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JCRC holds Community Teen Havdalah event

Posted on 05 January 2018 by admin

Submitted report

DALLAS — More than 150 teens gathered on Dec. 9 at the Aaron Family JCC for the first-ever Community Teen Havdalah hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
The program began with a Havdalah service and singing led by the beloved-by-teens music team of Eric and Happie (Eric Hunker and Happie Hoffman), followed by an Israel education and advocacy training led by Rayna Exelbierd, Southeast High School Coordinator of StandWithUs, and Zachary Schaffer, Community Strategy Associate of the Israel Action Network.
The program, titled Israel on Campus: A Reality Check, is an interactive Israel advocacy program that follows modeled civil discourse on issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and showcases effective and ineffective conversational skills. Event partners included all local synagogues, Jewish youth groups, StandWithUs and the Israel Action Network of the Jewish Federations of North America.
Following welcome remarks by JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin, teens Noga Even, a member of the JCRC Teen Advisory Council and a StandWithUs intern, and Zach Denn, also a member of the JCRC Teen Advisory Council, introduced Eric and Happie to lead the Havdalah service. After Havdalah, Exelbierd and Schaffer presented tools and strategies for how to participate in conversations about Israel with someone who may hold differing beliefs. Part of the program involved using a small group of teens role playing with the trainers.
“The Community Teen Havdalah was a really special night to gain some knowledge and skills related to Israel. I’m glad so many teens joined us, and am grateful to our Jewish community for putting together this kind of event for teens,” Noga said.
The evening’s program concluded with a song session led by Eric and Happie while teens enjoyed a kosher candy bar and green-screen photo booth, with backgrounds of Israel. Custom-made stadium seat cushions were handed out as free giveaways to the teens in attendance.
“It was so nice to be a part of the Community Teen Havdalah event. Happie and Eric led a beautiful Havdalah service, and I learned a lot from the Israel advocacy trainers about how to better respond to a potentially difficult conversation about Israel on campus, said Sophia Fineberg, member of the JCRC Teen Advisory Council and Shlicha of BBYO’s North Texas-Oklahoma Regional Board.
The Jewish Federation’s High School Impact Committee and JCRC staff planned and prepared for the event with feedback from its Teen Advisory Council. Members of the 2017-18 JCRC Teen Advisory Council are Maayan Abouzaglo, Alec Becker, Rachel Berkowitz, Zach Denn, Noga Even, Sophia Fineberg, Mikayla Gothard, Chandler Kassel, Avery Klatsky, Ben Levkovich, Alexandria (Lexi) Lewis, Eli Minsky, Robert Roseman and Ross Rubin.
“This event is part of a larger and critical initiative in our community to engage our teens in conversations about Israel. We are committed to educating and empowering our youth regarding the complexities of the issues and provide the resources so that they can do their part to support a strong and vibrant Jewish State of Israel. I am grateful for the dedication and diligence of our lay leadership and JCRC staff for putting together such a meaningful event for our teens,” remarked Rubin.
Part of the mission of the Federation/JCRC Combatting BDS Committee is to educate local teens about responding to potential BDS and anti-Israel activity on campus. To that end, the High School Impact Sub-Committee, chaired by Ruthy Rosenberg and Melanie Pinker, continues to engage local teens in educational programming about Israel.
For more information about the JCRC and the Federation’s Combatting BDS Initiative, please visit www.jewishdallas.org/JCRC, call 214-615-5293 or email jcrcdallas@jewishdallas.org.

 

 

*****

JCRC Community Teen Havdalah

Partner organizations:

  • Anshai Torah
  • Adat Chaverim
  • BBYO
  • Beth-El Ft. Worth — Camp Impact
  • Congregation Beth Torah
  • Congregation Shaare Tefilla
  • Congregation Shearith Israel
  • Congregation Kol Ami
  • Chabad of Plano
  • Israel Action Network of Jewish Federations of North America
  • The JCC
  • Jewish Student Union (JSU)
  • NCSY
  • NFTY
  • Nishmat Am
  • Shir Tikvah
  • StandWithUs Texas
  • Temple Shalom
  • Temple Emanu-El
  • Tiferet Israel Congregation
  • USY
  • URJ Greene Family Camp
  • Yavneh Academy

The event was made possible by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.

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We teens will build strong Jewish future

We teens will build strong Jewish future

Posted on 21 December 2017 by admin

Editor’s note: Ben Levkovich was selected by BBYO to serve as an ambassador for the 2017 Active Jewish Teens (AJT) Conference.

The conference, which is an annual gathering of Jewish teens from the former Soviet Union, was held in Ukraine last month. This was the first time that U.S. Jews participated in this conference, and Ben was one of two BBYO ambassadors on the trip who was a child of a Ukrainian refugee. His mother Svetlana Levkovich, of Plano, immigrated to the U.S. from Soviet Ukraine as a direct result of the policies put in place following the 1987 March on Washington allowing Soviet Jews to emigrate.
Her family never returned.

BBYO’s American delegation at opening ceremonies of the AJT Conference. Ben Levkovich is third from left in the front row.

BBYO’s American delegation at opening ceremonies of the AJT Conference. Ben Levkovich is third from left in the front row.

Today, a resurgence of Jewish life is taking place in the land of our heritage. After centuries of destruction and hatred for Jews in Europe, we have a glimmer of hope. The past has set the foundation for our future, and today things couldn’t be more different.
Growing up I heard stories from my parents of the time when they were kids. They were treated differently because they were Jewish; it’s what I’ve heard all my life. As a proud Jewish teenager in America, I felt a responsibility to travel to Ukraine when BBYO presented the opportunity to me. I learned about our people’s past firsthand. I put on my tefillin and wore my kippah proudly in a land in which my parents could not.
I saw the fields and memorials of Babi Yar, the trenches of terror, the memory of the horrid moments of my ancestors — thousands of hopes and dreams crushed and broken. Bodies that held much more than a bundle of bones were trashed and burned.
But we stood. The once seemingly invincible empires are gone, but we remain. The great powers of Greece or Rome no longer threaten the face of this earth, but we are still here, stronger than ever. The curtain fell but we still stand.

(Left to right) Lev Feitman, Ben Levkovich, Jake Bush and Jacob Ioffe pose for pictures before Shabbat at the AJT Conference.

(Left to right) Lev Feitman, Ben Levkovich, Jake Bush and Jacob Ioffe pose for pictures before Shabbat at the AJT Conference.

I left Babi Yar and watched 400 Jewish teens from 10 countries gather from all corners of the former Soviet Union to celebrate their Judaism and to pronounce their love for their heritage. These are teens whose Jewish lives were reignited by their youth group, Active Jewish Teens. It’s the place they can truly express themselves and their outlet to Judaism.
Resurgence is celebrating Shabbat with these 400 teens, whose parents weren’t allowed to do so during their childhoods. Singing Havdalah with them, arm in arm, as one circle formed by representatives of countries once associated with the oppression of Jews showed the world that we are still here and stronger than ever.
These are our brothers and sisters; they are our leaders. Being connected to the global Jewish community isn’t about speaking the same language or sharing the same culture, it’s much more than that. We share the bond of Judaism. Our communal tradition has survived for millennia through trials and tribulations. We share music and prayer, and so much more. To sit together on Shabbat, singing songs that we all knew despite the oceans that separate us — this is only the start of a new bond between Jews from all over the world fostered by BBYO.
I have never seen or felt the pride of Jews around me like I did this weekend. Jewish life in the former Soviet Union is flourishing like never before. The community supports one another and takes care of each other’s needs, and now, I support them too. These teens are the ones who will build a strong Jewish future — mark my words.

Ben Levkovich and other American teens stand at the edge of Babi Yar looking into the trenches.

Ben Levkovich and other American teens stand at the edge of Babi Yar looking into the trenches.

Ben Levkovich, son of Svetlana and Alex Levkovich of Plano, is a Yavneh Academy junior and a member of Morton Lewis AZA.

*****

Did You Know?

The March on Washington for Soviet Jewry was a massive rally — more than 250,000 Jews participated from across the country — held on the eve of the December 1987 Washington Summit between President Reagan and Soviet Premier Gorbachev demanding that Reagan put pressure on Gorbachev to put an end to the forced assimilation of Jews and allowing their emigration from the USSR. The Metroplex sent a large contingent to the March led by then JCRC Chair Janice Sweet.
See the original TJP coverage in the Dec. 10, 1987, issue at  http://bit.ly/2AYnkp8 (use the right arrow above the TJP  masthead to scroll through the issue).

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Dallas Doings: Noah’s Ark, Bookfest, more

Dallas Doings: Noah’s Ark, Bookfest, more

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Noah’s Ark Day at Temple Shalom

Noah’s Ark Day is one of the long awaited Sunday Fun Days at Temple Shalom. Students of all ages enjoyed dressing up like their favorite animals. While the youngest students made a life-size ark to play in and created adorable arks filled with animal crackers, older students enjoyed coming to school in their animal footie pajamas. Temple Shalom fifth-graders got to spend the afternoon decorating their new gaga pit with hand prints. They were initiated into the Tel Aviv Tribe and given their brand-new Tribe T-shirts as well.
— Submitted by Lisa Rothberg

Bookfest continues

The Oct. 30 Tycher Community Read, under the umbrella of the Aaron Family JCC’s Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer Dallas Jewish BookFest at the Aaron Family JCC, was a resounding success with a record 325-plus in attendance to hear Beneath A Scarlet Sky author Mark Sullivan share the history and backstories of how the book came to be.  “My ‘final’ version was 820 pages and my editor said, ‘you can’t tell it all,’” said Sullivan, the final product, published in May of this year which will be made into a feature film, is 513 pages.  BookFest continued this Monday, Nov. 13, with Dallas’ own Rusty Cooper and Bruce Katz emceeing  a musical evening I Wrote That One Too  author Steve Dorff. On Dec. 4 Lilac Girls’ author, Martha Hall Kelly will be in town.  The full schedule, with programs through April 12 can be found at jccdallas.org/main/bookfest.

Photo: Lisa Rothberg Temple Shalom fifth-graders decorate their new gaga pit.

Photo: Lisa Rothberg
Temple Shalom fifth-graders decorate their new gaga pit.

— Submitted by Deb Silverthorn

Breslov comes to Texas

Rabbi Chaim Kramer, founder and director of the Breslov Research Institute (BRI), visited Dallas from Nov. 10-12, to spread the wisdom of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov.

 Beneath A Scarlet Sky author Mark Sullivan autographed a personal message for Tycher Community Read guest Hanna Lambert, with JCC Director of Israel Engagement and Jewish Living Rachelle Weiss Crane, still smiling about last week’s record-breaking BookFest crowd of more than 325.

Beneath A Scarlet Sky author Mark Sullivan autographed a personal message for Tycher Community Read guest Hanna Lambert, with JCC Director of Israel Engagement and Jewish Living Rachelle Weiss Crane, still smiling about last week’s record-breaking BookFest crowd of more than 325.

While the legendary Chassidic master passed away in 1810, Rebbe Nachman’s timeless teachings remain as relevant today as they did over two centuries ago. Tens of thousands of Jews from every corner of the world annually flock to his graveside in Uman, Ukraine, for Rosh HaShannah.
Founded in 1979, with the objective of making Rebbe Nachman‘s lessons accessible to all, BRI has published over 100 titles on a wide array of subjects related to Kabbalah and Chassidut. These works have been translated into Hebrew, Spanish, French and Russian.
While in Dallas Rabbi Kramer lectured at Congregations Shaare Tefilla, Ohr HaTorah and at Y

oung Israel of Dallas and addressed the high school students of Yavneh Academy, where he was received enthusiastically.
Additional information on the Breslov Research Institute is available online at Breslov.org.

(From left) Leib Malina, Eli Burstein, Rabbi Yoni Sonenblick, Simcha Malina, Ari Berke, Yosef Weiss, Jonah Eber and Daniel Garren enjoy a moment with Rabbi Chaim Kramer (seated) at Yavneh.

(From left) Leib Malina, Eli Burstein, Rabbi Yoni Sonenblick, Simcha Malina, Ari Berke, Yosef Weiss, Jonah Eber and Daniel Garren enjoy a moment with Rabbi Chaim Kramer (seated) at Yavneh.

— Submitted by Noam Aranov

Save the Date:

  • On Dec. 9, the Jewish Community Relations council will hold a Community Teen Havdalah. Following Havdallah, led by musical duo “Eric and Happie” there will be an Israel education and advocacy training program to prepare teens for college, “Israel on Campus: A Reality Check.” This will be an interactive program of discussion and dialogue led by young adults (25 years old). The program will end with a Closing Circle and songs led by Eric and Happie. Partners for the evening at press time are Adat Chaverim, Beth El – Fort Worth/Camp Impact, Anshai Torah, Congregation Beth Torah, Shaare Tefila, Temple Shalom, Aaron Family Jewish Community Center, BBYO, Congregation Shearith Israel, Shir Tikvah Frisco, Tiferet Israel and the JCRC.
  • On Jan. 28, Howie Mandel will be the featured performer for One Night, The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ biggest fundraising event of the year. Co-chairs for the evening are Angela Horowitz and Doug French, Jolie and Michael Newman and Natalie and Michael Waldman. More information can be found at www.jewishdallas.org.
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Making sure the 6 million’s names live on

Posted on 19 April 2018 by admin

I wrote this four days ago, after I had just returned from Reading the Names. The Beth Torah Men’s Club had this inspired idea, began it in 2003, and it’s now a sacred tradition.
This quote is attributed to an elusive figure named Bansky: “A person dies twice. First, when he takes his last breath. Second, when the last person remembers his name.” Whether that was the inspiration, I don’t know. But 15 years ago, someone in the congregation realized that the names of many of the 6 million had never been spoken since their Holocaust deaths, and this annual ritual of remembrance is the result. It is subtitled: “To Every Person, There Is a Name…”
Anyone who wants to read names may do so. It’s a 24-hour vigil, beginning after Havdalah on the Saturday closest to Yom HaShoah, and ending at Sunday’s sundown. (Guess who reads through the wee small hours? Teenagers who have an all-nighter under the watchful supervision of youth group leaders and Learning Center personnel.) This tradition was started by Beth Torah, but was immediately opened to the greater community; now, folks of other synagogues, of churches and mosques, come; some even Skype in — sometimes from as far away as Israel. The names come from Holocaust museums that lend what they have: the Nazis’ own records of their victims. Who lived where? Died where? At what age? Germans have always been efficient at keeping details; the Holocaust was no exception.
People who don’t want to read are encouraged to come, sit quietly and just listen, to hear the names read aloud so that those who have drawn their last breaths now become people who have not died that second time. So, I sat in the darkened synagogue sanctuary until it was my turn to read, listening to others, facing the line of 11 candles lit in memory of our own 6 million, plus the 5 million others who shared their horrific fates.
A table on the bimah was stacked with individual sheets of paper, all covered with those neatly printed German statistics for each of the non-survivors. Four piles, each about a foot high. I calculated: My two great-grandsons will likely have grandchildren of their own when the Reading of the Names is finally completed. Maybe not even that soon…
But we read on. Some of us have difficulty with pronouncing the foreign names, or the towns in which their owners lived (and often died). But less difficulty with some of the death sites so carefully noted: Auschwitz — Sobibor — Babi Yar; we are already too familiar with them. With each name, however, we do our loud-and-clear best, to make sure that these people have not yet fully passed away. Sometimes it’s hard not to cry; I have to exercise a seldom-needed kind of self-control when I realize I’m reading off the names of an entire family: I can tell by the surname, the town in which all lived, their ages — people in their 80s, 60s, 40s, 20s and those who were teens, or 10, 8, 6, 4, 2. But most often, most sadly, they have not even died together in the same place. However, every one of them is coming to life again, off those awful pages, if just for a brief moment…
Israel’s three most special days are in this order: Very soon after Yom HaShoah, when Holocaust survivors are celebrated and victims memorialized, comes Yom HaZikaron, paying tribute to those who have given their all as soldiers of their country, and others who have suffered terrorism. Then, just one day later, comes Yom HaAtzmaut: Independence Day. After first mourning the long-gone, then stopping all activity for an incredible silence to salute those whose bravery and suffering have made their country live, Israelis burst out in a show of life like nowhere else in the world.
That final day is today. Let’s celebrate, too. And let’s mark our calendars now, to join in the Reading of the Names next year.

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