Archive | December, 2017

Learn truth about Jewish pets

Posted on 27 December 2017 by admin

Dear Families,
There are so many questions about Judaism that begin with, “What do Jews believe about…?” Or “Don’t all Jews believe…?”
The easiest answer is the old joke that you ask two Jews a question and you get three answers or often four or five or more. We have a wonderful religion that not only allows us to question, but also actually demands us to think and question and even struggle and argue with God. Remember there is a hierarchy in decisions: Torah law first, Rabbinic law second and custom third. However, as we all know, often custom takes precedence. We do what our community and our family does.
Now when you want an answer, your best bet is to go to a rabbi but remember that it isn’t like finding a second opinion from a doctor if you don’t like the answer. When you get an answer from your rabbi, believe him! Today many of us choose to go to the Internet (good idea?). Well, again, you may have to figure out who is speaking and where are they coming from in terms of belief and understanding. However, you can find answers.
All of this leads me to the topic I found enlightening this week — from myjewishlearning.com, there was a great lesson on “Judaism and Pets: Questions and Answers.” There is a commonly held misperception that Jews and pets (especially dogs) don’t go together. For all of us dog lovers, don’t worry — there is no Jewish prohibition against owning pets!
Rather than give away the answers and in hopes to drive you to myjewishlearning.com which is a great website (there are lots of others that I have recommended over the years — I suggest reading many even on a daily basis to give you different thoughts and ideas), here are the some of the questions posed so find out the answers:
Is it true that Orthodox Jews don’t have pets?
Can Jews own pets and still comply with traditional Jewish laws?
Can I spay or neuter my pet?
Can one take care of their pet on Shabbat?
Can you feed your pet nonkosher food?
Are there any Jewish rituals for mourning a pet?
Do pets have souls?
Can I euthanize my pet?
All valid questions for those of us who have pets and love them dearly — find the answers. And here is another website to check out for animal lovers — jewishinitiativeforanimals.org.
Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.

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In spite of life’s troubles, allow legacy to live on

Posted on 27 December 2017 by admin

In this week’s parashah, Vayechi, we read the very first ethical will on record. It begins with an old, ill Jacob asking Joseph to take an oath that when he dies, Joseph will take him out of Egypt and bury him in the Cave of Machpelah, the burial site he purchased long ago in Canaan.
Jacob then gathers his other sons and proceeds to bless them, although these blessings can be better described as an overall assessment of their character.
But before he begins his individual addresses, he demands: (Genesis 49:2): “Assemble and hearken, O sons of Jacob; hearken to Israel your father — Hik’v-tzu v’shim-u bnai Yaacov, v’shimu el Yisrael avichem.” According to the Midrash, Jacob is concerned that after his death, his sons will forget where they came from and revert to idol worship. The sons respond to their father, “Hear, O Israel, Adonai is our G-d, Adonai alone.” In other words, the Shema, far from being the public declaration of faith that we know today, was a personal, private assurance from Jacob’s sons to their father on his deathbed, confirming, “Listen, Israel/Dad, Adonai is our one and only God, so no worries!”
Imagining this scene, I am filled with unexpected emotion tinged with perhaps a bit of jealousy. Thinking about it, despite the trials and suffering that Jacob encountered in his life, he experienced what I would call a “good death.” There he is, in his final moments, with his whole immediate family gathered around him. He’s blessed with the lucidity to be able to tell his family, individually, what he thinks of and imagines for them, both good and bad. He is assured that they will be faithful to their G-d and keep their Jewish identity intact. And he is promised that he will be brought to and buried at the Cave of Machpelah, the burial grounds of his ancestors. Our parashah ends with a similar scenario: Joseph, at the end of his life, prophesying that God would bring his family out of Egypt someday, and asking that, when that day came, his body would go out with them, back to his homeland. Both Jacob and Joseph can truly die, and rest, in peace. I wonder how many of us will get that opportunity.
Our parashah teaches us that we can make that happen by communicating our wishes, desires and hopes to those whom we love.
Though contemplating one’s own death is difficult, it is vitally important that we all do some pre-planning, or else we leave our loved ones in a difficult position. Most of you may already have written a will, but how many of you have a living will, or advanced directive? An advanced directive is a legal document that states your wishes for your health care in case you become unable to communicate those decisions later. It’s also vitally important to discuss organ donation, which our tradition supports on the grounds that it results in pikuach nefesh, the saving of a life. And it’s crucial that each of us designate, in writing, a medical power of attorney, someone who is charged with the responsibility of seeing that our wishes and needs are respected and followed.
And as our ancestors did before us, I would urge each of us to take the time to write an ethical will, defined by Rabbi Edith Mencher as, “A letter to loved ones conveying our hopes for their future and explaining our moral and spiritual values.” Rabbi Jack Riemer, co-editor of So that Your Values Live On: Ethical Wills and how to Prepare Them, states, “An ethical will is not an easy thing to write. In doing so, one confronts oneself. One must look inward to see what are the essential truths one has learned in a lifetime, face up to one’s failures, and consider what are the things that really count.”
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I will say to my children when I sit down to write my ethical will. And I feel that so much of what I’d tell them they already know: Life is so short — don’t worry so much. Try, as best you can, to live in the present moment. Stop and say thank you every day. Don’t be afraid to be happy. Be kind, compassionate and continue to live by a strong moral and ethical code. Rejoice in who you are. Own your mistakes. Listen more than you speak. Establish a Jewish home, and a meaningful Jewish life, whatever you decide that means to you. Always be each other’s best friends. And, no matter what life throws at you, never lose your sense of humor.
Jacob faced his share of challenges in life, but after much moral (and physical) wrestling, in the end he had what mattered most: his family at his bedside, his blessings and desires expressed and the assurance of his children that his legacy would go on. May we all be so blessed.
Sheri Allen is the part-time cantor of Congregation Beth Shalom in Arlington.

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In 2018, remember Rachel’s tears remain with us

Posted on 27 December 2017 by admin

One of my cousins in Pittsburgh is our family historian. But sometimes, he is more than that; maybe because of that, he is our family conscience as well.
So he sends all of us this reminder of our heritage, both family, and religious, as 2017 comes to an end. And it bears repeating…
“Coincidentally (or not),” he begins — and by now you know how I feel about that! — “I found myself around the corner from the cemetery where my great-grandmother Rachel was buried in 1936. More than 80 years since she died. So I went to her grave and said a few appropriate prayers on behalf of the family…” And then he began to think, in writing:
“Most of you know about our Biblical Matriarch Rachel, and how she cries for the Jewish people. This quintessential mother of Israel resides ‘on the road,’ always with us through our wandering. We all hope and pray for biological mothers who will protect and nurture us. But even when we’re so blessed, we must remember that all of us live in a form of spiritual exile, and even when we are deprived of such a mother, we are never deprived of Rachel. She always stands vigil, adoring us unconditionally…
“To this very day, Rachel weeps for her children. She watches over us, shedding a tear for every suffering youngster or adult. And hers are not mere tears. They are tears that water the seeds of our parched souls, allowing them to be, as Jeremiah said, ‘…like a watered garden, and they will sorrow no more…’
“All of us must know that regardless of our biological mothers’ efforts on our behalf, Rachel always remains on watch and does not rest. When trouble brews, she intercedes on our behalf. We can only wonder whether it was her tears that have kept our people alive for all these years, allowing us to survive against all odds…”
And then, Cousin Michael quotes some lyrics from a Yiddish song by Abie Rotenberg, an Orthodox Jewish musician from Canada:
“Mama Rochel, cry for us again. Won’t you shed a tear for your dear children? Won’t you raise your sweet voice now, as then? In a roadside grave she was laid to rest, in solitude forever. But her voice gave hope to the broken hearts of her daughters and sons bound for exile…Yet a frightened child, numb from pain and grief, remains forlorn and uncertain, clinging to the faith as it cries out to its mother…Mama Rochel, won’t you shed a tear for your dear children? Mama, Mama, cry, cry for us again…”
I’m afraid I never really understood that ancient, persistent image of Rachel crying for her children. Probably, I still don’t fully “get it.” But Cousin Michael encourages me to try. Encouraging all of us to reach out, to reach back, to draw hope in the motherly love of our fourth matriarch, who cried for our people once, so long ago, and may yet be weeping for us as we go through time after time of trials that bring forth our own weeping and cries for help, but from which we somehow always manage to emerge in Jewish unity.
Maybe Rachel is crying for us now, helping us get through the current divisiveness about relocating our United States Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. So it certainly can’t hurt for all of us to remember her tears as we pray for peace — not just in our own country, not just in Jerusalem, not just in Israel, not even just in the Middle East, but in an entire world very much in need of peace. In need of healing. In need of Mama Rochel’s tears…
As we enter 2018 together, we make promises that always accompany our entrance into something new. But inevitably, we’ll break them. I thank Cousin Michael for reminding me that Rachel’s powerful tears of renewed hope are always with us. Happy New Year!

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Learn how fellow Jews are living in Hungary at Fort Worth brunch

Learn how fellow Jews are living in Hungary at Fort Worth brunch

Posted on 27 December 2017 by admin

Submitted report

The Jewish Federation of Fort Worth & Tarrant County will present Brunch & Budapest: A Revitalization of Jewish Life at 10 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 14, at Congregation Ahavath Sholom.
The event is part of the Federation’s 2018 Annual Campaign, co-chaired by Robert Simon and Cheryl Visosky. The Jewish community is invited to learn about what it’s like to be Jewish in Hungary today. Budapest has the largest postwar Jewish population in central Europe, and the city is at the forefront of the revitalization of Jewish life. Budapest is also a Partnership2Gether city with close ties to Fort Worth.

Submitted photo Marton Tordai, along with Hedi Pusztai, was born in Budapest and both were raised in secular Jewish homes. Both found their Jewish roots through Birthright.

Submitted photo
Marton Tordai, along with Hedi Pusztai, was born in Budapest and both were raised in secular Jewish homes. Both found their Jewish roots through Birthright.

Featured speakers will be Hedi Pusztai and Marton Tordai. Born in Budapest after the downfall of communism, both were raised in secular Jewish homes — Tordai’s family even celebrated Christmas. Both young Hungarians found their Jewish roots through connecting with Birthright. Pusztai made aliyah in 2009, and has been actively working both in Israel and Budapest with young adults through the Jewish Agency. Tordai, a millennial, made his trip in 2014 and has worked in Budapest since then to revive the Jewish community in the capital.
Since 2012, the Fort Worth and Tarrant County Federation’s Partnership2Gether consortium has made Budapest a sister city along with Akko and the Western Galilee in Israel. In Budapest, there are a large number of people who are Jewish by birth but whose families have not chosen to live a Jewish lifestyle. By creating community with young Jews in America and Israel, Partnership2Gether aims to support the revitalization of Jewish community in central Europe that was devastated by the Holocaust and Communism.
Brunch & Budapest event chair Lisa Rein  welcomes all. “Come feed your face, your mind and your soul. Your presence is important to support the hard work of these young pioneers.”

Pusztai

Pusztai

Brunch is free, but reservations are required by calling the Federation at 817-569-0892 or emailing c.simon@tarrantfederation.org.

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New program links text study, art making

New program links text study, art making

Posted on 27 December 2017 by admin

Marvin Beleck

Marvin Beleck

By James Russell
Special to the TJP

The usual takeaway from a Torah study is ethereal, ideally intellectual and spiritual enlightenment.
On Jan. 7 in Fort Worth, participants will take art home too. Through a Jewish Lens: A Day of Learning, Creation and Community is a new approach to Torah study sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County and the Texas Jewish Arts Association.
Participants, who must register by Dec. 29, can take classes in glass fusing, painting, mosaics, music composition and photography. Each artist is local and practices full-time. Studios are limited to 10 participants each.
The program has been years in the making, according to Angie Friedman, the program director at Federation who is spearheading the effort.
“I’ve wanted to do this for a few years. We just bit the bullet and said, ‘Let’s try it,’” Friedman said.

Nan Phillips

Nan Phillips

Participants will study text with local rabbis for the first hour.
At noon, participants then break out to one of the artist sessions. For the next two hours, they will respond to their studies with one of the artist facilitators.
Nan Phillips of Dallas is one of five participating artists. The fused and stained glass artist’s breakout session lets participants explore their readings in a hands-on way. It is just not purely an intellectual exercise toward spiritual growth. It’s an artistic exercise too, allowing people to interpret texts in new ways.
She is bringing a “baby kiln” for participants in her workshop, and some of her own work as well.
(She realizes some glass will not be ready in two hours and will fire the work for free and ship it.)
Other participating artists include Gloria Sepp, mosaic artist Marvin Beleck, violinist Sarah Price, who is leading a music composition class and photographer Jan Ayers Friedman. (She asks that participants bring a camera or smartphone.)

Sarah Price

Sarah Price

Participants do not just leave the daylong event full of wisdom but also with a piece of art, too.
The event fits with the TJAA’s mission of providing a network for Jewish artists. According to Phillips, the group, founded in 2013 and formalized in 2014, started with seven artists. The group’s membership now includes more than 100 artists. The event also fits the group’s mission of opening up opportunities for artists who are sometimes limited in participating in events. Gallery openings take place on a Friday evening or Saturday, which can be inconvenient for those who observe Shabbat.
“We needed something else,” Phillips said.
The approach for artists is different too.

Jan Friedman

Jan Friedman

The artists are not lecturing, Friedman said. They’re asking, “What do you want to make? How do I help you make it?” The day ends with a reception at the Center from 4 to 6 in the evening, where participants show their work.
The program may be new but it has generated substantial interest.
“There has already been a lot of interest. Some classes are almost full. But everyone is still welcome,” Friedman said.
Participants can sign up online at TarrantFederation.org/jewishlens, or by contacting Angie Friedman at 817-569-0892 or a.friedman@tarrantfederation.org.

Gloria Sepp

Gloria Sepp

 

*****

 

If you go …
Event: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with presentations from 4 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 7, at the Scott Theater in the Fort Worth Community Arts Center, 1300 Gendy St., Fort Worth.

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Sisterhoods invite Repp to tell his story

Sisterhoods invite Repp to tell his story

Posted on 27 December 2017 by admin

Holocaust survivor will discuss book at Jan. 7 luncheon

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

Reflection, reconnections, and the relishing of friendships new and old are certain at the 2018 IntraFaith Sisterhood Brunch. This year’s luncheon will be hosted by Temple Emanu-El’s Women of Reform Judaism at 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 7, and catered by Simcha Kosher Catering. The featured speaker will be community member and author Jack Repp.

Photo: Deb Silverthorn Jack Repp will speak at the 2018 IntraFaith Sisterhood Brunch at Temple Emanu-El. Repp (center), here with event Honorary Chair Sarah Yarrin, has told the story of his life in his recently published Dreams & Jealousy, his story as told to Rabbi Dan Lewin (right).

Photo: Deb Silverthorn
Jack Repp will speak at the 2018 IntraFaith Sisterhood Brunch at Temple Emanu-El. Repp (center), here with event Honorary Chair Sarah Yarrin, has told the story of his life in his recently published Dreams & Jealousy, his story as told to Rabbi Dan Lewin (right).

“Sisterhoods across the country connect, advocate, and act and Temple Emanu-El’s WRJ couldn’t be more thrilled to host this year’s gathering,” said Celia Rose Saunders, co-chairing the event with Elise Mikus and Sue Weiner and Honorary Chair Sarah Yarrin. The co-chairs are excited that the event is open to both women and men (ages 15 and over), hoping to see the generations represented.
“Everything that Sisterhood stands for is meaningful and to have Jack Repp as our guest, a man we honor, admire and really love so dearly, here to share his own story that is so important, is a gift to us all,” Saunders said. “We’ve opened the event to men and women and to teens, and we’re bringing in Simcha Kosher Catering hoping those from all the congregations, and those who are unaffiliated as well, will join us together — as one — as Jews — to experience and strengthen what we know as community.”
Each Sisterhood IntraFaith Luncheon, this one the 15th annual affair, is hosted by a different Dallas-area congregation, bringing together the members of the sisterhoods of all branches of Judaism. The women of each chapter create the program and menu, and coordinate the afternoon with previous event themes related to cooking, the environment, the history of Jews in Texas, the arts, career planning and more.
“Sisterhood is about our heritage and an incredible forum for friendships and connections at the many ages and stages of life,” said Rachelle Weiss Crane, who serves as Temple Emanu-El WRJ co-president with Kay Schachter. “The relationships that are built are treasures and the platforms of issues, of youth, education, social action, world Jewry and more cross the lines of the branches of Judaism and are concerns to all of us as Jews, as women and as Jewish women.”
Repp, known for speaking to groups large and small throughout the community, will reflect on his experiences during the Holocaust as shared through the publication of his book Dreams & Jealousy; The Story of Holocaust Survivor Jack Repp as told to Dan Lewin. After his lecture and a question-and-answer session, Repp will sign copies of his book, available on Amazon and which will also be sold at the event.
“I started my life as Itzik Rzepkowicz in Radom, Poland and now I get to tell my story to children and adults, in schools and in museums, and here in the temple that I love,” said Repp, who is excited about speaking to the intrafaith sisterhood audience, and this the rare occasion for men to share in the celebration. “I am so glad that this program is open to everyone in the community. To me, if you believe in God, you are a religious person and it isn’t about Reform or Conservative or Orthodox. I was born twice — once to my parents, and once again when I was 15 and instead of going to the crematorium, I went to the other line. God has watched over me all my life and everything to do with Him has turned my life in a positive direction.”
Repp’s struggle and survival are the focus of the book that tells his story. Just 69 pounds and 99.9 percent dead when liberated, he is grateful — and amazed — to have still had his mind. “I’m not educated but I can recall 70 years ago like this morning — my marbles are working. At 94 years young, I don’t want to get old,” said the 44-year-long business owner who has remained in the same house for 58 years — always resilient, with one foot forward moving after the next. “You must depend on God. He works in mysterious ways. I want people should know the truth, accept what happened, and do their part so it doesn’t happen again.”
Immigrating to Greenville, Texas, where he had family, Jack and his wife Esther (later known as Edna), of blessed memory, raised their family: children Lotty (Peter) Casillas, David (Bobbie) and Stan (Marsha), four grandchildren and recently — a first great-grandchild.
“Jack’s done it all. He’s been a merchant, a smuggler, a spy, and a survivor and he makes lemonade out of lemons like no one I know,” said Yarrin, a past-president of Temple Emanu-El’s WRJ. “To have him speak at Temple, where I’ve belonged since 1946 and he since 1949, a place that is truly my ‘home away from home,’ is so exciting. WRJ makes a huge difference to so many and supports so many and I just love that he’s coming to speak at a program of those who serve the community. It’s what he’s done for so long on his own — and now, we come together. It’s going to be just beautiful and very, very meaningful.”
RSVPs by Dec. 29 are appreciated for the luncheon. Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased online at tesisterhood.org/brunch or by calling 469-230-5195.

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Cycling for awareness, research and a cure

Cycling for awareness, research and a cure

Posted on 27 December 2017 by admin

Wheel to Survive returns Feb. 18

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

Be The Difference Foundation’s Wheel to Survive participants are racing with thousands of supporters and founders.
The sixth Wheel to Survive returns from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18, at the Aaron Family JCC. Practice rides are underway. The force behind the $2 million donated since the wheels began spinning has been a fearsome foursome: Jill Bach, Lynn Lentscher, Julie Shrell and the late Helen Gardner.

The 2017 Wheel to Survive had 380 riders and raised over $336,000, allowing the organization to give away its 2-millionth dollar this year. Registration is open for the Feb. 18, 2018 ride at the Aaron Family JCC.

The 2017 Wheel to Survive had 380 riders and raised over $336,000, allowing the organization to give away its 2-millionth dollar this year. Registration is open for the Feb. 18, 2018 ride at the Aaron Family JCC.

Jill Bach, a wife and mother of two who’ll celebrate 11 years of survivorship in April, was 44 when what she thought was just a cough lasted six weeks. Expecting bronchitis, her world was rocked when X-rays showed an obscured image of her left lung, revealing nodules. A biopsy and PET scan confirmed an extensive disease, most likely stage 4 ovarian cancer.
“Given the statistics I felt I survived for a reason and that was Be The Difference Foundation,” said Bach, who inherited the BRCA1 mutation. Her father had no knowledge he was a carrier before being tested himself.
Now a retired president and founder of a web development and interactive agency, Bach worked through her illness. Blogging a form of self-therapy and communication, her work and family schedule kept her feeling healthy.
Lynn Lentscher, a wife, mother of three and grandmother of three, is a retired real estate and title professional. At 53, the athletic picture-of-health woman experienced painful and prolonged diarrhea. After palpating a mass and an elevated CA125 test, Lentscher who’d previously had a hysterectomy, agreed to have her ovaries removed. She woke up to a stage 3 diagnosis. After six months of chemo, a second-look surgery showing more cancer, there was more chemo, then radiation. She endured a year of treatments and 11 years of associated issues. Now she is 18 years ovarian cancer-free.
“I prayed for survival, but also that if I survived I’d know my purpose. I understood the importance of offering hope,” Lentscher said. “The stars aligned, the four of us met and we were strong and courageous.”
Julie Shrell’s paternal grandmother had breast cancer twice — three decades apart. After her ovarian cancer diagnosis, at 48, BRCA1 testing proved positive, her family history revealed.
“There’s a lot about ovarian cancer symptoms that people don’t recognize,” said Shrell, a senior residential mortgage loan officer, married and the mother of three. “I had classic symptoms and some lesser-known, but never imagined they were a big deal. I was wrong.
“It’s funny that I hardly remember life before cancer,” Shrell said, adding that she’d focused on work and the “Mom thing.”
“I still do those things but with more intention.”
Helen Gardner, of blessed memory, was a 55-year-young wife and mother of three when she died Aug. 20, 2014. Gardner researched and sought life-extending treatments, making the most of her life. Her family is still dedicated to the Foundation as husband Gary remains on the board of directors.

Jill Bach, the late Helen Gardner, Lynn Lentscher, and Julie Shrell, founders of the Be The Difference Foundation, have shared the $2 million mark of money donated for research toward a cure for ovarian cancer. Their 2018 Wheel to Survive will take place on Feb. 18, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Aaron Family JCC in Dallas.

Jill Bach, the late Helen Gardner, Lynn Lentscher, and Julie Shrell, founders of the Be The Difference Foundation, have shared the $2 million mark of money donated for research toward a cure for ovarian cancer. Their 2018 Wheel to Survive will take place on Feb. 18, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Aaron Family JCC in Dallas.

About 1.3 percent of all women will develop ovarian cancer. For those with inherited gene mutations, 39 percent of women with the BRCA1 mutation and 11 to 17 percent who inherit the BRCA2 mutation, will develop ovarian cancer by age 70. The likelihood that breast and ovarian cancers are associated with these genes is highest in families with histories of multiple cases of breast cancer and ovarian cancer, where one or more family members have two primary cancers, ovarian cancer at any age, or those of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. When detected and treated early, the five-year survival rate of ovarian cancer is greater than 92 percent. With vague symptoms, and late diagnosis, only 50 percent live that long.
Making sure women find and get to treatments is the goal of the Lazarex Foundation, one of BTDF’s beneficiaries. Unique in providing assistance for FDA clinical trial participation, airfare, parking, tolls, housing, additional medical testing and the identification of trial options, they’ve helped 3000-plus patients.

Photo: Be The Difference Foundation Riding in her fifth Wheel to Survive, Linda Bezner, Dallas’ 2018 chair (center) at the 2017 ride, with her son Cole and sisters-in-law Nancy Lesch (left) and Janet Bezner. Linda’s team, “A Positive Spin,” rides in her honor, as she is a three-time ovarian cancer survivor whose first diagnosis came after a complete hysterectomy. “I had no ovaries — NO ovaries — but I am celebrating being a 14-year survivor from the first time of diagnosis and as a five-year survivor of the third,” she said. “I don’t know how anyone that learns about the wonderful things that Be the Difference and Wheel to Survive are doing could not be impressed.”

Photo: Be The Difference Foundation
Riding in her fifth Wheel to Survive, Linda Bezner, Dallas’ 2018 chair (center) at the 2017 ride, with her son Cole and sisters-in-law Nancy Lesch (left) and Janet Bezner. Linda’s team, “A Positive Spin,” rides in her honor, as she is a three-time ovarian cancer survivor whose first diagnosis came after a complete hysterectomy. “I had no ovaries — NO ovaries — but I am celebrating being a 14-year survivor from the first time of diagnosis and as a five-year survivor of the third,” she said. “I don’t know how anyone that learns about the wonderful things that Be the Difference and Wheel to Survive are doing could not be impressed.”

“Be The Difference impacted 15 of this year’s patients — their $35,000 earmarked for ovarian cancer patients, that need surpassed months ago. We continue clinical trial navigations, expense reimbursements, paying for someone to accompany the patient — it all adds up,” said Program Services Coordinator Erin Miller, whose husband Mike was diagnosed in 2003 with pancreatic cancer. Mike, and Erin’s sister Dana, searched for options and Mike lived another 19 months and Dana founded Lazarex to help others. “We’ve been there. Our path allows us to help others find time and some peace.”
In 2016, rides in Austin, South Florida, Houston, Lubbock and Northern California’s Bay Area, directed by Jon Mize, also supported Clearity Foundation, Gynecology Research Lab at the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center, Mary Crowley Cancer Research Center, MD Anderson’s Ovarian Cancer Moon Shots Program, and the Ovarian Cancer Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
Bach, Lentscher, and Shrell volunteer at UT Southwestern and Survivors Teaching Students, speaking to patients and helping medical students see cancer not only as statistics, but a journey of human survival.
“We’re serving survivors and others touched but there’s more to do. We need to share more stories, find early diagnostic testing, better treatments and a cure,” said Lentscher. “We want to, we will, Be The Difference!”
The ladies look forward to a future when ovarian cancer is a chronic disease with lifesaving treatments, ultimately hoping for a cure. Until then, their mission is to support and provide hope for women fighting the disease. Hope is the drive, keeping their wheels spinning.
Fore more information, email wts@bethedifferencefoundation.org or visit www.bethedifferencefoundation.org for Wheel to Survive 2018 registration. Use promotional code “TJP” for $10 discounted registration.

 

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Jewish ex-neo-Nazi promotes education, activism, change at Texas A&M Hillel

Jewish ex-neo-Nazi promotes education, activism, change at Texas A&M Hillel

Posted on 27 December 2017 by admin

Submitted photo (From left) Aggie student Gabe Noble, of Dallas; Daniel Brea, writer, producer and director of Escape from Room 18; John Daly, former neo-Nazi skinhead; student Aaron Blasband of Dallas; and Rabbi Dan Aronson, A&M Hillel executive director

Submitted photo
(From left) Aggie student Gabe Noble, of Dallas; Daniel Brea, writer, producer and director of Escape from Room 18; John Daly, former neo-Nazi skinhead; student Aaron Blasband of Dallas; and Rabbi Dan Aronson, A&M Hillel executive director

After he was left for dead, Daly reforms, co-films documentary

Submitted report

“Change begins with you” was the message delivered by John Daly and Daniel Brea following a screening of Brea’s documentary, Escape from Room 18, on a recent Thursday at the Hillel at Texas A&M.
Daly and Brea should know. As a teen, Daly was a non-racist skinhead at home in Ocala, Florida, when a group of neo-Nazi skinheads arrived unexpectedly to escort him to a waiting car. Inside the moving car, the thugs began the process of indoctrinating Daly into a world he never wanted to be part of, but could not escape. They told him about stories of all the people who joined their white supremacist group and tried to leave.
The consequences of parting ranks for those who questioned the hatred of the neo-Nazis were terrifying, ending in the escapee being shot or badly beaten, his family terrorized.
Unbeknownst to the neo-Nazis who made Daly one of their own, Daly was Jewish. For a long time, he managed to keep his secret hidden from his new friends. Eventually, though, a member of the gang found out and shared his secret with the group’s leader. On Oct. 7, 1990, the leader insisted that Daly come to a late-night meeting on the beach. That night, Daly was badly beaten and left for dead. His comrades struck him, kicked him and held his head under water until he lay lifeless.
But that was not the end of the story for Daly. Miraculously, he was discovered on the beach and survived.
In 1997, as the last of the skinheads were being released from prison, Daly made aliyah to Israel, where, in 2009, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After two “awake” surgeries to remove the tumor, a piece of the tumor remains attached to Daly’s brain.
“Just as I refused to let the skinheads win, I won’t let this mass in my brain stop me from fighting for this country with my words, encouraging support of Israel from people abroad and helping people living here,” he told The Jerusalem Post in 2016.
In the early 2010s, Daly was contacted by Daniel Brea, a former neighbor of Daly’s in Israel. Brea was now a film director, producer and writer. He convinced Daly to let him make a documentary about Daly’s extraordinary life. Originally a tightly scripted docudrama, the film took a different course when a friend of Daly’s, who also had been a neo-Nazi skinhead, located Daly, asking him if they could meet up in Prague. Unsure whether his friend, Kevin Connell, was looking for revenge or for reconciliation, Daly took him up on the invitation. Brea and a camera man traveled with Daly to Prague to capture the reunion.
What followed profoundly changed both men, then around 40 years old. Connell had come to make peace with Daly in Prague, but upon Daly’s suggestion, the two left Prague, production crew in tow, to visit Auschwitz. In Poland, the men were confronted with the full horror of the Nazi Holocaust and vowed to never let such an atrocity happen again.
Nowadays, Daly, Connell and Brea tour the world with the film, encouraging people of all ages and religions to examine their beliefs, become educated, and take action when they witness hate. “It all begins with you,” Daly told the Hillel audience. “You have a choice.”
Daly could have gone into witness protection to testify against his attackers, he said. If he had gone quietly into hiding, though, he would have been letting his attackers off the hook. Instead, he feels he must speak out against hate. “I know that there are people who want me dead. I’m not afraid of them,” says Daly. “It’s more important for me to speak out and to teach others about hate groups and how to stop them.”
Brea, too, teaches his audiences to learn about the Holocaust and to speak up. “Don’t be silent,” Brea says.
Rabbi Daniel Aronson, executive director of the Hillel at Texas A&M, invited Brea and Daly to speak at A&M. “In the wake of Richard Spencer’s visit to campus last year and all that is happening in our world today, when I learned about Escape from Room 18, I felt it was important to bring the film and its makers to College Station. Maybe if we can understand why people like Spencer espouse hate, we can do something to prevent people from following them. This film and the discussion that took place afterward are a good beginning.”
The screening of Escape from Room 18 to the audience of 70 students and community members and Brea’s and Daly’s appearance was funded by Hillel’s Shirley Reiser Speaker Fund and by United Campus Ministries at A&M and the Texas A&M International Studies department.
— Submitted by A&M Hillel

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Ponder, accept God’s changes to your plan

Posted on 21 December 2017 by admin

I did not expect to spend all of Hanukkah at home this year. I’d planned to give up a good chunk of it during a week’s travel in Peru — from Lima to Cuzco, and finally to the two places I’d longed almost all my life to see: the Sacred Valley, and Machu Picchu.
But you surely know that old saying: “Man proposes, and God disposes.” Or sometimes God just laughs at our presumptuousness. I was here for all of the eight nights after all, “thanks” to a small washing machine break that sent a flood of water to come up from beneath my teak parquet floors. This happened the night before my scheduled early morning departure; I was all packed and ready to go, and heading up to bed, having first kicked off my shoes to wiggle my toes and walk along in my bare feet…
Sometimes God himself proposes: Had I still been wearing shoes, I would not have felt that early, first dampness! I pressed on the wood, and the water rose up. And I got on the phone to find some emergency help. But it was well after midnight, and no plumber would be available until the next morning — some time after my scheduled airport pickup at 8:30 a.m. A sad goodbye to my travel dream …
I don’t tell you this because I’m looking for sympathy, which I’m not. Rather, I’m sharing my feeling — once again — that there are no coincidences of importance in our lives: There are “only” times when God wants something to happen, but would prefer to remain anonymous, so we encounter them in different ways — as different as water under one’s bare feet …
I canceled my trip, and I doubt I’ll reschedule it. I’ve long since lost the physical ability to climb the heights of Machu Picchu, and was grateful just for the opportunity to see it — if somewhat from afar. But my walking is compromised as well by my multiply-broken left leg, and the longer I put things off, the less likely I will be able to do them at all. This trip — although I was sad that it would cost me much of Hanukkah at home — offered the best weather in Peru, which is summer when it is winter here. Another year would be a long time away…
Combined with what I truly believe was God’s desire for me not to go is my father’s well-taught and well-learned lesson: Take whatever life hands you, and do the best you can with it. So I was able to attend a number of holiday events I would have otherwise missed. And then, there is this, which I write about last, but is first in importance: My dear cousin Pat, who has lived here in Dallas for the last five years, died on one of the days I was scheduled to be away, and so I could be present for her funeral service, and for the shivas. I saw this as a present from God…
Have you ever watched the candles in your menorahs as they burned down to their very, very ends? If you’ve never done so, tuck this away in your mind for something to experience next year: As each flame dies, it burns lower and lower, then sends up a final burst of brightness immediately before it gutters out completely. Humans are sometimes like that, with a person showing a quick crescendo of life with that very last breath before that candle of mortality finishes its burning. Many years ago, I was at the bedside of an aunt at that moment. My parents had taken me to say goodbye, not knowing, of course, that we would witness her final, bright goodbye to us all.
So much we do not know: when a trip must be abandoned, or when a life must end. But I believe God knows, and has reasons for us to perhaps ponder, but definitely accept…

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Lesson from history could help solve tensions

Posted on 21 December 2017 by admin

All the recent complaining by Palestinians and others in response to President Trump’s selection of Jerusalem as America’s future embassy location is due to the Palestinians’ historic rejection of Israel in general, including the location of its capital, Jerusalem.
During America’s war for independence (170 years before Israel’s), there were also issues concerning location of our nation’s capital. This is an aspect of America’s history your teacher may have skipped.
One can imagine the uncertainty of the times, a rebellion for independence, various self-interests seeking a break with what many considered as a tyrannical master far from our shores.
Between 1774 and 1790, our nation’s capital changed locations eight times. At the war’s end and with a peace treaty finally signed, our nation’s capital was one of the first major issues facing the new United States of America.
The primary reason there were a number of different capitals at various locations was that colonial delegates were fearful of being captured and were quick to relocate at the first hint of British troop movements in their area.
Technically, each building where the Continental Congress met and carried out governmental business was considered “the capital.” There were eight of them by war’s end.
The First Continental Congress met in Philadelphia in 1774 when delegates from 12 of the 13 colonies met to plan a unified response to England’s “Intolerable Acts.”
Successive Congresses during the next 16 years met in Baltimore, Maryland; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; York, Pennsylvania; Princeton, New Jersey; Annapolis, Maryland; Trenton, New Jersey; and New York City before the final move to a permanent national capital.
The final choice of permanent location of America’s national capital was left to George Washington, but a much greater problem was facing the new nation.
Once independence was achieved, numerous creditors were demanding to be paid back the loans made by the lenders. You might think of this as one of our nation’s first kvetches.
When Alexander Hamilton suggested that the new national government should assume all the debt of the states, the states with the least debt felt that it would be unfair for them to be taxed equally with states that owed more.
The key to solving this inequity was the creation of a compromise devised by Hamilton, Madison, Jefferson and Washington. They used their influence to gain the votes necessary to pass both bills, the Funding Act, allowing the national government to collect state taxes to pay off the nation’s debt, and the Residence Act, setting the site of the nation’s capital in the South, along the Potomac River.
The Southern location was said to have increased the Southern states’ political power as opposed to the North’s growing economic power, a fair compromise.
If only some of the same basic bargaining concepts used by our founding fathers were applied by Israel and Palestine today, there might be more solutions.
But the complexity of the Middle East leaves little room for compromise.

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