Archive | November, 2017

Many common phrases born from Tanach

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

Recently, I’ve been thinking of the many moralistic adages and maxims that pepper our daily conversations with family and friends, curious to see how many of them are consistent with Torah thought and values.
What I’ve discovered is that while some of the most famous English adages seem to have been plucked straight out of Tanach (The Five Books of the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings), others, though quoted frequently and with an air of authenticity, directly contradict thousands of years of Jewish tradition.
Take the phrase, “Two heads are better than one.” Although the exact phraseology is first recorded by the English writer John Heywood in his collection of English proverbs (1546), it was probably inspired by King Solomon’s wise statement in Kohelet/Ecclesiastes (4:9), “Therefore two are better than one, for they may well enjoy the profit of their labor.”
Another expression, “Two wrongs do not make a right,” though not a direct play on a Biblical verse, calls upon us to not take revenge, itself a Biblical prohibition, and the saying “Honesty is the best policy” is certainly meant in much the same vain as the Biblical verse “Distance yourself from a false matter” (Shemot/Exodus 23:7).
Other adages find similar expression in the oral tradition of the Mishnah, most notably in the ethical teachings found in Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Fathers).
“There’s no time like the present” certainly sounds a lot like Hillel’s statement (Avot 1:14), “And if not now, when?”
“Actions speak louder than words” is meant in the same vain as Shamai’s directive (Avot 1:15), “Say little and do much.”
And the oft-stated maxim “Don’t judge a book by its cover” appears much like an adaptation of Rabbi Meir’s exhortation (Avot 4:27), “Do not look at the container, but at what there is in it.”
On the other hand we have the phrase, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” This expression is recorded to have appeared in the Christian Recorder of March 1862 as an “old adage,” and though meant to persuade the child victim of name-calling to ignore the taunt, refrain from physical retaliation and remain calm, the phrase in and of itself is most certainly inconsistent with Jewish tradition, which has always recognized the depth of pain that verbal insults can inflict upon their intended victim. Besides the Torah prohibition of hurting someone with words (onaat devarim), the Torah includes a special prohibition against humiliating others (Sefer Ha-Mitzvos, lo ta’aseh 303), a sin which the sages of the Talmud compare to murder (pointing out that the blood leaves a person’s face).
And what of the the old proverb, “Children should be seen and not heard”? The author of this ditty had obviously never attended a Pesach Seder!
There is, however, one phrase in particular that more than all others captured my attention. It is a phrase steeped in great moral complexity, and for that reason has been rendered into two opposing statements over time. It was the Roman poet Ovid (43 BCE-17/18 CE) who wrote in his collection Heroides (II:83) that “the result justifies the deed.” This would give rise to the modern rendition, “The end justifies the means.” (It is Niccolò Machiavelli (1469-1527), the father of modern political science, who is often quoted as championing this position in his renowned work The Prince, but that is a matter of scholarly debate, many arguing that his approach was much more nuanced than any one citation might reveal.)
On the other hand we have the counter-expression, “The end doesn’t justify the means,” which seems to have developed as a response to the earlier common phrase.
So, what does Judaism have to say about this moral conundrum? May one be as Robin Hood, stealing from the rich to give to the poor? As in everything in Torah, the answer is nuanced, each scenario requiring its own halachic assessment. On the one hand one may violate all of the commandments of the Torah (cheat, lie, steal, etc.) in order to fulfill the supreme mitzvah of saving a life (the only exceptions being the three cardinal sins of murder, idolatry and sexual immorality). On the other hand, the Talmud (Sukkah 30a) rules that one may not fulfill a mitzvah by means of a sin (à la Robin Hood).
It would seem, then, that the general rule of thumb in Judaism is that the ends do not justify the means, but that there are extenuating circumstances which necessitate certain evils for the sake of much greater goods.
It seems to me that G-d, too, adheres by the overarching principle of the ends not justifying the means. In the story of the Covenant of the Parts we read of G-d’s promise to Abraham that after much suffering under the hands of a foreign nation his children would one day come to inherit the land of Canaan.
The Torah records: “And the fourth generation shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite shall not yet be full until then” (Breishit/Genesis 15:16).
Rashi (1040-1105), the primary commentator on the Torah, illustrates that G-d was explaining to Abraham why He could not bring the Jewish people to the Holy Land any earlier than the fourth generation. The reason: Delivering the Jewish nation into Canaan would mean the expulsion of the native Amorites from the land, and G-d could not exile the Amorites from the land any earlier than the fourth generation, a time when (G-d knew that) their sins would have accumulated enough to be worthy of the punishment of exile.
You see, G-d, too, had a “mitzvah.” He was to bring the holy nation into the Holy Land. And yet, His message for all generations is that even such a monumental deed could not be done at the expense of a nation not yet worthy of exile. Such a supernatural orchestration of events would be the divine equivalent of a mitzvah brought about through a sin. And such an action is no mitzvah at all!
It would certainly be interesting if we all examined the phrases we use most commonly in our lives, considered their deeper meanings and reflected upon whether or not they are consistent with our tradition. I am quite sure you will similarly find it a rewarding experience.
To contact Rabbi Yogi Robkin, email him at yrobkin@dataofplano.org.

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Chance to be judge, jury

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

Dear Families,
At the preschool this week, we have been talking about a wonderful Jewish value but sometimes hard to explain to young children — hoda’ah, appreciation and gratitude, being thankful. One of the things the children were thankful for was their pets and, as we do with young children, we go with their interests.
However, my “job” is to put a Jewish lens on everything. So, I told them that caring for animals is a mitzvah, which led into how we care. I took this idea from Joel Lurie Grishaver and Nachum Amsel’s You Be the Judge and You Be the Judge 2: Collections of Ethical Cases and Jewish Answers, Torah Aura Productions (www.torahaura.com). Would it be possible for young children to become a bet din, a Jewish court of law? Here is your chance to be the court and the judge.
The Case: Does Shabbat Have to Go to the Dogs? This first case is a common one in many families. Feeding the family pets is a chore that is often the responsibility of the kids in the family. In this situation, Josh has forgotten to feed the dog and the family is sitting down to dinner — Shabbat dinner. The dog is barking. Grandma says to feed the dog after the blessings and dinner. Cousin David says that the dog should be fed before the blessings and before the family eats.
You Be the Judge: Should the dog be fed before the family eats or after? Make your case.
The Sages Decide: There is a mitzvah called tzar baalei chaim which forbids being cruel to animals, and not feeding is being cruel. In the Torah, we read about Rebecca, who was kind to the camels, and then Moses brought water from the rock for the people and the animals.
Maimonides says, “The sages made it a practice to feed their animals before they tasted anything themselves.” Rashi, in the Talmud, says, “One may even delay ha-motzi in order to feed animals.” Many rabbis have agreed that pets are our responsibility, which includes feeding them as they cannot get their own food.
So, did your decision agree with the rabbis? Caring for animals is important and must come even before we take care of ourselves — it is a mitzvah and our responsibility!
Of course, since my lesson was about gratitude and showing appreciation, I brought it back around to being thankful for our pets, and one voice said, “I’m thankful my mom feeds our dog!”

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‘Celebration of Survival’ exhibit lands in Dallas

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

Event runs through October 2018

By James Russell
Special to the TJP

In her latest exhibition to the National Center for Jewish Art inside the Museum of Biblical Art, Houston artist Barbara Hines does not deviate from her well-known colorful landscapes and portraits as seen in Mysteries, Signs and Wonders: The Art of Barbara Hines, the center’s inaugural exhibition in 2014.
Hines takes a complete risk with mixed results. The exhibition, A Celebration of Survival, is an interactive, educational exhibition featuring original paintings, photographs and mixed media loosely centered on 18 acrylic portraits of the Righteous of the Nations, the Gentiles who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.
The exhibition, which opened Friday, Nov. 2, and runs through October 2018, comes from the Holocaust Museum Houston. It was more than a year in the making; Hines’ goal was to integrate interactive and educational components with more traditional elements of an art exhibition.
“The museum curators told me a third of the audience was between 8 and 18. I wanted to make it interactive to get young people involved and make it three dimensions, interactional, with sculpture and not just painting. I didn’t want it to just be intellectual. I wanted to use technology and more than just use images,” Hines said.
The Museum of Biblical Art’s considerably larger space allowed her to expand some features, including the entrance into the exhibition. Guests enter into a dark, dimly lit hallway of overlapping life-sized silkscreen photographs of children imprisoned in concentration camps. Mirrors are also on both walls, forcing you to see the children at the front and back.
“You can’t be isolated. These are real people,” said Scott Peck, an art historian and curator of the Museum of Biblical Art.
“The whole gallery is an immersive experience she has designed. She wanted to focus on children. Even though I’m an adult, it softens me up,” said Peck.
“I wanted to create an ambience of walking among the ghosts, the memories of the children, with the dim lights and mirrors catching oneself and the children and intermingling with them. The idea was to set a mood, not just walk in and view paintings,” Hines said.
The exhibition is personal, too.
Hines’ father was a Holocaust survivor who escaped Germany with his family to Australia. She was raised Christian and had no knowledge of her Jewish faith until her father revealed his past before she moved to Germany for a teaching gig.
“He suffered so much as a result of his Jewish heritage that he wanted a fresh start,” Hines said.
She did not begin seriously studying and ultimately converting to Judaism until around 2002, after discovering her mother was also Jewish.
Her father’s revelation was so important, in fact, she includes a portrait of him in the exhibition alongside two heroes of the Holocaust: the famed late writer Elie Wiesel and Father Patrick Desbois, a French Catholic priest who identifies and memorializes the mass graves of Jews during the Holocaust.
The exhibition also features other interactive artwork by Hines, including a Mitzvah Tree. The tree and portraits appear across from a video about Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites questioning the validity of the mass genocide.
Even if her upcoming shows are decidedly different — including a set of Icelandic landscapes and her first performance art piece, Joseph on the Red Carpet — reminding people about the heroes of the Holocaust remains more than a temporary interest. She hopes the show will tour elsewhere to keep its message alive.
After walking through the show, the question remains, what is that message?
“I wanted to make it something positive and not just focus on the negative side of it. This way young people would be attracted and learn from things about their collective history and learn to accept others who behave and look differently. That way we could all move forward in being accepting of our differences and celebrating our oneness as human beings,” Hines said.

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JNF meet-and-greet focuses on changing organization’s image

JNF meet-and-greet focuses on changing organization’s image

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

(From left) Carly Bierman, Chantal Itzhakov, Ilene Bierman. Deborah Gaspar, JNF Reception Co-chair Fonda Arbetter and Marcel Solman

(From left) Carly Bierman, Chantal Itzhakov, Ilene Bierman. Deborah Gaspar, JNF Reception Co-chair Fonda Arbetter and Marcel Solman

By Aaron Greenberg
Special to the TJP

DALLAS — What’s your image of the Jewish National Fund? For most Jews, it’s the iconic blue box and raising money to plant trees in Israel.
“Most people think you put money in a tin can for trees, but it is so much more,” said Fonda Arbetter, a JNF supporter who helped host an informational gathering at the home of Fredell and Allan Shulkin on Nov. 2, the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.
Founded in 1901, JNF played a key role in building the infrastructure and purchasing the land that would become Israel. Yet its North Texas presence has fallen off over the years, leaving mostly memories of blue boxes.
JNF’s local, regional and national leadership is trying to update its image, spread the message of the organization’s current goals and generate excitement and support in the Metroplex.
Current and potential supporters got a chance to meet with and hear from some of those leaders, as well as the Jerusalem Post’s Gil Hoffman. JNF Chief Development Officer Rick Krasnick and Southwest Senior Campaign Executive Chuck Caughey spoke, and Southwest Executive Director Reagan E. Weil was also on hand.
“It is evident this community wants JNF to be active here,” Krasnick said afterward. “At last night’s event, the age of the people spanned from early 40s to 80, and our message of JNF being a big tent for the Jewish people resonated with them.”
Hoffman, the featured speaker, is the chief political correspondent for the Post. While he talked more broadly about Israel and his experiences, he touched on some of the key problems JNF is working to address.
“JNF is Israel beyond the conflict, what’s beautiful about Israel, and that’s why I like speaking for it,” he said. “It highlights the consensus we can be proud of.”
He told a story about how his son wanted to see the country’s biggest playground. It’s an indoor playground — because of rocket fire across the Gaza border — built by JNF in Sderot.
And that’s the part of the country people need to focus on, he said.
“The key to Israel’s future is settling the Negev,” Hoffman said. “If we don’t settle the Negev, we’re in trouble.
“People think that Israel is successful now, but they don’t realize the gap between the haves and have-nots is one of the widest in the world. Those have-nots require immediate assistance.”
The cost of living in the center — the economic hub of the land — is rising fast. Real estate prices in Tel Aviv have surpassed Manhattan, Krasnick said.
As a result, JNF has focused on the Negev and Galilee. Krasnick said this is a chance for younger Jews, who might think the work of building Israel is done, to get involved.
“We have raised more than $461 million from 400,000 donors in just the last four years,” Krasnick said. “Those dollars are supporting our vision to build the Negev and Galilee so all of Israel’s citizens can have the best quality of life for the next 70 years.
“We must create the conditions to support 500,000 Israelis moving to the Negev and 300,000 Israelis to the Galilee. This is the only solution to help the economic climate where the average Israeli, who is tethered to the expensive center, can find a better quality of life to support their families.”
Krasnick mentioned projects like the building of health care facilities and homes for farmers along agricultural corridors, such as the border with Jordan. Many young people have left these communities that provide most of the nation’s exports, but now they are interested in coming back. JNF has increased the housing stock by 30 percent.
JNF’s seven areas of work include community building, water solutions, disabilities and special needs, research and development, education and advocacy, forestry and green innovations, and heritage site preservations.
Arbetter said she saw these in action throughout the land. Although she had gone to Israel three times before, she saw the relationship between the nation and JNF in a new way.
“Jay (her husband) and I took a private tour two years ago, but we saw things with JNF we never could with a private guide. You have to do both to get a good overview,” she said.
“We got to see actual projects that JNF was in charge of. If you are with JNF, Israelis treat you like royalty.”
Arbetter became involved after meeting Alyse Golden Berkley, president of the board for the Los Angeles area, at a wedding.
“She told me what she and her family did in Israel, and I thought that was very cool,” Arbetter said.
When she went on a JNF mission to Israel this year, there were Jews from across the U.S., but she was the only one from Texas. She’s hoping to help spread the message enough so that things change.
Arbetter said Dallas is very involved with AIPAC, Jewish Family Service and the Federation, and she’d like to see the local community embrace JNF the same way.
“What I experienced in Israel, I wanted to share with my friends and acquaintances in Dallas,” she said.
Caughey has been working over the past year to build up interest in the region. He said he sees an opportunity, and cited the organization’s complete focus on Israel, and how 86 cents on every dollar goes directly to the cause.
About 100 people attended, and had a chance to hear about JNF’s work from Arbetter, in addition to the professional speakers.
Krasnick said the format, where people hear speakers and mingle, has given JNF a chance to really tell its story.
He also mentioned that there are programs for high school and college students who want to get involved, as well as those for young professionals.
“JNF is here for the long haul, and we have a long-term vision to connect our friends in the Dallas area to Israel as lifelong partners of the land and people of Israel through Jewish National Fund,” he said.

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Strength, knowledge required to climb God’s ladder

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

It is a wondrous thing to watch an infant or a child of 2 or 3 years old. A set of car keys jingling, the dancing waters of a fountain in front of an office building, or even the colors on a bright shirt provide unlimited moments of fascination. Somewhere along the way these simple discoveries and the joy they bring are replaced by a complacency about life and all of its small miracles. Perhaps that is one of the reasons we find infants and toddlers so entertaining. We glimpse back at that original innocent wonder that we once felt. It is a moment of magic rediscovered.
The rabbis knew that we were prone to that sense of numbing complacency from the rigor and demands of our daily lives. They set a prayer of regular thanksgiving, the Hoda’ah, to be read at every worship service, morning, noon and night. They realized that the awareness of miracles each new day would dissipate with the demands of the day.
In the set of Torah readings that begins this week with Toldot, our ancestor Jacob goes through a journey of discovery. His life has been lived one step in front of the other, always fearful and unaware of the wonders around him. Caught in parental rivalries and favoritism, he tricks his brother into selling his birthright, and is complacent in his mother’s act of deception against his father and brother. Jacob dresses in clothes that will imitate the smell and feel of his brother Esau’s body so he may receive his brother’s birthright blessing of the first-born. When his brother discovers this, Jacob must flee for his life.
In the next portion, Vayeitzei, Jacob falls asleep and dreams of a ladder reaching upward toward heaven with angels climbing up and down. God speaks to him and promises him a life of bounty. Jacob wakes up, aware for the first time in his life, and says, “Truly God is in this place, and I did not know it” (Genesis 28:16). He names the spot Beth-El, a house of God, and goes on his way.
It would seem that Jacob has been transformed by the encounter, but his life will continue to be filled with more moments of deception before he and his brother, Esau, meet again in our third Torah portion, Vayishlach, read a week later. At that time, Jacob will finally grasp the miracle of each day and the awesome possibilities they present. He and his brother will reconcile and Jacob will seem to finally gain an awareness of the gift of each moment.
How appropriate that this three-week section of Torah readings that leads us to an to awakening of gratitude and a sense of awe takes place around the holiday of Thanksgiving. We live our lives so overwhelmed by tasks, so fearful of failure, and so afraid to miss a moment that we often miss it all. Thanksgiving is an American attempt to regain that sense of the ineffable wonder of discovery.
And yet, even Thanksgiving has lost its way. It has become victim to earlier and earlier store opening times, consumption of too much food and too many products, and a focus on highly-paid football gladiators. The holiday revolves less and less around the people, the real miracles that gather with us in our own living and dining rooms surrounded by a bounty of family and food. As our Torah portion teaches us, the first step is awe, the ability to see the ladder of our lives that rises heavenward. The second step is our response, knowing when it is time to climb the ladder and express our lives in acts of gratitude.
As the great rabbi and teacher Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel taught us, “Our goal should be to live life in radical amazement. … get up in the morning and look at the world in a way that takes nothing for granted. Everything is phenomenal; everything is incredible; never treat life casually. To be spiritual is to be amazed.” (Rabbi Abraham Heschel, God in Search of Man)
May you have a Thanksgiving filled with the vision to glimpse the ladder of God and blessing and the strength to know how to climb it.
Rabbi Brian Zimmerman is the spiritual leader of Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth.

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Is it acceptable to hunt, fish for sport?

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

Dear Rabbi,
I’ve been back and forth how to respond to my Gentile friends who are often inviting me on their hunting trips. Although I’m not an observant Jew, I’ve yet to join them because something feels Jewishly wrong about hunting for sport (although I might be contradicting myself because I do fish for sport).
One of my friends argues that if God allowed us to eat animals, there’s no difference between enjoying them by eating and enjoying them through sport. What is the Jewish view? Is fishing the same?
— Kyle W.
Dear Kyle,
I support your feelings as the conclusion of much rabbinical literature is that hunting for sport runs contrary to the very fiber of Judaism. The Talmud (Bava Metzia 32a) derives this from the verse, “If you see the donkey of someone you hate crouching under its burden, would you refrain from helping him?! You shall surely help him” (Exodus 23:5). From here we learn the prohibition of tzar baalei chaim, or inflicting unnecessary pain upon an animal, and the commandment of relieving an animal from a painful situation.
The caveat to all of this is that when the animal is causing pain or danger to a human being, or if it is needed for medicinal purposes or to be eaten, it is permitted by the Torah to kill the animal. This is all derived from the fact that the Torah allowed the slaughter of animals for consumption (Kitzur Shalchan Aruch 191:1). This is all for human needs, not for entertainment.
One could make the argument that entertainment is also a human “need,” and therefore hunting for the sake of pleasure would come under the broad category of permission which we derive from the mitzvah of kosher slaughtering. This argument was actually accepted by one of the most eminent authorities of Jewish law (Rabbi Yechezkel Landau, 18th century, in Noda B’Yehuda Tinyana Yoreh Deah 10). Rabbi Landau concludes, however, that he’s very shocked that a Jew would even pose this question because even if it is technically not forbidden, it’s not aligned with the way of the Jewish people; we only find hunting in the Torah in connection with Nimrod and Esau (two wicked men), and never with the patriarchs, as it is not the way of the Jews.
The question of using animals for medical research is one which the Jewish authorities grappled with, but allowed it on the basis of medical need as mentioned above. This is in sharp contradistinction to killing animals strictly for sport, something the very idea of which should be painful to a sensitive Jewish soul.
An example of the Torah’s view is the prohibition of muzzling a plowing animal to prevent it from eating while plowing, something that would cause it anguish (Deuteronomy 25:4). We are further instructed to refrain from harnessing an ox and a donkey to the same plow, as an ox is stronger and will cause undue stress to the donkey (Deuteronomy 22:10). We are forbidden from slaughtering a cow and its calf on the same day (Leviticus 22:28), due to the callousness it would cause to the one doing so.
On the other side of the coin, kindness to animals was a source of virtue to our patriarchs and matriarchs. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah, Moses and David were all shepherds. The rabbis comment that those great Jewish leaders learned the trait of compassion by caring from flocks of animals before they became “shepherds” for the flock of the Jewish people.
If compassion to animals is so central to Judaism, why is it that we are allowed — it is even a mitzvah — to slaughter animals for the purpose of serving man? We shall explore that in next week’s column, as well as the question of fishing for sport.
Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried, noted scholar and author of numerous works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel.
Questions can be sent to him at
yfried@sbcglobal.net.

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JFS provides food for homebound citizens

JFS provides food for homebound citizens

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

Three meals a day seems like the norm for most, but — for those who are homebound — not so much.
That’s where Jewish Family Service’s Kosher Home Delivered Meals program comes in. For more than 40 years, the program has made meals happen for those who can’t make them happen for themselves.
“This program is absolutely the lifeline to staying home and independent and that’s something we wish for everyone,” said JFS’ Director of Older Adult Services Debi Weiner. “Hunger is something no one should know and our meals are among a wide spectrum of services to help older adults remain independent in their communities for as long as they can function safely and effectively.”
Healthy meals include an entrée of beef, chicken or fish; a vegetable; bread; dessert; and calcium-fortified orange juice. Meals are prepared by the staff in the kosher kitchen at the Aaron Family JCC; volunteers circle every aspect of the program.

Lynne Baron has made deliveries with her husband Marty for JFS’ Kosher Home Delivered Meals program most Fridays over the last 10 years. “The people we deliver to are so appreciative and thankful,” she said, “and we know we’re making a difference every time we go out.”

Lynne Baron has made deliveries with her husband Marty for JFS’ Kosher Home Delivered Meals program most Fridays over the last 10 years. “The people we deliver to are so appreciative and thankful,” she said, “and we know we’re making a difference every time we go out.”

“As the holidays approach, the visits and the smiles that go with the meals are so important to our recipients and it really makes all the difference in the world to them,” said DeeDee Lane, who coordinates the program in action. It currently serves 35 active recipients, matching volunteers’ available schedules to the need each day. “We’ve had volunteers that are parent/child teams with little ones helping to carry the load, literally. We have teens and adults and grandparents. Vacation schedules get tougher because people go away but we’d love anyone who wants to help — one-time, sometimes or regularly. This program really does rely on the people who help us get the food out.”
Meals are delivered Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (in advance if a holiday lands on one of those days so there is no interruption in service) to anyone who qualifies under the grant and while all meals are kosher, recipients do not have to be Jewish to participate. Meals are delivered to recipients within JFS’ service area bordered between Mockingbird Lane and McCallum and Greenville, also in most of the City of Richardson (within Dallas County) and the Silver Gardens Senior Apartments (formerly the Echad Apartments). The western boundary is Webb Chapel.
For 18 years, the Dallas Area Agency on Aging has provided grants to sustain the program. In recent years, it has been supported by the Texas Department of Agriculture and Dallas County as well.. Up to seven meals a week are available, the need determined at an assessment by a JFS counselor. For those not meeting the economic constraints, delivered meals are available at $5.75 each. Recipients may be on the schedule long-term or temporarily, or perhaps while recovering from an illness or injury.
“For many, delivering meals is the first introduction to JFS and the relationships are often long lasting,” said Weiner, speaking from experience. She was a driver for the program before becoming a JFS professional. “Our helpers are all ages and from all areas of the community and we thrive because of their commitment.”
Volunteers confirm the number of meals they have matches the number of recipients on their route and set off to perform their mitzvah. For many, the delivery person is the only contact some recipients have. Client confidentiality is primary, but the relationships built between many volunteers and their recipients are treasured.
For 17-year-old Evan Allen, volunteering has been a life-altering experience. “Everyone deserves respect even if they’ve fallen on hard times or are dealing with medical constraints,” said the Plano ISD Academy High School senior, who has volunteered for many of JFS’ programs over the last seven years. “The ancient texts I read from the Torah during my bar mitzvah, although I couldn’t appreciate at the time, describe human beings as created b’tzelem Elokim, in the image of God. Connecting to the recipients has made those words much more personal, and given me a responsibility to serve.”

JFS MEALS volunteers & staff

Volunteers Nora Silverfield and Sam Friedman and JFS’ Kosher Home Delivered Meals Coordinator DeeDee Lane prep some of the more than 175 meals shared each week by JFS’ Kosher Home Delivered Meals program. Photo: JFS

While Allen volunteers as his schedule allows, Lynne and Marty Baron have made deliveries a standing date each Friday for the last 10 years. “JFS is phenomenal and we’ve been a part of many of its programs but delivering meals is something we love to do together. The people we deliver to are so appreciative and thankful and we know we’re making a difference every time we go out,” Lynne said.
“We’ve lost many whom we delivered to through the years and that’s very sad, of course,” said Lynne, “but we have one client we’ve served most of our tenure. Her husband sadly passed, they’d been married more than 60 years, but we still see her, check on her and deliver to her. She’s always glad to see us — of course that’s mutual.”
Feeding those who are hungry; nourishing their bodies and spirit — it’s what JFS does every day, in every way.
To volunteer for JFS’ Home Delivered Meals program, contact Jamie Denison at 972-994-0502 or email jdenison@jfsdallas.org. To arrange an assessment, as a prospective recipient, call JFS at 972-437-9950, for an initial intake appointment.

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Motivation second nature for award winner

Motivation second nature for award winner

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

Greenspan earns Tobian community service accolade

By Aaron Greenberg
Special to the TJP

DALLAS — When he arrived in town 28 years ago, Alan N. Greenspan set out in the most methodical way to become a part of the local Jewish community.
“I somehow got a hold of the Texas Jewish Post. They had an issue that listed every Jewish organization in Dallas, and gave a phone number and a contact person,” Greenspan said. “These were the days when you couldn’t email people, so I called every organization on the list and asked them to put me on their mailing list.”
He attended everything he could, and eventually became president of the local chapter of the American Jewish Committee, chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council, and a regular contributor to AIPAC and other groups.

Greenspan

Greenspan

On Monday, Nov. 27, Greenspan will be honored with the Milton I. Tobian Community Relations Award from AJC Dallas at the Westin Dallas Park Central. The award honors those who work to improve human relations, reflect their heritage and dedicate themselves to the community.
Greenspan downplayed the idea that he deserved the award, but is thrilled to help promote AJC.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to help fundraise for the organization that has been so important to me and my life,” he said.
Gary Eisenstat, a former AJC president and co-chair of the dinner, wasn’t part of the selection committee, but said he figured Greenspan was selected for his continual work rather than any specific accomplishment.
“You see him pop up all the time in various settings, whether at synagogue or JCRC or AJC,” Eisenstat said. “You just see his name pop up all the time because he’s a doer and a giver. I think it’s the overall picture. It’s the consistency of his activities and his dedication throughout the years. He’s not just a flash in the pan.”
The award has been granted to individuals, couples or groups 40 times from 1970 to 2016.
“We don’t give an award just to give an award,” said Joel Schwitzer, AJC Dallas’ regional director. “We want to make sure that if we present that we’re recognizing someone whose values and actions reflect AJC’s values. It’s his whole body of work and his ongoing engagement with AJC.”
The event begins with a reception at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner and the program at 7. The Westin is located at 12720 Merit Drive. Registration closes Nov. 20, and RSVPs can be filled out at AJC.org/tobian. The co-chairs are Eisenstat and Brian Lidji. President Margot Carter will present Greenspan with the award.
Schwitzer said Greenspan is “someone very passionate about his role as a Jewish leader who carefully selects what to be involved in to make sure that position reflects his values, and we’re thrilled he chose AJC.”
Eisenstat said AJC has become known as the “Jewish department of state” in recent years for its expanded international work. It advances the cause of Israel and combats anti-Semitism in a number of ways.
One key is coalition building, an area in which Greenspan has made a name for himself.
Greenspan came to Dallas in 1989 to work for the law firm of Jackson Walker, LLP, where he stayed for 20 years before becoming first general counsel for Glazer’s Distributors. In 2016, Glazer’s merged with Southern Wine & Spirits to become Southern Glazer’s Wine & Spirits, the largest wholesaler in North America. He is now the general counsel for Southern Glazer’s.
Along the way he has been involved with many groups, and AJC holds a special place in his heart.
“I really liked the approach of AJC because it was consistent with my outlook on the world,” Greenspan said, citing the work on human rights and outreach.
“One of the things I’m very proud of is being the first person in Dallas to participate in a yearlong program with AJC called the Sholom D. Comay Fellowship,” he said.
The program allows young people to participate in the organization’s highest levels. He also was involved with the Hilda Katz Blaustein Leadership Institute, which allowed him to meet other chapters’ leaders and future leaders.
Through AJC, he worked with Muslim day schools in the area to improve the portrayal of Jews and Israel in textbooks. While chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, he oversaw an initiative to study Texas public school books out of similar concerns.
“What I’ve tried to do is to build bridges within the community and with other communities, and I think that’s the hallmark of the American Jewish Committee as well,” Greenspan said.
He has spent a good amount of time working with Latino, Christian and Muslim groups, among others.
“I think regardless of a person’s political views or priorities, we can always find common ground,” Greenspan said.
He has been married to Terri Train Greenspan for 25 years, and they have three children, Adam, Sara and Jennifer. Greenspan credits his wife for giving him a chance to blossom as a leader in the Jewish community. He also said the companies he’s worked for have been incredibly supportive.
Greenspan cited Richard Albert, who was AJC president before him, as being one of his mentors.
“The unique thing about my friendship with Richard is that when I became president of AJC, they used the phrase l’dor v’dor, from generation to generation,” he said. “Richard was 80 when he turned over the reins to me, and I was 40.”
He also mentioned Larry Ginsburg, who has been an AJC president, JCRC chair and president of Temple Emanu-El — and also a Milton Tobian honoree.
Of course, other leaders have plenty of things to say about Greenspan.
“Alan’s a very thoughtful person,” Eisenstat said. “He’s not going to be the guy who will stand up and wave his arms around and be ‘look at me, look at me.’ He talks by doing.”

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Dallas attorney stands up to BDS on Al Jazeera

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Dallas attorney Charles Pulman, Israel advocate and founder of Why Israel Matters, completed a panel of four on Al Jazeera on Tuesday to debate Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
Joining Pulman on the pro-Israel, anti-BDS side was Mark Levenson, chairman of the New Jersey-Israel Commission. The pro-BDS side was represented by Dima Khalidi, director of Palestine Legal and Josh Ruebner, policy director of the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights.
This was a first for Pulman, a longtime Israel advocate who has spoken in many settings. He was contacted Thursday by Al Jazeera after they read an online story about Pulman’s appearance in St. Louis earlier this month, posted by the St. Louis Jewish Light.
Pulman and Levenson submitted a fact-driven approach to the anti-BDS case.
“The BDS movement’s goal is to delegitimize Israel and to eradicate the one Jewish state in the entire world,” Levenson said.
Dima Khalidi asserted that BDS is a growing, grassroots human rights movement that frightens Israel.
“This is a nonviolent way of making collective change,” she said.
Khalidi likened the BDS movement to other civil rights movements of the past such as the anti-apartheid movement of the ’80s and the Montgomery bus boycott.
Levenson and Pulman were quick to disagree, pointing out that there are numerous human rights violations in other countries, including Turkey, Iran, and Sudan; however, the BDS movement focuses only on Israel.
“Palestinians in Israel have levels of educational attainment, literacy, medical care and per capita income that really exceed those of every other Arab country,” Levenson said.
Pulman added, “Why don’t we go back and talk about what the real aim of BDS is. If you look at what the BDS campaign has published and its three aims, the first one is to end what it calls the colonization of all Arab lands. It doesn’t say the West Bank. It doesn’t say Gaza. It doesn’t say the Golan Heights. All Arab lands, because the Palestinian leadership considers all of Israel to be Arab lands.
“If you really drill down into what the BDS campaign is about, It’s about ending Israel as a Jewish state. And about denying the Jewish people their own sovereignty.”
Pulman explained that he has heard the founder of SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) speak in Dallas and he said that he’s not in favor of two states. He’s only in favor of one state.
“What BDS unfortunately doesn’t seek is to improve the lives of the Palestinians and to seek peace between the Israelis and Palestinians so there can be lasting peace and justice and equality for both people in that region of the world.”
Show host Femi Oke shifted the conversation to recent legislative discussions surrounding BDS.
The American Civil Liberties Union has alleged that anti- BDS legislation seeks to oppress people’s right to free speech. It is challenging anti-BDS legislation on First Amendment grounds.
Ruebner called anti-BDS legislation “the most draconian legislation on any issue ever introduced in Congress.”
Ruebner said the anti-BDS legislation is “in response to the list the U.N. will be putting out next month of Israeli companies doing business in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and global corporations that are complicit in support of those settlements.”
Levenson explained that the legislation is “prohibiting economic conduct; there is no prohibition on free speech. Any business can hate Israel, any business can hate whomever they want. What they can’t do is, they can’t discriminate in the conduct of their business.”
Pulman explained that the federal bill that’s pending is an extension of the Export Administration Act of 1979.
“The Anti-Israel Boycott Act will extend the existing law to boycotts called for by international organizations including the U.N. and the European Union. That’s all it does,” Pulman said. “It isn’t a new law, it’s an extension of an existing law because of the anti-Semitic enabling resolutions that are being passed by the U.N. condemning Israel for everything under the sun.”
Ruebner believes that the fact that there are Jewish people who live in Israel is immaterial.
“BDS is nothing more than a global response to oppression,” he said.
As the show wrapped up, Pulman clarified Texas’ recent legislation.
“Texas (legislation) says that if you engage in discriminatory business conduct with regard to Israel, then the State of Texas is not obligated to do business with you … Texas legislation does not ban BDS, doesn’t ban hate speech and doesn’t ban boycotts. People are free to engage in that. In fact, Palestine Legal’s website even acknowledges that they can continue to boycott. All it (the law) says is the State of Texas has no obligation to support a business that is engaging in blatant discriminatory, anti-Semitic acts toward an ally of the United States that is consistent with Federal law.”
After the show, Pulman told the TJP that he was glad that Al Jazeera brought the topic to light. He believes that the show’s co-hosts Oke and Malika Bilal were mostly fair.
“I enjoyed it,” he said.

 

 

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View video online: http://stream.aljazeera.com/story/201711140214-0025544

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Make, discuss memories at women’s group

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

I decided to write this after returning from the recent memorial service for an old friend — the latest loss in a string of old friends. One more to miss…
This is what age brings: joys accompanied by losses. Grandchildren and great-grandchildren; funerals, memorials and shivas. My women friends are fading fast.
I first joined a large “friendship group” during the ’60s, at the dawn of the women’s movement. I never burned a bra, but I did read the very first issue of Ms. magazine, in which Gloria Steinem wrote an article titled (something that every working woman then understood) What I Need Is a Wife! No, she wasn’t promoting lesbian relationships, simply fantasizing about having someone to do the child-raising and household chores while she was at her day job.
My first small group also formed during that time of personal upheaval. But after a few years, we had scattered to homes in four different states, so we decided to “reune” for a week in New Mexico, which was so much fun, we repeated it a year later in Colorado. But Marj and Jan fell victim to breast cancer, and Nan to Alzheimer’s, which leaves me holding all the memories.
The next group was here in Dallas, six of us meeting monthly for lunch and conversation. But then, Camille and Suzy both died of breast cancer; Shelley, who had a lung transplant, eventually succumbed to COPD; and I won’t name the fifth because she lives on, but with dementia. So again, I am left, holding all the memories.
That most recent memorial service honored the second of four women in my latest little group. You may have known both the deceased: both teachers, both Temple Emanu-El activists, both named Shirley. Now, only one other remains to share our memories, and I can’t escape this question: Which of us will eventually find herself alone with them?
I have no picture of my earliest women’s group, the one dedicated to discussing women’s issues. But I treasure the ones from the others: the four of us, a formidable bridge quartet, around a table at the Dushanbe Teahouse in Boulder; the six of us, who had forged our friendship within a larger group of men and women, lunching at an Olive Garden right here in town; the quartet who first went to Saturday morning services and then discussed books over lunch, having that special tea at the Dallas Arboretum. Of all of us in all three little groups, only two from the last are left. Again: Which of us will inherit all its memories, as I already have from the first two? This is a tontine without money or other welcome treasure; this is the “bet” that nobody would ever want to win.
Gloria Steinem and I were born in the same year. Of all the women in my three small friendship groups, only three were older than I; the others who have passed away were all younger. There are medical miracles yet to be hoped for, especially as concerns breast cancer. But there are already medical miracles that keep people alive for an amazing number of years as compared to the generations immediately before us — and yet, they cannot guarantee that these longer lives may be lived in full possession of one’s mental faculties. And so I wonder: Is simple “existence” really living? Is that what any of us really wants?
However, I’ve recently joined another women’s group. It meets monthly for lunch at a local La Madeleine, with no agendas, no planned trips, no other activities. Its membership runs the full gamut of ages and experiences, and we simply converse about our lives. I don’t yet know these women well, but I already like them all. Maybe I will come to love them as I did the others whom I’ve already lost. But then — who will be left, off in the future, as keeper of these new memories?

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