Archive | Featured

Preserving small-town history

Preserving small-town history

Posted on 22 June 2017 by admin

Corsicana synagogue receives $25,000 grant to maintain 117-year-old structure, p.5

Corsicana spends $30,000 each year to maintain the building.

Corsicana spends $30,000 each year to maintain the building.

By Hollace Ava Weiner
Special to the TJP

The Texas Jewish Historical Society is donating $25,000 to Corsicana’s century-old, onion- domed synagogue, an architectural gem that needs $403,000 to replace rotting wood, upgrade HVAC equipment and install a fire-sprinkler system.

 

Photo: Fort Worth Jewish Archives Corsicana was a thriving city during the first half of the 20th century before urban development soon phased out the town. In its heyday, Corsicana was home to more than 500 Jews, some of whom were familiar with the stained-glass windows.

Photo: Fort Worth Jewish Archives
Corsicana was a thriving city during the first half of the 20th century before urban development soon phased out the town. In its heyday, Corsicana was home to more than 500 Jews, some of whom were familiar with the stained-glass windows.

The city, which has owned and maintained the Moorish revival Temple Beth-El since 1987, is optimistic that the TJHS grant will attract funds from Jewish foundations and individuals, which in the past have contributed little for the landmark’s preservation.
Babbette Samuels, 89, the oldest surviving member of Corsicana’s once-thriving Jewish community, said it was a “miracle” that the TJHS approved the $25,000 grant. “The temple is a monument to Judaism and to this small town,” the octogenarian said, following an emotional discussion and vote at a TJHS board meeting June 11 in Austin. “The city of Corsicana has been taking care of the synagogue all these years and will continue to do so. It just wants financial help.”
The 117-year-old Temple Beth-El is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has a Texas Historical Marker. Although repurposed as a city community center, the worship area —with its stained-glass windows, vintage menorahs and wooden pews — hosts Shabbat services once a month, drawing up to 20 people from miles around.
Dallas attorney Bud Silverberg, who grew up in Corsicana, told the TJHS board, “Temple Beth-El is not just a structure. It represents a part of our Jewish heritage and the lives of Jews living in small towns in Texas and across our great country.”
Since 1980, when Temple Beth-El’s congregation disbanded and its exotic building faced demolition, the local Christian community has rallied to preserve the religious landmark. Initially, a Save-the-Temple Committee staged potluck suppers, applied for grants, and hired a preservation architect to restore the building and reopen it as a community center available for weddings, parties and meetings.
The synagogue, located on 15th Street, is within sight of the Collin Street Bakery, known internationally for its fruitcake. Both landmarks draw tourists from around the world, most recently two Israelis representing the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism. The website www.Synagogues360.org describes the building as “a fine example of Eastern European wood and Gothic masonry motifs modified for American frontier construction.”
Corsicana (population 25,000), a rural county seat 55 miles southwest of Dallas, budgets $30,000 annually for the temple’s upkeep. Seven years ago it restored the building’s twin onion-domed towers and three stained-glass windows — which some authorities say were crafted by Tiffany.
British-born Judith Steely, a non-Jew and president of the recently formed Corsicana Preservation Foundation, said local residents often wonder why Jews haven’t contributed toward maintaining this landmark. Last year she convened a meeting of Dallas residents with ancestral ties to Corsicana’s Jewish community. The idea to approach the TJHS for funds came from that meeting. The ad hoc committee plans to draft a formal fundraising plan to tap Jewish institutions and individuals.

he city restored three stained-glass windows seven years ago.

The city restored three stained-glass windows seven years ago.

The city preservation society has also received a $25,000 restoration grant from the Navarro Community Foundation and $1,500 from the Church in the Park, a local Southern Baptist congregation. The Parks and Recreation Department has published a handsome brochure promoting the temple as a unique venue for weddings and receptions.
The distinctive synagogue, with its octagonal towers and keyhole windows, has seating for 150. The main sanctuary has a rose window with a Star of David and two other stained-glass windows depicting matching tablets of the Ten Commandments.
During the first half of the 20th century, Corsicana was a thriving oil, industrial, mercantile and agricultural center. It became home to more than 500 Jews and both a Reform and Orthodox synagogue. During the late-1960s, the younger generation began gravitating to urban areas. Faced with dwindling membership, the Reform Temple Beth-El, unable to afford the upkeep of its landmark building, disbanded in 1980. The Orthodox congregation, Agudas Achim, dissolved in 1999. Its building became a senior citizens center.
Temple Beth-El is the only onion-domed house of worship in the Southwest, and one of a handful across the country. The others include Temple Aaron in Trinidad, Colorado; Congregation B’nai Israel in Butte, Montana; and the Plum Street Temple in Cincinnati. The onion dome harks back to the Golden Age of Spain in Jewish history. Its use in Moorish revival architecture reflected optimism that the American Jewish experience would lead to another Golden Age.
Writing in 1990 about Corsicana’s distinctive synagogue, Texas historian Jane Manaster described it as a two-story wooden structure “fronted by a gabled roof and squat twin towers, each exotically topped by an onion-shaped cupola or dome.” Her article in the East Texas Historical Journal deemed the house of worship “a remarkable ecclesiastical heirloom.”
Renovations on Temple Beth-El have already begun, utilizing funds donated to date. According to Charla Allen, director of Parks and Recreation, restoration work is divided into four phases:

  • Remove existing siding and substrate, install new plywood, weather barrier, and wood siding with trim to match original;
  • Seal dissimilar material junctions with urethane sealant; paint new siding and trim with two coats of acrylic latex paint;
  • Refurbish 24 windows and two doors;
  • Install fire-sprinkler system and up-to-date heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems.

For further information or to make individual donations, contact the City of Corsicana Parks and Recreation Department, 903-654-4874 or www.cityofcorsicana.com.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (0)

3 generations of volunteering, leadership

Posted on 15 June 2017 by admin

Risch family finds time to give back to Dallas community

By Chris Kelley
Special to the TJP

No doubt there are many families in the Dallas community whose members devote their time and provide support to local organizations. The Risch family is one of them.
Frank Risch was recruited to join the Dallas Holocaust Museum board of directors by fellow board member Tom Halsey and then-President David Bell in the mid-’90s. At that time, the Museum occupied a portion of the lower level of the Jewish Community Center. Risch has been a tireless supporter of the Museum for twenty-three years, watching it outgrow its space at the JCC and move to a larger leased space in the West End Historic District of downtown Dallas. His commitment to the Museum’s mission to teach the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights to combat prejudice, hatred, and indifference stemmed in part from the loss of family members during the Holocaust.
Frank and his wife, Helen, are an altruistic team willing to donate their time and contribute financial support to the causes they’ve chosen, even though they have vastly different charitable interests. Helen is on the boards of Levine Academy, Legacy, the Federation’s Jewish Women’s Philanthropy Center, and the Visiting Nurse Association of Dallas. Frank serves on the boards of the Dallas Theater Center, the AT&T Performing Arts Center, Communities Foundation of Texas, Carnegie Mellon University-Tepper School of Business, and other organizations in addition to the Museum.
Last fall, Helen was co-chair of the Museum’s inaugural City-Wide Read and Performance, where 12,000 Dallas ISD fifth-graders were treated to pianist Mona Golabek’s musical/theatrical performance of her mother’s story as a Kindertransport refugee. The performances followed weeks of the students reading and discussing Golabek’s book, The Children of Willesden Lane, and learning about the Holocaust. The Dallas Holocaust Museum education team trained Dallas ISD teachers and librarians using age-appropriate curricula for the students. It took six performances over three days to accommodate all the Dallas ISD and Levine Academy students. Helen was there to welcome them all.
Frank was honored as the Hope for Humanity award recipient in 2011 when, in his acceptance speech, he called for the construction of a new museum which could accommodate triple or more the number of visitors as the current small facility. This year, Frank is vice-chair of the Museum’s board of directors, a member of the Executive Committee, co-chair of the Capital Campaign along with Rebecca Fletcher and Ron Steinhart, and a member of the Campaign Cabinet.
He and his fellow co-chairs have been integral in raising funds to build the new Museum. With their leadership, the Campaign Committee raised $45 million during the quiet phase of the campaign, and then took the campaign public last October, increasing donations to $54.5 million. The strong belief of the board is that after serving North Central Texas for 32 years, the Museum should continue to tell the story of the Holocaust along with other genocides, but to significantly larger audiences from all over North Texas and surrounding states.
The new Museum will build from that foundation to include the story of the establishment of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights after World War II and expand on the advancement of human and civil rights in the U.S.
“The Museum has once again outgrown its space, making constructing a larger state-of-the-art building critical for the fulfillment of its mission,” said Risch. He points to the growing number of active hate groups in Texas — more than any other state. He also cites racial discord and the July 2016 attack on Dallas police officers — the deadliest attack on law enforcement since 9/11.
“The Museum provides an opportunity to the greater Dallas community, and beyond, a chance to better understand differences and create platforms for dialogue, rather than fear, hatred, and prejudice,” he says. “The Museum plays an important role in teaching Upstander versus bystander behavior.”
Jolene Risch, Helen and Frank’s daughter, co-chaired the Museum’s spring fundraisers for the past two years. She admits that fundraising is not her favorite role, but she was monumentally successful, breaking the Museum’s fundraising record with more than $157,000 raised for the Opening Night of Cabaret in 2016 and $150,000 raised at Opening Night of Wiesenthal this past April. “I needed only to think about the anti-Semitism prevalent today and the escalation of similar sentiment in the pogroms perpetrated in Europe. I gained the confidence and momentum to talk to others about the importance of supporting the Museum. I told them our city needs this Museum and the programs it offers.”
Jolene is the president and CEO of a management and executive search firm, Risch Results, helping small- to medium-sized companies find top talent. She now serves with her father on the Museum’s board.
“The new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum will build on what the current Museum offers,” said Jolene. “It will extend its content to include other human rights issues and expand its coverage of other genocides. It will continue to inspire visitors to explore the lessons of the Holocaust to understand how the Holocaust, past genocides, and other atrocities are pertinent to contemporary issues. It’s a community museum, and that’s why the capital campaign has been successful.”
Helen and Frank Risch’s grandson and Jolene’s son, Aaron Minsky, is 18 years old. He graduated this spring from Yavneh Academy of Dallas and will start college in the fall at Brandeis University. He intends to pursue a career in community service, business, and politics.
Aaron has served for nearly two years on the Museum’s Junior Board — first as a board member, then this year as chairman of the Junior Board. Aaron says that serving on the Junior Board was not overly burdensome with all the other activities of a student in his senior year of high school. He juggled school and an internship in addition to his duties on the board. “It’s the value of the time I spend with the Museum,” he said. “It is important for me to understand the roles my mother, grandfather, and grandmother have assumed at the Museum. Volunteering to work with staff at the speaker events and spending time with the Holocaust survivors offered me a tremendous value regarding education, volunteerism, and leadership.”
Like his mother and grandparents, Aaron believes it is important that the new Museum provide the space to present a broader range of topics and human rights issues challenging multiple communities, issues that stem from the same root cause as anti-Semitism, in addition to taking a deeper dive into the important lessons of the Holocaust.
In addition to all the activities Aaron has on his plate this year, he participated in the International March of the Living (IMOL). The IMOL is an annual educational program that brings individuals from all over the world to Poland and Israel in order to study the history of the Holocaust and to examine the roots of prejudice, intolerance, and hate. “Visiting the camps in Poland was emotionally draining. There is so much darkness, and the light becomes hard to see. Then, you step off the plane in Israel — in a country that was born from the Holocaust.”
Aaron was profoundly affected by the experience and found a deeper sense of understanding at the Yad Vashem Institute and the Book of Names, which contains the names of all the Holocaust victims that the Institute has been able to collect. “In that enormous book,” he said, “I found many victims with the last name ‘Risch,’ including my great-great-grandfather, Nathan Risch. The Dallas Holocaust Museum, now and in its future iteration as the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, is critical for North Central Texas. It will teach the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights to combat prejudice, hatred, and indifference by expanding its content to include a focus on other genocides and advances in human and civil rights in America.”
Mary Pat Higgins, president and CEO of the Dallas Holocaust Museum, says, “Three generations of the Risch family serve together to make Dallas better and they are leading by example.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (0)

JFGD transitions leadership at annual meeting

JFGD transitions leadership at annual meeting

Posted on 08 June 2017 by admin

By Judy Tashbook-Safern
Special to the TJP

On Thursday, June 15, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas will pay tribute to members of the Dallas Jewish community at its annual meeting, as JFGD thanks and highlights the work of outgoing board chair, Dan Prescott, and welcomes Mark Kreditor to the senior position. The program will begin at 7 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El, 8500 Hillcrest Road in Dallas.
“Our Federation is unbelievably blessed to have the lay leadership we do on our boards and committees,” said Federation President Bradley Laye. “Our Jewish community is so strong because of the wisdom, energy, passion and commitment of our lay leaders. Personally, I have learned so much from Dan Prescott; there is no better campaigner, and his vision and creativity in growing our community is audacious.”

Submitted photo Mark Kreditor (right) came to Dallas in 1981 and has been a member of the community ever since.

Submitted photo
Mark Kreditor (right) came to Dallas in 1981 and has been a member of the community ever since.

“He’s Mount Rushmore,” Kreditor says of his predecessor. “Dan is the face of the Dallas Jewish community and his community service has been monumental. He’s made an indelible mark during his tenure as board chair and I’m honored to follow him.”
Prescott responded in kind, saying: “Well, if we’re using geographical references, I’d have to say my friend is the ‘Top of the Mark’ because he is quite an entertainer! Mark is universally liked and has been a tremendous resource for many organizations in our community. He will be a great chair.”
Transitions are not always as smooth as this one but Prescott and Kreditor, who have been volunteering together for years in leadership positions at the J, fundraising for the Maccabi Games and at Yavneh Academy, have made this transfer of leadership a strategic and collaborative process.
“So many Federation board members are community leaders I have worked with over the years so we will be able to work well together right away, ideally with a very slight learning curve. Working with this board is like working with family. And with his talent and commitment, I couldn’t be more fortunate than to follow Dan into this important role.
“Building upon Dan’s accomplishments in this area, including hiring a superb security director, this board and I are going to continue and strengthen the Federation’s commitment to community security. We are also going to build upon Dan’s success in leading our community to combat BDS (the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement). Perhaps my largest goal in this position is to follow up on Dan’s survey of the volunteer experience by ensuring we have protocols and the right attitude toward engagement. With a warm embrace of all Dallas Jews, we will find a place for everyone who wants to serve at the Federation or anywhere in our community.”
Encouraging leader
One can’t hear Mark Kreditor speak for more than five minutes without hearing the words “warm,” “welcoming,” and “engaging.” Perhaps because those are the very words people use to describe him. But Kreditor uses those words to describe the Dallas Jewish community of which he has become such an integral member.
“I came to Dallas with a U-Haul in 1981, following the example of my Uncle Lou, who moved here in 1942. He said it was the most wonderful place to live and he was right! I love the fact that the people who greeted Carol and me when we moved here are the grandchildren of the people who welcomed Uncle Lou into the community 40 years earlier. That generational continuity is one of the most significant examples of what makes Dallas unique.”
Statistics indicate that every five minutes someone moves to North Texas. That’s a whopping 288 people a day. If our Metroplex has the same ratio of Jews to non-Jews found elsewhere in the United States, that means our community grows by five people a day.
‘We are absorbing between 1,800 and 2,000 new community members a year,” Kreditor said. “How we welcome and engage them must be at the forefront of how the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas operates in the years ahead. A community that grows as quickly as Dallas presents those of us who live here with tremendous opportunities. That means we need to be a step ahead of the next U-Haul.”
Kreditor’s vision extends far beyond onboarding new citizens. He is fascinated by the “big C” element of the Dallas Jewish Community. “Dallas is distinguished by our achdut — our Jewish unity. We experience community differently than people in New York, L.A., Chicago or Jerusalem. Go to an event here and you see everyone from the ultra-Reform to the ultra-Orthodox, smiling, talking, sharing experiences. We pray together, celebrate together, raise funds together, and together we are repairing the world. I want the young people who leave for college or to pursue professional opportunities to remember that something has happened to them growing up Jewish in Dallas. I want them to take Dallaskeit with them wherever they go and then to come home again and contribute to the beautiful work of previous generations. I always ask people: ‘If not you, who?’ ”
“Mark is beloved by so many in our community, and he and Carol are the absolute role models for why and how people should give — time, money, intellect and energy,” said Laye, eagerly anticipating the opportunity to partner with the new board chair. “By example, Mark will lead so many to do what comes so naturally for him as someone who just lives and breathes the work of our Jewish community so joyously.”

 

*****

Cynthia Feldman

Cynthia Feldman

Kim Velevis

Kim Velevis

Stan Rabin

Stan Rabin

Steven Davdioff

Steven Davdioff

The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas will host its 106th annual meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 15 at Temple Emanu-El’s Tobian Auditorium. The event will serve as a celebration and wrap-up of the 2017 campaign year for the organization.
This event will honor key volunteers and lay leadership of the Federation with the presentation of the following awards:

  • Bess Nathan Young Leadership Award: Kim Velevis
  • I. Zesmer Young Leadership Award: Steven Davidoff
  • Helen Gross Award: Stan Rabin
  • Bob Weinfeld Campaigner of the Year Award: Cynthia Feldman

The evening will also allow the Federation to pay tribute to its outgoing board chair, Daniel J. Prescott, while also installing its new board of directors, including Board Chair Mark Kreditor.
A crowd of 300 or more is expected, including professionals, elected officials and community leaders.
Cost is free, but registration is required for table seating arrangements. Light food will be served.
RSVP to Linda Montgomery at lmontgomery@jewishdallas.org.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (0)

Add this YouTuber to Pokemon playlist

Add this YouTuber to Pokemon playlist

Posted on 01 June 2017 by admin

Submitted photo Lee Steinfeld (right) stands next to Veronica Taylor, the original voice of Ash Ketchum from the Pokemon anime show.

Submitted photo
Lee Steinfeld (right) stands next to Veronica Taylor, the original voice of Ash Ketchum from the Pokemon anime show.

Steinfeld’s channel sees major growth from nostalgic anime subscriber base

By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP

Lee Steinfeld has turned a trip down memory lane into an opportunity to help others through the power of Pokemon and YouTube.
Steinfeld grew up with Pokemon, which became an American cultural phenomenon in the late 1990s after its debut in Japan.
Like many others close to his age, he watched the Pokemon animated television series. He played the video games on his Game Boy, opting to use Squirtle as his starter Pokemon in the original red and blue versions, and he was big into the Pokemon trading card game.
Almost two decades later, Steinfeld, now 30, is still opening packs of Pokemon cards. But instead of looking to build the best deck for a battle, he’s opening them up on his YouTube channel, named LeonHart (channel address: youtube.com/leonhart54), for a subscriber base approaching 158,000 and growing daily.
It’s a seemingly catch-all channel for Pokemon fanatics, both young and old.
Steinfeld tracks down and opens packs of cards on the channel. He does dramatic readings of Pokemon comic books. He recently built a stuffed animal Charmander at a Build-A-Bear workshop. And when Pokemon Go — the interactive smartphone game to catch Pokemon in real life came out, Steinfeld taught his subscribers how to catch a Pikachu as their starter Pokemon. He also has giveaways, ranging from Pokemon toys to cards, which have become popular with his subscribers.
Steinfeld started his YouTube channel in 2014 as a general gaming channel. He did a little bit of everything within that realm. He looked at classic and retro games, talked about current games, and of course Pokemon was part of the conversation.
“I followed much bigger personalities on YouTube and saw how they did things to raise money for charity and stuff,” Steinfeld said. “And I wanted to do that.”
Eventually Pokemon superseded the rest of Steinfeld’s channel. It was the most popular part of his channel, and for a kid who grew up trying to Catch ’Em All, it was also the most fun.
“I was really passionate and loved the nostalgic factor of it,” Steinfeld said. “It turned into Pokemon cards and games, and everything. And it really just blew up and became really successful.”
Steinfeld has experienced a real boom in subscribers over the past nine months. He had close to 20,000 subscribers last October and at that time he started putting more effort into the quality of his videos and interacting more with his viewers.
It worked.
He was up to 80,000 subscribers by the end of 2016, and the channel continued to grow each month.
As his channel grew, which has the slogan “more than a channel, it’s a community!” on the home page, Steinfeld has found ways to give back and raised funds for local charities.
That includes almost $4,000 for the Grant Halliburton Foundation on Mental Health and Suicide. Steinfeld has also raised money for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the American Heart Association.
“That was the main reason I started it, not just to interact with fans and be entertaining,” Steinfeld said. “I tried to do that early on, and we tried, but you can only do so much as a smaller channel. So it wasn’t until this January when I hit 100,000 subscribers when I was able to raise $4,000 for the Grant Halliburton Foundation with the help of my fans.”
That donation is a big point of pride for Steinfeld. He went to school with Halliburton at Plano West High School, and not long after high school graduation Halliburton committed suicide.
“One thing I’ve always wanted to do was always give back to his parents and their foundation, but to everyone else that is suffering from bipolar (disorder),” Steinfeld said. “It wasn’t up until I built that community up that I was able to create that type of ($4,000) donation.”
In a day and age where YouTube has evolved into a real career opportunity, Steinfeld isn’t making a dime. All of the money he makes from the channel, including hundreds of dollars in ad revenue, goes back into the channel or to support charities. He has also donated thousands of Pokemon cards to Toys for Tots and the Children’s Hospital of Plano.
He’s also having a great time and Steinfeld, who is a licensed attorney in Dallas, helped kick-start a campaign within the Pokemon community to help reunite Veronica Taylor with the Pokemon franchise.
Taylor was the original voice of Ash Ketchum, the main protagonist in the English-language dubbed Pokemon animated series. The voice actor was replaced in the Pokemon franchise in 2005.
Earlier this month Steinfeld met Taylor at a comic book shop in Plano and they opened packs of Pokemon cards on video.
“I had this great idea and she had told me she wanted to do the voice again,” Steinfeld, who also has done voice-over work, said. “And the Pokemon 20th anniversary movie is coming out in Japan in July. And we used that video to start a campaign to let the Pokemon company know that Veronica Taylor should be the voice of Ash Ketchum again.”
The video already has close to 260,000 views and has sparked conversation on other social media channels. Steinfeld has encouraged viewers to tweet at the Pokemon company, and he’s giving away a photo that Taylor signed to one random supporter.
“To be helping out the voice of Ash Ketchum, who I watched on TV all the time as a kid, the nostalgia factor of this is amazing,” Steinfeld said. “And to see a community wanting to help, that’s been great.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (1)

Restoring pride for fallen vets

Posted on 01 June 2017 by admin

Submitted report

On Monday, May 29, Boy Scouts associated with the Dallas Jewish Committee on Scouting and the Jewish War Veterans replaced old, weathered flags on the graves of Jewish veterans in three cemeteries with brand new U.S. flags.
The cemeteries were the Shearith Israel Memorial Park, the Emanu-El Cemetery, and Sparkman-Hillcrest.

— Photos by Stephen Shore

 

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (0)

DJCF scholarship ceremony looks to future, past

DJCF scholarship ceremony looks to future, past

Posted on 01 June 2017 by admin

DSC_9534

Volunteers honored for work, receive more than $130K in grants

By Judy Tashbook Safern
Special to the TJP

The Dallas Jewish Community Foundation’s scholarship program is one of the best-kept secrets in philanthropy. That modest cover was blown Monday night, May 22, when an enthusiastic crowd assembled at the JCC to celebrate as 48 extraordinary students gratefully received more than $130,000 toward their pursuit of higher education.
Jewish community volunteers — 34 this year — dedicate hours evaluating scholarship applications, reviewing grades, reading essays, marveling over recommendations and, in some cases, considering financial need.
Julie Lowenberg, the community involvement chair, who has served on the DJCF scholarship committee for more than 20 years said: “This is one of my favorite volunteer activities.”
Ann Kahn, who is among 10 other new scholarship committee members, echoed the sentiments shared by many of her peers: “I am thrilled to death to be on this committee.”
“Thank goodness these scores are due before Pesach because my dining room table is full of applications,” laughed one committee member too modest to be named.
“Our committee works very hard to narrow down the award-winning applications,” said Mona Allen, DJCF’s director of scholarships and programs. “Some of these students are just amazing…perfect scores, perfect grades, incredibly dedicated to community service. They would be an intimidating bunch, but they are all so nice!”
It’s clear DJCF takes great pride in the college scholarship program the agency administers. Students of any and all faiths are encouraged to apply, and then each student is put in the pool for whichever scholarship he/she is eligible. Dallas Jewish Community Foundation college scholarships are open to eligible students from Dallas, Denton and Collin counties. The Foundation awards specialty scholarships to students studying in Israel, at SMU, University of Oklahoma and Texas A&M; as well as Jewish students from Texas towns with two or fewer congregations.
Scholarship Committee Co-Chairs Michael Kottwitz and Brad Roth explained that since the applications are anonymous to insure a fair evaluation process, the content of the application is what sets the DJCF scholarship process apart from other academic awards. Indeed, Roth says, because the awards process was completely anonymous, this year there were five repeat award winners and a pair of siblings who received scholarships, happy accidents of a blind system that judges applicants simply on their merits.
Students soon realize that while it is an honor to receive the scholarship, the value conferred isn’t simply in the money, it lies within the association they now have with the scholarship’s namesake.
“We are delighted for the opportunity to sponsor this scholarship reception,” said David Fida, vice president and Business Development officer for First United Bank. “‘Spend life wisely’ is more than a tagline for us. As a financial services firm committed to philanthropy, we at First United salute this evening’s donors for their generosity and their vision. There is no better investment than education. Our prayer for these scholarship recipients is that they spend life wisely and emulate the great people in whose honor their scholarships are named.”
When complimented on DJCF’s reputation for integrity in action, Mona Allen said: “We are the only organization that does not fundraise. We don’t raise money, we raise community. We are here for the entire community and are committed to doing whatever we can to help the community grow. These deserving scholars will contribute much to that growth and we look forward to seeing their accomplishments.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (0)

Interfaith connections, discussion spark worldwide dialogue at Abu Dhabi conference

Interfaith connections, discussion spark worldwide dialogue at Abu Dhabi conference

Posted on 18 May 2017 by admin

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, near downtown Abu Dhabi Photo: Rabbi Andrew M. Paley

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, near downtown Abu Dhabi
Photo: Rabbi Andrew M. Paley

Temple Shalom’s Paley attends event to promote interaction

By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP

Rabbi Andrew Paley traveled to the other side of the world to help promote, and learn a bit more about, interfaith relationships around the world.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah (center) with Pastor Bob Roberts (left) at a gathering at the Sheikh’s home

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah (center) with Pastor Bob Roberts (left) at a gathering at the Sheikh’s home

Paley, from Temple Shalom, was among a group of more than 30 religious leaders that were part of An American Caravan for Peace, Faith, Trust and the Common Good: Working from the Marrakesh Declaration, which was held in Abu Dhabi.

Evangelical ministers, rabbis, and imams from 10 American cities made the trip for the three-day conference and to promote interfaith relations.
“The goal was that we would be able to create a working plan of interaction between the Evangelical, Jewish and Muslim communities,” Paley said, “whereby we would have educational and relational kinds of opportunities for our communities to come together. We were not solving world peace, we weren’t talking about any regional issues; this was really about building bridges within our communities.”
It turned into a thoughtful and thorough discussion.
“We spent the day discussing the obstacles to bringing us together in our religious communities and our communities in general,” Paley said. “We wanted to find and discuss ways we could come together and see what ideas and thoughts we could draw from the Marrakesh Declaration.”
Paley said there were already some interfaith connections in the Dallas area, but he worked on more specifics and looked at examples from others during the event.

The Banner of the Conference sponsored by the Forum For Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies

The Banner of the Conference sponsored by the Forum For Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies

“We talked about really specific dialogues among our communities here in Texas,” Paley said. “The idea was that faith leaders would come together a little bit better and create a trust, not just a working relationship but help to create a friendship. And then, work to create real programmatic opportunities for the congregations to come together, not just for a meal, but for some sort of social action program,” Paley continued, “where we could work side-by-side with each other. That’s one of the big things we discussed in Abu Dhabi.”
The conference was organized and hosted by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, who has been one of the foremost Islamic leaders in promoting interfaith peace.

In January 2016, Bin Bayyah was amongst the leaders who presented the Marrakesh Declaration in Morocco. The declaration, which represented more than 250 Islamic leaders, addressed and championed the rights of religious minorities in predominantly Islamic countries.

The goal of the declaration was to help create better understanding and dialogue between various faiths worldwide. That was the goal when Paley traveled to Abu Dhabi.

All the participants in front of the Grand Mosque

All the participants in front of the Grand Mosque

“I wasn’t very familiar with Sheikh Bin Bayyah up until the phone call (about going),” Paley said. “I quickly realized that this was going to be a potentially very powerful moment to bring people together. I had no idea what to expect. I knew some of the rabbis who went, but most of the others I didn’t know.”
Paley said he also enjoyed sightseeing in Abu Dhabi, and he left the conference particularly impressed with Sheikh Bin Bayyah.

Paley at the start of the opening session of the conference

Paley at the start of the opening session of the conference

“To see the Sheikh and what he’s working on over there, and to be part of that hopefulness and work for healing over here (in Texas), was very powerful,” Rabbi Paley said. “He’s in his 80s and he’s doing his part to make his world a better place, and it was very special to be a part of.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (0)

JCRC hosts meeting with Dallas bishops

JCRC hosts meeting with Dallas bishops

Posted on 11 May 2017 by admin

By Anita Zusmann Eddy
Special to the TJP

Close to 30 Jewish community leaders met with the two new Bishops of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas on Monday, May 8, at a meeting organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), held at the Jewish Federation.

Submitted photo (From left) JFGD Chair Dan Prescott, Bishop Edward J. Burns, Bishop Gregory Kelly and JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin visit with Jewish community leaders Monday at Federation headquarters.

Submitted photo
(From left) JFGD Chair Dan Prescott, Bishop Edward J. Burns, Bishop Gregory Kelly and JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin visit with Jewish community leaders Monday at Federation headquarters.

This was the first official meeting between the new bishops, the Most Reverend Edward J. Burns and the Most Reverend Gregory Kelly, and Dallas Jewish community leadership. Bishop Edward Burns was appointed by Pope Francis as the Dallas Bishop in December 2016, replacing Bishop Kevin Farrell, who moved to the Vatican, Rome, after being elevated to Cardinal earlier last year. Bishop Gregory Kelly was ordained as the Auxiliary Bishop in February 2016, replacing Bishop Doug Deshotel, who moved to Louisiana as Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette.
The Catholic Diocese of Dallas and the Dallas Jewish community have a longstanding positive working relationship, based on mutual interests and involvement in issues of concern to both communities. Along with the JCRC, the Diocese is a founding member of the Anti-Poverty Coalition of Greater Dallas, which works to find solutions to multi-generational poverty in Dallas. The Diocese is also a generous supporter of the Dallas Holocaust Museum, and has donated tens of thousands of dollars to the Museum over the past years.
Participants at the meeting included Rabbi Heidi Coretz (SMU Hillel and Congregation Shir Tikvah), Rabbi Michael Kushnick (Congregation Anshai Torah), Rabbi Daniel Pressman (Congregation Shearith Israel), Rabbi Ariel Rackovsky (Congregation Shaare Tefilla), Rabbi Dan Utley (Temple Emanu-El), Rabbi Howard Wolk (JFS Community Rabbi) and Rabbi Shawn Zell (Tiferet Israel). Attendees also included leadership from Congregation Beth Torah, Adat Chaverim, Jewish Family Service, The Legacy, NCJW, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Jewish Federation and the JCRC.
After opening remarks by Federation Board Chair Dan Prescott and JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin, attendees each introduced themselves and provided a brief description of their affiliated agency or organization, in order to provide the bishops with some information and understanding of the Jewish organizations serving our Dallas Metro community. It was noted that most of our Jewish social services organizations provide support to the general (non-Jewish) community as well as to Jewish clientele.
Bishop Burns noted how honored he was to be invited to meet and dialogue, sharing that his association with the Jewish community started when he was employed at a local synagogue during his teenage years in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In his remarks, he stated that he “considers it a joy to work with the Jewish community and looks forward to working with the community in Dallas.” He noted that he has moved from the smallest Diocese in the nation, in Juneau, Alaska, which serves 12,500 Catholics, to one of the largest U.S. Dioceses, where as Bishop he cares for “1.3 million souls,” and leads 118 priests. Prior to living in Juneau, Bishop Burns was a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Bishop Kelly has lived in Dallas Diocese for more than 40 years and served in several different positions at the Diocese before being ordained as Auxiliary Bishop in February 2016. Bishop Kelly also stressed his longstanding connections to the Jewish community, noting that he learned much about “the complexity and beauty of the Jewish community” from the novels of Chaim Potok, among other sources.
Discussion during the meeting focused on a variety of topics. Megan Hyman, a leader in the Jewish Federation’s Young Adult Division, asked the bishops about their strategies for reaching out to and engaging Catholic young adults. Bishop Burns related that the Pope has requested a Synod to be held in 2018 to discuss youth, faith and priestly duties to keep young people engaged. He noted that the Pope has specifically requested feedback from non-Catholic youth as valuable input. There was also discussion about the rise of anti-Semitism nationally, and the role that the Church could play in educating young people and community members about how to oppose anti-Semitism and general bullying practices.
Both bishops noted the need and importance of vigorously combating anti-Semitism, and expressed support for the Jewish community in efforts to educate about and fight anti-Semitism. Bishop Burns ended the session by sharing a story about his visit to Auschwitz where he used his cell phone to photograph a commemorative plaque. He related that his cell phone camera automatically focused on the individuals depicted on the plaque, highlighting their faces in the photo.
He noted that “if a cell phone can recognize the humanity in each individual’s face, how as people can we not recognize the humanity in each of us?”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (0)

Texas becomes 18th state to pass anti-BDS law

Texas becomes 18th state to pass anti-BDS law

Posted on 04 May 2017 by admin

By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP

AUSTIN — The State of Texas found the perfect way to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day.
On Tuesday morning at Shalom Austin Jewish Community Center, Governor Greg Abbott signed House Bill 89 into law.AbbostSigns1

Submitted photo (From left) Texas State Representative Linda Koop, Chair of Southwest Jewish Congress Susie Avnery, Texas State Representative Craig Goldman, Dallas JCRC Executive Director Anita Zusman Eddy, Texas State Representative Phil King, Charles Pulman, StandWithUs Regional Director Jesse Stock

Submitted photo
(From left) Texas State Representative Linda Koop, Chair of Southwest Jewish Congress Susie Avnery, Texas State Representative Craig Goldman, Dallas JCRC Executive Director Anita Zusman Eddy, Texas State Representative Phil King, Charles Pulman, StandWithUs Regional Director Jesse Stock

Better known as the anti-BDS bill, the law now prohibits the state of Texas from conducting business with companies in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement against Israel.
“Texas is doing its part to add a little bit to that independence by fighting back against those who try to boycott Israel and impose economic harm to Israel, you can always count on Texas,” Abbott said before signing the bill.
“Any anti-Israel policy is an anti-Texas policy,” Abbott added. “Any boycott of Israel is to be considered un-Texan. And Texas isn’t going to do business with any company that boycotts Israel.”
Abbott used multiple pens to sign the bill, and one was handed to Representative Phil King that will eventually be delivered to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Nethanyahu.
It was a rewarding moment for many involved in the bill’s passing, including King, who helped spearhead the effort.
“It’s exciting, it’s always exciting when a bill finally signs, but I can tell you this is an incredibly emotional event,” King said. “A lot of us have worked on it for so long. We think it’s important. When the 10th-largest economy in the world says we’re not going to let people boycott Israel, that’s a big statement.”

Photo: Office of Governor Gregg Abbott Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott displays the legislation after he signed the bill into law.

Photo: Office of Governor Gregg Abbott
Texas Gov. Gregg Abbott displays the legislation after he signed the bill into law.

When the bill was first announced, King told the Texas Jewish Post that this would be a bipartisan issue and he hoped it would move quickly through the House and the Senate.
He was right. The bill passed by a vote of 25-4 in the Senate and then passed by a 131-0 margin in the House before it was sent to Abbott for final approval.
“A lot of people had to learn about the bill, but each and every time someone learned about the bill — Democrat, Republican, conservative, didn’t matter who — the more they learned about it the more they agreed this is exactly what Texas needs to do,” King said. “And at the end of the day it was as solid a vote as I’ve ever seen for any bill.”
King said much of that success is owed to the Jewish community, which made its voice heard throughout the process.
Charles Pulman was one of the first people to reach out to King about the bill. He made an unsolicited phone call to King and quickly became one of the go-to liaisons for the bill within the community.
“I had read somewhere that a state somewhere had passed a bill about anti-BDS, and I sent an email to some friends in Dallas asking if anyone knew if anything was happening for this in Texas,” Pulman said.
Pulman’s friend responded and said he heard that a representative by the name of King was working on an anti-BDS bill, so Pullman looked King up and sent an email to the representative from Weatherford.UT Students
“I said, if you’re working on an anti-BDS bill I’d like to help, and he responded almost immediately and said, ‘Yes, let’s have dinner,’” Pulman said. “And that dinner was a year ago March, and now we come to May 2 and the bill has been signed.”
In November, Pulman was part of a meeting at the JCC in Dallas where community leaders planned and discussed ways to promote the bill. Over the next seven months, groups from across the Jewish community in Texas reached out to representatives, made phone calls, sent emails, and visited the capital to show support for the legislation.
“Working with the Jewish community and all the groups involved was wonderful,” King said. “This was a bill that wasn’t hard for anyone to support, but to see what the community did and the strides they made for this bill, that only made it stronger.”
From the early stages, Abbott was in support of the bill and the governor visited Israel last year along with Ambassador Eitan Levon, the consul general of Israel to the Southwest.
“We really appreciate the cooperation and work between the people of Texas and the people of Israel,” Levon said. “The two Lone Star States, as we say, are standing with each other.”
Texas is the 18th state to pass some form of anti-BDS legislation, and King said it should be used as a benchmark and example for the rest of the country.
That number also had extra importance to Pulman.IMG_1096
“Texas is the 18th state, 18th,” Pulman said. “Eighteen in Hebrew means life. It’s not by coincidence that Texas became the 18th state to pass a version of an anti-BDS bill.”

 

 

 

*****

 

Dignitaries respond
Around the Metroplex, several community leaders voiced their support for the law:
“ I’m proud of the strong statement Texas made today by standing firm as an ally to Israel.”
— Rep. Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth)

“The Federation is proud to lead all the Federations in Texas in supporting this bill. We found a problem, we convened communities and organizations and fought for change. Congrats to us all.”
— Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Chair Daniel Prescott

“It was such an honor to join Jewish leadership from throughout Texas and other local and national Jewish organizations at today’s  ceremony where Governor Abbott signed into law the strongest anti-BDS bill in the country. The JCRC was pleased to be part of the coalition that helped pass this bipartisan bill through the Texas Legislature. It is a testament to the strength of the economic, cultural and social partnership between Texas and Israel.”
— Jewish Community Relations Executive Director
Anita Zusman Eddy

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (0)

Zachor: Remember

Zachor: Remember

Posted on 27 April 2017 by admin

Yom HaShoah observed in the Metroplex

Staff report

AdatChaverimYomHaShoahSeder FWObservance ReadingoftheNames
Many observances of Yom HaShoah took place Sunday, April 23 around the Metroplex.
New this year were two Yom HaShoah seders (see tjpnews.com for the April 20 story) at Congregation Kol Ami in Flower Mound and Adat Chaverim in Plano.
The Fort Worth and Tarrant County Jewish community welcomed Holocaust survivor and activist Ben Lesser to their annual observance, while the Dallas Jewish community observance at Temple Emanu-El featured  a special presentation by Israeli Scouts and the Temple Emanu-El Choir.
Children of local Holocaust sturvivors gave testimonies of their parents’ resistance to the Nazi regime in the midst of unspeakable evil.
Congregation Beth Torah held its annual Reading of the Names 24-hour vigil.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (0)

View or Subscribe to the
Texas Jewish Post

Advertise Here

Photos from our Flickr stream

See all photos

Advertise Here