Archive | June, 2018

New Holocaust Museum enters final phase of construction

New Holocaust Museum enters final phase of construction

Posted on 22 June 2018 by admin

Ann and Nate Levine, board members and major donors

 

Local survivors of the Holocaust and other genocides were recognized June 13 at a special “topping out” celebration as construction of the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum enters its final phase. Ron Steinhart, campaign co-chair; Brad Brown, president of Austin Commercial; Thear Suzuki, board member; The Honorable Florence Shapiro, Holocaust Museum board chair and daughter of Holocaust survivors; and Mary Pat Higgins each addressed the gathering.
A time capsule which included letters from survivors will be placed inside the walls of the new Museum.
Finally, the crowd shouted “Fly the Beam” in unison and watched skyward as construction workers secured it to the three-story structure.
Construction on the new museum commenced on Oct. 10, 2017 and is set to be completed in September 2019. Upon completion of the new 51,000-square-foot museum, Dallas will move to the forefront of 21st-century human rights education with all new interactive exhibitions, state-of-the-art theater and gathering spaces, accessible archives for documents and historical artifacts, and classrooms to accommodate school groups.
The new museum will be unique among the nation’s 21 Holocaust-related museums, featuring an expanded examination of the Holocaust with dozens of video testimonies from Dallas-area survivors, along with new, in-depth technology-enriched exhibits on other genocides, human rights issues and American ideals.

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Breaking ground at The Legacy Midtown Park

Breaking ground at The Legacy Midtown Park

Posted on 22 June 2018 by admin

Photos: Lara Bierner
(L to R) Melissa Orth, president and CEO of The Legacy Senior Communities; Marc R. Stanley, chairman of the board of trustees of The Legacy Senior Communities; Carol Aaron, co-chair of the capital campaign committee and chair of the board of directors of The Legacy Midtown Park; Marion Glazer, co-chair of the capital campaign for The Legacy Midtown Park; Jennifer Staubach Gates, Dallas City Council member District 13; Michael Ellentuck, director of project development for The Legacy Midtown Park; Fraser Marcus, chair of The Legacy Senior Communities financial oversight committee; and Brian Barnes, chief financial officer and chief operating officer for The Legacy Senior Communities

 

The Legacy Senior Communities, a not-for-profit charitable organization, officially broke ground on The Legacy Midtown Park rental continuing care retirement community in Dallas. The organization celebrated the milestone with board members, donors and invited guests.
“We are embarking on an exciting new chapter for The Legacy Senior Communities. The Legacy Midtown Park will be a state-of-the-art retirement community with independent living and all other levels of care on one campus,” said Marc R. Stanley, chairman of the board of trustees for The Legacy Senior Communities. “North Texas families have been asking us for years to create a rental continuing care retirement community in Dallas, and we are thrilled to respond with this amazing community.”
Once completed, the total project cost of The Legacy Midtown Park will be $175 million, and it will create approximately 350 jobs. The community will have 184 independent living apartments, and the highest quality of care in 50 assisted living apartments, 36 memory care residences, and 54 suites for short-term rehabilitation or long-term care. In an urban, contemporary setting with multiple dining options, a fully equipped fitness, aerobics and aquatic center and cutting-edge amenities, The Legacy Midtown Park will provide the lifestyle desired by seniors today and for years to come. The Legacy at Home, the organization’s not-for-profit home health care agency, will also provide home health care and personal care for residents if needed.
In addition to Stanley, the ceremony included remarks from Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins; Carol Aaron, co-chair of the capital campaign committee and chair of the board of directors of The Legacy Midtown Park; Michael Ellentuck, director of project development for The Legacy Midtown Park; Mark Kreditor, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas board chair; Dallas City Council Member Jennifer Staubach Gates; and Melissa Orth, president and CEO of The Legacy Senior Communities. Rabbi Adam Roffman of Congregation Shearith Israel led the concluding prayer.
“A community is judged by the way it cares for its elders, and it is our responsibility to build a campus that provides a wonderful lifestyle, offers the highest quality of care and meets the needs of the community,” said Carol Aaron. “I am thrilled to reach this historic moment in our organization’s history, and I want to personally thank all of our donors who stepped up to make this community a reality.”
Located on 10 acres in the Midtown Park development between Meadow Road and Royal Lane just off North Central Expressway in Dallas, The Legacy Midtown Park will be the only Jewish-sponsored rental retirement community in Dallas. However, the development will offer security and peace of mind for people of all faiths who will call the community home.
“We are a mission-based organization, and we have a proud history of caring for seniors and their families in Dallas,” said Melissa Orth, president and CEO of The Legacy Senior Communities. “The Legacy Midtown Park will allow us to continue our dedication to seniors through innovative programming, superior care and exceptional lifestyle options. It is an honor to build this unique community, and we look forward to furthering our commitment to serving Dallas seniors and their families.”
There will be supervised kosher kitchens, and kosher food options will be available.
Project partners include Dallas-based D2 Architecture; Andres Construction Services, StudioSIX5, interior design firm; Talley Associates, landscape architecture; The Belaire Group, development consultant; SunTrust Bank, lead arranger; and Frost Bank.

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Dallas Doings: Plano West Quiz Bowl, Graduates

Dallas Doings: Plano West Quiz Bowl, Graduates

Posted on 20 June 2018 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Photo: NAQT
From left, Plano West NAQT national champions, Jaskaran Singh, Thomas Gioia, Avi Ackerman and Abhinav Godavarthi. The team, which was largely coached by the players themselves, had a record of 17-2.

Plano West Quiz Bowl team wins national title

Plano West rising senior Avi Ackermann, son of Arona and Rob Ackermann, was one of four members of the Plano West Quiz Bowl Team that won the National Academic Quiz Tournament (NAQT), May 25-28 in Atlanta. In their quest for the title, Ackermann and company defeated two former national championship teams and finished with a 17-2 record.
The tournament is NAQT’s premier high school event. It takes place at the end of each school year and features the top quiz bowl teams from across the United States and, increasingly, the world.
Teams qualify for the tournament by their performance at regular-season tournaments using questions supplied by NAQT.
The Plano West squad was one of 352 teams that attended the 2018 meet.

Photo: Courtesy Susan Mandell From left, Jack Cohen, Susan Mandell, Nathan Mandell (J.J. Pearce salutatorian) and Samuel Mandell celebrate Nathan’s honor.

Congratulations graduates

In addition to the graduates from Jewish day schools and high schools (pages 9-17 of this week’s TJP) here are a few more to kvell about:
•Jacob Saul Besser, son of Anne and Jeremy Besser, graduated from Lakehill Preparatory School May 25. Jacob has attended Lakehill since the 11th grade. He participated in choir, musical theater, drama, art, yoga and the Warrior Alliance, for which he served as vice president and co-founder. Jacob was accepted to the University of British Columbia, the University of Colorado-Boulder, and the University of North Texas. He will attend the University of Colorado and major in advertising.
•Brandon Michael Harris graduated from Plano West High School on June 9. Brandon took architecture classes at Plano West, where he received his AutoCad Certification. Brandon will begin the fall at University of Kansas in the Architecture and Design department. He will pursue a five-year Master of Architecture program. Brandon is the son of Lisa and Toby Harris and the brother of Debra Goss. He is the grandson of Charlotte and Art Harris, Joyce Schneider Greenberg and Lorraine and Harold Novin.
•Nathan Mandell graduated as salutatorian from J.J. Pearce High School on June 2. He is a National Merit Finalist, AP Scholar, UIL District computer science champion and UIL science team champion. He played tenor saxophone in the Mighty Mustang Band for four years. Nathan served as an SOS Lifeguard his senior year. He is an Eagle Scout with four Eagle Palms. Nathan will attend Texas A&M University this fall to study engineering and computer science in the University Honors program. Nathan is the son of Susan Cohen Mandell, the brother of Samuel and the grandson of Gloria and Jack Cohen.
It’s not too late to send us a photo and information about your graduate. Email it to sharon@tjpnews.com. We love to hear from our readers.

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‘Voices & Visions’: art paired with thought

‘Voices & Visions’: art paired with thought

Posted on 20 June 2018 by admin

Submitted photo
Some images from the “Voices and Visions” exhibit, pairing contemporary artists and designers with powerful quotes from Jewish thinkers. The exhibit was created by Beth-El’s Art Committee and can be viewed through the end of August.

 

Beth-El’s Art Committee has curated a unique display that pairs contemporary artists and designers with powerful quotes from Jewish thinkers. The exhibit can be viewed in the Temple Board Room from June through the end of August and is open to the community.
“Voices and Visions” was inspired by the Container Corporation of America’s “Great Ideas” series. Launched as an ad campaign in the 1950s, the Container Corporation paired famous quotes and graphic design, and published images monthly across the United States. In a short time, the campaign moved away from advertising and become an art phenomenon.
In 1993, a collector and appreciator of “Great Ideas,” Harold Grinspoon, founded the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, a North American Jewish nonprofit organization with the goal of enhancing Jewish community life in North America. In late 2012, “Voices and Visions” released its debut Masters Series, a collection of 18 images that pairs leading figures of contemporary art and design with powerful quotes from Jewish thinkers.
Among Grinspoon’s many other highly regarded programs is the PJ Library, which provides U.S. Jewish children with age-appropriate books highlighting Jewish holidays, values, Bible stories and folklore. There is also an Israeli version of the PJ Library, Sifriyat Pijama, which gifts books in Hebrew each month to more than 100,000 preschoolers in about 4,000 preschools throughout Israel.

— Submitted by
Arlene Reynolds

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We are obligated to make a difference, to fix the world

Posted on 20 June 2018 by admin

Dear Families,
Each summer at Aaron Family JCC camps, we focus on different ways to make the world a better place. This summer, I will share different texts, values and give things to do for you.
Tikkun olam (fixing the world) is Judaism’s way of making a difference in the world. Jews are required to perform mitzvot. These are not good deeds, but commandments. This means that making the world a better place is not voluntary, but we are obligated to work to make a difference. Every time we do something to help another person, we feel good, so there is a double benefit. However, we must never forget the obligation or think someone else will do it. We need to care for the world and for all that is in our world.
Text of the week
Rabbi Akiva was accustomed to say: Beloved is man, for he was created in the image of God. —Pirke Avot 3:18
• In the first chapter of the Book of Genesis, we read that we have been created “in the image of God.” In Hebrew, the term is tzelem Elohim. Rabbi Akiva believed this was the most important phrase in the Torah. Why do you think he felt that way?
• How does being in God’s image tell you to treat other people?
• How does the way we treat others help us with tikkun olam?
Value of the week:
Compassion— Rachamim
Caring and compassion are important as we go out into the world to change it for the better. The Hebrew word rachamim means truly caring about others. The word is also translated as mercy. Rachamim comes from within; it is a sign of love, respect and concern. We must care about others but also care about ourselves. To really change the world we must care about those we don’t know. The Torah says: “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:20-21).
Things to do
• Treat others and yourself with care.
• Let people know that they are important by looking at them and listening closely.
• Be careful with everything you touch.

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The Top 5 ingredients of a meaningful life

Posted on 20 June 2018 by admin

“Top 5 Lists” of virtually anything you can think of have become prevalent in American culture. We see more enticing headlines than we can digest, requiring us to become better at sifting through online clutter, discerning the informative and meaningful content from clickbait and trending material posing as educated opinions.
Whatever the subject, there’s never a true “Top 5” or “Best Of” list; there are usually overhyped items, and key components are left out of the discussion. Nevertheless, while we research or reflect, the mental exercise of evaluating and ranking can itself help us to clarify overlooked features or call attention to priorities.
Blending personal experience with Jewish sources, here’s my list of Top 5 ingredients for a meaningful and productive life .
Your attitude: There’s no such thing as an easy life without challenges; an easy life teaches nothing. It’s just a question of when you will face adversity, and how much. Evaluating where you stand, there’s always a mixed bag to sort through — beautiful blessings to acknowledge along with areas of ongoing struggle, sore memories with cherished moments, personal victories alongside regretful defeats.
Your approach can paint the mental picture of your life. There’s the importance of perspective, for example, when looking back, wherein possessing “good memory” becomes not so much the amount of information recalled as how you mentally manage thoughts — forgetting the bad while remembering the good.
A good attitude can flip a memory from painful to positive, change a challenge into a pleasure, redirect an adversary to become an aide. Or if something remains painful, a positive outlook can make it much less potent, more bearable.
Emphasizing the limits of control over circumstances, and the unique role of our character, the Talmud boldly declares: “Everything rests in the hands of Heaven, except for fear of Heaven.” Looking to the future with strong faith (emunah) and trust (bitachon) is the most vital ingredient for success and happiness. As the Yiddish aphorism goes: “Think good and (consequently) it will be good.”
Your spouse: Finding a soulmate is one of the most awe-inspiring supernatural events smuggled within nature. There’s an extra dose of divine intervention in bringing two people together, the process of finding and maintaining a partner in life. This intense interfusion is said to be as “difficult as splitting the Red Sea.”
(In classical Jewish literature, this term is employed whenever two opposites are joined by a force that’s higher than both, as well as increased significance or attention given to an event.)
On one hand, two parts of the same heavenly soul-root reunite in the physical realm. Yet such a sacred union — a meeting of souls, minds, heart and bodies — is infinitely greater than the sum of the parts, “a couple.” And so is the powerful effect on the world, especially when spouses align their values, goals and focus, which results in “an everlasting edifice.”
Mystically, male without female and female without male, lack the completion of God’s name. But when two souls join in the right context, the half images of divinity, contained within each person, also unite. The passion that pulls husband and wife to each other has multiple layers, the most profound being a yearning to create new life and to recreate the full name of God among them.
The bond established through marriage, a love that continues to develop and deepen over time, knows no limits. Having a difficult partner versus a gem of a spouse can make all the difference in accomplishing your potential.
Health: The body takes the soul to places it could never visit alone, allowing it to accomplish a unique mission on earth. The relationship between body and soul can be likened to a horse and its rider. Ask a wild horse to let you ride it, it will buck. It wants to do its own thing. To ride it without worry, there is an option to “break” the horse in order to ensure cooperation. But in the end, there can be no true harmony.
There is another option — to build rapport so that the horse becomes an extension of the rider and those feet willingly travel anywhere the rider wishes.
You have one body. Treat it well. “A small hole in the body is a giant hole in the soul.” We need to be strong and energized in order to carry out the reason for which we were created and to add light to the lives of others around. If you don’t have your health, you don’t have the fuel to uplift your environment and endure a rich but rigorous life journey.
Children: They are your most tangible legacy and gift to the universe. There is a saying: “True Jewish wealth is not material — neither houses nor cars, but rather children who walk in the upright path, absorbing the wisdom in Torah and doing good deeds.” The goal is not simply to raise polite, well-mannered children who go to prestigious universities and proceed to have productive careers, yet make little impact on their community.
Treasure every moment with these precious souls you were entrusted with, those you brought into this world, to nurture and teach them well.
Finances: Financial stress can affect all the above areas. In the very first words of the verses with which the Kohanim bless the nation, the most famous and all-inclusive blessing around, the commentaries explain that the first phrase, “May God bless you,” imparts monetary prosperity. One reason is that physical well-being and financial stability is the platform for a person to grow spiritually and give in the fullest measure, without being weighed down or distracted.
Honorable mention
Guidance and friendship: “Joshua the son of Perachia would say: Appoint for yourself a Rabbi (Rav), acquire for yourself a friend, and judge every person favorably.”
As we become older and more accomplished, we may mistakenly think we are experienced enough in most areas of life that we don’t need advice. The main reason behind this instruction is not so much that we lack the discernment to make our own decisions — whether with marital issues, parenting, business ethics or other moral dilemmas — as much as we may be too close to the situation to see clearly. “Love conceals all blemishes” (Proverbs 10:12) and the greatest love is self-love.
Therefore, “appoint yourself a teacher” — even if you have not yet found the best fit. This person will not only ensure we continue to progress and learn, but protect from the trappings of self-reliance.
“Acquire for yourself a friend” carries a slightly different flavor. Unlike a mentor, a friend is not simply appointed whether or not the person is an ideal fit. With a friendship, details matter. There must be mutual appreciation and trust. A true friend is someone with whom one can act freely, offering a level of comfort and safety to share flaws without any worry of being judged.
In the end, both relationships save us from unnecessary mistakes, hold us accountable and encourage us to grow. We should always be aware and appreciate that wise mentor and good friend upon whom we can rely.

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Soda-can tabs: a Holocaust memorial

Posted on 20 June 2018 by admin

I recently returned from a trip to Pittsburgh, my old hometown. In addition to seeing family and old friends, I took time to visit — and study up on — the city’s Holocaust Memorial.
It’s unique not only because of its most unusual construction, but perhaps even more so because that construction resulted from the brainstorm of a teacher, the efforts of students (over a long enough period that some of those children had grown to adulthood by its completion) and the wisdom of the community: to place it right where it originated and therefore belongs — on the grounds of the city’s largest Jewish day school.
Most folks have heard of the Paper Clips project, which began in 1998 in a grade school in a small Tennessee town and culminated in an incredible children’s Holocaust memorial. But it was actually two years earlier when Bill Walter — now retired, but then an eighth-grade history teacher at Community Day School — was asking himself similar questions: How can students understand the enormity of the Holocaust, the concept of dehumanization and death for 6 million Jews (here, like themselves and their families)? And — how can kids conceive of 6 million anything? His creative idea was to amass pop-tabs from cans, because they had originated in Pittsburgh. Then the project was cleverly dubbed “Keeping Tabs.”
Soon tabs began pouring in, and the numbers came alive: Each one counted represented a real human being. But the next question was, what to do with all the tabs? By then, the whole community was involved, and not just in the amassing; artists and architects worked with student-generated ideas and came up with the answer.
In 2013, seven years after the original idea took root, a Sculpture (the word is always capitalized in Pittsburgh) arose where the tab collection started. It is a gigantic, six-sided Star of David, spanning 45 feet across, standing 7 feet tall in some sections, nine in others. It is built from 960 glass blocks, each of which contains 6,250 pop-tabs. Do the math: 960 times 6,250 equals 6 million.
Viewers walk through this construction, as I did, and are surrounded and towered over by tabs, all clearly visible in their encasements. Every once in a while, visitors are jolted — as I was — by a tab that is green, or red, or something other than the usual metallic gray. These are not-to-be-ignored visual reminders that the mass of humanity felled by German inhumanity was made up of individuals, each one different from all the rest.
The Sculpture is sited in an open, park-like setting where some rough-shaped concrete “benches” are provided, a place for individuals to sit and contemplate, or a gathering spot for those wanting to share their thoughts. Anyone can walk up to the Sculpture, and through it, at any time. While Community Day is in session, educational programs about the Holocaust are coupled with guided tours of the Sculpture from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday for middle- and high-school students from throughout the greater Pittsburgh area. Partnering with the school in this extended programming is the Holocaust Center of the local Jewish Federation.
I also visited that Holocaust Center while I was in the city. This used to be located in the Jewish Community Center — as was ours in Dallas — but it needed bigger quarters. Now, even those — located in a large building in an easily accessible grouping of retail and service businesses, with ample parking available — are too small. Its director, Lauren Bairnsfather, told me that students coming for its own educational and creative programs practically spill out its single door; the facility is basically two large rooms, but somehow manages to accommodate several not–too-large exhibits. I hope there will soon be another move, to an even larger place.
But in the meantime, all those students get to see the Sculpture, to walk through its glass walls and understand what “keeping tabs” really means.

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Prejudging others is an easy trap to fall into

Posted on 13 June 2018 by admin

Are you a judgmental person? Do people have the experience of walking away from conversations with you like they have been put in a little box? “What an insulting question! I certainly am not that type of person!” Actually, this week I realized I am a bit like that. Let me explain.
I was in New York for a day this week. I figured I would change up my usual routine and decided not to rent a car. It seemed that my schedule would be very tight and it might be easier to not spend time at the car rental counter and taking a shuttle back and forth to the terminal! This way I could just spend time waiting at security instead of also waiting for buses. I opted to take Lyft to the airport in Dallas, to my mom’s house, to my meeting in New York, and back. You get the idea.
While sitting in horrendous yet typical New York traffic on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (anything but express as far as I am concerned!) I noticed I was surrounded by something unusual — silence. I am not one to be short on words or questions for friends or strangers alike, yet here I was sitting in a painful New York standstill without a sound being uttered! (The fact that the driver seemed to be playing a game of speeding up and then slamming on the brake as he came within inches of the car in front of us did nothing to make me want to say anything more than monosyllables!) Why had my normally talkative side suddenly vanished? It seemed that every time I got into a Lyft in New York I would not say a word but when I got into a Lyft in Dallas the conversation just flowed! What was that all about?
Upon reflection I understood what was going on. You see, “‘They’ say that New Yorkers are unfriendly and cold.” Unwittingly I had bought into this and began relating to all New Yorkers this way. As a result I subconsciously shut down when in a car with a driver in New York. What I was doing was not only stereotyping but was actually going against Torah. The Mishnah says in Pirkei Avos (Ethics of the Fathers) “And you shall give every person favorable judgment.” Just because a person may be from a certain geographic area is no reason to assume he falls into a certain box.
When we stop viewing individuals as distinct and start seeing them as part of a group that follows a certain pattern, we lose respect and appreciation for their unique personality and qualities. I always say that people are fascinating. Yet, I was guilty of fitting millions of people into a neat box!
I am committed to starting to view all (or at least a bunch of) New Yorkers as being distinct and unique! So — as long as my Lyft driver is not driving in a way that will cause me to toss my cookies — I will engage him or her in conversation and learn to see how special and surprisingly refreshingly interesting they are.
Rabbi Nesanya Zakon is the codirector of DATA of Plano.

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Anne Frank’s saplings are symbol of hope

Posted on 13 June 2018 by admin

Next Tuesday, Annelies Marie Frank will be 89 years old. Or maybe might have been, had she not died in Bergen-Belsen on March 12, 1945 — exactly three months before what, in better circumstances, would have been her “Sweet 16” birthday.
My mind-jogger here is Rabbi Marla J. Feldman, who tackled this topic from a new angle more than 2½ years ago. That was when she contributed a piece, provocatively titled Anne Frank and a Tree of Hope for the Future, to ReformJudaism.org’s daily email Ten Minutes of Torah. Its subject was her October 2015 trip to Little Rock, Arkansas, for a special dedication at the Clinton Presidential Center: a sapling from Anne Frank’s 150-year-old horsechestnut tree. Here is the backstory, in the rabbi’s own words:
“Anne Frank lovingly wrote about ‘her’ tree throughout her famous diary, and for decades it remained outside the ‘secret annex’ that has become a memorial and museum perpetuating Anne’s hopeful message to the world. Several years ago, knowing the tree would soon die, the Anne Frank Center devised a plan to cultivate several saplings, which are now planted around the world and serve as a focus for education and inspiration…”
I learned from this Ten Minutes of Torah segment — which I’ve saved all this time! — that 11 saplings were allocated for distribution in the United States. But in order to receive one, a hopeful host had to be willing to assure that the tree would somehow be used for educating its community about its own history. And what better place to receive one than Arkansas, Rabbi Feldman said, “…a reminder of past acts of discrimination and persecution there…” which include Native Americans being forced to vacate land that had been theirs for centuries; centers ringed with barbed wire, to which Japanese-American citizens were relocated during World War II; and the horrors of racial injustice, perpetrated within a time that many of us still alive today can remember ourselves. Commenting on the latter, Rabbi Feldman remarked, “The dirt around the young sapling will be packed down by the tread of Jim Crow.”
Obtaining this sapling was a joint project of the Clinton Center and the Sisterhood of local Congregation B’nai Israel, and the speaker chosen for the dedication event was Lexi Elenzweig, president of the synagogue’s youth group. These are her words:
“I am 17 years old, just a little older than Anne Frank was when she died. The tree inspired Anne to write about her hopes and dreams or the future…words in her diary that have inspired millions of people around the world, including me…The roots of this sapling are grounded in history…as they take hold, this tree will also become part of this place, anchoring itself into the future of this region. The branches are reaching towards the future. As they grow higher, they will provide inspiration for us to always reach towards the good and light in this world…”
“It doesn’t get any better than that,” commented Rabbi Feldman. She had a chance that day to hear from both President Clinton and the director of Amsterdam’s Anne Frank House. But for her, the best moment of all was when Lexi opened her remarks like this: “As a leader of our youth group and a future member of a Sisterhood, I am inspired by the legacy of the women of Sisterhood, and the ongoing work they do today to repair, heal and transform the world.”
Other places to visit the Anne Frank Trees of Hope are Seattle, Washington; Sonoma State University, California; Boise, Idaho; Farmington Hills, Michigan; Boston Common; Southern Cayuga Central School District in upstate New York; the White House, the World Trade Center site in New York City; the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis; and Little Rock Central High School. Each offered a compelling reason to be chosen from among 34 hopefuls; to read about them, Google “For Anne Frank’s Tree, 11 New Places to Bloom” at nytimes.com.

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Removing feeding tube should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis

Posted on 13 June 2018 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,
I am very torn about a situation which has arisen with my mother. She is currently in advanced stages of terminal cancer, and presently in the hospital on intravenous feeding, as she’s not able to eat much by mouth. They’re talking about releasing her to hospice in three weeks. The doctors recommend discontinuing the feeding tube. They claim she no longer assimilates the liquids and electrolytes in her body, and it could cause her more trouble than gain to continue that mode of feeding. I feel like it’s starving her to death to discontinue the feeding; Mom’s not sure. I’ve always heard that Jewishly it’s wrong to withhold feeding. I’m not sure; what’s the right thing to advise her?
Sabrena

Dear Sabrena,
I’m very sorry about your mother’s situation, and what it’s putting you through.
The question of intravenous feeding, or Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN), is truly a very complicated one. Back in the ‘70s, when it was first developed, it was felt that artificial feeding, when one could no longer eat on their own, was always a good thing. Dr. Robert Fine, of the medical ethics department of Baylor, told me that in those days they were shocked when many times the feeding had the opposite effect and no one dared challenge the notion that TPN is always a good thing. Since then, numerous studies have shown that TPN is quite a mixed bag and many times does more harm than good.
This is for multiple reasons. At times, the cells can no longer utilize the nutrients and liquid provided by the TPN. In those cases, rather than provide the body with nutrition, all the TPN does is fill the body with liquids it can’t expel, causing much pain and many side effects. In addition, it can cause infection, and sepsis, which is often a fatal infection of the blood. In these cases, the feeding actually hastens death.
Furthermore, in the above cases, the death process itself can be much more painful, as the person is not able to go into their final, peaceful sleep through which they can pass naturally and painlessly.
Jewishly, it’s a case-by-case question. It needs to be investigated thoroughly if, indeed, the body no longer is receiving nutrition by the TPN. If that were truly the case, to withhold TPN would not be considered starving her to death, since it’s not providing nutrition anyway. In such a case, it is no longer a mitzvah to attempt to provide her with something she doesn’t need and can’t use. Since there are physicians who are hasty to conclude this is so, you must be sure the situation was determined clearly and scientifically, without regard to the costs of continued feeding. If the body still needs and can use the nutrition, Jewish law forbids the cessation of TPN at all costs.
We need to recognize the God-given cognizance of the body to know when its end is near, and begins to shut down. At that time, the body rejects further sustenance. As difficult as it is, we need to allow the body to do what it needs to.
In Jewish law, every moment of life is precious and is above valuation. We do anything and everything in our power to preserve life. The preservation of life even goes above the observance of the most important laws of the Torah. This, however, only goes for preserving life, not prolonging death. There’s a fine line between the two, and every case needs the determination of a rabbi, well versed in these issues, in consultation with the doctors.
May God give you the strength to endure this difficult time, and to make the most of the final precious days and weeks, which are a gift, with your mother.

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