Archive | August, 2018

Blaze: country singer and his Jewish wife

Blaze: country singer and his Jewish wife

Posted on 24 August 2018 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Sundance Selects
Ben Dickey as Blaze Foley and Alia Shakwat as his wife Sybil in Blaze

By Susan Kandell Wilkofsky

Blaze is a bittersweet tale based on the memoir Living in the Woods in a Tree: Remembering Blaze Foley by Sybil Rosen. Directed by Ethan Hawke, Blaze is a biopic of the musician who was little known in his lifetime, but left a large imprint on the Texas outlaw country music scene.
The film is skillfully woven together by Hawke, taking us on a journey from the time Blaze (Ben Dickey) meets Sybil, the love of his life, through sometime after his death. And in between, you’ll hear the music he composed along with the sounds of music legend Townes Van Zandt.
So, you may ask, why is this mentioned in the Texas Jewish Post? Good question. Blaze Foley’s wife was Sybil Rosen (Alia Shawkat), a nice Jewish girl from Virginia. They meet, fall in love and eventually marry. There is a truly memorable scene when the two lovebirds meet her parents. The moment is punctuated by Blaze’s hilarious rendition of If I Were a Rich Man. It’s also interesting to note that Sybil’s mother is played by the real Sybil.
Sybil Rosen went on with her life after Blaze and wrote several books, including Speed of Light about an 11-year-old girl Audrey and her Aunt Pesel, who was a Holocaust survivor.
If you love country music and a well-told story, Blaze is the film for you. Try and catch one of the screenings with filmmaker Ethan Hawke and star Ben Dickey. They are charming and informative and you’ll be able to ask questions that they’ll cheerfully answer. Then you might find yourself “googling” Blaze Foley to listen to some music you never knew existed and now can’t live without.

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Around the Town: McCoy, Boys Choir

Posted on 24 August 2018 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Save the date: Oct. 25 McCoy will lecture as Kornbleet Scholar

Yavilah McCoy, CEO of Dimensions Inc. in Boston, will be the 2018 Kornbleet Scholar. Ms. McCoy will speak on “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the American Jewish Community” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25, at Beth-El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven Road in Fort Worth. As a Jewish woman of color, educator and activist, McCoy has spent the past 20 years working extensively in multifaith communities and partnering specifically with the Jewish community to engage issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. A dessert reception will follow the lecture.

Know a boy who likes to sing?

Texas Boys Choir will launch its first community satellite choir, TBC @ TeSA, at Texas School of the Arts this fall. TBC @ TeSA is an after-school program offering boys in grades K-6 from any school an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of music literacy and healthy vocal technique, while also performing two to three times per year with the Grammy® award-winning Texas Boys Choir. The satellite choir will rehearse after school from September to May at Texas School of the Arts in Edgecliff Village, under the instruction of Dr. Jason Bishop, TBC artistic director, and Rachel Campbell, music director at Texas School of the Arts. Rehearsals begin Sept. 11 according to the following schedule: Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. for grades K-3 and Thursdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. for grades 4-6.
Boys need not be students at TeSA in order to participate. Music teachers are invited and encouraged to recommend boys who may benefit from this experience. For more information on tuition, rehearsal schedule or registering for an audition, visit texasboyschoir.org/join/tesa. The deadline has been extended to Sept. 4.
For more information, email info@TexasBoysChoir.org.

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Dallas Doings: Hillel, Eli Block, Pam Rollins, Stephanie Blumenthal

Posted on 24 August 2018 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Hillels of North Texas welcomes UNT Hillel staff

Hillel at the University of North Texas expects to grow substantially this year as Hillels of North Texas invests more resources into its programs, student engagement and staff. This summer, with a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Hillels of North Texas hired Jen Weintraub to serve as full-time engagement associate for Hillel at UNT.
Weintraub is originally from Los Angeles and is the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor. She has been a strong advocate for Jewish campus life since her time at Manhattanville College in Westchester, New York, where she started Hillel on her campus as part of Hillels of Westchester. After graduation, she worked with many Hillels through StandWithUs, teaching her peers about Israel.
She is thrilled to join Hillels of North Texas and the Dallas Jewish community. “I am so excited to be bringing my background of Israel education and engagement to UNT Hillel,” she said. “I am looking forward to an amazing year.”
Having a full-time engagement staff devoted to the UNT campus is an important step in Hillels of North Texas’ growth.
“Because UNT Hillel is a community without a physical building, our focus is on engaging students and building relationships wherever that may be to support them through this transformational time and create their own Jewish paths,” Executive Director Melissa Duchin said. “Hiring incredible staff to work with students and student leaders is a key component to our success.”
Also this summer, Hillels of North Texas installed UNT alumnus Stephen Falk as its board chair. Falk met his wife, Michelle, at UNT Hillel when they were both undergraduates, and now they live in Far North Dallas with their three young children.
“I’m honored to lead this organization that has given me so much,” Falk said. “With Jen joining the staff, Hillel will have an even greater impact on students in the Mean Green Family.”

— Submitted by
Melissa Duchin

Meet the author: Plano native releases book on mysticism

Rabbi Eli Block of Chabad at Legacy West, a Plano native and son of Rabbi Menachem and Rivkie Block, has just written his third book, An Inner Perspective.
He will present the book at a meet the author event at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29, at Chabad of Plano. No RSVP is necessary.
Released by Kehot Publications, the publishing arm of Chabad, the book is a collection of essays adapted from the mystical writings of R. Levi Yitzchak Schneerson (1878-1944), father of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of blessed memory.
R. Levi Yitzchak was the rabbi in the Ukrainian city of Yekaterinoslav (now known as Dnipro), a major industrial center on the banks of the Dnieper River. For his refusal to halt his religious activism under communism, he was exiled for five years to a remote town in Kazakhstan, where he contracted an illness and died at age 66.
He was known as a master kabbalist, and he wrote continuously throughout his exile. At times, he resorted to writing on the margins of books with ink prepared by his wife, Chana, from local plants, due to lack of paper. Most of his work was lost in the chaos of World War II, but some material was salvaged and brought to New York, where it was published in the original Hebrew by Kehot.
An Inner Perspective is the first English adaption of these dense texts. The book is available for purchase at Kehot.com, and will be available at the event.

— Submitted by
Rabbi Menachem Block

Pam Rollins named Mussar Institute president

Pam Rollins, professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, has been elected president of The Mussar Institute (TMI) board. A researcher and educator, Rollins has spent the past 35 years dedicated to understanding, identifying and treating children on the Autism Spectrum.
She has practiced Mussar since 2009 and facilitated TMI courses at Temple Emanu-El.
“We are honored that Dr. Rollins has taken on this important role,” said Steven Kraus, executive director of The Mussar Institute. “She is an extraordinary leader who brings expertise in both education and Mussar at a time when our organization and worldwide reach is growing. As demand for our facilitator training, in particular, is increasing, we deeply value her guidance.”
Rollins’ history with Mussar began in 2008 when she was given Everyday Holiness, Alan Morinis’ book on the Jewish spiritual path of Mussar. “When I read it, I was immediately excited about the idea of living Mussar in an authentic way,” she said. “To do that, I needed to create a spiritual community at my synagogue, and by coincidence, Alan was coming to speak to our congregation for Selichot.”
To start a study group after Morinis’ visit, Pam turned to The Mussar Institute for facilitator training and a curriculum. She lauds TMI resources with supporting her in leading a high-quality group with “people who would become my family over the next eight years. It changed my life.”
Rollins joined the TMI board four years ago and focused on resources and education for TMI facilitators. Among her goals as president are to expand and deepen the reach of The Mussar Institute across all affiliations.
“One of the beautiful and rare aspects of The Mussar Institute is that you are able to attend events where you study with people from all affiliations,” she said. “Our annual Kallah is a wonderful example of this.
“Looking back, as a little girl growing up in an Orthodox school in Providence, Rhode Island, I sat behind a mechitza. I remember being jealous of the boys. I truly felt, as a little girl, that I wanted to be up in the front. I find it really humbling to be a part of leading Jewish people on this amazing path.”
Rollins is a four-time gubernatorial appointee to the Texas Council on Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders and was the lead author for the Robots4Autism social skills curriculum. She conducts research in developmental pragmatics, early social communication and autism spectrum disorder. Rollins earned her bachelor’s degree from Boston University, her master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, and her Ed.D. from Harvard University.

— Submitted by
Debra Pinger

Stephanie Blumenthal awarded scholarship to leadership conference

Stephanie Blumenthal was one of 23, 2018 Rising Through the Ranks scholarship recipients nationwide awarded by the Radio Advertising Bureau. The scholarship allowed Blumenthal to attend the BMI seminar at its Nashville office. The course focused on management and sales techniques, including problem solving, recruiting, difficult conversations, hiring and firing, personal brand building and the role of today’s radio manager. Stephanie, a senior account executive at Entercom, was the only one chosen from Dallas.
On the move: Bnai Zion Foundation to host dedication at new Dallas office
Bnai Zion Foundation’s Texas Region has moved its offices to the eighth floor of the North Dallas Bank Tower, 12900 Preston Road at LBJ Freeway. In celebration of this new space, the Texas Region board of directors invites the community to a Chanukat Habayit (dedication) from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29.
To officially dedicate the new space, the board will affix a mezuzah to the front door of Suite 808, accompanied by a short blessing. Immediately afterward, attendees will celebrate in the building’s second-floor conference room with light refreshments.
RSVP by emailing texasregion@bnaizion.org or visiting bnaizion.org/event/dedication.

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Kosher Palate brings deli, BBQ, more

Kosher Palate brings deli, BBQ, more

Posted on 23 August 2018 by admin

Photos: Courtesy Chaim Goldfeder
Chaim Goldfeder, the pitmaster behind Texas Kosher BBQ since 2014, is proud to be opening the Kosher Palate at the northwest corner of Belt Line and Coit.

By Deb Silverthorn

Dallas’ taste buds are about to explode to a fuller palate, with the opening of Kosher Palate at the Northwest corner of Belt Line and Coit roads. When the restaurant opens this week, owner Chaim Goldfeder and chef Ali Pruett will provide a full deli, prepared foods and dry goods, refrigerated and frozen to-go items and more.
The Kosher Palate will feature a barbecue pit, a cook line with fryers, ovens, griddles and grills and a reputation long in the community.
“We’re doing ‘Southern Haimesh,’ kosher comfort food with a southern twist,” said Goldfeder, who as the owner of Texas Kosher BBQ has been serving up kosher barbecue and other foods in the area since 2014. He has been catering for private and community clients.
In readying the space, Goldfeder asked future customers to complete and share a survey (bit.ly/2Hkk0qB) that investigates shopping preferences and habits and product desires, in exchange for a 10 percent discount on their first purchase.
The new restaurant, which will also host a party room to serve up to 40, will offer prime rib and sea bass, salads, kugels, soups, appetizers and baked goods. The deli will provide pastrami and corned beef sandwiches made with housemade meats, barbecue brisket, chopped beef, fried chicken, hamburgers, hot dogs, 50-day whiskey-aged ribeye, smoked short ribs and more. The full kosher grocery will have fresh checked lettuce and herbs, as well as meats and Cholov Yisroel dairy products.
“We are so excited to add another wonderful restaurant to the community as we continue shining as the southern beacon of kosher food,” said Meira Naor, executive director of Dallas Kosher. “The Kosher Palate will bring new flavors and, from a ‘good ole Texas breakfast’ to whatever your taste buds desire, the menu goes on and on. It’s good for us, for the community and for visitors from afar.”
The Kosher Palate is developing a mobile app and full website, both making online ordering as easy as a “click here,” and a text to let the customer know when their order is almost ready. Both curbside pickup and home delivery will be available.
Ready to place their first orders are Hadassah Browns and Lauren Nise, both of whom have had Goldfeder cater meals for them.
“Chaim’s heart comes before his business, and at the end of the day he always wants to do the right thing,” said Browns. Her family’s favorites include hot pastrami that she says melts in your mouth. “The Kosher Palate is his dream, and I’m so happy for him to be able to make a living using his talent, and for all of us who can go there to eat, or to pick up almost anything at any time.”
For the Nise family, it’s the smoked chicken, chicken and mushroom barley soups and brisket that are at the top of the request list. “Everything about a restaurant of Chaim’s sounds great, and I’m happy to outsource the cooking to a professional,” Nise said. “When I want to know what I’m serving will be yummy, I trust Chaim and Ali — they’re just always that good.”
Goldfeder and his wife, Miriam, who moved to Dallas in 2000, are the parents of Eli, Nechama and Shlomo. Goldfeder remembers his start in the kitchen as a pot washer at Milk and Honey Bistro in Baltimore.
Matching Goldfeder recipe for chopping skills is Chef Pruett. The two have known each other for many years, and she offered to help out during Hurricane Harvey relief when Goldfeder worked with a team that included A Taste of the World, Dallas Kosher, Simcha Kosher Catering and many volunteers that served over 40,000 donated meals.
A Bartlesville, Oklahoma native, Pruett loves cooking in Dallas where the citizens support restaurants. “I’ve worked all over, from the Dallas Country Club to Mignon and the Mansion on Turtle Creek and as a personal chef,” she said. “Dallas people love to eat, and they love to eat good. That’s exactly what we’re going to serve up, with no corners cut. And with kosher, something people know adds to the goodness — never a compromise.”
With Goldfeder’s meat expertise and Pruett’s signature dishes, including a mashed yucca with honey poblano chicken, or corn salad, she believes Kosher Palate will have customers coming back again and again.
“We’ll have so much, and all of it delicious, that it’ll take a long time before someone would have to start over on the menu,” said Pruett. “People eat with their eyes, and we’ll appeal there first and then fill you with greatness. Chaim and I are so alike and so different, but we both want and create perfection. We work really well together and I couldn’t be more excited.”
Pruett, Goldfeder, their current clients and the community in general couldn’t be more ready.
Kosher Palate will open at 7989 Belt Line Road, Suite 154. For more information, call 469-601-1002 or visit the restaurant’s Facebook page at Kosher Palate or kosherpalatetx.com.

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This month of preparation is no ordinary month

Posted on 23 August 2018 by admin

When looking at the current period within the Jewish calendar, a common misperception is that next month is a big deal — “the High Holy Days” — but now we’re still in ordinary times. But as with any major event in life, the preparation period possesses its own distinct flavor, a mix of anxious anticipation and excitement that prods focused effort, a collection of necessary steps to embrace the moment, so you don’t find yourself in an awkward position, standing on the big stage in stunned hypnotic stillness as the bright lights suddenly come on.
In some ways, the preparation period is even more precious and valuable than the main event. What we do in the absence of an externally imposed urgency, when things appear routine, can be the most telling mark of character. It also sets the tone for our performance when it really counts.
Elul — this month of preparation — has a unique character and appeal: There are two general modes of ongoing interaction between us and God, between the soul and its source. The first is likened to an ethereal waterfall — heavenly streams and messages that fall to us and manifest in feelings of inspiration, prompting our action. The other mode begins with human initiative — grinding, digging, climbing the spiritual ladder — before detecting a response.
Within the yearly cycle, this is the time when we activate our strength to connect. Drifting through Jewish communities across the world, is a fresh breeze of heartfelt prayer and teshuva — a struggle to return to personal peak form. Nevertheless, as we strive to progress during the month leading up to the Days of Awe, we receive a hidden push like a supernatural tailwind that elevates our effort through divine compassion, a unique form of “the 13 attributes of mercy.”
The Code of Jewish Law refers to the onset of Elul as an eit ratzon, a time of goodwill. Simply put, some periods are riper than others to achieve desired results. In a marriage, for example, receiving a check-in call from one’s spouse at the office is not the same quality of bonding as entering the home, sitting comfortably together and talking face-to-face with tenderness. So too, there are more intimate stages within our abstract spiritual connection, windows when God comes closer and is more approachable, so to speak, which provides tremendous opportunities.
This favorable period is not random; it has a history. On the first day of Elul, Moses ascended to Mount Sinai a third time, staying there 40 days, until Yom Kippur, which marked the completion of forgiveness. He then descended, holding the second tablets of the covenant. Ever since, Elul has been distinguished as days of goodwill, with the 10th day of Tishrei stamped as “the day of atonement.”
Four classic verses hint at how to tap into the power of Elul. In the first, noted by Rabbi Isaac Luria (the Arizal), the letters spelling the name Elul are the same initial letters of the words “(God) caused it to happen, and I will provide (a place) for you (to which he can flee)” (Exodus 21:13). The literal context of this verse involves establishing “a city of refuge,” a protected area where someone who has accidently killed runs to be healed. The broader hint is that Elul is a refuge in time, the opportunity for personal rehabilitation, and the rectification of any slips over the past year, even inadvertent blunders.
Since Elul is the preparation for Rosh Hashanah, the anniversary of creation, the prime service during this month entails the three pillars that uphold the world — Torah, prayer and deeds of loving kindness (Pirkei Avot 1:2). These are also the channels to refine our thoughts, speech and action.
While the general function of Elul as a spiritual refuge in time, a more specific reference is to Torah study — purifying the mind. As the Talmud says, “The words of Torah offer refuge.”
Perhaps the most famous phrase associated with Elul is, “I am to my beloved and my beloved is to me,” which refers to tefillah (prayer), the daily purpose of which is to join man and God. Finally, Elul is the same initial letters of the phrase “each person (shall give) to his fellow, and gifts to the poor” (Esther 9:22) — an obvious reference to tzedakah (charitable acts). During Elul, the commentaries conclude, a person should be quick to pursue these pillars and increase them with more intensity.
The core, the internal ignition for us to travel smoothly down these three pathways toward the metaphysical “city of refuge” is teshuva (return). This inner shift is alluded to in another verse whose opening letters spell Elul: “The Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the hearts of your descendants” (Deuteronomy 30:6).
Such a cryptic phrase — possessing a natural association with the fleshly process — begs explanation, and there are many. In the view of the Ramban (Nachmanides), the passage forecasts the ultimate transformation, a return to the pristine environment of Gan Eden, where man lived in perfect harmony.
Tradition relates that the primordial sin sent the world out of order. After being exiled from the garden and its beauty, man yearned for the light in which he once lived. Then, in the blackness of night, he fumbled around and found two stones. Rubbing them against each other, he saw a spark fly out — which provided hope that he would eventually return to the brightness in Gan Eden. Though a physical flame is but a poor flicker compared to the heavenly brilliance, it is reminiscent of the great light.
Jewish mystic teachings explain that our task in this world is to put things back in order, beginning with fixing “the miniature world,” ourselves. Sometimes a person feels dried up inside, like a dark dead planet. The soul has forgotten its song. What face, sound or sentence will revive its memory is yet unknown.
But there is fresh hope. Elul is the auspicious time to remove all internal obstacles to growth and joy. Only, unlike the above verse, where “the Lord your God will circumcise your heart,” we begin to make the change ourselves. At the same time, we have extra assistance from this “month of mercy” to return to God and uncover our ideal self.
As the shofar is customarily sounded each morning (as practice), we are reminded that what we do right now, during these days, is most valuable. For soon, we will be tiny figures placed on the grand stage, singing in the synagogue with pleading prayers that pull blessings and renewed life into the entire year. Let’s not miss this opportunity to plant internal seeds — developing the consciousness, an alert mind and healthy emotions — that will easily blossom into a sweet, healthy new year.
Rabbi Dan Lewin is director of the nonprofit Maayan Chai Foundation. For information, visit www.maayanchai.org.

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Read Rosh Hashanah prayers at your own pace

Posted on 23 August 2018 by admin

Dear Rabbi,
I know we don’t confess to rabbis — but I have a confession. Even if I can read some of the prayers on Rosh Hashanah, I still don’t understand what I’m saying…to tell you the truth I’d rather take a quiet, reflective walk in the park this year on Rosh Hashanah than spend all those hours in synagogue saying a bunch of words that don’t mean a whole lot to me anyway. (I’m not a member anywhere anyway.) Do you have any suggestions?
Marc
Dear Marc,
I’m quite confident that your words echo the sentiments of many. The prayers are meant to be a powerful, relevant and meaningful experience. Sadly, our distance from the original Hebrew, coupled with a lengthy synagogue service, can be intimidating (to say the least) and often a tremendous letdown for individuals seeking a spiritual experience. As a matter of fact, according to many studies, some 80 percent of Jews don’t even enter a synagogue or temple over the course of the High Holidays.
I will offer a few words of advice that can perhaps alleviate your challenges and help get more from the service and the High Holidays.
Firstly, five minutes of prayer said with understanding, feeling and emotion means far more than hours of lip-service. Don’t look at the prayer book as an all-or-nothing proposition. Try looking at each page or each prayer as a self-contained opportunity for reflection and inspiration. If a particular prayer doesn’t speak to you, move on to the next one. Don’t expect to be moved by each and every prayer.
Read the prayers at your own pace, thinking about what you are saying, without being so concerned where the congregation is reading. You don’t need to always be “on the same page” with everyone else. If a particular sentence or paragraph touches you, linger there for a while, chew it over and digest it well, allowing the words to caress you and enter your soul. Apply that prayer to your own life and use it as a connection to God. If you’re really brave, close your eyes and meditate over those words for a while.
Don’t let your lack of proficiency in Hebrew get you down. God understands English. Like a loving parent, He can discern what is in your heart in the language you express yourself.
By sitting in the synagogue (as opposed to the park), you join millions of Jews in synagogues around the world. You are a Jew, and by joining hands with fellow Jews you are making a powerful statement about your commitment to Judaism and your place in Klal Yisrael, the Jewish people.
The theme of Rosh Hashana is our coronation of God as King. The Midrash teaches us that “There’s no king without a nation.” If someone rules over many disconnected individuals, he’s not a king. A kingdom exists when all the subjects bind together as one, with one beating heart, to accept the glorious rule of the king.
This applies to us as well. Only when we join together, as a congregation of Jews to coronate the King on Rosh Hashanah, do we create a Kingdom of God. When you join the congregation by attending synagogue, listening to the call of the shofar and praying with your fellow Jews, you become a subject of the King and a partner in the establishment of His Kingdom. This is true regardless of what pace you pray or what particular prayer you might be saying at any given time, or if you spend some time uttering your own prayer straight from your heart. The main thing is: you’re with your fellow subjects and you’re on the team.
And trust me, the team won’t be the same without you.
With blessings for a joyous and meaningful Rosh Hashanah which will be the foundation of much continued growth throughout the coming year.

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Get into a growth mindset during Elul

Posted on 23 August 2018 by admin

While you’ve certainly heard of the iPhone, few know of the revolutionary process that went into recruiting the talented team that would eventually create this incredibly popular device.
The story starts with the groundbreaking research of Carol S. Dweck, a psychologist at Stanford University. Dweck studied the science of how our self-conceptions influence our actions. Her work with children revealed two mindsets in action: a “growth” mindset that generally thinks big and seeks growth, and a “fixed” mindset that places artificial limits and avoids failure. Growth-minded students were found to employ better learning strategies, experience less helplessness, exhibit more positive effort and achieve more in the classroom than their fixed-minded peers. They are similarly less likely to place limits on their lives and more likely to reach for their potential.
Onto the scene arrives Scott Forstall, a senior vice president at Apple, who read Dweck’s book on mindsets and was so inspired by her findings that he decided to identify and recruit a team comprising solely growth-minded individuals for his brand-new, top-secret project. To separate the growth-minded employees at his company from their fixed-minded peers, Forstall delivered a curious pitch to superstars across the company and watched carefully for their responses.
Forstall warned that this top-secret project would provide ample opportunities to “make mistakes and struggle, but eventually we may do something that we will remember the rest of our lives.” Those who immediately jumped at the challenge were accepted as part of the team, while those who did not were left off. Forstall surmised that he had found his group of growth-minded individuals who, far from growing dismayed or discouraged by the tremendous challenges that lay ahead of them, would remain inspired, curious and committed through it all. And it was this team of growth-minded individuals that just so happened to go on to create the iPhone the world has grown to love. (From The One Thing — The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results by Gary Keller)
As is evident, the effects that our mindsets have on what we go on to accomplish in life is truly remarkable and, at the same time, incredibly frightening. The good news, as Dweck pointed out, is that mindsets can and do change. And like any other habit, you can set your mind to it until the right mindset becomes routine.
While a Jew should always be growth-minded, it is during the month of Elul, the Hebrew month before the High Holidays, that we are reminded to switch gears if we have reverted to a life model of fixed-mindedness. Beginning in the month of Elul, the resonating sounds of the shofar echo in synagogues throughout the world before our morning prayers, reminding us to wake up from our spiritual slumber and meet the challenges of the moment.
Elul invites us to reconsider the possibilities of our lives — how we might proceed forward toward a life of meaning, commitment and purpose, and how we might return from the wayward paths we have claimed as our own.
Yes, growth in all of its forms invites challenge and therefore the possibility of failure as well. But with a growth-mindset by our side, the high expectations that come with the new year can be met with an equal amount of excitement and determination to make this year the best ever.
Rabbi Yogi Robkin is the outreach director of DATA of Plano. He can be reached at yrobkin@dataofplano.org.

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The Summer of Kindness lives on by practicing

Posted on 23 August 2018 by admin

Dear Families,
Camp at the Aaron Family JCC is over for summer 2018, and as with all Jewish camps each summer, this was a summer for Jewish friends and Jewish memories.
At the J, not all of our campers and staff are Jewish but, as we say, “J camps are Jewish camps for children, not camps for Jewish children.” We create a Jewish experience that welcomes all, and together we live our Jewish journey whatever that may be. In speaking with one of my camp families, I was told that during the year, they are Catholic, but they love being Jewish for the summer.
This summer, our theme was “Summer of Kindness.” Kindness, or chesed in Hebrew, is a key Jewish value that is universal and can be understood and practiced by all. The word “practice” is important as we are always striving to find ways to be kind each day. Keep practicing, and it will become habit. Hillel taught, “What is hateful to you, do not do unto others. The rest is commentary. Now go and study” (Talmud, Shabbat 31a). Hillel actually was giving us the minimum standard — simply do not do what is hateful. The next step must be to go further and do kind acts to all you encounter.
We practiced and learned in many ways this summer that you can be challenged to do as well. First, we created a “Kindness Bingo Bandana” for staff to carry and do with their campers. We do have some available if anyone is interested — contact me at lseymour@jccdallas.org. Another activity was looking for kind quotes to live by. My favorite is, “In a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
We put up posters, decorated T-shirts, wrote messages to soldiers, said thank you to our police officers and our maintenance workers and smiled at everyone. We practiced empathy through games and situations and, most important, we reminded ourselves to be grateful every day. The J also sponsored three organizations with donations from making blankets to donating shoes to food donations. Our kids learned by doing, and our hope is that they continue giving and doing kind acts throughout their lives.
The theme of chesed includes so many other Jewish values — respect/kavod, mercy/rachamim, acts of loving-kindness/gemilut chasadim, gratitude/hoda’ah and, of course, the giving of tzedakah, which is not charity or giving from the heart; rather, it is giving because it is the right thing to do to help others in need. Kindness is a basic value that gives our lives meaning.
What can you do today?
Laura Seymour is director of camping services for the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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A small town with a big pop-top memorial

Posted on 23 August 2018 by admin

I recently wrote about the unusual Holocaust memorial in Pittsburgh — 6 million pop-tops now encased in a massive, walk-through, Star-of David-shaped construction of glass blocks. I’m proud of my home city for this, because pop-tops were first used on the beer cans of its local Iron City brewery, a logical and unique medium of remembrance. Or so I thought. But I’ve learned: not so unique, after all.
Take a mental trip with me to Mahomet, Illinois, a very small town out on the prairie. Only 10 miles from Champaign, site of the University of Illinois, but another world. Now, thanks to a couple of Dallas readers, I’ve learned that this little town also chose pop-tops, and for the same purpose, more than 20 years ago.
It was back in 1997 that Kevin Daugherty, social studies teacher at Mahomet-Seymour Junior High, popped the top off a Coke can and realized its classroom value. He’d been mulling over how to get his students to understand the magnitude of the Holocaust. “It’s not that a pop-top can represent a human being,” he said. “But, collected together, they could give some idea of the numbers who perished.”
Word of the project got out fast, and the school’s 650 students began receiving them from across the country. People who didn’t drink canned beverages sent pop-tops from cans of tuna and pet foods. Mahomet’s population then was less than 4,000 (it has more than doubled in the years since) and was anything but diverse. Daugherty realized that this collection could have a further use: “We have to work at teaching tolerance for others,” he said, “because we have so few ‘others’ here.”
So, after the initial goal of 6 million tops was reached, the collecting went on — to represent, in addition to Jews, the homosexuals, handicapped, disabled and political prisoners all put to death by the Nazis.
Child survivor Edith Mozes Kor, now 84 — who with her sister Miriam had been part of Mengele’s grotesque experiments on twins at Auschwitz — came twice to Mahomet from her Indiana home to speak about the Holocaust. Her first visit was what sparked the collection. At the second, there was a special ceremony: All the pop-tops had been counted as received and stored in bags of 20,000 each — the number of people killed per day as Nazi extermination reached its height.
Daugherty’s students brought those bags to the gym of Mahomet Senior High and dumped their contents into one huge pile in the center. The tops were then sold to a recycler, and the thousands of dollars received were given to Kor for her organization, CANDLES: Children of Auschwitz Nazi Deadly Lab Experiments Survivors. I learned her story while learning about Mahomet.
Edith Kor’s family was deported from their longtime home in Romania to Auschwitz in 1944, when she and her twin sister were 10 years old. She lost her parents and two other siblings there and, as she told the Mahomet students, this is where she also lost a normal childhood. Almost all of Auschwitz’ 180 child survivors were twins who had lived through the quasi-medical ordeals inflicted on an original 1,500 sets of young Jews.
Kor was first placed in a Polish orphanage, then returned to Romania with an old family friend. In 1950, she traveled to Israel, where she served in the army, and there met and married Michael Kor, a U.S. citizen, and went home with him to Indiana, becoming a citizen herself in 1965. From Kor and CANDLES came the Holocaust Museum and Education Center in Terre Haute.
Now, I beg you: Do not say, “Enough already about the Holocaust.” There is never enough. We Jews are among those “others” who must get our “others” — the American majority — to know us and our history, in thoroughly non-Jewish places like Mahomet, Illinois, where we do not live ourselves. Only then can good things happen. Only good things can happen then.

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Dallas Doings: Hadassah @ 100, Ruti Zisser

Dallas Doings: Hadassah @ 100, Ruti Zisser

Posted on 16 August 2018 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Dallas Chapter of Hadassah celebrates 100th birthday

Members will celebrate the Dallas Chapter of Hadassah’s 100th birthday, as well as those of the Hadassah Medical Organization, the Hadassah School of Nursing and the Hadassah Department of Ophthalmology, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, at the Schultz Rosenberg Campus.

Before Israel became a state, Hadassah sent two nurses there from the United States to stem the tide of infant and mother mortality and blindness from trachoma. Thus, Hadassah initiated a countrywide system of health care with a fully equipped medical unit in 1918.

Today, Hadassah is still translating advanced research into practical medicine. This research is shared throughout the world and is used in the United States and worldwide. In Dallas, Hadassah doctors are treating patients for multiple aclerosis and  Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. Hadassah continues to build bridges to peace through medicine and has been recognized with a nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize.

The Shulkin family will be honored for their dedication to health care and the Dallas community. Dr. Kemp Kernstine from the UT Southwestern Medical Center will share how he is involved in pioneering robotic surgery.

For information, to be a table host or event sponsor, or to purchase tickets, contact the Dallas Chapter of Hadassah at 214-691-1948, Chapter.dallas@hadassah.org, Hadassah.org/events/gswcelebrate. RSVPs are requested by Oct. 5, as seating is limited.

 

Photo: Courtesy Ruti
Israeli clothing designer Ruti Zisser will be on hand at the exclusive Bnai Zion shopping event at her NorthPark store.

 

Ruti shopping event will benefit Bnai Zion

Ruti’s Northpark Mall location will open its doors to Bnai Zion supporters from 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 5, for an exclusive private shopping event.

Ruti, a clothing brand created by Israeli-American fashion designer Ruti Zisser, offers a collection of women’s clothes. Zisser will be at the event and will speak to attendees about how she became a successful fashion designer.

Twenty percent of the evening’s sales will benefit Bnai Zion Foundation’s projects in Israel.

Ruti was founded in 2009 when, after years as a tech executive, Zisser struck out on her own. She strives to create pieces that are classic, sophisticated and designed to flatter a woman over the age of 35 without sacrificing comfort. Ruti states that her designs “must be practical. Eighty percent of my collection are clothes that I wear every day. Twenty percent of my collection is aspirational — it’s for the woman I daydream of being.”

Bnai Zion Texas Board Member Summer Pailet is chairing the event. RSVP early to be entered into a raffle (prize to be determined and must be present to win). For those unable to attend in person, visit Ruti.com and enter promo code BNAI to benefit Bnai Zion Foundation and receive 3 percent off full-priced items.

RSVP by emailing debbie.tobias@bnaizion.org or visiting www.bnaizion.org/event/ruti. Drinks and light refreshments will be served.

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