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Tarrant shuls plant daffodils, remember Holocaust victims

Tarrant shuls plant daffodils, remember Holocaust victims

Posted on 15 November 2018 by admin

Photo: Courtesy of Ahavath Sholom
Ahavath Sholom religious school students plant bulbs as part of the Daffodil Project, Nov. 11. They marked their bulbs with decorated stones.

Last year, the TJP shared the story of Grace Goldman. The then-Fort Worth Country Day Senior who brought The Daffodil Project to her school to honor the memory of her great-grandmother Blanche, who survived Auschwitz and the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust.
This year, Goldman’s grandmother Rachel Goldman (Blanche’s daughter) and Debra Rosenthal helped the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County underwrite the project to include all Tarrant County congregations.
The bulbs were supplied and purchased through Am Yisrael Chai, an Atlanta-based Holocaust education and awareness organization.
On Nov. 11, the project came to fruition when Congregation Ahavath Sholom, Beth-El Congregation, Congregation Beth Israel and Congregation Beth Shalom planted the bulbs.
“We are grateful to the leadership and financial support of Rachel and Michael Goldman for making this special project possible and we are proud to have partnered with them. Thanks to their leadership, many of our community organizations are participating and this will be a wonderful ongoing teaching tool to help our children understand the horrors of the Holocaust and to remember the 1.5 million children who perished,” Federation Executive Director Bob Goldberg said.
At Congregation Beth Shalom in Arlington, 40 Sunday school children and congregants gathered to plant 500 yellow daffodil bulbs.
In Colleyville, a member of the congregation working on his Eagle Scout project coordinated the synagogue’s efforts, according to Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker.
Rabbi Andrew Bloom of Congregation Ahavath Sholom was pleased his synagogue participated.
“The Daffodil Project that Ahavath Sholom, along with a multitude of other local and national synagogues, participated in reminds me of a quote by Elie Wiesel, which states, ‘For the dead and the living, we must bear witness.’ It was in this light that we planted the daffodil bulbs, for their planting by our children and the care that will go into them binds our students in a real and concrete manner with the perpetuation of memory and continuing education of the Holocaust in a real and meaningful manner.”

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Adoption attorney helps build families

Adoption attorney helps build families

Posted on 15 November 2018 by admin

Photos: Courtesy Amber Shemesh
Family attorney Amber Shemesh Waks and her daughter and husband David know and live the importance of family, their dream to expand their own — including through adoption.

By Deb Silverthorn

Moses was adopted and raised by Pharaoh’s daughter, Bithiah, and Queen Esther was raised and adopted by her cousin Mordechai. Dallas native and family attorney Amber Shemesh Waks wants the community to know that November is National Adoption Month, and that any day, every day, is the day to bring children to couples — to create families.
For the 442,995 minors in domestic foster care as of September 2017, as reported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, they hope every day is their day.
“Many people think adoption is cost-prohibitive, but it doesn’t have to be,” said Shemesh Waks, who has handled more than 150 cases. “There are many children available, of all ages, and it’s possible for the process to cost in the low thousands, much less than the cost of one or many attempts at IVF (in vitro fertilization), something that couples try over and over. The cost there is not just economic, but physical and emotional as well.
“Looking into the eyes of the children I meet, they are meant to be someone’s children,” Shemesh Waks said.
There are many avenues to adoption, including stepparent adoptions, children who are in foster care and international adoptions. There are open adoptions; semi-open, in which adoptive families direct the relationship; and closed adoptions, with ties severed once the adoption is complete.
For Norma, adopting her son, Martin, was “the best gift God ever gave me. We got the call, and when we picked him up, he was 16 days old. I’m telling you, from the moment I looked into his eyes, he was the most beautiful thing ever and he was my son, and I’ve never felt different for a moment. I’m secure in his love.”
The process to adopt wasn’t two days — but closer to nine or 10 months, with caseworkers following the prospective parents readying for an impending arrival. Norma said that “adopting my son was the most wonderful thing I’ve done. I wanted to be a mom and he fulfilled absolutely everything in me.”
Said Martin, now an adult: “My parents always loved me, and they raised me well. I never felt ‘rescued,’ only loved and cared about, and while it’s not a ‘dramatic’ story, I’m thankful they were open to adoption.”
While there are newborns needing to be placed, there are many older children in need of homes, guidance and care. They all need families. For those who adopt older children, the state provides support in the areas of emotional counseling, health and education expenses.
“In most cases, the child will live with the adoptive family on a trial basis for six months, with a temporary conservatorship awarded,” said Shemesh Waks, who opened her own practice, Law Offices of Amber Shemesh, PC, earlier this year. She specializes in family law, with 15 to 20 percent of her practice adoption-related. “During that time, background checks are completed and the legal signatures and notices to all parties are made and finalized.”
For Jewish couples adopting, the process requires the extra, albeit not intricate, step of conversion.
“The majority of children adopted are not Jewish and therefore require conversion which, according to halacha, means a bris must take place for a boy and, for a boy or girl, immersion in a mikvah is required under the supervision of a beit din (a group of three rabbinic authorities),” said Rabbi Howard Wolk, the community chaplain at Jewish Family Service, who has assisted in many adoptions and who is available for counseling. “The Talmud states that it is a big mitzvah to adopt a child and that adoptive parents are considered like the child’s real parents, assuming responsibilities for providing necessities to the child, including a Jewish education.”
Shemesh Waks, the daughter of Dollie Smith and Sonny Shemesh and the sister of Colby, Gali, Liat, Nathan and Nevin, was raised at Congregation Shearith Israel. She attended Akiba Academy and graduated from Berkner High School, the University of Texas and St. Thomas University School of Law. She is married to David Waks and the mother of 8-month-old Jordan. The family are now members of Congregation Shaare Tefilla.
“Family is everything to David and me, and there is definitely a place in our family to welcome a child through adoption,” Shemesh Waks said. “He is a firefighter and EMT-paramedic who sees the conditions and situations some children are in. Every day, I’m in contact with many needing homes. We hope to grow our family — once Jordan is sleeping through the night, that is — and to open our hearts, and home, to a child waiting.
“Both the children and prospective parents have so much love to give, and receive, and being a part of the process is incredibly fulfilling,” said Shemesh Waks, who provides free consultations, “I hope we can find some kids a forever home, and prospective parents the children they were meant to love.”
To reach Rabbi Howard Wolk for counseling, call 972-437-9950 or email rabbiwolk@jfsdallas.org.

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Family mourns lifelong friends killed in Pittsburgh

Family mourns lifelong friends killed in Pittsburgh

Posted on 14 November 2018 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Cheryl Weitz
“We had so many connections and years of love and being a community of a family, that watching from here was impossible,” said Cheryl Weitz, whose family has been connected to that of Tree of Life Congregation shooting victims Cecil and David Rosenthal for three generations. This photo of Cecil and David stood at Temple Rodef Shalom, site of their funerals.

By Deb Silverthorn

If home is where the heart is, then since Oct. 27, the Squirrel Hill neighborhood in Pittsburgh has become home to most of the world. For Cheryl Weitz; her mother, Florence Kramer; and her brother, Jeffrey Kramer, going home was true, heartbreaking and heart-filling all at once. A 48-hour blink, to hold close to memories, and people of their past, will never be forgotten.
While the world awaited news of the safety of those inside Tree of Life Congregation, so did the families. Texting with lifelong friend Diane Hirt, one of two sisters of Cecil and David Rosenthal, Pittsburgh native Cheryl held her breath, hoping for good news. “Thinking of you my dear, dear old friend, thinking of you and your family, I love you,” she wrote.
Back from Diane, “Love you too — I am so sick.” Moments later Diane replied that they’d heard both of her brothers had been shot and died immediately. Then came the wait for the FBI to complete their investigation, for her brothers’ bodies, and the other nine, to be released.
And then they were. And then the next long days ensued.
“When I spoke to my mom, she said, ‘We’re going home,’” Weitz said. “We had so many connections and years of love and being a community of a family, that watching from here was impossible.”
Weitz and Florence Kramer flew out on Oct. 29, meeting New York resident Jeffrey and staying with Florence’s brother and sister-in-law, Louis and Sandy Kushner, and their son, Jason, and his family. They are all members of Tree of Life, safe that day except for broken hearts. That night, they went to the home of Michele Rosenthal, Cecil and David Rosenthal’s younger sister, consoling the family and themselves with memories and good thoughts — the only kind possible.
While they were at the house, the Squirrel Hill Fire Department arrived, the chief and three firemen in formal dress. They were there to let the family know that Cecil and David would always be part of their team, and to deliver two badges, uniform hats and siddurim.
On Oct. 30, the family arrived early to Temple Rodef Shalom, site of the funeral, where there were already lines of mourners — 2,000-plus by the time services began.
Diane and her husband, Michael, both provided eulogies, with Tree of Life Emeritus Rabbi Alvin Berkun; his son, Rabbi Jonathan Berkun, now of Aventura, Florida; and Tree of Life Rabbi Hazzan Jeffrey Myers also participating in the service. At the end of services, it was announced that donations in Cecil’s and David’s names would be appreciated to Tree of Life Congregation, “which was their home, and to ACHIEVA, the group home where they slept,” said the rabbi.
The Kramer family — Florence and the late Larry, with children Cheryl and Jeffrey — lived just doors away from the Rosenthals — Joy and Elie, with children Cecil, David, Diane and Michele. Florence’s parents, Mildred and Morris Kushner, and Joy’s parents, Becky and Herman Fineberg, also had been best friends.
“We spent lots of time at each other’s home, and even when we were young, we knew to take care of Cecil and David,” said Weitz, who moved to Dallas with her family when she was 12. “My mom was a special ed teacher, and she was great with them and they loved being with her. I learned a lot, even when I was young, about how every person should be treated, and those are lessons I still live today and they helped teach me that.”
Memories flood for Weitz, just one of many in Dallas’ Jewish community with direct ties to Squirrel Hill. The grandparents had left the cold for warmer winters, buying condos next door to each other in their retirement. She recalls her parents putting her and her brother on a plane and the Rosenthal parents doing the same with their children, the six traveling to Florida each winter break, vacations extending in the summer through Cheryl’s college years.
“We’d go to the pool and the boys would wait for us on the balcony. Cecil’s and David’s grandfather had a special relationship with them, and they’d spend time with him,” said Weitz. “We’d go to dinner and we’d all laugh because ‘dinner’ meant getting ready at 3:30 to make the earlybird specials.”
Weitz said Cecil was the friendliest person ever. Once he met you, forever after he’d greet you by your name and ask how was your family. David was somewhat quieter, but you always felt his love and his absolute goodness.
“I absolutely feel a responsibility to share how these beautiful men were the best. They were happy. They were loving. They knew everyone and everyone knew them and it was always that way,” said Weitz, who lit a memorial candle in honor of her friends at Congregation Anshai Torah’s #SolidarityShabbat service on Nov. 2. “I can’t believe their smiles and hugs are something no one will ever share again.”
Perhaps not in the touch of arms, but with the stories of their lives, and those of Joyce Fienberg, Dr. Richard Gottfried, Rose Mallinger, Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, Bernice and Sylvan Simon, Daniel Stein, Melvin Wax, and Irving Younger, their smiles and hugs, and lessons of friendship toward everyone, will indeed be shared over and over — and their names, and their lives, will indeed always be for a memory.

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Interfaith crowd prays for Pittsburgh at Ahavath Shalom

Interfaith crowd prays for Pittsburgh at Ahavath Shalom

Posted on 09 November 2018 by admin

Photo: Sharon Wisch-Ray
Rabbi Andrew Bloom

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Approximately 1,100 people attended a communitywide prayer service Nov. 1, at Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Fort Worth. “A Jewish Communal and City-Wide Night of Prayer, Remembrance and Unity” was framed around “the message of unity, healing and coming together,” explained Rabbi Andrew Bloom.
The sanctuary and social hall of the synagogue were virtually silent throughout the program, which lasted a little more than an hour.
Every Abrahamic faith community was represented — Christians, Muslims and Jews — as well as leaders of the Jewish community. (See box on p. 23 for the full list of participants and their readings.) Bloom carefully curated the program to focus on prayer and healing.
Some highlights of the evening were:
Bloom’s invocation
“First and foremost, I welcome those who have come in the name of God and the name of unity. It’s not only very special that we come together as a community but it’s special that we come together as a community of faith and a community of dedicated citizens,” Bloom said.
“Behind me to my left, to your right, is a very important and sacred Torah. It is a Torah that survived from the Holocaust and it is no longer kosher. We can’t use it, we can’t read from it because it is torn and letters are missing. But we as a community here at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, we take it out at all occasions so that those who were murdered during the Holocaust, their memories will be eternal as the letters of the five books of Moses are eternal.
“Tonight, we take it out not only for those who died and were murdered in the Holocaust, but we take it out for the 11 of Pittsburgh. We take it out for them to let them and their families and the entire congregation in Pittsburgh know that we are one, that we not only stand with them, but they are in our hearts and in our minds.
“And next to that, we have a tallit; the tallit has the 613 fringes, which represent the 613 mitzvot. It has four longer fringes that we put together when we say the eternal words ‘Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.’ We hold them as one to show how unified we are. Tonight each and every one of us are one of those fringes, and we hold it together.
“May God bless each and every one of you for coming out this evening. This evening, we are gathered here as one united community who stands up and says never again, never again to hate, violence and the rhetoric of division that surrounds us in all corners or our community our country and our universe. We come together to say yes, yes to fellowship and friendship yes to respect and reverence, and seeing each person as created in God’s image. We also come together to pray for healing. Healing for those who are physically wounded, and healing for those who emotionally — like all of us who are suffering with doubts — are suffering.”
Brian Byrd, Fort Worth City Councilman District 3
“From the city of Fort Worth to the city of Pittsburgh, by being here en masse and in force tonight, we are saying to the community in that city, we stand with you, we believe in you and we wish you comfort and we pray for you,” Byrd said.
“On behalf of the city of Fort Worth, as I represent the mayor and the other council members here, may the God of peace bring peace to you. May the God of healing bring comfort to those in Pittsburgh who lost their lives in Pittsburgh and their family. May the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm protect every Jewish community and house of faith all over the world.”
Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price’s letter, as read by Byrd
“We can’t change the past or restore the lives of those so tragically lost. However, we can certainly shape the future for the benefit of both current and future generations. I believe we do this by choosing compassion over hostility and this is not always easy. But I pray that we choose to reject the natural feelings of anger and resentment and instead stand together as a beacon of light in darkness. No matter our beliefs, our politics our ethnicity or other differences, we are all humans created to live in harmony together. Let’s use our power for good. Each of us can take bold action to spread the kind of compassion, humility and forgiveness that will always overcome those things that divide us. Compassion takes many forms, but what matters is that we all get involved and engaged.”
Fort Worth Assistant Chief of Police Edwin Kraus
After reading a law-enforcement prayer, Kraus said, “Faith is the opposite of fear…Faith in that same God will get us through this. It gets us through all the incidents similar to this when we say, what are we supposed to do now? I’m proud to be a man of faith among people of faith and that faith will get us through.”
Pastor George Pearsons,
Eagle Mountain Church
“Tonight, all of our hearts are reaching out to the Tree of Life synagogue congregation. To that congregation, whether you’re a pastor or rabbi, your congregation is very important to you and things that happen to them touch your heart deeply. And when this took place, I felt like it was my own congregation that was attacked. And we prayed for the families, we prayed for the congregation, we prayed for the community and for everyone that has been involved in this attack.
“Our own church congregation, the ministry part of Kenneth Copeland Ministries, we love our Jewish friends and wholeheartedly support the state of Israel. And you know, it’s interesting, someone might ask, ‘Why do you support Israel? Why do you love the Jewish people so much?’ And there are so many different reasons that I can share with you tonight. But just one, and it’s from the scriptures, Zacharia 2-8. ‘He who touches you touches the apple of His eye.’
“We have made as a church and a ministry, we have made the apple of His eye, the apple of our eye. We love our Jewish friends, and we love the Tree of Life congregation.”
Bloom’s message of unity
“What is the most basic part of a tree? It’s the roots. Each and every one of us should be a root of morality. Because if we are a root of morality, then the winds of hate will never blow our tree, never knock it down. But matter of fact, if we come together as the roots of peace of the roots of shalom, then the roots will spread out larger, our tree will become stronger and it will be a tree of life that all of us together grasp onto.
“In quoting President Lyndon B. Johnson, ‘Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.’ We must come together in order to win the future. For tonight, we not only come here to mourn, as we of course do, we not only come here to pray, which we of course do, but we come here to ask how can we plan for the future, how can we win the hearts of each other today in order to bridge the gap and deepen the roots for tomorrow.”
Lillian Biggins
“When I looked at the program, I saw that ‘God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble…’ [referring to the line from Psalm 46 at the top of the program]. And I say to this evening, that is where our friends in Pittsburgh are getting their strength, because we have to draw on that in times of trouble.”
Rev. Bruce Datcher, Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church
“United we Stand, Divided we Fall. Let us resolve here together this evening that we will feed and nourish each other as one united community.”
A few days after the prayer service, Bloom stressed the importance of keeping the conversation going.
“We take the message of unity, of morality, and we keep the conversation in those meetings going on. I think both the city, the churches and the Muslim community want to keep the conversation going. We want to make sure we remain tight.”

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Local Jewish community helps HIAS help refugees

Posted on 09 November 2018 by admin

By Aaron Greenberg

Though the world has become more aware of the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society since the accused gunman in the Oct. 27 Pittsburgh synagogue shooting criticized it on social media, the worldwide Jewish community has reacted positively to the organization in the past three years.
“The Jewish community woke up at the same time the rest of the world did in 2015. But they have remained wide-awake and involved in this issue,” HIAS President/CEO Mark Hetfield said last month. His reference to 2015 was in regard to the European migrant crisis that year, just after a wave of unaccompanied minors came to the United States the year before. That marked the start of the current migration of Central American asylum-seekers toward the U.S., including the latest caravan that became a campaign issue in Tuesday’s midterm elections.
While the Jewish response as a whole may have been slow in building, the entire refugee program is rooted in efforts to memorialize and remember the Holocaust, Hetfield said.
“The entire refugee system in the world and the U.S. is based on not allowing people to get caught in another Holocaust,” he said.
Additionally, it’s a way to show Jewish values on the larger stage.
“For the Jewish community in particular, it’s important to show we’re not a one-issue community, which many people think we are. Israel is a central issue to us, but one of those issues is how we treat people who are fleeing.”
There is a balance between Jewish values, according to Temple Emanu-El Senior Rabbi David Stern.
“There is Jewish complexity here,” Stern said. “We’re unique in standing for the rights of immigrants, but I think we’re unique among religious traditions in standing for rule of law. To me, HIAS represents the synthesis of those two ideas.”
Stern’s congregation was one of about 300 across North America that took part in Refugee Shabbat on Oct. 19. His sermon included an impassioned take on the way asylum seekers are treated once they get to the border and how their situation is different from those sneaking across.
“Their showing up at the border is not illegal. It is in fact legally required if they seek refugee status. So to turn asylum seekers away as illegal immigrants — including the tens of thousands of Central American kids and their families who have shown up at the Texas border, fleeing murder, kidnapping, forced gang recruitment and especially violence against women — to call them illegal immigrants is in fact to violate not only the letter and spirit of international law, but the very purpose they showed up for in the first place.”
HIAS’ message has other supporters in the Dallas area. National board member Frank Risch lives here, and two congregations (Temple Emanu-El and Temple Shalom) take part in the Welcome Campaign, out of five in Texas and 427 nationally. Hetfield said individuals can make a difference by getting their synagogues involved.
“They should definitely look for those opportunities, and I would especially encourage their synagogue’s social committees to get involved,” Stern said.
Risch added there was a strong feeling of coming together in Dallas.
“HIAS is hearing from thousands of people saying to keep doing what it’s doing.”
Many Jews in the community are descendants of those helped by HIAS but didn’t know,” he said.
“A terrible tragedy like this also shines a spotlight on the work of this agency.”
Alexandra Horn, director of social justice and small group engagement at Temple Emanu-El, said her congregation is involved with several programs that serve immigrants in the Vickery Meadow neighborhood, including the International Rescue Committee. One program encourages refugees to share in the congregation’s Community Garden. The congregation also has advocacy programs, such as letters to members of Congress urging the welcoming of more refugees (the program has been capped at one-third of its historical high).
Additionally, she urges members to support Temple Mount Sinai in El Paso, which does its tikkun olam work at the border.
Another way to get involved — for those with the time, and especially with a legal background — is to volunteer at the local level with agencies that represent migrants and asylum seekers. And Hetfield suggested that those who can’t volunteer with their congregation or other agencies donate to HIAS or ProBAR, the South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project.
“Asylum seekers are detained in extremely remote areas, where it is difficult to find experienced legal counsel,” Hetfield said. “Likewise, the immigration system is increasingly relying on remote judges. They will have immigration judges in Arlington, Virginia, while the detainees are kept thousands or hundreds of miles away, and the cases are heard by video. The attorney has to figure out if they need to be with you in a trailer where you are in chains, or with the immigration judge and ICE attorney. It makes representation very, very difficult. It’s a real challenge for volunteers.”
One local volunteer is Larry Schoenbrun, a lawyer who has teamed with Catholic Charities and immigration attorney Paul Zoltan to help. Schoenbrun was moved four years ago by a photo in The Dallas Morning News of young siblings without representation who were being deported. After several inquiries, he found his way to Zoltan’s office.
“The government does not provide counsel for asylum candidates, unlike a criminal proceeding, where you are entitled to counsel and the government provides that,” Schoenbrun said. “These little kids…they can’t even understand the language. That sent me on a task to find how to perhaps help.”
It requires dozens of hours to get the information required from asylum seekers, especially the stories behind why they are seeking asylum, Schoenbrun said. He said that many lawyers willing to do pro bono work don’t have the time to do a case properly.
His first case was a 14-year-old girl who took the forms home instead of following directions. After Catholic Charities reached out to her, Schoenbrun helped her complete the application process. She’s now at the top of her high school class.
“Everybody I’ve been involved with, with one exception, have been women with children or unaccompanied children. I am currently involved with a father and his daughter, and he was a police informer. He would inform on gang activities to the police to run gangs out of town. If the gang finds out, they kill you or the members of your family,” Schoenbrun said.
“It’s a very frustrating process and the government is doing everything they can to hassle people and make it more difficult. Most of these people are fleeing three very dysfunctional countries with gangs exported from the U.S. The government has announced that people fleeing gang violence is not grounds for asylum.
“I’m the son of immigrants. My grandmother died in Auschwitz. For me, it’s a passion. Others that I’ve talked to have bought into this tripe that we’re being invaded, they are murderers and rapists. I haven’t found any of these children that would qualify as murders or rapists.”

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HIAS has changed since Pittsburgh shooting

HIAS has changed since Pittsburgh shooting

Posted on 09 November 2018 by admin

Photo: Ted Eytan Activists gathering in front of the White House to share stories of their family members who were refugees or immigrants, March 1, 2017

By Aaron Greenberg

The Hebrew Immigration Aid Society used to have a hard time bringing attention to its mission of advocating for and assisting in the resettlement of refugees.
“Frankly, before 2015, working for HIAS was quite lonely,” HIAS President/CEO Mark Hetfield said, referring to the year of the European migrant crisis. That came on the heels of the wave of unaccompanied minors coming into the United States in 2014, marking the start of the current wave of asylum seekers from Central America. “I’d say four years ago our biggest problem at HIAS was apathy. That’s no longer a problem for us. People feel like they have a stake in the refugee crisis. Many, many people who identify as Jews in particular.”
From the Mediterranean refugee crisis to the policy changes of President Donald Trump and the rise of nationalist movements around the world, HIAS and the issues it deals with were gaining more attention.
Then, tragedy struck and HIAS made the front page for the last reason Hetfield could possibly want. The alleged shooter in the Tree of Life tragedy in Pittsburgh had specifically called out the organization just before the attack, saying “HIAS likes to bring invaders in that kill our people.”
HIAS released a statement on Oct. 29, declaring “Our mission is to stay the course and continue our work. We help people who are in need; we help refugees who are fleeing violence and persecution.”
And, Hetfield points out that since the Refugee Act was signed in 1980, not a single lethal act of terror has been committed by the 3 million refugees accepted into this country.
But the tragedy in Pittsburgh has already led to changes at the 137-year-old organization.
“The incident itself was pure evil. For HIAS, it was transformational, for better and worse,” Hetfield said.
“Our mission is to focus on refugees, but now we have to focus on larger issues of hatred. Our biggest obstacle now for refugees is hatred: of refugees, of Jews, of Jews helping refugees.
“Our politicians breed fear, which leads to hate speech, which leads to hate acts. We have to stand up to hatred.”
Working relationships with organizations like the Anti-Defamation League will become more valuable in the wake of the attack.
“It’s got to be a strategy of fighting against hatred, and not just of refugees, but all groups. As we’ve learned, anti-Semites don’t just hate Jews, they hate the ‘other.’ There’s a much larger issue of hatred and scapegoating in society.”
Hate speech directed at HIAS from social media isn’t new, but has never been a real problem before.
“Our strategy has been to ignore them, but now we see the anger they stoke, and we will be taking a different tack in terms of how we monitor them and how we act,” Hetfield said.
And it’s led to a notable change for headquarters and leadership.
“Our security used to consist of a receptionist with a buzzer. Now, I have multiple armed guards. And this is not a temporary measure,” Hetfield said.
As difficult as these challenges over the past few years have been, the raised profile of the issues — including the immigrant caravan currently heading through Mexico — has led to a greater awareness and more determined support.
“The big change for us and for the issue generally is the attention finally being paid to the issues at the border, the treatment of children and asylum seekers at the border, as well as undocumented immigrants and the treatment of families,” he said. “One thing we have to thank the Trump administration for is bringing public attention to these longstanding issues.”
This week, he added that in light of the shootings, “we’re feeling more love than ever before from the Jewish community and non-Jewish community as a result of these events. It’s made many people who were not familiar with HIAS and our mission familiar with it, and they’ve embraced it.”
Thousands of new supporters have signed up, and many elected and appointed officials have reached out.
But greater attention to the issue does not mean that the public is necessarily more aware of the reality. One of the biggest challenges HIAS has is drawing the distinction between refugees, asylum seekers, legal and undocumented immigrants, and the policies applying to each. This has only been heightened with the migrant caravan.
The narratives on all sides in the public sphere tend to get the basics wrong, he said, and although The New York Times and Washington Post have generally had strong coverage, the BBC is one of the only sources delving accurately into details. MSNBC, Fox News and alternative sources tend to be unreliable, in Hetfield’s opinion. And in the wake of the Tree of Life attack and the caravan debate, he said the room for civil debate is shrinking.
“That’s the frustration in this field right now. The truth almost seems irrelevant, and it’s not,” he said.
“What both sides are getting wrong is the conflation of asylum seekers and undocumented immigrants. Not everybody who crosses the border, even those fleeing horrible conditions, are entitled to remain in the U.S. The most important thing an asylum system does is determine who deserves legal protection and who does not. I think that distinction is lost on those on both extremes.”
It’s not a new problem, he points out, although both policy changes and the current application of existing policies have made it worse.
“The way the system is supposed to work, when you get to the border, if you need protection — if your life is in danger because of what you believe or who you are, you can ask for protection from the U.S. and get that protection. The most important thing is to make that decision as quickly and fairly as possible. If you are not entitled to protection, we need to send you back. But that’s not happening. It takes you years to see an immigration judge if you get past the Border Patrol. But the Border Patrol is also obligated, and they push people back that shouldn’t be pushed back. They operate in a system of total opaqueness.”
The Trump administration decision to send troops to the border to meet the caravan brought a scathing response from Hetfield.
“They have the right to present an asylum claim and seek protection. That has to be done. President Trump would be violating international law and U.S. law if he carries out on those threats. If he’s that concerned, have a fair, vast and efficient asylum procedure.
“His answer is to send troops? That’s outrageous.”
According to Hetfield, the system is broken and can’t be addressed by a wall, military forces, letting a backlog of cases build up or making legal immigration harder.
“They need to understand why people flee. And it is very complicated. People come to this country for very different reasons. How is this system supposed to work, and how does it work? There’s a big difference between what our laws are supposed to accomplish versus what they are actually accomplishing.”

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Consider a child’s age when talking about Pittsburgh

Posted on 01 November 2018 by admin

By Liz Ener

The events in Pittsburgh on Saturday left many parents and caregivers wondering how to talk with children about the news. When children see or hear news that is particularly troubling or scary to them, they often look to their parents or caregivers for answers and safety.
As we try to grasp the realities of this communal mass tragedy ourselves, children may have a lot of questions about whether something like this could happen to them. In fact, parents themselves may have a lot of worries about their family and children’s safety, especially since the shooting occurred in a synagogue.
While experiencing increased anxiety after such a public, targeted devastating event is normal for both adults and children, there are supports that children and parents might find helpful in minimizing their stress and maintaining a sense of normalcy. The key here is to reassure children and answer their questions without causing information overload; take caution and be sure to save the in-depth conversations for grown-up company.
It is important to be honest, keep in mind a child’s age and ensure your explanations are appropriate for the child’s level of understanding.
A basic fundamental element in children’s sense of safety is consistency; if children can predict and/or know what will happen, they will feel safer. As such, it is important for families to continue with their regular routine. Because children often struggle with putting their feelings into words, parents and caregivers can also help children talk about what they feel and help them name their emotions.
Below are some additional tips for navigating these challenging conversations with children and adolescents (Bratton, Landreth, Kellam, & Blackard, 2006; Faber & King, 2017; NCTSN)
• Start by finding out what children know. Ask an open-ended question to find out what your children know, like “What have you heard about it?” or “What do you think about it?” This encourages children to let you know what they already know and are thinking.
• Listen, acknowledge, and name feelings. As children talk about this tragedy and demonstrate increased emotions such as worry or anger, recognize their feelings and comfort them. You might say “I can see you’re worried, but you are safe here.” This acknowledges children’s feelings, helps them feel safe and secure, and encourages further conversation.
• Allow children space to work out their feelings. Children may do this through play, such as with Legos or with dolls, or they may engage in arts and crafts.
• Explain simply; do not overload children with information; tailor your answer to your child’s age. Give children the information they need to know in a way that makes sense to them. A good way to manage this is to answer only the questions they ask.
• Take a break from news coverage. While you may find it difficult to walk away from the news, children and adolescents may not be able to handle repeated exposures to such content. Parents should consider limiting the amount of time spent watching news reports of this tragedy.
• Communicate assurance. Children look to caregivers during times of stress to gauge their sense of safety; they observe caregivers’ reactions and will pick up on their anxiety, which can be contagious. As such, caregivers should seek to model healthy coping strategies/emotional management. If caregivers find themselves experiencing increased anxiety, fearfulness, or anger, they should take measures to ensure they are addressing their own needs like talking with grown-ups, such as friends or from religious leaders or counselors.
• Consider taking action. Children may feel better by doing something, whether it is a spiritual engagement or an act of kindness. Look for activities that are age-appropriate, such as praying together or sending a card or letter.
Given the recent tragedy paired with the current political climate, the news often saturates our daily lives. Experts in the child development field recommend caregivers develop age-appropriate ways to talk about news with children. While these conversations will be somewhat limited with younger children, caregivers are encouraged to discuss the news in a more detailed way with older children.
Bear in mind that many child experts consider exposing children to scary news coverage, such as the coverage of this shooting, can lead to a range of emotional and/or behavioral struggles (NCTSN).
With that noted, the table on pages 9 and 17 provides a brief synopsis of children’s understandings of news in general, signs/indicators of distress, and general age-specific recommendations (AAP; NCTSN; Ray, 2016).
Children, of course, may not be the only ones who need help coping; parents and caregivers also are connected to and impacted by this communal tragedy. If you find yourself and/or your children fixated on the details of this most recent and/or other tragedies or experience increased emotionality, behavioral struggles, or intense fears of safety that persists beyond several weeks, please reach out to a mental health provider for support or consultation.
In closing, I have found both personally and professionally that the most meaningful action-oriented strategies for helping children in the face of tragedies are twofold: (1) that you send the message both verbally and through your actions that you will do everything you can to keep them safe and (2) that you will be with and encourage them to express their feelings in ways that bring about healing.
References
American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP, n.d.). Media and Children Communication Toolkit. Retrieved Oct. 29, 2018, from https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Pages/Media-and-Children.aspx,
Bratton, S., Landreth, G. L., Kellam, T., & Blackard, S. (2006). Child Parent Relationship Therapy (CPRT) Treatment Manual: A 10-session filial therapy model for training parents. New York, NY: Routledge.
Faber, J. & King, J (2017). How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk: A survival guide to life with children ages 2-7. New York, NY: Scribner.
National Child Traumatic Stress Network. (n.d.). Talking to Children about the Shooting. Retrieved Oct. 29, 2018, from https://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/resources//talking_to_children_about_the_shooting.pdf.
National Child Traumatic Stress Network. (n.d.). Tips for Parents on Media Coverage. Retrieved Oct. 29, 2018, from https://www.nctsn.org/sites/default/files/resources/tip-sheet/tips_for_parents_on_media_coverage_shooting.pdf.
Ray, D. (2016). A Therapist’s Guide to Child Development: The Extraordinarily Normal Years. New York, NY: Routledge.
Additional resources
for parents
Association for Play Therapy (APT) Parents/Caregivers Corner: https://www.a4pt.org/page/ParentsCornerHomePag
Fred Rogers Parent Resources: https://www.fredrogers.org/parents/
National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) Families and Caregivers Resources: https://www.nctsn.org/audiences/families-and-caregivers
Elizabeth (Liz) Ener, Ph.D., LPC (TX), NCC, RPT, CCPT-S, is a child and adolescent counselor for Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas.

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Local security ‘won’t change much’ after Pittsburgh

Posted on 01 November 2018 by admin

By Dave Sorter

Not much will visibly change in terms of Dallas-area Jewish community security measures in the wake of Saturday’s deadly shootings at the Tree of Life Congregation in Pittsburgh, because of the two years of security work that has already been done here, according to Robert Caltabiano, director of security for the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
However, he said, the implementation of the Federation’s security initiative in 2016 had led to a more educated community, and recent programming will make worshippers in synagogues and participants at events more prepared in case something similar happens here.
“Nothing is changing,” Caltabiano said. “We may tweak things a little bit.”
Education has been the centerpiece of the Federation’s security initiative, which was evident just before the High Holy Days, when Caltabiano and local police departments conducted three “active shooter” workshops — two in North Dallas, with the help of the Dallas Police Department, and one in Plano, in partnership with the Plano Police Department.
“Participants gained more awareness. These sessions focused on survival — run, hide, fight,” Caltabiano said. “We’re coming up on the (secular) holidays now, and criminals don’t distinguish between Jewish and non-Jewish. So people can use these techniques if something happens at a shopping mall or any public event.”
In fact, he said, “If it wasn’t for education up in Pittsburgh, the death toll would have been much higher” than the 11 people killed, allegedly by anti-Semite Robert Bowers. “They just went through an active-shooter scenario.”
Caltabiano, a former Secret Service agent, joined the Federation in May 2017 and is continuing to develop programs to enhance security in the Jewish community and among the organizations within it. In addition to the active-shooter seminars — which he said will continue through the winter in the wake of the Pittsburgh shooting — he has encouraged synagogues to implement “Shul Watch.”
“The synagogue has an additional usher who doesn’t seat people, but serves as additional eyes and ears,” Caltabiano said. “They make sure doors are locked, can communicate if there’s an armed guard outside and can help out if someone gets sick or has fallen and they can’t get up.”
These additional ushers are not armed, he added — unless the synagogue wants them to be.
“It’s up to the house of worship,” he said. “If that’s what they really want. Many people believe you shouldn’t go into a house of worship with a gun, and then there’s the situation that if the police show up, they don’t know who’s the good guy and who’s the bad guy.”
Though President Donald Trump and others said that the Pittsburgh massacre could have been stopped had congregants been armed, Caltabiano likened the debate to the discussion about arming teachers after the shootings earlier this year at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe (Texas) High School.
“You don’t want someone who is untrained or maybe not comfortable with a gun to be responsible for stopping an attack,” he said. “Let teachers teach. Now, if a congregation has a law-enforcement person within it, and many do, let them use their expertise. But in most cases, a good armed guard would serve better.”
Should a shooting event occur here — whether in a synagogue, at a Jewish organization’s event or anywhere people gather for any reason — Caltabiano encourages those involved to use the “run, hide, fight” method he teaches at active shooter programs.
• Run: “Get away from the situation as fast as you can,” he said. “Get out of there. If you’re with people, take them with you, but if they don’t want to go, go without them and don’t look back.”
• Hide: “If you can’t get away, hide. Put your inner child on. Where would you go hide if you were a child? Most people run into the bathroom or a closet, but you don’t think the crazy person doesn’t know people hide in a closet or the bathroom?”
• Fight: “If you can’t hide, fight. Fight for your life. Fight as hard as you can. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.”
Caltabiano said he has seen much improvement in the Dallas Jewish community’s security awareness and involvement in the year and a half since he joined the Federation, “but we have a lot more work to do,” he said.
“Part of the Jewish community is always security-conscious. But we’re all Americans, and Americans have a sense that ‘it can’t happen here,’ but it can.”
In addition to continuing the active-shooter classes, Caltabiano is planning other educational initiatives geared around safety, such as classes on how to stop bleeding and on how to administer CPR. “It’s those little things that are so important as we grow up,” he said.
The security team is also working on innovative “security by environmental design” measures with the Dallas Holocaust Museum on its new building and The Legacy Senior Communities on its new The Legacy Midtown Park that will incorporate natural resources into security systems.
The takeaway from Pittsburgh, Caltabiano said, is that “This is a life lesson. This is the first time the Jewish community in the United States has been hit like this. Life is too precious not to take care of your own life. When you go to worship Friday and Saturday, have that third eye. Know your surroundings, know where to go, where the exits are. Same thing if there’s a fire.”

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Community stands together in solidarity with Pittsburgh

Community stands together in solidarity with Pittsburgh

Posted on 01 November 2018 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

The pain felt by the standing-room-only crowd in the Aaron Family Sanctuary was palpable Sunday evening at a community observance in the wake of the slaughter of 11 Jewish worshippers at the hands of an anti-Semitic gunman at the Tree of Life Synagogue, Saturday, Oct. 27.
On the bimah were Rabbi Elana Zelony of Congregation Beth Torah; Reverend Rachel Baughman, senior pastor of Oak Lawn United Methodist Church and vice chairman of Faith Forward; Rabbi David Stern of Temple Emanu-El; Bradley Laye, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas; and Rabbi Ari Sunshine of Congregation Shearith Israel. They were joined by Cantors Vicky Glikin and Leslie Niren of Temple Emanu-El, Hazzan Itzhak Zhrebker of Shearith Israel and Cantor Devorah Avery and Cantor Emeritus Don Croll of Temple Shalom, who led the estimated 800 people in comforting and inspirational singing. Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall also addressed those gathered.
A number of themes resonated at Shearith Israel Sunday night. Among them were:
•Every life is precious
•Words matter
•Ending gun violence
•We are not powerless
•God will light the way
Every life is precious
As he opened the program, Laye emphasized the value that Jews choose life over all else. “Our values place human life above anything else,” said Laye, quoting Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson. “We are to live by Torah, not to die by Torah.”
Rabbi Stern spoke the names of each victim. He explained that human nature is to want to know the details and the specifics of the tragedy. He said it’s not as if our grief is calibrated based on the number of people who perished. “We want the facts and figures but the Talmud teaches us a different arithmetic. Every life is of infinite value, every single one,” Stern said.
In his remarks Sunshine said, “We can never stop speaking up and defending the innate and immeasurable worth of every human being regardless of their faith, skin color, gender or sexual preference.”
Words matter
Hateful speech may lead to hateful behavior and the Torah is filled with the idea that words matter. “We have forgotten what our tradition teaches about the power of speech. Forgotten that incendiary rhetoric by national leaders does catch fire. Forgotten our own history,” said Stern.
In her statement from Faith Forward Dallas, Reverend Baughman said, “We hold accountable leaders who use divide-and-conquer strategies and inflammatory rhetoric and then take credit for being supportive of grieving communities of those affected by those who follow by example.”
Laye charged the gathering to take the mantra when you see something, say something to the next level with regard to hate speech. “When you see a racist post on Facebook or Instagram or a tweet on Twitter, say something. When you see a child being indoctrinated with something as simple as an anti-Semitic joke, say something. If you experience a hateful person verbally accosting someone who is in the line at a grocery store or Starbucks, don’t stand by, stand up and say something.”
Rabbi Sunshine said it is each person’s responsibility to respond to hate.
“Whenever the forces of bigotry, hate and evil rise up against us, it is incumbent upon us to walk in God’s path as we respond. We use our voices to speak out against hateful and inflammatory rhetoric and violence perpetrated in its wake and we speak powerfully for the values of kindness, justice, compassion, inclusivity and love.”
Ending gun violence
“I know right now it seems impossible to believe that there will ever be an end to these acts of senseless violence. It’s more tragic each and every day,” said Dallas Police Chief Renee Hall. She expressed her frustration that there are too many vigils and that the police share the Jewish community’s pain. “We hurt and we are angry too … bothered that the level of protection we provide doesn’t seem to be enough.”
Hall pledged that the Dallas Police Department would try to keep the community safe at all costs. “We will continue to fight for the safety for this community and the country as a whole,” she said.
Stern said that the American Jewish community sadly joins too many others who have been in the same position.
“We know it’s happened in other places. To people of other backgrounds. In other houses of worship. In other circles of study and prayer. We know our dead join a list of those murdered in mass shootings, the list that is already far too long. We know that dear friends, leaders of other faith communities know this pain all too well and yet we take a moment to say that these were ours.”
Rev. Baughman’s comments lifted the crowd to their feet.
“We also believe that sensible gun policies should be in place that respect gun ownership but limit weapons of war being put in the hands of those who might turn them on us.”
We are not powerless
Exercise your right to vote. “We must lobby and vote on these issues like our lives depend on it,” said Laye to rousing applause.
“We cannot allow the acts of one person to destroy everyone’s freedom to feel safe and to worship in the house that they choose,” said Hall, encouraging the gathering to stay strong.
Stern prayed, “Thank you for this gathering and the strength it gives us and thank you, God, even for this pain. Never would we wish this upon ourselves or anyone else. But may this pain be our teacher. May it break our hearts open to awareness of the pain and fear our neighbors live with every day. May it awaken us to the preciousness of our own lives, the power of our own choices, help us to guard against forces of violence and hate whatever their source. Help us keep our families safe.”
God will light the way
How is one to recover from the pain of such unspeakable acts? Each of the clergy explained that allowing God to light the way is the answer.
Stern concluded his remarks with this prayer, “Help us, dear God, to lift our sights beyond the shadow of this day in solidarity, in compassion, with commitment and hope; may we keep showing up unafraid for each other, for the Torah we hold close, for the undying values for which we stand for our companions on the path to justice and peace. In these days of darkness, may the Holy One light our way.”
Rabbi Sunshine said many of the answers can be found in Psalm 27, which is recited daily in the days leading up to Rosh Hashanah and through the end of Yom Kippur.
“We ask God to teach me your way. Adonai, guide me on the level path in order to confound all those who watch my every move and oppress me.”
He added, “We must also never lose our faith, our strength, our courage and our undying conviction that our world is a good and beautiful place.
“We must continue to shine our light and God’s light upon it to illumine even these darkest of times. Hope in Adonai, be strong, take courage and hope in Adonai.”
Zelony gave the benediction, Psalm 23. After each stanza, she shared her own interpretation.
“God led us to this sanctuary and in this moment we have everything we need.
“We rest and begin to recover our sense that ki tov, the world is still good.
“We are reminded of all the righteous action we can take. We are not powerless.
“When we heard the news shadows fell, but we knew we were not alone.
“With them you will guide us out of this terrible darkness.
“Your children Israel do not hide, we gather tonight with courage.
“Our hearts fill with gratitude for every one of our brothers and sisters not of the Jewish faith who answered our call, who came here tonight, and there are so many of you.
“Goodness and love will catch up with us and restore our sense of security and peace.
“For God, you are Ain Od; there is nothing else but you, eternal in time and space.”
As it began, with song, the service concluded with the cantors leading the gathering in the “Mishaberah” arrangement by Debbie Friedman and “Oseh Shalom.”
“May the one who blessed us with peace also bless us in this time of hurt, in this time of pain; bless those of us who are present, bless those of us who are beyond these walls.
“There is hope for all of us,” concluded Cantor Glikin.
Additional services were held throughout North Texas throughout the week. On Monday, there was a service in Dallas at Ohr Hatorah and at Beth Israel Colleyville. At press time, a Jewish Communal and City-Wide Night of Prayer, Remembrance and Unity was scheduled for Thursday evening at Fort Worth Congregation Ahavath Sholom. Many congregations will be participating in a Solidarity Shabbat Nov. 2-3. For more information, check with your synagogue.

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‘Odd Mom Out’: Kargman to perform at Shearith

Posted on 25 October 2018 by admin

By Shari Goldstein Stern

Congregation Shearith Israel will erupt into a laughfest at 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 7, when author and actress Jill Kargman takes the stage of the Aaron Family Main Sanctuary. The “Odd Mom Out” actress was the creator, writer, producer and star of the scripted Bravo TV series, playing a satirical version of herself navigating the hilarity of raising children on the Upper East Side in New York City.
After graduating from Yale in 1995, Kargman started her writing career in the magazine world as an assistant and has written for Vogue, ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, GQ, Condé Nast Traveler, Departures and Allure. She also created the column “EyeSpy” for Style.com, which ran for five years.
The torture and hilarity of her work experiences at the bottom of the magazine hierarchy inspired her 2000 Sundance movie “Intern.” Afterward she worked in television and wrote for several shows for MTV, including “So Five Minutes Ago” and the MTV news doc series “Who Is.”
After her magazine, movie and television work, Kargman began writing novels to give her more flexibility to be home with her three children: Sadie, Ivy, and Fletch. She is a New York Times best-selling author of multiple books, including “The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund”; her personal essay collection, “Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut” (which was #3 on the Humor chart behind Chelsea Handler and David Sedaris); and “Momzillas,” which was translated into 14 languages and appeared on charts worldwide.
Now, the native New Yorker will bring her brand of humor to Shearith in a Q&A format in which the audience will participate.
Lisa Zale said she and Elaine Pearlman were serving on the Shearith Israel board when it was time to plan a fundraiser. Both had read Kargman’s New York Times best-selling books and had seen her television series.
The two agreed that Kargman would bring great entertainment to an event. “She’s funny and light, smart and Jewish,” Zale said. “She’s the full package.”
“We’re all chairs,” Zale added, about the fundraiser’s planning committee. Along with Zale and Pearlman, the group includes Dawn Aaron, Barbra Applebaum, Courtney Goldberg, Lauran Goldberg, Lisa Goldberg, Beth Konig, Ann Ochstein, and Jody Stein.
Mark Oppenheimer will serve as moderator for the evening. Oppenheimer is an author, Yale University lecturer and host of “Unorthodox,” an irreverent weekly podcast about the news of the Jews, from Tel Aviv to Telluride, from (Natalie) Portman to Portland (Oregon). It’s the No. 1 Jewish-themed podcast on iTunes, with more than 2 million total downloads.
It was at a taping of “Unorthodox” in New York that Zale and Konig heard Kargman and Oppenheimer together.
“Jill and Mark were hilarious, so we asked Oppenheimer to join her in the show. He had plans to be in Houston the day before, so the stars aligned.” Konig said. “We knew that together, Jill and Mark would take our event to the next level.”
“I am thrilled to be doing a live event with Jill Kargman,” Oppenheimer said. “Not only is she a terrific novelist, but my wife and I binge-watched her hilarious TV show, ‘Odd Mom Out,’ all while consuming many pints of Haagen-Dazs. Jill brings her sharp wit, off-kilter sensibility and neo-Goth outfits (check out the creepy wrist tattoo) to everything she does. I’ve had the good fortune to have seen her bizarre, hilarious mind in action — and to hear her belt pop songs since the early ’90s, when she and I were undergraduates together at Yale. We all knew she’d go places, although we weren’t sure where. I’m glad the answer was ‘Dallas.’”
Oppenheimer continued, “As for me, for six years I wrote ‘Beliefs,’ the New York Times’ biweekly religion column. I also wrote ‘Thirteen and a Day,’ the definitive book about crashing bar mitzvahs.”
Oppenheimer concluded, “One reason I am excited for this show is that Jill can be serious as well as funny: Her thoughts on Judaism and anti-Semitism (see sidebar on this page) are profound. I think this evening will be a showcase for her wisdom as well as her wit.”
“The professional staff at Shearith have been wonderful partners,” Zale said. “We especially appreciate COO Kim West and Communications Director Julie Carpenter for their cooperation,” the women agreed.
The performance is recommended for ages 21 and older. For tickets and information, visit www.shearith.org.
To learn more about Kargman, go to jillkargman.com. Oppenheimer’s website is markoppenheimer.com.

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