Archive | May, 2016

Mariners as necessary to war effort as Marines

Mariners as necessary to war effort as Marines

Posted on 26 May 2016 by admin

Submitted photos Herman Morris displays medals and a letter given to him by President Harry S. Truman after World War II. Morris served in the Merchant Marines.

Recently, an elderly gentleman, aided by a cane, sat in the seat next to me at Temple Shalom’s Torah study class.
Introducing himself as Herman Morris, he was asked by someone viewing his veteran’s labeled baseball cap, “What was your job in the Marines?”
Staring at his cap, I read, “US Merchant Marine.” With a slightly raised voice for emphasis, he said “I was a Mariner, not a Marine!” He went on to briefly explain the differences.
“This isn’t the first time I’ve been asked. People need to know what we did in the war and what we still do today.”
“We are professionally trained to operate ships on the high seas, carrying imports and exports during peacetime and become a naval auxiliary during wartime to deliver troops and war material.”
Herman, as an 18-year-old Cadet Midshipman in the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps, was serving aboard a passenger transport, the Marine Marlin, when it arrived in Yokahama Harbor soon after the war had officially ended.
He was shocked to see that the harbor pilot who came aboard in order to maneuver the ship into the docking area was Japanese. “Last week, he was our enemy!” Herman exclaimed.
Three years earlier, another Jewish youngster who chose to serve in the Merchant Marine, on the Atlantic side, was my brother, Fred. I was 11 years old; he was 16. It was 1942, and our troops needed transport and supplies.
Building radios from scratch, and driving everyone crazy at home while he practiced the Morse code, my brother earned a high score on the Federal Short Wave Broadcasting License test.
Instead of joining his friends at play during his last summer vacation before his senior year of high school, he was welcomed into the U.S. Merchant Marine as the chief radio operator aboard the Liberty Ship John Howard Payne.
Sailing in a large convoy bringing much needed supplies to North Africa, Fred’s ship luckily was able to dodge torpedoes, unload and return safely home.
The Merchant Marine operates in both war and peace: How do you think most foreign imports come into our country? Answer: “Our Merchant Mariners bring them in.”
May 22 was National Maritime Day. Our Mariners continue to support our forces, wherever they may be.
Please honor these unsung American heroes.

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Fixing Torah type error delicate task

Posted on 19 May 2016 by admin

Sometimes a column virtually writes itself. Here’s the story…
My mother was the oldest of the dozen born in Pittsburgh to David and Mollie Roth. Now, only one Roth — her youngest brother — is alive. When neighborhoods changed and only a few elderly were left to support and attend Congregation Cneses Israel, its board decided to close up this hundred-year-old synagogue and send its four Torahs to other shuls with strong family connections. My Uncle Srol (Hebrew name Yisroel, but there are no diphthongs in “Pittsburghese”) — last of the 12 — made it possible for one of those Torahs to come here to my synagogue, Beth Torah in Richardson. It was the one my mother and all her siblings had dedicated many years before, in honor of their parents.
Our Roth Torah has been much beloved since its local arrival and rededication in 2003. My grandson Ben, then 11 years old, was here that day, representing the fifth generation of my family to kiss that scroll.
But now — more than 13 years later — a newly discovered problem: Our rabbi saw an error while reading: A letter was missing! Left out altogether. How could this have gone undetected for so long, considering how old this Torah is, how many people read from it before and after it arrived here, and regular scribes’ inspections? But no one had ever noticed.
Not only that, but the left-out letter was especially crucial. Where “l’Adonai” should have been, there was no lammed. Yes, a sofer can make corrections, but on this? No scribe can change God’s name; that would render the Roth Torah totally unkosher. But not to add the letter would also make it unfit for future ritual reading.
I didn’t know about any of this until the matter was settled, when members of our ritual committee finally told me about the problem and sent an email photo taken of the spot. By personal choice, I don’t read Torah myself; they were kind not to disturb me with a matter I might not fully understand because of no direct experience (although of course I do know that every mistake in a scroll must be corrected before the Torah-in-question is once again restored to fitness for its primary use).
Those kindly congregants then explained that both the old-faithful Hertz Chumash and the newer Etz Hayim had been consulted; both confirmed that a necessary letter — in a very touchy position — was indeed missing. To make the Roth Torah useless would have been as sad for our whole synagogue as for me personally; since it arrived here, its unusually clear script has made it a favorite not only for Shabbat and holiday readings, but also for b’nai mitzvah students in training.
But Sofer No. 3 saved the day. He would not have to touch the letters in the name of the Almighty to make a ritually acceptable correction; by adjusting the letters in the adjoining word rather than trying to add to the imperfect word itself, he was able to create enough space for insertion of the necessary lammed, and made the scroll kosher again.
I hope I have all these “technicalities” reported correctly; after all, I’ve already told you I’m not a Torah reader myself. But I do know for sure that our Roth Torah is back in use, and I’m now at my computer, ready to place an order to further enhance it as soon as I’m done typing this. After a dozen years of heavy use, my family scroll’s everyday mantle has finally worn out, and I’m going to get a new one. It will be exactly the same as the original, with only one necessary change in the embroidered inscription. What has long said “In Honor of David and Mollie Roth” will now become “In Memory of David and Mollie Roth.” I’m sure that somewhere, my Boubby and Zaide are both smiling.

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Around The Town: Grand Torah dedication

Posted on 19 May 2016 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Grand Torah dedication

Hundreds joined Chabad of Arlington & The Mid-Cities Sunday, April 10, for a Grand Torah Dedication. The Torah, inscribed in Israel and finished on the spot by New York sofer Rabbi Feitel Levin, was dedicated by the Chabad of Arlington & The Mid-Cities Community in honor of this “Hakhel Year.”
The Torah was made possible by the participation of more than 70 families in the community!
Once the Torah was finished and dressed, Rabbi Levi Gurevitch led attendees in a celebratory parade, as the new Torah was carried under a chuppah accompanied by live music, people carrying flags and torches and dancing.
“This is a tremendous milestone and a sign that we have matured as a community. We have grown to the point of being able to have our very own brand new Torah commissioned,” the rabbi said. “It was not cheap or easy, but the community really stepped up. Participation in writing a Torah is the last mitzvah in the Torah. Commandment 613 is that every Jew is obligated to a Torah scroll for him- or herself.”
“There’s a diversity here at Chabad that you don’t see in a lot of synagogues,” said a Chabad Hebrew school parent. “There are kids in Hebrew school from all different types of Jewish backgrounds, and all are made to feel equally welcome.” “Here at Chabad we strive to welcome all Jews regardless of background or affiliation or level of knowledge,” said Mrs. Rishi Gurevitch, who co-directs Chabad along with her husband. “Our goal is to make everyone feel at home and like family and this event really shows that!”
— Submitted by Rishi Gurevitch

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Thankful for our blessings

Posted on 19 May 2016 by admin

Dear Families,
In Judaism, we have a blessing for everything which is great because the sages told us to say 100 blessings every day.
Isn’t it wonderful to feel gratitude 100 times a day? There is a wonderful blessing that thanks God for making people different:
Baruch atah Adonai elohaynu melech ha’olam mi-shaneh ha’briyot. Blessed are You, O Lord, our God, King of the Universe, who makes people different.
We are supposed to say this blessing when we see someone who looks different and when we see someone who is disabled; it gives us an opportunity not only to be thankful for what we have but thankful that we can know people who look at the world differently.
At 4 p.m. Sunday, May 24, in the Zale Auditorium for only $8 a ticket, you can see an unusual performance of The King and I. Twenty-five adults with developmental delays are the actors in this special production. In addition, we have teen volunteers who have been working since January. This will be the 16th year of performance and the numbers of actors and types of plays have grown.
So why should you come and bring your children? The excitement and joy shown by each performer makes this a very special event. As you sit and watch the struggles and accomplishments, the important Jewish concept of “b’tzelem Elohim — being created in God’s image” comes alive. We recognize that each of us brings something special to the world and we are truly fortunate that we can be in a community with so many different people.
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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Remembering the fallen: Yom HaZikaron

Remembering the fallen: Yom HaZikaron

Posted on 19 May 2016 by admin

YOM HAZIKARON 2016 rabbi weinberg YOM HAZIKARON 2016 anshai YOM HAZIKARON 16 raquel and jim YOM HAZIKARON 16 hila, idan, gal YOM HAZIKARON 16 color guard

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

A tear-dropping, honor-offering, 425-plus-person crowd filled the sanctuary at Congregation Anshai Torah May 10 for the Community Yom HaZikaron Memorial Service, presented by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and dedicated to recalling the memory of those lost in defense of Israel.
“My vision for this evening is always to include the whole community and by looking into the audience we feel the community all together,” said Ronit Ilan, for four years the Yom HaZikaron program chair. “From members of the Israeli Tzofim scouts, BBYO, the Dallas Israel Center and leadership of the Federation and from throughout the synagogue and organizations here, we are all one.
“The first time I came to this program in Dallas, I had been in the city about a year but that night, I felt like I was in Israel and among my people,” said Ilan, who served in the IDF from 1990 to 1996, a Captain of an Air Force Computer Software Unit. “To give tribute to those who fell, all here in one room, is true kavod (honor).”
One room, together, honored all, beginning with the moment-long call of a siren paying tribute especially to those lost during the Second Lebanon War. This year is the 10th anniversary of the month-long conflict between Israeli and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon during the summer of 2006, during which 119 IDF soldiers and 44 civilians were killed and more than 2000 were injured.
“We are proud to come together as a community to honor the men and women who have given their lives in defense of our homeland, the State of Israel, as well as the innocent civilians who were victims of terror attacks,” said Sarah Golman, JFGD director of Global and Local Impact and Allocations. “Yom HaZikaron is a day of great significance for Israelis throughout the world and it is our honor to stand united with Israel, as one community, to show our solidarity.”
The Memorial Service, which began with the presentation of the color guard by members of the Dr. Harvey J. Bloom Jewish War Veterans Post 256 — Allan Cantor, Harry Kabler, Dick Lethe, Leon Rubenstein — and members of the Israeli Tzofim, included a welcoming by Past-Chair of the JFGD Cindy Moskowitz, the reading of names of the fallen by Yaniv Nir, and readings and prayers by Max Castiel, Rabbi Yitzhak Cohen, Yuval Danenberg, Aya Pitkovsky Ehrmann, Gil Elan, Idan Pisek, Gal Reef, Ruth Schor, Wende and Rabbi Stefan Weinberg, Hila Zach, Sammy Zoller, and Cantor Itzhak Zhrebker.
“This ceremony is so meaningful because like all in Israel I have friends and family who were lost,” said Dr. Yoram Solomon, who led the memorial for the fourth time. He is an IDF veteran who served from 1982 to 1998 in the 35th Airborne Paratrooper Brigade.
Music raised the souls of those present and those in the hearts of all, with Jim Schwartz’s accompaniment as voices rang to the heavens with The Last Rain, sung by Noa Arad; Warriors’ Pain, sung by Tomer Damti; See You Later, Sweetie, performed by Sahar Aviram, and Raquel Gershon’s rendition of Like A Ballad.
“The voices I was blessed to accompany were not only incredibly talented, but so filled with passion and maturity,” said Schwartz. “I rehearsed only once with the young people and once with the adults but we all learned the music and it came together just beautifully. I’m honored to have participated and had a chance to give back through these very special performances.”
The reading of Ehrmann’s heartfelt letter to Dan Broyer and the tributes to the heroic lives of Roi Klein and Oz Tzemach, and the prayers of Yizkor, El Maleh Rahamim, Kaddish, the Prayer for the State of Israel, the Prayer for the Well-Being of the Israel Defense Forces and the singing of Hatikvah allowed for emotions of immense pain, loss, and pride, riveting all gathered.
“Indeed, I trust we will have many more occasions to welcome the greater community to our spiritual home,” said Rabbi Stefan Weinberg, who led the Prayer for the State of Israel during the program. “Anshai Torah is defined in good part by its level of community involvement as the number of Anshai Torah members who occupy significant Jewish community leadership positions is astounding.
“To welcome the greater community to Anshai Torah for this memorial service felt so good. We see ourselves as intricately identified with our greater community so, when we are entitled to host the greater community in our sanctuary, it seems as though we have fulfilled our mission,” Weinberg said.

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Knesset members tour Dallas sites with JCRC

Knesset members tour Dallas sites with JCRC

Posted on 19 May 2016 by admin

Group Shot with Hats Group shot Rabbinic Meeting

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

On May 3-4, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and its Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) hosted five visiting Members of Knesset for a tour of the Dallas Jewish community.
The Members of Knesset were in Dallas as part of a mission to learn about the realities of Jewish life in America. The tour was led by the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA) and the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI), and also included visits to Cleveland and Miami.
“We are honored that JFNA and JAFI brought the visiting Members of Knesset to Dallas, one of only three stops in the U.S., to meet with our board and community members,” said Dan Prescott, Federation board chair. “Our community is strong, diverse and committed to improving Jewish lives in both Dallas and Israel. We are excited to have the opportunity to show our special guests what makes Jewish Dallas so special. We were thrilled to hear the wonderful feedback they gave to us about our community and how well we work together,” he added.
The Knesset delegation included Meir Cohen (representing Yesh Atid), Tzachi Hanegbi (Likud), Michal Rozin (Meretz), Dr. Nachman Shai (Zionist Union), and Revital Swid (Zionist Union), comprising a high-level and diverse group of leadership from across the Israeli political, social and cultural spectrum. The delegation was joined by Rebecca Caspi, senior vice president of the Jewish Federations of North America (JFNA), and Josh Schwarcz, secretary-general of the Jewish Agency for Israel (JAFI).
The delegation arrived in Dallas on the evening of Tuesday, May 3, and was welcomed by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas board of directors with a kosher Texas barbecue dinner.
As part of the program, the Knesset members had an opportunity to share what they were hoping to learn during their time in the United States. The following morning, the delegation met with a group of local Dallas-area rabbis from Reform, Conservative and Orthodox congregations to discuss a variety of topics affecting the American Jewish community, including the diversity of American Jewish religious expression and perceptions of Israel among American Jewish youth. Several of the Knesset members noted and that the program was the first occasion in which they witnessed rabbis from different streams gather together for dialogue and discussion.
They also remarked on the extraordinary and increasingly unique relationship between Israel and the American Jewish community.
“Jewish identity in Israel is far different from Jewish identity in the United States, and I was happy that our rabbinic community had the opportunity to share with the visiting MKs what it means to be Jewish in Dallas,” said Rabbi Stefan Weinberg. “The fact that so many rabbis came to meet and dialogue with the visiting Knesset members is a testament to our community’s love for and commitment to Israel,” he added.
Further programming included a tour of the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center, during which the Knesset members were able to see the JCC’s senior and preschool services, and a tour of the Schultz Rosenberg Campus, where the Knesset members were treated to a song and dance performance by Akiba students and discussion and dialogue with Yavneh students. The Knesset members also participated in a luncheon and panel discussion with Federation and Dallas Jewish community leadership at the home of Harold Gernsbacher.
“Although the visiting Knesset members were in Dallas to learn about our community, this was an incredible opportunity for our community to learn about Israel as well,” said Harold Gernsbacher, Federation board member and National Campaign chair of JFNA. “This type of dialogue and relationship-building unites us as a global Jewish community, and makes our pride in Israel and in Jewish peoplehood that much stronger,” he added.
According to JFNA and JAFI, the Knesset members were highly impressed by the stature and intelligence of the Dallas Jewish community. “By all accounts the trip was highly successful, and we hope you will appreciate knowing that the participants were full of praise both for the organizational aspects of this trip and for the deep insights into Jewish life in North America today which it provided,” said Rebecca Caspi and Josh Schwarcz. “One of the MKs commented that ‘A trip like this should be compulsory for every single Member of Knesset.’”
For more information about the Federation and the JCRC’s work supporting Israel, please contact jcrcdallas@jfgd.org.
— Submitted by Jamie Moore on behalf of the JCRC

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Meaning described in counting of the Omer

Posted on 19 May 2016 by admin

Dear Rabbi,
I have learned that the period of time after Pesach is called the “counting of the Omer.” We are said to be counting the days from Passover until the holiday of Shavuos. What is the point of this counting, now that we have calendars and can simply look up the date of Shavuos? Is it one of those things we do just because they used to do it, or is there some other reason for doing this count?
— Marc W.
Dear Marc,
This counting, called sefiras ha’omer, is actually one of the 613 mitzvos of the Torah: “You shall count for yourselves — from the morrow of the rest day (Pesach), from the day when you bring the Omer (offering) … seven weeks …” (Leviticus/Vayikra 23:15).
There are a number of levels of understanding of this mitzvah. When one has an event coming up that he is truly excited about and looking forward to, he counts the days until that time arrives. For the Jewish people, the most exciting time in our history was receiving the Torah at Mount Sinai.
This is the time we achieved the greatest intimacy of all time with the Almighty. At that time we became an eternal nation, and received our “marching orders” for the upcoming thousands of years: how to be a light among the nations and elevate ourselves to unique spiritual greatness.
Although this transpired over 3,300 years ago, our tradition teaches that our holidays are not mere celebrations of historical occurrences. We have often explained in this column that our holidays recur yearly; the same spiritual light revealed by the Almighty at this time of our history returns when we arrive at the same time of the year it occurred so long ago. In a sense, the Torah is given to us yearly at Shavuos.
Hence, year after year, we again count the days from our freedom (Pesach) till the purpose of that freedom (Shavuos). This shows our anticipation and excitement to again experience that spiritual height on Shavuos. It also connects Pesach and redemption to its ultimate purpose.
Going one step deeper, the period of sefiras ha’omer is one of growth. In order to receive the Torah, we need to transform ourselves to be worthy receptacles fit for that great merit. The Mishna (Pirkei Avos ch. 6) enumerates 48 study habits and positive character traits through which one merits the acquisition of Torah.
The 49 days of “counting” are a period of acquiring these “48 ways,” and on the last day fusing them into oneself, ready to receive the Torah on Day 50, the day of Shavuos. (To study these “48 ways,” see aish.com website, press “spirituality,” and choose “48 ways.” It promises to be very enlightening!)
The Kabbalistic sources provide yet another vehicle for growth through the sefiras ha’omer, based upon the concept of sefiros, or 10 levels of existence. During these 49 days of sefiras ha’omer, it is a time to perfect ourselves in relation to the seven lower sefiros, those sefiros which reflect God’s interaction with the physical world. These seven sefiros interact with each other, like DNA, where every cell of the body has within it the DNA of every other part of the body. Each sefirah contains all the aspects of each other sefirah within itself, hence the seven multiples of seven, or 49 days of counting.
In order to tap into this spiritual energy we must actually count, connecting to the day and marking it as a time of growth and introspection, taking us forward toward Shavuos. As we have mentioned in the past, so much of what we gain from a mitzvah depends upon the extent of preparation we invest into it beforehand. The holiday of Shavuos will be so much more meaningful if we capitalize on the opportunity afforded us through the counting of the Omer!

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Pool safety paramount during summer break

Posted on 19 May 2016 by admin

By Ben Tinsley
bent@tjpnews.com

DALLAS — Confident, well-trained swimmers tend to survive in the water.
That is probably one of the most important possible messages of National Water Safety Month — an annual event taking place right now, May 2016, officials said.
Eliminating distractions for parents watching children swim also can be a lifesaver, explained Daniel Taylor, aquatics director at the Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.
“A lot of parents think, ‘We’ll take the kids to the pool where there are lifeguards, so they’ll be safe,’ but keeping them safe is a matter of constant awareness,” he said. “We get distracted with cell phones and global technology and we are constantly distracted with our children. Distractions are a big, regular thing.”
Taylor offered various tips to keep children safe in the water while discussing the significance of National Water Safety Month with the TJP.
National Water Safety Month, incidentally, is celebrated through educational programs, public service announcements, governmental proclamations, dealer and business promotions and the distribution of water safety-themed materials — all aimed primarily at the public, according to www.nationalwatersafetymonth.org.
This month is a time to discard those cavalier attitudes toward swim safety environments that can result in drownings, Taylor emphasized.
Examples of such attitudes are pool parties that allow rowdy behavior, improper flotation devices and inadequate supervision of swimmers. Officials instead urge an emphasis on year-round lessons and Coast Guard-approved devices.
Many agencies and officials are taking the importance of swimming safety very seriously during this special month.
For instance, the USA Swimming Foundation — www.usaswimming.org — has set a goal to provide 1 million swim lessons to children annually by Dec. 31, 2017.
“Learning to swim is the surest way to being safer in the water,” said Debbie Hesse, USA Swimming Foundation executive director. “In the U.S., 10 people drown a day but drownings are preventable.”
In an article posted on www.jccdallas.org, Taylor quoted a Centers For Disease Control statistic that indicates drowning is responsible for more deaths among children ages 1-4 than any other cause — except congenital anomalies.
Taylor said fatal drowning remains the second-leading cause of unintentional injury-related death.
The Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy places the highest priority on water safety and accident readiness, he said.
One thing Taylor repeatedly cautioned about was parents who urge their children to learn the bare minimum about swimming — for instance, just swimming across the pool and exiting on the other side.
The bare minimum does not train a child to save him- or herself in a drowning emergency, he said. The child who never learned anything but to swim to the other side — no true survival skills such as back floating — can become suddenly paralyzed with fear and drown.
“Arming children with this knowledge is confidence-building,” Taylor said. “We see so many kids who are not at all confident in the water. They panic. Drowning isn’t what you see in TV or in movies. It is very quiet and quick. Our main job is to prevent that. We don’t want them afraid. Confidence is key.”
One never knows when a potential drowning is going to happen. Taylor remembers going to a birthday party as a child and experiencing one such incident.
“It was scary,” he said.
Fortunately, the Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy has had no major incidents, Taylor said.
He said learning the necessary skills to survive in the water takes focus and motivation. And that can be achieved only by practice and repetition.
“I have been accused by parents who say, ‘Oh, you’re no fun,’ but we strive for a fun and safe environment,” Taylor said. “We want everybody who comes to our facility to leave as they came — safely.”
Anyone who wishes to discuss water safety with Taylor is welcome to call him at 214-239-7141 or email him at dtaylor@jccdallas.org.

 

*****

 

Water safety tips

ONLINE: www.nationalwatersafetymonth.org

  • Teach children water safety and swimming skills as early as possible.
  • Don’t think you’ll hear a child who’s in trouble in the water; child drowning is a silent death, with no splashing to alert anyone that the child is in trouble.
  • Always brief babysitters on water safety, emphasizing the need for constant supervision.
  • Appoint a “designated watcher” to monitor children during social gatherings at or near pools.
  • Equip doors and windows that exit to a pool area with alarms.
  • Keep rescue equipment poolside. Don’t wait for the paramedics to arrive because you will lose valuable life-saving seconds. Four to six minutes without oxygen can cause permanent brain damage or death.
  • Keep a first-aid kit at poolside.
  • Maintain constant visual contact with children in a pool or pool area. If a child is missing, check the pool first; seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • Don’t use flotation devices as a substitute for supervision.
  • Never allow a young child in a pool without an adult.
  • Don’t leave objects such as toys that might attract a child in the pool and pool area.
  • Never prop the gate to a pool area open.
  • Never assume someone else is watching a child in a pool area.
  • Don’t leave chairs or other items of furniture where a child could use them to climb into a fenced pool area.

SOURCE: The Lenny Krayzelburg Swim Academy at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas

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Dallas Fire-Rescue investigating ‘suspicious’ death of prominent attorney Tobolowsky

Posted on 19 May 2016 by admin

By Ben Tinsley
bent@tjpnews.com


DALLAS — The death of a beloved civil attorney from a prominent Jewish family — possibly under suspicious circumstances — has shocked family, friend and members of the Dallas legal community.
Dallas Fire-Rescue continued their investigation this week into the death of Ira Edwin Tobolowsky — whose body was discovered the morning of Friday, May 12 in the burning garage of his two-story residence in the 7000 block of Kenshire Lane.
Tobolowsky, 68, had a brilliant legal career and was adored by many, explained his brother-in-law, Stuart Prescott.
“He was instantly a friend to anyone — whether that person was a friend, a ‘friend of a friend’ or a member of his family,” Prescott said. “He was the guy we all turned to. He would put anything aside to provide his wisdom and guidance.”
The discovery of the body came while authorities were in the process of extinguishing the blaze at the Tobolowsky home.
An autopsy from the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s office is pending, a spokeswoman said. Authorities and family members hope it can shed light on the circumstances behind Tobolowsky’s death.
Dallas Police deferred comment on the case to Dallas Fire-Rescue officials, who confirmed the fire was “suspicious in nature” but added they have not yet determined if arson was the actual cause.
Fire-Rescue spokesman Jason Evans said investigators canvassed Tobolowsky’s neighborhood Monday, May 16 and determined neighbors did not have camera footage that could help this investigation.
Authorities declined to discuss particulars of the investigation. But, Stephen Schoettmer, a friend, attorney and family spokesman, said he believes a client or former client of Tobolowsky’s might be responsible for Tobolowsky’s demise.
“I can’t go into detail about how he died, but it was a criminal act,” Schoettmer said. “They found some things at the site of Ira’s death that are inconsistent with noncriminal action.”
Schoettmer said authorities discovered an accelerant that was “present in a very unusual container.”
There were concerns about a possible connection between Tobolowsky’s death and a lawsuit in the court of District Court Judge Eric Moye. Authorities provided 24-hour courtesy patrols around the judge’s home during the weekend, confirmed Dallas County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Melinda Urbina.
Schoettmer said the person he believes may have been responsible for the death — whom he declined to name — had very ill will against Tobolowsky.
“Did this person ever say he was going to kill him or set him on fire?” Schoettmer said. “No. He’s too smart for that. But he fundamentally slandered his (Tobolowsky’s) reputation. He accused him of every frivolous thing he could think of.”
A father of three, Tobolowsky’s family includes state District Judge Emily Tobolowsky; University of North Texas Professor Peggy Tobolowsky, a lifetime trustee of the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation; and actor Stephen Tobolowsky, who has appeared on television and in movies such as Groundhog Day.
A member of Mensa, Tobolowsky was one of the youngest lawyers admitted to the bar in Texas history. He practiced law for more than 45 years and argued before the United States Supreme Court in 1982.
Tobolowsky was a Southern Methodist University law school graduate who practiced law for more than four decades — much of that time as a partner with Tobolowsky & Burk.
Prescott said Tobolowsky was stoic — suffering from severe arthritis but never complaining about it, always keeping that pain to himself. Tobolowsky worked hard to help others and his law career inspired many members of his family — including two sons and four nieces — to become attorneys, the brother-in-law said.
Many family members declined to comment about his death, deferring to Prescott. Prescott said his brother-in-law was immensely respected.
“He was a lawyer’s lawyer,” Prescott said. “Judges loved him. He would beat people in court and those same people would turn around and hire him for something else.
“It seemed like there were a thousand people at his funeral (Sunday). There was an unbelievable outpouring of love and affection for Ira and his family.”

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Tragic consequences of Sykes-Picot pact

Posted on 19 May 2016 by admin

Exactly 100 years ago this week, May 16, 1916, an agreement was signed between Great Britain and France. Known as the Sykes-Picot Agreement, it completely changed the Middle East and is the main cause of today’s wars and conflicts in the region.
Negotiated by the British and French diplomats Mark Sykes and François Georges-Picot and officially titled the Asia Minor Agreement, it was a secret pact between Great Britain and France (with the agreement of the Russian Empire), defining their proposed spheres of influence and control in the Middle East after the expected defeat of the Ottoman Empire during World War I.
Britain was allocated control of areas roughly comprising the coastal strip between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River (Israel), Jordan, southern Iraq, and a small area including the ports of Haifa and Acre, to allow access to the Mediterranean. France was allocated control of southeastern Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Russia was to get Istanbul, the Turkish Straits and Armenia. The “controlling powers” were free to decide on state boundaries within these areas. Further negotiation would determine international administration pending consultations with Russia and other powers, including Hussein bin Ali, Sharif of Mecca.
With the Turkish defeat in 1918 and subsequent partitioning of the Ottoman Empire, the agreement effectively divided the Ottoman’s Arab provinces outside the Arabian Peninsula into areas of British and French control and influence.
Though an “international administration” was proposed for Palestine, Britain gained control of the territory in 1920 from the League of Nations and ruled it as “Mandatory Palestine” from 1923 until 1948. They also ruled “Mandatory Iraq” from 1920 until 1932, while the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon lasted from 1923 to 1946.
The agreement is seen by many as a turning point in Western-Arab relations. By creating new artificial “nation states” out of racially, religiously and culturally diverse — and often hostile — populations, Sykes-Picot sowed the seeds of all the current regional conflicts.
It also established a universal Arab opposition to the existence of the future State of Israel by negating British promises made to the Arabs by Col. T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) for a national Arab homeland under “King” Hussein bin Ali (great-grandfather of Jordan’s King Abdulla II) in the area of greater Syria, in exchange for their fighting with the British forces against the Ottoman Empire.
More than any other event in modern history, this agreement shaped the Middle East as we know it. It is also one of the main reasons for every one of the Middle East wars raging in the region.
In general, the geopolitical architecture founded by the Sykes-Picot Agreement disappeared with the declared establishment of the Islamic State in July 2014 and with it the relative protection that religious and ethnic minorities enjoyed in the Middle East. It is the reason for the disintegration of Syria, Iraq, Libya and Tunisia (all artificially created states), and the resulting flow of persecuted ethnic and religious refugees.
ISIS — The Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (Levant) — makes it crystal clear when it claims that one of the goals of its insurgency is to “reverse the effects of the Sykes-Picot Agreement.”
There are those in the Middle East who argue that without the Sykes-Picot Agreement there would never have been a British Mandate for Palestine, therefore no “partition” and no Israel 68 years ago.
I strongly disagree with that argument for one simple reason: The Zionist Movement started in Basle in 1897, 19 years before Sykes-Picot. The rebirth of the State of Israel was already in motion, the pioneers were already settling the land…and the 2,000-year-old dream of our forefathers would be realized … Sykes-Picot or not.
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.

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