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BookFest kicks off with author Daniel Silva

BookFest kicks off with author Daniel Silva

Posted on 20 July 2018 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Aaron Family JCC
From left, Dallas BookFest Chair Liz Liener, author Daniel Silva, BookFest producer Rachelle Weiss Crane and Dallas Morning News writer Michael Granberry — here in 2016 — will reunite at 7 p.m. Monday to present Silva’s recently released book The Other Woman. Tickets are available online or at the JCC.

By Deb Silverthorn

The pages of the Aaron Family JCC’s Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer Dallas Jewish BookFest begin turning with Daniel Silva, in conversation with Dallas Morning News arts writer Michael Granberry, at 7 p.m. Monday at Congregation Shearith Israel.
The Other Woman, the first of the 2018-2019 BookFest, offerings, continues the tale of legendary art restorer and assassin Gabriel Allon who serves as the chief of Israel’s secret intelligence service. The fast-paced, twist-filled modern spy thriller taps into the dangerous mounting tensions between Russia and the West.
The July 17 release takes place in a village in the mountains of Andalusia, where a mysterious Frenchwoman begins work on a dangerous memoir. It is the story of a man she once loved in the Beirut of old, and a child taken from her in treason’s name. Long ago, the KGB inserted a mole into the heart of the West. The mole stands on the doorstep of ultimate power, and Allon is lured into the hunt for the traitor after his most important asset inside Russian intelligence is brutally assassinated. His quest for the truth will lead him backward in time, to the 20th century’s greatest act of treason, and finally to a climax along the banks of the Potomac River.
“My parents Carol and Richard were teachers and readers, and as a child, I fell in love with adventure stories,” said the award-winning Silva, who has had 20 titles reach No. 1 on The New York Times best-sellers list. “I was a well-read child, and the blend of literary and commercial technique I enjoyed are definitely influences that have come into my books.
“I am a student of Russian and Soviet history and I love writing about this new cold war in which we find ourselves. Given the events of the last few months in Syria and the United Kingdom, and in our own domestic politics as well, I think it was almost preordained that this year’s novel deal with the subject of Russia.”
He describes his main character Gabriel as not just a “brilliant intelligence operative, he’s one of the world’s finest art restorers as well and, as a result, I have many readers who might not pick up a book of espionage.”
His books translated into more than 30 languages, the Allon series — the character originally set for one book, The Other Woman the 18th — is now in development with MGM/TV to become a television series.
A Florida resident who was raised in Michigan and California, Silva is married to CNN journalist Jamie Gangel, with whom he shares daughter Lily and son Nicholas. A literary fan of Graham Greene and Ernest Hemingway, Silva began his career with United Press International in San Francisco, then on the foreign desk in Washington and finally as Middle East correspondent in Cairo and the Persian Gulf.
It was years later while working as an executive producer for CNN that he pushed forth to become a novelist, and he hasn’t looked back.
Silva’s books — his first, The Unlikely Spy, two Michael Osbourne novels and the 18 Gabriel Allon series entries — are written in pencil by the journalist-turned-novelist on yellow legal pads. He generally begins writing each year on the Tuesday after Labor Day and hoping to finish by the following April Fool’s Day, immersing himself from mind to paper without an outline, his preference not to take many days off as his characters weave their way seemingly to events of today.
“I’m a huge fan who has read all of Daniel’s books — The Other Woman over a weekend. It is incredible, he doesn’t disappoint, and he always leaves me ready for his next book,” said Rachelle Weiss Crane, the JCC’s Israel engagement/Jewish living director and producer of BookFest. “Michael Granberry was terrific when Daniel was here in 2016, and when the opportunity presented to bring them together again, we jumped. They’re an incredible duo and because of their popularity we’ve moved this event to Shearith Israel.”
Said Granberry: “Daniel does his homework and he knows the world of art and international affairs and his books are terrific. I’m thrilled to have the chance to welcome him back to BookFest. He’s really built a remarkable franchise. Very well-read and diverse in his interests, he keeps his work interesting to a wide audience. Any one question can lead to so many levels of discussion and it’s a privilege to interview him.”
The 2018-2019 BookFest continues in the fall with:
• Alexandra Zapruder, Twenty-Six Seconds, Oct. 9.
• Mohammed Al Samawi, The Fox Hunt, Oct. 17.
• Mitch Albom, The Next Person You Meet in Heaven, Oct. 18.
• Rev. Michael Waters, Stakes Is High, Nov. 1.
• Nancy Churnin, Irving Berlin: The Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing, Nov. 4.
• Marilyn Rothstein, Husbands and Other Sharp Objects, Nov. 28.
• Martin Fletcher, Promised Land, Dec. 6.
• “Tal Keinan, God is in the Crowd, Dec. 10.
• Father Patrick Desbois, In Broad Daylight, Feb. 6.
• Jenna Blum, The Lost Family, and Pam Jenoff, The Lost Girls of Paris, Feb. 12.
For more information or to register for events or sponsorship opportunities, visit jccdallas.org/main/bookfest or call 214-239-7128.

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Traxler pedaling through Northeast for AIDS cure

Traxler pedaling through Northeast for AIDS cure

Posted on 12 July 2018 by admin

Photos: Courtesy Jordan Traxler
“You could feel his passion and care and want to help all along and it was so much more than an activity – his heart is in this fight to end AIDS and I couldn’t be more proud by his side,” said Steffani Bailin of her son, Jordan.

By Deb Silverthorn

Jordan Traxler is spinning his wheels, and every push is one toward finding a cure for AIDS. From Sept. 21 to 23 Traxler will hit the road for the 24th Northeast AIDS Ride Cycle for the Cause, with a personal goal to raise $10,000.
“AIDS isn’t the death sentence it once was, but there’s no reason for HIV to still be around; it’s not easy. Helping, raising money, raising awareness — that is easy,” said Traxler, now training with his team, Team YL (Young Leaders), beginning with early morning rides. The group is preparing for the September event by participating in smaller charity rides, including New York’s June 10 Pride Ride.
“We’ll ride 275 miles from Boston to New York, passing through more than 50 cities, and during every mile I know I’ll be thinking about the people we are helping,” Traxler said about the Northeast ride. “To know that my hometown is behind me again, helping me push through, is absolutely appreciated.”
Cycle for the Cause is a program of the New York City-based The Center: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, for which Traxler serves on the Young Leadership Council. Funds raised provide HIV testing, programming, care and support to those who are HIV positive. With more than 1.2 million Americans living with HIV and an estimated 50,000 more to be diagnosed this year alone, it is hoped the 2018 ride will raise enough money to prevent more than 78,000 HIV transmissions.
Traxler, who joined the ride three years ago as a crew member, took away “best dressed” honors and raised almost $8,000 last year, his first on the road. “I hadn’t been on a bike since I was 10 years old, but I trained for weeks, for hours at a time,” he said. “The experience is physically challenging but emotionally unbelievable.”
At the finish line, with arms wide open, was his mother, Steffani Bailin.

 

“Every dollar helps. Bunches of $5, $10, or $50 donations help,” said Jordan Traxler who is raising funds by riding in the 24th Northeast AIDS Ride Cycle for the Cause to help find a cure for AIDS. “I want to make a change, and there’s no such thing as a small change in this fight – every bit makes a big difference.”

“Seeing Jordan come in from the ride, especially the 100-plus miles of the second day, was incredibly emotional. You could feel his passion and care and want to help all along, and it was so much more than an activity. His heart is in this fight to end AIDS, and I couldn’t be more proud by his side,” said Bailin, who will return to cheer on her son in September. “This kid, my kid, has cared about people all his life and always wanted to do good, something we started together when he was very young. Now he’s a man, a professional, and it’s awesome to watch the mature Jordan still finding ‘doing good’ a priority. L’dor V’dor.”
That generation-to-generation resolution is important to the younger Traxler, “Guncle Jordan,” as he sets the example now for his niece and nephew, Lily Mae and Oliver Lee, children of his sister and best friend, Meghan.
Memories flood as both Traxler and his mother recall bringing food to Jewish Family Service’s Food Pantry and serving sandwiches or handing out coats to homeless people in downtown Dallas. On those occasions, the son would remind his mother to “look everyone in the eye, see the people we’re helping,” she said.
Traxler credits Congregation Anshai Torah’s Rabbi Stefan Weinberg with a lesson that still rings in his heart and mind. “He taught us that everyone is one decision away from being homeless, and the scary part is the decision might not be our own. I’ve never forgotten those words.”
Celebrated as the first bar mitzvah at Anshai Torah’s Parker Road location, where as an Eagle Scout he made it his project to build a retaining wall, resurface a playground and construct park benches, Traxler now makes New York City’s Central Synagogue his place of worship.
Traxler is an alumnus of Plano West Senior High School and a former member and president of BBYO’s Eamonn Lacey chapter. He graduated in three years from SMU’s Cox School of Business and made New York home — the “perfect place for me. The city is alive 24-7 and you can taste the energy,” said Traxler, who works in a senior marketing position for the Safilo Group.
“Jordan has always been driven to seek out projects and activities that would challenge his leadership skills as well as provide his peers an experience that would prove impactful,” said Traxler’s father, Ron. “I believe in my heart the influences by Jordan’s mom and family unit assisted in making him a fine citizen and a true friend to community. He is a loving, caring, compassionate family man who understands the value of giving of himself to society.”
“I’ve met so many people and everyone has a story — a mother, brother, sister, or cousin who has died. Every dollar helps. Bunches of $5, $10, or $50 donations help,” said Traxler. “I want to make a change, and there’s no such thing as a small change in this fight. Every bit makes a big difference.”
To support Traxler in his mission, visit support.cycleforthecause.org/jtraxy.

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Shapiros share their 70th birthdays with Israel

Shapiros share their 70th birthdays with Israel

Posted on 31 May 2018 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Shapiro Family
Howard and Florence Shapiro are celebrating their 70th birthdays this year along with Israel. They were guests at the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem opening May 14.

By Deb Silverthorn

Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday. Happy Birthday.
Blessings are always better in numbers, and for Florence and Howard Shapiro, their 70th birthdays were enhanced by sharing them with a dear friend — Israel. To celebrate, the two were invited to the dedication of the new United States Embassy in Jerusalem, and what a party it was.
“We were just a few of the 800-or-so present from around the world, and this was an absolute honor we will never forget,” said Florence, the former Texas state senator who celebrated her birthday on May 2.
“The dedication defied all our expectations and was one of the greatest days of our lives. We’re still processing all we saw and heard but I’ve never been prouder to be an American and a Jew,” said Howard, whose birthday is July 12. “As is always the case, the moment my feet hit the ground at Ben-Gurion Airport, my batteries were recharged. In Israel, everyone has a story of united purpose, of preservation of our country, of advancement in so many areas.”
The U.S. Embassy first opened in Tel Aviv in 1966 and was officially dedicated at 14 David Flusser St. in Jerusalem on May 14. The couple attended the dedication and activities — pomp and circumstance abounding — with the Republican Jewish Coalition, of which Florence sits on the national board.
Dallas-area connections also attending were Elaine and Trevor Pearlman, Ross and Sarah Perot, AIPAC Board Chair Lillian Pinkus, Tim and Virginia Shepherd and Bradley Wine, a Plano native, now based in Washington and a Republican Jewish Coalition Board of Directors member.
“This moment means so much. Unemployment in Israel is at 3 percent, tourism rates are higher than ever, and we have strong relationships around the world — including with many Arab nations,” said Florence. “The demarcation of Jerusalem brings that all together with an exclamation point.”
The Shapiros realize all isn’t calm and that the terrorist threat is serious. Still, Florence says, “we can’t and shouldn’t change who we are and what we’re doing.”
Throughout the week, the Shapiros enjoyed sessions and/or personally connecting with dignitaries including Alan Dershowitz; Dr. Gary Frazier; U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman; Pastor John Hagee; Gil Hoffman, the chief political correspondent and analyst for The Jerusalem Post; former Sen. Joe Lieberman; and former Israel Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Oren.
Having traveled on several Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas missions with family and other groups, the two looked forward to cutting time out for themselves. Their tour of Yad Vashem stood out.
“We’ve had many great experiences in Israel — for me that’s also been traveling with many non-Jews, seeing the land through their eyes — a whole different perspective,” said Florence, who previously toured Israel with the Houston Federation, also with former President George W. Bush and a number of senators. “This incredibly historic moment was nothing like anything we’ve ever experienced. There was a positive mood everywhere — the red, white, and blue of our flag side-by-side with Israeli flags everywhere.”
Married at Congregation Shearith Israel almost 49 years ago, the Shapiros have three children: Staci (Paul) Rubin, Todd (Jori) and Lisa (Rabbi Brian) Strauss; and 12 grandchildren: Brody, Eli, Natalie, Sam and Sophie Rubin; Ella, Harper, Olivia and Zach Shapiro; and Ari, Joshua, and Noa Strauss.
Residents of Plano, the couple remembers moving to the city of 17,000 — a small, quaint family town — at a time when there were no synagogues. Now, there are five. Supporters of Chabad of Plano/Collin County since its inception, the couple also belongs to Congregation Anshai Torah.
For the next generations, they are happy to see the expansion of Jewish life and education for all ages. “Our kids’ education, the shuls, camps and programs for all ages, is amazing. We’ve always been committed to Jewish life and constantly thrilled,” said Howard, who grew up in San Saba in the only Jewish family for 100 square miles — traveling to Austin’s Agudas Achim, where he had his bar mitzvah. Memories flood as he recalls his mother gathering him and his siblings to listen to Sunday radio broadcasts of Temple Emanu-El’s Rabbi Levi Olan.
From a small town with few Jews in the Lone Star state, to a town that has grown many times over, Howard and his birthday girl, Florence, have Jewish hearts in their core.
“I’m still trying to process one of the most spectacular times of our lives. The pride that’s swelling isn’t going to stop,” said Howard, reveling in all including celebrations of Yom Yerushalayim on May 13. “The city was packed with thousands of banners and flags, thousands, and a commitment to Israel, from both the Jewish and Christian communities passionate and present.”
Florence agreed. “We left feeling that Israel is in the best place it’s been in decades,” she said, “and with hopeful hearts that we can continue to enhance our relationships around the world.”

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Joy given and received through volunteering

Joy given and received through volunteering

Posted on 31 May 2018 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Molly Pluss
Photo: Courtesy Molly Pluss
Molly Pluss treasures the time she spends volunteering for Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship riding center. For years, Pluss has been one of many volunteers, ages 12-80, who have provided more than 30,000 hours of support — many of those directed through Jewish Family Service’s Mitzvah Central.

 

By Deb Silverthorn

Twenty years and tens of thousands of volunteer hours ago, Barbara Schwarz created Jewish Family Service’s first Youth Mitzvah Central, then just six pages and 17 agencies looking for help. Renamed Mitzvah Central in 2006, with opportunities for all ages, the support via JFS’ publication is stronger than ever, now 73 pages and 104 agencies in all.
“Barbara is an amazing volunteer, and she has helped propel JFS’ reputation of great opportunities for fulfilling mitzvot because of what she’s built and what she continues to update,” JFS CEO Steve Banta said. “The halls of the associated agencies are full of our referrals.”
A New York native who was married to her beloved Harry, of blessed memory, Schwarz brought to JFS her years of working with the New York City Department of Aging and experience and dedication as a volunteer at the Jewish Braille Institute since high school. Schwarz has always set an example for her children, Jessica and Marc.
Honored in February with JFS’ Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award, Schwarz is a member of Congregation Anshai Torah who transplanted to Dallas in 1997 to be closer to daughter Jessica Schwarz-Zik, son-in-law Brian and her grandchildren, Jodi and Michael.
Spurred on by her grandchildren’s requirements as Solomon Schechter Academy (now Ann and Nate Levine Academy) students to fulfill mitzvah hours, Schwarz wanted to help find opportunities for pre-teens. She made it her project, and passion, to find programs for pre-teens, teens and those who remain teens at heart.
“I worked with Janine Pulman (JFS’ former director of volunteers) and Michael Fleischer (JFS’ former CEO) and Jackie Waldman, bringing leaders in the community together,” said Schwarz, who still coordinates the listings, now working with Jamie Denison, JFS’ community engagement manager.
The most recent listings posted to JFS’ website are sent to schools, organizations, synagogues, youth ministries, registered volunteers and agencies throughout the community. “We’ve done the research, we save you the time,” said Schwarz. “It couldn’t be easier for people to find a place to find meaning and make a difference — once, once in a while or on a regular basis.”
Visitors to JFS’ Mitzvah Central — bit.ly/2GCK3cs — will find listings with contact information, links to websites and information about each organization and the volunteer opportunities available. Listings also provide details about whether the positions are ongoing, single-time service and age or other requirements, when necessary.
JFS uses the listings internally as well. It makes recommendations to its clientele in many areas, many working through the Career Resource Center making connections. Printed copies of the listings are produced in the winter/spring, summer and fall, and are available at JFS.
Ellie Grant, director of volunteer services at Equest Therapeutic Horsemanship doesn’t always know where her volunteers come from, but knows the trail of many leads back to JFS and Schwarz’ efforts.
“We have volunteers from 12 to 80 years of age, and they come and make this place happen. We absolutely could not do what we do without them,” Grant said. “We count more than 30,000 hours, many more that volunteers have provided to us from JFS and other sources and that literally is worth nearly three-quarters of a million dollars if we had to pay for that time.”
Rain or shine, Grant says Equest’s volunteers prep horses for classes, lead them, assist in the arena, hand out medals and more. “It can be 25 or 105 degrees and Dallas’ volunteer community remains invested,” she said. “That people still answer our need, shows how people respect what we do and how we’ve penetrated the community.”
Equest is just one of the more than 100 agencies available, truly with something, more likely many things, for everyone. A number of the original postings, such as the Dallas Holocaust Museum and the Resource Center, still welcome helping hands two decades later.
“We could not do what we do on a daily basis without the dedicated and consistent service of our volunteers, well over 1,000 of them in 2017 alone, and many from Mitzvah Central over the years. Each one is one is a vital part of our team,” said Rafael McDonnell, communications and advocacy manager at The Resource Center, which serves the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community of North Texas, as well as people living with HIV/AIDS primarily in Dallas County.
“Running this program is a mitzvah in and of itself,” Banta said, “and Barbara is indeed its gift and anchor.”
For the legions putting time into the community, Schwarz says, “you give, and you get. Volunteering is always a gift in both directions.”
For more information, visit bit.ly/2GCK3cs or call 972-437-9950.

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Double your shopping at The Resale Shop 2

Double your shopping at The Resale Shop 2

Posted on 16 May 2018 by admin

Photo: Jamie Denison/Jewish Family Service
“We want the shopping experience to be a great one, and it’s just that,” said Laurie McCarty (front, far left), who oversees JFS’ The Resale Shop stores, at the Garland store’s ribbon cutting. “I’m proud of what we’re able to do and the more stores we have, the more we can assist.”

By Deb Silverthorn

It doesn’t get much better than shopping and supporting a great cause, and Dallas’ Jewish Family Service has made that easier by opening the second outlet of The Resale Shop.
Shoppers can now fill their baskets with items to fit every budget at the new Garland location, 3338 Broadway Blvd. The new store and the Richardson shop at 2120 E. Beltline Road, which recently celebrated five years, are open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
“People want to know how they can help, never if,” said JFS’ Chief Operating Officer Cathy Barker. “We’ve received wonderful donations, and the community-at-large is shopping with dollars spent making a difference — many differences for our clients.”
“Five years ago, we had no idea we would be where we are today. We thought the store could bring in some additional funds to support the agency, but it’s so much more,” Barker said at the Garland ribbon cutting last month. “It’s a place to volunteer and give back, a place to work and make lifelong friends, and it’s a place to give back and help others.”
With Hurricane Harvey came countless volunteers, many donating clothing and furnishings to the victims. Even with the crisis’ monstrosity, more items came in than could be used, and pod after pod was filled at JFS. A place was needed for all that couldn’t be shared. That place became JFS’ second 6,000-square-foot store.
One who led the donations, and who is still serving, was Carlos Lopez, who with Mike Lewis owns Mañana Management Company, Inc., which buys furniture from companies that are moving or closing. Lopez put his network into action, collecting dozens of trailers of beds and tables, chairs, sofas and more from across the country. “Everyone wanted to help, and it’s not over yet,” he said. “It’s a long way from over.”
While the immediate need is new or gently used summer clothing for women and children, household goods, men’s clothing, shoes, books, jewelry, accessories, housewares, collectibles and furniture also are appreciated.
Donations, preferred off the hangers and folded, are accepted 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday at the stores; 1-5 p.m. Monday-Friday at JFS; and anytime at a marked bin in the north parking lot at the Aaron Family JCC. Arrangements can be made for large furniture items (no appliances), or for those unable to get to the stores who are within 25 miles of the stores.
It’s recommended that people go through their things before delivery to be certain personal items don’t also get “donated.” While on occasion a few dollars have been left behind, last December a staffer found $17,050 in a coat. Research turned up the widow of the coat’s owner, a relief to management and an opportunity to remind donors to check, and check again, before dropping off.
The Resale Shops provide clothing and shoes, wardrobes for job interviews for those working with JFS’ job assistance and those in other forms of crisis. “It doesn’t matter how much money you have, when there’s a crisis — a fire, flood, or other tragedy — people are in need and we now have a way to share,” said Laurie McCarty, who based at the Richardson store, oversees all with Kristina Russell, the store manager in Garland.
“We want the shopping experience to be a great one and it’s just that,” said McCarty, who worked with Goodwill Industries for 20 years. “I came to work for The Resale Shop because I appreciate what it stands for, what JFS does for our seniors, CHAI residents, and for anyone who needs help. I love and am proud of what we’re able to do, and the more stores we have, the more we can assist.”
The stores are manned by volunteers and a combined staff of nearly 20, two of whom are residents of CHAI (Community Homes for Adults, Inc.).
“For many, having a job and learning and earning and realizing one’s self-worth is a big part of having a meaningful life which is what we strive to provide for our residents and clients. When JFS received a grant to partner with us, we were able to put into place the practices that we work toward in providing resume support and job coaching,” said CHAI Chief Executive Officer Lisa Brodsky. “Devon and Josh are just two of our greats who work hard and know they are appreciated. That’s what we all want and our partnership with JFS is very special.”
For more information about the stores, visit jfsdallas.org/resale or email resale@JFSdallas.org.

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‘CHAI Life’ scores with event at The Star

‘CHAI Life’ scores with event at The Star

Posted on 16 May 2018 by admin

Photo: Courtesy CHAI/Community Homes for Adults, Inc.
Those who live the “CHAI Life” will be honored with a special lineup introduction at the June 3 CHAI Life at The Star event benefiting Community Homes for Adults, Inc. “It’s an evening of fun and joy that will help so many — how better to spend a night out?” said Beverly Goldman, CHAI’s board development chair.

By Deb Silverthorn

Community Homes for Adults, Inc. (CHAI) is bound to score big with its CHAI Life at The Star event at 6 p.m. Sunday, June 3, at the Cowboys’ Ford Center at The Star in Frisco.
“To know CHAI is to love what all who are connected stand for and accomplish, making all our community members feel like full and contributing members of our society by giving their residents and clients every chance to reach their full potential to live the ‘CHAI life,’ said Kevin Cooper, event team captain with Julie Goodman.
“It’s the donors bridging the gap between government sources and what residents’ families are able to contribute toward CHAI’s premier services.”
Cooper’s sister, Lisa, has been a CHAI resident for almost 20 years, and he said the residents and staff are Lisa’s lifelong best friends. They have helped her find work, coached her and helped her live as independently as possible.
CHAI was formed to provide programs and services enabling adults with intellectual disabilities to live as independently as possible, enriching their lives with opportunities to meaningfully participate in the community.
“My Peeps was one of the greatest mentors in my life and was always so proud of CHAI,” said Goodman. Her passion for the organization follows that of her grandfather, Milton P. Levy Jr. of blessed memory, who, with Carmen Miller Michael, founded CHAI in 1983. Levy later served as board president and, with his wife, Marjorie, donated the Levy House. “It’s meaningful to me, to my parents, siblings and many family members to be part of something with such connection.”
Goodman, who volunteers and supports CHAI at many community programs, makes it a monthly priority to bake cookies with residents, also giving them manicures. “The CHAI Life at The Star is going to be something Peeps would have loved, and I’m excited for what I know will be a great event.”
The Kickoff Ceremony, featuring CHAI’s Starting Lineup and special guest Cantor Don Croll, will be emceed by Cowboys radio announcer Brad Sham. Cowboys executive chef Rachid El Yamani will prepare a dairy menu of stadium fare, with beer and wine served, and live music will be performed by Bob Rosen and Jim Rosenthal as R&R and Rusty Cooper, Joel Futterman, and Rob Shrell of the Mazik Bros.
Tours of the Dallas Cowboys’ headquarters (additional $25/person) will begin at 5 p.m. (check-in at 4:45 p.m.) and 8:45 p.m.
“We’ll have giant Jenga and Connect 4, a Text-to-Give Football Challenge Game, Operation Kindness Puppy Bowl and adoptions, a punt-pass-kick competition and many prizes,” said Director of Development Patsy Goodman. “We’ve had incredible support for what we know will be a great party with awesome spirit. CHAI enriches lives — it changes lives — and this night to continue that greatness is one people will talk about long after.”
Goodman and Cooper are joined in leading the event’s planning by Katherine Albert and Beverly Goldman, CHAI’s CEO Lisa Brodsky, Patsy Goodman and Board President David Romick, with home field advantage given to committee members: Melissa Ackerman, Laurie Barenblat, Elise Donosky, Dena Frankfurt, Elizabeth Gomez, Marcy Helfand, Greta Herskowitz, Ashley Lindsay, Staci Mankoff, Dave Millheiser, Terri Rohan, Betsy Rosen, Beverly Rossel, Laura Schindler, Ricki Shapiro, Ruthie Shor, Lonna Rae Silverman, Marian Spitzberg, Jenya Teplitskaya, Sophie Zuckerman and a host committee of nearly 90.
“Our residents are happy people and CHAI enhances the meaning of their lives as well as everyone who becomes a part of this ‘family,’” said Beverly Goldman, who has been associated with CHAI for nearly 10 years. She and her husband, Joe, lead the Leo and Rhea Fay Fruhman Foundation that donated the funds to purchase the Toub House, in memory of Rhea Fay’s sister and Beverly’s mother, Lois Toub.
The Toub House joins Bauer (donated by Katherine and Herbert Bauer), Levy, Miller 1 and Miller 2 (donated by the Henry S. Miller family), Todd (donated by the Nanny Hogan Boyd Trust and Dorothy Todd), and Yale houses in providing security, safety and support for CHAI’s 27 residents.
“CHAI has our support across the board and we’re thrilled about the CHAI Life at The Star event. This will be a night like no other and I hope the community will come out to support this incredible organization and all who benefit from it,” said Goldman, CHAI’s board development chair. “It’s an evening of fun and joy that will help so many — how better to spend a night out?”
For more information or to RSVP, visit chaidallas.org, call 214-373-8600 or email
pgoodman@chaidallas.org. Sponsorships are available beginning at $1,080, and individual ticket sales are $180.

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CJE leader Denn, family headed to Israel

CJE leader Denn, family headed to Israel

Posted on 10 May 2018 by admin

Photo: Meyer Denn
The family will spend the next year in Israel on sabbatical, living and loving the land in person.

By Deb Silverthorn

It’ll be a fond, albeit emotional, farewell for Meyer Denn and family at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at the Aaron Family JCC’s Mankoff Center.
Fulfilling a dream, Denn, outgoing director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Center for Jewish Education (CJE), and his family will take a Sabbatical year in Israel — following their hearts to share the land, lore, and links to their heritage. With careers of teaching the core of the Jewish people at the core of this couple, Denn and his wife, Marni, look forward to having history come to life for their children Sydney, Jordan and Xander.
“We’ve wanted this gift for our children, and we’re so blessed to live in a time of miracles when the Jewish people have returned and are prospering in our country,” said Denn, who hopes to work in Diaspora affairs, education and engagement, and also share the country with tourists (“Come on Texans,” he says).
Denn was born in Wharton, Texas, and raised in Bay City. An involved Young Judaean in his youth and active in communal politics from early on, as a high school senior Denn ran for and won a seat on the city council. With a Bachelor of Arts in history and Judaic studies from UT Austin, he moved to Los Angeles where he served as executive director of the Pacific Jewish Center.
In 1997 he moved to Israel, working for the Jewish Agency and as a licensed tour guide. After returning to Los Angeles, where he pursued a bachelor’s degree in literature, a master’s degree in education and an MBA in nonprofit management from the University of Judaism, he reconnected with Marni, and his future was solid.
Since Denn’s arrival in Dallas, the then JED, Jewish Education Department of the Federation, has transformed into the center of our community, now the CJE.
“Meyer has brought together all walks of Jewish life, making what everyone cares about, something everyone cares about. He’s given the Federation a new credibility and a relationship with every institution in town,” Jaynie Schultz said. “Learning has become bigger than only for our children — education has become accessible and joyful for all ages.”
Ten years ago, Denn told the Texas Jewish Post that “as I’m meeting with rabbis, heads of school, teachers and lay leaders of the community, I’m finding an enthusiasm that is contagious and I couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s beautiful.” Ten years later, that sense of community and his commitment to understanding and enhancing it is his legacy.
“My role is to promote all types of Jewish education: day school, congregational, through organizations and agencies, and to bring crisp and new ideas through which we can partner,” Denn said.
“There was enough happening in our Mankoff space before Meyer, and he has brought it to life,” said Joy Mankoff. “Ron and I wanted more than a ‘room,’ we wanted learning, and a spirit for learning, and from the first time we met Meyer there was a click. He’s made that spirit contagious.”
Federation President and CEO Bradley Laye credits Denn with significant contributions. “The CJE has become the central convener and leader of major Jewish educational initiatives,” said Laye. “Meyer’s vision, creativity and of course his sense of humor, along with a stellar team of professionals, has made the CJE successful.”
Brought to Dallas as an enthusiastic and passionate visionary with the sharing of a new breadth of Jewish education and Jewish life, he’s opened many doors to help members of the community explore their Jewish identity.
Denn helped formulate numerous professional development opportunities for the community’s educators including the attendance of 200 early childhood educators at the National NAEYC Conference, bringing the Conscious Discipline philosophy to the community, sending 24 educators to Israel as part of the Schultz Israel Educator Fellows to teach Israel in the classroom, and the funding of scholarships for three community educators to receive master’s degrees from the Simmons School of Education at SMU.
Almost 2,300 children receive free books through PJ Library and thousands participated in LearningFest programs. The Night to Celebrate Jewish Education events hosted several distinguished speakers, all of whom also addressed area day schools.
The CJE supported strongly the growth of the Special Needs Initiative into becoming the Special Needs Partnership at Jewish Family Service and through Incubator Incentive Grants, CJE invested nearly $100,000 to seed new and innovative programs.
Technology grants for early childhood educators, Shabbat Scholars-in-Residence and this spring’s 13 Reasons Why NOT: Turning the Tide of Teen Suicide are additional examples of the impact Denn and his department has had on the community — the full list able to fill pages.
“I’m most proud that we’ve created an environment for every Jewish perspective in our diverse community to have a seat at the table of Jewish educational discussion and vision and that they show up and participate,” said Denn. “Today, our institutions engage and collaborate in impressive and meaningful ways and there’s a respect and trust that’s been built which continues to develop between our communal institutions.”
Denn believes his staff and all he’s worked with are positioned to maintain the department’s strengths. “We’ve constructed an educational landscape and brought the community’s leadership to understand how to serve its constituents,” he said.
“Meyer helped build up and promote those here who teach, those who support education, and those who want to learn,” said Helen Risch. “He’s upped the scale and helped us realize what we can achieve. We owe him and with his guidance, and the understanding, talent, and experience that we now hold, we’ll only continue to grow.”
Denn and his wife moved to Dallas in 2008 with their daughters and with the imminent debut of their son that fall. Akiba Academy, where Marni taught for years, has been their children’s academic home. With Sydney now headed for high school, the season was right for a family adventure of a lifetime.
“We’ve asked our kids to learn what they can about Judaism and to learn Hebrew, to have diverse experiences, and develop meaningful relationships,” said Denn. “We’ve been blessed here and we’ll never lose touch of our Dallas family. Learn Jewish. Think Jewish. Do Jewish. It’s what we’ve taught, what’s been learned, and it’s the key to goodness for everyone within Jewish Dallas’ grasp.”
Given that home is where the heart is, the Denns will always be home, wherever they go. Shalom y’all — it’s just the beginning.
The goodbye is co-chaired by the Mankoff, Risch, and Schultz families and the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Center for Jewish Education.
There is no cost to attend, but RSVPs are requested by email to kschlosberg@jewishdallas.org. Anyone wishing to share stories, photos or well-wishes should email them to jaynie@jaynieschultz.com, and anyone wanting to share in a donation to the family can send such to the Denn Fund at the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, 7800 Northaven Road, Dallas, TX 75230.

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Chai times at Mesorah High

Chai times at Mesorah High

Posted on 03 May 2018 by admin

By Deb Silverthorn

As the Class of 20-Chai (2018) prepares to graduate from Mesorah School for Girls, its seniors leave with the honor and grace that has defined the school for its chai, its life, its 18 years.
In 2000, Rachel Leah and Shelly Rosenberg’s second daughter was bound for high school and, having already sent their oldest to Baltimore, Rachel Leah Rosenberg wanted an alternative for girls in the Dallas community. Together with a founding group that included Karen and Larry Kosowsky, Aviva and Oscar Rosenberg, and Leah and Jeff Secunda, a dream became a reality.
“There was no alternative to bringing a girls’ school to Dallas. Our parents wanted it, our girls needed it and we as a community were growing and to continue to inspire families to come here, we had to do it,” said Rachel Leah, whose daughter Yocheved is graduating this year, four of her sisters preceding her. “It’s meant a great deal to our families, and I’m very proud of what’s come of the school and its graduates.”
Mesorah students complete Judaic and secular studies, take Advanced Placement courses and partner with Richland College to earn high school and college credit. Many receive local and national academic and merit-based scholarships.
“We’re a college preparatory school with Torah at the forefront, and much more as the backdrop of a very full academic, social and extracurricular education experience,” said Mesorah’s Headmaster Rabbi Avraham Zev Kosowsky, the father of two graduates and one on the horizon. “Our students are immersed in a curriculum designed specifically for them and taught by teachers who are not just experts in their fields, but experts at educating young women. They learn in a joyful environment that develops critical thinking and leadership in its many forms.”
Kosowsky’s first year featured six graduates and 19 students. Today, there are 61 students. While growth is a good “dilemma,” there are hopes to begin a building campaign. The campus is now in an office building at Park Central.
“Mesorah provides not only ‘book learning,’ but learning of life built on relationships,” said Kosowsky, who taught at Akiba Academy before joining Mesorah’s administration in 2003. While now 10 times its initial census, Mesorah’s students and teachers share special bonds in and out of the classroom through Shabbatons, before- or after-school support and late-night phone calls for academic or personal connections. “Our faculty makes itself available at any time, and the friendships last long after our young ladies graduate.”
The tenet of tikkun olam is not taken lightly by students, who yearly amass over 6,000 chessed hours helping in their synagogues, babysitting, tutoring, visiting the elderly and infirm, mentoring others and more. They volunteer for CHAI/Community Homes for Adults, Inc.; Dallas Jewish Community Foundation; Dallas’ Friendship Circle; the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas; Israel Bonds; Od Yosef Chai; Yachad; and other organizations. They’ve used their talents to produce CDs helping others and promote health-issue awareness. They baked 2,000-plus challah rolls during Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
“Mesorah has been a draw for those looking to move to our community, which has grown significantly, and single-gender academic institutions — religious or secular — have significant benefits,” said Rabbi Yerachmiel Udman, director of development, who also teaches in the classroom. “We have done a great job of recognizing the uniqueness of each student and building their strengths through a Jewishly-centered absolutely strong academic practice.”
The school’s Dedicated Day of Learning Campaign has been filled with tributes of “in memory” and “in honor,” “in the merit of good health” and general congratulations.
“This campaign has members of the community near and far supporting us while recognizing individuals close to them, honored truly by educating others,” said Udman, previously the founding rabbi and headmaster of Torah Day School and director of Judaic studies at Akiba Academy, the father of two Mesorah graduates, one this year and four in the future. “The priority is educating our ladies always keying in on how we can build each student with concern for the whole person, teaching them to think globally and scholastically, but also to think for themselves.”
Mesorah’s first graduating class of six (in 2004, Rebecca Levy Chastain, Tsippi Fried Gross, Yulia Dykman Hill, Miriam Lachterman, Malkie Rosenberg Ozeri and Rachel Secunda Sasson) and its 104 other alumni remain connected. Mesorah’s graduates are now lawyers, doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, homemakers and more. They have graduated from schools ranging from Bar-Ilan University to Columbia Law School. Reunions have taken place in town, New York or Israel — where many have studied or made homes over the years.
On June 10, Leah Esther Broodo, Rachel Broodo, Rachel Dykman, Shani Epstein, Rachel Evans, Chaya Rochel Jager, Chasida Lurie, Rivke Notelovitz, Yocheved Rosenberg, Laya Udman and Tehilla Yachnes-Dear will turn their tassels, becoming alumnae as well.
“We were the first, but the impact the school made on all of us was huge,” said Ozeri, now an art teacher at Torah Day School of Dallas. “While the school has grown, the approach to connect with each individual remains. It’s not about schooling four grades of students, but about each student at the right level. There is a mix of students in many classes and from that comes friendships that last.
“The older we get the more about our identity we have to discover. Who each of us will be comes from asking questions and being with those who set examples,” Ozeri added. “Mesorah has always allowed a freedom of expression and helped its students develop a love for learning.”
For more information or to make a Day of Learning dedication, visit mesorahhighschool.org.

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Glass brings window shopping into 2010s

Glass brings window shopping into 2010s

Posted on 03 May 2018 by admin

Photos: Courtesy Daniel Black
“We can take our clients from idea to execution in one to two months — it really happens in a flash,” said CEO and Co-founder of Glass-Media Daniel Black. These truly digital watches in the window of Fossil at Frisco’s Stonebriar Centre share Black’s company’s display.

By Deb Silverthorn

It’s as clear as glass — Glass-Media, that is — how popular and successful Daniel Black and his business are.
“I saw a gap in omni-channel shopping, and our goal is to help our clients engage with the window shoppers — to bring them in,” Glass-Media Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder Daniel Black said. “Our clients can change screens in a blink for one or at all stores at the same second. We provide the ability to hit the brand relevant to any customer.”
Black’s vision came as he was working in online marketing in San Diego, when he’d notice paper window signs that were faded, cracked and outdated. He realized there was no technical solution.
“Storefront products for the most part haven’t changed in years, but everything around them has, many times,” said Black, a native of Toronto, to where his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, had fled. “Paper and vinyl posters, stickers and neon lights can be outdated by the time they’re put up.”
Glass-Media’s product allows any storefront, street-facing glass or indoor surface to become an interactive arena with video, copy and other artistic displays available for change in the blink of an eye — literally.
Moving to Dallas, where he had friends and knew the start-up world was booming, he was first at The Dallas Entrepreneur Center and then its partner space at the Addison Treehouse. His offices are now at the Centrum. Black’s team includes Co-founders Nic Logan and Ilan Cane, Josh Grinnan, Becca Hollington, and Nate Schnurman. The group has customers around the country: Dairy Queen, McDonald’s, Nordstrom Rack, and Quicktrip. Local activations are in the windows of AT&T, Fossil Group, Pier 1 Imports and more.
“Daniel’s product is genius and one of the coolest marketing tools I’ve seen. It’s certainly helping us stand out in a sea of restaurants,” said Marc Mattox, co-founder of Dallas’ Poke Bop restaurants. “We have running video of our product, of kite surfing, of reviews. Even at the basic level, I’m so impressed with their absolutely on-point body of work.”
Glass-Media targets mall-based retailers, pop-up retail formats, convenience stores, fast-casual restaraunts and hospitality services. It allows retailers to boost foot traffic, enhance customer experience and engagement, build brand awareness and drive on and offline conversion.
“We can take our clients from idea to execution in one to two months — it can happen in a flash,” said Black, who graduated from Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California. “Dallas’ community works together and one company’s success is the success of all. It’s a magical place to be and we’re fortunate to be here.”
Black’s company, working with more than 50 brands and more in the pipeline, has, through angel investors, raised more than $2.5 million in investment capital, with almost half of that coming from the Metroplex. Winner of the 2018 Startup Pitch Competition at ShopTalk, the largest retail and e-commerce innovation conference, Glass-Media is continuously on the rise.
“We’re ambitious, and Daniel’s group has provided us with fantastic service. We post showings, associate introductions, community events — lots to reach the customers in our very neighbor-centric area,” said Sylvia Jennings. She and her husband, Wayne, are with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Rocky Mountain, Realtors in Colorado Springs. “We can always reach them and Daniel always has a hand in (the business). He’s a man of high integrity and, while we’re probably a small account, we always feel important.”
Black’s enthusiasm for business matches his zest for Jewish connection. Both he and his fiancée, Shelley Widom, are avid supporters of AIPAC, having just attended the 2018 Policy Conference in Washington.
“I’m five years out of college, and I didn’t think there was much I could do as a student, but I was wrong,” said Black. “We saw 3,500-plus students who are ‘boots on the ground’ and they need support. Now I know where I can be and what I can do and it’s helping grow the grass roots.”
In addition to AIPAC Lonestar Region events, Black and Widom can be found at Intown Chabad and YJP/Young Jewish Professionals programs. The two are also fans of Congregation Shearith Israel’s Torah on Tap, the Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off and Moishe House events.
“The synergy of young Jews here is incredible,” Black said. “We enjoy the breadth of programming and we’ve made a lot of friends. This town is booming with causes and people to be involved with. In college, my friends and I were looking for our identity; now we’re looking for what our ‘family lives’ will be, and Judaism is for me a priority.”
Whether it’s at a group Shabbat dinner or event in the city, the couple are just two of the many making Judaism work for their generation.
“Daniel cares passionately about the Jewish people and he wants to give back,” said Rabbi Mayer Hurwitz, DATA’s assistant dean and co-founding educational director of YJP. “He is creative and innovative both professionally and in everything he does and we’re thrilled for everything that he and Shelley share with us.”
Whether Black’s “light” is emanating from himself or his Glass-Media product line, seemingly his glass is always full.
For more information on Glass-Media, visit glass-media.com.

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Wende Weinberg’s sefer Torah comes home

Wende Weinberg’s sefer Torah comes home

Posted on 03 May 2018 by admin

Photo: Amy Palmer Gogan
(clockwise from front) Wende Weinberg’s sister Debbe Waterman Katz, Larry Elkus, Jefry Weinberg, and Laureen Waterman carried the chuppah while Steve Berman carried Wende’s Torah down Parker Road in Plano. More than 300 people made the journey from the Weinberg’s home, to Anshai Torah, where another 200-plus Anshai friends and family members awaited the Torah’s arrival.

By Deb Silverthorn

“This isn’t just an ordinary day,” Congregation Anshai Torah’s Rabbi Stefan Weinberg said, and April 15 wasn’t, as the congregation welcomed its Project 613 Torah, dedicated to its beloved Wende Weinberg, of blessed memory.
“It’s Rosh Chodesh Iyar, in which we celebrate the 70th birthday of the State of Israel. We all know who would be leading that celebration,” the rabbi said, speaking of his late wife, who loved Israel, celebrations and everything with a Jewish turn. “This is a unique day, a day of sanctity like none else. This sefer Torah, the source of everything we are as a people, is literally our eitz chayim hee. It is our tree of life. We cherish it, we embrace it, we respect it and we admire it.”
More than 70 percent of Anshai Torah’s membership, as well as members of the community at large, participated in the Torah’s writing. Fulfilling the 613th commandment, young and old felt the touch of the quill, the touch of the sofer (scribe).
“I’ve worked with many congregations in the past 25 years, and at Anshai I experienced something special,” said the sofer, Rabbi Zerach Greenfield.
“This was the love for a rabbi and his family, and a rabbi’s love for his congregants. I observed caring and warmth generated not only to the synagogue, but from the congregants to each other,” Greenfield added. “I experienced that warmth personally as I felt I became a part of the synagogue family, and I thank everyone for the experience. I hope this encourages and inspires many to a love of Torah and mitzvot.”
The Torah’s cover is embroidered “Hanoch l’naar al pi darko” (educate a child in such a way that he or she will thrive).
“Today we mark the completion of the Torah that was written in Wende’s memory, in honor of her legacy of being a teacher; of using those words of the Torah to teach children, to inspire adults, and to perpetuate our Jewish tradition,” Weinberg said, the message embodying everything about his wife, the mother of Adina, Danielle (Gilad) and Jordana, and the grandmother of young Ariel Zev. “There couldn’t have been anything more appropriate than to have begun our procession at our home from which we walked, together, to the synagogue every Friday night and Saturday.”
The journey to the ark was made by hundreds, with Steve and Judy Berman, Larry Elkus, Debbe Katz, Lauren Levin, Bruce Waterman, Laureen Waterman, Alla and Jefry Weinberg, and Marcy and Sandy Wohlstadter carrying the chuppah and the Torah. Once arrived, Michael Pincus served as master of ceremonies. Anshai Torah’s past presidents, Harry Benson, Richard Berry, Andy Cohen, Rusty Cooper, Andrew Farkas, Barney Goldberg, Debbie Katz, Philip Leibowitz, Michelle Meiches, Cindy Moskowitz, Howard Rubin, Warren Rubin, Neil Rubinstein, Josh Socolof, David Stanley and Carl Uretsky, led the next steps of the procession.
Gerry Romanik, escorted by Noah Feldman, Janet and Robert Behringer, Dot and Basil Haymann, and Nicole and Michael Roy, carried in Anshai Torah’s existing Torahs, while Levi and Nadav Kushnick brought in the Torah’s crowns. With the grace and strength of their mother, Adina and Jordana Weinberg carried in Wende’s Torah under a chuppah carried by Marcy Kahn, Jay Post, Andrew Silver. Barrett Stern and David Balis, and Alisa and Shayna Rubinstein served as Hagba’ah and G’lilah, lifted and dressed the Torah, as the Levine Academy Show Choir and Anshai Torah’s a cappella choir Kol Rina sang.
Eli Davidsohn’s musical ruach provided the backdrop for hearts bursting in song, dance and pure joy.
“From inception, our goal was to get as many people to participate in writing this Torah as possible and as we looked into the crowd of over 500, we knew that we succeeded,” said Nicole Post, who co-chaired Project 613 with Pam Goldminz. The committee also included Mojgan and Farzin Bakhshian, Jaime and Michael Cohen, Jonathan Goldminz, Jeanette and Michael Pincus, Jay Post and 72 honorary co-chairs.
Post and Goldminz joined Greenfield, Marcy Kahn, Gerry Romanik and Weinberg in sharing their hearts, memories and blessings on the occasion. “This experience will have a lasting impact on us as a committee, and Anshai Torah as a congregation,” said Post.
On April 28, Jasmine Herlitz’s voice rang out for the first reading of Wende’s Torah. “Wende was beautiful and so is her Torah,” said the bat mitzvah. “It was an honor to be the first to be able to read from what will always be a part of her.”
It was as though her blessings truly reached the heavens — and delivered right back.

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