Archive | June, 2015

ISIS’ resounding success obliterating Syrian state

Posted on 25 June 2015 by admin

In his 1996 movie Eraser, Arnold Schwarzenegger played John Kruger, a U.S. Marshal working for the Witness Security Protection Program (WITSEC) specializing in “erasing” high-profile witnesses by essentially obliterating all evidence of their existence.
I was reminded of that movie while reading the most recent reports about how DAESH (ISIS) is literally obliterating centuries of Middle East cultures, religions and civilizations, in the ever-expanding areas under its control.
I’m not referring to their obsessive destruction of historical sites and holy shrines of other religions, or to the fact that, at this moment, DAESH is feverishly placing powerful anti-tank mines and explosives in and around the beautiful site of the oasis city of Palmyra, first settled some 7,000 years ago and containing monumental ruins of what was one of the most important cultural centers of the ancient world. Its imminent destruction will certainly be a loss, but…
No — the tragic “obliterating” that DAESH is doing so systematically and successfully is of living, breathing people and cultures. They are succeeding in a program of ethnic and religious cleansing on a scale that we have not seen since the Holocaust.
Syria, a “state” artificially created by the Western powers after World War I, included various ethnic (Arabs, Turkomans, Circassians, Palestinians, Kurds, Yazidis, Druze), sectarian (Sunni Muslims including Sufis, Shiite Muslims including “Twelvers,” “Seveners” and Ismailis, Christians of various denominations, Jews, Allawites, Alevis, Zoroastrians and more).
When the current civil war broke out March 15, 2011, it was essentially a majority Sunni rebellion against a dictatorship of the minority Allawites, a Shiite breakaway denomination supported by Iran and headed by Bashir al-Assad.
As the war dragged on, the Sunni rebel groups merged into two main organizations: the al-Qaida franchise Jabhat al-Nusra, and DAESH — formerly known as “ISIS,” “ISIL,” “Islamic State” and “al-Qaida in Iraq and Syria.”
While both adhere to, and demand, the most extreme interpretations of Islam and Sharia, and both use terror, rape, child torture and sex slavery and large-scale beheadings to force whole populations into total cowed submission, it is DAESH, as the largest, best-trained, best-led, best-equipped and best-financed terrorist organization, that sets the tone.
And the tone is horrendous.
DAESH and al-Nusra have declared an all-out war of extermination to annihilate any tribes, ethnic groups or religions in the Middle East that are not Sunni Muslim Arabs.
The prime targets of DAESH are every Shiite, Christian, Druze, Kurd, Yazidi, etc., based on the explicit instructions of the 15th-century Islamic scholar, Taki e-din Ibn Tamiya, who is considered to be the main authority of DAESH and Jabhat: “The Allawites and the Druze are apostates and must die. Take their women as concubines and their children as slaves. If the men beg for mercy or forgiveness, you must never give it.”
Slowly, systematically and with overwhelming numbers and weapons, they take over community after community, conduct a quick “selection,” immediately killing all the non-Arab or non-Sunni men, separate the women from the children and, after taking and brutally abusing their own “spoils of war,” sell them to the highest bidder in the sex-slave markets.
The results: DAESH is succeeding — beyond its wildest dreams. Syria is disintegrating.
The Allawites have abandoned all their towns around the country and are flocking to the Western mountains along the Mediterranean, the historic Allawite homeland. Weak, desperate, outnumbered and outgunned, they are hoping against hope that the Iranians, Russians and other countries will save them from a massacre. Wishful thinking, since right now Daesh and Jabhat forces are just a few miles away and advancing … and what’s left of the Syrian army is joining the rebels, and Russian generals are negotiating deals with both rebel groups.
The Druze, non-Muslim Arabs who live mostly in the southwest corner of Syria and practice a mystical, secret religion, declared “neutrality” in the civil war.
But recent bloody skirmishes with Jabhat and ISIS in the North, including killing men, kidnapping women and children and desecrating their holy books, artifacts and secret prayer rooms, have led them to issue a warning to the approaching DAESH forces in the North and South: “Don’t even think about it!”
Historically fierce and formidable warriors, the Druze will make DAESH and Jabhat pay dearly.
It is also more than reasonable to assume that because of longstanding excellent relations between the tight-knit Druse communities both in Israel and in Syria, Israel will intervene, with overwhelming power, on their behalf.
The Shiites outnumbered and weak, they still have sporadic security protection from Hezbollah and units of the Iranian revolutionary guard corps (IRGC).
A small minority, located in villages in southern Lebanon, they are petrified with fear not only for themselves, but mainly for the gold-domed tomb in Damascus of their worshiped protector: Sayyidah Zaynab, Mohammed’s granddaughter. DAESH has vowed to destroy it.
The Christians: The Sunni rebels have a popular battle cry since the beginning of the revolt: “The Christians to Beirut, the Allawites to coffins.”
Most of the Christians that lived in Syria six years ago have fled to Beirut and beyond. Those few that remained are subject to a special and perverted form of brutality and death — men, women and children.
Ancient churches are systematically desecrated and burned — often with the men, or whole families, still alive inside them.
For all intents and purposes, the 2,000-year-old Christian communities and culture in Syria and Iraq are all but extinct. DAESH and Jabhat al-Nusra will not stop until there are no more practicing Christians within the ever-spreading caliphate.
In a recent interview on Israeli media, a spokesman for the 2,000-year-old, 1.2-million-strong community lamented as to why no country or major force in the Christian world, with the exception of a few small organizations, has come to their aid … or rescue.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word “obliterate” as follows: “… to remove from existence: destroy utterly all trace, indication, or significance of…”
If this does not describe what is happening to the Christians, Kurds, Shiites and other non-Sunni minorities in Syria and Iraq, together with thousands of years of their achievements and culture, then I don’t know what does. And again … the world is silent.
Agree or disagree, that’s my opinion.

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FW, Tarrant Federation plans new Parntership with Israel

FW, Tarrant Federation plans new Parntership with Israel

Posted on 25 June 2015 by admin

Members of the Federation Leadership mission in March pose on the Akko coastline.

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharonw@texasjewishpost.com

Federation executive director Bob Goldberg has some exciting news to share about the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County and its relationship with Israel.
I’ve visited our Partnership region twice. One of my biggest takeaways was the importance of the interdependence between our Jewish communities in the U.S. and Israel. We need each other and these opportunities to connect with one another can’t be underestimated. Here’s Bob:
“The Western Galilee and the City of Akko in Israel have longtime bonds that connect its community with the Jewish community here in Fort Worth and Tarrant County.
“This year, our Jewish Federation rejoined the consortium of 14 U.S. cities that partners with the Western Galilee and Akko through the Partnership2Gether Peoplehood Platform. The program has previously been known as Partnership 2000.
“Partnership2Gether, or P2G for short, is operated by staff at the Jewish Federation and the Jewish Agency with a steering committee of volunteers from the U.S. and Israel.
“This platform has existed in its current form for 20 years and involves 45 regions in Israel and 550 Jewish communities worldwide. The Partnership is celebrating its 20th anniversary this coming year with a special mission to Israel from March 31-April 8, 2016. (Editor’s note: Harold Gernsbacher is the national co-chair for Partnership2Gether.)
“The Partnership is a model for building mutually beneficial and enduring people-to-people relationships between our community and our friends in the Western Galilee. Today, Partnership is a cornerstone program of the Jewish Agency and the Federation movement, encouraging joint efforts to foster interaction through programs that strengthen Jewish identity in the U.S. and in Israel, and that reinforce relations between Israel and the U.S.
“Our Partnership works to develop and fund new projects that build living bridges in the areas of: education, medical, arts and community, resource development, and the Budapest connection.
“Emphasis is to create genuine friendships between our communities. Developing personal relationships is key to enhancing Jewish identity and connection with Israel. Projects include exchanges of educators, physicians and/or medical students, teens, and artists, as well as school twinning, educator seminars, performing arts series, and youth missions.
“Since rejoining the program, we have had several groups visit the Western Galilee and Akko, including our Federation Leadership group in March, and our current Federation President, Lon Werner, along with our Immediate Past President Jeff Hochster, and their wives, Laurie and Linda, and friends Richie and Carole Minker during their visit in April.
“Jan Friedman and Kim Goldberg were in the Western Galilee and Akko in May as a part of the Partnership’s Artist in Residency program that this year focused on meeting and photographing people in the Western Galilee, and we are hoping to have this photo exhibit for presentation at the Steering Committee meetings here Jan. 24-26, 2016.
“The Congregation Ahavath Sholom group visited the region and met with Partnership friends during their very recent visit and artist Julie Meetal Berman will be in the region in a few weeks meeting with folks developing a Holocaust research program called ‘The Second Generation project.’
“Events coming to our area soon include a Young Adult visit of Israelis to Fort Worth and Tarrant County during Chanukah, Dec. 7-10, our community is hosting the upcoming Partnership Steering Committee meetings in January 24-26, 2016, and we are working on creating a 10-day Art in Israel mission in April 2016.
“We are excited to re-engage with the Partnership and re-establish our friendships with Akko and the Western Galilee. If you are interested in more information or getting involved, call Bob Goldberg at the Federation office, 817-569-0892.”

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SWJC Inspiring Women of the Southwest awards honor memory of Kaplan

SWJC Inspiring Women of the Southwest awards honor memory of Kaplan

Posted on 25 June 2015 by admin

Future IWSW recipients Jacqueline Olness, Teresa Balderas, Meredith Burke, Leah Prager, Samara Taper Award recipients: Michele Wong Krause; Rosemary Hinojosa; Linda Garner; Dalene Buhl; Jocelyn Kidd; Roberta Berger

On May 28, 2015 Southwest Jewish Congress (SWJC) welcomed more than 300 people to the Inspiring Women of the Southwest Awards, renamed in memory of Audrey Kaplan, who founded the event.
Audrey herself was a past recipient and remained a staunch supporter of the awards until her tragic death in 2014.
Many of Audrey’s family were in attendance and her daughter-in-law, Diane

Hudson, gave remarks honoring Audrey.
Co-Chairs Esty Elan, Cindy Ray, Rosie Stromberg and Keo Strull, said that these awards recognize women from diverse disciplines and backgrounds who have been diligent in the pursuit of social change. As role models, these outstanding women have made an impact on our communities, either locally, regionally or nationally. They advocate for inclusiveness and support positions consistent with the mission of SWJC.
Roberta Berger, Ph.D., received the Audrey Kaplan Inspiring Women of the Southwest Lifetime Achievement Award for her many years of community activism, advocacy and involvement at local, regional and national levels.

The 2015 award recipients were:

Dalene Buhl

  • Governmental relations and corporate philanthropy executive, retired
  • Founder/program coordinator, summer reading academy for immigrant children in Vickery Meadow and volunteer at Lee McShan, Jr. Elementary
  • Special needs ministry, and international partner for SMU graduate/doctoral students

Linda Garner

  • President of Legacy Willow Bend Senior Communities
  • Vice-president of Jewish Family Service and successful entrepreneur
  • Prominent volunteer, fundraiser and strategic supporter of various organizations

Rosemary Hinojosa

  • Life skills counselor at Methodist Children’s Home
  • Co-founder of two nonprofits in housing and adolescent youth in crisis
  • Educational volunteer and history researcher

Jocelyn D. Kidd, D.D.S.

  • Dentist, active in several dental and health associations
  • Volunteer in service organizations, such as The Links, Incorporated and the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
  • Provides free dental screenings for local youth

Michele Wong Krause

  • Board-level leadership in Dallas and American Bar Associations, past president of both Dallas Asian-American Bar Association and Dallas Hispanic Bar Association
  • Serves on the Dallas Rapid Area Transit board of directors
  • Former Dallas Associate Municipal Judge

The 5 Future Inspiring Women of the Southwest award recipients (ages 14-21) were nominated and selected for qualities of initiative, volunteerism and effort to make their world, and beyond, a little bit better.
Recipients included: Teresa Balderas, UTA freshman; Meredith Burke, Hockaday School senior; Jacqueline Elise Olness, Highland Park High School senior; Leah Prager, Centennial High School junior; and Samara Nicole Taper, Plano West Senior High School junior.
Sylvia Komatsu, executive VP and chief content officer of KERA/KXT, served as master of ceremonies of evening, keeping it at a brisk clip with grace and humor.
Eddie Dean’s Ranch catered an exceptional menu of Western-style food which complemented the authenticity of the evening.

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Nothing compares to wedding in Jerusalem

Posted on 25 June 2015 by admin

Dear readers,
It’s difficult to describe in words the exhilarating feeling of bringing our son Elazar under the chuppah under the Jerusalem sky last night.
Especially, given that Elazar’s dean of his yeshiva was out of the country, that I ended up performing the ceremony myself!
As I think back over the evening, so many meaningful things transpired which all meshed together to make one of the most momentous experiences of my life.
This first, and of course the most important, was to see my son wed to such an amazing girl who was hand-picked from Heaven to be the perfect match in so many ways. This is even more amazing that Aliza is from a family of Torah and kindness that adores Elazar, and the feelings are totally mutual.
This event became even more meaningful having all of our children and grandchildren  together from Dallas, Detroit, Chicago, Baltimore, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. As you can imagine, it’s no small feat to get all of us together!
Then, to make it even better, there were so many students and friends from Dallas in attendance, some living in Dallas but many living in Israel, making it into a reunion of sorts; many Dallasites who haven’t seen each other in so long got to catch up, us included.
I was very touched to have many of my closest friends as well as family from throughout Israel joining the celebration, many going to great lengths to get there.
I was deeply humbled to have a number of Israel’s leading elderly Sages, whom I was connected with before leaving to Dallas, stop on to wish their Mazal Tov and even share in a dance. Some did so despite their feeble conditions.
The icing on the cake was to see an incredible outpouring of love upon our son from his fellow yeshiva students and the high esteem and respect they have for him. The joyous dancing and singing went well past midnight, and wouldn’t have ended if not for limitations of the band and hotel.
There’s nothing like a wedding in Jerusalem! I feel blessed, fortunate and humbled. May all of you merit such blessings!

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Simple lyrics to remember important commandments

Posted on 25 June 2015 by admin

Dear Families,
When we talk with our children about faith in God, they ask us so many questions that we often cannot answer.
Judaism is a great religion with so many guidelines and things that we are supposed to do. There are 613 Commandments — that’s a lot to do. Throughout our history, prophets, judges and rabbis have tried to sum up what we should do to lead a good life and do good for others. The prophet Micah summed everything up in three simple things to do, but these things include everything.

Only This (Micah 6:8)

Josh Zweiback & Steve Brodsky
What does God demand of you? Only this, only this. (2)
Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God (2)

U-mah A-do-nai do-resh mim-cha
Ki im a-sot mish-pat V’a-ha-vat che-sed
V’hatz-nei-ah le-chet im E-lo-he-cha

Whenever we want to understand words from the Bible, we begin by asking questions. Micah asked the first question, “What does God demand of you?” What is Micah trying to learn? What does he ask about demands — does that means that God expects us to do these things whether we want to or not? Do we have a choice to behave the right way?
After we question Micah’s question, more questions come to mind. Think and talk about these questions with your family:
Why does Micah respond to the question, “Only this”? Is it simple?
What does it mean to “do justly”? How do we act in a just manner? What does it mean to be fair to others?
What is mercy? How do we act with mercy? Why does Micah say to “love mercy”? Is that different than treating people with mercy?
Being humble, showing humility is a very important Jewish value. What does it mean? What does it look like? Why does Micah say to “walk humbly”? How do we walk with God?
Why just these three things? How do they relate to everything else we should be doing? Is this really enough?
How can we use this song in our lives? Sometimes when we wonder how we should be acting, this song may come to mind.
There are so many things we need to remember — this makes it easy to sum up the really important things to do.

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Deep thoughts can solve life’s simple puzzles

Posted on 25 June 2015 by admin

It’s time for some serious thinking. Please think along with me!
The great Jewish theologian/philosopher Martin Buber died 50 years ago this month, at 87. On the anniversary of his death, I had just said the 50-year kaddish for my physician father, who lived to only 59.
I haven’t read Buber in too long, but I hope I’m remembering this correctly: We humans tend to make sacred those things that have been, or are, of the most value to us. Think about the sacred cows of India.
Then think about our Torah.
Back in the mid-’80s, Lynda Sexson, University of Montana faculty member, spent a semester as a visiting professor at UT-Dallas. I was fortunate enough to be in her seminar — the very first class I took in pursuit of my master’s degree. Not too long before that, the University of Virginia Press had published her book, Ordinarily Sacred, which echoed Buber with what’s been called “a theology of everyday experience.”
Her work shows how the roots of so many world religions’ most important traditions can be found in the commonplaces of everyday living. But we have to open our eyes to find them and truly see them.
My father was not a religious man in any usual sense, but he had a deep (if not always publicly proclaimed) belief in God-directed inevitabilities, and the duty of us human beings to stop complaining and cease shirking our personal responsibilities for dealing with them.
“None of us knows what we’re going to get,” he used to tell both his patients and his children. “We get what we get. And the longer we live, the more we get. If we can manage to live long enough, we have a chance to get everything!”
He wasn’t speaking only medically, but philosophically too, because he would always end this little homily with “So take whatever life hands you, and do the best you can with it.” Indeed, what else is there, really?
On my father’s half-century yahrzeit, I thought of those words, and others of his that have shaped my own thinking. “Education is the ne plus ultra of life,” he would say (sending me scampering to the dictionary the first time I heard that Latin phrase).
And his belief that reading is the key to education translated into action: Every Tuesday when I got out of school, he closed up his office and together we made a trip to the library.
Professor Sexson sent our class out, not to the library, but to NorthPark Mall, to “read” what was happening there. What did we see when we really looked at the people and their behavior? Could I define the importance and meaning to the proudly toting carrier of a big, brand-new bag emblazoned with the name of some exclusive shop?
I learned that day to consider acquisition as a “religion” of sorts; the discovery that a place and the people in it could be read, like books, profoundly changed the way I have made observations forever after.
In a recent email exchange, my cousin David — not a philosopher or a physician or a professor — shared this most insightful comment about know-it-alls: folks who read neither books nor people, but cling to their own unexamined, unsupported decisions about everything and refuse to change them, no matter what evidence may be presented otherwise: “I sometimes wonder what living in their world is like,” he posted. “Having your mind made up on every issue in advance sure must leave a lot of time for other things besides thinking!”
David’s profession is photography; he reads images every day of his life.
In the worlds of Buber, my father, and Lynda Sexson, thinking is everything. It’s a product of reading — books, people, the whole ordinary world in which we can discover what is important, even sacred. Today, I’m quite sure that thinking is indeed life’s ne plus ultra …

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TTI students clean up after Houston flood

TTI students clean up after Houston flood

Posted on 25 June 2015 by admin

Two students from Texas Torah Institute unload boxes to help members of Houston’s Meyerland community, one of the hardest hit by the flood in late May.

By Ben Tinsley
bent@texasjewishpost.com


DALLAS — A group of Texas Torah Institute Beis Medrash students drove to Houston earlier this month to help victims stricken by the flooding there in late May.
“The need was there, so we sent all the boys we could,” explained Rabbi Daniel Ringelheim, a head of TTI’s Beis Medrash (advanced post-high school yeshiva) program. “They rented a (vehicle) and drove four hours there. Not only did they help people move their things, they gave mini-classes in the synagogue while they were there.”
The 11 students volunteered June 7 through June 10. They specifically were asked to help victims in Houston’s Meyerland neighborhood, one of the Jewish-populated areas hit the hardest by the flood.
Splitting into two groups, some students traveled to Houston in a rented Suburban, while others took a car owned by the father of Jacob Winston, 21, a TTI Beis Medrash student from Dallas.
While in Houston, the TTI students stayed in the homes of members of the Jewish community not afflicted by the floods.
Rabbi Ringelheim said the TTI students on the trip included Winston, Baruch Korn, Aaron Deutsch, David Hajar, Avi Kurtzer, Avi Yachnes, Eli Schwartz, Boruch Wexler, Moshe Rothman, Moshe Levinger, and Elchonon Deitsch.
Officials have said as many as 5,000 Jewish households were affected by the flood. Much of the water that swallowed homes was as contaminated as sewer water, necessitating that furniture and belongings be thrown away.
On their first day, the TTI students helped deliver meals to the houses of victims in Meyerland, said Aaron Deitsch, 19, a TTI Beis Medrash student who hails from Queens, New York.
The next two days the students helped victims get ready to move out by packing up their belongings and throwing away their contaminated furniture.
“It was pretty intense,” Deitsch said. “There was a lot of damage there. The floodwaters were all gone by the time we got there but you could see where it had been.”
Jacob Winston said it was difficult watching good people deal with such horrible circumstances.
“So many people there needed help and just a little help — like packing up boxes for them to move — made such a big difference to them,” Winston said. “There was a lot of trash in people’s yards. People had to tear out the bottom of their walls because of the floods.”
Baruch Korn, 20, a TTI Beis Medrash student from Houston, agreed it was a sobering situation.
“I remember the look on this one woman’s face,” Korn said. “We couldn’t calm her. All we could do is help her move her stuff. … There were piles of trash outside every house — some as big as 5 feet high and 20 feet wide. The houses were a wreck and you couldn’t breathe without a mask.”
Rabbi Ringelheim said the students were happy to help in Houston because TTI teaches the importance of communal responsibility.
“Our boys came back tired from all the work they did — but also invigorated with that sense of kindness one gets for having helped others,” the rabbi said.
Deitsch agreed, but said he also feels good about volunteering in Houston because he had the opportunity to meet many other volunteers from other institutions.
“There were so many people there from other Jewish communities who all came together in the midst of this tragedy,” he said. “They were there to do whatever was needed to help. It was very inspiring.”

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JFGD’s new chair has plan to fight BDS

JFGD’s new chair has plan to fight BDS

Posted on 25 June 2015 by admin

Photo: Winn Fuqua Photography Daniel J. Prescott, incoming board chair, and Cindy Sweet Moskowitz, immediate past chair, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas

By Ben Tinsley
bent@texasjewishpost.com

DALLAS — As more than 250 supporters of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas bid a fond farewell to exiting board chair Cindy Sweet Moskowitz on Thursday, June 18, incoming chair Daniel J. Prescott outlined a vigorous plan to fight the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.
Prescott was one of the last speakers at the 2015 Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ annual meeting in the Zale Auditorium of the Aaron Family JCC. In his capacity as incoming chair, he presented the BDS plan as the first in a three-part agenda. The other points involve creating a new message delivery methodology and “significantly” expanding the number of people involved with the Federation.
However, most of Prescott’s time was spent discussing a Federation-guided condemnation of BDS — a global campaign attempting to increase economic and political pressure on Israel to comply with goals of the movement. His remarks were met with a standing ovation.
Prescott emphasized during his comments he believes the BDS movement at its core is rooted in anti-Semitism and the denial of Israel’s right to exist.
“The BDS battlegrounds are not

just in Israel — rather they are right here in the United States,” he said. “And don’t be fooled, BDS is a not-so-well-disguised version of anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism. It’s rearing its ugly head on our college campuses. Our kids are forced to fight this battle.”

The fight on campuses

In April, the University of Texas at Austin’s Student Government Assembly voted down a divisive, anti-Israel resolution drafted by BDS followers. This resolution would have asked the UT System Investment Management Company to pull investments from companies, which the resolution alleges facilitated the “oppression of the Palestinian people by the State of Israel.”
The measure was defeated April 21.
Prescott said supporters of the BDS movement are well-financed and well-prepared. The Jewish community owes it to themselves, their children and their Israeli brothers and sisters to jump in and tackle the matter with great vigor, he added.
“We have great partners in our BDS battle — AIPAC on campus, Hillel, Chabad and Jewish fraternities and sororities,” he said. “But there must be a convening entity. I propose the Federation, under the guidance of our Jewish Community Relations Council and hopefull

y with the partnership of Houston, Austin and San Antonio Federations, convene our partners to assess what else is needed and how we rally our various resources to formalize a coordinated response that is appropriately staffed and funded. … We must make sure our kids at UT Austin, A&M, UT Dallas and North Texas are not without appropriate and coordinated support. We have to be prepared. We will be prepared. This is our fight.”
Prescott said he also hopes to educate Jewish high school-age students about the BDS movement “so they can go to college, face BDS, have a background and be prepared.”

Operation Protective Edge

Bradley Laye, president and CEO of the Federation, offered his remarks at an earlier point in the program. They centered around the Federation’s recent successes. Laye emphasized that Jewish people are stronger when they stand together — whether it’s rallying support for Operation Protective Edge, helping neighborhoods deal with floods in Houston, dealing with poverty, displacement or whatever crisis confronts humanity.
“Your Federation, your community, it’s not only incredibly strong, but we have an abundant opportunity to harvest the growth and the passion of this remarkable city and Metroplex,” Laye said. “… We have granted almost $80,000 in outreach and engagement grants to area congregations and Jewish organizations to include more people on the outstretched arm of our Jewish community.”
Laye said the final amount of the Federation’s annual campaign — which raises money every year to provide the basic infrastructure that supports the local and global Jewish community — is expected to close soon at $10.8 million.
Among Laye’s many “thank-yous” was a hearty farewell to Cindy Sweet Moskowitz.
“Cindy, the past two years have been the most fulfilling I have ever had professionally and it is because of you,” he said.
After his comments, Laye cued a televised tribute to Moskowitz. The departing chair’s family members were seen discussing her merits as a person and a leader.
Like Laye, Moskowitz mentioned many Federation-related accomplishments and experiences during her term — such as “The Big One” trip to Israel and how it revitalized Federation members who attended, a rekindled sense of global community, and Lillian Pinkus being selected president of AIPAC.
Moskowitz also celebrated the relationships she made with the many Federation supporters in the audience.
“I have learned from so many of you here tonight,” she said. “If good decisions were made, it is because the leadership team and I have listened.”
Then, elections were held.
During the nominating committee report by Jeffrey Rasansky, the incoming officers and board members were unanimously voted into office.
These included Daniel J. Prescott, chair, and vice chairs Lisa Genecov, Harold Gernsbacher, Eric Pinker, and A.J. Rosmarin. Cindy Sweet Moskowitz was named immediate past chair.
Nominees elected to the board of directors included: David Brickman, Steven Davidoff, Pam H. Fine, Hylton L. Jonas, Robin Kosberg, Brian M. Lidji, and Cynthia Spechler.
Elected portfolio members include: Janet Beck, Neil Beckerman, Cynthia Feldman, Carol Kreditor, Deborah Niederman, Alan Shor, and Rabbi Stefan Weinberg.
Listed board members with remaining years of service include: Alan Bernon, Brett Diamond, Sandy Donsky, Beth Gold, Jennifer Goldman, Betsy Kleinman, Kevin Pailet and Brian Ratner.
Board chair appointments for one-year term included Jeffrey Beck and Nate Levine.
In other business:

  • The Helen Gross Leadership Award was presented to Ynette Hogue — who could not be there at the meeting because she was with her daughter and family celebrating the birth of new baby twins. Janice Sweet Weinberg accepted the award on her behalf.
  • The Bob Weinfeld Campaigner of the Year Award was presented to Nate Levine.
  • The Bess Nathan Young Leadership Award was presented to Lindsay Bendorf, and
  • The I. Zesmer Young Leadership Award was presented to Paul Rubin.
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Pair of Aggie riders ready to Gig ’em in Germany

Pair of Aggie riders ready to Gig ’em in Germany

Posted on 24 June 2015 by admin

Amanda Katsman takes a moment from practice with her trainer, Ron Postleb of Crown Dressage International (left) and father.

Soon-to-be sophomores to compete in European Maccabi Games

By Brian Bateman
brianb@texasjewishpost.com

 

For most college athletes, summer’s a time for light training and recuperation before another long season.
But two inseparable Jewish Aggies are ready for the ride of their young lives.
Katie Resnick, a soon-to-be sophomore psychology major from Dallas’ Lakewood area, and Amanda Katsman, a second-year petroleum engineering student from New York and Moscow, are headed to Berlin for the 2015 European Maccabi Games.
“I’m looking forward to the competition; it’s like an Olympics,” Katsman said.
Resnick and Katsman are two of four American riders headed to the Games, which begin July 27. More than 2,000 athletes from 36 countries will compete in 19 events.
Dressage competition begins Aug. 3.

Katie Resnick, of Dallas, has spent much of her summer learning to ride the Western discipline in hopes of making the Texas A&M equestrian team this fall.

But it will be hard to separate the sorority sisters while they’re there.
“It’s getting closer and closer to time, and we’re just exuberant,” Resnick said. “As much as I’m excited to go and be in the competition, I’m equally excited to go with my best friend.”
The pair met at tryouts for the Texas A&M equestrian team. Katsman’s background is strictly dressage riding (she’s competed all the way up to the Prix St. George level), while Resnick’s is in eventing. Neither were perfect fits for the fledgling college sport, which focuses more on hunter-jumper competition, a less-skilled, but technically difficult version of horsemanship that can appeal to greater numbers of amateur riders.

Forming a bond at tryouts

But while trying out, the pair found a bond that’s sparked their friendship.
“I went to the equestrian tryouts and met Katie there,” Katsman said. “I saw her name from Hillel and said, ‘This girl is Jewish.’ I got a ride back from Katie.”
And they’ve been best friends since, even sorority sist

ers.
Resnick was dead-set on joining Alpha Epsilon Phi, the first historically Jewish sorority at Texas A&M, but Katsman wasn’t so sure. Both rushed, both received bids, but Katsman didn’t want to accept her late-rolling bid. Resnick soon convinced her friend to join.
“I said, ‘OK, if Katie’s joining, I have to, too,’ ” Katsman said. “It’s nice that it’s Jewish, and at the same time, they’re very supportive of Maccabi.”
Resnick heard about the Games in 2012 from her

mother when the event was in Israel.
“She wanted me to do them, but at the time, I was too young,” Resnick said.
Resnick’s trainer applied and rode in those Games, further cementing Resnick’s fascination with riding on the international stage.
The next summer, Katsman, who hadn’t met Resnick yet, was a student worker at a German equestrian center. There she made plenty of contacts and friends.
Once Resnick and Katsman found each other in College Station, a plan quickly came into form. Both tried out. Katsman was accepted immediately, while Resnick had to wait for secondary acceptance.
Katsman, who has worked this month as an intern in New York City, will leave June 28 — a month early — for Germany to reunite with last year’s co-workers and train on one of their horses, a chestnut gelding. That will give her a major advantage when she competes in the advanced category at the games. Riders have the choice of using a Maccabi-supplied horse (which she only gets to learn for 30 minutes before each competition) or bringing their own (more than an expensive carry-on for the flight).
Resnick, meanwhile, will finish the summer on the banks of the Brazos, completing summer classes. She’s also training for Western riding, one of two disciplines in the college sport, in hopes of making the Aggie squad this fall.

Germany preparations

She’ll leave July 26, and partially because she hasn’t been immersed in dressage since she started riding as Katsman has been, she’ll compete in the medium division.
Resnick is planning on riding a Maccabi-lent horse, but could borrow another.
“My current coach has connections. I might have a pony stallion in the Games,” she said.
If it works out, it could be a big boost. Neptune, the Danish national champion, could be her ride to a medal.
“I’m just looking forward to the entire overall experience,” Resnick said. “Competing is a big part … but traveling and going to see the sights we’re seeing is too.”
Resnick and Katsman plan to visit the Berlin Wall, Holocaust Museum, Brandenburg Gate and other sites. Katsman will celebrate her birthday the day after the Games.
The trip won’t be cheap, however.
Resnick, who attends Temple Shalom when she’s in Dallas, is holding a private auction Sunday to raise money for her trip. On the table will be golf bags, gift cards, jewelry, cosmetics and horsemanship-oriented items, too.

Here’s a link to donate to either rider. Note: Resnick’s first name is listed as Kathryn on the site: http://bit.ly/1FQfrNf
If everything goes according to plan, the pair might have a few more medals to show for their experience.

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Israel consul, elections dot Federation meeting

Israel consul, elections dot Federation meeting

Posted on 19 June 2015 by admin

Photo: Ben Tinsley Members of the Jewish Federation gather in Fort Worth to hear Daniel Agranov, deputy consul general of Israel to the Southwest U.S., speak via Skype.

By Ben Tinsley
bent@texasjewishpost.com


FORT WORTH — A change in leadership, three elections and a Skype presentation from an Israel deputy consul general whose Houston home was swallowed by flooding all marked the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County’s 79th annual meeting Tuesday, June 2.
More than 50 people attended the busy, 7:30 p.m. ceremony at Beth-El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven Road.
Outgoing President Jeffrey S. Hochster effectively handed the gavel to incoming President Lon Werner during the evening, but first offered his final “State of the Federation” address — essentially a review of his time holding the office.
Before delving into his own projects, Hochster first gave high marks to Bob Goldberg, who took over as executive director at Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County a couple of years ago.
“Bob Goldberg has been a refreshing and engaging person, which is what we were hoping for when he was hired,” Hochster said. “I cannot say enough about all the positives Bob has created and how he made us all look that much better.”
Hochster also discussed his progress on the list of Federation goals he provided when he took the office of president 24 months ago.
This list includes his proposed expansion of campaign and endowments.
“Campaign has grown slightly each year,” Hochster explained. “We have added new donors but still have some way to go so everyone is doing their share. Endowments have had a major effort the past year. … We have even added two pace gifts this past year. Improvements, but still a ways to go.”
He said his idea for better communication and messaging has been addressed with an improved newsletter with better coverage — easier to read — and a new website.
His list also contained a desire for increased participation of young adults, and Hochster said the group has worked hard to focus on this age group.
“We may have the youngest executive committee in many years with one-third being under 40 and half under 50,” he said. “This year the leadership program was launched under Bob Goldberg’s tutelage and had 12 young people go to Israel as the highlight of this wonderful program.”
Other accomplishments cited by Hochster include a successful Israel Emergency Campaign last summer, establishment of a program committee under the direction of Angie Friedman, and the rejoining of The Partnership of Israel with the Jewish Agency providing funds for summer camps, scholarships and the Maccabi Games.
After Hochster’s address, Federation members conducted three separate elections, each moderated by secretary Todd Blumenfeld.
The first, of new members to the board of directors, saw Julie Goldstein, Sandy Hollander, Lisa Rein, and Cheryl Visosky unanimously elected.
The second saw board officers unanimously elected — Lon Werner, president; Diane Kleinman, vice president for campaign; Todd Blumenfeld, vice president for administration; Robert Simon, vice president for community relations; Cheryl Visosky, treasurer; and Alyson Halpern, secretary.
The third election was for new members for the Jewish Family Services committee. Unanimously elected were: LaJean Sturman, Howard Katz and Cheryl Visosky.
In a separate part of the meeting, retiring board members Larry Brunell, Klila Caplan, Louis Schultz, and Jonathan Suder were thanked for their service.
The Wolens Award was presented to Diane Kleinman, a Canadian transplant who has served on the Jewish Education agency board, the Beth-El board and, right now, the Federation board.
Kleinman has held positions on Beth-El committees such as the one for the recent “8 Over 80” event. She recently returned from Israel as part of the 2014-15 Federation Leadership Group.
Although not born Jewish, she said she’s making up for lost time as a Jew by choice.
“I believe in the importance of Israel and I love the Fort Worth Jewish community,” Kleinman said in a statement. “I am happy to give back and be involved.”
At the end of the meeting, Daniel Agranov, deputy consul general of Israel to the Southwest U.S., made an appearance — via Skype. Agranov was in a Houston hotel room, his home having been severely damaged by the recent flooding in Houston.
Agranov told the Fort Worth audience that as many as 5,000 Jewish households were severely affected by the flood.
“Some have a couple of inches and others have 3 or 4 feet of water,” Agranov explained. “The water was contaminated. It’s like sewer water. … It’s times like this you see the community in Texas is very strong and helpful. People reached out to see if we need anything.”
While fighting the flood, Agranov ran across Rabbi Chaim Lazaroff of Houston’s Chabad of Uptown, who helped organize relief efforts for those stricken by the rising waters. At one point, Lazaroff said he had 15 teams working simultaneously with approximately 70 volunteers.
Lazaroff said he came upon Agranov on May 27 when the Israel leader was driving around the United Orthodox Synagogues neighborhood.
Agranov noticed Rabbi Lazaroff. He stopped his vehicle, rolled down his window, and spoke with him.
“I asked how he was doing; he shared that he was completely flooded,” Lazaroff said. “He was driving around, somewhat listlessly, looking for help to remove the furniture from the home.”

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