Archive | September, 2015

Creativity abounds in Allen family

Creativity abounds in Allen family

Posted on 24 September 2015 by admin

By Ben Tinsley
bent@texasjewishpost.com

FORT WORTH — Richard Allen, a professor of film, television and digital media at Texas Christian University, and his daughter, playwright Rebekah Allen of New York City, both will see their separate plays hit the stage in different states in early October.
Richard Allen is directing Bad Jews, a take-no-prisoners comedy about family, legacy and faith that will run Oct. 1 through Nov. 1 at Stage West Theatre, 821/823 West Vickery Blvd. in Fort Worth.
Rebekah Allen, 22, wrote and composed We Are The Tigers, a musical directed by Michael Bello that premieres at the Hudson Theatre in Los Angeles on Saturday, Oct. 10.
The production officially runs through Sunday, Nov. 8, although previews for that show start as early as Oct. 2.
Cantor Sheri Allen of Arlington Congregation Beth Shalom, Rebekah Allen’s mother and Richard Allen’s wife, said it is very interesting having two members of her nuclear family involved in such intense drama projects at roughly the same time.
“We are simply overdosing on creativity here in the Allen abode,” she said.
Bad Jews — written by playwright Joshua Harmon — runs roughly 90 minutes. It presents the complex — and perhaps even explosive — relationships between three young-adult Jewish cousins whose Holocaust survivor grandfather just died, Richard Allen said.
The conflict is between Daphna (played by Kelsey Milbourn), who is a devout Jew, and her cousin Liam (played by Garret Storms) who … isn’t.
Liam’s girlfriend Melody (played by Alexandra Lawrence), and Jonah (played by Matthew Grondin), his brother, round out a cast of four.
The conflict centers on the deceased grandfather’s Chai necklace.
“Their fight is over who deserves the necklace,” Richard Allen explained. “It’s billed as a comedy because of the extremes of the arguments but it has a lot to say about issues such as immigration. … The question is asked, ‘What happened to the third generation? What have they done?’ There’s some pretty heavy stuff going on.”
Despite the hectic-sounding title, the play has been well received by mainstream audiences, he said.
Allen said he did his best to acclimate the cast to Judaism during the course of rehearsals — one technique of which was to have them over for Shabbat dinner.
During a Monday telephone interview from L.A., Rebekah Allen said We Are The Tigers is the first play or musical she has written since graduating from the Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts.
As far as the cast is concerned, this is L.A. So you may already have seen a few of these actors:
Ari Afsar (American Idol), who plays Eva Sanchez; Adam Cropper, who plays Clark; Cait Fairbanks (Heathers The Musical), who plays Chess; Talissa Friedman (The Last Goodbye), who plays Farrah; Gabi Hankins, who plays Reese; Jade Johnson (Recorded in Hollywood), who plays Cairo; Rachel King, who plays Annleigh; Cailan Rose (Hair on Broadway), who plays Kate; Callandra Olivia, who plays Riley; Charlotte Mary Wen, who plays Mattie; Ashley Lynette Brown, female understudy; Katie Deshan, female understudy; and Patrick Riley, male understudy.
“I wanted to create a cast that was heavily female,” Rebekah said.
She and members of the cast have temporarily moved from New York to Los Angeles while the musical is being performed.
The show recently completed an artistic residency at New York City’s Musical Theatre Factory, where it presented two sold-out workshop performances.
The plot of the musical is inspired by pop culture. Rebekah said the show and many cast members draw inspiration from the acclaimed television horror TV series, Joss Whedon’s Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
“This is a pop-rock cheer murder mystery about a group of high school cheerleaders whose annual sleepover turns murderous when two of them get killed,” Rebekah said. “It’s a very dark comedy inspired by teen horror — my favorite kind.”
This two-act musical weighs in at about 108 pages and has been Rebekah’s passion project since she first attended Columbia College Chicago, her alma mater.
“I started writing this when I was a freshman in college,” she said.

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Award, NCSY, Shearith Sukkah

Award, NCSY, Shearith Sukkah

Posted on 24 September 2015 by admin

Photo: NCSY Dallas NCSY held a police appreciation program. Teens gave homemade candy apples to policemen and policewomen.

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharonw@texasjewishpost.com

Mazal tov to Steve Waldman, the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance’s chairman of the board of directors, who has been awarded the Dallas Business Journal’s 2015 Outstanding Directors Award.
The award recognizes directors, boards and committees that demonstrate skill and leadership in guiding companies to success. Other honorees of the prestigious award this year include former Dallas Mayor Ron Kirk and Mike Boone, chairman of the board of trustees of Southern Methodist University.
“I am honored and humbled to accept the Outstanding Directors Award and join its past and present recipients whom I have long admired and respected,” Steve said. “The Dallas Holocaust Museum’s mission of teaching the moral and ethical response to prejudice and hatred is dear to me, and I am so proud of the work we have done to benefit area students, teachers and all our visitors.”
Honorees were chosen by an expert panel of independent judges, industry insiders and authorities on board governance. All winners were honored in the Journal’s Sept. 18 weekly edition and at a celebratory awards dinner Sept. 17 at the Ritz-Carlton in Dallas.
Steve has been on the board of the Museum for 11 years. Although his life is full as a husband, father, active volunteer and chief executive officer of the thriving Waldman Bros insurance brokerage, he took on the equivalent of a second full-time job two years ago when he became the board chair of the Dallas Holocaust Museum.
Mary Pat Higgins, the Museum’s president and CEO, said she is not surprised by this recognition.
“I am proud to call Steve my colleague and friend, and I am grateful for his passion and commitment to the Museum and our mission of ending hate and intolerance,” Ms. Higgins said. “He gives his time, extensive business contacts and resources to us selflessly. I look forward to the opportunity of working with him for years to come.”
Steve attends and serves as emcee for a majority of Museum functions — from academic lectures to fundraising dinners — and personally prepares his topical and insightful remarks. Now in the midst of a robust capital campaign to build a new facility, the Museum calls on Stephen to attend countless fundraising appointments with new donors, board meetings and strategic planning sessions. He lends his business background and expertise to all facets of Museum operations.
Waldman Bros is deeply rooted in the local community, with leadership and staff members actively donating time and resources through board membership for a number of nonprofits. Waldman Bros participates in more than 40 charity events yearly through sponsorships, donations and volunteer participation. Some of these events include the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Annual Men’s Event, the Dallas area Multiple Sclerosis Walk, Congregation Shearith Israel’s Annual Golf Tournament, Women to Woman luncheon supporting Jewish Family Service and Waldman Bros’ 27th annual Erwin Waldman Memorial Golf Tournament hosted by the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.

NCSY shows officers in blue appreciation

On Wednesday night, Sept, 9, Dallas NCSY (National Conference of Synagogue Youth) held a “Police Appreciation” program. Teens gave homemade candy apples to the policemen and policewomen at the police station on McCallum Boulevard and Hillcrest, and wished them a sweet New Year. They also provided a pizza dinner to the grateful staff. Sergeant Karl Kemper addressed the teens and took questions, as did Senior Corporal Dara Couch. Rabbi Gershon Meisel, regional director of Southwest NCSY, flew in from Houston for the event, which was also featured on Fox 4 News as part of a segment on attacks on police officers and law enforcement supporters.
“This was a meaningful program,” said Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt, administrator of NCSY. “Our teens follow social media and the negativity against law enforcement has been prevalent in some areas. This program allowed them to see first hand what our police men and women do for the community, and to appreciate it.”
The teens wished the policemen and policewomen a heartfelt Shana Tova and warm feelings were reciprocated.
Congregation Anshai Torah is building a bridge as the new year begins and 5776 will find area millennials crossing that bridge — or gesher — as, at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 1, at a barbecue in an off-site sukkah, CAT’s Gesher program gets underway for a myriad of events and programs. Targeted toward young adults, between the ages of 22 and 35, it will provide a networking group that is so much more.
“Gesher will give young adults the opportunity to network within the Jewish community and the chance to meet others their ages,” said Jessie Cohen, a Gesher committee member. “I think this group is going to be beneficial because it offers young adults the opportunity to connect with one another both through networking or just having the chance to meet new young adults within the community,” said Cohen, a recent graduate of Simmons College, now working toward her MBA at UT Arlington. “I just moved back to Dallas after graduating from college and I want to meet new young adults in the area. I know I’m not alone in this!”
Membership in CAT is not required to join in at the Gesher programming, which will include Shabbat dinners (after CAT Kabbalat Shabbat services). “We hope anyone in our community who might feel a connection to Anshai Torah will be here,” said Rabbi Michael Kushnick, who is directing the program.
“This is an exciting way for young adult Jews to connect to our Jewish tradition, to other young Jewish professionals, and provide a social outlet,” said Rabbi Kushnick. “We will be professionally geared, but assuredly participating in fun and educational programming.”
Program highlights include the Oct. 1 evening in the sukkah, a Nov. 20 Shabbat dinner following services, the Jan. 29 Arnie Sweet Scholar-in-Residence featuring IKAR’s Rabbi Sharon Brous at Congregation Anshai Torah and a March 23 Purim party. The group will also enjoy Havdallah and Top Golf, a lake party and other holiday events.
To RSVP (required), or for event location and other information, call 972-473-7718 or email Rabbi.kushnick@anshaitorah.org.

Engaging program in the Shearith sukkah on Oct. 1

Shearith Israel will host a Lunch ‘n’ Learn in the sukkah Thursday, Oct. 1. The gathering is open to the public and offers a fascinating program. Join the Texas Jewish Arts Association and Congregation Shearith Israel for a conversation about elevating the mitzvah of building and dwelling in a sukkah to an art form.
Join others as they gather in Shearith’s sukkah, learn about basic rules for sukkah construction, and identify opportunities to insert creativity into the process, using pieces from Sukkah City as examples. Cost for the delicious lunch is $10.

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Sports notebook: Cowboys, Astros, UCLA, hockey

Posted on 24 September 2015 by admin

By Brian Bateman
brianb@texasjewishpost.com

Did you notice something strange during the Dallas Cowboys’ regular-season opener?
No, it wasn’t the lackluster offense and no, it wasn’t the injury to Dez Bryant.
What may have been more puzzling to those listening on the radio was a new voice calling the game for KRLD. Brad Sham skipped his spot in front of the microphone, this time in observance of Rosh Hashanah.
“It’s always the first thing I look for when the schedule comes out,” Sham told The Dallas Morning News. “I don’t look for opponents, whether games are home or away, or anything like that. I look to see if there will be a conflict with the Jewish High Holidays.”
Verne Lundquist filled in for Sham, his first time calling the Cowboys since 1983. Sham returned to the booth Sunday as the Cowboys defeated Philadelphia, 20-10, in their second straight NFC East matchup.
The Dallas Cowboys weren’t in sync during their regular-season opener, but managed to win, 27-26. After injuries to receiver Dez Bryant in the first game and quarterback Tony Romo in the second, those hearing Sham’s voice on the radio will likely take a bit of solace in that normalcy.

Feldman out for season

One of the best Jewish pitchers in Major League Baseball won’t be with his team down the stretch.
Astros starter Scott Feldman (5-5, 3.90 ERA) sprained his right shoulder Sept. 11 and will miss the remainder of the season. He left his start against the Seattle Mariners in the third inning.
It’s the second injury of the year for Feldman. He missed 7 weeks with arthroscopic knee surgery. He’s expected to return in 2016, but no timetable has been set.
It’s a tough blow to the Astros, who watched their long-held AL West lead slip away to the Texas Rangers last week. Houston is still expected to make the playoffs.

Rising star at UCLA

Did you stay up late Saturday night to watch the UCLA-BYU game? If you did, you may have seen one of the best Jewish college football players in the nation and not known it.
Josh Rosen, credited by many scouting sites as the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the nation last recruiting cycle, led his then-No. 10 Bruins to a thrilling comeback and 24-23 victory over then-No.19 Brigham Young.
Rosen, who was also the No. 2 overall recruit in 2015, played for a Catholic high school in Manhattan Beach, California last year. He has helped ease UCLA through the departure of Brett Hundley to the Green Bay Packers. Through three games, he has completed 61 of 100 passes for 680 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions, all for a quarterback rating of 126.6.
Three of those interceptions came against BYU, in what Rosen called “probably one of the worst games of my career” in the post-game press conference. “And we still beat a top-20 team,” he added.
The 18-year-old has plenty of room to grow, but UCLA could be in the mix during the next few years for the College Football Playoff if he continues to improve.

Israeli hockey team in Dallas

Israel’s national hockey team played an exhibition game against the Dallas Stars Alumni team Sept. 12 in Frisco.
Former Stars goaltender Marty Turco and defenseman and current TV analyst Brent Severyn led the Stars Alumni.
The Israeli team featured Sergei Frenkel, the all-time leading points scorer for Team Israel; Daniel Mazour, the all-time leader in games played for Israel; goaltender Tevgeni Gusin; and former Fort Worth Brahmas defenseman Daniel Spivak.
“We are very excited for the opportunity to participate in a charity game with Team Israel,” said Stars Director of Alumni Bob Bassen in a press release before the game. “While the Alumni Association is dedicated to helping support hockey programs in Texas, we jumped at the idea of taking on an international team and helping to grow awareness for the game of hockey in Israel.”
The Stars Alumni won, 8-3.
Israel has competed in the International Ice Hockey Federation for 25 years. The IIHF ranks the team in the top 30 internationally. Roughly 1,500 players are enrolled nationwide.

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Jerusalem sees violence escalating again

Posted on 24 September 2015 by admin

Over the past three weeks we have been witnessing daily terrorist attacks of stones and firebombs against civilians, police and IDF in and around Jerusalem, with the epicenter being the Dome of the Rock on Temple Mount.
Palestinian youth are incited by their leaders to throw rocks, cinder blocks and firebombs at Jews who have come to pray at the Western Wall during the holidays. When the Israeli police go up to the Temple Mount to stop them, these terrorists draw them into an ambush inside the Dome of the Rock where, with full agreement of the Muslim clerics, there are stockpiled stones, bottles, iron bars, fireworks and other deadly projectiles.
With numerous cameras strategically placed both inside and outside the building, the Palestinian Authority uses the videos to show the world how the “heartless Jewish stormtroopers” desecrate the building by entering without taking off their boots.
In a speech Wednesday, Sept. 16, PA president Abu Mazen encouraged the rioters when he said: “We bless you, we bless the Murabitin (those carrying out Ribat, religious conflict/war to protect land claimed to be Islamic), we bless every drop of blood that has been spilled for Jerusalem, which is clean and pure blood, blood spilled for Allah, Allah willing. Every martyr will reach Paradise, and everyone wounded will be rewarded by Allah. Al-Quds (Jerusalem) is ours, the Al-Aqsa is ours, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is ours, and they have no right to defile them with their filthy feet. We will not allow them to, and we will do everything in our power to protect Jerusalem.”
Claim on Jerusalem
But is Jerusalem really theirs? While reasonable minds can debate exactly what the boundaries of Israel were during different historical periods, or the actual geographic footprint of Jerusalem in different times, some facts are undeniable.
In fact, probably the only three things that all Jews — regardless of political or religious conviction, synagogue affiliation, country of residence, citizenship, age, gender, social level, education, etc. — agree on, are the irrefutable and well-documented facts that:
The land of Israel is the historical, given homeland of our nation.
Since the arrival of Abraham and his extended family some 4,000 years ago, there has never been a day when there were no Hebrews or Jews living somewhere in the land of Israel.
Jerusalem, from the time King David captured it from the Jebusites around 3,000 years ago, has been, is and always will be the eternal (and now functional) capital of Israel, with an unbroken Jewish presence.
During 2,000 years of exile, Jews all over the world ended the Passover Seder with the pledge: “Next Year in Jerusalem.”
These facts are indisputable. They are recorded not just in the Bible, but in archeological finds and historical documents from around the Middle East.
However, the Palestinian leadership consistently claims, and teaches in their schools, that the Jews never had a connection with the land of Israel or with Jerusalem, and that there never was a Temple. They claim that it was always “Palestine.”
But do the Palestinians have a comparable historical narrative and claim? Here are the documented facts:
“Palestine” never existed until the Roman Emperor Hadrian, after crushing the Jewish revolt led by Bar Kochba (132-135CE) renamed the combined Roman provinces of Syria and Judea: “Syria Palaestina,” in an attempt to suppress Jewish connection to the land.
This was the first time in history that any part of the region was called “Palaestina.” The population was mostly Jews, Syrians, Bedouin nomadic tribes, Greeks, Egyptians, Philistines (from whom the name derived) and Roman garrisons.
The name was later used, in various references, by successive rulers: Romans, Byzantines, Arabs, Crusaders, Mameluks, Turks and British.
There never was an independently sovereign country, kingdom, principality or even city-state called “Palestine.”
And the only time that Jerusalem served as a national capitol or seat of power after the Romans exiled the Jews 2,000 years ago and until the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948 — was during the British mandate (1920-1948), mostly in the King David Hotel.
Jerusalem is not mentioned even once in the Quran (it’s mentioned 626 times in the Old Testament and 141 in the New Testament).
This brings me back to the current wave of deadly violence in Jerusalem, which is referred to by some analysts as the “Temple Mount” or “Third” Intifada.
Despite the deadly violence, and though the stone and firebomb throwing has expanded beyond Jerusalem, most analysts don’t think that this will evolve into a full-scale intifada or uprising.
The main reason is that by all accounts the Temple Mount violence is an attempt to change the 1967 status quo agreement that gives Jordan overall authority over the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosques, while the Palestinian Authority has religious control and Israel security control.
Jordan’s authority is now being challenged by Fatah and Hamas on one side, and by the radical “Islamic Movement in Israel,” of Sheikh Raed Salah, on the other. Both are paying and inciting the rioters to increase the violence in the hope that the U.N. will condemn Israel for violating the “sanctity” of the shrines and using “excessive force,” while simultaneously changing Jordan’s role.
Unfortunately the violence in and around Jerusalem may continue for a while. Israel will have to take any and all steps necessary to stop it. There is a debate now within the government whether to ease up the restrictions on security forces using deadly force.
The current wave of violence and terrorism will be stopped …at least until the next round. The question is — will it be another hit to Israel’s image? The next few weeks, or months, will tell.
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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Managing partner, press notes

Posted on 24 September 2015 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharonw@texasjewishpost.com

Mazal tov to Michael Appleman, a third-generation Fort Worth attorney, who has been elected managing partner of Cantey Hanger LLP.
Appleman, 47, has been associated with Cantey Hanger since 1993 and is chairman of the firm’s Business, Tax and Estates Section.
His practice focus is on helping clients plan their estates, and probate the wills and administer the estates of clients’ family members. He has formed, established and secured charitable recognition for several nonprofit organizations and has significant experience with court-ordered guardianships.
“It is a high honor and responsibility to serve in this position of leadership at the Firm and as a representative of Cantey Hanger in the community of which it has long been a member,” he said.
Appleman is a 1990 graduate of The University of Texas with a Bachelor of Arts degree (Plan II Honors). He earned his Juris Doctor from The University of Texas School of Law in 1993. He is a member of the State Bar of Texas, the Tarrant County Bar Association, and the Tarrant County Probate Bar Association.
In the community, he serves on the board of directors for the Community Foundation of North Texas and the Trinity Valley School Alumni Association, and the board of visitors for The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
He is on the executive committee of The University of Texas School of Law Alumni Association, is an at-large representative of the Texas Exes Council of The University of Texas Ex-Students’ Association, and is a Foundation Advisory Council member of The University of Texas College of Liberal Arts.
Appleman’s father, Gordon, is senior counsel with the Thompson & Knight law firm, and his grandfather, Frank, was a prominent Fort Worth attorney. His mother, Louise, is president of the Board of the Tarrant County College District.
He and his wife, Jen, and their sons, Samuel and James, live in Fort Worth.

Press notes:

The committee for the Isadore Garsek Lodge of B’nai B’rith Person of the Year Dinner is hard at work planning the Oct. 18 event at Mira Vista Country Club.
Nominations are still being accepted for the Person of the Year. They can be sent to Isadore Garsek Lodge, 4420 W. Vickery Blvd., Fort Worth, TX 76107.
Consul Daniel Agranov of the Consulate General of Israel to the Southwest United States will be the distinguished guest speaker.
Tickets are available by contacting Marvin Beleck at marvinbeleck@aol.com; Harry Kahn at hskdsk@charter.net or 817-926-6566; or Alex Nason at alexnason@charter.net.
Kosher meals will be available by advance request.

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‘Holocaust by Bullets’ exhibit describes lesser-known methods of Nazi genocide

Posted on 24 September 2015 by admin

By Ben Tinsley
bent@texasjewishpost.com

DALLAS — Many people are aware of the atrocities committed against people in concentration and death camps during the Holocaust. But precious few know about the millions of others killed throughout Eastern Europe by the bullets of the Third Reich.
“It is important,” emphasized Mary Pat Higgins, president and CEO of The Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, “that we continue to study these sites and the testimonies of witnesses as, tragically, this method of killing continues to be used in genocides to this day.”
The museum’s new special exhibit, Holocaust by Bullets, Yahad-In Unum — 10 Years of Investigations, chronicles this lesser-known side of the Holocaust. It is based on a decade of investigation and research by Yahad-In Unum, the French organization founded to locate the sites of mass graves of Jewish victims of the Nazi mobile killing units.
This exhibit illustrates the mass killings of Jews, which started before the creation of gas chambers and concentration camps and continued until the Second World War concluded.
The exhibit — presented and sponsored by the Catholic Diocese of Dallas — opened Sept. 10 with a lecture by Yahad-In Unum Project Manager Alexis Kosarevskyi and Yahad-In Unum Cofounder Marco Gonzalez. It runs through Dec. 31.
As many as 2 million Jews were shot to death and left in unmarked mass graves across Ukraine, Belarus and Russia, conclusions show. Holocaust by Bullets details the five stages of each massacre: the arrest, the road, the undressing, the shooting, and — after the executions — the looting.
Investigators used eyewitness testimonies, photographs and maps to help viewers learn more about these war crimes.
Yahad-In Unum was founded in Paris in 2004 by leaders in the French Catholic and Jewish communities and is founded and led by Father Patrick Desbois, a French Catholic priest whose grandfather was a French soldier deported to the Nazi prison camp Rava-Ruska, located in a Ukrainian town that borders Poland.
The group’s American fundraising branch is the American Friends of Yahad-In Unum.
The investigation has uncovered more than 1,700 mass killing sites in Europe. One horrific conclusion by investigators is that current-day massacres in areas such as Cambodia, Rwanda, Darfur, the Balkans and Syria sometimes mirror the on-site, village-by-village massacres committed by the Third Reich and Nazi collaborators.
Kevin J. Farrell, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, expressed gratitude for the opportunity to bring the exhibit to Dallas.
“Holocaust by Bullets brings to light the profound work of Father Patrick Desbois to uncover the truth behind the gruesome and inhumane murders of 2 million Jews,” Farrell said “The exhibit’s unique design aims to draw the visitor in to become a ‘witness’ to the crime and therefore create a deeper understanding of the genocide.”
Holocaust by Bullets is presented in English and Spanish.
The website for the display is http://www.yahadinunum.org.
A study guide for educators is now available on that site.

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Jewish colleagues mourn Halliday’s passing

Jewish colleagues mourn Halliday’s passing

Posted on 24 September 2015 by admin

Ebby Halliday

By Ben Tinsley
bent@texasjewishpost.com


DALLAS — Jewish colleagues remember Ebby Halliday Acers — one of the city’s most beloved business icons — as a comrade, role model, advocate, and true friend.
On Sept. 8, Halliday Acers died in her sleep of natural causes — family and friends by her side. She was 104.
Halliday Acers was one of the first and most prominent successful women entrepreneurs in Dallas. At her memorial service, former first lady Laura Bush described her as the “first, First Lady of Dallas.”
The now-defunct Southwest region of the American Jewish Congress honored Halliday Acers in 2002 with their prestigious “Flame Of Honor” Award. This accolade is presented to community-committed people of exceptional moral courage who demonstrate an exceptional personal example.
Gil Elan, president and CEO of the Southwest Jewish Congress, remembers the evening in which Halliday Acers received that award as entertaining and successful for everyone concerned.
Even when Halliday Acers unexpectedly asked for an unscheduled 10 minutes onstage to pay tribute to her good friend Louise Gartner, the fun simply did not stop.
“Ebby not only accepted her award with eloquent charm and humor, but she also entertained the audience with her ukulele,” Elan explained.
Susan Myers, Southwest Jewish Congress administrative manager, said this performance was one of her fondest memories of Halliday Acers.
“With the ukulele she brought along, she played a song that she’d written,” Myers said.
Ebby Halliday Realtor Marilyn Pailet remembers that musical routine really well. Halliday Acers — who won numerous awards over the years — played the ukulele at a lot of similar ceremonies.
“She always played that ukulele — that was her signature thing,” Pailet said. “She always had it with her at meetings and big things she attended. She would often take the song Happy Days Are Here Again and write her own words.”
The responsibility for that event transitioned to the Southwest Jewish Congress. Halliday Acers is still listed as an award winner on the SJC website.
After the 2002 award ceremony was over, Halliday Acers continued to attend the event each year, always open to assisting others.
“Every year Ebby was willing to give financial help anytime we asked her to,” said Nelda Golden, vice chair of the Southwest Jewish Congress (her husband Stan is on the organization’s board of directors). “She kept coming back until last year, when her health wasn’t at 100 percent.”
From the very beginning, Halliday Acers was always known for giving 100 percent.
Born Vera Lucille Koch, March 1911 in Leslie, Arkansas, Halliday Acers graduated from high school in Abilene, Kansas in 1929.
She went on to land a $10-a-week job selling women’s hats at The Jones Store in Kansas City. Less than 365 days later, she was the top salesperson there.
In 1938, Halliday Acers was asked to take over the millinery department at Dallas’ W.A. Green Store.
It wasn’t long before she had her own Dallas boutique, Ebby’s Hats.
Halliday Acers founded her own real estate company in 1945.
Later, Halliday Acers amended her list of priorities — which mostly emphasized hard work — to include love. She met former FBI agent Maurice Halliday Acers, her future husband, at a speaking engagement Beaumont in 1958. She was 46.
In a November 2010 interview in Mobility Magazine, Halliday Acers recounted how everything changed when she met and eventually married Maurice Halliday Acers, the love of her life.
“It took me until the age of 46 to realize how important work-life balance was and that realization came in the form of the love of my life and my soul mate,” she said in the interview. “… Maurice lived in Austin and I was in Dallas. Seven years later we were married.”
It would have been easy to perceive the business power couple as glamorous unless one truly understood how grounded they both were, friends emphasized.
“They were really down-to-earth people,” explained friend and Ebby Halliday Realtor Sandy Donsky. “I wouldn’t say they were glamorous because Ebby was so philanthropic. I don’t think she really saw herself as being in the limelight.”
The two did not have children, but Halliday Acers always made a point of helping educate and support young people.
Maurice Halliday Acers died in 1993.
Halliday Acers went on to celebrate her 100th birthday in 2011.
To many of her Jewish employees, she was the ideal, caring boss.
Ebby Halliday Realtor Martha Morguloff, who teams with her daughter Danna Morguloff-Hayden on the job, said Halliday Acers was generous beyond belief to Jewish causes and community needs. She never refused when asked to donate.
“We have a lot of Jewish agents in our company and Ebby was very involved in social causes — social justice,” she said. “She had spiritual depth. She could cross the lines whether you were Muslim, or Jewish or Catholic or Episcopalian. She really understood what it was all about.”
Halliday Acers continually supported the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Akiba Academy and Southwest Jewish Congress, confirmed Steve Smith, public relations manager for Ebby Halliday Realtors.
Halliday Acers’ long list of friends includes former President George W. Bush. He issued a statement last week expressing sadness at her passing.
“Laura and I are saddened to learn of the loss of one of Dallas’ great ladies, Ebby Halliday,” President Bush wrote. “Ebby set a marvelous example for generations of citizens — not only as a successful businesswoman, but a compassionate soul. Dallas will always be grateful for Ebby’s strong support of worthy causes in our community, and we will miss her sweet spirit.”
In a release, Mary Frances Burleson, president and CEO of The Ebby Halliday Companies, also lamented the loss of the Dallas icon.
“While we grieve the loss of Ebby, our legendary founder and my friend and mentor for over 50 years, we celebrate a long life well lived,” Burleson said. “Each of us who had the good fortune of knowing Ebby has been touched by the grace, fortitude and compassion with which she lived her life. Ebby had a very simple saying that she lived by, ‘Do something for someone every day.’ That small bit of wisdom served Ebby very, very well.”
At a time when opportunities for women were limited, Halliday Acers was well-known for opening doors to careers for thousands of them. At least a few of those ladies were Jewish.
“She was one of the most incredible women I have ever met in my life,” Donsky said. “I learned so much from her. She was a legend and I feel so lucky I was able to know her and be a friend to her. I have been involved with the Jewish community all the way back to 1973 and she always knew what I was volunteering for.”
Donsky said Halliday Acers always made a point of sending cards to her Jewish employees during the Jewish holidays — and she took this responsibility very seriously.
“Whenever you wrote her back to thank her for a thank-you letter, she would send you another note saying ‘thank you for the thank-you letter about my thank-you letter.’ It would just keep going back and forth,” she said.
As her “Flame Of Honor” Award performance indicated, Halliday Acers was well-known for her cute songs and ukulele playing, Donsky said.
Even at her packed, Sept. 17 memorial service at Park Cities Baptist Church, a video was played showing Halliday Acers strumming the uke and singing.
And then?
The audience got an example of Halliday Acers’ determination to be thankful to the fullest extent. At the end of that video, a note was displayed on the screen in Halliday Acers’ writing.
The note said “Thank you. — Ebby.”

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Jewish connections to Moldau River

Posted on 24 September 2015 by admin

A recent news article contained surprising information: Drought had lowered the level of Warsaw’s Vistula River enough to uncover long-buried remains, including pieces of tombstones. Not so surprising: Those stones had once marked Jewish graves.
Another European river has long stood witness to the Holocaust: Budapest’s Danube, where Nazis once lined up scores of Hungarian Jews and shot them into the water. But not, of course, before they first had to remove their shoes. Recreated in sculpture, shoes now line this sad place as a permanent reminder and memorial.
So I began to wonder: Does the Moldau — the river portrayed so lovingly by Czech composer Bedrich Smetana — also have a Jewish connection?
If you know even a minimum about classical music, you’re probably aware that The Moldau is one section — the best-known and best-loved — of his six-part tone poem cycle entitled Ma Vlast: My Country. And even if you know nothing of this small musical gem, haven’t heard it or heard of it before, you’d recognize it immediately after just its first few bars, because it sounds suspiciously like Hatikvah!
I can hear it in my head as I think of the lowland rivers of Lithuania, none of which are large and important enough to have names known outside of their own neighborhoods. Nobody has memorialized any of them with sculpture or music.
Yet I know this: Black oaks grow well there, and it was an old custom for families to cut down a tree upon the birth of a son, drop it into the local river, and dig it up only when that baby boy had grown into a groom-to-be, when it would be cut up and used, somehow, at his wedding.
I learned this many years ago at the University of Pittsburgh, which has a large number of “Nationality Classrooms,” each one representing a different immigrant group that participated in the city’s building and growth. Natives of those countries designed their own rooms, incorporating history, tradition, and what they wanted others to learn about their homelands.
As an undergraduate, I was one of the Nationality Room guides. Each of us learned about every room, but chose one as our specialty; I picked Lithuania, because it had been the home of my paternal grandparents. When I heard about that black oak custom, I wondered if Jews followed it as well as Christians, using cuts of those aged-by-water trees for chuppah poles. I never could confirm this for sure, but I incorporated it anyway into the mythology I used as I took visitors into my special room. No one ever objected.
Those rooms were built in the ’30s and early ’40s. Big omissions were finally corrected several decades later. Although there had long been Scottish and Irish rooms, nothing represented Mother England until she was belatedly honored with a large lecture hall. And the city’s varied Jewish population came into its own with the construction of the Israel Heritage Classroom.
All of which returns me to Smetana, who is thought to have been Catholic. Certainly possible, because while its words are relatively new, the musical theme of Hatikvah has been found in the old folk tunes of many European countries — even Italy! But then: How did The Moldau’s composer come to have as his name the common Yiddish word for sour cream?
Well, that can be traced back to both Czechoslovakia and Ukraine as a surname for people engaged in the dairy industry. And as such, when last names first became necessary, then customary, Smetana was bestowed upon Jewish dairymen as well as Gentiles.
This is an easier matter to validate than whether black oak was ever used ritually in Lithuanian Jewish weddings (although I still like to think it was).
Or to decide what should now be done with the Vistula River’s precious fragments to properly honor those long-ago Jews who once rested under them in Warsaw’s Brodno Cemetery.

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Sukkah building in 6 steps

Posted on 24 September 2015 by admin

Dear Rabbi,
We are not observant, but have observant relatives who have a conference in Dallas and are staying with us over the next week. They have asked us to erect a sukkah to sit in on the holiday. We have a general idea of what a sukkah is, but not the specifics, and would appreciate if you could fill us in; and tell us why it is that we do this. Thanks!
Martin and Jeanette W.
Dear Martin and Jeanette,
The Torah states, “And you shall dwell in sukkahs for seven days; every resident of Israel shall dwell in sukkahs, in order that your generations should know that I brought them out of Egypt …” (Vayikra/Leviticus 23:42). One opinion in the Talmud is that this is to remember the actual booths the Jews lived in when leaving Egypt. The other view is that we sit in this temporary dwelling to remember the miraculous Clouds of Glory which protected us from the sun and the elements over our 40-year sojourn in the desert.
The details of building a kosher sukkah are many — an entire tractate of Talmud is dedicated to it — but we’ll mention a few key points. Please feel free to contact me for more details or with any questions.
1. You should have at least three walls attached to each other, with no openings at the corners. The walls should ideally be from wood or some other strong material that doesn’t move. If using a cloth pre-fab sukkah, the walls need to be secured in a way they don’t move with a breeze.
2. A wall of your house could be considered one of the walls if you attach the sukkah to your home. This is as long as there’s no overhang of six feet extending from that part of your house.
3. The roof (called schach, or “covering,” i.e. the “shade-providing” material) should be of natural, cut branches and leaves; bamboo is a favorite and easily found. You could also use cut wood, such as 1 by 2’s which you can purchase from Lowe’s or Home Depot. The main rule of thumb is to have more covered than open area in the roofing. Also, the roofing needs to reach all the way to the walls, with no open areas between the walls and covered area. Some use wooden or bamboo mats specially constructed for sukkah use, which you could inquire about from a local Jewish bookstore or online if you so desire. Bamboo mats are sometimes available at the above stores.
4. The roofing should not be tied down or resting on metal supports. We put supports across the walls, upon which rests the covering.
5. The sukkah needs to be under the open sky, i.e. not under any trees, roofs, etc.
6. It is customary to decorate the sukkah with colorful pictures with Jewish themes. Many also hang decorations from the schach (if one does so, they should be relatively small and not hang too low). This is a great opportunity to get the kids involved in coloring the pictures and decorations and hanging them; they get to see their masterpieces displayed prominently!
Again, many specific questions could arise; you can consult a rabbi when they do.
This is a wonderful opportunity for your family to “branch out” and build your first sukkah, which is a beautiful and joyous mitzvah!
Sukkot, of all holidays, is referred to as “our time of joy” (Siddur, see also Vayikra/Leviticus 23:40). Especially when you will shake the “Four Species” (which I’m sure your relatives will bring with them) in your sukkah, it’s a particularly joyous time for the whole family.
Best of luck building, and a joyous, meaningful holiday to you and all the readers.

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Visitors best part of Sukkot

Posted on 24 September 2015 by admin

Dear Families,
I love Jewish holidays — some more than others — but every holiday has something special to love. Sukkot is a wonderful holiday for those of us who love the out-of-doors.
The messages of the wonder of the natural world blend with the historical messages of wandering and harvesting (real today as well) and the newer thoughts of appreciation that we have a permanent home to return to. Building a sukkah and “dwelling” in it is fun and meaningful at all ages.
However, my favorite part of the holiday of Sukkot is the visitors we invite into our sukkah. Yes, the real live people are great but it is those characters we call the “ushpizin” (Aramaic for guests) that make my imagination take off. Who will we invite in this year? Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and King David are the traditional ones. Each night we can tell the stories about these biblical heroes and talk about what made them heroes and what we can learn from their stories. These guys are famous in biblical history and there is much to discover and share — and even argue about. (For example, we just read about Abraham nearly sacrificing Isaac — what is that all about? Is that a model for us to follow?) A more modern tradition is to invite “ushpizot,” the women who were famous in our history. As I look through the list, these names are familiar: Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah and Esther. We all probably know a little something or even a lot about these brave women. But there are two more that are less known to many of us: Avigail and Huldah. Here is just a brief description:
Avigail: She is married to a wealthy husband, Nabal. David, not yet king of Israel, travels to their tribal area and asks Nabal for hospitality. Nabal refuses and David is so angry that he gets ready to fight him. Avigail brings David food and drink and asks him to spare her husband. A very fine woman but there must be more to the story — why should she be included in our ushpizot?
Huldah: She is a prophet during the time of King Josiah (mid-7th century BCE). Josiah finds a Scroll of the Law in the Temple and sends his men to Huldah, asking if the scroll is authentic. This story is told affirming that prophecy was a role practiced by women in antiquity.
Hmmm? Not so sure I would have included her so I’d better learn more how she got onto the list.
So now it is your turn to come up with ushpizin and ushpizot that you would invite into your sukkah. You may choose anyone from history or alive today. I am not sure if presidential candidates should be on the list but why not?
And have a meaningful Sukkot!

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