Archive | September, 2019

Richardson band pays tribute to Irving Berlin

Richardson band pays tribute to Irving Berlin

Posted on 26 September 2019 by admin

Photo: Isaac Shutt
“Berlin and his family came to the U.S. with almost nothing, and he grew to become one of our legends. He remembered where he came from and shared his success,” said Robin Owens, conductor of the 70-plus volunteer member Richardson Community Band, which will pay tribute to Berlin Oct. 6.

Event combines music with Berlin’s inspiring story


By Deb Silverthorn
The “Once Upon A Time, Stories Old and New” concert, celebrating the spirit and contributions of Irving Berlin, brings the art of the pen and musical notes together Sunday, Oct. 6. The afternoon’s activities begin at 2:20 p.m., with a concert by the Richardson Community Band (RCB) and a reading of Nancy Churnin’s book, “Irving Berlin, The Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing,” starting at 3 p.m. at the Charles W. Eisemann Center for Performing Arts.
The day of family entertainment, free and open to the public, is presented by the RCB Richardson Community Band (RCB) and the Friends of the Richardson, with a grant from the Ann and Charles Eisemann Arts Innovation Initiative. Barry Samsula, of WRR 101.1, will emcee the event.
“Berlin’s lyrics captured his love for this country which welcomed his family when they fled Russia in the early 1890s,” said Churnin, who will read from her book at the event, and who will meet with attendees. “The young Jewish music man, famous for many songs — ironically his hits include ‘White Christmas’ — never forgot the country that gave his family a home.”
The afternoon’s activities include an “instrument zoo,” allowing kids to view instruments up close; “Kids Conduct,” with children taking the baton; and “Where in the World,” with guests placing stickers marking their ancestors’ origins.
“Berlin and his family came to the U.S. with almost nothing, and grew to become one of our legends. He remembered where he came from and shared his success,” said Robin Owens, conductor of the 70-plus volunteer member RCB. “I had an idea, and the Eisemann family’s support has made it a reality. Nancy’s book, our Jewish community friends, and a wonderful afternoon filled with experiences will pay a very special round of tribute.”
The RCB will also perform pieces tied to storytelling, including a musical setting to “Aesop’s Fables” (narrated by Samsula), “Moana,” “How to Train Your Dragon” and Edward Elgar’s “Enigma.” As is RCB’s tradition, the concert will end with a John Phillip Sousa march.
In honoring Berlin, who donated all royalties from “God Bless America” to the Girl Scouts of the USA and the Boy Scouts of America, concert organizers will recognize DFW-area Scouts, veterans and members of the Jewish community.
“Our members look forward to taking part in this tribute to the tremendous talent, patriotism and generosity of Irving Berlin,” said Steve Krant, commander of the Dr. Harvey J. Bloom Post 256 of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA. “His music lifted the spirits of our troops in both world wars, and became an indelible part of the American experience — not bad for a Jewish immigrant from Russia.”
“Jews have been a part of the Scouts from the start,” said Stephen Shore, Dallas Jewish Committee on Scouting chair. “With John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, Jewish financier Mortimer Schiff was one of the first major contributors to the BSA’s founding. Area Scouts are honored to participate in this tribute to Berlin, an awesome example of how many immigrants helped make our country what it is, and what he helped make possible.”
Berlin’s lyrics and Jewish soul come together as he ends “God Bless America.” The United States had indeed become his “home sweet home,” and the music of that phrase comes from the ending of the Shema: Adonai Echad.
“Sing each to yourself and I promise you’ll feel the spirit of the song, and the prayer, in your heart in a new way,” Churnin said. “I’m blessed to help share Berlin’s story and it’s an honor to do so through this special event. I feel my own home sweet home, and my faith, come together, and I thank Irving Berlin for what he’s given me, and my country.”
For more information about this free event, visit richardsoncommunityband.org. For community members wanting to participate in the onstage tribute, email conductor@richardsoncommunityband.org.

Comments (0)

Special ways to enjoy apples for the New Year

Special ways to enjoy apples for the New Year

Posted on 25 September 2019 by admin

Photo: Dave Carlin
Bukharan Chicken Palov
A sweet way to celebrate Rosh Hashanah

By Tina Wasserman
Apples and honey. The words are bound together like peanut butter and jelly and are overflowing with memories. Ask Jewish pre-schoolers what these words bring to mind, and they will shout out gleefully, “Rosh Hashanah!” In the Ashkenazi world, dipping a sliced apple in honey, and in the Sephardi world, eating a sweet apple conserve with bread are universal traditions that express our hope for a sweet and fruitful year. These apple traditions are not based on law or dictates, but rather, are based on customs. Jewish customs often originate as a way of reinforcing Jewish identity and history, and serve to bind Jews throughout the Diaspora to their heritage and homeland. The question is, why apples and honey?
Most associate the apple with Adam and Eve’s mishap in the Garden of Eden, though the Bible never states what fruit was picked from the Tree of Knowledge. However, apples are most often used as a metaphor for affection and association with God.
In Solomon’s “Song of Songs,” the Jewish people are compared to an apple: “As the apple is rare and unique among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved (Israel) amongst the maidens (nations) of the world.” In medieval times, apples were considered so special, that prayers were etched into the skin of the apple before it was eaten. Could this have lead to the custom of using the apple as a symbol of our “wishes” for a fruitful year? Even the Zohar, a 13th-century Jewish mystical text of Kabbalistic writings, states that beauty “diffuses itself in the world as an apple,” and God represented beauty.
May all of you experience a year filled with good health, peace, prosperity and contentment.
Apple Raisin Noodle Kugel
Kugels are part of the Italian and Eastern European Jewish culinary repertoire. This most likely had a great deal to do with the spice trade route between Europe, the Mediterranean and the Far East, where noodles were consumed. Because the following recipe is made with pareve margarine, it can be served with meat, according to Jewish dietary law. It is equally good with pears during the rest of the year.
12 ounces extra-wide egg noodles
½ stick pareve margarine or coconut oil
2 (3.9-ounce) cups unsweetened applesauce or pear/applesauce
4 large eggs (or 3 eggs and 2 egg whites)
¾ cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ teaspoons cinnamon
Generous pinch of nutmeg
2/3 cup dark raisins
3 Gala or Jonagolds apples, or fresh D’Anjou pears, pared, cored and sliced into thin semicircles
Additional cinnamon and sugar for topping
Additional margarine or oil spray for topping

  1. Grease a 13×9-inch pan with margarine. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain and place in a large mixing bowl with the ½ stick margarine and the applesauce. Stir gently to combine, and allow the margarine to melt.
  3. In a 1-quart bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Add this blended mixture to the noodles along with the raisins and sliced fresh fruit. Mix gently but thoroughly and pour into the prepared pan.
  4. Lightly grease the shiny side of a sheet of foil with margarine or spray and then cover the casserole, greased side down.
  5. Bake for 45 minutes and then uncover, sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar. Spray lightly with cooking oil or dot with margarine and return to the oven for 15 minutes more or until lightly golden. Let kugel sit for 10 minutes or so before cutting.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• To cook with apples, you should have a peeler, corer and paring knife. However, if you never want to be intimidated by a recipe that calls for multiple peeled apples, then you should invest in a peel-away, hand-cranked, apple peeler that also can core and slice your apples crosswise. This is not electric, so it is safe for children to use as well.
• Keep a stick of butter or margarine in the freezer for when a recipe calls for “dotting” your dish with fat. Just use a large grater, and grate the frozen fat over the dish to evenly distribute it over the surface.
• Non-cheese kugel should NEVER be assembled in advance. The egg mixture settles, while the top becomes hard and crisp, and the bottom becomes gummy.
• Covering a kugel during part of the baking time helps it stay moist and to “puff” up.
Bukharan Chicken Palov
Bukhara is a region in Uzbekistan, Central Asia, that figured prominently in the spice trade during the Middle Ages. The city was the center for the exchange of western furs and comestibles for the spices and silks from the Orient and India. While it was difficult to travel to, many Jewish traders made their home in this region; that strong Jewish presence was in place until the 20th century. This recipe is traditional for Rosh Hashanah and festive occasions, as fruit and vegetables were often combined in meat dishes.
1½ pounds boneless chicken breasts or thighs
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
2 tablespoons corn or peanut oil
1 medium onion, chopped into ½-inch pieces
2 cups coarsely shredded carrots (about 2)
2 apples such as Jonagolds or Gala (if available, substitute quince for 1 apple)
½ cup raisins
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon cinnamon
13/4 cups canned chicken broth
1 cup basmati rice

  1. Remove the fillet from the chicken breasts and lightly pound them to be ¼ to ½ inch thick. Lightly season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Heat a large skillet for 20 seconds. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and heat for 10 seconds. Add the chicken breasts and sauté for 2-3 minutes on each side until lightly golden. Remove to a plate and keep warm.
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the skillet and heat for 10 seconds. Add the onions and sauté until lightly golden.
  4. Add the carrots and apples or apples and quince, and sauté an additional 5 minutes until soft.
  5. Add the raisins and all of the seasonings to the fruit mixture. Add the broth and bring to a boil.
  6. Add the rice and stir to combine.
  7. Reduce the heat to medium; cover the pot and simmer the rice for 20-25 minutes or until rice is tender.
  8. Slice the boneless chicken breasts into ¼-inch slices. Place rice mixture in the center of a serving platter and place the sliced chicken over the rice. Serve.
    Note: You may leave the chicken breasts whole and serve the rice on the side. Another alternative, and a more traditional way, is to slice the chicken before sautéing, then add it to the rice mixture halfway through the allotted cooking time.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• If you want an apple to hold its shape during long cooking times, such as those used for-jams, pies, and crisps, use firm apples like Gala, Granny Smith or Winesap apples.
• Apples should be placed in a bowl of acidulated water (water with some lemon juice added) if they will not be cooked shortly after peeling.
• If you choose to cook the meat with the rice, you are better off with thigh meat, so it will not dry out during the time it takes to cook the rice.
Apple Bismarck
Here is a recipe whose components can be prepared in advance, then popped in the oven when you want to eat it. This could be used for Rosh Hashanah morning, a snack in the middle of the day between your family lunch and dinner, or even for Yom Kippur break-fast, if your family can begin the meal while the pancake cooks.
2 eggs
½ cup milk
½ cup flour
Pinch of nutmeg
Zest of 1/4 orange
1 stick unsalted butter
1 Jonathan or Gala apple
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup apricot preserves
½ teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of cinnamon
2 tablespoons sugar
Powdered sugar for dusting

  1. Prepare the filling by thinly slicing the peeled and cored apple.
  2. Melt the tablespoon of butter in a skillet and add the apples, apricot preserves, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar. Sauté over low heat until the apples begin to give off some of their juices. Continue sautéing over medium heat until the mixture becomes more syrupy. Cover and keep warm while you prepare the pancake OR cover and refrigerate or freeze for days until needed.
  3. To make the pancake, preheat the oven to 475 degrees.
  4. Combine eggs, milk, flour, nutmeg and orange zest in a blender and blend until smooth and well combined.
  5. Place the stick of butter in a 10-inch ovenproof skillet, cast-iron skillet or 2-quart Pyrex pie pan. Place in the oven and heat until the butter is melted.
  6. Immediately add the batter to the hot skillet. Return pan to oven and bake for 12 minutes or until golden. Remove from oven and transfer to hot pad or place pancake on a plate.
  7. Reheat apple mixture in the sauté pan or in the microwave (if mixture was made in advance and refrigerated), adding a little water, apple juice or applejack if the mixture is too thick.
  8. Place apples on top of pancake. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.

Tina’s Tidbits:
• Mix your pancake ingredients in a blender, then cover the blender jar and store in the refrigerator. Just before making the pancake, place the blender jar back on the base and turn the blender on for 10 seconds or until the mixture is well combined.

Comments (0)

1 year after state semifinal run, Yavneh Bulldogs at it again

1 year after state semifinal run, Yavneh Bulldogs at it again

Posted on 25 September 2019 by admin

Photo: Barry Warranch
Parents and players celebrate a win, from left, Jeremy Minsky, Mason Schwaber, Tom Oster, Tyler Winton, Michael Winton,Dusty Eber (in hat), Zander Feinstein, Adam Eber, Jonah Eber and Ayala Oster; front row, Harrison Christnagel.

2-sport athletes stay undefeated through 8 games

By Leah Vann
Alan Sandler, head coach of the Yavneh Academy varsity boys soccer team, would have been happy with a .500-win season and a playoff berth. One year removed from its historic state semifinal run, the team had lost nine of its starters to graduation. But, seven games into a 10-game district schedule, the Bulldogs are undefeated.
“We don’t have the quality that we had last year,” Sandler said. “This team has exceeded all my expectations.”
The Bulldogs don’t play an easy schedule, with a district including Dallas International, a regular contender at the state tournament. However, Yavneh defeated Dallas International 3-1 this year on the road, and hosts them again on Senior Night, Monday, Oct. 7.
“I don’t know how many districts out there have two teams that are perennial state contenders,” Yavneh Athletic Director David Zimmerman said. “It’s a dogfight between the two of us every year, on who wins district before we get to playoffs.”
The idea of a group of athletes banding together to find success sounds cliché. Sandler admits it, but it’s especially unusual in the age where club sports produce specialized athletes that filter into schools across the Metroplex. There’s no one superstar player; in fact, the captains on the team aren’t necessarily the most experienced.
Tyler Winton, a Yavneh senior and second-year Bulldogs veteran, describes this year’s team as a group of athletes, whereas last year’s was a group of soccer players.
“Me and my friend Reece Parker gathered our friends on the basketball team and we created a soccer team this year out of athletes who hadn’t played soccer before,” Winton said. “At the beginning of the season, our coach said we are a basketball team playing soccer, who is better at soccer than basketball.”
Winton said the experience has been interesting. Some of the players learning the flow of the game didn’t understand that certain positions played only defense or offense. But unlike other teams, he said the willingness to learn helped them progress quickly.
Winton joined the team last year as a way to get in shape for basketball season. Winton had played soccer before, but his experience was limited. This year, Winton and Parker recruited senior Jonah Eber, sophomore Ben Rael and junior Jason Prager from the basketball team to play soccer. Eber ended up being voted one of the team’s four captains; the others are Winton, Parker and Elisha Klein, a junior.
This is not to say there aren’t things on which to focus, such as not playing down to the opponents’ levels, or allowing success to go to their heads. The shooting could also use some work. “We lose a lot of shots by shooting them over the goal,” Sandler said.
Still, while expectations weren’t high at the beginning of the season, Sandler believes if the team stays in stride, it can contend for a district championship.

Comments (0)

A Rosh Hashanah recipe from 1 of Israel’s top chefs

A Rosh Hashanah recipe from 1 of Israel’s top chefs

Posted on 25 September 2019 by admin

Submitted Photo

By Jessica Halfin
Rosh Hashanah menus, while traditional and delicious, can also get a little stale year after year. With Israeli food trending across the globe, now is a perfect time to add some authentic Israeli flavors to your holiday.
Here is a sweet whiskey cocktail to start your year off on a sweet and beautiful note.
Check out four more recipes from Israeli chefs at www.tjpnews.com.
Apple and Honey
Whiskey Cocktail
Milk & Honey Whiskey Distillery,
Tel Aviv
It’s definitely the time for Israeli whiskey on the international scene, and Rosh Hashanah is the perfect occasion to treat yourself to a bottle of the first official batches of the stuff. With at least five Israeli whiskey distilleries having popped up in the past few years, the race is on to see which one can produce the best barrels the fastest. The warm climate in Israel actually speeds up the distilling process.
Milk & Honey’s whiskey has a smooth taste, which just happens to be perfect for blending into a sweet apple and honey cocktail.

Ingredients:
1/4 Granny Smith apple, diced
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons honey syrup
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon Calvados (apple brandy)
3 tablespoons Milk & Honey whiskey or other “New Make” whiskey

Directions:

  1. Make honey syrup: Mix 3 parts honey with 1 part hot water and stir thoroughly until liquid unifies. For example: 10 ounces honey and a little more than 3 ounces of hot water. Bottle and keep refrigerated.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the apple with honey syrup.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients, fill with ice and shake vigorously.
  4. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an apple slice.
    Jessica Halfin is an American-Israeli baker, gourmet cook, food and culture writer, and all-around foodie. She is the owner and operator of Haifa Street Food Tours, a company that leads custom foodie adventures in Haifa, Israel, where she lives with her husband and three sons.

Comments (0)

DJCF/SWCF to hold annual meeting Oct. 30

Posted on 25 September 2019 by admin

‘Unsung Heroes’ of partner agencies will be honored

The Dallas Jewish Community Foundation/Southwest Community Foundation will hold its annual meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, 2019, at the Aaron Family JCC, 7900 Northaven Road in Dallas.
Guests, friends, fund holders and agencies are encouraged to attend to see firsthand the efforts and rewards of the Foundations’ accomplishments. Over the last decade, the Foundations have contributed more than $125 million in charitable distributions to a range of philanthropic interests, including education, human services, the arts, and faith-based organizations, while the legacy initiative for the future has reached an estimated $270 million in bequests and endowment commitments as of August 2019.
Nearly half of the funds under the Foundations’ management are nonprofits’ assets. The nonprofits who use its investment services are the Foundations’ partner agencies. The success of partner agencies is paramount to the Foundation. For these agencies to succeed, they need more than just money; they need the dedication of their employees and volunteers. The Foundations will recognize those vital employees and volunteers — our community’s Unsung Heroes. They work tirelessly with no expectation of recognition but are immensely deserving of this and more.
Another highlight of the evening will be the public announcement of the Sylvan T. Baer Foundation grant recipients for 2019. Bank of America will award roughly $175,000 to many nonprofits that serve the Dallas Jewish community. To date, as was Mr. Baer’s philanthropic mission, the Baer Foundation has given more than $7 million back to the community for religious, scientific, literary, medical, educational and other charitable purposes. The Dallas Jewish Community Foundation has served as advisor to Bank of America since the 1970s.
In addition to the program, attendees can enjoy a lavish dessert presentation, which promises to be the perfect topping on an already incredible evening.
It’s through the generosity, vision, passion and action of partners, community, and staff and volunteers that the DJCF/SWCF together, can continue to build better lives, stronger communities and a nation of compassion by transforming philanthropic visions into realities. Please RSVP at www.djcf.org.
The DJCF/SWCF annual meeting is sponsored by the Texas Jewish Post.

Comments (0)

Chicotsky named B’nai B’rith Person of the Year

Chicotsky named B’nai B’rith Person of the Year

Posted on 25 September 2019 by admin

Photos: Sharon Wisch-Ray
Robert Chicotsky is flanked by past honorees, Dr. Carole Rogers, left, and Debby Rice.

The Isadore Garsek Lodge of B’nai B’rith held its annual Person of the Year dinner Sunday, Sept. 22, at Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth.
Robert Chicotsky was named this year’s recipient and was both humble and overjoyed when he accepted the award. “I usually don’t seek recognition, but wow this is fantastic, I need to seek some more… I’m just overwhelmed. I appreciate it very much and I’ll work extra hard over the years to continue to deserve this.”
Before Chicotsky was announced, B’nai B’rith International President Chuck Kaufman installed the Lodge’s slate of officers, which include: Alex Nason, president; Sheldon Levy, first vice president; Dan Sturman, second vice president; Ebi Lavi, third vice president; Jeff Kaitcer, secretary; David Hecht, treasurer; and Rich Hollander, chaplain.
Hollace Weiner, Fort Worth community archivist presented a slide show, chronicling the history of the Isadore Garsek Lodge #269 since its inception in the late 1800s. She also discussed the waxing and waning of BBYO over the years. Currently both AZA and BBG are dormant.
In his presentation, Kaufman shared facts about the rise of anti-Semitism, the importance of Diaspora support for the State of Israel, and the importance that Jewish college students feel empowered and are knowledgeable to stand up for Israel.
Rabbis Andrew Bloom delivered the invocation and Rabbi Brian Zimmerman delivered the benediction, closing the night with the Shehecheyanu.
Robert Chicotsky, Rich Hollander, Jeff Kaitcer, Alex Nason and Dan Sturman made up this year’s dinner committee.

Comments (0)

Kam, Ruttenberg learn inclusiveness on special trip

Kam, Ruttenberg learn inclusiveness on special trip

Posted on 25 September 2019 by admin

Photo: Submitted by Tova Kam
“Leave a space open for someone who doesn’t have a seat, have conversations with people you might not,” said 2019 Yachad Yad b’Yad traveler Tova Kam, left, with Shira Ruttenberg making pretzels at the Pat BaMelach artisan bakery in Gush Etzion. “Joy rubs off and it’s good.”

Dallas’ Yachad is represented in Israel at Yad b’Yad


By Deb Silverthorn
It was bashert that Tova Kam and Shira Ruttenberg met in the Akiba Academy preschool class with teachers Miriam Geller and Terri Rohan. Bashert — meaning “meant to be” — seems to follow these two, now juniors in high school at Mesorah High School for Girls and Fusion Academy respectively, as they unintentionally connected on the same Yachad Yad b’Yad summer trip to Israel. Yachad Yad b’Yad, according to its website, is a summer experience that brings teens with and without disabilities together for a five-week travel adventure across Israel.
“Yachad is the most caring group with a purpose of connection and inclusion,” Kam said. “When I heard about the trip to Israel, I knew it was with the kind of people I wanted to be around. It makes sense that Shira [Ruttenberg] was there because that’s who she is too.”
Kam and Ruttenberg had both been to Israel with their families, but Yad b’Yad’s itinerary proved out of the box. Nearly 100 participants built rafts and raced on the Kineret, visited citizens at the Lebanese border, met IDF soldiers, volunteered in an absorption center, met a scribe, climbed mountains and toured a chocolate factory.
“We’re thrilled that Tova [Kam] and Shira [Ruttenberg] joined the ranks of those who’ve represented Dallas in Israel at leadership programs and as a part of Dallas’ wonderful chapter,” said Avromie Adler, international director of Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities. “Our mission is inclusion in all aspects of Jewish life and our partnership with Dallas’ community helps meet that.”
Kam and Ruttenberg toured, volunteered, and studied. Every activity was programmed to allow inclusiveness and participation by all.
“Everyone belongs,” Ruttenberg said. “It doesn’t matter if we look or act the same. That’s the key to Yachad and it’s how I live so I respect the organization. I had the best summer and to do so much, through the perspective of everyone, is something I’ll never forget.”
In just five weeks, beginning with four days of leadership sensitivity training, the best souvenir they brought home will last a lifetime.
“One person had severe anxiety about noise and even the joyfulness of davening and Shabbat was too much,” Kam said. “I watched what it took for them to be comfortable.
“Someone in a wheelchair rode the zipline — in a wheelchair. People don’t always think about how to bring everyone into our activities but as long as we are looking to do things that can be inclusive, and make others feel comfortable, we’ll always find a way.”
The Dallas Yachad chapter — through challah bakes and game nights, dining club events, Shabbatons and holiday programming — gives individuals living with special needs the chance to develop vital social skills and friendships. The Dallas Yachad chapter will host a Sukkot Drum Circle at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 20 at Congregation Shaare Tefilla.
“Shira and Tova have an even more enhanced appreciation of finding ways of including everyone,” Dallas Yachad Director Rohan said. “It’s about seeing what others can do, not what they can’t. It’s everyone participating — not ‘volunteers’ and ‘others,’ but about a community always appreciating each person’s gifts.”
It’s the small acts of kindness that both Kam and Ruttenberg take into every day.
“Leave a space open for someone who doesn’t have a seat, have conversations with people you might not,” Kam said. “Joy rubs off and it’s good.”
For information on Dallas Yachad events and membership, email DallasYachad@ou.org. For details about Yad b’Yad, visit yachad.org/yby.

Comments (0)

Before God as community, and as individuals

Posted on 25 September 2019 by admin

Gathering everyone into God’s covenant


I am always in awe of this week’s Torah Portion, Nitzavim, because in my mind’s eye, the sight must have been overwhelming: “You stand this day, all of you, before the Eternal your God — your tribal heads, your elders and your officials, all the men of Israel, your children, your wives, even the stranger within your camp, from woodchopper to water drawer — to enter into the covenant of the Eternal your God…”
Imagine all those people standing before God, entering into a covenant with God. But it wasn’t just the tribal heads, the elders and the officials, the so-called important people, who entered into the covenant. No, the covenant includes women, children, non-Jews who were attached to the community, the most menial of workers, everyone. Being Jewish in covenant with God wasn’t reserved for the privileged few, but for us all, no matter how learned or ignorant, wealthy or poor, powerful or vulnerable.
Yet, that inclusion extended even further: “I make this covenant with its sanctions, not with you alone, but with both those who are standing here with us this day before the Eternal our God and with those who are not with us here this day.”
There are at least two ways to interpret these verses. The first is practical. Just because you were sick in bed and couldn’t stand before God at that moment, didn’t mean you weren’t included. The second interpretation is more profound: “Not with us this day” includes anyone who ever was Jewish, and also anyone who ever will be Jewish. All the Jews who ever lived, all the Jews alive today, all the Jews yet to be born or choosing to join the Jewish people in the future, we all stood at Sinai. Past, present and future, we all entered into the covenant with God both collectively as a Jewish people, and individually, uniquely.
In only a few days, we shall stand before God on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We shall confess our sins collectively: ashamnu, we have trespassed, bagadnu, we have betrayed, gazalnu, we have stolen, we have collectively committed an aleph-bet of sins. Yet even as we gather in the largest crowds of the year, even as we admit our collective guilt, each of us stands alone, individually, uniquely before God. Even in our multitudes, we, alone, bear our own individual failings and our own unique shortcomings. We are all called before God to answer as a community for the sins we have committed. Yet, each of us needs to contemplate and to resolve how to become a better person, individually and uniquely. We each of us stood at Sinai, and we will each of us stand to account before God.
I wish you all a sweet, happy and healthy New Year.

Comments (0)

Use positive words to describe children, and yourselves

Use positive words to describe children, and yourselves

Posted on 25 September 2019 by admin

Adapted from the works of Mary Sheedy Kurcinka; taken from Kindermusik International, Inc.

Dear Parents,
This is my favorite article that I must repeat every year, just as our holidays repeat every year.
As we move through the year, let us remember to be the best we can be and help our children develop as well. Each year at the High Holidays we read a prayer by Reb Zusya. The commentary (the small print at the bottom) shares the thoughts of Reb Zusya: “When I meet God, I will not be asked ‘Why were you not Moses?’ but rather ‘Were you the best Zusya you could be?’”
I am reminded of this each time we question why our children are not more this or more that — we compare and worry. Years ago, the cry in education was “label jars not children.” We strived not to label children and define them by that label. Today we say “Help children develop labels to identify themselves, but remember labels are not limits.”
Let us learn to use our words to help our children “see” who they are and who they can be. Use words to reframe how we see our children and how they see themselves.
To help us with this goal of discovering who our children are and how we can help them achieve their potential, I am repeating this list from previous years. It is often a matter of looking at things from just a little different perspective — a change from “half empty” to “half full.” Look through this list and start using new words to describe your child (and yourself).
Shalom…from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

Comments (0)

Synagogue attendance during the High Holidays

Posted on 25 September 2019 by admin

A better understanding about being present at holiday services


Dear Rabbi,
I know we don’t confess to rabbis, but I have a confession! Even as I read some of the prayers on Rosh Hashanah, I don’t understand what I’m saying…to tell you the truth I’d rather take a quiet, reflective walk in the park this year on Rosh Hashanah, than spend all those hours in synagogue saying a bunch of words that don’t mean a whole lot to me anyway. I’m not a member anywhere, anyway. Do you have any suggestions?
Marc


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

Comments (0)

View or Subscribe to the
Texas Jewish Post

Advertise Here

Photos from our Flickr stream

See all photos

Advertise Here