Archive | Around the Town

Around the Town: JWV, Beth Shalom

Around the Town: JWV, Beth Shalom

Posted on 16 January 2019 by admin

Photos: Submitted by Phil Kabakoff
The Jewish War Veterans Martin Hochster Post #755’s 2019 officers are, from left, Kim Factor, post bugler; Rabbi Sidney Zimelman, chaplain; Phil Kabakoff, judge advocate; Will Kutler, junior vice commander; Nana Atkens, commander; Mike Bumagin, senior vice commander; Michael Ross, quartermaster; and Fred Korngut, officer of the day. Linda Landy, adjunct, is not pictured.

JWV Martin Hochster Post #755 installs 2019 officers

The Martin Hochster Post 755 of the Jewish War Veterans of Fort Worth installed its 2019 officers Sunday, Jan. 6, at Beth El-Congregation.
Assuming their new duties were Commander Nana Atkens, Senior Vice Commander Mike Bumagin, Junior Vice Commander Will Kutler, Judge Advocate Phil Kabakoff, Quartermaster Michael Ross, Chaplain Rabbi Sidney Zimelman and Adjunct Linda Landy.
The post awarded the Morton Herman Service to Veterans Award to Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. JWV National Commander Barry Schneider of Fort Worth presented the honor. Price was recognized for the following reasons:
• Closely backing and supporting Naval Air Station and Joint Reserve Base, Fort Worth.
• Interacting with the USS Fort Worth (participated in ceremonies and interaction with commander, officers and crew).
• Participating in ceremonies and interacting with Charlie Company, a Vietnam-era veterans group adopted by the City of Fort Worth.
• Member and past president of Texas Mayors of Cities with Military Bases (founding member together with the City of Fort Worth).
• Participating in Memorial Day ceremonies at Mount Olivet Cemetery and the National Military Cemetery.
• Sponsoring initiatives with homeless veterans to get them housing and settled. Price’s latest endeavor was The 100-Day Challenge, an initiative to house 100 veterans in 100 days, culminating Dec. 21, with 181 veterans housed.
The first recipient of the Morton Herman Service Award to Veterans was State Sen. Wendy Davis in 2010. Those who followed were Judge Brent Carr (2011), Stevie Hansen (2012), Nikki Hatley (2012), Rep. Pete Geren (2013), Rep. Kay Granger (2014), Valerie Groll (2016), Councilman Jungus Jordan (2016) and Admiral Woody Beal (2017).
Two World War II veterans, Stan Kurtz and Irwin Raffel, were recognized. And veterans who had passed away in the last year — Arvie Cooper, Earl Givant, Ted Hoffman and Harry Kahn — were remembered with a moment of silence.

Congregation Beth Shalom adult ed series continues

Congregation Beth Shalom in Arlington will welcome Rabbi Juan Bejarano-Gutierrez when its Adult Education Speaker Series continues at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 27. He will speak on “A History of Spanish and Portuguese Jews.”
Bejarano-Gutierrez is a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas, from which he earned a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering. He studied at the Siegal College of Judaic Studies in Cleveland and received a Master of Arts degree with distinction in Judaic studies. His master’s thesis focused on Jewish Identity in the Second Temple Period.
He completed his doctoral studies in 2015 at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Learning and Leadership in Chicago. His doctoral dissertation “Complex Identities: Christian and Jewish Attitudes Towards Conversos” was accepted in September 2015.
He also studied at the American Seminary for Contemporary Judaism and received rabbinic ordination in 2011 from Yeshivat Mesilat Yesharim.
Bejarano-Gutierrez served as the assistant editor for HaLapid, the quarterly publication for the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies, from 2011-2012. He also served as a board member and treasurer for the Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies from 2011-2013.
Bejarano-Gutierrez served as the volunteer rabbi of Chavurah Zohar Yisrael, a traditional Jewish community with rotating services, serving South Dallas and Northeast Dallas counties, with a special focus on helping Hispanics of Crypto-Jewish ancestry.
A prolific writer, he is also the author of multiple books, including “Secret Jews: The Complex Identity of Crypto-Jews”; “Crypto-Judaism, The Rise of the Inquisition: An Introduction to the Spanish and Portuguese Inquisitions”; and “What is Kosher: An Introduction to the Laws of Kashrut.”

Press note

Chabad of Fort Worth will host a Shabbat dinner and lecture with Rabbi Yehuda Shurpin at 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 18, at the Sonnenschein Chabad Jewish Center.
Shurpin’s topic is “the Jewish View on Reincarnation.” There is no cost to attend, but a reservation is required at or 817-263-7701.


‘Legacy of Lena Pack’ on display at Beth-El

‘Legacy of Lena Pack’ on display at Beth-El

Posted on 10 January 2019 by admin

Photos: Submitted by Arlene Reynolds
Lena Pack’s “Three Musicians” and “Grandma” are among her works of art on display in Beth-El Congregation’s boardroom through the end of April.

“The Legacy of Lena Pack” marks the beginning of Beth-El Congregation’s 2019 Art Exhibit program. Pack was a Bedford painter, sculptor, colorist, printmaker and art teacher; her art will fill the walls of the Beth-El boardroom through the end of April.
Beth-El Congregation will host a combined Shabbat service with Congregation Beth Shalom at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 11, followed by a reception for many of Pack’s friends and admirers to view the exhibit.
Pack, who died in 2016 at age 88, was both a congregant and a longtime religious school teacher at Arlington’s Beth Shalom. Raised in New York City, she was the daughter of an engraver and attended a high school for the visual arts. Later, while working at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York, she met and married a Jewish man, Isaac Pack. Widowed at a relatively young age, she subsequently converted to Judaism and worked as a travel agent and a nurse.
Upon retiring, she took up art and moved to Bedford in the early 1990s to care for her ailing sister. Although she was a painter, sculptor and printmaker, painting was her primary form of visual expression and way to tell a story. Inspired by family, friends, Judaism and her travels, her paintings were signed L.I. Pack, the “I” in memory of her husband, Isaac.
For nearly three decades, her work was showcased at numerous galleries in Texas, culminating with displays at her studio in the Stock Yards Rodeo Plaza Art Gallery. There, she sold her collages, drawings and intensely colorful canvases. For admirers with little money to spend, Pack turned reproductions of her work into note cards.
Pack’s many friends each have several of her works of art in their homes. “Her identity was synonymous with her art,” close friend Christine Posnock said.
In an artist’s statement, Pack said of herself: “Painting has always been my primary visual expression…Fantasy, childhood, mythology, and primitive innocence are all grist for my imaginative mill…I am compelled to embody texture on canvas and to explore that fascination with sculpture, collage, print making and fabric art…I fortify my colorist approach with strong design elements. The content is determined by my feeling for the subject. When the feeling has been truly expressed, it is evident to all. Ultimately, my responsibility is to be true to my vision.”

— Submitted by
Arlene Reynolds


Christmas Mitzvahs plentiful in Tarrant County

Christmas Mitzvahs plentiful in Tarrant County

Posted on 02 January 2019 by admin

Photo: Phil Kabakoff
On Christmas Eve, Jason Kabakoff, Carol Pock, Roy Aldaba and Barry Goldfarb were among the Congregation Beth Shalom members who provided a complete dinner for everyone at the Arlington Life Shelter.

B’nai B’rith volunteers from across Tarrant County prepared and served breakfast and lunch to 125 homeless men, women and children who gathered at Fort Worth’s Beautiful Feet Ministries on Christmas Day. Volunteers also sorted and distributed gifts and clothing.
Marvin Beleck supervised the kitchen crew, which arrived at 7:30 a.m. to scramble eggs, grill sausage patties and brew coffee. Jim Stanton coordinated donations of clothing and toys, a year-round endeavor.
Fort Worth’s B’nai B’rith lodge has performed this Christmas Day mitzvah for the past 35 years. Congregants from Congregation Ahavath Sholom, Beth-El Congregation and Congregation Beth Israel donated clothing and served as volunteers.
To become involved in this effort, or any of the other activities of B’nai B’rith in North Texas, reach out to Alex Nason at or Rich Hollander at
The Tarrant County chapter of B’nai B’rith, one of the most active chapters in the country, puts on nearly a dozen activities throughout the year, as well as a monthly breakfast meeting that all are invited to attend.
“We are helping others, enjoying our company and marching through our 150th year in operation here in Tarrant County,” Nason said.
The night before, Congregation Beth Shalom again provided a complete Christmas Eve Dinner for everyone at the Arlington Life Shelter. Beth Shalom members supplied all the food and decorations, and served the meal.
Those helping with the meal were Phil, Cookie and Jason Kabakoff; Roy and Lani Aldaba; Ben and Fran Weiger; Carol Pock; Brett, Hannah and Dylan Jeffries; Robyn Thorn; Cherryl Clark; Barry Goldfarb; Leslie Udes; Lee Schulman; Jay Hatler; and Pam Sudbury.
“We would also like to thank all those who donated food and donations to make this year’s event a great success,” Phil Kabakoff said.


Centenarian’s secret: Good wine, cigars and cognac

Centenarian’s secret: Good wine, cigars and cognac

Posted on 19 December 2018 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Barnett Family
Lou Barnett at 100

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

The secret to long-life is simple, Fort Worth’s Lou Barnett said a few days before his 100th birthday Nov. 22.
“Good wine, good cigars and good cognac,” he explained with a twinkle in his eye.
Barnett is not your average 100-year-old. He reads almost a book a day often into the wee hours of the morning (He was making his way through John Grisham’s “The Reckoning” at the time of the interview). He lives in the home he built with his wife in 1950. His has been a full and rich life
Born on Nov. 22, 1918, and raised in Malden, Massachusetts, to Molly and Max Barnett, his parents were first-generation Americans and his father worked as a “warehouse man and shipping clerk,” according to Barnett’s autobiography.
The Great Depression hit the family hard, and they struggled. In high school, Lou worked on a government student program for low-income people and made about $12 per week. His mother did piecemeal sewing work from home.
When it was time for college, Barnett was offered a half-year semester scholarship to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. However, because he wasn’t sure how he would pay for future tuition — or food, for that matter — he enrolled at Northeastern University in Boston. He augmented his Northeastern education by taking “as many chemistry courses around Boston as I could.” Ultimately, he graduated from Northeastern with a double degree in engineering and management.
Barnett was drafted into the National Guards of Massachusetts in October 1940. His time in the Army was short, as he developed an ulcer and was discharged. He began to contemplate a career in plastics.
In the early ’40s, he met the love of his life, Madlyn, of blessed memory.
“My cousin called me. He was dating Rowena Kimmel and he said, you’ve got to meet this girl [Madlyn], and that was it. We had a telephone romance and she came up to visit me. We had cats and dogs, and she got fleas, and then she asked me to marry her, so I did.”
They married on May 5, 1946. Theirs was a love affair that spanned 66 years and was filled with family, fun, hard work and philanthropy.
“It was great luck. We had a lot of mazel,” Barnett said. “God moves in mysterious ways; we had a hell of a ride.”
At the time, General Electric was the only plastic company in the Boston area. Initially, he wasn’t able to work in the plastics division because he hadn’t finished his degree yet. He took a job as an expediter for the division that made turbines and other power trains for ships and submarines.
Barnett would frequently visit the plastics group in building No. 75, hoping a job would open up. Finally, one did in the engineering group and laboratory. There, he learned how to run machine tools, lathes and milling machines, and also how to run a plastics press and to operate laminators.
The Barnetts moved to Fort Worth in 1946 to join Madlyn’s family there. They started their family, first Laurie, then Eliot, followed by Rhoda.
By 1952, Barnett’s sister Ruthie and husband Milton Hammil, and brother Stanley and wife Myra also had moved to Fort Worth — as did his parents.
Barnett started his business, Loma (for Louis and Madlyn), in 1948 with one rented model of a molding machine. His first order was for plastic fishing lures. In that first year, Loma’s profit was slightly over $1,000, according to Barnett’s autobiography. In 1962, the company was producing 157 plastics articles and using more than 1 million pounds of raw plastics each month.
By 1965, Loma had grown by leaps and bounds, and Barnett had many firsts to his credit. They were:
• Plastic roll-top bread box.
• Plastic wax paper and paper towel dispenser.
• Oval-shaped wastebasket.
• First wastebasket to incorporate “feet.”
• Wastebasket with decorative imprinting embossed on it.
• Plastic picnic basket including dinnerware and eating utensils.
• Plastic clothes hamper.
• The first polyethylene “boat-like” baby bath, followed by a complete line of stylized nursery accessories including the covered diaper pail.
• The first plastic outdoor trashcan.
Many members of the Fort Worth Jewish community worked at Loma, including the late Irv Levine, Barnett’s childhood friend from Malden, who became Loma president after Loma was sold to Standard Oil of Ohio in 1966. Milton Hamill, who was married to Barnett’s sister Ruthie, moved to Fort Worth and worked for the company. So did Barnett’s father and his brother Stanley.
Barnett attributed his success to those friends and family who supported him.
“You don’t do anything by yourself. The self-made man in my book is not in my vocabulary. People help you,” he said
Barnett reminisced about some of his favorite memories over the years.
“You look back, my God, I don’t know what happened,” when discussing how fast his life has gone by
He is known for a number of unique hobbies, and he talked about a few of them.

Cooking and Entertaining

Barnett explained how he became a gourmet cook and author of two cookbooks. It started out of necessity.
“When we got married, we moved to Boston. When Madlyn burnt water. I knew I was in trouble, so I started to cook. Grandma Brachman sent her to Fannie Farmer’s cooking school; it didn’t help. So, in order to survive, I had to start cooking.”
He has several favorite recipes, among them his sought-after salami.
“There’s one recipe that everyone in the family still makes that I never wrote down, and that was salami. You cut the salami in eighths. You dip it in soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and mustard. Make an extra one, because they’ll eat ‘em up.”
His great-granddaughter, Mia, started eating them at age 2.
“It was easy and, Oh My God, if I made two they wanted four, and I used to serve them before a meal.”
As a New Englander, fish also was a mainstay.
“I also made a poached salmon and cucumber. To make good fish, leave it alone. Good fish in itself is excellent,” he advises.
There have been cooking mishaps from time to time. For one party, Barnett served peanut soup.
“Oh boy. I’ll never hear the end of that. I made some peanut soup, which was atrocious. We had a big crowd of people around. Everyone spilled it on the grass. And a few days later, the grass died.”
He and Madlyn loved to entertain their family and friends.
“We had a couple of hundred sometimes at a party around here. It was wild, and the kids came along and we had a ride with them….It goes by fast.”

Wine and cognac

It’s no secret that Barnett has always enjoyed wine and cognac. He partially attributes reaching 100 to the pair. He is a member of the distinguished Confrérie des Chevaliers du Tastevin, the order that has 12,000 Chevaliers worldwide.
He explained that he learned about wine while traveling to France on Loma business.
“I was in France an awful lot. I had a guy who must have been a German Jew, and he was in Paris and I would report to him as the Loma representative, and I got into the wines pretty quick.”
Barnett keeps a wine cellar in his home office. He likes to drink Pinot Noir. “It’s a good wine and goes with everything,” he said.
He also enjoys cognac.
“I like to drink cognac. I drink it with everything. I’ve drunk enough to float a battleship.”

Going to the Dogs

With his constant companion, yellow lab Casey, 10, at his side, Barnett explained he was always a dog lover, He developed a passion for raising, showing and judging them.
“I always had dogs. I took it as an escape hatch. It was wonderful to get away from the business, the family and the kids That was my real escape: judging dog shows all over the world.”
He also raised dogs both as pets and for show. “I’ve had some great ones,” he said.
His German Shorthaired Pointer Columbia Rivers Jeep was a six-time Best in Show champion.
The family’s first pet was a German Shepherd named Prince Rex King.
“We went to Leon [Madlyn’s brother] and Faye’s, and my daughter Laurie was afraid of dogs. I said, ‘Oh my God, I’m not going to have a kid who’s afraid of dogs.’ Madlyn was not too keen on dogs. Our next-door neighbor had German Shepherds. He got me a German Shepherd pup. I take the pup and ring the doorbell of my house, and Madlyn comes to the door, and I shoved it into her arms and said, ‘How can you be afraid of a little piece of fur like this?’ Laurie named the dog Prince Rex King, who grew into the biggest Shepherd the Barnetts ever had.


The Barnetts loved to travel, and Lou traveled the world both for business and pleasure.
Among his favorite places to travel were Italy, Acapulco and Israel.
“I love Italy. Spent a lot of time there. Acapulco. Spent a lot of time down there. That was our escape. Acapulco was wonderful in those days.” The Barnetts took active vacations.
“I fished Mexico quite a bit,” he said
Everyone got into the fishing act, especially son Eliot and Madlyn, who caught a huge sail fish in Acapulco.
“We were goers. We didn’t sit. I have a doll from every place we went.”
Often, the Barnetts visited synagogues when they traveled.
“I visited a synagogue in Aruba. It had a sand floor.” He noted that every Jewish community he ever visited had one thing in common. “A Love of God — that’s the concept of all of them. Like Maimonides said ‘If I’m not for me, then who is for me, and if not now, when?’”
Perhaps the place has loved the most is Israel, where he and Madlyn first visited in 1961. Madlyn, like her mother, Ella Brachman, before her, and her children after her, had a passion for Hadassah.
“I’ve been in Israel maybe 50 times. I had a love affair with the country and the people. I set up many clients. Some are still going. There was a Formica-type plant in Israel that I helped start.” Barnett became involved in Israel’s plastics industry, consulting, educating and advising.
During his travels to Israel, Barnett met some of the country’s early leaders.
“Hell, I knew them all. From Golda Meir. She loved to smoke cigarettes. Chain smoked.
“She was quite a lady, oh boy. She was smart and she was decisive. She was probably the best ‘man’ Israel ever produced.”
Others he met and spent time with were David Ben Gurion, Yitzhak Rabin, Levi Eshkol and Jerusalem Mayor Teddy Kollek.
“Teddy Kollek used to come up to my suite and take a nap. Teddy was a real force,” Barnett said.
In his memoir, Barnett said he probably has spent more than two years of his life in Israel. He loved to walk Jerusalem and was known for walking around the pool of the King David Hotel every morning while he read the Jerusalem Post.
One of his favorite hangouts was a restaurant and bar called Finks.
“They made goulash. It wasn’t too kosher, but it was delicious,” he said.
Barnett said he was proud to have been able to support Madlyn and now his daughters, Laurie and Rhoda, in their passion of Hadassah. The family not only volunteers their time for the organization, but also supports the hospital financially.


Barnett has been extremely philanthropic, especially to Hadassah and Northeastern University. His philanthropy seems to always be innovative and have far-reaching effects.
He and Madlyn supported Hadassah in many ways, most recently through the Madlyn Barnett Healing Garden in the Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower at Ein Kerem in Jerusalem. One of the first many years ago was the Ella Brachman Rehabilitation Garden at Mount Scopus campus, also in Jerusalem.
The Barnett institute of Chemical and Biological Analysis at Northeastern University was founded in 1973. “Today, with over 50 scientists and a $8 million endowment, the Institute is recognized internationally as one of the premier centers for cutting-edge research and advanced training in analytical chemistry for biomedical applications,” the Institute’s website states. “The Barnett Institute’s close ties to the Boston medical industrial communities, along with an active program of spin-outs and licensing technology, provides for many ‘real life’ applications of research advances which have led to more than 1000 published papers and 75 patents.”
Barnett is proud of the Institute’s accomplishments. “We have graduates, docs and post docs in 39 countries. We do a lot of work with genomes and have uncovered some interesting bio markers that are being used all over the world in marking the defect of a gene.”
Children, Grandchildren and Great-Grandchildren
Barnett’s greatest joys are his children, Laurie and Lon Werner, Sheryl and Eliot Barnett, and Rhoda and Howard Bernstein. “It’s been a wild ride,” he says. The family has Shabbat dinner most Friday nights with his children, their spouses and niece Debby Rice. It’s dinner and “Wheel of Fortune,” followed by a cigar (preferably an Hoyo de Monterrey) for Barnett.
He has a very special relationship with his six grandchildren: Jeffrey and Jason Werner, Matthew and Emily Bernstein, and Nathan and Jessica Barnett
He loved to be silly with his grandkids, and they loved him for it. One favorite tradition was “Downtown.”
For Downtown, he would pick up the grandchildren.
“We’d play Petula Clark’s “Downtown” and go to the Fort Worth Club. We used to steal some bread from the Fort Worth Club, wrap it in a napkin and go to the part and feed the ducks. They would come, and the kids would go crazy.”
His advice to grandparents everywhere:
“You have to go to them. You have to be with them, raise them and do silly things with them.”
Today, his family has grown further and his heart has grown fuller. Grandson Matthew Bernstein married Natalie, and they have a daughter, Maddison. Grandson Jason Werner is married to Jessica, and they have two children, Mia and Blake.
Barnett’s face lights up at the mention of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. “The fact that all the kids are coming in is a blessing,” he said. “They’re coming here for my birthday, so I can spoil them a little bit.”

Awards, Honors and Organizations

Barnett has been feted numerous times. With his wife, he received the Prime Minister’s Medallion for dedicated effort on Israel’s behalf, and the B’nai B’rith Gold Medallion for Humanitarianism. He was named Jewish Man of the Year by the Isadore Garsek Lodge of B’nai B’rith.
Texas Christian University has awarded him an honorary doctor of science, and Northeastern awarded him an honorary doctor of engineering. He is a past president of the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Congregation Ahavath Sholom, where he celebrated his second bar mitzvah at age 83.
He has served on numerous boards within the Jewish community and the community at-large on local, national and international levels.

What’s the Secret to a Great Life?

When asked what the secret is to a great life like his he replied,
“The word is LIVE a great life. Do things. Don’t sit on your butts and wait for them to come to you. Just go out there and do as best you can. No matter how much money you have or whatever, go out there and do something. We all can to the extent of our capabilities, so why not do it instead of letting someone else do it? Do it yourself.”
His thoughts about being 100? “It’s old,” attributing his milestone to “great luck, mazel and genes.”
He added, “If you’re lucky, you get there; if you’re not lucky, you don’t get there. It’s a relative term. It’s a measurement of what? Your Life? OK…Would I do it over again? You bet. Why change what ain’t broke?”


Ahavath Shalom fetes Elsie Blum for 68 years of service

Ahavath Shalom fetes Elsie Blum for 68 years of service

Posted on 13 December 2018 by admin

Photos: Courtesy Linda Lavi
From left, Linda Lavi, Ava Beleck, Elsie Blum, Marla Owen and Daniel Sturman helped organize a tribute to Blum at Congregation Ahavath Shalom Shabbat services on Dec. 1.

Congregation Ahavath Sholom honored Elsie Blum for her 68 years of service to the shul at Shabbat services, Dec. 1. Linda Lavi, Ava Beleck, Blum, Marla Owen and Daniel Sturman coordinated the event.
Marvin Blum, Elsie’s son, paid tribute to her from the bimah.
“Picture in your mind a 19-year-old girl who had never lived outside her parents’ loving home, who moves to Fort Worth from Montgomery, Alabama, as a new bride,” he said. “She was raised by parents who set an example — they were deeply dedicated to their synagogue, and their home and their hearts were always open to the community.”
Blum said his mother came to Fort Worth 68 years ago knowing nobody but her husband, Julius, but she followed her parents’ example “and this shul became her family.”
She started her service to the synagogue as treasurer of the Hebrew School. She became the first woman on the Ahavath Shalom bima when she started a Yom Kippur tradition of speaking about the importance of Jewish education and to raise funds to run the Hebrew School. Her “Lady Bird Johnson-style Southern drawl” is still remembered, her son said.
For 52 years until Julius’ death, the Blums did almost all of their volunteer work at the shul, Marvin Blum said. “They were involved in almost everything going on up here.”
Afterward, her son said, “I often said that Mama remarried — she married the shul. She threw herself into her work up here with a fervor, seven days a week, more than a full-time job.”
She would help staff plan events and review catering events and Shabbat lunch, her son said. Elsie would “meet with families who were celebrating life events, plan menus and do the pricing for the events,” her son said.
“No task was beneath her,” he added. “She’d wash tablecloths, set tables, polish silver, you name it.
Marvin Blum also spoke about his mother’s life after her husband’s death: “When Daddy died, Mama became a role model for how to pick up the pieces of a broken heart and move on with your life,” he said. “I often said that she should write a how-to book on ‘How to be a Widow.’”
Two years ago, Blum scaled back on her work at CAS after son Irwin died, to run the family business, a distributor of meatpacking supplies.
“Once again, she became a the role model to show us how you have to go on with your life,” Marvin Blum said. “She told me it doesn’t ease the pain, it still hurts every single day, but you have to be resilient and keep on living.”
Elsie Blum said that she has been blessed with a long life, privileged to stand under the chuppah with grandchildren and witness great-grandchildren living a beautiful Jewish life.
“This shul is in my ‘neshomah,’ she added. “Whatever I have accomplished has been a labor of love. I am the beneficiary. Anyone who gives of himself for a good cause gets back far more than he gives. I have never sought to be honored. When one lives with a purpose, it makes life meaningful.
“It is my prayer that my beloved Ahavath Sholom will grow from strength to strength and serve as a source of inspiration for the entire Fort Worth community, l’dor v’dor — from generation to generation.”


No record set, but CAS takes a Hanukkah spin

No record set, but CAS takes a Hanukkah spin

Posted on 05 December 2018 by admin

Photos: Courtesy Ahavath Sholom community
Rabbi Andrew Bloom, left, and Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price light the first candle of Hanukkah at Congregation Ahavath Sholom’s community celebration Dec. 2.

By James Russell

Congregation Ahavath Sholom staff wanted to mark the beginning of Hanukkah by bringing the community together to break the unofficial record of spinning 1,300 dreidels at once. But, even with 400 people in attendance, they fell short — a yeshiva in New Jersey still claims the Guinness Book of World Records honor.
At least, Rabbi Andrew Bloom said, they can claim a record in Tarrant County.
Even if they fell short of their goal, the lighthearted evening marked another series of firsts for the congregation during the season.
“This was the first time we had the community dreidel spinoff,” Bloom wrote in an email. However, we have held other community Hanukkah events at the ‘shul,’ like the Lego Hanukkah menorah.” Students enrolled in the Learning and Engagement Center also dedicated a handmade tallis, and a different Lego menorah was also on display in the foyer.
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price joined Irwin Raffel, a 93-year-old Army veteran who fought in the South Pacific during World War II, and Bloom in lighting the menorah. They were flanked by eager, sometimes interruptive children, excited to participate. The chocolate gelt handed out with the dreidels may have influenced their enthusiasm, too.
Other youth events include a de-escalation seminar and simulator Dec. 16 at the Bob Bolen Safety Complex in Fort Worth as part of a wider discussion of pikuach nefesh (saving a life). The center houses training spaces and headquarters for the city’s police and fire departments.
“Hanukkah celebrates both the courage of the Maccabees and the miracle of finding oil in the Temple that lasted eight days instead of one,” Bloom said. “In today’s modern society, it is a reminder and call to bring light through the example of personal strength, integrity and Jewish values to the larger and wider community.
“The coming together of the Jewish community as one and lighting the Hanukkah candles together is an example of the light of our community and the power of our unity. It is this coming together alongside of our many friends, that helped make the first night of Hanukkah so special.”


Around the Town: Jewish Person of the Year, Sukkah Project

Around the Town: Jewish Person of the Year, Sukkah Project

Posted on 26 September 2018 by admin

Compiled By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Jewish Person of the Year dinner is Oct. 21

Plans are under way for the B’nai B’rith Isadore Garsek Lodge Jewish Person of the Year Award dinner. This year’s celebration will be held, from 6:30-9 p.m., Sunday Oct. 21 at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 4050 S. Hulen Street.
Cost for dinner is $25 per person and tickets can be purchased from Rich Hollander,, 817-909-4353; Alex Nason,; or Marvin Beleck,
This year’s dinner is kosher. Wine and beer will be provided with ticket purchase.
Entertaining this year are The Vinyl Stripes, which plays rockabilly and music of the ’50s and ‘’60s.
Send nominations for Jewish Person of the Year to Isadore Garsek Lodge, 4420 W. Vickery Blvd., Fort Worth, TX 76107.

Photo: Sharon Wisch-Ray
Angie Friedman serenaded an interpretive dancer (not pictured) as they went from sukkah to sukkah at the Sukkah Project at the Museum for Biblical Art Sunday.


News and Notes

Spotted at the Sukkah Project in Dallas Sunday were Marla and Foster Owens, Jan Ayers Friedman and Angie Berlin Friedman. Angie completed a sukkah hop as she went from sukkah to sukkah while serenading an interpretive dancer.


Cantor’s concert at Methodist church aims for unity

Posted on 13 September 2018 by admin

By James Russell
Special to the TJP

A city reckoning with its deep racial and economic inequities may need more than Jewish music to bring it together. But a cantorial performance at a Methodist church scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Sunday, organized by a Jewish Fort Worth couple, at least will bring the community together for one afternoon.
Karen and Kal Silverberg organized the upcoming Community Concert for Peace shortly after the cantorial search committee of Congregation Ahavath Sholom, of which Kal serves on the board, selected Andres Levy as the visiting cantor for the High Holidays. Levy, who is making his Texas debut, is chanting the liturgy for High Holiday services..
But the community concert is at the neighboring Arborlawn United Methodist Church, 5001 Briarlawn Drive. The large church located near both Ahavath Shalom and Congregation Beth El in southwest Fort Worth recently expanded its facilities to include a larger worship hall. The church was one of the first venues the couple approached.
“They were amazingly receptive,” Kal said. “They are well-known for music appreciation in the community.” The church has hosted performances by the Fort Worth Symphony, Fort Worth Civic Orchestra, Texas Boys Choir and others. “The sanctuary is bright and inviting with great acoustics, and new. They would also like to bridge a lot of gaps. We are inviting everyone we know from any facet of what we do.”
By introducing Jewish music to the community, the couple hopes the concert will break down barriers among believers and non-believers of all identities.
“We wanted to be in a nonthreatening, informal and comfortable place where [attendees] may go to a concert any way,” Kal said. “By ‘nonthreatening,’ we mean someone who is not Jewish or affiliated with a synagogue would not feel uncomfortable by going into an unfamiliar place. It’s simply not getting uncomfortable with the unknown. We want the concert to be accessible to all.”
Levy’s biography is diverse enough to promote conversations about diversity. Born in Chile, he now lives in Buenos Aires. He was trained as an architect but has devoted his career to singing. He has performed internationally, including for the past 16 years as a traveling cantor during the High Holidays, in California, Florida and North Carolina. He will sing traditional songs in Hebrew and Ladino. But he also will perform songs, including in English, in more familiar styles, such as Broadway and Big Band.
“We’re broadening the perspective of what Jewish music is,” Karen said. “It is a great opportunity to bring together the greater Fort Worth community, which is not always at peace with one another, for a combined fun, artistic event. We’re talking about community peace, not elsewhere in the world, and coming together for a chance to do something we all enjoy.”
Kal also considers the concert an advancement of the synagogue’s mission.
“Ahavath Shalom means ‘lover of peace.’ It is a continuation of our mission and our very name to extend to this community and a concert for peace,” he said.
Advance tickets are $18 for adults and $9 for children. Tickets at the door are $25 for adults and $12 kids. VIP tickets are $180. Tickets and underwriting opportunities are available online at


Barry Schneider elected JWV national commander

Barry Schneider elected JWV national commander

Posted on 29 August 2018 by admin

Submitted Photo
National Commander Dr. Barry Schneider


Dr. Barry J. Schneider was elected National Commander of the Jewish War Veterans of the USA at the 123rd Annual National Convention in Tampa, Florida.
Barry is a retired Air Force Major with 20 years of active military service. His assignments included: NORAD IG Team; Combat Crew Commander; Instructor Crew Commander and Standardization Evaluator for both Titan II and Minuteman Strategic Missile Weapon Systems; Commander of the 44th Strategic Missile Wing Headquarters Squadron and the Chief Administrative and Logistic Services at the Morocco US Liaison Office United States Embassy in Rabat, Morocco; Commander of the 57th Fighter Interceptor Headquarters Squadron in Keflavik, Iceland; and Commander of the 7th Combat Support Group Headquarters Squadron in Texas. He graduated from the Squadron Officers school, Air Command & Staff College, Command Staff Officers course and Defense Institute for Security Assistance Management.
Barry worked for the Fort Worth Independent School District for 16 years serving as a central office administrator in the Human Resources Department and became a Certified Records Manager. He completely revamped the procedure for maintaining and preserving employee records for the FWISD. He served as a board member of the Texas State Library Records and Archives Commission.
In 1994, Barry joined the Jewish War Veterans, Martin Hochster Post 755 in Fort Worth and became a Life Member. He is also a life member of National Museum of American Jewish Military History (NMAJMH). He served as Post Commander from 2005 to 2007 and received the Post Member of the Year Award in 2007. He served as Department Commander for Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma (TALO) from 2012 to 2014 and National Executive Committee member from 2014 to 2016. He developed and organized two JWV Posts in Oklahoma City and Shreveport, Louisiana, in 2013 and a new Ladies Auxiliary in Fort Worth in 2016.
Barry has served as chairman of the Vietnam Veterans Committee, chairman of the Scouting Committee, vice chairman of the Youth Achievement Committee, Convention Committee member, Personnel Committee member, Resolutions Committee member, Awards Committee member, NMAJMH Representative and the JWV Representative at the annual Jewish Warrior Weekend at Texas A&M 2017 and 2018. Barry has been a lifelong Boy Scout. As a youth, he earned the Eagle Scout award and the Ner Tamid Jewish religious emblem. As an adult, he served as assistant district commissioner for BSA Transatlantic Council in Turkey and Morocco. He was awarded the Silver Beaver award for sustained exemplary service and the Shofar Jewish religious award for service to Jewish Scouting. Barry was selected to serve as a staff leader at several National Jamborees working in the Jewish emblems booth, director of the kosher kitchen and teaching Reading Merit Badge.
The Jewish Community is paramount to Barry. He was selected as the B’nai B’rith Jewish Person of the Year for Fort Worth and Tarrant County in 2010. He has served as president of Temple Beth Shalom in Arlington; president of Fort Worth chapter of B’nai B’rith; Campaign chairman and president of the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County; president of Men’s Club Congregation Ahavath Shalom; vice president of the Tarrant County Hebrew Free Loan Society; and vice president of the B’nai B’rith and Tarrant County Senior Housing complex in Fort Worth.
Also, Barry has served as a board member of the Fort Worth Jewish Day School and the Fort Worth and Tarrant County Jewish Family Services. In addition, he serves as Fort Worth Citizens on Patrol with the police department. Barry was a founding board member of the Orchard Theatre of Texas, a nonprofit professional theater offering innovative and classic productions.
Barry earned a Bachelor of Arts in History from California State College in 1967, an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from South Dakota State University in 1976, an M.A. in Management from Webster University in 1986 and an Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University in 1996.
Barry was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. He was married to Dolores (Finkelstein) for 49 years. Dolores passed away in 2015. They have two children, daughter Myla and son Eric, and two grandchildren. Myla and her husband Gary have two children, Eli and Coby.
Mazal Tov, Barry!

Submitted Photo
Rabbi Sidney and Vivian Zimelman

Added congratulations

Also, at the Jewish War Veterans National Convention, Fort Worth Rabbi Sidney Zimelman was named National Chaplain. He was appointed by National Commander Barry Schneider. For the past four years, he has been the chaplain of the four-state TALO and of course is the chaplain of the Martin Hochster Post 755.
As reported in the TJP in 2011 by Amy Sorter, Zimelman, 85, “has a long and colorful history — he was born in Poland and lived in Canada and Maine before entering a yeshiva in Brooklyn. In addition to receiving a bachelor’s degree from Yeshiva University and receiving his ordination and Doctor of Divinity at the Jewish Theological Society of America, Zimelman served his country as a chaplain in the United States Air Force base in Japan during the Vietnam years.
“Zimelman came to Texas after serving as rabbi at Congregation Agudat Achim (Schenectady, New York) and Congregation Adath Israel (Cincinnati, Ohio). After retiring from CAS in the late 1990s, Zimelman ended up at Temple Beth-El, though lives in the Overton Park area of Fort Worth. Now he serves as a rabbi on cruise ships from time to time. He is married to Vivian, is the father of Elana, Robin, Shari and Alyssa and has 10 grandchildren.”


Around the Town: McCoy, Boys Choir

Posted on 24 August 2018 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Save the date: Oct. 25 McCoy will lecture as Kornbleet Scholar

Yavilah McCoy, CEO of Dimensions Inc. in Boston, will be the 2018 Kornbleet Scholar. Ms. McCoy will speak on “Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in the American Jewish Community” at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 25, at Beth-El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven Road in Fort Worth. As a Jewish woman of color, educator and activist, McCoy has spent the past 20 years working extensively in multifaith communities and partnering specifically with the Jewish community to engage issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. A dessert reception will follow the lecture.

Know a boy who likes to sing?

Texas Boys Choir will launch its first community satellite choir, TBC @ TeSA, at Texas School of the Arts this fall. TBC @ TeSA is an after-school program offering boys in grades K-6 from any school an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of music literacy and healthy vocal technique, while also performing two to three times per year with the Grammy® award-winning Texas Boys Choir. The satellite choir will rehearse after school from September to May at Texas School of the Arts in Edgecliff Village, under the instruction of Dr. Jason Bishop, TBC artistic director, and Rachel Campbell, music director at Texas School of the Arts. Rehearsals begin Sept. 11 according to the following schedule: Tuesdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. for grades K-3 and Thursdays from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. for grades 4-6.
Boys need not be students at TeSA in order to participate. Music teachers are invited and encouraged to recommend boys who may benefit from this experience. For more information on tuition, rehearsal schedule or registering for an audition, visit The deadline has been extended to Sept. 4.
For more information, email


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