Archive | January, 2019

DHFLA dedicated to helping local Jewish community

DHFLA dedicated to helping local Jewish community

Posted on 31 January 2019 by admin

By Nicole Hawkins

The Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association’s motto is “a hand-up, not a handout.” The organization has stayed true to this ideal since its founding in 1935.
The association currently has nearly $1 million in loans out in the community and hopes to double that amount in the next few years, according to the organization’s new director of development, Suzanne Luftig.
The association provides interest-free loans ranging from $500 to $25,000.
Newly installed Board President Helen Waldman explained that the premise for Hebrew Free Loan Associations can be found in Shemot 22:24, which commands Jewish people not to charge interest on loans or act as creditors. The Torah portion where this can be found, Parashat Mishpatim, will be read in synagogues across the Metroplex this Shabbat morning, Feb. 2.
Luftig explained that donating to the association fulfills the mitzvah of lending with no interest, as well as fulfilling the obligation for every Jew to donate to at least one free loan fund in their community.
Waldman said the money lent to borrowers is not a donation, but rather a helping hand to those in need in the Jewish community. That loan, once repaid, will then be used to help others.
“The Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association is unique in that any money donated is recycled in perpetuity,” Luftig said. “When someone makes a donation, they are investing in the Dallas Jewish community. The money is loaned out, repaid and loaned out again and again.A donation to DHFLA touches so many lives,”
DHFLA programs include loans for adoption, infertility treatments, higher education, emergency funding, general assistance, health care, Jewish heritage loans and loans for special needs treatment including therapeutic, adaptive and health care related costs.
During the recent government shutdown, the free loan association lent $7,500 to Rob and Freya McKenna, who are employed by the federal government.
“When the government shut down and we were both furloughed, our first concern was how we were going to pay our mortgage and feed our children,” the McKennas said in a statement to DHFLA. “Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association gave us a sense of relief and a hope that we could get through the shutdown while still maintaining financial security.”
Waldman was proud that DHFLA was able to offer a loan to furloughed workers. “Those are the types of things we want to be here for — emergencies,” she said.
The majority of the organization’s current loan portfolio are those contributing to higher education.
The association offers consolidation loans, in which the organization pays the borrower’s student loans up to $25,000, and the borrower subsequently pays back DHFLA without interest. The organization also offers loans for students currently in college for up to eight semesters.
The association’s Jewish heritage loans are especially unique. They provide funds for those in the Jewish community who are becoming more attuned to their Jewish roots but can’t necessarily afford the costs that come with that commitment, according to DHFLA’s website.
Luftig explained the heritage loans can be used toward programs such as Birthright trips to Israel, bar and bat mitzvah expenses and the purchase of a tallit and tefillin.
The goal of DHFLA is “to be there for our fellow Jews in times of need and help them accomplish their goals in a respectful way so we can help the Dallas Jewish community help themselves,” Luftig said.
DHFLA is operated primarily by volunteer members of the Dallas-area Jewish community and is funded through tax-deductible memberships and donations.
The organization’s hope for the future is to double its investment capital so that more loans can be granted to help members of the Jewish community thrive, Luftig said.
DHFLA is a membership organization in which members pay $36 annually to support the organization and all its efforts.
Four people are on a waiting list to receive consolidated student loans and, therefore, the organization’s goal is to raise money in order to expand the loan base, Luftig said. “We appreciate the $36 donation just as much as the $36,000 donation.”
Luftig added that DHFLA is “infusing the organization with new energy” through a new president of the board, newly installed board members and the addition of her position as director of development.
Anyone who would like to donate to DHFLA or become a member can visit the website at dhfla.org or call the office at 214-696-8008.

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JFS celebrates Special Needs Awareness Month

JFS celebrates Special Needs Awareness Month

Posted on 31 January 2019 by admin

Photo: Deb Silverthorn
Volunteer Ynette Hogue led Anshai Torah Religious School students, from left, Zane Zientz, Matthew Dubner, Sawyer Baumel, Jonah Makler and Asher Laynor, in JFS’ Inclusion Experience last year. Throughout February, JFS, along with members of organizations in the community, has created a calendar of learning, prayer, fun and activities — with a number of inclusion workshops such as this one held in 2018. The programs, which are open to all, honor Special Needs Awareness Month and Jewish Disabilities and Inclusion Awareness Month.

By Deb Silverthorn

February is all about love and, through Jewish Family Service, much love is being spread to the special needs community. It is designated as Jewish Disabilities and Inclusion Awareness Month, and Jewish organizations worldwide are making an effort to raise awareness and foster inclusion for those with disabilities and those who love them. JFS, servicing all in need regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or the ability to pay, adds the moniker, Special Needs Awareness Month.
“Our goal is for our community to realize that awareness leads to understanding, that understanding leads to empathy, and that empathy leads to compassion,” said Lorraine Friedman, director of JFS’ Special Needs Partnership and Programs. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could all focus on those themes this month, spreading a little more kindness and being a little more open-minded and open-hearted?”
The calendar of care begins with Inclusion Experience afternoons, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3, at Temple Emanu-El and then from 12 to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. In addition, the program will be shared with the students of Akiba Academy’s Middle School Feb. 25 and 26. The Inclusion Experience features experiential learning of auditory and sensory processing, fine and gross motor, speech, language and reading skills including dyslexia and ADHD.
A new chapter opens at 6:30 p.m. with CHAI-5 Book Club’s initial readings Feb. 5 and 19, and then every other Tuesday thereafter. Members will have their own copies of the books and Friedman first, then volunteers, will read them aloud. The first choice shared will be “Because of Winn-Dixie,” with the film screened afterward.
“We’ve wanted to present a book club for a while. This is the right time and Lorraine, with JFS, who has written books, is the right person to partner with,” said CHAI’s Community Relations Manager Kathy Minor Schneider. “We’ll have great discussions, and this will be a meaningful program.”
Friedman will direct a PERK (Parents Empowered Raising Kids) panel from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, at JFS. Six parents of young children, teens, college students and adults will share experiences and offer advice of how to traverse life’s path in many areas.
To prepare for Shabbat, CTeen, Friendship Circle and Yachad Dallas invite teens to participate in an inclusive challah bake beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at Chabad of Dallas.
There will also be an added dose of shalom in next month’s Shabbat services. On Friday, Feb. 8, Anshai Torah will host Yehuda Kohn, founder of Bet Elazraki Children´s Home, a residential school in Netanya for at-risk youth. Services will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner. Chabad of Dallas and Friendship Circle will also share dedicated services and a dinner with sensory-friendly activities, beginning at 6:15 p.m. Congregation Beth Torah welcomes the members of CHAI (Community Homes for Adults, Inc.) and the community for inclusive morning services and lunch beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 16.
Party with the Partners, which will celebrate all abilities, opens its doors from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, at Congregation Shearith Israel with sensory-safe events including karaoke (with the microphone off), dancing, art, basketball, beading projects, bingo, cookie decorating and more. Friendship Circle, Jewish Family Service and Yachad Dallas joining Shearith Israel will be the first time the community’s four agencies centered on those living with special needs will come together. The event, which celebrates people of all needs, is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, allowing the fun at no charge.
“We’re so excited to throw a party and celebrate all those in our community who we love,” said Sarah Lipinsky, Shearith Israel’s director of education, excited about the program she’s worked on for some time. “These members of our community are so special and it is our responsibility to make their lives better. As Jews, we’re commanded to care for one another, and I’m thrilled to partner with each of the groups in our community who are committed to doing just that.”
The curtains rise for screenings of “My Hero Brother” and “The Other Dreamers,” recommended for ages 13 and up, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Studio Movie Grill at Royal Lane and Central Expressway.
“My Hero Brother” shares the story of young people with Down syndrome trekking through the Himalayan Mountains with their siblings. During their journey of a lifetime, they deal with physical and emotional challenges, unresolved conflicts surface and friendships develop. “The Other Dreamers” follows four disabled children who fall in love, get hurt, dance, compete and live their lives exactly like their non-disabled peers — with the addition of a wheelchair.
For teachers, an “It’s About Ability” program will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, at JFS. Differentiated Learning focuses on allowing teachers to meet the needs of students with differing abilities by changing the content that students learn, the process by which they retain the information, how they demonstrate knowledge of skills and with whom and where learning happens.
“While the special needs movement is a year-round process, February has become a focal point to highlight the challenges of people with special needs, and to build broader community awareness of these challenges, and to take additional steps to make our community inclusive and engaging. Through Special Needs Awareness month, we bring our community together,” said JFS CEO Cathy Barker.
For more events and RSVP details, visit tinyurl.com/JFS-special-needs-february. To volunteer at the Inclusion Experiences or the CHAI-5 Book Club, grades nine through adults, contact Lorraine Friedman at 972-437-9950 or email lfriedman@jfsdallas.org.By Deb Silverthorn
February is all about love and, through Jewish Family Service, much love is being spread to the special needs community. It is designated as Jewish Disabilities and Inclusion Awareness Month, and Jewish organizations worldwide are making an effort to raise awareness and foster inclusion for those with disabilities and those who love them. JFS, servicing all in need regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or the ability to pay, adds the moniker, Special Needs Awareness Month.
“Our goal is for our community to realize that awareness leads to understanding, that understanding leads to empathy, and that empathy leads to compassion,” said Lorraine Friedman, director of JFS’ Special Needs Partnership and Programs. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could all focus on those themes this month, spreading a little more kindness and being a little more open-minded and open-hearted?”
The calendar of care begins with Inclusion Experience afternoons, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3, at Temple Emanu-El and then from 12 to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. In addition, the program will be shared with the students of Akiba Academy’s Middle School Feb. 25 and 26. The Inclusion Experience features experiential learning of auditory and sensory processing, fine and gross motor, speech, language and reading skills including dyslexia and ADHD.
A new chapter opens at 6:30 p.m. with CHAI-5 Book Club’s initial readings Feb. 5 and 19, and then every other Tuesday thereafter. Members will have their own copies of the books and Friedman first, then volunteers, will read them aloud. The first choice shared will be “Because of Winn-Dixie,” with the film screened afterward.
“We’ve wanted to present a book club for a while. This is the right time and Lorraine, with JFS, who has written books, is the right person to partner with,” said CHAI’s Community Relations Manager Kathy Minor Schneider. “We’ll have great discussions, and this will be a meaningful program.”
Friedman will direct a PERK (Parents Empowered Raising Kids) panel from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, at JFS. Six parents of young children, teens, college students and adults will share experiences and offer advice of how to traverse life’s path in many areas.
To prepare for Shabbat, CTeen, Friendship Circle and Yachad Dallas invite teens to participate in an inclusive challah bake beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at Chabad of Dallas.
There will also be an added dose of shalom in next month’s Shabbat services. On Friday, Feb. 8, Anshai Torah will host Yehuda Kohn, founder of Bet Elazraki Children´s Home, a residential school in Netanya for at-risk youth. Services will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner. Chabad of Dallas and Friendship Circle will also share dedicated services and a dinner with sensory-friendly activities, beginning at 6:15 p.m. Congregation Beth Torah welcomes the members of CHAI (Community Homes for Adults, Inc.) and the community for inclusive morning services and lunch beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 16.
Party with the Partners, which will celebrate all abilities, opens its doors from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, at Congregation Shearith Israel with sensory-safe events including karaoke (with the microphone off), dancing, art, basketball, beading projects, bingo, cookie decorating and more. Friendship Circle, Jewish Family Service and Yachad Dallas joining Shearith Israel will be the first time the community’s four agencies centered on those living with special needs will come together. The event, which celebrates people of all needs, is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, allowing the fun at no charge.
“We’re so excited to throw a party and celebrate all those in our community who we love,” said Sarah Lipinsky, Shearith Israel’s director of education, excited about the program she’s worked on for some time. “These members of our community are so special and it is our responsibility to make their lives better. As Jews, we’re commanded to care for one another, and I’m thrilled to partner with each of the groups in our community who are committed to doing just that.”
The curtains rise for screenings of “My Hero Brother” and “The Other Dreamers,” recommended for ages 13 and up, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Studio Movie Grill at Royal Lane and Central Expressway.
“My Hero Brother” shares the story of young people with Down syndrome trekking through the Himalayan Mountains with their siblings. During their journey of a lifetime, they deal with physical and emotional challenges, unresolved conflicts surface and friendships develop. “The Other Dreamers” follows four disabled children who fall in love, get hurt, dance, compete and live their lives exactly like their non-disabled peers — with the addition of a wheelchair.
For teachers, an “It’s About Ability” program will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, at JFS. Differentiated Learning focuses on allowing teachers to meet the needs of students with differing abilities by changing the content that students learn, the process by which they retain the information, how they demonstrate knowledge of skills and with whom and where learning happens.
“While the special needs movement is a year-round process, February has become a focal point to highlight the challenges of people with special needs, and to build broader community awareness of these challenges, and to take additional steps to make our community inclusive and engaging. Through Special Needs Awareness month, we bring our community together,” said JFS CEO Cathy Barker.
For more events and RSVP details, visit tinyurl.com/JFS-special-needs-february. To volunteer at the Inclusion Experiences or the CHAI-5 Book Club, grades nine through adults, contact Lorraine Friedman at 972-437-9950 or email lfriedman@jfsdallas.org.

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JFS introduces new director of Special Needs Partnership

JFS introduces new director of Special Needs Partnership

Posted on 31 January 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Lorraine Friedman
“I’ve lived many lifetimes since I left Dallas and I believe my role at JFS is allowing me to bring it all together and to make a difference for many,” said Friedman, director of JFS’ Special Needs Partnership and Programs, with sons, Cameron (left) and Jared. “It takes a village to help and support our people, and this community is an incredibly giving and loving village.”

By Deb Silverthorn

|JFS’ Special Needs Partnership and Programs has found new leadership in its new director, Dallas native Lorraine Friedman.
Friedman, who has recently returned to Dallas after three decades of making a difference in the Washington, D.C. and Virginia areas, is a former member of the BBYO Zesmer chapter and a graduate of Hillcrest High School. She was also raised at Temple Emanu-El.
“It’s great to be back home, to the city I grew up in, and to be meeting so many people in our community, which has grown so much,” said the daughter of Barbara and Will Friedman, and mother of Cameron and Jared Goldstein. “This city and our Jewish community has grown and extended itself so much, and while I’m reconnecting with old friends, I’m making so many new ones.”
Friedman graduated from UT Austin, as well as Georgetown Law School. Over the past 30 years, she has been providing legal support through the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, and serving children with disabilities for D.C.’s Protection and Advocacy system.
“Lorraine brings years of experience in creating connections, leading advocacy efforts and identifying creative solutions to everyday challenges for those with special needs,” said JFS CEO Cathy Barker. “Her passion for breaking barriers and improving access, combined with this experience, makes her the right person to lead JFS’ Special Needs Partnership.”
Friedman is founder and director of The DreamDog Foundation, a nonprofit which supports at-risk children. Having created “Kids Empowering Kids” and “Kids Making a Difference,” as well as the “Family Links” program that connects teen mothers and necessary resources (now directed by SCAN, Stop Child Abuse Now), she received Alexandria, Virginia’s 2015 Salute to Women Youth Community Services and 2016 Living Legend of Alexandria awards.
“Lorraine is incredible and she is helping us all as individual organizations, and as a whole community, work together for the good of those we serve,” said Dallas Friendship Circle Director Leah Dubrawsky, who works closely with Friedman, as well as with her son Cameron who volunteers as a Teen Buddy with Dallas Friendship Circle. “She’s very supportive and she understands what we want to do, what we need to do, and I’m sure she’s going to help us reach out further.”
Friedman is the creator of two award-winning book/music CD series, “Jazz the DreamDog” and the “DreamDog Kids,” to help children discover the superhero inside and believe that the real magic to solving problems lies within oneself. She also created “The Adventures of CiCi & Ace,” a unique multi-sensory product combining a storybook, music CD and web fun and games. Friedman is excited about children themselves becoming published authors through the “Book of My Own” program she designed.
“I’ve lived many lifetimes since I left Dallas, and I believe my role at JFS is allowing me to bring it all together and to make a difference for many,” Friedman said. “It takes a village to help and support our people, and this community is an incredibly giving and loving village.”
Lorraine Friedman can be reached at 972-437-9950 or at lfriedman@jfsdallas.org.

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Annual Dallas AIPAC Dessert Reception is Sun., Feb. 10

Annual Dallas AIPAC Dessert Reception is Sun., Feb. 10

Posted on 31 January 2019 by admin

Photo: Jordan Olschwanger
“It’s important to be involved in something bigger than ourselves and we must all stand together,” said Stephanie Dubner (second from right), with her 2019 Dallas AIPAC event co-chairs (left to right) Larry and Donna Olschwanger and Michael Dubner. “We must stand for Israel.”

By Deb Silverthorn

“Being an Orthodox Jew has not only not been an obstacle to the dreams and career goals that I’ve had, I think it’s actually helped me,” former U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman has said. “It has strengthened me and I think it’s helped me gain the respect of non-Jews.” Senator Lieberman will be featured as the keynote speaker at the 2019 Dallas AIPAC Dessert Reception and Program, beginning at 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, at the Hyatt Regency, Dallas.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee is a bipartisan, nonprofit organization that works to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship. Registered as a domestic lobby and supported by private donations, AIPAC is not a political action committee and does not rate, endorse or contribute to candidates.
AIPAC’s Southwest Region, based in Houston with offices in Dallas and Denver, serves Arkansas, Colorado, Louisiana, New Mexico and Texas. It is led by professional and lay leaders. Dallas’ Jewish community has made significant footprints in the nonpartisan, not religious-based organization. A growing contingent attends the AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington, D.C. each year, and Dallas’ own Lillian Pinkus was the organization’s president from 2016 to 2018.
“This event is to share what AIPAC really is, what it stands for, and to give our local community a chance to connect,” said Stephanie Dubner, co-chairing the event with her husband Michael and Donna and Larry Olschwanger. “Dallas’ involvement in AIPAC grows each year and the commitment and drive is more critical than ever.”
Stephanie, who first went to Israel as a teen, and again in 2015, is now a member of AIPAC’s Dallas Council. With her husband, whose first trip to Israel was also as a teen, she has attended AIPAC’s Policy Conference for the last three years. The couple’s first experience with AIPAC was a number of years ago at the local event they are now co-chairing.
“Israel is our homeland,” Stephanie said, “and while we can’t all live there, we can all connect, and we can all support her.”
More than 18,000 pro-Israel Americans, including 3,600 students from more than 600 college campuses, more than two-thirds of Congress, and nearly 300 synagogue delegations participate in demonstrations of Israeli innovations, keynote speeches by American and Israeli leaders and educational sessions about pro-Israel activism in three days.
“We have to stand up for Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East; our land is a beacon of light and we must help her to continue to shine,” said Stephanie who, with her family, belongs to Congregation Anshai Torah. “Joseph Lieberman always has and always will stand for Israel and it is that heart, that love for Israel, that we wanted represented.”
Lieberman, the Democratic vice-presidential candidate in 2000, served 24 years in the United States Senate. Previously, Lieberman served as the attorney general of the State of Connecticut for six years, as a Connecticut state senator for 10 years and three terms as the majority leader. Now, senior counsel at the law firm of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres and Friedman in New York, he represents clients in independent and internal investigations, advising on public policy, strategic and regulatory issues, assisting corporate clients on tax, health care, security and intellectual property matters, international expansion initiatives and business plans.
In addition to practicing law, Lieberman is a co-chair of the American Enterprise Institute’s American Internationalism Project, a cross-party initiative designed to rebuild and reshape a bipartisan consensus around American global leadership and engagement.
As a senator, Lieberman helped shape legislation in national and homeland security, foreign policy, fiscal policy, environmental protection, human rights, health care, trade, energy, cybersecurity and taxes. He served as chairman of the Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs, leading numerous congressional probes, including investigations into Enron’s collapse, the federal government’s response to Hurricane Katrina, the Fort Hood mass shooting and the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya.
Married to Hadassah since 1982, the father of four and grandfather of five, Lieberman has written many books including “In Praise of Public Life,” “An Amazing Adventure” and “The Gift of Rest: Rediscovering the Beauty of the Sabbath.”
“What you give, you get back tenfold. AIPAC is about the betterment of Israel, of working both sides of the aisle, and Senator Lieberman is representative of setting the bar for that,” said Larry Olschwanger, who respects AIPAC for its dissemination of accurate information and its nonpartisan engagement. Through AIPAC he has met both Jews and non-Jews and his interest in political activities has heightened. “His [Lieberman’s] background, his demeanor, and his respect are all to be admired and honored. What he will bring to our community we can be sure will be meaningful.”
Larry and his wife Donna, members of Congregation Shearith Israel, feel proud, having shared their respect and 10 years of association with AIPAC with their children Megan and Jordan. “We became involved in AIPAC before we ever went to Israel but after a family trip in 2011, our whole outlook on life changed and we’ve appreciated our responsibility in a way we hadn’t before.”
Both couples co-chairing the event express that, through AIPAC, participants learn how their voices can grow and be heard.
“My grandparents survived the Holocaust and this is my way to honor my family’s memory,” said Stephanie, mother of Adam, Matthew and Reid. “It’s important to be involved in something bigger than ourselves and we must all stand together. We must stand for Israel.”
For details or reservations, contact Kate Middlebrook at 214-741-6759 or KMiddlebrook@aipac.org.

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The pursuit of equal opportunity

Posted on 30 January 2019 by admin

Last week’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day was an appropriate time to assess how far our society has come with regard to achieving equality of opportunity. My brother, Fred, I am proud to say, was part of that effort.
While looking through my old files recently, I came across a large mailing envelope with Fred’s name on it. I began to peruse its contents, items he had sent sporadically over the years. Fred, of blessed memory, passed in 2014.
From various notes, greeting cards and news clippings, I pieced together a story about Fred and his wife’s efforts to do the right thing.
Although Fred was a scientist, specializing in cellular biology, he and his wife, Marie, got involved in righting injustices.
After a two-year research/teaching stint at Roswell Park Cancer Hospital in upper New York State (where he encountered anti-Semitism), Fred returned to Texas at A&M’s biology department, carrying out research, writing and teaching for the next five years.
Although relatively new to the College Station community, he soon became aware of violations of rights held by members of the black community.
Streets in the black community were not paved, but most of the white families’ community streets were paved. The Postal Service would not deliver mail to the black community because of the “poor conditions” of their unpaved streets. Fred and Marie quickly became strong voices, vital parts of an existing citizens’ group who worked to change and improve life for all in the A&M community.
Fred pointed out a map to the city manager, showing the location of all the city’s fire hydrants, none of which was in a black neighborhood. New hydrants were subsequently installed.
After Fred consulted with a representative of the city and the Postal Department, streets became paved and mailboxes were built and placed. For the first time, mail was delivered to everyone’s household.
Some people opposed to change began to make threats against Fred and his family. He was even referred to as a Communist. Some members of the A&M faculty came to his defense, as did various members of the community.
Not being a lawyer, Fred had to inform himself as best he could. He had to use law books where they were stored, in the office of the president of A&M College, Retired Army General Earl Rudder.
While Fred pored over the books at one end of the long table, General Rudder, grumbling at the other end, asked Fred, “Why are you involved in this?” But,Fred continued working silently.
Early in 1961, Fred had received a collaborative research fellowship which would take him, his wife and four boys to Europe for two years. This arrangement was allowed under an agreement Fred had with the university.
When it became time to return to Texas, however, Fred’s department failed to respond, so he obtained a position elsewhere, at the Pasadena (California) Research Institute.
Committed to serving others, Fred and Marie continued their good work by helping organize a dental care program for needy children in the Pasadena area.
The majority of Fred’s professional career was as professor of anatomy at Louisiana State Medical School for 25 years, where one of his areas of research included uncovering documentation on medical crimes carried out by Nazi medical professors, information which he has since shared with the Wiesenthal Center.
One usually thinks of a research scientist stuck in a laboratory, laboring over microscopes and test tubes; but with Dr. Frederick Kasten, his mind and heart were greater than that.

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Reverence for teachers: giving credit where it’s due

Posted on 30 January 2019 by admin

Dear Families,
A number of years ago I received an email from my son who was studying music at Rice University at the time. A world-renowned teacher came to give master classes and my son was writing to tell about it (and, of course, send pictures). His words were simple, yet so telling of the relationship between student and teacher. He wrote, “My teacher’s teacher is here.” From those words, I heard the reverence of a student for a teacher which, for centuries, has been part of our Jewish tradition. We are continually reminded that “we are standing on the shoulders of the ones who came before us.” All of our knowledge is expanded by learning from others.
Judaism is the religion that may be credited with the early beginnings of copyright law. When you read Talmudic text it says, “Rabbi This said to Rabbi That who said it in the name of Rabbi Who…” However, copyright law is meant to protect the original, whereas the Jewish tradition is to give honor to those who said it first. Citing your “sources” gives credit to them, but also gives weight to your ideas and thoughts. When my son tells me whom he has studied with, he is raised in esteem as well.
All professions honor those who came before — for us, as Jews, we trace our lineage all the way back. It is said that we all came from one man, Adam, so that none of us can say, “My dad’s better than yours!” This, too, is an important message to remember.
Finally, reverence for teachers is a very important Jewish value. When my son spoke of “his teacher’s teacher,” he was honoring his teacher as well as the elder teacher. This respect and reverence for the teachers in our lives is lacking in many schools. However, today in many Jewish day schools the tradition still continues for students to stand when their teacher (or any adult) enters the classroom. Our Jewish tradition values learning and those who help us learn — let us demonstrate with our words and our actions the respect and reverence we feel for those important people in our lives.

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Trust that God will give us what we need

Posted on 30 January 2019 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,
In last week’s Torah reading of the Ten Commandments, I had trouble understanding the 10th commandment, “Thou shalt not covet.’’ It seems to be an injunction forbidding jealousy. How can jealousy, a normal human emotion, be forbidden?
Clyde R.
Dear Clyde,
One of the classical commentaries, R’ Avraham Ibn Ezra, provides insight on this subject. He explains that we are only jealous of, or covet, something that we believe could actually become ours. For example, when we see a friend, colleague or co-worker achieve a heightened level of financial success, we may be overcome by jealousy. However, when we observe a king basking in the splendor of his riches, we don’t feel envious. Why this discrepancy?
The difference is clear. We recognize that we are not kings. We were not born into royal families and do not yearn for things we know could not possibly become ours. We might, however, be envious of our neighbor, who we believe is no more capable than ourselves.
“Lo sachmod,’’ or “do not covet,’’ teaches us a profound lesson in God’s involvement in our lives and livelihoods. The Almighty has provided each person with his or her needs. What is appropriate for one is not necessarily fitting for another. What belongs to another is as much out of reach as if your friend were royalty.
I think this explanation is inherent within the verse itself. The commandment to not covet our friend’s ox and donkey is uttered in the same breath that we may not covet his wife. This is hinting to us that just as my friend’s wife is completely off limits to me (that’s his royalty), so too, the rest of his possessions are to be viewed as completely out of reach. Consequently, you will not covet those belongings.
This mitzvah doesn’t command us to quash our emotions. It rather gives us a direction in life which enables us to control our emotions. Natural emotions have a place, otherwise they would not have been created within us. Our job as Jews is to control our emotions, utilizing them when appropriate, remaining above them when inappropriate. All of us will inevitably be faced with the natural emotional challenge of jealousy. At that time, we need to focus on the above lesson, and we can regain our control.
Taking this a step further, the mitzvah to not covet is the ultimate purpose of all of the Ten Commandments. We learn this from the fact that it is the last of the commandments, and the sages have taught us that “sof maaseh b’machshava techila,” the last of actions manifests the original thought. Similarly,the creation of man came after all other creations, plague of the first born after all other plagues, the creation of the Jewish people after all other core nations. Why would this be so?
The answer is, if one truly believes in “I am the Lord your God,” then one will trust in God to provide for their every need and be sure that what they have is exactly what their Father in heaven deems appropriate for them.
This is why the parallel of not coveting in the Ten Commandments is honoring one’s father and mother. Like one trusts their loving and caring parents to anticipate and arrange their needs, so too, one learns to extrapolate that trust to God.
This commandment is, more than any other, relevant to our lives, day by day, hour by hour, situation by situation.
I was always amazed by my father, ob’m, and the way he expressed joy at the financial successes of others, although he only made a modest income. My understanding was that my father, as a Holocaust survivor, maintained his joy by simply being alive and enjoying the simple pleasures he was blessed with. This enabled him to not only not covet what others had, but even to fully join in the joy of others in their successes, a joy untainted by the desire of it coming to himself.

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Dinner Table: diverse group, a hearty meal

Posted on 30 January 2019 by admin

Last week I asked what you did on Tu B’Shevat. This week I’m asking: What did you do on Martin Luther King Day? I chose to attend Dallas Dinner Table, a deceptively casual-seeming event started quite a few years ago by some folks who thought that race relations could be improved if a small group of people would simply sit down, have a meal and talk together. The idea was to mix ages, sexes, races, religions and ethnicities around a dinner table, and maybe some learning and mutual understanding could be the result.
Well, nobody has yet been able to measure the success of that idea in mathematical terms. But those who’ve attended — myself included — endorse the idea as an eye-opener, and at least a potential mind-opener. And when open minds lead to understanding, maybe changes will follow.
The first Dinner Table I attended was a free-for-all: There was no agenda, just talk; the food was the icebreaker. Or maybe it was our hosts: two gay young men who shared a house, which was where we had our dinner. In the years since, I’ve gone to Dinner Tables in a church — an office building — a restaurant — a shop in a strip center — but mostly in other private homes. Whether the food is catered, home-cooked or “takeout” brought to another venue, it’s always the responsibility of those who host — the food is their contribution to the idea, and to its purpose.
This year, I was assigned to an unassuming-looking house on one of the Dallas “M” streets. (Side note: Yes, participants are assigned. Yes, this is well-intentioned, but not always successful. First I was assigned to the same church where I’d been last year, and when I asked if that was a good idea, the answer was my assignment to the home of a family I already knew! But three is indeed a charm, and my final assignment was very successful.) The hostess is an artist, and the house is full of her amazing works — many, in many media. She and her husband are also good cooks and bakers, so the meal — simple, as are all Dinner Table meals — was salad, homemade stews (meat and vegetarian options) and wonderful chocolate cake. This was their third Dinner Table; they have enough space to host two tables of attendees, and at evening’s end they promised to do it again next year.
The first Dinner Table I attended had no moderator. But many — if not most — things change with experience. There are now some guidelines and actual guides: Leaders bring icebreakers and question-and-answer “games” to get the conversational ball rolling. There’s a leader at every table, a role given in advance to individuals who choose it. You don’t have to be a professional of any kind to do this; everyone wanting to take part in this human relations adventure is asked to choose in advance between leading or just plain participating. (I always pick the latter.)
The surprise at my table of seven was that the person most peppered with questions about life experiences wasn’t Black, or Oriental, or Muslim or Jewish — it was a Christian Hispanic female who had the most interesting stories to share. Our white host was seated next to our black leader, a woman who kept us on point and on time: Dinner Tables take exactly three hours, ending promptly at nine.
A bonus for me, as the only Jew in this group, was that this year, Martin Luther King Day actually fell on the same day as Tu B’Shevat, so I was able to give my table-mates a bit of information on a holiday none of them had ever heard of before. And everyone agreed that planting trees is akin to planting ideas, which we all did plenty of that evening.
So I encourage you to consider Dallas Dinner Table as a way to observe a great American’s birthday. I assure you: The present will be yours.

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Community bakes support for young CP patient

Community bakes support for young CP patient

Posted on 24 January 2019 by admin

From left: Noam Swisa works on a project at Chabad of Plano’s Hebrew School with classmates Maya Kahlom, Oriya Azo and Asher Simon.
Photo: Courtesy Swisa Family

By Deb Silverthorn

The recipe for community is no doubt one part need and many parts soul, one part request and hundreds of parts caring. The recipe for support for 8-year-old Noam Swisa, who lives with cerebral palsy and needs surgery, is one part Noam and many parts everyone.
Two upcoming fundraisers will help defray the costs of Noam’s surgery. Proceeds from 3 to 7 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 28, at Benny’s Bagels at Ohio and Frankford in Far North Dallas, and the Mega Challah Bake for Noam, from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 5, at Congregation Tiferet Israel, will help bring the taste of success to this child.
“This boy, this Noam, is as sweet as can be, and we must help him have a chance,” said Michal Azo, a friend of the Swisa family. Azo — who created a GoFundMe page raising (at press time) just over $40,000 of the $150,000 needed for Noam’s selective dorsal rhizotomy (SDR) surgery — is spearheading the challah bake with Meital Dov Rosbruch and Sarit Sabo.
“Many are helping and when he is well, it will be because we came together. Alone, it’s impossible,” Azo said. “With many hands, he can get strong.”
Isaac and Ifat Banai’s Benny’s Bagels and Sharon and Vered Kabilio’s Midtown Pizza are donating food for challah-bake participants; Congregation Tiferet Israel is providing the space; and Liron and Ronen Telman, who own Aderet, are supplying the challah ingredients. By offsetting these costs, all donations to the challah bake will support Noam’s surgery and associated care.
“All humans, all of our community, we’re family and we have to take care of and be there for each other,” Isaac Banai said. “I love kids, we all do, and we want to do whatever we can do to help.”
Rachel Ben Yaish became concerned when son Noam, born at 39 weeks by emergency Cesarean section, wasn’t meeting developmental milestones. At 4 and 5 months, he wasn’t crawling, controlling his head or moving his left arm. Then he wasn’t sitting up when others his age were. After seeing a neurologist, the cerebral palsy diagnosis came. Second and third consultations confirmed.
At a level 4 of 5 in severity on the Gross Motor Function Classification System, Noam’s muscle tone causes poor coordination and movement limitation. He can walk, with a walker, only a few steps at a time. He can’t stand or sit, feed himself or manage almost any everyday activity.
Noam’s best hope is the surgery, which the family is hoping will be done by the procedure’s “father,” Dr. Tae Sung Park, a neurosurgeon who is also director of the Center for Cerebral Palsy Spasticity at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
Park, with thousands of procedures completed, has patients from the United States, Canada, China, Israel, Switzerland and elsewhere. For Noam’s future, the family believes making the trip to St. Louis to release the spasticity through the surgery to his spine is a must.
“This can give him a second chance for a better life,” his mother said, noting a Lehosit Yad (reach-out campaign), started by family in Israel, has raised another $20,000. “It should allow him to sit straight, to use his now curled hands, and let him be more independent. This surgery is hope.”
“Thank you everyone helping me do SDR. I am looking forward to it,” said Noam, who attended Levine Academy, and now studies at Lone Star Language Academy and Chabad of Plano’s Hebrew School. His afternoons are filled with physical and occupational therapies — hippotherapy (equine), hydro (water) and physio (massage and heat) therapies to enhance his muscle and core. “I feel very blessed surrounded by so much love.”
The logistics of surgery far from home are significant to the family, which also includes 4-year-old Romi. They expect to be gone one to three weeks for surgery and post-op recovery and therapies. Both parents work in Dallas — he as a cosmetics production professional and she as a therapy assistant. Being uprooted adds to their stress.
“This is what we must do now to help our son — it’s much sacrifice, but it’s for his best life,” said Rachel. She and husband Dror are from Israel, but they met in Dallas.
“The fact that Noam is alive is a miracle in itself. We want to make that life one that lets him move and walk and live his best life. The surgery isn’t covered by our insurance or Medicare, so we must ask for help,” said Rachel, appreciative that much of Noam’s care has been covered — at least partially — including his therapies, power and manual wheelchairs and a Rabbit Mobile Stander (a vertical mobility tool).
“We’re excited to make the doctor’s assessment, we hope next month, and move forward,” she said. “It’s a long way, but our appreciation for everyone is something I can’t express.”
While everyone works to ensure his future, Noam, who turns 9 on Feb. 10, wishes only not to be bound to a wheelchair, but to play tag, to hold his water bottle and fork, to play video games — to be a typical child.
“I’m very thankful for my friends and family for support,” said the bright-eyed and spirited child, “and to everyone dedicated to helping me.”
RSVPs for the women’s only Mega Challah Bake for Noam, $20/person, and other donations can be made by PayPal at heliby7@yahoo.com or tinyurl.com/NoamSDRsupport or click “going” on the Mega Challah Bake for Noam Facebook page and pay cash at the door.

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Mendelsohn’s passion leads to City Council run

Mendelsohn’s passion leads to City Council run

Posted on 24 January 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Cara Mendelsohn
Cara Mendelsohn spoke to Levine Academy eighth-graders about the important work of Rebuilding Together, where she serves as executive director.

By Leah Vann

Cara Mendelsohn seems like an obvious candidate for Dallas City Council’s District 12, which includes Far North Dallas and parts of Collin County, in the upcoming May 4 city elections. The list of leadership positions she’s held could fill a novel.
But she never thought she would be running for political office; she’s just a believer in tikkun olam, helping the local community she’s so passionate about.
“My current council member, Sandy Greyson, who is term-limited, said to me, ‘Hey, have you ever considered running?’” Mendelsohn said. “And I said, ‘No,’ and she said, ‘You should really think about it.’ It’s just the next step in serving the community, and because I’ve been so deeply involved in North Dallas, I said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to do this.’”
Mendelsohn’s work tells the stories of her passions. She was the vice chair of the City of Dallas’ Citizen Homelessness Commission and also serves on two of the city’s housing policy task force committees. She has also served on the city’s bond taskforce subcommittee on homelessness and economic development, and the mayor’s task force on homelessness. She says she became involved in the homeless community while serving as the Plano ISD’s PTA council president.
“I had three PTA presidents that were homeless, and I was surprised,” Mendelsohn said. “I thought, hey, I’m going to help get them services so that they can stabilize their families. Two of them were dealing with domestic violence and one was an economic issue. I came to find out there weren’t resources. I got involved in the Collin County Homeless Coalition and, before I knew it, I was chairing it.”
Mendelsohn grew the coalition from 10-15 people to a couple of hundred and led the first homeless count. She shined a light on a part of the community that people didn’t see.
This led to her becoming the director of marketing and advocacy for The Samaritan Inn in Collin County.
In other professional roles, she was director of community engagement with VNA and is currently executive director Rebuilding Together North Texas, which provides free home repair to low-income seniors, veterans and people with disabilities.
Through the lens of the vulnerable populations, Mendelsohn started to see bigger problems.
“Within Dallas, the perception is that the homeless are only on the streets of downtown, when in fact they are everywhere,” Mendelsohn said. “The cause of homelessness is so many other things: our lack of mental health care, lack of addiction services, lack of transportation, lack of affordable housing. So many things we’re deficient in. Of course, we have a homeless population.”
Another part of Mendelsohn’s platform is helping foster a stronger police force through competitive pay. Delayed response times are symptomatic of an understaffed department.
She notes that six and seven years ago, the city of Dallas had over 3,600 officers. Now, despite the population increase, there are less than 3,000.
Mendelsohn also wants to open the doors to digital communication between the local government and the people of District 12. She plans to increase Facebook communication to update Dallas residents on what the local government is doing, and also use it as a way to give people a place to voice their concerns. It’s a need she finds especially important for District 12, which is the farthest from City Hall compared to other districts.
“I want to help people access city services and be aware of what the city provides.” Mendelsohn said. “It’s their city, it’s their tax dollars. People should have a voice.”
There’s no other place Mendelsohn hopes to serve in public office. She has a passion for the community and its needs, and is running only because she believes she can be the person to take on the challenge. Campaigning is the worst part, she said.
“I can get up and speak in front of 1,400 people about something I’m so passionate about,” Mendelsohn said. “But for me to get up in front of 20 people and say, ‘This is why I’m so awesome,’ I don’t love that.”
Even though she doesn’t mention it herself, she has received many awards, including the Collin County Volunteer of the Year, The Plano ISD Community Impact Award and at least six others.
She has helped several people with their campaigns, including Michael Friedman for Plano ISD school board.
“Cara is one of the best leaders we have in the entire Jewish community,” said Friedman, who no longer serves on the board. “She was president of the Jewish Family Service board. I was brought on the board and I very much admired her honesty and integrity. She’s one of the best leaders I’ve ever seen, and I’ve sat on 15 boards. She has a heart as big as gold.”
Friedman ran for Plano ISD school board trustee with Mendelsohn as his campaign manager. He believes that her kind heart and level of intelligence allows her to communicate effectively with a wide variety of people. She’s well-researched, looking at all sides of every issue to make well-informed decisions, even when they’re tough.
And as a leader in both the Jewish community and city of Dallas, Mendelsohn will face many of those. But if elected, she’ll be following in the footsteps of many prominent Jewish women in Dallas like former mayors Annette Strauss, Laura Miller and Adlene Harrison.
“When you are serving for the greater good and serving to genuinely improve things, you’re the right person,” Mendelsohn said. “This is what it is in our culture: Solve the problems.”
Learn more about Cara Mendelsohn’s campaign at http://caramendelsohn.com/.

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