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Tarrant shuls plant daffodils, remember Holocaust victims

Tarrant shuls plant daffodils, remember Holocaust victims

Posted on 15 November 2018 by admin

Photo: Courtesy of Ahavath Sholom
Ahavath Sholom religious school students plant bulbs as part of the Daffodil Project, Nov. 11. They marked their bulbs with decorated stones.

Last year, the TJP shared the story of Grace Goldman. The then-Fort Worth Country Day Senior who brought The Daffodil Project to her school to honor the memory of her great-grandmother Blanche, who survived Auschwitz and the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust.
This year, Goldman’s grandmother Rachel Goldman (Blanche’s daughter) and Debra Rosenthal helped the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County underwrite the project to include all Tarrant County congregations.
The bulbs were supplied and purchased through Am Yisrael Chai, an Atlanta-based Holocaust education and awareness organization.
On Nov. 11, the project came to fruition when Congregation Ahavath Sholom, Beth-El Congregation, Congregation Beth Israel and Congregation Beth Shalom planted the bulbs.
“We are grateful to the leadership and financial support of Rachel and Michael Goldman for making this special project possible and we are proud to have partnered with them. Thanks to their leadership, many of our community organizations are participating and this will be a wonderful ongoing teaching tool to help our children understand the horrors of the Holocaust and to remember the 1.5 million children who perished,” Federation Executive Director Bob Goldberg said.
At Congregation Beth Shalom in Arlington, 40 Sunday school children and congregants gathered to plant 500 yellow daffodil bulbs.
In Colleyville, a member of the congregation working on his Eagle Scout project coordinated the synagogue’s efforts, according to Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker.
Rabbi Andrew Bloom of Congregation Ahavath Sholom was pleased his synagogue participated.
“The Daffodil Project that Ahavath Sholom, along with a multitude of other local and national synagogues, participated in reminds me of a quote by Elie Wiesel, which states, ‘For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.’ It was in this light that we planted the daffodil bulbs, for their planting by our children and the care that will go into them binds our students in a real and concrete manner with the perpetuation of memory and continuing education of the Holocaust in a real and meaningful manner.”

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Interfaith crowd prays for Pittsburgh at Ahavath Shalom

Interfaith crowd prays for Pittsburgh at Ahavath Shalom

Posted on 09 November 2018 by admin

Photo: Sharon Wisch-Ray
Rabbi Andrew Bloom

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Approximately 1,100 people attended a communitywide prayer service Nov. 1, at Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Fort Worth. “A Jewish Communal and City-Wide Night of Prayer, Remembrance and Unity” was framed around “the message of unity, healing and coming together,” explained Rabbi Andrew Bloom.
The sanctuary and social hall of the synagogue were virtually silent throughout the program, which lasted a little more than an hour.
Every Abrahamic faith community was represented — Christians, Muslims and Jews — as well as leaders of the Jewish community. (See box on p. 23 for the full list of participants and their readings.) Bloom carefully curated the program to focus on prayer and healing.
Some highlights of the evening were:
Bloom’s invocation
“First and foremost, I welcome those who have come in the name of God and the name of unity. It’s not only very special that we come together as a community but it’s special that we come together as a community of faith and a community of dedicated citizens,” Bloom said.
“Behind me to my left, to your right, is a very important and sacred Torah. It is a Torah that survived from the Holocaust and it is no longer kosher. We can’t use it, we can’t read from it because it is torn and letters are missing. But we as a community here at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, we take it out at all occasions so that those who were murdered during the Holocaust, their memories will be eternal as the letters of the five books of Moses are eternal.
“Tonight, we take it out not only for those who died and were murdered in the Holocaust, but we take it out for the 11 of Pittsburgh. We take it out for them to let them and their families and the entire congregation in Pittsburgh know that we are one, that we not only stand with them, but they are in our hearts and in our minds.
“And next to that, we have a tallit; the tallit has the 613 fringes, which represent the 613 mitzvot. It has four longer fringes that we put together when we say the eternal words ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.’ We hold them as one to show how unified we are. Tonight each and every one of us are one of those fringes, and we hold it together.
“May God bless each and every one of you for coming out this evening. This evening, we are gathered here as one united community who stands up and says never again, never again to hate, violence and the rhetoric of division that surrounds us in all corners or our community our country and our universe. We come together to say yes, yes to fellowship and friendship yes to respect and reverence, and seeing each person as created in God’s image. We also come together to pray for healing. Healing for those who are physically wounded, and healing for those who emotionally — like all of us who are suffering with doubts — are suffering.”
Brian Byrd, Fort Worth City Councilman District 3
“From the city of Fort Worth to the city of Pittsburgh, by being here en masse and in force tonight, we are saying to the community in that city, we stand with you, we believe in you and we wish you comfort and we pray for you,” Byrd said.
“On behalf of the city of Fort Worth, as I represent the mayor and the other council members here, may the God of peace bring peace to you. May the God of healing bring comfort to those in Pittsburgh who lost their lives in Pittsburgh and their family. May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm protect every Jewish community and house of faith all over the world.”
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price’s letter, as read by Byrd
“We can’t change the past or restore the lives of those so tragically lost. However, we can certainly shape the future for the benefit of both current and future generations. I believe we do this by choosing compassion over hostility and this is not always easy. But I pray that we choose to reject the natural feelings of anger and resentment and instead stand together as a beacon of light in darkness. No matter our beliefs, our politics our ethnicity or other differences, we are all humans created to live in harmony together. Let’s use our power for good. Each of us can take bold action to spread the kind of compassion, humility and forgiveness that will always overcome those things that divide us. Compassion takes many forms, but what matters is that we all get involved and engaged.”
Fort Worth Assistant Chief of Police Edwin Kraus
After reading a law-enforcement prayer, Kraus said, “Faith is the opposite of fear…Faith in that same God will get us through this. It gets us through all the incidents similar to this when we say, what are we supposed to do now? I’m proud to be a man of faith among people of faith and that faith will get us through.”
Pastor George Pearsons,
Eagle Mountain Church
“Tonight, all of our hearts are reaching out to the Tree of Life synagogue congregation. To that congregation, whether you’re a pastor or rabbi, your congregation is very important to you and things that happen to them touch your heart deeply. And when this took place, I felt like it was my own congregation that was attacked. And we prayed for the families, we prayed for the congregation, we prayed for the community and for everyone that has been involved in this attack.
“Our own church congregation, the ministry part of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, we love our Jewish friends and wholeheartedly support the state of Israel. And you know, it’s interesting, someone might ask, ‘Why do you support Israel? Why do you love the Jewish people so much?’ And there are so many different reasons that I can share with you tonight. But just one, and it’s from the scriptures, Zacharia 2-8. ‘He who touches you touches the apple of His eye.’
“We have made as a church and a ministry, we have made the apple of His eye, the apple of our eye. We love our Jewish friends, and we love the Tree of Life congregation.”
Bloom’s message of unity
“What is the most basic part of a tree? It’s the roots. Each and every one of us should be a root of morality. Because if we are a root of morality, then the winds of hate will never blow our tree, never knock it down. But matter of fact, if we come together as the roots of peace of the roots of shalom, then the roots will spread out larger, our tree will become stronger and it will be a tree of life that all of us together grasp onto.
“In quoting President Lyndon B. Johnson, ‘Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.’ We must come together in order to win the future. For tonight, we not only come here to mourn, as we of course do, we not only come here to pray, which we of course do, but we come here to ask how can we plan for the future, how can we win the hearts of each other today in order to bridge the gap and deepen the roots for tomorrow.”
Lillian Biggins
“When I looked at the program, I saw that ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble…’ [referring to the line from Psalm 46 at the top of the program]. And I say to this evening, that is where our friends in Pittsburgh are getting their strength, because we have to draw on that in times of trouble.”
Rev. Bruce Datcher, Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church
“United we Stand, Divided we Fall. Let us resolve here together this evening that we will feed and nourish each other as one united community.”
A few days after the prayer service, Bloom stressed the importance of keeping the conversation going.
“We take the message of unity, of morality, and we keep the conversation in those meetings going on. I think both the city, the churches and the Muslim community want to keep the conversation going. We want to make sure we remain tight.”

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Community stands together in solidarity with Pittsburgh

Community stands together in solidarity with Pittsburgh

Posted on 01 November 2018 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

The pain felt by the standing-room-only crowd in the Aaron Family Sanctuary was palpable Sunday evening at a community observance in the wake of the slaughter of 11 Jewish worshippers at the hands of an anti-Semitic gunman at the Tree of Life Synagogue, Saturday, Oct. 27.
On the bimah were Rabbi Elana Zelony of Congregation Beth Torah; Reverend Rachel Baughman, senior pastor of Oak Lawn United Methodist Church and vice chairman of Faith Forward; Rabbi David Stern of Temple Emanu-El; Bradley Laye, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas; and Rabbi Ari Sunshine of Congregation Shearith Israel. They were joined by Cantors Vicky Glikin and Leslie Niren of Temple Emanu-El, Hazzan Itzhak Zhrebker of Shearith Israel and Cantor Devorah Avery and Cantor Emeritus Don Croll of Temple Shalom, who led the estimated 800 people in comforting and inspirational singing. Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall also addressed those gathered.
A number of themes resonated at Shearith Israel Sunday night. Among them were:
•Every life is precious
•Words matter
•Ending gun violence
•We are not powerless
•God will light the way
Every life is precious
As he opened the program, Laye emphasized the value that Jews choose life over all else. “Our values place human life above anything else,” said Laye, quoting Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson. “We are to live by Torah, not to die by Torah.”
Rabbi Stern spoke the names of each victim. He explained that human nature is to want to know the details and the specifics of the tragedy. He said it’s not as if our grief is calibrated based on the number of people who perished. “We want the facts and figures but the Talmud teaches us a different arithmetic. Every life is of infinite value, every single one,” Stern said.
In his remarks Sunshine said, “We can never stop speaking up and defending the innate and immeasurable worth of every human being regardless of their faith, skin color, gender or sexual preference.”
Words matter
Hateful speech may lead to hateful behavior and the Torah is filled with the idea that words matter. “We have forgotten what our tradition teaches about the power of speech. Forgotten that incendiary rhetoric by national leaders does catch fire. Forgotten our own history,” said Stern.
In her statement from Faith Forward Dallas, Reverend Baughman said, “We hold accountable leaders who use divide-and-conquer strategies and inflammatory rhetoric and then take credit for being supportive of grieving communities of those affected by those who follow by example.”
Laye charged the gathering to take the mantra when you see something, say something to the next level with regard to hate speech. “When you see a racist post on Facebook or Instagram or a tweet on Twitter, say something. When you see a child being indoctrinated with something as simple as an anti-Semitic joke, say something. If you experience a hateful person verbally accosting someone who is in the line at a grocery store or Starbucks, don’t stand by, stand up and say something.”
Rabbi Sunshine said it is each person’s responsibility to respond to hate.
“Whenever the forces of bigotry, hate and evil rise up against us, it is incumbent upon us to walk in God’s path as we respond. We use our voices to speak out against hateful and inflammatory rhetoric and violence perpetrated in its wake and we speak powerfully for the values of kindness, justice, compassion, inclusivity and love.”
Ending gun violence
“I know right now it seems impossible to believe that there will ever be an end to these acts of senseless violence. It’s more tragic each and every day,” said Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall. She expressed her frustration that there are too many vigils and that the police share the Jewish community’s pain. “We hurt and we are angry too … bothered that the level of protection we provide doesn’t seem to be enough.”
Hall pledged that the Dallas Police Department would try to keep the community safe at all costs. “We will continue to fight for the safety for this community and the country as a whole,” she said.
Stern said that the American Jewish community sadly joins too many others who have been in the same position.
“We know it’s happened in other places. To people of other backgrounds. In other houses of worship. In other circles of study and prayer. We know our dead join a list of those murdered in mass shootings, the list that is already far too long. We know that dear friends, leaders of other faith communities know this pain all too well and yet we take a moment to say that these were ours.”
Rev. Baughman’s comments lifted the crowd to their feet.
“We also believe that sensible gun policies should be in place that respect gun ownership but limit weapons of war being put in the hands of those who might turn them on us.”
We are not powerless
Exercise your right to vote. “We must lobby and vote on these issues like our lives depend on it,” said Laye to rousing applause.
“We cannot allow the acts of one person to destroy everyone’s freedom to feel safe and to worship in the house that they choose,” said Hall, encouraging the gathering to stay strong.
Stern prayed, “Thank you for this gathering and the strength it gives us and thank you, God, even for this pain. Never would we wish this upon ourselves or anyone else. But may this pain be our teacher. May it break our hearts open to awareness of the pain and fear our neighbors live with every day. May it awaken us to the preciousness of our own lives, the power of our own choices, help us to guard against forces of violence and hate whatever their source. Help us keep our families safe.”
God will light the way
How is one to recover from the pain of such unspeakable acts? Each of the clergy explained that allowing God to light the way is the answer.
Stern concluded his remarks with this prayer, “Help us, dear God, to lift our sights beyond the shadow of this day in solidarity, in compassion, with commitment and hope; may we keep showing up unafraid for each other, for the Torah we hold close, for the undying values for which we stand for our companions on the path to justice and peace. In these days of darkness, may the Holy One light our way.”
Rabbi Sunshine said many of the answers can be found in Psalm 27, which is recited daily in the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah and through the end of Yom Kippur.
“We ask God to teach me your way. Adonai, guide me on the level path in order to confound all those who watch my every move and oppress me.”
He added, “We must also never lose our faith, our strength, our courage and our undying conviction that our world is a good and beautiful place.
“We must continue to shine our light and God’s light upon it to illumine even these darkest of times. Hope in Adonai, be strong, take courage and hope in Adonai.”
Zelony gave the benediction, Psalm 23. After each stanza, she shared her own interpretation.
“God led us to this sanctuary and in this moment we have everything we need.
“We rest and begin to recover our sense that ki tov, the world is still good.
“We are reminded of all the righteous action we can take. We are not powerless.
“When we heard the news shadows fell, but we knew we were not alone.
“With them you will guide us out of this terrible darkness.
“Your children Israel do not hide, we gather tonight with courage.
“Our hearts fill with gratitude for every one of our brothers and sisters not of the Jewish faith who answered our call, who came here tonight, and there are so many of you.
“Goodness and love will catch up with us and restore our sense of security and peace.
“For God, you are Ain Od; there is nothing else but you, eternal in time and space.”
As it began, with song, the service concluded with the cantors leading the gathering in the “Mishaberah” arrangement by Debbie Friedman and “Oseh Shalom.”
“May the one who blessed us with peace also bless us in this time of hurt, in this time of pain; bless those of us who are present, bless those of us who are beyond these walls.
“There is hope for all of us,” concluded Cantor Glikin.
Additional services were held throughout North Texas throughout the week. On Monday, there was a service in Dallas at Ohr Hatorah and at Beth Israel Colleyville. At press time, a Jewish Communal and City-Wide Night of Prayer, Remembrance and Unity was scheduled for Thursday evening at Fort Worth Congregation Ahavath Sholom. Many congregations will be participating in a Solidarity Shabbat Nov. 2-3. For more information, check with your synagogue.

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Sessions, Allred spar at Temple Shalom debate

Sessions, Allred spar at Temple Shalom debate

Posted on 24 October 2018 by admin

Photos: Lisa Rothberg
Temple Shalom Rabbi Andrew Paley and Colin Allred, Democratic challenger for the District 32 seat

By Dave Sorter

About the only things that U.S. Rep. Pete Sessions, R-Texas, and Colin Allred, his Democratic challenger for the District 32 seat in the Nov. 6 election, agreed on during Sunday’s debate at Temple Shalom was that this year’s midterms are about more than Republicans and Democrats, and that the U.S. embassy in Israel should be in Jerusalem.
But even on that issue, they disagreed on the process by which it got there.
The candidates discussed numerous topics in their last face-to-face encounter before early voting started Monday. The debate was organized by Temple Shalom, AJC Dallas and the Jewish-Latino Alliance, with Sam Baker, host of KERA radio’s “Morning Edition,” serving as moderator.
About this year’s move of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, Sessions voiced his full support. “It was a very bold move by the president (Donald Trump), by the (then-) secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, and by (United Nations Ambassador) Nikki Haley,” the 11-term incumbent said. “I have been supportive of this for years.”
While Allred agreed that “we all recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel,” he believes the embassy move “should have been done as part of a comprehensive two-state solution that moves us closer to peace,” he said. “When you do something unilaterally in a way that can be provocative, you can see the kind of reaction it can cause.”
Both candidates also expressed opposition to the BDS movement that has spread worldwide, with Allred, a Dallas lawyer and former Baylor and NFL football player who worked in the Obama administration, also using this point to advocate for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict.
“I oppose efforts to boycott, divest and sanction,” he said. “Israel is the only nation in the region that shares our commitment to human rights. We must continue to provide aid for Israel to defend itself.”

District 32 incumbent Rep. Pete Sessions, Republican, his wife Karen Sessions and Temple Shalom Rabbi Andrew Paley

Said Sessions: “BDS is a realization that there are those who oppose Israel. Nikki Haley has spoken very clearly about this. I have worked repeatedly with the Jewish community, with young people, with the State of Israel and the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The distance between Collin County and where we are here (North Dallas) is the distance between Israel and its enemies to the north, to the east and to the south. This is why Republicans have funded the Iron Dome.”
Sessions, in his opening statement, criticized Allred for opposing President Donald Trump’s decision to pull out of the nuclear deal with Iran.
“My opponent, in the Dallas Morning News, unequivocally opposed any effort against the Iranian nuclear deal because he felt it could unravel our agreement with North Korea,” he said. “He’s for giving billions of dollars’ worth of cash for them to do with as they would choose. He’s for the Iranians, the people who shout, ‘Death to America, Death to Israel.’ I’m for America, the Americans and for our ally, Israel.”
Allred conceded that “the Iran deal is not perfect. What it was, was a diplomatic solution to an extremely difficult problem. We had two choices: We could go down the road to diplomacy…trust, but verify…like President Trump is doing with North Korea. Now, we have given Iran the ability to pursue nuclear weapons, which would increase the threat to Israel.”
The candidates also had many differences on topics not related to Israel.
On health care, Sessions touted his health-insurance proposal, which would allow people to keep insurance purchased under the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), or choose another avenue “that moves someone up. The kind of insurance someone at AT&T, or Mary Kay, or Southwest Airlines has” and would cover pre-existing conditions. There would be no mandate.
Allred said “it’s times like these I’m thankful for Google” because he learned that Sessions voted more than 50 times to repeal the ACA, including eliminating requirements for covering pre-existing conditions. He supports a single-payer system and accused Sessions of playing “cynical politics” for advocating a plan “that has never gotten a vote.”
The two also disagreed on the need for a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Sessions said that “people who live on the border have unanimously asked for protection. We need to have operational control of our border.”
Allred responded, “That is the wrong solution, a waste of money, ineffective and a sign and a signal that will hurt our international standing. We do need to secure our border, through a bipartisan solution that would provide a high-tech means for security, and open a pathway to citizenship for those who are here. There are too many hardliners in Congress unwilling to work with those in their own party.”
Sessions, in response, said for the first of many times in the debate that Allred was “trying to have it both ways. He’s ignoring the men and women on the front lines begging for us to secure the border. Sixty days ago, we had two bills…both had pathways to citizenship, and not a single Democrat voted for either of them.”
The candidates also had their differences on:
• Sexual assault and the #MeToo movement in the wake of the hearings concerning Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Allred said Congress needs to take action to clean up its own house. Sessions, without mentioning the names of Kavanaugh or his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, decried the process that took place and Sen. Dianne Feinstein for keeping the accusation to herself.
• Social Security: Allred criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for intimating that the budget deficit was caused by the Trump tax cuts and would be made up for by tapping into Social Security and Medicare reserves. Sessions said his opponent was wrong, that McConnell said ways must be found to secure Social Security and Medicare, and that the tax cuts added 4 million jobs that are enriching the Social Security trust fund.
• Gun violence: Sessions said programs that address mental health and opioid abuse are the answer, while Allred said the answer is universal background checks and closing loopholes that allow people who, for example, are on the terror watch list to buy guns.
The debate was co-chaired by Adam Lampert for AJC, Edward Retta for JLA and Mike Hirsh and Larry Schoenbrun representing Temple Shalom. The co-sponsors were joined by a broad range of community partners that helped promote the debate, mostly from the Jewish and Latino communities, in addition to a number of non-Jewish houses of worship.
Early voting continues through Friday, Nov. 2, with most locations open this Saturday and Sunday. Election Day polls will be open 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 6.

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2018-2019 JCC BookFest; A Real Page Turner

2018-2019 JCC BookFest; A Real Page Turner

Posted on 26 September 2018 by admin

Photo: Deb Silverthorn
The 2018/2019 Aaron Family JCC’s Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer Dallas Jewish BookFest are “Twenty-Six Seconds” (10/9), “The Fox Hunt” (10/17), “The Next Person You Meet in Heaven” (10/18), “Stakes is High” (11/1), “Irving Berlin – The Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing” (11/4), “Husbands and Other Sharp Objects” (11/28), “Promised Land” (12/6), “God is in the Crowd (12/10), “In Broad Daylight” (2/6), “The Lost Family” and “The Lost Girls of Paris” (2/12), “Unconditional Love – A Guide to Navigating the Joys and Challenges of Being a Grandparent Today” (3/6), and “Memento Park” (4/3).

By Deb Silverthorn

The next chapter of the Aaron Family JCC’s Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer Dallas Jewish BookFest opens Oct. 9 with events featuring some of 2018’s best new releases and their authors. Unless otherwise noted, all events begin at 7 p.m. and are hosted at the Aaron Family JCC.
“Our visiting authors will educate and entertain audiences with events you won’t find anywhere else,” said BookFest chairperson Liz Liener, in her sixth year as lay leader. “We’re blessed to provide these programs and are honored to once again think of Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer, of blessed memory, to whom BookFest is dedicated, as we devote our efforts.”
This year’s BookFest, which opened on July 23 to a sold-out audience for “The Other Woman” author Daniel Silva, interviewed by Michael Granberry, is partnered by the JCC with the AJC Dallas, Dallas Jewish Historical Society, Congregation Anshai Torah, Shearith Israel, Congregation Shearith Israel’s SISterhood, Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, Israel Bonds, JCC Dallas’ Goldberg Family Early Childhood Center, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Center for Jewish Education, Jewish Community Relations Council and Tycher Library, and the Jewish Book Council.
Leiner; Rachelle Weiss Crane, the JCC’s director of Israel engagement and Jewish living; and a team of volunteers read many titles and participate in a week of introductions to more than 250 authors presenting their books through the Jewish Book Council in New York.
“In addition to our venturing out, Dallas has earned a reputation as a strong festival with great crowds and we now have authors asking to come to us and we are thrilled. Mitch Albom, Nancy Churnin, Martin Fletcher, and Daniel Silva are all returning and we’re happy to welcome them ‘home,’” said Weiss Crane.
Alexandra Zapruder visits Oct. 9 with her “Twenty-Six Seconds.” Fifty-six years after her grandfather Abraham Zapruder captured the assassination of President John F. Kennedy – on what he thought would be a home movie — the author tells the story of the film and its journey, demonstrating how one man’s unwitting moment in the spotlight shifted the way politics, culture, and media intersect, bringing about the larger social questions that define our age.
On Oct. 17, Mohammed Al Samawi brings “The Fox Hunt” to Congregation Anshai Torah, describing his escape from Yemen’s brutal civil war with the help of a daring plan engineered on social media. To protect himself and his family from death threats, Al Samawi fled to what became the heart of a civil war, his online contacts responding to his appeal, working across technology platforms and time zones, to save him from deadly forces.
Mitch Albom and “The Next Person You Meet in Heaven” arrive on Oct. 18. Of this sequel to “Five People You Meet in Heaven,” Albom says it is the “natural story about Eddie going from meeting five people to being one of five for somebody else.” Albom explores the accident that took Eddie’s life, what Annie lost, and how, in the wake of her trauma, she has no memory of the accident.
Pastor, activist, and community leader Rev. Michael Waters, with Congregation Shearith Israel’s Rabbi Adam Roffman, comes to BookFest on Nov. 1 bringing his “Stakes is High,” blending his hip-hop lyricism and social justice leadership. Weaving stories from centuries of persecution against the backdrop of today’s urban prophets on the radio and in the streets, Waters speaks on behalf of an awakened generation raging against racism and fueled by the promise of a just future.
At 2 p.m. Nov. 4, Dallas Morning News writer Nancy Churnin visits with Mark Kreditor to discuss her book, “Irving Berlin – The Immigrant Boy Who Made America Sing.” The two will provide visual images and live music of the musician, a refugee from Russia forever remembered as the master behind 1200-plus songs including “Alexander’s Ragtime Band,” “A Pretty Girl is Like A Melody,” “God Bless America,” “Puttin’ On The Ritz” and “White Christmas.”
On Nov. 28, at Shearith Israel, Marilyn Rothstein talks about her “Husbands and Other Sharp Objects,” the story of Marcy Hammer readying to get herself unhitched – while everyone else is looking for a commitment. Her boyfriend wants to get serious and her soon-to-be ex-husband wants to reunite. When her daughter announces her engagement, Marcy finds planning the wedding while seeing her divorce through a trial – and trying to make everyone happy, proving seemingly impossible.
The Tycher Library Community Read, Martin Fletcher’s “Promised Land,” presents Dec. 6. The story is the saga of two brothers and the woman they love, a triangle set against the tumultuous founding of Israel.
Tal Keinan and “God is in the Crowd” come to BookFest on Dec. 10. Keinan’s book analyzes the threat to Jewish continuity. He writes of the Jewish people concentrated in America and Israel, having lost the subtle code of governance that endowed Judaism with dynamism and relevance in the age of Diaspora.
On Feb. 6, Father Patrick Desbois introduces “In Broad Daylight – The Untold Story of How the Murder of More Than Two Million Jews Was Carried Out.” Debois’s book documents the murder of 1.5 million Jews in Ukraine during World War II and how nearly a decade of his team’s efforts, drawing on interviews of 5,700 neighbors to the murdered Jews, and visits to more than 2,700 extermination sites, wartime records and the application of modern forensic practices to long-hidden grave sites.
On Feb. 12, Dallas’ Andrea Peskind Katz, of the Great Thoughts Great Readers website, will interview both Jenna Blum about “The Lost Family” and Pam Jenoff about “The Lost Girls of Paris.” Blum’s novel creates a vivid portrait of marriage, family and the haunting grief of World War II. Jenoff’s book shines the light on the heroics of the brave women of the war and their courage, sisterhood and the strength in surviving its hardest circumstances.
On March 6, Jane Isay brings “Unconditional Love – A Guide to Navigating the Joys and Challenges of Being a Grandparent Today.” Drawing on personal experience, dozens of interviews and the latest findings in psychology, Isay shows how grandparents can use perspective and experience to create lasting bonds that echo throughout a grandchild’s life.
The Tycher Library Spring Read closes out April 3 with Mark Sarvas and his “Memento Park,” a book of family and identity, art and history, and the unanswerable question of ‘how to move forward when the past looms?’ Sarvas’ Matt Santos becomes aware of a painting he believes was stolen from his family in Hungary, during WWII. To recover it he must repair his strained relationship with his father, uncover family history, and restore his own connection to Judaism with a narrative as much about family history and father-son dynamics as about the nature of the art.
Liener, who has loved to read since childhood, says chairing the BookFest is a gift to her – the chance to read books and meet authors she might not otherwise as well as giving her the the opportunity to bring them to the Dallas audience.
“BookFest introduces the best of the best to our community and introduces attendees to a diverse group of authors and styles,” she said. “We remain the only festival in the area focusing on Jewish authors and books with Jewish content, and every year our schedule is filled with especially wonderful events – this year, we raise the bar again.”
Tickets are $10 in advance and $15 at the door except for the Dec. 6 “Promised Land,” Feb. 6 “In Broad Daylight,” March 6 “Unconditional Love” and April 3 “Memento Park,” which are free; and the Oct. 18 “The Next Person You Meet in Heaven,” which is $30 in advance and $40 at the door, including a signed copy of the book. For more details or to order tickets, call 214-739-2737 or visit jccdallas.org/special-events/bookfest/.

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Crafting Sukkot memories – literally

Crafting Sukkot memories – literally

Posted on 20 September 2018 by admin

Some families mark their children’s physical growth with a mark on the pantry door, for the Silverthorn family, it is the by the span of their palms on the family’s fingerprints sukkah walls. From left are Barbara Schulman, Deb, Marie, Eric, Blake, Whitney and Jonah Silverthorn, Sidney Loftin, Emilie Silverthorn and Kyle Vannguyen.

By Deb Silverthorn

Impressions – they last, and last, and for our family that means many things, including the impressions made by hundreds of family and friends since we built our first sukkah 27 years ago. It is the impressions of palmprints and fingerprints on our hearts, of all of the colors of the rainbow, emblazoned on the three walls that make our fall holiday home.

Every year, in addition to “Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David,” we are blessed to share dinner with our many friends and family who have come once or for whom a lulav and etrog shake is a perennial favorite. No longer here in person, but of our blessed memories, we’re still able to share meals with Poppie J. Brin and Dayani, with PawPaw Moses, Buzzy, Poppa Don and Gail, with Irwin, Barbara, Scott and with Mr. Levitz, with Lola and Richard.

 

Hundreds of handprints provide a special touch for the Silverthorn family sukkah – created of a paper plate with whatever color(s) acrylic paint, palms down, then spread on the sukkah wall, autographed and dated.

 

At our children’s simchas, bnai mitzvot and now a wedding, we added the touch – literally – of many who aren’t able to travel for the holiday, but who are always with us despite any distance. A paper plate with whatever color(s) acrylic paint, palms down, then spread against the wood or tarp, prints then autographed and dated, the children in our lives have added their prints year in and year out – their hands, and hearts, getting larger – spreading wider.

Indelible ink – indelible memories. Sukkot, the holiday of the harvest that always harvests our spirit.

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Some special gifts for your Rosh Hashanah hosts

Some special gifts for your Rosh Hashanah hosts

Posted on 07 September 2018 by admin

Photo: Marco Beltrametti/Wikimedia Commons)
Apples and honey for Rosh Hashanah: So why not provide the honey?

By MJL Staff

(My Jewish Learning via JTA) — Invited to someone’s house for a Rosh Hashanah meal and looking for an appropriate gift? In addition to the always appreciated flowers or bottle of wine, here are some other must-have (or must-give) items for the Jewish New Year.
If you’re drawn to the edible items on this list, we recommend you check ahead of time whether your host keeps kosher or has other dietary restrictions.
Jewish calendars
Rosh Hashanah is the Jewish New Year after all, and every year needs a calendar. While many, if not most, people rely on digital calendars for day-to-day scheduling, a pretty wall calendar makes a nice decoration and can help keep the household organized. Most Jewish calendars sold in the United States list secular dates as well as Hebrew ones (including all the holidays, of course), and run through the end of the next Gregorian year. (So one that starts with Rosh Hashanah in 2017 will last you until December 2018.) You can find a wide selection online and in Judaica stores and bookstores.
Someone with an artistic bent or who enjoys the stress relief that comes with coloring might enjoy a coloring-book calendar featuring intricate Judaic motifs such as Jewish stars and Hanukkah menorahs. And one from New York’s Jewish Museum showcases a variety of paintings, sculptures and ceremonial objects from its collection.
Jewish cookbooks
If your host invited you over for a home-cooked meal, he or she probably likes to cook. The four books listed here were published within the last couple of years, so there’s a good chance your host doesn’t yet own them — and what better than a cookbook to subtly convey to your host that you’d love more holiday meal invitations? (Find more Jewish cookbook suggestions here.)
“Modern Jewish Baker: Challah, Babka, Bagels & More” is written by Shannon Sarna, the editor of The Nosher food blog, part of the 70 Faces Media family that includes My Jewish Learning. In this gorgeous book, she pays homage to Jewish baking traditions while re-invigorating them with modern flavors and new ideas.
The mother-daughter team of Gabrielle Rossmer Gropman and Sonya Gropman in “The German-Jewish Cookbook: Recipes and History of a Cuisine” features recipes for German-Jewish cuisine as it existed in Germany before World War II, and as refugees later adapted it in the United States and elsewhere. The dishes are a departure from better-known Eastern European Jewish fare and focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Israeli baker Uri Scheft’s “Breaking Breads: A New World of Israeli Baking” offers sweet and savory recipes for European, Israeli and Middle Eastern favorites.
For vegan cooks — or those who often have a vegan family member or guest at their table — “The Superfun Times Vegan HolidayCookbook: Entertaining for Absolutely Every Occasion” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz offers meat- and dairy- and egg-free recipes for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur (break-the-fast), as well as dishes for a variety of other Jewish and non-Jewish holidays.
Honey dishes
It is traditional to dip apples in honey on Rosh Hashanah, and a special honey dish can add extra beauty to the practice. We like a stainless steel and glass one that says “Shana Tova Umetuka” (a good and sweet new year) in Hebrew and a Rosh Hashanah apple plate and honey dish set with a pomegranate design available in red, blue and gray.
Food
Why dip good apples and challah in mediocre honey? The Savannah Bee Company, a gourmet honey purveyor, sells a variety of beautifully packaged artisanal honeys, including several variety packs. Or encourage your host to sample some raw honeycomb. The company also sells numerous other honey-based products, like body lotions and soaps. All their honey is KSA kosher-certified.
For Rosh Hashanah, Zingerman’s, a Michigan deli and mail-order gourmet superstore, bakes its own honey cakes, round challahs, mandelbrot and rugelach, and sells an array of gourmet honeys from around the world.
Love marzipan? Try Rosh Hashanah “Marzipops.” A gift set of these marzipan lollipops contains 10 lollipops: two each of a honeypot, a red apple, a challah, a pomegranate and a shofar. They are gluten-free and vegan, but are not certified kosher.
Assorted items
Barbara’s Gifts is based in Israel but ships to the United States. Its Rosh Hashanah gift box contains a pomegranate hand towel, pomegranate challah cover, Jewish calendar tea towel, pomegranate-shaped trivet, pomegranate fabric placemats, a pomegranate notepad and set of Rosh Hashanah greeting cards.
If your host likes scented candles, try an apples-and-honey one. Just make sure you don’t try to eat it after reading the description: “Brown sugar glazed apples blended with warm cinnamon, golden clove and grated nutmeg wrapped in sweet caramel honey drizzles and hints of pure maple syrup.” You can also find a variety of pomegranate-scented candles here.
Off the beaten path
Who doesn’t need a Rosh Hashanah-themed smartphone cover/case? Luxlady offers some in various sizes for popular iPhone and Android models.
Children and adults alike will enjoy accessorizing with High Holiday-themed nail decals from Midrash Manicures.
Nothing quite right? Try searching for Rosh Hashanah on Etsy or visit The Sabra Patch, an Etsy-like online store for Israeli artists. Whatever you buy, best wishes for a sweet and Happy New Year!

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3D project ensures Glauben’s memories will live on

3D project ensures Glauben’s memories will live on

Posted on 29 August 2018 by admin

Photo: McGuire Boles
Heather Maio-Smith, managing director at Conscience Display, a collaborator with the USC Shoah Foundation on the holographic project, adjusts a microphone before taping of Max Glauben begins.

By Deb Silverthorn

Nineteen cameras, a crew of a dozen-plus, five days and 40 hours of filming are all needed to make sure that one man, Dallas’ own Max Glauben, tells his story, his history and his whole heart to generations to come.
The University of Southern California’s Shoah Foundation, Glauben and the Dallas Holocaust Museum are creating a holographic exhibit today, about the past, that will last long into the future.
“I know it is my story, but the crew I worked with should get the glory because they are something else, some very special people. That it is in their souls to be sure that our stories are heard and that our testimonies are preserved for years to come, educating the public, is a gift,” said Glauben, who was interviewed last week. “I was mesmerized at the process and can’t even fully express the appreciation I have to be a part of this. It’s truly beyond honor.”
Glauben, the 19th subject in the Dimensions in Testimony initiative, will premiere next spring in a 2D testing format at the Dallas Holocaust Museum’s current space, and then in its full 3D experience at the Dimensions in Testimony Theater at the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum when it opens in September 2019. In the intimate theater, museum visitors will also have access to 17 other interactive testimonies of Holocaust survivors from around the world, as well as a survivor of the 1937 Nanjing Massacre in China.
“It took me no time to want to participate,” said Glauben, who saw the project in place at Dallas’ Museum of Biblical Arts with survivor Pinchas Gutter of Toronto. That exhibit will run through the end of this year. It is available only in a few museums at this point.
The idea was first envisioned by Heather Maio Smith, managing director of Conscience Display, which creates exhibitions of survivors.
Glauben was just 10 when World War II started and 13 when he was sent on a boxcar to Majdanek, then Budzyn, Mielec, Wieliczka and Flossenburg before being liberated by a Jewish soldier while on a death march to Dachau.
He has shared testimony and developed new generations as witnesses to his tale to tens of thousands as an almost-weekly fixture at the Dallas Holocaust Museum. He has traveled across the country and served as a chaperone for Yavneh Academy’s March of the Living group 13 times. For him, he is speaking for his parents, Faiga and Isaac; his brother, Heniek; and the rest of the 6,000,000 Jews and the 5,000,000 non-Jews who died.
“I’m even more of an open book than I was because one topic brought about another, and the answer to one question had me remembering something I hadn’t talked about before,” said the 90-year-old Glauben. A longtime member of Congregation Shearith Israel, he and his wife of 65 years, Frieda, are parents of Barry (Michelle), Phillip (Linda) and Shari (Norm) Becker; grandparents of Alec (Ellen), Blake, Delaney, Hayley, Madison, Ross (Stacey) and Sarah (Brett); and great-grandparents of Natalie. “What we created is ‘conversations’ I’ll be having with the children and grandchildren of the youngest people I am meeting with now.”
During last week’s taping, Glauben answered 1,500 questions about his life before, during, and after World War II, such as “what did the Holocaust mean,” “what does it mean all these years later,” “what does God mean to you” and “do you feel hope for the future.” The project will be produced by USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies along with the Shoah Foundation, the nonprofit founded by director Steven Spielberg in 1994.
“Max, ‘our Max,’ is something else — he’s just so very special and anyone who has ever spent even a minute with him knows that. He never stops for a minute and now, with this technology, he never will,” said Dallas Holocaust Museum President and CEO Mary Pat Higgins. “His responses were phenomenal and incredibly moving and to see his memory at work is something we all envied. These are subjects, really difficult times, and memories of close to 80 years ago, and yet he held strong and fulfilled the mission we all have.”
Higgins, who was present for much of the filming, said everyone involved could feel the gravity with which Glauben understands the opportunity and the responsibility to impart wisdom that he feels — and that he lives. His answers were deliberate, thoughtful and sincere, but all given with his own brand of personality and heart, with the twinkle that is always in his eye, with the consciousness of the moment and with his ever-positive impact.
“Whatever I can share and whoever I can reach so that this is a better world because some of us gave testimony, that’s why we’re doing it,” said Glauben, one of many who has left a letter placed in a time capsule for the new building. “Maybe something I say will change a heart from hate, from ignorance, from evil. It’s about making sure people know what happened. People need to hear and know that it did happen — and that it should never happen again. Never again.”

 

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22nd Jewish Film Festival features wide variety

22nd Jewish Film Festival features wide variety

Posted on 24 August 2018 by admin

Bye Bye Germany will be shown at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 13 at Studio Movie Grill Spring Valley.

By Deb Silverthorn

The curtains at Studio Movie Grill Spring Valley will soon part for the 22nd annual Jewish Film Festival of Dallas, produced by the Jewish Community Center of Dallas with support from the Office of Cultural Affairs/City of Dallas, and presented by Pegasus Bank.
Screening throughout September are The Testament (Sept. 4), The Cakemaker (Sept. 5), Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me (Sept. 8 and 26), GI Jews: Jewish Americans in World War II (Sept. 12 and 16), Bye Bye Germany (Sept. 13), Shelter (Sept. 15), Heading Home: The Tale of Team Israel (Sept. 17), The Body Collector (Sept. 20), The 90-Minute War (Sept. 22), and The Last Suit (Sept. 27).
“In watching close to 100 films this year, some in English, many in their original language with subtitles, we searched for outstanding artistic value and relevance with something for everyone,” event chair Brenda Marcus said. “They all have strong values of courage and bravery, and they are spectacular.”
The Testament tracks a dedicated Holocaust historian working to prevent the desecration of a mass Holocaust gravesite to make way for road construction. Examining testimonies of Holocaust survivors who could be witnesses to the massacre, he finds his own mother’s testimony, which she refuses to discuss. Dr. David Patterson, the Hillel A. Feinberg Chair in Holocaust Studies, Ackerman Center at UT Dallas, will lead the talkback.
The Cakemaker traces the bond between a gay German baker and the Jerusalem-based widow of the man they both loved, which is formed when his Israeli lover dies and he goes to Israel to learn more. The portrait of grief raises an array of social and religious questions. Post-screening discussion will be led by Congregation Shearith Israel Rabbi Adam Roffman.
Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me is about the legendary entertainer — a Puerto Rican, Jewish, African-American who was driven toward the American dream in a time of racial prejudice. The film, spanning his life from childhood and including the Rat Pack, has interviews with Billy Crystal, Kim Novak and Jerry Lewis. Beri Schwitzer, director of congregational learning at Congregation Beth Torah, leads Saturday evening’s discussion.
GI Jews: Jewish Americans in World War II tells the experiences of 550,000 Jewish Americans. Veterans unknown and famous, including Mel Brooks and Henry Kissinger, narrate their fight for their nation and their brethren in Europe, while struggling with anti-Semitism within their ranks. Sara Abosch Jacobson, chief education, programs and exhibits officer at the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance, will speak after Sunday afternoon’s showing.
Bye Bye Germany, a dramedy, features a former concentration camp survivor who sees his scarred homeland as one of opportunity. He recruits Jewish traveling salesmen in a scheme selling overpriced linens to guilt-ridden Germans, also facing interrogation by an American military intelligence officer about his past as an alleged Nazi collaborator. The film was inspired by the screenwriter’s family history in an engaging salute to the nearly 4,000 European Jews who chose to remain, reclaiming their lives.
Shelter is the story of a Mossad agent who reluctantly accepts a mission at a safe house in Berlin. The thriller trails her as she protects a Lebanese informant recovering from identity-changing surgery and the two develop a fragile but special bond.
Heading Home is based on Israel’s underdog national team competing for the first time in the World Baseball Classic. With several Jewish American professional baseball players, most of whom had little exposure to Judaism, the team discovers the pride of representing Israel on the world stage. They travel from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, where they are heroes, and on to Seoul, where they hope to win. Consul Omer Checkek-Katz, of the Consulate General of Israel to the Southwest, leads the post-screening conversation.
The Body Collector, the highest-rated series in Dutch television history, is a true-life drama following an investigative journalist fighting to reveal a prominent art collector as a Nazi war criminal and the price he must pay during his search for truth and justice. Stonewalled by bureaucrats, he refuses to go down quietly.
The 90-Minute War is a satirical comedy revolving around how, after decades of strife and failed peace talks, the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority agree to end the intractable problem with a winner-take-all soccer match. One 90-minute game will decide who remains in the Holy Land. As the two managers prepare for the game of their careers, nothing is easy.
The Last Suit is about a senior refusing to bend to family pressure for him to move into assisted living. He goes to Poland in search of the friend who nursed him back to health when he returned from Auschwitz, hoping to fulfill a 70-year-old promise. Zsuzsanna Ozsváth, Leah and Paul Lewis Chair in Holocaust Studies at the Ackerman Center at UT Dallas, leads the screening’s talkback.
With the festival comes the 2019 Jewish Film Festival of Dallas’ Emerging Filmmaker Prize. Applications of short films will be accepted from Sept. 3 to March 1 for the contest held in memory of the late Dr. Peter Marcus, who co-chaired the festival with wife Brenda for eight years. Filmmakers don’t have to be Jewish but pieces must reflect aspects of Jewish life. Prizes are $500 and a screening of the winning film next year. Applicants must be under 25 and enrolled or recent graduates of middle school through post-graduate programs.
Film schedules, trailers, and ticket sales are available at bit.ly/2M6wVUA. To order tickets by phone, contact Rachelle Weiss Crane at 214-239-7128.
Jewish Film Festival of Dallas Emerging Filmmaker Prize information and applications are at bit.ly/2AVDC6O. For donations, visit bit.ly/2ORFqAt.

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Tina Epstein demonstrates The Art of Adapting

Tina Epstein demonstrates The Art of Adapting

Posted on 01 August 2018 by admin

Photo: Christian Ayala
Tina Epstein has been creating colorful masterpieces for three decades and, Parkinson’s be darned, her work and her spirit are brighter than ever.

 

 

By Deb Silverthorn

The colors of the rainbow combined don’t present the brightness, spirit and hue that comes from only a moment with artist Tina Epstein, the focus of Christian Ayala’s documentary debut, The Art of Adapting — Parkinson’s. The YouTube-debuted mini-documentary will screen Aug. 10-19 at the sixth annual Chain NYC Film Festival.

“From the moment we connected, I wanted Tina to have a voice. She was all in and I’m proud of what we created,” said Ayala, who filmed, edited and directed the nine-minute, 25-second piece, sharing producer credits with Giovanni Pantoja. “I went in with a broad scope, but the piece became specific. What I thought would be a four-minute spotlight became a legacy piece and more special than we could have planned.”

When Ayala, a Bishop Lynch High School and 2017 University of North Texas graduate, was looking to create a portfolio, he had no idea how it would form his future.

“I didn’t want to cross any boundaries,” said Ayala, with nearly 1,600 YouTube views, who hopes people will be inspired and educated by the film. He was excited about being accepted to next week’s Chain NYC Film Festival. “It was her suggestion to show the severity of her disease, and it’s powerful for the audience and empowering for her.”

Epstein, painting for years on canvas, wood and metal of Judaica and general themes, has seen requests for her work increase recently. For years, proceeds of her work supported organizations close to her.

French was the first language for Epstein, born in Madrid, to her Moroccan mother, Marie,  and her New Yorker father, David Luzzatto. Epstein’s family, including her brother, Marc, and sister, Francoise, followed her father’s Army and Air Force Exchange Service career to Morocco, New Jersey, Japan and Hawaii before settling in Dallas.

Epstein reflects, relates and credits the goodness of her life to meeting her husband of 32 years, Dallas native Leonard Epstein,  and to her children, Benjamin, Sarah and Sam. The couple, who met playing volleyball at the Jewish Community Center, are longtime members of Congregation Shearith Israel, and their children are graduates of Akiba and Yavneh academies.

“I’ve always had a joie de vivre, but truly Leonard and my children changed my world,” she said. “From Day 1, Leonard has cherished and encouraged every endeavor, and I absolutely believe I was put on this earth to have and nurture kids. I’ve been a wife and mother first, but everything I do has my whole heart.”

Epstein, who was confirmed at Temple Emanu-El and graduated from W.T. White High School and the University of Texas-Austin, found her artist niche after creating earrings when Benjamin was a toddler. After attending a ceramics class, she added that format, then painting.

A diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis gave Epstein her first challenges of severe pain in her hands. A minor tremor resulted in two years of testing, but no answers.  Parkinson’s was diagnosed in 2010 after she deteriorated in four months more than most patients do in 10-15 years. Her hands distorted by dystonia, she is primarily wheelchair-bound and a deep brain stimulator now helps her control the shaking she experiences.

One of Epstein’s doctors helped pull her through, aiding her to adapt to not being able to walk, paint and do so many actions she loved. So began her new frame of mind and, expressively appropriate, the title of Ayala’s production.

While at first uncomfortable filming, Epstein believes it a privilege to tell her story and encourage people to “go for it. Christian is a gifted storyteller through his lenses and an absolutely gentle soul. He’s a gift. Period,” she said. “I recognize I’m fortunate to have a handicap that allows me to continue what I love, but it’s most important that people do not take little things for granted.”

Epstein takes no moment for granted, little or big, including those spent dancing at Sarah’s wedding to Brian Fromm or traveling coast-to-coast this spring to see Benjamin receive his Ph.D. in biological engineering, Sarah obtain her master’s in family therapy and Sam begin as a computer programmer at Cisco Systems. Consideringly brightening her days is time spent with her canine pal Acher. “Every day is a blessing.”

“I can’t walk, but I get there. I can’t hold a paintbrush, but I’m still creating valued art. In the kitchen, cooking takes longer, but it’s still delicious and makes those I’m serving happy,” said Epstein. “I’ve adapted in almost everything I do, and I’ve learned it’s important for those I love to see and learn how I deal with this insidious disease with and dignity and determination.”

That determination includes playing bridge with friends of decades, her art, cooking and enjoying getting dressed up — every day an occasion for hair, nails and wardrobe to shine. “It’s the only thing I can control, and if I’m going to go through this life, I’m gonna look damned good in it,” she says.

“Adapt — it sounds simple; it’s not,” Epstein said. “But it’s more than keeping me alive, it’s keeping me living. It’s only too late if I don’t wake up one day!”

The Art of Adapting — Parkinson’s can be viewed at bit.ly/2v6FGCL. To contact Ayala to support the documentary and his work, email cjamesa20@yahoo.com or call 314-477-8995.

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