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JFS honors CEO during April event

JFS honors CEO during April event

Posted on 20 April 2017 by admin

Comedian Maniscalco to perform; Fleisher to receive award


Photo: Courtesy Michael Fleisher & Jewish Family Service, Greater Dallas The Fleisher Family; Ben, Johanna, Rebecca, Martha and Michael have been a team in their respect and commitment to JFS for almost a quarter of a century.  “I could never have done my job without the love and support of my family,” Michael said.  “They deserve so much for their support and encouragement and they are the reason for my success and for so much of the greatness that comes to those we serve.”

Photo: Courtesy Michael Fleisher & Jewish Family Service, Greater Dallas
The Fleisher Family; Ben, Johanna, Rebecca, Martha and Michael have been a team in their respect and commitment to JFS for almost a quarter of a century. “I could never have done my job without the love and support of my family,” Michael said. “They deserve so much for their support and encouragement and they are the reason for my success and for so much of the greatness that comes to those we serve.”

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

The Jewish Family Service will present a majestic evening of laughter and love to honor CEO Michael Fleisher on Thursday, April 27.
Comedian Sebastian Maniscalco will entertain, with doors opening at 6:30 p.m. The event is open to the public, with a VIP sponsor dessert reception after the show.
“With its roots in the Jewish community and with Jewish Federation as its most valued partner, Jewish Family Service has and always will bring together the Jewish people in our community,” said Gilian Baron who is co-chairing the event with her husband Steve, Fonda and Jay Arbetter, Beth and Larry Konig, Melissa and Bart Plaskoff, and Paige and Marc Sachs.

“My role here has always been exciting and challenging and it would never be a good time to leave,” says Michael Fleisher, who will be honored April 27 at JFS’ Just For Show at the Majestic Theatre.  “My heart will always be with the people of every aspect of the organization.”

“My role here has always been exciting and challenging and it would never be a good time to leave,” says Michael Fleisher, who will be honored April 27 at JFS’ Just For Show at the Majestic Theatre. “My heart will always be with the people of every aspect of the organization.”

“We’re thrilled to present this magnificent night to honor both JFS, a source of help and a means by which we provide help to others for more than 66 years, and our dear Michael, the face and brilliant conductor of that work for 24 of those. He is an amazing man who has bettered tens of thousands of lives through his dedication, so deserving of gratitude and praise. He will be missed!”
The Just For Show event provides an opportunity to celebrate the work of JFS and the people that make it happen with Maniscalco, whose comic views on life connect with all ages, providing the entertainment. The sellout comedian at comedy clubs throughout the country, and also a popular choice for large corporate events, was named the 2016 Just For Laughs Comedian of the Year and was included on People magazine’s fall 2016 Ones To Watch list.
With an outstanding reputation in the broader Dallas community, both within the agency and its extensive donor and volunteer bases, and in the diverse groups of people it serves, JFS brings together people of all backgrounds, faiths, races, ages and religions.
“Just For Show is a night for our community to support and celebrate that mission, and Michael’s invaluable role in fulfilling it,” Baron said. “The deep commitment of all these people to helping others in need is a true inspiration and we hope the Just For Show event gives others the chance to learn more about JFS, have fun together, and share in that feeling of making a difference.”
At the heart of JFS is the work of the Jewish tenet of tikun olam, repairing the world.  There isn’t a piece of paper, a stroke of a pen, a phone call, or a decision made by Fleisher during his tenure that hasn’t resulted in the betterment of someone, or many people’s lives.  Leading the organization that provides wrap-around social and mental health services to those in need regardless of race, religion, ethnicity or ability to pay, Fleisher has done so with his whole heart.
“The cornerstone of how we operate, the great specialization and expansion of how we serve our community, as a distinguished agency and the continuum of comprehensive care we provide in one place, is something I could not be more proud of,” said Fleisher. “People come to us with multiple concerns and here, they are able to be serviced by so many incredible professionals and supported by a wealth of volunteers — from ages 2-102, who together form a team that can’t be beat. We are a nationally accredited organization with constant growth and that is what has, does, and will always make JFS a place where anyone — almost 11,000 lives touched each year — can come to get quality care.”
Born in Waterbury, Connecticut, the son of Bernice and Daniel and brother of Cary and Lisa, Fleisher is a graduate of the University of Vermont and Case Western Reserve School of Applied Social Sciences. He started his career as a social worker in a psychiatric hospital and then at the JFS in Cleveland, Ohio. He met his wife Martha, now an attorney at Southern Methodist University — first at a picnic, he remembers the bright yellow helmet — it took the two awhile to connect. That “while,” turned into over 30 years of marriage and produced a family of service-mindedness by children Ben, Johanna and Rebecca.

Michael Fleisher at the start of his 24 year career at JFS Greater Dallas, was intent on making a difference.

Michael Fleisher at the start of his 24 year career at JFS Greater Dallas, was intent on making a difference.

“A major factor in our moving to Dallas, my 23-year tenure at JFS, and all the developments that have taken place, is Martha’s belief in the mission of JFS and the importance of family, her dedication to, support of and caring for her children, our parents and me,” said Fleisher — also calling his beloved the more “always the more quickly perceptive of the two of us.  Her committed work ethic, and her high social and moral values that permeate everything she does, are qualities that can be traced to and found in everything that has been our Dallas experience, including and especially JFS. It cannot be appreciated enough.”
Fleisher insists JFS’ future holds great opportunity to grow and develop current services and introduce new areas of concern.
“JFS continues to be an exciting place as we partner with health care, religious, education and other centers,” he said. “My role here has always been exciting and challenging and it would never be a good time to leave, and it’s difficult to think about doing so. My heart will always be with the people of every aspect of the organization.”
For Ethel Zale, an honorary co-chair with Linda and Dave Garner, who have worked with Michael since his association, it is a bittersweet bid adieu, albeit a professional one.
“Michael greatly inspired me over 20 years ago when we first worked together on the design of the JFS building at (the intersection of) Montfort and Arapaho (roads),” she said, noting no project — or aspect of JFS — has ever been too small or too trivial for his full touch and commitment.
“I learned of the enormous work that JFS does and I wanted to be involved with this great organization and this wonderful leader,” Zale said. “We all wish Michael health and happiness and fulfillment in the future and, while he has been the heart and driving force of JFS and we will miss his devotion and part in every endeavor, he has left a strong foundation and JFS will continue its success in all its causes.”
Cost for the evening include a drink ticket and kosher snacks for $150. There are a limited number of young adult seats available at $75.
For more information, visit jfsjustforshow.org.

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Celebrating a century

Celebrating a century

Posted on 13 April 2017 by admin

 Irma Freudenreich, who celebrated her 100th birthday April 7, is the oldest Holocaust survivor in the DFW area.

Irma Freudenreich, who celebrated her 100th birthday April 7, is the oldest Holocaust survivor in the DFW area.

Dallas’ oldest Holocaust survivor ‘had guts’ to make it to 100 years old

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

If there are three words that could sum up Irma Freudenreich’s last century, it may  be “I had guts.”

 Irma, her daughter Anita Anita’s dog Magee

Irma, her daughter Anita Anita’s dog Magee

That was a phrase the newly minted centenarian repeated frequently in a conversation with the TJP a few days before her birthday. She turned 100 April 7 and celebrated with family and friends at an open house at her Preston Hollow home.
Irma explained that she was the youngest of six children born in Lobsens, Germany, now part of Poland, to Frieda and Abraham Herzfeld. Her father worked in a brick factory. As the situation in Germany worsened for the Jews, Irma, her sister Ruth and one of her brothers moved to Lodz in 1939. Irma got word that her  mother wanted her help and she should return to Lobsen.
When she arrived she learned that both her parents had been murdered by Nazis in the woods near their home.
Irma returned to the family home and rescued family heirlooms and silver. She hid below the seats of a train. After four weeks of varied travel she returned to Lodz. During part of that travel, she jumped from a train before it pulled into the station to avoid discovery. “I don’t know how I did that,” she told the TJP, “…but I had guts.”
By December, the Jews were confined to the ghetto in Lodz. Irma and her sister lived in the ghetto for four years. There, Irma met Izy whom she would marry after the war. In October 1944, Irma, her sister, Izy and his  parents were forced onto a cattle car and taken to Auschwitz.

Ursuline students crafted this thank you sign.

Ursuline students crafted this thank you sign.

When they arrived at Auschwitz, Irma said that there was no room for them in the barracks. It was winter, and they slept outside on the ground until other women inside died creating space for them indoors.
As the end of the war approached, Irma, her sister Ruth and Izy’s mother were forced on the Death March to Bergen Belsen. The  trio contracted typhus. Bergen Belsen was liberated April 15, 1945. Sadly Izy’s mother died four days later.
Irma told how Izy had been at Dachau and when the camp was liberated May 2, he found a bicycle and began riding from camp to camp in search of his mother and Irma. He finally arrived at Bergen Belsen June 26. Irma and Izy were reunited and married July 1 by a rabbi at the camp.
From the camp, Irma, Izy and Ruth hitchhiked to Hamburg, Germany. Irma became pregnant. She learned that her brother Ernst was in a “spy camp” in Russia. Irma traveled there while she was 4 months pregnant with her daughter Tonika. She said, “I asked the guards if my brother was there. When they said yes, I asked if we could go to lunch and I would bring him back afterward.” Irma explained that once Ernst was with her, they boarded a train and never looked back. She had arranged for papers for Ernst. “I told him not to say a single word. I had guts.”

Irma and her husband Izy

Irma and her husband Izy

The family immigrated to the United States in 1950 through the port in New Orleans. Irma had an uncle living in Fort Worth, so the family settled in the area. They became members of Shearith Israel, where Irma is still a member.
Izy worked for a garment cutter and eventually took it over building it into a thriving business with more than 400 workers.

Irma and her sister Ruth

Irma and her sister Ruth

Irma and Izy had a second daughter in 1953. Anita was born premature and lost her sight as an infant. Irma dedicated her life to making sure Anita got the proper education and training. She left home after graduation from Hillcrest High School and went to a school for the blind. “It was hard for me to let her go, but I knew I had to,” said Irma, making reference to the fact that it takes guts to let someone you love leave.
Anita has been married for 29 years to Emil and had a successful career at the medical center in Houston. She now is a cantorial soloist. She, her husband and her guide dog Magee were in town for Irma’s birthday celebration.
“My mother is an inspiration to me,” said Anita. “With everything she’s endured, it’s amazing that she’s 100 today.”
Irma lost Izy in 1974 and Tonika in 1985.
In addition to owning her own business after Izy died, Irma became an avid volunteer with Jewish Family Service and Lighthouse for the Blind among other organizations. The wall of her home office is filled with thank yous from the various organizations she’s served. “I worked for JFS for more than 30 years,” she said.
Irma says she is not embittered by the hardships that she has faced throughout her life. It is important that I tell my story she says. And in fact, just a couple of weeks before her birthday, she did just that to several hundred students at Ursuline Academy.
“I had guts,” she said.

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Exodus story brings together DFW-area faiths

Exodus story brings together DFW-area faiths

Posted on 06 April 2017 by admin

Bishop Lawrence Reddick, Presiding Bishop of The Eighth Episcopal District of The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, dipping into his cup while reciting the plagues during the Seder. His wife Wynde is next to him.

Bishop Lawrence Reddick, Presiding Bishop of The Eighth Episcopal District of The Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, dipping into his cup while reciting the plagues during the Seder. His wife Wynde is next to him.

Metroplex leaders participate in 5th annual Interfaith Seder

By Aaron Greenberg
Special to the TJP

DALLAS — The story of the Exodus from Egypt is at the heart of the Jewish experience. But as the Jewish Community Relations Council sees it, the messages of Passover are relevant to people of all faiths, and to the issues they face today. The success of its annual interfaith Seder demonstrates the point.
“It’s an opportunity for communities outside the Jewish community to experience something based on a Passover Seder,” said Anita Zusman Eddy, the JCRC’s executive director. “The story of the Exodus lends itself to using a program reflected in our current times.”

Seder attendees sharing bitter herbs during the service

Seder attendees sharing bitter herbs during the service

About 400 people gathered at Temple Emanu-El on March 30 for the fifth annual JCRC Interfaith Seder, which had a theme of Uniting Our Community. It was led by Emanu-El’s Rabbi Debra Robbins and Grace Presbytery’s Rev. Dr. Janet DeVries. Emanu-El’s Cantor Vicky Glikin led blessings and songs.
“People just really respond. It has gotten bigger and better every year,” Zusman Eddy said.
“The diversity of the crowd was remarkable, the diversity of faiths, communities, ethnicities. It’s become an event where people look forward to it, Jewish and non-Jewish. They immediately say, ‘When’s the next one? I want to come.’ ”
This year’s featured speaker was the Rev. Dr. Frederick Haynes III, senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church in South Dallas, who has worked on the issues of domestic violence and poverty. The event lineup also included a welcome from JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin, introductions from Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Board Chair Dan Prescott and JCRC Immediate Past Chair A.J. Rosmarin, and remarks from Texas Rep. Jason Villalba.
Throughout the course of the evening, the theme was pervasive in the readings and remarks.
“We work the traditional Haggadah and Passover service to reflect a social action theme relevant to today’s environment,” Zusman Eddy said.
After breaking the middle matzo, attendees read together “Our ability to bridge this divide is only accomplished by welcoming one another.”

(From left) Alex Null (Temple Emanu-El staff), Rosie Stromberg (member of JCRC Interfaith Seder planning committee), Linda Evans, Shaykh Omar Suleiman (co-chair of Faith Forward, an Interfaith clergy group) and Almas Muscatwalla, chair of Thanksgiving Square Interfaith Council

(From left) Alex Null (Temple Emanu-El staff), Rosie Stromberg (member of JCRC Interfaith Seder planning committee), Linda Evans, Shaykh Omar Suleiman (co-chair of Faith Forward, an Interfaith clergy group) and Almas Muscatwalla, chair of Thanksgiving Square Interfaith Council

A quote from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a notable civil rights leader who marched with Martin Luther King Jr. at Selma, was used during the Four Questions to respond to “the indifferent child”:
“The opposite of good is not evil, the opposite of good is indifference. In a free society where terrible wrongs exist, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”
At the point in which wine is removed from the cup to mark each plague, causes of division in the community were cited, such as religious discrimination, racism and political affiliation.
The reading with the third cup of wine included scriptural citations from Judaism, Christianity and Islam about helping the stranger.
Rabbi Robbins called the Seder “a call to action, to be ready to participate in the drama of our time.”
During his remarks, Haynes offered his own version of Psalm 133:1, “Behold how good it is for us to sow concord and discuss discord.”
He shared a story about groups of quail who did not work together until they were all captured. They then discovered that by flapping their wings together, they could lift the net and escape.
“When we flap together, we shall overcome,” Haynes said, warning against not only indifference, but lack of positive action.
He described how even in a land of plenty, we make our own hell if we do not actively help each other.
“Make Dallas a heaven on earth, not just for the up and in, but the down and out,” Haynes said.
Bringing in Haynes was a major step, Zusman Eddy said, because although he has a wide reach — 12,000 church members, and a long history of radio programs — he remains unfamiliar to many from North Dallas. And the reverse is true, too.
“I’m sure some of his congregants have never been in a synagogue, and that’s the purpose, to reach out to the non-Jewish community and put them in touch with the Jewish religion and values,” Zusman Eddy said. “We make them feel welcome and show them the values of the Jewish community, and there’s a lot to connect on. That’s the purpose of the JCRC, to build alliances with people outside the Jewish community.”
One of the key alliances is with Rev. DeVries.
“On the national level, the Presbyterians have adopted some anti-Israel resolutions, so we thought it was important to develop a local outreach,” Zusman Eddy said.
The approach worked, and a cordial relationship resulted. DeVries went to the JCRC Seder in 2015, and was very impressed. She offered to lead the next one, and took part in the planning with Rabbi David Stern.
“The presbyter happens to be a very warm, smart person,” Zusman Eddy said. “She committed that any Presbyterian that wanted to attend the Seder, the presbytery would underwrite the cost.”
As a result, 125 of them came last year, and many returned for 2017 under the same arrangement.
Getting there was a little more difficult for Villalba, who rearranged his schedule and drove up from Austin just in time for the event. He spoke about embracing those who are different from ourselves. While most of his statements drew applause, it was loudest when he mentioned his vote against the “bathroom bill.”
A number of other political figures or their representatives were on hand, as well as faith leaders from across the Metroplex. There were 22 individuals honored with a Seder reading, from bishops and rabbis to a member of Sen. Ted Cruz’ staff.

Photo: Winn Fuqua JCRC Executive Director Anita Zusman Eddy, Temple Emanu-El Cantor Vicki Gliken, Presbyter Janet DeVries, Temple Emanu-El Rabbi Debra Robbins and JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin

Photo: Winn Fuqua
JCRC Executive Director Anita Zusman Eddy, Temple Emanu-El Cantor Vicki Gliken, Presbyter Janet DeVries, Temple Emanu-El Rabbi Debra Robbins and JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin

“Having so many good people from different backgrounds coming together to break matzo is so wonderful,” Prescott said.
The first interfaith Seder had the theme of hunger, and drew 80 people. Two years later, Zusman Eddy decided to make it an annual occurrence. Now seen as a signature Federation event, the JCRC Seder is held at a different congregation each year, with themes such as civil rights, confronting poverty and welcoming the stranger.
The theme doesn’t end with the Seder. There was considerable networking at the event between faith communities and activists, and DeVries immediately sent an email out to talk about the next steps to take.
As festivities concluded, a number of attendees spent time introducing themselves to others and catching up with old friends. Among those who left with a smile was Senior Imam Abdar-Rahman Hatim of the Islamic Association of DeSoto, Texas. He attended last year’s event, his first Seder. He said it was easier to follow this time, and that the theme is “very current.”
“The premise is just beautiful to me, the way religion should be,” Hatim said. “I think we can do more to conquer the hate and prejudice.”
Hatim’s congregation is one of four Islamic centers in its area that made the trek northward. He said they have been involved in interfaith efforts for 40 years, and noted it was important for the Abrahamic faiths to come together, with an inclusive Seder being one of the most appropriate ways to do it.
Zusman Eddy and JCRC assistant Kim Kort helped oversee the event, and the Seder was planned by a committee chaired by Marlene Cohen, made up of Robbins, DeVries, Joan Cera, Jacque Comroe, Debbie Dauber, Illise Kohleriter, Talia Kushnick, Mika Manaster, Wendy Palmer, Jody Pearson, Ali Rhodes, Amy Roseman, Joyce Rosenfield, Evan Stone, Rosie Stromberg, Katie Venetsky and Beth Zucker.

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Kosher Chili Cook-Off names new winner

Kosher Chili Cook-Off names new winner

Posted on 23 March 2017 by admin

After several runner-up finishes, Litoff finally wins Kosher Chili Cook-Off

Henry Litoff won his first Kosher Chili Cook-Off

Henry Litoff won his first Kosher Chili Cook-Off

By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP

Henry Litoff finally got his chili championship; now he’s going to need a new sign.
Litoff went into the 24th Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off with a string of second-place finishes dating back to 2014. He had always come close, but hadn’t gotten to hoist and celebrate a title until the judges deemed his as the best beef chili Sunday from a group of 44 entered in the category.
Determined in a blind tasting by the judges, Litoff’s chili edged out the entry from second-place Congregation Shaare Tefilla and the third-place winner from Moishe House.
“It’s exciting,” Litoff said, pausing after having a sip of Champagne and celebrating with the trophy. “I make the chili that I want to eat.
“I know I’m going to have 10, 15 pounds left and I got to give some to my teammates, and they are taking it home to enjoy it,” Litoff added. “I basically cook to my tastes, my teammates. There is no secret; my secret is no gimmicks.”
Litoff said it was a similar recipe to the ones that took second in the past, but this year he really took the simple chili philosophy to heart.
“This year was the most pared-down, simple recipe that I’ve made,” Litoff said. “I tried the least amount of gimmicky stuff. I tried to pare it down to what is the most delicious part, and that’s what I did. No gimmicks.”
While Litoff won the beef competition, the team from Whole Foods Market won the veggie chili title, while Jewish Family Services took second. Five teams were entered into the veggie chili category.
Congregation Shaare Tefilla was crowned the people’s choice for the second straight year. Each visitor at the event was given one gold coin and could vote for their favorite chili.
Organizers now turn their attention to the 2018 Cook-off. That will be the 25th annual event, and the 24th more than lived up to expectations.
In addition to the food, the Mazik Brothers performed a mix of ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s music covers while local vendors had stands set up. The kids were also well entertained with inflatable attractions and a woodworking station.
“It was a beautiful day,” Ed Jerome said. “We host this for the Dallas Jewish community. It’s just great for us to be able to host everybody. We had close to 50 Jewish organizations between the teams and vendors. It’s really a great day for the community.”
The 25th Cook-off already has a date, March 18, 2018 — mark your calendar now — and Jerome said that event will be a big celebration and honor the history of the Cook-off.
Of course, Litoff will be back to try and defend his title.
“As a local Dallas Jew, I was born here (in Dallas) and I’ve been coming here every single year since I think the inception of the Chili Cook-off,” Litoff said. “It’s just a great honor to participate in one of the largest, most inclusive community events that we have.”

 

 

Photos: Sharon Wisch-Ray

Chili cook-off winners

Beef winner: Henry Litoff
Veggie winner: Whole Foods
Beef, second place and people’s choice: Shaare Tefilla
Veggie runner-up: Jewish Family Services
Beef, third place: Moishe House

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Renewed need for community safety

Renewed need for community safety

Posted on 16 March 2017 by admin

Submitted photo Dallas organizational leaders attend a briefing on the new community-wide security initiative.

Submitted photo
Dallas organizational leaders attend a briefing on the new community-wide security initiative.

Federation looks ahead to protect Dallas Jewish organizations

By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP

The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas rolled out a new community-wide security initiative last week, with the goal of helping protect and better secure all of the Jewish organizations in the area.
“This is something that we wanted to undertake, and it’s something that we felt we could help do for everyone else,” Bradley Laye, CEO and president of the organization, said. “This is something we felt could be put in place to help keep our entire community safer.”
The announcement comes at a time when security has become more paramount for Jewish organizations. Across the country there have been more than 150 bomb threats against Jewish institutions and communities in the past eight weeks, while other acts of vandalism and anti-Semitic incidents have been on the rise.
“Unfortunately it hasn’t been the easiest time to be a Jew in the United States,” Laye said. “Through this (initiative) we want to help combat that and protect our community.”
While it may look reactionary because of the timing, the Federation has been working on this for more than a year.
“It’s unfortunate that the latest events nationally have been thrust on the forefront of our news, and have been what people outside of our community been reading most about our community,” JFGD Board Chair Dan Prescott said.
“However I will say that what I can say personally, is the that entire the Dallas Jewish Community led by the Federation will continue to be strong and will be safe and will continue to be successful.”
In February 2016 the Federation requested a $30,000 grant to research and create the community infrastructure required for a more secure Jewish community. They homed in on three main goals including:

  1. Develop a community-wide communication strategy.
  2. Develop continuous community-wide training.
  3. Perform physical site assessments to harden one’s physical infrastructure.

Representatives from local law enforcement, the FBI, and the Secure Community Network (SCN) consulted on this project and on Feb. 7, officially launched a Community Security Initiative that will be led by a director of community security.
The director of community security will be hired with a law enforcement and security background, and the hire is expected to be made within three weeks, Laye said.
That person will guide an initiative that will assess security needs; implement Mir3, a mass communication service; develop training programs; act as a liaison to local law enforcement; and work to create a commissary of security needs to increase quality and potentially reduce cost.
There is no cost to community organizations to be involved and more than 50 local Jewish organizations attended the rollout meeting last Thursday.
Laye said the meeting has had great results. Most of the questions came about specific concerns for specific organizations or institutions, which showed the community is already thinking big-picture with the application.
“It shows that this really was needed and people realize it can help them,” Laye said. “We’re happy to have something in place like this and hopefully we can help everyone feel a little bit safer.”

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Energizer Bubbie: 100 years of laughter

Energizer Bubbie: 100 years of laughter

Posted on 09 March 2017 by admin

2-Norma w grandson Evan Alterman

Gremm ushers in new century, reminisces on 100 years of funny stories, love and memories

By Katie Ray
Special to the TJP

No one would have expected Norma Ray Gremm to live to be 100 years old; when she was a child she drank a glass of gasoline that was lying around the house because she thought it was water.
She also was hit by a Model T Ford when she let go of her mother’s hand and ran into the street. To top that, she’s a breast cancer survivor. But after she tells these stories she always just laughs and says, “And that is what is wrong with me today.”


She means that if you want to be like her, living and thriving at 100, “you don’t quit talking, you don’t quit laughing and you never die.”
The feisty centenarian will receive a blessing from Rabbi David Stern at Shabbat services Friday, March 10, at Temple Emanu-El.
Norma was born at her grandparent’s house in Dallas, on Feb. 11, 1917, into a large family. The house was filled with people including her mother, Elizabeth Beck Ray; her father, Joseph David Ray; her father’s eight siblings and her paternal grandparents. Norma always points out that even though there was never any money it didn’t matter, because there was always so much love and fun.
When asked what is her favorite memory from all her 100 years, she says it is when she met her husband, Phil Gremm. He was a cousin of her best girlfriend, Jenny. He came in from Muskogee, Oklahoma when Jenny’s sister got married.
She noticed right away that he was good-looking, so when he asked for her number, she gave it to him, but she laughs, “I never heard from him.” It wasn’t until a year later when Jenny got married and he came back in town that the courtship truly started. Norma knew he was the one even though, as she says, he wasn’t a big talker like her. She says he was attractive, nice and modest. After a quick courtship, they got married and moved to Muskogee, where Phil had his own plumbing business.
During World War II after Phil enlisted, Norma moved home to help her mother and her siblings, Ola Ray Leibs, Betty Ray Rosenfeld and baby brother Gerald Louis Ray. After World War II, Norma refused to go back to Muskogee and Phil started Atlas Plumbing in Dallas. It was here they raised their three daughters, Beverly Gremm Fetterman, Judye Gremm and Susan Gremm Alterman.
After Phil sold his business, they enjoyed traveling the world with Ola and her husband Mervin Leibs. They went to Israel, Egypt, Hong Kong, Singapore and more.
Sadly, after 62 years of marriage, Phil passed away. Norma has since spent her time with her family and making sure the stories of her past will continue to be shared. She likes to say “this is history,” to stress their importance. She shares her love of history and family in many ways: by baking her mother’s old recipes (including her legendary mandel bread), showing both old and new photographs from her many family albums and telling stories. One knows that a story from Norma will always make them laugh, as some of her favorites include the pranks her dad did, her many misunderstandings she has had because she is hard of hearing, and the time she laughed hysterically at a funeral because she realized she was at the wrong one.
However, her most favorite tale of all is the time she was stopped in the Waldorf-Astoria by Geraldine Ferraro because her skirt was stuck in her pantyhose. Norma is never afraid to tell an embarrassing story about herself, because she loves to share and bring people joy.
Norma’s 100th birthday party was a giant fiesta with more than a hundred family and friends. Attendees from all over the country came, from states such as Oklahoma, Illinois, Nebraska, California, and Florida. Norma, as usual, was dressed in style, which included heels.
After a serious of toasts, Norma said, “When people ask me what my secret is (to living to be 100 years old) there are a few things that’s going through my mind: good genes, good family, good doctors, good drugs, and just as important as all of that perhaps is having a positive attitude.”
She added that she “wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the love and dedication of my three amazing daughters, two sons-in-law (Hank Alterman and Rick Fetterman), one awesome grandson (Evan Alterman), two red-headed granddaughters (Blake Fetterman and Alex Fetterman Price) and two great-grandsons (Isaac Price and Hayden Price), who give me purpose every day and bring me such joy.”

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Yavneh falls short of TAPPS state title in 2OT, 46-39

Yavneh falls short of TAPPS state title in 2OT, 46-39

Posted on 03 March 2017 by admin

Photo: Ron Romaner Griffin Levine (right) hugs Our Lady of the Hills’ Chandlin Hale after the conclusion of the double-overtime game. Levine averaged 18.6 points per game during the season, including 14 in the state championship game.

Photo: Ron Romaner
Griffin Levine (right) hugs Our Lady of the Hills’ Chandlin Hale after the conclusion of the double-overtime game. Levine averaged 18.6 points per game during the season, including 14 in the state championship game.

Staff report

The Yavneh boys’ basketball team had the speed, but Our Lady of the Hills had the size.
Yavneh played from behind through most of the game before falling short in its first-ever TAPPS Class 3A state championship in double overtime, 46-39, at Abilene Christian.
The game time was changed from 1 p.m. to 10 a.m. to accommodate Yavneh’s trip home before Shabbat.
Luke Schultz, a 6-foot, 9-inch center, dominated the paint for Our Lady of the Hills and collected 14 rebounds and 12 points. Yavneh’s quick guards managed 12 assists and 12 steals — the Hawks had zero in both categories.

Photo: Ron Romaner Yavneh’s Pierce Bell drives toward the hoop during the TAPPS Class 3A state championship.

Photo: Ron Romaner
Yavneh’s Pierce Bell drives toward the hoop during the TAPPS Class 3A state championship.

Griffin Levine scored 14 points to lead Yavneh, while Noah Rubinstein had eight rebounds.
“The truth is it’s tough to come up a little short,” Head Coach David Zimmerman said. “It’s been such an unbelievable year. I really hope that the boys see it that way because I know the school does and the community does. As the days and weeks and years go by, we’ll be looking back and remember the whole season and the journey and the bus rides and plane trips, not the final score.”
Both teams played championship-caliber defense. Yavneh shot 30 percent for the game, while the Hawks shot 44. Yavneh exerted excessive energy on the defensive end, mainly guarding the Hawks’ interior size. That may have carried over into their shooting legs.
The Bulldogs trailed at halftime, 16-15, and appeared content to shoot jump shots and 3-pointers. Much of that decision was because of Hawks center Schultz. That unwillingness to drive inside led to a 28-23 deficit at the end of the quarter.
But the Bulldogs were able to negate some of Schultz’ effectiveness by keeping him away from the low post.
“We neutralized him as well as anyone this year,” Zimmerman said of the Montana State signee.
Then the Bulldogs pushed the tempo behind Levine. Levine made an assist, hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 28 and then a jumper to take a two-point lead with 2:20 left. Yavneh and the Hawks exchanged 3-pointers and a pair of turnovers. Our Lady of the Hills scored a layup with 49 seconds left to tie it and a Levine turnover right before the end of regulation stopped any chance for a game-winning shot.
In the first overtime, both teams played very conservatively. The Hawks ran off 2 minutes before turning the ball over. Then Yavneh followed suit with an over-and-back violation, giving the Hawks one last chance. The Hawks got to the rim but missed the layup as the buzzer sounded.

Photo: Ron Romaner

Photo: Ron Romaner

Photo: Ron Romaner

Photo: Ron Romaner

In the second overtime, Luke Schultz’ size became a factor again. The center grabbed offensive rebounds, made a basket and free throws to give the Hawks a 40-33 lead. Yavneh battled back and made it 42-39 on a Rubinstein basket, but the Hawks made their free throws down the stretch to reach the final score of 46-39.
“I could not be prouder of these student-athletes and their coaches for the incredible positive energy and pride that they brought to our school community all season long,” said Dr. David A. Portnoy, head of school for Yavneh.
Beyond that, Portnoy said he was “very grateful that TAPPS and the other teams involved accommodated our religious needs to be back for Shabbat in Dallas.”
Yavneh (31-4) will graduate Zach Epstein, Noah Rubinstein, Daniel Chernikov and Liad Guttman. Freshman Jonah Eber and junior Levine, who were both major players in the run to the state tournament, should return.
“We’re losing three seniors who gave so much,” Zimmerman said. “We’re losing size but anytime you can return a top player like Griffin (Levine), the future is bright. Our tournament experience is going to bode well for us.”

Photo: Ron Romaner Rosie Bernstein, left, and Megan Lacritz

Photo: Ron Romaner
Rosie Bernstein, left, and Megan Lacritz

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Yavneh boys 1 win from state title

Posted on 02 March 2017 by admin

Staff report

The Yavneh boys’ basketball team won their TAPPS Class 3A state semifinal, 55-40, and will play for a state championship at 1 p.m. Friday in Abilene.

The Bulldogs (31-3) defeated Dallas Covenant, which hails from the same District 3. Yavneh trailed, 15-8, after the first quarter but closed the first half on a 16-7 run for a 24-24 tie at halftime. Yavneh pulled away in the third quarter and kept space in the fourth for the victory.

Yavneh will face Kerrville Our Lady of the Hills (26-6) in the 3A state final. Our Lady of the Hills defeated Beaumont Legacy, 46-37, in the other semifinal.

 

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Jewish Communities Day at Texas Capitol promotes Jewish values, policy priorities

Jewish Communities Day at Texas Capitol promotes Jewish values, policy priorities

Posted on 02 March 2017 by admin

By James Russell
Special to the TJP

Photo: Senate media Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick meets with participants of the Jewish Communities Day at the State to show his support for the anti-BDS bill.

Photo: Senate media
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick meets with participants of the Jewish Communities Day at the State to show his support for the anti-BDS bill.

From left) Rivae Campo; Jaziah Masters, staffer for State Representative Helen Giddings (D-Dallas); Susie Avnery; and Alice Barnett met for a small advocacy session in the representative’s office.

From left) Rivae Campo; Jaziah Masters, staffer for State Representative Helen Giddings (D-Dallas); Susie Avnery; and Alice Barnett met for a small advocacy session in the representative’s office.

 House Speaker Joseph Straus meets with high-level representatives from each Federation. (From left) Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Board Chair Daniel J. Prescott, Rob Shoss, Robert Simon, Speaker of the House Straus, Kevin Epstein, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Bradley Laye and Executive Director of the JCRC Anita Zusman Eddy.

House Speaker Joseph Straus meets with high-level representatives from each Federation. (From left) Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Board Chair Daniel J. Prescott, Rob Shoss, Robert Simon, Speaker of the House Straus, Kevin Epstein, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Bradley Laye and Executive Director of the JCRC Anita Zusman Eddy.

Jewish organizations from across Texas descended upon the Texas Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 22, for their biannual Jewish Communities Day at the State: Mission to Austin advocacy day.
The event was organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. It brought together 150 people from every Jewish Federation of Texas: Greater Dallas, Austin, Greater Houston, Fort Worth & Tarrant County, San Antonio and El Paso. The Community Relations Council (CRC) of San Antonio, Texas Hillel, Chabad at UT, Texas A&M Hillel, and Hillels of North Texas, also participated.
Attendees focused on three issues: access to early childhood education for all children, support for social services and Federation agency partners and legislation prohibiting the Texas State government from contracting or investing in businesses currently boycotting or planning to boycott Israel. They heard from longtime legislative observers, policy wonks and state officials.
Speakers included Harvey Kronberg, publisher of the nonpartisan online publication Quorum Report. (Editor’s note: The author of this article is a Quorum Report writer.) Marnie Glaser, executive director of Early Childhood Education for the Texas Education Agency (TEA), discussed the significance of high-quality early childhood education, which has been shown to narrow achievement gaps while improving lifetime outcomes for all students. Anne Dunkelberg, associate director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, gave an overview of state and federal legislation that would cut funding from social service programs and echoed the attendees’ social service priorities,
But the anti-BDS bills were seen as key priorities among advocates and legislators.
House Bill 89 by State Reps. Phil King, R-Weatherford and Jeff Leach, R-Plano, and Senate Bill 134 by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, are part of a national trend targeting the BDS movement.
King told the group he is optimistic about the bill’s passage but legislators must know it is a priority among their constituents. The bill has the backing of leaders of both Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus, who is Jewish.
Even if the state’s top officials support the bills, Dallas JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin agreed with King: Advocacy is important. And not just to pass this bill or other priorities.
“It makes a significant impact on our state legislators when they see such a well-attended program, with participation from Jewish communities throughout Texas. Our Jewish Communities Day at the State is an occasion for all of us to show our support for Israel, as well as our concerns about issues that impact all of us who live in Texas. Anti-BDS efforts, increasing access to high-quality early childhood education and support for the social services provided by our Federation partners, Jewish Family Service, Legacy Senior Communities and CHAI are issues that are important to the Jewish community as well as our broader communities throughout the state,” Rubin said in a statement.
Their attendance was not just acknowledged in personal meetings but on the House floor as well.
Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, acknowledged attendees with a resolution declaring Feb. 22, “Texas Jewish Communities Advocacy Day.”
Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Board Chair Daniel Prescott and other Jewish Federation joined Villalba on the floor for the resolution.
Prescott noted, “It was a great honor to stand with Representative Villalba as he recognized our Jewish Communities Day at the State. Numerous state representatives approached me afterward to express their support for Israel and the Jewish community.”
Seth Kaplan, Day at the State chair, also noted, “We appreciated the support and participation of all the Jewish Federations and many Jewish organizations and agencies throughout Texas. As the only full-time JCRC in Texas, our Dallas JCRC is pleased to have served as the planning and coordinating entity that brings together all the Jewish communities in Texas for this critical advocacy program.”
The Dallas JCRC continues to work with other local and statewide organizations to advocate for and support the Texas anti-BDS bill currently under consideration in the current legislative session.

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Yavneh transformed into international stage

Yavneh transformed into international stage

Posted on 23 February 2017 by admin

BBYO IC participants flood school with diversity of nations

By Jori Epstein
Special to the TJP

Photo: Becky Nurko Yavneh Sophomore Sammy Nurko (second from left) and his brother Yavneh Senior Jonathan Nurko (not pictured) hosted three teens from Uruguay for five days prior to IC.

Photo: Becky Nurko
Yavneh Sophomore Sammy Nurko (second from left) and his brother Yavneh Senior Jonathan Nurko (not pictured) hosted three teens from Uruguay for five days prior to IC.

They all cradled the same coffee cups, debated the same sports teams and music groups, the boys even donning the same kippot.
But as 179 Jewish teens from 29 countries outside the U.S. flocked to Yavneh Academy of Dallas Feb. 14, the day was anything but typical. A teen from Berlin led a traditional Shacharit service in one hall. Students packed a classroom in meditation upstairs. Still more circled in the library for a musical service that fittingly ended with a rendition of Matisyahu’s One Day lyrics.
All my life I’ve been waiting for
I’ve been praying for, for the people to say
That we don’t wanna fight no more
They’ll be no more wars
And our children will play
The international teens came from France and Uruguay, Switzerland and Moldova, Georgia (the country) and Latvia. All were in town for the 93rd annual BBYO International Convention, where thousands joined at the Hyatt Regency from Thursday through Monday.image IMG_4736-1
First, the international attendees joined Yavneh.
“This idea kind of morphed from a conversation this summer to follow up,” said Rabbi Meir Tannenbaum, Yavneh’s principal of Judaic studies who works for BBYO in the summers. “I realized it’d be great to bridge them.”
The day’s programming spanned activities nearly as diverse as its audience, from sports to TED talks, cooking to music.
One Yavneh classroom transformed from its usual home for Exodus analysis and Julius Caesar readings to a theater stage. Its actors hailed from Austria, Israel, Serbia, Bulgaria and Lithuania.
Yavneh’s math classroom shifted from filling whiteboards with calculus problems to penning slam poetry pieces to paper. Poems ranged from Spanish to English, Hebrew to French. In some cases, Google Translate bridged linguistic gaps. Other times, students encouraged peers to perform in their native languages.
“It’s in French,” one boy said, hesitant to share his reading.
“Perfect,” another student told him.
“Just express yourself,” a third chimed in.
He did, reading verses of how he feels “a little richer when I say I’m Jewish/I have a lot of things on my heart, do Yom Kippur with hunger.”
The experiences expressed were common among the otherwise diverse teens — a unity in diversity paradox that became the theme of the day.
Yusuf Gurkan, one of nine teens visiting from Turkey, said he wanted to come to Dallas for international convention (IC) after attending a BBYO summer camp. The trip so far hadn’t disappointed.
“In Turkey we don’t have so many Jews our age so it’s really good to see more people here,” said Gurkan, 16. “I’ve never seen this much Jews together in my life.”
Sixteen-year-old Erika Kleiman, in town from Buenos Aires, Argentina, agreed. She’d been to the U.S. before, visiting Disney World in Orlando with her family. But even the self-described happiest place on Earth didn’t compare to what this trip meant to her.
“IC is like a dream for everyone,” Kleiman said. “I really love it, like I can meet everyone and see the different cultures and communities.”
It’s those interchanges, Tannenbaum said, that the school aimed for when planning the exchange day.
“The mission at Yavneh is for our kids to feel Judaism come alive to them,” Tannenbaum said. “To feel it be more than just text study, more than just history. Having them experience this with 170 Jews who are strong enough to identify as Jews even in their countries that aren’t necessarily so hospitable to Jews…is such a great opportunity.”
As the teens mingled, sang along to Matisyahu lyrics and prayed together, they were part of something bigger.
“Listening to someone lead services from Berlin — yeah, he has a German accent but it’s the same words and the same tunes,” Tannenbaum said. “We’re the same even though we’re different and I think that’s the greater message today: You’re not alone. Wherever you are there are Jews and you really have much more in common than you have different.”
David Schapiro, who led that same morning service he usually leads at school in Berlin, agreed.
“This is what Judaism’s about,” Schapiro said. “You can go anywhere and you feel at home because the people are like you there.
“It’s so cool.”
In Polish and Turkish, Italian and Romanian, Spanish and Hebrew, the message was the same.

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