Archive | October, 2016

UTD Hillel’s Israeli Culture Night success

UTD Hillel’s Israeli Culture Night success

Posted on 20 October 2016 by admin

Submitted report

Israeli Culture Night was Hillel at UT Dallas’ largest event yet with approximately 125 students in attendance, twice the number from last year.
Many of the students who came to learn something about Israel and taste free falafel (from Milk & Honey) were not Jewish. Some were Indian students who said “India loves Israel.”
Jesse Stock, StandWithUs Southern Regional High School Program Coordinator, was in attendance to answer questions about Israel and brought two large posters about Israeli Humanitarian Aid and Technology/Innovation.
Hillel students had this to say about the event:

  • Sivan Lubinin, UTD sophomore, supply chain management and business administration major:
    “It was a full room of networking and talking. Everyone enjoyed the Israeli food, the falafel was really good and people were excited by the Israeli snacks. At my table, I listened to Russian Israeli UTD students reading interesting facts on the tables. One mentioned, “did you know Israelis invented USBs?”
  • Elad Banai, UTD junior, information technology systems major and Hillel president:
    “The turnout for Israeli Culture Night was phenomenal, more than we expected. We changed up the layout of the event, created a sort of Israeli coffee house atmosphere, and included outside organizations — StandWithUs, Israel on Campus Coalition and Masa — to participate. The feedback I received was very positive; people as they were leaving commented it was very cool and they learned a lot.”
  • Fred Traylor, UTD sophomore, sociology major:
    “The event was awesome! It was great to be able to contribute to the diversity that is celebrated at UT Dallas.”
Students enjoy the festivities at Israeli Cultural Night.

Students enjoy the festivities at Israeli Cultural Night.

(From left) Sara Melnick, Aaron Noble, Jonathan Zeevi, Fred Traylor

(From left) Sara Melnick, Aaron Noble, Jonathan Zeevi, Fred Traylor

Alex Chau (left) and Sivan Lubinin

Alex Chau (left) and Sivan Lubinin

(From left) Fred Traylor, Evan Cantor, Hannah Ghotbi, Melissa Kovach, Ilana Stovall, Lara Koppel and Jesse Stock

(From left) Fred Traylor, Evan Cantor, Hannah Ghotbi, Melissa Kovach, Ilana Stovall, Lara Koppel and Jesse Stock

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Saying prayers for ‘forgotten’ Jewish heroes

Posted on 20 October 2016 by admin

The recent Kever Avot — the visiting of our loved ones’ graves before Yom Kippur, made me think of so many we have lost who are not our nearest-and-dearest themselves, but should be recognized by us for who they were and what they did, even though we were not privileged to know them personally.
When Shimon Peres passed away, we all mourned publicly.  But how many of us mourned at all for Max Mannheimer, who survived Theresienstadt, Auschwitz, and Dachau, then chose to spend the rest of his life — which ended in September — in Munich? His work: telling young Germans that although they had no personal responsibility for the Holocaust, they would indeed be responsible for making sure that nothing like it would ever happen again …
Among many others, we should have marked the recent death of Greta Friedman, known to the world not by her name, but by her picture: She was the girl kissing the sailor in Times Square as the end of World War II was proclaimed — the joyous iconic image photographed by the great Alfred Eisenstaedt.
How about Shirley Bleiberg, who also died last month? She and husband Melvin moved, post-retirement, to Sanibel Island, Florida.  But there was no synagogue there, so Shirley arranged with a local church to host a Shabbat dinner and service, and put an ad in the local paper: “Maybe we can find a few other Jews,” she thought.  More than 150 showed up, almost all thinking they were the only ones in the area! Congregation Bat Yam celebrated its 25th anniversary earlier this year; it is fondly known as “Shirley’s Temple.”
Let’s look back to December of last year, when Tibor Rubin died — but, thankfully, not before he received something too long overdue, when President George W. Bush presented him with our nation’s highest military tribute, the Medal of Honor. Rubin was a Hungarian-born Holocaust survivor who, on coming to America, joined the U.S. Army in thanks to the country he could now call home.  His battlefield heroism as an infantryman in Korea was recognized by both his fellow soldiers and commanding officers, but the paperwork for the honor, submitted three times, was “lost” — apparently by someone in the chain of command who didn’t want that medal to go to a Jew. It was 55 years delayed, but Rubin lived on for 10 years after attending his White House ceremony.
And then there was Martin Dannenberg of Baltimore, who died in 2010 at age 94. Another Jew who joined the U.S. Army after surviving a Nazi concentration camp, he was a sergeant serving in counterintelligence when he found a brown envelope, sealed with red wax, in a small bank in Eichstatt, Germany.  Inside: a copy of the anti-Semitic Nuremberg Laws, written and signed by Adolf Hitler!  Dannenberg’s first thought was what a great souvenir that would make to take back home, but instead he gave it to 3rd Army headquarters; there it ended up in the possession of General George Patton, who gave it to a library. It was 54 years before the document was loaned to the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles for its dedication, with Dannenberg as guest speaker, and was then moved permanently to the National Archives in Washington, D.C.
Before Yom Kippur next year, I’ll honor these “forgotten” Jews — and any others I come upon in the interim — with my own prayers at Kever Avot.  But for now, I’m offering the closing lines of a simple, four-stanza hymn, written by an avowed atheist, Jan Strother, first published in 1931, and since then often sung at the beginning of Christian funerals. Today, it seems a good goodbye wish for all of them:
Lord of all gentleness, Lord of all calm,
Whose voice is contentment, whose presence is balm,
Be there at our sleeping, and give us, we pray,
Your peace in our hearts, at the end of our day.  Amen.

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Story of Temple Shalom Softball shared on screen

Story of Temple Shalom Softball shared on screen

Posted on 20 October 2016 by admin

Photo: Randy Kramen Randy Kramen (left) is the magic — and Eric Nadel the voice, behind Temple Shalom Softball: First Inning – A Tradition is Born, featured at Dallas VideoFest 29, at the Angelika Theatre 1 p.m. Sunday.

Photo: Randy Kramen
Randy Kramen (left) is the magic — and Eric Nadel the voice, behind Temple Shalom Softball: First Inning – A Tradition is Born, featured at Dallas VideoFest 29, at the Angelika Theatre 1 p.m. Sunday.

By Deb Silverthorn

Special to the TJP

Randy Kramen’s first film, Temple Shalom Softball: First Inning — A Tradition is Born, is a home run and will be screened, with the filmmaker in attendance, at Dallas VideoFest 29, at the Angelika Theatre, at 1 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 23.first-inning-coverart
The film, Kramen’s first documentary, has the Dallas writer, videographer, editor and producer sharing ringers, rivals, replicas of softball moments, and mustachioed reenactments and interviews, bringing his audience a 40-minute seat in the stands history of one of this community’s greatest treasures: the Temple Shalom Softball League. Started in 1969 with 11 Jewish buddies, last year the Temple Shalom Softball League had more than 300 players — of many religions and ethnicities on its spring roster and more than 200 this fall.
“The League means a lot to so many people and it was a part of my childhood and now my adulthood in the same and different ways,” Kramen said. “It’s two and three generations of fun and memories and the first team was led by Bob Weinfeld, Harvey Magid and the late Al Rakofsky. Between Bob’s meticulous three-ring binders with every note and every record taken, some great oral histories and interviews, and some fun reenactments, we have enough material I think — I hope — for seven ‘innings’ of Shalom Softball.”
VideoFest, co-founded in 1986 by Bart Weiss, is celebrating its 29th year with approximately 125 local, regional and internationally produced media art programs screened this week. Weiss says he likes Kramen’s film because “it deals with passion and it’s different from what the people involved do in their professional lives. There are doctors and lawyers and lots of professionals and there are they are, Sunday mornings, playing ball — and Randy has really captured their joy, their history, and the greatness that has kept the League going for almost 50 years.”
Weiss, who with Susan Wilkofsky co-founded 3 Stars Jewish Cinema which is sponsoring First Inning at VideoFest said that “Randy has framed the story of the Shalom League with detail and records in a way that is so special, following Ken Burns’ lead, and I really believe he has a very bright future. We’re really excited about VideoFest and his is one of a lot of great films we hope people will come out and see.”

Similar to Ken Burns

First Inning, created in the vein of Ken Burns’ Baseball documentary series, features Dallas’ sports media legends Mark Elfenbein as the film’s re-enactment broadcaster, Eric Nadel narrator of the film, and voice of the Dallas Cowboys, Brad Sham, is the narrator of news articles overheard throughout.
“It was really cool to be a part of the film because I love the League. Randy is incredibly particular, very specific and he’s done a great job telling the story of something so very special. Sunday mornings you could spend time with your friends, for most of us with some of our brothers and sons — we could get in a doubleheader and still be done by noon,” said Elfenbein, who started playing with the Shalom League in the early 1990s, then taking an almost 20-year hiatus as his show on sports radio 1310 The Ticket took him to the airwaves Sunday mornings. Once he moved to CBS Radio, he was able to return to the fields — thrilled still to spend his Sundays with his brother and son Tanner and many of his friends from “back in the day,” sharing stories on air about one of the greatest programs in the city. “Somehow my team has never made it past the first round of the playoffs but I’ll tell ya, the camaraderie in the League is something that has always been something incredible.”
Nadel — the voice of the Texas Rangers, a Texas Baseball Hall of Fame member, 2015 Texas Sportscaster of the Year and  recipient of the  Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasting excellence for the 2014 — has been a guest speaker at a number of the Shalom League Awards banquets. The legendary broadcaster answered Kramen’s call to meet and discuss the film.
“Randy has done a great job of putting together the history of the League. I’ve long known of the dedication of the guys involved  — they are diehards — but the script is amazing and he really blew me away with his quality of work,” said Nadel, who has almost completed working with Kramen on the second “season” of the series, excerpts of which will be shared at the Shalom League’s Awards Banquet on Dec. 11.  “It’s very entertaining and anyone, with any connection to softball or baseball, will more than appreciate it.”

Community effort

Kramen is the son of Magda Hinojosa-Beltran and Dr. Martin Kramen, brother of Marc and Rebecca, husband of Jenny and father of Sydney and Ronin. Kramen counts himself far more talented telling the story of the League then as a player — although he treasures his not so successful time on the fields with his dad. Growing up at Congregation Beth Torah and as a camper at the Dallas Jewish Community Center’s Performing Arts Camp, Kramen is a graduate of Richardson High School and UT Austin, and previously a teacher at The Phoenix Charter School now at Anna High School, Kramen extended his love for the art of filmmaking and storytelling with his students, by including a number of his former students in his First Inning production crew.
Most certainly a community effort, Kramen credits his production assistant Brett Aughtry, Andres Coronel, and Stephen Hamilton and gives special thanks to his family as well as Sheila Stocker, Daniel Hart and Film Matters, Inc., the City of Plano, the City of Dallas, The Track Studio, Temple Shalom, Rabbi Andrew Paley, Joy Addison, Dan Krause, Bob Weinfeld, Paul Rakofsky, Irwin Kaufman, Harvey Magid, Jack Borenstein, Larry Silverman, Wayne Casper, and all of the Shalom League players — past and present.

Past, current members

Interviews who bring the stories to life include Mike Bender, Al Bernstein, Bart Bookatz, Jack Borenstein, Wayne Casper, Mark Elfenbein, Rick Halperin, Harvey Flick, Steve Golman, Irwin Kerber, Phil Lanitis, Brad London, Murray London, David Lynn, Harvey Magid, Larry Metrik, Richard O’Connor, Paul Rakofsky, Steve Rakofsky, Justin Reed, Art Rothenburg, Myron Schwitzer, David Shusterman, Larry Silverman, Eddie Tann, Les Taub, John Unell, Mike Walsh, Bob Weinfeld, Rob Zane and Rick Zweig.
Cultural music for the film was performed by Warren Rubin, with original pieces written and performed by Jonah Salih and Zach Sparkman. Kramen  — someday bound for an acceptance speech — is prepared with his “todah raba” list.
“Randy is definitely going to make a name for himself and he’s made a name for us too with this, we feel honored that he chose the Shalom Softball League as his first focus,” said Weinfeld, who graces the cover of the DVD of the film and is featured throughout. “I’ve seen him at work on this and it’s just splendid. Many of our players have passed away and it’s really a tribute to the best of the ‘boys.’ Heck, we’re now grandfathers and fathers and sons — we’re lawyers and businessmen and doctors and such but out on the fields on Sundays — we’ve always been, and we’ll always be ‘boys,’ and friends out on the field. Randy tells that, and he’s done it real well.”
To purchase tickets to the Dallas VideoFest screening, visit bit.ly/2ep5mR9 or call 214-948-7300. DVD copies of the documentary are available with a $25 minimum donation to the project — for more information, email shalom.softball.documentary@gmail.com.

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Thinking, action important in everyone’s life, faith

Posted on 20 October 2016 by admin

Dear Families,
When I teach, I am always quick to say that I am only knowledgeable because I am a voracious reader and I have lots to pass on.
In past times, the rabbis would never say something without giving credit to the many rabbis who came first and said it first — the beginning of copyright laws, I am sure. (And, I remind all of us that it is important to check and know the sources you are reading). A wonderful website for parents is www.ahaparenting.com.
As parents and teachers, we are always learning and as Jewish learners, we must be open to our own texts but also learn from others. This article I am sharing here is about spiritual lessons for our children.
If you have a deep faith and keep the rituals and calendar of your religious tradition, then you’ve probably given a lot of thought to your child’s spiritual development and have it all mapped out. If, on the other hand, you wonder how to put what you believe into words and aren’t sure what tradition you want to pass on to your kids, this article is for you.
All humans have a spiritual dimension. You don’t have to believe in a supreme being to teach your child the great spiritual lessons. Whatever your beliefs, you probably want your children to know that life is sacred, that nature deserves a certain reverence, that their presence in the world contributes to joy and goodness, that things have a way of working out (not always as we expect), that the greatest joy usually comes from sharing with others, and that while we don’t always get what we want, we can always choose to make the most of what we get.
Some ideas for nondenominational (and even God-optional, if that’s your preference) spirituality:

  • 1. Trust — a sense that life has meaning and that the good we do in the world matters.
  • 2. Love of Nature — Rachel Carson said, “Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.”
  • 3. Hope — There is always something each one of us can do to make things better.
  • 4. Gratitude — Modeling is the best strategy, simply noting aloud, frequently, how lucky we are to have this beautiful day, this bountiful meal, this reliable car, such a terrific teacher or neighbor, and, of course, each other.
  • 5. Limit technology noise so you can hear the stillness — all of us need silence in our lives.
  • 6. Take time for what really matters — try to build in enough time so that you can stop rushing your children past the wondrous moments of everyday life.
  • 7. Reflection — All humans benefit from time for reflection.
  • 8. Interpretation/Implementation — You are responsible for your own interpretation and implementation of your religion.
  • 9. You can do hard things — Kids need to understand that most things that are worth doing are hard. That’s OK. You can do hard things.
  • 10. Contribute — All of us have a need to contribute, and that’s usually where we find our greatest joy.

I looked at all the caged animals in the shelter … the castoffs of human society.
I saw in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread, sadness and betrayal. And I was angry.
“God,” I said, “this is terrible! Why don’t you do something?”
God was silent for a moment and then He spoke softly.
“I have done something,” He replied. “I created You.”
— Jim Willis
I have heard some people say, “I’m not religious but I am spiritual” and other say, “I’m not really spiritual but I am religious.” We can talk about those two terms — “religious” and “spiritual” – and each of us will have a different way of describing what each means to us. The important thing with children, and especially teens, is to talk about our beliefs, our practices and even our struggles with belief and practice. The 10 ideas above are both thinking and action – put some of them in your life today.
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady,
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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Carrying on Oshman’s plans for encyclopedia

Posted on 20 October 2016 by admin

Dear Readers,
It is with profound sadness that I present this letter to you. It was recently submitted as a Letter to the Editor of the TJP, and a few short days after its submission, my dear friend and student Dr. Harvey Oshman was tragically taken from us.
As this project was so near and dear to his heart, Harvey’s widow Trina has named this project as the donation of choice in Harvey’s memory. It is in that spirit, that the editor has asked that we publish this letter posthumously in today’s column, in the same edition carrying Harvey’s obituary (p. 21).
May this project, The Dr. Harvey Oshman Edition of the Encyclopedia of Jewish Thought, be a distinguished and fitting honor to his memory to be made available on his first yahrtzeit, with God’s help:
“It was a cold day by Houston standards as we stood at the foot of my grandmother’s grave. The rabbi spoke well of her life and, as he was completing his remarks, closed by saying, ‘ashes to ashes dust to dust may she live on in our memories.’ As we each proceeded to shovel a bit of dirt onto the casket, a cold shiver of fear ran down my spine.
“ ‘What about her soul?’ I thought. Do Jews not go to heaven? Rather than ask questions, I buried these doubts deep inside and began my trek toward Buddhism and any other religion that seemed to offer more hope than the sterile Judaism of my youth; a Judaism that seemed to provide no feeling, meaning, or spirituality and no answers to my burning questions.
“You might ask who is this guy and why is he telling us his story? My name is Dr. Harvey Oshman and I have been a practicing psychologist in Dallas for over 30 years. My story likely resonates with many of you who have come from a background similar to mine. Bereft of a sound Jewish education, I simply did not know of the concept of ‘olamhaba,’ that all Jews have a share in the world to come and that other religions use the Torah as a springboard for their concepts of a creator.
“This is why Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried’s ‘Ask the Rabbi’ column in the TJP has been so meaningful and inspirational for me. For many years, I have been a loyal subscriber to the TJP and look forward each week to its coming especially for this column. The questions are challenging and intriguing and the answers are always rich, interesting and informative. Rabbi Fried is also willing to explore issues that are controversial and emotionally laden and he does so with respect for the questions and questioner with delicacy and truth in the answers.
“I began to think how wonderful and useful it would be to embark on an endeavor to collate these letters published weekly over the past decade and a half  into an  encyclopedia of Jewish thought to be available to all who wish to partake of the rich traditions that I wish I had known more about earlier in life.
“After speaking with Rabbi Fried, he has agreed and is excited to embark on this journey. The rabbi was recently contacted by a publishing company in Israel who was also very impressed by the depth and breadth of his columns and has offered to take on this sizable project with the hope that this encyclopedia of Jewish thought, a proposed three-volume publication, will become a mainstay in Jewish homes throughout the English-speaking world.
“There will be a respectable cost in making this dream become a reality. I have taken on chairmanship of this worthy project. If you wish to join me in supporting this endeavor, please send an email to yfried@sbglobal.net. (Harvey had set up a separate email for this project which is no longer in service).
“Tax-deductible donations can be made in the memory of loved ones or in celebration of life events and significant others with a listing or page prominently displayed. Sponsorships of a chapter, book, or the entire series are available.
“Thanks in advance for your support!
— Dr. Harvey Oshman”

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I’ll get back to hard news … after the holidays

Posted on 20 October 2016 by admin

HAIFA, Israel — After months of preparation, the Iraqi military, together with the U.S., Kurdish fighters, Shiite militias and the more than tacit cooperation of Iran, have started the long awaited operation to kick ISIS out of the second largest city in Iraq — Mosul. ISIS has held Mosul for the past two years, mostly enjoying the support of its Sunni majority population, and preparing it for just such an attack.
But I’m not going to talk about Mosul today.
In the meantime, the U.S. presidential campaign is getting more and more ugly. But I’m not going to talk about that today either, even though here in Israel it’s the only topic people want to talk to me about.
This column is about a phenomena so singular and unique that it can only happen in one country in the world — Israel.
Example – I don’t know of any other country where for 24 hours, it is illegal to drive a motor vehicle on any street or road, whether an unpaved street in an Arab village or Jewish kibbutz, the main arteries in cities and towns or the modern highways between Tel-Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem, Beer-Sheva, Elat, etc.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
The phenomena is called “the Holidays,” and it’s the only time in the year where there is a cluster of major Jewish holidays, with different customs, that throws everyday life and routines into total organized chaos for three weeks.
As summer slowly draws to a close, you can sense a change of atmosphere and urgency that grows by the day. Schools start, but students only go for a few days a week.
The most common phrase you hear is “after the holidays,” meaning: because these are short weeks, and the weather is too nice to waste, let’s deal with this later.
I belong to the majority of Israeli Jews that define ourselves as “secular traditional,” meaning we don’t wear yarmulkes, don’t keep kosher, we drive on Saturday, stock up with frozen pita for Passover, and have no idea where the local synagogue is. Nevertheless, we celebrate Shabbat and the holidays in our own family traditions.
The first holiday was Rosh Hashanah. We celebrated it by having a big family dinner the evening before, explaining the various traditions to our grandkids and their friends (who took turns getting red in the face trying to blow my shofar). Next morning few Israelis went to synagogue (which is free here). Most got up early and headed to the National Parks, which were packed. We spent the day at the beach.
Ten days of shopping and wishing everyone (whether you knew them or not) an “easy fast,” and that they’re fate be sealed in the “right” book, brought us to Yom Kippur.
Another big family dinner …and then things got really unique … and very Israeli.
At about 6:30 p.m. all TV and radio stations went off the air. But you don’t turn off the sets. You leave them on and tuned to several TV and radio stations that go into “quiet mode.” Nothing will be broadcast until Yom Kippur ends … or Israel is attacked, in which case the broadcasts will start simultaneously with the countrywide air-raid sirens.
Around the same time all motor vehicle traffic on the roads, highways, streets and alleyways in Israel gradually draws to a stop as the last family members rush to get home.
Nobody … Jew, Arab, Muslim, Christian, Druze, Baha’i, atheist, Israeli, tourist, diplomat, king, friend or foe is allowed by law to drive on any road in Israel for 24 hours (unless Israel is at war). The only rare exceptions are ambulances, police and security vehicles with lights flashing.
And kids. With all the roads empty, by 7 p.m. thousands of children, teenagers and a few adults grabbed their bicycles, rollerblades and scooters and headed for the highways.
About 90 percent of all new bikes in Israel are sold in the weeks before Yom Kippur. That’s when I got my first new bike at age 10.
It’s surreal. Imagine you are standing in the middle of the day on the High Five overpass looking toward Central Expressway and LBJ and there is not one car on the roads. But hundreds of youngsters on bicycles are having fun peddling between Dallas and Richardson and beyond.
As for the holiness of the day, some Israelis fast or partially fast. But even those who don’t fast tend to mingle around local synagogues at the end of the day to hear the shofar blowing from the windows.
As Yom Kippur ended we built a Sukkah and two days later sat down in it for another big family dinner, and a weeklong holiday.
Believe me I’m all for tradition, and we and our extended family here had a lot of fun. But I can’t wait to get back to writing and briefing on less festive issues like Mosul, Iran, U.S. and Israeli politics, etc.
And I will…right “after the holidays.”
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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Celebrating Anshai Torah with ‘Diamonds and Dice’

Celebrating Anshai Torah with ‘Diamonds and Dice’

Posted on 20 October 2016 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Bruce Katz Congregation Anshai Torah’s men’s a capella group, Kol Rina, will be toasted at the Nov. 5 Diamond’s and Dice party at the synagogue. Pictured (front Row from left) Stuart Rosenfield, Ron Friedman, Rusty Cooper, Harry Benson, Bruce Feldman, Merv Ginsburg and Rabbi Stefan Weinberg; (standing behind the front row, from left) Jeff Romick, Rob Shrell, Joel Futterman, Matt Kurtzman, Eric Berman, Jim Schwartz, the late Larry Kramer, Bruce Katz, Howard Goodman, Ron Nevelow and Lorin Subar (not pictured) Roy Ehrlich and Carl Uretsky.

Photo: Courtesy Bruce Katz
Congregation Anshai Torah’s men’s a capella group, Kol Rina, will be toasted at the Nov. 5 Diamond’s and Dice party at the synagogue. Pictured (front Row from left) Stuart Rosenfield, Ron Friedman, Rusty Cooper, Harry Benson, Bruce Feldman, Merv Ginsburg and Rabbi Stefan Weinberg; (standing behind the front row, from left) Jeff Romick, Rob Shrell, Joel Futterman, Matt Kurtzman, Eric Berman, Jim Schwartz, the late Larry Kramer, Bruce Katz, Howard Goodman, Ron Nevelow and Lorin Subar (not pictured) Roy Ehrlich and Carl Uretsky.

Submitted report

It’s a sure bet that the Nov. 5 “Diamonds and Dice” Casino Party at Congregation Anshai Torah will be a winner.
Friends and family will gather to hear music and more; to honor Kol Rina; to celebrate the congregation at large; and to raise funds for its programming and general support.
From 8-11:30 p.m., the craps will be shooting, the cards will be played and the general community is invited to share in the fun.
“We have a great congregation and we’re so excited about this great evening to celebrate all that we are,” said Kim Velevis who is co-chairing the event with Leslie Krajmalnik. “We’re going to have craps and roulette tables, games of Texas Hold ’Em and so much more.  It’s going to be a really fun evening.”
In addition to the casino games, there will be light snacks  to nosh on and a cash bar.  A silent auction, featuring sports and travel packages including a week in Breckenridge, Colorado, and a stay in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, as well as items for all ages, and a casino raffle will be held. At the end of the evening, players can trade in their “winnings” for prizes.
The tribute to Kol Rina will include the presentation of a commissioned piece of art created by Anshai Torah member Traci Laizerovich.  The heart, and brain-child of Congregation Anshai Torah Rabbi Stefan Weinberg, Kol Rina started 11 years ago with an occasional presence at a Friday night service.
“I recognized the need to inject our prayers with a good dose of the energy, harmonious sound and ruach (spirit) that a group such as Kol Rina might be able to produce,” said Rabbi Weinberg, himself a member of the group. “The journey of the men who comprise Kol Rina has been astounding and, while I imagined Kol Rina would lead us toward a more spiritual prayer experience, they continue to exceed my expectations.”
Kol Rina’s participation at Congregation Anshai Torah’s services is a soulful definition reflecting its translation as a “sound of rejoicing.” Members Harry Benson, Eric Berman, Rusty Cooper, Roy Ehrlich, Bruce Feldman, Ron Friedman, Joel Futterman, Merv Ginsburg, Howard Goodman, Bruce Katz, Matt Kurtzman, Ron Nevelow, Stuart Rosenfeld, Jim Schwartz, Rob Shrell, Lorin Subar, Carl Uretsky, Rabbi Stefan Weinberg, those who have retired of the choir Jonathan Goldstein, Andrew Goulston and Gil Wolfe and, now of blessed memory, Ted Gruen and Larry Kramer, bring harmony to Friday night, Saturday morning and holiday services.
The group rehearses most Sunday mornings, creating memories and melodies for themselves and their congregation’s members. “We most definitely are a brotherhood and while we have many different reasons for participating, we all enjoy singing and we all love Jewish music,” said Bruce Katz, who recently handed over the director’s baton to Matt Kurtzman. “The rabbis allow us liberties with many of the prayers and that allows us to share our expressions of fun and interests while keeping to the liturgy.”
Whether sharing their voices to an audience of 75 or 300, the group’s harmonious variations of Adon Olam; be it to the tune of Sweet Georgia Brown, Under the Boardwalk, or even Take Me Out to the Ballgame, are always received with smiles.
“I could not have imagined the sense of ownership that would develop amongst the participants and we have grown from a small group of singers to a cadre of musicians,” said Rabbi Weinberg. “We don’t just perform, we sing with our hearts and souls, the Hebrew texts that have inspired our people in every generation.”
Kol Rina has performed at hundreds of b’nai mitzvah Shabbat services at Congregation Anshai Torah and in the Dallas community and at many luncheons, afternoon and evening services.  The group has produced a CD; performed at the Men’s Events of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and Community Yom HaAtzmaut assemblies; as well as at a Unity Church Sacred Global Music Festival; at the Legacy at Willow Bend; and other community events.
Memories created, notes hit — high and low — Kol Rina, the “Voice of Joy,” is just that.
To RSVP for the Nov. 5 Diamonds and Dice event, provide sponsorship or donate prizes for the raffle or silent auction, call 972-473-7718.
Submitted by Deb Silverthorn on behalf of Anshai Torah

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Search continues for missing woman

Search continues for missing woman

Posted on 17 October 2016 by admin

Zuzu Verk, a Sul Ross State student from Coppell, is missing from Alpine. She was last seen Tuesday, Oct. 11.

A reward up to $50,000 has been set up for anyone with information.

At a news conference Friday, officials said they have three people of interest and have removed an additional person of interest from that list.

Verk’s family asked for help in finding her.

Contact the Alpine police at 432-837-3486 if you have any information.

Zuzu Verk

Zuzu Verk

 

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Chabad of Plano hosts Sukkot celebration

Posted on 14 October 2016 by admin

Staff report

The Chabad of Plano is hosting its 25th annual family Sukkot celebration from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 20 at the Lang Chabad Center, 3904 W. Park Blvd. in Plano.

Hot dogs will be served, there will be live music, inflatables, ziplines, face painting, a petting zoo and rock climbing.

No RSVP is necessary. Cost is $5 per person, with children younger than 3 entering free.

 

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Military sadly deficient in Jewish chaplains

Posted on 13 October 2016 by admin

The original title of this column was “Happy Birthday U.S. Navy!,” because it was Oct. 13, 1775, that the new American government allotted money for the construction of two warships, thereby establishing the beginnings of the American Navy.
Naturally, I checked out our Navy’s current strength, finding that we have the most modern high-tech ships afloat with China and Russia close behind.
But, in checking on manpower, I found that our Navy and all other of our military (Army, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard) are all deficient in one aspect, not enough Jewish chaplains to serve our active-duty Jewish military and their families.
Specific numbers are not easy to get from the U.S. Defense Department, but the Jewish Welfare Board offers these estimates:
Total number of active duty Jewish personnel in all five branches, 10,000. Adding spouses and dependents, 25,000.
Number of full time active duty Rabbi chaplains: Army: 12, Air Force: 7 Navy, Marines and Coast Guard: 11, a total of 30 Jewish chaplains.
Even with part time reserve and National Guard chaplains, it’s an impossible task for 30 chaplains to serve 10,000 service-members and their families all over the United States and overseas.
In order to attract more rabbis into the chaplaincy, restrictions are being lifted and regulations are changing. Beards for Jewish chaplains are now allowed, opening the door for Orthodox rabbis. Scholarships for rabbinic students are being offered. Cantors now have a pathway to become chaplains.
Sure, it’s easier and probably more lucrative to serve a congregation, as a chaplain, you serve your country and fellow man, impact the lives of non-Jews and Jews, each an honor and a mitzvah.
Perhaps someone reading this will share our military’s need with a potential rabbi. The Jewish Welfare Board and the Aleph Institute are helpful sources of information.

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