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Many far-right groups protest in Charlottesville

Posted on 17 August 2017 by admin

By Ben Sales
JTA

Some believe the “white race” is in danger. Some believe the United States was built by and for white people and must now embrace fascism. Some believe minorities are taking over the country. And some believe an international Jewish conspiracy is behind the threat.
These are the people who were rallying in Charlottesville.
The “Unite the Right” rally Saturday saw hundreds of people on America’s racist fringe converge in defense of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee and brawl with counterprotesters. The rally ended after a white supremacist, James Fields, rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one woman and injuring at least 19. Two police officers also died when their helicopter crashed while monitoring the rally.
The rally was the largest white supremacist gathering in a decade, according to the Anti-Defamation League, but it wasn’t the work of one extremist group or coalition. Spearheaded by a local far-right activist named Jason Kessler, the rally saw several racist, anti-Semitic and fascist groups, new and old, come together.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks hate groups, the rally included “a broad spectrum of far-right extremist groups — from immigration foes to anti-Semitic bigots, neo-Confederates, Proud Boys, Patriot and militia types, outlaw bikers, swastika-wearing neo-Nazis, white nationalists and Ku Klux Klan members.”
Many of the attendees, says the ADL’s Oren Segal, were young men who became radicalized on the Internet and were not affiliated with any particular group. While some protesters belonged to the “alt-right,” a loose movement of racists, anti-Semites and nativists, others were part of older white supremacist groups like the Ku Klux Klan.
At the rally, protesters were seen carrying Nazi and Confederate flags, as well as signs with racist and anti-Semitic slogans. They chanted “Sieg heil,” gave Nazi salutes and shouted derogatory phrases at passers-by.
“They really believe they have to save the white race, and to do that, they have to achieve some sort of white ethno-state,” Segal said. “They tend to be young, more frenetic in terms of their use of social media, while older more traditional groups like the Klan are in decline. Regardless of differences, it’s all the same hate.”
Here’s a guide to a few of the most prominent hate groups who showed up in Charlottesville.

Vanguard America

James Fields joined this relatively new fascist white supremacist group at the rally. On the homepage of its website, Vanguard America declares, “Our people are subjugated while an endless tide of incompatible foreigners floods this nation.”
The group trumpets the concept of “blood and soil,” an idea championed by the Nazis claiming that the inherent features of a people are the land it lives on and its “blood,” or race. In addition to opposing multiculturalism and feminism, Vanguard America’s manifesto calls for a country “free from the influence of international corporations, led by a rootless group of international Jews, which place profit beyond the interests of our people, or any people.”
According to the ADL, the group has posted dozens of fliers on campuses in at least 10 states. Its posters bear slogans like “Beware the International Jew” and “Fascism: The next step for America.” This year, the group defaced a New Jersey Holocaust memorial with a banner reading “(((Heebs will not divide us))).” Its signs at Saturday’s rally bore the fasces, a traditional fascist symbol depicting a bundle of sticks with a protruding axe blade.

Ku Klux Klan

One of the country’s oldest and most infamous hate groups, the Klan has primarily targeted black people, along with Jews, Catholics and other minorities. The KKK throughout its history has been responsible for lynchings, bombings, beatings and other racist acts of murder and abuse.
Group members have historically worn white hoods, to hide their identities and to mimic ghosts. Its leaders, including white supremacist activist David Duke, take on bizarre titles such as grand wizard and exalted cyclops.
The KKK was founded by Confederate veterans following the Civil War to harass black people, and at its height in the 1920s it had some 4 million members, according to the SPLC. An ADL report this year said the Klan has shrunk to about 3,000 total members spread across 40 groups in 33 states, mostly in the South and East.
“This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back,” Duke said in a video at the rally Saturday. “We’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back, and that’s what we got to do.”

Identity Evropa

A new group that affiliates with the alt-right, Identity Evropa seeks to promote “white American culture,” and also has posted fliers on college campuses. The group, which works with white supremacist pseudo-intellectual Richard Spencer, claims there are inherent differences among races and that white people are more intelligent than others. Identity Evropa sees itself as “identitarian,” a far-right European ideology seeking to reassert white identity.
The group supports a policy of “remigration” of immigrants out of the United States. Some of its posters bear the slogan “You will not replace us,” a chant that Charlottesville protesters paired with “Jews will not replace us.” Identity Evropa does not allow Jews as members.

League of the South

If the rally’s proximate goal was to preserve the statue of Lee in Charlottesville, the most obvious participants were the League of the South, a neo-Confederate group. The organization supports Southern secession from the United States and “believes that Southern culture is distinct from, and in opposition to, the corrupt mainstream American culture.”
The group envisions a Christian theocratic government that enforces strict gender norms. It opposes immigration as well as Islam. League of the South defines the “Southern people” as being of “European descent,” calls itself “pro-white” and states that it “has neither been the will of God Almighty nor within the power of human legislation to make any two men mechanically equal.” Duke gave the keynote address at one of the organization’s gatherings this year.
According to the SPLC, the group founded a paramilitary unit in 2014.

National Socialist Movement

This one is pretty self-explanatory — America’s version of the Nazi Party. It is a white supremacist organization that would either deport “non-whites” — including Jews — or strip them of citizenship and subject them to a discriminatory regime (the group’s manifesto proposes both). The group is also anti-feminist and homophobic.
The National Socialist Movement idolizes Adolf Hitler, who it says “loved and cared deeply for the average person.” Until about a decade ago, the group would protest in full Nazi regalia, which it has swapped out for black uniforms.
Its crest features a swastika superimposed on an altered version of the Stars and Stripes.

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Charlottesville’s Jewish mayor is an expert on demagogues, and now on anti-Semitism

Charlottesville’s Jewish mayor is an expert on demagogues, and now on anti-Semitism

Posted on 17 August 2017 by admin

By Ron Kampeas
JTA

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Michael Signer, the Jewish mayor of Charlottesville, has one thing in common with the white supremacists who descended on his southern Virginia city over the weekend: He also opposed the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
Of course, Signer’s reasons for preserving the statue would have appalled the supremacists: He agreed with local African-American activists who had argued that preserving the statue was a means of teaching Virginians about the horrors of a “dishonorable” cause, the Confederacy.

Charlottesville Mayor oMichael Signer speaking on

Charlottesville Mayor oMichael Signer speaking on “Meet the Press,” Aug. 14, 2017

Signer was on the losing side of a 3-2 City Council decision, and the statue is now slated for removal. But his thoughtful approach, more typical of an academic than a politician, has also been evident in his counsel during the rash of protests that have plagued this city: “Don’t take the bait,” he has said.
In giving that advice, Signer has noted that for the first time in his life, he has been the target of intense baiting as a Jew.
“I can’t see the world through a black person’s eyes,” he said at a June 13 address at an African-American church, where he urged constituents not to give in to the impulse to counter hatred with hatred.
“I can see it through a Jewish person’s eyes; the KKK hates Jews just as much as they hate black people. The stuff with this group online about Jews is unbelievable, bloodcurdling. The stuff I’ve gotten on my phone at my house, you’d think it was done a hundred years ago.”
Signer, 44, a practicing lawyer in Charlottesville, also lectures on politics and leadership at the University of Virginia, his law school alma mater. His wife, Emily Blout, is an Iran scholar at the same university, which is located here.
An Arlington native, Signer is the child of journalists, but in his author’s autobiography sounds like many other younger liberal Jews who note with pride their grandparents’ working class and intellectual roots:
“My grandfather was a Jeep mechanic for the Army on the European front in World War II and lifetime member of the proofreaders’ union at the New York Times; he lost part of a finger in an industrial accident as a young man,” he wrote. “My grandmother organized seamstresses on her factory floor in New York City and later worked as a secretary to Hannah Arendt at the New School.”
In a January speech declaring Charlottesville “a capital of the resistance,” Signer described his grandfather as a “Jewish kid raised in the Bronx” who was “part of the forces that liberated the world from Nazism and fascism, that laid the groundwork for NATO and the Marshall Plan, and for a country that lived up to the promises of the Statue of Liberty. …
“If he were alive right now, I don’t think I could look him in the face and say Grandpa, I didn’t fight for the values you fought for.”
Before becoming mayor, Signer was known both for his activism in the senior reaches of the Democratic Party — he was national security adviser for John Edwards’ 2008 primary campaign — as well as his expertise on a subject that has received much attention recently, demagoguery. His 2009 book, “Demagogue: the Fight to Save Democracy from its Worst Enemies,” was well received.
The book examines successful demagogues left and right: Sen. Joe McCarthy, the 1950s anti-communist firebrand who plagued the American discourse, and Hugo Chavez, the late Venezuelan strongman and leftist, both come under scrutiny. In December  2015, before the presidential primaries, Signer predicted that Donald Trump could become a “singular menace to our Republic.”
Paraphrasing James Fenimore Cooper, Signer wrote then that Trump met all four criteria of an American demagogue: “they posture as men of the common people; they trigger waves of powerful emotion; they manipulate this emotion for political benefit; and they threaten or break established principles of governance.”
Without saying “I told you so” outright, Signer this weekend squarely blamed Trump for stoking the populist white nationalist fervor that culminated in the violence that took the life of one counterprotester, injured dozens of others and led to the death of two state troopers in a helicopter crash. The rally included Nazi flags, chants of “Jews will not replace us,” and shouts of “Jew” every time a speaker mentioned Signer’s name.
“Look at the campaign he ran,” the mayor said on CNN.
Signer elaborated on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” saying of Trump, “I think they made a choice in that campaign, a very regrettable one, to really go to people’s prejudices, to go to the gutter.”
Signer’s tactic has been to organize countering events that celebrate Charlottesville’s diversity, prompting Mark Pitcavage, the senior research fellow at the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, to say on Twitter that Signer “gets it.”
Speaking in May on “State of Belief,” a radio show produced by the Interfaith Alliance, Signer said it was more productive to focus on the victim than the perpetrator.
“You’re trying to ease the pain of someone who’s been afflicted rather than focus on the harasser,” he said.
He also described the unfamiliar sensation of being in the position of the afflicted, barraged as he was with online assaults from anti-Semites as the Lee statue issue was put before the council.  One tweet, from the account of someone calling themselves Great Patriot Trump, read “I smell Jew. If so, you are going back to Israel. But you will not stay in power here. Not for long.”
“The wave of anti-Semitic attacks I’ve seen in the last week, it’s been a new experience for me, I’ve never seen that before,” Signer said. “Some of the nightmare historical tropes I thought had been retired after World War II” had returned as “more disturbing mashups of politics today and anti-Semitism.”

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Texas A&M cancels white supremacy speaker’s appearance

Posted on 17 August 2017 by admin

Staff report

Texas A&M has decided to cancel an on-campus white-supremacist speech and gathering just days after a violent rally in Charlottesville, Va.
A former student had requested the Sept. 11 speaking venue for Preston Wiginton, who is not a student. Texas A&M did not allow Wiginton access to a speaker hall, but he was granted access to Rudder Plaza in the center of campus for the all-day event.
Texas A&M changed its stance Monday.
“With no university facilities afforded him, he chose instead to plan his event outdoors for Sept. 11 at Rudder Plaza, in the middle of campus, during a school day, with a notification to the media under the headline ‘Today Charlottesville, Tomorrow Texas A&M,’ ” a press release read. “Linking the tragedy of Charlottesville with the Texas A&M event creates a major security risk on our campus.”
In December, Richard Spencer, who helped organize the Charlottesville rally, spoke on the same topic at Texas A&M. He was met with heavy criticism and a police presence. Fallout from that incident changed the university’s policy on speakers.
During that event, Members of Texas A&M’s Jewish community found their own ways to counter Spencer’s message. It included a peaceful silent protest and attending an “Aggies United” event at Kyle Field that drew thousands of students and detracted from Spencer’s influence on campus.

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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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JCRC, Dallas Catholic leaders discuss millennials’ religious involvement

JCRC, Dallas Catholic leaders discuss millennials’ religious involvement

Posted on 10 August 2017 by admin

Submitted photo (From left) Bishop Edward Burns, of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas; Bill Keffler, also of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas; Rabbi Ari Sunshine, Congregation Shearith Israel; Cindy Moskowitz, former Federation board chair and JCRC executive committee member

Submitted photo
(From left) Bishop Edward Burns, of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas; Bill Keffler, also of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas; Rabbi Ari Sunshine, Congregation Shearith Israel; Cindy Moskowitz, former Federation board chair and JCRC executive committee member

Submitted report

DALLAS — Leadership of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas met with Bishop Edward Burns of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas on July 28 to provide input and feedback on how to engage millennials in organized religion.
Comments will ultimately be shared with Pope Francis at a synod in October 2018.

The meeting was one outcome of a previous get-together with Bishop Burns, held in May at the Jewish Federation, to discuss wide-ranging topics of mutual interest and potential for collaboration between the Catholic and Jewish communities. At that initial meeting, which was also intended to welcome the new bishop who came to the Dallas Diocese in February of this year, Bishop Burns discussed  the October 2018 synod that had recently been announced by the Pope. A synod is a gathering of bishops throughout the world, called by the Pope, to reflect together on contemporary issues of faith and life.
The agenda of the October 2018 synod, as determined by Pope Francis, will focus on young people who were born or identify as Catholic, the current state of their engagement with the Catholic Church, challenges faced by millennial Catholics, how the Catholic Church can better serve young people and how to more effectively engage youth and young adults. The Pope has specifically invited input from non-Catholic communities and individuals as well as Catholics. Prompted by the Pope’s call for feedback, Bishop Burns called together a three-day convocation, or listening sessions, for community members and congregants of his diocese. During the meeting in May with JCRC and Federation leadership, the bishop invited the Jewish community to participate in the local convocation.
A group of 10 JCRC/Federation representatives met with the bishop in a private room at St. Rita’s Catholic Community Center and Church while the listening sessions for the larger community were simultaneously being held in public rooms at the Center.
More than 700 people participated in the event, but the JCRC/Federation delegation was the only non-Catholic group invited to meet personally with the bishop. Jewish attendees included Rabbi Ari Sunshine of Congregation Shearith Israel; Rabbi Ariel Boxman of Temple Shalom; Rabbi Heidi Coretz, SMU Hillel and Congregation Shir Tikvah; Former Federation Board Chair and JCRC Executive Committee member Cindy Moskowitz; Congregation Beth Torah President Cyd Friedman; JCRC Executive Committee member Larry Steinberg; JCRC Advisory Council member Josh Prywes; Federation CEO Bradley Laye; JCRC Executive Director Anita Zusman Eddy; and JCRC Community Outreach & Public Affairs Manager Michelle Golan. Catholic attendees were Bishop Burns, Bill Keffler, Lynn Rossol, Annette Gonzalez Taylor and Jason Deuterman, all of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, and Reverend Joshua J. Whitfield, of St. Rita.
Bishop Burns led the dialogue asking for comments and input about how the Jewish community has worked to keep young people engaged and committed to Judaism. The group had a lively discussion. Ideas and input included the effectiveness of Jewish camps, youth groups and Birthright trips to Israel in instilling and strengthening a Jewish identity in young people.
The description of Birthright and other trips to Israel and their success in strengthening and enhancing the connection to Judaism and to Israel was of particular interest to the bishop and the other Catholic leadership. “The Jewish community of Dallas felt privileged to be invited by Bishop Burns to be part of this community-wide, and ultimately international, dialogue,” said Cindy Moskowitz.
“The discussion was substantive and meaningful in the information that was shared, but it was also an example of the close relationship that our JCRC has developed with the Catholic community and the bishop. These interfaith partnerships are so important and we greatly value the relationship with the Catholic community and leadership in Dallas,” she added.
Both religions have similar values related to the need for social action, supporting and assisting others less fortunate. The group also noted the importance of interfaith relations and positive relationships between the Catholic and Jewish people. There was discussion about bringing together high school students of each faith to learn about and get to know each other. Rabbi Ari Sunshine commented, “This was a wonderful dialogue, one which we hope to continue not only with adults as we did today, but also with our youth. Arranging for our students to visit each other’s houses of faith, to meet each other and potentially work together on social action projects would be a meaningful way to promote mutual understanding and respect for both our shared values and our differences.”
Comments from the meeting were recorded and will be compiled as part of a report that will be presented to the Vatican and discussed at the synod of bishops. The Dallas Diocese has also created a survey to solicit input from any community members who wish to share comments at https://www.FeedbackForFrancis.com.
The information gleaned from the surveys will be compiled along with the feedback given at the convocation, to be presented to the Pope.
— Submitted by Jamie Moore on behalf of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and the Jewish Community Relations Council.

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Maccabiah experience outweighs medals for Metroplex athletes

Maccabiah experience outweighs medals for Metroplex athletes

Posted on 10 August 2017 by admin

By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP

Linda Leftin has always been a fan and watcher of high-level rugby.

Linda Leftin and Samuel Rabb

Linda Leftin and Samuel Rabb

She grew up watching the sport in South Africa, and she was in attendance when the South African National Rugby team, the Springboks, won the Rugby World Cup in 1995 on home soil.
So when Leftin was in Israel for the 20th Maccabiah Games, where she won a bronze medal in tennis, she was naturally drawn to the rugby matches.
“It was a such a high level of rugby, it was really fun to watch,” Leftin, who lives in Dallas now, said. “The matches were great, and it was tough to choose a side when the Americans and South Africa played for the championship. It was like watching my current home against the country I grew up in.”
In the end the Americans pulled off the upset against South Africa, which ended up being the desired result after Leftin had struck up a friendship with Sam Rabb, a Dallas native playing for the American team.
“I didn’t really know many people over there before we (Leftin and her husband) went on the trip, and we were watching the rugby and I found out there was a member of the American team from Dallas,” Leftin said. “And after they won the gold medal, Sam and I were able to take a picture together with our medals. It was such a cool experience.”
Overall, that’s what the 20th Maccabiah Games were about for a handful of Dallas residents — faith, sport and community.
Griffin Levine, a rising senior at Yavneh Academy, scored 12 points as the United States won gold in basketball. Sisters Ashley and Hayley Isenberg also medaled in women’s basketball in the junior and open division.
“It was such a great experience to go over there and represent your country,” Levine said. “To win was great. But being able to spend time in Israel and get to know people from all around the world, that was awesome. To use basketball, a sport I love, to get a chance like this was amazing.”
For the Isenberg sisters it was a special experience, even if they weren’t on the same team.
“I went over there a little bit later because of an injury,” Ashley Isenberg said, “so to be able to already have my sister there and be able to help me get comfortable with everything was great. It was also nice to be able to connect with different teams because of her connections.”

Griffin Levine

Griffin Levine

In addition to competing against Jews from around the world, the Maccabiah Games gave athletes a chance to tour and explore Israel.

Ashley and Haley Isenberg

Ashley and Haley Isenberg

“That was one of my favorite parts of the trip, to be able to spend time in Israel and make friends with others from around the world going through the game thing,” Levine said. “It really was a special trip.”
Winning, of course, makes things a little bit sweeter.
For the men’s rugby team winning gold against South Africa was a big statement. The South Africans were the favorite heading into the tournament, and it spoke volumes for American rugby — no matter what faith.
“We came in with a plan to win,” Rabb said. “We wanted to make sure that we sent a message and proved what we were capable of. From the beginning of training we had that goal, and we weren’t going to come up short of that.”
Rabb was a big part of that goal. He played all but 10 minutes in the tournament for the Americans, and said celebrating the Maccabiah victory was one of the highlights of his rugby career.
“We knew we were going to win the day of the final,” Rabb said. “We came in and you could feel it in the team meetings. As we got ready, we knew it was going to be a big moment for our team.”

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Team Dallas brings home medals, memories from Birmingham

Posted on 10 August 2017 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Birmingham’s small Jewish community extended its Southern hospitality to a Team Dallas delegation of 102 athletes and 25 coaches among some 900 participants and 28 delegations in its Maccabi Games last week.
Aside from the athletic competition and socializing, a highlight of the week was JCC Cares. With Tisha B’Av on Tuesday, the Birmingham hosts created a unique program that included a visit to the famed Civil Rights Institute. Athletes and coaches heard from a survivor of the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing. The rest of the week was lighter in nature, with a block party Wednesday evening in Downtown Birmingham that athletes loved and a closing party Thursday night at the Birmingham J.
When it came to medals, Team Dallas fared well with 18 gold, eight silver, eight bronze and eight Middot medals.

  • Gold: girls’ soccer, girls’ basketball, flag football, 100-meter fly (swimming), 400-meter individual medley, 200 fly relay, 100 freestyle, hip-hop group, dance solo, dance choreography, dance jazz group, dance duet, dance lyrical group, dance duet, dance choreography
  • Silver: 100 backstroke (swimming), 200 IM, 200 backstroke, 400 medley relay, girls’ tennis, three dance solos
  • Bronze: Under-14 boys’ soccer, under-16 boys’ baseball, 50 fly, boys’ under-14 tennis, dance choreography, dance duet, golf
  • Middot medals: the Maccabi games’ highest honor for athletes, coaches or delegation heads exemplifying the character and values of a Maccabi athlete:
    Jaden Pollak (golf), David Eydelzon (swimming), Ben Kaplan (baseball), Gail Leytman (tennis), Tanya Johnson (assistant volleyball coach), Laurel Fisher (delegation head), Connie Roseman (girls’ basketball coach) and Gregg Bucholz (swim coach)
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JFS tapped to help Jubilee neighborhood

JFS tapped to help Jubilee neighborhood

Posted on 03 August 2017 by admin

By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP

For two decades the Jubilee Park and Community Center has been a catalyst for community renewal and enrichment in southeast Dallas.
Established in 1997, the community center has become a focal point for growth and renewal in the Jubilee Park Neighborhood, which covers 62 blocks and is home to more than 5,000 residents — many of whom are working poor and are underserved when it comes to education and healthy resources.

Photo: Jubilee Park (From left) Dallas Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam Medrano, JFS CEO Steve Banta, Rees-Jones Foundation President Thornton ‘T’ Hardie, JFS Board President Randy Colen, Jubilee Park & Community Center Board Chair Jeff Rice and Jubilee Park & Community Center CEO Ben Leal prepare to cut the ribbon on the new mental health facility at Jubilee Park.

Photo: Jubilee Park
(From left) Dallas Deputy Mayor Pro Tem Adam Medrano, JFS CEO Steve Banta,
Rees-Jones Foundation President Thornton ‘T’ Hardie, JFS Board President Randy
Colen, Jubilee Park & Community Center Board Chair Jeff Rice and Jubilee Park
& Community Center CEO Ben Leal prepare to cut the ribbon on the new mental
health facility at Jubilee Park.

The community center is built on five pillars: public health, public safety, economic development, affordable housing and education.
“The pillar that we are here to celebrate today is public health,” said Ben Leal, CEO of Jubilee Park and Community Center. “Jubilee has always wanted to provide mental health services in this community and we knew they were critically needed in this neighborhood.”
And that’s where an ideal partnership was formed with the Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas.
“We realize that we’re not the experts on everything,” Leal said at ribbon cutting July 25. “We are able to achieve so much success because of our partnership and relationships and we are thrilled to have Jewish Family service as a partner.”
The partnership started to come to life roughly 18 months ago.
Leal was giving a tour of the facilities to Joel Litman, and the topic of mental health services came up. Litman is the former board chair for JFS and put Leal in contact with then JFS CEO Michael Fleisher, together they started discussing how JFS and Jubilee Park could work together.
“We started talking about synergy and a year and a half later we’ve been able to create a new partnership that’s going to have a deep impact in this community,” Leal said.
It’s a partnership that works well for both sides. Jubilee Park is providing the facilities, while JFS took care of the staffing with a full-time family therapist and full-time play therapist. There is also a part-time psychiatrist on staff, who will provide clinical support. All employees speak both Spanish and English, which is an important element in the community.
“We’re very happy to be here,” JFS CEO Steve Banta said. “They are a world-class organization and they have very high standards. We do to … I think between the two of us we can really help a community, and we’d enjoy talking with him even more on future projects.”
The project is already off to a strong start. The first client was already seen before the ribbon cutting, and the numbers are starting to grow through summer programs.
Leal said a bigger impact will be felt as the school year starts when after-school programs pick up and so do adult education classes.
“Community impact and data drive the direction of our program, and we always want to add high-quality programs at Jubilee,” Leal said. “We felt and saw a need for mental health services in this community, and through JFS we can be that much more of an asset of our company.”

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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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