Archive | August, 2015

Boy Scout troops restart at Reform synagogues

Boy Scout troops restart at Reform synagogues

Posted on 20 August 2015 by admin

Boy Scouts show off their creations at the Shofar Factory, one of the events at the quadrennial National Scout Jamboree. Photo: Stephen Shore

By Ben Tinsley
bent@texasjewishpost.com

DALLAS — As far as Reform Jewish leaders are concerned, the Boy Scouts of America are back.
The BSA’s National Executive Board announced July 27 it was lifting the restrictions on openly gay adults as Scout leaders and employees. As a result on Aug. 5, Reform Jewish leaders lifted their 14-year resolution against synagogues having Boy Scouts troops.
“While some are still unhappy with the (Boy Scouts of America) position, I personally think their current stance is politically brilliant,” said Stephen Shore, chairman of the Dallas Jewish Committee on Scouting and past president of the Temple Emanu-El Brotherhood, the charter organization of Boy Scout Troop 729 in Dallas.
In 2001, the Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism recommended nearly 300 Reform synagogues that sponsored or hosted Boy Scouts troops cut ties with the BSA, shortly after the United States Supreme Court upheld the Boy Scouts’ right to ban gay employees. The Religious Action Center — an advocacy group governed by the Commission on Social Action — announced that the “vast majority” of American Reform synagogues adhered to their recommendation by disassociating from Scout troops.
Shore — who has been involved in both the history of Scouting at Emanu-El and Jewish Scouting nationally for some time — said he was the one who provided the Religious Action Center with the documents upon which they made their decision to re-associate.
“Others had actually given the same information to the RAC previously but had not given them copies of the actual BSA released documents,” he said.
However, Shore pointed out, this is a great start but all is not completely well right now. Shore pointed out the commission still is not happy the BSA will continue to allow individual religious institutions that sponsor Boy Scout troops to refuse to hire LGBT employees. (According to the commission, 71.5 percent of all troops are chartered by faith-based organizations.)
Rabbi David Stern of Temple Emanu-El agreed.
“The decision by the BSA is an important step forward in the ongoing movement for civil rights for our LGBT brothers and sisters.  On a journey not yet over, this is an important milestone, and we applaud the progress of the BSA on this issue.”
For the nearly 100-year-old Troop 729 (established in 1918), this will be a time of new beginnings, Shore said.
“There are no new Scouts coming in,” Shore said. “We will resuscitate our group, but it will have to be as a Cub Scout pack first.”
Changing views
But this action is definitely a sign of the times, Shore added.
“Look at the marriage equality issue a few months ago — it didn’t seem like the Supreme Court was coming down on the current side of that issue,” Shore said.”If someone had brought this before the Supreme Court in 1950, would they even have taken the case? Things change.”
The BSA applauded the lifting of the URJ resolution.
“As we are with all of our chartered organizations, we’re thankful for their support,” Deron Smith, director of public relations for the Boy Scouts of America, said in a statement. “America’s youth are better off when they are in Scouting, and the Boy Scouts of America is successful because of its relationships with valued chartered organizations that help make our programs possible. Moving forward, we will continue to work together to reach and serve youth, helping them grow into good, strong citizens.”
Meanwhile, Rabbi Yaakov Rich of Congregation Toras Chaim, which chartered Boy Scout Troop 620 — a Shomer Shabbos troop — said his group’s scouts and employees have never been nor will ever be discriminated against because of sexual orientation.
Rabbi Rich said Scouts and adults with Troop 620 are expected to keep Shabbat while doing activities on Shabbat, to keep kosher while participating in activities, and to follow BSA policy which prohibits sexual activity of any sort while participating in troop activities.
“That is not an issue,” he said. “We look for people who are great examples of human beings and leaders others can look up to.”

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Dallas Doings: Makom, Veterans

Dallas Doings: Makom, Veterans

Posted on 20 August 2015 by admin

On Sunday, Aug. 9, Chabad of Frisco hosted a family fun day of Jewish unity in Hope Park (Frisco Commons). Many families of the up-and-coming community in the Frisco-McKinney-Allen area made kites and enjoyed spending time with old friends and making new ones. Pictured are Odaya and Sean Tov.

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharonw@texasjewishpost.com

Mazal Tov to Jewish War Veterans Harvey J. Bloom Post 256. The post won three out of six national awards at the recent National Convention of the Jewish War Veterans held in Tampa, Florida.
The annual convention includes a week of meetings,  forming resolutions to present to Congress, support for veterans’ issues, organizing support for the National Museum of American Jewish Military History (NMAJMH), elections for next year’s officers, etc. Dallas and Fort Worth were admirably represented by Sandra and Allan Cantor, Roz and Art Kaplan, Diane and Jerry Benjamin, Deloris and Barry Schneider, and Peter Levy.

Makom names new director

Riley Greenberg

Welcome to Big D, Riley Greenberg, new director of the critically acclaimed  and dynamic Makom. Greenberg is thrilled to take over the helm of Makom from Rabbi David Singer, who recently left the area for opportunities in California. “I recognize that what they (David and Danielle Singer) created here is extremely unique and successful, and I’m hoping that with your help, I can pick up the baton/ carry the torch/ fill their shoes!
“I am honored to have been chosen for this position, and the few of you I have met so far have been nothing if not SO encouraging and helpful,” wrote Greenberg in a recent email to Makom stakeholders and participants.
Greenberg is a San Antonio native and has been in Dallas for a couple of weeks. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Leadership Development from Texas A&M University.
Greenberg said, “Now, I recognize that in this community I will be working with a lot of Longhorns, and I want your concerns to be silenced by knowing that I come from a house divided — my brother is a sophomore at UT this year, so fret not — I can play nice!” At A&M Greenberg was very involved in Hillel, which is where she sparked her passion for meaningful Jewish engagement.
Greenberg would love to hear from the young adult Jewish community. She can be reached at 210-489-0795 or director@makomdallas.com.

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Maccabi medals mean more for Plano’s Bransky

Maccabi medals mean more for Plano’s Bransky

Posted on 20 August 2015 by admin

Photo: Aaron Bransky Josh Bransky competes in the 14-and-under freestyle.

By Ben Tinsley
bent@texasjewishpost.com

Josh Bransky (right) and his student helper at the Maccabi Games.

DALLAS — Josh Bransky, 13, of Plano might have missed out on a formative growing experience if JCC officials had not made him an active part of the Dallas Maccabi Games.
Josh has special needs. He is a competitive swimmer who has autism and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. He has to take ADHD medicine every four hours. There are times when noise and light get to be too much and he has to be led away to calm down.
Abbii Cook, JCC Youth Programs director, said when the JCC was asked to help Josh, they assigned the teenager a “shadow” — a male college student volunteer who stayed with Josh throughout the duration of the Aug. 2-7 Dallas Maccabi Games.
Josh’s mother, Adrienne Bransky, said as a result, Josh was able to win three medals — two bronze and one silver. He also received a Middot medal given to a select few athletes and artists who are exemplary leaders and embody the Jewish values of the Maccabi Games.
“It was so cool to be able to see Josh come into his own with these games,” she said.
Josh could very well have succumbed to sensory overload at any moment but his “shadow” was good at calming him down and helping him regroup during the hectic Maccabi days.
“He took him to a place where he could calm down and made sure he took his meds every four hours,” Adrienne Bransky said.
When Josh needed to hydrate, the “shadow” was there to help, officials said.
All in all, the JCC made it possible for Josh to have a life-affirming experience.
“I can’t say enough about the staff of the JCC,” Bransky said. “The fact that Team Dallas Delegation Heads Matt Rowland and Abbii Cook were willing to make this happen made all the difference. There were kids from Shelton School  of Dallas who saw Josh and actually engaged him in conversation for the first time. This welcoming, supportive experience showed him and a lot of other people that he is capable.”
Cook said Josh was the only child with autism that she knew of who asked for help during the Dallas Maccabi Games.
“Helping Josh is something we do at the J because we believe in inclusion,” she said. “We did what we would do for every kid. We want this to be an avenue for every walk of life.”
Cook said some parents make the mistake of assuming there won’t be help for their special needs children at the J.
“Some parents just write it off, but Josh’s parents have been huge advocates for him,” she said.
For Adrienne Bransky, it was glorious to see her son winning a prestigious competition under his own steam.
“He made it through a difficult time on his own,” she said. “The other players were cheering him on and he really needed that. The kids on the team who go to his school were congratulating him, and he just got invited to a bar mitzvah.”
Josh said the Maccabi Games experience, for him, was unforgettable.
“I was smiling when I got those medals — a huge, beaming, smile,” he said.

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Kosher BBQ Challenge set for 2nd year

Kosher BBQ Challenge set for 2nd year

Posted on 20 August 2015 by admin

Photo: Levi Dubrawsky Last year’s group spent all night smoking the barbecue, leading to new friendships and plenty of swapped stories. Left to right, front row: Darryl Meyerovitz, Stephen Schwartz, Greg Schwartz Rear: Dusty Eber, Michael Winton, Rabbi Moshe Naparstek, Marc Blumberg, Ben Schepps, Benton Middleman, Mark Pincus, Charles Hirschberg, Rabbi Yossi Lazaroff, Lazer Lazaroff, Rabbi Levi Dubrawsky

By Ben Tinsley
bent@texasjewishpost.com

DALLAS — Who makes the best kosher barbecue in North Texas?
This is the burning question behind the Kosher BBQ Challenge, a community event that begins its second year Aug. 23.
Event organizer, Rabbi Levi Dubrawsky of Chabad of Dallas, believes the ultimate payoff of the challenge is the new and interesting friendships it inspires.
Sure, sure. There will be lots and lots of kosher meat — 600 pounds of brisket, ribs and even hot dogs, to be exact. Not to mention small cherry pies from Tom Thumb.
And yes, as many as 500 people are expected to attend — with rides, live entertainment and carnival fun to compliment the competitive kosher barbecue cooking contest as well as kosher hot dog and pie eating contests.
But this second annual Kosher BBQ Challenge at Chabad of Dallas–The Shul, 6710 Levelland Road, is much bigger than simply a competition, the rabbi emphasized.
In addition to “kosher awareness — Texas style,” this  project of Chabad of North Texas helps forge new friendships on the same fires on which award-winning brisket and ribs are cooked.
“I really like the fact that this is a communal event,” Rabbi Dubrawsky said. “It brings our community together.”
The rabbi said there was a lot of feedback from the first year of the competition from the people who found it to be an incredibly fun bonding experience.
As many as seven teams, at least three people per team, will compete in this event — which is under the supervision of Dallas Kosher.
The meat smoking process starts Saturday night on Motzei Shabbat.
Will Fleischman, pitmaster of Lockhart Smokehouse Plano, returns this year as lead judge. The rabbi said it would have been really hard to start this event without Fleischman.
“He was instrumental in getting this event started last year,” the rabbi said.
Will Fleischman explained that the rabbi brought the initial concept of the cookout to him last year, and together they talked it out and planned it.
“I am one of those people who talks things through,” Fleischman said. “I asked him, ‘How are going going to put this together? How are you going to educate their palates?’”
In his Twitter profile, Fleischman said his passion for cooking makes him a “carnivorous culinary agitator.”
He has been chatting up the kosher contest on Twitter.
“Calling all BBQ heads for the #Dallaskosherbbq  at Chabad of Dallas,” Fleischman wrote Aug. 12. “Open the BBQ mind to the roots of brisket cooking.”
Fleischman will be flanked during the competition by expert judges Matt Pitman of Meat Church BBQ, and Eric Perry of Lockhart Smokehouse.
The rabbi said others whose help was invaluable to making the kosher cooking contest happen include  Ben Schepps, Mark Pincus, Greg Schwartz  and Benton Middleman.
The event is designed to be affordable for those who attend. Tickets — all of which include unlimited access to rides and carnival fun — are $9 for adults with a hamburger, chips and drink meal; $5 for children with a hot dog, chips and drink meal; and $12 for both adults and children with a  brisket sandwich, chips and drink meal.
Officials ask community members to bring a canned food item to help support the Jewish Family Service Food Pantry.
“A canned food item for JFS enters you in the raffle,” JFS tweeted.
But back to the true importance of the event: the relationships.
Generally the competitors in this event get three or four people to help split the evening up and take shifts cooking though the night.
This places certain people who might not otherwise have met within handshaking distance, Rabbi Dubrawsky said.
“Part of the competition is the teams hung out all night cooking and the competitors got to know one another — a camaraderie developed,” the rabbi said. “They spoke, shared ideas and cooking tips and had fun being together throughout the night.”
Fleischman wholeheartedly agreed.
“We tend to look at our meals simply as times to ‘fuel up’ with food,” Fleischman said. “There needs to be more of a connection between people during these times. It’s very cool how a barbecue event can create that necessary sense of community.”

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Modest swimwear making splash at East Coast beaches

Posted on 20 August 2015 by admin

It’s still August, still hot, and some forward-thinking Jewish women are making summer sun-and-sand times easier for others who don’t look like bikini babes — or don’t even want to.
Daniella Teutsch and Sara Wolf founded HydroChic in New Rochelle, New York, for themselves and those like them who don’t favor extreme body exposure. For some women, modesty is part of their faith; the two were first inspired when they saw a number of Orthodox Jews entering Jersey shore waters wearing ankle-length denim skirts. But other women are just reluctant to parade their personal body flaws in public. Plus, some want cover-ups because they’re heeding warnings about serious repercussions from overexposure to the sun’s rays.
All the above resonate to the company’s motto:  “We’ve Got You Covered.”
When Teutsch and Wolf continued paying attention, they noticed how many beach-y women were wearing big, baggy T-shirts over their swim suits. Was this protection from the sun, or from prying eyes?
No matter: They began creating for all. And recently, their work hit the Wall Street Journal as the lead in “Modest Bathing Suits Make a Splash,” an article subtitled “Swimwear dives into new market, offering more coverage.”
The writer was WSJ staffer Lucette Lagnado, whom you may already know as author of The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit, a book about the modern-day Jewish exodus from Egypt — of which she and her family, including her dapper father, were reluctant pilgrims.
Lagnado’s comprehensive WSJ piece also featured Undercover Waterwear, a Brooklyn firm founded by Susan Esses and her daughters, Rachel Tabbouche and Melissa Chehebar, specifically to (swim)suit Orthodox Jewish women. And there’s yet another company, Aqua Modesta, also based in Brooklyn, with offerings touted by founder Regine Tessone as ”the original kosher swimwear.”
Not ‘modesty police’
Ms. Wolf of HydroChic says “I am not the ‘modesty police.’ So many women are seeking alternative solutions to the traditional bathing suit, whether for sun protection or body coverage. We are proud to offer a wide selection of fashion-forward choices.”
Today’s array includes tank tops, shorts, and “skorts” (skirts with attached shorts underneath) as well as long skirts and both long- and short-sleeved tops, all available in an array of bright prints and solids as well as muted colors.
On the other hand, Ms. Tessone sticks with the Orthodox women who are her client base, offering nothing at all that’s sleeveless. She does do complete outfits, such as a long skirt with attached Capri-length pants and a matching top featuring elbow-covering sleeves and built-in bra. (A go-with bathing cap is an extra-cost choice.)
The trio at Undercover Waterwear started out like Aqua Modesta, then branched off the straight-and-narrow to include both short skirts and short sleeves. But only so far off: sisters Rachel and Melissa vetoed a reptile print miniskirt and strapless top actually designed by their mother!
You can go online to see all the offerings of these three young businesses that did what successful new businesses do: spotted a real need and went about meeting it. A good definition of the initial need was provided by WSJ reader Laura Laredo’s comments on Lagnado’s article:
“The reason Torah-observant Jewish women wear modest swimwear — and modest clothing in general — is that a Jewish woman is a Bas Melech, a Daughter of the King, and dresses as such. The idea is that her sexuality is reserved for her husband (and vice versa, of course), and her dress should not attract other women’s husbands (or single men).
“Judaism recognizes that men are hard-wired by God to be visually oriented and turned on when seeing a woman. In the context of marriage, that’s a good thing. In the context of a woman not your wife, it’s a bad thing.
“It’s actually the ultimate feminism,”  Laredo  concludes. “Dress so that you’re not viewed as a sex object, and that your inner beauty is what shines through!  And ‘modest’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘unfashionable.’
“No burqas required!”

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Around The Town: National honors, Challah bakery

Around The Town: National honors, Challah bakery

Posted on 20 August 2015 by admin

Volunteers Nancy Schwartz, Cindy Simon, Jordyn Schwartz, Cookie Kabacoff helped work the event.

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharonw@texasjewishpost.com

National honors for Schweitzer

Schweitzer

Congratulations to Jordan Schweitzer, native of Fort Worth and son of Leonard and Rose-Marie Schweitzer, who recently came in for national honors from the American Association of Endodontists. The NewsStand of the Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry reported May 15.
“Not long after Dr. Jordan Schweitzer began working as a faculty member in the dental school’s endodontics department, he had a vision in mind. He wondered if he might ever receive the Edward M. Osetek Educator Award. Given by the American Association of Endodontists, the award is one of the highest honors a dental educator in the endodontics specialty can receive. That was back in 2004, when he worked part time at Texas A&M University Baylor College of Dentistry.
“‘Lo and behold, 11 years later, it happened,’ said Schweitzer, associate professor in endodontics. ‘It started as sort of a dream: ‘Could I possibly win this?’ he said. The award is given to faculty members in endodontics who have been teaching full time for 10 years or less. Schweitzer, who transitioned to full-time status in 2006, says the award serves as a vote of confidence from colleagues, and current and former students, who submitted letters of support as part of the process, which commenced with a nomination from his department chair, Dr. Gerald Glickman.
“As predoctoral director of endodontics and course director for the preclinical endodontic course, Schweitzer instructs second-, third- and fourth-year students and supervises endodontic residents in the graduate clinic.
“His teaching approach: Find out what motivates each student.
“‘I personalize my instruction to the student’s particular level, be it a D2 student at a beginning level, a D3 student entering into the clinic, and then a D4 student who’s about to graduate,’ says Schweitzer. ‘I want to challenge them to be the best that they can be.’”
Board-certified in endodontics, Schweitzer maintains a practice in Dallas at Highland Park Endodontics. He is a graduate of UT-Austin’s Plan II honors program and received his DDS from Baylor School of Dentistry.
He received his endodontic training at Marquette University, earning a certificate in endodontics and master’s degree in 1988 and 1989.
He is married and his interests include computers, dog rescue, historic architecture, and music. He also serves on the Board of Adjustment for the City of Dallas.

Challah Bakery

On Sunday, Aug. 16, PJ Library Tarrant County got together for a Challah Bakery event.
Federation Program Director Angie Friedman reported:
“What a great afternoon! We learned how to make challah, read and acted out a story, learned about making the blessings, and braided our very own challahs to bake at home.”
Instrumental to the program’s success were Rishi Gurevitch, chair who led the demonstration; Bob Goldberg, who read the PJ Library selection; and the wonderful challah-making volunteers including: Erica Bekerman, Gail and Larry Berlin, Cookie Kabacoff, Nancy and Jordyn Schwartz, Nicole Serralta, Cindy Simon and Cindy Wilcox.

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Power found in prayer — for Muslims, too

Posted on 20 August 2015 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,
In your column last week you said that Ishmael has a tremendous power of influence due to his name, which ends with the name of God like the Jews do, Isra-el.
I find that fascinating, but still have a question. Is it just the fact that this is his name which gives his offspring that power, or do they need to do something to “tap in” to that name?
Suzy K.
Dear Suzy,
You are correct; it is not simply being named that way, which, in fact, does provide them with some power. To fully tap into the name they possess they need to, and in fact do, perform certain acts to attain their full potential power.
We shall discuss one of these acts in this column, and perhaps focus on other aspects in subsequent columns.
The Torah teaches us that the name Ishmael, or more precisely Yishmael, was divinely decreed. When Hagar, the maidservant of Sarah, was running from her mistress, an angel of God said to her to return to her mistress and submit herself to her domination. “And an angel of God said to her, I will greatly increase your offspring, and they will not be counted for abundance. And an angel of God said to her, ‘Behold you will conceive, and give birth to a son; you shall name his Yishmael, for God has heard your prayer. And he shall be a wild man; his hand upon everyone, and everyone’s hand upon him; and over his brothers he shall dwell” (Genesis 16:9-12).
From here we learn that the name Ishmael, or Yishmael, is the combination of Yishma and E-l, meaning that “God will listen” to the prayers. In the direct meaning of the verse, the prayers referred to are those of Ishmael’s mother, Hagar, to be rescued and to be the mother of a son of Abraham. When she will give birth to that son, he will the evidence that God listened to her prayers. The sages teach that the listening to the prayers of Hagar includes the future prayers of Ishmael himself, since his very existence is the embodiment of her prayers; he too has the power to pray and have his prayers heard and answered by God.
We see that the Muslim world puts a tremendous emphasis on prayer, bowing down on their prayer carpets five times a day, wherever they may be. We’ve all seen the videos of tens of thousands of them reverently doing so at their holy places.
A leading sage of some 100 years ago, the Rav Maharil Diskin, lived in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem. Those close to him have related that when he saw his Muslim neighbors bowing down in prayer, he would not pass within 4 cubits before them. With this he applied to them the Talmudic dictum that one should not pass within 4 cubits of a Jew while he or she is reciting the Amidah prayer, as the Shechina, or Divine Presence, is present within those 4 cubits (about 6 feet) of the one praying. Although this is a ruling which applies to the prayers of a Jew, Rav Diskin held that the exception to the rule among the nations of the world is Ishmael.
The prayers of Ishmael have a power similar to that of the Jews; they, too, have some level of Shechina when they pray, like an Amidah prayer. This is one of the ways that the offspring of Ishmael, the Muslim world, have an avenue to tap into the name of God attached to their name.
The prayers of Ishmael, which are fervently recited five times a day by many in mosques, on sidewalks and streets throughout the world, are for the destruction of America, Israel and Western values, and for world dominion of Islam. There’s a lot of power in those prayers, coupled with their intense belief in God, which explains much of their success.
Our Sages further teach that his name also includes our prayers; when we pray for our redemption from Ishmael, God will listen. One of the ways, in the spiritual realm, that we can combat the source of Ishmael’s success, is for the Jewish people to return to heartfelt, earnest prayer:
Prayers built on a foundation of true belief in Hashem, God, and the closeness we can attain to Him through our prayers. Especially now, in the month of Elul, preceding the High Holidays, in which we are taught that the closer we bring ourselves to God through prayer and teshuva, the closer He brings Himself to us.
This is the time for true beseeching, loving prayers. In this way we can begin to turn the tide, at the source, of what is transpiring before us.

Rabbi Yerachmiel 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: Rachmanus in action

Dallas Doings: Rachmanus in action

Posted on 13 August 2015 by admin

Celebrating Shabbat at the Wisch-Ray home, Australians, Dallasites and Oklahomans share a moment Photos: Sharon Wisch-Ray

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharonw@texasjewishpost.com

If you are like me, you are just getting back to your normal routine after last week’s successful Dallas Maccabi Games.
More than one person has asked me, “Have you recovered yet?” There are so many highlights of the week I’d like to share — interestingly enough, none of them have to do with sports — I’m not sure where to begin. I guess the beginning is always a good start.

Meaningful Shabbat

We were thrilled to learn that we would be hosting two boys from the Australian 16U basketball team, Greg Diamond, 15, and Jordan Spyrides, 14. Prior to their arrival, I had numerous conversations with their moms, Shelley Diamond, who traveled with the team as their welfare officer, and Ariella Spyrides, who remained back in Sydney.
In the small world of Jewish geography, we quickly figured out that we had friends and acquaintances in Dallas in common as both the Diamonds and Spyrides families were originally from South Africa. I quickly learned a new word, billeting, which I had to look up while chatting with Shelley one day. For those of you like me who don’t know, a billeting refers to lodging someone in a nonmilitary facility aka… in Big D, a host family.
When we realized our boys would be arriving Thursday, we quickly put together a Shabbat dinner with some family and some of the other folks who were hosting Aussies.
As luck would have it, my nephews Aaron and Garrett were in town from Oklahoma. Aaron and Garrett, whose dad Jordan is Jewish, have met a few Jewish people, mostly their family from the Rays’ side and my family the Wisches.
However, I don’t think that it really hit home to them that there are Jews everywhere until they met their new Australian friends. To top it of, all these Aussies knew the same prayers they’ve heard around the Shabbat table for years. Seeing these boys together sharing Shabbat solidified to me one reason opportunities like Maccabi are so important.

Rachmanus in action

It was Sunday at the close of Opening Ceremonies. I was eager to get my Aussie athletes, who were exhausted from their 28-hour travel to get to Dallas, and Sam, my own baseball player, home. I was already tired and the games hadn’t really even begun yet.
As sports commissioner and venue director for the Star Reporters, I was due to attend a meeting at the Hilton Lincoln Center at 10:30 p.m., and I really didn’t want to go. I’d been to my share of meetings over the last few months and, in truth, Star Reporter did not demand a whole lot of face time. I saw Steve Schneider, aka “Mr. Maccabi,” and Athletics Chair of the Games, and asked him if I had to go to the meeting. His answer: “Yes and no, I want you there because I’m proud of you, but I understand if you don’t want to go. I’d like to recognize your hard work though.”
Is this guy really a Jewish mother, I wondered? I pushed myself to get to the Hilton as soon as the boys were settled.
As soon as the pleasantries and requisite admonitions were done, Mr. Maccabi took the podium and among other sage advice told a story that to me was the essence of what the Maccabi games are all about.
In 2004, Steve took his first Dallas baseball team to Austin for the Games. They were playing up, mostly 13- and 14-year-olds with just a couple of 16-year-olds playing in the 16U division. They faced Atlanta, a 16U team that produced more than one division one baseball player in college.
They got creamed. The Dallas boys were demoralized, and to add insult to injury, as they boarded their bus back to the hub, they were faced with Team Atlanta who had just skunked them. To their surprise, they were greeted with a heartfelt rendition of Hinei Ma Tov which led to the singing of Jewish and Hebrew songs all the way back.
The feelings of humiliation and defeat were replaced with the jubilation of brotherhood and camaraderie. As Mr. Maccabi finished his story my eyes welled up and I was so grateful that I had pushed myself to attend the meeting. It put the whole week in perspective.

It’s not about the athletics

If you’re like me, you’ve paid your share of fees to provide opportunities for your kids to participate in various levels of athletic competition. Those options are always available, and trust me, folks will take your fee regardless of your child’s talent level.
What sets Maccabi apart is the opportunity for your Jewish child to participate in sports within a Jewish framework with Jewish values and — when the competition is over — to learn about folks from other parts of the Jewish world both here and abroad.
Furthermore, many athletes reported that their favorite day of the week was JCC Cares, a community service project combating food instability.

It takes a village

Throughout the week, I spent a lot of time at the J — arriving by 7:30 a.m. and leaving late after The Dallas Maccabi Post (Star Reporter news) was put to bed well after the athletes had headed to their evening activities. I was struck by everyone’s willingness to go the extra mile to make things happen.
For example, our 12 star reporters were treated to talks by Jared Sandler, one of the voices of the Texas Rangers, at 7:30 Wednesday morning and Jeff Platt, sports reporter for Time Warner Cable News. Both Dallasites, Sandler had worked the Ranger game late the night before and Platt was participating in the games as a coach for the gold medal-winning 16U Team Dallas Silver basketball team.
These guys didn’t have to do this, but they went that extra mile to help budding journalists and share some really valuable information.
I was also impressed by the number of seniors at the JCC volunteering in numerous capacities as well as members of Chai House.
From medical staff to hospitality, venue directors to security, I personally did not have a negative encounter.
These Games engaged everyone and we are a better, more cohesive community for it.
Yasher Koach to Games Chairs Dan Prescott, Wendy Stanley and Ruthie Shor, Games Director Kerri Aikin, their vice chairs and assistants and all the JCC staff and of course…. the volunteers for a job well done.
Next year, … Meet me in St. Louis!

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Dallas teen wins award for nonprofit outreach group

Posted on 13 August 2015 by admin

By Ben Tinsley
bent@texasjewishpost.com

DALLAS — Teenager Jake Galant is working to change the world for the better. Entrepreneurship is the key.
In the words of his peers, Galant continues to offer the gift of understanding to less fortunate youngsters — instructing them in advanced levels of computers and technology.
In 2012, the 17-year-old Dallas resident and St. Mark’s School of Texas rising senior created TeraByte Outreach, a special nonprofit summer video game creation camp that teaches computer programming skills to low income youth. It was inspired by the “for-profit” camp TeraByte created by his older brother Zach.
Jake Galant’s efforts to help the less fortunate, which include teaching these programs at DISD elementary schools for the past three summers, did not go unnoticed — or unappreciated. He was one of 15 youth this summer who received the $36,000 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Award — which recognizes teens for their commitment to social good and volunteer service.
The 2015 Diller Teen Tikkun Olam Awards are the vision of Bay Area philanthropist Helen Diller, “the quiet force” behind The Helen Diller Family Foundation, officials said.
The awards recognize teens for their commitment to social good and volunteer service — and have given more than $2.5 million to 70 Jewish teens “tackling global issues and creating lasting change through Tikkun Olam,” according to reports.
The accolades didn’t stop there for Jake Galant. He also was named a Distinguished Finalist in the 2015 Prudential Spirit of Community Awards program.
Impressed by what the young entrepreneur is trying to achieve, Texas State Rep. Jason Villaba, R-Dallas, and his colleagues in the Texas House of Representatives of the 84th Legislature issued Galant a legislative “high-five” in the form of House Resolution 918, which lauds these accomplishments.
“He is a source of inspiration to all who are privileged to know him,” State Rep. Villaba’s resolution states.
Galant, who was in Israel this week, said during an email interview that he is humbled by the honor. When he first learned that by the year 2020 there will be over 1 million unfilled computer programming jobs in the United States, he had the idea to introduce economically disadvantaged children to programming and help them get a start in a field that will have lots of opportunity.
“To me being Jewish has always meant helping other people, particularly those less fortunate,” Galant wrote. “Whether it has involved community service work through my synagogue or a food drive at Yom Kippur there has been this emphasis. The day after my bar mitzvah, my friends and I made one thousand sandwiches for a homeless shelter. We even had fun organizing ourselves into sandwich makers, people who put them into bags and people who boxed them all up. So it was just a normal thing for me to want to help kids who would otherwise never have the chance to learn to make their own video games or to attend a camp like mine.”
Galant said as a Jew he has always valued the importance of learning and education.
“While creating video games may not sound the same as learning math, science or literature, it is a skill that involves planning and then writing the commands that run the game,” he wrote. “It can also set the stage for kids to be interested in programming. We know that so many jobs nowadays involve using computers that even if kids don’t want to be programmers, these skills will be valuable, almost no matter what field they choose.”
Galant’s ultimate goal is to teach students critical thinking skills, interactive storytelling and the basics of computer programming in a real “camp experience,” with T-shirts, daily snacks, and a closing celebration.
Galant also involves family members in this learning journey. His mother Shelley said in an email that Galant brought his cousin Anya Zimmerman-Smith with him to Israel as a counselor.
“She is specifically helping with custom design and animation of background and characters for the games,” Shelley Galant wrote.
In the process of teaching low-income kids to create video games using basic programming concepts, Jake Galant has reached as many as 170 kids in Dallas and 20 more in China. He has managed 10 teen volunteer teachers, trained three of them to be his camps’ site directors, and spent his own earned money for the subsequent expenses.
“I have gotten to go to so many enrichment classes such as Chinese immersion, debate, creative writing, foreign exchange, computer, and destination imagination,” he wrote. “I feel that, to succeed, all kids need those opportunities but many cannot afford them. I feel badly about that. It does not seem fair. I realized that I had a skill which I could use to help those kids.”
In an evaluation posted online, Dallas-area parent Leslie Carr offered Galant’s camp very high praise.
“TeraByte Games is a must for any child who is interested in computers or video gaming — and, doesn’t that, by definition, rule in most adolescent boys?” she wrote. “The Camp Director, Jake Galant, does a wonderful job of inspiring and engaging all his students. My two boys couldn’t stop talking about the games they created all summer long. What a fantastic, fun week. Thank you!”

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Profiling Fort Worth/Tarrant County’s Maccabi athletes

Profiling Fort Worth/Tarrant County’s Maccabi athletes

Posted on 13 August 2015 by admin

Team Dallas catcher Bennie Sudbury prevents a Los Angeles player from scoring.

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharonw@texasjewishpost.com

The seven Fort Worth and Tarrant County teens who participated in the Dallas Maccabi games last week got into the full swing of the competition, taking home their share of medals and memories.

Maya Bloom

Maya Bloom and her Team Dallas tennis coach John Singer

Maya Bloom, daughter of Michal and Rabbi Andrew Bloom, competed on the tennis court. A rising sophomore at Paschal, Maya, 15, took home gold in doubles tennis.
Maya said that her favorite part of the Maccabi games was meeting other Jewish teenagers from around the world. She said that it was nice to play and win gold with a girl from California as her doubles partner. The social activities outside of the athletic field like Top Golf were her favorite part outside of the actual tennis playing; there she could meet kids playing all different sports and not just from her sport.

Jared Imber

Jared Imber’s, 16, golf expertise is well-known to our community. I remember him at age 4 driving the balls from his driveway into my parents’ front yard across the street on Hildring Drive East.
Maccabi capped off a busy summer for Jared. In June the rising Fort Worth Country Day junior spent three weeks taking a sports medicine class at Rice University through Duke TIP. Jared competed extensively throughout July capped off by his first hole-in-one at Ridglea Country Club during the Club Championship.
At Maccabi, Jared had a great experience, said his parents, Jill and Steve Imber. He enjoyed making golf connections across the country from Scottsdale, Atlanta, and Connecticut, just to name a few. Jared also enjoyed participating in JCC Cares with athletes from others sports and delegations.
On the links, Jared shot a 75-79 for a 154 in the main competition, 3 shots behind the lead. He shot a 67 and a 69 during the scramble rounds.
Jared came home with two gold medals for The Longest Drive.

Isaac Narrett

Isaac Narrett, 16, son of Marcy Paul and David Narrett, showcased his table tennis talent and brought home three medals. Isaac won a gold in U16 doubles and a bronze for U16 singles. However, perhaps the most prestigious award he brought home was a Middot Medal. Each delegation is given middot medals to give to anyone in the entire Games that are demonstrating the highest form of core Jewish values. Kudos to Isaac for receiving this prestigious award. Isaac, who will be a junior this fall at Fort Worth Country Day, said his favorite sports moment was being in the championship doubles match.
“We were 2-0 down in games but came back to win 3-2 despite facing three match points,” he said.
Off the table, Isaac’s favorite non-sports moment was going to Top Golf and meeting everyone there. “It was a great way to meet people in a fun environment with something to do on the first night,” he added.

Philipp Prostok

Philipp Prostok, son of Cynthia and Jeff Prostok, was a member of the Gold Medal Dallas Silver 14U Basketball team. With deep basketball talent in North Texas, there were four 14U teams and four 16U basketball teams on Team Dallas. Philipp, 13, will be in the eighth grade at Trinity Valley. He said outside of winning the gold medal his favorite thing was meeting so many Jewish kids from other places, especially Baltimore and Panama. Philipp added that Hurricane Harbor was particularly fun.
Samantha Simon
Samantha Simon played on the Dallas White 14U volleyball team and had a terrific time.
The daughter of Cyndi and Robert Simon, Samantha is 13, entering eighth grade at Fort Worth Academy.
Samantha’s favorite non-sports Maccabi moment was meeting new people from around the world. She became friends with people from Israel and Mexico. Samantha found it particularly easy to introduce herself to other people because at Maccabi everybody is Jewish and plays a sport. There’s also discussion about where you are from. She enjoyed trading pins. Samantha came home with pins from Mexico, Atlanta, South Jersey, Albany, San Francisco, and NYC 92nd Street Y.

Ryan Silverberg

Ryan Silverberg, 13, son of Felice and David Silverberg of Grand Prairie, played with the Team Dallas Black Team. Ryan is entering the ninth grade at Grand Prairie Fine Arts Academy and is an accomplished tenor sax player. Ryan shared the following about his Maccabi experience:
“I had the opportunity to meet a lot of people from around the world and will be able to continue these friendships I have made. The competition was great but the evening activities gave me the opportunity to get to know the other athletes outside of the basketball court.
“This whole experience will last a lifetime with me. I think the most memorable experience was helping at Paul Quinn College with the community service program. It made me realize how lucky we are to have plenty of food where others are less fortunate. This was directly related to my bar mitzvah project as well. I learned how to be a better person in my community and in my Jewish community. I hope to be able to go to the Maccabi Games in Columbus, Ohio or Kansas City, Missouri next year.”

Bennie Sudbury

I was fortunate to watch Bennie Sudbury on the baseball diamond firsthand. He and my son Sam were teammates on the 14U Dallas team which braved some scorching heat and finished the games 3-3, though out of medal contention. Bennie, 14, will begin ninth grade at Arlington Lamar this month; he is the son of Pam and Johnny Sudbury.
The standout catcher and clutch hitter commented on what Maccabi meant to him.
“My most memorable moments from Maccabi were the bus rides to and from each event. During these bus rides I got to meet new people from all over the world, learning about their cultures and sports they play. I also got to have fun and joke around with my teammates, which helped me relax before a game.
“The entire Maccabi experience was amazing. Since there aren’t many Jewish kids in my area, I was able to meet new friends who share a common culture and a love of sports.”
Yasher Koach to the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County for giving generous scholarships to athletes from Tarrant County to participate.
Next year… Meet me in St. Louis!

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