Archive | December, 2015

Temple Shalom honors IDF soldiers

Temple Shalom honors IDF soldiers

Posted on 24 December 2015 by admin

Submitted photo Left to right: Steven Davidoff (JCRC advisory board member), Cindy Sweet Moskowitz (immediate past Federation board chair), Christine Mojezati (district director for the Office of Texas State Representative Jason Villalba), Clarin Gniffke (district director for the Office of Texas State Senator Don Huffines), Ambassador James Jeffrey, Texas State Representative Linda Koop, and Caitlin Dempsey (district dåirector for the Office of Texas State Representative Linda Koop)

Submitted report

On Sunday, Dec. 6, Temple Shalom’s Israel Connection Committee and Sisterhood co-hosted the evening, during which the role of the Friends of the IDF (FIDF), a U.S.-based nonprofit organization, was explained, followed by a sharing of the personal history and private moments from their lives by the two active duty IDF soldiers in attendance and accompanying the FIDF representatives.
Scott Kammerman, Texas director, FIDF in Houston, initially spoke about the aid directly provided by the FIDF to account for each soldier’s welfare and long-term well-being. Kammerman’s explanation of all the services provided by the FIDF clarified why its watchword is “Their job is to look after Israel. Ours is to look after them.”
Sgt. Ze’ev Bar Yadin, 20, from Texas addressed the attendees. Sgt. Yadin made aliyah at age 15, by himself, and joined the IDF as a Lone Soldier at 18. Ze’ev particularly spoke about how the FIDF provides social and financial support to soldiers, like him, without immediate family in Israel. He is currently serving as a sniper in Orev Golani.
Captain Dor (last name withheld per IDF security protocol), 27, an Israeli, followed. He spoke about becoming and serving as an IDF jet pilot. Captain Dor is currently serving as an Israeli Air Force fighter pilot.
The program began with the celebration of the first night of Hanukkah with Rabbi Ariel Boxman and the two IDF soldiers lighting the menorah. A highlight of the evening was the Q&A when Scott Butnick of Temple Shalom moderated questions for the IDF soldiers about their reactions to the various perils they have encountered in defending Israel. Ken Glaser, a chair of Temple Shalom’s Israel Connection committee, emphasized the critical importance of continuing to support the State of Israel, the Jewish homeland, as testimony to the courage of these brave men and women soldiers. The evening concluded with the singing of Hatikvah and the salute, particularly by Captain Dor, of the Israeli flag.
The community will have another opportunity to thank and support the FIDF for what they do by attending the Temple Shalom Sisterhood’s Casino Night April 16, 2016, an event that has designated the Friends of the IDF as a beneficiary of the evening’s proceeds. Win or lose, attendees perform a mitzvah for Israel.
Submitted by Anita Warner on behalf of Temple Shalom.

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Around the Town: Mystery gifts, Hanukkah and Mah Jongg

Around the Town: Mystery gifts, Hanukkah and Mah Jongg

Posted on 24 December 2015 by admin

The Beth Shalom white elephant fundraiser was well-attended. The event raised more than $1,000 for the congregation.

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Mystery gifts raise big money for Beth Shalom

On Saturday night, Dec. 19, Congregation Beth Shalom held a White Elephant Auction fundraiser.
The event was chaired by Janet Aaronson and Ruth Friedman, and hosted by Randy San Antonio and Ellen Pincus. It was full of fun, laughs, and delicious desserts. With most opening bids starting at a dollar or two, uniquely wrapped gift items were auctioned off — unopened — to the highest bidder. Winning bidders opened and proudly displayed their items. Many were pleasantly surprised and excited by the rewards of their efforts.
Others …, well, after all, it was a white elephant auction. The successful event raised over $1,000 for the congregation.

Daytimers celebrate Hanukkah

Barbara Schuster and Ken Baum at the Daytimers Hanukkah party

There were only four latkes left when the Daytimers Hanukkah party ended.
More than 40 Daytimers came to eat, and to see the late Theodore Bikel on videotape as the master of ceremonies of Taste of Chanukah, a celebration of the joys and music of the holiday. Latkes were served with sour cream and applesauce (of course). Daytimers ate, talked, and watched the performance.
Next month Daytimers will bring in the New Year with a video performance of Celine Dion’s Las Vegas show at noon Wednesday, Jan. 20, in the Great Hall at Congregation Beth-El. Lunch will be catered by KFC.
For reservations or more info call Larry Steckler at 817-927-2736. Program and lunch $9.

Press note:

Barbara Weinberg is once again taking orders for 2016 Mah Jongg cards to benefit Hadassah.
Regular cards are $8 and large print are $9. Send your order and payment to Barbara at Barbara Weinberg, 4600 Westlake Drive, Fort Worth, TX 76132.
For questions, call Barbara at 817-346-0331 or 817-307-5033. Deadline to order is Jan. 15, 2016. Checks will be cashed in January.

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Memories can prove better than our gifts

Posted on 24 December 2015 by admin

Tomorrow: Christmas. I know my non-Jewish friends will be opening many gifts. I hope they will enjoy them. But I also know that few of them can possibly be as precious as two that I received this Hanukkah.
The first: a plump pillow, 15 inches square, featuring on the fabric of its face the images of treasured family photos — my two children and my five grandchildren as youngsters, and baby pictures of my two great-grandsons, now just 4 and 2.
The second: a book of photos taken years ago, when three friends and I took two magical trips together. We had all been neighbors once, but later we had separated geographically — one each in Illinois, Arizona and Colorado, and me here in Texas.
The pillow needs little explanation; I’ve given it a permanent home on a small chair of its own in my living room, where every visitor can see it. I view it as a family icon, like the two hanging on my dining room wall: the hand-colored photo of my mother at age 6 and her sister, age 4, sitting on the front stoop of their home in 1911; the stretched and framed antimacassar crocheted by my beloved Boubby the Philosopher, who could not read English and counted wrong when she copied this pattern: a house, a tree, and the words “Home Sweet Home” — but hers reads “hoNe sweet home” instead!
The photo album takes me back to the day we four reunited at the Albuquerque airport to begin a summer week together. We chose the time when Dawn Upshaw would be singing at the famed Santa Fe Opera; all of us had daughters who had been her classmates and friends in school many years before, and one of us had been their Girl Scout troop leader. She always sang; that night, we heard her glorious voice ringing out under the New Mexico stars.
And here we are in this little book, caught forever at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum — in front of the Palace of the Governors — at our Teatro Flamenco table, mesmerized by Maria Benitez’ dancing — and saying goodbye to our motel, where we returned exhausted each day to play bridge together each night.
Those pictures are dated 2002. A year later, we gathered together again in Boulder. And again I see us: having lunch in the Dushanbe Teahouse, enjoying a cool drink on the wrap-around porch of Chautauqua Park’s commodious dining hall, exploring the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and — of course! — shopping the wonders of Pearl Street Mall.
Now, after another dozen years, two have passed away, and one has late-stage Alzheimer’s. “Mother sleeps more and more,” her son writes to me. The daughter of one who died sent this note with the album: “It has taken me this long to be able to go through mother’s photos. But she wanted you to have these.”
I’m grateful, because they reinforce my memories. But I’m also sad, because I’m the only one to have those memories now. There is nobody else left to recall the good times.
In those quiescent years after World War II, when I was a high school student, I wrote this juvenile verse for publication in our holiday issue newspaper:

Today I wrapped a Christmas gift and sent it off to you.
It needs some explanation, so I send that with it, too:
Inside the package, something you won’t find in any store,
But something that I’m certain you will value even more.
So if the box seems empty now, please look again, and see
That Peace on Earth, Good Will to Men, are your true gifts from me.

We need these gifts more than ever now. But, failing to get them, I treasure pillow and photos, and wish for my Christian friends tomorrow what I have received — true “presents” that carry the past into the future.

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Dallas Doings: New chair, J’s be. event

Dallas Doings: New chair, J’s be. event

Posted on 24 December 2015 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Marc Stanley named chair of Legacy Senior Communities board of trustees

The Legacy Senior Communities, dedicated to serving Jewish seniors for more than 60 years, has announced the election of Marc R. Stanley as chairman of the board of trustees.
Stanley has served on the board in various capacities for 20 years, in leadership positions for the majority of that time. In addition, he previously served as chairman of boards of The Legacy Willow Bend and The Legacy Preston Hollow–Dallas Home for Jewish Aged. Stanley was installed as chairman during the organization’s recent annual meeting, along with new trustees Charlie Corson, Seth Davidow, Cindy Moskowitz and Stephanie Prescott.
“Marc has played an instrumental role in our success over the years, and we are honored to have him serve as the chairman of the board of trustees,” said Michael Ellentuck, president and CEO of The Legacy Senior Communities. “Marc has demonstrated time and time again that he is dedicated to serving Jewish seniors. His leadership is a tremendous asset to our community and our organization.”
“We have a responsibility to nurture Jewish life at every level. My grandfather was a resident of Golden Acres, and I know firsthand the important work we do to serve Jewish seniors and their families,” said Stanley.
“We proudly provide thriving communities where Jewish seniors lead vibrant lives. I am particularly excited to serve as board chair as we build The Legacy Midtown Park, a new comprehensive care, Jewish retirement community in Dallas.”
Stanley has been very involved in service to the Jewish community for more than 30 years. He is the immediate past chairman of the National Jewish Democratic Council, former co-chair of the Foundation for Jewish Culture, and currently vice-chair of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs. In May 2011, President Barack Obama appointed him to the Council of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. He has also held various leadership positions in AIPAC, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, and the Jewish Community Relations Council. In the 80s, he co-founded Dallas Action for Soviet Jewry.
Stanley is the founder of Stanley Law Group, a law firm that focuses on national class actions and complex litigation. He is a former president of the Texas Trial Lawyers Association and has served in many leadership roles in his legal profession. He brings a wealth of understanding about business and leadership to the board.
“We have an amazing executive staff at Legacy and are fortunate to have remarkable leaders from across our community serving on our boards and committees. It makes me very proud to work with such a talented group of people so committed to delivering an exceptional Jewish experience for seniors in our community,” said Stanley.
“I look forward to continuing on the path envisioned by our immediate past chair, Carol Aaron, and to this opportunity for service.”

More than 400 attend the J’s be. event

The annual soiree was the party of the year, while helping the organization flourish.
On Saturday, Dec. 5, the Aaron Family JCC was once again transformed into the hottest venue in North Texas for the annual be. event. More than 400 attendees enjoyed the nightclub-like atmosphere, while wearing their most chic attire and enjoying dinner, dining, dancing, cocktails, live music and amazing raffle prizes.
Be.2015 was chaired by Angela Aaron Horowitz, Linda Garner, Lisa Lieberman, Jill Tananbaum and Ellen Ungerman. Proceeds from the event will benefit The J’s year-round programming and services.
“We describe this annual fundraiser as a chance for our community to come together and ‘be past. be present. be future.,’” said Artie Allen, The J’s president. “It’s a night of genuine celebration that also raises money for the vital programs and services provided by The J.”
Raffle prizes for the event included a Las Ventanas Vacation Package (Cabo Penthouse), a $5,000 gift card, and a JCC Lifetime Membership.
In conjunction with be., The J launched a new initiative called The Giving Tree which allows for philanthropic support of the various branches of the J including fitness; Jewish life and learning; preschool, youth and teen services; seniors; tennis and gymnastics; and camp. The branches on The Giving Tree represent its departments and each leaf represents enhancements that will allow these departments to grow toward the future.

Giving thanks For the fourth year, students at Torah Day School of Dallas cooked and delivered a Thanksgiving meal for a Dallas fire station.  The girls worked for hours chopping, peeling and baking, preparing a full-course meal including bread, soup, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, dessert and, of course, a turkey.  On Thanksgiving Day, the girls delivered the food to a station in South Oak Cliff.  From left, Nechama Goldfeder, Atara Browns, Nechama Banarer, Shira Esty Browns and firefighter David Waks

Giving thanks For the fourth year, students at Torah Day School of Dallas cooked and delivered a Thanksgiving meal for a Dallas fire station. The girls worked for hours chopping, peeling and baking, preparing a full-course meal including bread, soup, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, dessert and, of course, a turkey. On Thanksgiving Day, the girls delivered the food to a station in South Oak Cliff. From left, Nechama Goldfeder, Atara Browns, Nechama Banarer, Shira Esty Browns and firefighter David Waks

Giving thanks For the fourth year, students at Torah Day School of Dallas cooked and delivered a Thanksgiving meal for a Dallas fire station.  The girls worked for hours chopping, peeling and baking, preparing a full-course meal including bread, soup, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, dessert and, of course, a turkey.  On Thanksgiving Day, the girls delivered the food to a station in South Oak Cliff.  From left, Chaya Sarah Cassius, Shira Esty Browns, Rebecca Michaels, Nechama Goldfeder and Esti Pacht

Giving thanks For the fourth year, students at Torah Day School of Dallas cooked and delivered a Thanksgiving meal for a Dallas fire station. The girls worked for hours chopping, peeling and baking, preparing a full-course meal including bread, soup, mashed potatoes, roasted vegetables, dessert and, of course, a turkey. On Thanksgiving Day, the girls delivered the food to a station in South Oak Cliff. From left, Chaya Sarah Cassius, Shira Esty Browns, Rebecca Michaels, Nechama Goldfeder and Esti Pacht

Wendy and Marc Stanley

Wendy and Marc Stanley

Marc Stanley and Michael Ellentuck

Marc Stanley and Michael Ellentuck

From left, Marc Stanley, Andrea Statman and Jordan Tannenbaum

From left, Marc Stanley, Andrea Statman and Jordan Tannenbaum

J’s be. Event: Steve Lieberman, Todd Aaron, Dan Prescott, Scott Cohen, Bennett Glazer

J’s be. Event: Steve Lieberman, Todd Aaron, Dan Prescott, Scott Cohen, Bennett Glazer

J’s be. Event: Event Chairs Lisa Lieberman, Angela Aaron Horowitz, Jill Tananbaum, Ellen Ungerman, Linda Garner

J’s be. Event: Event Chairs Lisa Lieberman, Angela Aaron Horowitz, Jill Tananbaum, Ellen Ungerman, Linda Garner

J’s be. Event

J’s be. Event

J’s be. Event

J’s be. Event

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JCRC concludes Iran discussion series

JCRC concludes Iran discussion series

Posted on 24 December 2015 by admin

Submitted photo Left to right: Steven Davidoff (JCRC advisory board member), Cindy Sweet Moskowitz (immediate past Federation board chair), Christine Mojezati (district director for the Office of Texas State Representative Jason Villalba), Clarin Gniffke (district director for the Office of Texas State Senator Don Huffines), Ambassador James Jeffrey, Texas State Representative Linda Koop, and Caitlin Dempsey (district dåirector for the Office of Texas State Representative Linda Koop)

By Ben Tinsley
bent@tjpnews.com

DALLAS — Some community perspective was needed.
Recently, members of the Dallas Jewish community became nervous about the implications of the “nuclear deal” into which the United States and several other countries are entering with Iran.
This agreement is between Iran and permanent members of the United Nations Security Council — the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China plus Germany, and the European Union. It would set requirements for keeping Iran’s nuclear program from producing nuclear weapons while also establishing a timeline for lifting sanctions against the country.
The preliminary framework was announced July 14.
Around that time, officials of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas — with input from the Jewish Community Relations Council — were considering taking a public position on the Iran deal, otherwise is known as the “Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.”
Anita Zusman Eddy, executive director for the JCRC, explained that after much deliberate and thoughtful consideration by Federation and JCRC leadership, a statement was decided upon and issued opposing the Iran deal.
One of the other results of those conversations was the decision for the JCRC to sponsor and present a three-part series about the Iran agreement — primarily to promote peace of mind in the Jewish community.

Emotionally charged issue

A.J. Rosmarin, JCRC chair, said he couldn’t think of any other issue in recent memory that was so emotionally charged. The Affordable Care Act was also a flashpoint, but not on this level, he said.
The JCRC chair said the three meetings were very well-attended — with good questions and inquisitive people appreciating direct information.
“Our role wasn’t to sell them one way or another, but to make sure they had a better understanding,” Rosmarin said.
Cindy Sweet Moskowitz, immediate past chair of the Federation board, said she believes the meetings certainly helped.
“I would say everyone walked away learning something,” Moskowitz said. “We were in an environment where we all respected one another — no matter who had come down on what side of the deal. Everyone in the room showed respect for the fact we were all there as supporters of Israel and we all understood and cared deeply about the importance of Israel and the U.S.-Israel relationship.”
The first meeting, Thursday, Sept. 24, attracted more than 70 people. It was titled “The Political Endgame of the Iran Nuclear Agreement: How to Move Forward.”

US-Israeli relations

The program featured Rebecca Shimoni Stoil, Washington correspondent for the Times of Israel, and Dr. Gil Kahn, professor of political science at Kean University specializing in executive-legislative relations regarding Middle East foreign policy.
Their discussion centered on both U.S.-Israel relations and bridging the divide between bipartisan political positions.
Moskowitz said this meeting was basically about clearing up myths and misconceptions, and restating where the important issue truly lay.
At the second meeting, Friday, Nov. 20, the JCRC hosted over 40 people for “Shalom Bayit: Uniting our Community in the aftermath of the Iran Nuclear Deal,” featuring Martin Raffel, former senior vice president at the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.
Co-presented by Hadassah and the National Council of Jewish Women, the meeting addressed how the American Jewish community can overcome divisions and move forward after the passage of the Iran nuclear agreement earlier this fall.
It also included an update on the ongoing situation in Israel. The program featured additional remarks from Moskowitz and JCRC Executive Committee Member Adam Segall.
Those in attendance included Andrea Weinstein, a former Federation chair, JCPA National executive committee member and JCRC advisor; JCPA National Executive Committee Member Marc Stanley; and Marlene Gorin, JCPA national executive committee, member and former JCRC Dallas executive director.
From the perspective of the second meeting, Caren Edelstein, president of the National Council of Jewish Women, said she appreciated how the JCRC was trying to reach people on such a divisive issue as the Iran nuclear agreement.
“I thought the speaker was very knowledgeable and very thoughtful in his remarks,” Edelstein said. “I could tell that people in the audience appreciated what he was saying. It was a balance kind of thing — his emphasis on how we should listen to one another. He gave some tips on how to do that, which was very good.”
Edelstein said the speaker tried hard to see everyone’s point of view on an issue that most perceive as very black-and-white.
“I appreciate the effort to bring the community together with points that people could think about,” she said.
On Tuesday, Dec. 15, over 90 people gathered at the Mankoff Center for Jewish Learning for the third meeting, “Shifting Sands: Israel and an Ever-Changing Middle East,” featuring Ambassador James Jeffrey of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

Middle East developments

Ambassador Jeffrey is a former deputy national security advisor and former ambassador to Iraq, to Turkey, and to Albania.
Easily one of the nation’s most senior diplomats, the ambassador provided an insider’s perspective on ongoing developments in the Middle East, including violence in Israel, an increasingly powerful Iran and terrorism in the West.
Those in attendance included State Rep. Linda Koop, R-Dallas and Rabbi Ariel Rackovsky of Congregation Shaare Tefilla.
The program also featured welcoming remarks from Moskowitz.
This final meeting, Moskowitz said, came from the perspective of a very experienced ambassador and explored what was happening about the issue with regard to the Obama administration, the think tank community, and the U.S. Congress.
This final installment was very, very popular with those in attendance, said Eddy.
“His analysis of the region was based on his personal relationships and he was present there when many historical events took place,” Eddy said. “His speech about it really resonated with the audience. When it was over, they grouped around him to continue the discussion. They didn’t want him to leave.”
Steven Davidoff, a member of the JCRC Leadership Council, described the ambassador as a phenomenal speaker.
“He was able to walk us through the complex geopolitical environments of those countries,” Davidoff said. “He was very engaging in his ability to talk. He had been involved with highly classified information and think tanks and as an ambassador knew all the players.”
Davidoff also said Ambassador Jeffrey presented a bipartisan, even moderate, viewpoint during his presentation.
The ambassador’s “middle-of-the-road” approach really helped calm down those who might have been worked up about the Iran deal, Davidoff said.
And ultimately? Moskowitz said the three meetings truly helped members of the Jewish community focus on the issue of the Iran deal more clearly.
“The sessions really did what they were intended to do,” Moskowitz said. “ … They got to hear each other’s perspectives and come together, accepting that the deal had been passed and learning what was on people’s minds now.”
Rosemarin agreed.
“I think people appreciated the unbiased manner in which the pros and cons of the issue were presented,” the JCRC chair said.

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Outside support for Israel shouldn’t be ignored

Posted on 24 December 2015 by admin

Dear Friends,
At the recent annual DATA dinner, we, together with nearly 650 participants in attendance, presented Mr. Glenn Beck with the prestigious DATA “Defender of Israel” award for his steadfast defense of Israel.
Many have asked me about the decision, on the part of DATA, a rabbinical organization, to present an award to a Gentile who expresses very strong political views on the extreme right of the spectrum.
My response is that we are living in a world very hostile to Israel and its detractors are many, in the media and in governments around the world. Israel’s strong supporters are becoming, unfortunately, fewer and farther between. I strongly feel we need to embrace those who are our true friends; to look beyond what their other political views may be and focus on our common ground, the fundamental right for Israel to exist with security and safety.
The theme of this year’s dinner was our connection to, and support of, Israel and how it is the center of Torah in the world. It made sense to extend an honor to a man who has chosen to be in the trenches of the PR battle to make sure Israel continues to exist. Especially as a Gentile, Beck has the opportunity to make his voice heard and to make the case for Israel in a way that no Jew could ever do. For that the Jewish people owe him a debt of gratitude which we expressed last week.
I would like to comment on a couple of very meaningful points Beck made that evening. He said several things which inspired the largely Jewish audience to take pause and reconsider their connection to their own Judaism.
Beck spent much of his talk showing how the founders of this country had the teachings of Torah and the Jewish people at the forefront of their thoughts. It was the teachings of Torah which forged the foundation of this great country, and a Jew who actually financed the American Revolution.
Without the Nation of Israel there would simply not be a United States of America.
Talking about the Holocaust and his own visit with his family to Auschwitz, he put the challenge to his family what they would do in the face of such tyranny. Would they have the courage to stand up and be counted among the righteous of the nations of the world who would make a stand and risk their own lives to protect the innocent Jews, should the situation again arise?
He put the challenge back upon the Jews in the audience and of the generation. What are we all truly doing to ensure the future of the Jewish people?
Beck spoke with great reverence for our Torah and the scholars of Torah, whom he and the members of his faith have so much to learn from. He quipped that in just a few sessions with Rabbi Bentzi Epstein he has learned more than years of study from his own sources of religious knowledge!
To end his talk, which he delivered with great humility and abundant passion, Beck remarked that this evening he is being presented with the Defender of Israel award. He then reached into the lectern, pulled out a Torah/Chumash and, with great emotion, exclaimed the he is not the Defender of Israel; rather, this (the Chumash), “this is the Defender of Israel!”
Besides bringing together many wonderful Gentile supporters of Israel and the Jewish people within our community, the effects of Beck’s talk have been fascinating. To summarize remarks that I have heard from many, I’ll quote the remarks of a young professional Jewish woman in attendance that evening, who approached one of our longtime students, a co-worker in one of the key Federation-supported local institutions. She said that, as a social liberal, and a Reform Jew, she initially felt very uncomfortable sitting at a dinner to be addressed by Beck. After hearing him, however, she walked away with a new level of Jewish pride and the pride of her Jewish heritage.
She now is taking a new look about what she’s doing for herself Jewishly and for the Jewish people.
Sometimes we need to hear about our greatness and the prominence of our rich heritage from others to realize ourselves what we had. Like the story of Moses and Yisro (Jethro), where the Jews learned from him, a Gentile coming from the outside, the greatness of the miracles which they had experienced and the immensity of the Revelation at Sinai, we need to listen to our friends around us and hear their words as a wake-up call to stand up and become proud, committed members of the Jewish people.

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A chance to ‘hunt’ gratitude

Posted on 17 December 2015 by admin

Dear Families,
We have enjoyed another wonderful Hanukkah and hopefully everyone is still enjoying their gifts. Especially with children, but often with adults as well, we do not appreciate the gifts we receive as much as we should or we tire quickly and look for the next thing that we want. Here is a gratitude — hoda’ah scavenger hunt. Before the new year arrives, take time to find all the things you are thankful for:

 Something I am thankful for:

  • In nature
  • That makes a beautiful sound
  • That tastes good
  • That smells amazing
  • That has been hard for me
  • That I would like to share with others
  • That is older than me
  • That I recently discovered or learned
  • That shows a vibrant color
  • That has words on it
  • That makes me feel strong
  • That makes me laugh
  • That makes me cry
  • That is someone I love (outside of my family)

This is just a beginning list — do it alone or do it with family and friends. Make a game of it! However you do it, never stop being thankful every day of your life — saying blessings is one way to make sure you stop and enjoy the moment. Get a blessings app on your phone so that you are always ready with the perfect way to say thank you for the wonders in the world around us.
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady.

 Laura Seymour is director of camping services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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Around The Town: Hundreds celebrate Hanukkah at Ahavath Sholom

Posted on 17 December 2015 by admin

By Ben Tinsley
bent@tjpnews.com


FORT WORTH — There was standing room only Sunday, Dec. 13 as hundreds of people squeezed into the main sanctuary of Congregation Ahavath Sholom to celebrate the last night of Hanukkah.
The main focus of the celebration was recognition of the 16-foot, 3-inch tall Hanukkah menorah congregation members constructed out of 45,000 Legos. Nearby, there was a much tinier version of the menorah small enough to be placed on a table.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price also made an appearance — to much applause.
And as promised, after the last candle on the small menorah was lit, CAS held a reception with fun, games, and treats for all participants.
The spirit of fun was palpable at the ceremony. CAS Rabbi Andrew Bloom happily discussed the publicity generated by the “epic” menorah. He noted that stories about the Lego structure were published in news agencies in Israel, Denmark and throughout the United States.
“This has literally gone viral, thanks to everyone here,” the rabbi said.
In his introductory remarks, the rabbi told congregants the menorah project was more successful than anyone had dared hope.
“When I moved here from New Jersey, they told me everything is bigger in Texas,” Rabbi Bloom said to applause. “Well, I went on to prove that is correct.”
CAS President Ebrahim Lavi took the stage for a bit, welcoming Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, Fort Worth Police Chief Joel Fitzgerald, friends, other members of the clergy and Jewish community members in general.
Lavi also gave thanks for the arrival of the 16-foot, 3-inch tall Hanukkah menorah and to Rabbi Bloom for coming up with the idea.
“I would like to thank Rabbi Bloom for his out-of-the-box thinking and to my son (structural engineer) Mike Lavi for having the idea to make it happen,” Ebrahim Lavi said. “Also for the help of Sunday-school students and our young-at-heart congregants.”
Indeed, many of these “young-at-heart” people seemed to be having great fun at the program. Marcy Paul of Fort Worth, for instance, wore special headgear shaped in the form of a menorah she said she acquired in Chicago years ago.
Rabbi Bloom talked about Hanukkah — the one-day supply of oil miraculously lasting eight days. He said he hopes the light of the menorah can act as a beacon of hope in a world filled with hate and indecision.
Rabbi Bloom invited Mayor Price to speak to the audience. Bloom, a member of the Mayor’s Faith Leaders Cabinet, lauded the mayor’s contributions to diversity.
He described her as a “Mensch of the City.”
The mayor in turn welcomed Fort Worth Council Members W. B. “Zim” Zimmerman of FW City Council District 3, Ann Zadeh of FW City Council District 9 and Jungus Jordan of FW District 6 to the program.
Mayor Price reminded the audience that the Mayor’s Week of Compassionate Service is Jan. 16 through Jan. 24. The mayor has issued a call for families, business leaders, faith institutions, nonprofits, neighborhoods, schools and individuals across Tarrant County to volunteer — giving a day, perhaps even an hour, to perform tangible acts of compassion.
“Be watching for the week of compassion as it moves along,” she told the audience. “We appreciate what your congregation does to celebrate.”
Her final words: “Shalom, y’all.”
Rabbi Bloom’s response: “And as they say in Hebrew: ‘Giddy-up.’”
The rabbi then asked a select group of people to either light the candles on the smaller menorah or help turn on the bulbs on the larger one.
At the end of the program, an auction was held to sell the aforementioned smaller menorah. During a period of exactly two-minutes, folks called out bids as Ebrahim Lavi held the role of auctioneer.
The winning bid, $2,800, came from Dr. Myron and Rhonda Krupp.
The children’s choir, under the direction of Cantor Shoshana Abrams Kaikov, sang Hanukkah songs like Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel and Hanukkah Oh Hanukkah as parents and children clapped along in rhythm.
Not to be outdone, the adult choir performed such delightful tunes as Tom Lehrer’s classic Hanukkah in Santa Monica.
At the end of the program, Rabbi Bloom explained to the audience how CAS members are going to take the menorah apart and donate all of the Legos to children’s organizations in a month or so.
A reception followed the program, complete with refreshments and a clown holding balloon animals for the children.

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Developer updates plans for expansive Dallas Midtown project

Developer updates plans for expansive Dallas Midtown project

Posted on 17 December 2015 by admin

The Federation’s Commercial Real Estate leadership team with Scott Beck: from left, Allen Feltman, Larry Robbins, Beck, Mike Friedman and Dani Golan.  Not pictured: Matt Davis, Reuben Davidsohn and Chad Albert

By Ben Tinsley
bent@tjpnews.com


DALLAS — Dallas developer Scott Beck of Beck Ventures provided an update of his 430-acre “Dallas Midtown” project Thursday, Dec. 10 during a Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Commercial Real Estate Division breakfast held at the Mankoff Center for Jewish Learning at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center, 7900 Northaven Road.
More than 50 people were on hand to munch on bagels and other breakfast foods, sip orange juice, and hear Beck discuss his planned $4 billion mixed-use redevelopment of Valley View Mall.
The project involves a new urban living and retail center bordered by 635 on its south, Spring Valley Road to its north, Dallas North Tollway to its west and Preston Road to its east.
It is being developed in the Valley View-Galleria mall area of town. As Beck states on his company website, the project will provide “an urban atmosphere within the heart of the population of North Dallas.”
Linda Koop, R-Dallas, a former Dallas city council member, was cited as a staunch ally of the project by Beck during his comments. Koop has said this development will create a “city within a city” with restaurants, shopping, housing and office space — completely redefining this portion of Dallas.
The plans include parks and open space, hike and bike trails connecting to White Rock Lake, iconic office towers, two luxury hotels, luxury condo units for sale, entertainment venues, restaurants, boutique shopping and a 10-screen movie theater.
“Our plan is to start in the first half of next year with the demolition of the entire mall,” Beck explained to the audience.
Beck told the audience the intention of the reconstruction is to come up with something other than a brick-for-brick remake of Valley View Mall.
“We want to create something that doesn’t exist in the entire state of Texas,” he said. “… Something different from a lot of other things that are done.”
State Rep. Koop — a member of the Dallas City Council from 2005 to 2013 — was not at the breakfast, but said in a separate interview Sunday night that this project is taking much work to make into reality.
As it was, Valley View Mall seemed to be like an old worn-out puzzle whose pieces didn’t quite fit. Koop said she wanted to help boost property values there, helping shunt the area out of stagnancy.
“Valley View Mall had been losing tenants,” Koop said. “Some of the main stores had shuttered and the area was in a bit of a decline. The neighbors in the houses on the east side of Preston had expressed numerous concerns over the years about the mall … and had been asking what they could do to help. What could anyone do?”
Beck managed to get the overall district plan for redevelopment approved by the city of Dallas, the city council and the Planning and Zoning Commission, but the process took quite some time — two years — and much energy.
“Our hopes and aspirations were the area would turn over and this would have a really positive impact on the community — which is kind of what happened,” she said. “We got the area rezoned, which originally seemed kind of impossible with all the property owners involved.”
Koop said Beck has a long-range timetable to realize Dallas Midtown, but he also has a sound plan, which is why she remains supportive.
“It took a couple of years really from start to finish to get everybody moving in the same direction,” she said. “Everybody has a vision of what they want. Location, location and location is everything.”
Meanwhile, Mike Friedman, senior vice president of retail brokerage services for CB Richard Ellis, Inc., lauded Beck at the breakfast for his work in the past, which includes development and design of Trophy Club, a 2,400-acre master planned city in North Texas.
“He has financed billions of dollars of high-profile projects around the country,” Mike Friedman said.
Beck encouraged members of the audience to review project developments on his website, http://www.dallasmidtown.com.

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The finality of divorce

Posted on 17 December 2015 by admin

Dear Rabbi,
I am divorced and interested in remarrying one day in the hopefully not-too-distant future. My ex-husband is not religious and not too interested in doing a Jewish divorce, since in his eyes the secular divorce we had is sufficient. If I told him it’s very important to me, he would probably do it. I’d rather not go there at all if I don’t have to.
In this kind of situation is it enough to go to a rabbi to get his blessing to get married, or is it necessary to do what it takes to get a Jewish divorce?
— In a Quandary

Dear Quandary,
The Torah says “If a man marries a woman and lives with her, and it will be that she will not find favor in his eyes … and he wrote her a bill of divorce and presented it into her hand, and sent her from his house, and she left his house and went and married another man …” (Deuteronomy 24:1-2).
From this we learn that the only way the Torah allows a woman to marry another man is by writing a “bill of divorce,” the one prescribed by the Torah, known in rabbinical literature as a get. Myriad laws are learned from these short verses, and comprise an entire tractate of the Talmud called Gittin, or divorce contracts. Among some of the directives outlined in those pages are that the get needs to be hand-written by an accomplished scribe, utilizing the same parchment, ink and quill employed to hand-write a Torah scroll.
A generic blank get cannot be produced and just fill in the appropriate information. The entire get must be especially written from start to finish by the husband or by a trained scribe who he appoints as his proxy to write it for him, for the sake of divorcing his wife. Furthermore, the get must be presented by the husband and put into the hand of his wife. This is done either directly or via an appointed messenger if they live in different locales, or if one of the two or both prefer not to be in the same room.
Although there are exceptions, the get is commonly written after all other legal proceedings and/or monetary and other decisions have already been made and a secular divorce decree is in force. This is to give the get the finality that it represents.
This is customary but at times extenuating circumstances necessitate reversing the order. The word in the Hebrew text of the above verse for bill of divorce is sefer kerisus, which more literally translates as “a book (document) which cuts them apart.” This means finality.
The deeper meaning of this is that a Jewish marriage is called a kiddushin, a sanctification, which is more profoundly and directly translated as “separate.” They couple become separate from the rest of the world, sanctified, and as one flesh. This is as very sacred, hallowed state of being. The only way to break that oneness is through a spiritual separation, called the get, which the Torah very appropriately refers to as a “book which cuts them apart.” Only after the get can the above verse continue “and she left his house and married another man.”
A divorce, the presentation of a get, is considered one of the saddest occurrences. The Talmud says that every time a get is given, the holy altar sheds tears. On the other hand, the Talmud points out a fascinating observation. The Mishna dealing with the laws of marriage is written after the laws of divorce. Why would this be? Divorce is only possible after marriage. The Talmud explains that the Torah wanted to provide the “cure before the sickness.” There are times that a marriage simply was not meant to be, or at times by wrong decisions or actions was brought to decay and a downward spiral to the point of no return, and the very union has become a type of sickness. The get is the cure.
The blessing of a rabbi would not be sufficient to effect this change of status. Although this might be somewhat difficult for you, it is well worth the investment of time and effort to receive a proper Jewish divorce, which will disconnect you and enable you to begin a fresh, new and joyous life.

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