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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.”

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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?”

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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

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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.

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JFS honors CEO during April event

JFS honors CEO during April event

Posted on 20 April 2017 by admin

Comedian Maniscalco to perform; Fleisher to receive award


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

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

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Celebrating a century

Celebrating a century

Posted on 13 April 2017 by admin

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

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

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

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

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

 Irma, her daughter Anita Anita’s dog Magee

Irma, her daughter Anita Anita’s dog Magee

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

Ursuline students crafted this thank you sign.

Ursuline students crafted this thank you sign.

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

Irma and her husband Izy

Irma and her husband Izy

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

Irma and her sister Ruth

Irma and her sister Ruth

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

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Exodus story brings together DFW-area faiths

Exodus story brings together DFW-area faiths

Posted on 06 April 2017 by admin

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

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

Metroplex leaders participate in 5th annual Interfaith Seder

By Aaron Greenberg
Special to the TJP

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

Seder attendees sharing bitter herbs during the service

Seder attendees sharing bitter herbs during the service

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Kosher Chili Cook-Off names new winner

Kosher Chili Cook-Off names new winner

Posted on 23 March 2017 by admin

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

Henry Litoff won his first Kosher Chili Cook-Off

Henry Litoff won his first Kosher Chili Cook-Off

By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP

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

 

 

Photos: Sharon Wisch-Ray

Chili cook-off winners

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

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Renewed need for community safety

Renewed need for community safety

Posted on 16 March 2017 by admin

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

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

Federation looks ahead to protect Dallas Jewish organizations

By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP

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

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

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

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Energizer Bubbie: 100 years of laughter

Energizer Bubbie: 100 years of laughter

Posted on 09 March 2017 by admin

2-Norma w grandson Evan Alterman

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

By Katie Ray
Special to the TJP

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


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

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