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JNF meet-and-greet focuses on changing organization’s image

JNF meet-and-greet focuses on changing organization’s image

Posted on 16 November 2017 by admin

(From left) Carly Bierman, Chantal Itzhakov, Ilene Bierman. Deborah Gaspar, JNF Reception Co-chair Fonda Arbetter and Marcel Solman

(From left) Carly Bierman, Chantal Itzhakov, Ilene Bierman. Deborah Gaspar, JNF Reception Co-chair Fonda Arbetter and Marcel Solman

By Aaron Greenberg
Special to the TJP

DALLAS — What’s your image of the Jewish National Fund? For most Jews, it’s the iconic blue box and raising money to plant trees in Israel.
“Most people think you put money in a tin can for trees, but it is so much more,” said Fonda Arbetter, a JNF supporter who helped host an informational gathering at the home of Fredell and Allan Shulkin on Nov. 2, the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration.
Founded in 1901, JNF played a key role in building the infrastructure and purchasing the land that would become Israel. Yet its North Texas presence has fallen off over the years, leaving mostly memories of blue boxes.
JNF’s local, regional and national leadership is trying to update its image, spread the message of the organization’s current goals and generate excitement and support in the Metroplex.
Current and potential supporters got a chance to meet with and hear from some of those leaders, as well as the Jerusalem Post’s Gil Hoffman. JNF Chief Development Officer Rick Krasnick and Southwest Senior Campaign Executive Chuck Caughey spoke, and Southwest Executive Director Reagan E. Weil was also on hand.
“It is evident this community wants JNF to be active here,” Krasnick said afterward. “At last night’s event, the age of the people spanned from early 40s to 80, and our message of JNF being a big tent for the Jewish people resonated with them.”
Hoffman, the featured speaker, is the chief political correspondent for the Post. While he talked more broadly about Israel and his experiences, he touched on some of the key problems JNF is working to address.
“JNF is Israel beyond the conflict, what’s beautiful about Israel, and that’s why I like speaking for it,” he said. “It highlights the consensus we can be proud of.”
He told a story about how his son wanted to see the country’s biggest playground. It’s an indoor playground — because of rocket fire across the Gaza border — built by JNF in Sderot.
And that’s the part of the country people need to focus on, he said.
“The key to Israel’s future is settling the Negev,” Hoffman said. “If we don’t settle the Negev, we’re in trouble.
“People think that Israel is successful now, but they don’t realize the gap between the haves and have-nots is one of the widest in the world. Those have-nots require immediate assistance.”
The cost of living in the center — the economic hub of the land — is rising fast. Real estate prices in Tel Aviv have surpassed Manhattan, Krasnick said.
As a result, JNF has focused on the Negev and Galilee. Krasnick said this is a chance for younger Jews, who might think the work of building Israel is done, to get involved.
“We have raised more than $461 million from 400,000 donors in just the last four years,” Krasnick said. “Those dollars are supporting our vision to build the Negev and Galilee so all of Israel’s citizens can have the best quality of life for the next 70 years.
“We must create the conditions to support 500,000 Israelis moving to the Negev and 300,000 Israelis to the Galilee. This is the only solution to help the economic climate where the average Israeli, who is tethered to the expensive center, can find a better quality of life to support their families.”
Krasnick mentioned projects like the building of health care facilities and homes for farmers along agricultural corridors, such as the border with Jordan. Many young people have left these communities that provide most of the nation’s exports, but now they are interested in coming back. JNF has increased the housing stock by 30 percent.
JNF’s seven areas of work include community building, water solutions, disabilities and special needs, research and development, education and advocacy, forestry and green innovations, and heritage site preservations.
Arbetter said she saw these in action throughout the land. Although she had gone to Israel three times before, she saw the relationship between the nation and JNF in a new way.
“Jay (her husband) and I took a private tour two years ago, but we saw things with JNF we never could with a private guide. You have to do both to get a good overview,” she said.
“We got to see actual projects that JNF was in charge of. If you are with JNF, Israelis treat you like royalty.”
Arbetter became involved after meeting Alyse Golden Berkley, president of the board for the Los Angeles area, at a wedding.
“She told me what she and her family did in Israel, and I thought that was very cool,” Arbetter said.
When she went on a JNF mission to Israel this year, there were Jews from across the U.S., but she was the only one from Texas. She’s hoping to help spread the message enough so that things change.
Arbetter said Dallas is very involved with AIPAC, Jewish Family Service and the Federation, and she’d like to see the local community embrace JNF the same way.
“What I experienced in Israel, I wanted to share with my friends and acquaintances in Dallas,” she said.
Caughey has been working over the past year to build up interest in the region. He said he sees an opportunity, and cited the organization’s complete focus on Israel, and how 86 cents on every dollar goes directly to the cause.
About 100 people attended, and had a chance to hear about JNF’s work from Arbetter, in addition to the professional speakers.
Krasnick said the format, where people hear speakers and mingle, has given JNF a chance to really tell its story.
He also mentioned that there are programs for high school and college students who want to get involved, as well as those for young professionals.
“JNF is here for the long haul, and we have a long-term vision to connect our friends in the Dallas area to Israel as lifelong partners of the land and people of Israel through Jewish National Fund,” he said.

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Shark Tank star headlines Yes! Event

Posted on 09 November 2017 by admin

Real-estate mogul, self-made millionaire Corcoran guest speaker at Legacy Senior Communities annual event

Submitted report

The Legacy Senior Communities hosted its Yes! Event fundraiser and welcomed reality television star, real estate mogul and self-made millionaire Barbara Corcoran as the guest speaker. Corcoran became one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the country after borrowing $1,000, quitting her job as a waitress and starting a tiny real estate company in New York City. That company grew into a $6 billion dollar real estate business. Today, best known as one of the “Sharks” on ABC’s hit TV show Shark Tank, Corcoran uses her finance and business acumen to invest in start-up companies and guide them to success.
Proceeds from this year’s event benefit The Legacy Senior Communities Financial Assistance Fund, which will provide charitable support to future residents of The Legacy Midtown Park to help supplement the cost of their care and enrich their quality of life. In addition, the fund assists seniors using personal assistance services (which include help with bathing, grooming, dressing, transportation, recovering from illness and transitioning from a hospital stay back home) through The Legacy at Home. The Legacy Senior Communities has provided care to seniors and their families in the Greater Dallas area for more than 60 years. The event committee consisted of Co-chairs Carol Aaron, Dawn Aaron, Sandy Donsky, Linda Garner, Zona Pidgeon, Jody Stein and Karla Steinberg.
“We are a mission-driven organization dedicated to making sure Jewish seniors in Dallas have the care they need and the lifestyle they deserve,” said Melissa Orth, president and CEO of The Legacy Senior Communities. “We are excited about serving seniors in the future at The Legacy Midtown Park, our rental continuing care retirement community under development in Dallas. The generosity of our donors will help us provide charitable care to future residents of our vibrant and state-of-the-art community.”
Marc R. Stanley, chair of the board of trustees of The Legacy Senior Communities, added, “We are committed to developing incredible communities where seniors lead full and dynamic lives and to provide the highest quality of care and services through The Legacy at Home, our Medicare-certified home health agency,” said “We rely on our donors to help us accomplish our mission, and I want to personally thank everyone who has supported us and continues to support us each day.”
This year’s Carmen Miller Michael Award award was presented to Adlene Harrison, the first Jewish and first female mayor of Dallas. It was the third time, The Legacy Senior Communities has presented the award which pays tribute to Carmen Miller Michael, who was dedicated to improving the quality of life for people dealing with the issues of aging, mental health and cognitive challenges. The award was created to pay tribute to a member of the Greater Dallas community who displays the special qualities that Carmen Miller Michael possessed: a pioneering spirit and an unshakeable sense of justice and compassion. Harrison was chosen because she is a fiercely independent individual whose perseverance and dedication to others continues to inspire those around her. Harrison has been an integral component of The Legacy Senior Communities since she became a part of the Friends of Golden Acres auxiliary board, which was responsible for raising money and providing special programs during the 1960s.
“We were thrilled to honor Adlene at our event, and she is a true example of a pioneering spirit,” said Andrea Statman, director of development for The Legacy Senior Communities. “Our organization is focused on positively impacting the lives of seniors, and we are grateful for the longstanding generosity shown by individuals, foundations and businesses in our community. The fundraising efforts from this year’s event will help us extend our services to even more seniors, and we are committed to providing excellence to those we assist.”

 

Legacy sponsors:

Developer $15,000: Carol & Steve Aaron
Broker $10,000: Dawn & Todd Aaron/Tracy & Clay Aaron/Nicole Blue/Angela Aaron Horowitz/Erica & Craig Robins; D2 Architecture; Leo & Rhea Fay Fruhman Foundation; Mr. & Mrs. Harlan Korenvaes; Marsh & McLennan Agency – Kevin and Mahra Pailet/Dan and Stephanie Prescott/Stuart and Myra Prescott/Travis and Mitzi Sartain; Karla & Larry Steinberg; Gilian Baron/Susie Carp/Marion Glazer/Cathy Glick/Lisa Goldberg/Beth Konig/Lisa Lieberman/Elaine Pearlman/Lisa Rudner/Lisa Zale
Agent $5,000: Sandy & Howard Donsky; Linda & David Garner; IMA | Waldman; Beverly & Cary Rossel; Marilyn Rothstein; Wendy and Marc Stanley; David Weinreb; Bonnie & Jeffrey Whitman
Buyer $2,500: Dean Maddelena/StudioSix5; Irma Grossman/Lois Wolf; Raelaine & Paul Radnitz; Kahn Mechanical Contractors; Phyllis & Joe Somer; Sharon Levin; Barbara Stein; Texas Jewish Post; Susan & Steven Wilkofsky
Underwriter $1,000: Lisa Albert/ Tricia Gold, M.B. & Edna Zale Foundation; Jim Beaman/Southwest Bank Mortgage; Frankie & Jerry Michaelson; Janet Beck; Carol & Stuart Morse; BERNBAUM/MAGADINI Architects; Melissa Orth; Candy Brown; Ruthie & Jay Pack; Francis & Julius Coleman; Laurie & Todd Platt; Fran & David Eisenberg; Helaine & Gerald Ray; Michael & Linda Ellentuck; Helen & Frank Risch; Marilyn Fiedelman: Ruthy & Steven Rosenberg; Julie Ray Fields; The Rubin Family Foundation/Julie & Jay Liberman; Dena Klein Frankfurt; Mr. and Mrs. Howard Schultz; Friedman & Feiger, LLP, Laurie Ginsberg/Stephanie Ross, Debbie & Eric Green; Rita Sue & Alan Gold; HBR Technologies/ The Romick Families; Ynette & Jim Hogue, Judy Perl Worldwide Travel; Mindi & Michael Kahn; Carol & Mark Kreditor; Ruth Levy; Liz & Robert Liener; Rhonda & Fraser Marcus; Bobbi Massman/Roz Goldstein; Helene Shalom; Ruthie and Alan Shor; Renee Stanley; Star Companies/The Pidgeon Family; Rhona Streit; The Belaire Group; Iris & Dennis Topletz; Maddy & Mark Unterberg; VITAS Healthcare; Janice Sweet Weinberg; Andrea Weinstein; Gerardo & Helga Weinstein; Donna Arp Weitzman/Dot Haymann; Ethel Zale

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Community shines at J’s be. the Voice

Posted on 09 November 2017 by admin

Submitted report

This past Saturday, the Aaron Family J pulled off yet another night to remember: be. the Voice took place Nov. 4 at The Bomb Factory in Deep Ellum.  The “be.” fundraiser helps to raise money to support year-round J programs and services.
The be. the Voice event featured five group acts — the Heartbreakers, J Zen, Jew Kids on the Block, The Hot Shots and the Rockin’ Rabbis — and a surprise performance from CEO Artie Allen.
The winner of the be. the Voice of the J was the Jew Kids on the Block, benefiting the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education & Tolerance.

 

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Annual barbecue event rousing success

Annual barbecue event rousing success

Posted on 02 November 2017 by admin

‘99 Percent Kosher’ wins chicken, beef, overall reserve titles at kosher championship

Event Chairs Sandy Dorf and Brian Rubenstein with members of 99 Percent Kosher, winners of the Grand Reserve Champions Trophy: from left, Dorf, Ilan Felner, Ralph Landau, Rubenstein, Ajay Patel, Jason Wise and Ellis Shwarts

Event Chairs Sandy Dorf and Brian Rubenstein with members of 99 Percent Kosher, winners of the Grand Reserve Champions Trophy: from left, Dorf, Ilan Felner, Ralph Landau, Rubenstein, Ajay Patel, Jason Wise and Ellis Shwarts

By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP

The team may have been called “99 Percent Kosher,” but they were 100 percent winners at the Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship on Sunday, Oct. 29.
The team consisting of Ilan Fehler, Jason Wise, Ellis Shwarts, Ajay Patel, and Ralph Landau was judged to have the best chicken and beef ribs, while they finished second in the brisket category and third in turkey.
That combination crowned 99 Percent Kosher as the Overall Reserve Champion by the panel of judges.

Event chair Brian Rubenstein is flanked by “Celebrity’s Choice Turkey Winners” Jim Liston, left and Jeff Kort of Meat-Fire-Mishpacha.

Event chair Brian Rubenstein is flanked by “Celebrity’s Choice Turkey Winners” Jim Liston, left and Jeff Kort of Meat-Fire-Mishpacha.

“We were confident in some of the things, but there were a couple where we were surprised they won,” the team members said while celebrating. “Last year it was just two of us; this year it was five of us. So I guess the more of us the better.”
Having five team members made it easier to take the team picture with all their winnings. With four individual categories and the reserve champion plaque, they needed all five team winners to hoist their hardware for official photos.
“It’s exciting,” the group said, while holding their trophies. “We had a great time and being able to head home with this makes it even better.”
Wholesalekosherwines.com, a team based out of New York that wasn’t around for the award ceremony since they had to catch a flight, was the grand champion. That team was chosen as the brisket winner, while it also placed second in turkey and chicken, while claiming third in ribs.
The event was supervised by Dallas Kosher and was sanctioned and officially judged by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, which shared scorecards and comments with each of the teams after the results were announced.
Celebrity judges were Jody Dean, KLUV 98.7 FM morning radio host; Jon Tesar, chef/partner of Knife; Tim Byres, chef/owner of Smoke; Kent Ratbun, chef/owner of Abacus and Jaspers; and Jill Grobowsky Bergus, co-owner of Lockhart Smokehouse.

Dallas Kosher’s Rabbi David Shawel Photos: David Duchin, dspnphotos.com

Dallas Kosher’s Rabbi David Shawel
Photos: David Duchin, dspnphotos.com

The team named Rubbed and Ready won the turkey competition and took third in brisket. E&J Carolina was also on the winners’ stand with second-place finish in ribs and a third-place finish in chicken.
Altogether, the third annual championships were a success.
Steven Weinberger, one of the official judges, said he was impressed by the overall barbecue by all the teams.
“They all did a great job; it was difficult to separate many of the teams,” Weinberger, who is from New York, said. “This was my first time to Texas and the barbecue lived up to expectations; in fact it was even better. I hope to come back again.”
Weinberger also won an award himself as he participated in the pickle eating contest. Contestants had four minutes to eat as many pickles as possible, and Weinberger blew by the competition as he took home the pickle trophy.
“I’m a bit of a pickle aficionado,” he said. “I guess I needed to add a pickle trophy to my collection at home.”
If the food wasn’t enough — and it was — there were other attractions that kept attendees busy. There was a silent auction, local organizations had booths, and there was live music from Counterfeit Radio that kept people tapping their foot throughout the event.
Co-chairs for Sunday’s event were Brian Rubenstein and Sandy Dorf.
“We hope everyone who came out this year will come back next year, and anyone who could not make it this year, be sure to join us next year on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018,” Rubenstein said.

“Rubbed and Ready” Turkey category winners, from left, Hunter Rose, Matt Stiffelman, Dylan Rose, Jared Elad with Event Chair Brian Rubenstein

“Rubbed and Ready” Turkey category winners, from left, Hunter Rose, Matt Stiffelman, Dylan Rose, Jared Elad with Event Chair Brian Rubenstein

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Your tour guide through Genesis

Your tour guide through Genesis

Posted on 26 October 2017 by admin

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By Harriet P. Gross
Special to the TJP

Another Jewish year is unfolding.  We’ve said goodbye to our sukkahs; we’ve danced with our Torahs; we’ve joyously read the final words of Deuteronomy, then rolled the Holy Scroll back to its beginning: “In the beginning…”  The ongoing, everlasting study has begun again.
This would be a perfect time to begin our own personal study, according to Dallasite Nancy Reuben Greenfield, who has drawn a special roadmap for us.  Her third book, Tiptoe Through Genesis, is a unique approach that offers a simple — but far from simplistic — path to understanding Torah.
Greenfield is an eclectic writer.  She’d already published two books before this one: When Mommy Had a Mastectomy passes on the wise way she explained her own cancer to her two young children, while The Golden Medina is a novel that completes an unfinished manuscript left to her by her late father.  She credits the authorship of this one to Reuben and Reuben.
But Tiptoe is very different. For years, Torah has been the author’s chosen field of personal study, her passion and her inspiration. For many of those years, she’s been contributing weekly Torah portion summaries to the website My Jewish Learning (https://www.myjewishlearning.com/author/nancy-reuben-greenfield/). Her first volume in a series planned to “tiptoe” through the entire Torah is now available, but can only be accessed through TiptoeThroughTheTorah.com website.

tiptoe through genesis
Greenfield’s work is not word-for-word translation; rather, it is thoughtful adaptation that she calls “a verbal bridge, lovingly built for crossing over the fence of Torah…high enough to look over, and close enough to look within…” She follows each day’s parasha with a pair of questions designed to spark thoughtful conversation in families or other groups, among participants of all ages.  An example: Her very first text begins “In the beginning of God’s creating the heavens and the earth…Divine Presence hovered over the surface of the waters”; the questions she poses after this encourage exploration of God’s continuing creation(s), and how individuals may “hover” over matters themselves.
Now, as Greenfield prepares for book-by-book publication of the rest of Torah in her special format, the Tiptoe model is showing its worth as a teaching tool.  Susan Herzfeld has been using this approach for three years in Congregation Beth Torah’s Learning Center, and proven its success as an ongoing, yearlong creative project.  Director of Congregational Learning Beri Schwitzer says “We were looking for something exciting and engaging for our third-graders, and were enthralled with Nancy’s easy-to-understand and meaningful text.”
Every Sunday, Herzfeld’s class reads the week’s Torah portion in Greenfield’s simple language (before future appearance in book form, everything after Genesis can be downloaded free from My Jewish Learning) and, after discussion, the students write and illustrate their own interpretations on standard-size sheets of paper. The activity begins when Sunday school resumes each fall, and continues through May.  By that time, all the weekly sheets have been joined together and secured to dowel rollers, and the children have created mantles to cover their own completed Torahs, plus breastplates and finials to decorate them.  Then, during a special service of Consecration, they personally present them to their parents.  This project seamlessly and successfully integrates both art and writing exercises into the yearlong Jewish curriculum.  Herzfeld has become such a fan of Greenfield’s creativity that she calls it “Nancy’s gift to the world!”
Parents can do this at home with their children of any age. Begin with the children’s self-portraits and include a copy of each week’s parasha, using a new blank sheet for each child’s comments and illustrations for the week’s portion. Keep the sheets in order, using strong tape to hold them together. At the end of the year, each child will have a complete Torah of his or her very own.
A practical use has emerged as a surprise benefit:  When Carlie and Justin Ross were discussing her future bat mitzvah with their daughter Sarah, age 10, they first calculated its date, then turned to the Torah she had made to find what her portion would be!
But despite the commandment that every Jew should write a Torah, it’s not necessary to make a complete one to learn what it contains. Study will do that.  The Greenfield household began family Torah study when its children were very small. “My husband Richard and I were grieving the loss of his mother,” she recalls, “and we took comfort and gained insight from reading the beautiful poetry. It’s a joyful thing to do.  The surprisingly simple words have great depth and power. Torah is not mysterious, not beyond us; it’s a book for people of all ages, backgrounds and religions.”
The Greenfield children are long grown now.  Gabrielle, 22, is a student at the University of Maryland; Josh, 25, currently studies at a yeshiva in Israel, preparing to become a rabbi.
Now, as the yearly congregational Torah readings begin anew and religious schools gear up again, Greenfield is hoping that more young families will also try at home the study path she has found personally effective and enriching.  “You can take short passages from the daily Torah texts for group discussion or for personal meditation,” she says.  “The Tiptoe questions are real-life; there are no answers beyond the ones you provide!”
Greenfield’s true goal is “wanting more Jews to explore the richness of Torah in this easy and meaningful way.”  And now, with Simchat Torah behind us, the time is perfect to begin. Start with Genesis using the personalized approach found in her entries on My Jewish Learning, or in her already published book on Genesis (now available through Amazon for $7.99, or as a free Kindle download).

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Dallas Holocaust Museum breaks ground on new facility

Dallas Holocaust Museum breaks ground on new facility

Posted on 12 October 2017 by admin

Aerial Map

By Harriet P. Gross
Special to the TJP

Four-hundred chairs were set up under the huge white tent, soon to be filled by folks who came crowding in an hour or more in advance of the 10 a.m. start time — to have coffee, chat and offer congratulations. The occasion was Tuesday’s dedication ceremony, a celebratory prelude to breaking ground for the forthcoming new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum.
The first rows of seats were reserved for the many who had helped make this longtime dream a soon-to-be reality. Among them were 24 of the Dallas/Fort Worth area’s 53 Holocaust survivors, hidden children, and refugees who had escaped in time from the European Jewish hell of World War II. Those  attending were assigned companions to provide transportation and look after their individual charges. Later, they helped pin on each a small golden circlet centered with a torch, symbolic of hope.
The stated theme of the event was “L’Dor V’Dor – From Generation to Generation.” But, not surprisingly, “Upstander” was the most-used word of the day. In recent years, the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance has popularized it in programming and publicity, stressing the power of those who take action in the face of wrongdoing rather than simply being bystanders — those who watch but do nothing.
Mary Pat Higgins, who as president and CEO has led this major expansion effort, gave a brief history of the institution, which began with a 1977 meeting of survivors. Their desire to honor lost family and friends, and the entire 6 million of Hitler’s victims, led to establishment of the first Holocaust Center. Located in the lower level of the Jewish Community Center, it was later moved to the present quarters on Record Street in downtown Dallas.
This location has provided increased visibility and the broadening of its mission, which Higgins called “the heart of what we do: teaching the past in order to understand the present.” Recent attendance stands at 200,000 visitors annually, with 36,000 students touring and learning from docents and survivor speakers.
Because of this emphasis, young people were heavily featured in the day’s program. “Unlimited,” a Skyline High School vocal ensemble, opened the event with the Hebrew Al Shlosha D’Varim and closed it with a rendition of Journey in Peace, while students from Dallas’ Ann Frank Elementary School, identified by their white and blue shirts, aided the survivors and their mentors.
Sarah Terrace, a teacher at South Grand Prairie High School, told how visits to the museum “help to increase each student’s capacity for understanding and courage for Upstander action, both personally and in the community where they live.” Standing beside her was one of her students, Frances Osato Imarhia, who said “It’s one thing to hear about the Holocaust, but another to see the reality. We keep stories of the survivors in our minds and in our hearts, to stand up – not stand by and do nothing.”
Dallas Mayor Michael Rawlings echoed the importance of retelling those stories and declared that the new facility “will be good for our whole city, building muscle to help us deal with moments of hate.” He drew generous applause as he presented Higgins with a City Council Proclamation declaring Oct. 10, 2017, as Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Day. But even wilder applause awaited Frank Risch, co-chair of the institution’s Building a Foundation of Hope campaign, when he announced that it has not only reached its $61 million goal, but already exceeded it, and is now well on the way to raising additional funds.
“Four years ago, we started a campaign to triple (the museum’s) current capacity,” he said. “Now we’re heading toward $10 million more, for scholarships, programs, educational resources — always to keep on telling the story. We’ve got to tell the story — it’s more important now than ever.” He too emphasized the “Upstander” theme, stating that “Hatred is a learned behavior, and it can be unlearned.”
Board member and major campaign donor Nate Levine, who has recently become a museum docent himself, brought some in the audience to tears and got a standing ovation with a story of Upstanders — three young boys who had opened a boxcar carrying Jews to a death camp, thereby saving 231 lives. And Board Chair Florence Shapiro spoke of growing up with survivor parents who taught her the importance of learning from the past in order to change the future – of being a bridge between the two. “We are all on that bridge,” she said, “from darkness to brightness.”
Such forward-looking hope had been put forth in the day’s Invocation, given by the Most Reverend George Kelly of the Dallas Catholic Diocese. Rabbi David Stern of Temple Emanu-El chose a current holiday metaphor for his closing blessing, likening the day’s big white tent – a fragile, temporary shelter – to the traditional sukkah. After this, he said, “We will build. May our conscience and commitment rise with this new building.”
Two of those who have a most direct involvement with the building-to-be attended the days’s event: Julie Chesledon and Norm Scrivner represented Pacific Studio of Seattle, Washington, where they are now at work designing 22 Holocaust and Human Rights exhibits for the planned Museum as it approaches the start of construction.
Everyone enjoyed a light brunch before leaving that tent, which for this dedication ceremony occupied much of  the former parking lot where the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum will stand. The actual groundbreaking took place after the tent was removed; the new structure is scheduled to open in the summer of 2019.

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Fort Worth mayor visits Israel

Fort Worth mayor visits Israel

Posted on 05 October 2017 by admin

By James Russell
Special to the TJP

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price visited Israel last month as part of a bipartisan delegation of United States mayors coordinated by the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange. The delegation of seven mayors was lead by Mesa, Arizona Mayor John Giles and also included mayors from midsized cities like Syracuse, New York and Knoxville, Tennessee.
The weeklong seminar is designed to enhance relations between the two countries among municipal leaders from the United States and Europe.
While Fort Worth’s mayor and city council positions are nonpartisan, Price is a Republican, having previously served as the Tarrant County tax assessor-collector. She is currently chair of the Mayors Caucus of Community Leaders of America, a nationwide group dedicated to electing Republicans at the local level.

Submitted photo Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price (second from right) stands with other U.S. mayors in Israel through AJC Project Interchange.

Submitted photo
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price (second from right) stands with other U.S. mayors in Israel through AJC Project Interchange.

Israel has historically had the support of both parties, said Daniel Elbaum, the assistant director of AJC, who also accompanied the delegation.
“We (were) honored to host this extraordinary group of leaders at a vital time to visit the state of Israel,” Elbaum said. “Moreover, in this era of increased anti-Semitism both at home and abroad, the visit of these mayors to the Jewish state is a powerful statement of solidarity.”
The agenda included talking with their Israeli counterparts to discuss economic development, technology startups, crime, at-risk youth, education, urban revitalization and city administration. But it also provided insight into larger cultural and social issues, including its diversity and inter-religious cooperation.
Fort Worth already has many strong ties to Israel, and its military in particular. Just last year, the Israel Air Force ordered more than 33 fighter jets from one of the city’s largest employers, Lockheed Martin. They were the first to buy the fighter jet, which has been a decade in the making.
Price is not the only local official to have visited the country. In 2015, a delegation of Hispanic Fort Worth and Tarrant County elected officials visited the country, which Justice of the Peace Sergio De Leon, a Democrat, discussed at this year’s meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington, D.C.
While crisscrossing the country, Price was reminded of what many other Texas politicos have recognized in the past. Texans have a hard time understanding the country’s size, Elbaum said. When former President George W. Bush first visited the country, he joked that the state of Texas has driveways bigger than Israel.
In a statement Price said she still took plenty away from the trip.
“I appreciate the opportunity to participate in the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange trip to Israel. The trip was enlightening and offered unprecedented access into the culture, history and diversity within Israel and the greater Jewish community,” Price said. “I walked away with a better understanding of Israel through meetings with Israeli counterparts, Palestinian, Israeli Arab leaders, and other influential figures across the political and social spectrum.”
Price will discuss her trip at a presentation Monday, Dec. 4, at Congregation Ahavath Sholom. In addition to AJC and Ahavath Sholom, Beth-El Congregation, Chabad of Fort Worth and Tarrant County and the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County are sponsoring the event.

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Harvey floods don’t stop these Houston synagogues

Harvey floods don’t stop these Houston synagogues

Posted on 28 September 2017 by admin

A room in United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston, stripped of its furniture and floors Photo: United Orthodox Synagogues

A room in United Orthodox Synagogues of Houston, stripped of its furniture and floors
Photo: United Orthodox Synagogues

By Ben Sales
JTA

A few weeks ago, Holly Davies was getting ready to homeschool her kids and preparing the family for the High Holidays. When Hurricane Harvey hit, she helped evacuate 150 people from her neighborhood by airboat and shelter nearly 100 people in a local church.
Then came the hard part.
For the past four weeks, Davies has been leading a force of up to 300 volunteers who have mobilized to repair homes and synagogues in and around the heavily Jewish housing development of Willow Meadows. Davies has spent September coordinating teams who are clearing Sheetrock, stripping floors, preventing mold and distributing aid.
Her volunteer operation is headquartered in Beit Rambam, a Sephardic synagogue that was spared flooding, and has helped rehabilitate the homes of about 100 families. But Davies also helped lead the effort to make sure those families had a place to pray when Rosh Hashanah began last Wednesday.
“It’s very important for the community to have their central worship place, to not feel fragmented, not only in their homes but in their community,” she said. “A lot of people are staying with friends or other people in the community.”
As the entire Houston area recovers from Harvey, synagogues face the added difficulty of drying out their buildings days before the holiest and busiest days of the year. Three large synagogues sustained substantial damage from the flood, forcing them to improvise, relocate or make do with whatever floors, books and ritual objects remained intact.
“There was not any part of the synagogue that was immune to the flooding,” said Rabbi Brian Strauss of Beth Yeshurun, a Conservative congregation. “There was water covering the first seven rows of the sanctuary. You couldn’t even see the seats.”
Strauss said his synagogue sustained about $3 million worth of damage. Along with cutting out floors, cabinets and Sheetrock, and disinfecting the building — the basics of flood recovery — the synagogue will have to bury nearly 1,000 holy books that were ruined in the flood. The synagogue will set up a Harvey memorial at the burial space.
United Orthodox Synagogues, another Houston congregation, had up to six feet of flooding in some places and also lost most of its prayer books. Congregation Beth Israel had damage in its sanctuary, mechanical room and offices. No Torah scrolls were damaged at any of the congregations, as they were in high places when the flooding began.
United Orthodox isn’t sure if the building can ever be completely repaired, while Strauss is shooting for his building to be back to normal for the High Holidays — in 2018. In the meantime, the synagogues have found makeshift solutions. United Orthodox’s 300-some families have been praying, meeting and eating in a large social hall that avoided the worst of the water. The synagogue has also had hundreds of new prayer books donated from publishing companies and synagogues outside Houston, including 400 machzors, or High Holidays prayer books.
Beth Yeshurun has been holding bar and bat mitzvah services in a nearby high school auditorium, and otherwise has joined with Brith Shalom, a nearby Conservative synagogue that was not flooded. For the High Holidays, Beth Yeshurun spent Rosh HaShanah and will spend Yom Kippur at Joel Osteen’s Lakewood Church, a Houston megachurch that’s donating its space and support staff. To give the building a Jewish feel, Beth Yeshurun will project photos of its artwork on the church’s walls.
The rabbis have handled their synagogues’ recovery while also dealing with personal crises. Both Gelman and Strauss had flooding in their houses. Gelman, along with a few dozen Jewish families, has moved to an apartment complex near the synagogue that he now calls a “kibbutz.” Other religious families are hosting displaced neighbors who want to stay within walking distance of their synagogues.
“There’s a lot of expenses, there’s the physical upheaval, the emotional upheaval,” Gelman said. “There’s a lot of uncertainty, stress. The human cost of this is really unimaginable and ongoing.”
Houston’s Jewish community has also been buoyed by outside donations. Aside from approximately $9 million raised by federations across North America, Israel pledged $1 million in aid, and the Orthodox Union and Chabad also sent money and volunteers.
Through coordination of Dallas Kosher and financial support from the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, kosher caterers from Dallas — Taste of the World, Simcha Kosher Catering and Texas Kosher BBQ — drove down and took turns making up to 1,000 meals a day. Seasons, a kosher supermarket chain, and Chasdei Lev, a charitable organization in New York, sent trucks of kosher perishable items and dry goods, including clothes.
“Food is getting semi-back to normal,” said Tzivia Weiss, executive director of the Houston Kashruth Association.
Weiss said that while donations are plentiful, people are hesitant to take them because they “want to feel like people that can go to stores and buy their own clothes.”
The flood has also affected what usually troubles rabbis the most ahead of the High Holidays — their sermons. Strauss, who was going to talk about pressures affecting teens and young adults, instead discussed his family’s personal experience during Harvey and how to avoid fixating on material possessions. Gelman talked about the connection between homelessness and repentance, as well as how to respond to the flood while thinking of the future.
Gelman described his Rosh Hashanah sermon on the second day. “Rosh Hashanah is the anniversary of the birthday of the world. We see this as an opportunity for our own rebirth.”

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Event raises awareness of ovarian cancer

Event raises awareness of ovarian cancer

Posted on 20 September 2017 by admin

Group will introduce Friends of Be The Difference Foundation

BTFD FRIENDS gallery owners

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

You can never have too many friends, and friends wanting to make a difference are the best kind. From 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, the Craighead Green Gallery is hosting an evening with special guest Alexa Conomos to celebrate Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

Alexa Conomos

Alexa Conomos

The event will introduce the Friends of the Be The Difference Foundation. The event is free and open to the public.
Event hosts Lisa Hurst, Missy Quintana and Sheryl Yonack are leading the newly formed Friends of Be The Difference Foundation, with a mission to continue to raise awareness and knowledge of ovarian cancer as well as the incredible work the Be The Difference Foundation (BTDF) supports.
Quintana, whose mother Brenda is an 18-year survivor of ovarian cancer, joined the board earlier this year to help the organization reach beyond the cycling and cancer communities who already know of Be The Difference Foundation’s work. “In creating this social event, that is open to the public, we hope to expand the conversation, and drop the stigma and make ‘gynecological cancer’ not a bad set of words that people are scared to talk about,” she said. “Even with my own mother’s history I really didn’t know the risks because people don’t talk. But we need to talk, to learn, and for people to know the symptoms, the issues, and how they can help us help those in the fight.”
“In creating the offshoot ‘Friends’ of our organization, we have the best friends ever and we couldn’t be more excited,” said Julie Shrell, who co-founded BTDF with Jill Bach, the late Helen Gardner and Lynn Lentscher. “Our Wheel to Survive events, which began with one Dallas ride in 2013, have expanded and have allowed us to fund $2 million in donations toward programs dedicated to research toward the cure of ovarian cancer, the fifth leading cause of cancerous deaths.”
Upcoming Wheel to Survive rides this year are in Houston (Oct. 29) and the San Francisco Bay Area (Nov. 12), and in 2018 in Dallas (Feb. 18) and Denver (April 8), with dates to be named later for Austin, Houston, San Francisco and South Florida.
The Sept. 28 event is free, but Teal ($1,000), Gold ($500), and Silver ($250) sponsors also receive membership to Friends of Be The Difference Foundation in addition to recognition in the event invitation and program. Individual membership rights are available with a $100 donation.
Kenneth Craighead is honored to host the first Friends of BTFD event at the gallery which he and Steve Green co-founded in 1992, and in which Helen Gardner expressed her passion for art as a co-owner for five years. “It was such a pleasure and such an amazing journey working at the gallery with Helen,” said Craighead. The gallery, which represents over 40 artists of all mediums, focuses on contemporary paintings, archival pigment prints and sculpture in a myriad of media and styles. Ten percent of any sales during the evening will be donated to the Friends of BTDF. “To have this opportunity to give something back to her, while keeping her mission alive and real, is something amazing and unexpected. We both feel honored and humbled to be a part of this evening.”
Conomos, morning news anchor for WFAA’s News 8 Daybreak, comes to the event with her heart all-in.
Ovarian cancer took the life of her Aunt Anastasia in 2005, and another, her Aunt Shirley, is currently in remission of the disease. Still mourning the recent loss of her father Tasso John Conomos, of pancreatic cancer, she knows firsthand the pain that patients and their families endure.
“The numbers are staggering and this awful disease comes like a thief in the night and takes those we love. As a woman, as one with aunts affected on both sides of my family, it is at the top of my mind,” said Conomos. “What the ladies of the Be The Difference Foundation have done to create opportunities for sharing, caring, learning and teaching is motivating at its greatest. It takes a village and this village is so blessed with the strength behind this organization. For me, becoming a ‘friend’ is an absolute honor and I invite the community to join my new circle of friends.”
The Craighead Green Gallery is located at 1011 Dragon St. in Dallas. For more information about joining the Friends of the Be The Difference Foundation, or the event, email mquintana@bethedifferencefoundation.org or visit bethedifferencefoundation.org/friends. For Wheel to Survive or other BTFD information, visit bethedifferencefoundation.org.

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Congregations, JCC team up for seminar

Congregations, JCC team up for seminar

Posted on 20 September 2017 by admin

Three locations to host curriculum on Jewish values, Israeli conflict

By Aaron Greenberg
Special to the TJP

Six local congregations and the Aaron Family JCC are teaming up to present a 12-week seminar called Engaging Israel: Jewish Values and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Three locations will host the course, designed by the Shalom Hartman Institute, a renowned Israeli educational center.

Kushnick

Kushnick

“This curriculum is not a solutions-based curriculum,” said Rabbi Michael Kushnick. “It does not matter if you are an expert on Israeli history or political dynamics in the state of Israel. This curriculum is going to force us as Jews to think about what values should and do guide the state of Israel and why.”
As such, people with greatly differing views might get a better understanding of each other and engage in civil debate.
“You can ask people of different views to sit together because we’re not trying to solve issues,” he said.

Paley

Paley

“It’s a slower, more frustrating process, but what it uncovers is really powerful,” said Rabbi Andrew Paley. “If people are willing to suspend their desire to fix and spend a little time exploring their own reactions, I think it will be hugely successful.”
Kushnick and Rabbi Elana Zelony will teach at Congregation Anshai Torah on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. beginning Oct. 10, while Rabbis Nancy Kasten and Adam Roffman teach at Temple Emanu-El on Thursdays at 7 p.m. starting Oct. 19. Paley will lead the program at Temple Shalom on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. starting Oct. 22. Each session lasts 90 minutes.
Adat Chaverim, Congregation Beth Torah and Congregation Shearith Israel are also participating, and members of the six congregations and the JCC will pay $36 in tuition, with other participants paying $150. The deadline to enroll is Sept. 26.
The collaboration came about after Rabbi Donniel Hartman, president of the Hartman Institute, came to speak at Temple Emanu-El. He then met with the Rabbinic Association of Greater Dallas. Rachelle Weiss Crane, the director of Israel Engagement and Jewish Learning at the JCC, saw an opportunity for a communitywide effort.
“For some time, I have experienced conversations with students about frustration over the polarization among different members of our community,” Weiss Crane said.
The rabbis embraced the idea of using the Hartman program to open civil conversations. The JCC is helping to coordinate as well as handling applications.
“To do it in conjunction with the rabbis of a number of different synagogues as a consortium was very intriguing,” Weiss Crane said.

Rabbi Kushnick

Rabbi Kushnick

Kushnick also noted the importance of learning across boundaries, especially on major anniversaries of the Balfour Declaration, founding of Israel and Six-Day War.
The curriculum comes from the iEngage series, designed by Hartman as a response to “disenchantment and disinterest toward Israel,” according to its website.
Unit topics explore Jewish narratives of peace, attitudes toward the land from both within and without Israel, justice, self-preservation, compromise and more.
In addition to the texts that will be studied, there are videos featuring Rabbi Hartman and author Yossi Klein Halevi. Students will also have materials to delve into at home.
Scholars from the Hartman Institute are expected to visit at least once this year in conjunction with the seminar.
Some of the rabbis spoke of the difficulties congregants have in reconciling what they hear or see about Israel with their Jewish values.
“As liberal Jews who love Israel and have a relationship with Israel, it’s very worrisome to look at even the demographics of where Israel is going right now and to wonder what the future is for a really pluralistic Jewish homeland where we, if we should decide, or our children decide to live out their Zionist dream,” Rabbi Kasten said.
She believes the course can help Dallas-area Jews to “deepen their connection to Israel and understand how they can support Israel in a way that reflects their Jewish and Zionist values.”
Others talked about the way Jews relate to each other, and how it is often strained when the topic of Israel comes up.
“When it’s a third rail, it’s really hard to maintain the importance of Israel and connection to Israel,” Rabbi Zelony said.
She cited the reaction some groups had to word of J Street’s informational table at the Israel Today symposium held at Temple Shalom.
“That concerns me because these are things we should discuss and not shut out. These are conversations we should be having, and I think disagreement is healthy,” Zelony said.
“I’m a passionate Zionist, and there’s so much tension about Israel that if we can’t talk about it, how can we maintain Zionism?”

Rabbi Adam Roffman

Rabbi Adam Roffman

Rabbi Roffman said most Jews support Israel, “but when we talk about what that support looks like, we disagree.
“When I disagree with someone about what Israel should do, or we’re thinking about how we might come to an end in this conflict, I find always the difference between me and someone else is reflected in our stories. And that’s so important. If you don’t understand the other person’s story, you don’t understand their position. Not just about Israel, but about everything.”
Roffman, who is a rabbi at Conservative Congregation Shearith Israel, will teach with Kasten, who is Reform.
“I love the fact that over the course of the class Nancy and I will disagree,” he said. “And I love that people will see that disagreement and have theirs in a respectful way. That will be an essential part of our experience. I really think that’s going to be wonderful.”
Rabbi Paley has taught Hartman iEngage curricula for the past two years with his congregation, including the Israeli-Palestinian course last year.
“It was an amazing curriculum and discussion we had over several months of learning together,” Paley said. “Having a values-based conversation about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was really interesting and powerful.”
The rabbis expressed hope that there will be future sessions or collaboration on other iEngage programs.
“Ultimately, I think the greater goal is when it comes to issues of concern in the Jewish community, we come together and figure it out,” Paley said.
For those who have not received copies of the application, contact Weiss Crane at rweisscrane@jccdallas.org or Adina Weinberg at aweinberg@jccdallas.org.

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