Archive | Around the Town

From Ft. Worth to Mississippi with CAS

From Ft. Worth to Mississippi with CAS

Posted on 11 July 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy CAS
Fort Worth’s Ahavath Sholom had the largest delegation of educators at the Institute of Southern Jewish Learning Educators Conference in Jackson last month. Pictured, from left, are Gillat Brautbar, Penny Brister, Elaine Bumpus, Rebecca Isgur, Rivka Marco, Inbal Morris and Fani Kiselstein.
In Jackson, faculty takes on Jewish education

Jackson, Mississippi, hotbed of Jewish education? Hard to believe but true. Five faculty members and the co-learning leaders from Congregation Ahavath Sholom’s Learning and Engagement Center (CAS LEC) trained at the Institute of Southern Jewish Learning with fellow educators representing 80 congregations. Fort Worth took the prize for the biggest group from any city in the 15 states attending.
CAS LEC just completed an amazing year of learning for our students and their families. The annual conference on Jewish education provided the faculty the opportunity to continue their educational journey and attend sessions that addressed options to help shape the coming year.
CAS LEC teachers Fani Kiselstein, Inbal Morris, Penny Brister, Elaine Bumpus, Gillat Brautbar, along with education leaders Rivka Marco and Rebecca Isgur, networked, learned, and enjoyed the intensive 48 hours on the ground. Elaine Bumpus shared, “The Conference was both exhilarating and exhausting. The curriculum is designed for everyday use by the everyday teachers. They gave us a set of tools and taught us how to use them.”
Some of the many offerings were two-day intensives with interesting topics “Hands On, Minds On,” “Classrooms on the EDGE,” and “From Tzedakah to Tzedek.” Wildcard sessions included “I Don’t Roll on Shabbos: An Exploration of Shabbat through Text, Pop Culture and the Big Labowski.” Yes, there was even a Study Hall with choices from “Topsy-Turvy T’filah” to “Market Your EVENTURE.”
Gillat Brautbar said, “We learned a lot! It was a great experience for everyone.” The many engaging and meaningful learning activities, soulful spiritual minyanim, and new insights into student and parent populations promise a meaningful Jewish educational experience for all who join the CAS Learning and Engagement Center.
For more information and to register your students, contact Rivka Marco or Rebecca Isgur, lec@ahavathsholom.org or 817-731-4721.
— Submitted by
Rebecca Isgur

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From Fort Worth to NYC with Ahavath Sholom

From Fort Worth to NYC with Ahavath Sholom

Posted on 27 June 2019 by admin

The confirmands in the sanctuary at Congregation Shearith Israel. From left, Lia Bloom, Maya Kiselstein, Gali Brautbar, Vivienne Roumani (member of Shearith Israel), Ethan Bailey and Nadav Ninio

In New York City, confirmands immersed in Jewish history and culture
By Melissa Morgan
Five students from Congregation Ahavath Sholom’s Learning and Engagement Center just returned from their Confirmation Class capstone trip to New York City, immersing themselves in various aspects of the city’s diverse Jewish culture. This trip has become a tradition at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, as 2019 marked at least the seventh time the congregation has sponsored such a trip.
High school students Ethan Bailey, Lia Bloom, Gali Brautbar, Maya Kiselstein and Nadav Ninio, together with teachers David Saul and Melissa Morgan, gathered at CAS at 5 a.m. Friday, June 14. Over the next few days, with the help of vans, planes, subways, boats and lots of walking, they studied Jewish immigration to America and Jewish diversity as well as ate lots of kosher food.
Jewish immigration to America
Visiting Congregation Shearith Israel (The Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue) at 70th and Central Park West for morning minyan took the group into the rich history of the Orthodox Sephardic congregation dating back to 1654. With documentary filmmaker Vivienne Roumani as a tour guide, the group learned about the history of the congregation, beginning with a boatload of Jews fleeing Recife, Brazil, to the Dutch colony of New Amsterdam. Minyan was in the small chapel (“Little Synagogue”), and the group saw a Torah scroll from the days of the American Revolution. The sanctuary contains beautiful Tiffany windows, a central bimah and “skeptic lamps,” built when electricity was new (one part of the fixture uses gas; one part uses electricity). The congregation continues to use its own prayer book and minhag (local customs), with separate seating for women.
Looking to Ashkenazic Judaism and why Jews left Europe, the group had the unprecedented opportunity to attend “Fiddler on the Roof” in Yiddish with English and Russian supertitles. Everyone found it intense and absorbing. Texas native Steven Skybell as Tevye was particularly remarkable. Ethan Bailey said, “My favorite part of the trip was ‘Fiddler’ in Yiddish. It just made it feel more legit.”
Of course, the group also took the ferry to Liberty Island and Ellis Island, studying the process of immigration to America. Many of the museum exhibits specifically talk about Jewish immigrants, whether for a Passover Seder on Ellis Island or the kosher food available for purchase after immigrants were examined and approved. Various congregations and immigrant aid societies helped the new arrivals any way they could.
The group went from Ellis Island to Lower Manhattan and the Lower East Side, just as many new arrivals just off the boat would have done. Pretending to need housing, they experienced a 1915 tenement apartment, hosted by 14-year-old Jewish immigrant Victoria Confino of Kastoria. This living history tour by the Tenement Museum gives participants the chance to interact with and ask questions of a professional actress who has studied her part for over a year, including working with recordings and family members on accent and content. Victoria Confino lived in that same building for four years, sleeping on the kitchen floor, with nine other family members, in just 300 square feet. The Tenement Museum also has other programs related to Jewish immigration and immigration in general.
Also on the Lower East Side, the group visited the Museum at Eldridge Street, built as Kahal Adath Jeshurun in 1887 by Ashkenazic Jews. From a crumbling ruin in the 1980s, the synagogue building has been restored to a glorious condition. In 2010, a huge circular stained-glass window was added to replace the lost front window. Rachel Serkin, museum educator, taught the group about the building and the Lower East Side Jewish community.
Jewish diversity
While history is a huge part of the trip, so is experiencing a bit of the amazing Jewish diversity found in the United States today. The group saw Temple Emanu-El on the East Side of Central Park; was hosted by West End Synagogue (Reconstructionist) for musical Kabbalat Shabbat services and Shabbat dinner, learning a little about Mordecai Kaplan and Reconstructionism; and spent Shabbat morning singing and praying with the very welcoming Congregation B’nai Jeshurun. Founded in 1825 by members of Congregation Shearith Israel as the second congregation in New York City, B’nai Jeshurun has helped shape 21st-century American Judaism with its emphasis on music, spirituality and justice.
The group also did a walking tour in Borough Park, learning about the Hasidic communities that have developed in the city since World War II. Orthodox tour guide Jeff Altman of Timeline Touring, although not Hasidic, is known in the neighborhood, and is a calm and insightful presence. He taught the group about the many institutions (schools, stores, bus services, bakeries, etc.) that have developed to serve the local community.
Although the group’s main exercise was walking, they also saw the extensive fitness facilities, swimming pool, art studios, day care, meditation space, and beit midrash at the Marlene Myerson JCC Manhattan on the Upper West Side. And they exercised some mental muscle analyzing images from rare documents, presented by Dr. David Kraemer, director of the library at the Jewish Theological Seminary. Dr. Kraemer challenged the group to see what they could learn not only from the words on the page, but also the illustrations and style of the documents.
Food
No trip to New York City would be complete without some amazing kosher food. The group experienced grocery stores (Fairway, Zabar’s and stores in Borough Park); deli at Fine & Schapiro (Upper West Side); late-night shawarma, kebabs, and falafel at Ali Baba (Upper West Side); great vegan Chinese (Buddha Bodai, 5 Mott St, Chinatown); and kebabs and more at Ta’am Tov (Diamond District, near Rockefeller Center). Everyone enjoyed the delicious variety of kosher foods available in New York City.
The group completed their New York City immersion with a look at recent history at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, a long walk in Central Park and souvenir shopping.
The CAS Learning and Engagement Center is planning a similar adult trip in the future.

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Confirmation 2019: Part I

Confirmation 2019: Part I

Posted on 20 June 2019 by admin

Photo: Marc Sloter
The Beth-El Congregation confirmands and their educational leadership are: back row, from left, Andrew Nober, Ethan Johnson, Zach Schwartz, Simon Frayzond and Rabbi Brian Zimmerman; front row, Red Goldstein (instructor), Anya Stuart, Caroline Sloter, Molly Zimmerman, Sophie Ratsch, Sophie Appel and Shoshana Abrams Kaikov (education director).

The season of confirmation and graduation is upon us. Congregation Ahavath Sholom, Beth-El Congregation and Congregation Beth Israel had confirmation classes. This week is part one of Tarrant County confirmands: Beth-El. Next week we will share Congregation Ahavath Sholom, whose five confirmands were en route from the Big Apple at press time, and Congregation Beth Israel.
On May 4, members of the 2019 Beth-El Confirmation Class led an inspiring service of reflection, prayer and song. They considered their years together at Beth-El, connections to their temple, their families and the shared lessons learned on their Jewish journey.

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Fort Worth,Tarrant County celebrates Israel

Fort Worth,Tarrant County celebrates Israel

Posted on 23 May 2019 by admin

Eighth-grade students participated in CBIs first-ever Shark Tank. Winners developed a luxury travel company to showcase travel and food of Israel.
Photo: Marina Rekhelis

 

Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville held Israel Palooza earlier this month. Fourth-grade religious school students presented an Israel Fair on six tables in the synagogue’s sanctuary. Later, “Shark Tank” style presentations were held on Israel travel and food, humanitarian efforts and defense. The day’s program ended with a fashion show.

On May 19, the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County celebrated Israel at its annual Yom HaAtzmaut celebration at Beth-El Congregation. Folks enjoyed Klezzoup! Klezmer Band, Krav Maga, Arts & Crafts, the Kona Ice Truck and Israeli Food.

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Freedom to create: the artistry of Izakil Goldin

Freedom to create: the artistry of Izakil Goldin

Posted on 20 May 2019 by admin

Photos: Submitted
Izakil Goldin’s “Wedding” is among the works on display in the Beth-El
Congregation board room through August.

 

From an early age, Izakil Goldin’s greatest desire has been to express himself creatively through painting and writing. But the first 23 years of his life in a village 70 miles from Minsk, in the former Soviet Republic of Belarus, followed by 20 years in Minsk, offered little opportunity for him to do so.
His childhood memories include art, music, and literature along with recollections of his mother being an actress and doing voice impersonations.
But the majority of his memories of life in Russia are rife with restrictions indelibly marked in his mind. He describes it as “living on the moon,” with meager and often inedible food, extremely limited employment opportunities, and an “internal passport” that determined where people were allowed to go.
In 1979, when the USSR relaxed its visa policies toward Jews and an era of détente was underway, the Goldins (Izakil, his wife Lora and their 6-year-old son Jay) emigrated from the Soviet Union to the United States and settled in Richmond, Virginia. Years later their son Jay, a writer and assistant history professor, learned through a friend’s research how Soviet Jews were able to leave the Soviet Union legally. They were required to have an invitation or “visov,” a legally attested invitation from a near “relative” to join his or her family members. Few if any Jews had relatives in Israel, and there was no Israeli embassy in the Soviet Union.
Jews throughout greater Russia made lists of those who wanted to leave and took the lists to the Dutch embassy in Moscow, which sent names to the Israeli embassy in the Netherlands. Next, the names were sent to Israel. Then a few months later, the Soviet Jews who wanted to leave would get invitations from their Israeli “relatives.”
Letters from these “relatives” opened up a new world of possibilities for the Goldins. They allowed them to leave Belarus and connect to extended family members in Virginia, educational opportunities, and the assistance of Richmond’s Jewish Family Services. This organization helped emigres become acclimated to their new environment, and they found Izakil Goldin a lab technician job analyzing tobacco for Philip Morris.
Since 2011, the Goldins have lived in Fort Worth near their son Jay. Life in the United States has clearly been a source of numerous blessings for the Goldins. For Izakil, one of the greatest gifts has been his ability to pursue his love of the arts, specifically attending art classes at Virginia Commonwealth University and the Virginia Museum of Arts.
Izakil delights in painting realistic landscapes, still lifes, and portraits with vivid colors and evocative details. His son Jay is “very proud of his father’s artistic ability and hopes that as many people as possible will have the opportunity to see his exhibit.”
Selected works will be on display in the Beth-El Board Room from May through August.

— Submitted by
Arlene Reynolds

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Fort Worth celebrates Karen Kaplan years of service

Fort Worth celebrates Karen Kaplan years of service

Posted on 25 April 2019 by admin

Photos: Kim Goldberg
Karen Kaplan’s three children were in attendance when the Federationhonored her with the Manny and Roz Rosenthal Spirit of Federation Award. Pictured from left, Federation Executive Director Bob Goldberg, Michael Kaplan, Karen Kaplan, Meryl K. Evans and Elisa Kaplan Miller.

 

The Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County honored Karen Kaplan March 17 with the Manny and Roz Rosenthal Spirit of Federation Award for her years of service and commitment. The Champagne brunch was held at Congreation Ahavath Sholom. Kaplan has served as vice president and member of the Federation board multiple times, as well as president of Hadassah, program director for the Jewish Community Center and United Way volunteer, among others. Kaplan learned her commitment to community from her late parents Lilian and Sidney Raimey. Along with her husband, the late Al Kaplan, she instilled this same sense of community service to their three children, Elisa, Michael and Meryl.

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B’nai B’rith Interfaith Seder continues to grow

B’nai B’rith Interfaith Seder continues to grow

Posted on 18 April 2019 by admin

Photos: Jim Stanton
There were more than 350 participants at the B’nai B’rith Interfaith Seder April 9.

 

A diverse group of over 350 Tarrant County religious, political, civic and community leaders gathered for the B’nai B’rith Community Seder Tuesday, April 9.
The second annual lunchtime Seder, the largest ever held in Tarrant County, was presented by the Fort Worth-based B’nai B’rith Lodge to strengthen relationships with the Jewish community and non-Jewish Tarrant County friends and neighbors.
B’nai B’rith Lodge members, under the direction of Terri Hollander, prepared the meal. The organization underwrote the entire cost of the free Seder and provided Haggadahs and kippahs for all attendees.
According to B’nai B’rith Lodge President Rich Hollander, “The event gave a glimpse of Jewish tradition to the rest of Tarrant County. The more knowledge we have of each other’s traditions and practices, the more open we will be to each other’s communities.”
The Seder, held this year at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, was led by Rabbi Andrew Bloom. Talya Galaganov sang the traditional Seder songs.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price welcomed the overflow crowd and spoke about the importance of unity and freedom of religion.
Ahavath Sholom President Jerry Stein greeted the attendees and read a passage entitled “From Slavery to Freedom.”
Community leaders read Passover passages from the Haggadah.
Jim Lacamp, a local business leader, read an explanation of the Four Questions and Jaime Hernandez of CUFI (Christians United for Israel) read the traditional Four Questions in Spanish.
One of the highlights of the seder was the singing of the Four Questions by young students from the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center.
Rabbi Bloom connected the Passover story to this year’s theme of modern-day homelessness and slavery in Tarrant County.
Bruce Frankel, executive director of DRC, a Fort Worth organization that works to end homelessness, spoke about homelessness in Tarrant County. And Stephanie Byrd, executive director of Unbound Fort Worth, spoke about human trafficking in Tarrant County.
Fort Worth Mayor pro tem and City Council District 7 member Dick Shingleton read the moving poem by German pastor Martin Neimoller, “Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.”
Matt Brockman, from the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo, read a special cowboy prayer for the event.
B’nai B’rith included the Jewish Family Service’s Senior Program, as well as residents of B’nai B’rith Housing and local Jewish seniors. More than 90 seniors attended.
B’nai B’rith, the oldest Jewish organization in Tarrant County, is already making plans to present a City Seder again next year.
—Submitted by
Jim Stanton

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Around the Town: TCU, Israel

Posted on 28 March 2019 by admin

TCU to host David Price celebrating rare book collection

TCU Mary Couts Burnett Library and The Program in Jewish Studies at Brite Divinity School
Will present a special program celebrating the rare Judaica books collection when Professor David Price speaks on “Christian Hebraism and the Survival of Judaism: Two Perspectives,” at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, in the Gearhart Reading Room of TCU Library
David H. Price, professor of Religious Studies, Jewish Studies, History, and History of Art at Vanderbilt University, has written widely on the history of early modern Europe. His current research projects pertain to Christian-Jewish relations during the period 1500-1789, as well as to the Bible in Renaissance visual art.
After receiving his Ph.D. from Yale University, Wright has been a professor at Yale, the University of Texas at Austin, and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of books and articles on a variety of topics, including Renaissance theater, Latin poetry, Renaissance visual art, the English Bible and the history of Christian-Jewish relations.
Among his recent books are “The Works of Hrotsvit of Gandersheim” (2015), “Johannes Reuchlin and the Campaign to Destroy Jewish Books” (2012), and “Albrecht Dürer’s Renaissance: Humanism, Reformation and the Art of Faith” (2003).
Generously supported by the Louis and Frieda Cristol Endowment for Academic Programming in Jewish Studies
All interested are invited to tour the rare Judaica collection before the lecture. Please meet at the East entrance to the library at 5:50 p.m. Free parking is available at non-reserved TCU lots after 5 p.m.
—Submitted by
Hollace Weiner, Fort Worth Jewish Archives

Centuries-Old Hebrew Books on Display at TCU

An exhibit of 500-year-old Jewish books and Talmudic tractates will be on display at Texas Christian University April 2 through May 22 in the Special Collections section of the campus library.
These rare books, exquisitely illustrated and printed in Hebrew, Aramaic and Latin, were among a trove of 10,000 books that the university purchased from an aging Cincinnati scholar in 2001. At that time, TCU’s Brite Divinity School was establishing a Program in Jewish Studies and acquired the books as the core of its Judaica collection.
The exhibit, which is free to the public, is opening in conjunction with a guest lecture at 7 p.m. April 2, from Vanderbilt University Prof. David H. Price. He will speak in the library’s Gearhart Reading Room on “Christian Hebraism and the Survival of Judaism: Two Perspectives.” The Louis and Frieda Cristol Endowment for Academic Programming in Jewish Studies is sponsoring the lecture.
The Judaica exhibit includes a tractate from the Talmud dealing with the holiday of Shavuot. It was published in Venice in 1526 by pioneer printer Daniel Bomberg, a Christian whose template for laying out multiple Talmudic discussions on the printed page is still followed.
Another Bomberg manuscript in the exhibit is Yalkut Shimoni, a midrashic anthology on the bible. This artistically printed piece of literature from the Bomberg press was published in Venice in 1566.
Also in the display are works in Latin by Johann Buxtorf, a 17th-century Swiss scholar of Hebrew. Although a Protestant, Buxtorf was dubbed a “Master of the Rabbis.” Among his books in the exhibit is a thesaurus of Hebrew terms.
The director of the Jewish Studies Program at Brite is Dr. Ariel Friedman, the Rosalyn and Manny Rosenthal Associate Professor of Jewish Studies. The rare books, gathered by the late Rabbi Israel Otto Lehman, was purchased by the program’s founding director Dr. David Nelson.
—Submitted by
Hollace Weiner, Fort Worth Jewish Archives

Briefing on Israel

Gidon Ariel, founder and CEO of Roof Source, an organization dedicated to promoting respectful relationships between pro-Israel Christians and Jews, will brief the Tarrant County Jewish community on Interfaith relations, Israel elections and other topics at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 4, at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 4050 South Hulen St.
Gidon made aliyah from Queens, New York, when he was only 14 years old. He spent close to a decade in advanced Jewish studies institutes (Yeshivas) and the Israeli Army. After 20 years in the Tank Corps, today he is a Reserve Officer in the IDF Spokespersons Office. A pioneer in Jewish-Christian relations, Gidon is a seasoned Hebrew and Judaism instructor and public speaker.
Gidon is a delegate to the Central Committee (the Merkaz) of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s Likud Party and he ran for the Maale Adumim City Council. He is married with five children, and they live in Maale Hever, a suburb of Hebron in the West Bank, where he moved with his family in 2012.
The program is free, but please RSVP to Debby Rice, at 817-706-5158 or rice.debby@gmail.com.
Co-sponsors of the program are The Fort Worth Chapter of Hadassah, Southwest Jewish Congress, The Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Congregation Ahavath Sholom and the Martin Hochster Post of the Jewish War Veterans.

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‘Hans & Sophie’ to debut in Fort Worth

‘Hans & Sophie’ to debut in Fort Worth

Posted on 28 March 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy of Illana Stein
At the Alliance Jewish Theatre conference in Philadelphia last fall are, from left, Yoni Ven, Deborah Yarchun, Illana Stein, Jeremy Aluma, Arianne Barrie-Stern. Yarchuan and Stein, who were selected to be participants at the conference, collaborated with Sean Hudock on the script of “Hans & Sophie.” The play, which Stein is directing, will debut in Fort Worth March 30.

By Nicole Hawkins
Special to the TJP

The true story of two young students who sacrificed their lives leading an underground resistance against the Nazi regime has been told for decades, but now it’s being re-imagined into a production set to run in Fort Worth the last weekend of March.
“Hans & Sophie” tells the story of German siblings Hans and Sophie Scholl, initially part of the Hitler youth, who had a change of heart and went on to lead a nonviolent grassroots movement against Hitler’s regime called The White Rose. They were executed as a result. The play is inspired by the siblings’ personal letters, coded correspondences and diaries.
The play was co-created by director and Fort Worth native Illana Stein, playwright, and Austin native Deborah Yarchun and actor Sean Hudock. The trio wrote the play together, with Yarchun leading the writing process.
“Hopefully this true story and the work we’ve done to bring it to life onstage will touch audiences in a way that inspires action and resistance toward present-day leaders whose abuse of power has led to systematic oppression of others,” Hudock said.
“Hans & Sophie” received a residency with the Drama League in New York City, which is when Stein said she, Hudock and Yarchun transformed “Hans & Sophie” from a sketch into a play.
The shows in Fort Worth will be the first time the play is performed in front of an invited audience, and Stein said she and her fellow playwrights look forward to receiving feedback from Fort Worth audiences in order to adapt the production for its run in New York.
“There’s a vibrant Jewish community in Fort Worth along with a great artistic community,” Stein said. “So it’s a great place to bring this kind of story to.”
Yarchun said it’s important to show audiences characters who stood up against hate crimes and hateful rhetoric like Hans and Sophie, especially with its rise in society today.
“They understood [hateful rhetoric] on a deep level and chose to speak against it,” Yarchun said.
Stein said she finds it inspiring that horrible tragedies like the one portrayed in “Hans & Sophie” can lead to young people standing up and fighting for what they believe. Stein’s cousins were students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School when 17 students and faculty members were killed in a mass shooting last year. The activism seen from students in Parkland after the tragic loss of their peers and teachers reminded Stein of the bravery shown by Hans and Sophie as they resisted Hitler’s regime.
“They chose to fight against something that they thought was atrocious,” Stein said. “I find it very inspiring that it’s the youth that spoke up.”

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MCA honors Alfred Saenz at 68th annual award dinner

MCA honors Alfred Saenz at 68th annual award dinner

Posted on 13 March 2019 by admin

From left, honoree Alfred Saenz, Cheryl Kimberling, Philip Lamsens

 

On Monday, March 11, the Multicultural Alliance held its 68th annual award dinner. Honoree Alfred Saenz received the organization’s most prestigious award for displaying a commitment to promoting diversity, inclusion and understanding.
The funds raised through the dinner support valuable programming, which provide opportunities for people to dialogue and connect around experiences related to culture, race, religion and identity.

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