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CHAI commemorates 36 years of service

CHAI commemorates 36 years of service

Posted on 17 May 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Community connections are a huge part of CHAI’s success. As part of his Bar Mitzvah project, Daniel Weinstein (lighting candles) and his mother Krista (in black) prepared a festive Shabbat dinner for CHAI residents of the Levy House residents.

By Deb Silverthorn

The good works of Community Homes for Adults, Inc. (CHAI), will revolve through Dallas’ skyline at Reunion Tower, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 2. The community is invited to celebrate “Living the CHAILIFE,” commemorating the organization’s double chai year 36 years of providing programs and services that enable adults with intellectual disabilities to live as independently as possible.

“I couldn’t be more excited for our guests to enjoy, to have fun, and for our supporters, staff and CHAI clients and residents to come together,” said David Romick, president of CHAI’s board of directors.

The event, which will take place on the Geo-Deck and Cloud Nine of Reunion Tower, will have roving entertainers, an interactive experience, and a menu created by Wolfgang Puck’s Five Sixty restaurant. Beverly Rossel and Ricki Shapiro are the event’s co-chairs, working with Development Chair Beverly Goldman, Romick, CHAI CEO Lisa Brodsky and CHAI Development Staffers Michelle Bach and Patsy Goodman.

“We are taking our celebration to the top. Reunion Tower is a very special place and we have so many wonderful surprises and plans for the evening,” Goodman said, noting that raising money and exposure for CHAI are what allow the services to continue. “There will be treats from the time guests enter the elevator (bring your smartphones) and they will continue as we take over the of the Tower.”

Established in 1983, CHAI is a nonsectarian, nonprofit corporation under Jewish auspices that provides programs and services to enable adults with intellectual disabilities to live full, rich lives in a safe environment and to participate meaningfully in the community.

“My hope is for CHAI to grow and to serve more,” said Romick, whose son Barry is a CHAI resident. “Our community has too many waiting for services — and, with the support of our community, CHAI will be able to provide high-quality care for more people like my son.”

He said that CHAI has provided various services for Barry and family since he was 15 years old. “For the last eight years he has been a resident and the quality and care he is provided can’t be compared,” Romick said. “I got involved and I love what I see, I love the community involvement, and my service for CHAI is one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. The CHAI management team is always open to recommendations and wanting only to make the organization better.”

CHAI services include room and board for 29 residents at its Bauer House, Levy House I and II, Miller House I and II, Todd House, Toub House and Yale House. Also available are health care and specialized therapy assistance, financial counseling and training, transportation, medical and therapy appointments and medication supervision, synagogue participation, volunteer opportunities, social activities, entitlement (Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security) shopping and bill pay assistance, resident documentation and family communication and support.

The organization’s programming includes the Wolens Program Services, which provides support services to CHAI residents, as well as to individuals living independently in the community or with loved ones. Life Skills trainers assist with activities of daily living such as social skills, budgeting, shopping, health and wellness and more. Supported Employment provides clients assistance with job search, resume building and on-the-job coaching. Club CHAI has regular social outings, while CHAI Connects offers support, education and mentorship to family members of CHAI residents and clients, or potential residents and clients.

CHAILIFE Co-chair Ricki Shapiro’s son Joel is a CHAI client who can live independently because of the support of many of CHAI’s programs. To Joel and the Shapiro family, CHAI means everything.

“The beauty of CHAI is the wide spectrum of services it provides and the people it has offering them,” she said. “For almost every family the greatest concern is what will happen to our family member when we are not here. CHAI answers that question with safety and security and a sense of family for every client and resident.”

To RSVP for the event, visit chaidallas.org/special-event or text CHAItix to 51555. For more information about Community Homes for Adults, Inc., call 214-373-8600.

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Local Chabads hold Poway solidarity event

Local Chabads hold Poway solidarity event

Posted on 09 May 2019 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

When a gunman entered Chabad of Poway, California, on April 27, the last day of Passover, his expressed mission was to kill as many Jews as possible. His hatred claimed the life of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who is credited with jumping in front of the synagogue’s rabbi to shield him from the gunman’s bullets. The gunman injured three others: Chabad of Poway Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein; Noya Dahan, 8; and her uncle, Almog Peretz.
Chabad of North Texas held a Community Event in Solidarity with Chabad of Plano, Wednesday, May 1, at Chabad of Dallas.
In addition to honoring the memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, the event framed what the Jews can do after this horrific tragedy. The overarching message was that in response to hatred against Jews, there really is only one response: Do Jewish and “Continue to be a Light unto the Nations.”
Rabbi Mendel Dubrawsky, the first Chabad rabbi in Dallas and North Texas, was pained as he discussed what had transpired. He said he wondered if he would have been as quick-thinking and brave as his boyhood friend “Sroel,” the rabbi who while injured shepherded his congregants to safety. In the process Rabbi Goldstein lost a finger on one hand and sustained severe damage to the other hand.
Rabbi Dubrawsky explained that living a Jewish life is based on three pillars: Torah study, prayer and gemilut chassadim, acts of loving kindness.
Ultimately, Dubrawsky said, that all people are created in God’s image, b’tzelem Elohim.
“Living as an example of btzelem elohim, being created in the image of God, means living a holier life, means defining the world around you, means bringing light and brightening up the dark which opposes and is the greatest threat to evil, to stone-cold evil.”
Rivkie Block, rebbetzin of Chabad of Plano, paid tribute to Lori Gilbert-Kaye and the life of tzedakah that she led that seemed effortless and natural to so many.
“We are gathered here, to take part in snatching back the light that evil sought to take, and choose holiness, mitzvot, in particular acts of tzedakah in her memory. Not only for Lori’s soul, but for our nation and indeed the entire world,” Block said.
She outlined several actives one can do “snatch back the light” (see box).
With regard to the community’s security, Mark Kreditor, board chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, spoke on behalf of the Federation.
He discussed the critical mission of the Federation to support Jewish education, social services, support for Israel and Jews around the world as well as “the new normal” — keeping the community safe.
“I am here to tell you your Federation has been involved with educating and supporting every community partner through our Community Security Initiative, funded largely though your support of our annual campaign and by select donors. Our goal is to increase the effectiveness of our local security efforts across our community with all the local law enforcement agencies. Through your support we are now part of the national security apparatus of the Jewish Federation movement called Secure Community Network (SCN).”
He concluded by hoping for a return to life as it was before the shootings at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh and Chabad of Poway as well as praying for the speedy recovery of the injured.
“I am here tonight representing your Federation to provide love, support, resources, and most importantly, vigilance as we together as a community pray for a return to our old normal.”
Also participating in the program were Rabbi Peretz Shapiro; Uptown Chabad’s Rabbi Zvi Drizin, who led a brief prayer service; and Linda Johnson, who lit two memorial candles in memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye as well as the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

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Baytown synagogue celebrates 90 years, restoration

Baytown synagogue celebrates 90 years, restoration

Posted on 25 April 2019 by admin

Photo: Bob John Cromeans
Congregation K’Nesseth Israel in Baytown recently celebrated its 90th anniversary.

By Christopher James/Baytown Sun

Baytown — Under a blue and white chuppah, accompanied by jubilant violin music, Torah scrolls were returned to the Congregation K’Nesseth Israel Synagogue Sunday, April 7, marking its 90th anniversary in Baytown and the first day of worship in the sanctuary in nearly two years.
After the Parade of Torahs, Mayor Brandon Capetillo issued a proclamation designating April 7 Congregation K’Nesseth Israel Day in Baytown and congratulated the members on the 90th anniversary.
Rabbi Jimmy Kessler — the founder of the Texas Jewish Historical Society and the first native Texan to serve as rabbi of Congregation B’nai Israel in Galveston — who grew up in Baytown and the Congregation K’Nesseth Israel Synagogue gave a celebratory blessing.
“In modern-day Jewish communities when we use the ram’s horn for festivals and observances like Yom Kippur, it not only is a symbol of bringing us together, it’s also meant to be a reminder that God is present in this place,” Kessler said. “And we are in a building that represents that. But this ram’s horn is also a thank you to those of you that worked so hard to maintain the congregation.” Moments later, Leah Abbate blew the shofar in celebration of its anniversary and a newly renovated sanctuary. Sunday was the first time since before Hurricane Harvey the Baytown Jewish community was able to worship inside.
“It felt wonderful,” CKI President Joan Teter Linares said of worshiping inside the synagogue. “It really meant a lot to us to be back in there again.”
Water damage to the synagogue, its Torah Scrolls and parts of the community center forced the congregation to worship elsewhere. Due to tremendous flooding throughout Baytown, contractors were scarce and congregation leaders felt it more important that individuals who lost their homes to flooding should have priority in getting the much-needed help.
Because Congregation K’Nesseth Israel has a small membership, the restoration needs for the synagogue and neighboring community building were more than the membership could take on, so they launched a “Save Our Synagogue” fundraising campaign.
Spearheading the campaign was Shana Bauman, CKI Treasurer, and Denise Havenar, project manager for the restoration project.
“Both of these ladies spent the better part of [almost] two years volunteering their time and energy to the restoration project. Their families may get them back now,” Linares said. “Denise handled every aspect of the project and Shana was instrumental in fundraising and accounting for all money spent to the penny.
“If I went into detail of everything they did we would be here another 90 years,” Linares jokingly added. “Suffice it to say, we are forever grateful to Denise and Shana for their dedication to CKI.”
After a long road of fundraising, restoration began in the early part of October and was recently completed in time for the 90th anniversary on Sunday. The Torah scrolls were also restored in Florida and were returned Sunday with the ceremonial Parade of Torahs.
The history of the Congregation K’Nesseth Israel began at the start of the Goose Creek oil field boom in 1917. The population in the area, now known as Baytown, was about 2,000 people who had come from all parts of the country seeking work in the oil fields. Of these, only two families were of the Jewish faith.
By 1920, there had been considerable growth in the area, Goose Creek and Pelly had been incorporated, and the Humble Oil and Refining Co. had begun operation of the Baytown refinery.
The Jewish population had expanded to 12 families. Realizing the necessity for a place of worship, they rented a building and began holding services on Friday nights and Saturday mornings. On Nov. 3, 1928, the congregation was incorporated, with 20 incorporating members. Property was purchased for erection of a synagogue. The synagogue was completed in 1930 and was designated a Texas State Historical Landmark in 1992.
Reprinted with permission from the Baytown Sun.

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Akiba and Yavneh academies to merge

Akiba and Yavneh academies to merge

Posted on 18 April 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Schultz Rosenberg Campus
In August 2005, the Schultz Rosenberg Campus became home to Akiba Academy, founded in 1962, and Yavneh Academy, founded in 1993. On April 2, the schools announced that they would merge into one entity.

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

The end of a more than one-year process came to fruition in mid-March when the boards of Akiba Academy and Yavneh Academy voted to merge the schools effective July 1.
In early April, Rabbi Yaakov Green was named the first head of school for the merged Akiba/Yavneh Academy.
“Merging our two storied institutions offers a multitude of benefits. The combined school will see economies of scale, greater efficiencies, and a more fluid sharing of knowledge and resources,” said Akiba Board President Josh Hochschuler. “These strategic savings and partnerships will allow the merged organization the ability to invest in new services, build a streamlined curriculum, enhance reporting and systems, and improve our administrative structure. Above all, this merger will offer a significantly improved ability to retain and recruit top-notch talent, ensuring that we are offering our students the highest quality educational experience.”
Yavneh Academy board president Debbie Katz added that Rabbi Green is the ideal person to shepherd Akiba/Yavneh as it moves forward.
“He is a great listener with new ideas and willing to get involved in all matters to make sure Akiba and Yavneh continue on their path to a successful future.”
The process of joining the schools began February 2018, when the boards of both schools voted to explore the idea of merging the schools and formed a task force to examine the possibilities. The task force presented its findings to both boards in June. In October, the boards independently voted to accept “an intent to merge” and began the due diligence process with a steering committee with extensive institutional knowledge of the Dallas day school landscape.
Throughout the process, Hochschuler and Katz kept their school communities apprised of developments with monthly missives, answering questions as they arose.
A number of parlor-style meetings were held with various stakeholders including current Akiba Academy and Levine Academy parents, the two schools which send the largest number of students to Yavneh. The balance of the schools’ populations come from the greater area Jewish community and include students from all streams of Judaism and backgrounds.
This is not the first time the schools have discussed becoming one since Yavneh opened in 1993. They have shared the Schultz-Rosenberg Campus since the school year started in 2005. During that time the schools have shared certain back-office resources, but maintained separate faculty and lay leadership. With such a shared history and campus, leadership of both schools saw the advantage of merging.
One longtime Levine Academy and Yavneh parent shared her view of the merger. Jolene Risch is the mother of two Levine Academy graduates, one Yavneh graduate, a Yavneh senior and a Levine eighth-grader who will be a Yavneh freshman in the fall.
“My sons who have graduated from Yavneh had good experiences as a result of the inclusive culture of the school. I was grateful to Dr. Portnoy [exiting Yavneh head of school], who had the ability to understand the unique qualities of each student and allow each an experience that would enable them to achieve the goals they desired.”
Risch believes that Yavneh’s new general studies principal will enhance the students’ academic experiences.
As the merged school charts its new course, the elements that have made the Schultz-Rosenberg Campus successful over the years will continue to be essential.
Andy Schultz, son of benefactors Howard and the late Leslie Schultz, and merger steering committee member, outlined these at the 10th anniversary celebration of the Schultz-Rosenberg Campus in 2015:
• A vibrant Jewish community, anchored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
• Committed benefactors and a community of volunteers.
• Teachers and administrators who are the very heart and soul of the institution.
• Beautiful Jewish children who seek a deeper, more meaningful connection to their Jewish identity, and to the State of Israel, and:
• Jewish parents, who make a tremendous personal sacrifice to provide their children with a Jewish education.
“This commitment in particular must always be remembered,” Schultz said.

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Schultz Fellows bring Israeli moon landing to Dallas

Schultz Fellows bring Israeli moon landing to Dallas

Posted on 11 April 2019 by admin

Photo: JFGD
Schultz Fellows learned about SpaceIL and Beresheet’s imminent landing on the moon. They are, from left, Eli Davidsohn, Erin Laizerovich, Marco Rodriguez, Andi Bonner, Jhil Wilkins, Heather Rindfuss; front row, Anna Tasciotti and Adriana Meyerovitz.

Staff Report

The Schultz Fellows program partnered with the iCenter and SpaceIL, an Israeli organization that will land a spacecraft on the moon. The craft, named Beresheet, is scheduled for a landing today (April 11), and will measure the moon’s magnetic field, using technology developed specifically for the mission. Beresheet, Hebrew for “in the beginning,” and the first word of the Torah, launched from Cape Canaveral in February 2019.
The Schultz Fellows, spearheaded by the Schultz Family Foundation, is a program of the Center for Jewish Education of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and the iCenter.
SpaceIL’s collective vision is to create a new “Apollo Effect” — or rather, the “Beresheet Effect” — to inspire the next generation in Israel and around the world to think differently about science, engineering, technology and math. Through this mission and innovative educational materials, the next generation will deepen their relationship with Israel, and further spark their curiosity to dream and achieve.
Nir Amitai, who is part of the SpaceIL team, is at Mission Control to oversee Beresheet’s landing. On April 3, Amitai visited Dallas, where he spoke with hundreds of students and educators in person, at Akiba Academy, and with hundreds of other students and educators in New Orleans, Chicago, West Hartford, Connecticut and Tokyo, Japan, via Zoom. In addition, the iCenter’s Dan Tartar spent two days in Dallas, facilitating Israeli educational activities with the Schultz Fellows, as well as students at Levine and Akiba academies. The Schultz Fellows and community professionals experienced an Israel Education escape room. All of the activities focused on SpaceIL’s moon landing.
To learn more about the Schultz Fellows and Israel education, email Peta Silansky at psilansky@jewishdallas.org.

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AIPAC Policy Conference stresses bipartisanship

AIPAC Policy Conference stresses bipartisanship

Posted on 04 April 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Elena Okowita
A delegation of UNT students attended AIPAC’s Policy Conference: Jordan Swidler, Aaron Platt, Chris Ynclan, Idan Pisek, Elena Okowita, Chase Clark, Jen Weintraub.

By Elena Okowita

“Bipartisanship.”
I heard this word repeated time and time again at the 2019 AIPAC Policy Conference, which took place March 24-26 in Washington, D.C.
But, with each repetition came a whole new wave of thrilling power. Each reference to this word by congressmen and congresswomen, senators, government figureheads and activists electrified the more than 18,000 AIPAC Policy Conference participants. It reminded us of the importance of fighting not only those who denounce Israel and her right to exist, but also of coming together as a nation in these politically divisive times. In a time of extreme political polarization and intense controversy, the theme of the policy conference, “Connected for Good,” held even more meaning than it might have at another time in our country’s history.
As a college student just beginning my journey into defining and identifying my politics, my values, and my beliefs, the bipartisan theme resonated deeply with me. It reinforced in me that standing resolute in the ideals which shape my political identity is not something from which to hide, but rather, something to be celebrated. It proved that this mission, unity in support of Israel, which I hold so close to my heart, is a global one. It demonstrated the power of 18,000 people coming together to rally around a common cause.
Most of all, it proved that, as a college student beginning this journey, I was not alone.
More than 4,000 college students came together in D.C., comprising a significant portion of the AIPAC participants. Students of varying faiths, backgrounds, religions and political parties gathered from colleges and universities all across the nation. This delegation, recognized by several of the conference’s keynote speakers, represented the future of the American-Israeli relationship.
“This was an incredibly impactful experience, where I had the opportunity to network with and learn from peers and visionaries in the Pro-Israel community,” said college senior Aaron Platt, a member of University of North Texas Hillel’s student delegation. “AIPAC reassured the importance of outspoken activism for the American-Israel relationship, and the importance of speaking out against anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and the BDS movement. I am extremely proud to have had this profoundly moving experience at my first of many AIPAC policy conferences.”
The policy proved impactful not just for Jewish students, but for all who care about ensuring the continuity of the American-Israeli relationship.
“As a Christian, I learned some of the unique challenges facing the Jewish people and the Jewish state,” said University of Houston student John Douglas. “This has widely opened my eyes, and broadly increased my sense of scope in that region.”
The Policy Conference featured morning and afternoon general sessions with keynote speakers, as well as several smaller breakout sessions scheduled throughout the day. This gave participants the autonomy to choose sessions and personalize their AIPAC experiences. Sessions ranged from “Israel in the Media” to “Why a Jewish State” to “Campaign Update: 2020.”
Addressing the interests of more than 18,000 people may seem a daunting task, but the conference was able to successfully tailor the sessions in meaningful and impactful ways. The audience, for example, in “Power Play: Women in Politics,” looked different than that of a typical session. The panel, which featured Democratic and Republican congresswomen and a neutral moderator, was filled with young women eager to dip their toes into the world of politics, ready to make an impact.
Throughout the sessions and speakers, the theme of bipartisanship remained consistent.
“When it seems like bipartisanship is in short supply, let it be clear that we stand in support of Israel’s right to defend herself,” said Senator Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.
I am a student who is constantly surrounded by a world of polarized media, fiery rhetoric, and drastically opposing political views from both sides, and entering into a political arena can feel slightly overwhelming. After attending AIPAC, however, I am no longer intimidated. I am ready. I am ready to do everything in my power to work with policy makers on both sides of the aisle to bridge the political divide. I am ready to advocate for strengthening and ensuring the existence of Israel, and the security of her statehood.
As Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu remarked in his speech — which, due to threatening conditions in Israel occurring even during our conference, was broadcast long-distance rather than during his scheduled live appearance — “We are the Jewish people. We stand up. We fight. And we win.”
I am ready to fight, and as the power of this AIPAC conference has shown, more than 4,000 college students are ready to fight along with me.

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Tiferet’s 26th Kosher Chili Cook-off ready to get cookin’

Tiferet’s 26th Kosher Chili Cook-off ready to get cookin’

Posted on 28 March 2019 by admin

Photo: Tiferet Israel
Last year’s panel will judge this year’s chili as well.

Staff Report

The chief chili cook-off committee is finalizing plans for Tiferet Israel’s 26th Annual Kosher Chili Cook-off set for Sunday, March 31, on the synagogue’s campus, 10909 Hillcrest Road near Royal Lane. Gates open at 11 a.m., rain or shine.
This year’s event has some exciting new features in addition to some of the tried and true favorites for all ages. Musical entertainment will be provided by three bands.
The Side Gig Band plays a broad spectrum of Pop and Rock from the ‘70s to NOW — from Clapton, Green Day, Queen and The Doobies to Jon Mayer and Ed Sheeran. Ron Nevelow, Bruce Katz, Ron Friedman, Rob Shrell, Rusty Cooper and Joel Futterman will entertain and open the music for this year’s Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off with style!
The Mazik Experience was created to continue the Mazik Brothers Band’s 14-year run playing at Tiferet’s Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off, and their legacy as the “sound of the Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off.” After the loss in 2018 of its leader, Jim Schwartz, the remaining Mazik Bros., Rusty Cooper, Rob Shrell and Joel Futterman, waited for the right musician/friend and opportunity to present itself. They asked Eric Spomer, a talented musician and performer for 40 years, to step into the role of singer and guitar player with Rusty to honor the heritage of Jim Schwartz and the Mazik Brothers along with its many fans. Playing mainly ‘60s and ‘70s classic pop and rock, attendees are likely to know and sing along with everything they play: Beatles, Eagles, Billy Joel, Rolling Stones, Springsteen and more. This will be the 15th year that the original band members perform at Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off!
Windy City
While this will be Windy City’s first appearance at the Chili Cook-off, David Judson, Jim Rosenthal and Bob Rosen are no strangers to the event, having made prior appearances with the Mazik Brothers over the years.
David, Jim and Bob have played together in various bands and configurations over the past 15 years. Common to all of their pasts was that they each had played in “horn” bands when they were younger. The three started discussing how great it would be to play the music of Chicago. After they played together, they began the search for other members. They added trombonist John Williams and keyboards, trumpet, saxophone, a vocalist (to sing the Robert Lamm/ Terry Kath parts) and, most recently, Ken Eger to sing the extremely-difficult Peter Cetera parts.
“We are very excited to be playing at the Kosher Chili Cook-off,” said Jim Rosenthal, the band’s drummer. “We’re hoping for great weather, as this is our first outdoor show.”
More activities and entertainment
While the music has been a central feature of the cook-off for many years, there is something for everyone.
Other activities and highlights include:
•Book reading and crafts by the PJ Library
•A special chili cook-off puppet show by the Pitzel Puppet Players, Gail Mabel and Naomi Sanit
•Music and singing for children by Music Together
•Professionally managed rides and games by Amusement Management International, with choices appropriate for little children through teens
•Balloon and face painting artists,
•Home Depot will offer opportunities for young folks to do wood craft projects under the supervision of Home Depot personnel
•Meet Dallas Police officers and see inside a police car
•BBQ sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs prepared by Texas Kosher BBQ
•Popcorn and cotton candy prepared by the JCC
•Local vendors selling a variety of personal and food items
•Raffle for sports and art items
•Split the Pot Raffle
•Information from local charitable organizations
In conjunction with this year’s event, the Recovery Resource Council, which recently merged with The Council on Alcohol & Drugs, will hold a Drug Takeback. This will be a great opportunity to gather up expired, unused, and unwanted prescription or over-the-counter medications (human and animal) for safe and proper disposal. The drop-off event helps to keep these types of drugs out of the water supply and from being used by unauthorized users. Medications can be dropped off in their original containers or — with the exception of liquids — in a plastic baggie. All of the medications dropped off will immediately be placed into a container and, at the end of the event, taken directly to the Drug Enforcement Agency to be destroyed. Please note, needles (any sharps) or inhalers (any combustibles) will not be accepted at this event. However, needles and EpiPens can be placed in a plastic container (such as a detergent or milk bottle); tape the lid securely, and write the word “needles” or “sharps” on the container and then place it in your normal trash bin.
The judges
While entertainment is a key feature, the main attraction is the chili competition. Kosher Chili Cook-off Judges: Judging at a chili cook-off is no easy task. It takes a special kind of person (palate and stomach) to taste and discern between dozens of chili recipes in one day. An all-star team of judges has been empaneled for the 26th Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off. In alphabetical order, they are:
David Feder
David Feder and his family have been a part of Tiferet Israel for 55 years. He’s been involved in the food business in one form or another for half of that time, having been a noted chef in Dallas and Austin, a food writer (including for The Dallas Morning News and The Dallas Times-Herald). Later he taught food science and nutrition at UT Austin before becoming a full-time journalist. Now residing in the Midwest, he has worked for a number of magazines, including Better Homes and Gardens, LightStyle and First, and also wrote “The Skinny Carbs Diet Book” (Rodale Press, 2010).
Chef Michael Mrugala
Chef Mike has been in the industry for over 43 years and has worked for the Olive Garden for over 14 years. He runs the entire kitchen operation at the restaurant on Northwest Highway. He is a member of the American Culinary Federation, Texas Chefs Association and a FMP from the National Restaurant Association, CFBE from the American Hotel and Lodging Association along with being a Certified ServSafe Instructor & Registered Servsafe Examination Proctor and a National Registry of Food Safety Professionals Test Administrator/Proctor. He teaches culinary arts at Tarrant County College.
Pete Nolasco
A native of Texas, Chef Pete is the Chef Owner of Chef Pete Catering and Ice Carving in Dallas and has worked in the best of Dallas restaurants and hotels for many years such as Hyatt Regency Hotel DFW, The Four Seasons Hotel, Sambucca Jazz Café, The Italian Club of Dallas and more. Chef Pete is also an artist and has received many awards and accolades for his ice pieces and his teachings of the art of ice carving. The director of the Dallas Chapter Texas Chef Association, he is a member of the Epicurean World Master Chef Society. Chef Pete was awarded the Best Caterer in Addison, Texas, in 2013. He has traveled with the Epicurean World Master Chef Society to Limerick, Ireland, and won the gold medal in healthy food competition.
Kim Schroeder
Native Texan, Kim Schroeder has been in the food service industry her entire career. She worked at the Dallas Market Center as a director for 10 years and has been the Retail Food Service associate director at the University of North Texas for the past 14 years. Kim is happily married for 19 years with one daughter. When not working, Kim likes to travel and host parities.
Tom Schroeder
Tom was born in Connecticut, but moved to Texas as soon as he could. He has been an executive chef for 34 years. A Johnson & Wales University graduate, he opened the OPUS restaurant at the Meyerson Symphony Center in 1993; then, was the chef at the World Trade Center, Dallas, for 15 years. He is the senior executive chef for the Baylor Scott & White Healthcare System.
Cook-off tips
Winners for the cook-off beef (First, Second and Third) and veggie (First) categories are announced in the late afternoon.
There is also a People’s Choice category that all attendees can participate in choosing their favorite chili. Simply cast your vote at the booth of your choice by placing your token in the team’s ballot box. Each paid admission includes a single ballot for the People’s Choice award.
Recommended parking is at the Jewish Community Center, which is five minutes away. Free shuttle buses will be in place for the entire event. There is also local parking in the neighborhood.
Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children 4 to 10 which includes a free hot dog. Children 3 and under are free.
For more information, visit http://kosherchilicookoff.us/.

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Laura Miller aims for Dallas District 13 seat

Laura Miller aims for Dallas District 13 seat

Posted on 21 March 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Laura Miller
Laura Miller with her husband Steve Wolens and children, from left, Lily, Max and Alex.

 

By James Russell
Special to the TJP

Whether as mayor, councilwoman or investigative reporter, Laura Miller has never shied away from taking on Dallas City Hall. Now, the two-time breast cancer survivor and Dallas’ third female Jewish mayor is the first former mayor to run for Dallas City Council.
That’s at least according to the city employee who accepted her paperwork for City Council District 13 two hours before last month’s filing deadline. At the least, she’s running for office again after 12 years in private life, spending time with her husband, former State Rep. Steve Wolens, a Democrat, and watching her three children grow up.
She enjoyed private life so much she first asked potential challengers.
But they declined.
“The last thing I thought I’d do is run,” she said.
Miller was elected to city council in 1998 from Oak Cliff before running a successful campaign for mayor in 2002. But she’s now running for the zig zagging north Dallas district currently represented by Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates, who declined to run for mayor. (Mayor Mike Rawlings is term-limited.) She may be running for a different district, in a different role, and in a Dallas different from a decade ago, but she is running on the same platform as her previous pro-neighborhood, pro-infrastructure campaigns. (“Police, parks, pools and potholes,” as she said when she was mayor.)
She really wishes she had more time.
“Ideally you would get five to six months to run a campaign. But instead we get nine weeks,” she said.
The district stretches from Central and Hillcrest, dips into Lemmon and includes Vickery Meadows.
“It’s a varied district,” she said.
“Unlike running for mayor,” which includes campaigning on major issues such as pension reform to bread and butter issues like potholes, “running for council gives you a different perspective,” she said.
She bought a house in the district after she was elected to the city’s top post in 2002. She then moved to the district in 2004, citing a long commute for her children to get to school, much less from Oak Cliff to City Hall.
Even after she left office, her council members shared her cautious approach to encroaching development.
“The council members were homeowner-centric,” she said. Many of those predecessors have endorsed her, including three of Gates’ predecessors Mitchell Rasansky, Donna Blumer and Sid Stahl.
“But the last six years, Councilwoman Gates has taken the opposite approach,” she said. “She lets developers file zoning cases for anything they want to build, no matter how inappropriate or how much a neighborhood opposes it. We’ve had six years of nonstop fighting between homeowners and City Hall,” Miller said. “Gates will continually tell people she hasn’t made up her mind on a project, so homeowners and developers battle — sometimes for years — right up until projects get a city council vote. It’s exhausting and disrespectful to homeowners. That is the reason I’m running.”
One case in particular involves dense development just south of Preston Center. Single-family homeowners are pushing back since St. Michael & All Angel Church on Douglas Avenue entered a joint venture agreement with Lincoln Property Company to build hi-rise apartments and an office tower on vacant land next to the church. Opponents drafted a petition and made yard signs demanding “No More Towers in Preston Center.” They are calling instead for focus on easing traffic congestion.
Miller points out those recommendations — fixing traffic and infrastructure needs before any new development is approved — were first outlined in a series of recommendations made in the Northwest Highway and Preston Road Area Plan. The plan was developed by a panel of homeowners and developers selected by Councilmember Gates and unanimously adopted by the Dallas City Council in January 2017. Miller served on that panel
Miller’s opposition is not to density or development alone but irresponsible development — that is, new development without regard to infrastructure needs, walkability, design, green space, street and side yard setbacks and landscaping.
“How do we sustain our most stable neighborhoods without common-sense development guidelines?” she asked. “The community deserves a choice in who represents them now and a healthy debate about the future of the district.”
Her campaign treasurer Doug Deason, president of Deason Capital Services, agreed.
“The developers have had the upper hand in District 13 for the past six years, and homeowners and small businesses are tired of City Hall ignoring their pleas for help,” he said.
Gates defended her record when asked about Miller’s issues.
“I’ve got a solid record of leading for basics like streets, infrastructure and police, and that’s where I’m focused going forward,” Gates told The Dallas Morning News. “That’s why I chose to run for re-election — to keep leading for these basics and to keep our neighborhoods strong. We’re on the right path, and we need to stay the course.”
But Miller said the potential multistory buildings around Preston Center were not her only issue.
“I noticed west of Midway, we have nice neighborhoods but no good retail,” she said. Many residents have to go east of the Dallas North Tollway to shop for the basics. Streets are crowded with fast-moving traffic, sidewalk crossings are nonexistent or unsafe for pedestrians, and up-zoning on the edges of single-family neighborhoods threatens their character and tranquility.”
“A lot of these neighborhoods haven’t fought these cases,” she said, “because when homeowners want to fight, they don’t know who to call.”
Her other issues for running call to mind her other mayoral priorities: addressing crime, homelessness and the morale of police and fire.
Homelessness is a personal issue. She participates in The Ladder Project through her synagogue Shearith Israel.
The concept is simple: 1,000 families help a homeless person achieve self-sufficiency financially and socially. Working with The Bridge, a homeless center in downtown Dallas, they successfully helped a 58-year-old man move into his own apartment. They are now preparing to work with a second, yet-to-be-identified individual.
For Miller, the project may just help one person at a time. “But we can’t do nothing,” she said. “My heart is with this project,” as much as her eyes are back on City Hall.

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Anne Frank’s stepsister to visit North Texas

Anne Frank’s stepsister to visit North Texas

Posted on 13 March 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Eva Schloss
Eva Schloss will share her story and message of hope at Chabad’s annual fundraiser March 27.

 

Every Holocaust survivor is a different person, with a unique story. One of the most different of all those stories will be told at the Eisemann Center in Richardson on Wednesday evening, March 27, by Eva Schloss, who is widely known as “Anne Frank’s Step-Sister.”
At almost 90, she’s been making up for lost time. Like many survivors, Eva didn’t talk about her personal experiences for almost four decades — in her case, 40 years spent back in Europe before the breakthrough came.
She was born in 1929, and returned from Auschwitz in 1945. Did people feel sorry for this teenage girl? “I was just 16 when the war ended, and I wanted everyone to know what I had suffered, and to feel sorry for me. But no one wanted to hear,” is how she begins to answer that question.
“Everybody in Europe had lost family,” she recalls. “People said to just move on. How could they possibly understand? So, like all survivors, I buried my thoughts. I couldn’t sleep properly. I had nightmares. There was no counseling or therapy available.”
And there was nothing different for her until 1986 when, long after she was a grown woman, she had come to London to study photography. “Not everybody can go to Auschwitz,” she says, about the continuing difficulties in getting people to understand the Holocaust. But that year, a traveling exhibition came to town — an exhibition based on Anne Frank — and she was invited to attend. And at it, suddenly, someone announced, “And now, Eva will talk.”
“I was not a public speaker,” she thought then. But speak she did, for the very first time. And once the floodgates of memory were opened to 300 listeners, Eva found out she really was. Since then, there has been no stopping her. Her writing began soon after, and she has now published three books; the first one, “After Auschwitz,” contains all her memories. “Once I let go of them,” she says now, “I couldn’t recall them any more. I had to use my own book to look them up!”
The opportunity to hear Eva locally is being offered by Chabad of Plano/Collin County. She’s on a current tour of 19 Chabad centers, but audiences are in no way limited to those with Chabad connections. According to Rabbi Menachem Block of the local Chabad, “She is a piece of history, and this will be historic for the people who will hear her. She wants people to know about the Holocaust, that it really happened, that she was there. And her message to the world is tolerance, our common humanity and respecting diversity.”
Eva is grateful to her Chabad sponsors for helping to bring her messages to such wide audiences. When people ask about her beliefs, as they often do, she will respond, “I’m not a ‘practicing Jew.’ I’m certainly not Orthodox. But I’m proud of my Jewish heritage.” In the camps, she says, “You could only pray for everything to stop!” She has actually debated with some rabbis about losing faith in God, but maintains that this is not the truth: What happened was a loss of faith in humanity.
The desire to create a future that people can have faith in was the basis for her recent widely publicized meeting with students in a Southern California high school who, in a terribly mistaken attempt at humor during a weekend party, formed a swastika out of beer cups and made the Heil Hitler salute over them. Of course this debacle made its immediate way onto social media, and then to Rabbi Reuven Mintz, director of the Chabad Center for Jewish Life in Newport Beach, California, who arranged for the meeting. Now, as Eva has moved on to continue spreading her messages of tolerance and hope for the future, Rabbi Mintz is beginning his work with the high school’s leadership to further a program of Holocaust education.
But what everyone wants to know most is how the Eva-and-Anne connection came about. That story begins with the arrivals in Amsterdam of two families seeking what then seemed safe refuge from Hitler’s Nazis. The family of Anne Frank, who was just one month younger than Eva, had come first, from Germany; Eva’s family, the Geiringers, came later, from Austria. By luck, or fate or the hand of God, their apartments faced each other, and the two young girls became playmates first, and later, good friends.
Of course, the peace they had hoped for eluded both families in the Netherlands as it had in other parts of Europe. While the Franks were hidden in what has since become the world’s most famous attic, the Geiringers moved from safe-house to safe-house, until both families were finally betrayed and transported to the death camps. There, Anne was lost, along with her mother and sister Margot; gone also were Eva’s father and brother Heinz. After the war, the three survivors — Anne’s father Otto Frank, and Eva with her mother Elfriede Geiringer — returned separately to Amsterdam, hoping to rescue bits of their lost loved ones from old hiding places. Otto found his daughter’s now-world-famous diary; Elfriede found her son’s paintings and poems, which have also been shown and read publicly. And the two adults found — and subsequently married — each other, making Eva the after-the-fact stepsister of her dearly departed friend Anne.
Eva’s first stop on this current tour was at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where she drew a crowd of 1,200 that was covered by The Washington Post. Always, her message echoes and enhances that of our Dallas Holocaust Museum: “It is the danger of the bystander. I tell people, this is the way Germany was: Not everyone was anti-Semitic or supported Hitler; some had good Jewish friends. But they took the easy way out and looked the other way,” she said. “We have to teach young people to speak out when they see injustice.”
Photography first took a back seat in Eva’s life when, in London in 1953, she met and married another German survivor, Zvi Schloss. Also like many survivors, “I was desperate to have a family,” she recalls. In their 27 years together before her husband’s death, the couple had three daughters, and now Eva also has five grandchildren. Her work today continues to be spreading a personal message of hopeful optimism despite the past. And she is already being helped to do so into the farthest future by the newest technology (which will be seen locally when Dallas’ new Holocaust Museum opens in September): she is one of the first survivors to have been “hologrammed,” making it possible for viewers to have interactive contact with them — to ask questions and receive answers — even long after they are gone. Eva’s “living image” is already telling her story to visitors of Holocaust museums in New York, California and Illinois.
“This is complex,” she says of the new technique. “But it is the best and most appropriate way to keep the moral lessons of genocide alive.”

This “Historic Evening with Anne Frank’s Step- Sister Eva Schloss” will start at 7 p.m. (checkin), with the program beginning at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 27, at the Eisemann Center, 2351 Performance Drive in Richardson. Tickets are priced at $25 and $50, $10 admission for students. They can be purchased at www.eisemanncenter.com.

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Party like it’s 1999: Anshai Torah turns 20

Party like it’s 1999: Anshai Torah turns 20

Posted on 07 March 2019 by admin

Photo: Deb Silverthorn
“The history of Anshai proudly reflects a congregation whose roots are deeply embedded in the fertile soil of the greater Jewish community,” said Rabbi Stefan Weinberg (left), who has led Congregation Anshai Torah since its beginning, sharing the pulpit with Rabbi Michael Kushnick for the last six years.

Submitted Story

Congregation Anshai Torah is celebrating 20 years as a family, a spiritual home, a place to grow, to learn, to pray, and to build one’s Jewish stronghold. Together with the greater community, that celebration will break out at 6 p.m. Sunday, March 31, at the Hilton Granite Park Hotel.
Gathering to party like it’s 1999, the event is open to the public.
“It’s been a supreme honor to lead Anshai Torah from its outset on July 1, 1998. To witness the pride, joy, and spiritual fulfillment experienced by so many who never dreamed of creating a synagogue has been the most exciting aspect of my leadership,” said Rabbi Stefan Weinberg. “The nurturing of our congregation has been a labor of love and to have shared this journey with Wende z”l, and a dedicated and passionate cadre of others, have been some of the most meaningful blessings in life.
“This celebration gives reason to pause and appreciate our blessings and the impact we’ve had on so many.”
The evening will offer food from Simcha Kosher Catering, a photo montage and program honoring the congregation as well as Dot and Basil Haymann (among the congregation’s founders) and entertainment and dancing with the music of the Jordan Kahn Orchestra.
Co-chairs Ashley Grossfeld and Julie Haymann, along with Beth Berk, Cathy Brook, Dot Haymann, Marcy Kahn, a dedicated committee and Anshai Torah’s staff, are planning a night of fun and honor.
“Twenty years as a Conservative congregation that continues to thrive is quite an accomplishment and this is the perfect time to celebrate,” said Julie Haymann. “It is a great honor for us all to work on something so exciting that celebrates Anshai Torah as well as Dot and Basil.”
Anshai Torah’s family tree began with roots in Anshai Emet and Shomray Torah.
•1998: They formed their first joint home on Village Creek Drive. Those roots have grown branches and generations with more than 550 families.
• Sept. 3, 2001: A march of Torahs and ruach made its way to Anshai Torah’s permanent home on Parker Road in West Plano.
•2004 marked the first of many congregational trips to Israel.
•2005: The voices of the Kol Rina men’s a cappella choir first sounded.
•2010: The Behringer Sanctuary was built.
•2011: Anshai Torah’s Illustrated Torah arrived.
•2013: Rabbi Michael Kushnick joined Rabbi Weinberg.
•2017: Light began shining through in a more colorful manner, stained-glass panels at the front of the sanctuary now complemented by 12 encircling the sanctuary, depicting the tribes of Israel.
•2018: Project 613 brought Wende’s Torah, the first congregational Torah written specifically for them — in memory of its late rebbetzin.
A melding of families, Anshai Torah will toast the Haymanns, who have been involved since their arrival from Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1978. Originally members of Anshai Emet, they are among many who have contributed to two decades of success at the shul.
“From early on our love of Anshai was born and our commitment began. We’ve always supported Anshai as a cornerstone of the community and from that we expanded our involvement to many aspects of Dallas’ Jewish life,” said Dot Haymann. “We believe that to impact change and make a difference you need to be involved. Only by being a leader can you influence the direction of change.”
The Haymann family includes children Gary (Julie), Sandy (Andrew) Marks and Tracy (BJ) Elliott; and grandchildren Abby and Alex Elliott, Eli, Izzie and Kaya Haymann and Adrianna and Jake Marks. The Haymanns have shared to Anshai Torah the ark that houses its Torahs, the Haymann Foyer and Menorah — which stands 20 feet tall at the synagogue’s entrance — and a Torah rescued from Tehran, donated in memory of Basil’s father Fred and the couple’s late son Clinton.
“We’ve been so fortunate to have people like Dot and Basil, with their beautiful family at their side, supporting Anshai in such significant ways,” said Rabbi Weinberg. “Their leadership profile is defined by their support for the community at large.”
The Haymanns’ children have taken their example to heart.
“Our parents taught us early on to give back and that means more than financial donations; it means helping wherever we can with time and energy,” said Sandy Haymann Marks, who celebrated her bat mitzvah at Anshai Emet and was married at Anshai Torah. “The best is coming together, three generations to pray and celebrate together.”
Supporting AIPAC, the Ann and Nate Levine Academy, the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education & Tolerance, Greene Family Camp, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, the Holocaust Museum, Texas Torah Institute and The Legacy at Home and Legacy Senior Communities, Inc., the family’s touch is seen throughout the Dallas Jewish community
“Lead with passion and example has always been our mantra,” said Dot, “and we’re so humbled to share this tremendous milestone as Anshai celebrates 20 years of strength and possibility.”
Rabbi Weinberg reflected on the congregation’s two decades.
“The history of Anshai proudly reflects a congregation whose roots are deeply embedded in the fertile soil of the greater Jewish community,” he said. “May God’s presence continue to nurture and protect the precious spiritual home we’ve been privileged to construct.”
To RSVP, for sponsorship opportunities or to participate in the tribute book (by March 8), visit tinyurl.com/anshai20.

— Submitted by
Deb Silverthorn

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