’s performance will showcase her unique combination of music and theatrical story-telling.
One story features her mother as a child in Nazi-occupied Vienna, where she witnesses the Night of Broken Glass, the humiliation of her father on the street and ultimately escapes alone on the Kindertransport.
Temple Shalom holds annual meeting, end of religious school celebration
On Sunday, May 3, Temple Shalom members gathered to celebrate their annual meeting and the end of the school year. The annual meeting started off, as most meetings do with minutes, swearing-in of officers and several awards. However, once the business was completed it was time for celebration!
The religious school students paraded in carrying their mitzvah chains that they had worked on throughout the year. Each week students wrote on a chain for the mitzvahs that they completed that week. Well, the mitzvahs added up and the hundreds of feet of paper chains made quite as impact as students marched in. Students and parents alike cheered as the following awards were announced:
Gail Hartstein was recognized for organizing and delivering food to the Stewpot for the past 15 years; Joy Addison was honored for her 33 years of dedicated service assisting Temple Shalom clergy; and Karen Thompson was recognized for assisting with the religious school for more than 39 years. Bella Garber got a standing ovation as she was recognized for 46 years of dedication as the face of Temple Shalom Religious School.
Then it was time to announce one of the Volunteers of the Year — Ray Farris got another standing ovation from all the children and parents in the audience.
Rabbi Ariel Boxman congratulated high school seniors Jason Taper, Ariella Stromberg, Grace Enda, Amanda Mendelsohn, and Zeke Fritts, who have volunteered as Ozrim and assisted with religious school each week.
Finally, the Tracy Fisher Memorial Next Dor Valedictorian Scholarship Award was given to Zeke Fritts. This Brotherhood Sponsored award, in memory of Tracy Fisher, is given out each year to a student who, just like Tracy, leads by example and truly exemplifies what it means to be Jewish.
With the formalities out of the way, it was time to celebrate. Perfect weather, bounce houses, cotton candy, popcorn, snow cones, and a DJ made this an afternoon these kids will never forget.

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Celebrations of holidays change in kitchen, too

Posted on 28 May 2015 by admin

Did you have a happy Memorial Day? Seems to me a strange question to ask about a holiday originally meant for soberly, somberly remembering our honored wartime dead, doesn’t it? But it has morphed into something very different …
TV ads show crowds of happy kids running around while moms overload outdoor tables with bounty that makes Thanksgiving look positively under-celebrated.  Did you fire up your grill? In those ads, grills are center-stage areas for dads only.
I don’t feel deprived that I’ve never — not as a child or in adulthood — been part of that kind of Memorial Day. Maybe because I can remember back to when the holiday was still Decoration Day, and cemeteries with veterans’ graves came into bloom.
Or maybe because there were always too many ants, mosquitoes and flies to make outdoor eating on such a lavish scale popular — sometimes not even possible. Or maybe because in my family, hot dogs were always boiled, and hamburgers were not flat discs, but large, pan-fried meatballs with chopped up onion and others of today’s add-ons already inside them.
There was an assumed condiment couple in my childhood and beyond: French’s yellow mustard was a stripe down the center of every hot dog, and Heinz ketchup was pooled next to the burger on every plate. But TV ads celebrating this year’s Memorial Day have shown me the breakup of that long, happy marriage.
Two new shidduchs have been announced: Heinz is introducing its own yellow mustard, and French’s has unveiled its own ketchup!
In my family, the original pairing has always been honored, as has been one other kitchen staple, celebrated by my dear Aunt Esther in an unnecessarily written “recipe” for egg salad that is nothing but a short list — chopped-up boiled eggs, salt, pepper and mayonnaise — followed by what amounts to an order: “We Always Use Hellman’s!”  I had two children of my own before I even realized there were other brands!
I must say that in later years I was tempted by Kraft, whose mayonnaise jars looked suspiciously like Hellman’s but cost somewhat less. I never gave in.
However, I was never even tempted to put a bottle of ketchup other than Heinz on the table, although in the privacy of my kitchen, I found it a perfectly satisfactory money-saver to use a supermarket house brand for cooking. (I did, however, always store this intruder on the lowest door shelf of the refrigerator, with the label turned away from any potentially prying eyes.)
The new additions to our already overburdened store shelves remind me how much smaller our choices were in those “olden days.”  Or in same cases, we had alternate choices, but consumers spoke with their cash, and that would end the competition.
For example: If you were a kosher cook who liked solid shortening for frying, you might have used Crisco, or you might have chosen Spry instead. Spry?  How many today can even recognize the name?  (True confession:  I still keep a well-covered small can of Crisco tucked in the back of my fridge, to be used for greasing a very occasional baking pan. But no merchant I’ve asked can remember ever selling Spry…)   And I’ve also searched in vain for Junket, a creamy dessert mix that lost popularity and place on the pudding and gelatin shelves a half-century ago.
Today you can buy its “secret” ingredient, rennet, in tablet form, but the prep is no longer as fast and simple as using a box of Royal or Jello.
And so it goes. Times change.  Holiday customs change. Food offerings change. We’ll have to wait a while to find out if Heinz yellow mustard can eclipse French’s, or if French’s ketchup has a chance to outsell Heinz. But we already know that Memorial Day has become primarily a celebration of renewed life with food, rather than a somber day of remembering the fallen with flowers.

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Firm roots, unbreakable faith

Posted on 28 May 2015 by admin

Dear parents and children,
We learn so many lessons from stories and the pictures those stories create in our memories stay with us. This story tells us of the strength of faith.
Perhaps Rabbi Akiba was talking about faith in God, but we also want our children to develop faith in themselves. This is a challenge for adults as well. Think and talk about this story.
A story is told of a young student who questions Rabbi Akiba about the nature of faith. The rabbi brings the student over to a sprout in the ground and says, “Pull it up.”
The student does so with little effort. They walk on to a sapling and again Akiba says, “Pull it up.” This takes more effort but is done. And then on to a shrub which takes all the student’s strength to uproot.
Finally, Akiba takes the student to a fully grown tree and, try as he might, the student cannot move the tree. Akiba speaks: “That is also how it is with faith.
“If the roots of our faith are deep, if our religious views are mature and developed, our faith cannot be uprooted, even by someone trying very hard to do so. Always remember that the strength of your faith first depends on the strength of its roots.”
As the school year comes to a close, we look back on how we have grown. With our little ones, it is easy to see the physical changes and even the intellectual and emotional growth can be observed.
How do we “teach” our children to have faith and how can we measure spiritual growth? Talk with your children about wonder and, most importantly, talk about God.
The ease with which young children talk will strengthen your own faith.   Our children are indeed strengthening their roots and are growing strong.
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is the director of camping services at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.

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