Archive | Around the Town

‘Voices & Visions’: art paired with thought

‘Voices & Visions’: art paired with thought

Posted on 20 June 2018 by admin

Submitted photo
Some images from the “Voices and Visions” exhibit, pairing contemporary artists and designers with powerful quotes from Jewish thinkers. The exhibit was created by Beth-El’s Art Committee and can be viewed through the end of August.

 

Beth-El’s Art Committee has curated a unique display that pairs contemporary artists and designers with powerful quotes from Jewish thinkers. The exhibit can be viewed in the Temple Board Room from June through the end of August and is open to the community.
“Voices and Visions” was inspired by the Container Corporation of America’s “Great Ideas” series. Launched as an ad campaign in the 1950s, the Container Corporation paired famous quotes and graphic design, and published images monthly across the United States. In a short time, the campaign moved away from advertising and become an art phenomenon.
In 1993, a collector and appreciator of “Great Ideas,” Harold Grinspoon, founded the Harold Grinspoon Foundation, a North American Jewish nonprofit organization with the goal of enhancing Jewish community life in North America. In late 2012, “Voices and Visions” released its debut Masters Series, a collection of 18 images that pairs leading figures of contemporary art and design with powerful quotes from Jewish thinkers.
Among Grinspoon’s many other highly regarded programs is the PJ Library, which provides U.S. Jewish children with age-appropriate books highlighting Jewish holidays, values, Bible stories and folklore. There is also an Israeli version of the PJ Library, Sifriyat Pijama, which gifts books in Hebrew each month to more than 100,000 preschoolers in about 4,000 preschools throughout Israel.

— Submitted by
Arlene Reynolds

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Son’s bar mitzvah paved O’Desky’s cantorial path

Posted on 31 May 2018 by admin

By Hollace Ava Weiner

It’s a rare person who can chant from parchment texts and translate high-tech data. Monica O’Desky, who will become an ordained cantor June 2, is just such a person — a Torah scholar and a software engineer who operates an IT company called Netunim, which is Hebrew for data.
O’Desky kept her Texas computing company running while she commuted the past three years to classes at Hebrew College near Boston.
“It was a bit of a schlep,” she says. “I got up around 5 a.m. and worked before I got started on my studies.” O’Desky’s combination of ancient and modern skills culminated with her master’s thesis: a computer program (already being utilized) that teaches musical interpretations of Hebrew liturgy.
The toggling of high-tech and Torah texts is not Monica’s only innovation. A longtime member at Beth-El, she organized a volunteer choir, Shir Halleluyah, in the 1990s that fueled her hunger to learn about Jewish music and understand why and when specific melodies are chanted. In the 2000s, Monica started a Saturday morning Torah study group, which still meets religiously at 9 a.m., whether or not she’s in town. More recently, she orchestrated the formation of Klezzoup!, a troupe of local musicians who perform Yiddish melodies on brass, strings and woodwinds.
“We have a strong talent pool here,” says the 62-year-old Chicago native who grew up in Toledo and moved to Fort Worth in 1982 as a single woman with $200 in the bank and a master’s degree in technical writing. She landed a job at the local medical school, wrote its five-year academic computing plan, got married and gave birth to a son, Eli Holley.
O’Desky’s journey back to the future began 16 years ago, when Eli began studying for his bar mitzvah under the guidance of Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger and Sheri Allen, then a soloist and now a cantor.
“My son and I were a reverse l’dor v’dor,” she said, using the Hebrew phrase that means from one generation to the next. “Eli announced he wanted a bar mitzvah, and I studied with him. The more we studied, the more I was fascinated by the cantillation, the interpretations and the history.”
When she was growing up in Toledo, O’Desky, an alto with a broad musical range, loved to sing but stopped performing when a tonsillectomy damaged her vocal cords. As a mom, she began chanting Hebrew prayers with Eli, then soloed at Shabbat services and accepted invitations to lead bar and bat mitzvah ceremonies.
Encouraged, she auditioned for choral groups and joined the Fort Worth Symphony Festival Chorus in performances of Chichester Psalms, Beethoven’s Ninth, Carmina Burana and George Takei’s Sci-Fi Spectacular. At the American Airlines Center in Dallas, she was in the choral backup twice when legendary tenor Andrea Bocelli performed. (“What a thrill.”)
When New York Cantor Bruce Ruben, director of the School of Sacred Music at Hebrew Union College, came to Beth-El to chant during the High Holidays in 2009, he urged O’Desky to audition for cantorial school.
“He was keen for me to audition at HUC, the Reform seminary, but I discovered we were not a good fit. It wasn’t academic enough for me. I’m a researcher, a scientist at heart. I want to know why.” She wanted more than a Reform Jewish school of music. “I heard about Hebrew College in the Boston area and came to take their Ta Sh’ma, their ‘look-and-listen’ session. The school had just launched a three-year cantorial ordination program wrapped around a master’s in Jewish education.”
That fit O’Desky’s vision. She was one of only three applicants accepted.
“The school is pluralistic,” she explained, “meaning it covers all streams of Judaism, not just Reform, Conservative or Orthodox. I fell in love with the program, the people and the idea.”
The main obstacle was Hebrew. She knew the basics because she had gone to Hebrew school while growing up in Toledo. But for cantorial school, applicants need to be at “Hebrew 4 level,” comparable to four semesters of liturgical Hebrew. O’Desky was at level 2.
“That’s like reading Beowulf in English,” she sighed. “When you learn a language in your 50s, it’s an adventure. I wouldn’t have made it without Batya Brand,” the Israeli-born educator and sage who formerly headed the Fort Worth Hebrew Day School. When Brand moved to New Jersey, the pair studied on Skype.
To further bone up on Hebrew, O’Desky enrolled in Hebrew College’s Masters in Jewish Studies program, a rabbinical track. “We studied the same things as rabbinical students — Talmud, Mishnah, Hebrew and lifecycle events (doing weddings, bar mitzvahs, funerals, baby namings).”
Because cantorial students have no classes during Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, they go to work. Abilene’s Temple Mitzpah hired O’Desky in 2016 as “kol bo,” meaning “cantor, rabbi, Torah reader, sermon giver, you name it.” The High Holidays stint turned into a year-round position, with Monica commuting 150 miles from Fort Worth to Abilene every four to six weeks. She got rave reviews from the Abilene Reporter-News for her interfaith work in West Texas.
She has also been a weekend scholar-in-residence at Longview’s Temple Emanu-El, an East Texas congregation. On several occasions, she led events for the Texas Jewish Historical Society, which considers her an honorary member.
What’s next now that O’Desky has earned the title of “cantor” and two more master’s degrees? She plans to slow down, catch her breath and see what comes along. Her son, Eli, now 28, has a master’s in government and conflict resolution from Israel’s Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. He joined the Texas National Guard and is assigned to an overseas intelligence group.
O’Desky resumed using her maiden name in January. “It felt right to be ordained as Monica O’Desky,” she said. Although the surname has an Irish lilt, it was derived from her family’s roots in the Black Sea port of Odessa.
“The story goes that when my father’s brothers came to America. Too many Ukrainian Jews were pouring in. So, they made themselves an Irish name for a better chance. So here we are.”
A newly minted Jewish cantor with an Irish rhythm to her name.

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Around the Town: Goldman Dinner, WWII Info

Posted on 24 May 2018 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Annual Goldman Dinner
honors youngest daughter

Beth-El’s Men of Reform Judaism’s (MRJ) annual Mickey Goldman Spaghetti Dinner was held March 25 with one of the largest turnouts in the event’s history. The 2018 honoree, Carol Minker, Goldman’s youngest daughter, brought a large contingent of family and friends from near and far to help her celebrate.
The Mickey Goldman Spaghetti Dinner is legendary. Mickey, who died 45 years ago, would prepare spaghetti sauce from scratch and provide a family meal “with all the fixin’s” for the congregation. After he passed away, the Men of Reform Judaism continued the traditional dinner in Mickey’s memory. Thirty-three years ago, the MRJ added an honoree to the celebration — the person who most exemplifies Mickey Goldman’s spirit.
Twenty-six Goldman family members gathered in Fort Worth for a weekend-long reunion/celebration to remember their dad, grandfather and great-grandfather, as well as to celebrate Minker, who has helped her dad’s spirit live on through her own good works. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
In her remarks, Minker said how overwhelmed she was to see so many family and friends at the gathering. She was especially proud that her children, Melissa and Scott, and their families were in attendance.
With regard to her husband, she added, “Richie… has carried on the good deeds of Mickey Goldman by not only serving as president of Beth-El, but also he continues to work behind the scenes to help Beth-El move forward. Without his love and constant support, I would not have been able to do half of what I have done to carry on my mother’s and father’s legacy.”
In closing, Minker summed up her hopes for those in attendance which captured the spirit of her father. “Take a little bit of Mickey Goldman with you too, and each week, show compassion to someone in need, offer a kind word to a complete stranger and make someone feel better by doing a random act of kindness.”
Congratulations, Carol, for continuing the legacy of your mom and dad. The Fort Worth Jewish community and community at large are the beneficiaries of your service.

Wanted, information
on WWII Soldiers KIA

During World War II, Fort Worth mourned five Jewish soldiers killed in action. The Fort Worth Jewish Archives has a great deal of information about two of the young men, but very little about the other three.
Perhaps publishing the few facts we have unearthed will lead to readers who recall these casualties. An honor roll scroll listing 226 Jewish GIs from Tarrant County has a gold star next to their names, indicating their wartime deaths.
• TEC4 Richard H. Burt, 19, died in Belgium Sept. 8, 1944, a day after being wounded in battle. A native of Los Angeles, Richard Burt was a graduate of Fort Worth’s Poly High School. His parents, Mr. and Mrs. A.L. Burt, and sister, Elaine, lived at 3505 Rosedale. His brother, TEC5 Warren Burt, served with an armored unit in France. When Fort Worth’s B’nai B’rith lodge held a memorial service to honor fallen soldiers, Richard Burt’s name was on the handbill publicizing the service.
• Staff Sgt. Walter C. Sanders, 19, died June 26, 1944, in Italy. He was a nose gunner with the 449th Bomb Group that was based in Italy and flew missions into contested skies over Hungary. Walter Sanders’ parents, Henry and Francoise Becker Sanders, lived at 1103 S. Henderson. The soldier’s remains were repatriated in December 1948 and placed in a mausoleum at Greenwood Memorial Park. A Jewish chaplain officiated at his funeral. According to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, he was survived by his son and namesake, Walter Charles Sanders Jr. The soldier’s name is on a yahrzeit plaque at Beth-El Congregation.
• TEC5 Saul Mark, 30, lived in Terrell in Kaufman County. His family was affiliated with Congregation Ahavath Sholom. He is buried in Ahavath Sholom’s cemetery next to two fellow soldiers, Alvin Rubin and Harold Gilbert. The trio have identical tombstones. Each grave marker is embedded with a photo of the deceased. Mark was survived by his mother, Ester Rachel Mark, an immigrant, who died in 1953, and his father, Russian-born Sam Mark, who resided at 4813 Hildring Drive when he died in 1963. The soldier had two brothers, Phillip Mark and Hymie Mark of Dallas, and four sisters, Ann (Louis) Cohen of Fort Worth; Rose (Walter) Baross of Dallas, Fannie (Jake) Alexander of Irving, and Mollie Mondkowiez of Los Angeles.
• Alvin Rubin, 22, and Harold Gilbert, 22, were sons of well-known Jewish mercantile families that came to Fort Worth in the late 19th and early 20th century. The city’s Rubin-Gilbert AZA chapter was named in their memory. The Gilbert family donated to the archives all correspondence related to Harold’s death on a troopship torpedoed as it crossed the English Channel on Christmas Eve 1944. Flight Officer Alvin Rubin was in the cockpit of a B-24 that crashed on take-off from Dakar, French West Africa, March 25, 1944.
— Submitted by
Hollace Weiner

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Around the Town: Israel @ 70 Gala, Art Salon: Len Schweitzer

Around the Town: Israel @ 70 Gala, Art Salon: Len Schweitzer

Posted on 16 May 2018 by admin

Compiled by: Sharon Wisch-Ray

Event Committee: Naomi Rosenfield, Rivka Marco, Diane Kleinman, Rich Hollander, Rachel Yaacobi, Shoshana Howard, Monica O’Desky

A night to celebrate Israel

Some 300 people attended the Israel@70 Gala. The celebraton was sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County with financial support from the Foundation of the Jewish Federation, the Dan Danciger/Fort Worth Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation, Harold Gernsbacher, Ben and Suzie Herman, Jeffrey and Linda Hochster, Rich and Terri Hollander, Isadore Garsek Lodge of B’nai B’rith, Stuart and Rebecca Isgur, Sam and Diane Kleinman, Monica O’Desky, Mark and Naomi Rosenfield, Sendara Title, and Tarrant County B’nai B’rith Housing. Members of the Host Committee were Julie Berman, Rabbi Andrew and Michal Bloom, Marc and Jane Cohen, Rabbi Charlie and Adena Cytron-Walker, Al Faigin, Robert and Phyllis Fenton, Red and Julie Goldstein, Bill and Noreen Houston, Ben and Shoshana Isgur, Karen Kaplan, Teddy and Shirry Knitel, Kurt and Ilana Knust, Ebi and Linda Lavi, Harold and Marcia Malofsky, Corey and Neta Mandel, Dale and Posey McMillen, Marcy Paul, Michael and Beverly Ross, Robert and Cindy Simon, Cheryl Visosky and Rabbi Brian and Mimi Zimmerman.

Art Salon: Len Schweitzer

As part of the The Global Lens of Len Schweitzer, an exhibit featuring his landscape photography from his worldwide travels on display at Beth-El Congregation since February 2018, the Temple will hold an Art Salon from 7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 23, in the Boardroom.
Having recently returned from revisiting Scotland — one of his favorite venues — Schweitzer will share his impressions of the snow-covered Northwest Highlands, set in a landscape of open moorlands. He will also discuss and answer questions about the approaches, techniques, and processes he uses to capture the varied, evocative works featured in his exhibit.
Art salons date back to Paris in 1667 as an opportunity for artists, art lovers and others to gather, network and exchange ideas about art. Beth-El began holding its Art Salon in 2015.

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College-bound singer gifts community with voice

College-bound singer gifts community with voice

Posted on 10 May 2018 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Goldberg Family
14-yr-old Jayden sings Ave Maria a cappella in the Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican.

By Shari Goldstein Stern

Five years ago, at a time when 13-year-old girls were listening to Pink, Bruno Mars and Demi Lovato, Southlake’s Jayden Goldberg was taking the stage at the Majestic Theatre in Downtown Dallas to perform the role of Betsie Ten Boom in The Weaving. It tells the story of Corrie Ten Boom, a Dutch Christian who helped over 800 Jews escape the Nazis during the Holocaust.
She described Ten Boom’s life as a weaving, a tapestry of good, light threads and difficult, dark threads. The dramatization featured original music and choreography mirroring the journey of Corrie as she and her sister, Betsie, brought light and hope into the darkness of the Ravensbruck Camp in World War II Germany.
“They wrote in an angel scene to add Jayden’s solo of Ave Maria after Betsie’s sister died,” said Jennifer Goldberg, Jayden’s mother. That was the level of emotional material this then-eighth-grader Jayden expressed with her gift of voice.
Now, as an 18-year-old, Jayden has friends who are into Ariana Grande, Cardie B. and Drake, while the young classical musician sees to final details for the Sunday, May 20, Share the Passion Benefit Concert she is producing as her Senior Capstone project at Fort Worth Academy of Fine Arts (FWAFA).
A Senior Capstone project is typically a presentation of an idea or belief about which the student is passionate. Jayden chose to combine her passion for classical music with her goal to provide school-aged children from low-income homes exposure to the art form through the Share the Passion Benefit Concert.
The organizer recruited talent from among her performing peers at FWAFA. They will join her in singing a repertoire of classical music and Broadway show tunes. All performers and concert benefit support staff are volunteering their time and talents for Share the Passion.
“The Fort Worth Opera has a program that brings kids to final, full dress rehearsals for $5, called Opera’s Student Night at the Opera Program,” Jayden said. “But students at Title 1 schools can’t afford to pay that. With this new experience, they are exposed to drama, acting, theater, art, costumes and fashion, and hearing opera at the same time. I’m mostly excited and honored to be able to put on this concert. I didn’t think it would be possible. My school was gracious in letting me put on the benefit there.”
Jayden performed Ave Maria again at 16, as an a cappella soloist at St. Peter Basilica in Vatican City. With her horizons already broadened, she became a God Bless America and Star-Spangled Banner soloist at Dallas Stars, Texas Rangers and Portland (Oregon) Winterhawks games.
The young lady started singing when she was 9. She channeled Katy Perry. But by 13, she was into classical music. She showed a propensity for it. “I just loved it. I understood it,” she explained. “Teachers said opera was my niche, and they encouraged me to pursue it.”
Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Carousel at FWAFA featured Jayden as Julie Jordan, whose If I Loved You was a fitting opportunity, along with the rest of the score, for her to tackle.
She was the opening act for Lee Greenwood at the La Quinta National Conference in Hawaii in 2014 at age 14. That year she performed in The Nutcracker at the Irving Arts Center. At 16, Jayden was back in Italy performing in The Marriage of Figaro at the Amalfi Music Festival.
As a contract singer with Fort Worth Opera’s adult chorus, Jayden performed in Don Pasquale and Carmen last year. “That was one of the biggest challenges I’ve had,” she said.
According to Jayden’s father, Wayne Goldberg, Jayden was the youngest chorus member ever to sing with the Fort Worth Opera while performing in Carmen. “She also performed this year in Don Pasquale and Frontiers,” he added. Both performances were with the Fort Worth Opera at Bass Hall.
Jayden was the cover for a new world premiere opera called The Falling and The Rising at TCU. She took first place at National Association of Teacher Singers this year. She was also a 2018 National YoungArts winner. All the winners spent a week in Miami in January and there, she was awarded second place overall for classical voice.
The National Honor Society student received a 2017 Outstanding Growth Artistic Excellence Award in Music Theory. Jayden is a nominee for The President’s Volunteer Service Award Silver 2018.
Jayden is one of only 20 nominees for the U.S. Presidential Scholars in the Arts recognition, with the winner to be announced soon. “This is the highest level of honor a high school student of the arts (voice, instrument, painter, sculptor, poet, author, dancer, musical theater, drama, visual artist) can earn,” her mother said.
The graduating senior has some big decisions to make soon. Eight prestigious music schools have accepted Jayden and offered her merit-based scholarships. Those include San Francisco Conservatory, New England Conservatory and The Boston Conservatory.
Jayden’s Share The Passion Benefit Concert will be held at 3 p.m. May 20 at the FWAFA, 3901 S. Hulen St. in Fort Worth.
All of the funds raised at the benefit concert will pay for tickets enabling children from financially disadvantaged homes to attend a final dress rehearsal for a Fort Worth Opera performance through the Fort Worth Opera’s Student Night Out Program. Transportation is included where needed, and arrangements will be coordinated by their schools.
“I’m blown away. I wanted to do a benefit concert. I want to give back to our community. The arts are going to rely on us to grow another generation filled with art and music,” Jayden said.
For tickets and additional information, visit sharethepassion.org.

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Around the Town: Karina Sokolowska

Posted on 03 May 2018 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Some of you may or may not know that a couple of weeks ago, I returned from Poland and its portion of the March of the Living (I will be telling this story comprehensively soon). I was stunned to see the depth and breadth of the Jewish community and cultural life before the Holocaust and bore witness to the atrocities the Nazis perpetrated on the Jews and others. It was beyond what I had ever thought I knew.
Despite troubling headlines from Poland, the Jewish community there is flourishing, a miraculous revival despite the history of the Holocaust and communism. I witnessed firsthand the thriving Jewish Community Center in Krakow and heard from its dynamic leader. It has a kindergarten with 11 Jewish students (see story this page).
Karina Sokolowska, the director of American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee’s Poland office, will be in Fort Worth with an update on the revitalization of Jewish life and community in Poland. She will also discuss challenges including the recent legislation about Holocaust history and its consequences.
The program is at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 10, at Beth-El Congregation.
Since 1994, Karina Sokolowska has been providing many generations of Jews, especially thousands of children and youth, the precious opportunity to strengthen and, in many cases, entirely rediscover their Jewish identity, through her JDC work.
Karina’s journey into Jewish identity began when she was a freshman studying Japanese at the University of Warsaw. A fellow student recognized Karina’s German mispronunciations as Yiddish and asked her to lead the Polish Union of Jewish Students. It was a pivotal moment for Karina, one that launched her into a long-lasting career as a Jewish communal worker.
Karina has seen her country undergo monumental transitions: from suppressive rule that stifled all possibility for religious and cultural freedom, to a system that has provided a space for Jews to express themselves. She recalls that before JDC’s involvement in the country the only real expression of Judaism was a box of matzah distributed by JDC to the Jewish community during Passover.
Karina’s work as the Poland Country Manager involves Jewish renewal work across Jewish communities in Poland, including organizing conferences for Limmud participants to learn about Jewish identity and helping families learn about Jewish traditions, JDC’s creation of two flagship JCCs in Warsaw and Krakow, summer camp experiences and other activities.
On a personal level, Karina relates that it was when her 7-year-old daughter came home from Jewish summer camp saying prayers and singing Hebrew songs that she realized the full impact of JDC’s work.
Karina is fluent in English, German, Japanese and Russian.

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Challenges just ‘bumps in the road’ for Taurogs

Challenges just ‘bumps in the road’ for Taurogs

Posted on 12 April 2018 by admin

Photo: Lester Kuperman
Thirty-seven years later: Marc Taurog; Caryn and Jeff Borden with children Vaughn and Ayva; Jeffrey and Lisa Kuperman with twins Liam and Max.

By Hollace Ava Weiner

Barry and Lynn Taurog and their three youngsters arrived in Fort Worth in January 1980 carrying visitors’ visas that were close to expiration.
Yet they intended to stay. The couple had scoped out the city several months before and were optimistic that a position in a west-side travel agency would turn into the family’s ticket to American citizenship.
Under no circumstance were they going back to South Africa. Despite their luxurious lifestyle in a Johannesburg suburb, the couple were determined to provide their children — Lisa, 7; Caryn, 6; and Marc, 2 — with a life free of apartheid and civil unrest.
The Taurogs’ immigrant story of hard knocks and tenacity is featured in the Gone 2 Texas booklet that will be distributed at this weekend’s conference of the Texas Jewish Historical Society in Fort Worth. The family’s difficult, but successful path to U.S. citizenship took nearly a decade, much longer than the norm.
Periodically, they crossed the border into Canada to renew their visitors’ visas. Their story is particularly topical at a time when the Trump administration is reshaping U.S. immigration policy.
To receive green cards and citizenship, Barry had to fill a job that an American wouldn’t. When his first position as a partner in a Texas travel agency didn’t work out, he made a living managing a Quik Zip convenience store near Carswell Air Force Base. The premises rattled whenever military jets flew overhead.
Barry had operated a pharmacy in South Africa. His credentials did not transfer to the United States. Starting over would entail enrolling in pharmacy school at the University of Texas in Austin and again uprooting the family.
The Taurogs opted to stay in Fort Worth, where Barry spent the rest of his life juggling an array of jobs.
He marketed South African jerky — bilbong — that he cured in a special dryer. At various intervals, he was in jewelry, insurance and real estate. He was a screener with the Transportation Security Administration at DFW Airport for seven years, where he befriended travelers from around the globe. He joined the Masons, his neighborhood Citizens on Patrol and was a docent at the Van Cliburn Piano Competition. He was the catalyst for a dialogue between the Jewish community and First Presbyterian Church, when the latter advocated economic boycotts against Israel.
When he died of cancer in February 2007 at age 67, his funeral was standing room only.
Although the Taurogs were members at Reform Congregation Beth-El, Barry and Lynn were part of the Chevra Kadisha — the burial society — at Ahavath Sholom, the city’s Conservative synagogue.
“It’s the last act of kindness that you can do for someone,” Lynn told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Lynn Lawrence Taurog, a hostess, upbeat secretary and organizer, also proved her work ethic. She teamed up with a girlfriend to sell handbags at house parties. She worked at Weber’s pawn shop (owned by a local Jewish family), then at Radio Shack and, finally, at Senior Citizens Services organizing a food bank. Among her hobbies were gin rummy, mah-jongg, jigsaw puzzles and trips to Graceland. (Yes, she was an Elvis fanatic.) She survived her first bout of cancer in 1992, describing it as “a bump in the road.” A decade later, cancer struck again.
She died in April 2007, two months after her husband.
In his emotional eulogies, then-Beth-El Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger observed that “becoming rich” was never Lynn or Barry’s goal. During lives filled with idealism and challenges, “more important things motivated them.”
Their oldest child, Lisa, had high expectations when the family came to the U.S. “We thought we were moving to Disney World, because anyone who had visited America came back with gifts from Disneyland. It was a culture shock. We were slightly disappointed.” At school, “people made fun of my accent. They teased me. I learned very quickly to lose my accent. . . . When we traveled back to South Africa in the summer, I was the first to pack my bags. I remember South Africa vividly.”
The Taurogs lived in the Candleridge neighborhood, in a corner house with a school-bus stop outside the door. On cold mornings, Lisa’s mom made hot chocolate for all the kids. Her dad fed stray dogs and cats, earning the nickname “Dr. Doolittle.” Their Christmas tradition was to go to a movie and a Chinese restaurant with the Muslim family that lived across the street. (All the parents had “funny accents.”)
Married since 2008, Lisa and her husband, Texas native Jeffery Kuperman, are raising twin boys born in 2009. She went into restaurant management and commercial print sales and is part owner of Grease Monkey Rubs, a spice company.
Her sister, Caryn, says that, “although I moved from South Africa when I was 6, I remember a lot — even the smells.” What she likes best about South Africa is that it reminds her of her parents. “It’s their roots. I can feel them when I visit. Going back is like getting a piece of them. It’s like a homecoming. But I am glad I do not live there. I am glad my parents made the choice. There’s not a future there. It’s not safe. The country is corrupt. Although people there have a high standard of living, it’s a trade-off. There’s anxiety about crime. At my relatives’ houses, there are electric fences and guards. You don’t wear your jewelry in public.”
Caryn appreciates how difficult it was for her parents to start over. “The government made it a hard process, because so many people were leaving. There was a brain drain. You couldn’t take all your money or assets.” Whenever her uncles traveled to the States, they brought some of her father’s savings. As violence and economic boycotts afflicted South Africa, the value of the currency plummeted. “It was a bad exchange rate. It’s hard to start over.”
Caryn, who graduated from Texas Tech and has an MBA from SMU, lives in Dallas with her husband, Jeff Borden and two children.
Marc Taurog, a software engineer with a home in Euless, was a toddler when his family left South Africa. He had built his first computer by age 8. Marc has clear memories of visits to South Africa. Once he fell in his grandmother’s pool, and the gardener fished him out. His grandmother brushed crumbs from the kitchen table into a pie pan that she set outdoors for the birds.
When his cousins used to visit Texas, they stocked up on blue jeans and electronics, items hard to find in South Africa. “The country had very few American imports.” Best of all were summertime visits from his grandparents, who stayed through the High Holidays. “It was really special. Visits are so few and far between when you live so far away.”
Which relatives still remain in South Africa? On the maternal side, an aunt, uncle and their married son. On the paternal side, one uncle with four children. “They are very nationalistic,” Marc said. “They would never leave. I’m glad my parents did. Dad was 40 when he picked up and came to the States. It took a lot of guts.”

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Kindertransport play launches Yom HaShoah observance

Kindertransport play launches Yom HaShoah observance

Posted on 29 March 2018 by admin

By Amy Sorter

This year’s observance of Yom HaShoah — Holocaust Remembrance Day — falls on Wednesday, April 11. The Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, in conjunction with Texas Christian University’s Religious and Spiritual Life Department, will begin the observance a little earlier, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 3, with a presentation of My Heart in a Suitcase at the BLUU Auditorium at TCU, 2901 Stadium Drive. Free valet parking is available. The Dan Danciger/Fort Worth Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation is providing financial support for the program, which is free and open to the public.
The ArtsPower National Touring Theatre’s play is based on Kindertransport survivor Anne Lehmann Fox’s biography and will conclude with a question-and-answer session from Magie Furst, a Dallas-area Kindertransport survivor.
Angie Friedman, the Federation’s program director, said that while the play has been performed in Dallas, the upcoming performance will be its first in Fort Worth. She also pointed out that the Kindertransport was a bright spot in an otherwise horrible situation. “This play speaks to the beautiful, wonderful human beings who took care of the children, in the face of the war,” she said.
Bringing the children
to safety
The Kindertransport involved an organized rescue of close to 10,000 children, most of them Jewish, before the outbreak of World War II. Those children were taken from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland, and sent to families in the United Kingdom until the war ended.
Furst and her brother, Bert Romberg, also a Dallas resident, are among the few remaining survivors of the Kindertransport. And, Furst is no stranger to the play, having seen it about 20 years ago — “in a Christian church, in Irving, Texas,” she said, adding that, “Everyone had a different experience, though we initially left for the same reasons.”
Furst, her brother and her mother departed her native Germany in 1939, when she was 10 years old, on one of the “rescue trains.” Her father, a decorated soldier who had survived World War I, died in 1934. The three lived in Great Britain for six years, until the war concluded.
Though the family was safe, those years were difficult — Furst said she didn’t know any English, and she was separated from her mother and brother. “Very few families were willing to take in two children,” she said. Her mother eventually brought the family to the United States, where Furst and her brother settled in Dallas during the early 1960s.
And, while Furst will be on hand at My Heart in a Suitcase, Romberg will speak at the Fort Worth Federation’s annual Yom HaShoah observance on April 11, close to a week later.
Standing up to injustice
Furst will soon celebrate her 89th birthday and calls herself “one of the babies” of the Kindertransport. She also regularly shares her experiences with children who visit the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance. One constant theme cropping up is “that they don’t seem to realize that Britain wasn’t overrun with Nazis,” Furst said. “I make it very clear that it didn’t happen that way.”
One of the questions she poses to the young visitors is if they, in similar circumstances, would be willing to shelter children from different countries who were in need of rescue, without knowing anything about those children’s backgrounds or situations. “Most are quiet, they think about it,” Furst said. “But a very few say yes.”
It’s for this very reason that My Heart in a Suitcase is so important, Friedman said, as it focuses on the very topic of taking action, when needed, and standing up when injustice takes place. “Those families didn’t have to take in those children, or families, and keep them safe from war, but they did,” Friedman said.
And, while the Nazi-generated Holocaust and events surrounding the Kindertransport are well in the past, hate-generated atrocities continue taking place worldwide. Additionally, anti-Semitism is alive and well, “and not just in Europe,” Furst commented.
“I hope audiences who attend this play realize that these things are still going on; they aren’t anything new,” she went on to say. “It’s taking place all over the world, it’s happening to children in Syria, Africa and everywhere. They have to help those children, too.”

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Refusenik family thrives in new Tarrant County life

Refusenik family thrives in new Tarrant County life

Posted on 22 March 2018 by admin

 

By Hollace Weiner

When Svetlana Ronin, a Soviet refugee from Kharkov, stepped off the plane at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport May 15, 1990, she spotted a banner in Cyrillic letters that declared: “Happy Birthday Lana.” The best present for her 29th birthday was touching down in Texas.
Accompanying Ronin were her extended family: husband Gennady, a mechanical engineer; their son, Yuri, a cherubic 5-year-old; her sister and brother-in-law, Maya and Mark Serebro, both engineers; and their daughter, Yuliya, 11. Last, but hardly least, was family matriarch Sofia Nosanovskaya, Lana and Maya’s 60-year-old mother, a language professor who landed jobs as a Russian instructor at the University of Texas Arlington and a translator at Texas Christian University.
For this close-knit family, the transition from communism to capitalism, from the Russian alphabet to the ABCs, was jarring at times. They prove that the wandering Jews who settled in Texas weren’t just the banana peddlers, scrap-metal dealers and Galveston immigrants of a century ago. More recently, during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, scores of Johannesburg Jews and Russian refuseniks made Texas home.
“When we first came, it was kind of like landing on the moon,” Mark Serebro recalled.
Modern expats such as the Ronin-Serebro family will be the focus of a multimedia panel, “Gone 2 Texas: Two Waves of Immigration, Soviet & South African,” from 10 a.m. to noon April 14 at Beth-El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven Road in Fort Worth, as part of the Texas Jewish Historical Society’s 38th annual gathering.
Today, 28 years later, the Ronins and the Serebros are American citizens who have bridged two worlds.
The extended family arrived under the umbrella of Operation Exodus, the resettlement in North America and Israel of 1.1 million refugees fleeing anti-Semitism in the Soviet system. More than 70 refuseniks settled in Fort Worth, where the Jewish Federation had raised money, rented apartments, signed up volunteers and arranged job leads for the adults.
Ronin, who was an economist in the Ukraine, initially worked with Color Tile as an accounts-payable bookkeeper. After five years, she took her bookkeeping skills to Stove Parts Supply. She switched to computer programming and ultimately became an entrepreneur, operating two Pearle Vision centers, one in Euless and another in Southlake.
Her husband learned to drive a car shortly after arriving in Texas and was hired at Frias Engineering of Arlington. Today he is a manager with Lockheed-Martin. The couple live in Colleyville.
Their son, Yuri, and niece, Yuliya, initially enrolled at Fort Worth Hebrew Day School, learning English, Hebrew and all about Judaism, which was taboo in the U.S.S.R.
Yuri, who anglicized the spelling of his name to Yury, graduated from Arlington’s Lamar High School and TCU, then enrolled at University of Houston College of Optometry. That’s where he met Nelly Gendelman, a Soviet immigrant whose family had resettled in Dallas. Yury and Nelly were married under the chuppah in November 2014.
“We had a huge Russian wedding with 250 guests and Russian food at a hotel in Dallas,” Lana said. “A lot of American friends were there and loved it.”
“We’re lucky,” she added. “We worked hard. It’s a blessing to come to America. It’s a good country for people like we are. It’s really incredible what life can bring.”
Maya Serebro initially worked in finance and payroll at Tandy Corp. and then for Color Tile. When Color Tile ceased operations, she worked at a succession of banks and at Colonial Savings.
Meanwhile, her daughter, Julia (formerly spelled Yuliya), worked her way through college with part-time banking jobs. After graduating from TCU with a degree in business administration, Julia applied to Allstate and for the past decade has been among the insurance company’s top agents, listed on Allstate’s Honor Ring, Circle of Champions and Leaders Forum. Maya sometimes helps out at her daughter’s Allstate office in Mansfield.
Julia’s dad, Mark Serebro, began his American career on the assembly line at Tandy. He rapidly moved into computers and advanced to systems engineer. Since 2004, Mark has been with the City of Fort Worth, where he is a senior IT tech support analyst.
Mark recalled that on his second day in Texas — May 16, 1990, — the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County hosted a reception for the Soviet immigrants and the local volunteers involved with Operation Exodus. Federation board members Mark Rosenfield and Jeff Hochster asked him to address the crowd, “because my English speaking was better than most.”
Mark added, “They asked me to say thank you to everybody who helped. Afterward, a very nice, kind woman came up to me and said, ‘Can I invite you to our house for dinner?’”
The woman was South African-born Dorene Zilberg, whose family had immigrated a decade earlier from Zimbabwe.
“I said, ‘Yes, we will come.’ This is how we got to know each other. We came to the States around the same time. It was a completely different immigration for them than for us, but both families had similar feelings. This was the beginning of our friendship. It was very, very helpful. We never forgot this. We always have good feelings about her.”
Dorene Zilberg died from cancer in 2002. Her husband, retired pediatrician Bernard Zilberg, 91, still lives in Benbrook. Their daughter Elana became a cultural anthropologist, focusing on Latin American asylum seekers.
The expat experience remains a theme running through each of these immigrants’ lives.
The “Gone 2 Texas” program is open to the public, with a $15 charge for those who stay for lunch (sandwich platters from Yogi’s Deli). To register, contact Jack Gerrick at texbed@charter.net or 817-994-3074, or send a $15 check to the TJHS at 4308 Sarita Drive, Fort Worth, TX 76109.
A booklet with follow-up stories of 10 immigrant families will be distributed during the program. The Texas Jewish Post will print more of these profiles in the weeks to come.

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Luskeys inducted into Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame

Luskeys inducted into Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame

Posted on 15 March 2018 by admin

By James Russell
Special to the TJP

The Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame in the Fort Worth Stockyards on Jan. 11 inducted a slate of individuals who represent what it means to be a Texas cowboy.
For the Luskey family, however, this year’s ceremony was more than an annual event hosted by the museum down the street from their legendary Western retail shop. The family was among this year’s honorees, along with ranchers John, Punk and Roy Carter, bull rider Adrian Moraes, cattleman Gerald Sullivan and artist Bruce Greene, who received the 2018 Rick Smith Spirit of Texas Award.
About 30 Luskey family members from around the country attended the ceremony, said Alan, who ran the store with cousin Michael until 2016 when they sold it to Cavender’s.
The cousins are still fixtures at the store founded in 1919 in downtown Fort Worth. The family eventually transformed it from a dry-goods merchant into a full-fledged western wear store, selling boots, cowboy hats and belts.
In 1982 the Luskeys merged with Ryon’s Saddle Shop to create Luskey’s-Ryon’s Western Wear, a two-story building that the family ran at 2601 N. Main St. in the Stockyards.
It is believed the Luskeys are the first retailers and Jewish honorees.
But the Jewish western and rodeo legacy is still rich. In 2016, the late Frances Rosenthal Kallison, who was born in Fort Worth, became the first Jewish cowgirl honoree inducted into the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Museum, also in Fort Worth.
In 2015, Rabbi Andrew Bloom of Fort Worth’s Congregation Ahavath Sholom led the first Jewish prayer at the beginning of the annual Fort Worth Stock and Rodeo.
But getting into the Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame is not easy, even in a state with plenty of cowboys and cowgirls. The nominating process is open, but to be considered, nominees must have been born or live in Texas, are actively involved in the rodeo or western lifestyle scenes and adhere to the museum and hall of fame’s mission of honoring “individuals who have shown excellence in competition, business and support of rodeo and the western lifestyle in Texas.”
Applicants have to submit accompanying information, including two letters of recommendation, a detailed biography, a list of accomplishments and other relevant documents.
A committee whittles down the list and chooses the year’s honorees.
The family was informed about 90 days before the ceremony, giving them enough time to round up family members and get display items for their booth highlighting the family company’s history.
“It is a huge honor for the family. It means a lot to Western industry. They are the people who have supported us for 100 years,” Alan said.

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