Archive | May, 2018

Son’s bar mitzvah paved O’Desky’s cantorial path

Posted on 31 May 2018 by admin

By Hollace Ava Weiner

It’s a rare person who can chant from parchment texts and translate high-tech data. Monica O’Desky, who will become an ordained cantor June 2, is just such a person — a Torah scholar and a software engineer who operates an IT company called Netunim, which is Hebrew for data.
O’Desky kept her Texas computing company running while she commuted the past three years to classes at Hebrew College near Boston.
“It was a bit of a schlep,” she says. “I got up around 5 a.m. and worked before I got started on my studies.” O’Desky’s combination of ancient and modern skills culminated with her master’s thesis: a computer program (already being utilized) that teaches musical interpretations of Hebrew liturgy.
The toggling of high-tech and Torah texts is not Monica’s only innovation. A longtime member at Beth-El, she organized a volunteer choir, Shir Halleluyah, in the 1990s that fueled her hunger to learn about Jewish music and understand why and when specific melodies are chanted. In the 2000s, Monica started a Saturday morning Torah study group, which still meets religiously at 9 a.m., whether or not she’s in town. More recently, she orchestrated the formation of Klezzoup!, a troupe of local musicians who perform Yiddish melodies on brass, strings and woodwinds.
“We have a strong talent pool here,” says the 62-year-old Chicago native who grew up in Toledo and moved to Fort Worth in 1982 as a single woman with $200 in the bank and a master’s degree in technical writing. She landed a job at the local medical school, wrote its five-year academic computing plan, got married and gave birth to a son, Eli Holley.
O’Desky’s journey back to the future began 16 years ago, when Eli began studying for his bar mitzvah under the guidance of Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger and Sheri Allen, then a soloist and now a cantor.
“My son and I were a reverse l’dor v’dor,” she said, using the Hebrew phrase that means from one generation to the next. “Eli announced he wanted a bar mitzvah, and I studied with him. The more we studied, the more I was fascinated by the cantillation, the interpretations and the history.”
When she was growing up in Toledo, O’Desky, an alto with a broad musical range, loved to sing but stopped performing when a tonsillectomy damaged her vocal cords. As a mom, she began chanting Hebrew prayers with Eli, then soloed at Shabbat services and accepted invitations to lead bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies.
Encouraged, she auditioned for choral groups and joined the Fort Worth Symphony Festival Chorus in performances of Chichester Psalms, Beethoven’s Ninth, Carmina Burana and George Takei’s Sci-Fi Spectacular. At the American Airlines Center in Dallas, she was in the choral backup twice when legendary tenor Andrea Bocelli performed. (“What a thrill.”)
When New York Cantor Bruce Ruben, director of the School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College, came to Beth-El to chant during the High Holidays in 2009, he urged O’Desky to audition for cantorial school.
“He was keen for me to audition at HUC, the Reform seminary, but I discovered we were not a good fit. It wasn’t academic enough for me. I’m a researcher, a scientist at heart. I want to know why.” She wanted more than a Reform Jewish school of music. “I heard about Hebrew College in the Boston area and came to take their Ta Sh’ma, their ‘look-and-listen’ session. The school had just launched a three-year cantorial ordination program wrapped around a master’s in Jewish education.”
That fit O’Desky’s vision. She was one of only three applicants accepted.
“The school is pluralistic,” she explained, “meaning it covers all streams of Judaism, not just Reform, Conservative or Orthodox. I fell in love with the program, the people and the idea.”
The main obstacle was Hebrew. She knew the basics because she had gone to Hebrew school while growing up in Toledo. But for cantorial school, applicants need to be at “Hebrew 4 level,” comparable to four semesters of liturgical Hebrew. O’Desky was at level 2.
“That’s like reading Beowulf in English,” she sighed. “When you learn a language in your 50s, it’s an adventure. I wouldn’t have made it without Batya Brand,” the Israeli-born educator and sage who formerly headed the Fort Worth Hebrew Day School. When Brand moved to New Jersey, the pair studied on Skype.
To further bone up on Hebrew, O’Desky enrolled in Hebrew College’s Masters in Jewish Studies program, a rabbinical track. “We studied the same things as rabbinical students — Talmud, Mishnah, Hebrew and lifecycle events (doing weddings, bar mitzvahs, funerals, baby namings).”
Because cantorial students have no classes during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, they go to work. Abilene’s Temple Mitzpah hired O’Desky in 2016 as “kol bo,” meaning “cantor, rabbi, Torah reader, sermon giver, you name it.” The High Holidays stint turned into a year-round position, with Monica commuting 150 miles from Fort Worth to Abilene every four to six weeks. She got rave reviews from the Abilene Reporter-News for her interfaith work in West Texas.
She has also been a weekend scholar-in-residence at Longview’s Temple Emanu-El, an East Texas congregation. On several occasions, she led events for the Texas Jewish Historical Society, which considers her an honorary member.
What’s next now that O’Desky has earned the title of “cantor” and two more master’s degrees? She plans to slow down, catch her breath and see what comes along. Her son, Eli, now 28, has a master’s in government and conflict resolution from Israel’s Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. He joined the Texas National Guard and is assigned to an overseas intelligence group.
O’Desky resumed using her maiden name in January. “It felt right to be ordained as Monica O’Desky,” she said. Although the surname has an Irish lilt, it was derived from her family’s roots in the Black Sea port of Odessa.
“The story goes that when my father’s brothers came to America. Too many Ukrainian Jews were pouring in. So, they made themselves an Irish name for a better chance. So here we are.”
A newly minted Jewish cantor with an Irish rhythm to her name.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

On Shabbat, mind and soul attain menuchah

Posted on 31 May 2018 by admin

In Jewish life, each week as sunset approaches, a mental transition is required, which does not always go smoothly. As the mundane week closes, frenetic thoughts of work still left undone or running last-minute errands may flood our mind as we subconsciously resist entering the period of rest titled Shabbat.
A common identification with the theme of Shabbat is “unplugging.” A time for quiet reflection and disengagement has become especially relevant in the current digital age, an existence centered on entertainment and constant engagement with social media. Pulling away has never been harder.
But to understand the precise nature of the day, it’s not enough to simply disengage, to relax or seek refuge from the stress of material concerns. One must also experience an additional, more active pursuit of “plugging in” to the mood and sanctity of the day.
A new type of tranquility
In the scriptural verses we traditionally recite in order to sanctify the day — making Kiddush — recounting the original weekly cycle, the seventh day signifies the end of the original creative process: “Now the heavens and the earth were completed…And God completed on the seventh day…” Here, the commentaries provide a meaningful insight: “What was the world lacking? Menuchah. When the Sabbath arrived, so did menuchah.”
The premise behind this rich snippet is that although the seventh day spelled the cessation of inventive activity (unlike the preceding six days, no physical innovations occurred), there was a new quality introduced into the universe: menuchah. This Hebrew word appears throughout our Shabbat prayers. Roughly translated, menuchah is peaceful tranquility; the opposite is turmoil or tension. While “shalom” connotes the absence of conflict, menuchah is bound up with a pleasurable peace, a fulfillment deriving directly from an appreciation of how things mesh.
And since the seventh day introduced the feeling of menuchah, there must be an essential connection between the content of Shabbat and the unique feature it introduced: During the preceding six days, as each stage of creation unfolded, distinct elements — light, darkness, water, land, plants, animals, etc. — were introduced to the world. At the same time, there was no perceptible purpose driving the grand design; each new existence appeared to be a separate and unrelated accomplishment.
Nature involves constant movement and development, the very opposite of a state of stillness and menuchah. Life means being in a constant state of flux. Change applies to the movement of time — past, present and future — as well as to all creatures, which are constantly changing according to their specific composition.
Our bodies change. So does our perspective of the world; growth and learning need not stop at adulthood. Meanwhile, the external environment is also continuously shifting. Nothing is absolutely stable. Even inanimate material — mountains, rocks, beaches and stars — are subject to continual alteration over time.
But “when Shabbos came, so did peacefulness.” Not only was there a cessation of activity, but within this withdrawal and quiet, the intention behind all previous activity could be sensed — how the multitude of movement and changes came from a single source, with one purpose that penetrated all the details of creation.
In other words, within this universe characterized by continual flux, oneness was detected, an eternal force beyond any change or limitation of time and space. And this awareness automatically injected a special tranquility (menuchah) into the entire spectrum of creation. It is this same feeling that we target every Shabbat.
Life application
This description of menuchah has its parallel within the miniature world — the human soul: A person who is unable to connect the fragments in his or her life, failing to get in touch with the overall purpose, cannot experience true peace of mind and inner tranquility.
We are immersed in the sea of change, which naturally creates inner tension. But unlike other living things, we can recognize the inevitability of change, think about the changes we experience and wonder about them. The ability to perceive the ultimate goal driving all the details — something above the many movements and changes in life — leads to a harmony within the soul, which then manifests in mental and physical calmness.
The first step is identifying one’s purpose. The more universal conception — living a productive and meaningful life — may simply entail a personal mission statement, defining one’s talents and priorities, then staying loyal to them every day by “being the best version of yourself.” The more spiritual definition entails sensitivity to an ongoing relationship with G-d, identifying what you were put on earth to accomplish —“I was only created to serve my Maker.”
The next step, after pinpointing purpose, is staying aware of the big picture each moment. Maintaining this consciousness is challenging due to constant change — the need to juggle and balance competing priorities, shifting between daily demands. For example, we simultaneously aim to take good care of ourselves, give to our spouses, be the best role models for our children, attain career goals and fulfill the soul’s pursuits. With limited time and resources, it may appear impossible to advance smoothly and successfully in any of these vital areas without sacrificing accomplishment in another.
The basis of successful time management is considering all the priorities calling for your attention, knowing what to do in any given instant, then getting things done with maximum efficiency. Here, the additional layer is a mindfulness of the grand scheme.
To have peace of mind, each task must first be mentally linked to its ultimate end.
For example, the intention while exercising is improved health and increased energy to give more, rather than the more natural immediate goal of improving your body for appearance or feeling good. Likewise, eating is done to nourish the body, not simply to please the palate. During the heat of chasing career goals, one is able to be mindful that all this toil is only a means to aid in building a Jewish home, or provide for the family, to give more to others — rather than for self-definition and to acquiring some long-awaited luxuries. And all these various components are part of one spiritual goal: to shine light into and uplift your surroundings.
Detecting how each activity contributes to a higher goal, the general purpose, allows you to be more present and to focus more energy into that act.
The opportune time
Every week, the original theme of creation re-occurs as “all the days of the week are blessed by Shabbos.” During the six weekdays, we are busy dealing with an ever-changing world. Our focus is pointing downward, conquering all the material demands. On Shabbos, we shift focus — directing our attention above. It’s an elevation where we reunite with our overarching purpose.
As the sun sets, all internal and external chaos comes to a halt and a restful spirit begins to settle in. Entering the door of our homes, glancing at those transcendent flames flickering over a clean white tablecloth and absorbing the blend of pleasant aromas, brings comfort.
Then, when a person utilizes the day to reconnect to and internalize their general purpose, they can transfer this peace of mind into the following week, so that all its details are filled with more menuchah.
Rabbi Dan Lewin is director of the nonprofit Maayan Chai Foundation. For information, visit www.maayanchai.org.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Teach children faith by developing strong roots

Posted on 31 May 2018 by admin

Dear Parents and Children,
As the school year comes to a close, we look back on how we have grown. With our little ones, it is easy to see the physical changes and even the intellectual and emotional growth can be observed.
But, how do we “teach” our children to have faith and how can we measure spiritual growth? Talk with your children about wonder and, most importantly, talk about God. The ease with which young children talk will strengthen your own faith. Our children are indeed strengthening their roots and are growing strong.
A story is told of a young student who questions Rabbi Akiba about the nature of faith. The rabbi brought the student over to a sprout in the ground and said, “Pull it up.” The student did so with little effort. They walked on to a sapling and again Akiba said, “Pull it up.” This took more effort but was done. And then on to a shrub which took all the student’s strength to uproot. Finally, Rabbi Akiba took the student to a fully grown tree and, try as he might, the student could not move the tree.
Rabbi Akiba spoke, “That is also how it is with faith. If the roots of our faith are deep, if our religious views are mature and developed, our faith cannot be uprooted, even by someone trying very hard to do so. Always remember that the strength of your faith first depends on the strength of its roots.”
Parents, grandparents and all the adults in our children’s lives must remember the impact we have with every word. Albert Schweitzer said, “There are three ways to teach: by example, by example, by example.” Let’s us look within and then model the very best that we want our children to see.
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of camping services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Dishes, cooking utensils must be dunked in mikvah

Posted on 31 May 2018 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried:
We received gifts recently of a glass Shabbat candleholder, as well as a cake dish also made of glass. My neighbor told me that I need to take them to the mikvah for dishes. I didn’t know there was such a thing nor why I need to take them for a special dunking in the water. If it’s for dishes, then why take the candle holder? — it won’t be used for food or drinks. I don’t get it.
Thank you,
Rivka M.
Dear Rivka,
After the Jews won the war against the Midianite nation and received the spoils of war, including their cooking utensils, the Torah says the following. “Elazar the Kohen said to the men of the legion who came to the battle, ‘This is the decree of the Torah…the gold and the silver, the copper, the iron, the tin and the lead, everything that comes (by way of cooking) into the (open) fire you shall pass through the fire and it will be purified; however, it must be purified in the waters “of a niddah,” and everything that would not come into the fire you shall pass through the water.’” (Numbers 31:21-23)
The Torah in this section is teaching us two important requirements when receiving vessels from Gentiles. Firstly, the mitzvah of hagalas keilim, or the koshering of the vessels. This involves burning out any non-kosher absorption in the walls of the vessel by returning to fire any vessel used with fire, such as a spit holding the meat over an open fire or the racks of a barbecue. Any vessel used to cook with liquid, such as a pot or the stirring utensils used in the pot, must be submerged in boiling water to purge out any absorption, thereby rendering the vessel pure of non-kosher tastes. It becomes kosher, as the verse says at the end of that section.
The Torah adds one more step. “…However, it must be purified in the ‘water of a niddah.’” What water is this referring to?
The classical commentary Rashi, based upon the Talmud, explains that the vessels, after being purged of non-kosher absorption, must subsequently be purified in a similar body of water as that in which a woman elevates herself monthly; namely, the waters of a mikvah. (Talmud Avodah Zarah 75b) This mitzvah is referred to as tevilas keilim, the submersion of vessels.
This obligation applies even to vessels that have never been used with non-kosher food, and even if they are bought sparklingly new from the store. As long as they are transferred from the possession of a Gentile to a Jew, whether by purchase, as a gift or the spoils of war, before a Jew uses that utensil for food preparation or serving it must first be immersed in a mikvah. (Talmud ibid. and Code of Jewish Law, Yoreh Deah sec. 120)
The commentaries explain that the foundation of this mitzvah goes to the core of Jewish living. We consider the act of eating to be a very holy endeavor, not the mundane outlook on food that exists in the world at large. This is part of the reason we don’t ingest a morsel of food without first reciting a blessing, making sure it is kosher, and having the proper state of mind, in order to ensure that we are not simply engaging in the animalistic act of consuming calories, but connecting to God through the food which He has endowed us.
In order to elevate the utensils utilized in the preparation and consumption of food to a level that makes them fit for this connection to something higher, they are immersed in a mikvah, a unique body of water specially crafted with the innate ability to elevate the mundane to the sublime.
On the level of Torah obligation, one need only immerse metal utensils in a mikvah; the Torah only requires those for reasons beyond the scope of this column. Rabbinical law, however, requires we treat glass like metal and it, too, requires submersion in a mikvah before its use. (See Code of Jewish Law ibid.)
This, however, applies to utensils used for food preparation only; there is no need to submerge the candlesticks.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Feel free to skip Francis Levy’s Tombstone

Posted on 31 May 2018 by admin

Today, I’m doing something I’ve never done before: writing about a book I strongly suggest you shouldn’t read.
This has nothing to do with “book banning,” which we remember about Hitler, who not only made reading some 25,000 books a crime, but actually encouraged their burning. We should also remember that an epidemic of such banning swept across our own country some 30 years ago. I treasure an old bracelet from that era, with its eight links, one of which proudly proclaims “I Read Banned Books”; the other seven illustrate a variety of “victims” running the gamut from Alice in Wonderland to anything by Alice Walker.
Over many years, I’ve found the reading of some books a waste of time. Anyone who reads much will encounter these and recommend against them. But outright banning? Never. That’s why I make a face and swallow hard at the recent publication of Tombstone: (Not a Western) by Francis Levy. By all means, read it if you wish. I, however, find it so off-putting that I have to take this public stand against it.
Levy’s first novel, Erotomania: A Romance, was billed as “a satirical exploration of compulsive sexuality.” His second, Seven Days in Rio, chronicles the wanderings of “a 60-something Manhattan accountant as a sex tourist.” You get the basic picture here, and it should be enough of a warning. But in his third book, Jews and Judaism form the center of what I see as a deranged attempt at humor, so I have to speak out.
The author is definitely a Jew who knows enough about Jewishness to turn it, most unflatteringly, on its head.
Levy’s “protagonist” — I use this word here with some intended irony — is Robert Berman, and how sorry I feel for men everywhere and anywhere who surely share what must be a common Jewish name. (Remember how so many suffered after publication of Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint?) His wife, Marsha, is demeaned throughout, in every way possible. Other characters are Levy’s own inventions, some figures drawn from real literature and those most supposed at the end of life, including God.
The story begins with the Bermans trying to make “arrangements” — Levy’s catch-all word for end-of-life plans. In this section, they show no respect for, not even knowledge of, the Judaism they were born into. Their concerns are with appearances and costs: fancy caskets, outfits to be buried in, foods to be served at the shiva and achieving the supposed prestige of an obituary in The New York Times, even if it will be only a very short one. But a disastrous financial downturn mars the Bermans’ culmination of any real decisions; instead, the two somehow manage to make a trip to “Tombstone,” a way-out-west resort for those who are on their way out of this world.
Here, salespeople hawk merchandise while financial advisers stand by to help with choices, and there are group activities and seminars ranging from physical exercise to mental health and self-help, all trying to make anticipation of death a satisfying — even fun — experience. (I will pause here to remind everyone of the very serious, very sane “Conversation Project,” now circulating throughout our own Jewish community and beyond, with its very real intention of being helpful to all of us in dealing with end-of-life issues. This is good. Tombstone is very bad, indeed.)
Suddenly, Berman — with all his salacious thoughts — and Marsha — whom we know only through her husband’s unflattering eyes — are on their way to death. Robert wants to go to heaven, or at least purgatory, but certainly not hell, and on his ride across the River Styx, he plans his approach to God, whom he actually meets and converses with — a cartoon figure that maligns everything Judaism holds dear and true.
If you want to read this travesty, I’ll loan you my copy. Then I’ll see if Half Price Books has any interest in buying it…

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Examine your assumptions so you can change

Posted on 31 May 2018 by admin

Robert Kegan and Lisa Lahey know a thing or two about the nature of human change. For over two decades, this highly decorated professorial pair from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education researched the subject, and in the process uncovered an underlying rationale that helps to explain why human beings find change so difficult and what we can do to overcome those very obstacles. “Immunity to change” is the term they used to describe our species’ adversarial relationship with change, and in 2009 they cowrote a book by that very name.
Kegan and Lahey quoted a study that showed that when doctors tell heart patients that they will die if they don’t change their habits (diet, exercise, smoking, etc.) only one in seven will be able to follow through successfully. It’s hard to imagine a greater motivation than life itself, and yet that doesn’t seem to be enough — the ability to change remaining maddeningly elusive.
As Kegan joked in an online lecture, “If 14 frogs sat on a log and three of them decided to jump into the water, how many frogs would be left on the log? … I know a big part of you wants to say 11 is the answer to that question, but I wanna suggest to you that 14 might be a better answer, because there’s a big difference between deciding to (do something) and actually doing it.”
Kegan and Lahey set out to uncover what it is that stands in the way between our genuine intentions and the change we wish to see, and in the process uncovered what they term “hidden competing commitments,” which inhibit the probability of change.
Here’s an example of what this looks like: Multiple studies have found that one year after being prescribed life-saving medication (say, to prevent strokes), only 53-57 percent of patients will still be taking their medication. When asked why they stopped, the most common answers given were “I don’t know,” followed by “I get busy.” These non-answers, said Kegan and Lahey, are indicative of the immunity to change and the need to uncover the hidden competing commitments that stand in the way of these patients’ success.
Kegan and Lahey would probe a patient’s psyche. “How would it feel to do the opposite of what you’re doing now? If you did take your medication every day?” The answers given were eye-opening not only to Kegan and Lahey, but to the patients themselves, having never consciously considered the question before. “I would feel like a sick, old man,” patients would often say. “I’d be like my dad, with one foot in the grave.” Hearing these words come out of his mouth, one patient noted the glaring irony in his situation: “That’s interesting. You’re showing me that the thing I’m doing to not feel like an old man is likely to leave me a dead man.”
Analysis
• Hidden competing commitment: the commitment of the patient to not feel like a sick, over-the-hill man.
• Big assumption: If I have to take medicine every day for the rest of my life, it means that I am an old person in decline.
Kegan and Lahey would subsequently invite the patients to examine their big assumptions, asking them to observe their big assumptions in action. In the case of life-saving medication, the patient might be asked to commit to taking the medication for one or two weeks and measure whether this, in fact, made him feel like a sick old man. Human beings, as “meaning-makers” at their core, might also consider adopting a fresh perspective, turning the medicine-taking process from a dreaded burden (“Death, here I come”) into a pleasing opportunity (“Thank God I can stay young and vibrant with one little pill”). The thinking goes, remove the roadblock laid out by hidden competing commitments, and the commitment to change can take over.
In my decade plus as an outreach rabbi, I’ve heard many similar-sounding non-answers from otherwise religiously motivated individuals as to why they are not committing to particular mitzvot or observances. If Kegan and Lahey could hear my students speak, they would point to their immunity to change and some, as-yet-undiscovered, hidden competing commitments. Maybe my students are committed to living a certain kind of lifestyle, and they assume that certain mitzvot are simply incompatible. Or, perhaps they harbor negative associations with certain observances that they would otherwise be open to incorporating into their life.
Like Kegan and Lahey, I encourage my students to examine their big assumptions for what they are: assumptions. Commit to a mitzvah for a period of time and examine the reality on the ground. As King David exclaims, “Taste and see that Hashem is good” (the literal translation of Psalms 34:9). “Taste and see” — experiment and experience a life with Hashem and His commandments, and you will find that “Hashem is good.” A life lived in consonance with G-d is “good.”
It’s not unusual to hear fresh perspectives out of the mouths of mitzvah-experimenters, as well. Unrealized spiritual and earthly benefits of mitzvah observance are often discovered in the process, and even when certain mitzvot are found to be incompatible with lifestyles once held dear, it’s not unusual to hear that they are more taken with this new lifestyle than they are with their old one. “Taste and see.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Clegg’s new cookbook makes great Father’s Day gift

Clegg’s new cookbook makes great Father’s Day gift

Posted on 31 May 2018 by admin

Staff Report

Fort Worth native and now part-time Dallasite Holly Clegg has released a new installment in her Trim & Terrific cookbook series. Just in time for Father’s Day, A Guy’s Guide to Eating Well is available at Barnes and Noble and Amazon. Holly will be signing copies of her book from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 3, at the Barnes and Noble at Preston and Royal in Dallas and from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 9, at the Barnes and Noble at Hulen Center (4801 Overton Ridge Blvd.) in Fort Worth. Since her first cookbook in 1993, Clegg, who is the daughter of Ruthie and the late Jerry Berkowitz of Fort Worth, has sold more than 1.5 million cookbooks. In the last few years, her cookbooks — which previously focused on easy to prepare, healthy recipes with KITCHEN 101 — have focused on wellness with Eating Well to Fight Arthritis and Eating Well Through Cancer. Holly and her husband Mike live in Baton Rouge. In recent years, they have been spending about half their time in Dallas to be closer to their children and grandchildren. “We live just seven minutes away from our daughter and son-in-law, Courtney and Chad Goldberg and our grandsons, Clegg, almost 6, and Kase, 4. We love to have the boys spend the night and can’t wait to meet our newest grandson due in July.”
Here is a sampling of recipes from A Guy’s Guide to Eating Well: A Man’s Cookbook for Health and Wellness, which Berkowitz dedicated to her father Jerry, who passed away on Sept. 20, 2017, after battling laryngeal cancer for 17 years.

 

Kale Chips

Move over bar food and munch on these simple, crunchy chips that melt in your mouth.

1 bunch of curly kale, washed, dried, torn into 2-inch pieces
Salt to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line baking pan with foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Spread kale on prepared pan in single layer. Coat kale lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Season to taste.
3. Bake 8-10 minutes or until kale is crispy and edges brown.

Nutritional info per serving: Calories 128, Calories from Fat0%, Fat 9 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 22 mg, Carbohydrates 5 g, Dietary Fiber 1 g, Total Sugars 0 g, Protein 2 g. Dietary Exchanges: 1 vegetable

Barbecued Salami

Highly requested simple, stand-up kind of appetizer everyone gravitates to. From the “Fix it Fast or Fix It Slow” chapter.
Makes 32 (1-ounce) servings

1 (2-pound) salami (all beef)
1 (16-ounce) jar chunky apricot preserves
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Coat baking pan with foil.
2. Remove wrappings from salami. Score diagonally with knife in both directions creating diamond cut and place salami on prepared pan.
3. In small bowl, mix together preserves and mustard. Spoon sauce over and inside salami cuts. Bake about 1 hour, spooning sauce on top salami halfway through cooking or until salami is crisp.

Nutritional info per serving: Calories 145, Calories from Fat 57%, Fat 9 g, Saturated Fat 3g, Cholesterol 31mg, Sodium 521mg, Carbohydrates 10g, Dietary Fiber 0g, Total Sugars 9g, Protein 6g, Dietary Exchanges: ½ other carbohydrate, 1 lean meat, 1 fat.

Beef Fajitas in Slow Cooker

Fajitas have never been simpler! A quick fajita rub, combined with salsa, peppers and onions in slow cooker for fall-apart tender fajitas.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: About 5-8 hours
Makes 8 (about ½ cup meat) servings

1 (16-ounce) jar salsa
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 tablespoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
2 pounds flank steak, skirt steak or boneless chuck
1 large onion, sliced
3 assorted bell peppers, cored and sliced (any combination green, red, yellow)
1. In 3½- to 6-quart slow cooker, pour salsa on bottom.
2. In small bowl, mix chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder and season to taste. Season meat with all seasonings. Add meat, remaining seasoning, onion and peppers.
3. Cook on LOW 8 hours, or HIGH 5-6 hours or until tender. Use slotted spoon to remove meat, onions and pepper.

Nutritional info per serving: Calories 211, Calories from Fat 41%, Fat 9 g, Saturated Fat 4 g, Cholesterol 48 mg, Sodium 288 mg, Carbohydrates 10 g, Dietary Fiber 2 g, Total Sugars 5 g, Protein 20 g, Dietary Exchanges: 2 vegetable, 3 lean meat
Serving Suggestion: Serve with your favorite condiments and tortillas. Use corn tortillas to keep gluten-free.

Roasted Lemon Broccoli

You’ll be surprised how simple ingredients like lemon and garlic turn broccoli into a delectable, delicious vegetable.
8 cups broccoli florets
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking pan with foil and coat with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Toss broccoli with garlic and olive oil. Spread on prepared pan. Season to taste.
3. Roast 18-24 minutes or until crisp tender and tips browned.
4. Remove from oven and toss with lemon zest and lemon juice.
Nutrition Nugget
Broccoli is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse, rich in antioxidants, Vitamin C and carotenoids.

Pistachio Ice Cream Pie

Yes, you can fix this dynamic dessert and appear “fancy!” Pick up at the store a chocolate crust, ice cream, pistachio pudding and chocolate topping, for a frozen creamy melt-in-your-mouth nutty dessert.
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Makes 10 servings

1½ cups crushed chocolate graham crackers
3 tablespoons butter, melted
¼ cup chopped pistachios
1 quart fat-free vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, softened
1 (4-serving) instant pistachio flavored pudding and pie filling
½ cup chocolate fat-free fudge topping, warmed
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2. In 9-inch pie plate, stir together graham cracker crumbs and butter; press on bottom and up sides. Bake 8–10 minutes. Cool completely.
3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, quickly combine the pistachios, ice cream and pudding until well mixed. Transfer mixture into cooled crust. Freeze, covered, at least 4 hours or until firm. Serve with warmed chocolate fudge topping on each slice.
Terrific Tip:
Take a shortcut and use a prepared chocolate crust from the grocery.

Nutritional information per serving: Calories 257, Protein 6 g, Carbohydrate 47 g, Calories from Fat 21%, Fat 6 g, Saturated Fat 3 g, Dietary Fiber 1 g, Total Sugars 29 g , Cholesterol 9 mg, Sodium 341 mg, Dietary Exchanges: 3 other carbohydrate, 1 fat

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Shapiros share their 70th birthdays with Israel

Shapiros share their 70th birthdays with Israel

Posted on 31 May 2018 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Shapiro Family
Howard and Florence Shapiro are celebrating their 70th birthdays this year along with Israel. They were guests at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem opening May 14.

By Deb Silverthorn

Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday.
Blessings are always better in numbers, and for Florence and Howard Shapiro, their 70th birthdays were enhanced by sharing them with a dear friend — Israel. To celebrate, the two were invited to the dedication of the new United States Embassy in Jerusalem, and what a party it was.
“We were just a few of the 800-or-so present from around the world, and this was an absolute honor we will never forget,” said Florence, the former Texas state senator who celebrated her birthday on May 2.
“The dedication defied all our expectations and was one of the greatest days of our lives. We’re still processing all we saw and heard but I’ve never been prouder to be an American and a Jew,” said Howard, whose birthday is July 12. “As is always the case, the moment my feet hit the ground at Ben-Gurion Airport, my batteries were recharged. In Israel, everyone has a story of united purpose, of preservation of our country, of advancement in so many areas.”
The U.S. Embassy first opened in Tel Aviv in 1966 and was officially dedicated at 14 David Flusser St. in Jerusalem on May 14. The couple attended the dedication and activities — pomp and circumstance abounding — with the Republican Jewish Coalition, of which Florence sits on the national board.
Dallas-area connections also attending were Elaine and Trevor Pearlman, Ross and Sarah Perot, AIPAC Board Chair Lillian Pinkus, Tim and Virginia Shepherd and Bradley Wine, a Plano native, now based in Washington and a Republican Jewish Coalition Board of Directors member.
“This moment means so much. Unemployment in Israel is at 3 percent, tourism rates are higher than ever, and we have strong relationships around the world — including with many Arab nations,” said Florence. “The demarcation of Jerusalem brings that all together with an exclamation point.”
The Shapiros realize all isn’t calm and that the terrorist threat is serious. Still, Florence says, “we can’t and shouldn’t change who we are and what we’re doing.”
Throughout the week, the Shapiros enjoyed sessions and/or personally connecting with dignitaries including Alan Dershowitz; Dr. Gary Frazier; U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman; Pastor John Hagee; Gil Hoffman, the chief political correspondent and analyst for The Jerusalem Post; former Sen. Joe Lieberman; and former Israel Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren.
Having traveled on several Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas missions with family and other groups, the two looked forward to cutting time out for themselves. Their tour of Yad Vashem stood out.
“We’ve had many great experiences in Israel — for me that’s also been traveling with many non-Jews, seeing the land through their eyes — a whole different perspective,” said Florence, who previously toured Israel with the Houston Federation, also with former President George W. Bush and a number of senators. “This incredibly historic moment was nothing like anything we’ve ever experienced. There was a positive mood everywhere — the red, white, and blue of our flag side-by-side with Israeli flags everywhere.”
Married at Congregation Shearith Israel almost 49 years ago, the Shapiros have three children: Staci (Paul) Rubin, Todd (Jori) and Lisa (Rabbi Brian) Strauss; and 12 grandchildren: Brody, Eli, Natalie, Sam and Sophie Rubin; Ella, Harper, Olivia and Zach Shapiro; and Ari, Joshua, and Noa Strauss.
Residents of Plano, the couple remembers moving to the city of 17,000 — a small, quaint family town — at a time when there were no synagogues. Now, there are five. Supporters of Chabad of Plano/Collin County since its inception, the couple also belongs to Congregation Anshai Torah.
For the next generations, they are happy to see the expansion of Jewish life and education for all ages. “Our kids’ education, the shuls, camps and programs for all ages, is amazing. We’ve always been committed to Jewish life and constantly thrilled,” said Howard, who grew up in San Saba in the only Jewish family for 100 square miles — traveling to Austin’s Agudas Achim, where he had his bar mitzvah. Memories flood as he recalls his mother gathering him and his siblings to listen to Sunday radio broadcasts of Temple Emanu-El’s Rabbi Levi Olan.
From a small town with few Jews in the Lone Star state, to a town that has grown many times over, Howard and his birthday girl, Florence, have Jewish hearts in their core.
“I’m still trying to process one of the most spectacular times of our lives. The pride that’s swelling isn’t going to stop,” said Howard, reveling in all including celebrations of Yom Yerushalayim on May 13. “The city was packed with thousands of banners and flags, thousands, and a commitment to Israel, from both the Jewish and Christian communities passionate and present.”
Florence agreed. “We left feeling that Israel is in the best place it’s been in decades,” she said, “and with hopeful hearts that we can continue to enhance our relationships around the world.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Dallas Doings: Shultz Scholars, Akiba Color War, Temple Shalom

Dallas Doings: Shultz Scholars, Akiba Color War, Temple Shalom

Posted on 31 May 2018 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray

 

Photo: Aaron Sasson
Members of the 2018 Yavneh graduating class who were named Schultz Scholars in 2017 or 2018 are pictured with Yavneh Head of School David Portnoy and Andy
Schultz. From left, Portnoy, Hannah Zhrebker (2018 recipient), Seth Gerstenfeld (2017), Schultz, Zachary Denn (2018), Rachel Sasson (2017) and Eliana Abraham (2017)

Yavneh names Schultz Scholars

Yavneh Academy of Dallas named five students — two graduating seniors and three juniors — Schultz Scholars for the 2017-18 Academic Year. The students were chosen because their academic achievement and co-curricular leadership exemplify the best of Yavneh Academy.
This year’s Schultz Scholars are:
• Junior Maayan Abouzaglo, daughter of Gianina and Shimon Abouzaglo.
• Senior Zachary Denn, son of Dena and Steve Denn.
• Junior Shea Doty, daughter of Amy Doty and Tim Doty.
• Junior Leib Malina, son of Inna and Eugene Malina.
• Senior Hannah Zhrebker, daughter of Leah and Cantor Itzhak Zhrebker.

 

Photo: Sarah Mancuso
From left, Ari Blumberg, Noah Ohayon, Yosef Drizin and Ezra Berke were part of the eighth-grade team that led Akiba Academy’s Color War.

Green Team reigns at Akiba Color War

Akiba Academy’s annual Color War is more than a two-day battle for bragging rights. It’s an opportunity for eighth-graders to organize and lead all students from the lower and middle schools and a chance for students to use their Hebrew, Judaic knowledge and analytical skills on the battlefield.
And it’s most definitely a time to build new friendships and come together.
The Green Team snagged the win this year. Faculty member Miriam Tannenbaum facilitates Color War year after year.

 

Photo: Lisa Rothberg
Temple Shalom President Rodney Schlosser; Dallas Morning News CEO Jim Moroney; Rabbi Andrew Paley

Busy May at Temple Shalom

May was a busy month filled with celebrations at Temple Shalom. Temple members gathered for the confirmation of the Class of 5778 on May 4. Two days later, congregants attended Temple Shalom’s 52nd annual meeting.
The President’s Award is presented each year to a Temple Shalom member who has made a difference at Temple Shalom and in the community. This year’s President’s Award was presented to Ken Glaser.
Also, Elizabeth Dworkin received the Tracy Fisher Award. Named for the daughter of Temple Shalom members Laurel and Mark Fisher who died in 2009, this award honors Tracy’s memory and her love of Judaism and all things NFTY.
Temple Shalom installed its new board members on May 11. Speaker Jim Moroney, CEO of The Dallas Morning News, spoke about the importance of coming together as a community and having strong leadership to guide them on their mission. He complimented longtime friend, Temple Shalom President Rodney Schlosser, on his leadership skills.
“Our officers and board members are very excited about the upcoming programming year. I invite all our members and prospective members to participate in the rich offering of programs we have planned. Join us, join our community, and you’ll be glad you did,” Schlosser said.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Joy given and received through volunteering

Joy given and received through volunteering

Posted on 31 May 2018 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Molly Pluss
Photo: Courtesy Molly Pluss
Molly Pluss treasures the time she spends volunteering for Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship riding center. For years, Pluss has been one of many volunteers, ages 12-80, who have provided more than 30,000 hours of support — many of those directed through Jewish Family Service’s Mitzvah Central.

 

By Deb Silverthorn

Twenty years and tens of thousands of volunteer hours ago, Barbara Schwarz created Jewish Family Service’s first Youth Mitzvah Central, then just six pages and 17 agencies looking for help. Renamed Mitzvah Central in 2006, with opportunities for all ages, the support via JFS’ publication is stronger than ever, now 73 pages and 104 agencies in all.
“Barbara is an amazing volunteer, and she has helped propel JFS’ reputation of great opportunities for fulfilling mitzvot because of what she’s built and what she continues to update,” JFS CEO Steve Banta said. “The halls of the associated agencies are full of our referrals.”
A New York native who was married to her beloved Harry, of blessed memory, Schwarz brought to JFS her years of working with the New York City Department of Aging and experience and dedication as a volunteer at the Jewish Braille Institute since high school. Schwarz has always set an example for her children, Jessica and Marc.
Honored in February with JFS’ Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award, Schwarz is a member of Congregation Anshai Torah who transplanted to Dallas in 1997 to be closer to daughter Jessica Schwarz-Zik, son-in-law Brian and her grandchildren, Jodi and Michael.
Spurred on by her grandchildren’s requirements as Solomon Schechter Academy (now Ann and Nate Levine Academy) students to fulfill mitzvah hours, Schwarz wanted to help find opportunities for pre-teens. She made it her project, and passion, to find programs for pre-teens, teens and those who remain teens at heart.
“I worked with Janine Pulman (JFS’ former director of volunteers) and Michael Fleischer (JFS’ former CEO) and Jackie Waldman, bringing leaders in the community together,” said Schwarz, who still coordinates the listings, now working with Jamie Denison, JFS’ community engagement manager.
The most recent listings posted to JFS’ website are sent to schools, organizations, synagogues, youth ministries, registered volunteers and agencies throughout the community. “We’ve done the research, we save you the time,” said Schwarz. “It couldn’t be easier for people to find a place to find meaning and make a difference — once, once in a while or on a regular basis.”
Visitors to JFS’ Mitzvah Central — bit.ly/2GCK3cs — will find listings with contact information, links to websites and information about each organization and the volunteer opportunities available. Listings also provide details about whether the positions are ongoing, single-time service and age or other requirements, when necessary.
JFS uses the listings internally as well. It makes recommendations to its clientele in many areas, many working through the Career Resource Center making connections. Printed copies of the listings are produced in the winter/spring, summer and fall, and are available at JFS.
Ellie Grant, director of volunteer services at Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship doesn’t always know where her volunteers come from, but knows the trail of many leads back to JFS and Schwarz’ efforts.
“We have volunteers from 12 to 80 years of age, and they come and make this place happen. We absolutely could not do what we do without them,” Grant said. “We count more than 30,000 hours, many more that volunteers have provided to us from JFS and other sources and that literally is worth nearly three-quarters of a million dollars if we had to pay for that time.”
Rain or shine, Grant says Equest’s volunteers prep horses for classes, lead them, assist in the arena, hand out medals and more. “It can be 25 or 105 degrees and Dallas’ volunteer community remains invested,” she said. “That people still answer our need, shows how people respect what we do and how we’ve penetrated the community.”
Equest is just one of the more than 100 agencies available, truly with something, more likely many things, for everyone. A number of the original postings, such as the Dallas Holocaust Museum and the Resource Center, still welcome helping hands two decades later.
“We could not do what we do on a daily basis without the dedicated and consistent service of our volunteers, well over 1,000 of them in 2017 alone, and many from Mitzvah Central over the years. Each one is one is a vital part of our team,” said Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager at The Resource Center, which serves the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community of North Texas, as well as people living with HIV/AIDS primarily in Dallas County.
“Running this program is a mitzvah in and of itself,” Banta said, “and Barbara is indeed its gift and anchor.”
For the legions putting time into the community, Schwarz says, “you give, and you get. Volunteering is always a gift in both directions.”
For more information, visit bit.ly/2GCK3cs or call 972-437-9950.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

View or Subscribe to the
Texas Jewish Post

Advertise Here

Photos from our Flickr stream

See all photos

Advertise Here