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Event raises awareness of ovarian cancer

Event raises awareness of ovarian cancer

Posted on 20 September 2017 by admin

Group will introduce Friends of Be The Difference Foundation

BTFD FRIENDS gallery ownersBy Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

You can never have too many friends, and friends wanting to make a difference are the best kind. From 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28, the Craighead Green Gallery is hosting an evening with special guest Alexa Conomos to celebrate Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

Alexa Conomos

Alexa Conomos

The event will introduce the Friends of the Be The Difference Foundation. The event is free and open to the public.
Event hosts Lisa Hurst, Missy Quintana and Sheryl Yonack are leading the newly formed Friends of Be The Difference Foundation, with a mission to continue to raise awareness and knowledge of ovarian cancer as well as the incredible work the Be The Difference Foundation (BTDF) supports.
Quintana, whose mother Brenda is an 18-year survivor of ovarian cancer, joined the board earlier this year to help the organization reach beyond the cycling and cancer communities who already know of Be The Difference Foundation’s work. “In creating this social event, that is open to the public, we hope to expand the conversation, and drop the stigma and make ‘gynecological cancer’ not a bad set of words that people are scared to talk about,” she said. “Even with my own mother’s history I really didn’t know the risks because people don’t talk. But we need to talk, to learn, and for people to know the symptoms, the issues, and how they can help us help those in the fight.”
“In creating the offshoot ‘Friends’ of our organization, we have the best friends ever and we couldn’t be more excited,” said Julie Shrell, who co-founded BTDF with Jill Bach, the late Helen Gardner and Lynn Lentscher. “Our Wheel to Survive events, which began with one Dallas ride in 2013, have expanded and have allowed us to fund $2 million in donations toward programs dedicated to research toward the cure of ovarian cancer, the fifth leading cause of cancerous deaths.”
Upcoming Wheel to Survive rides this year are in Houston (Oct. 29) and the San Francisco Bay Area (Nov. 12), and in 2018 in Dallas (Feb. 18) and Denver (April 8), with dates to be named later for Austin, Houston, San Francisco and South Florida.
The Sept. 28 event is free, but Teal ($1,000), Gold ($500), and Silver ($250) sponsors also receive membership to Friends of Be The Difference Foundation in addition to recognition in the event invitation and program. Individual membership rights are available with a $100 donation.
Kenneth Craighead is honored to host the first Friends of BTFD event at the gallery which he and Steve Green co-founded in 1992, and in which Helen Gardner expressed her passion for art as a co-owner for five years. “It was such a pleasure and such an amazing journey working at the gallery with Helen,” said Craighead. The gallery, which represents over 40 artists of all mediums, focuses on contemporary paintings, archival pigment prints and sculpture in a myriad of media and styles. Ten percent of any sales during the evening will be donated to the Friends of BTDF. “To have this opportunity to give something back to her, while keeping her mission alive and real, is something amazing and unexpected. We both feel honored and humbled to be a part of this evening.”
Conomos, morning news anchor for WFAA’s News 8 Daybreak, comes to the event with her heart all-in.
Ovarian cancer took the life of her Aunt Anastasia in 2005, and another, her Aunt Shirley, is currently in remission of the disease. Still mourning the recent loss of her father Tasso John Conomos, of pancreatic cancer, she knows firsthand the pain that patients and their families endure.
“The numbers are staggering and this awful disease comes like a thief in the night and takes those we love. As a woman, as one with aunts affected on both sides of my family, it is at the top of my mind,” said Conomos. “What the ladies of the Be The Difference Foundation have done to create opportunities for sharing, caring, learning and teaching is motivating at its greatest. It takes a village and this village is so blessed with the strength behind this organization. For me, becoming a ‘friend’ is an absolute honor and I invite the community to join my new circle of friends.”
The Craighead Green Gallery is located at 1011 Dragon St. in Dallas. For more information about joining the Friends of the Be The Difference Foundation, or the event, emailmquintana@bethedifference.org or visit bethedifferencefoundation.org/friends. For Wheel to Survive or other BTFD information, visit bethedifferencefoundation.org.

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Congregations, JCC team up for seminar

Congregations, JCC team up for seminar

Posted on 20 September 2017 by admin

Three locations to host curriculum on Jewish values, Israeli conflict

By Aaron Greenberg
Special to the TJP

Six local congregations and the Aaron Family JCC are teaming up to present a 12-week seminar called Engaging Israel: Jewish Values and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Three locations will host the course, designed by the Shalom Hartman Institute, a renowned Israeli educational center.

Kushnick

Kushnick

“This curriculum is not a solutions-based curriculum,” said Rabbi Michael Kushnick. “It does not matter if you are an expert on Israeli history or political dynamics in the state of Israel. This curriculum is going to force us as Jews to think about what values should and do guide the state of Israel and why.”
As such, people with greatly differing views might get a better understanding of each other and engage in civil debate.
“You can ask people of different views to sit together because we’re not trying to solve issues,” he said.

Paley

Paley

“It’s a slower, more frustrating process, but what it uncovers is really powerful,” said Rabbi Andrew Paley. “If people are willing to suspend their desire to fix and spend a little time exploring their own reactions, I think it will be hugely successful.”
Kushnick and Rabbi Elana Zelony will teach at Congregation Anshai Torah on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. beginning Oct. 10, while Rabbis Nancy Kasten and Adam Roffman teach at Temple Emanu-El on Thursdays at 7 p.m. starting Oct. 19. Paley will lead the program at Temple Shalom on Sundays at 10:30 a.m. starting Oct. 22. Each session lasts 90 minutes.
Adat Chaverim, Congregation Beth Torah and Congregation Shearith Israel are also participating, and members of the six congregations and the JCC will pay $36 in tuition, with other participants paying $150. The deadline to enroll is Sept. 26.
The collaboration came about after Rabbi Donniel Hartman, president of the Hartman Institute, came to speak at Temple Emanu-El. He then met with the Rabbinic Association of Greater Dallas. Rachelle Weiss Crane, the director of Israel Engagement and Jewish Learning at the JCC, saw an opportunity for a communitywide effort.
“For some time, I have experienced conversations with students about frustration over the polarization among different members of our community,” Weiss Crane said.
The rabbis embraced the idea of using the Hartman program to open civil conversations. The JCC is helping to coordinate as well as handling applications.
“To do it in conjunction with the rabbis of a number of different synagogues as a consortium was very intriguing,” Weiss Crane said.

Rabbi Kushnick

Rabbi Kushnick

Kushnick also noted the importance of learning across boundaries, especially on major anniversaries of the Balfour Declaration, founding of Israel and Six-Day War.
The curriculum comes from the iEngage series, designed by Hartman as a response to “disenchantment and disinterest toward Israel,” according to its website.
Unit topics explore Jewish narratives of peace, attitudes toward the land from both within and without Israel, justice, self-preservation, compromise and more.
In addition to the texts that will be studied, there are videos featuring Rabbi Hartman and author Yossi Klein Halevi. Students will also have materials to delve into at home.
Scholars from the Hartman Institute are expected to visit at least once this year in conjunction with the seminar.
Some of the rabbis spoke of the difficulties congregants have in reconciling what they hear or see about Israel with their Jewish values.
“As liberal Jews who love Israel and have a relationship with Israel, it’s very worrisome to look at even the demographics of where Israel is going right now and to wonder what the future is for a really pluralistic Jewish homeland where we, if we should decide, or our children decide to live out their Zionist dream,” Rabbi Kasten said.
She believes the course can help Dallas-area Jews to “deepen their connection to Israel and understand how they can support Israel in a way that reflects their Jewish and Zionist values.”
Others talked about the way Jews relate to each other, and how it is often strained when the topic of Israel comes up.
“When it’s a third rail, it’s really hard to maintain the importance of Israel and connection to Israel,” Rabbi Zelony said.
She cited the reaction some groups had to word of J Street’s informational table at the Israel Today symposium held at Temple Shalom.
“That concerns me because these are things we should discuss and not shut out. These are conversations we should be having, and I think disagreement is healthy,” Zelony said.
“I’m a passionate Zionist, and there’s so much tension about Israel that if we can’t talk about it, how can we maintain Zionism?”

Rabbi Adam Roffman

Rabbi Adam Roffman

Rabbi Roffman said most Jews support Israel, “but when we talk about what that support looks like, we disagree.
“When I disagree with someone about what Israel should do, or we’re thinking about how we might come to an end in this conflict, I find always the difference between me and someone else is reflected in our stories. And that’s so important. If you don’t understand the other person’s story, you don’t understand their position. Not just about Israel, but about everything.”
Roffman, who is a rabbi at Conservative Congregation Shearith Israel, will teach with Kasten, who is Reform.
“I love the fact that over the course of the class Nancy and I will disagree,” he said. “And I love that people will see that disagreement and have theirs in a respectful way. That will be an essential part of our experience. I really think that’s going to be wonderful.”
Rabbi Paley has taught Hartman iEngage curricula for the past two years with his congregation, including the Israeli-Palestinian course last year.
“It was an amazing curriculum and discussion we had over several months of learning together,” Paley said. “Having a values-based conversation about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was really interesting and powerful.”
The rabbis expressed hope that there will be future sessions or collaboration on other iEngage programs.
“Ultimately, I think the greater goal is when it comes to issues of concern in the Jewish community, we come together and figure it out,” Paley said.
For those who have not received copies of the application, contact Weiss Crane at rweisscrane@jccdallas.org or Adina Weinberg at aweinberg@jccdallas.org.

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High Holidays necessitate religious education for public school system

Posted on 14 September 2017 by admin

By Amy Sorter
Special to the TJP

Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker knew that some students in his congregation at Colleyville-based Beth Israel were being penalized for taking time off from school during the High Holidays.
“I used to send a letter to the schools indicating that kids will be out on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the dates and the reasons why,” explained Cytron-Walker, whose congregation includes students that attend schools in the Grapevine-Colleyville, Southlake, Birdville and Keller Independent School Districts. “But we’d still have difficulties and challenges.” These ranged from unexcused absences, to missing an AP test and not being able to make it up, to losing one’s place in band, football or other extracurricular activity.

See an Excused AbsenceLetter

This year, Cytron-Walker moved from informing to educational outreach, writing and circulating a letter for parents to give to teachers, coaches and administrators. The letter eloquently outlines the purpose of the High Holidays and their spiritual significance. “The closest way to understanding the spiritual significance of these Holy Days is to compare them with Christmas and Easter,” Cytron-Walker’s letter reads. The letter then goes on to say that many Jews end up taking off work or school to spend “this sacred time with family and community . . .”
Though it is too soon to tell if this letter will lead to more understanding of, and fewer challenges to, students who observe the holidays, it does bring up questions as to the flexibility of Bible-Belt school districts when it comes to handling Jewish holiday absences.

Unawareness, not spite

Issues such as those shared by Cytron-Walker are troubling. They are not, however, necessarily widespread. Nor are they necessarily signs of anti-Semitism. For the most part, educators and adult extracurricular leaders tend to be more rigid about Jewish holiday absences due to unawareness, rather than bigotry.
Rabbi Mandy Kesselman, who heads Chabad of Frisco, noted that, a few years ago, some Frisco ISD schools scheduled homecoming during Yom Kippur. “The parents I met with were very upset,” he said. “But from my experience, those things are scheduled because the districts don’t know.”
For North Texas public school districts, Jewish holidays can be confusing, because they travel all over the secular calendar. “They move,” said Cheryl Drazin, regional director with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL). “We can’t expect every public-school system in the Dallas-Fort Worth area to know when the holidays are coming up, and to follow them.”
There is also the question of what constitutes an “excused” absence, a definition that comes into play, especially with extracurricular activities. Drazin said that, depending on the district, an absence is an absence is an absence. “If it’s a universal rule, and any absence during the week doesn’t allow you to play, or perform or take part in extracurricular activities, there is no workaround there,” she noted. However, if the definition ends up being limited only to illness, for example, “that’s when we need to step in and let the districts know about accommodation,” Drazin commented.
The ADL sends information about Jewish holiday dates to districts throughout North Texas. However, “that information has to trickle down from the district to the school with maybe one Jewish child,” Kesselman said. “Sometimes that information trickles down to the local principal, sometimes not.”
Adding to the confusion are the different levels of High Holiday — and other Jewish holiday — observances. Some families observe Erev Rosh Hashanah and Kol Nidre, and that’s it. Then there are families who will observe the entire two-day Rosh Hashanah holiday, as well as Kol Nidre and Yom Kippur. Educators and administrators who see some Jewish kids not taking any time off from school might not understand the other Jewish kids who are not in school for one or two days.
Furthermore, “some don’t understand that the holidays start the evening before,” Cytron-Walker said. “That, for Rosh Hashanah, it involves a celebratory dinner, or with Yom Kippur, a service and preparation for a fast. Some might be saying that, this year, Yom Kippur is on a Saturday — so what’s up with that Friday night thing?”
The essential outreach from parents
Drazin said that, as there aren’t a vast majority of Jewish students in the North Texas public school districts, parents should both provide the information and understand what the district rules are. “Assuming the best intent from the districts’ sides,” she said, “it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to non-Jews, until they understand that, for example, Yom Kippur is more sacred than any other Friday night.”
Kesselman also strongly suggested that parents inform their children’s schools about the Jewish holidays, rather than assuming the school already knows about it. “Do that as soon as possible,” he said. “Schools don’t want to find out, the day before, that the kids won’t be there. Or the day after, when the children don’t show up for school.” If the schools push back or become difficult about absences? “I can send a letter that verifies and clarifies,” Kesselman said. “But we really haven’t had issue with that.”

Knowledge is power

In other words, rather than assuming that school districts already understand the importance of the High Holy Days, Jewish families should assume the opposite. Part of the reason why Cytron-Walker drafted, and circulated, his letter, was to not only inform the Grapevine-Colleyville, Keller, and Carroll Independent School Districts about the holidays, but also to fully educate the educators on what they mean.
He added that the issue isn’t with the schools saying that the absences are excused absences; he’s fine with that. Rather, his concern lies with pressures placed on Jewish students for observing their faith. “The bottom line is that, in our community, we fortunately don’t see a lot of anti-Semitism,” he said. “We do experience a lot of ignorance, and I don’t mean that in the negative sense. People truly don’t understand.”
His hope is that the letter, which was sent in late August to Beth Israel parents for circulation to teachers and principals, will impart knowledge to the non-Jewish community. The letter has received positive feedback from the parents so far, though Cytron-Walker said he’s not sure how effective it will be until the High Holidays. “We’ll see how well this works this year,” he added. “If it doesn’t work, then I’ll try something else.”

 

 

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Other resources

In addition to the ADL or your rabbi, the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas or the JCRC in Fort Worth and Tarrant County are also great resources if you are having issues with your public school:

  • JCRC Dallas, Anita Zusman Eddy, executive director, 214-615-5292
  • JCRC Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Howard Rosenthal chair, contact Bob Goldberg, Federation executive director, 817-559-0892
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Dallas residents continue campaign for Harvey recovery

Posted on 14 September 2017 by admin

JFS shifts focus to long-term care

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

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


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

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40 years of filmmaking, 48 years of marriage

Posted on 14 September 2017 by admin

Social issues at center of work for Mondells

By James Russell
Special to the TJP

The first documentary created by Allen and Cynthia Salzman Mondell was about divorce.
Who Remembers Mama?, which premiered in 1978, is about middle-aged women whose husbands leave them. Left with no marketable skills, Salzman Mondell said, “these women became the new poor.”
The subject is admittedly ironic to the couple, who have been married 48 years. Forty of those years have been spent making social issue documentaries through their not-for-profit organization Media Projects, Inc.
The couple have fundraised for, written, produced and edited documentaries about divorcees, contemporary anti-Semitism in Europe, suicide among youth, and Texas’ Jewish history through the nonprofit. They have made movies for the Sixth Floor Museum and the now defunct Women’s History Museum, both in Dallas, and the Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls, New York.
Now the Mondells will appear in a retrospective documentary about their career at 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 14, on KERA as part of the channel’s Frame of Mind series about local filmmakers.
Choosing which films to highlight among their four decades of filmmaking “was like choosing children,” Salzman Mondell said. “We remembered stories about us, like with fundraising, showing the film, on set and who it impacted. So many stories bubbled up. Sometimes it was extremely difficult but it was rewarding in the end.”
The couple have lived and worked together for almost half a century, mostly in a house on Homer Street near Downtown Dallas. Their work is intertwined with their life, even to the point that their daughter is now a filmmaker too.
Allen Mondell was moved as they culled through their archives.
“It was really moving for me to look at our past. We had been married about 10 years and the first film we are making is about divorce,” he said. Many times their work will be requested as a community faces timely and tough issues, like a suicide.
Their Jewish consciousness motivates them to examine tough topics.
“Growing up in a Jewish household, you can’t help but get the sense we have an obligation to give back, to help those less fortunate than we. That is part of what is in the atmosphere of growing up in Jewish households,” he said.
The couple have made four documentaries about Jewish life.
But those four films still tackle issues facing other communities.
“West of Hester Street is a strong film about Jewish immigration. It has the same issues (facing) Hispanics or Muslims. You have the same issue we’re talking about. And of course our anti-Semitism film, The Monster Among Us, you can’t get any more relevant than that film about anti-Semitism in Europe today. It’s spread and is now more vocal,” he noted.
Their movies are also deeply personal, as is the case with Louie, Louie: A Portrait in Parkinson’s about Salzman Mondell’s father’s struggle with the debilitating disease.
Their current projects are also deeply personal. Her mother’s death inspired her current project about women’s relationships with their shoes (Sole Sisters); watching the Knox-Henderson community gentrify influenced this current project. Both may have been rooted in their own personal stories but, as the couple have done for the past 40 years, will also address a wider audience.

 

*****

 

Over the last 40 years, the Allen and Cynthia Salzman Mondell have produced the following films through Media Projects, Inc.

 

A Dallas Jewish Journey

Rare archival photos and footage accompanied by original music bring to life the colorful and poignant story of the challenges and growth of the Dallas Jewish community from 1858 through today.

A Fair To Remember

Lone Star Emmy award film that weaves together the colorful stories of the 125-year history of Dallas’ own State Fair of Texas, its impact on the Lone Star State’s commerce and cultural heritage, and how this annual event epitomizes the city’s “can do” spirit.

A Reason to Live

A powerful documentary about teen and young adult depression and suicide – personal stories of despair and hope told by young people of different ages, ethnicities and sexual orientation – and their families. The honesty and openness of these individuals bring us face to face with a mental illness that can result in the third-leading cause of death among 15-24 year olds. A 2-DVD set includes classroom and adult versions of the film, with additional special features.

A Wasted Breath: Kids on Inhalants

Educating youngsters about the dangers of inhalants with compelling stories told by their peers.

A, E, I, O & U

Chronicles the experience of three students and three literacy volunteers as they learn and grow through an adult reading program. Produced for Half Price Book Store.

Beauty in the Bricks

A vibrant and poignant film that tells the story of the aspirations and frustrations of four African-American teenage girls growing up in an urban housing project. Goes beyond stereotypes.

Beauty Leaves the Bricks

A follow-up documentary TO BEAUTY IN THE BRICKS that brings viewers up-to-date after 13 years on the lives and dreams of the four African American teenage girls they met in the original film.

Dreams of Equality

A documentary drama that chronicles the struggles of the women’s rights movement, told through the letters between a sister and brother that spanned 30 years. Featuring the story of Elizabeth Cady Stanton at the First public women’s convention.

Films from the Sixth Floor

Six films on the life, death and legacy of President John F. Kennedy for The Sixth Floor Museum at the former Texas School Book Depository in Dallas, Texas.

Funny Women

Featuring Lilly Tomlin, Lucille Ball, Wanda Sykes, Gilda Radner and more. A humorous short film about the history of women comediennes since the advent of television in America. Shows the power of women’s humor. Produced as a permanent exhibition at The Women’s Museum in Dallas.

Guts, Gumption and Go-Ahead: Annie Mae Hunt Remembers

The inspiring true story of an extraordinary African American woman that spans three generations from slavery to contemporary times.

Handguns: Made for Killing, Not for Kids

The tragic dangers of handguns of America. and the emotional and legal consequences of handgun violence. An award -winning violence prevention video.

Heroin Kids: Dying for Help

Tells the truth and consequences of heroin use in language kids understand.

Inhalant Abuse: Kids in Danger/Adults in the Dark

An overview of the inhalant abuse problem that identifies, educates parents and teachers.

Louie, Louie: A Portrait in Parkinsons

A story of a man’s courageous determination to retain his independence while fighting Parkinson’s disease. And a loving family’s efforts to weather crisis after crisis as they watch the one they love robbed of his ability to care for himself.

Make Me A Match

A warm-hearted story of Jewish singles grappling to find both their soulmates and to retain their cultural and ethnic identity using the traditional institution of Jewish matchmaking in a contemporary setting.

Many Facets: The Zale Legacy

A biographical documentary about the family who built the largest retail jewelry chain in the world and at the same time set up philanthropic foundations that contribute millions of dollars to worthwhile causes.

My Son the Scout

When the Boy Scouts of America started recruiting Jewish Scouts they knew they had to offer different programs that fit into the Jewish Culture. This film captures the values of Judaism and the Scout program. Filled with warmth and humor. It is a unique film about the Boy Scouts. Produced for the Boy Scouts.

Sex: A Topic of Conversation with Dr. Sol Gordon

America’s foremost sex and family educator shows parents, teachers and health professionals how to talk to young people in language they will understand. A 3-part series for parents of young children, parents of teens and teenagers.

Sisters of 77

This vibrant film recounts the passionate story of a revolutionary Conference that set the agenda for women’s rights in Houston, Texas, in 1977. Features Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Ann Richards, Liz Carpenter, Bella Abzug and Ellie Smeal.

Smackers: Elementary Entrepreneurs

Second-graders demonstrate a practical lesson in basic economics. A perfect film for kids to learn economic lessons from their peers.

Smokeless Tobacco: A Spittin’ Image

A dynamic video that tells the dangers of smokeless tobacco.

Sole Sisters

“Every Shoe has a story. Every woman has both.” SOLE SISTERS will be a documentary film about women’s lives seen through personal stories about their shoes. Anchored by the film, Media Projects will develop a multimedia platform with educational and entertainment experiences that include the web, theater and publishing opportunities. The SOLE SISTERS’ project will reach a global audience as it celebrates, uplifts and empowers women of all ages, ethnicities and walks of life.

The Baylor Story: A Proud History

An engaging and fascinating history of how the inspiring vision of three men created one of the largest medical centers in Texas.

The Henderson Avenue Bug Patrol

Neighborhood friends leave their television and games to explore the fascinating world of nature just outside their front doors. Teaches elementary age children about their environment.

The Ladies Room

Stories of love, sex, marriage and divorce as told from behind the doors of women’s restrooms.

The Monster Among Us

A provocative and timely film revealing the anti-Semitism in Europe today seen through the personal stories of people living in six European countries.

The Teen Years: War or Peace?

Workable solutions to common conflicts between parents and teenagers ranging from chores and messy rooms to the more critical issues of sexuality and substance abuse.

Thinking Like A Woman

A one-of-a-kind success story that tells the unique story of cosmetic entrepreneur Mary Kay Ash and how she founded a business that opened the door for women around the world to experience success on their own terms.

To The Rescue

Four films that capture the history of emergency medical and rescue services in the United States and the spirit of the dedicated volunteers who risk their lives to save others. Produced for the Roanoke Valley History Museum in Roanoke, Virginia.

Waging Peace: The Peace Corps Experience

The Peace Corps experience told through the letters, journals and blogs of the Volunteers written while on the job. Allen Mondell was a Peace Corps teacher in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

West of Hester Street

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Shaare Tefilla to host Massive Morning Minyan

Shaare Tefilla to host Massive Morning Minyan

Posted on 14 September 2017 by admin

By Aaron Greenberg
Special to the TJP

DALLAS — Congregation Shaare Tefilla will host the second annual Massive Morning Minyan in its main sanctuary at 8 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 17.
The event is an open invitation to the community to celebrate the end of the Jewish year together and remember, at a time when the focus is on the High Holidays, that the everyday services can also be meaningful.IMG_1687
“I would love to see as many people as possible and participate with them in this truly memorable experience. Consider this a personal invitation,” said Rabbi Ariel Rackovsky. “People wake up early for all sorts of reasons — for carpools, to get to work on time, for exercise purposes. Why not wake up early for prayer?”
Last year, about 150 people filled the sanctuary, located at 6131 Churchill Way.
“Everybody gets together on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Those are big, huge momentous days for most people and it is part and parcel of their Jewish faith,” said Joe Ravitsky, Shaare Tefilla’s president. “This is Sunday morning, no extra words, extra services. It usually takes about 35 minutes. We are taking something very simple, very mundane, the everyday minyan that everybody has access to, and we’re publicizing that the way we would when we all come together on a major holiday.”
Ravitsky pointed to the struggle many congregations have on weekdays and Sundays despite the way the High Holidays demonstrate a desire for togetherness.
“No matter what synagogue you go to, there’s a camaraderie, but it’s only through regular attendance,” he said. “But it’s difficult to attend regularly if you don’t know anybody, and to make it meaningful, you have to know people. It’s a chicken-and-egg problem.”
Rabbi Rackovsky, who came to the Modern Orthodox synagogue in 2015, gave credit for the idea to his wife’s cousin, a rabbi who started a “100 Man Minyan” at Baron Hirsch in Memphis.
“I decided we were going to upgrade that because we could do better than 100, and didn’t want to hold us to a number,” Rackovsky said. “I wanted to do it during Elul as a way of preparing for the High Holidays, a community display of prayer.”
He spent a month advertising it within the synagogue last year, and a week and a half inviting people personally. He also gave Ravitsky, then the vice president, a lot of credit for getting the word out.
“Last year succeeded beyond my wildest dreams. People came who are not regulars at a weekday minyan — at least not yet,” Rackovsky said. “I don’t know that we necessarily picked up more regulars, but what I want at the very least is plant the seed in people’s mind that a communal expression of prayer, even on a Sunday morning, is valuable and that it leaves a lasting impression.
“People want to sleep in on Sundays. That’s why our tagline is ‘start off the week and end the year the right way.’”
After the service, a gala breakfast will be held. Among those helping out with the preparation are Jacques Ohayon and Michael Vidikan.
“We have unbelievable Kiddushes every week, a kitchen crew of volunteers where every one of them could have their own restaurant,” Ravitsky said.
Stuart Wernick, the immediate past president, took advantage of the big crowd last year to take some photos capturing a full sanctuary — something more common when photography isn’t permitted.
Wernick sees the Massive Morning Minyan as a chance to continue the combination of a close-knit feel and high attendance from Friday and Saturday services. It’s something he hopes will become a habit.
“Why not? Why does everyone just show up Saturday or Friday night? Let’s keep this going on Sundays as well,” he said.
Giving a regular service extra meaning is also important for those who attend every day, he said.
“You lose sight of that fact that if you are doing something so often it seems second nature,” Wernick said. “Maybe we should celebrate that a little bit more.”
Ravitsky mentioned the impact that having so many Jews together tends to have on their connection to their faith.
“You can take something that’s regular and uplift it, turn it into something special through you making it holy, saying this thing is different,” he said.
Rabbi Rackovsky also hopes there is a memorable takeaway for Shaare Tefilla’s guests Sunday.
“I want to open portals of entry for people to get further and better engaged in their Jewish expression and religious commitment. While we are accepting of everyone where and who they are, we don’t want people to be complacent about themselves. Everyone should always be growing.”

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Team helps Harvey victims

Posted on 07 September 2017 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

The TJP caught up with Miriam Ballin at the home of Amy and Harlan Korenvaes on Thursday, Aug. 31, as Miriam and her team prepared to head to Houston to help Hurricane Harvey survivors both in and out of the Jewish community. Korenvaes accompanied the team to Houston; she is an experienced child trauma worker using “clown” techniques.
The team included Ballin, Dr. Einat Kaufman, Dr. Sharon Slater, Avi Tenenbaum and Dr. Miriam Staub. Their plan was to head straight to the George R. Brown Convention Center, assess the needs and go from there. Everyone on the team is trained in psychological support. In Israel, members of the team handle large-scale crises, but also more intimate ones as well. “We may go to home where an infant has passed away from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, a dad who passed away from a heart attack or God forbid a terrible car accident,” said Ballin. “Unfortunately, suicides are our specialty,” she explained. Because guns are illegal, the team is often faced with helping a family whose loved one has died by hanging.
As she prepared for Houston, Ballin said her biggest concern focused on the flood survivors’ futures.
“What is this gonna do to their life later on? Right now I can’t fix their home for them and I can’t bring their car back and I can’t get them closer to their mom, but what I can do is hold their hand and use the techniques we’ve learned and stabilization procedures.”
The team gives the folks psychoeducational resources and helps normalize their experience in terms of what kinds of feelings they can expect to experience. They help the survivors understand what resources are available in the event that they recognize that they are not doing OK.
As Ballin and her team wrapped up their trip, the TJP had a chance to communicate with her again Tuesday. Baillin gave an overview of what they had accomplished to that point.
In Houston, the team assessed and supported evacuees in various shelters. At the Federation, they supported Jewish families who didn’t want to leave their homes and needed support leaving due to unsanitary conditions.
The psychotrauma unit was on the ground in Port Arthur as folks began to be evacuated. “There were about 100 buses that came in while we were there, full of people. People would get off and go through a process… They went through a security check and they went through medical screening and then they would get all their basic physical needs met and then they would get a psychological assessment by us and psychological support.” The team assessed about 300 evacuees in Port Arthur. From Port Arthur, those evacuees were put straight on an army plane and flown to Dallas.
A couple of days later, the team went to shelters in Dallas to assess and support another 100-150 evacuees who were sheltered here.
“It was interesting to me to see how some people lost everything or felt they had lost everything, yet they had an amazing attitude about it all,” said Ballin. “They were able to encourage others in that position and it was very inspiring. It was also inspiring to see how many people came to help one another.”
There were so many heart-wrenching stories, Ballin explained. “I made sure to debrief my team regularly.”
Ballin said there are things that the average person can do to assist evacuees on a one-to-one basis. “The main thing is to be human beings and not ‘human doings,’” she said. She explained that it’s important to be present for that person wherever they are at emotionally at the time. She stressed the importance of listening and showing empathy.

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Challah bake brings community together

Challah bake brings community together

Posted on 07 September 2017 by admin

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

Chabad of Dallas’ third “Let’s Bake a Difference” on Sept. 14 will bring together flour, friends and family to create memories and challahs for the new year.
The evening of inspiration, prayer and unity begins at 7 p.m. at FIG (Fashion Institute Gallery), 1807 Ross Ave. in Dallas. Nearly 1,000 girls (ages 10 and older) and women from throughout the community will mix, knead, braid and pray together.

Chabad of Dallas’ first Let’s Bake A Difference, in 2014, had close to 400 women gathered to braid bread and offer prayers of healing. It is expected that nearly 1,000 women, of four generations, will fill FIG on Sept. 14. ABOVE LEFT: Amy Gross (left) and Sue Kramer mixed together their share of the more than 1,400 loaves of challah at the 2015 Let’s Bake A Difference.

Chabad of Dallas’ first Let’s Bake A Difference, in 2014, had close to 400 women gathered to braid bread and offer prayers of healing. It is expected that nearly 1,000 women, of four generations, will fill FIG on Sept. 14.
ABOVE LEFT: Amy Gross (left) and Sue Kramer mixed together their share of the more than 1,400 loaves of challah at the 2015 Let’s Bake A Difference.

“Challah is something the women of our communities have made together for the generations of our Jewish existence — it is part of the identity of the Jewish woman,” said Baila Dubrawsky, rebbetzin of Chabad of Dallas, who is co-chairing the event with Aida Drizin, Diana Frid, Mooke Hecht, Katy Rosenstock and Carolyn Wilkov. “Preparing challah is only positive; it’s fun, it’s delicious and it’s a connection that unites us where we are.”
The evening will include refreshments, challah prep and surprise entertainment. Tables will be spread throughout FIG with individuals, friends, and families coming together to prepare the loaves of tradition.
“The bracha is ours to share together and the sense of connection to each other, and to Hashem, is unbelievable — something I just can’t describe,” said Co-chair Carolyn Wilkov. “There will be many voices at one point in the evening, coming together to pray for the health and well-being of each other and of others, and that is a magical moment.”
The planned shopping list, to provide for two round loaves per guest, includes much more than the 1030 pounds of flour, 840 eggs, 20 pounds of yeast, 50 quarts of oil, 130 pounds of sugar, and 15 pounds of salt which were used in 2015. Included in the $36/person admission, along with the ingredients are a mixing bowl, spoon, apron, apple, jar of honey and a recipe for all to take home. Baking “coaches” will be roving the tables to help less-experienced participants.
“We’ve had a tremendous atmosphere and incredible success each year and we’re more excited this year. We are thrilled to move our event which started at our shul, then at a hotel, to FIG as we have grown by hundreds each event and we expect to do so again,” said Dubrawsky, noting valet parking at the facility will be free of charge.
“Coming together to do a mitzvah is beautiful and I can assure you this night will definitely be filled with mitzvahs and filled with beautiful things.”
Manna first fell for the Jews just as the matzo the Israelites had taken from Egypt ran out. Thousands of years later, as the women of Dallas’ Jewish community come together, good spirit, good hearts, and good tastes will be created l’dor v’dor, generation to generation, in a most delicious evening.
Thanks to sponsors, anyone unable to afford the $36 fee should contact organizers at 972-818-0770. To register, to sponsor a table or individuals or for more information, visit dallasbake.wixsite.com/challah.

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Truckload of volunteers help out Harvey victims

Truckload of volunteers help out Harvey victims

Posted on 07 September 2017 by admin

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

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

 

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

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

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

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

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

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

 

 

*****

 

 

Kosher meals for Texas Coast

Staff report

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

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

Posted on 31 August 2017 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

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

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