Archive | Featured

Ruach soars on JET-sponsored MoMENtum Israel journey

Ruach soars on JET-sponsored MoMENtum Israel journey

Posted on 22 January 2020 by admin

Photos: Courtesy Brett Diamond
JET MoMENtum participants atop Masada.

Men inspired to live their best Jewish life

By Alexandra Lang
Maintaining the growth and progress that young Jewish adults gain from experiences such as their bar or bat mitzvah is challenging. With limited free time and few Jewish programs available to them, these adults can unwittingly allow the connection to their faith to dwindle.
Jewish Education Texas, or JET, is a non-denominational organization that provides programs for young Jewish families in Dallas to connect with one another and their faiths outside of their synagogues; it is one of the Dallas-based Jewish organizations that sponsors an annual trip to Israel for Dallas Jews through another organization called Momentum, formerly named Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project. Momentum provides eight-day trips to Israel for Jewish adults, with both women’s (MOMentum) and men’s (MoMENtum) trips, inspiring them to improve their lives and communities through a renewed connection to their faith.
Rabbi Tsvi Wachsman, one of the founding rabbis of JET alongside Rabbi Shalom Rodin, decided to implement the trip to provide the chance for Jewish adults to reignite their connection to their faith and continue that path once they return home.
“We felt that the MoMENtum trip was an opportunity for someone to take the time away from their families to connect with themselves and their Jewish souls,” Wachsman said. “For us, it wasn’t a trip to Israel [for the men] to connect [with their faith] in a vacuum, but it would be a springboard for sparking the Jewish neshama, the soul, to want to explore Judaism more.”
In 2016, JET first sponsored the women’s trip, MOMentum, and it started sponsoring the men’s version of the trip, MoMENtum, in 2018.
In November, a group of 30 men embarked on the second JET-sponsored MoMENtum trip for eight days.
Each day had a different theme and location; among other topics, the men discussed how to strengthen their relationships with loved ones, deepen their connection to God and leave a lasting, positive legacy for their children and future generations.
The men visit a variety of important landmarks in Israel, including the Latrun army base, the Dead Sea and Yad Vashem, which is Israel’s memorial for the victims of the Holocaust.
A highlight of the trip for some participants is the visit to the Kotel, or the Western Wall. Mike Cohen, one attendee, said it was the most meaningful part of the trip for him.
“We’d spent the morning at Yad Vashem, and we were brought to the Wall at the end of a very emotional day, so we didn’t go to the wall until really sundown and it was an extremely emotional day,” Cohen said. “I’ve been to Israel a handful of times but for this trip, not seeing the wall until the end of a very emotional day, I think, was very impactful.”
For some of the men, the trip leaders and tour guides were a highlight. One of the men’s trip leaders, Charlie Harary, has been described by some of the men as a Jewish version of Tony Robbins; he spoke to and motivated the men during the journey. Lev Skolnik, one of the trip attendees, said that Harary and the tour guides were one of his favorite aspects of the trip.
“[Harary] really helped set the tone for everything that we did as a group,” Skolnik said. “We also had some incredible guys that, outside of being tour guides and telling us about the landmarks, were discussing some really thought-provoking things and tying them to the place we were visiting. Everywhere we went, we came away with some food for thought.”
Brett Diamond serves on the board of JET and is also member of the men’s council for the MoMENtum trip. He has attended the trip twice, the first time, attending with his brother through a different organization. On his second trip, he was able to go as one of two madrichs, or leaders; Rabbi Wachsman and Rabbi Rodin also attended the trip. As a madrich, Diamond used his unique leadership position to support the other men on the trip.
“[A madrich is] someone that really wants to make the experience the best it can be, because with 28-29 guys, there’s only so much the rabbis can do,” Diamond said. “The guys on the trip may look at and respect the rabbis differently as they may respect us two [leaders] because we don’t come from a rabbinical background. So the way we can influence may be different.”
For Diamond, the trip was a meaningful opportunity for self-reflection.
“A lot of us on the trip were what I call on ‘the treadmill of life,’ where we’re working very hard in our career, are married, have children, and are looked on as leaders of the community,” he said. “There’s never really a time that one can take a pause and get off the treadmill and really reflect on oneself. And that’s the beauty of this trip: It really focuses on growth individually and it makes [one] a better person.”
Skolnik decided to attend the JET-sponsored trip after realizing that he, too, wanted a break from life’s metaphorical treadmill.
“I’d been busy with three kids, marriage and work, and I felt like I could benefit from some perspective and a readjustment,” he said.
The men are all at different phases in their lives: they’re at various stages in their relationships, their children are at all different ages and their only commonalities before the trip seem to be their religion. But despite these dissimilarities, the men returned from the trip with a newfound group of Jewish brothers.
“All of us were able to be vulnerable, and when you have the vulnerability in a group setting with guys you may not even know, with the backdrop of Israel, it really brings a sense of brotherhood and a bonding feeling among the guys,” Diamond said.
To maintain their connection after the trip, the men organized a weekly group meeting with the rabbis to read the week’s Torah portion; they have meaningful discussions about Judaism and the difficulties they face in their everyday lives.
“We have a very intimate, confidential and inspiring discussion on self-growth and Torah,” Diamond said. “We are, literally, keeping momentum from the trip.”
Choosing to attend the trip can seem daunting, but Cohen advises people who are unsure to decide to go.
“Don’t consider it, just commit. Once you do, you’ll realize that the hardest part is the commitment to go, and once you’re there, you recognize why it was important to go,” he said.
Some of the best resources, for people who are hesitant to go, are the men who have attended the trip.
“It’s never a good time to go on the trip because life is busy,” Diamond said. “If you want to take a step off the treadmill of life, have an amazing time in the most beautiful country in the world, be around your Jewish brothers from all over the world, eat good food, have very deep conversations…then I would tell [you] to talk to the guys and see what they say.”
Throughout the trip, the men were encouraged to “choose awesome” in their lives once they returned home.
“It’s very easy to go through life cruising: doing what you have to do to be successful, being a husband [and] being a father. But choosing awesome is saying, ‘I want to have a life filled with happiness and meaning,’” Wachsman said. “Let life be awesome, and how [does one] do so? That’s the Jewish journey. It’s not just the trip; it’s important to choose awesome for your whole life.”
The next JET men’s trip is set for November 2020. The land cost is $1,200; men whose wife or ex-wife have participated on a MOMentum trip within the last five years will receive a $300 discount, bringing the the total to either $1374 or $1074 including fees. Participants pay for their own airfare. To be eligible, one must meet some requirements, including living within 30 minutes of the sponsoring organization and having children under the age of 18 who are raised Jewish. Information on other local sponsoring organizations is available at the Momentum website, www.momentumunlimited.org.

Comments (0)

The City of Dallas proclaims Jan 6  #JewishandProudDay

The City of Dallas proclaims Jan 6 #JewishandProudDay

Posted on 08 January 2020 by admin

Photo: Dallas City Hall/Jose Marroquin
From left, Amy Berger, Kim Kamen, Hannah Schwitzer, Joel Schwitzer, Stuart Blaugrund, Dallas City Council Member Cara Mendelsohn, Alexa Gotsdiner, Ryan Kassanoff, Rebecca Hoffman and Miriam Schwitzer.

TJP Staff Report
In response to recent violence in New York and New Jersey and a surge of anti-Semitism in the United States, the AJC coordinated #JewishandProud Day Monday, Jan. 6. This followed the solidarity march in New York the day before, when an estimated 25,000 people marched across the Brooklyn Bridge and held a rally Sunday to protest rising anti-Semitism in and around New York City.
“Enough is enough. We will not shy away from publicly displaying, celebrating our Jewish identity and faith,” said AJC CEO David Harris.
Dallas City Council Member Cara Mendelsohn, who represents District 12, and Mayor Eric Johnson issued a proclamation to make Jan 6, 2020 #JewishAndProudDay in the City of Dallas.
“We join communities across the world in rejecting Anti-Semitism and encouraging all people to live without hate or fear. Dallas is a welcoming and diverse community and we celebrate the different identities of all our residents,” wrote Mendelsohn on Facebook Sunday night.
About 30 folks gathered at City Hall Monday afternoon with #JewishAndProud signs to demonstrate their Jewish pride and support for the Jewish community and hear the proclamation read by AJC Dallas Regional Director Joel Schwitzer. Among those assembled were AJC leaders; high school students from AJC/Leaders For Tomorrow; professional and lay leaders from the ADL, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and its Jewish Community Relations Council, Shearith Israel and Temple Emanuel; and allies from the Latino community including Deputy Consul Edurne Pineda of Mexico and Latino Jewish Leadership Council member Luisa del Rosal.
Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas President and CEO Mariam Shpeen Feist said:
“It was moving and compelling to stand with AJC lay and professional leadership, along with so many members of our community — Jewish and non-Jewish — to celebrate #JewishandProud Day Jan. 6. We were pleased to support this AJC global initiative and we thank Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson, City Council Members Cara Mendelsohn, Lee Kleinman and the entire Dallas City Council for their support of the Jewish community.”
Rebecca Hoffman, a Hockaday sophomore and member of AJC’s Leaders for Tomorrow, attended the gathering with her mom, Jackie.
“The proclamation was really eye-opening for me because hearing those statistics and numbers out loud about what has happened to the Jewish people in — even the past few years — is really horrifying and frightening for anyone of any age. As I become a young adult in society, I think those numbers of deaths and attacks that were in the proclamation are exactly why my mom and I went to City Hall to stand up,” she said.
Schwitzer expressed his gratitude that Mendelsohn and Johnson issued the proclamation Monday.
“In the face of rising anti-Semitism, the #JewishandProud campaign was created as an opportunity to show Jewish pride and for our friends and coalition partners to declare themselves allies to the Jewish community. The support of our Mayor and City Council by making this proclamation makes a clear statement that Dallas stands with its Jewish community. We are grateful to Councilmember Cara Mendelsohn and Mayor Eric Johnson for making it clear that Dallas stands unequivocally against anti-Semitism.”

Comments (0)

DMN names Max Glauben 2019 Texan of the Year

DMN names Max Glauben 2019 Texan of the Year

Posted on 02 January 2020 by admin

Photos: Sharon Wisch-Ray
Max Glauben at Majdanek April 15, 2018. Majdanek was the first of several concentration camps for Glauben and the place where his parents and brother were murdered by the Nazis.

At almost 92, Glauben touched by recognition

Staff Report
The Dallas Morning News named Holocaust survivor and human rights activist Max Glauben the 2019 Texan of the Year. The 91-year-old Dallas resident has become a source of hope and inspiration to people in North Texas and all over the world for his message of tolerance, fairness and forgiveness.
The News revealed the honor in its Sunday Opinion section with Glauben on its cover. Glauben’s profile spans five full pages.
On Monday, Glauben said he was on Cloud Nine and overwhelmed. He didn’t expect the extensive coverage when there was a photo shoot at his North Dallas home with his wife, Frieda. He thought that maybe it might be a page and he didn’t know exactly what it was for.
“At a time when hate crimes are rising, Max Glauben reminds us how hope can triumph over fear and kindness can overcome hatred when good people speak out,” said editorial page editor Brendan Miniter.
Glauben explained that many people have looked out for him over the years and doing good deeds is his way of paying it forward.
“I have been doing mitzvot to repay some of the goodness that I received from people, being orphaned and in orphanages. I never expected to [be recognized in such a large way] by it. Evidently, I did make a difference in the life of many, many people. Evidently people were watching,” Glauben said.
He was living in Warsaw with his family when the Nazis invaded in 1939. After spending several years in and out of hiding, they were discovered and deported to the Majdanek concentration camp where his parents and brother were killed. Over the next two years, he lived in four more camps, where he survived and helped his fellow prisoners with his cunning and courage. Glauben was liberated April 23, 1945, by the U.S. Army at the age of 17.
In 1947, he immigrated to the U.S. and joined the Army, serving in the Korean War. When he completed his active duty, he moved to Dallas, where he was a founder and loyal supporter of what was then the Dallas Memorial Center for Holocaust Studies. It is now the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum.
Thanks to efforts by Glauben and others like him, the museum expanded and moved to a new home in 2019 that reflects the dreams of Glauben and other Holocaust survivors to educate new generations about human rights.
“We are all so thrilled by this honor that has been bestowed on Max — for our Museum, of course, but more important for all of us who he has touched with his story of hopefulness,” said Frank Risch, Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum board chair. “An Upstander in every way, Max has made our world a better place.”
Glauben remains a prolific speaker in North Texas and for the past 14 years has led a group of youth on a tour of Holocaust sites called March of the Living.
When speaking about the Holocaust he explains that he is inspired by “the souls of the 6 million, including my parents, flying over me. Evidently Hashem and some of the people recognized me and realized that what I was doing was coming naturally without hesitation. I was doing all this not to expect to get what I got.
“I feel like I won the Humane Upstander lottery.”
Glauben and his wife, Frieda, have three children, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
“Evidently what I do brings out the best in people. Sometimes, that’s a good guide that we must be doing the right thing. Evidently I made a difference. The angels upstairs and Hashem helped me.”

Comments (0)

Dallas Morning News names Max Glauben 2019 Texan of the Year

Dallas Morning News names Max Glauben 2019 Texan of the Year

Posted on 29 December 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Max Glauben at 89, on the March of the Living in 2017

The Dallas Morning News named Holocaust survivor and human rights activist Max Glauben the 2019 Texan of the Year. The 91-year-old Dallas resident has become a source of hope and inspiration to people in North Texas and all over the world for his message of tolerance, fairness and forgiveness.
“At a time when hate crimes are rising, Max Glauben reminds us how hope can triumph over fear and kindness can overcome hatred when good people speak out,” said Dallas Morning News editorial page editor Brendan Miniter.
Glauben was living in Warsaw with his family when the Nazis invaded in 1939. After spending several years in and out of hiding, they were discovered and deported to the Majdanek concentration camp where his parents and brother were killed. Over the next two years, he lived in four more camps, where he survived and helped his fellow prisoners with his cunning and courage. Glauben was liberated on April 23, 1945 by the U.S. Army at the age of 17.
In 1947, he immigrated to the U.S. and joined the Army and served in the Korean War. When he completed his active duty, he moved to Dallas, where he was a founder and loyal supporter of the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum.
Thanks to efforts by Glauben and others like him, the museum expanded and moved to a new home in 2019 that reflects the dreams of Glauben and other Holocaust survivors to educate new generations about human rights. Glauben remains a prolific speaker in North Texas and for the past 14 years has led a group of youth on a tour of holocaust sites called March of the Living. Glauben and his wife, Frieda, have three children and seven grandchildren.
Texan of the Year is an award program to honor those who have made uncommon, inspirational impact on our world.
Finalists for 2019 Texan of the Year were Simone Biles, Botham Jean’s family, John Goodenough, Jody and Sheila Grant, Katherine Hayhoe, Vicki Hollub, Dan Huberty, Diana Natalicio, Dirk Nowitzki, sex trafficking warriors, school superintendents in Odessa and El Paso, Robert Smith, Tom Torkelson and Karen Uhlenbeck.
The Texan of the Year award was founded in 2003. Previous recipients include George W. Bush, Laura W. Bush, Janis Jack, Adm. Bill McCraven, Rick Perry and Craig Watkins.

Comments (0)

Grandchildren of Lukow: my day with the families of my grandfather’s righteous saviors

Grandchildren of Lukow: my day with the families of my grandfather’s righteous saviors

Posted on 26 December 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray


Photo: Courtesy Grant Prengler
Grant Prengler and Kazik Mokicki in front of the Mokicki family home and barn (both still in use today).

By Grant Prengler

Last month I broke a promise. 

I visited Poland for the first time in 2015 for the March of the Living (MOL) and upon returning home to Dallas, I wanted to carry with me the lessons learned but had no desire to return to the country. That was, except on one condition: Lukow. My family can trace its roots to this small Polish town going back hundreds of years up to the 1940s. My grandfather, Aaron Prengler, his 12 siblings and their families lived and prospered there, that is until they were either murdered or forced into hiding. On Nov. 14, I broke the promise to myself and made a pilgrimage back to Poland. 

I flew to Warsaw and after a one-night stay in the Polish capital, the day started with jitters. After a restless night, my alarm clock sounded and I was admittedly nervous, not knowing where my emotions would lead me during the day. Zbigniew Mokicki, the grandson of Wacek and Leokadia Mokicki (one of the two families who hid the Prengler family during the Holocaust), picked me up at my Warsaw hotel and the 80-mile drive began. I had met Zbigniew once before in Warsaw during the MOL but recognized now how different and special this meeting was, being that I had the opportunity to interact with my family’s righteous saviors in the very town where it all took place. We chatted some, but I spent most of the car ride staring out of the passenger side window, trying to separate the modern country from its horrific past (spoiler: I couldn’t). For the duration of the two-hour drive southeast to Lukow, I was fixated on the trees — tall and thin, yet dense. It was an observation I had on my first trip to the country, and independently the same one my father had when he visited in 2013, and yet again the same thought came to mind: These trees have seen a lot. The trees have a story to tell of Auschwitz-Birkenau, of Sobibor, of Treblinka (where most of my family was murdered), and even of small-town Lukow. These trees could tell a horror story, but they also provided cover, hiding and home to evading and attacking partisans.

Upon arrival to the outskirts of Lukow, we stopped at Zbigniew’s sister, Aska’s, home where I met his mother, Danuta Mokicki, had coffee and was — naturally — force-fed pastries (apparently worry about kids being hungry isn’t exclusive to Jewish mothers). After half an hour, we were out the door to meet Zbigniew’s dad, Kazik Mokicki, who was born just before the war and remembers well my grandfather, Aaron Prengler, and the rest of the Prengler family. The three of us started with a walk from their family apartment through the small town of Lukow. The weather was cold and windy but not unbearable. Our first stop was at the home of my great-uncle, Sol Prengler, firstborn of 13 to David and Rebecca Prengler. The yellow house sits in the direct center of town and is now used as a trade school. Approaching the building’s facade and reaching for the wall just to feel this structure, knowing Sol built it himself, I could already tell it would be a special day. They took me for a lap around town and visited what were once other Prengler family homes. Today, they house banks, grocery stores and shops. I had the chance to take a photo in front of the town emblem in the same spot where my “Papa” stood six years prior on his first and only trip back to Lukow since leaving in 1945. 


Grant Prengler, top, in November, standing in virtually the same spot his grandfather, the late Aaron Prengler, bottom, stood in 2013 when visiting his hometown of Lukow, Poland. 

From there, we went to the site of my great-grandfather’s former brick factory, which was co-owned by a Gentile woman. The woman employed two families — the Mokickis and Konkos — who would both ultimately be tasked with the responsibility of hiding my family. Kazik Mokicki described to me where the industrial chimneys once stood on the property that Papa and his family used as an alternative hiding spot when the mainstay barn needed to be vacated for one reason or another. While the structures of the chimneys are no longer there, the outline of the base is, giving a rough estimate of how (not so) wide this hiding spot was. The site is now used as a building material supply yard. There, Kazik Mokicki told me a story about my great-uncle, Mendel (who still lives in Dallas at 93 years old), hiding under a bed in the Mokicki family home while a German officer came in and attempted to bribe a then 5-year-old Kazik with candy to tell him if he had seen any Jews hiding around. Young Kazik refused the candy by throwing it at the officer’s feet and exclaiming that he didn’t know any Jews. Only a young child, he could have given them up on that fateful day but miraculously didn’t. You don’t factor in little things like that being so important when taking into account survival during the Shoah. 

The barn: our family narrative

Ultimately, we headed from there to the barn. Lo and behold, it is still a barn today — a pigsty to be exact (still in its 1940s form). Can you imagine? A pigsty is precisely where the modern Prengler story begins. Papa and his family of about 20 lived, hid and survived under and in the barn, which sits roughly 25 yards from the semi-busy street, for the better part of three years. Let me add this: It is mid-November, temperatures are in the low 30s, with no snow and with no rain…yet. It is hard to fathom the horror that is a Polish winter in this barn. It’s remarkable to think they survived the winters, let alone the war, hiding, foraging for scraps of food and trying to stay warm. I spent some time in the part of the barn nearest the Mokicki family home, reciting Kaddish, the Jewish mourner’s prayer, and taking in the sights, smells and sounds. It was everything I could have wanted. 



The barn as it stands today.

This barn is our family narrative. It is the lore my cousins, brothers and I grew up on. It is seared into our collective family memory and, for the first time, I was feeling the bricks, the wood, and the mud with my own hands. Standing in awe inside the decaying walls, I witnessed our history. I put my palm against the fading red bricks and knew I wasn’t alone. I knew my Papa, his parents, and siblings were all there with me, proud that a Prengler was free to walk into, and out of, this barn. The construction itself is nothing special — a 15’ wide x 75’ long red brick structure covered by a tin roof and surrounded by mud. Regardless, I walked up to it with the same reverence and awe that I had at the Western Wall my first time there. The spiritual connection hit hard. After so many years of hearing about it, like the Temple wall in Jerusalem, it was incredibly surreal to finally be able to bear witness to it. 

We eventually left and headed toward the home of Urick Konko, the son of the other man who helped hide the Prenglers in Lukow. Urick has had a slew of health issues in the past, including eye issues that led Uncle Sol to organize and fly Urick to Dallas for eye-saving surgery years ago (thanks to Dr. Jeff Whitman).

Urick Konko in his home.

Most recently, Mr. Konko suffered a brain aneurysm and his memories often evade him. I introduced myself and he shook my hand with enthusiasm as if he recognized the name anyway. It took showing Urick photos of Papa and his brothers to jog his memory but soon he and his wife, along with Kazik and Zbigniew Mokicki, started telling old stories of Aaron, Mendel, Herschel and the Prengler lot. In that moment, I couldn’t get over how unbelievable it was that I was sitting at a table with representatives of both righteous Lukow families, while in the very town the stories played out. We chatted over thick coffee and after an hour of schmoozing, we headed back to Zbigniew’s sister’s home. We reflected on the day over a huge, formal lunch and I conveyed how important it was to me to be able to feel the barn, see our family homes, and meet and thank the families that enabled mine to grow and flourish in their new lives in Dallas after the war. Their families may have saved a few at the time, but those few have turned into hundreds. Their modesty and Polish customs do not allow them to fathom the righteous actions they so dangerously undertook. 

A new promise: to tell the story again and again

My intention with this trip, knowing that it would be both emotional and challenging, was to trace my roots and I can say, with confidence, that I accomplished that goal. How remarkable and unique an opportunity that the grandson of a Holocaust survivor was able to not only visit the hometown his Papa hid in but to be given a tour by the sons and grandsons of his saviors, nearly 75 years after liberation? Survivors, both Jewish and not, are slowly but surely becoming fewer in number. It is time for the future generations to learn the stories, witness the camps, and seek out their family histories so that the stories don’t die with those who were there. The late, great Holocaust survivor and educator, Elie Wiesel, once said, “to forget the dead would be akin to killing them a second time.” This experience in Lukow is one that I will take with me as my generation begins to bear the responsibility of passing along the stories of the Shoah. 

So, I will conclude with a new promise. One that I will truly never break. That is, to tell the story of that old brick barn in Lukow for the rest of my life and to challenge others to explore their own family’s stories so that we may all never forget. 

This article is dedicated to Helen Biderman and Mendel Prengler, and the memory of Aaron Prengler (z”l) and the Prenglers of Lukow no longer with us. Also, with great appreciation to the Mokicki and Konko families for their hospitality all these years later. 

Editor’s Note: Grant Prengler will run the Tel Aviv Half-Marathon on Feb. 28 for the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. If you would like to make a contribution to his run to support Holocaust education in Dallas, please follow this link: https://bit.ly/37cHFH3

To donate directly to the DHRRM, please follow this link and put “Prengler Marathon” in the note section: https://sforce.co/2sdkMVe

Comments (3)

Federation’s CJE brings escape room to town

Federation’s CJE brings escape room to town

Posted on 18 December 2019 by admin

Photo: Sara Mancuso, Akiba Yavneh
Akiba Yavneh faculty and escape room facilitator, Peta Silansky.

DALLAS — How quickly can you solve different challenges to find the launch code and send SpaceIL’s lunar spacecraft to the moon? That’s the question groups across Dallas are asked in a unique portable “escape room” experience. In this one-hour escape room, small groups solve various challenges to find the launch code and send SpaceIL’s lunar spacecraft to the moon. As the clock counts down, participants learn about Israeli history, arts and culture, Jewish mysticism, STEM — and how to accomplish a challenging mission as a team.
This program was introduced to the Schultz Fellows program and was purchased as a community resource by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’s Center for Jewish Education (CJE). This Escape Room experience has been shared in Dallas with more than 200 people, including community educators, leaders, students and families.
According to Melissa Essler, assistant director at URJ Greene Family Camp, the escape room was more than she expected, “This was the surprise hit of Family Retreat! Even young kids loved it and families enjoyed working together.”
Developed by The iCenter for Israel Education, the SpaceIL-themed escape room offers a different kind of Israel education. The iCenter, which serves as the North American educational partner for SpaceIL, has experimented with this approach to education for years. The SpaceIL escape room has been used with all types of audiences, including Jewish summer camp directors, educators and leaders at day schools, congregational schools, rabbinic programs, teens and college students.
“Escape rooms spark creativity, develop teamwork skills, and engage learners in new and different ways,” said Dan Tatar, who runs escape rooms for The iCenter. “These immersive experiences activate problem-solving skills, tap into curiosity, and are really fun!”
Participants describe the escape room as entertaining, challenging, team-building and collaborative. Middle School students at Akiba-Yavneh challenged one another to complete the challenge in the least amount of time.
SpaceIL, a nonprofit organization established in 2011 aiming to land the first Israeli spacecraft on the moon, succeeded in getting its Beresheet craft to the surface of the moon last April in collaboration with Israel Aerospace Industries. Although Beresheet crash-landed, plans already are in place for a future Beresheet 2 mission.
The “Escape Room-in-a-Suitcase” is available for loan to area schools, youth groups, adult groups and more and is ready to launch at a location near you. For more information on bringing this unique and immersive experience to your group, contact Melissa Bernstein at mbernstein@jewishdallas.org.
FLY ME TO THE MOON Escape Room is made possible by funding from the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’s Center for Jewish Education in partnership with The iCenter.

Comments (0)

Azrieli Foundation gives $18 million to YU

Azrieli Foundation gives $18 million to YU

Posted on 11 December 2019 by admin

Donation is Azrielis’ latest investment in higher education

Yeshiva University announced at its 95th Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation Sunday, Dec. 8, that it has received an $18 million gift from The Azrieli Foundation. The gift will provide continued support of the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration as well as strengthen undergraduate scholarships. It is one of the largest gifts focused on Jewish education that Yeshiva University has received and stands to have lasting impact on generations of YU students.
The Azrieli Graduate School was established in 1983 by the Canadian builder and visionary businessman David J. Azrieli. Since opening 36 years ago, Azrieli has educated over 800 students from around the world. Every day, its graduates are teaching in hundreds of classrooms, camps and Jewish places of learning, helping to shape the next generation of students. They have a lasting impact on their students and inspire and infuse both passion and skill in their classrooms. Graduates have demonstrated leadership both in the classroom and through service to their communities and are shaping the landscape of Jewish education across the globe. This gift will help provide opportunities for undergraduates and graduates to receive a world-class education based in foundational Torah values and will enable faculty to continue innovating and enhancing programs.
“This historic gift to Jewish education and Jewish educators is transformative for the future of our communities,” said Dr. Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University. “The Azrieli family is the gold seal in philanthropy, and this gift reflects their true partnership and commitment to the essential work of Yeshiva University.”
At Yeshiva University’s 95th Annual Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation, which took place at the New York Hilton Midtown Hotel in New York City, the university presented the Azrieli family with its Legacy Award, celebrating 36 years of transformative partnership with Yeshiva University and honoring the Azrieli Foundation’s three decades of impact philanthropy.
“We are honored to receive this recognition, which would have meant so much to my father,” said Dr. Naomi Azrieli, chair and CEO of the Azrieli Foundation. “He held a deep belief, which we share, in the redemptive power of education. He also felt that his support of education wasn’t charity, as it was giving back what education had given to him.”
During the evening, Dr. Berman conferred an honorary degree upon philanthropist Howard Jonas, founder and chairman of IDT Corporation, Genie Energy and IDW Media and chairman of the board of directors at Rafael Pharmaceuticals. Jonas and his wife, Debbie, support a variety of causes in the Jewish community. Their family foundation supports health and hospitals, education, poverty relief, addiction treatment, religious outreach and the disabled, primarily in Israel and the United States.
The evening also featured recognition of the Yeshiva University Women’s Organization (YUWO), which provides scholarships to students in need, sponsors educational Shabbat programs and funds chesed programs. YUWO also offers stipends for undergraduate students with basic needs not covered by scholarships, such as food, clothing, textbooks and health care.
The Hanukkah Dinner and Convocation drew guests who are among the country’s leading Jewish philanthropists and community leaders. Past speakers and honorees have included former President George W. Bush, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former Secretary of State and then-Senator Hillary Clinton, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Vice President Al Gore, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator John McCain.

Comments (0)

Oct. 20 tornado damages South of Forest Eruv

Oct. 20 tornado damages South of Forest Eruv

Posted on 05 December 2019 by admin

Photos: Shirley Rovinsky
Rabbi Deon Nathan inspects the South of Forest eruv for damage as utility workers look on.

$8,255 needed to fix destruction caused by twister

By Shirley Rovinsky
Special to the TJP
For those who live in the devastation area of the recent tornado, experiencing the loss of homes and properties, our hearts go out to you. As the community begins the long journey toward healing — while not on the same level — the South of Forest Eruv is in the midst of the destruction area and has sustained major damage.
As the tornado tore through North Dallas it also destroyed perimeters of the eruv, which covers a six-mile area. Part of the west perimeter damage extends from Royal Lane south, past St. Mark’s School to Mimosa. Part of the east perimeter extends from Mason Dells to Northaven behind the homes on Valleydale. This part of the eruv had used the fences along the spillway which are no longer there.
The utility company, approved by Oncor Electric, has been busy repairing lines for homes and businesses and is now able to address the eruv. I worked with this company when construction began on the eruv in 2015. They are now replacing the wiring and have extended payment for 30 days.
The cost for the repair is $8,255.00.
The reconstruction is being supervised by Rabbi Deon Nathan, who also checks the eruv weekly to ensure it is “up” and kosher. He is working closely with the utility men indicating where the wires need to be placed on each of the poles. It has been a pleasure to work with both Rabbi Sholey Klein and Rabbi Nathan these past four years to keep the eruv up and running.
I am reaching out to friends and members of the community to consider a contribution.
The South of Forest Eruv is a 501(c)3 and all gifts are deductible and will receive a letter for tax purposes. Contributions may be sent to: The South of Forest Eruv in care of Shirley Rovinsky, 7023 Northaven Road, Dallas, TX 75230-3504. If you have any questions, please call 214-739-6181.
The South of Forest Eruv has been a vision that came to fruition not only for my own family but also for others in the area who use an eruv as well. As the volunteer administrator, I emphasize that it is only through the generosity of community that the South of Forest Eruv continues.
Those in the community who use it every Shabbat and holiday, thank you in advance for any consideration.

Comments (0)

Sabina Chamoy competes on Food Network’s Chopped Jr.

Sabina Chamoy competes on Food Network’s Chopped Jr.

Posted on 03 December 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Rita Chamoy
Tune in to Food Network’s Chopped Junior Dec. 3 to see how Sabina Chamoy fared on the competition.
Lakehill 7th grader showcases Hanukkah on holiday episode Dec. 3

By Nicole Hawkins
A Dallas seventh grader is making her dreams come true one meal at a time as a contestant on the cooking show “Chopped Junior,” set to air Dec. 3 on Food Network.
Sabina Chamoy, 12, was chosen from thousands of applicants to compete during the holiday episode of the show. Food Network flew Chamoy and her mother, Rita, to New York City in July where Chamoy competed against three other junior chefs.
“This is a dream come true,” Chamoy said. “I never thought that this would happen to someone like me.”
Chamoy began cooking three years ago at Sur La Table, a cooking and dining retailer in Dallas, where she took cooking classes and private lessons, some from celebrity chef Tre Wilcox, who has competed on Bravo’s “Top Chef” and “Top Chef Masters.”
“I have a really strong passion for cooking,” Sabina Chamoy said. “I think I started cooking because I was watching all of these [cooking] shows…then I started cooking and I just fell in love with it.”
During the rounds of competition, the chefs prepared holiday meals. As the only Jewish competitor, Chamoy prepared Hanukkah dishes while her competitors cooked Christmas meals.
“She was really proud to represent her faith and the Jewish people and her upbringing and all the traditions that she enjoys all of her life at Hanukkah,” Rita Chamoy said. The Chamoys are members of Congregation Shearith Israel.
“I loved being the only one for Hanukkah,” Sabina Chamoy said.
While Chamoy and her competitors were walking on set, the producers would announce “chefs walking,” she said.
“We’re just kids but they called us chefs,” Sabina Chamoy said, laughing.
Despite her love for cooking, Chamoy has her eyes set on a different career path for the future.
“I really love cooking and I think being a chef would be awesome but I do love STEM and science and all of that,” S. Chamoy said. “If I had a second choice it would be cooking.”
“[Cooking is] more like a hobby that I have a great passion for,” she said.
Chamoy said if she were to give advice to a future “Chopped Junior” contestant it would be to set their expectations high.
“I would tell them to expect the greatest because that’s what I did and it was amazing,” she said.
The “Holiday Hoopla” episode of “Chopped Junior” will air Dec. 3 at 7 p.m. on Food Network.

Comments (0)

Fred Klein receives French Legion of Honor award

Fred Klein receives French Legion of Honor award

Posted on 20 November 2019 by admin

Photo: Angela Klein
“I was born in the region that was liberated by this division and, with my countrymen, am forever grateful for the contribution to peace,” said the consul general of France in Houston, Alexis Andres, who provided Fred Klein with the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur — the Knight of the French Legion of Honor — medal. “Frederick and his men were nothing less than heroes.”
French Consul General thanks 94-year-old for his service

By Deb Silverthorn
Kol hakavod, brava honneur and great honor to Dallas resident PFC Frederick “Fred” Klein, who on Nov. 11, Veterans Day, received the Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur — the Knight of the French Legion of Honor — medal. Decorated with the award by French Consul General Alexis Andres, Klein stood among family and community at Dallas City Hall.
“Seventy-four years ago World War II ended and I hope nothing like it will ever occur again,” said Klein, who turns 95 on Dec. 20. In addition to this honor, Klein has received the Bronze Star, European African Middle Eastern, Good Conduct and World War II Victory medals. At the ceremony, the City of Dallas gave Klein a commemorative coin marking the 75th anniversary of the invasion of Normandy. “I appreciate this award and know we helped bring freedom to the French people as well as to many others in Europe,” Klein said
For Andres, presenting the award is one of the greatest joys of his role. Klein is one of 300 Texans in the last 10 years to receive the honor. “Frederick was very young when he was sent to war and most of those young men had never traveled, never been abroad, never been to Europe,” said the consul general of France, based in Houston. “I was born in the region that was liberated by this division and, with my countrymen, am forever grateful for the contribution to peace. Frederick and his men were nothing less than heroes.”
The Légion d’Honneur award is an order of distinction, established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, to honor extraordinary contributions to France. The award is given only to veterans still alive, and to those who meet a strict criterion of application, including fighting in either the liberation of France, Normandy, Provence/Southern France or Northern France.
A native of the Bronx, New York, Klein is the son of Jeanette and Jules Klein and younger brother of Florence and Leonard, all of blessed memory.
After graduating from high school, Klein was drafted and began basic training in June 1943, his Military Occupational Service, the Infantry Scout 761. In January 1944 he left for England, where he was trained in combat intelligence to plot maps for the powers that be to determine their course of action. With the 83rd Infantry Division, he joined the fight in Normandy, France.
In August 1944, Klein’s unit moved to the Brittany Peninsula, overtaking the Germans in many towns including the capture of the Fortress Paula on Hill 48. The division then moved to the Loire Valley, Luxembourg, Hurtgen Forest, Ardennes, Rhineland, Heart of Germany and Elbe River crossing.
After returning to the United States, and receiving an honorable discharge, Klein attended and graduated from Long Island University’s Brooklyn College of Pharmacy, following in the professional footsteps of his father. In 1954, Klein, his brother and father opened Lister Pharmacy while he also worked as a pharmacist for a vitamin company.
Klein left the family pharmacy, then developing the first national mail-order prescription program as a benefit sponsored by unions, companies and state and federal governmental agencies. He retired in 2003.
Klein and his wife, Marcia, moved to Dallas in 2006 and recently celebrated 66 years of marriage. They were first introduced by a mutual friend. The couple are the parents of Jody (Barry) Klein-Saffran and Marc (Angela) and the grandparents of Adam and Debbie Klein and Alex and Jay Saffran.
“The whole family is very proud of Dad, and this ceremony and honor are both well-deserved and incredible to be a part of,” said Marc. “It is nice to have the memories to share, and the legacy that he has lived noted. His example to our family, and to everyone, is very special.”
World travelers, the couple have been to 104 countries, to each continent, and they’ve seen the Seven Wonders of the World. “I’ve always enjoyed traveling, except of course in the case of my service — that wasn’t ‘traveling,’” said Klein. “I wanted to see as much of this world as I could before I leave it.”

Comments (0)

View or Subscribe to the
Texas Jewish Post

Advertise Here

Photos from our Flickr stream

See all photos

Advertise Here