Archive | March, 2019

Just For Show will feature The Second City

Just For Show will feature The Second City

Posted on 13 March 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Brad Sham
Brad Sham will be the master of ceremonies at Jewish Family Service’s Just for Show fundraiser April 30.

By Deb Silverthorn

Day after day, Jewish Family Service provides life-changing interventions to the people it serves. To support those programs and services financially, JFS will present “Just For Show,” featuring the improv comedy troupe The Second City, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 30, at The Majestic Theatre. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Brad Sham will serve as master of ceremonies.
“The need has never been greater,” said Event Co-chair Eric Goldberg, “and the expertise and consideration afforded by the JFS team to our clients is something we couldn’t be prouder to support.”
Goldberg is co-chairing the event with his wife Sharon as well as Stefani and Gary Eisenstat and Greta and Howard Herskowitz.
“Other than annual gifts provided by donors, Just For Show provides one of our largest sources of unrestricted operating support — critical funding needed to support all of the agency’s services,” said JFS’ CEO Cathy Barker. “More than half of our clients who access clinical or employment services pay $5 or less for services. The funds we raise at this event ensure that we can continue to serve anyone in need, regardless of their ability to pay and for as long as needed.”
For more than 50 years The Second City troupe, with alumni that include Tina Fey, Chris Farley, Bill Murray and Keegan-Michael Key, has been presenting improvisational comedy. With a variety of theaters, training centers and full-time touring ensembles, laughter is provided around the world. The Second City is creating an original show for the evening, customized to spread joy relating to JFS and the Dallas Jewish community.
“Just For Show is a great night out with friends, colleagues or a significant other to laugh and support a great cause,” said Barker. “The Second City is legendary. When you think about improv, they immediately come to mind. It was a no-brainer to bring them in for this evening of comedy and community.”
Sham said that The Second City is a favorite stop of his when he heads to the Windy City.
“It’s on my ‘to do’ almost every time I get to Chicago and I know Just For Show will be a real treat,” said Sham, known as “the voice of the Dallas Cowboys,” broadcasting his 41st season for the team this year.
The broadcaster commended JFS for its monumental work for the community, with more than 150 programs, groups and services. Serving its mission every day, JFS’ employees and volunteers provide professional, effective and affordable mental health and social services that promote lifelong self-sufficiency and well-being for anyone in need regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or ability to pay.
“The tremendous work that Jewish Family Service does across the community is important work to be understood and supported. All they had to do was ask and I’m honored to be a part of this special night,” said Sham.
JFS, nationally accredited in all service areas by the Council on Accreditation, is a United Way Agency and community partner of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. With more than 40 community collaborations built over its 68 years, Jewish Family Service offers wraparound care to address multiple needs, its sliding scale, even to zero cost, making a difference and changing lives for more than 13,000 people each year.
JFS encompasses more than 150 different services, groups, programs, and specialists in the areas of mental health support for all ages; food pantry; older adult needs; career and employment; family violence intervention; and emergency assistance. In 2018, 1,604 volunteers gave 28,454 hours to enhance and enable those programs to succeed.
Just for Show’s honorary co-chairs are Sheryl and Gordon Bogen, Lisa and Neil Goldberg, Beverly and Joe Goldman, Barbara and Clive Miskin, Hannah Kay and Harlan Pollock, Barbara and Stan Rabin and Barbara and Donald Zale.
Tickets, which include kosher snacks, are $150 with a limited number of young adult (ages 21-35) seats available at $50/person. To purchase tickets, visit jfsjustforshow.org. For more information or sponsorship opportunities, call 469-206-1690 or email Leah Guskin at lguskin@jfsdallas.org.

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Anne Frank’s stepsister to visit North Texas

Anne Frank’s stepsister to visit North Texas

Posted on 13 March 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Eva Schloss
Eva Schloss will share her story and message of hope at Chabad’s annual fundraiser March 27.

 

Every Holocaust survivor is a different person, with a unique story. One of the most different of all those stories will be told at the Eisemann Center in Richardson on Wednesday evening, March 27, by Eva Schloss, who is widely known as “Anne Frank’s Step-Sister.”
At almost 90, she’s been making up for lost time. Like many survivors, Eva didn’t talk about her personal experiences for almost four decades — in her case, 40 years spent back in Europe before the breakthrough came.
She was born in 1929, and returned from Auschwitz in 1945. Did people feel sorry for this teenage girl? “I was just 16 when the war ended, and I wanted everyone to know what I had suffered, and to feel sorry for me. But no one wanted to hear,” is how she begins to answer that question.
“Everybody in Europe had lost family,” she recalls. “People said to just move on. How could they possibly understand? So, like all survivors, I buried my thoughts. I couldn’t sleep properly. I had nightmares. There was no counseling or therapy available.”
And there was nothing different for her until 1986 when, long after she was a grown woman, she had come to London to study photography. “Not everybody can go to Auschwitz,” she says, about the continuing difficulties in getting people to understand the Holocaust. But that year, a traveling exhibition came to town — an exhibition based on Anne Frank — and she was invited to attend. And at it, suddenly, someone announced, “And now, Eva will talk.”
“I was not a public speaker,” she thought then. But speak she did, for the very first time. And once the floodgates of memory were opened to 300 listeners, Eva found out she really was. Since then, there has been no stopping her. Her writing began soon after, and she has now published three books; the first one, “After Auschwitz,” contains all her memories. “Once I let go of them,” she says now, “I couldn’t recall them any more. I had to use my own book to look them up!”
The opportunity to hear Eva locally is being offered by Chabad of Plano/Collin County. She’s on a current tour of 19 Chabad centers, but audiences are in no way limited to those with Chabad connections. According to Rabbi Menachem Block of the local Chabad, “She is a piece of history, and this will be historic for the people who will hear her. She wants people to know about the Holocaust, that it really happened, that she was there. And her message to the world is tolerance, our common humanity and respecting diversity.”
Eva is grateful to her Chabad sponsors for helping to bring her messages to such wide audiences. When people ask about her beliefs, as they often do, she will respond, “I’m not a ‘practicing Jew.’ I’m certainly not Orthodox. But I’m proud of my Jewish heritage.” In the camps, she says, “You could only pray for everything to stop!” She has actually debated with some rabbis about losing faith in God, but maintains that this is not the truth: What happened was a loss of faith in humanity.
The desire to create a future that people can have faith in was the basis for her recent widely publicized meeting with students in a Southern California high school who, in a terribly mistaken attempt at humor during a weekend party, formed a swastika out of beer cups and made the Heil Hitler salute over them. Of course this debacle made its immediate way onto social media, and then to Rabbi Reuven Mintz, director of the Chabad Center for Jewish Life in Newport Beach, California, who arranged for the meeting. Now, as Eva has moved on to continue spreading her messages of tolerance and hope for the future, Rabbi Mintz is beginning his work with the high school’s leadership to further a program of Holocaust education.
But what everyone wants to know most is how the Eva-and-Anne connection came about. That story begins with the arrivals in Amsterdam of two families seeking what then seemed safe refuge from Hitler’s Nazis. The family of Anne Frank, who was just one month younger than Eva, had come first, from Germany; Eva’s family, the Geiringers, came later, from Austria. By luck, or fate or the hand of God, their apartments faced each other, and the two young girls became playmates first, and later, good friends.
Of course, the peace they had hoped for eluded both families in the Netherlands as it had in other parts of Europe. While the Franks were hidden in what has since become the world’s most famous attic, the Geiringers moved from safe-house to safe-house, until both families were finally betrayed and transported to the death camps. There, Anne was lost, along with her mother and sister Margot; gone also were Eva’s father and brother Heinz. After the war, the three survivors — Anne’s father Otto Frank, and Eva with her mother Elfriede Geiringer — returned separately to Amsterdam, hoping to rescue bits of their lost loved ones from old hiding places. Otto found his daughter’s now-world-famous diary; Elfriede found her son’s paintings and poems, which have also been shown and read publicly. And the two adults found — and subsequently married — each other, making Eva the after-the-fact stepsister of her dearly departed friend Anne.
Eva’s first stop on this current tour was at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where she drew a crowd of 1,200 that was covered by The Washington Post. Always, her message echoes and enhances that of our Dallas Holocaust Museum: “It is the danger of the bystander. I tell people, this is the way Germany was: Not everyone was anti-Semitic or supported Hitler; some had good Jewish friends. But they took the easy way out and looked the other way,” she said. “We have to teach young people to speak out when they see injustice.”
Photography first took a back seat in Eva’s life when, in London in 1953, she met and married another German survivor, Zvi Schloss. Also like many survivors, “I was desperate to have a family,” she recalls. In their 27 years together before her husband’s death, the couple had three daughters, and now Eva also has five grandchildren. Her work today continues to be spreading a personal message of hopeful optimism despite the past. And she is already being helped to do so into the farthest future by the newest technology (which will be seen locally when Dallas’ new Holocaust Museum opens in September): she is one of the first survivors to have been “hologrammed,” making it possible for viewers to have interactive contact with them — to ask questions and receive answers — even long after they are gone. Eva’s “living image” is already telling her story to visitors of Holocaust museums in New York, California and Illinois.
“This is complex,” she says of the new technique. “But it is the best and most appropriate way to keep the moral lessons of genocide alive.”

This “Historic Evening with Anne Frank’s Step- Sister Eva Schloss” will start at 7 p.m. (checkin), with the program beginning at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 27, at the Eisemann Center, 2351 Performance Drive in Richardson. Tickets are priced at $25 and $50, $10 admission for students. They can be purchased at www.eisemanncenter.com.

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House passes anti-hate resolution

House passes anti-hate resolution

Posted on 13 March 2019 by admin

Photo: gohmert.house.gov
Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) was one of 23 representatives who voted against the resolution condemning anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

By Jackson Richman

(JNS) The U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution on Thursday afternoon, March 7, condemning anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
The final tally was 407-23.
“Whereas whether from the political right, center or left, bigotry, discrimination, oppression, racism and imputations of dual loyalty threaten American democracy and have no place in American political discourse,” states the resolution.
It defines anti-Semitism as “the centuries-old bigotry and form of racism faced by Jewish people simply because they are Jews.”
Islamophobia, according to the measure, is “prejudicial attitudes towards Muslims and people who are perceived to be Muslim, including the irrational belief that Muslims are inherently violent, disloyal and foreign.”
It then cites examples of anti-Semitic and anti-Muslim incidents from the October 2018 Tree of Life*Or L’Simcha Synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh to mosque attacks in 2017 in Minnesota, Texas, Florida and Washington state.
The legislation came in response to Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), who on Sunday, March 3, defended her recent remarks accusing her “Jewish colleagues” for attacking her and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) for labeling every criticism of theirs as anti-Israel because of the faith of the two congresswomen, in addition to slamming her critics regarding “the political influence in this country that says it is OK to push for allegiance to a foreign country.”
Omar voted in favor of the resolution, which cites anti-Semitic instances such as “accusing Jews of being more loyal to Israel or to the Jewish community than to the United States constitutes anti-Semitism because it suggests that Jewish citizens cannot be patriotic Americans and trusted neighbors, when Jews have loyally served our Nation every day since its founding, whether in public or community life or military service.”
Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), who is Jewish, said on the House floor before the vote that she has demonstrated her allegiance to the United States through taking the oath “to support and defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic” when she was in the U.S. Navy more than 20 years and when she was sworn into Congress in January.
“Is that not enough to prove my loyalty to our nation?” rhetorically asked Luria, who voted for the resolution.
However, the resolution does not cite the demonization of Israel as a form of anti-Semitism. This notion has been challenged by Omar and others, who accuse critics of blurring the line between criticism and demonization of the Jewish state, despite the latter being sometimes considered as also anti-Semitic.
Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) decried it as “watered down.”
“One of the reasons I will vote against the resolution is because we came here because of an anti-Semitic remark and we came here to condemn anti-Semitism, but this resolution, as changed up over the last hour, now condemns just about everything,” he said on the House floor before the vote. “And the reason that is so dangerous is that anti-Semitism, hatred for the children of Israel, is a very special kind of hatred that should never be watered down. There has never been a persecution of a people like the Jewish people from 1933 to 1945, over 6 million killed.”
Along with Gohmert, the members who voted against the resolution included Reps. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.), Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), Ken Buck (R-Co.), Mike Conaway (R-Texas), Chris Collins (R- N.Y.), Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), Peter King (R-N.Y.), Rick Crawford (R-Ark.), Doug LaMalfa (R-Calif.), Chip Roy (R-Texas), Jeff Duncan (R-S.C.), Tom Graves (R-Ga.), Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), Ted Budd (R-N.C.), Michael Burgess (R-Texas), Thomas Massie (R-Ky.), Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Greg Steube (R-Fla.), Mark Walker (R-N.C.), Ted Yoho (R-Fla.) and Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who is the chair of the House Republican Conference.
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) voted “present.”
Jewish groups applauded the resolution’s passage.
“We support this strong denunciation of anti-Semitism and join the House in rejecting all forms of intolerance and hatred,” said Jewish Democratic Council of America chairman Ron Klein, a former Florida Democratic congressman. “Anti-Semitism does not emerge in a vacuum. It is an indication of larger trends of intolerance in society and should be combated in conjunction with other forms of discrimination.”
“The proposed House resolution released today is an important reminder that our collective safety relies on our collective solidarity, and it is a victory for the organizing and advocacy of the many community organizations who rose up in solidarity,” said Ginna Green, Chief Strategy Officer of Bend the Arc: Jewish Action. “We applaud the House leaders who listened to dozens of groups representing millions of Americans that joined us in pushing for a People’s Resolution, which emphasizes that anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, racism and xenophobia reinforce each other, and must be addressed together. That spirit is reflected in today’s resolution.”

‘A hateful and dangerous ideology’

Ahead of the vote, Democrats were divided from the resolution itself to what Omar said.
“I just think that we lose too many battles up here arguing over the stuff that’s kind of silly to argue over,” House Majority Whip James Clyburn (S.C.) told The Hill. “Everybody talks about how diverse this Congress is. This Congress is not diverse; the Democratic Caucus is diverse. We’ve got 53 black people in our caucus. How many Muslims do you think are in their caucus?”
He continued, “So, it’s going to be different for us.”
Clyburn ended up supporting the resolution.
“I think we need to talk about white supremacy in our country very much more directly than that resolution did in the first place,” said Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who has also been accused of anti-Semitism, including echoing the dual-loyalty canard, on Wednesday. “And I think we’ve been heard.”
Democratic senators also came to Omar’s defense, including 2020 presidential candidates.
“We all have a responsibility to speak out against anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and all forms of hatred and bigotry, especially as we see a spike in hate crimes in America,” said Sen. Kamala Harris of California. “But like some of my colleagues in the Congressional Black Caucus, I am concerned that the spotlight being put on Congresswoman Omar may put her at risk.
“We should be having a sound, respectful discussion about policy. You can both support Israel and be loyal to our country,” she added. “I also believe there is a difference between criticism of policy or political leaders, and anti-Semitism. At the end of the day, we need a two-state solution and a commitment to peace, human rights and democracy by all leaders in the region — and a commitment by our country to help achieve that.”
Massachusetts’s Sen. Elizabeth Warren said in a statement, “We have a moral duty to combat hateful ideologies in our own country and around the world — and that includes both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.
“In a democracy, we can and should have an open, respectful debate about the Middle East that focuses on policy,” she continued. “Branding criticism of Israel as automatically anti-Semitic has a chilling effect on our public discourse and makes it harder to achieve a peaceful solution between Israelis and Palestinians.”
“Threats of violence, like those made against Rep. Omar, are never acceptable,” she added.
Warren’s remarks were condemned by Jeremy Burton, the executive director of the Boston chapter of the Jewish Community Relations Council: “The statement from Sen. Warren is deeply problematic and disappointing. Completely missed the point. This isn’t about fair criticism of Israel, this is about using anti-Semitic tropes targeting U.S. Jews.”
An example of a threat against the congresswoman was an anti-Muslim poster in West Virginia incorrectly linking Omar to the 9/11 attacks; it evoked bipartisan denunciation.
“Anti-Semitism is a hateful and dangerous ideology, which must be vigorously opposed in the United States and around the world,” said Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with the Democrats, but is running as a Democrat in the 2020 race. “We must not, however, equate anti-Semitism with legitimate criticism of the right-wing, Netanyahu government in Israel. Rather, we must develop an evenhanded Middle East policy which brings Israelis and Palestinians together for a lasting peace.”
Organizations such as the Zionist Organization of America and the Endowment for Middle East Truth have taken their condemnations one step further in calling for Omar to be removed from the Foreign Affairs Committee. Members of Congress such as Reps. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) and Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) have called for such action.
“Same thing as Steve King,” Fitzpatrick, who won re-election last year by defeating an anti-Israel Democrat, told Jewish Insider.
King, an Iowa Republican congressman, was stripped in January of his committee assignments after he made remarks questioning how terms such as “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” have become “offensive.”
A House resolution was passed almost unanimously in January, condemning King explicitly and white supremacy.
Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), who supported the resolution, passionately said ahead of the vote, “We don’t need a manual to tell us who we can’t hate! How is this so hard! Why do we blow process? Why do we disrespect this institution?”

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JCRC holds 7th annual Interfaith Seder

JCRC holds 7th annual Interfaith Seder

Posted on 13 March 2019 by admin

Rabbi Sunshine

Submitted Story

DALLAS — The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas will hold its seventh annual JCRC Interfaith Seder on April 9, presented by the Texas Jewish Post.
Following the model of a traditional Jewish Passover Seder, the annual JCRC Interfaith Seder draws comparisons between Passover stories and challenges that we face in present times by exploring a social action theme or value that resonates across numerous faiths. The JCRC Interfaith Seder is a unique opportunity for the Dallas Jewish community to join together with local faith leaders and individuals from different cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds. The JCRC Interfaith Seder also gives the opportunity to our non-Jewish friends and neighbors to have a Jewish experience in a Jewish institution.
The leaders of the 2018 JCRC Interfaith Seder will be Rabbi Ari Sunshine of Congregation Shearith Israel and Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie of the Tenth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The JCRC Interfaith Seder Planning Committee is co-chaired by Mandy Golman of Congregation Shearith Israel and Reverend Damon L. Blakeley of Saint Paul AME Church.
The JCRC “reworks” the Haggadah to reflect this year’s Seder theme: Building Community Together. The JCRC expects more than 500 faith leaders, elected officials and community members from diverse faith backgrounds to attend the program, which has been called a “must attend” interfaith event in Dallas.
“VINYL” Booker T. Washington’s Jazz Singers are scheduled to perform. Dallas ISD’s Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts is one of the top high schools in the nation for the study of music, and has produced singers including Erykah Badu and Norah Jones.
The mission of the Jewish Community Relations Council includes interfaith and interethnic outreach and the building of bridges that enable us to come together as a multifaceted and diverse community. As the public affairs division of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, the scope of the JCRC also encompasses public policy, communications, education, issue management and social action.
The Seder is open to the community for a minimal charge of $20 per person, which covers the cost of the meal. This year’s JCRC Interfaith Seder will be held at Congregation Shearith Israel. To register, please visit www.jewishdallas.org/seder. For questions or more information, please contact jcrcdallas@jewishdallas.org or call the JCRC at 214-615-5293.

—Submitted by
Jamie Moore

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Dallas Doings: Hallie Barnard, Purim Debate, Brotherhood Breakfast

Dallas Doings: Hallie Barnard, Purim Debate, Brotherhood Breakfast

Posted on 13 March 2019 by admin

Photo: Hallie’s Heroes
Hallie Bea Barnard, center, and Fort Worth Police Officers B. Kamper, left, and J. Novack

Hallie Barnard fights bone cancer

After beating Diamond Blackfan Anemia, Hallie Bea Barnard — who spoke at the opening ceremonies of the 2015 Dallas-hosted JCC Maccabi Games — was diagnosed this week with osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. At presstime, Hallie is in surgery with a long road ahead. Hallies family needs help — they are facing more time off work and more travel to help Hallie recover.
Hallie is the 10-year-old daughter of Elyse and Jesse and the big sister of Breece and Celia Jo. She was diagnosed with DBA, a rare blood disease, just after her first birthday. After waiting 10 years, Hallie’s match was found last fall and the transplant completed. While waiting for her match, she and her family founded Hallie’s Heroes. Through its partnership with DKMS, Hallie Heroes directed dozens of bone marrow drives with more than 6,000 prospective donors tested, and more than 70 matches found.
Hallie’s Heroes has raised tens of thousands of dollars for research and to help other families with DBA-related medical needs and now this hero and her family need that help and prayers too. Follow Hallie’s story at Hallie’s Heroes on Facebook. To help the Barnards defray medical costs and expenses associated with Hallie’s most recent battle, visit gofundme.com/hallie-beas-transplant-fund.
Firefighter Milton Williams to Speak at Beth Torah
Milton Williams, a longtime Dallas firefighter and community leader, will be the guest speaker at the Congregation Beth Torah Men’s Club lox-and-bagel breakfast on Sunday, March 17.
Williams, who recently retired after 33 years with the Dallas Fire Department, also mentors inner-city youths; trains fire recruits; serves on the board of the Krodle Foundation, which helps area firefighters; and competes in culinary competitions — including the Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship. His inspiring talk will take us inside both his firefighter helmet and his chef hat.
The breakfast begins at 9:30 a.m. at Beth Torah, 720 W. Lookout Drive in Richardson. The cost is $10, $5 for students.

Latke or Hamantasch? Join the debate

Purim is coming soon and Kehillat Chaverim will have a special fun and humorous program on March 23, the Shabbat immediately following Purim. For nearly six years Kehillat Chaverim has met on Shabbat mornings as an independent minyan offering traditional yet fully egalitarian services. During this special Purim Kiddush lunch will be the first Latke/Hamantasch debate.
Get ready to choose your sides. As if there weren’t enough to debate, here’s something new to argue about. What’s better? Sweet or savory, round or triangular, fried or baked, latke or hamantaschen? Guests and prospective members are welcome to attend.
Besides Shabbat morning services, the Kehillah also meets for Yomim Tovim and High Holiday services. The Kehillah offers a small, intimate service full of ruach and comradeship and is perfect for empty nesters or older adults. It’s very welcoming to new faces. While it meets in a house in North Dallas, it’s in a special dedicated room on the other side of the house so it feels more like a synagogue. Please contact info@kehillatchaverim.org to RSVP for March 23 or visit www.kehillatchaverim.org/Purim for more information.

Temple Shalom holds Brotherhood Breakfast

On Sunday, Feb. 17, Temple Shalom Brotherhood sponsored a delicious breakfast featuring Mark Kreditor. Using trivia, jokes, music and song, Kreditor enlightened attendees about the Jewish history of the Academy Awards and Hollywood. The only thing that could have made this morning better would have been a visit from MGM’s Louis B. Mayer himself! Unexpected but welcome guest Ruth Friedman (stage name, Ruth Baird) came and Kreditor explained that Ruth had played Myra in the 1941 movie, “Girls in Chains.”

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MCA honors Alfred Saenz at 68th annual award dinner

MCA honors Alfred Saenz at 68th annual award dinner

Posted on 13 March 2019 by admin

From left, honoree Alfred Saenz, Cheryl Kimberling, Philip Lamsens

 

On Monday, March 11, the Multicultural Alliance held its 68th annual award dinner. Honoree Alfred Saenz received the organization’s most prestigious award for displaying a commitment to promoting diversity, inclusion and understanding.
The funds raised through the dinner support valuable programming, which provide opportunities for people to dialogue and connect around experiences related to culture, race, religion and identity.

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There is room for diverse opinions on Israel within the Jewish Community

Posted on 13 March 2019 by admin

Guest Column: By Rabbi Brian Zimmerman

The following is an edited version of a sermon given by Rabbi Brian Zimmerman on March 8.
The recent events of the past few months are deeply troubling for many, many reasons. Once again, it is clear that anti-Semitism is real on the left and on the right. On one side of the spectrum, we see the usual neo-Nazis, racists and Jew-haters and on the other, people who challenge our very allegiance to our country, who use our commitment to free speech and free religion as way to challenge our right to love both Israel, our Jewish homeland and America, our physical homeland.
In case you have somehow missed the events of these past weeks, Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota has challenged Jews by questioning the power of AIPAC, implying that Jews use their money to unfairly influence American congressional leaders and inquiring about the dual loyalty to Israel and America of a Jewish representative who critiques her. In each instance, Omar has apologized and then gone a bit farther and deeper down the path of invoking old and overused but effective anti-Semitic stereotypes. While I really wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt (after all, she could be a confused freshman House member from a heavily Muslim district caught between different constituencies and narratives), each new outburst of Omar’s has moved farther from legitimate critique of Israel to anti-Semitic stereotypes. I can no longer entertain the idea that she does not know what she is saying and the pain that it causes.
Representative Omar has been hailed as a hero by no less than David Duke for pointing out the secret Zionist government that runs America and the world. There is a saying that at a certain point the farthest left and right meet each other in the extremes and have far more in common than what separates them. These past weeks of escalating rhetoric and hate speech across the spectrum challenge us to the core. While I believe in the power of free speech, words like “dual allegiance” and loyalty to dollars smack of anti-Jewish hatred that is thousands of years older than Representative Omar.
How ironic is this turn of events? In America, a country presumably committed to freedom of religion, a Muslim woman often accused of being a spy, a foreign agent and an outsider with a hidden agenda, hurls the ancient, insidious anti-Semitic motif of Jew as plotting outsider! Whether she is truly naïve, she sees herself as the only victim or she is merely repeating what she has learned as a child is almost completely beside the point.
I could conclude my remarks here. It would be easy, a bit lazy and far less controversial. But, it would let us off the hook.
There is something equally and maybe even more disturbing going on that has been occurring for months. Just below the surface, Jews are challenging the loyalty of other Jews to their own religion! I receive regular emails and phone calls asking why liberal rabbis and leaders don’t call out the now completely 100 percent “anti- Semitic Democratic party” when, in fact, liberal Jewish leaders have been writing about this growing anti-Semitic rhetoric from the left for weeks. Unfortunately, these days too many of us rely on much of our information from forwarded angry emails, anonymous bloggers, social media or op-ed pages that carry their own agenda.
There is without doubt a disturbing increase in openly anti-Semitic words and actions in America. There are some dangerous anti-Semites on the right and the left, but I would never accuse a temple member or for that matter even a political representative of being personally racist or anti-Semitic because of some of the extreme voices in their party. Statements like “How can any Jew remain a Republican or a Democrat?” are easily tossed around at Friday night oneg Shabbat moments and in emails to each other. These statements poison thoughtful Jewish discourse. Neither political party is monolithic in its thinking and, once again, this is beside the point. What concerns me most are the charges made by one Jew against another, the charges that defy dialogue and polarize the Jewish community.
Division is a powerful weapon, and divisions seem to be ever-present these days. When people are scared, it’s easy to run for cover and point fingers. The darkness of fear clouds judgment and scapegoats easily emerge. In a democracy, healthy debate is essential, but we are experiencing the demonization of Jews by other Jews.
So, as you discuss important issues, paramount to the life and health of the Jewish community, ask yourself — am I open to dialogue or am I looking for a fight? I am worried about the weakness of a divided Jewish American community and about how that will be exploited by others who gain power from division and divisiveness.
I am particularly concerned about our young people caught between their values of free speech and compassion and the angry challenges to Israel’s very existence. Some will call their love for Israel “dual loyalty” while others will ask if they are “good enough” Jews for not responding in the “right” way. There is a nuanced and thoughtful discussion waiting to be had that is lost among the screeching noise of accusations and recriminations. The vast majority of our youth, caught in this contentious environment will choose not to engage at all in thoughtful debate about Israel. Rather, they will check out from any meaningful relationship with Israel and from Judaism, and then the Jewish people will really lose.
I am not calling for a uniform, mindless Jewish body politic! A family can disagree on the details. Our millennia-old Jewish debates can be found in books, midrash and rabbinic commentary. Our ability to question each other makes us a truly unique religion. But, when we begin to dispute whether certain members of our “tribe” are legitimate or worthy of being considered loyal, based on different approaches to outside threats, we move into dangerous territory. When Jews split — not disagree, but split — it rarely ends well. This new political tribalism is not asking us to choose our brand of Judaism but which Jewish neighbors we will accept as valid.
There is so much more at stake than just the issues we are discussing. Powerful outside forces gain power when they force us to choose which Jewish side we take. Will we have the strength to remain calm on social media and in worship spaces, in community gatherings and Jewish festivals, in America and in Israel? Will we remember that despite our differences we remain one Jewish people?
I look forward to a variety of responses from our very diverse Jewish community made up of Americans, Israelis, Republicans, Democrats, born-Jews and converts, classical Reform Jews and Modern Orthodox Jews, but I presume the right to maintain my own political views without having my loyalty to Judaism challenged.
In addition to my Jewish values, I have other core beliefs that are also a part of a Jewish identity that causes me to struggle and shift. My friends of different political persuasions would and should expect me to show the same respect for their own struggles to balance their most deeply felt Jewish convictions. It is painful enough when hateful outsiders question our Jewish loyalty, but it is unconscionable for Jews to do so.
Rabbi Brian Zimmerman is the spiritual leader of Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth.

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Esther a scintillating story, if you read between the lines

Posted on 13 March 2019 by admin

Dear Parents and Children,
For most of us, the holiday of Purim is a children’s holiday and it is a wonderful one.
However, the problem is that most of us have only read the “children’s version” of the “Book of Esther. If that is true for you, boy, have you missed out on a great story!
The Megillah of Esther is a powerful story with many important lessons. As teachers of young children (and parents are the most important teachers!), it is crucial that we understand and learn on an adult level so that we can teach our children.
Please read the book but look for these passages highlighted below to enhance your celebration and discussion this Purim.
The book of Esther
• The whole book is an exciting story of intrigue, killing and sex — perfect for adult reading (but you do have to read between the lines!).
• Vashti refuses to dance! — the refusal was problematic because the king’s advisers said, “This very day the ladies of Persia, who have heard of the queen’s behavior, will tell their husbands, and there will be no end of scorn and provocation.” So what really was the concern over Vashti’s refusal? This is a great lesson for our daughters on their right to refuse (although there are some who would disagree with me!).
• Mordecai tells Esther to go to the king: “Do not imagine that you, of all the Jews, will escape with your life by being in the king’s palace. On the contrary, if you keep silent in this crisis, relief and deliverance will come to the Jews from another quarter, while you and your father’s houses will perish. And who knows, perhaps you have attained to royal position for just such a crisis .” First, we are all part of the Jewish people and we suffer together but also celebrate together. Most important, each of us has our moment to rise to the challenge — Esther was lucky to be in the position to be the hero!
Purim is a holiday of fun to remind us of the presence of God in Jewish history although the Book of Esther is the only book in the Tanach in which God’s name never appears. Our survival depends on our commitment to each other.
And now, how do we celebrate this holiday? “When it comes to mitzvot, shalach manot is a slam-dunk,” says my favorite Jewish educator, Joel Lurie Grishaver. Each mitzvah is an opportunity and Purim provides a wonderful way to celebrate and connect! Most of us have a pretty good memory of the story of Purim, but the holiday comes with four easy-and-fun-to-do mitzvot: slam dunks, Jewish style!
1. Hear the story — read the Megillah of Esther! This is a serious must-read for parents because it is filled with intrigue, power plays and s-e-x!
2. Celebrate: wear costumes, eat, drink and enjoy! Eating is crucial as in most Jewish holidays.
3. Give tzedakah to the poor — yet another opportunity to give to those in need.
4. Shalach manot, gifts of food to send to friends.
Of course, there are traditional rules:
• Begin by making your list of family, friends, teachers, and all people who are important to you. This includes Jews and non-Jews.
• Prepare your packages of food by these “official Purim rules”: These gift packages must include at least two different kinds of food. (That’s it — hamantaschen are traditional but not obligatory!)
• Create (or buy) a container for each and include a little card.
• On or around Purim, hand-deliver all the gifts. This step provides the real connection!
There are so many “opportunities” for talking to our children about this fun-filled holiday. Try a discussion on women as heroes, costumes/masks and hiding, standing up for ourselves when it is hard, and living in a diverse world. Ask your children, your friends and yourself: Who is the real Purim hero? Esther, Mordecai, Ahasuerus, God?
Laura Seymour is the director of camping services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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The JCCs: how this great idea got started

Posted on 13 March 2019 by admin

I go to the J every week: to the Tycher Library to find a book, to attend the monthly Jewish War Veterans breakfast meeting, to have a coffee and schmooze, to hear a speaker, to have a senior lunch, to attend a program, to “get in” a workout, to attend the monthly Men’s and Ladies’ Book Club Meeting, etc.
It may not all be in the same day or week, but the list gives you an idea of just a few of the many activities I participate in at the J.
Of course, there are probably many folks who use the J much more than I do.
Have you ever stopped to wonder how the Jewish community center movement got started? We should never forget the pioneers in this movement of Jewish activities outside of synagogues.
It began in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1854, as the Hebrew Young Men’s Literary Association under the leadership of Dr. Aaron Friedenwald, a renowned eye surgeon and medical school professor and benefactor to many Jewish causes.
There was a need for expanded space to accommodate ever-increasing numbers of immigrants seeking classes on American culture, civics and citizenship at that time.
Both the numbers of Jewish community centers and the diversity of activities they offered increased as Jewish immigration surged.
It has been brought to my attention that another reason for increased interest in Jewish communal activities may be due to the establishment and growth of the Reconstructionist Movement led by Rabbi Mordecai Kaplan.
Among the ideas expressed by Rabbi Kaplan is the concept of Judaism as a civilization, not just a religion of beliefs and rituals.
He suggested the idea of a synagogue, which offered not only prayer services, but also programs which included song, dance, drama, study and even sports and exercise, the very activities being incorporated into the growing JCC movement.
Twenty years after Baltimore’s Jewish center was begun, the first YMHA was opened in Manhattan, in 1874, followed by a women’s annex, the YWHA, in 1888.
As a result of various mergers of Jewish service organizations during World War I and World War II, many were renamed Jewish Community Centers (JCCs), while others retained their historic titles.
To encourage a true community spirit, JCC membership was offered to non-Jews beginning in the 1960s.
The reality is that the JCCs each became what its Jewish community wants them to be.
The early JCCs helped turn immigrants into American citizens. During the two World Wars, they ministered to the needs of the Jewish military.
In more recent years, the J has come to serve as a common meeting area for all Jews while striving to enhance the welfare of the entire community.
There is something for everyone at the J.
“See you there!”

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The People of the Book must heed its calling

Posted on 13 March 2019 by admin

We Jews call ourselves the People of the Book. It’s not unusual to see Jewish art depicting us with our faces transfixed by the words on the page of a Chumash or Talmud. But the Torah doesn’t imagine us that way. Instead, it teaches us that we are not readers, but callers.
By the time God calls to Moshe in this week’s parasha (Vayikra —“God called out”) listing the rules for sacrifice, we should be very familiar with this important biblical verb. The book of Genesis uses the verb kuf-reish-alef for two very important purposes. The first is naming: God “calls” light and darkness, heaven and earth, land and sea into existence. The second is to indicate a connection being forged over some distance, either geographic or spiritual. God “calls” out to Adam after he hides himself after eating from the Tree of Knowledge.
These actions — naming and connecting — are linked. When we name someone, we don’t just say their name, we announce it.
We let others know that this name is who this new human being is. That’s why so many of the names in the Torah are descriptive. Sarah calls her son Yitzchak because she fears that others will laugh (tzchok) at her for conceiving a child at such an advanced age. Ya’akov is so named because he holds on to the ankle of his brother’s heel (akev) as he emerges from the womb. When we call someone by their name, the Torah teaches us, we should be reaching out for that person’s essence, for their true character.
In the first part of the book of Exodus, surprisingly, it is Pharaoh who does most of the calling. Five times, Pharaoh calls out to Moshe and Aharon to plead on his behalf to God and convince Him to cease the plagues He is raining down upon the Egyptians. But the most significant shift that occurs with regard to the word Vayikra begins with the first conversation between God and Moshe, when calling becomes the “default” way of creating a connection with God. Sure, God has to “call” out to Moshe to get his attention at the burning bush. But the frequency with which the word is used post-Exodus, when Moshe and God are in such regular contact, indicates a change in the word’s meaning.
Where Vayikra once indicated some sort of gap that needed to be bridged, it now reflects the constant back and forth between human and divine voices. It is no longer distance that the verb Vayikra is suggesting, but its opposite — closeness. God calls out to us to sanctify our lives with the commandments, and we call out to God to hear and answer our prayers. Most significantly, we call out to God by name in order to evoke his compassion. After the sin of the golden calf, a moment fraught with danger for the Israelites, Moshe calls out in the name of God: “The Lord, The Lord, merciful and gracious, long suffering, and abundant in goodness in truth.”
In Sefer Vayikra (Leviticus), God calls out to teach us how to offer a sacrifice, a korban, literally an object of closeness. God encourages us to draw close to express our gratitude, to ask for forgiveness and to celebrate our well-being. Sacrifice opens the door to a regular practice of calling out to God, a practice our Sages reconstituted as daily prayer.
Too often, I fear, our spiritual spaces are spaces of distance, of discomforting silence and of restrained emotion. And though we find great meaning and insight in reading and in thinking, when we don’t encourage each other to find ways to give our words a full-throated voice, we risk distancing ourselves not only from our sacred tradition, but also from our God. Though we are, indeed, the People of the Book, we must never forget that our Book is also a book of calling — Sefer Vayikra.
Rabbi Adam Roffman has served at Congregation Shearith Israel since 2013.

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