Archive | December, 2017

Friendship Circle hosts Chanukah Bowl

Friendship Circle hosts Chanukah Bowl

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

The lanes and scene will be set for strikes all around when Dallas’ Friendship Circle hosts its first Chanukah Bowl, from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Dec. 17 at Bowlmor in Dallas.
“The holiday of light and miracles is coming and each and every one of us is a miracle with a light that glows. Through Friendship Circle, those lights are even brighter,” said Leah Dubrawsky, Dallas Friendship Circle director. “Our programs allow parents to leave their children for two or two-and-a-half hours, and they know they are in good, loving and caring hands.”
The global organization known as Friendship Circle was founded in 1994. It has a mission to enrich the lives of all participants through mutually advantageous interactions and creating lasting friendships, which consequently strengthen both the Jewish and greater communities. There are now more than 80 groups in 60 cities around the world, allowing children and young adults with special needs to enjoy the company of teenage and young adult volunteers in a full range of social activities.

Submitted photo Friendship Circle was founded in 1994. It has a mission to enrich the lives of all participants through mutually advantageous interactions and creating lasting friendships, which consequently strengthen both the Jewish and greater communities.

Submitted photo
Friendship Circle was founded in 1994. It has a mission to enrich the lives of all participants through mutually advantageous interactions and creating lasting friendships, which consequently strengthen both the Jewish and greater communities.

The Dallas chapter welcomes participants ages 5-18 and buddy volunteers from eighth grade through high school. Dubrawsky, who was a Friendship Circle volunteer in her hometown of Pittsburgh and a friend to a developmentally delayed young girl in their childhood, is married to Rabbi Levi Dubrawsky and is the mother of four.
“I’m so happy with the growth of the Friendship Circle here, and excited as we continue to move north into Plano and Frisco and to welcome and gather the whole of the community as best as we can,” said Dubrawsky, planning activities throughout the area.
Since bringing the Friendship Circle full circle and revitalizing it within Dallas’ community, there have been Shabbat dinners, a day at the zoo, museums and more. The recent addition of a monthly Sunday Circle, with activities, snacks, crafts and sports, comes with the career and lifetime of experience, advisement, and calm of Friendship Circle Board of Directors Chair Eileen Kreisler.
The group, which has asked musical therapists to bring activities, science and Torah-related crafts fun, celebrated the High Holiday season by making edible sukkahs and playing soccer. During the first weekend in November, they participated in a drum circle and were led by Brook Cheatham in an afternoon of yoga relaxation.
On Oct. 29, the group reached for the stars — almost — as they partnered with Challenge Air to give the children with disabilities the gift of flight.
“We take kids up and let them fly the plane. Kids don’t fly planes? Well, heck, they do, and we let them know if they can do something they never thought they could, then surely they can do anything,” said Sonny Friedman, the organization’s first president, who remains on the organization’s board of directors. Challenge Air pilots volunteered time, giving 17 children and young adults with special needs half-hour plane rides at Addison Airport. These lucky ones were among the 35,000 Challenge Air has flown in the past 25 years.
In addition to the monthly programs and other special occasions, there are weekend visits from the volunteers to their friends during which they participate in hobbies, art, board games and more.
Yavneh Academy sophomore Jamie Perkins, a buddy to 12-year-old young man “B,” looks forward to every weekend.
“It makes him happy when we’re together and it makes me happy, too. It’s a good part of the week for both of us and I know that whatever we do, we’re going to have fun doing it together,” said Perkins, who had been involved in many occasional projects, and who was looking for a more constant opportunity to make a difference.

Submitted photo Friendship Circle was founded in 1994. It has a mission to enrich the lives of all participants through mutually advantageous interactions and creating lasting friendships, which consequently strengthen both the Jewish and greater communities.

Submitted photo
Friendship Circle was founded in 1994. It has a mission to enrich the lives of all participants through mutually advantageous interactions and creating lasting friendships, which consequently strengthen both the Jewish and greater communities.

Not only the friends enjoy weekend visits, but the parents, too. It’s an opportunity to step back and let their children cultivate their own relationships.
“It’s a great time for him to exchange with ‘typical’ teens and he loves the conversation and just being a teenager,” said Angela Weber, whose 14-year-old son, Shmuli, looks forward to his visits from Jeff Harberg and Jake Middleman every other weekend. “I know kids need to earn service hours but there are lots easier ways to do it than this and so it’s obvious these kids have heart and that they want to share that, and their time with my son, is humbling and beautiful.”
Sometimes Shmuli and his friends play games, kick around a soccer ball, and sometimes they go out for ice cream.
“He feels mature and just like what a 14-year-old should be feeling when he’s around them,” Weber said. “The boys laugh together and they just ‘be.’ It’s awe-inspiring to have Leah, who is incredible, and her volunteers be so good with, to, and for our kids all the time. It’s really very special.”
For more information about Friendship Circle and other events, visit the Friendship Circle of Dallas Facebook page or FriendshipDallas.org. To volunteer as a buddy, or to RSVP for the Dec. 17 Chanukah Bowl, call 972-998-1970.

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Newly formed Chabad at Legacy West holds inaugural menorah lighting

Newly formed Chabad at Legacy West holds inaugural menorah lighting

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

L’dor v’dor (from generation to generation) is defined in the moment by the return of Eli Block to Plano. Not the young boy, son of Rivkie and Rabbi Menachem Block, but Rabbi Eli Block — author and editor, husband and father.

Photo: Rabbi Eli Block Rabbi Eli Block and his wife Sara, with their daughter Chana, are thrilled to be back in Plano, where he was raised. Now directors of the newly formed Chabad at Legacy West, the two look forward to Legacy West’s Inaugural Menorah Lighting, Drinks and Dreidels beginning at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Renaissance Hotel.

Photo: Rabbi Eli Block
Rabbi Eli Block and his wife Sara, with their daughter Chana, are thrilled to be back in Plano, where he was raised. Now directors of the newly formed Chabad at Legacy West, the two look forward to Legacy West’s Inaugural Menorah Lighting, Drinks and Dreidels beginning at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Renaissance Hotel.

Carrying the torch — or the shammash — Rabbi Block, also director of the newly formed Chabad at Legacy West, will lead Legacy West’s Inaugural Menorah Lighting, Drinks and Dreidels at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at the Renaissance Hotel.
“Hanukkah is the holiday of lights and it’s an ideal time to bring the light of Torah, of Hashem, to our community,” said Rabbi Block — following in the footsteps of his father and grandfathers to teach, lead and provide outreach. “This first menorah lighting will share the beauty of the holiday all around.”
The menorah lighting will feature greetings from Plano Mayor Harry Larosiliere and community and enterprising leader, Sandra Moon. At 7 p.m., participants in their 20s and 30s are invited to Drinks and Dreidels with an open bar, sushi chef and Hanukkah fare served in the Whiskey Moon room.
With the arrival in Plano of major corporations including Chase, FedEx Office, JP Morgan, Liberty Mutual and Toyota and an estimated 20,000 employees, Chabad at Legacy West will meet the Jewish needs of this growing business community.
Chabad at Legacy West will also focus on young, single or married Jews through social, communal and spiritual programming. In November, a group gathered at the The Ginger Man for drinks, sushi and a contemporary look at the week’s Torah portion.
“We’re about connecting Jews and we’re excited to welcome the newcomers and also our own generation who are returning. It’s great to be back with my friends and family and running into people from my childhood as we’re starting the next phase of life,” said Rabbi Block. “I’ve watched my parents help Plano grow, and Sara and I are honored to join them to bring the light of Torah, of Jewish life and learning to Legacy West and the area.”
In addition to those who came before him, the Block family tree branches are already rooted in the Metroplex. Sister Mushkie and her husband Rabbi Mendy Kesselman are the directors of Chabad of Frisco with programs, services and education opportunities. As for the other siblings, Shalom is a rabbi, Chanale a teacher and Shmuli, Nechama, Basi and Devora are still in school.
“We moved to Dallas when Eli was 18 months old and he’d look out the window of our Miami Drive home, waiting for people. We couldn’t be more proud that he’s inspired by his upbringing to carry on the teachings, becoming an emissary of the Rebbe,” said Rabbi Menachem Block, who set the bar — celebrating almost 26 years as the leader of Chabad of Plano/Collin County. “Rivkie and I are grateful to Hashem to watch and support Eli and Sara as they move forward.”
After his childhood at Akiba Academy, Rabbi Block moved through the Chabad yeshiva system learning and earning smicha (ordination), training and working in Connecticut, New Jersey, New York, Canada and France. Since 2013, he has been working for Kehot Publication Society, the publishing arm of Chabad-Lubavitch.
Earlier this summer, Kehot published Rabbi Block’s Of Tears and Laughter, through which he adapted and translated the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s analysis of two Talmudic stories concerning the aftermath of the destruction of the second Beit Hamikdash. He also provided contributing commentary to a recently released edition of Tehillim and is now working on a volume of essays based on the writings of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson. Rabbi Block’s books are available at store.kehotonline.com.
“With this work comes a lot of responsibility but it’s a challenge to relish, allowing me to indulge my love of study and reading,” said Rabbi Block. “The challenge is not to just translate the work, but the prospect of reforming something of the language and archaic text, making it relatable to a new audience.”
Rabbi Block says the path is in his blood. His great-grandfather Zvi Yair Steinmetz, z”l, was a Hebrew poet and Chasidic scholar, his grandmother Rochel Yaffee wrote children’s books including Rambam: The Story of Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon, and cousin Rabbi Yanki Tauber is an editor at Chabad.org and author of the Inside Time series.
Rabbi Block and his wife, the former Sara Abelsky, are parents of a toddler, Chana. In addition to joining her husband in directing Chabad at Legacy West, Sara, who is a New York native and the daughter of Moshe, z”l, and Rochel, also follows her parents’ example as Jewish educators. Previously working for the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute, she has a master’s in education from Brooklyn College and is teaching Judaic studies at Yavneh Academy.
“As a newcomer, I couldn’t feel more welcome. Everyone is friendly and patient and — coming from New York — I miss the rushed craziness a ‘little.’ I can identify with everyone moving in,” Sara said. “Eli and I come with determination and dedication, and the amazing examples our parents set. We promise to provide an engaging platform, meaningful activities, and soulful opportunities for people to meet, learn and find — or enhance — their Jewish lives.”
Legacy West’s Menorah Lighting, Drinks and Dreidels will be at The Renaissance Hotel at 6007 Legacy Drive in Plano. For more information about Chabad at Legacy West and event programming, call 214-620-4083 or visit their Facebook page @ChabadLW.

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Not too late to remember WWII heroes

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

Today is the 76th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. President Franklin Roosevelt said it would “live forever in infamy.” But has it?
I mentioned recently that our World War II veterans are now dying at the rate of more than 1,000 every day. And so are those of us who were too young to fight, but are now old enough to remember…
In grade school, we sang the national anthems of every Allied country along with our own, plus a new song, “Let’s remember Pearl Harbor…as we do the Alamo.” But we don’t remember the latter much today. We do remember ration books — Meatless Tuesdays — Victory Gardens — a grass-roots children’s organization called Junior American Citizens, devoted to scrap collection — and the triumph of finding a single, treasured can of peaches available for purchase …
When it finally ended, my Boubby the Philosopher removed the Five Star Flag from her front window as she welcomed her sons home. Only one is still alive today, active at 95, telling us of his time at the U.S. Air Base in Bari, Italy, repairing the B-17s that dropped their bombs over Berlin. Which brings me to a current concern:
Last week, I attended a showing of The Tuskegee Airmen, a film telling the sad but ultimately triumphant story of some brave Black Americans who literally “fought for the right to fight for their country,” and finally succeeded in making their enduring mark on United States history. This event was sponsored by our own Dallas Holocaust Museum, which has wisely — as years have passed — broadened its mission to emphasize “Upstanding,” the act of acting rather than simply standing by in the face of wrongs, from children’s bullying to adults’ racial and religious slurs, exclusions and persecutions. The Tuskegee Airmen’s story is a somber, sober example of fighting alone when your countrymen are far from upstanders and even worse than bystanders, contributing to a culture of prejudice that, sadly, still exists today. We Jews know about this, and should be upstanding ourselves about how this affects others.
Although the film’s audience was a large one, only a handful of us there were white, and not all of us whites were Jews. Our Black neighbors came early to view the Center’s current Tuskegee Airmen exhibit beforehand, bringing their children to learn this poignant story of their people’s history. Why weren’t more of us there, to learn ourselves and to support these others? We expect much today for ourselves, and are hurt and angry when our expectations aren’t met. But if we want a certain kind of equality and appreciation in how we are treated, shouldn’t we be showing the same to others? I was saddened, and more than a bit ashamed.
Our forthcoming new Dallas Holocaust Museum, for which ground has recently been broken, will be physically larger, and have an even broader — in fact, an ever-broadening — mission of action in the face of wrongdoing. We Jews created this institution, and are now sharing it with our wider community. Let’s not forget to take advantage of it, to continue to learn from it, ourselves.
When World War II ended, we kids wove crepe paper streamers through the spokes of our bicycles and rode around our neighborhoods making joyful noise. But we knew little about war’s realities. Those of us who were there, and remain alive and sentient today, are still learning what it was all about — and, by extension, what war is all about. We Jews have learned from our precious survivors, and have succeeded in passing that knowledge, now broadened far more inclusively, to a much wider audience. Let’s not get complacent ourselves. Let’s not miss any opportunity to learn about others who have also suffered — differently from us, but in the same way: at the hands of the hateful.
Please go to the Dallas Holocaust Museum to see the Tuskegee Airmen exhibit. The movie showing is over, but it’s not too late to learn…

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New name, same education at TTI’s high school

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

School renamed Mesivta Emes L’Yaakov, the Katav-Akrish High School of TTI

It is often asked, “What’s in a name?”
This question dismisses names as nothing more than superficial labels. In truth, names have tremendous power. They reflect our essence, representing not only our spiritual mission, but our potential as well.
But how does one pinpoint the essence of a Jewish institution? By the level of learning that takes place within it? By how beloved the students are to the community? By the energy and enthusiasm evident in everything they do? Each of these is an integral part of TTI–the Yeshiva of Dallas. But there is something deeper that embodies the essence of a yeshiva, a necessary prerequisite for everything else: It’s Torah. In a world full of shallowness, we look to our heritage in our search for truth and substance. And with this in mind, TTI was honored and privileged to name Mesivta Emes L’Yaakov, the Katav-Akrish High School of Texas Torah Institute.
The name holds incredible significance, not only for what it represents, but also for who. Yehuda and Maggie Katav, exemplary role models and steadfast supporters of Torah learning in Dallas, wanted to commemorate their parents. This was to be a tribute to Maggie’s parents, Yaakov and Estrella Akrish, z”l, originally from Morocco, and Yehuda’s father, Menachem Katav, z”l, originally from Baghdad, Iraq, and to honor Mr. Katav’s mother, Tamar, who beamed as she watched the yeshiva students singing, dancing and shouting “Mazel Tov!” as they gathered with the community to celebrate this milestone. It is a beautiful testament to the love of Torah and dedication to Judaism that so clearly define the Katav-Akrish family legacy, and considering the fact that the initials of their names spell out “Emes L’Yaakov” (based on the Torah verse: “attribute truth to Jacob”), it was the perfect name for this extraordinary institution.
Yehuda and Maggie shared the celebration with Yehuda’s mother, along with their children and grandchildren, representing four generations of a family which is committed to the Jewish principles of charity, integrity and study. They had already forged a strong bond between the Katavs and TTI, and decided as a family to take this next step in their commitment to strengthen the yeshiva and the Jewish community of Dallas.
Tamar Katav, “Savta,” was clearly overwhelmed, knowing the yeshiva will now be a namesake to her late husband. He was born into a family of sofrim (scribes), and saw the vital importance of living a Torah life even in Baghdad when it was dangerous to do so. What nachas she had in seeing the dozens of yeshiva boys, hailing from many cities across the continent, filling the auditorium, singing and dancing with their rabbis, friends and neighbors. Exuberant dancing continued outside on the 2.5-acre campus of the yeshiva which was graciously gifted by the Haymann Family several years ago, along with the 10,000-square-foot school building. A beautiful new sign was unveiled, proudly displaying the new name “Mesivta Emes L’Yaakov, Katav-Akrish High School of Texas Torah Institute.”
Being able to share the truth and beauty of Yiddishkeit with so many fine young b’nei Torah is, according to the Katav and Akrish family, a powerful legacy which began many generations ago in Iraq and Baghdad and will, G-d willing, continue to grow with this extraordinary yeshiva. The Katavs’ daughter, Tammy Diamond, shared the following thought: “For my grandparents, to stand proud and watch their children ensure that the next generation continues to learn Torah in a free world and pass on that legacy, would fill their heart…The grass is always going to be greener where you water it.”
TTI President Aaron Yurowitz, one of the speakers at the naming ceremony, explained that what is truly striking about the Dallas yeshiva high school is not only the high level of learning, both in Judaic and general studies, but also the intensity with which the students are enveloped and beloved by the community.
“We are the only yeshiva in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and can offer a high level of learning without the distractions that may sometimes be found in larger communities. This is both a tremendous zechus (merit) and a huge responsibility that we enthusiastically embrace.”
It is clear that the students are a treasured resource within our community, as evidenced by the enthusiasm with which community members vie for their company at Shabbos meals! “It’s so funny but now my wife knows she has to schedule the yeshiva boys weeks in advance because they are in high demand! Our Shabbos table is elevated by their presence as they always come prepared with a beautiful d’var Torah (word of Torah) to share with myself and my son,” says Avi Grossman.
When there is a community simcha going on, like the Hachnasas Sefer Torah we had several months ago, the bochurim (yeshiva boys) are the first address for creating the ruach and simcha to help celebrate such landmark events. Perhaps sixth-grader Naftali Kaufman says it most succinctly. “Everything is different when the yeshiva boys are around! They are so fun and I love learning with them!”
Dot and Basil Haymann, generous donors of TTI’s beautiful campus, describe the students as true role models for the boys in the community. “Our young men have learned that they do not only have a responsibility to continue to educate the next generation, but also they have a social responsibility to give back to the community that they are a part of… They went down to Houston to help with the cleanup … They learn with children in the community, both those who are in yeshiva day schools and kids who are in public schools … These yeshiva boys are upstanders and not just bystanders in the community.”
The Katavs also consider the yeshiva students “their sons,” and shower them with Shabbos onegs, trips, barbecue siyumim and other extras, to enhance their yeshiva experience in Dallas. They can think of no greater honor than having the Mesivta of Dallas bear the name of their parents, who instilled within them a strong passion for Torah and mitzvot.
Ultimately, we all leave behind our names as a final legacy, and the Katav-Akrish families are passionately grateful that the yeshiva bears their family name as it continues to grow as a source of advanced Torah learning with boys who truly exemplify a Kiddush Hashem. The Katav-Akrish family chose the Mesivta based on these sterling characteristics to be the home for their family’s namesake. May they continue to reap much nachas and bracha from the yeshiva that proudly bears their name.
— Submitted by
Rabbi Moshe Tropper

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When to tell kids that ‘other’ side of the Hanukkah story

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

Dear Families,
Hanukkah is almost here and as important as it is to buy gifts and get new recipes for latkes, we must tell the story.
To tell the story, we must know it, and for Hanukkah as with many other stories, there is the myth and perhaps what we might call “the other side of the story.” I am a Jewish educator and I love everything about being Jewish and teaching Jewish except for Hanukkah. This is a challenging holiday! What is the story we tell our children and when do we tell them “the real story”? Here are two very short versions — and believe me, you can find many more versions and interpretations:

The Hanukkah story (the simple version)

A very long time ago, the King of Syria, Antiochus, took charge of Israel. He wanted everyone to be like him, so he told the Jewish people that they could no longer do Jewish things. No more studying Torah, no more celebrating Shabbat, no more praying to God. Antiochus and his army came in and ruined the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. This made Judah Maccabee and his family and friends very angry. They fought back against mean Antiochus and his army. It took a long time, but with some clever moves and help from God, Judah Maccabee’s little army defeated Antiochus’ large army. Judah and the Maccabees went straight away to the Temple to start cleaning it up. When it was all clean, they wanted to light the Ner Tamid, the Eternal Light, to rededicate the Temple.
They could only find one small bottle of holy oil, enough to last one day. It would take many days to make more holy oil. They poured the little bottle of oil in the Ner Tamid and a miracle happened! The oil burned for eight days, which was enough time to make more oil and keep the light burning. They decided to celebrate the miracle that had happened every year, so they declared a holiday — Hanukkah!

The real story for grownups (very short)

The story above is what we tell children — the Maccabees are heroes. They were heroes but in a different way. Judah and the Maccabees were part of the Hashmon Dynasty, a priestly family who were out of power. They were angry at the priests in power because they were trying to live Greek lives — become assimilated Jews. The Maccabees were actually fundamentalists and wanted all Jews to practice Judaism in the “proper” way. The warring began as Jew against Jew. To control things, the Syrians and Antiochus tried to impose a neutral religion on Palestine. They forbade circumcision, Shabbat and Torah study and imposed idol worship. It started as one thing but then truly became a fight for religious freedom. The story of the Maccabees is in the book called the Apocrypha, not a Jewish book. The rabbis wanted to eliminate the story of Hanukkah but all they could do was keep it out of the Jewish books. The Talmud contains a very short passage about the Temple and the holy oil — the story of the miracle.
No matter which story you use (or have heard), the question comes down to — what does this mean to us today? What are the messages that we take from them both for our children and for ourselves as we hear the possibly more disturbing side of the story?
Is it better to just know the children’s version? For our children and grandchildren, let us keep alive all the wonderful parts of the story. However, this year take some time to Google the real story of Hanukkah and challenge yourselves to find the message that works for you. Sorry — I give you no answers — just more questions.
Laura Seymour is the director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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Yavneh basketball claims 1st, 3rd in Baltimore

Yavneh basketball claims 1st, 3rd in Baltimore

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

By Brian Bateman
brianb@tjpnews.com

For the second year in a row, the Yavneh boys’ basketball team has returned from Baltimore with a trophy and hopes for a grand finish to an undefeated start of its season.
The Bulldogs claimed their second straight sweep of the Joseph and Florence Weiner Memorial Tournament in Baltimore on Saturday night with a 56-39 win over Heschel in the final. The girls’ team shared in the Baltimore success, claiming third place in its tournament after defeating Beth Tfiloh, 26-12.

Submitted photo The Yavneh boys' basketball team swept the Weiner tournament for the second straight year.

Submitted photo
The Yavneh boys’ basketball team swept the Weiner tournament for the second straight year.

“It was our fifth year going,” boys’ coach David Zimmerman said. “It brings the kids together and we really bond, regardless of whether we win.”
The tournament ends the first portion of the season for both teams, and neither squad will return to action for several weeks. That gives both coaches a few weeks to look at their teams’ strengths and weaknesses and see how best to improve.
Zimmerman is excited about the possibilities of another trip to the TAPPS state tournament this year, and a big reason why is 6-foot, 3-inch Plano transfer Ofek Reef.
“I don’t know if Yavneh has had a player like him before,” Zimmerman said. “He’s a muscular, strong kid who can play every position. Very smart IQ. You put him with Griffin Levine and Pierce Bell and the experience we have, you have a very special potential.”
Reef is averaging nearly a double-double every night in points and rebounds, which — not surprisingly — leads the team in both categories. Levine is just behind with 19 points per game, and Bell is also averaging double figures with 11 points. Bell is grabbing almost six rebounds per game while Levine has almost six assists each contest. Reef leads the team in steals with 3.9 per game.
Reef is scoring at a 63 percent clip, making 107 of 171 baskets on the season so far. His size has helped the Bulldogs maintain their size from last year after losing Noah Rubinstein (6-2) and Daniel Chernikov (6-4) to graduation. Sophomore Mason Schwaber (6-4) and senior returnee Micah Romaner (who has grown to 6-5 from 6-3 last season) help Yavneh retain their size advantage inside.
Besides the shiny new piece of hardware it provided, the tournament allowed Zimmerman to properly evaluate his squad.
“Before the Baltimore tournament, we had not yet seen the competition that we needed to see,” Zimmerman said. “(Most players) had not played more than 17-18 minutes. This tournament was the first time they were pushed.”

Girls claim third

On the girls’ side, Yavneh posted wins over Beth Tfiloh (37-27), Boyar (44-15) and Beth Tfiloh again in the third-place game (26-12). Anna Wernick scored 15 points in that final victory, with sophomore Jessica Lampert scoring six. Wernick and Liel Guttman had four rebounds each and Wernick added four steals. Yavneh went 3-4 in the tournament to bring its season record to 7-8.
The Yavneh boys breezed through their first three games (46-39, 54-42 and 53-31) but had to sweat out a tough, 37-36 win over Boyar in the fourth game. Levine and Reef hit free throws to give the Bulldogs a 37-34 lead with 23.8 seconds left. Boyar collected four straight offensive rebounds and finally scored to cut the lead to one with 3.2 seconds left, but couldn’t get the ball back to take the lead.

The Yavneh girls' basketball team took third place at the Weiner tournament.

The Yavneh girls’ basketball team took third place at the Weiner tournament.

The boys added one more victory in the round-robin portion of the tournament, a 55-48 win over Hebrew Academy of the Five Towns and Rockaway. They faced Boyar again in the semifinals, but didn’t have much trouble in a 60-44 victory.
In the final, junior Ofek Reef scored 19 points, while Levine was right behind at 18. Bell also scored in double figures with 13 points. Reef also controlled the boards with 12 rebounds and two blocks, while he and Levine had a combined 14 assists on the night.
At the break, senior Anna Wernick leads the girls’ team in points (14.5 per game), rebounds (4.1) and steals (2.1). She is tied with junior Gabbe Krasovitsky at 0.7 assists per game, while freshman Liel Guttman boasts an impressive 3.5 rebounds each contest.
Outside of practices, neither team will see the court for several weeks. The boys will continue their 14-0 season later this month at the Dallas First Baptist Tournament Dec. 27. Both teams begin TAPPS District 3-3A play Jan. 4 at Cristo Rey Dallas College Preparatory. The girls compete at 6:30 p.m. and the boys play afterward. District play continues through Feb. 8.

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Dallas Doings: TTI scholarship banquet, Women of Valor

Dallas Doings: TTI scholarship banquet, Women of Valor

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

TTI to hold 14th scholarship banquet

Texas Torah Institute, the yeshiva of Dallas, will celebrate its 14th annual scholarship banquet on Dec. 17, 2017.
The event promises to be another night to remember. Back for an encore performance is Sruli Subar Inc. A renowned East Coast kosher caterer, Subar is famous for his extraordinary culinary abilities and artistic flair. This year’s event will be held in the upscale Vouv-Meeting and Event Center.
The yeshiva will use the evening to reflect back on 14 years in Dallas. It is a chance to bridge the past with the future. Guests of honor, Brian and Susan Wertheim, are two of TTI’s first and longest supporters — connected with the school since its earliest days, when it was housed in the building of Congregation Ohev Shalom.
Zak and Chanie Klein, the Young Leadership awardees, represent the important role that the younger generation is playing in carrying the yeshiva and the whole community into the future. Part of the huge influx of younger families to the North Eruv in recent years, the Kleins are known and loved by all, young and old alike. Zak is a current board member of TTI and the treasurer of Ohev Shalom.
The final honorees are Meshulem and Shaina Novoseller. This year’s Alumnus of the Year, Meshulem came to Dallas as a teenager to attend the yeshiva, and forged relationships that still flourish. He has stayed connected in the years since graduation, through his marriage to Shaina and the birth of their two children. TTI and its alumni are proud to be represented by the Novosellers, and are eager to introduce the community to the wonderful products of a TTI education.
Dinner reservations can be made at TexasTorah.org or by calling the office at 972-250-4888.
— Submitted by Rabbi Daniel Ringelheim

Temple Shalom 2018 Woman of Valor

On Wednesday, Oct. 25, Staci Romick Mendelsohn was named Temple Shalom Sisterhood’s 2018 Woman of Valor (WOV). This unforgettable evening began with the Temple Shalom Sisterhood Paid Up Dinner. Guests enjoyed a delicious meal prepared by Catering by Ed. The highlight of the evening was a fantastic panel of speakers: Jill Cumnock, Ronald McDonald House, CEO; Lisa Brodsky, CHAI House, CEO; Mary O’Conner, O’Conner & Advisors, LLC, President; and Cathy Barker, Jewish Family Service, COO/CDO!

(From left) Ann Weintraub, Cathy Barker, Mary O’Conner, Stacey Segal, Jill Cumnock and Lisa Brodsky

(From left) Ann Weintraub, Cathy Barker, Mary O’Conner, Stacey Segal, Jill Cumnock and Lisa Brodsky

During this Wonder Woman theme inspired evening, panelists shared pearls of wisdom about leadership and success including: “Make sure to network,” “Be a great listener.” “Do what others won’t do, so you can have what they don’t have,” “Follow your passion,” and “Follow the road less traveled.” These amazing wonder women credited their success to parents, spouses, mentors and even the amazing parents that they come in contact with who are surviving everyday struggles.
Keo Strull, Sisterhood’s 2017 WOV honoree, shared “clues as to the identity of this year’s recipient.” “She is a Texas girl, born and raised in Dallas. She has been a member of Temple Shalom her entire life. She is married to her college sweetheart, and they have two children. She played club soccer at the University of Texas, as a defender. This explains her passion as a soccer mom with her daughter….”
Staci is a past Sisterhood president following in the footsteps of her mom, Lynn Romick, of blessed memory, who was also a Sisterhood president at Temple Shalom.
Plans are in the works for the the Woman of Valor celebration on April 15, 2018, at the Renaissance Dallas Richardson Hotel. For more information, contact Ali Rhodes at ali.rhodes18@gmail.com. or Gail Davidson at onekidmama@gmail.com.
— Submitted by Lisa Rothberg

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New group putting Democrat back in Big D

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

North Texas Jewish Democratic Council aims to mobilize DFW

By James Russell
Special to the TJP

Janice Schwarz is a Jewish Democrat.
But unlike some, the longtime Dallas Democratic activist is proud to say it.
About 70 percent of Jews voted for former President Obama in 2012. Around 64 percent of Jews say they are Democrats, according to the Pew Research Center’s 2014 Religious Landscape Study. Yet Jewish Republicans tend to be more outspoken about their partisan identity.
“They paint Jewish Democrats as anti-Israel, which they are not,” Schwarz said.

The North Texas Jewish Democratic Council, which kicked off Oct. 29 at the home of Bob Franklin and Lenna Webb, seeks to make more people become like Schwarz, or at least get more Jews involved in local and state Democratic politics.
It is not that Jews are not active in politics. But currently no Democratic Jewish officials serve at the state level.
In fact, in the last cycle former Far North Richardson Democrats President Laura Irvin tried when she ran and lost against Koop. It was believed to be the only general election race featuring two Jewish candidates from both parties. Irvin has since moved to Ohio.
While that group includes a number of Jewish members, this club is different: a club created by and for Jews. (Schwarz said they would not turn away non-Jews, however.)
So there is another goal: increasing the local dearth of Jewish Democratic officials.
Plenty attended the event, including judges Carl Ginsberg and Mark Greenberg. Two candidates for office attended as well: Sam Johnson, who is running to succeed retiring Republican U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson (who is not related), and Brian Chaput, who is running for Texas senate District 8. Both districts are in reliably red Collin County. The candidates expect an uphill battle.
But the candidates may have some help from a former Republican in the NTJDC leadership. Larry Strauss left the party after strong disagreements with President Donald Trump. With the help of his friend and Democratic activist Warren Harmel and the Dallas County Democratic Party, the duo met Schwarz.
“After the Republican Party, with a majority in both houses, had no plan in place and failed to unite in repealing and replacing Obamacare, I was so disgusted, I called the Dallas County Democratic Party and the North Texas Democratic Council was born,” Strauss said.
The club is the first of its kind in the region.
Another prominent Jewish Democrat, Marc Stanley of Dallas, spoke about his new group. The Jewish Democratic Council of America was launched in July after President Donald Trump refused to denounce a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left one person dead.
The group succeeds the now defunct National Jewish Democratic Council. Stanley and former U.S. Rep. Martin Frost of Dallas served on that board until it folded this past year.
Stanley shared with the TJP on Tuesday, why he helped spearhead the Jewish Democratic Council of America.
“I have long been involved in Democratic Party politics, and felt that the Jewish community needed a strong formal voice in the party. This became particularly true as we saw Donald Trump, both during the presidential campaign and since taking office, pandering to anti-Semitic and racist groups. Unfortunately, we are seeing the fanning of racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia and xenophobia — all of which are antithetical to my beliefs as a Jew. And, too many of the people inside and adjacent to this White House are a part of it. So many of the policies we see today in the White House and Congress go against the progressive beliefs that I and most other Jews hold dear.”
Stanley, a council member of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and chairman of the Legacy Senior Communities, spoke about the JDCA’s goals.
“Through this new organization, we can ensure that lawmakers and candidates know where we stand, and that we support those with similar beliefs. Additionally, JDCA will fight for a strong U.S.-Israel relationship, working to ensure that the Democratic Party strongly supports the Jewish state and that Israel continues to be the bipartisan issue it long has been.”
Stanley also told the gathering about the importance of mobilizing Jewish Democrats to impact the 2018 and 2020 elections and influence local and state elections.
They have reason to be interested. Statewide, Democrats consider a majority of the Republicans in the Dallas County delegation to the legislature top targets. Along with Linda Koop, Democrats are targeting Reps. Jason Villalba of Dallas, Rodney Anderson of Grand Prairie, Matt Rinaldi of Irving and Morgan Meyer of Highland Park. Republican State Sen. Don Huffines of Highland Park is also seen as vulnerable.
One opportunity under consideration is a candidate forum for competitive districts like Congressional District 32, represented by U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions. Democrats see the Dallas Republican, who defeated Frost, as a top target this cycle. Democratic candidate for president Hillary Clinton narrowly carried the district.
“It’s important to have Jewish Democratic representation. Democrats represent Jewish values,” Schwarz said.
They just need to get involved.
Contact Janice Schwarz at tamsterbath@gmail.com or 214-460-7283 for questions about the local group.

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Let’s remember Pearl Harbor, not forget those un-American detention camps

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

On one hand, the Japanese navy’s sneak attack on the United States’ naval fleet at Pearl Harbor 76 years ago today taught us a lesson we must never forget. Never let your guard (defenses) down … “Always be prepared!”
The second lesson we should have learned is not to be willing to surrender our basic belief in human rights as we did when herding Japanese-Americans, German-Americans and Italian-Americans (all legal aliens or citizens) into internment camps.
Over 100,000 Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast were suddenly deemed potential security risks, as were Italian-Americans and German-Americans throughout the nation.
I wondered as a child growing up in The Bronx during World War II why our neighbors, named Schmidt, changed their name to Smith. Their two sons were serving overseas, but they still must have felt the stigma of having a German name.
The Fox Movie Tone newsreels show the forced removal of over 100,000 Japanese-Americans from their businesses and homes along America’s West Coast.
They were resettled further east, into guarded internment camps in rural areas, often surrounded by barbed wire, watchtowers and armed patrols. It was an orderly process, meeting little resistance.
Most Americans, shocked by the surprise and success of the Japanese Navy’s attack at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, were concerned with the possibility of a Pacific coast invasion more than they were with the rights of Japanese-Americans.
When U.S. Army General John L. DeWitt, in charge of the Army’s Western Defense Command, in his report to the president, surmised that all Japanese-Americans, being loyal to their emperor above all, could not be trusted, the president felt justified in implementing a nationwide Alien Control Program, also known as the WRA (War Relocation Program).
“After all, what was to prevent Japanese sympathizers from assisting in a Japanese invasion by spying on military installations and committing acts of sabotage?”
Further quoting General De Witt, “A Jap’s a Jap. There’s no way to determine their loyalty.” Also, “The Japanese race is an enemy race…” Such was the thinking behind the internment camp orders in Final Report: Japanese Evacuation From the West Coast 1942.
In addition to the larger internment camps housing primarily Japanese-Americans, there were a number of special smaller camps operated by the Department of Justice.
One such camp was located 35 miles north of Mexico near Crystal City, Texas. Only complete families of Japanese, Italian, and Germans who had been captured in Central America, South America and Mexico, were held in Crystal City. They were to be traded for American prisoners caught in foreign territory.
The South American roundup even included some Jews who had previously escaped Nazi persecution by fleeing to Columbia.
This little known unique aspect of World War II history is described in Jan Russell’s The Trail to Crystal City. It is a story of family perseverance during the effort to return civilians to their native lands through prisoner exchanges.
Elsewhere in Texas, there were internment camps of various sizes at Fort Bliss, Kenedy, Seagoville and Fort Sam Houston. Some detainees were held until 1948, almost three years after World War II had ended.
While a small number of the “enemy aliens” received some monetary compensation for loss of property, nothing could make up for the disruption of so many lives.
In 1980, in response to the pressure brought by Japanese-Americans, President Jimmy Carter opened an investigation to determine if the decision to force Japanese-Americans into camps during the war was justified.
The appointed commission’s report found little evidence of Japanese disloyalty and concluded that the entire process was based on racism, recommending that the survivors be paid reparations for their losses.
In 1988, President Reagan signed into law the Civil Liberties Act, which formally apologized to Japanese-Americans for their internment during World War II.
So, remembering Pearl Harbor, we always need to be prepared and — remembering those camps — we also need to protect civil rights.

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DATA celebrates 25 years

Posted on 07 December 2017 by admin

Dear Readers,
I wanted to take this opportunity to share my tremendous joy with you, as myself and all those involved in DATA, the Dallas Area Torah Association, celebrate our 25th year!
This coming Monday night, Dec. 11, will be a Gala Celebration of 25 Years of Impact at the beautiful Plano Event Center. The event will feature a moving talk by the much sought-after speaker Charlie Harary of New York. It will be crowned by a performance by the renowned composer and concert pianist Baruch Levine, who has composed an inspiring new piece in honor of this event.
I have no words to accurately express to you how rewarding the past quarter of a century of learning, teaching and engaging with the Dallas Jewish community has been. The rabbis and rebbetzins of DATA have had the honor and good fortune to have met, studied with, and become lifelong friends and confidants of thousands of amazing people. We have been together in classes, Shabbatons, programs, lunch and learns, Israel trips, and at our Shabbat tables in our homes. The Jews of Dallas are sincere, intelligent, engaging and thirsty for knowledge and connection, and it has been such a blessing to have been involved in that process. It has been such a distinction to have had the merit to impart to them the timeless wisdom of the Torah and its teachings, enhancing their and our lives, relationships and connection to our heritage. Twenty-five years of guiding young, budding scholars through a top-level rabbinical ordination program, which has seen more than 40 rabbis achieve an esteemed ordination in Dallas!
It was on a Saturday night, motzai Shabbat, in my beloved Jerusalem. We were outside the synagogue reciting the beautiful “blessing of the new moon,” when I contemplated where I had arrived — from my childhood in Indianapolis, Indiana, to the top of the world! Jerusalem! Surrounded by sages and holiness! My children in the best cheder, school for children…am I crazy?! Tomorrow morning I’m going to leave all this to get on a plane for a pilot trip to some distant place called Dallas, Texas?! Am I really going to do this?!
Then my thoughts shifted to what I knew firsthand, growing up in a non-observant household, seeing so many of my friends and family become assimilated, with complete apathy, completely lost to the Jewish people. I knew well and had experienced the terrible numbers of Jews being lost, some 100,000 a year, causing one sage and Holocaust survivor, Rav Shimon Schwab ob’’m, to proclaim the Silent Holocaust occurring in America.
I thought to myself, it’s so easy to stand here, surrounded by sages, and feel safe when — in fact — back in America the house is burning down! If there’s anything that can be done to at least put out part of that fire, how can we stand back and watch the house burn when we may, perhaps, have the ability to pull someone out of the fire?!
That’s the thought that got me onto the plane.
And that’s what the amazing rabbis and rebbetzins (whom it has been my distinct honor and privilege to work with and be surrounded by) have done over all these years. They have connected so many back to their heritage and roots, providing Jewish wisdom and pride, keeping them in the fold.
At our first DATA retreat there was a South African young man who came kicking and screaming (invited by Dr. Sol Lurie ob’’m and his wonderful wife Ruth, who chaired that retreat). This young man was known as “the skeptic,” and only agreed to come because he would “show those rabbis a thing or two.”
At the end of the retreat he got up and spoke, admitting why he had come. But, he exclaimed, after the beauty of what he saw and heard, in a way he’d never experienced before, for the first time in his life he was truly proud to be part of his people and its heritage and wanted to remain part of it. He concluded, with much emotion and tears in his eyes, “I’m not ready to give up shrimp and may never be, but from now on I’m only dating Jewish girls.”
That story, and so many more like it, is what we came for; that’s why these 25 years have been so rewarding!
I express my appreciation from the bottom of my heart to all of you who have learned with us, supported us and been there for us. We look forward to the next 25 years with all y’all, and really hope you will join us in celebrating this milestone celebration of impact; it’s not too late! Just go onto dallastorah.org and press “reserve my seat.” I look forward to greeting you there! Mazal tov!

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