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Tiferet’s 26th Kosher Chili Cook-off ready to get cookin’

Tiferet’s 26th Kosher Chili Cook-off ready to get cookin’

Posted on 28 March 2019 by admin

Photo: Tiferet Israel
Last year’s panel will judge this year’s chili as well.

Staff Report

The chief chili cook-off committee is finalizing plans for Tiferet Israel’s 26th Annual Kosher Chili Cook-off set for Sunday, March 31, on the synagogue’s campus, 10909 Hillcrest Road near Royal Lane. Gates open at 11 a.m., rain or shine.
This year’s event has some exciting new features in addition to some of the tried and true favorites for all ages. Musical entertainment will be provided by three bands.
The Side Gig Band plays a broad spectrum of Pop and Rock from the ‘70s to NOW — from Clapton, Green Day, Queen and The Doobies to Jon Mayer and Ed Sheeran. Ron Nevelow, Bruce Katz, Ron Friedman, Rob Shrell, Rusty Cooper and Joel Futterman will entertain and open the music for this year’s Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off with style!
The Mazik Experience was created to continue the Mazik Brothers Band’s 14-year run playing at Tiferet’s Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off, and their legacy as the “sound of the Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off.” After the loss in 2018 of its leader, Jim Schwartz, the remaining Mazik Bros., Rusty Cooper, Rob Shrell and Joel Futterman, waited for the right musician/friend and opportunity to present itself. They asked Eric Spomer, a talented musician and performer for 40 years, to step into the role of singer and guitar player with Rusty to honor the heritage of Jim Schwartz and the Mazik Brothers along with its many fans. Playing mainly ‘60s and ‘70s classic pop and rock, attendees are likely to know and sing along with everything they play: Beatles, Eagles, Billy Joel, Rolling Stones, Springsteen and more. This will be the 15th year that the original band members perform at Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off!
Windy City
While this will be Windy City’s first appearance at the Chili Cook-off, David Judson, Jim Rosenthal and Bob Rosen are no strangers to the event, having made prior appearances with the Mazik Brothers over the years.
David, Jim and Bob have played together in various bands and configurations over the past 15 years. Common to all of their pasts was that they each had played in “horn” bands when they were younger. The three started discussing how great it would be to play the music of Chicago. After they played together, they began the search for other members. They added trombonist John Williams and keyboards, trumpet, saxophone, a vocalist (to sing the Robert Lamm/ Terry Kath parts) and, most recently, Ken Eger to sing the extremely-difficult Peter Cetera parts.
“We are very excited to be playing at the Kosher Chili Cook-off,” said Jim Rosenthal, the band’s drummer. “We’re hoping for great weather, as this is our first outdoor show.”
More activities and entertainment
While the music has been a central feature of the cook-off for many years, there is something for everyone.
Other activities and highlights include:
•Book reading and crafts by the PJ Library
•A special chili cook-off puppet show by the Pitzel Puppet Players, Gail Mabel and Naomi Sanit
•Music and singing for children by Music Together
•Professionally managed rides and games by Amusement Management International, with choices appropriate for little children through teens
•Balloon and face painting artists,
•Home Depot will offer opportunities for young folks to do wood craft projects under the supervision of Home Depot personnel
•Meet Dallas Police officers and see inside a police car
•BBQ sandwiches, hamburgers and hot dogs prepared by Texas Kosher BBQ
•Popcorn and cotton candy prepared by the JCC
•Local vendors selling a variety of personal and food items
•Raffle for sports and art items
•Split the Pot Raffle
•Information from local charitable organizations
In conjunction with this year’s event, the Recovery Resource Council, which recently merged with The Council on Alcohol & Drugs, will hold a Drug Takeback. This will be a great opportunity to gather up expired, unused, and unwanted prescription or over-the-counter medications (human and animal) for safe and proper disposal. The drop-off event helps to keep these types of drugs out of the water supply and from being used by unauthorized users. Medications can be dropped off in their original containers or — with the exception of liquids — in a plastic baggie. All of the medications dropped off will immediately be placed into a container and, at the end of the event, taken directly to the Drug Enforcement Agency to be destroyed. Please note, needles (any sharps) or inhalers (any combustibles) will not be accepted at this event. However, needles and EpiPens can be placed in a plastic container (such as a detergent or milk bottle); tape the lid securely, and write the word “needles” or “sharps” on the container and then place it in your normal trash bin.
The judges
While entertainment is a key feature, the main attraction is the chili competition. Kosher Chili Cook-off Judges: Judging at a chili cook-off is no easy task. It takes a special kind of person (palate and stomach) to taste and discern between dozens of chili recipes in one day. An all-star team of judges has been empaneled for the 26th Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off. In alphabetical order, they are:
David Feder
David Feder and his family have been a part of Tiferet Israel for 55 years. He’s been involved in the food business in one form or another for half of that time, having been a noted chef in Dallas and Austin, a food writer (including for The Dallas Morning News and The Dallas Times-Herald). Later he taught food science and nutrition at UT Austin before becoming a full-time journalist. Now residing in the Midwest, he has worked for a number of magazines, including Better Homes and Gardens, LightStyle and First, and also wrote “The Skinny Carbs Diet Book” (Rodale Press, 2010).
Chef Michael Mrugala
Chef Mike has been in the industry for over 43 years and has worked for the Olive Garden for over 14 years. He runs the entire kitchen operation at the restaurant on Northwest Highway. He is a member of the American Culinary Federation, Texas Chefs Association and a FMP from the National Restaurant Association, CFBE from the American Hotel and Lodging Association along with being a Certified ServSafe Instructor & Registered Servsafe Examination Proctor and a National Registry of Food Safety Professionals Test Administrator/Proctor. He teaches culinary arts at Tarrant County College.
Pete Nolasco
A native of Texas, Chef Pete is the Chef Owner of Chef Pete Catering and Ice Carving in Dallas and has worked in the best of Dallas restaurants and hotels for many years such as Hyatt Regency Hotel DFW, The Four Seasons Hotel, Sambucca Jazz Café, The Italian Club of Dallas and more. Chef Pete is also an artist and has received many awards and accolades for his ice pieces and his teachings of the art of ice carving. The director of the Dallas Chapter Texas Chef Association, he is a member of the Epicurean World Master Chef Society. Chef Pete was awarded the Best Caterer in Addison, Texas, in 2013. He has traveled with the Epicurean World Master Chef Society to Limerick, Ireland, and won the gold medal in healthy food competition.
Kim Schroeder
Native Texan, Kim Schroeder has been in the food service industry her entire career. She worked at the Dallas Market Center as a director for 10 years and has been the Retail Food Service associate director at the University of North Texas for the past 14 years. Kim is happily married for 19 years with one daughter. When not working, Kim likes to travel and host parities.
Tom Schroeder
Tom was born in Connecticut, but moved to Texas as soon as he could. He has been an executive chef for 34 years. A Johnson & Wales University graduate, he opened the OPUS restaurant at the Meyerson Symphony Center in 1993; then, was the chef at the World Trade Center, Dallas, for 15 years. He is the senior executive chef for the Baylor Scott & White Healthcare System.
Cook-off tips
Winners for the cook-off beef (First, Second and Third) and veggie (First) categories are announced in the late afternoon.
There is also a People’s Choice category that all attendees can participate in choosing their favorite chili. Simply cast your vote at the booth of your choice by placing your token in the team’s ballot box. Each paid admission includes a single ballot for the People’s Choice award.
Recommended parking is at the Jewish Community Center, which is five minutes away. Free shuttle buses will be in place for the entire event. There is also local parking in the neighborhood.
Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children 4 to 10 which includes a free hot dog. Children 3 and under are free.
For more information, visit http://kosherchilicookoff.us/.

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Laura Miller aims for Dallas District 13 seat

Laura Miller aims for Dallas District 13 seat

Posted on 21 March 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Laura Miller
Laura Miller with her husband Steve Wolens and children, from left, Lily, Max and Alex.

 

By James Russell
Special to the TJP

Whether as mayor, councilwoman or investigative reporter, Laura Miller has never shied away from taking on Dallas City Hall. Now, the two-time breast cancer survivor and Dallas’ third female Jewish mayor is the first former mayor to run for Dallas City Council.
That’s at least according to the city employee who accepted her paperwork for City Council District 13 two hours before last month’s filing deadline. At the least, she’s running for office again after 12 years in private life, spending time with her husband, former State Rep. Steve Wolens, a Democrat, and watching her three children grow up.
She enjoyed private life so much she first asked potential challengers.
But they declined.
“The last thing I thought I’d do is run,” she said.
Miller was elected to city council in 1998 from Oak Cliff before running a successful campaign for mayor in 2002. But she’s now running for the zig zagging north Dallas district currently represented by Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates, who declined to run for mayor. (Mayor Mike Rawlings is term-limited.) She may be running for a different district, in a different role, and in a Dallas different from a decade ago, but she is running on the same platform as her previous pro-neighborhood, pro-infrastructure campaigns. (“Police, parks, pools and potholes,” as she said when she was mayor.)
She really wishes she had more time.
“Ideally you would get five to six months to run a campaign. But instead we get nine weeks,” she said.
The district stretches from Central and Hillcrest, dips into Lemmon and includes Vickery Meadows.
“It’s a varied district,” she said.
“Unlike running for mayor,” which includes campaigning on major issues such as pension reform to bread and butter issues like potholes, “running for council gives you a different perspective,” she said.
She bought a house in the district after she was elected to the city’s top post in 2002. She then moved to the district in 2004, citing a long commute for her children to get to school, much less from Oak Cliff to City Hall.
Even after she left office, her council members shared her cautious approach to encroaching development.
“The council members were homeowner-centric,” she said. Many of those predecessors have endorsed her, including three of Gates’ predecessors Mitchell Rasansky, Donna Blumer and Sid Stahl.
“But the last six years, Councilwoman Gates has taken the opposite approach,” she said. “She lets developers file zoning cases for anything they want to build, no matter how inappropriate or how much a neighborhood opposes it. We’ve had six years of nonstop fighting between homeowners and City Hall,” Miller said. “Gates will continually tell people she hasn’t made up her mind on a project, so homeowners and developers battle — sometimes for years — right up until projects get a city council vote. It’s exhausting and disrespectful to homeowners. That is the reason I’m running.”
One case in particular involves dense development just south of Preston Center. Single-family homeowners are pushing back since St. Michael & All Angel Church on Douglas Avenue entered a joint venture agreement with Lincoln Property Company to build hi-rise apartments and an office tower on vacant land next to the church. Opponents drafted a petition and made yard signs demanding “No More Towers in Preston Center.” They are calling instead for focus on easing traffic congestion.
Miller points out those recommendations — fixing traffic and infrastructure needs before any new development is approved — were first outlined in a series of recommendations made in the Northwest Highway and Preston Road Area Plan. The plan was developed by a panel of homeowners and developers selected by Councilmember Gates and unanimously adopted by the Dallas City Council in January 2017. Miller served on that panel
Miller’s opposition is not to density or development alone but irresponsible development — that is, new development without regard to infrastructure needs, walkability, design, green space, street and side yard setbacks and landscaping.
“How do we sustain our most stable neighborhoods without common-sense development guidelines?” she asked. “The community deserves a choice in who represents them now and a healthy debate about the future of the district.”
Her campaign treasurer Doug Deason, president of Deason Capital Services, agreed.
“The developers have had the upper hand in District 13 for the past six years, and homeowners and small businesses are tired of City Hall ignoring their pleas for help,” he said.
Gates defended her record when asked about Miller’s issues.
“I’ve got a solid record of leading for basics like streets, infrastructure and police, and that’s where I’m focused going forward,” Gates told The Dallas Morning News. “That’s why I chose to run for re-election — to keep leading for these basics and to keep our neighborhoods strong. We’re on the right path, and we need to stay the course.”
But Miller said the potential multistory buildings around Preston Center were not her only issue.
“I noticed west of Midway, we have nice neighborhoods but no good retail,” she said. Many residents have to go east of the Dallas North Tollway to shop for the basics. Streets are crowded with fast-moving traffic, sidewalk crossings are nonexistent or unsafe for pedestrians, and up-zoning on the edges of single-family neighborhoods threatens their character and tranquility.”
“A lot of these neighborhoods haven’t fought these cases,” she said, “because when homeowners want to fight, they don’t know who to call.”
Her other issues for running call to mind her other mayoral priorities: addressing crime, homelessness and the morale of police and fire.
Homelessness is a personal issue. She participates in The Ladder Project through her synagogue Shearith Israel.
The concept is simple: 1,000 families help a homeless person achieve self-sufficiency financially and socially. Working with The Bridge, a homeless center in downtown Dallas, they successfully helped a 58-year-old man move into his own apartment. They are now preparing to work with a second, yet-to-be-identified individual.
For Miller, the project may just help one person at a time. “But we can’t do nothing,” she said. “My heart is with this project,” as much as her eyes are back on City Hall.

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Anne Frank’s stepsister to visit North Texas

Anne Frank’s stepsister to visit North Texas

Posted on 13 March 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Eva Schloss
Eva Schloss will share her story and message of hope at Chabad’s annual fundraiser March 27.

 

Every Holocaust survivor is a different person, with a unique story. One of the most different of all those stories will be told at the Eisemann Center in Richardson on Wednesday evening, March 27, by Eva Schloss, who is widely known as “Anne Frank’s Step-Sister.”
At almost 90, she’s been making up for lost time. Like many survivors, Eva didn’t talk about her personal experiences for almost four decades — in her case, 40 years spent back in Europe before the breakthrough came.
She was born in 1929, and returned from Auschwitz in 1945. Did people feel sorry for this teenage girl? “I was just 16 when the war ended, and I wanted everyone to know what I had suffered, and to feel sorry for me. But no one wanted to hear,” is how she begins to answer that question.
“Everybody in Europe had lost family,” she recalls. “People said to just move on. How could they possibly understand? So, like all survivors, I buried my thoughts. I couldn’t sleep properly. I had nightmares. There was no counseling or therapy available.”
And there was nothing different for her until 1986 when, long after she was a grown woman, she had come to London to study photography. “Not everybody can go to Auschwitz,” she says, about the continuing difficulties in getting people to understand the Holocaust. But that year, a traveling exhibition came to town — an exhibition based on Anne Frank — and she was invited to attend. And at it, suddenly, someone announced, “And now, Eva will talk.”
“I was not a public speaker,” she thought then. But speak she did, for the very first time. And once the floodgates of memory were opened to 300 listeners, Eva found out she really was. Since then, there has been no stopping her. Her writing began soon after, and she has now published three books; the first one, “After Auschwitz,” contains all her memories. “Once I let go of them,” she says now, “I couldn’t recall them any more. I had to use my own book to look them up!”
The opportunity to hear Eva locally is being offered by Chabad of Plano/Collin County. She’s on a current tour of 19 Chabad centers, but audiences are in no way limited to those with Chabad connections. According to Rabbi Menachem Block of the local Chabad, “She is a piece of history, and this will be historic for the people who will hear her. She wants people to know about the Holocaust, that it really happened, that she was there. And her message to the world is tolerance, our common humanity and respecting diversity.”
Eva is grateful to her Chabad sponsors for helping to bring her messages to such wide audiences. When people ask about her beliefs, as they often do, she will respond, “I’m not a ‘practicing Jew.’ I’m certainly not Orthodox. But I’m proud of my Jewish heritage.” In the camps, she says, “You could only pray for everything to stop!” She has actually debated with some rabbis about losing faith in God, but maintains that this is not the truth: What happened was a loss of faith in humanity.
The desire to create a future that people can have faith in was the basis for her recent widely publicized meeting with students in a Southern California high school who, in a terribly mistaken attempt at humor during a weekend party, formed a swastika out of beer cups and made the Heil Hitler salute over them. Of course this debacle made its immediate way onto social media, and then to Rabbi Reuven Mintz, director of the Chabad Center for Jewish Life in Newport Beach, California, who arranged for the meeting. Now, as Eva has moved on to continue spreading her messages of tolerance and hope for the future, Rabbi Mintz is beginning his work with the high school’s leadership to further a program of Holocaust education.
But what everyone wants to know most is how the Eva-and-Anne connection came about. That story begins with the arrivals in Amsterdam of two families seeking what then seemed safe refuge from Hitler’s Nazis. The family of Anne Frank, who was just one month younger than Eva, had come first, from Germany; Eva’s family, the Geiringers, came later, from Austria. By luck, or fate or the hand of God, their apartments faced each other, and the two young girls became playmates first, and later, good friends.
Of course, the peace they had hoped for eluded both families in the Netherlands as it had in other parts of Europe. While the Franks were hidden in what has since become the world’s most famous attic, the Geiringers moved from safe-house to safe-house, until both families were finally betrayed and transported to the death camps. There, Anne was lost, along with her mother and sister Margot; gone also were Eva’s father and brother Heinz. After the war, the three survivors — Anne’s father Otto Frank, and Eva with her mother Elfriede Geiringer — returned separately to Amsterdam, hoping to rescue bits of their lost loved ones from old hiding places. Otto found his daughter’s now-world-famous diary; Elfriede found her son’s paintings and poems, which have also been shown and read publicly. And the two adults found — and subsequently married — each other, making Eva the after-the-fact stepsister of her dearly departed friend Anne.
Eva’s first stop on this current tour was at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, where she drew a crowd of 1,200 that was covered by The Washington Post. Always, her message echoes and enhances that of our Dallas Holocaust Museum: “It is the danger of the bystander. I tell people, this is the way Germany was: Not everyone was anti-Semitic or supported Hitler; some had good Jewish friends. But they took the easy way out and looked the other way,” she said. “We have to teach young people to speak out when they see injustice.”
Photography first took a back seat in Eva’s life when, in London in 1953, she met and married another German survivor, Zvi Schloss. Also like many survivors, “I was desperate to have a family,” she recalls. In their 27 years together before her husband’s death, the couple had three daughters, and now Eva also has five grandchildren. Her work today continues to be spreading a personal message of hopeful optimism despite the past. And she is already being helped to do so into the farthest future by the newest technology (which will be seen locally when Dallas’ new Holocaust Museum opens in September): she is one of the first survivors to have been “hologrammed,” making it possible for viewers to have interactive contact with them — to ask questions and receive answers — even long after they are gone. Eva’s “living image” is already telling her story to visitors of Holocaust museums in New York, California and Illinois.
“This is complex,” she says of the new technique. “But it is the best and most appropriate way to keep the moral lessons of genocide alive.”

This “Historic Evening with Anne Frank’s Step- Sister Eva Schloss” will start at 7 p.m. (checkin), with the program beginning at 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, March 27, at the Eisemann Center, 2351 Performance Drive in Richardson. Tickets are priced at $25 and $50, $10 admission for students. They can be purchased at www.eisemanncenter.com.

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Party like it’s 1999: Anshai Torah turns 20

Party like it’s 1999: Anshai Torah turns 20

Posted on 07 March 2019 by admin

Photo: Deb Silverthorn
“The history of Anshai proudly reflects a congregation whose roots are deeply embedded in the fertile soil of the greater Jewish community,” said Rabbi Stefan Weinberg (left), who has led Congregation Anshai Torah since its beginning, sharing the pulpit with Rabbi Michael Kushnick for the last six years.

Submitted Story

Congregation Anshai Torah is celebrating 20 years as a family, a spiritual home, a place to grow, to learn, to pray, and to build one’s Jewish stronghold. Together with the greater community, that celebration will break out at 6 p.m. Sunday, March 31, at the Hilton Granite Park Hotel.
Gathering to party like it’s 1999, the event is open to the public.
“It’s been a supreme honor to lead Anshai Torah from its outset on July 1, 1998. To witness the pride, joy, and spiritual fulfillment experienced by so many who never dreamed of creating a synagogue has been the most exciting aspect of my leadership,” said Rabbi Stefan Weinberg. “The nurturing of our congregation has been a labor of love and to have shared this journey with Wende z”l, and a dedicated and passionate cadre of others, have been some of the most meaningful blessings in life.
“This celebration gives reason to pause and appreciate our blessings and the impact we’ve had on so many.”
The evening will offer food from Simcha Kosher Catering, a photo montage and program honoring the congregation as well as Dot and Basil Haymann (among the congregation’s founders) and entertainment and dancing with the music of the Jordan Kahn Orchestra.
Co-chairs Ashley Grossfeld and Julie Haymann, along with Beth Berk, Cathy Brook, Dot Haymann, Marcy Kahn, a dedicated committee and Anshai Torah’s staff, are planning a night of fun and honor.
“Twenty years as a Conservative congregation that continues to thrive is quite an accomplishment and this is the perfect time to celebrate,” said Julie Haymann. “It is a great honor for us all to work on something so exciting that celebrates Anshai Torah as well as Dot and Basil.”
Anshai Torah’s family tree began with roots in Anshai Emet and Shomray Torah.
•1998: They formed their first joint home on Village Creek Drive. Those roots have grown branches and generations with more than 550 families.
• Sept. 3, 2001: A march of Torahs and ruach made its way to Anshai Torah’s permanent home on Parker Road in West Plano.
•2004 marked the first of many congregational trips to Israel.
•2005: The voices of the Kol Rina men’s a cappella choir first sounded.
•2010: The Behringer Sanctuary was built.
•2011: Anshai Torah’s Illustrated Torah arrived.
•2013: Rabbi Michael Kushnick joined Rabbi Weinberg.
•2017: Light began shining through in a more colorful manner, stained-glass panels at the front of the sanctuary now complemented by 12 encircling the sanctuary, depicting the tribes of Israel.
•2018: Project 613 brought Wende’s Torah, the first congregational Torah written specifically for them — in memory of its late rebbetzin.
A melding of families, Anshai Torah will toast the Haymanns, who have been involved since their arrival from Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1978. Originally members of Anshai Emet, they are among many who have contributed to two decades of success at the shul.
“From early on our love of Anshai was born and our commitment began. We’ve always supported Anshai as a cornerstone of the community and from that we expanded our involvement to many aspects of Dallas’ Jewish life,” said Dot Haymann. “We believe that to impact change and make a difference you need to be involved. Only by being a leader can you influence the direction of change.”
The Haymann family includes children Gary (Julie), Sandy (Andrew) Marks and Tracy (BJ) Elliott; and grandchildren Abby and Alex Elliott, Eli, Izzie and Kaya Haymann and Adrianna and Jake Marks. The Haymanns have shared to Anshai Torah the ark that houses its Torahs, the Haymann Foyer and Menorah — which stands 20 feet tall at the synagogue’s entrance — and a Torah rescued from Tehran, donated in memory of Basil’s father Fred and the couple’s late son Clinton.
“We’ve been so fortunate to have people like Dot and Basil, with their beautiful family at their side, supporting Anshai in such significant ways,” said Rabbi Weinberg. “Their leadership profile is defined by their support for the community at large.”
The Haymanns’ children have taken their example to heart.
“Our parents taught us early on to give back and that means more than financial donations; it means helping wherever we can with time and energy,” said Sandy Haymann Marks, who celebrated her bat mitzvah at Anshai Emet and was married at Anshai Torah. “The best is coming together, three generations to pray and celebrate together.”
Supporting AIPAC, the Ann and Nate Levine Academy, the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education & Tolerance, Greene Family Camp, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, the Holocaust Museum, Texas Torah Institute and The Legacy at Home and Legacy Senior Communities, Inc., the family’s touch is seen throughout the Dallas Jewish community
“Lead with passion and example has always been our mantra,” said Dot, “and we’re so humbled to share this tremendous milestone as Anshai celebrates 20 years of strength and possibility.”
Rabbi Weinberg reflected on the congregation’s two decades.
“The history of Anshai proudly reflects a congregation whose roots are deeply embedded in the fertile soil of the greater Jewish community,” he said. “May God’s presence continue to nurture and protect the precious spiritual home we’ve been privileged to construct.”
To RSVP, for sponsorship opportunities or to participate in the tribute book (by March 8), visit tinyurl.com/anshai20.

— Submitted by
Deb Silverthorn

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Local teens make global impact through BBYO

Local teens make global impact through BBYO

Posted on 28 February 2019 by admin

Photo: BBYO
Ethan Freed (back row, far left) was elected Grand Aleph Gizbor (treasurer) and Kian Roy (back row, third from left) was elected Grand Aleph Mazkir (secretary) when BBYO held its annual International Convention in Denver Feb. 14-18.

By Elena Okowita

More than 120 teens from the BBYO North Texas Oklahoma region gathered with more than 3,000 Jewish teens from around the world at the organization’s International Convention in Denver over President’s Day weekend, Feb. 14 to Feb. 18. The convention featured seminars, as well as celebrities, business leaders, political figures and philanthropists from more than 36 countries. It was co-planned by local teen Aidan Jacoby, who is BBYO’s international vice president.
Jacoby, son of Karla and Eric Jacoby of Plano, described the planning process as a marathon, with lots of late-night phone calls, stressful meetings and management of close to 300 teens, However, once he stepped out on the stage during the convention’s opening ceremonies and saw the entire convention body for the first time, it was all worth it, Jacoby explained.
“Planning BBYO’s international convention provided me with the opportunity to grow as both a Jewish leader and a secular teen,” Jacoby said. “My time on calls, spreadsheets and documents ultimately paid off as I watched more than 6,000 people appreciate the hard work of our team.”
The “team,” as Jacoby refers to it, consisted of the IC steering committee made up of other BBYO teens from around the globe. This committee was led and supervised by Jacoby, who credited the convention’s success to this group.
“Their hard work made convention possible, and being able to celebrate with them after their programming was implemented was very rewarding,” he said.
Two North Texas teens — Kian Roy, son of Jenni and Gavin Roy of Dallas, and Ethan Freed, son of Dana and Larry Freed of Plano — were elected to the International Board for the 2019-2020 term.
Roy, who was elected Grand Aleph Mazkir, or international secretary, said his motivation to run stemmed from the opportunity to make an impact upon others. He is excited to act as a leader and role model for the next generation of Jewish teens.
“Being on the board gives me the opportunity to interact with teens and adults from all across the globe, while really learning how to successfully connect and build relationships with my peers,” he said. “My influence will hopefully inspire others to find their passion for Judaism, enhancing our Jewish futures while creating strong friendships with fellow Jews from around the world.”
In his new position, Roy will be responsible for coordinating the International Leadership Training Conference, a three-week summer session at BBYO’s Perlman Camp in Pennsylvania.
The session is full of leadership and Jewish enrichment,” Roy said. “Having the chance to build special moments and bond with all of the teens in attendance will be an amazing experience, and allow me to finish my term on board with one last special opportunity.”
Ethan Freed was elected to the position of Grand Aleph Gizbor, or international treasurer. Inspired by past members who continued to push him further into his BBYO journey, Freed is grateful and excited for the opportunities that are ahead.
“Past members of my chapter put their time and dedication into me, and I knew that I had to give back to the organization that gave me so much,” he said.
As the new treasurer, Freed plans on using his position to make a real and lasting impact on the organization.
“I plan on expanding the current monetary sources that BBYO has, to ensure that BBYO can continue to grow to countries that lack funds, so we can fight the 80 percent post-bar mitzvah drop-off rate,” he said. “Let’s show that being Jewish has never been about being; it has always been about doing.”
Dallas will host the International Convention next year. The city will welcome over 5,000 teens, guest speakers, stakeholders, and performers over the weekend of Feb. 13-17, 2020. With local leaders like Roy and Freed at the helm, IC 2020 is sure to continue its legacy of success and Jewish continuity.
There will be many volunteer opportunities to get involved with the planning of IC Dallas. Email Lory Conte, BBYO senior regional director, at LConte@bbyo.org to learn more!

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Unconditional love, from 1 grandparent to all others

Unconditional love, from 1 grandparent to all others

Posted on 21 February 2019 by admin

Photo: Harvey Wang
“Grandparents are the hinges of history, reaching back to our own grandparents, reaching forward to our grandkids,” said author Jane Isay, who will speak on March 6 at the Aaron Family JCC.

 

By Deb Silverthorn

The greatest of loves — of grandparent and grandchild — has lightheartedly, with a sprinkle of truth, been explained as the love between two generations who share “a common enemy.” A morning of understanding the best of this relationship will take place March 6, at the Aaron Family JCC, with family expert and “Unconditional Love: A Guide to Navigating the Joys and Challenges of Being a Grandparent Today” author Jane Isay.
The program, cosponsored by the Aaron Family JCC’s Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer Dallas Jewish BookFest and the Goldberg Family Early Childhood Center, is free and open to the public.
“When the grandkids come, the tic-tac-toe game of life gets played in 3-D. There’s nothing like it.” said Isay, grandmother of four who treasures the bond and hopes to help others glean the most they can. “Regardless of proximity, whether you see the kids twice a year or every week, the love crosses the generations. Grandparents are ‘Switzerland’ — always a safe place.”
Isay, who has edited nonfiction books for more than four decades, discovered Mary Pipher’s “Reviving Ophelia,” and commissioned Patricia T. O’Connor’s bestselling “Woe Is I” and Rachel Simmons’ “Odd Girl Out.” She also edited classics, including “Praying for Sheetrock” and “Friday Night Lights.” Before publishing “Unconditional Love,” she wrote “Walking on Eggshells,” about parents and their adult children; “Mom Still Likes You Best,” regarding adult siblings; and “Secrets and Lies,” about family secrets and revelations. “I learned a lot from my authors,” Isay said.
For many grandparents, a grandchild offers a second chance to become the parent they maybe didn’t have the time or the energy to be when raising their own children, the opportunity to turn missed moments into wonderful memories.
Drawing on her personal experience, dozens of interviews and psychological research, Isay explores the realities of today’s multigenerational families, identifying problems and offering solutions to enhance love, trust and understanding between grandparents, parents and grandchildren. She also provides practical advice from when to get involved, when to stay away, and how to foster strong relationships when separated.
“Using an authoritative yet friendly tone, respectful of all three generations involved, and startlingly deep insight into the impact of the past decades of social and economic change on family life, Isay shows the reader how to navigate the new choreography of grandparenting and enter into a dance of grace and delight,” said Wendy Mogel, gracing Isay’s book cover. Mogel herself is the author of “Blessing of the Skinned Knee,” “The Blessing of a B Minus” and “Voice Lessons for Parents.”
“I heard Jane speak at a Jewish Book Council event and she was absolutely engaging. Her book is for every grandparent — the new and the seasoned. It’s really written for all family relationships,” said Rachelle Weiss Crane, JCC director of Israel engagement and Jewish living. “We’re excited to partner with our Goldberg Family Early Childhood Center, and to make a daytime event possible.”
“Grandparents are ‘it’ in the eyes of our children and that is the greatest blessing. We have grandparents running carpool, volunteering in classrooms, and touching their grandchildren’s lives every day. It is beautiful,” said Tara Ohayon, director of early childhood education at the Goldberg Family Early Childhood Center.
Ohayon went on to say that her parents, Helen and Bill Sutker, played an integral role by caring for her own four children. “We love having both generations in the building to share the learning, Shabbat mornings, the Jewish connections, and the bubbies and zaydes so hands-on in the daily care — the fun and the responsibilities.”
Isay is the daughter of Rose N. Franzblau, a New York Post human relations columnist, and the late Abraham Franzblau, a former dean of Hebrew Union College who also practiced psychiatry.
After years of editing at Yale University Press and in New York publishing, it was time for Isay’s next calling. Her two sons were then busy building their own lives in their twenties; she, working to develop the next step of relationship with her now adult children, couldn’t find a book to help her through. “I decided to leave the corporate world and write it myself,” said Isay, whose late husband, literary agent Jonathan Dolger, sent out “Walking on Eggshells.”
Days later, right after her first grandchild was born, Isay got the go-ahead. “My writing and my family have grown together,” the author said. “I now have four grandchildren and four books — and I’m incredibly proud of all of them.”
Isay might not have known her own grandparents — all had passed before she was born — but she is, academically and of the heart, experienced in the ties of grandparents and grandchildren. Friends of her mother filled in the “you are perfect no matter what you do position,” she said. “It’s not the blood, it’s the love,” that builds the connection.
The author, known as Grandma Jane, said she is not the “cheerleader at all events close” to her grandchildren, but the “be there, share experiences, and make Grandma’s special chicken close.”
“Grandparents are the hinges of history,” she said, “reaching back to our own grandparents, reaching forward to our grandkids.”
Jane Isay will speak at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, March 6, at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas, 7900 Northaven Road The event is free; RSVPs are necessary. For more information, visit jccdallas.org/event/jane-isay.

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JCRC holds Jewish advocacy day in Austin

JCRC holds Jewish advocacy day in Austin

Posted on 14 February 2019 by admin

Photos: Courtesy JCRC Dallas From left, JCRC Executive Director Anita Zusman Eddy, State Senator Nathan Johnson, JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin and Jeff Kitner

On Wednesday, Jan. 30, more than 150 individuals from Jewish communities throughout Texas traveled to the Texas State Capitol for Jewish Communities Day at the State: Legislative Mission to Austin (Day at the State), organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
Jewish communities from across the state participated in the event, including the Jewish Federations of Greater Dallas, Austin, Greater Houston, Fort Worth & Tarrant County, and San Antonio. Partners also included the Community Relations Council (CRC) of San Antonio, Hadassah – Greater Southwest Region, Torah Day School of Dallas, Texas Hillel, Chabad at UT, Hillels of North Texas, and SMU Hillel.
Jewish Communities Day at the State: Legislative Mission to Austin is a bi-annual event, coinciding with the Texas State Legislative session every two years “The Day at the State program was an opportunity for Jewish communities throughout Texas to come together in order to make a valuable impact in Austin during this legislative session by showing our support for Israel, as well as expressing our concerns about other issues that affect all Texans. Issues important to the Jewish community include anti-BDS legislation, increased safety and security of children in day care centers, and support for social services provided by our Federation partners — Jewish Family Service, Legacy Senior Communities, the Jewish Community Center, and CHAI. We are looking to our state senators and representatives especially from the Dallas area to be receptive and supportive of these important initiatives. Based on our interaction Wednesday, including a meeting with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, it was a successful day for our greater Jewish community,” said A.J. Rosmarin, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas chair-elect .
The Day at the State program began with a legislative briefing by Harvey Kronberg, editor of the nonpartisan online publication Quorum Report, followed by speakers on the various advocacy issues: support for Israel, support for social services and Federation agency partners, and support for access to quality early learning and child care safety for all children.
Regen Horchow Fearon, board chair of Early Matters Dallas, discussed the importance of high quality early learning and need for increased safety and security of child day care centers. Lisa Brodsky, CEO of Community Homes for Adults, Inc. (CHAI), discussed the need to support quality services and programs to instill a capacity for independence and self-sufficiency among Texan adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Toba Hellerstein, CEO of the Texas-Israel Alliance, shared facts about Israel as a global leader in water management and innovation, and how Israeli technology can be used to help Texas in solving water challenges.
“The JCRC is grateful to all the speakers and participants who joined us in Austin on Jan. 30,” said Dallas JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin. “Their participation, enthusiasm and commitment in educating our legislators and advocating for issues important to the Jewish community is what made the day a true success.”
Representative Phil King (R- Weatherford) met with the group following the passing of House Resolution 111 that morning, affirming Israel’s achievements in water management and the Israel-Texas Water Initiative. The resolution was crafted at the request of the Dallas Jewish Community Relations Council and the Texas-Israel Alliance. Rep. King also discussed the follow-up bill to the Texas anti-BDS bill, which was passed last legislative session and prohibits the State of Texas from contracting with any company that engages in boycott, divestment or sanctions against Israel. The follow-up bill this session is intended to tweak the existing anti-BDS law and to make some clarifications on enforcement of the existing law. This year’s bill notes that the anti-boycott statute is a commerce issue and not an infringement on any individual’s free speech rights. The new bill also eliminates applicability to sole proprietorships to show that this is not about individual content, but rather about government contracts using taxpayer funds.
During the Day at the State program, the Dallas JCRC arranged advocacy meetings with legislators from both political parties. Small (two- to four-person) groups met with individual legislators or staff during the afternoon. There was also a meeting and photo with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, which led to his inviting the entire group on an impromptu tour of the Lieutenant Governor’s office and official Capitol residence.
“I learned so much at the Jewish Communities Day at the State program,” commented Dawn Strauss, Day at the State co-chair. “I left Austin feeling invigorated, proud and excited to be a part of the Dallas Jewish community. This mission was an amazing opportunity to have our voices heard and to make an impact in Austin.”
Adam Segall, Day at the State co-chair, added, “We appreciate the support and participation of the Jewish Federations and many Jewish organizations and agencies throughout Texas. As the only full-time Jewish Community Relations Council in Texas, our Dallas JCRC is pleased to have served as the planning and coordinating entity that brings together all the Jewish communities in Texas for this critical advocacy program.”

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JFS shows gratitude to devoted volunteers

JFS shows gratitude to devoted volunteers

Posted on 06 February 2019 by admin

2019 Outstanding Volunteer Geetha Rajendran is flanked by JFS Community Engagement staff members, Kristen Jackson and Jamie Denison. Among her many activities, she creates centerpieces for JFS’ Centerpieces for Tzedakah program.

By Deb Silverthorn

Jewish Family Service will present a massive Thank You party for its 1,604 volunteers who, in 2018, provided 28,454 hours of service through individual and group efforts. Kudos and appreciation will be given from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 17, at Temple Shalom. Kosher refreshments will be served and the festivities are open to the public.
“Our volunteers are a critical extension of our staff by providing support in serving our clients, either directly or indirectly, enabling us to do more for the community,” said JFS CEO Cathy Barker. “With volunteers who can do data entry, deliver meals, shop with clients in our pantry or pick up donated food around town, the agency can redirect funds we would have had to spend hiring additional staff and instead it goes to serving our clients. We are extremely grateful to each and every one of them for their ongoing dedication to our mission and the community we serve.”

Receiving JFS honors are

Leadership Award — Diane Laner
Outstanding Volunteer — Geetha Rajendran
Spirit of JFS Award — Lydia Varela
Spotlight Award — Jeff Sebert
Pro Bono Award — Dr. Jim Reisman
Resource Development Award — Sherry Goldberg
Future of JFS Award — Laura Weinstein
Kids with Heart Award — Jonah Schwarz-Mullins and Hunter Wartell
Klein Intern of the Year — Varsha Danda
Rookie of the Year — Robert Levy
Special Recognition — Janet Bubis, Jim Doyle, Dawn Kauffman and Jeri Lyn Sebert
Community Partners of the Year — Apartment Association of Greater Dallas and Young Men’s Service League/Dal-Rich Chapter
Seniors in Service — Mike Becker, Lucille Klein and Martin White
Team Award — Transitional Housing.

“I had come to JFS as a child but getting involved in the food pantry was the first time it was my project. JFS does an incredible job of making its clients feel appreciated and I respect that,” said Jonah Schwarz-Mullins, a senior at Yavneh Academy and one of two Kids with Heart Award recipients. In addition to stocking and other responsibilities, Schwarz-Mullins spearheaded a fundraiser for JFS’ Food Pantry truck, helping to raise more than $100,000. “The food truck is able to pick up donations from restaurant and retail vendors, including fresh produce which couldn’t be managed previously.”
Diane Laner, recipient of the Leadership Award, as well as a member of the Transitional Housing volunteers earning the Team Award, started working with JFS by delivering Passover and High Holiday meals and packages to homebound residents. She now serves on the JFS board of directors. Laner’s ears perked up during a discussion about fulfilling and decorating apartments of the organization’s Transitional Housing program.
The team of 16 included those who were handy with tools, design, ideas, access and most of all, said Laner, with care. Most didn’t know each other when they began, but together they built safety.
“We have furnishings and appliances, bedding, art and toys where there are children. We’ve created spaces that are home — without the feeling of temporary shelter,” she said. “From couches to tissue boxes, as a team we used social media, our personal contacts, whomever we could connect to, and each unit is lovely. The residents really feel safe and proud to live there.”
Awards will be given to those with milestone years of service. Honorees for five years are: Stanley Assa, Barbara Churchman, Cantor Don Croll, Ellen Feibel, Lindsay Feldman, Susan Kanter, Eve Kaplan, Lucille Klein, Lisa Kravitz, Mickey Kurzman, Lauren Margolies, Jana Milstein, Eda Narasov, Mahra Pailet, Myra Prescott, Rupa Rajopal — of blessed memory, Bradley Rossel, Stacey Siegel, Rossi Solomon, Judy Sommer, Melissa Steiner, Michael Stulmaker, Ed Weitz and Carol Wigder; for 10 years: Judy and Howard Bazarsky, Linda Blasnik, Sheryl Fields-Bogen, Eric Goldberg, Tobe Goldberg, Barbara Gollman, David Greenberg, Janet Kaner, Sue Mintz, Jody Pearson and Laurie Platt; for 15 years: Geane Glaser, Cara Mendelsohn, Karen Sosland and Caren Tate; and for 20 years, William Ogelsby.
The President’s Volunteer Service Award for Young Adult Silver (175-249 hours) will be given to Greg Begun, Abby Brand, Varsha Danda, Sara Hirani, Morgan Hurst, Esha Kothapalli, Maddie McBride, Marilyn McWhorter, Saipranav Ramesh, Aneesh Roy and Jaidyn Thomas. The Adult Silver (250-499 hours) will be awarded to Gilian Baron, Jim Doyle, Michael Kaufman, Lisa Kleinman, Julie Liberman, Geetha Rajendran, Barbara Schwarz, Roger Sellers and Ted Tobolowsky. The Adult Gold Awards (over 500 hours) will go to Anne Leiman and Bradley Rossel.
“Whether our volunteers are serving clients in the food pantry, being advocates for our [child] clients, delivering meals to homebound members of our community or fulfilling any other need, they are giving our clients the dignity, respect and hope they need to get through life’s tough times to become self-sufficient,” said JFS Community Engagement Manager Kristen Jackson. “Our agency would not be nearly as effective without their support. They are truly the heart of JFS.”
The volunteer awards event was planned by Kim Chapman, Julie Gothard, Weezie Margolis and Laura Weinstein. The difficult task of narrowing the many volunteers to those specifically honored was determined by a nominating committee including Janis Gail, Michael Kaufman, Weezie Margolis, Harriet Sebert, Betty Spomer and Lydia Varela.
“So many people came through to help. It’s amazing how if you try to make a difference, people will help you with the dream,” said Schwarz-Mullins. “Because of my experience with JFS, I hope to always find ways to make a difference in my community.”
Last year alone, more than 1,600 other community members felt the same way. “Our village is a great one — our villagers make it so.”
To RSVP (no charge), email kjackson@jfsdallas.org or call 972-437-9950. For general information, donations, or to learn about volunteering opportunities, visit JFSDallas.org.

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JFS celebrates Special Needs Awareness Month

JFS celebrates Special Needs Awareness Month

Posted on 31 January 2019 by admin

Photo: Deb Silverthorn
Volunteer Ynette Hogue led Anshai Torah Religious School students, from left, Zane Zientz, Matthew Dubner, Sawyer Baumel, Jonah Makler and Asher Laynor, in JFS’ Inclusion Experience last year. Throughout February, JFS, along with members of organizations in the community, has created a calendar of learning, prayer, fun and activities — with a number of inclusion workshops such as this one held in 2018. The programs, which are open to all, honor Special Needs Awareness Month and Jewish Disabilities and Inclusion Awareness Month.

By Deb Silverthorn

February is all about love and, through Jewish Family Service, much love is being spread to the special needs community. It is designated as Jewish Disabilities and Inclusion Awareness Month, and Jewish organizations worldwide are making an effort to raise awareness and foster inclusion for those with disabilities and those who love them. JFS, servicing all in need regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or the ability to pay, adds the moniker, Special Needs Awareness Month.
“Our goal is for our community to realize that awareness leads to understanding, that understanding leads to empathy, and that empathy leads to compassion,” said Lorraine Friedman, director of JFS’ Special Needs Partnership and Programs. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could all focus on those themes this month, spreading a little more kindness and being a little more open-minded and open-hearted?”
The calendar of care begins with Inclusion Experience afternoons, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3, at Temple Emanu-El and then from 12 to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. In addition, the program will be shared with the students of Akiba Academy’s Middle School Feb. 25 and 26. The Inclusion Experience features experiential learning of auditory and sensory processing, fine and gross motor, speech, language and reading skills including dyslexia and ADHD.
A new chapter opens at 6:30 p.m. with CHAI-5 Book Club’s initial readings Feb. 5 and 19, and then every other Tuesday thereafter. Members will have their own copies of the books and Friedman first, then volunteers, will read them aloud. The first choice shared will be “Because of Winn-Dixie,” with the film screened afterward.
“We’ve wanted to present a book club for a while. This is the right time and Lorraine, with JFS, who has written books, is the right person to partner with,” said CHAI’s Community Relations Manager Kathy Minor Schneider. “We’ll have great discussions, and this will be a meaningful program.”
Friedman will direct a PERK (Parents Empowered Raising Kids) panel from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, at JFS. Six parents of young children, teens, college students and adults will share experiences and offer advice of how to traverse life’s path in many areas.
To prepare for Shabbat, CTeen, Friendship Circle and Yachad Dallas invite teens to participate in an inclusive challah bake beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at Chabad of Dallas.
There will also be an added dose of shalom in next month’s Shabbat services. On Friday, Feb. 8, Anshai Torah will host Yehuda Kohn, founder of Bet Elazraki Children´s Home, a residential school in Netanya for at-risk youth. Services will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner. Chabad of Dallas and Friendship Circle will also share dedicated services and a dinner with sensory-friendly activities, beginning at 6:15 p.m. Congregation Beth Torah welcomes the members of CHAI (Community Homes for Adults, Inc.) and the community for inclusive morning services and lunch beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 16.
Party with the Partners, which will celebrate all abilities, opens its doors from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, at Congregation Shearith Israel with sensory-safe events including karaoke (with the microphone off), dancing, art, basketball, beading projects, bingo, cookie decorating and more. Friendship Circle, Jewish Family Service and Yachad Dallas joining Shearith Israel will be the first time the community’s four agencies centered on those living with special needs will come together. The event, which celebrates people of all needs, is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, allowing the fun at no charge.
“We’re so excited to throw a party and celebrate all those in our community who we love,” said Sarah Lipinsky, Shearith Israel’s director of education, excited about the program she’s worked on for some time. “These members of our community are so special and it is our responsibility to make their lives better. As Jews, we’re commanded to care for one another, and I’m thrilled to partner with each of the groups in our community who are committed to doing just that.”
The curtains rise for screenings of “My Hero Brother” and “The Other Dreamers,” recommended for ages 13 and up, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Studio Movie Grill at Royal Lane and Central Expressway.
“My Hero Brother” shares the story of young people with Down syndrome trekking through the Himalayan Mountains with their siblings. During their journey of a lifetime, they deal with physical and emotional challenges, unresolved conflicts surface and friendships develop. “The Other Dreamers” follows four disabled children who fall in love, get hurt, dance, compete and live their lives exactly like their non-disabled peers — with the addition of a wheelchair.
For teachers, an “It’s About Ability” program will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, at JFS. Differentiated Learning focuses on allowing teachers to meet the needs of students with differing abilities by changing the content that students learn, the process by which they retain the information, how they demonstrate knowledge of skills and with whom and where learning happens.
“While the special needs movement is a year-round process, February has become a focal point to highlight the challenges of people with special needs, and to build broader community awareness of these challenges, and to take additional steps to make our community inclusive and engaging. Through Special Needs Awareness month, we bring our community together,” said JFS CEO Cathy Barker.
For more events and RSVP details, visit tinyurl.com/JFS-special-needs-february. To volunteer at the Inclusion Experiences or the CHAI-5 Book Club, grades nine through adults, contact Lorraine Friedman at 972-437-9950 or email lfriedman@jfsdallas.org.By Deb Silverthorn
February is all about love and, through Jewish Family Service, much love is being spread to the special needs community. It is designated as Jewish Disabilities and Inclusion Awareness Month, and Jewish organizations worldwide are making an effort to raise awareness and foster inclusion for those with disabilities and those who love them. JFS, servicing all in need regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or the ability to pay, adds the moniker, Special Needs Awareness Month.
“Our goal is for our community to realize that awareness leads to understanding, that understanding leads to empathy, and that empathy leads to compassion,” said Lorraine Friedman, director of JFS’ Special Needs Partnership and Programs. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could all focus on those themes this month, spreading a little more kindness and being a little more open-minded and open-hearted?”
The calendar of care begins with Inclusion Experience afternoons, from 12:30 to 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 3, at Temple Emanu-El and then from 12 to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 20, at the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. In addition, the program will be shared with the students of Akiba Academy’s Middle School Feb. 25 and 26. The Inclusion Experience features experiential learning of auditory and sensory processing, fine and gross motor, speech, language and reading skills including dyslexia and ADHD.
A new chapter opens at 6:30 p.m. with CHAI-5 Book Club’s initial readings Feb. 5 and 19, and then every other Tuesday thereafter. Members will have their own copies of the books and Friedman first, then volunteers, will read them aloud. The first choice shared will be “Because of Winn-Dixie,” with the film screened afterward.
“We’ve wanted to present a book club for a while. This is the right time and Lorraine, with JFS, who has written books, is the right person to partner with,” said CHAI’s Community Relations Manager Kathy Minor Schneider. “We’ll have great discussions, and this will be a meaningful program.”
Friedman will direct a PERK (Parents Empowered Raising Kids) panel from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, at JFS. Six parents of young children, teens, college students and adults will share experiences and offer advice of how to traverse life’s path in many areas.
To prepare for Shabbat, CTeen, Friendship Circle and Yachad Dallas invite teens to participate in an inclusive challah bake beginning at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 7, at Chabad of Dallas.
There will also be an added dose of shalom in next month’s Shabbat services. On Friday, Feb. 8, Anshai Torah will host Yehuda Kohn, founder of Bet Elazraki Children´s Home, a residential school in Netanya for at-risk youth. Services will begin at 6:30 p.m., followed by dinner. Chabad of Dallas and Friendship Circle will also share dedicated services and a dinner with sensory-friendly activities, beginning at 6:15 p.m. Congregation Beth Torah welcomes the members of CHAI (Community Homes for Adults, Inc.) and the community for inclusive morning services and lunch beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 16.
Party with the Partners, which will celebrate all abilities, opens its doors from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 10, at Congregation Shearith Israel with sensory-safe events including karaoke (with the microphone off), dancing, art, basketball, beading projects, bingo, cookie decorating and more. Friendship Circle, Jewish Family Service and Yachad Dallas joining Shearith Israel will be the first time the community’s four agencies centered on those living with special needs will come together. The event, which celebrates people of all needs, is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, allowing the fun at no charge.
“We’re so excited to throw a party and celebrate all those in our community who we love,” said Sarah Lipinsky, Shearith Israel’s director of education, excited about the program she’s worked on for some time. “These members of our community are so special and it is our responsibility to make their lives better. As Jews, we’re commanded to care for one another, and I’m thrilled to partner with each of the groups in our community who are committed to doing just that.”
The curtains rise for screenings of “My Hero Brother” and “The Other Dreamers,” recommended for ages 13 and up, at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, at the Studio Movie Grill at Royal Lane and Central Expressway.
“My Hero Brother” shares the story of young people with Down syndrome trekking through the Himalayan Mountains with their siblings. During their journey of a lifetime, they deal with physical and emotional challenges, unresolved conflicts surface and friendships develop. “The Other Dreamers” follows four disabled children who fall in love, get hurt, dance, compete and live their lives exactly like their non-disabled peers — with the addition of a wheelchair.
For teachers, an “It’s About Ability” program will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, at JFS. Differentiated Learning focuses on allowing teachers to meet the needs of students with differing abilities by changing the content that students learn, the process by which they retain the information, how they demonstrate knowledge of skills and with whom and where learning happens.
“While the special needs movement is a year-round process, February has become a focal point to highlight the challenges of people with special needs, and to build broader community awareness of these challenges, and to take additional steps to make our community inclusive and engaging. Through Special Needs Awareness month, we bring our community together,” said JFS CEO Cathy Barker.
For more events and RSVP details, visit tinyurl.com/JFS-special-needs-february. To volunteer at the Inclusion Experiences or the CHAI-5 Book Club, grades nine through adults, contact Lorraine Friedman at 972-437-9950 or email lfriedman@jfsdallas.org.

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Simple cheek swab turns out to be a life-saver

Simple cheek swab turns out to be a life-saver

Posted on 24 January 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Cody Strull
Stem-cell donor Cody Strull was matched with a cancer patient two years after a DKMS drive at UT’s ZBT chapter.

By Deb Silverthorn

With the saving of one life, we are taught we can save the world. Through medical advancements and bone-marrow transplantation, Dallas’ community has often made saving the world possible.
For 23-year-old Cody Strull, the notion of saving a life was something “others did.” Now, he’s one of the “others” by virtue of his match with a cancer patient to whom he donated stem cells.
Strull, the son of Keo and Brian and brother of Brandon and Sean, is a former Rubin Kaplan BBYO member and Richardson High School graduate. He was raised at Temple Shalom and is now involved with Intown Chabad.
In February 2016, as president of the Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) fraternity at the University of Texas, Strull expected no more than a good time during Dad’s Weekend. Basketball, revelry and casino games were augmented by a bone marrow donor drive by DKMS, an organization dedicated to fighting blood cancer and blood disorders.
“We planned a casino night and wanted a philanthropy to share the proceeds with,” said Marc Andres, a UCLA ZBT alum and father of UT alumni Louis, who graduated in 2016, and Miles, who graduated in 2018. The brothers helped coordinate Dad’s Weekend. Miles, then the fraternity’s philanthropy chair, chose the efforts of the Guillot family, whose son Zach died in 2014.
Zach fought hard to live, and through his battle, parents Julie and Jeff Guillot (a UT ZBT ’82 alum) and siblings Jake and Lili dedicated themselves to creating awareness and raising funds to find a cure.
“Jeff was in the pledge class with many of the dads of the participating kids, and being a brotherhood and a family, it was an easy decision,” Andres said. “The first year, we raised $1,500; the second, almost $5,000; last year, nearly $17,500; and, as it turns out, we helped make a match, and that’s worth so much more. Fraternity boys can get a bad rap but this is one for the books — great kids, great hearts.”
For Jeff, 35-plus years after he was first a pledge, going back was going home. “The closeness we shared back in the day remains, and that the men responded with action means a lot,” he said. “We want to prevent any family from going through what we have. When you raise money, you raise hope and you give a voice. The donations, both financial and now physical, mean everything.”
Strull enjoyed that 2016 ZBT Dad’s Weekend, taking a few minutes to swab his cheeks and fill out forms — he figured that was a nice thing to do but didn’t expect anything to come from it. Most prospective donors don’t.
“Jeff’s story was eye-opening and inspiring, but I didn’t think there would be any follow-up,” said Strull, who graduated in June and is a sales representative with the Dallas Stars.
But last May, Strull received a call asking him to complete more bloodwork. Soon, he was given the shocking result that he was a match — the second of a UT drive. Strull kept the information to himself, wanting time to think, until ensconced in a Birthright Israel trip weeks later.
By coincidence, one of the programs was about bone marrow transplantation, with a representative asking if anyone knew anyone with a connection. Strull, kept his secret and sat still — but not for long.
Three fraternity brothers had joined Strull on the Birthright trip and one, Mickey Wolf, raised his hand saying he didn’t personally, but that apparently one of 300 who was swabbed through his fraternity had been identified as a match.
During a break, Strull took his buddies aside and revealed his secret. They encouraged him to move forward. “Save a life, save the world,” they’d been taught, they reminded him. “You have to do this,” they said.
“Birthright was an incredibly spiritually awakening trip for me, and when I came home, I knew what I needed to do,” Strull said.
When Strull returned from Israel, he told his family and met with the medical team. In a week, eight tubes of blood were tested. There was waiting, and then a fateful call. At the end of July, during the first week with the Stars, he underwent five days of injections to prepare for the procedure, then sat for four hours during which the stem cells were extracted.
Within hours, the cells were on their way to the recipient, identified only as a male, who received the life-saving gift shortly thereafter.
“Our DNA is linked to our heritage. Jewish patients need Jewish donors — it’s never guaranteed but the chances of a match are greater,” said Amy Roseman, Dallas’ DKMS donor recruiter. “We need all donors, but our young people provide the best patient outcome. Finding a donor in one’s family is like finding a needle in a haystack. We need to fill the haystacks with needles from our ‘extended’ Jewishly connected family.”
“Those with aggressive blood cancers depend on donors for their lives,” said Julie Guillot, featured on the Jan. 17 “Thriver Thursday” series with “Good Morning America’s” Robin Roberts. Jake, at age 3, went through the process to help his brother, most certainly extending Zach’s life.
“For patients who go through the intense treatments, without a match, it’s heart-rendering. For those who match, and follow through, it’s life-changing.”
New York resident Rich Rothman, a myelodysplastic syndrome survivor, attests to that truth. He received a transplant from Dallas’ Scott Price. The two, who met at DKMS’ 2018 awards breakfast, were matched at a DKMS drive at Parish Episcopal School, where Zach Guillot went to school.
“The DKMS family provided the opportunity for us to connect and I feel like we’ve known each other for ages,” said Price. “When people ask if the donation was painful, I say all I had to do was take a nap. The anesthesia made it quick and easy. It’s a small thing to help someone in need.”
Strull echoes the thought.
“I don’t know anything about the recipient, but he’s the one fighting cancer, throwing the punches,” he said. “I hope he knows I’m in his corner, ‘wiping his sweat, icing his face and massaging his back.’ I want him to kick cancer’s butt and raise his belt — a long life — above his head.”
Those ages 18-55 and in general good health can register at dkms.org. To donate to the Guillots’ foundation, with all donations funding genomic sequencing testing, visit TargetPediatricAML.org.

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