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Emanu-El commits to affirming LGBQT+ members

Emanu-El commits to affirming LGBQT+ members

Posted on 13 November 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy URJ
Temple Emanu-El won a Belin Award for its Gender Identity Training program. The program is generously supported by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
By Chris Harrison

In 2015, the Union for Reform Judaism adopted the “Resolution on the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People,” a declaration of the Reform community’s commitment to the full equality and inclusion of people of all gender identities and gender expressions. Temple Emanu-El decided to implement this value in its Gender Identity Training program, which won the congregation a 2019 Belin Award.
The Reform Movement’s commitment, along with that of Temple Emanu-El, is based in the Jewish value that we are all created in God’s image, and our different gender identities deserve to be acknowledged, respected, and affirmed in all areas of Jewish life.
“Temple Emanu-El has always been an open, welcoming community, and one of the first synagogues in the south to officiate same-sex marriages,” Rabbi Daniel Utley says. “We felt like we wanted to continue being at the forefront as much as possible.”
In that vein, the focus of Temple Emanu-El’s Gender Identity Training program is twofold.

  1. Training for the synagogue’s leadership, clergy, and school faculty about inclusive language; connecting Jewish values relating to gender and gender identity; and pastoral care for transgender individuals
  2. Offering education for Jewish communal leaders throughout the broader Dallas Jewish community on gender identity; how to better affirm trans and queer-identifying people in the community; and the necessity to continue the conversation around gender identity and allyship training
    The initiative began after a temple staff member attended the URJ Biennial in 2017 and learned about an outreach program to the trans community led by Temple Israel in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. This, in turn, inspired Temple Emanu-El’s Rabbi Dan Utley to do something similar.
    The training took several steps, including both physical changes, staff and clergy training, and parent education courses. After changing the synagogue’s bathroom configurations to have all-gender bathrooms with brand-new signage, Rabbi Utley and program co-leader Erika Purdy-Patrick received a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas to bring in Keshet to facilitate trainings with a wide range of Emanu-El staff.
    Keshet’s trainings covered topics such as the difference between sex and gender; LGBTQ+ terminology; and inclusive language for congregational staff’s phone conversations with members and prospective members.
    The trainings also provided Emanu-El staff with the knowledge to make the congregation’s membership applications more inclusive of all gender identities and expressions, which, Purdy-Patrick says, “sends the signal to people that Emanu-El is ready to welcome them, no matter who they are and what their experience is.”
    Afterward, Purdy-Patrick and Rabbi Utley brought in an Emanu-El community member — a social worker who identifies as transgender — to provide additional gender identity training for clergy and religious school staff and faculty, equipping them to have conversations with children to explore their gender identities. The training also equipped them to have conversations with Temple Emanu-El families, allowing them to engage in conversation.
    This led to parent education courses led by Emanu-El’s youth learning and engagement team and facilitated by a local LGBTQ social worker and therapist.
    “It was really eye opening for the parents,” Purdy-Patrick recalls. “It made us realize that this is an ongoing conversation; it’s something that will continue to happen regularly at Temple Emanu-El because there’s a thirst for it, especially from the parents.”
    Rabbi Utley agrees.
    “This has opened the door to talk about different aspects of individual identity and lived experience that go beyond just LGBTQ+ identities and transcend into the identities and experiences of Jews of Color, conversion students, etc. which has sparked some broader conversations in the community,” Rabbi Utley says. “Temple Emanu-El is a place that always thought of itself as being on the forefront of social justice, equality and inclusion in the community, and this opened the door for us to have more heart-opening conversations about where we’re holding prejudice and don’t realize it.”
    When asked about the impact these trainings have had on the community, Purdy-Patrick shares the story of a transgender teenager who had been involved with the synagogue since preschool.
    “Shortly after his bat mitzvah ceremony, he stopped attending temple activities as he began exploring different gender expressions,” she says. “His mother was nervous about how this might change her relationships within the larger Temple Emanu-El community, and so she withdrew from temple, as well.”
    After learning about the gender identity learning sessions in the synagogue’s monthly newsletter, The Window, the teen’s mother came in to speak with Purdy-Patrick and Utley, which led to her taking the training and re-engaging with the community — along with her son.
    “This act of audacious hospitality led to her son feeling that he could return to temple as the person he truly is — a happy, thriving teenage boy who wants to teach the world more about gender identity,” Purdy-Patrick says.
    Acts like this are only the beginning. Temple Emanu-El has more planned for the future, including follow-up trainings and refresher classes for their early childhood, youth, and general staff and board members, as well as initiatives to empower their LGBTQ+ teens to lead the way to a more diverse, inclusive and equitable community. As for how other congregations can follow Emanu-El’s path, Purdy-Patrick suggests it’s as easy as looking inward:
    “Look at who in your community has these talents and these outsets,” she says. “Do you have clinical therapists or educators who are trained in gender identity or are familiar and knowledgeable about common obstacles faced by the LGBTQ+ community?
    “If so, see if they’re willing to lead a training. There’s a really good chance that you’ve got someone in your congregation who’s waiting to become a lay leader and maybe this is their pathway in.
    “This work takes a lot of small steps and community building, it’s a lot of hands-on education and awareness. I think gender identity work within Reform Judaism is kind of in a pioneering phase to a degree, so there’s a lot of pioneering and experimenting involved, which sometimes can feel scary — but how else will you make progress?”
    This first appeared on the Union of Reform Judaism’s blog,, and is reprinted with permission.

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Dallas Doings: Raskin Family, Levine Volleyball

Dallas Doings: Raskin Family, Levine Volleyball

Posted on 06 November 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Sandy Raskin
Pictured from left, top row, Gus Solis, Sandy Raskin, Philip Raskin, Robbin Raskin Solis, Roman Solis, Michael Solis and Grady Raskin; bottom row, Myles Raskin, Allyson Raskin and Mya Raskin.

Raskin Family will be honored at MS On the Move luncheon Nov. 8

Each year, the MS on the Move luncheon, which will be held Friday, Nov. 8, at the Ritz-Carlton, honors a family and a company “On the Move.” This year Texas Instruments and the Raskin Family are honorees. Read on, for the Raskin family’s story:

Relocating from Pittsburgh to Dallas 49 years ago, Sandy and Philip Raskin found themselves alone without family support locally. The only natural thing to do was to bind together as a family unit with their children Robbin and Grady. This unit has grown and has remained tight over the years, only to become tighter when Robbin was diagnosed with MS in May 2007 at the age of 38. 

Robbin was determined to continue her life as normally as possible as the wife of Michael Solis and mother of Gus and Roman. She continued working her fast-paced, stressful job at Neiman Marcus as a senior art director, traveling several times a year as the location of her shoot dictated and overseeing the lives of her busy family. With the help of monthly infusions of Tysabri, she was able to continue this hectic life for 10 years until the scare of the Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML) virus forced her to switch to Ocrevus, which has kept her on the right path for the past two years. 

Since her initial contact with the MS Society, the MS Walk every spring has been Robbin’s passion, raising thousands of dollars over the years. The passion infected Roman, who raised $4,254 for the 2018 Walk as his bar mitzvah project. He was recognized as the youngest Mission Mover becoming a member of the top fundraiser club. The whole family participates every year with Robbin’s Team SkyRocket including her niece Mya and nephew Myles, no matter the weather, beginning when they were still in strollers. Michael, although he also is committed to Team SkyRocket, raised over $50,000 over the four years that he rode in the MS Bike from Dallas to Fort Worth. Gus, an avid hockey player since he was 4, has been playing select, travel hockey in recent years. He has been deeply affected by the role that Jamie Benn, captain of the Dallas Stars, has played hosting the kick-off event for the annual luncheon for the past four years.

In 2016, Robbin and her father Philip, a professor of medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center specializing in diabetes research and patient care, co-chaired the On the Move Luncheon as a father/daughter duo, bringing tears to many eyes. In 2017 Robbin again co-chaired the Luncheon for the second time.

The year that Robbin was diagnosed was the first year for Dallas to host a luncheon. At that time, it was called the Women on the Move Luncheon and has evolved into the Dallas On the Move Luncheon, which is more inclusive. Robbin’s sister-in-law Allyson served on the committee for the first two years of that luncheon. It proved to be such a success and has become the wonderful event it is today. Sandy has supported every luncheon since 2007 with her financial commitment and by encouraging others to attend and write a check. Robbin’s brother Grady has initiated support from local sport franchises and area businesses.

The Raskin family as a whole is committed to raising the awareness of this dreaded disease and appreciates the strides that research has made because of all your financial support. One day multiple sclerosis will find a cure and even perhaps a prevention. 

Levine sixth graders capture volleyball championship

Mazal tov to Ann & Nate Levine Academy’s sixth-grade girls’ volleyball team, which won the 2019 MAL Volleyball Championship Tuesday, Oct. 29. It was a very exciting game ending in a decisive victory: 25-11 and 25-17. The team, made up of Mia Blum, Sydney Kramen, Tannah Levin, Addison Monfried, Shira Rahamim, Brianna Richardson, Maya Rothstein and Jordan Zimmerman, worked incredibly hard this season and represented Levine Academy to the highest level. They were led by Coaches Shoshana Ambers and Sheryl Ambers.

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Greene Camp, Emanu-El help those hit by tornadoes

Greene Camp, Emanu-El help those hit by tornadoes

Posted on 30 October 2019 by admin

Photo: Submitted by URJ
Participants and staff at a day camp by Greene Family Camp and Temple Emanu-El Youth Learning + Engagement to help families impacted by Dallas tornadoes.

By Kate Bigam Kaput
On Sunday night, Oct. 20, the Dallas/Fort Worth area was hit by severe thunderstorms, including 10 confirmed tornadoes, which devastated parts of Dallas and the surrounding communities and directly impacted members of the Jewish community. On behalf of the Reform Movement, our hearts and prayers go out to all whose homes, neighborhoods, schools, and businesses have been damaged and to all who are displaced.
The staff of our URJ Greene Family Camp (GFC) immediately knew they wanted to mobilize to help affected families by providing child care, parent education and communal gathering opportunities. They partnered with Temple Emanu-El Youth Learning + Engagement to put on a day camp at the synagogue, which was open 9 a.m. through 3 p.m. through Friday, Oct. 25, for children whose schools were closed due to the storm.
“This day camp served some of the families most deeply affected by the tornadoes, allowing parents to meet with insurance agents and begin the process of recovery while we provided a fun, kid-centered place for their children to play and have fun,” says Rabbi Andrew Terkel, director of year-round programs at GFC.
The day camp was a combined effort between the camp and the synagogue, with help from Eli Cohn-Wein, executive chef of the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas (himself an alumnus of the Reform Movement’s camping system) and several GFC summer staff members who stepped in to help.
The program was decided upon and announced late Monday night, Oct. 21, and by the next morning, the initiative was up and running, complete with arts and crafts, music, cooking, sports, obstacle courses and face painting.
Though schools have since reopened, GFC and Temple Emanu-El stand ready to continue to assist those who were displaced or otherwise impacted by the storm. Their staff and programming remain on standby through end-of-day Friday — just in case families still need child care during the day.
The Reform Movement has rallied to aid those impacted by past natural disasters, including Hurricane Harvey. Then, too, Greene Family Camp played a leading role in efforts to help and provide support to those most affected by the storm.
“It’s nice to be able to do what we are best at and be helpful to the community,” Rabbi Terkel says, “and we’re so glad to have such strong synagogue partners like Temple Emanu-El in best serving the Jewish and wider community of Dallas — not just in tough times, but all the time.”
How you can help
If you want to send assistance to those impacted by the recent tornadoes in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, consider sending gift cards to the two local Reform congregations that are gathering donations to be shared with those in their community who are most in need. Here are their requests:

  1. Temple Shalom is collecting gift cards to Target, Lowe’s, Kohl’s and Home Depot.
    Schools to the south of Temple Shalom have been damaged beyond repair (in the Dallas Independent School District), and more than 100 families have been displaced in the synagogue’s neighborhood district, the Richardson ISD.
    The temple has offered its facility space for affected organizations in need of meeting space and made sure members know they can come to the synagogue for electricity and hospitality. The congregation is providing ongoing updates on its website as a means of updating its members about how they can offer donations and provide additional help.
    Donations should be sent to:
    Temple Shalom of Dallas
    c/o Steve Lewis, Executive Director
    6930 Alpha Road
    Dallas, TX 75240-3602
  2. Temple Emanu-El of Dallas is collecting Visa gift cards, as well as gift cards for Corner Bakery and HEB Grocery (which can be purchased online).
    These gift cards will first be distributed to those impacted within the synagogue community, and any unused or unclaimed donations will be distributed to other community partners whose members are in needs. Donations should be sent to:

Temple Emanu-El Dallas
c/o Karen Hoffman
8500 Hillcrest Ave.
Dallas, TX 75225-4204
See more photos from this partnership between URJ Greene Family Camp and Temple Emanu-El on the camp’s Facebook page, then check out GFC’s year-round and summer programming offerings.
Have something to say about this post? Join the conversation in The Tent, the communications and collaboration platform for congregational leaders of the Reform Movement. You can also tweet us or tell us how you feel on Facebook.
Kate Bigam Kaput is the assistant director of messaging and branding for the Union for Reform Judaism and, in this role, serves as a content manager and editor for A prolific essayist and lifestyle blogger, Kate’s writing has been featured in The Washington Post, Esquire, Woman’s Day, Cleveland Magazine,, Jewish Women Archive and more. Kate, who grew up at Temple Beth Shalom in Hudson, Ohio, holds a degree in magazine journalism and lives in Cleveland, Ohio, with her husband.
This article first appeared on and is reprinted with permission.

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Dallas Doings: Bnai Zion, Beth Torah, Wildenthal

Posted on 23 October 2019 by admin

Bnai Zion Annual Gala will honor Lieberman and Staubach

The Bnai Zion Foundation will hold its Annual Texas Gala at 5 p.m., Monday, Nov. 4, at the Westin Galleria. The evening’s honorees are Dr. Zeck Lieberman and Dallas Cowboys legend Roger Staubach. Rabbi Mark Golub, founder of the Jewish Broadcasting Service, will serve as master of ceremonies for the evening. Proceeds from the gala will benefit Bnzai Zion Medical Center.

Zeck Lieberman

Zeck Lieberman, M.D., a native Texan born in Floresville, is a renown oncology surgeon who practiced an unprecedented 55 years at Baylor University Medical Center (BUMC, formerly known as Baylor Hospital) until his retirement in 2013.

He is recognized as one of Baylor’s finest leaders, serving as president of the medical staff, chairman of its medical board, and assistant chief of the department of surgery and chief of surgical oncology at the Sammons Cancer Center. In addition to his very active surgical practice, Dr. Lieberman was the Clinical professor of Surgery at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, President of the Dallas County Unit of the American Cancer Society and the Dallas Society of General Surgeons.

For his many accomplishments, Dr. Lieberman has had a Baylor building named in his honor (the Zelig H. Lieberman Research Building) as well as the JCC’s Lieberman Family Wellness Center. He has received a 50-year lifetime achievement from his alma mater, Tulane University School of Medicine, and was named “Father of the Year” in Dallas-Fort Worth in 2000, for his proud progeny Steve (Lisa), Susan (Michael) and Randy. L’Dor v’Dor, from generation to generation, he brings honor to his children and to his beloved community.

Roger Staubach

Roger T. Staubach, graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1965 with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering. He served four years as a Navy officer, after which he joined the Dallas Cowboys professional football team for a decadelong NFL career, during which he became a football legend. During this time, Staubach also began an illustrious career in real estate.

Before his retirement in July 2018, Roger was executive chairman of JLL Americas, a professional services firm specializing in real estate. With a 2017 global revenue of $7.9 billion, JLL serves clients in 80 countries from more than 1,000 locations worldwide, including 300 corporate offices and a global workforce of 82,000. Before joining forces with JLL, he was executive chairman of The Staubach Company, a market-leading global real estate advisory firm that delivered cost-effective solutions for office, industrial and retail clients.

Staubach served as the chairman of the Host Committee for Super Bowl XLV which was held in North Texas in 2011. He continues to be involved with The Children’s Cancer Fund, the United States Naval Academy Foundation, and numerous other civic, charitable, and professional organizations.

Tickets for the VAAD-supervised dinner and gala are $250 per person. To register visit

Beth Torah to honor Chuck Smith at 45th anniversary celebration

Congregation Beth Torah is celebrating its 45th anniversary on Nov. 2 with a dessert reception, a program reviewing the congregation’s history and the presentation of the Nat Cohen Award to Chuck Smith.

      Smith, a former Beth Torah president who currently serves as gabbai, was an easy choice for the synagogue’s lifetime achievement award, said President Lynda Markowitz. “Chuck has meant so much to Beth Torah in so many ways,” she said. “We wouldn’t be the same without his selfless  hard work, his indefatigable good cheer and, of course, his Hawaiian shirts.”

The celebration starts at 7:30 p.m. at the synagogue. Tickets are $45 per couple or $22.50 for individuals. For more information or to make reservations, call Beth Torah at 972-234-1542.

Wildenthal to be honored at inaugural Ackerman Dinner

The University of Texas at Dallas’ Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies in November will honor Dr. Hobson Wildenthal for his years of service to the Center and the University.

The public is invited to honor Wildenthal at the Ackerman Center Leadership Dinner, which will be held at 5:30 p.m., Nov. 17 at the Davidson-Gundy Alumni Center on the UT Dallas campus.

In his many roles at the University  — interim president, executive vice president and provost— Wildenthal has taken a leading role in supporting the Ackerman Center and its mission to learn from the Holocaust.

“Dr. Wildenthal has demonstrated exceptional leadership and a commitment to promoting the education and increased awareness of the Holocaust and related human-rights issues,” said Dr. Nils Roemer, director of the Ackerman Center and interim dean of the School of Arts and Humanities. “His leadership has inspired multitudes of students and community members to become involved and engaged in ways that echo the mission of the Ackerman Center, that is, ‘teach the past and change the future.’”

The Ackerman Center Leadership Dinner will be hosted by John H. and Elizabeth S. Massey, who Roemer said have been instrumental not only in bringing the event to fruition, but in fostering a climate of remembrance in the greater Dallas-Fort Worth area through their support of the Ackerman Center and The Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance.

The dinner chairs for the event are Beth and Eddie Ackerman, the honorary chairs are Barbara and Burton C. Einspruch, and the board chairman is David B. Ackerman. His father, Edward M. Ackerman, was instrumental in establishing the Ackerman Center and supporting its programs.

James B. Milliken, chancellor of the University of Texas System, will be the featured speaker. Funds raised at the dinner will support the Ackerman Center Endowment that funds the year-round activities of the Center including graduate students’ research and public outreach activities.

For more than three decades, the Ackerman Center has developed an international reputation for the diversity of its academic and outreach programs that enable the center to initiate and promote broadly based study units of the Holocaust, bringing invaluable educational, intellectual, and ethical insights to UT Dallas students as well as to the larger community of the Dallas Metroplex.

“The Center facilitates a historical and moral awareness of what happened when the Third Reich shattered the world of Europe and created shock waves that still exert an impact on contemporary consciousness,” Roemer said.

The program is further enhanced by the generous support for faculty research through the Leah and Paul Lewis Chair in Holocaust Studies, the Hillel A. Feinberg Chair in Holocaust Studies, the Barbara and Stan Rabin Professorship in Holocaust Studies, and the Jacqueline and Michael Wald Professorship in Holocaust Studies.

To participate in the dinner, community members can visit or call 972-883-2100.

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Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation to honor Dr. Michael Weisberg

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation to honor Dr. Michael Weisberg

Posted on 16 October 2019 by admin

Dr. Michael Weisberg

The North Texas/ Oklahoma Chapter of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation will honor Dr. Michael F. Weisberg at its Eighth Annual Dinner: A Night of Champions, 6:30-10 p.m., Friday, Nov. 8, at The Statler Dallas.
Dr. Weisberg is being recognized for his compassion and dedication to improving the quality of life for hundreds of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients for more than 30 years. He will receive the 2019 Physician of the Year Award.
Michael Weisberg is a gastroenterologist and a founding member of Digestive Health Associates of Texas. He has been recognized as a ‘Super-Doctor’ by Texas Monthly and voted to D Magazine’s list of best doctors multiple times. Weisberg has written two medical thrillers, “The Hospitalist” and “In The End.” He is currently working on a historical fiction screenplay. In 2016, Dr. Weisberg gave a TEDxTALK titled “How the Art of Medicine Became a Business in the 21st Century.”
Weisberg has been actively involved with the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation for more than 15 years through his service on the North Texas Chapter Medical Advisory Committee. He has participated in multiple fundraising programs, including founding the Chapter’s Annual Dinner and the Parents’ Chat program with his wife Sheryl. His personal contributions and history of service have helped accelerate The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s vision of a future free from IBD and have made a lasting improvement in patients’ lives.
The evening will include a cocktail reception, live auction, dinner, champions’ award ceremony and more at the modern Statler Hotel in downtown Dallas.
Please visit to purchase tickets starting at $250 per person. For more information contact the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation at 972-386-0607 or

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Dallas Doings: Schlinger Ethics, Mah Jongg

Posted on 10 October 2019 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Schlinger Ethics Symposium will focus on ethical eating’

Dr. Jonathan Crane of Emory University’s Murray Center for Ethics will explore the realm of ethical food choices and Jewish thought as part of Sukkot week at Temple Emanu-el at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 16.
The lecture, entitled “Enough Already! Ethics, Eating and You,” is presented by the Henry D. Schlinger Ethics Symposium. In its 31st year, the symposium strives to present complex and compelling ethics to the entire community. Schlinger, of blessed memory, was a former president of Temple Emanu-El known for his personal integrity and outstanding service to the congregation and community.
The scheduling of Dr. Crane’s visit during Sukkot was intentional in this season where we celebrate the bounty of the harvest, Temple Emanu-El leaders said.
“The broad scope goes far beyond what we eat to include how our food is grown, distributed and sold and what ethical components are involved in the choices we make about our food,” said Ladd Hirsch, lecture chair and a member of the Temple Emanu-El board of trustees.
“Audience members will be challenged to give more thought to things about food they may take for granted or which were not a priority because the choices that we are making about food have wide-ranging consequences for our environment, our economy and our fellow citizens,” he said.
Rachelle Weiss Crane, a Temple vice president overseeing the Adult Learning Council, said that Dr. Crane will address the question, “How can we eat well for ourselves and society, the environment and economy?” Strategies informed by science and supported by philosophy and religion will be explored.
Dr. Crane has written and lectured extensively on ethics at Emory University. His book, “Eating Ethically,” uses religious texts to understand the nature of eating.
— Written by
Avery Cooper

Esther Cohen Mah Jongg tournament at Beth Torah

If the tinkle of the tiles is your happy sound, mark Sunday, Nov. 10. That’s when Congregation Beth Torah offers you a day of fun and fast-paced competition.
The synagogue’s Sisterhood’s inaugural Esther Cohen Mah Jongg Tournament honors the memory of the beloved Past President who was also its first Torah Fund Awardee. Long before her passing, Esther had been discussing this possibility with daughter Robyn Rose, who is now – a quarter of a century later — Sisterhood’s president and a Torah Fund honoree herself.
Rhonda Duchin is in charge of the tournament, which will follow all National Mah Jongg League instructions and point scoring rules. Dallas Jewish Funerals is primary sponsor for the event. Check-in will be at 9:30 a.m., with play to begin at 10 a.m. and conclude at 4 p.m. There will be an early breakfast, a lunch break, snacks available throughout the day, and prizes for winners. The $40 entry fee is all-inclusive.
Seating assignments will be random for the first of the event’s four rounds of four games each, with instructions given for movement from table to table during subsequent rounds. Twenty tables of four players are anticipated. Individual player scorecards will be turned in after each round, and Ben and Jerry’s ice cream will be available while data is tabulated and awards announced. These will include hotel stays and gift certificates from various restaurants and merchants.
Tournament planning began early in the year, with the first formal announcement in April. Registration began in May and will end Oct. 27. To register online, go to; For additional information, email or call Rhonda Duchin, 214-629-1868. Congregation Beth Torah is located at 720 W. Lookout Drive, Richardson.
— Submitted by
Congregation Beth Torah.

Press Notes: Texas authors

•Join Dallas author and Gastroenterologist Michael Weisberg, M.D. as he reflects on his 28-plus years of practicing medicine in Plano and the journey of writing two medical novels, including his newly released “in the End.” This complimentary book discussion will be held at 7 p.m.,Friday, Oct. 11, at Barnes & Noble Kitchen – Legacy West located at 7700 Windrose Ave. , Plano 75024.
•Interabang Books will host Houston attorney and author Marc Grossberg at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 15. Grossberg is the author of “The Best People,” a legal drama and social satire set in Houston about the clashes between old money and new; about Texas-sized Ponzi schemes; and judicial corruption. It’s also a cautionary tale for anyone who thinks power, money, and a winning outcome justifies unethical means. Interabang Books is located at 10720 Preston Road (at Royal Lane), Suite 1009B.

Congregation Beth Torah.
Press Notes: Texas authors
•Join Dallas author and Gastroenterologist Michael Weisberg, M.D. as he reflects on his 28-plus years of practicing medicine in Plano and the journey of writing two medical novels, including his newly released “in the End.” This complimentary book discussion will be held at 7 p.m.,Friday, Oct. 11, at Barnes & Noble Kitchen – Legacy West located at 7700 Windrose Ave. , Plano 75024.
•Interabang Books will host Houston attorney and author Marc Grossberg at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 15. Grossberg is the author of “The Best People,” a legal drama and social satire set in Houston about the clashes between old money and new; about Texas-sized Ponzi schemes; and judicial corruption. It’s also a cautionary tale for anyone who thinks power, money, and a winning outcome justifies unethical means. Interabang Books is located at 10720 Preston Road (at Royal Lane), Suite 1009B.

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Kam, Ruttenberg learn inclusiveness on special trip

Kam, Ruttenberg learn inclusiveness on special trip

Posted on 25 September 2019 by admin

Photo: Submitted by Tova Kam
“Leave a space open for someone who doesn’t have a seat, have conversations with people you might not,” said 2019 Yachad Yad b’Yad traveler Tova Kam, left, with Shira Ruttenberg making pretzels at the Pat BaMelach artisan bakery in Gush Etzion. “Joy rubs off and it’s good.”

Dallas’ Yachad is represented in Israel at Yad b’Yad

By Deb Silverthorn
It was bashert that Tova Kam and Shira Ruttenberg met in the Akiba Academy preschool class with teachers Miriam Geller and Terri Rohan. Bashert — meaning “meant to be” — seems to follow these two, now juniors in high school at Mesorah High School for Girls and Fusion Academy respectively, as they unintentionally connected on the same Yachad Yad b’Yad summer trip to Israel. Yachad Yad b’Yad, according to its website, is a summer experience that brings teens with and without disabilities together for a five-week travel adventure across Israel.
“Yachad is the most caring group with a purpose of connection and inclusion,” Kam said. “When I heard about the trip to Israel, I knew it was with the kind of people I wanted to be around. It makes sense that Shira [Ruttenberg] was there because that’s who she is too.”
Kam and Ruttenberg had both been to Israel with their families, but Yad b’Yad’s itinerary proved out of the box. Nearly 100 participants built rafts and raced on the Kineret, visited citizens at the Lebanese border, met IDF soldiers, volunteered in an absorption center, met a scribe, climbed mountains and toured a chocolate factory.
“We’re thrilled that Tova [Kam] and Shira [Ruttenberg] joined the ranks of those who’ve represented Dallas in Israel at leadership programs and as a part of Dallas’ wonderful chapter,” said Avromie Adler, international director of Yachad, the National Jewish Council for Disabilities. “Our mission is inclusion in all aspects of Jewish life and our partnership with Dallas’ community helps meet that.”
Kam and Ruttenberg toured, volunteered, and studied. Every activity was programmed to allow inclusiveness and participation by all.
“Everyone belongs,” Ruttenberg said. “It doesn’t matter if we look or act the same. That’s the key to Yachad and it’s how I live so I respect the organization. I had the best summer and to do so much, through the perspective of everyone, is something I’ll never forget.”
In just five weeks, beginning with four days of leadership sensitivity training, the best souvenir they brought home will last a lifetime.
“One person had severe anxiety about noise and even the joyfulness of davening and Shabbat was too much,” Kam said. “I watched what it took for them to be comfortable.
“Someone in a wheelchair rode the zipline — in a wheelchair. People don’t always think about how to bring everyone into our activities but as long as we are looking to do things that can be inclusive, and make others feel comfortable, we’ll always find a way.”
The Dallas Yachad chapter — through challah bakes and game nights, dining club events, Shabbatons and holiday programming — gives individuals living with special needs the chance to develop vital social skills and friendships. The Dallas Yachad chapter will host a Sukkot Drum Circle at 10:30 a.m. Oct. 20 at Congregation Shaare Tefilla.
“Shira and Tova have an even more enhanced appreciation of finding ways of including everyone,” Dallas Yachad Director Rohan said. “It’s about seeing what others can do, not what they can’t. It’s everyone participating — not ‘volunteers’ and ‘others,’ but about a community always appreciating each person’s gifts.”
It’s the small acts of kindness that both Kam and Ruttenberg take into every day.
“Leave a space open for someone who doesn’t have a seat, have conversations with people you might not,” Kam said. “Joy rubs off and it’s good.”
For information on Dallas Yachad events and membership, email For details about Yad b’Yad, visit

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Dallas Jewish Funerals hires Scott Bennett

Posted on 18 September 2019 by admin

Bennett takes on the role of pre-planning advisor

Dallas resident Scott Bennett has joined Dallas Jewish Funerals as pre-planning advisor. As part of his role, Bennett will meet with families and individuals to focus on pre-planning requirements and needs. “It’s the smart thing to do,” he said. “Smart financially, and a great gift of love to our children, who will sincerely appreciate not having to worry about funeral arrangements and financing when it’s time to go.”

Bennett’s previous job experience included chief marketing officer for the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, Georgia, as well as advertising, marketing and sales executive involved with national and international brands including Anheuser-Busch, Kraft, British Aerospace and Verizon.

Raised in Dallas from the early 1960s, Bennett celebrated his bar mitzvah at Temple Shalom, attended Richardson High School, and graduated from the University of Texas-Austin with a bachelor’s degree in advertising. 

He went to work for the ACS in 2007 because a decade earlier, his then 6-year-old daughter, Ana, had been diagnosed with a rare and life-threatening form of leukemia, acute myeloid leukemia. 

“I remember my wife and I thanking the doctors and nurses daily for all they did for our daughter, and our family,” Bennett said. “Each night I would say a quiet prayer asking God for our daughter’s recovery and to send thanks to the anonymous research lab scientists who developed the experimental drug protocol that was being used to treat our daughter.” Shortly after joining the American Cancer Society, Bennett met Dr. Jerry Yates, the head of cancer research at the Society. Soon to retire, Bennett asked Yates to share his crowning career achievement. “Without blinking an eye, he said he led the team that developed the first successful experimental protocol to successfully treat acute myeloid leukemia. With tears in my eyes I thanked him for saving my daughter’s life,” Bennett recalled.

Bennett and his family (including wife, Cristy, and son, Sam) returned to Dallas in 2013 to be closer to family. Daughter Ana is in Indiana and his other son, Evan, resides in Atlanta. Shortly after arriving in Dallas, Bennett ended up looking after his father’s affairs and ongoing care when his mother suddenly passed away. “With the help of many including my wife, my sister, Stacy Horowitz, and my brother Gary, we dove in to help my father. We had to deal immediately with his living arrangements, care and financial situation,” Bennett said. In the process Bennett met with quite a few people in estate planning, including Zane Belayea, owner and chief operating officer with Dallas Jewish Funerals. 

“I met Zane at a networking event when I returned to Dallas,” Bennett said. “Zane later helped me, and my family pre-arrange our father’s funeral. About three years later, my father passed away. The funeral service was perfect. The rabbi was excellent. Everything was planned in advance, so when my father passed, our family could focus on grieving and not having to worry about funeral arrangements and financing. I found so much comfort in the process that I referred other families to Zane.”

Belayea eventually recruited Scott to join him and focus on pre-planning in the Jewish community. According to Belayea, Bennett “enjoys engaging families and has a sincere, transparent way of helping people navigate through a process that some of us have a difficult time confronting.

“I remember Scott’s initial reaction when I approached him about working in the business, said Belayea. “He said he could hear his mother’s voice, proudly saying, ‘My son, the funeral director!’”

Bennett is passionate about funeral pre-arrangement. “It’s a smart thing to do,” he said. “Smart financially, and a great gift of love to our children, who will sincerely appreciate not having to worry about funeral arrangements and financing when it’s our time to go.”

In his free time, Bennett enjoys golf and photography. He’s also the founder of My Home My Life, a nonprofit dedicated to meeting the housing and social needs of adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

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Southwest Jewish Congress gala celebrates 10 years

Posted on 13 September 2019 by admin

The event features honors and speaker Gloria Campos

The Southwest Jewish Congress will present its annual Texas Sized Event, a gala filled with honors, accolades and inspiring speeches. The event, which will commemorate the SWJC’s 10th anniversary, will take place beginning at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 19, at Eddie Deen’s Ranch, 944 S. Lamar in Dallas.
Along with drinks, dinner and schmoozing, the event will feature keynote speaker Gloria Campos, retired news anchor from WFAA-TV, Channel 8. Also on hand will be co-emcees Sylvia Komatsu, chief content officer with KERA and KTX, and WFAA-TV meteorologist Greg Fields.
The Texas Sized Event will also applaud the following:
Audrey Kaplan Inspiring Women Honorees
• Anh Vo
(Lifetime Achievement)
• Debbie Dennis
• Barbara Glazer
• Mary Evans Sias, Ph.D.
• Courtney Underwood
• Marsha Williamson
Future Inspiring Women
• Esha Kothapalli
• Aakilah McCoy
Stan Golden Men of Action
• Eddie Deen
(Lifetime Achievement)
• Giles Davidson
• Trini Garza
• Stan Levenson
• Tevar Watson
• Paul Zoltan
Future Men of Action
• Zach Bernstein
• Matthew A. Johnson

Tickets for the event begin at $75 per person ($45 for students). All levels of sponsorship are also available.
The SWJC is dedicated to promoting diversity through quality educational programs and events that support human rights and the U.S. Constitution. The organization’s goals also include preservation of Jewish culture and history, promoting Israel and its role in the world, and honoring individuals who have contributed to the advancement of our society, culture and lives.
For more information about the SWJC and its Texas Sized Event, visit, email or call 214-361-0018.

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Dallas Doings: JWV, Tiferet Israel, Temple Shalom

Posted on 12 September 2019 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Sandra Cantor named national president of JWV Ladies Auxiliary

Dallas native Sandra Cantor, a career Jewish educator and longtime supporter of veterans, was honored to be sworn in as national president of the Ladies Auxiliary of Jewish War Veterans of the USA. The Aug. 21 ceremony was conducted during JWV’s 124th annual convention, held this year in Richmond, Virginia. Sandra has been an active participant in the local Dr. Harvey J. Bloom Post 256 Auxiliary as well as the national organization and has steadily progressed through the leadership ranks of both. She, with husband Allan, a Navy veteran, will spend much of the one-year term traveling the country promoting JWVA and veteran’s causes. Mazal Tov, Sandra!

Tiferet Israel Sisterhood welcomes guests to opening meeting

Tiferet Israel Sisterhood invites the community to come laugh and learn with Dallas Morning News columnist Dave Lieber, who will amuse the audience with stories of a Yankee’s adjusting to a new life in Texas. Lieber will share myriad consumer advocate tips as he tells how he solves Texans’ consumer problems.
The program is at 10 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 15, at Tiferet Israel. A light dairy brunch will be served. No charge to attend. Reservations requested. RSVP to Jennifer at

Temple Shalom to host charity golf tourney

Temple Shalom announced they will partner with Gary Sinise Foundation’s Snowball Express program to hold its 18th Annual Fore the Kids Golf Tournament, a fundraiser to benefit fallen American heroes and their families as well as Temple Shalom Youth Programs. The charity event will take place Monday, Sept. 23, at the Clubs of Prestonwood–The Creek, 15909 Preston Road in Dallas. This is the 18th charity event held annually that benefits not-for-profits. It has cumulatively raised more than $550,000.
The tournament is now open for registration online at The entry fee for the golf tournament is $175 for an individual player and includes the entire day’s festivities, lunch and dinner. The tournament will take place on the picturesque Clubs of Prestonwood–The Creek, which boasts an outstanding clubhouse and a course that includes 18 exceptionally managed holes on 419 Bermuda Tiff Fairways and Penncross Bentgrass Greens.
At press time, the event is underwritten and sponsored by numerous organizations and individuals that should be recognized for their contribution to the event:

Event Underwriters
Golf Cart Underwriter: Dallas Jewish Funerals
Lunch Underwriter: Texas Jewish Post
Golf Ball Underwriter: Joe Funk Construction
Hole-in-One Underwriter: Barry & Paddy Epstein
Event Sponsor: Raelaine & Paul Radnitz
Birdie Sponsors: Amundi Pioneer Funds, Frost Bank, The MarketBurst Group, Munn & Morris Financial Advisors,, VAR Staffing
Par Sponsors: Stromberg Stock, Herrada Printing, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Kenny’s Restaurant Group, Invesco Global Asset Management
Tee Box Sponsors: Eaton Vance, Atlas Plumbing, Delaware Funds, Dorothy Garsson
First Responders/Heroes Sponsors: AMG Funds, ATA Sales, New York Life/MainStay, Prudential Funds, Temple Shalom Sisterhood, Temple Shalom Brotherhood
For more information about Fore the Kids Charity Golf Tournament, being a sponsor, or to register as a golfer, visit

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