Archive | Around the Town

Challenges just ‘bumps in the road’ for Taurogs

Challenges just ‘bumps in the road’ for Taurogs

Posted on 12 April 2018 by admin

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

By Hollace Ava Weiner

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

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Kindertransport play launches Yom HaShoah observance

Kindertransport play launches Yom HaShoah observance

Posted on 29 March 2018 by admin

By Amy Sorter

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

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Refusenik family thrives in new Tarrant County life

Refusenik family thrives in new Tarrant County life

Posted on 22 March 2018 by admin

 

By Hollace Weiner

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

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Luskeys inducted into Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame

Luskeys inducted into Texas Cowboy Hall of Fame

Posted on 15 March 2018 by admin

By James Russell
Special to the TJP

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

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Around the Town: Beth Shalom, Israel Gala

Posted on 08 March 2018 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Beth Shalom to welcome
Pelletier at breakfast series

As part of its Brotherhood Breakfast Speaker Series, Congregation Beth Shalom will welcome Aimée Israel-Pelletier at its featured speaker at 9:30 a.m. Sunday, March 25, at the synagogue.
Israel-Pelletier is Professor of French at UT Arlington. An author of books and articles on 19th- and 20th-century French literature, art and film, she has written on the Holocaust through a non-European lens and on issues of identity and politics in postcolonial texts with special focus on the Jews of Arab lands. Israel-Pelletier was born in Cairo. She left Egypt for the United States in 1961. She grew up in New Jersey and calls herself a Jersey girl through-and-through. Her book, On the Mediterranean and the Nile: The Jews of Egypt, published by Indiana University Press, was released this month.
The book examines the lives of Middle Eastern Jews living in Islamic societies in this political and cultural history of the Jews of Egypt. By looking at the work of five Egyptian Jewish writers, Israel-Pelletier confronts issues of identity, exile, language, immigration, Arab nationalism, European colonialism and discourse on the Holocaust. She illustrates that the Jews of Egypt were a fluid community connected by deep roots to the Mediterranean and the Nile. They had an unshakable sense of being Egyptian until the country turned toward the Arab East. With Israel-Pelletier’s deft handling, Jewish Egyptian writing offers an insider’s view in the unique character of Egyptian Jewry and the Jewish presence across the Mediterranean region and North Africa.
The book is available for $30 in paperback and $80 in hardback and can be purchased on Amazon and through Indiana University Press. The cost is the same either way. Bring your copy with you if you wish to have it signed!
A complimentary breakfast will be served at 9:30, with Aimee’s presentation at 10:30. Please RSVP by March 22. Call the CBS office at 817-860-5448 or email Thressa at info@bethshalom.org.

—Submitted by
Stuart Snow

Time to RSVP for
Israel@70 Gala

If you haven’t received it, be sure to check your mailbox for an invitation to a historic event — the Israel @ 70 Gala, a celebration of Israel’s 70th anniversary.
Whether you were born before the establishment of Israel or have lived your entire life knowing that the Jewish homeland exists, whether you have visited Israel or plan to visit, whether you are a Jew or Gentile or if you are a part of Tarrant County’s dynamic Israeli community, everyone will gather at 6 p.m. Sunday, April 22, to celebrate the modern miracle of Israel.
This amazing event is being planned by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth & Tarrant County. The evening will include a sumptuous, authentic Israeli dinner held at the historic Ashton Depot in downtown Fort Worth with music from Goga Denisov and a program honoring the establishment of the Jewish state.
The Israel @ 70 Gala is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth & Tarrant County with financial support from the Foundation of the Jewish Federation, the Dan Danciger/Fort Worth Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation, Harold Gernsbacher, Suzie and Ben Herman, Linda and Jeffrey Hochster, Terri and Rich Hollander, Isadore Garsek Lodge of B’nai B’rith, Rebecca and Stuart Isgur, Diane and Sam Kleinman, Monica O’Desky, Naomi and Mark Rosenfield, Sendara Title and Tarrant County B’nai B’rith Housing.
Expect a phone call from members of the host committee encouraging you to come to the event. It’s been 10 years since the last gala, so answer the call. Host committee members are Julie and Joseph Berman, Michal and Rabbi Andrew Bloom, Jane and Marc Cohen, Adena and Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker, Al Faigin, Phyllis and Robert Fenton, Julie and Red Goldstein, Noreen and Bill Houston, Shoshana and Ben Isgur, Karen Kaplan, Shirry and Teddy Knitel, Ilana and Kurt Knust, Linda and Ebi Lavi, Marcia and Harold Malofsky, Neta and Corey Mandel, Posey and Dale McMillen, Marcy Paul, Beverly and Michael Ross, Cindy and Robert Simon, Cheryl Visosky, and Mimi and Rabbi Brian Zimmerman.
For further info, contact Angie Friedman at 817-569-0892 or a.friedman@tarrantfederation.org.

—Submitted by
Angie Friedman

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Grace Goldman’s daffodils make memories blossom

Grace Goldman’s daffodils make memories blossom

Posted on 01 March 2018 by admin

By Deb Silverthorn

As the next generation blossoms, many are taking it into their own hands to help the world bloom. That’s exactly what Fort Worth Country Day School senior Grace Goldman is doing by planting a daffodil garden.
“We had a butterfly garden in the lower school, and a veteran’s garden in the middle school, and I thought it was time to include the upper school,” said Goldman, who brought The Daffodil Project to her campus.
Am Yisrael Chai, an Atlanta-based nonprofit Holocaust education and awareness organization, developed The Daffodil Project in 2010 by planting 1,800 bulbs. An estimated 465,000 bulbs have been planted throughout the United States, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Germany, Israel and the Netherlands since then.
The program provides the first 250 bulbs at no cost, and the participating organization must plant another 250 within two years. Some plant many times that amount. In addition to empowering Holocaust education, the program, open to schools, congregations and organizations, supports projects helping children suffering humanitarian crises in Darfur, Rwanda and Southern Sudan.
“We chose these daffodils because they’re the shape and color of the Jewish star that was worn by so many Jews who perished, and for those who escaped with their lives,” said Andrea Videlefsky, president of Am Yisrael Chai and founder of The Daffodil Project. “It was a sign meant to designate those who should die, and we’re planting these as a designation of blossoming life and a future for the Jews.
“Daffodils blossom for a short while, just as the lives of the Jewish children were short, but these come back each year and allow us each year to remember those children, and all who died. We hope to plant at least 1.5 million, one for each of those children.”
The Daffodil Project addresses issues of hatred and bigotry that Videlefsky says seemingly can be found everywhere. “We want to create spaces of peace and tolerance, of understanding, against the injustices we see around the world today,” she said. “It’s important for everyone to remember to take a stand — and not stand by.”
Goldman, daughter of Elliot and Heather and sister of Grant, plays field hockey, soccer and golf at Country Day. She will attend Wake Forest University in the fall.
A member of the Link Crew peer mentor program, she is a student ambassador and a member of the art and diversity clubs. She is also involved in many service organizations.
“While the garden was a way to expand on the curriculum and ensure our remembrance of the event, it is also a way for me to honor my great-grandmother’s memory,” said Goldman, who with her father led an assembly for her classmates, explaining her heritage and why the Daffodil Project was so important to her.
Goldman’s great-grandmother Blanche was a survivor of Auschwitz who was sent to a labor camp rather than the death camps. Because her fingers curved outward, she spent her days assembling munitions and her nights knitting for a female SS officer.
“I’m glad Grace found she could relate to this story and that she has made this a project and priority,” said Goldman’s grandmother and Blanche’s daughter, Rachel. “She’s a leader, always initiating goodness.”
Learning of her great-grandmother’s history, Goldman was further inspired when reading Elie Wiesel’s book Night, and then by Wiesel’s courage.
Goldman first proposed her project to her English teachers, suggesting it as a partner to Night, required reading at her school. Important to her was the connection between the reading of the book and her own personal story. She thought her classmates would be further inspired by the personal association.
Goldman connected Am Yisrael Chai with her school’s administration, and then worked with the school’s grounds supervisor to determine an appropriate space and plan forward.
“Grace and her family have always been involved in our school and this deep dedication to her own heritage has benefited us all,” said Eric Lombardi, Fort Worth Country Day head of school. “She made it happen and did so in her wonderfully high-energy way, bringing our school community together with a worldwide effort. We are very proud.”
A commemorative plaque at the site includes Wiesel’s words: “How can a person not be moved by compassion? And above all, how can anyone who remembers remain silent?”
“Daffodils are resilient; they come back every year,” said Goldman. “I hope the memory of those who perished will too.”
For information on planting your own garden, visit daffodilproject.net.

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Around the Town:  Harriette and Arnie Gachman

Around the Town: Harriette and Arnie Gachman

Posted on 22 February 2018 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Fort Worth and Tarrant County have a terrific evening planned March 3, when Harriette and Arnie Gachman will be presented with the Manny and Roz Rosenthal Spirit of Federation Award at the Federation’s Annual Big Event. The entertainment should be fantastic as well with comedian Joel Chasnoff followed by a culinary demonstration by Israeli-born restaurateur Einat Admony. I remember hearing Joel Chasnoff for the first time about 15 years ago. He was the featured entertainer at the American Jewish Press Association’s annual conference. He is funny. And, from what I hear, he’s refined his act over the years and it’s only gotten better. In November he appeared at a sold-out Shearith Israel Sisterhood fundraiser in Dallas and received rave reviews. I can’t think of anyone more deserving of the Manny and Roz Rosenthal Spirit of Federation Award than Harriette and Arnie Gachman They are mensches defined. Read on for more details.
Federation will fete Gachmans at Campaign Big Event, March 3
Do you like to laugh? Do you like to eat delicious food? Of course you do, so make a point of going to Belly Laughs, Comedy that Cooks! At 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 3, come to Beth-El to celebrate the Jewish Federation’s 2018 Annual Campaign Big Event!
Be entertained by Israeli-born restaurateur Einat Admony, the owner of four New York City restaurants who’s won the TV show Chopped! twice, and Texas-born comedian Joel Chasnoff, who served in the Israeli army and wrote a best-selling memoir about it.
During the event, the Federation will honor Harriette and Arnie Gachman with its most prestigious honor, the Manny and Roz Rosenthal Spirit of Federation Award.
On April 7, 2016, with the support of the Rosenthal family the Federation presented the Manny and Roz Rosenthal Spirit of Federation Award for the first time. This award was created to honor the Rosenthal family’s long-standing dedication to the Fort Worth Jewish community’s well-being and its first honorees were Roz Rosenthal and Lou Barnett. Last year, the Federation honored Marcia Kurtz with this prestigious award.
This year, the Jewish Federation honors the steadfast leadership of Arnie and Harriette Gachman.
When asked what receiving this award means to them, Arnie shared, “Our community leaders realized that to sustain Federation is to preserve Jewish values, culture and tzedakah.
“Harriette and I have learned from your past honorees and many other wonderful contributors of past generations the need for Federation. The result is a Federation that touches every Jewish person and many others in Tarrant County every day. Simply, the modern model not only helps Jewish needs around the world; it supports needs in our own community.
“Manny and Roz and all the past recipients guided and mentored us through example and inclusion. We are humbled and loving of those previously recognized. We would never seek a reward or anything self-serving for doing what is a mitzvah. The highest form of giving is giving anonymously, yet years ago these past honorees and leaders explained that it is important that others know that you are a part of community that is counted on to make a difference.”
The Fort Worth Jewish community is indebted to Arnie and Harriette for the leadership that they have given, and continue to give, to its Jewish community.
“We are thrilled to honor them with this special award. Please join us March 3 at Belly Laughs to help us say thank you,” said Bob Goldberg, Federation executive director.
Arnie summed up his and Harriette’s feelings about the future of the Fort Worth and Tarrant County Jewish community, “Our Jewish community’s future is bright, as Tarrant County will grow rapidly. The challenge is what legacy will enrich our children and future generations? What will we do to build that legacy? Our Federation joining with all our synagogues has a plan to make that happen. Progress and results only happen when we are willing to share and commit our time, energy, knowledge and generosity to make a better Jewish community.”
The 2018 Annual Campaign Big Event, Belly Laughs is Saturday, March 3, at 7:30 p.m. at Beth-El Congregation. Tickets are $18 per person. RSVP by calling the Federation office at 817-569-0892 or email Cindy Simon at c.simon@tarrantfederation.org or go online to https://www.tarrantfederation.org/2018-annual-campaign.
Event co-chairs are Federation President Diane Kleinman and Campaign Co-chairs Cheryl Visosky and Robert Simon, who have been working diligently to plan a fabulous evening.

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Ahavath Sholom, FWISD reach agreement

Posted on 15 February 2018 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

As expected, members of Congregation Ahavath Sholom, on Sunday, overwhelmingly approved the sale of its vacant parcel of land, a little more than 6 acres, to the Fort Worth Independent School District. The FWISD Board of Education approved the land purchase at its Tuesday evening meeting on a 5-0 vote even though several members were out sick. The trustees authorized Superintendent Kent Scribner to execute a contract with Ahavath Sholom soon. The land will also need platting approval from the City of Fort Worth.

The land will be used “as the future home of a new elementary school to provide overcrowding relief at nearby Tanglewood Elementary,” a FWISD release said Tuesday.

“From the very beginning, we had hoped to arrive at a fair resolution that is amicable to all parties,” said Scribner. “We are pleased for our children that this agreement provides a path for us to move forward with our design and construction plans.”

The sale price of the property is $6.8 million.

“The synagogue was happy with the school’s offer and the Fort Worth Independent School District did give a fair value,” explained Ahavath Shalom board member Steven Brown, an attorney who spearheaded the negotiations for the synagogue.

Three weeks ago, it looked like the synagogue would move forward with a lucrative deal with 4050 Hulen Partners, which wanted to build an upscale retirement community on the property. However, the interests of what was best for Fort Worth, its children and everyone involved prevailed, Brown said. He reiterated many times that everyone was pleased that Ahavath Sholom and the FWISD were able to come to terms.

“We will all be good neighbors,” Brown explained. “This school is right in the middle of all of the churches. The churches have been there for a long time. So, the setting of the school in the middle of all of the religious organizations is quite unique.”

Co-chairs Rhoda Bernstein and Murray Cohen, Marvin Beleck and Naomi Rosenfield joined Brown on the Focus on the Future Committee that worked on the issue for the past 1½ years.

“It was a real team effort,” Brown said, “And, we finally brought it to fruition.”

Elliott Garsek and Ahavath Shalom Rabbi Andrew Bloom were other key members of the team.

Garsek and his law firm Barlow Garsek & Simon were instrumental to the negotiations, serving as consultants and representing Ahavath Sholom throughout the process, Brown said. Garsek’s roots at the synagogue run deep. He grew up there, and his father, Rabbi Isadore Garsek, served as Ahavath Sholom’s spiritual leader from 1946 to 1979 and as rabbi emeritus until his death in 1985.

Bloom’s involvement with Mayor Betsy Price’s Faith Based Cabinet, Compassionate Fort Worth, Read2Win at Westcliff and the Task Force on Race and Culture, which he co-chairs, also helped.

Bloom’s passion for making Fort Worth a better place for all people and the relationships he’s built across the city demonstrated Ahavath Sholom’s goodwill in action, Brown said.

The rabbi tipped his kippah to Price.

“The mayor was a tremendous help in facilitating the betterment of the synagogue, the school board and the community,” Bloom said. “She saw that partnership and the continuing partnership of the synagogue, city and school board with tremendous vision, and she was willing to see where it would go together. She understood how to make it tremendously beneficial for all of us.”

Bloom said he is looking forward to the synagogue looking inward and assessing where it needs to go from here with the proceeds from the land sale.

“The next steps are for us to send out RFPs and get advice on whether or not it makes sense to renovate or rebuild,” Focus on the Future Committee Co-chair Bernstein said. She explained that there has been a strategic plan in place for the building, with Rebecca and Stuart Isgur chairing that committee.

Though it will have the proceeds from the sale of the land, the synagogue will most likely have to have some kind of capital campaign to raise the balance.

“It’s an exciting time,” Bernstein said. “Hopefully this will be an exciting process that everyone in the congregation can get behind. We do not have time restraints. We to take the time to make it happen and to do it right.”

One person who has wanted some change for the building for many years is Bernstein’s 99-year-old father, Lou Barnett, a past Ahavath Sholom president. Bernstein said that even five or six years ago, her father was talking about the synagogue doing something with its vacant land.

“Dad is one of the very few of his generation who is still with us. He’s been wanting to see this happen and had the vision long before Murray and I started working to make it reality three years ago.”

Bloom said it may have been fortuitous that the timing of the deal coincided with Parashat Shekalim.

“In the Torah this past weekend, we read about the half shekel and how each person complements each other to make it a full shekel,” Bloom said. “The school board, the city and ourselves are all complementing each other, and in the end, it works out for the betterment of everyone.”

 

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Around the Town: New novel, B’nai B’rith

Around the Town: New novel, B’nai B’rith

Posted on 18 January 2018 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Korenman releases new novel

On Dec. 19, author Adam Korenman released his latest novel, When the Skies Fall, the second book in the Gray Wars Saga. The Fort Worth native began working on the series while a student at Paschal High School back in 2001, chipping away at chapters in his free time until he had the foundation for the story arc.

Adam Korenman has recently released his new novel When the Skies Fall, the second book in the Gray Wars Saga.

Adam Korenman has recently released his new novel When the Skies Fall, the second book in the Gray Wars Saga.

In 2015, he self-published his debut novel, When the Stars Fade, and ran a grassroots campaign through the Kindle Direct Publishing service. The success of WTSF garnered the interest of a local publisher in Los Angeles, California Coldblood Books. Now, Adam is signed on for the full six-book run, available wherever books are sold, including Amazon.
The series focuses on a cast of pilots, soldiers, and politicians all struggling to survive amid an intergalactic war. From the explosive battles in space to the nail-biting confrontations on the ground, the war for survival is brutal and endless. It has received praise from both military service-members and the sci-fi community, and was recently called “a veritable all you can eat buffet laid out for readers who hunger for gritty, realistic military science fiction.”
Adam was a captain in the U.S. Army from 2006 to 2017, serving with units from Massachusetts, Oklahoma, Kansas, and Cali-fornia. He now lives in Los Angeles with his wife.
When the Stars Fade and When the Skies Fall are available now.

B’nai B’rith Christmas tradition

For more than 30 years the B’nai B’rith Isadore Garsek Lodge in Fort Worth has served meals and provided gifts for the homeless on Christmas in Fort Worth.
This year over 50 B’nai B’rith members and volunteers from Congregation Beth Israel, Beth-El Congregation and Congregation Ahavath Sholom, along with members of the Christian community, joined together for this special annual event.

Longtime volunteers Dr. Al Faigin and B’nai B’rith Board Member Robert Chicotsky get ready to cook hundreds of eggs for breakfast.

Longtime volunteers Dr. Al Faigin and B’nai B’rith Board Member Robert Chicotsky get ready to cook hundreds of eggs for breakfast.

It’s held every year at Beautiful Feet Ministries in Southeast Fort Worth, a Christian organization that serves the poor and the needy. On Christmas Day the Jewish community takes over and serves a hot breakfast and a hot lunch and distributes toys, clothing and toiletries collected throughout the year.
Each year 100-150 homeless and needy guests have their day brightened when the Tarrant County Jewish community works side-by-side to help those in need.
— Submitted by Jim Stanton

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Around the Town: Studying Torah, art salon

Around the Town: Studying Torah, art salon

Posted on 11 January 2018 by admin

Spencer Weinstein, Denae Chance Rubinson, Sarah Price, Ethan Johnson, Karen Telschow Johnson

Spencer Weinstein, Denae Chance Rubinson, Sarah Price, Ethan Johnson, Karen Telschow Johnson

 Rabbi Bloom (left) and Rabbi Gurevitch

Rabbi Bloom (left) and Rabbi Gurevitch

 (From left) Linda Lavi, Sabrina Beleck, Sarah Lavi, Stephanie Dubinsky

(From left) Linda Lavi, Sabrina Beleck, Sarah Lavi, Stephanie Dubinsky

Sharon Miles, Carla Cowan

Sharon Miles, Carla Cowan

 Talya Galaganov, Marcy Paul, Shari Paul, Lauren Rocha, Rene Rocha

Talya Galaganov, Marcy Paul, Shari Paul, Lauren Rocha, Rene Rocha

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Studying Torah, creating art

More than 40 very creative community members gathered at the Fort Worth Community Arts Center to study Torah and create art Sunday, Jan. 7.
Rabbi Andrew Bloom of Congregation Ahavath Sholom and Rabbi Levi Gurevitch of Chabad of Arlington and Mid-Cities led a Torah study on Parashat Vaera. The themes discussed were about the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart, different ways in which one’s hearts can be blocked or unblocked, and how the plagues can be read not only as physical manifestations of God’s power but as preparation for the Jewish people to leave Egypt.
The art created during the morning included mosaics, paintings, glass art, photography and music. The participants drew heavily on the themes discussed during the study session and created some truly remarkable pieces. A video of the art produced is available on the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County Facebook page.
Special thanks go to Jan Ayers Friedman, Nan Phillips, Gloria Sepp, Marvin Beleck and Sarah Price, all from the Texas Jewish Arts Association, for leading each of the studios and creating the program. Hats off to Stephanie Dubinsky, Marla Owen, and the Fort Worth Community Arts Center for hosting the event. This program was sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth & Tarrant County and the Texas Jewish Arts Association with financial support from the Dan Danciger/Fort Worth Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation.
— Submitted by Angie Friedman

Art salon: Barbara Goldstein

As part of the exhibit of renowned artist Barbara Goldstein’s collection that has been on display at Beth-El Congregation since late fall, the temple will hold an art salon from 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 23, in the boardroom.
As previously reported in this column, Goldstein spent four months in Paris creating 22 paintings. Many of those paintings as well as others have been on display in the boardroom. On Jan. 23, the Goldstein family will share stories of their mother Barbara’s art world and capture the memories of her inspiration and adventures. If you own a Barbara Goldstein art piece, bring it with you and share your story.
Art salons date back to Paris in 1667 as an opportunity for artists, art lovers and others to gather, network and exchange ideas about art. Beth-El began holding its art salon in 2015.
— Submitted by Hollace Weiner

 

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