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Around the Town: Daytimers, Gibbonses

Around the Town: Daytimers, Gibbonses

Posted on 09 November 2017 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Talkin’ politics with the Daytimers

The Daytimers will welcome back Professor James Riddlesperger when they convene their monthly get-together at noon Wednesday, Nov. 15, at Beth-El Congregation.
The TCU political science professor will bring everyone up to date on what to expect in the coming year on the American political scene. Riddlesperger’s lively and fascinating insights are likely to be especially interesting given the current political scene unfolding day by day.

Riddlesperger

Riddlesperger

If you are a fan of ballpark fare, this lunch is for you. On the menu are jumbo all-beef hot dogs and all the fixings: sauerkraut, mustard, ketchup, potato salad, cole slaw and coffee-tea-cookies-snacks. Lunch and the program are $6. The program alone is free. Phone Larry Steckler to RSVP at 817-927-2736.
The Daytimers is a program of Beth-El Congregation with financial support from the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

Beth Shalom welcomes the Gibbonses on Nov. 18

Congregation Beth Shalom will hold an exclusive evening of fun and song with the Gibbonses (formerly known as Jackie Pock and Brandon Gibbons) Nov. 18! Jackie grew up in DFW and became a “star” through her powerful rendition of The Star-Spangled Banner at The Ballpark in Arlington and through her thrilling performance as she transformed into Fanny Brice in Funny Girl and performed in CATS. Jackie and Brandon met and fell in love when they were cruise ship entertainers. Jackie jokes that he was her boss then. Now that they’re married, Brandon answers that was so short-lived!

Submitted photo The Gibbonses (formerly known as Jackie Pock and Brandon Gibbons) will perform at Beth Shalom on Nov. 18.

Submitted photo
The Gibbonses (formerly known as Jackie Pock and Brandon Gibbons) will perform at Beth Shalom on Nov. 18.

The Gibbonses have developed a very special brand of Southern Soul music, and it has taken them to great heights. They released their first album in 2016 and since then have won competitions, entertained in venues across the country, opened for many well-known Texas musicians, and were selected for the Texas Music Pickers “2016 New Comer of the Year” Award.
The evening will begin at 7:15 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, at Congregation Beth Shalom, 1211 Thannisch Drive in Arlington. Libations will be available for purchase and light appetizers served. The concert begins at 8 p.m. with coffee and desserts to follow.
Ticket costs are: members, $20 single, $35 couple; non-members, $25 single, $40 couple. Reserved premium seating (first two rows) available for a $5 surcharge.
To reserve your seats, or for additional information, contact the Beth Shalom office at 817-860-5448 or order your tickets online at https://bethshalom.org/.
This event is open to the community.

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Around the Town: New Beginnings Church steps up for Israel

Around the Town: New Beginnings Church steps up for Israel

Posted on 02 November 2017 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

The relationship of AFMDA (American Friends of Magen David Adom) with New Beginnings Church in Bedford started recently after the congregation was first exposed to MDA’s lifesaving work in Israel.

Marla, Brandon and David Chicotsky, children of Donna and Robert Chicotsky

Marla, Brandon and David Chicotsky, children of Donna and Robert Chicotsky

The church’s first MDA ambulance sponsorship — a Mobile Intensive Care Unit — came in July 2017 and the vehicle will be stationed in the northern Israeli city of Haifa. New Beginnings and its 1,000 members have since sponsored a second MICU. On Oct. 8, Pastors Tiz and Larry Huch and Pastor Scott Sigman of New Beginnings Church presented a $250,000 check to the Friends of Magen David Adom. Friends of MDA Chief Development Officer Catherine Reed was on hand to accept the donation, which will be used to purchase two mobile ICU ambulances. Since then New Beginnings has committed to sponsoring a third ambulance.

Update on Fort Worth’s Chicotsky siblings

The next generation of Fort Worth’s Chicotsky family now includes a newborn baby girl, Giavanna. The proud mother, Marla (35), continues her national Fox News legal commentary and high-profile litigation work.
More information on her practice is available at ChicotskyLaw.com.
Marla’s older brother, David (38), and his wife, Michaela Chicotsky, provide real estate services in Fort Worth with Briggs Freeman Sotheby’s International Realty. They are also helping shepherd Chicotsky’s Shopping Center into the next generation, which houses Texas’ oldest liquor store, aptly named Chicotsky’s.
The youngest of the three siblings, Brandon (32), completed his doctorate earlier this year and has joined the business faculty at Johns Hopkins University. He researches and lectures on various topics including branding and capital markets. More information on his academic work is available at BChicotsky.com. For more information on the Chicotsky siblings, visit Chicotsky.com.

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Around the Town: Hochster named Person of Year

Around the Town: Hochster named Person of Year

Posted on 26 October 2017 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Jeff Hochster named B’nai Brith Isadore Garsek Lodge Person of the Year

Fort Worth’s best kept secret is out of the box as Jeff Hochster was lauded as the B’nai B’rith Person of the Year at Beth-El Congregation Sunday, Oct. 22.
Hochster is well-known for his philanthropic and volunteer efforts. In 1982 he received the Federation’s Young Leadership Award, headed the Federation’s annual campaign and served as Federation president. He has served on the board of Ahavath Sholom as well as being its vice president. Jeff Kaitcer, master of ceremonies for the evening, introduced Hochster as this year’s winner calling him, “a mensch, a man with an unwavering and uncompromising Jewish heart. those two attributes and qualities are the foundation of his Jewish involvement.”
Hochster is the CEO of Panhandle Slim and often donates new merchandise to charitable endeavors. He is married to Linda and has two children, Jamison and Audrey, and two stepchildren, Brent Jones and Jenny Goldman; and he is grandfather of eight.

Jeff Hochster

Jeff Hochster

Hochster joined an esteemed group of beloved community leaders and past recipients, including: 1951 David Greines, 1952 I.E. Horwitz, 1953 Sol Brachman1, 1954 Ella Brachman, 1955 Maurice Rabinowitz, 1956 Sophia Miller, 1957 Leon Brachman, 1958 Rabbi Isadore Garsek, 1959 Jerome Wolens, 1960 Louis Barnett, 1961 Dr. Frank Cohen, 1962 Rabbi Robert J. Schur, 1963 Dr. Abe Greines, 1964 I.E. Horwitz, 1965 Dr. Harold Freed, 1966 M.M. Goldman, 1967 Sidney Raimey, 1968 Ben Coplin, 1969 Leon Gachman, 1970 Sheldon Labovitz, 1971 Madilyn Barnett, 1972 Walter Nass, 1973 Herbert Berkowitz, 1974 Manny Rosenthal, 1975 Sam Weisblatt, 1976 Cecile & David Echt, 1977 Marcia Kornbleet Kurtz, 1978 Allen Wexler, 1979 Faye Berkowitz, 1980 Charles Levinson, 1981 Burnis Cohen, 1982 Sandra Freed, 1983 Sherwin Rubin, 1984 Bernard S. Appel, 1985 Leroy Solomon, 1986 I.L. (Buddy) Freed, 1987 Larry Kornbleet, 1988 Karen Brachman, 1989 Hortense Deifik, 1990 Ruby Kantor, 1991 Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger, 1992 Beverly Moses, 1993 Ron Stocker, 1994 Rowena Kimmell, 1995 Stuart & Rebecca Isgur, 1996 Miriam Labovitz, 1997 Harry Kahn, 1998 Leslie Kaitcer & Jeff Kaitcer, 1999 Dr. Michael Ross, 2000 Dr. Al Faigin, 2001 Lon Werner, 2002 Seymour Kanoff, 2003 Leon Brachman, 2004 Earl Givant, 2005 Al Sankary, 2006 David Beckerman, 2007 Hollace Weiner, 2008 Laurie Werner, 2009 Alfred “Shuggie” Cohen, 2010 Barry Schneider, 2011 Alex Nason, 2012 Dr. Carole Rogers, 2013 Marvin Beleck, 2014 Rich Hollander and 2015 Harry Kahn.

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Around the Town: A Lost Leonardo

Around the Town: A Lost Leonardo

Posted on 19 October 2017 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Illana Stein comes home to direct A Lost Leonardo

We are happy to welcome Illana Stein, a Fort Worth native, back to Texas for another exciting theater directing opportunity. Illana is here to direct A Lost Leonardo by David Davalos at Amphibian Stage Productions, 120 South Main St. in Fort Worth, which began last Friday and runs through Nov. 5.
Izzy Fields, the production’s costume designer, also has a strong Fort Worth connection.

Photo: Illana Stein Director Illana Stein (left) and costume designer Izzy Fields discuss costume options for A Lost Leonardo. The play runs through Nov. 5 at Amphibian Stage in Fort Worth.

Photo: Illana Stein
Director Illana Stein (left) and costume designer Izzy Fields discuss costume options for A Lost Leonardo. The play runs through Nov. 5 at Amphibian Stage in Fort Worth.

This witty play centers on the genius, Leonardo Da Vinci, during a period of time when he was struggling to find his identity, torn between two passions of art and science. In this incisive comedy, award-winning playwright David Davalos (playwright of Wittenberg) asks what price we’re willing to pay for the pursuit of knowledge. We also meet other historical characters including Machiavelli, Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia and other figures of the Italian Renaissance.
The script was originally written under the title, Daedalus. Staged readings and workshops have been both performed in Fort Worth and New York City. In 2015, there was a reading of the script (under the title of Daedalus) at Amphibian Stage Productions that was well received and played to a sold-out audience. Matt Amendt, a well-known, New York City-based actor, who appeared in the Fort Worth reading, is again taking on the title role.
Director Illana Stein lives and works in New York City but has her roots and parents in Fort Worth. Illana received her Jewish education at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, where she had her bat mitzvah and attended confirmation classes. She was an active BBYO member throughout high school.
Illana also has ties to the Fort Worth Theater community. She started in theater at age 5, in classes at Casa Manana, and was a Kids Who Care, Inc. core company member. She then attended the University of Oklahoma, where she graduated with a BFA in Dramaturgy in 2006. Since college, she has worked in theaters across the country. Her assistant directing credits include work at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Yale Repertory Theatre, Hanger Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, and Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. She was associate director at the Theatre for a New Audience for (New York Times Critics’ Pick) Tamburlaine the Great, directed by Michael Boyd, and Pericles, directed by Trevor Nunn. Most recently, she was associate director on Fingersmith by Alexa Junge, directed by Bill Rauch, at American Repertory Theater. In New York City, she has also assisted at Signature Theatre Company, Pearl Theater, and is a directing company member in New York Madness Theater Company. She is also a member of the 2012 Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab.
Illana and Izzy are thrilled to be working together again as director and costume designer, having collaborated on a New York production of a night-circus-themed A Midsummer Night’s Dream together in 2013. Izzy Fields is a New York-based costume designer with stage and film credits. She is an MFA graduate of the Tisch School of Design and is the resident costume designer for both Fault Line Theatre and National Yiddish Theatre-Folksbiene in New York City. She recently opened a new musical called Part of the Plan, music by Dan Fogelberg, in Nashville at Tennessee Performing Arts Center. Izzy is the cousin of Fort Worth’s Barry Schneider, also a congregant of Ahavath Sholom.
A Lost Leonardo runs at Amphibian Stage Productions, 120 S. Main St., through Nov. 5. General admission tickets are $33. Fore more information, visit amphibianstage.com or call the box office at 817-923-3012.
You may also walk away with a secret or two about the origins of the Mona Lisa.

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Dallas Doings: Artist, Mitzvahs

Dallas Doings: Artist, Mitzvahs

Posted on 05 October 2017 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Travelin’ Lady: Barbara Goldstein, a worldly, dynamic and ‘pioneering’ artist

She was an “unsinkable Molly Brown.” Barbara Goldstein, a successful Texas artist for more than 40 years, was driven to see the world and develop her artistic talent. A dynamic and pioneering artist, she overcame personal obstacles, championing and advising women on successful, independent travel. Her advice came across as if she was having a cup of coffee and a friendly chat while sitting across from the reader.

Night Windows

Night Windows

Her creativity, outgoing style, and desire to draw anything at any time led to her first published work. While sitting at the Fort Worth Zoo, creating ape and orangutan images, she met an Australian man gathering information about monkeys and apes for a children’s book. He was looking for an artist who could illustrate the book with humorous and imaginative drawings.
She began to study Spanish in the early ‘60s and decided the following summer to take her children — GeGe, Tere, and Red — to a place where they could learn Spanish and art and become acquainted with another culture. For the next four years, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico became their summer adventure. And in 1993, the year after the death of her beloved husband, Dore, she took up residence in San Miguel.
One of her proudest accomplishments in Fort Worth was becoming a “Signature Member” of the Southwest Watercolor Society. Beyond Fort Worth she became a world traveler, exploring, making friends, teaching and capturing scenes in Israel, Kenya, Bali, Paris and Brazil, among others. As an accomplished teacher and artist, her pastels, watercolors and unique multimedia paintings became prized possessions. In her early years, portraits were her main focus. As she grew in her craft, her subjects became primarily Judaica and flowers.
Goldstein’s youngest, her son Red, has vivid memories of his mother. “She was always an artist with fierce determination…for whom ‘no’ did not exist,” he said. “Her eye could absorb an image, release it back via paint brush, and filter it through her brilliantly creative soul,” he added.

Submitted photo Barbara Goldstein self-portrait

Submitted photo
Barbara Goldstein self-portrait

In Goldstein’s book, Travelin’ Lady: How to Travel Alone Without Being Lonely, she noted that she and Red had an especially open way of speaking together. He once asked her on his and his sisters’ behalf about creating a show of her work in Fort Worth for the first time.
Her plan was to travel to Paris to create new paintings just for the Fort Worth show. She was worried about being productive in a change of atmosphere, but a dear friend helped her arrange all the details. And, a little luck and her travelin’ lady skills made all the difference. Flying to Paris, she wound up sitting next to James Moody, Dizzy Gillespie’s right-hand man.
She shared her worries. He explained, demonstrated, and then involved her in experiencing how music could be created no matter how the eight musical sounds were arranged on a sheet of lined music paper.

Galerie Aleph

Galerie Aleph

He went on to tell her, “You never wrote music before. You’ve never painted in Paris before. You just lead with your heart of art and your past experience. You will soon be playing colorful music with your brushes no matter where you are.”
She called his advice a vote of confidence and a jump-start. During four months in Paris, she created 22 paintings. “My show in Texas was a huge success, and my grown kids were glowing with pride,” she said.
Selections from her wonderful Paris collection and many other works can be seen in the Temple Board Room starting this month.
— Submitted by Arlene Reynolds

Mitzvahs in the Sukkah

Tarrant County religious schools and PJ Library will do Mitzvahs in the Sukkah from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 8, at Ahavath Sholom. Learn all about Sukkot while reading, creating, making edible sukkahs and singing with Eli Davidsohn! The program is for all children ages 3 to third grade. If your child is in religious school, they’ll be attending with their classes. Need a ride? Free bus transportation is available from Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville and Chabad of Arlington and Mid-Cities in Arlington. Please visit tarrantfederation.org for details.
A parents’ nosh begins at 9:30 a.m. Have a bagel and schmear to meet and get to know other parents before the Mitzvahs in the Sukkah program!
Mitzvahs in the Sukkah is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth & Tarrant County, Congregation Ahavath Sholom, Beth-El Congregation, Congregation Beth Israel, Congregation Beth Shalom, Chabad of Fort Worth and Chabad of Arlington and Mid-Cities with financial support from the Dan Danciger/Fort Worth Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation.

 

*****

 

BethShalomSukkahRaisingSubmitted photo

Building the Sukkah

Members of Congregation Beth Shalom in Arlington helped raise the congregation’s sukkah on a beautiful fall morning, Sunday, Oct. 1.
(From left) David Silverberg, Sherryl Clark, Nana Atkens, Stuart Snow, Mike Kapin, Ryan Silverberg, Jordan Zadwick, Mark Lewis and Stephen Cabrero

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Around the Town: Archives, Daytimers

Around the Town: Archives, Daytimers

Posted on 28 September 2017 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

B’nai B’rith Person of the Year

I started writing up a brief about this year’s Isadore Garsek Lodge of B’nai B’rith Person of the Year and got to thinkin’: I wonder if I could search the TJP archives and pull some historical data on past Person of the Year recipients. I jumped to UNT’s Portal to Texas History, which houses the TJP archives dating back to the early years, and did a simple search: Texas Jewish Post: “Man of the Year.”ManoftheYearPart1 ManoftheYearPart2
I found several. One fun one was from the Jan. 7, 1954, edition on the front page. It’s included here. Incidentally, the winner that year was Sol Brachman, as reported in the TJP on Jan. 14, 1954. To search back issues of the TJP, visit https://texashistory.unt.edu. Don’t forget to put quotation marks around your search term for best results.
Who will be the Person of the Year? Your guess is as good as mine.
Robert Chicotsky tells me that plans are furiously underway for Fort Worth’s best-kept secret: Isadore Garsek Lodge of B’nai B’rith’s The Jewish Person of the Year. The program will begin at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 22, at Beth-El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven Road. Unfortunately, Craig Goldman, who was scheduled to speak at the evening, won’t be able to attend. However, Riscky’s BBQ will cater the dinner with their superb barbecue; kosher plates are available with advance reservation.
Tickets for the evening are $25 per person; wine and beer will be available for purchase. For more information, contact Rich Hollander at rich.d.hollander@gmail.com 817-909-4354, Alex Nason at alexnason@charter.cnet or Marvin Beleck, marvinbeleck@aol.com.
The lodge is currently taking nominations for the Jewish Person of the Year. Mail them to Isadore Garsek Lodge, 4420 W. Vickery Blvd., Fort Worth, TX 76107.

Rabbi Mecklenburger will speak at October Daytimers

When the Daytimers convene at noon Wednesday, Oct. 18, at Beth-El, Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger, emeritus rabbi of Beth-El Congregation, will be the featured speaker. Rabbi Mecklenburger, who came to Beth-El in 1984, is well-known for his research and writing on religious brains. In fact, his book Our Religious Brains: What Cognitive Science Reveals about Belief, Morality, Community and Our Relationship with God received many accolades. However, on Oct. 18, Rabbi Mecklenburger will address a less “heady” topic: “Behind the Scenes of Being a Rabbi on a Cruise Ship.”

Ralph Mecklenburger

Ralph Mecklenburger

Rabbi Mecklenburger will tell all, secrets and anecdotes, about his experiences as a cruise ship rabbi. It was news to this writer to learn that most cruise ships have a rabbi on board. It’s sure to be an engaging afternoon of fun.
Lunch will be catered by Ming Wok and costs $6. Choices are Chicken Lo Mein, Beef Chop Suey or Vegetables with Bean Curd. Call Larry Steckler at 817-927-2736 with your order.
Daytimers is a program of Beth-El Congregation with financial support from the Jewish Federation.

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Around the Town: Gifts, Sukkah

Around the Town: Gifts, Sukkah

Posted on 20 September 2017 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

I may be dating myself. I remember when I was a little girl and sitting in the chairs (we never got there early enough to sit up front, and if you knew my parents of blessed memory, you know why) on the High Holidays at Ahavath Sholom on Eighth Avenue. I loved going to shul — still do. I was fascinated by the rituals, particularly many of the machers who busied themselves making sure that the service ran like clockwork. Of course I was mesmerized by Rabbi Garsek’s distinct delivery of, well… everything. I enjoyed Abela’s (Friedling, the shul’s shamos) candies that he passed out to me and my friends — a tradition later carried on by Herbie Berkowitz, of blessed memory, and enjoyed by my own children. I shared these thoughts not too long ago with Karen Kaplan; her father Sidney Raimey was one of those giants of a man etched so distinctly in my memory, especially his shofar blowing. She mentioned that she had a portrait of her dad, which she shared with me and now I share it with you.
“Wisching” you a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year! May you be inscribed.

Beth-El Congregation honored with gift from Richard Baratz

Caricaturist and multimedia artist Richard Baratz has presented Congregation Beth-El with a pen-and-ink portrait of Elie Wiesel, renowned writer, professor, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor.

Photo: Karen Kapan A portrait of Sidney Raimey

Photo: Karen Kapan
A portrait of Sidney Raimey

“He brings energy, humor and insight into the subjects and places he chooses,” said Rabbi Brian Zimmerman. “This is best seen in the wonderful sketch of Elie Wiesel that he presented to our congregation. The human essence of the teacher, writer and thinker, who was a giant of the last century, can be seen clearly in the details of the work,” he added.
“Baratz creates caricatures that bring the personalities of people and the energy of buildings and cities to life. The essence of each subject bursts forth from the page,” said Rabbi Zimmerman.
Beth-El has featured an exhibit of Baratz’ diverse artistic creations, “Capturing the Famous and the Familiar,” which can be viewed through the end of September.
— Submitted by Arlene Reynolds

Catch a ride to the doctor with JFS’ transportation program

Jewish Family Services of Fort Worth and Tarrant County began a transportation program for medical appointments last year. The program has been successful in helping community members go to physical therapy appointments, doctor appointments and surgery centers. “We want everyone in our community to know about this program so they can participate if needed,” said JFS’ Lynell Bond. The service is available for persons without need for a special mobility device as well as those who use mobility devices such as a walker or a motorized wheelchair. If you would like to register to participate, please contact Lynell Bond, case manager, at 817-823-0476. Once enrolled in the program, you will need to schedule appointments at least 48 hours in advance.
— Submitted by Lynell Bond

Mitzvahs in the Sukkah

Tarrant County religious schools and PJ Library are coming together to do Mitzvahs in the Sukkah. Learn all about sukkot while reading, creating, making edible sukkahs, and singing with Eli Davidsohn. The program is for all children ages 3 to third grade. If your child is in religious school, they’ll be attending with their classes. Need a ride? Free bus transportation is available from Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville and Chabad of Arlington and Mid-Cities n Arlington. Please visit tarrantfederation.org for details.
There will be a Parents’ Nosh at 9:30 a.m., where parents can enjoy a bagel and schmear and get to know other parents before the Mitzvahs in the Sukkah program!
Mitzvahs in the Sukkah is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Congregation Ahavath Sholom, Beth-El Congregation, Congregation Beth Israel, Congregation Beth Shalom, Chabad of Fort Worth and Chabad of Arlington and Mid-Cities with financial support from the Dan Danciger/Fort Worth Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation.
— Submitted by Angie Kitzman

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Around the Town: The continued history of the Fort Worth JCC

Around the Town: The continued history of the Fort Worth JCC

Posted on 14 September 2017 by admin

Editor’s note: The Fort Worth Jewish Archives recently indexed documents, minutes, correspondence, photos, and articles from the Texas Jewish Post that tell the story of the Dan Danciger Jewish Community Center, from its genesis as an idea in the 1950s, to its construction in the 1960s, its flowering, and its dissolution in the 1990s.
Lax financial management and changing demographic trends led to its closing. Proceeds from its sale were placed in a foundation that allots around $65,000 annually toward continuation of the JCC’s core programs and related activities. The following narrative is drawn from documents in the DDJCC Collection, housed in the archives room at Congregation Ahavath Sholom.

By Naomi Rosenfield and Hollace Weiner
Special to the TJP

Management woes

Between 1977 and 1988, operations at Fort Worth’s Jewish Community Center began to gradually slide. With increasing numbers, Jews began to join country clubs and build homes with swimming pools. Membership at the Center declined. To compensate for the loss of Jewish members, the Center found itself soliciting and enrolling more non-Jewish members.
A bright spot on the DDJCC acreage was construction in 1988 of a 19,000-square-foot building to house the Fort Worth Hebrew Day School. The Day School, launched in 1981, had been meeting at Ahavath Sholom and enrolled children from kindergarten through fifth grade. The school finally had a place to call home.

Lillian Bellows and Matti Joseph prepare food in 1980.

Lillian Bellows and Matti Joseph prepare food in 1980.

Yet as the day school burnished its image and grew, the DDJCC’s executive board took a sober look at its finances. The Center’s board of directors notified the Federation “that it was facing the probability of running out of funds before the end of 1988.” Federation President Sandra Freed appointed a Blue Ribbon Committee to study the Center’s finances. It didn’t take long for the panel to ascertain that during the previous five years, the JCC had engaged in deficit spending. Among the reasons for the Center’s financial woes and the membership decline were that:

  • Accounts receivable from dues and services were not collected;
  • The Senior Citizens Program, while providing important services such as transportation and hot lunches, did not produce any income;
  • Repairs, maintenance and upgrades to the facility had been postponed and not done; and
  • Fewer volunteers resulted in more overtime for the paid staff.

The Blue Ribbon Committee report, issued Aug. 15, 1988, stated that the appearance of the physical facility was “depressing” and in need of volunteers to spruce it up.
Closer examination revealed sloppy bookkeeping practices, well below the standards required by the United Way. Subsequently, the Center Board

The Fort Worth Hebrew Day School student body of 1998-99

The Fort Worth Hebrew Day School student body of 1998-99

chose to forgo United Way funding, rationalizing that it was extremely time-consuming to apply for funds. The United Way’s funding requirements had also meant a shift away from the Center’s Jewish mission.
The Blue Ribbon report concluded that the DDJCC continued to have great value to the Jewish community. The panel recommended consolidating office staff for the Center and the Federation, believing that would tighten financial oversight, result in more emphasis on Jewish programming, and draw more Jewish members.
The committee was unanimous in its belief that Jews who did not belong to the Center needed to support it for future generations. Citing the 1959 bankruptcy of Southwood Country Club, another Jewish recreational enterprise initiated with high hopes, the Blue Ribbon report observed: “The failure of the Jewish Country Club some 30 years ago was recalled by the committee members, and well-remembered was the distress and embarrassment of our Jewish community to suffer a failure of that magnitude. The community must not again permit the closing of the doors of a Jewish institution.”
Letters were sent to the entire Jewish community urging support for the DDJCC regardless of usage. It was a sincere plea to reverse the trends outlined in the Blue Ribbon Report. For a while, these measures seemed to work.
The next year, 1989, marked the 25th anniversary of the DDJCC. A grand, Silver Anniversary celebration was planned, with a Gala Dinner and Benefit Auction at Colonial Country Club Dec. 3, 1989. Chaired by Sandra Freed, the auction featured new cars, furs, a yacht and celebrity items. Among the latter was a single sheet of stationery with three jokes handwritten by comedienne Joan Rivers. Another sought-after celebrity item was a script from the television show Magnum P.I. autographed by its star, Tom Selleck. The Silver Anniversary Gala was deemed a tremendous success, both socially and financially. It provided a breath of fresh air and a shot in the arm for the struggling DDJCC.

Eileen Martell (left) was the camp director in 1979.

Eileen Martell (left) was the camp director in 1979.

Dream envisioned in 1950s ends in 1995

Despite the successful 1989 gala, vigorous fundraising efforts and membership drives, it was clear the DDJCC was in dire straits. During the next four years, the center dramatically declined. Membership, which had once exceeded 470 families, had dropped to 328 in 1984 and plunged to 153 families in 1993. Of those family units, 62 had paid full membership dues. Parents who put their children in summer camp were permitted to enroll-now-and-pay-later. Money was not raised to cover scholarships awarded to Russian-immigrant families.
The percentage of Jewish members dropped to 60 percent.
By 1994, it became clear that the Jewish community needed to consolidate its services and facilities. The Jewish Federation, as the funding agency, determined it was necessary to take proactive steps to save the most vital JCC programs.
In October 1994, Federation President Elliott Garsek appointed an Ad Hoc Federation Center/Day School Committee — referred to as the “crisis committee.” Bolstered with a study by consultant Joe Cohen from the Council of Jewish Federations (now JFNA), the crisis committee spelled out these recommendations for the future:

  • Boards of both the DDJCC and Fort Worth Hebrew Day School should place on the market their properties at 6801 and 6795 Dan Danciger Road (formerly Old Granbury Road);
  • The DDJCC should raise fees for all child care programs to no less than market rates, effective Jan. 1, 1995;
  • Immediately discontinue enrolling children below the age of two at the day care center;
  • Move preschool classes for children over the age of two to the Hebrew Day School building with a configuration worked out by the affected agencies;
  • Appoint a committee to explore renting the facilities on a full-time basis.
 Jeff Kaitcer (back left) and Lenny Herzfeld (front middle) were in a 1980 basketball league.

Jeff Kaitcer (back left) and Lenny Herzfeld (front middle) were in a 1980 basketball league.

These recommendations —spelled out in an Oct. 19, 1994, memo to representatives of the DDJCC, FWHDS, Congregation Ahavath Sholom, Beth-El Congregation and the Federation — were intended to implement an interim plan to deal with the financial crises facing both the DDJCC and the Hebrew Day School. By then, enrollment at the Day School was 40 students and the preschool had 25 students.
The consultant, along with lay leadership, deemed continuation of the following core programs essential to the community:

  • Lil Goldman Early Learning Center;
  • Camp Shalom;
  • Senior Adult Lunch Program; and
  • Hebrew Day School.

The Jewish Community Center’s board of directors, headed by Steve Katten, a CPA, voted to approve the recommendations and to sell its property on Dan Danciger Road. This forced the sale of the Hebrew Day School, as the FWHDS only owned the real estate on which it was built, not the access road leading to the school nor the parking spaces around it.
The JCC’s programs, along with the Jewish Family Services office and the Federation administrative office, were relocated to the Hebrew Day School building. An above-ground pool was purchased so that Camp Shalom could continue providing water activities during its summer sessions.
The control and the financial functions of the JCC and the Day School were consolidated under the Federation, whose president was Michael Korenman, M.D. The model was described as a “functionalized Federation” with semi-autonomous agencies operating in full cooperation. This model continued until the sale of the property in May 1999 for $1.6 million to Southwest Christian School. The parochial school planned to utilize the property for 300 students enrolled in its primary grades. The JCC’s core programs relocated. The Federation and Jewish Family Services moved their offices into a triple-wide trailer parked 3 miles away on Congregation Ahavath Sholom’s property.

Legacy of Fort Worth’s erstwhile Jewish Community Center

Today, the core programs that continue are the Senior Adult Lunch Program centered at Beth-El Congregation; Camp Shalom, based at Ahavath Sholom; and the Lil Goldman Early Learning Center, also at Ahavath Sholom, which has grown to enroll more than 100 preschoolers. Sadly, the Hebrew Day School lost not only its schoolhouse, but also its visibility. Enrollment shrank, and the day school was out of existence by 2007.

Frances Marks teaches her ballet class in 1975.

Frances Marks teaches her ballet class in 1975.

The Federation and Jewish Family Services offices are located in a stand-alone building on Kingsridge Road in close proximity to the city’s two synagogues. Commemorations previously observed at the JCC (such as Israel Independence Day, Holocaust Remembrance Day and Israel Memorial Day) now rotate among the county’s five synagogues. They are staffed and funded by the Federation. The Federation also provides grants to congregations for various programs, some of which would have been run by the old JCC. These include movie series, Israeli dance nights and lectures.
The proceeds from the $1.6 million sale of the JCC property were placed in a newly created financial trust called the Dan Danciger/Fort Worth Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation (DD/FWHDS). After paying debts and bills, the foundation’s beginning balance totaled $1.488 million. Annual interest income has averaged $60,000 to $65,000. Since 1999, the foundation has dispensed $650,000.
“Core” programs — meaning the preschool, the senior lunch program, and Camp Shalom, all of which continue to thrive — may apply to the DD/FWHDS Foundation for annual operating funds. The Supporting Foundation may also allocate money for “cultural, social, entertainment and educational programs” of “Jewish content” that might typically have been held at the local JCC. Grants for these less specific purposes have proven controversial.
Funds accrued from interest not allocated during each fiscal year are added to the Supporting Foundation’s corpus, which presently totals $1.35 million. The principal may only be spent to construct buildings that benefit the Jewish community educationally and culturally. Perhaps someday the DD/FWHDS Supporting Foundation will utilize its growing principal to fulfill the dreams of those who donated to build the Jewish Community Center and the Day School so many years ago.

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Around the Town: History of Fort Worth’s JCC

Around the Town: History of Fort Worth’s JCC

Posted on 07 September 2017 by admin

Editor’s note: The Fort Worth Jewish Archives recently indexed documents, minutes, correspondence, photos, and articles from the Texas Jewish Post that tell the story of the Dan Danciger Jewish Community Center, from its genesis as an idea in the 1950s, to its construction in the 1960s, its flowering, and its dissolution in the 1990s.
Lax financial management and changing demographic trends led to its closing. Proceeds from its sale were placed in a foundation that allots around $65,000 annually toward continuation of the JCC’s core programs and related activities. The following narrative is drawn from documents in the DDJCC Collection, housed in the archives room at Congregation Ahavath Sholom.
* denotes that the person is deceased.

By Naomi Rosenfield and Hollace Weiner

Fort Worth Jewish Archives
Part 1: The vision . . .

There are dreamers. There are doers. And then there are visionaries. You may not recognize their names, but these folks dreamed and realized their vision in the 1950s, planning and creating Fort Worth’s Dan Danciger Jewish Community Center. It opened with optimism in 1965, flowered for 30 years, and dissolved in 1995, plagued with financial deficits.
Back in the 1950s, I.E. Horwitz,* Lou Barnett, Leon Brachman,* Arthur Ginsburg,* Dr. Frank Cohen,* Dave Eisenman,* Jerry Wolens,* Sidney Raimey* and many, many others who have passed away believed there was a great need in Tarrant County for a community center that would “stimulate in all age groups a love and appreciation of Jewish values.” There were already several popular, innovative programs — such as a summer camp, a preschool and educational lectures — operating under the auspices of the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth & Tarrant County. These could be brought under the roof of a Jewish Community Center and lead to a more united Jewish community. Since the Federation was then recognized as the central planning agency for the local Jewish populace, every step toward founding a JCC was designed and implemented with its leadership.

File photo (From left) Sara Horwitz, Mike Weinberg and Bess Wetheim pose at the 1964 groundbreaking of the Fort Worth Jewish Community Center.

File photo
(From left) Sara Horwitz, Mike Weinberg and Bess Wetheim pose at the 1964 groundbreaking of the Fort Worth Jewish Community Center.

In 1954, the Jewish community had opened a day camp at a 20-acre site near Handley. It cost $5,500 to run the camp that summer. The income generated was $3,600, and the Federation subsidized the balance. A total of 140 children attended three summer sessions. Lou Barnett urged that the camp continue for another summer and recommended acquiring a permanent site for the future. Also in the early 1950s, innovative educator Lil Goldman* was running a successful preschool at Congregation Ahavath Sholom’s Eighth Avenue synagogue. Among those preschoolers in early attendance were Laurie Barnett (Werner) and Elliott Garsek, youngsters who would grow into leaders of Fort Worth Jewish institutions.
The summer camp and preschool were community programs without permanent locations. Longtime Federation officer Maurice Rabinowitz* suggested the possibility of a Jewish community center, a permanent physical facility on acreage with a swimming pool and ball fields. It was 1955!
In 1957 the Federation appointed Brachman and Barnett to look into requesting a grant from the Dan Danciger estate. The Dancigers, a family of oil entrepreneurs who came to Fort Worth from Kansas City, Missouri, in the 1940s, had created two trust funds that benefited the community for decades. (Ultimately, in 1960, the trustees of the Dan Danciger estate “cheerfully” approved a $300,000 grant.)
The Fort Worth Federation also appointed a larger committee to “check on a Center project.” Rabinowitz was chairman. Working with Horwitz, Barnett, Brachman, Rabbi Isadore Garsek,* Arthur Ginsburg,* Jack Greenman,* Rabbi Robert Schur,* Texas Jewish Post Publisher Jimmy Wisch* and architect Larry Gernsbacher*, the committee drew up a plan for a 5,000-square-foot building at a cost of $700,000, including land and furnishings. The ball was rolling!
Brachman stressed that the local community must be prepared to properly maintain and operate the center. Rabbi Schur expressed optimism that “proper programming would strengthen the general congregational life of the community” and that a JCC would “develop new areas of interest culturally and socially. It would be a contribution to the community at large.” With support from the entire Federation committee, the work moved forward. Professionals from the Jewish Welfare Board (now part of Jewish Community Centers of America) visited Fort Worth for consultation.
The visionaries were dotting their “i’s” and crossing their “t’s” to do the research necessary to move forward. There was great excitement about the possibilities of creating community space for all ages.

If you build it, they will come

By 1959, a population survey revealed that Fort Worth had 900 Jewish households with 3.1 persons each. This computed to about 2,790 Jews living in the city. Following the population study, a needs assessment determined that a Jewish community center would require parking, a playground, athletic facilities, a gymnasium, swimming and wading pools, an assembly hall, ballroom, office space, lounge areas, rooms for study and play, and preschool classrooms.
And so, 1959 continued as a very busy year toward the creation of a Fort Worth JCC. Letters were mailed to 867 Jewish-family units to find out if there was community interest in constructing a center. The total response was 40 percent, with 342 replies—among them 258 from households in favor. (The letter had no questions about a financial commitment.) Based upon the 258 favorable responses, I.E. Horwitz, an energetic oil-and-gas attorney and a past president of the Temple, was appointed chair of the Federation’s JCC Committee.
Three caveats surfaced, and Horwitz addressed them: that the Fort Worth Jewish community was too small to support a JCC, that funds were more urgently needed for the city’s synagogues, and that money should be spent for philanthropic rather than recreational needs. To these objections, Horwitz said, “Rubbish!” Communities smaller than Fort Worth had built and supported centers. He pointed to strong growth at the city’s two congregations and reminded detractors that “no center has ever retarded the growth of religious life. They are a help, not a hindrance.” He added that “Israel and other charities will always need our help,” but this should not “stifle our own community progress.”
By 1960, pediatrician Frank Cohen was quoted in the Federation minutes stating, “It was generally agreed that the Center was a completely autonomous group which had been charged by the Federation to organize and build a JCC program and building.” Horwitz, the fundraising chairman, reported in October 1961 that 155 Jews had pledged $114,605 toward building the JCC, and six non-Jews had pledged $26,260. By December, he reported that the committee was only $3,000 short of its $150,000 goal. (When the JCC officially opened its doors in 1965, “private gifts” totaled $175,000, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.)
A Young People’s Group, chaired by Sherwin Rubin, pledged its support for a JCC. That group represented 40 couples. In 1960, Rubin along with Marcia Kornbleet (Kurtz) volunteered to co-chair a membership drive for the future JCC. Their goal was 450 families.
While enthusiasm was growing, Rabinowitz, the building chairman, was busy with the plans for the facility. During 1963 many unanswered questions arose:

  • 1. Will there be non-Jewish members and, if so, on what basis?
  • 2. What percentage of the city’s Jewish population could be expected to join?
  • 3. What policies would govern Shabbat activities and kashrut?
  • 4. What would be the cost of membership?
  • 5. What sources of revenue could be generated to cover the cost of operations?
  • 6. How would transportation needs be met?

In May 1963, a decision was reached to spend only money on hand plus promised pledges for grounds, building and furnishings, minus 10 percent shrinkage for possible unpaid pledges. The decision to move forward was based upon two assumptions: that Fort Worth’s Jewish community would grow, and that a building would attract Jewish membership. Initially, non-Jews were not part of the financial equation as planners evaluated the center’s long-term viability. However, membership was to be open to all, regardless of faith and race.
Several hundred excited people attended the groundbreaking May 3, 1964, at 6801 Granbury Road on the 20.5 acres of undeveloped land in southwest Fort Worth. Horwitz was appointed founding president of the Dan Danciger Jewish Community Center (DDJCC). On Nov. 25, 1964, the first board of directors meeting was held in the new building — a 41,500-square-foot complex with outdoor tennis courts and an Olympic-size pool. The community held a festive dedication ceremony in the DDJCC gym Jan. 17, 1965. By then, “private gifts” toward building the center totaled $175,000, and, according to the Star-Telegram, the Dan Danciger Trust had upped its contribution to $410,000 (from an initial promise of $300,000). By the end of the year, membership totaled 475 families (who paid annual dues of $72), plus dozens of single adults who joined for $36. Optimism was in the air.

The Center: up and running

Events included:

  • Young Adult Organization (Dotty Echt*, chair)
  • Senior Citizens Club, renamed Adult Discussion Group (Dora Ginsburg*, president, 1965)
  • Ongoing artist exhibits
  • Bridge classes
  • Center Players perform From the World of Sholom Aleichem
  • Cooking classes (gourmet and Jewish)
  • Homemaking classes: “Let’s Play House,” with serving tea part of each session
  • Daily lunches for seniors, as well as annual Passover seders and Thanksgiving dinners
  • New Year’s Eve Fiesta Ball, chaired by Harriette Gachman, transformed the center into a South of the Border Night Club in 1966
  • Youth basketball league, with more than 100 boys
  • Tweens visit from Dallas and Houston, connecting Fort Worth adolescents with other Jewish tweens, making new friends, renewing old friendships
  • Camp Shalom is named by Teren Kreisler, 10 and Kathy Sherman (Suder), 6.

Dream comes to fruition

“A community without a home is a community without a heart. The united home of our Jewish Community Center (is) representative in spirit and structures of all the people. Here the hands of an entire community will clasp as easily as the hands of two. Here no one is alone. . . . ever. Here, groups are never divided. It will be our new spirit, dedicated, united and secure … designed to serve forever.”
This beautifully written, optimistic message was printed in the dedication book distributed Jan. 17, 1965, by the Jewish Community Center Campaign organization, comprising 34 division chairs and a solicitation committee of 103 people; the JCC was on its way to fulfilling the dream. The Dedication Ceremony, in the gymnasium of the new complex, turned into a huge celebration for the visionaries, the campaign workers and rank-and-file volunteers eager to create a plethora of activities to meet the social, cultural, educational, and athletic needs of the community.
In 1965, the breakdown of membership statistics was impressive: 491 men, 504 women, 474 boys and 431 girls. Also, the Center was accepted into the Tarrant County United Fund (now the United Way) and received an allocation of $4,941 in 1966. That same year Dan Rosenthal was hired as executive director of the Federation, the JCC, and the Jewish Social Service Agency (now Jewish Family Services). All three agencies had administrative offices in the new building.
One of the Center’s most successful activities was its Senior Citizens Club. Created in 1965, it had 100 members and was volunteer driven. With its own officers, monthly meetings were held at the Center. In subsequent years, the group was renamed the Adult Discussion Group.
Everything was running smoothly — the preschool, the summer camp, arts and crafts classes, the athletic department and adult education activities. The complex, with its meeting rooms, classrooms, gymnasium, Olympic-size swimming pool and tennis courts, was in full use. In addition, Young Judea, BBYO, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, and other groups utilized the center as the place to meet. Because the DDJCC was affiliated with the national Jewish Community Center Association, it hosted and housed groups of out-of-town teenagers visiting Fort Worth, giving our teens the opportunity to meet contemporaries from other cities.
In 1977, under the direction of JCC President Jerry Wolens, a bar mitzvah celebration was held to mark the Center’s thirteenth anniversary. Guest speaker was Dore (Isadore) Schary, the Hollywood motion-picture director, writer, producer and playwright.
He later became head of production and president of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Again, the community came together to celebrate the success of the Center.

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Around the Town: Recognition, awards

Posted on 31 August 2017 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Trusts & Estates magazine recognizes Blum as ‘thought leader’

Trusts & Estates magazine has announced the winners of its 2017 Distinguished Author awards. Marvin E. Blum, JD, CPA, has been named the winner of the Trusts & Estates 2017 Distinguished Author award in the Thought Leadership category.
Blum will be honored at the WealthManagement.com 2017 Executive Forum and Industry Awards gala being held Oct. 11 at the Plaza Hotel in New York City. The Wealth Management.com Industry Awards recognize outstanding achievement in the wealth management industry.
Commenting on the recognition, Blum said: “I am deeply honored to receive this Thought Leader Award, as it celebrates how estate planning is evolving. I still enjoy helping clients save taxes and protect their assets, but my passion is to design an inheritance that helps families succeed for generations to come. My goal is to help clients create and preserve a legacy.”
Blum was nominated for his article Filling in the Gaps: Create a Red File to Cover Issues Beyond Traditional Estate Planning. The article suggests supplementing a traditional estate plan with a “Red File” — a centralized file of important information and documents, a clear expression of financial intentions, and guidance for care should one become incapacitated.
According to Blum, “It’s all too common for a client to walk away with a perfectly crafted portfolio of estate planning documents that expertly disseminates the property but fails to provide the control so desperately desired. A Red File can help ensure that upon incapacity, you are cared for as you wish, and upon death, your assets pass exactly how you would like.”
Blum is a nationally recognized estate planning expert known for creating customized, cutting-edge estate plans. His firm, The Blum Firm, P.C., has offices throughout Texas and has grown to be the largest group of estate planning attorneys in the state.

Save the date: Oct. 22 — Person of the Year Award

Isadore Garsek Lodge of B’nai B’rith will honor the 2017 Jewish Person of the Year at an award dinner at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 22, at Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth.
State Representative Craig Goldman will be the keynote speaker. Cost of the evening is $25 and will include a delicious barbecue dinner catered by Riscky’s. Kosher meals will be available with advance notification. The lodge is currently accepting nominations for the Jewish Person of the Year. Send your nomination to Isadore Garsek Lodge, 4420 W. Vickery Blvd., Fort Worth, TX 76107. For reservations or tickets, contact Rich Hollander at rich.d.hollander@gmail.com or 817-909-4354, Alex Nason at alexnason@charter.net or Marvin Beleck at marvinbeleck@aol.com.

Fort Worth Federation kicks off new year

The Fort Worth Federation of Temple Youth (FWFTY) kicked off the 2017-18 year with a trip to watch the Texas Rangers play the Houston Astros. In between rain showers, we watched a celebration for Pudge Rodriguez, who was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. His No. 7 jersey was retired.
If your ninth- to 12th-grader is interested in joining FWFTY, please contact Lance Friedensohn at friedensohn@gmail.com.

 

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