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Dallas residents continue campaign for Harvey recovery

Posted on 14 September 2017 by admin

JFS shifts focus to long-term care

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

A little over two weeks after Hurricane Harvey pummeled Houston, support services from Jewish Family Service (JFS) of Greater Dallas have transitioned from crisis intervention to long-term recovery.
More than 70 percent of Houston’s 60,000-plus Jews live in the area hardest hit, according to the Houston Jewish Federation.
The outpouring of support through JFS was phenomenal over the first two weeks of the crisis. According to JFS:
More than 574 individuals volunteered on their own.


Jewish groups that sent volunteers to JFS included: Akiba Academy, Congregation Beth Torah, Congregation Nishmat Am, Congregation Shearith Israel, The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, The Jewish Community Center, Levine Academy, Mesorah High School for Girls and Take Charge.Period, Temple Emanu-El and Temple Shalom, among others.
As Harvey relief efforts were underway, an additional 70 volunteers offered their support in the day-to-day operations of the JFS Food Pantry and home delivery of kosher meals.
Seven truckloads of items were collected and sent to the Houston area.
By Sept. 8, 148,497 diapers and 93,632 wipes had been collected specifically for Harvey relief.
JFS Dallas has collected more than $64,000 in financial donations to help provide emergency financial assistance and long-term services to evacuees.
JFS is a Harvey Resource Center in order to assist evacuees that come through its doors.
“With our expertise in providing wrap-around services, we now turn our focus to ongoing recovery efforts to those affected by Hurricane Harvey,” explained Leah Guskin, JFS director of Marketing and Communication. Services include long-term assistance with job search and placement; services to older adults; food pantry and financial assistance; services for children, including those with special needs; mental health counseling and case management.
Over the course of the next several weeks, JFS clinical staff and case managers will head to Houston on a rotating basis to assist JFS Houston with case management and counseling.
The Dallas Jewish community quickly sprang into action to lend a hand to their fellow Texans. The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas funded a number of programs to get aid to the Houston Jewish community, starting with the most basic need — food. Under Federation auspices, Dallas Kosher coordinated the services of Dallas-area kosher caterers Simcha Kosher Catering, Texas Kosher BBQ and Taste of the World to provide meals on a daily basis for one week and through two Shabbatot. About 1,000 meals a day were provided. Weekday meal service ended Sept. 8.
On Sept. 3, Federation CEO Bradley Laye and JCC CEO Artie Allen drove a 15-foot truck packed with donations to Houston. It accompanied a 52-foot tractor-trailer filled to the brim with donations from Dallas and around the country.
The following week, the JCC continued to serve as a central hub for donations for the Hurricane-stricken area. Many of these items were sent through Amazon from federations across the country.
On Wednesday, Sept 6, Temple Emanu-El volunteers filled a truck at JFS and shipped supplies to Houston. The truck returned to Dallas, where Emanu-El volunteers and others reconvened at the JCC Friday, Sept. 8 to load it again for Beaumont and Rockport.
“I can honestly say it’s been a while since I’ve been as moved emotionally about what it means to be part of a people and a community that snaps into action when the call is made,” wrote Laye in his biweekly community email Thursday. “I remarked to many people that this is the reason the Federation exists. You cannot build it for when you need it; whether the ‘it’ is missiles or rockets flying into Israel, storms hitting our local communities, raising much needed funds for a community-wide effort like our capital campaign in the early 2000s.
“Our Federation is the one organization that can marshal the human and financial resources of our community when needed on a large scale,” he added. The Jewish Federations of North America, of which the Dallas and Fort Worth and Tarrant County Federations are a part, has raised nearly $8 million for Harvey relief.
There are myriad other acts of chesed that have been reported. On Labor Day, Levine Academy eighth-grade girls spent their day off from school organizing a bake sale and lemonade stand for victims of Hurricane Harvey, raising more than $560. Students from Mesorah High School baked 2,000 challahs and rolls for the first Shabbat weekend in Houston. Dozens of volunteers showed up to help package foods to ship to Houston or sort clothing at JFS as calls went out over social media to help.
Many synagogues have opened their doors to evacuees for the High Holidays.
“We are making preparations to open our doors as wide as possible in the coming weeks,” wrote the Shearith Israel Klei Kodesh, Aug. 29. Those who know of evacuees who would like to attend services should contact Katie Venetsky at kvenetsky@shearith.org.
Tiferet Israel Congregation will honor High Holy Day tickets of coastal area evacuees if they are unable to attend the services of their own synagogue. Rabbi Shawn Zell has personally reached out to the rabbis in the affected synagogues to invite any of their congregants who might be in the Dallas area to join Tiferet Israel for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur services. The shul is encouraging Tiferet families host evacuees for Rosh Hashanah meals as well.
“If we open our congregation, our homes and hearts for those affected, it will be a positive beginning for the New Year, “said Tiferet Rabbi Shawn Zell.
Please contact Jennifer Williams at 214-691-3611 or Jennifer@tiferetisrael.org if you are an evacuee who would qualify for this special offer or know anyone who is.
The needs of Houston’s Jewish community are unknown and will continue to unfold for the next several weeks, months and beyond. What is certain is that their fellow Jewish Texans will step up and meet those needs to the best of their ability.

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Truckload of volunteers help out Harvey victims

Truckload of volunteers help out Harvey victims

Posted on 07 September 2017 by admin

Brett Unell and her son, Elam, help move items from the Big D room at the J to the 53-foot tractor-trailer that went to Houston Sunday.

Brett Unell and her son, Elam, help move items from the Big D room at the J to the 53-foot tractor-trailer that went to Houston Sunday.

 

Jewish community answers call for supplies, helps victims of Hurricane Harvey

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

The numbers were staggering. This time not the destruction left in Hurricane Harvey’s wake, but the number of donations that flooded the Aaron Family JCC last week after a clarion call for needed items on social media went viral.

Dallas Federation CEO Brad Laye and JCC CEO Artie Allen prepare to head to Houston with two truckloads of donations from Dallas and the National Young Leadership Cabinet.

Dallas Federation CEO Brad Laye and JCC CEO Artie Allen prepare to head to Houston with two truckloads of donations from Dallas and the National Young Leadership Cabinet.

On Friday — only 48 hours after Jewish Federation of North America’s (JFNA) Young Leadership Cabinet Chair Michelle Stein Hirsch created an Amazon Prime wishlist — about $35,000 in goods, some 16,000 items — had been delivered to the J.
National Young Leadership Cabinet (NYLC), a program of JFNA, grooms future Jewish community leaders ages 35-45. The current cohort is 400 strong and the program has been in existence more than 50 years. Dallas has 19 members.
Hirsch, of Cleveland, Ohio, spearheaded the project. She explained to the TJP Tuesday that when everything happened with Houston she noticed that on the NYLC Facebook page and other social media sites people were furiously posting and wondering about ways to help.
“Everyone wanted to do something but no one knew what to do,” she said. “Our cabinet members from Houston started posting on the Facebook page, items that would be needed. There was so much stuff.”
Hirsch brainstormed with Houston NYLC members Jonathan Wasserberg and Natalie Lepow and Dallas NYLC members Steven Davidoff and Jonathan Rubenstein. They came up with the idea of drop-shipping the items to the Dallas JCC since Dallas has a large Amazon distribution center and is only a four-hour drive to Houston.
Hirsch culled needed items from various social media sites and created the wishlist. “It seemed the easiest and most functional thing to do,” she said. At 11 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29, she posted the wishlist to her personal Facebook page and the NYLC Facebook page. By morning, 150 items had already been purchased. “People started sharing it like wildfire. There were people I didn’t even know who were buying items off the wishlist to be sent to the JCC,” Hirsch said.
Initially the plan was for Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas CEO Bradley Laye and Aaron Family JCC CEO Artie Allen to drive a rented Penske truck with the donations to Houston’s JCC. However, that plan was quickly scrapped as the volume of the donations mounted rapidly between the Amazon wishlist items and donations from the Dallas Jewish community at large.
As the items began to fill one room at the JCC and take over another, Laye and Allen realized that they needed a new plan.
“On Tuesday we started with a 16-foot Penske that we had pre-arranged and then when we saw the volume of stuff coming we called on some friends,” said Laye.
Within 30 hours Harold Gernsbacher had arranged for a 53-foot tractor-trailer to truck the items down to Houston on Sunday. Gernsbacher, a national board member of JFNA and an officer of the Dallas Federation, is the CEO of Fort Worth-based Chain Link Services.
“I’d like to allow people to continue to make donations and we’ll continue to find trucks,” said Gernsbacher. “We’ll see how they’re doing down there and be here if they need us.”
Artie Allen was happy that the JCC could be a hub for donations and able to coordinate significant donations from other Jewish organizations and the Jewish community.
“The JCC went to JFS and worked with JFS and our new J on Wheels program and we picked up items and brought them back here so we could put them on the vehicle to take to Houston,” he explained.
About 30 volunteers arrived at 7:30 a.m. Sunday to load the tractor-trailer. After about an hour and a half, the two trucks were ready to head out.
“Houston is our neighbor and we are very, very concerned about what’s happening in Houston and the surrounding areas,” Allen added. “We are just happy that the Jewish community came together and made this happen. It’s really going to be amazing to take this big rig and this Penske truck down there and deliver much-needed items to them.”
“It shows the power of one Jew talking to another Jew to help a third Jew. It’s just unbelievable how this worked,” Hirsch said.

 

 

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Kosher meals for Texas Coast

Staff report

The Dallas Jewish community’s efforts to assist the Houston Jewish community are ongoing. With Federation financial support, Dallas Kosher and three local kosher catering companies have provided some 1,000 kosher meals a day to the Houston Jewish community since. Lowell Michelson’s Simcha Kosher Catering covered last Shabbat. Howard Goldfeder brought his Kosher Texas BBQ to Houston beginning Sunday and Ceci Katz and Ruthie Henkin’s Taste of the World catering will cover the upcoming Shabbat. “Baruch Hashem, I have the skill set. I have the equipment. I’ve made the time to come down here,” Goldfeder told the Jewish Herald Voice. “This is what we’re supposed to do right now — it’s what we have to do.”
He added, “Our goal, here, is to make people feel whole again. Good food can be a great cure-all.”
Due to flooding and Hurricane Harvey, there is a kosher food shortage in the Houston area that continued at press time Tuesday. A refrigerated truck donated by Stevens Transport and the Aaron family got the first round meals to Houtson. The truck will remain on-site in Houston to accept donations of kosher food from around the country and support the project.

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North Texas Jewish community responds to Hurricane Harvey with open arms, hearts

Posted on 31 August 2017 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

The North Texas Jewish community responded quickly in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, opening its arms, homes and pocketbooks to victims of the storm. With the storm hitting over Shabbat, most coordination began to take place Sunday as synagogues and Jewish organizations reached out to their respective communities and outlined ways to help and volunteer.
“It is a coordinated effort of all the Jewish Federations of Texas with the JFNA and the Jewish Federation of Houston,” said JFGD CEO Bradley Laye. Amid the devastation, Laye explained that it was remarkable to see “the coordination of all the Jewish agencies across the state — JCCs, Federations, day schools, JFSes working together.”
The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas is the central coordinating agency to raise money through the Hurricane Harvey Relief Fund, which can be accessed on the Federation home page, www.jewishdallas.org.
One of the largest-scale efforts being funded through the Federation is the coordination of kosher meals through Dallas Kosher and its DK-approved caterers Lowell Michelson’s Simcha Kosher Catering, Howard Goldfeder’s Texas Kosher BBQ and Ceci Katz’s and Ruthy Henkin’s Taste of the World Catering. The process started when Houston Kashruth Association Executive Director Tzivia Weiss reached out to Dallas Kosher Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Sholey Klein and explained that Houston was out of kosher food. Not only were the stores closed, but also there was no kosher meat on the shelves. Rabbi Klein got creative and called Michelson and asked for help. Michelson responded with an enthusiastic yes.
What began as preparing 500 meals for Shabbat has morphed into serving kosher meals to the Houston Jewish community for the next several weeks. Michelson’s team was busy Monday and Tuesday procuring food and preparing meals for Thursday night, Shabbat dinner and Shabbat day. Weekday meals will be served hot and Shabbat meals can be eaten at room temperature. The biggest logistical problem Tuesday was figuring out how to get the truck into the heart of Houston’s Jewish community, explained Michelson.
“It’s getting the truck down I-45 through the water. That’s the problem.”
On Tuesday, Michelson’s professional staff was busy cutting up chicken and vegetables. A kosher chef from New York was flying in to volunteer his services. On Wednesday, community volunteers planned to place items in foil pans and tape up and label them with the DK hechsher. The hope is that Michelson will head to Houston by noon Thursday.
All meals will be served at the Robert M. Beren Academy, Houston’s Modern Orthodox Jewish day school near the Willow Meadows and Willowbend neighborhoods that were heavily damaged by the storm.
Goldfeder will bring his BBQ rig down to Houston starting Sunday and cook on site through Wednesday. Following Goldfeder, the plan is for Taste of the World to come on board for next Thursday through Shabbat.
Rabbi Klein explained that they are planning to provide food for three or four weeks including the Rosh Hashanah three-day holiday if necessary. By then, Houston’s kosher food pipeline may be back in business.
“The meals will be provided at no cost to the Houston Jewish community. No one will be turned away and there will be plenty of food.” Klein said. “Let them come and get a hot, nutritious meal,” the rabbi said. “Everyone is welcome.” Klein said that they are planning on making 1,000 meals and will have plenty.
Those interested in supporting the effort can donate to the Harvey Relief Fund at the Federation.
All North Texas-area Chabads are also coordinating efforts with their counterparts on the ground in Houston. Area Chabads held meetings Tuesday night to coordinate their efforts. On Wednesday, Rabbi Dov Mandel of Fort Worth Chabad drove a 26-foot truck with six pallets of kosher chicken and meat and other supplies. The food will be delivered to Houston Chabad and then distributed to the 11 Chabads in the area to distribute to the Greater Jewish community in need.
On Tuesday, Rabbi Menachem Block of Chabad of Plano arranged for 200 pounds of kosher meat to be delivered by Plano Chabad member Brian Honigbaum, who had to go assess damage in the area for another purpose. Rabbi Block had learned that all the Corpus Chabad’s meat had spoiled when the freezer went out there due to a power outage.
Jewish Family Service began receiving supplies immediately and has been designated by the Red Cross as a “go-to” agency for people to get items and resources. JFS is collecting diapers, shampoo, conditioner, feminine hygiene items, soap, water bottles, gas cards, cards for groceries, canned food (and can openers), and utensils. Items can be dropped off at JFS, 5402 Arapaho Road, Dallas, TX 75248 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
On Wednesday, the Aaron Family JCC became a drop-off point for supplies to be brought to the Houston JCC for distribution. Items requested are for moving boxes (flat), packing tape, gloves, cleaning supplies and non-perishable food. Initial plans are to begin sending the items to Houston by the end of the week.
As the need for relocation becomes clear in the coming days, Jewish Family Service and the Federation are partnering to coordinate hosting and housing options for people who need it.
By Tuesday, both of Texas’ Jewish camps had stepped in to assist Harvey’s victims and evacuees.
Camp Young Judaea in Wimberley emailed parents and alumni Monday evening, three days into the storm, opening its doors to families that have evacuated Houston, about a three-hour drive away. Ten families were expected to arrive starting Tuesday, and more are anticipated once families are able to leave the flooded city, where the roads are closed.
“As a camp director I have the opportunity every summer to create a community where campers and staffers live Jewishly at CYJ. We work hard to teach kids that they have the ability to change the world in their own way. In the wake of Harvey, CYJ has the opportunity to live our values and to use our resources to help the community. We hope that families who have been impacted will consider coming to our beautiful camp where we can provide food and housing and camp activities while they begin the difficult task of putting their lives back together,” CYJ Director Frank Silberlicht told the TJP on Tuesday.
URJ’s Greene Family Camp in Bruceville also offered space for families to stay. But staff realized that families would be better served by an impromptu day camp for kids in Houston, freeing up their parents to go back home and survey property damage. As of Tuesday afternoon, the camp was looking for space at dry Jewish institutions in the area and aiming to open Thursday.
The camp is also providing canned goods and clothes to those in need, and a few families have taken shelter at the overnight camp, where there is staff to care for them.
“We’re going to do everything we can to support them emotionally as well as physically, keep them occupied and try to take their minds off of what’s going on,” said Loui Dobin, the Greene Family Camp’s executive director.
Many synagogues and day schools are collecting supplies to be taken both to the Houston Jewish community and to evacuation shelters in Dallas.
“We could not be more proud of our community and you for your support,” said Federation CEO Bradley Laye and Board Chair Mark Kreditor in a joint email to the community outlining efforts Tuesday afternoon. “This is the ultimate expression of Kol Yisrael Aravim Zeh b’Zeh — As Jews, we are responsible for one another. Our support will also extend to those most in need, regardless of faith, through our JFS and general efforts.”
Fort Worth Federation leadership echoed Laye and Kreditor. “Our tradition teaches us to thank God for Sukkot Shalom, the shelters of peace in our lives. And we are also taught to care for those in need who do not presently have the necessary shelters to protect themselves and their loved ones. May we combine our efforts in the coming days to take care of those in need.”
JTA’s Ben Sales contributed to this report.

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Hurricane Harvey: Storm swamps Houston, Texas coast

Hurricane Harvey: Storm swamps Houston, Texas coast

Posted on 28 August 2017 by admin

The Jewish Herald-Voice has kept tabs on the historic flooding and damage from Hurricane Harvey. Here is a sampling of some of their stories:

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Photo: Jewish Herald-Voice

 

Families evacuating to Beren campus

Displaced families from the Willow Meadows subdivision are in the process of taking up shelter on the campus of Robert M. Beren Academy.

School officials were working with police and neighborhood volunteers to open the school on Monday morning, Aug. 28.

“There are 10 families, possibly more, who want to go,” said Jenelle Garner, who is helping coordinate the move, after most of the Willow Meadows subdivision near Brays Bayou in Southwest Houston suffered heavy flooding from Hurricane Harvey.

Continue reading this story on the JHV website.
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Community assesses challenges caused by catastrophic flooding

Houston’s Jewish community is assessing its damages after large portions of Harris County and surrounding counties were engulfed by floodwaters a day-and-a-half after Hurricane Harvey struck the Texas Gulf Coast.

During a conference call with community leaders on Sunday afternoon, Aug. 27, the local office of Jewish Family Service reported that it initially received communications that some 150 neighborhood blocks, where Jewish community members live, suffered flood damage from the storm.

Continue reading this story on the JHV website.
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Houstonians wait for rescue

Houstonians near Brays Bayou in Southwest Houston have been stranded for several hours Sunday, Aug. 27, waiting for rescue crews as floodwaters continue to climb a day-and-half after Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast.

Robin and Kevin Alter and their two teenage children told the JHV that over the course of four-plus hours, they’ve watched as many as seven rescue boats and jet skies pass by their flooded home on North Braeswood Boulevard near South Rice Avenue.

“They keep saying they know about us and they’ll be back for us,” Robin told the JHV by cell phone at around 12:30 p.m.

Continue reading this story on the JHV website.
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Community hard hit by Harvey

Several rescues were performed in the Willow Meadows subdivision during the early hours of Sunday, Aug. 27, as Houston suffered catastrophic flooding a day after Hurricane Harvey made landfall along the Texas Gulf Coast.

According to early reports, unprecedented levels of flooding are widespread throughout the city and county. Local residents have become first responders.

Continue reading this story on the JHV website.
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HOD performing door-to-door rescue

Members of the Hebrew Order of David are going door-to-door in flood-damaged neighborhoods along Brays Bayou, rescuing stranded residents and bringing them to safety, as Hurricane Harvey continues to pummel the Texas Gulf Coast with record-setting rainfall.

Vincent Wedelich managed to ride his bike into a flooded area near North Braeswood Boulevard and Hilcroft Avenue on Sunday evening, Aug. 27, after receiving an HOD text message that a mother and daughter needed help.

The homeowner, Amy Goldstein and her 14-year-old daughter, had been waiting some 12 hours to be rescued from their flooded home on Cheltenham Drive when Wedelich arrived.

Continue reading this story on the JHV website.
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Dallas rabbis address crowd at counter-protest

Dallas rabbis address crowd at counter-protest

Posted on 24 August 2017 by admin

Rabbis Nancy Kasten and Andrew Paley at the rally.

Rabbis Nancy Kasten and Andrew Paley at the rally.

By Rafael McDonnell
Special to the TJP

Two Dallas rabbis were among the faith leaders who addressed an anti-white supremacy rally held on the Dallas City Hall plaza Aug. 19. Rabbi Nancy Kasten, co-chair of the group Faith Forward Dallas, and Rabbi Andrew Paley of Temple Shalom spoke to a crowd estimated by Dallas police at over 2,500 people.

Counter-protesters descend on the Dallas City Hall plaza.

Counter-protesters descend on the Dallas City Hall plaza.

Rabbi Kasten remarked that the rally coincided with the end of Shabbat, and urged the attendees to use the event as an opportunity to “take yourself out of the external world and turn inward…give yourself permission to acknowledge that you are suffering. (Let go) of the fear, the anger, the frustration, the confusion that led you to be here tonight.
“We cannot possibly erase or ease the pain in our world if we do not acknowledge the pain in our hearts,” she added. “I have faith that the outward symbols of white supremacy will be removed from our city. But the bigger tasks will still remain. For Jews, this was a mighty wake-up call to that fact. Our ability to be agents of healing and transformation depends on our determination to continue once the tip of the iceberg has been removed, to melt the structural underpinnings of that iceberg for everyone.”

Rabbi Andrew Paley speaks to a crowd of approximately 2,500 people.

Rabbi Andrew Paley speaks to a crowd of approximately 2,500 people.

Rabbi Paley opened his remarks by saying that the rally visibly demonstrated that “no one is supreme over anybody else.” He then quoted lyrics from the 1965 song Turn, Turn, Turn by the Byrds, which are based in part on the book of Ecclesiastes.
“Lately, it seems we are in the season of hate that has emerged from the periphery, closer to the mainstream now more than I can ever remember in my lifetime …we are here tonight to clearly and loudly proclaim that the time for love and the time for peace, that season is at hand,” he said.
Rabbi Paley continued, interrupted by cheers from the crowd, “Nothing that (white supremacists) could ever say or do will ever, ever make me hate you. You are safe in my home and in my temple. If you are in need of shalom, of peace and wholeness, our arms and doors are always open.”
The rally was held one week after white supremacists gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, to protest the planned removal of a statue of Civil War general Robert E. Lee. One of the counter-protesters, Heather Heyer, was killed when a man drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters. Nineteen other people were injured. As for the Dallas rally, police report there were no arrests.

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Special ‘bar mitzvah’ at Temple Shalom

Special ‘bar mitzvah’ at Temple Shalom

Posted on 17 August 2017 by admin

Photo: Winn Fuqua Rabbi Andrew Paley will celebrate 13 years, his “bar mitzvah,” at Temple Shalom, with his family (left to right) Debbie, Sammy, Molly, his congregation and the community beginning this Friday, Aug. 18, at 6 p.m.

Photo: Winn Fuqua
Rabbi Andrew Paley will celebrate 13 years, his “bar mitzvah,” at Temple Shalom, with his family (left to right) Debbie, Sammy, Molly, his congregation and the community beginning this Friday, Aug. 18, at 6 p.m.

Rabbi Andrew Paley celebrates 13th year with congregation

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

It’s the “Year of Rabbi Andrew Paley” at Temple Shalom and the community is invited to share in the celebrations of the rabbi’s 13th year. Festivities begin with an Oneg social at 6 p.m., and services at 6:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 18. The celebration will continue throughout the year, with a Saturday morning bar mitzvah service, Feb. 24, also dedicated to the rabbi’s commitment to Temple Shalom.
At the Aug. 18 service, 1,000 new High Holy Day prayer books, purchased by congregants in Paley’s honor, will be dedicated. Members of the community are invited to share with Rabbi Paley, a “gift of words,” many to be spoken at services throughout the year.
“I could never have imagined the incredibly meaningful and significant journey my career has taken,” said Paley. “From my ordination when the president of Hebrew-Union College, Dr. Alfred Gottschalk, of blessed memory, asked ‘Are you prepared to become a rabbi in the community of Israel?’ until now, I still feel that sense of awe and wonder, excitement and trepidation at the sacred and blessed responsibility of being God’s servant. I see my role and opportunity in the same way I did then, and at the same time very differently.”
Paley is the husband of Debbie Niederman, associate director of the Union for Reform Judaism Leadership Institute and past president of the Association for Reform Jewish Educators, and the father of Molly, a sophomore at Duke University, and Samuel, a junior at Plano Academy High School.
The son of Dr. Leslie and Annette and brother of Steven and Michael, Paley follows family tradition in being a rabbi. His great-grandfather, Eiser Paley, was an Orthodox rabbi. Growing up in Cleveland, Shabbat dinners at his parents’ Conservative home and his involvement in a local Reform congregation’s youth group program made impressions.
“At home, there was always Jewish beauty and love for our traditions. In my youth group, I met kids like me and it was a great social connection, led by young rabbis who were engaging and who took an interest in us,” said Paley. “When I was 17 I had an epiphany during the High Holy Days, realizing that relationship was so important to me, and I wanted to do that for others.”
Paley holds a bachelor’s degree in industrial and organizational psychology from Ohio State University as well as a certificate in marital and premarital counseling and a master’s degree in Hebrew letters from HUC–JIR, where he was ordained in 1995. Before coming to Dallas he served communities in Fairbanks, Alaska; China Lake Naval Air Station; Miami, Florida; and Cleveland.
Paley is a member of the Dallas Mayor’s Task Force on Poverty; the coordinating committee of Faith Forward Dallas: Faith Leaders united for Peace and Justice — a project of Thanks-Giving Square of Dallas; and the Interfaith Advisory Committee of the North Texas Food Bank, as well as a chaplain with the Dallas Police Department (the first rabbi to serve as such in DPD history).
He’s a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), a member of the Southwest Association of Reform Rabbis, a member and past president of the Rabbinical Association of Greater Dallas, and an honorary director of the Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association. Paley is a mentor for CCAR and to HUC rabbinical students and is an AIPAC Leffer Fellow mentor. He serves on the national board of the Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity; he has edited prayer books — one for Sabbath and one for the High Holy Days — and he’s written numerous articles.
“Rabbi Paley’s warmth for everyone and his presence in good times and bad is a gift. He’s an impeccable teacher, a brilliant teacher of Torah and life, and he infuses his impact by educating and caring in everything he does,” said Josh Goldman, president of Temple Shalom’s board of directors. “He sets an example of living tikun olam, making our congregation, our city, and our world a better place.”
Paley says it’s an honor to have served alongside his team. He calls Rabbi Ariel Boxman an excellent example of love and dedication to serious and creative Jewish education as well as to students and family. He appreciates the laughter and music of Cantor Emeritus Don Croll and his continued loving, committed and indispensable involvement in the congregation. Of Cantor Devorah Avery, he says you cannot find a kinder and gentler soul, and that she reminds everyone of the Jewish teaching, “Whoever sings, prays twice.”
Paley’s memories are vast, including Temple Shalom’s 40th and 50th anniversaries, the commissioning of the Blumin Family Torah, the 100th anniversary of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, his service to Faith Forward Dallas at Thanks-Giving Square — Faith Leaders United for Peace and Justice, and, with heartfelt recollection, his offering of blessings at the July 2016 Dallas Memorial Service to the Fallen Dallas Officers.
“My dream of 2004 continues to be my guiding light in 2017 — to be a place of genuine and deep caring in our Temple and beyond, becoming a place of meaningful gathering; to nurture and support serious lifelong Jewish study, becoming a place of meaningful learning; and coming together in creative and joyful ways for purposeful, uplifting and soulful prayer, becoming a place of meaningful worship,” said Paley. “I see our ability to significantly contribute our namesake — shalom,  wholeness and peace — to our city and our state, indeed our country, as we courageously advocate for the vision of our world, as we learn in our tradition, ‘The world is sustained by three things: truth, justice and shalom.’ ”

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2nd annual Israel Symposium draws 500

2nd annual Israel Symposium draws 500

Posted on 10 August 2017 by admin

Staff report

Temple Shalom hosted the second annual Israel Today Community Symposium Aug. 5, attracting some 500 participants.
Four keynote speakers — Rabbi Andrew Paley, Technion Vice President Boaz Golany, Detroit’s Russell St. Missionary Baptist Church Reverend Dr. Deedee M. Coleman and pro-Israel activist and Dallas attorney Charles Pulman — each took their turn at the podium throughout the day in four joint sessions. Each brought their own unique perspective to the table, but it was Reverend Dr. Coleman who garnered a standing ovation in her after-lunch keynote. Coleman has made a number of trips to Israel since 2007 through the AIPAC Foundation.

The Israel Symposium would not be possible without Anita Weinstein and Ken Glaser.

The Israel Symposium would not be possible without Anita Weinstein and Ken Glaser.

Keynote Speakers Technion Vice President Boaz Golany, Detroit’s Russell St. Missionary Baptist Church Reverend Dr. Deedee M. Coleman, pro-Israel activist and Dallas attorney Charles Pulman and Temple Shalom Rabbi Andrew Paley

Keynote Speakers Technion Vice President Boaz Golany, Detroit’s Russell St. Missionary Baptist Church Reverend Dr. Deedee M. Coleman, pro-Israel activist and Dallas attorney Charles Pulman and Temple Shalom Rabbi Andrew Paley

“I have come today to let the house of Israel know that you are not alone, you are not alone in your struggles, you are not alone in your prayers, you are not alone in your endeavors to make Israel a free state, one that lives without fear.”
There is a commitment between the Jewish and African-American relationship, said Coleman. She pointed out the long history of Jewish support during the Civil Rights movement and how that relationship had waned at times. “We must come together as one and strive for a better world for us all. … We must walk together and declare that we can do more together than we could ever do apart.”
She stressed that education is the key, as is standing up for what you believe.
“I am clear like never before on what I am called to do during a time such as this. Without question I am a pro-Israel advocate and I am not ashamed to stand for Israel and my Jewish sisters and brothers and I am called to proclaim what I believe:
“I believe that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.
“I believe that the United States Embassy should be in Jerusalem.
“I believe that not only does Israel have the right, but it has an obligation, to defend itself when being threatened with annihilation. And don’t ever, ever, ever apologize for defending your heritage, your land and your people.”
In between keynote sessions, participants attended four breakout sessions among 30 choices. A new feature of the symposium was a teen program led by Jesse Stock of Stand with Us.
Ken Glaser and Anita Weinstein were lauded throughout the day for their yeoman’s work in putting together an enriching program. Plans are already underway for next year.

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Shearith’s new senior rabbi aims to build portable micro-communities, networks

Shearith’s new senior rabbi aims to build portable micro-communities, networks

Posted on 03 August 2017 by admin

SunshineFamily(080317)sw

By Amy Sorter
Special to the TJP

Ari Sunshine was on a pre-law track at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, when he joined the United Synagogue Youth (USY) on Wheels. He realized two things while on the six-week national teen bus tour.
First, Judaism is portable. “The cool thing I learned on that trip was, wherever you are, you’re bringing your Judaism with you,” he said.
And second, he wanted to become a rabbi.
“Judaism had permeated my life, and I realized it would be fulfilling to share that passion with other people,” Sunshine remarked.
Many years after that epiphany, Rabbi Ari Sunshine is the new senior rabbi at Congregation Shearith Israel in Dallas, and is ready to share his passion for, and portability of, Judaism. Sunshine takes the leadership reins from Rabbi Daniel Pressman, who has served as the congregation’s transitional rabbi for the past year.
In taking on the new role, Sunshine is embarking on some journeys of his own. Born and raised in Potomac, Maryland, the rabbi’s travels took him from Maryland, to Massachusetts, to New York, to North Carolina and back to Maryland. He traveled to Toronto where, at a USY youth convention, met his future wife, Jennifer. “She lived in San Diego at the time. We were both youth workers, and dated long-distance for a year and a half,” Sunshine said. “Then we married, moved to New York, and I started at the (Jewish Theological) seminary.”
Now, for the first time, the East Coast man is in the south-central United States.
“The appeal is the congregation,” Sunshine said, explaining why he accepted Shearith’s job offer. “Shearith Israel has a long, stable and storied history; it’s multigenerational and a strong institution in the Dallas Jewish community.” Also appealing, he continued, were the staff and lay leaders.
While physical travels brought Sunshine to Dallas, he is also journeying from an internal comfort zone. His career background includes positions as youth director and senior USY adviser at Temple Israel in Sharon, Massachusetts and associate rabbi of Temple Israel in Charlotte, North Carolina. For the past decade, he led B’nai Shalom’s congregation in Olney, Maryland. All three congregations are medium-sized, especially compared to Shearith Israel.
“One of the things that is most important to me, in the rabbinate, is that I want to know everyone in the community, and learn and know everyone’s name,” Sunshine explained. “I was wondering how that would work in a congregation with 1,000 families.” After talking to the Shearith leadership, “I thought that, in time, we’ll pull that off,” he said.
It is, in fact, Sunshine’s genuine interest in people and their lives that warmed Shearith Israel’s rabbinic search committee to both him and his wife. “What is unique about Rabbi Sunshine is that when you meet him, he wants to know your name, your spouse’s name, your children’s names, what you did, and why you came to Dallas,” said Gail Mizrahi, who served as Shearith’s congregation president during the rabbinical search. “Later on, he’d remember your name, your wife’s name, your children’s names. He connects at a very personal level, that few of us had ever seen.” That personal connection, Mizrahi went on to say, was important for the congregation.
Even through internal and external travels, Sunshine’s foundation springs from a very strong faith. Calling his upbringing “the poster child for Conservative Jewish living,” Sunshine grew up in a kosher home, in which Shabbat was strictly observed; the family walked to shul every Saturday. His elementary education came through Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School (in Rockville, Maryland); summers were spent with USY’s Ramah Camping Movement.
By the time he entered Brandeis, Sunshine was moving toward a more secular path, majoring in politics, with an economic minor, and an eye toward an eventual law degree. But Judaism was never far away. He was active with Hillel at Brandeis University. And, at one point, he witnessed a debate that hit close to home: the discussion focused on rabbinic school versus law school. “That got me thinking in terms of connections,” Sunshine said. “The Jewish laws made up a huge part of how I was living.”
That thought crystalized into a solid purpose and action during his USY on Wheels tour. “I found it pretty amazing, that Judaism permeates every decision and moment in our lives,” he pointed out.
To that end, Sunshine’s plan is to bring Judaism to the Shearith congregation. He’ll soon be concentrating on getting his wife, Jennifer and two children, Jonah, 14 and Elana, 12, settled. The high holidays are also around the corner. Beyond that, Sunshine wants to focus on building micro-communities, networks within the larger congregation, that can create and live, Jewish experiences.
“We have to be able to engage and empower people in smaller groups and networks,” he said, adding that the process is less about getting people into Shearith Israel’s Douglas Street shul or Levine Academy’s Beit Aryeh at Hillcrest and Frankford. Rather, it’s about programs that will “create a powerful and impactful Jewish experience, that can lead to other Jewish experiences, and more involvement,” Sunshine said. The process will involve reaching out to people in different ways, through different locations, he said, adding that “it’s a journey, as it were.”
And, Sunshine knows plenty about journeys.

 

 

*****

Welcoming Rabbi Sunshine

Shearith Israel will formerly welcome Rabbi Ari Sunshine (center), Jennifer (left), Jonah (far right) and Elana along with new members at a Kabbalat Shabbat Service and dinner at 6 p.m., Friday, Aug. 25. To register and pay for dinner visit, http://bit.ly/2w2EyQd.

 

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New play pays tribute to DHM co-founder

New play pays tribute to DHM co-founder

Posted on 27 July 2017 by admin

By Amy Sorter
Special to the TJP

While growing up, lawyer-turned-playwright-turned-journalist-turned-college-instructor Mark Donald learned bits and pieces about his father’s early life. Donald knew that his dad, Martin Donald, was a Holocaust survivor who also spent time in Canada and Britain during World War II. Donald also knew his father had spent time with British Intelligence, and was in France within days of D-Day, June 6, 1944. And, of course, Mark Donald knew that Martin Donald, who died in 2007, was an important part of the Dallas Jewish community and one of the Dallas Holocaust Museum’s founders.

Mark Donald

Mark Donald

But it wasn’t until the early 2000s that the son acquired the complete story about his father. Donald eventually consolidated his father’s notes and wrote a fictional play that is very loosely based on and inspired by Martin Donald’s life. That play, Magnum’s Opus, will premiere as a staged reading on Aug. 7-8 at the Dallas Holocaust Museum.
In the play, main character Magnum Guttmann reaches out to his estranged family by revealing complete details of his early life, which includes coming of age in Adolf Hitler’s Berlin, then ending up as a British soldier and Nazi hunter.
Though Guttmann and Martin Donald are not the same person, there are similarities. Both came of age in Hitler’s Berlin. Both were members of the British forces. Both lost family in the concentration camps. And, both rounded up Nazis after the end of World War II. Martin Donald, in fact, was part of the British military group that arrested German foreign minister Joachim von Ribbentrop in 1945.
But the comparisons end there. Martin Donald ultimately gave up his career in the military, came to Dallas, and raised a family with his wife Ann, also a Holocaust survivor. Magnum Guttmann remains a Nazi hunter for much of his life, pushing away his family in the process. As such, “I used my father’s story as inspiration for the play,” Donald explained. “But, the play is highly fictionalized.”

Martin Donald

Martin Donald

Interestingly enough, Donald himself is no slouch in the “colorful story” department. Raised in Dallas with sister Florence (former Texas Senator Florence Shapiro of Plano who is the current Dallas Holocaust Museum board chair), Donald received his law degree from Southern Methodist University. While working as a criminal defense attorney, Donald took acting lessons at the Dallas Theater Center (DTC). “Even though I was with a small firm, with a lot of work, the most I could get was four or five trials a year,” he said. “It took a while to feel comfortable in the courtroom, so I thought I’d take acting classes to help with presentation.”

Linda Leonard

Linda Leonard

In addition to acting classes, the DTC offered playwriting classes with a couple of professors from Trinity University. “I liked them, I loved the place, and before I knew it, I was halfway to a degree,” Donald said. He ended up with a master’s degree in fine arts at the DTC through Trinity University, during which time he wrote several plays. Donald eventually moved from law to freelance journalism, winding up as editor-in-chief with the Dallas Observer, until 2011. These days, Donald teaches mass communications, law and ethics, news reporting and feature writing at the University of North Texas.
Even as Donald obtained another college degree, changed careers and raised his own family with his wife Esther, father Martin remained mostly silent about his own past. “There are two kinds of Holocaust survivors,” Donald explained. “There are those who tell their children all about their Holocaust stories. Then there are those who are more reserved.”
Donald’s father would tell him intriguing bits and pieces about his background. Finally, Donald decided he wanted to expand on those bits and pieces, “because I wanted his grandchildren to know the story.” To that end, Donald used family summers spent in Sarasota, Florida to delve into his father’s background, and to tape-record it. “Five or six years before he died, I interviewed him, as a journalist would,” Donald said. “I didn’t want the surface answers. We went deep.” After three summers of intense interviews, Donald had his father’s entire story.
When Martin Donald died in 2007 at age 86, Donald reviewed the tapes, typed them up, and gave the written transcriptions to Martin’s grandchildren. That was the end of it. Or, so Donald thought. “The story still haunted me,” he said. “It wouldn’t let go.”
Busy with his stints at the Observer, then as a UNT professor, Donald had to put his father’s story aside for a time. Then, over a three-year period, he crafted the play. Donald said he chose to fictionalize the story on a historical framework, rather than focusing on blow-by-blow historical facts. “Fiction enables you to explore various types of issues with a lot of depth and emotion,” he explained. “It explores what it’s like growing up as a Jewish boy in Nazi Berlin, what it’s like to go from refugee, to vanquished, to victor.”
Donald hosted an initial reading of the play in January 2017, then moved on to the idea of a staged reading. He thought that, because Martin was one of the founders of the Dallas Holocaust Museum, “If I was going to have a staged reading, that would be the best place to have it,” he said.
Donald, who remains plugged into the Dallas theater community, asked veteran Dallas actor/director Linda Leonard to direct Magnum’s Opus. A casting call took place over Memorial Day weekend, and rehearsals are now underway. “The work is in the pioneering stages, and it’s exciting to see it come to life,” Donald said, adding that he’s grateful to the Holocaust Museum for hosting the event. “I’m humbled that Linda is directing it, that the actors in it are taking the time to work with it,” he continued.
Donald, veteran journalist, playwright and writer, acknowledged that Magnum’s Opus is as close to basing a fictional piece on real-life events as anything else he’s created. “Magnum has been fighting the good fight; it was his way of righting the wrongs inflicted on his parents,” he said. “My father had the same attitude.” So, while Magnum’s Opus isn’t Martin Donald’s exact story, “his spirit is strong within the play,” his son said.
Magnum’s Opus takes place Monday-Tuesday, Aug. 7-8 at the Dallas Holocaust Museum, 211 N. Record St., Dallas. A 6:30 p.m. reception will precede each night’s reading, with a question-and-answer session following the event. The reading is free, but reservations are required. For more information, contact 214-402-6518 or search Magnum’s Opus Staged Reading on Facebook.

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Rabbis with Texas ties on ‘blacklist’

Rabbis with Texas ties on ‘blacklist’

Posted on 17 July 2017 by admin

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate doesn’t trust list to vouch for engaged couples’ Jewishness

By Rick Press
Special to TJP

In 2017, the notion of a “blacklist” — particularly one involving rabbis — seems almost unthinkable.
And that may explain the howls of complaint surrounding last week’s revelation that Israel’s Chief Rabbinate had compiled a list of 160 rabbis — 66 from the United States and at least one from Texas — who, essentially, would not be trusted to vouch for the Jewishness of immigrants wishing to get married in Israel.

Ken Roseman

Ken Roseman

Itim, the immigrant advocacy group that filed a freedom of information request to acquire the names, dubbed it a “blacklist,” and the group’s leader, Rabbi Seth Farber, said it reflects the ultra-Orthodox Rabbinate’s distrust of Jewish communities beyond Israel’s borders.
“It’s telling 160 Jewish communities around the world ….your rabbi is not a rabbi,” Farber told the Associated Press. “The baseline assumption is that no one can be trusted.”
Kobi Alter, a spokesman for the Chief Rabbinate, was in full damage-control mode Wednesday, insisting that the list was not an attempt to delegitimize the rabbis but rather was a reflection of requests that were rejected in 2016 because of  missing documents or technicalities.
“Every case has a different explanation,” he told NPR.
Reactions from rabbis who made the list were mixed: some were perplexed, some defiant, others outraged.
Rabbi Kenneth D. Roseman, rabbi emeritus at Beth Israel Congregation in Corpus Christi, said he was unsure why he made the list but he viewed his inclusion with “a wry smile” and “contempt for the corruption in the Haredi,” the ultra-Orthodox sector of Israeli society that controls the rabbinate.
“The publication of this list will only alienate even more diaspora Jews who want to support Israel,” said Roseman, who served as senior rabbi at Temple Shalom in Dallas for 17 years before moving to Corpus Christi. “Too often, they go through traditional motions, but ignore the essential ethical values of Judaism.”
Roseman was in prominent company. Rabbi Adam Scheier of Montreal, who is close with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, was on the list. So was Daniel Krauss of Kehilath Yeshurun Synagogue in New York, where U.S. President Donald Trump’s daughter, Ivanka and her husband, Jared Kushner, were congregants. (Another former Texas rabbi, Alberto Zeilicovich, was also on the list. The Argentine-born leader of Congregation Beth Shalom in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, was formerly rabbi at Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Fort Worth.) Also, on the list was Houston’s beloved Rabbi Joseph Radinsky of United Orthodox Synagogue.
“I have received a number of congratulatory letters from colleagues, many asking how they could have the ‘honor’ of being on the list,” said Roseman in an email. “When I announced my listing to the congregation (Friday) night, there was applause and approbation.”
A group of 13 California rabbis even sent a letter to the Rabbinate asking that their names be added to the list, as a show of solidarity.

Rabbi Alberto Zeilicovich of Congregation Ahavath Shalom in Fort Worth photographed July 1, 2008. (Photo/ Richard W. Rodriguez)

Rabbi Alberto Zeilicovich of Congregation Ahavath Shalom in Fort Worth photographed July 1, 2008. (Photo/ Richard W. Rodriguez)

Rabbi Brian Zimmerman of Beth El Congregation in Fort Worth was not on the “blacklist,” but he believes the fallout surrounding it should be a cautionary tale.
“We’ve always known that our decisions would be challenged by a very small group in Israel. But ultimately this is about power. It’s not about religion,” said Zimmerman. “This is why you should separate synagogue and state.”
The Chief Rabbinate has sole jurisdiction over many aspects of Jewish life in Israel, including marriage, divorce and burials. And the ultra-Orthodox group has rejected thousands of requests from international rabbis in recent years.
Israeli Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau said in a letter of apology that “the list’s intention was not to invalidate rabbis, God forbid, but rather to invalidate letters that raised doubts and questions.”
But Roseman and many others weren’t buying that explanation.
He said, if asked, he wouldn’t hesitate to write another letter on behalf of a congregant.
“I’ll tell the truth,” he said, “and if some Haredi in Israel doesn’t like the way I dot my “I” or cross my “t,” that’s too bad.
“The Chief Rabbinate may want to hold the line in opposition to the modern world,” he added, “but that strikes me as effective as if a peewee football team were to play the Dallas Cowboys. They will eventually disappear from power; their days are numbered. as they should be.”

Zeilicovich had an opinion on the matter as well.
“It’s clearly a dividing policy, and it’s very, very sad that the State of Israel is telling a huge part of the Jewish people you are not recognized here,” said Zeilicovich. “I have more religious rights in a non-Jewish country, like the United States, than in my own Jewish country.”
Zeilicovich returned from Israel on Monday and he said tensions were running high iafter the blacklist was released. Conservative and Reform Jews were making their voices heard.
“There was a huge outrage. The fact that rabbis are being discriminated against by the Rabbinate, it is very concerning. And it’s not just the rabbis it’s the Conservative movement. They disenfranchise Jews,” he said. “And who are they, who gave them the power to do that? They’ve got political power. This is a political problem, not a religious problem.”

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