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UTD’s AEPi chapter receives charter

UTD’s AEPi chapter receives charter

Posted on 16 January 2019 by admin

Photo: Submitted by Aaron Noble
Members of the Tau Iota Chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi celebrate at their chartering ceremony Nov. 18 at UTD. Aaron Noble explained, ”We named ourselves Tau Iota (TI) for Texas Instruments, because without them, UT Dallas would not be the school it is today.”

By Deb Silverthorn

Dallas-based male college students returning to class this month have a new organization to join, as the Metroplex now hosts the recently chartered Tau Iota chapter of Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), a Jewish fraternity.
Founded by a group of University of Texas at Dallas students in the fall of 2017, the chapter is now recognized by its national headquarters, joining more than 190 campuses in eight countries.
“The camaraderie of my brothers, and those in our community, is very important to me and the relationships we are building, I’m certain I will have forever,” said Ethan Fisher, the Tau Iota chapter’s current master who was recently voted Outstanding Member.
First adopted in 2017, with Aaron Noble as founding master, the chapter welcomes students from community colleges and other schools in the area that don’t have a chapter. AEPi’s Tau Iota is based at UT-Dallas, but is not yet a recognized organization of the university.
“I’ve become incredibly close to those who started our chapter, and those who I’m active with now,” said Fisher, a UT-Dallas junior majoring in mechanical engineering. “This isn’t only a social organization, as much as I enjoy that aspect of it, but the philanthropy and the education and the leadership training that we experience is a huge part as well. Sharing all of that with a Jewish community of men, and the bond that comes from mutual background is very strong — that, and we have a great time together.”
The chapter has made its mark through activities of Jewish philanthropy, recruiting, education and service to community. It honors the national organization’s Repair the World Fund, which supports BBYO, B’nai B’rith’s Disaster Relief Program, Gift of Life, Heroes to Heroes, Israel Children’s Cancer Foundation, IDF Widows & Orphans Organization, Innovation: Africa, MadaTech Museum, Simon Wiesenthal Center and Birthright Israel. Locally, the group has taken on projects to clean up roadside trash, hosted a bone marrow registration drive and worked with Jewish Family Service on several projects.
“Being a part of a fraternity of Jewish brothers adds to my life in which my Judaism plays a big part,” said Fisher. “Whether it’s the programming and events that are religiously related, or even for those that are not, it’s the commonality and connection of our core that brings us together, and that enhances my own experiences. It isn’t about religious observance or experiences, but experiences shared by those of a common religion.”
The brothers lent their services to build sukkahs for community members, hosted a Hanukkah party and numerous Shabbat dinners, and have collaborated with Hillel on many programs. The chapter also hopes to connect with synagogues and other Jewish organizations to provide support, to share in programming and to create community.
Serving as the chapter’s adviser is Lance Friedensohn, who was the founding master of the University of Oklahoma chapter in 2007. Now the program director and campaign associate at the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Friedensohn is a sounding board of the experiences of building a chapter.
“It can be difficult in a community with a smaller Jewish population and in schools with fewer Jewish students, but being a part of something with shared values is important whether the group is big or small,” said Friedensohn, who graduated from Arlington Lamar High School. “I attribute much of who I am to what I learned and how I grew through AEPi, and I’m happy to be able to pay that forward. This chapter is a group of great mensches, and I’m very proud of them.”
At its chartering ceremony, AEPi CEO Andrew Borans and Supreme Master Jeffrey Jacobson honored and celebrated the next generation.
“In Parashat Beresheet, God asks Cain where his brother is and Cain replies, ‘Hashomer achi anochi? Am I my brother’s keeper?’ The answer is, of course, yes,” Borans said. “We are all our brothers’ keepers, and these young men are absolutely caring of each other, and caring about their futures. They are of our future leaders and it was an honor to be in Dallas to celebrate their success and welcome them wholly to the organization.”
He added, “These young men create, finance, produce and share events and programming, and it’s all part of the learning process. We are a microcosm of the world. We can’t just ‘attend the party.’ We must set, complete and follow through in life. Going from being a colony to a chapter is a bit like a bar mitzvah — from ‘now I am a man’ to ‘now we are a chapter’ — and the men of Tau Iota are indeed strong as a chapter.”
The chapter has 10 active members and rush for the spring semester is underway. Male students interested in joining should visit dallasaepi.org. Congregations and organizations wishing to work with the chapter should email programming@dallasaepi.org.

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Saving lives is Robyn Mirsky’s (heart)beat

Saving lives is Robyn Mirsky’s (heart)beat

Posted on 10 January 2019 by admin

Photo: Deb Silverthorn
Robyn Mirsky trains Emilie Silverthorn, a neonatal-ICU nurse, in advance of renewing her CPR certification.

By Deb Silverthorn

The Talmud says “to save a life is to save the world,” and that is just what Robyn Rovinsky Mirsky does with each student to whom she teaches lifesaving measures. From preschoolers to seniors around the community — individuals, volunteers and professionals — Mirsky’s hands and heart teach others to be ready to save lives.
“What I teach is something I hope no one will ever have to use. But being able to help someone breathe who hasn’t, or to relieve them from choking, or whatever the emergency, it’s very important and so much easier than people think,” said Mirsky, who has been teaching lifesaving techniques for eight years. “When you are the one to save a life — it’s almost indescribable, but it’s amazing.”
Mirsky’s students come from throughout the community; she has taught preschool students about dialing 911 and the basics of CPR, as well as families preparing for the next generation, staffers in medical offices, educational faculty support in schools and more.
“I wanted to be a good ‘bubbe,’ and that came with responsibility. We all needed to be ready,” said Terri Schepps, who brought Mirsky to a family lesson when awaiting the arrival of her first granddaughter. Lena, now 16 months old, was the impetus, but the whole family realized the value in knowing the techniques at any time.
“Between us, there were those who had no clue about how to react in a crisis and others who needed to be recertified,” Schepps said. “And Robyn, through a wonderful family afternoon, was able to support us by providing the tools and the confidence, should an emergency arise.”
For pediatric opthalmologist Zev Shulkin, being licensed isn’t an option for his employees, and he has retained Mirsky to train his staff. Shulkin has known Mirsky for most of his life, with both families ensconced at Tiferet Israel, and the two are medical support partners at many events in the community. It is she that he trusts in handing the teacher reins.
“Robyn is extremely patient, an outstanding teacher and proficient in her skill set,” Shulkin said. “She made the somewhat banal training interesting and fun, and I would strongly recommend her. It’s something we did to stay up to date, and she was very helpful.”
The daughter of Erv and Shirley Rovinsky, sister of Rabbi Michael Rovinsky and mother to Josh and Mollie, Mirsky is a Dallas native. A graduate of Akiba Academy and Richardson High School, Mirsky is a former BBYO Sablosky chapter member and officer.
She is a lifetime member of Hadassah and previously worked as a cosmetologist and in sales and marketing for Garrett Creek Ranch.
In 2005, after witnessing a young athlete go down during a basketball game with no defibrillator on-site, Mirsky enrolled in EMT school the next day. After years of working with Medical City and CareFlite, constantly inspired by the adrenaline and the patients she served, Mirsky refused to drop out of health care after suffering a significant injury during an accident in which she was thrown from an ambulance.
Finding another way to make a difference, she became certified by the American Heart Association. In teaching others how to be prepared, she is the link to saving lives of those she’ll never even meet.
Mirsky, who has been a member of the Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off committee since it began, is on the medical team of Dallas Maccabi, JCC Senior Expos and, beginning last year, a support for mourners with the Chevra Kadisha at Tiferet Israel.
“Keeping close to those who have passed is a mitzvah that can’t be returned, and it’s something I never imagined connecting to, but now I can’t imagine not doing. It is all about care.”
Mirsky’s curriculum includes basic first aid, what to do in the event of a shooting, puncture or water accident; how to handle choking; and even resuscitation of animals.
Whether it’s to the staff of the Key Whitman Eye Center, at gun clubs teaching how to handle an accidental shooting, or at the Akiba Academy or Chabad of Plano’s Gan Gani preschools, Mirsky brings it all and lays it out for her students.
“Robyn is a great instructor and while it’s a serious subject she makes it fun and enjoyable,” said Gan Gani Director Rivkie Block. “She has a huge heart, and she was easily able to connect to our teachers, the teens and even our children. Each session has us walking away feeling confident, optimistic and, while we hope we never need to, feeling like we could help someone if the need arose.”
Most sessions last one to two hours, and Mirsky will travel to offices, organization headquarters and homes. She brings all necessary materials and provides certification for those requiring it at the end of the class.
“I love the adrenaline that this career path has brought me,” Mirsky said, “and I love sharing the information so that anyone, literally, can save a life.”
Classes begin at $55/person, and group rates are available. For more information or to schedule classes, email robyn.mirsky@yahoo.com.

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Jewish films, directors part of ‘Best of Fests’

Jewish films, directors part of ‘Best of Fests’

Posted on 04 January 2019 by admin

“The Body Collector,” the Dallas Jewish Film Festival’s contribution to Best of Fests, screens at 2:30 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 13, at Cinepolis Luxury Cinemas.

By Deb Silverthorn

The very best of Dallas’ film festivals will hit the screens Jan. 10-13, during the first Best of Fests at Alamo Drafthouse Cinemas, Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas, Studio Movie Grill and the Texas Theatre.
Features from 3 Stars Jewish Cinema, the Dallas Jewish Film Festival and 20 other festivals in Dallas, Fort Worth and other North Texas cities will be shown — some chosen for their popularity, others chosen to represent the essence of film festivals.
“Dallas is blazing trails with Best of Fests, and I am personally thrilled to be part of it. Our participation means sharing ‘The Body Collector’ with audiences much wider than our own,” said Rachelle Weiss Crane, Aaron Family JCC director of Israel engagement and Jewish living and producer of the JCC-sponsored Dallas Jewish Film Festival. “The Jewish Film Festival of Dallas has worked hard to partner with other organizations and festivals in the past, and Bests of Fests will really enhance those options for all involved. We are all excited to connect with each other and the film going audience.”
Previously screened for the Dallas Jewish Film Festival, “The Body Collector” is based on a true story about an investigative journalist who fights to unmask a prominent art collector as a murderous Nazi war criminal.

Photo: Courtesy Best of Fests
The Best of Fests organizers, pictured here, look forward to a successful run when the best films from 22 of 25 Dallas-area festivals are screened Jan 10-13.

Meanwhile, 3 Stars Jewish Cinema will screen the documentary “The Last Laugh,” which posts the question about comedy’s ultimate taboo, the Holocaust, to survivors and comedy legends including Mel Brooks, Judy Gold, Gilbert Gottfried, Carl Reiner, Jeff Ross, Harry Shearer, Sarah Silverman and Alan Zweibel. The results of the conversations offer fresh insights into the Holocaust and other tragedies, determining what is or isn’t off-limits.
“Just about 15 years later, 3 Stars is still showing great films and creating community while providing lectures and discussions connected to our screenings,” said 3 Stars founder Bart Weiss. “At Best of Fests, we get to widen the scope of our audience and introduce our niche to so many filmgoers.” 3 Stars provides a unique Jewish experience, different from a classroom or synagogue, regardless of observance level.
Weiss also founded the Dallas Video Fest, which is screening “The Big Buy: Tom DeLay’s Stolen Congress,” directed by Dallas Jewish community member Mark Birnbaum and Jim Schermbeck, as well as “MOSCA,” about a wayward teen reconnecting to her cousin, despite her family’s wishes.
Other films included in Best of Fests are the Asian Film Festival of Dallas’ screening of “Rampant”; the Crossroads of Texas Film & Music Festival’s “Lonesome Dove”; Czech That Film’s “8 Heads of Madness”; the Dallas International Film Festival’s offering of “Tejano”; Deep in the Heart Film Festival’s screening of “Blur Circle”; the Denton Black Film Festival’s “Steps”; EarthxFilm’s screening of “The Human Element”; and Festival de Cine Latino Americano’s screening of “1950: The Nationalist Uprising.”
Also, Flicks by Chick’s selections “After Words: The Opposite of Foreplay,” “Imago” and “Tightly Wound”; the Fort Worth Independent Film Showcase selection “Apache Warrior”; the Lone Star Film Festival’s offering of “The Last Whistle; Oak Cliff Film Festival’s “End Times and Relaxer”; and Pegasus Film Festival’s “America,” “Field Trip,” “Louise,” “No Name,” “Only Child,” “Phonies,” “The Last Spring” and “Transcending Politics.”
Also, Q Cinema’s screening of “Devil’s Path”; Sons of the Flag Film Festival’s “Act of Valor”; the South Asian Film Festival’s “Journey Within”; Thin Line Film Festival’s “Big Paradise and The Modern Jungle”; and Women Texas Film Festival’s presentation of “Abducted in Plain Sight.”
“The Texas Theatre is proud to be the host of opening night of Best of Fests, and the Oak Cliff Film Festival has chosen prime examples of new works from prominent independent filmmakers, examples of those we like to showcase,” said Barak Epstein, operator of the Texas Theatre and director of the Oak Cliff Film Festival screening, “End Times” and “Relaxer.”
Said Weiss: “We believe no other city in the country is hosting an event bringing so many festivals together. There’s no competition between us, just a really beautiful support —the more people coming to one festival, the more who can be exposed to others. Each festival’s entry exudes its culture, its history, its aesthetic and reason for being — it’s really a buffet and introduction of all of Dallas’ best film offerings, and we are very excited, proud and really looking forward to it.”
Best of Fests is made possible by presenting sponsor EarthxFilm along with Alamo Drafthouse, Arts OnePass, Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas, Kelly Kitchens PR Prekindle, Selig Polyscope, Studio Movie Grill, Texas Theatre and Wildworks PR.
“The Best of Fests is exactly what collaboration looks like — with 22 of the 25 local festivals coming together and sharing experiences and films that many in the community wouldn’t know existed without our cross-promotion and collective enthusiasm,” said Emily Hargrove, producer of the EarthxFilm Festival and a Best of Fests organizer. “These films provide breadth and depth from varied sources, cultures and countries, yet they demonstrate the universal magic and power of storytelling though cinema. This sampling of these incredible festivals really is a gift to all film lovers.”
For event schedules or to order tickets, visit bestoffests.org.

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UPDATE: Fein, 84, completes her journey

UPDATE: Fein, 84, completes her journey

Posted on 27 December 2018 by admin

Photo: Courtesy University of Texas Dallas
Janet Fein, 84, is among the newest graduates in the Class of 2018, honored with her diploma by UT Dallas President Richard Benson.

By Deb Silverthorn

Janet Fein, 84, graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas on Dec. 19, six years after returning to school, bound and determined to earn her bachelor of arts degree in sociology.
One of nearly 2,800 students receiving their diplomas, Fein’s story has traveled the globe, picked up by more than 850 entities since first appearing in a Dec. 6 Texas Jewish Post article.
“I can’t even express how overwhelmed I feel and how appreciative I am of everyone’s support and help and concern,” said Fein, who received accolades, calls from near and far, and bouquets of flowers, including one from UTD President Richard Benson.
“We’re honored to celebrate the graduation of Janet Fein, our 84-year-young sociology major,” Benson said. “We’re thrilled she has accomplished her longtime dream to be the proud holder of an undergraduate degree. Congratulations; she and other students have made UTD a better place.”
Fein, a New York native who graduated from high school at 16, received her associate’s degree in 1995, then returned to school in 2012 after retiring from her work at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital.
Fein completed her last courses online after her health made her wheelchair bound. She had taken a DART bus to UTD, oxygen in tow.
Lauded by her children, grandchildren, sister and brother-in-law, friends and co-workers and thousands in the auditorium who broke into cheers and applause, many in a standing ovation, Fein was glowing throughout the ceremony – wheeled up to the stage to collect handshakes, hugs and her diploma.
Going out for a celebratory meal at a favorite Chinese restaurant, the owner showed her an article and translated it to English for her. Newspapers, television and radio stations, and more have been calling.

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ISIS leader’s ex-wife describes her ‘Escape and Triumph’

ISIS leader’s ex-wife describes her ‘Escape and Triumph’

Posted on 19 December 2018 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Tania Joya
Tania Joya, an activist and former wife of an ISIS leader, will speak about “Escape and Triumph” at the 2019 Intra-Faith Sisterhood Brunch on Jan. 13.

By Deb Silverthorn

Tania Joya, an activist and former wife of an ISIS leader, will be the featured speaker of the 2019 Intra-Faith Sisterhood Brunch, the theme of which is “Escape and Triumph,” at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 13, at Temple Shalom.
The Temple Shalom Sisterhood is host of the 16th annual brunch, which is open to everyone ages 15 and older.
“Tania will speak about her transition from a marriage to a ranking ISIS member, to one countering the forces of violent extremism, and I believe the audience will be fascinated by her,” said Jerri Grunewald, who is co-chairing the event with Beth Lasher.
Connected by coincidence at an event, Joya immediately struck Grunewald as captivating. “Tania’s evolution as a woman, as a human being and her strength in becoming an independent thinker and role model is a story to be heard.”
The annual Sisterhood Intra-Faith Luncheon is hosted each year by a different Metroplex-area congregation, bringing together sisterhood members from all branches of Judaism. The hosting chapter creates the program and menu, and coordinates the afternoon. Previous guests have been Holocaust survivors, chefs, artists, experts on environmental issues and the history of Jews in Texas.
“Sisterhood is about social justice, about caretaking, about women who are professionals, at-home, who are mothers and those who are not, but it is about leadership and care. The spirit of Tania’s work mirrors a lot of what we are about,” said Grunewald, a former Temple Shalom Sisterhood president, vice president, treasurer and Woman of Valor recipient.
Joya, who grew up northwest of London, is a former extremist who now works in deradicalization. Her ex-husband, Plano native John Georgelas, known since conversion to Islam as Yahya al-Bahrumi, was radicalized as a teenager and, to all knowledge, remains active as the highest-ranking American member of ISIS.
The couple, who met online at age 19, returned to the United States for a time, then moved to Egypt after the Arab uprising in 2011. Her former husband believed that the surroundings were ripe for his sons to grow themselves to become Jihadists, she said. But even then, Joya had doubts.
After the family moved to Syria in 2013, with Joya pregnant with their fourth child, she found the courage to leave, and, with her ex-husband’s help, returned to Plano. Once the family was gone, he became involved with ISIS. She, on the other hand, renounced Islam, remarried and is living a mission of helping others.
Joya is now featured in a Clarion Project documentary called “Jihad Generation.” She is a member of Parents For Peace, an alliance of families affected by extremism that focuses on prevention and de-radicalization from extremism. She recently participated in a TEDx interview and is writing a memoir.
“My goal is to protect other young people from the indoctrination and grooming process that I was vulnerable to,” Joya said. “Prevention programs are the key to protecting all American youth from radicalization.”
Joya wants to help rehabilitate extremist radicals, to teach them skills and to give them a sense of community and the opportunity to reintegrate into society and be good citizens. “Jihadists need to be heard because if we don’t know their arguments, and how poor their arguments are, we’re not going to be able to discuss and refute them,” she said.
Co-chair Lasher, a former Temple Shalom Sisterhood vice president, said Joya’s story fits well with Sisterhood’s mission.
“Sisterhood had gone through a metamorphosis, beautifully meeting the diversity of our population, of women of all ages and stages,” she said. “In this season of #metoo and women’s strength, Tania’s story is so current and appropriate. While we of the congregations throughout Dallas might practice our Judaism differently, the tenets and how we live our lives is more alike than not.”
“Tania — a woman like many of us with a story like none of us — is dynamic, and her vision is one to respect and support,” Lasher said. “As a Sisterhood, and as a community, we’re proud to present her and what she has to give.”
For more information, visit bit.ly/2LnSYma. The brunch costs $20 per person, and registration is required by Jan. 3. To RSVP for more information, contact Toba Reifer at 972-898-4828 or email reifernotary@gmail.com.

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Dallas Doings: Andrew Goldstien, Mr. Rajunov, Bryan Rigg

Posted on 19 December 2018 by admin

Andrew Goldstein vies for Jewish Star Talent Search Top 6

Teen musician Andrew Goldstein, son of Dana and Jonathan Goldstein of McKinney, was selected as one of the top 12 in Jewish Rock Radio’s Jewish Star Talent Search.
The Jewish Star Talent Search is a competition organized by Jewish Rock Radio to identify emerging young Jewish artists in the North American Jewish community who have a passion and desire to impact the Jewish world. Many teens and young adults auditioned.
A panel of international celebrity music artists judged the auditions, selecting the 12 finalists based on their vocal and instrumental skill, overall performance skills and passion for impacting the Jewish world.
Six grand prize winners will be selected in a public vote that lasts through Dec. 17. The winners will receive a prize package designed to help launch their musical careers, including:
• Private mentorship from a nationally recognized Jewish celebrity recording artist.
• A professional studio recording session to record an original composition or a cover song from a preapproved list of Jewish music artists.
• International exposure highlighting winner artists on an exclusive Jewish Rock Radio show broadcasting the songs recorded by prize winners.
• An all-expenses-paid trip to attend the 2019 Songleader Bootcamp National Conference in February in St. Louis to receive coaching and skills training from the judges: Beth Schafer, Julie Silver, Rick Recht, Josh Nelson, Sheldon Low and Nefesh Mountain. Prize winners will also be featured and perform live at the conference.
Andrew, 14, started beat boxing at 7, playing guitar at 9 and wrote his first song — a Mi Chamocha setting — at 10.
“Our congregation and our Jewish community are lucky to have Andrew’s family as active and dedicated as they are. While music is Andrew’s expression, Judaism is his soul,” Adat Chaverim Rabbi Benjamin Sternman told TJP contributor Deb Silverthorn in June 2017. “He’s an absolute joy, always pushing for more. Given the opportunity, post-bar mitzvah, to study Torah with me, rather than in Hebrew class, Andrew does so wanting to learn more about Torah and its meaning.”
To vote, visit https://www.wishpond.com/lp/2376227/. At press time, Andrew had garnered 1,030 votes.
Among the Jewish Star contest supporters are Dallasites Jarrod Beck, Kevin Pailet and Manuel Rajunov, according to the organization’s website.

Mr. Rajunov goes to the White House

Manny Rajunov of Frisco attended the afternoon Hanukkah reception at the White House Dec. 7. Rajunov is the AIPAC Dallas Executive Council chair.
Rajunov explained that for him, an immigrant from Mexico and a Jew, being at the White House was an impactful experience.
“When you are there, in the moment, you realize how fortunate we are to live in a country where Jews are as openly accepted as Americans while, at the same time, we as Jews have returned to our homeland in Israel to build a vibrant and dynamic society that, in partnership with America, has become a true ‘Light unto the Nations,’” Rajunov said. “The U.S.-Israel relationship was in full display that night, and I was very proud of it.”
At the earlier Hanukkah reception, President Donald Trump recognized eight Holocaust survivors, remarking they had experienced “evil beyond description.”
At both ceremonies, Trump mentioned the deadliest attack in American Jewish history at Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, where 11 Jewish worshippers were killed by a lone gunman during Shabbat-morning services Oct. 27.
He said that in the shooting’s aftermath, “we reaffirmed our solemn duty to confront anti-Semitism everywhere” and that we “must stamp out this vile hatred from the world.”

Bryan Rigg to speak at Beth Torah breakfast

Bryan Rigg, author of “Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers,” will be the guest speaker at the Congregation Beth Torah Men’s Club breakfast Sunday, Dec. 16.
Rigg, a veteran of both the Israeli army and U.S. Marine Corps, has written several books based on his groundbreaking examination of Jews who fought for Germany in World War II. He also wrote the upcoming “Flamethrower,” the story of Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, who won the Medal of Honor at the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Everyone is welcome at the lox-and-bagel breakfast, which begins at 9:30 a.m. and costs $10; $5 for students.
Beth Torah is located at 720 W. Lookout Drive in Richardson.

—Submitted by
Michael Precker

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‘Never leave anything unfinished’ is her motto

‘Never leave anything unfinished’ is her motto

Posted on 05 December 2018 by admin

Photo: Deb Silverthorn
Janet Fein will receive her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Texas at Dallas Dec. 19.

By Deb Silverthorn

Reading, ’riting, and ’rithmetic were always important to Janet Fein, but never more so than in the last six years, as she’s studied toward earning her bachelor’s degree. Never has there been more of an example of “better late than never” than this octogenarian, who will walk during University of Texas at Dallas’ commencement Wednesday, Dec. 19.
The 84-year-old sociology major and mother of David (Dena), Robert, Mitchell (Gail), Scott (Meryl) and Susan, of blessed memory, and the grandmother of Jonathan and Michael (Katia) Bittle, Adam (Kylee), Brooke, Joshua, Rachel and Zachary Fein, and Whitney (Blake) Silverthorn, is the second-to-last family member to graduate college.
“In my family, I’ve got a doctor, a speech therapist, a couple of artists, sales and marketing professionals, a nurse, a teacher and an engineer,” Fein said. “I’m excited to join them in getting my degree. I’ve worked hard and as proud as I am of them, I’m proud of me too.”
Born Janet Schwartz Oct. 16, 1934, Fein found herself uninterested at school, perhaps ahead of her classmates. She eventually skipped the eighth and 11th grades, and graduated from New York’s William Taft High School at age 16.
Fein went to work after high school as a secretary at a dress manufacturer. That’s where she met Howard, of blessed memory, the man who would be her husband of 35 years.
Once their children were born, Fein stayed home as the family followed Howard’s U.S. Army service to Fort Myers, Virginia; Miami; and Columbia, South Carolina. The family also lived in Maryland and Kentucky before Dallas became home in 1970. She reflects on a city where Belt Line Road was two lanes and “about as far north as most people traveled.” The Feins belonged to Congregation Tiferet Israel, then were among the founders of Temple Shalom.
Fein spent 12 years working at the Dallas Hilton Inn as a secretary, payroll clerk and, eventually, personnel director. Two years after work required a move to Buffalo, New York, Fein returned to Dallas, alone, wanting to be closer to her children and their growing families.
“We’d built a beautiful family, but it was time,” she said. “I came back to the kids, and I’ve never been sorry.”
Returning home, Fein earned her associate degree from Richland College in 1995, a journey begun years before.
“Mom’s been through a lot, and she’s always stuck by to finishing what is important to her,” said son Scott, recalling Fein riding DART with her walker and oxygen when her health required. “She still pursued it all and with lots of enthusiasm, and her family couldn’t be prouder of her.”
After returning to Dallas, Fein worked for the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and then Texas Scottish Rite Hospital where she built a 20-year career — the first and most soothing face one met in the movement lab.
“I loved it because it wasn’t ‘work,’” Fein said. “They appreciated me and treated me very well. I saw many of our patients grow from youngsters to adulthood.”
Retiring in 2012, at 78, Fein believed it time to finish her degree. “Because I was over 65, I got free tuition. I picked sociology because the study of people and society was a perfect match,” Fein said.
“I learned about cultures, people and religions, and I learned to respect many I didn’t know about,” said Fein. “Even at 78, I realized I had a lot to learn.”
“Janet soaked up our class materials and lessons and shared her knowledge and wisdom with her fellow students, helping them see the importance of the knowledge of history and the lessons learned through the study of religion and society today,” said UTD Professor Bobby Alexander, who taught one of Fein’s favorite classes, Religion in Society, along with the Immigrants and Immigration in U.S. Society course she took.
“She showed them how to stick to the task of study,” Alexander said. “The best part of teaching Janet was her referring to historical events related to our discussions, bringing wisdom of her years and experience.”
UTD Sociology Program Head Richard Scotch supervised Fein during her last two semesters through independent studies. Emailing lessons and assignments, the two created a bond without ever meeting.
“We had many interesting interchanges, and I’m glad we could accommodate her,” said Scotch, for whom online programs are rare. Making an exception, he said she wrote thoughtful papers and asked great questions. “It was more than a pleasure to work with her. I admire the energy she brought and her absolutely incredible pursuit of education.”
Scotch recalled that during a recent State of the University speech, UTD President Richard C. Benson spoke of the breadth of this graduating class, spanning the ages from teenage to Fein.
Her family being the most important part of her life, it wasn’t lost on her that a recent midterm exam was on lifecycles. Clearly, she was alone in turning in a project with photos expressing family births, deaths, weddings and more.
“Lots of people say they’d like to go back to school — and they should,” said Fein, who lives on her own, proud of her independence. When she’s not studying or hugging her children, Fein has enjoyed making dolls and jewelry.
“I’ve enjoyed the reading and I’ve learned a lot. This has been very rewarding and it feels great to have completed a goal I’ve had for so long. Never leave anything unfinished.”
TJP contributor Deb Silverthorn’s son Blake is married to Janet Fein’s granddaughter Whitney.

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Brunch will fete Shalom Softball League’s 44 years

Brunch will fete Shalom Softball League’s 44 years

Posted on 29 November 2018 by admin

Photo: John Hauf
The Temple Shalom Softball League spring champions, the Astros, comprise: (front row from left) Danny Marti, Scott Elfenbein, Freddy Barreaz, David Ruiz and Jason Chapman; (top row) Jorge Quintero, Mark Elfenbein, Robert Santiago, George Reed, Brian Smallwood, Scott Sulzer and captain John Hauf. (Craig Einhorn is not pictured.)

By Deb Silverthorn

The Temple Shalom Brotherhood Softball League has rounded the bases for another season, and its team members, friends, families, fans and the community will celebrate its 44th season from 9:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at Temple Shalom.
The Shalom League Softball awards banquet, featuring guest speaker Dale Hansen, the WFAA sports anchor, will celebrate the league’s spring and fall Season division winners, championship teams, most valuable players, rookies of the year, fan of the year, and recipient of the Mr. Shalom Brotherhood award.
“The Shalom League has been a huge part of my life, for more than half my life and that’s a long time,” said Bob Weinfeld, 92, one of the league’s founders who has captained his beloved Pittsburgh Pirates for all 44 years. The league, with 387 players participating for five years or more, grew out of a crew of teams gathering for pickup games over the six years previous. “I’ve kept years’ worth of logs, a real history, and now another year, literally, is in the books.” The Shalom League, open to all adult males, began in 1975 with six teams on two fields at Churchill Park. Heritage Yards in North Plano has been the league’s home field for the past 20 years. This year, 240 players on 20 teams made up the spring 2018 roster, and 168 players on 14 teams played this fall.
Honors will be given to the 2018 spring division winners, the Emeralds led by Sean Greeley, and spring champions, the Astros, captained by John Hauf; and the fall division winners, the Thunder, captained by John Miller, and the Rockhounds, led by Tyler Samsel, and fall champions, the Lake Monsters, captained by Scott Lawrence.
The 2018 rookie of the year and spring finals MVP Jorge Quintero, spring batting champion Max Henry and spring Gold Glove winners Brian Ortega and Darius Wu will be recognized. Wu will also receive honors as fall batting champion and home run champion for both the spring and fall seasons.
The recipient of the 16th Annual Phyllis Unell Scholarship — with this year’s scholarship money reaching $8,000 — 2018 inductees to the league’s Hall of Fame, captain’s MVP and Commissioner’s Awards also will be announced.
“For more than 20 years the league has been a huge part of my life and the friendships made, and the experiences shared, make everyone family,” said Wayne Casper, eight years the league’s commissioner, volunteering almost fulltime hours to coordinate 40 games each Sunday in the spring and 28 during the fall. “There are a lot of talented players, and lots with ‘less’ talent. But out on the fields, it’s nothing but camaraderie and goodness.”

Photo: Scott Lawrence
The Temple Shalom Softball League fall champions, the Lake Monsters, comprise: (front row from left) Kendal Anthony, Roosevelt Gonzalez, Tommy Baer, Adwild Perez and Jeff Radanof; (top row) Captain Scott Lawrence, Matt Brumley, Zack Kazda, John Burke, Tony Lowery, Kevin Knox and Craig Einhorn. (Brian Ortega is not pictured.)

Hansen, the 10 p.m. weeknight sports anchor and host of the Sunday night Dale Hansen’s Sports Special on Channel 8, has been with WFAA for 35 years. Beginning his career as a radio disc jockey and operations manager, then sports reporter at KMTV in Omaha, Nebraska, it was there, as part of a softball league, that Hansen met his future wife.
“Sports is a metaphor for life and all I believe and try to be is based on the lessons of the field,” said Hansen, who has enjoyed playing football, baseball, basketball, volleyball and bowling, golf his mainstay, since he was 12. “I’m honored to be asked to be a part of this event and I appreciate the invitation. I promise it’ll be fun, it’ll be exciting — it might even be a bit controversial, but it’ll be a great way to spend part of a Sunday.”
At the awards brunch, filmmaker Randy Kamen, a former Shalom League catcher and right-fielder, will share parts of his “Temple Shalom Softball” documentary, now covering the Fretz Park years of 1982-1992 and featuring Jay Lifshen, who died earlier this year.
“Jay, who was one of the winningest captains, a fierce competitor, and a friend to all who knew him, is such a central figure to the Fretz Park years of the league,” said Kamen. The filmmaker has completed production on the documentary’s “The First Inning,” spanning 1975-1977, and “The Second Inning,” covering 1978-1981, and continues to raise funds to complete the project. “A Temple Shalom Hall-of-Famer and die-hard Yankees fan, Jay is one of the legendary figures forever remembered for his play on the field and his brotherhood off the field.”
The spring draft begins each February (applications for spring 2019 now posted at shalomleague.org) and games run from March through August. A quick turnaround finds the fall draft in August with games played through November.
“The friends from all walks of life, the fellowship, and the brotherhood are something I don’t think can be found anywhere else,” said Weinfeld. Casper echoed the sentiments. “There’s a lot of ‘special’ out there, but the Shalom League — it’s its own kind of special. We hope the community will come see what we’re all about, maybe sign on, but for sure have a great day.”
Breakfast is free for spring and fall season players and all Shalom Brotherhood members in good standing, and $5 for all others. For more information or to RSVP, call Weinfeld at 972-814-6214 or email robert.weinfeld@tx.rr.com. To donate to the Temple Shalom Softball documentary series, email shalom.softball.documentary@gmail.com.

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Anshai Torah honors Rajunovs at Diamonds & Dice

Anshai Torah honors Rajunovs at Diamonds & Dice

Posted on 29 November 2018 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Rajunov Family
Debbie and Manuel Rajunov, center, with their children Josh and Abby, will be honored at Congregation Anshai Torah’s Diamonds and Dice event on Dec. 8.

Congregation Anshai Torah will play to a full house at its 2018 Diamonds & Dice casino night, honoring Debbie and Manuel Rajunov. The community is invited to an evening of games and fun, music and merriment, of heavy hors d’oeuvres and an open bar from 8 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8.
“Debbie and Manuel are two of the most enthusiastic supporters of our shul,” Rabbi Stefan Weinberg said. “They’re always ready to say yes — demonstrating their dedication to Anshai Torah on a daily basis. We are honored to express our gratitude to them for their leadership.”
Co-chairs Jennifer Hersh, Kimberly Mabel and Eric Olschwanger are joined by Jackie Austein, Beth Berk, Cynthia Brooks, Debbie Cohn, Gretchen Edwards, Shawn Frank, Amy Gross, Marcy Kahn, Matt Kurtzman, Shana Staub, Harvey Swento, Brad Welcher and Kim Velevis in creating the spirited night of Vegas chic. A silent auction will feature jewelry, sporting and entertainment event tickets, pampering opportunities, gifts and more.
“This is a night to celebrate, honor and raise funds to support all that makes Anshai Torah the place people call home,” Rabbi Michael Kushnick said. “The Rajunovs, among the pillars of our congregation, are there at every turn ensuring our success. They are dedicated, present, and they care about every facet of Anshai Torah.”
The Rajunovs, Anshai Torah members for 15 years, help coordinate and lead programs and events, and offer support regularly and devotedly.
Debbie is the daughter of Sabra parents Gideon and Ilana Kishony, and the sister of David, Karen and Ron. A New York native who was raised in Schaumburg, Illinois, Debbie attended religious school and was a member of the youth group at her family’s Beth Tikvah Congregation.
A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in architecture, Debbie is a member of Anshai Torah’s board of directors and co-chair of its Religious School Committee.
Manuel, the son of Ana and Fermin and brother of David and Vicky, was born in Mexico City and spent his formative years living on the Tijuana/San Diego border area. His commitment to Jewish life and Israel began early as he attended religious school four days a week and was a member and leader of the local chapter of Maccabi, a Zionist organization. He has been to Israel 16 times in the past six years for business, personal reasons and on educational missions.
Manuel is an attorney with Greenberg Traurig, LLP, the only international law firm to have an established office in Israel. His practice focuses on tax consulting and transactional advice to foreign investors doing business in Mexico and advising Mexican investors on their investments overseas. His special emphasis is on real estate, corporate and securities, as well as mergers and acquisitions.
“It’s important that we educate our community about Israel, and I’m proud Anshai Torah makes that a priority, not only by hosting world-renowned scholars, but also by leading a large delegation to AIPAC’s annual Policy Conference,” said Manuel, a leader in CAT’s Israel education and advocacy programming.
Chair of Dallas’ AIPAC chapter and a member of AIPAC’s National Council and vice chair of its New Leadership Network, Manuel says, “Israel is a true light unto the nations, and we must do all we can to protect her. In partnership with Anshai, protecting Israel has become one my main missions in life.”
The couple, who met while she was based in Chicago and he was working there temporarily, married in 1999. A job opportunity moved Manuel to the Metroplex, and it became home. As they began their family, it was important to the couple to find a congregation: a Jewish connection and a community with which to surround themselves. In Anshai Torah, they found all of that and more.
“From the time our children started preschool, this has been our second home and we care so much about everything that goes on here,” Debbie said. “When I create a list of friends in my mind, so many we can count are from Anshai. With all of them, our family has ‘grown up’ along with Anshai.”
The two have set the example as strongly identified and committed Jews for their children, Abby and Josh, who as teenagers are now involved in Anshai Torah’s DeReKH Hebrew High and youth programs.
“Our responsibility is to be involved in every aspect of our kids’ lives and to make a better community for them,” Debbie said. “Through Anshai, and its teachers, rabbis and everyone who cares about the synagogue we’re providing a spiritual, religious and personally connective space for them to become strong Jews and strong people. In doing that, we continue to grow, too.”
Providing their family with positive Jewish experiences is foremost, echoed Manuel, saying “Anshai Torah is about active engagement by its clergy, active involvement by its members, and the warmth and welcoming sense that is felt,” reminiscent of his own childhood shul — “a haimesh home.”
For tickets ($75 each) or sponsorships to Diamonds and Dice, call 972-473-7718, email receptionist@anshaitorah.org or visit anshaitorah.org.

—Submitted by
Deb Silverthorn
on behalf of Anshai Torah.

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Community Read leads to ‘Promised Land’

Community Read leads to ‘Promised Land’

Posted on 29 November 2018 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Martin Fletcher
Martin Fletcher will speak about his book “Promised Land” at 7 p.m. Dec. 6 at the Tycher Library Community Read, part of the JCC BookFest, at the Aaron Family JCC.

By Deb Silverthorn

Martin Fletcher’s discussion of his novel “Promised Land” guarantees a special evening at the Tycher Library Community Read, beginning at 7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 6, at the library, on the second floor of the Aaron Family JCC.
The event, part of the 2018/2019 Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer Dallas Jewish BookFest, is co-sponsored by the Center for Jewish Education (CJE) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, with the support of the Jewish Book Council.
“Martin Fletcher’s writing style is incredible, and with ‘Promised Land,’ he has given us a very new look at a Holocaust story — this is anything but typical,” said Karen Schlosberg, CJE coordinator of projects and administration. “(He is) a charismatic journalist and author with a great reputation. We were thrilled to secure him for our Tycher Library Community Read.”
The annual Community Read is a free lecture, designed to encourage readers, book club participants and individuals to share a book. This is the library’s 12th annual event.
“Promised Land,” the first of a trilogy Fletcher is creating, covers the first 20 years of Israel’s development and ends with the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in 1967. It is the story of Arie, a business magnate, and Peter, a Mossad agent. They are two Jewish brothers born in Germany, separated during the war, with the rest of their family murdered at the hands of the Nazis.
The story begins when 14-year-old Peter is sent west to America to escape the growing horror of Nazi Germany while younger brother Arie and their family are sent east, to the Nazi death camps. Only Arie returns. The brothers reunite in the new Jewish state, where they both fall in love with Tamara, a Jewish refugee from Cairo. Over two decades, their intrigues and jealousies threaten to tear their new lives apart.
Arie becomes a businessman and one of the richest men in Israel. Peter becomes a top Mossad agent heading some of Israel’s most vital espionage operations. “One brother builds Israel,” Fletcher said, “and the other protects it.”
“Martin Fletcher is a treasure, and we couldn’t be more excited about this event. He was here the first year I started at the J, presenting his Breaking News, and I’m thrilled to welcome him back,” said Rachelle Weiss Crane, JCC’s director of Israel engagement and Jewish living, who worked on the event with lay BookFest Chair Liz Liener. “He is an incredible researcher and author who we know offers a good, trusted story. He’s been so generous with his time and he has a special place in my heart. Our guests will not be disappointed.”
Fletcher, who also wrote “Walking Israel,” “The List,” “Jacob’s Oath,” and “The War Reporter,” spent 32 years at NBC as a foreign correspondent based in London, Brussels, Israel, Rhodesia, South Africa, Paris and Frankfurt — 26 of those years covering the Middle East, 15 as news bureau chief in Tel Aviv. He has received many honors, including the National Jewish Book Award, a Columbia University DuPont Award, several Overseas Press Club and five Emmy awards.
“This trilogy is really a ‘Dallas’ meets ‘Exodus’ story, following the generations of a family and the building of a country,” Fletcher said. “I started out writing a nonfiction book about the history of the State of Israel, but I realized I wanted to tell the story of the land, not the history. As a journalist, even though this is fiction, it is still important for me to get it right — to have a storyline that accurately reflects the reality.”
While this series is completely fictional, Fletcher said he received help from those whose lives mimicked the stories he tells, from businessmen who raised the dollars to help Herzliya grow in the early 1950s to former Mossad agents who provided authenticity and background.
“Tom Brokaw wrote of ‘The Greatest Generation’ and I wanted to tell of Israel’s greatest generation,” Fletcher said. “The surviving 20-year-olds of 1948 are now gone or in their 90s. I wanted fact to become fiction, but with lots of facts. How this incredible country was built from scratch by a generation amid anti-Semitism and Nazism; from the camps these displaced people made their way to Israel, and fought three wars. As a journalist, my focus is always on who did what, when and where, but not always what it’s like to be those people, to be there.”
Calling Israel, Mexico and New York home, Fletcher is often on the road. He and his artist wife, Hagar, a Sabra and former sergeant of the IDF whom he met while she was hitchhiking, are the parents of sons Daniel, Guy and Jonathan, and grandparents of Gali.
“Martin Fletcher balances the contributions of Ashkenazi Jews, Jews from the West, Sephardic Jews and Jews from the Arab lands to Israel’s success. The story poignantly grapples with the tragedy and scars of the Holocaust by telling the story of two brothers who reflect the challenges facing the fledgling state,” said Tycher Librarian Judy Borejdo. “‘Promised Land’ brings to life the first 20 years of Israel’s existence, which were a historic challenge for the Jewish people.”
As Fletcher says, “Promised Land” is “a love story set to a historical backdrop — the story of a nation, through the story of its people.”
For more information or to RSVP (requested by Dec. 3), email kschlosberg@jewishdallas.org, call 214-239-7131 or visit jewishdallas.org/communityread.

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