Archive | October, 2018

This week’s parasha urges us to spring into action

Posted on 25 October 2018 by admin

The current Torah readings discuss the life of our patriarch Avraham, referred to as the first Jew. Last week, the section of “Lech Lecha” opened with Avraham receiving a command to journey from the comfort of his birthplace to the unknown, “the land that I will show you.” This week opens with “Vayeira,” in which G d reveals Himself to Abraham three days after his circumcision.
The soul — loosely defined as the bridge between our experiencee of the body and the physical world around us, and our experience of divinity — has three main modes of expression: thought, speech and action. Simply put, our personality is reflected in how we think, what we feel and what we do.
In the very first Torah portion about creation, the commentaries explore the defining feature of a human. The natural selection is superior intellect and wisdom. Indeed, thought is potent — our mindset has a powerful influence on the outcome of any action.
But in the Holy Tongue (Hebrew), a human being is called a medaber (a speaking being), indicating that, more than any other trait, the faculty of speech reflects our primary distinction. The esoteric commentaries explain that the natural willingness and ability to share thoughts and feelings with another is sublimely rooted within the soul, stemming from a place inside that recognizes no boundaries — no separation between one individual and another.
When someone is precise with language, capturing images and fleeting reality in words for the sake of transferring light (wisdom and information) to uplift another person, then he or she has utilized this garment of the soul on the highest level.
Then comes action — what we choose to do — which seems to be the most external feature of our personality, largely removed from the intense color and vitality of the inner world. At the same time, action is the garment with the most tangible impact on the environment.
For us to be whole, we must continually sort through and upgrade how we use these three modes of expression, often deciding where to place priority.
When it comes to the emotion of love, for example, people may assess it in different ways. Is love primarily measured by one’s experience or displays of emotion? Or is it measured more simply, by whether someone adheres to the other’s wishes through action?
In relationships and marriage, a deficiency in one type of expression may result in dissatisfaction. Some may want the other person to think and feel more, not just to “do what’s right.” They want their partner to be interested, able to understand them and recognize what makes the other person special. Or the partner may turn around and say, “Don’t just love me in your way; it’s great that you appreciate and feel for me so much, but I want you to do more — show, don’t tell.”
In the spiritual arena, the notion of “a covenant” focuses mainly on doing, regardless of what’s experienced in the moment. Indeed, the real test of commitment within any relationship is what you do when you aren’t enthused or inspired, or even when you are pulled in the opposite direction.
With this idea, we can return to answer a common question about why, despite all the great accomplishments of Abraham, the Torah begins with the command of “go from your land, your birthplace, your father’s house…”
When beginning to study, a Jewish child encounters a series of rich stories within our tradition, relating Avraham’s growth — progressing from an idolatrous upbringing into a profound intellectual investigation, arriving at the recognition of a singular Creator, showing the courage to stand against the prevalent culture of the time and sharing his insights with the multitudes.
We often take the above episodes for granted. It’s strange, however, that within these passages of the Torah, there is no mention, not even a brief introduction, about Avraham’s character. Our first encounter is the divine instruction (and his submission) to “leave your land…” Moving into this week, the style of the Torah is rarely to describe his thoughts, disposition and emotions. All this is reserved for accompanying commentaries and midrashim, while the scriptural verses focus on action, self-sacrifice and withstanding tests.
One explanation of this omission of literary content is that the Torah is sending a message for all generations: Notwithstanding the merit of individual elevation, contemplation and spiritual experience, the starting point of Judaism is listening to “lech lecha,” being able to take the personal journey that is not always comfortable or understood. While knowledge and inspiration vary from one individual to the next, the connection to God through the simple fulfillment of a mitzvah is in a distinct category.
Like the first instruction, each mitzvah we encounter is an opportunity to unite divine desire with human action. The essential quality that fuels action is commitment. Commitment is the ability to dependably override what you may feel for the sake of what you believe is right — adhering to a purpose or principle beyond your immediate desires.
Similarly, the characteristic that surfaces in the continuation of Avraham’s life is blind loyalty, which may be taken as a deficiency. But there’s another way of viewing the simplicity: as a virtue and the foundation of a relationship. After having determined one’s beliefs, ideals and purpose, there will always be temporary moments of darkness, where the inner resolve to move forward — to act despite any lack of enthusiasm — must be employed.
The term for this quality in Jewish literature is “kabalat ol” (acceptance of the commandments), a commitment that joins faith to action. This quality demands (and evokes) more strength than any other. When implemented, that power also flows into other faculties to provide an internal boost.
If, for example, using only the intellect will take a person to a certain level, by tapping into the energy of commitment, the mind is able to function more smoothly. That’s one reason why somebody who is motivated in a certain area will automatically grasp it better. Or, on a lower level, why discipline in a craft can paradoxically generate more creativity.
A clear message from this week, then, is that God values buy-in. He wants us to trust Him and sincerely try, for a while, to get in the habit of not demanding endless miracles in return on a timeline that we dictate. But whether in one’s own experience or that of the Jewish people, once we take enough sincere steps in that direction and stop thinking about the quid pro quo, we receive opportunities to see the divine hand at work, when we least expect it.
Returning to our opening theme, Avraham first recognized his Creator (thought process), then he spread his teachings (speech) and finally performed circumcision (deed). Ever since the Torah was received, however, the spiritual development of a Jew moves in the reverse order: from action (refinement of the body), to speech and, finally, study (thought).

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Shin on mezuzah cover is a reminder of God

Posted on 25 October 2018 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,
I’ve been wondering about the Hebrew letter shin on the mezuzah cover. Could you please fill me in on its significance?
Thx,
Howard L.
Dear Howard,
The letter shin on the mezuzah case is reflective of the name of God, Sha-Dai, which is written on the back of the mezuzah parchment and begins with the letter shin.
On the inside of the mezuzah are the two paragraphs of the Shema; on the back, that name of God. This needs explanation.
One reason that name is written there, explain the Rabbis, is to hint that God promises to protect and watch over the home of a Jew who affixes a mezuzah on his doorway. The Talmud says that our King stands outside our homes and protects us, unlike a mortal king whose subjects stand outside his palace and protect him.
This is hinted to in the letters of that name, shin, dalet and yud, standing for “Shomer dalsos Yisrael,” or “Guardian of the doorways of the Jews.”
There is another, deeper meaning to this as well. The Talmud says that one of the meanings of the name Sha-Dai is “she’amar le’olamo dai,” or “He said to his world, ‘enough.’” At the time that God was creating the universe, the heavens were stretching out and going without an end, until He expressed anger at them and said “dai,” enough. (The expanding universe.)
The meaning of this is that the creations of God, Who is infinite, innately strive to infinity and perfection. God, however, did not want to create a perfect world. He desired an imperfect world in order to leave room for man to partner with Him in perfecting the universe, which is our part in “tikkun olam,” enhancing the world. If it was already perfect, we would have no purpose and no way of earning reward.
The first mitzvah Abraham was commanded was bris milah, circumcision. It was proceeded by God telling him “I am E-l Sha-Dai; go before me and be complete.” This is the first tikkun of an imperfection, to remove the foreskin, manifesting our partnership with God’s name of Sha-Dai.
Ultimately the prime place in the world where a Jew perfects the world is in the Jewish home. That is the place where we sanctify the mundane, elevating all of our everyday life activities to the holy and sublime by living according to the laws of the Al-mighty. The Jewish home, much more than the synagogue, is the pinnacle of a Jew’s tikkun olam.
We are reminded of that every time we walk into our doorways, by the mezuzah. By remembering God every time we pass through our doorway we are reminded of His presence both outside our homes, as our Protector, and inside our homes, resting His presence in all that we do.
For this reason, every door in the house needs a mezuzah. For there isn’t an area of life, whether the kitchen, bedroom or living room, that is bereft of kedushah, holiness.
This is another reason why we have the name Sha-Dai on our mezuzah, reflected by the shin on the cover, to serve as a constant reminder that we are to live our lives as partners of God, and in all that we do to create a tikkun olam and a kiddush Hashem, a sanctification of God’s Name.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Fellow alumnus wins Nobel for chemistry

Posted on 25 October 2018 by admin

A graduate of my high school has just won a Nobel Prize.
I’m holding before me a front-page clipping from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and looking at the smile (is it triumph? or shock?) on the face of Frances Arnold, 62, now a California Institute of Technology professor of chemical engineering, bioengineering and biochemistry. She is one-third of a trio honored for “harnessing evolutionary principles to create new proteins.” The other two are men. She is only the fifth woman ever to score a chemistry Nobel; the most recent before her was almost 10 years ago.
So, what can I say except: What happened to all the rest of us who went to Taylor Allderdice? It was, and still is, a public school, a neighborhood school. It always did, and still does, have an excellent academic reputation — such that people with children often factor that into their home-buying choices. But — a Nobel?
In my own class — which exited those somewhat hallowed halls more than two decades before Dr. Arnold graduated — was a young man who received his doctorate in art history from Yale and retired after a long career as director of the Frick Museum in New York City. I thought that was tops — but not a Nobel. Arnold distinguished herself at Princeton and is now one of the few, according to the news release, who can claim simultaneous memberships in the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Engineering.
What a surprising list of achievements. But what’s even more surprising is what the achiever says herself about her high school days: “I didn’t take chemistry then. I was too busy cutting classes.” Talk about late bloomers. And she wasn’t a child of wealth and privilege, either: While she was at Allderdice, she worked part-time at Walt Harper’s Attic, a Pittsburgh club owned by a mildly nationally known local jazz pianist. And after graduation, before college, she drove a Yellow Cab.
At some point, our high school established a Hall of Fame, and one of its first members was Iris Rainer Dart, who has written nine novels. Best known is “Beaches,” which later became a film starring Bette Midler and Mayim Bialik. (This should clue you that the subject matter would resonate with us because the author was Jewish — as were many students of Allderdice in that long-gone past.)
Iris also had a humble childhood; her father owned and operated a neighborhood hardware store, known citywide for the kind of appealing disarray that led to a sort of cult belief: Virtually anything could be found on its shelves if one only looked long enough. Which was probably true. So, her literary achievement is not to be looked down upon. Still — it’s no Nobel.
Dr. Arnold’s big prize comes from “harnessing the power of evolution,” according to Goran K. Hansen, who is secretary-general of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Her work is being used to create sustainable biofuels, the Academy says, thereby “contributing to a greener world.” And now, for the winning statistics: The Nobel Prize in Chemistry has been awarded 110 times to 180 individuals since 1901 — a quite small but incredibly distinguished collection of scientists.
It’s now obvious that somewhere along the line, after a lackluster high school career, Allderdice’s winner somehow took to heart the motto that stands forever, carved in stone over our school’s main entrance even before its doors first opened in 1927: “Know Something. Do Something. Be Something.” Or maybe not. Maybe it just happened. Sometimes in life, things just happen.
I suspect this Nobelist’s next honor will be election to the Taylor Allderdice High School Hall of Fame. Given her record there, plus her Nobel, she may just laugh at this. But she may embrace it. I’ll never know. Still, I’ll always be wondering: What in the world happened to the rest of us?

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

For People of the Books, the choices are endless

Posted on 25 October 2018 by admin

Dear Families,
It is not a secret — I am a biblioholic. I am addicted to buying books. We all have the genetic potential for this disease, as we are the People of the Book. However, I have always maintained that we are really the People of the “Books.” Jews are committed to learning, and books have always been the way to pass on the learning to others.
Here is a quote from Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks:
“The Egyptians build pyramids, the Greeks built temples, the Romans built amphitheaters. Jews built schools. They knew that to defend a country, you need an army, but to defend a civilization, you need education. So, Jews became the people whose heroes were teachers, whose citadels were schools, and whose passion was study and the life of the mind.”
The Torah has always been the beginning of learning, and books upon books upon books have been written with commentary and explanation of that essential book. All 63 tractates of the Talmud and the Midrash and the Codes and the commentaries from the past through today are helping us understand what that first book, the Torah, can teach us about life. Books galore and commentaries ancient and modern — does it ever end? Hopefully not ever. And now we have websites and blogs and eblasts to go through and decide what to read.
How do you choose? For many, we reach to the movement that we belong to — Reform, Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist, and more. For others, it is an attempt to read a little of everything and find what resonates at that particular moment. Is there a right way to study Torah, to find answers to life’s questions?
Yes, there are a million right ways and the goal is to find what works for you at this moment in time and, most important, to keep searching and learning. Be open to new (and old) ideas and, as has been the practice of generations of students, learn with a friend, especially one who challenges you.
We are at the beginning of the cycle of the Torah, which is a great place to start. You don’t have to catch up on too much, but remember, you can start wherever and whenever you want. I will not tell you all that I am reading right now, but I am excited about the newest Chumash out there that I just got — “The Steinsaltz Humash,” published by Koren Publishers. It is a beautiful book with amazing insights from Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. It is in both Hebrew and English, with sections on each page titled Discussion and Background, plus there are occasional pictures.
But what I like the best is that the English text is bold and the commentary follows as if part of the text. Steinsaltz has us reading both at the same time.
Have I convinced you to buy the book? Have I convinced you to keep learning? That is the bigger goal. We are the People of the Books, and we continue to thrive as a people because we keep learning and searching for answers.
A favorite quote of mine is: “Some girls watched ‘Beauty and The Beast’ and wanted the prince. I watched it and wanted the library.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Everything you want to know about pumpkins

Posted on 25 October 2018 by admin

By Tina Wasserman

The first chill has been in the air, and Halloween and Thanksgiving will be here before you know it, so I decided that now is the perfect time to learn about pumpkins.
The pumpkin is a member of the squash family, whose origins can be traced back over 9,000 years to Mexico. They are also thought to be part of the gourd family grown in India, but this isn’t true. The round orange globes are actually related to cucumber and cantaloupe.
Growing on vines up to 12 feet wide, pumpkins are a fruit, not a vegetable. Pumpkin seeds were brought from the “new world” by Columbus to Spain and were initially grown only to feed swine. The widespread Mediterranean use of pumpkin for human food can be attributed to the Jews from Spain and Portugal in the late 15th century.
Initially the Jewish immigrants from Spain were the only people to eat the cheap and humble squash. The golden pumpkin was symbolic of prosperity and fertility, and often found its place on the ceremonial tables during Rosh Hashanah. Most pumpkin recipes that you find in Italian cookbooks owe their ancestry to the Jewish migration.
Human consumption of pumpkin has also been attributed to ancient times in Asia, and it is possible that the Arab armies brought the fruit to its conquered lands as well. It wasn’t until Columbus introduced pumpkin that it got its name and European recognition.
The name, pumpkin, is derived from the Greek Pepon, which means large melon. The French called it “Pompon” and, owing to the nasal pronunciation, the English adapted it to “Pumpion,” and colonists in America called it “Pumpkin.”
When the Native American Indians first introduced the Colonists to pumpkin, they were roasting strips of the fruit over fire as a food and weaving dried strips of pumpkin to make mats.
It was the Colonists who found a diverse use for the pumpkin. Hollowed pumpkins were turned upside down over a person’s head to provide a straight line to follow when cutting hair. That’s how they got the name pumpkin head.
The pumpkin pie finds its origin in the cooking technique of the Colonists, who cut the top off the pumpkin, removed the seeds, filled the inside with milk, honey and spices, then baked it until the meat of the pumpkin was soft and well flavored.
Speaking of cutting a pumpkin, I recently saw a suggestion for preserving the life of your jack-o’-lantern so it doesn’t rot before the end of October. If you cut a large hole in the bottom of the pumpkin and scrape out the insides well, you just need to place the carved decorative pumpkin over the candle on a plate.

Cooking with Pumpkins

All pumpkins may be eaten but it is the smaller, more rounded sugar pie pumpkins or “pie” pumpkins that will yield a dense, drier cooked flesh similar to canned pumpkin. Larger pumpkins will be stringy and more like acorn or spaghetti squash. Always buy a pumpkin whose stems are attached and those that feel heavy for their size.
Pumpkin can be cooked like you would any squash: Peel, seed, cut into chunks and simmer in a small amount of salted water for 20-40 minutes; or peel, cube and season before lightly tossing with olive oil and roast in a 350-degree oven until soft and golden.
To roast pumpkin seeds, rinse them thoroughly to remove any strings, then soak for 15 minutes in salted water. Drain and then roast in a 250-degree oven until golden. Season with a little oil and salt and pepper if you like after you roast or for the last 5 minutes.
If you are displaying pumpkins outside in the sun, bring them in at night, if you can, to prevent rotting. Pumpkins can be ripened off the vine if they are exposed to sunlight.
I love pumpkin pie, but unless the crust is super-delicious and sweet, I feel guilty eating all that fat-saturated dough. Here’s a recipe that is light, less caloric (believe it or not) and can be made in advance without getting soggy, flat or losing its flavor.

Pumpkin Mousse

2 teaspoons unflavored kosher gelatin
2 tablespoons dark rum
1 cup canned unsweetened pumpkin
½ cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of allspice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup heavy cream
1. Sprinkle the gelatin over the rum in a small Pyrex custard cup and let it soften for a few minutes.
2. Combine the remaining ingredients except the heavy cream in a medium bowl.
3. Place the Pyrex dish with the rum and gelatin in a skillet that contains ½ inch of simmering water. Stir the mixture until the gelatin is dissolved.
4. Whisk the hot gelatin mixture into the pumpkin until thoroughly combined.
5. Whip the cream in a small bowl until it forms soft peaks, then fold it carefully into the pumpkin mixture.
6. Spoon into six 4-ounce ramekins and refrigerate until set, about 3 to 4 hours.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• Gelatin tends to clump when initially hydrated. That is fine, but don’t let the mixture sit for more than a minute, or it will be very hard to successfully dissolve it.
• If alcohol is present in a recipe, it often serves to “cook” the raw egg to prevent it from growing bacteria.

Pumpkin Bread

The following recipe is a variation of the pumpkin bread that Joanne Orlando brought to my classroom when I was her junior high home economics teacher. I threatened to flunk her if she didn’t give me the recipe.
I still have her hand-written index card for a memento, and Joanne, who is now probably 60, did get an A in the class, but not because of the recipe.
This is still the all-time favorite in my house or at any pre-school snack time when I made them into mini-muffins. It is such a good way to get some great nutrients into your family.
This recipe may be doubled and the baked breads freeze beautifully.
1½ cups sugar
¾ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup whole-wheat flour
½ cup raisins
½ cup chopped walnuts, optional
2 eggs
1 stick butter, melted, or ½ cup coconut oil for a dairy-free version
1/3 cup water
1 cup canned pumpkin
1½ teaspoons vanilla
1. Grease 2 coffee cans, or 1 loaf pan, or 2 mini-loaf pans and some muffin tins or a combination of each.
2. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
3. Into a large 3-quart mixing bowl, add the first nine ingredients (eight if omitting nuts). Stir to combine. Combine all of the remaining ingredients in a 1-quart bowl and add to the dry ingredients. Stir until with a rubber spatula until well blended.
4. Pour into the prepared pans and bake as follows:
Mini muffins: 12-15 minutes
Cupcakes: 20-25 minutes
Mini loaf pans: 35-40 minutes
Loaf pans: 45-60 minutes
Coffee cans: 60-75 minutes
Ginger Orange Spread
8 ounces cream cheese
1 tablespoon frozen orange juice concentrate
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, chopped
1. Combine all of the ingredients in a processor work bowl and process until smooth.

Tina’s Tidbits:
When buying canned pumpkin, make sure you are not buying pumpkin pie substitute.
• When a recipe calls for combining all of the ingredients into a bowl, always add the dry ingredients first so you don’t activate the baking soda or powder with the wet ingredients until the last.
• Gluten-free flour may be substituted, but xanthan gum does not need to also be added since the pumpkin puree adds fiber and structure to the recipe.

Jamaican Pumpkin Pancakes

These pancakes have always been a hit with my students as well as my family. Not very sweet, but loaded with good taste and lots of good vitamin A. Add a little maple syrup, and you can pretend you’re a Pilgrim, too.
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 eggs
1½ cups buttermilk
3 tablespoons cold water
1 cup pumpkin puree
½ stick unsalted butter, melted
1. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, allspice, salt and cinnamon in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl with a whisk until foamy. Beat in the buttermilk, cold water and pumpkin puree. Refrigerate until needed or proceed with Step 3.
3. Add the melted butter to the pumpkin mixture, then fold the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until the batter is smooth.
4. Lightly grease a large skillet with additional butter and allow the pan to get fairly hot. Drop the batter by scant ¼ cups onto the griddle and cook until the pancake is golden on the bottom and air pockets appear on the dry top. Flip the pancakes over and cook one more minute until underside is golden.
5. Serve hot with butter and syrup.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• As long as no liquid comes in contact with baking powder or baking soda, your dry ingredients can be pre-measured the night before.
• If you don’t have buttermilk in the house, add a teaspoon of vinegar or lemon juice to milk and set aside for 5 minutes before using in your recipe. Any type of milk may be used.
• Despite its name, buttermilk does not contain fat. It is more like skim milk in fat content.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

‘Odd Mom Out’: Kargman to perform at Shearith

Posted on 25 October 2018 by admin

By Shari Goldstein Stern

Congregation Shearith Israel will erupt into a laughfest at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, when author and actress Jill Kargman takes the stage of the Aaron Family Main Sanctuary. The “Odd Mom Out” actress was the creator, writer, producer and star of the scripted Bravo TV series, playing a satirical version of herself navigating the hilarity of raising children on the Upper East Side in New York City.
After graduating from Yale in 1995, Kargman started her writing career in the magazine world as an assistant and has written for Vogue, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, GQ, Condé Nast Traveler, Departures and Allure. She also created the column “EyeSpy” for Style.com, which ran for five years.
The torture and hilarity of her work experiences at the bottom of the magazine hierarchy inspired her 2000 Sundance movie “Intern.” Afterward she worked in television and wrote for several shows for MTV, including “So Five Minutes Ago” and the MTV news doc series “Who Is.”
After her magazine, movie and television work, Kargman began writing novels to give her more flexibility to be home with her three children: Sadie, Ivy, and Fletch. She is a New York Times best-selling author of multiple books, including “The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund”; her personal essay collection, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut” (which was #3 on the Humor chart behind Chelsea Handler and David Sedaris); and “Momzillas,” which was translated into 14 languages and appeared on charts worldwide.
Now, the native New Yorker will bring her brand of humor to Shearith in a Q&A format in which the audience will participate.
Lisa Zale said she and Elaine Pearlman were serving on the Shearith Israel board when it was time to plan a fundraiser. Both had read Kargman’s New York Times best-selling books and had seen her television series.
The two agreed that Kargman would bring great entertainment to an event. “She’s funny and light, smart and Jewish,” Zale said. “She’s the full package.”
“We’re all chairs,” Zale added, about the fundraiser’s planning committee. Along with Zale and Pearlman, the group includes Dawn Aaron, Barbra Applebaum, Courtney Goldberg, Lauran Goldberg, Lisa Goldberg, Beth Konig, Ann Ochstein, and Jody Stein.
Mark Oppenheimer will serve as moderator for the evening. Oppenheimer is an author, Yale University lecturer and host of “Unorthodox,” an irreverent weekly podcast about the news of the Jews, from Tel Aviv to Telluride, from (Natalie) Portman to Portland (Oregon). It’s the No. 1 Jewish-themed podcast on iTunes, with more than 2 million total downloads.
It was at a taping of “Unorthodox” in New York that Zale and Konig heard Kargman and Oppenheimer together.
“Jill and Mark were hilarious, so we asked Oppenheimer to join her in the show. He had plans to be in Houston the day before, so the stars aligned.” Konig said. “We knew that together, Jill and Mark would take our event to the next level.”
“I am thrilled to be doing a live event with Jill Kargman,” Oppenheimer said. “Not only is she a terrific novelist, but my wife and I binge-watched her hilarious TV show, ‘Odd Mom Out,’ all while consuming many pints of Haagen-Dazs. Jill brings her sharp wit, off-kilter sensibility and neo-Goth outfits (check out the creepy wrist tattoo) to everything she does. I’ve had the good fortune to have seen her bizarre, hilarious mind in action — and to hear her belt pop songs since the early ’90s, when she and I were undergraduates together at Yale. We all knew she’d go places, although we weren’t sure where. I’m glad the answer was ‘Dallas.’”
Oppenheimer continued, “As for me, for six years I wrote ‘Beliefs,’ the New York Times’ biweekly religion column. I also wrote ‘Thirteen and a Day,’ the definitive book about crashing bar mitzvahs.”
Oppenheimer concluded, “One reason I am excited for this show is that Jill can be serious as well as funny: Her thoughts on Judaism and anti-Semitism (see sidebar on this page) are profound. I think this evening will be a showcase for her wisdom as well as her wit.”
“The professional staff at Shearith have been wonderful partners,” Zale said. “We especially appreciate COO Kim West and Communications Director Julie Carpenter for their cooperation,” the women agreed.
The performance is recommended for ages 21 and older. For tickets and information, visit www.shearith.org.
To learn more about Kargman, go to jillkargman.com. Oppenheimer’s website is markoppenheimer.com.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

WE brings together local Jewish millennials

WE brings together local Jewish millennials

Posted on 25 October 2018 by admin

Photos: Courtesy Rabbi Heidi Coretz
Last spring, WE came together to celebrate a Passover Seder with more than 30 participants gathering at Thanks-Giving Square in downtown Dallas. WE Shabbat, WE Learn and WE Social bring together members of Dallas’ millennial Jewish community.

By Deb Silverthorn

WE Jewish Dallas is coming together at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26 — and on many occasions — for the community’s millennial spirit to shine. This week’s Sabbath blessings will be exchanged amid costumes, spooky drinks (BYOB) and dinner.
“Dallas’ millennial Jewish community is of natives returning and others making the Metroplex their home,” said Rabbi Heidi Coretz, director of SMU Hillel. “WE is, and we are, a bridge for them between college and the next step in their Jewish communal experiences.”
WE — which stands for We Engage — is open to Jewish adults ages 21-35, graduate students and working professionals all seeking Jewish community. Programs are, with Coretz’s support, created by, for and of the participants.
WE comprises young Jews gathering for friendship, learning and celebration, defined visually through the group’s logo created by WE board member William Taylor: a Jewish star, created of six puzzle pieces that interlock, as do attendees of WE’s programs — connecting and each finding a place, Coretz explained.
The WE Advisory Board comprises Lance Barnard, Isaac Feigenbaum, Zee Herrera, Hannah Kavy, Mindy Le, Marissa Mackler, Lisa Raizes, Richard Raizes, Oscar Schechter, Chad Sheinbein, Taylor, Aaron Tverye, Samantha Waldman, Marlo Weisberg and Trish Weisberg.
“Rabbi Coretz is more than a rabbi; she’s a Jewish mom minus the parenting. She’s loving and supportive and being with her is always a positive, fun and connective experience,” said Schechter, originally from Corpus Christi. One of WE’s founders, he’s an SMU graduate and Fidelity Investments network engineer. “Rabbi sponsors WE, making Shabbat, learning, activities — whatever we’re searching for — available. WE is creative, exciting and open.”
Programs are scheduled three times a month, each independent Events scheduled from now through February — WE Shabbat, WE Learn and WE Social — take place at SMU, at offices, venues and in the homes of participants and Rabbi Coretz. All events providing meals include vegetarian options.
2018 events have included a Passover Seder at Thanks-Giving Square, a WE Shabbat barbecue and a WE Shabbat + Tango with Spanish wine tasting, a night in the sukkah, and this Monday’s first Torah + Tacos dinner.
Future WE Shabbat events include this week’s WE Spooky Shabbat, a Nov. 16 WE Shabbat + Art (Nasher Museum picnic), Jan. 18 WE Shabbat + Tu B’Shevat, and the Feb. 8 WE Shabbat +D (at D Magazine).
Upcoming WE Learn programs, Torah + Tacos, are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19, Jan. 28 and Feb. 25.
WE Social nights are a Nov. 8 WE + Dali (at the SMU Meadows Museum’s Dalí’s Aliyah: A Moment in Jewish History), a Dec. 5 WE Chanukah + Wine (Total Wine will host), Dec. 23 WE Sound Bath + Social (at member Rachel Fox’s The Refuge meditation center), and a Jan. 6 WE Movie + Discussion.
“I’ve been away for seven years, and connecting through WE is one way I’m finding a sense of community,” said Feigenbaum, a Dallas native who attended Akiba Academy and Torah Day School of Dallas. Now director of business development at Sinai Urgent Care, he studied in Israel, New Jersey and New York. “We’re of varying careers and ages, and raised in all levels of Jewish observance. Who WE are is a generation excited about experiencing Jewish identity together.”
A grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, $10,000 for 2018-2019 and through the 2020-2021 year, and a gift from within the community makes it possible for most events to be free for participants.
“We are proud of our investment made by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’s planning and allocations committee to provide WE with a grant. This is in line with our overall outreach and engagement strategy of the next generation of philanthropists,” said Gary Wolff, Federation chief operating officer. “Additionally, this grant will complement the work of our Young Adult Division as it continues to focus on leadership and educating young leaders in our community.”
Joining the Federation in support are the family, colleagues and loved ones of Marion Sobol, of blessed memory, the first tenured female professor at SMU’s Cox School of Business.
“Anything to help our young people connect and keep to their roots was and would be meaningful to both Marion and me. Heidi, of whom I can’t say enough, has an exquisite talent of interfacing with young people,” said Sobol’s widower, Dick Helgason, professor emeritus in SMU’s Department of Engineering Management, Information and Systems. They were married by Coretz in 2010. “We attended many Hillel programs, all of them successful and informative, and with our gift, we absolutely trust Heidi to continue her amazing work.”
Coretz and the WE board are beyond enthusiastic for the gifts, which “support this sacred work,” she said. “As the next generation of Dallas’ Jewish community leaders, our world’s community leaders, moves past Hillel’s undergrad programming, we hope to connect at this crucial time in their lives.”
For additional details of times and locations, more information or to RSVP for WE events or further contact, visit the WEJewishDallas Facebook page or wedallas.org.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

WE brings together local Jewish millennials

Posted on 25 October 2018 by admin

By Deb Silverthorn

WE Jewish Dallas is coming together at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26 — and on many occasions — for the community’s millennial spirit to shine. This week’s Sabbath blessings will be exchanged amid costumes, spooky drinks (BYOB) and dinner.
“Dallas’ millennial Jewish community is of natives returning and others making the Metroplex their home,” said Rabbi Heidi Coretz, director of SMU Hillel. “WE is, and we are, a bridge for them between college and the next step in their Jewish communal experiences.”
WE — which stands for We Engage — is open to Jewish adults ages 21-35, graduate students and working professionals all seeking Jewish community. Programs are, with Coretz’s support, created by, for and of the participants.
WE comprises young Jews gathering for friendship, learning and celebration, defined visually through the group’s logo created by WE board member William Taylor: a Jewish star, created of six puzzle pieces that interlock, as do attendees of WE’s programs — connecting and each finding a place, Coretz explained.
The WE Advisory Board comprises Lance Barnard, Isaac Feigenbaum, Zee Herrera, Hannah Kavy, Mindy Le, Marissa Mackler, Lisa Raizes, Richard Raizes, Oscar Schechter, Chad Sheinbein, Taylor, Aaron Tverye, Samantha Waldman, Marlo Weisberg and Trish Weisberg.
“Rabbi Coretz is more than a rabbi; she’s a Jewish mom minus the parenting. She’s loving and supportive and being with her is always a positive, fun and connective experience,” said Schechter, originally from Corpus Christi. One of WE’s founders, he’s an SMU graduate and Fidelity Investments network engineer. “Rabbi sponsors WE, making Shabbat, learning, activities — whatever we’re searching for — available. WE is creative, exciting and open.”
Programs are scheduled three times a month, each independent Events scheduled from now through February — WE Shabbat, WE Learn and WE Social — take place at SMU, at offices, venues and in the homes of participants and Rabbi Coretz. All events providing meals include vegetarian options.
2018 events have included a Passover Seder at Thanks-Giving Square, a WE Shabbat barbecue and a WE Shabbat + Tango with Spanish wine tasting, a night in the sukkah, and this Monday’s first Torah + Tacos dinner.
Future WE Shabbat events include this week’s WE Spooky Shabbat, a Nov. 16 WE Shabbat + Art (Nasher Museum picnic), Jan. 18 WE Shabbat + Tu B’Shevat, and the Feb. 8 WE Shabbat +D (at D Magazine).
Upcoming WE Learn programs, Torah + Tacos, are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19, Jan. 28 and Feb. 25.
WE Social nights are a Nov. 8 WE + Dali (at the SMU Meadows Museum’s Dalí’s Aliyah: A Moment in Jewish History), a Dec. 5 WE Chanukah + Wine (Total Wine will host), Dec. 23 WE Sound Bath + Social (at member Rachel Fox’s The Refuge meditation center), and a Jan. 6 WE Movie + Discussion.
“I’ve been away for seven years, and connecting through WE is one way I’m finding a sense of community,” said Feigenbaum, a Dallas native who attended Akiba Academy and Torah Day School of Dallas. Now director of business development at Sinai Urgent Care, he studied in Israel, New Jersey and New York. “We’re of varying careers and ages, and raised in all levels of Jewish observance. Who WE are is a generation excited about experiencing Jewish identity together.”
A grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, $10,000 for 2018-2019 and through the 2020-2021 year, and a gift from within the community makes it possible for most events to be free for participants.
“We are proud of our investment made by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’s planning and allocations committee to provide WE with a grant. This is in line with our overall outreach and engagement strategy of the next generation of philanthropists,” said Gary Wolff, Federation chief operating officer. “Additionally, this grant will complement the work of our Young Adult Division as it continues to focus on leadership and educating young leaders in our community.”
Joining the Federation in support are the family, colleagues and loved ones of Marion Sobol, of blessed memory, the first tenured female professor at SMU’s Cox School of Business.
“Anything to help our young people connect and keep to their roots was and would be meaningful to both Marion and me. Heidi, of whom I can’t say enough, has an exquisite talent of interfacing with young people,” said Sobol’s widower, Dick Helgason, professor emeritus in SMU’s Department of Engineering Management, Information and Systems. They were married by Coretz in 2010. “We attended many Hillel programs, all of them successful and informative, and with our gift, we absolutely trust Heidi to continue her amazing work.”
Coretz and the WE board are beyond enthusiastic for the gifts, which “support this sacred work,” she said. “As the next generation of Dallas’ Jewish community leaders, our world’s community leaders, moves past Hillel’s undergrad programming, we hope to connect at this crucial time in their lives.”
For additional details of times and locations, more information or to RSVP for WE events or further contact, visit the WEJewishDallas Facebook page or wedallas.org.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

All Fired Up

All Fired Up

Posted on 25 October 2018 by admin

Photos: Courtesy Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship
The Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship will feature a hot dog eating event, sponsored by the Texas Jewish Post, a pickle eating contest sponsored by Restland Funeral Home, the Elliot’s Hardware Kids Que cooking contest, music and activities for all ages. Admission is free and open to the public.

By Deb Silverthorn

Saucy and spirited is what guests of the Fourth Annual Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship can expect from 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 28, in the Sunnyland Patio Furniture parking lot on the northwest corner of Coit and Spring Valley in North Dallas.
“This is a day of the best of our community coming together, BBQ greatness and an overall terrific experience,” said Brian Rubenstein, co-chair of the event with Sandy Dorf. “We had 1,200 people in 2015 and more than 1,800 last year. We’re excited about the growth and the enthusiasm for this really wonderful day.”
Presented by the Men’s Club of Congregation Beth Torah, the championships are open to the public with free admission, a large kids’ zone, silent auction, vendors, entertainment featuring Counterfeit Radio and food for sale by Dallas’ Texas Kosher BBQ and JoeBob’s Kosher BBQ from Austin.
Beef ribs, brisket, chicken and turkey will be judged for 12 teams (registered at press time), with participating chefs traveling from Chicago, Houston, Miami, New York and elsewhere. The competition, emceed by KLUV radio host Jody Dean has three sets of judges and awards; the Kansas City Barbecue Society(KCBS) Official, Celebrity Awards and the People’s Choice.
KCBS-certified judges mark ballots in double-blind rulings of appearance, taste and texture, with awards for all four meats, also crowning the Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion, who share a $500 prize. Winners will be announced and trophies presented at about 3:30 p.m.
Celebrity judges Jill Grobowsky Bergus (Lockhart Smokehouse), Gabriel Boxer (the Kosher Guru), Vicki Nivens (Hard Eight BBQ), John Tesar (Knife Dallas) and Daniel Vaughn (author and first barbecue editor at Texas Monthly) determine a second contest, and a third set of judges, composed of attendees participating in the People’s Choice program, will determine those awards and announce the winners at 2 p.m.
While the event is not centered on tasting entrant recipes, a limited number of $5 passes for People’s Choice Awards, either brisket or turkey, will be available after that judging at 2 p.m.
“Brian and Sandy are so on the ball there are never any surprises and this is a well-prepped event,” said Jennifer Shiflett, she and her husband Bill both Master Certified Judges representing KCBS, the world’s largest organization of barbecue and grilling enthusiasts, with over 20,000 members and the sanctioning body of over 500 barbecue contests worldwide. “The meat is well-sourced and extraordinary measures are taken to produce such great product. The meat here year in and year out is just phenomenal and the event supreme.”
Teams arrive empty-handed – other than recipes and ruach — with ingredients provided. Seasonings, herbs, meats and all utensils, smokers and grills are delivered to team captains, with Golden Barrel Molasses, Imperial Sugar, Manischewitz broths, TexJoy and others sponsoring the pantry.
Among participants are the 2017 Grand Champion Stan Kotlyar and 2016 Grand Champion Rabbi Mendel “RaBBi-Q” Segal, who is credited with creating the first kosher barbecue championship in Kansas City. He’s now the owner of Backyard BBQ and Brew in Surfside, Florida.
“I was an extreme hobbyist, and when I realized there was no kosher barbecue championship, I wanted to create the benchmark. I’m very proud,” Segal said. “I’m excited to be coming back to Dallas, the organizers have built a great program. For me, success is about the right temperature – it’s ready when it’s ready. Every piece of meat is different, but I do this every day.”
Competitors actually begin Thursday in cooks’ meetings, preparing, trimming and seasoning their meats, before packaging them for refrigeration over Shabbat. On Saturday night, once three stars are out, smokers and grills are set up.
For Kotlyar, of Hartsdale, New York, says while he’s very competitive and focused, some of the best of the event is the up-all-night smoking of the meats, visiting and making friends with other participants.
“We’ve earned a reputation, and some of the best pitmasters, professional and amateur, from around the country will be here,” said Dorf, himself certified as a KCBS Master Judge. “It’ll be barbecue at its best, and even more important it will be our community at its best.”
In addition to Congregation Beth Torah, proceeds from the event will benefit CHAI; Community Homes for Adults, Inc. The American Red Cross will collect blood donations, and food for the North Texas Food Bank will be accepted – a free raffle ticket distributed for every five items brought in.
The Elliott’s Hardware-sponsored Kids Que contest will have 10 aspiring chefs cooking chicken legs, the youngsters 7-15 having access to a full pantry and, with parental supervision, creating their own barbecue masterpieces.
Throughout the day, numerous other contests will take place, including a hot dog-eating event, sponsored by the Texas Jewish Post, and a pickle-eating contest, sponsored by Restland Funeral Home.
“It’s an absolute mitzvah to be a part of this event, making sure the end result is a kosher event – one that most can’t possibly know the intricacies involved in its coming together,” said Rabbi David Shawel, director of kosher supervision at Dallas Kosher. “To sit back at the end of the day and smile at what we’re able to help bring to our community, from the kashrut to keeping kashrut and sharing kehillah, community, is very special.”
“Kish echad b’lev echad, like one man with one heart, the Jewish People stood at Mount Sinai,” Shawel said. “When we stand together as a community, celebrating kashrut and our People, there’s nothing like it.”
For more information, to register for Kids Que, eating contests or to pre-order food, visit dallaskosherbbq.com.

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Sessions, Allred spar at Temple Shalom debate

Sessions, Allred spar at Temple Shalom debate

Posted on 24 October 2018 by admin

Photos: Lisa Rothberg
Temple Shalom Rabbi Andrew Paley and Colin Allred, Democratic challenger for the District 32 seat

By Dave Sorter

About the only things that U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, and Colin Allred, his Democratic challenger for the District 32 seat in the Nov. 6 election, agreed on during Sunday’s debate at Temple Shalom was that this year’s midterms are about more than Republicans and Democrats, and that the U.S. embassy in Israel should be in Jerusalem.
But even on that issue, they disagreed on the process by which it got there.
The candidates discussed numerous topics in their last face-to-face encounter before early voting started Monday. The debate was organized by Temple Shalom, AJC Dallas and the Jewish-Latino Alliance, with Sam Baker, host of KERA radio’s “Morning Edition,” serving as moderator.
About this year’s move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Sessions voiced his full support. “It was a very bold move by the president (Donald Trump), by the (then-) secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and by (United Nations Ambassador) Nikki Haley,” the 11-term incumbent said. “I have been supportive of this for years.”
While Allred agreed that “we all recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” he believes the embassy move “should have been done as part of a comprehensive two-state solution that moves us closer to peace,” he said. “When you do something unilaterally in a way that can be provocative, you can see the kind of reaction it can cause.”
Both candidates also expressed opposition to the BDS movement that has spread worldwide, with Allred, a Dallas lawyer and former Baylor and NFL football player who worked in the Obama administration, also using this point to advocate for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
“I oppose efforts to boycott, divest and sanction,” he said. “Israel is the only nation in the region that shares our commitment to human rights. We must continue to provide aid for Israel to defend itself.”

District 32 incumbent Rep. Pete Sessions, Republican, his wife Karen Sessions and Temple Shalom Rabbi Andrew Paley

Said Sessions: “BDS is a realization that there are those who oppose Israel. Nikki Haley has spoken very clearly about this. I have worked repeatedly with the Jewish community, with young people, with the State of Israel and the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The distance between Collin County and where we are here (North Dallas) is the distance between Israel and its enemies to the north, to the east and to the south. This is why Republicans have funded the Iron Dome.”
Sessions, in his opening statement, criticized Allred for opposing President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran.
“My opponent, in the Dallas Morning News, unequivocally opposed any effort against the Iranian nuclear deal because he felt it could unravel our agreement with North Korea,” he said. “He’s for giving billions of dollars’ worth of cash for them to do with as they would choose. He’s for the Iranians, the people who shout, ‘Death to America, Death to Israel.’ I’m for America, the Americans and for our ally, Israel.”
Allred conceded that “the Iran deal is not perfect. What it was, was a diplomatic solution to an extremely difficult problem. We had two choices: We could go down the road to diplomacy…trust, but verify…like President Trump is doing with North Korea. Now, we have given Iran the ability to pursue nuclear weapons, which would increase the threat to Israel.”
The candidates also had many differences on topics not related to Israel.
On health care, Sessions touted his health-insurance proposal, which would allow people to keep insurance purchased under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), or choose another avenue “that moves someone up. The kind of insurance someone at AT&T, or Mary Kay, or Southwest Airlines has” and would cover pre-existing conditions. There would be no mandate.
Allred said “it’s times like these I’m thankful for Google” because he learned that Sessions voted more than 50 times to repeal the ACA, including eliminating requirements for covering pre-existing conditions. He supports a single-payer system and accused Sessions of playing “cynical politics” for advocating a plan “that has never gotten a vote.”
The two also disagreed on the need for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Sessions said that “people who live on the border have unanimously asked for protection. We need to have operational control of our border.”
Allred responded, “That is the wrong solution, a waste of money, ineffective and a sign and a signal that will hurt our international standing. We do need to secure our border, through a bipartisan solution that would provide a high-tech means for security, and open a pathway to citizenship for those who are here. There are too many hardliners in Congress unwilling to work with those in their own party.”
Sessions, in response, said for the first of many times in the debate that Allred was “trying to have it both ways. He’s ignoring the men and women on the front lines begging for us to secure the border. Sixty days ago, we had two bills…both had pathways to citizenship, and not a single Democrat voted for either of them.”
The candidates also had their differences on:
• Sexual assault and the #MeToo movement in the wake of the hearings concerning Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Allred said Congress needs to take action to clean up its own house. Sessions, without mentioning the names of Kavanaugh or his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, decried the process that took place and Sen. Dianne Feinstein for keeping the accusation to herself.
• Social Security: Allred criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for intimating that the budget deficit was caused by the Trump tax cuts and would be made up for by tapping into Social Security and Medicare reserves. Sessions said his opponent was wrong, that McConnell said ways must be found to secure Social Security and Medicare, and that the tax cuts added 4 million jobs that are enriching the Social Security trust fund.
• Gun violence: Sessions said programs that address mental health and opioid abuse are the answer, while Allred said the answer is universal background checks and closing loopholes that allow people who, for example, are on the terror watch list to buy guns.
The debate was co-chaired by Adam Lampert for AJC, Edward Retta for JLA and Mike Hirsh and Larry Schoenbrun representing Temple Shalom. The co-sponsors were joined by a broad range of community partners that helped promote the debate, mostly from the Jewish and Latino communities, in addition to a number of non-Jewish houses of worship.
Early voting continues through Friday, Nov. 2, with most locations open this Saturday and Sunday. Election Day polls will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

View or Subscribe to the
Texas Jewish Post

Advertise Here

Photos from our Flickr stream

See all photos

Advertise Here