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Bernie Sanders says he is ‘100% pro-Israel,’ but blasts its ‘racist’ government

Bernie Sanders says he is ‘100% pro-Israel,’ but blasts its ‘racist’ government

Posted on 23 April 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who is running for the Democratic nomination for president in 2020, answers a question about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a CNN town hall on April 22, 2019. Credit: Screenshot.

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Sen. Bernie Sanders called Israel’s new government “racist,” but also said he is “100 percent pro-Israel.”
Sanders, I-Vt., who is Jewish, was one of five contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination currently performing well in polls and fundraising who participated in CNN town halls Monday evening in Manchester, New Hampshire. Sanders is the leader of the pack in both spheres.
He was the only candidate to field an Israel question: A man noted that Sanders was known for his “outspoken” criticism of the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was re-elected earlier this month.
Sanders repeated his longstanding argument that the United States must be more evenhanded in how it approaches the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but for the first time also called Netanyahu’s government “racist.”
“The goal must be to try to bring people together and not just support one country, which is now run by a right-wing — dare I say — racist government,” he said to applause. Sanders also was applauded for calling Netanyahu “a right-wing politician who, I think, is treating the Palestinian people extremely unfairly.”
A number of Democratic candidates blasted Netanyahu for brokering a vote-sharing agreement with Jewish Power, a party whose extremist views were inspired by a rabbi, the late Meir Kahane, who was expelled from Israel’s parliament for “racist incitement.”
Democrats have also criticized Netanyahu for pledging on the eve of the election to annex some parts of the West Bank. Another candidate, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, previously called Netanyahu a “racist.”
Sanders also noted his own attachment to Israel, recalling his time spent on a kibbutz in the country in the 1960s and that he has family there.
“I am 100 percent pro-Israel,” he said. “Israel has every right in the world to exist, and to exist in peace and security and not be subjected to terrorist attacks. But the United States needs to deal not just with Israel, but with the Palestinian people as well.”

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Israel offers assistance following bomb attacks in Sri Lanka

Israel offers assistance following bomb attacks in Sri Lanka

Posted on 22 April 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray

St. Anthony’s Shrine in Kochcikade, Sri Lanka, one of several sites attacked in coordinated bombing attacks on Easter Sunday, April 21, 2019. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed “deep shock over the murderous attacks against innocent civilians in Sri Lanka.”

Netanyahu, in a statement released and tweeted on Sunday in the hours after the Easter attacks which left more than 200 dead, said that “Israel stands ready to assist the authorities in Sri Lanka at this difficult time.”

He also wrote: “The entire world must unite in the battle against the scourge of terrorism.”

At least 207 people were killed and hundreds more wounded in a series of bomb attacks that hit luxury hotels and churches across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday.

“The attacks in #SriLanka, including those at prayer celebrating #EasterSunday. are a despicable crime. We are all children of God; an attack on one religion is an attack on us all. #Israel sends condolences to the families of the victims and wishes for the recovery of the injured,” Israel’s President Reuven Rivlin tweeted in the wake of the attacks.

The first six bomb blasts occurred at almost the same time on Sunday morning, four in the capital of Colombo, and the others in the cities of Negombo and Batticaloa. A seventh took place hours later and an eighth, in a residential neighborhood, was determined to be a suicide bomb attack.

About 35 of the victims were identified as “foreigners,” with American, British and Dutch citizens reportedly among the dead, CNN reported.

Seven people were later arrested by Sri Lankan authorities in connection with the attacks. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks.

Sri Lankan Defense Minister Ruwan Wijewardena called the attacks terrorist in nature and blamed religious extremists.

Some 70 percent of Sri Lankans identify as Buddhist. Less than 10 percent of the population identify as Christians.

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JCRC Interfaith Seder breaks attendance record

JCRC Interfaith Seder breaks attendance record

Posted on 18 April 2019 by admin

 

Multi-faith clergy in attendance
Photo: Laura Biener

DALLAS — The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas held its Seventh Annual Interfaith Seder April 9. With 80 attendees in its first year, this year’s JCRC Interfaith Seder set a record attendance with 580 attendees.
“For seven years now, the JCRC has brought together the interfaith community of the Greater Dallas area. Together, we experience a community interfaith Seder based on a traditional Jewish Passover Seder and reflect on meaningful and relevant issues,” remarked Melanie Rubin, JCRC chair. “The program motivates and inspires us all toward self-reflection, awareness of important issues, building relationships with one another, and social action in our Dallas community and beyond,” she added.
The leaders of the 2019 JCRC Interfaith Seder were Rabbi Ari Sunshine of Congregation Shearith Israel and Bishop Vashti Murphy McKenzie of the Tenth Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. The JCRC Interfaith Seder Planning Committee was co-chaired by Mandy Golman of Congregation Shearith Israel and Reverend Damon L. Blakeley of Saint Paul AME Church. This year’s seder theme, Building Community Together, brought together faith leaders, elected officials and community members from diverse faith backgrounds. The “VINYL” Booker T. Washington’s Jazz Singers started off the program.
Mark Kreditor, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas board chair, welcomed participants. “As the convener and leader of our Dallas Jewish community, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas recognizes how important it is for communities of faith to come together to advance important issues within our community. Simply put, we are stronger together,” said Kreditor.
Following the model of a traditional Jewish Passover Seder, the annual JCRC Interfaith Seder draws comparisons between Passover stories and challenges that we face in present times by exploring a social action theme or value that resonates across numerous faiths.
The JCRC Interfaith Seder is a unique opportunity for the Dallas Jewish community to join together with local faith leaders and individuals from different cultural, religious and ethnic backgrounds. The JCRC Interfaith Seder also gives the opportunity to our non-Jewish friends and neighbors to have a Jewish experience in a Jewish institution. This year’s Seder was presented by the Texas Jewish Post.

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Men’s study group celebrates 20-plus years of Torah

Men’s study group celebrates 20-plus years of Torah

Posted on 18 April 2019 by admin

Photos: Mark Fisher
“I have students who quote Socrates and Plato in discussions of Torah and it isn’t only the students who learn something each week,” said Rabbi Deon Nathan (left), leader of the Tuesday morning men’s Torah study group.

By Deb Silverthorn

Rumor has it that the true breakfast of champions starts at 7 a.m. every Tuesday. At that time, a community men’s Torah study group gathers at the Dallas Area Torah Association (DATA) offices on Forest Lane in Dallas. Whether a dozen or four attendees show up on any given morning, the conversation and learning are guaranteed to be spirited, engaging and meaningful.
“This program is a good example of where the movements can meet and learn for the benefit of b’nei Yisroel. I think that it is refreshing to have a program for Reform and Conservative Jewish men that is taught by an observant Orthodox rabbi. It proves that we CAN all get along,” said Mark Fisher, a member of Temple Shalom, who has been attending the class almost since its inception. “Our Dallas Jewish community is very special and we’d love to have more men join us in this really incredible opportunity.”
The class, taught for the last four years by Torah Day School of Dallas CFO and COO Rabbi Deon Nathan, takes place at DATA, but is an unaffiliated program. Participants come from congregations throughout the community and the class — for which there is no charge — is open to men of all ages. The coffee and baked goods (provided by Rabbi Deon’s wife and daughters) deliver a bit of extra get-up-and-go for the early meeting time. But, for most who stop in on their way to work, the inspiration the class provides is more energizing than any caffeine pump.
“The intellectual power of the men in the room is impressive. There are lawyers, and doctors and businessmen in the class — members of the boards of many organizations — but if not for this class, they might never cross paths,” Nathan said. “I have students who quote Socrates and Plato in discussions of Torah, and it isn’t only the students who learn something each week. More often than not, I too become the student.”
Nathan, a Dallas native and the son of Sandy and Michael Nathan, was a member of the first class of Yavneh Academy, before transferring to Rabbi Oscar Fasman Yeshiva in Skokie, Ilinois. He earned his bachelor’s degree in Judaic Studies from Hebrew Theological College in Chicago before moving to Israel. During his 13 years in Israel, he earned his MBA in International Business at Bar-Ilan University and worked in private banking and with Israeli startups. Nathan is a certified mohel, sofer STAM (scribe), shochet and mashgiach kashrus (kashrut supervisor). He is the husband of Yehudit and father of seven.
“Somehow the class always hits notes of politics and religion, but the conversations are open and honest and always of the utmost respect,” Nathan said.
First spearheaded by Joel Shickman, of blessed memory, and Congregation Shearith Israel’s Rabbi Elon Sunshine (no relation to CSI’s current senior rabbi), the group met at a coffee shop. Throughout the years, the learning has been led by many rabbis, including Bill Gershon, Joe Menashe, Adam Raskin and Yoni Sonnenblick.
Nathan provides the group with articles and readings that test the state and future of progressive Judaism, and the group often challenges his observant beliefs in the laws, as they apply to modern Jews.
“I had somewhat of an interest in religious school as a child, but in the last 30 years or so I’ve had a new appreciation for learning more extensively,” said Morton Prager, a member of Temple Emanu-El, who has also studied under that congregation’s rabbis Levi Olan, David Stern and Sheldon Zimmerman. “This class has allowed me to study books of the Bible that aren’t the ‘go to’ or of regular review, and from start to finish, we just keep going and we just keep learning.”
Prager spent much of his career as a medical researcher and a professor of medical ethics and philosophy to medical students, and retired only at the age of 92. He said he enjoys the company of the mix of men in the class.
“We argue and interpret and discuss the modern interpretations,” he said. “We might not always agree, but the conversation is always respectful.”
Many of the students have remained constant throughout the two decades. The group began with study of the weekly Torah portion, but soon embarked on a long-term journey, and completed reading the entire Tanach — Torah, Prophets and Writings — word by word, first in 2012.
They are now revisiting the Prophets and studying Samuel I. Participants say that, even though the material is the same, a new leader means different discussions.
“It’s amazing as we read through how humans haven’t really changed in 3,000 years; issues of trust, of tribes and families,” said Fisher, the group together celebrating simchas and suffering great losses. “We’ve learned to study in new ways together. The beauty of Judaism is to share issues and imperfections and to understand that our religion is a guidebook by which to live a more meaningful life.”
For information on joining in the class, email dallasfish@aol.com or deon@thenathanfam.com or call 214-923-5101.

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Dallas sisters to receive DJHS Sikora award

Dallas sisters to receive DJHS Sikora award

Posted on 18 April 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy DHJS
The Weinfeld sisters (above): Melissa Ackerman and Brenda Bliss; the Shosid sisters: (below) Susan Bendalin and Karen Weinreb

By Elena Okowita

The Dallas Jewish Historical Society will host its major annual fundraiser, beginning at 6:30 p.m., on Thursday, May 2, at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas. The event, called “Sip & Savor: Sisters in Philanthropy,” will honor two sets of sisters with the Ann Loeb Sikora Humanitarian Award. Karen Weinreb and Susan Bendalin, and Melissa Ackerman and Brenda Bliss, are the honorees.
The award was named for the first woman to serve as president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. It is presented every two years by the DJHS, and honors individuals who emulate the humanitarian ideals by which Ann lived her life.
Honorees Weinreb and Bendalin, the Shosid sisters, have had several leadership and advocacy positions in the Dallas Jewish community. Weinreb, a graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, was a member of the Sigma Delta Tau Sorority. She recently co-chaired the YES event for The Legacy, and is an active member of Temple Emanu-El and a supporter of The Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas. Weinreb advocates for and supports several local organizations including The Vogel Alcove, The Jewish Federation, The Family Place, Jewish Family Services and the Dallas Holocaust Society.
Bendalin served as the former campaign associate for the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, and went on to become the development director for Akiba Academy. Bendalin is an active member of the Jewish Community Center. In addition to serving as a past member of the JCC’s board of directors, she was two-time co-chair of the JCC’s annual “Be” fundraiser, chair of the Jewish Arts Fest and a member of the Maccabi Games steering committee. She was also co-chair of the Women-to-Women Fundraising Luncheon for Jewish Family Services.
Ackerman and Bliss, the second set of honorees, have also made a large impact on the Dallas Jewish community. Ackerman graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a marketing degree, and has been a Dallas Jewish community volunteer for nearly 40 years. She served on boards of the Jewish Federation, the Jewish Community Center, Temple Shalom, CHAI (Community Homes for Adults, Inc.) and Jewish Family Service. The Dallas Jewish Federation honored her with the Campaigner of the Year and the Bess Nathan Young Leadership Awards. She served as the vice chair of the Maccabi games in 2005, and as a coordinator and volunteer recruiter for the 2015 Games.
Bliss graduated from the University of Texas at Dallas with a master’s degree in speech language pathology and audiology. She traveled to many countries, including Vietnam, Thailand and Innsbruck, presenting workshops on auditory-verbal therapy and cochlear implants. In the community, Bliss provides speech and hearing services to many Jewish day schools, including Torah Day School, Levine Academy and Akiba Academy. She also provides therapeutic services for the adults at CHAI, and sits on the board of directors of Jewish Family Service and the Special Needs Partnership.
Event chairs for “Sip & Savor” are Linda Garner and Ellen Ungerman. Individual tickets for the event are $175 with sponsorships starting at $500. Registration information can be found by visiting the Dallas Jewish Historical Society website at djhs.org.

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Akiba and Yavneh academies to merge

Akiba and Yavneh academies to merge

Posted on 18 April 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Schultz Rosenberg Campus
In August 2005, the Schultz Rosenberg Campus became home to Akiba Academy, founded in 1962, and Yavneh Academy, founded in 1993. On April 2, the schools announced that they would merge into one entity.

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

The end of a more than one-year process came to fruition in mid-March when the boards of Akiba Academy and Yavneh Academy voted to merge the schools effective July 1.
In early April, Rabbi Yaakov Green was named the first head of school for the merged Akiba/Yavneh Academy.
“Merging our two storied institutions offers a multitude of benefits. The combined school will see economies of scale, greater efficiencies, and a more fluid sharing of knowledge and resources,” said Akiba Board President Josh Hochschuler. “These strategic savings and partnerships will allow the merged organization the ability to invest in new services, build a streamlined curriculum, enhance reporting and systems, and improve our administrative structure. Above all, this merger will offer a significantly improved ability to retain and recruit top-notch talent, ensuring that we are offering our students the highest quality educational experience.”
Yavneh Academy board president Debbie Katz added that Rabbi Green is the ideal person to shepherd Akiba/Yavneh as it moves forward.
“He is a great listener with new ideas and willing to get involved in all matters to make sure Akiba and Yavneh continue on their path to a successful future.”
The process of joining the schools began February 2018, when the boards of both schools voted to explore the idea of merging the schools and formed a task force to examine the possibilities. The task force presented its findings to both boards in June. In October, the boards independently voted to accept “an intent to merge” and began the due diligence process with a steering committee with extensive institutional knowledge of the Dallas day school landscape.
Throughout the process, Hochschuler and Katz kept their school communities apprised of developments with monthly missives, answering questions as they arose.
A number of parlor-style meetings were held with various stakeholders including current Akiba Academy and Levine Academy parents, the two schools which send the largest number of students to Yavneh. The balance of the schools’ populations come from the greater area Jewish community and include students from all streams of Judaism and backgrounds.
This is not the first time the schools have discussed becoming one since Yavneh opened in 1993. They have shared the Schultz-Rosenberg Campus since the school year started in 2005. During that time the schools have shared certain back-office resources, but maintained separate faculty and lay leadership. With such a shared history and campus, leadership of both schools saw the advantage of merging.
One longtime Levine Academy and Yavneh parent shared her view of the merger. Jolene Risch is the mother of two Levine Academy graduates, one Yavneh graduate, a Yavneh senior and a Levine eighth-grader who will be a Yavneh freshman in the fall.
“My sons who have graduated from Yavneh had good experiences as a result of the inclusive culture of the school. I was grateful to Dr. Portnoy [exiting Yavneh head of school], who had the ability to understand the unique qualities of each student and allow each an experience that would enable them to achieve the goals they desired.”
Risch believes that Yavneh’s new general studies principal will enhance the students’ academic experiences.
As the merged school charts its new course, the elements that have made the Schultz-Rosenberg Campus successful over the years will continue to be essential.
Andy Schultz, son of benefactors Howard and the late Leslie Schultz, and merger steering committee member, outlined these at the 10th anniversary celebration of the Schultz-Rosenberg Campus in 2015:
• A vibrant Jewish community, anchored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
• Committed benefactors and a community of volunteers.
• Teachers and administrators who are the very heart and soul of the institution.
• Beautiful Jewish children who seek a deeper, more meaningful connection to their Jewish identity, and to the State of Israel, and:
• Jewish parents, who make a tremendous personal sacrifice to provide their children with a Jewish education.
“This commitment in particular must always be remembered,” Schultz said.

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Ribald’s Please Visit Me 613 brings visitors to those in need

Ribald’s Please Visit Me 613 brings visitors to those in need

Posted on 18 April 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Monica Ribald
Monica Ribald founded Please Visit Me 613 in memory of her mother, Helena Stein Tenenbaum, left. Tenenbaum, with her mother, Esther Chana Sandlarz, both of blessed memory, taught Ribald that a smile is a gift that can be opened over and over.

By Deb Silverthorn

“Hello” and “how are you” are among the first words we learn. And, how to find those in need of a “hello” and more is what is behind Please Visit Me 613 (PVM613), created by Monica Ribald.
“I started Please Visit Me 613, because I know of so many people who are homebound because of illness or age or for many circumstances that don’t allow them the ability to get up and out,” Ribald said. “It could be someone who’s a patient, or it could be to spend time with a caregiving family member or friend. They need attention, too.”
Ribald says those she visits have limitations of illness, disability, or for whatever reason no transport, and they are without engagement. Living for company on the weekends, or for when “it’s convenient,” makes for long and lonely days. People wait – and wait – and wait, alone.
“My mother became very hard of hearing in her later years and people stopped visiting with her because it was difficult,” Ribald said. She recalled her friend, Gail Stolovitsky, who always made time to stop in. The visits brightened her mother’s day and kept her cheerful. That someone else besides Ribald and her husband cared was huge. It is in memory of her mother, Helena Stein Tenenbaum, that Please Visit Me 613 was founded.
“It isn’t really difficult, you just have to be creative sometimes in how you communicate with someone. We all need communication,” Ribald said. “There’s nothing worse than being alone. Nothing.”
A New Yorker through and through, Ribald moved to Dallas in 1977 with her husband Max. Ribald’s personality is even brighter than her artwork, which includes the illustrations for Helen Waldman’s book “Polly’s Pipers” and many privately commissioned drawings and paintings.
The mother of Chad (Risa), Yanki (Marrisa), and Itzy (Ilana) and the grandmother of Adam, Anna, Ari, Ariella, Charlotte Grace, Claire, Dasi, Efrat, Eitan and Esther, Ribald is the “Jewish Bubbie” defined: not just to her own grandchildren, but to every student — of any age — who has ever crossed her path, and that includes the thousand-plus children who came through her art classes at Akiba and Yavneh academies.
“I taught my students to draw, to paint, and I taught them about art, artists and about art history. But, I taught them — I hope — more about people and caring,” Ribald said. “You can’t be a good teacher and just teach your subject. You have to teach kids that others matter. Those are the most important lessons I think I ever gave.”
“Do unto others” might not be among the top 10 commandments, but built within our 613 commandments, it rings true many times. Bringing conversation and laughter, or just being with someone, for whatever length of time, does good for the person visiting, and the visitor.
“Monica underscores the connectiveness we have as Jews, the sense of responsibility we all have,” said Rabbi Howard Wolk, the community chaplain at Jewish Family Service. Ribald has been friends with Wolk since the two were in their early teens. “We all left Egypt together and we need to remember that, on many levels,” Wolk said.
Ribald and Wolk agree PVM613 is a project that could connect through the wide spectrum of services JFS offers to its clients and volunteers. “I’m certain that as word gets out, people will appreciate a source to go to whether a person wants to visit, or be visited,” Wolk said. “I hope we will work together.”
Ribald is excited to share PVM613 with the community and hopes others will sign up to go out. She already has a core making their way to homes, hospitals, assisted living and rehabilitation facilities, many of whom have had personal experiences leading them to want to participate.
Sarah Diamond sets out to brighten someone’s day in the memory of her grandmother, Lily. “My grandmother lived with us in her last years and it was so important, to her and to us, that someone be there to hear her stories, to learn her history, to know about her life,” Diamond said. “It gives meaning to their lives, and believe me, we can learn a lot from them.”
There are no parameters or rules to the visitation. It is whatever works and for however long, and however often a schedule allows.
“I was raised to care. It’s just that simple and it’s really easy, and there are so many people here who have no one, no family close. Or they do, but their families are busy, so essentially, they’re alone. A visit can be 15 minutes or it can be hours,” Ribald said.
“It doesn’t really matter how long someone goes in, or what you bring with you except for a smile,” she added. “You have to bring a smile because a smile, a warm caring spirit, is a gift that is opened, over and over.”
To register either as a Please Visit Me 613 visitor, or on behalf of someone who would appreciate a visitor, email pleasevisitme613@aol.com.

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How to host your own Passover Seder

How to host your own Passover Seder

Posted on 14 April 2019 by admin

KADENA AB, OKINAWA, Japan — During the Passover Ceder, a sterling silver Seder plate is used to arrange six items which retell the story of the exodus from Egypt. Traditionally, this is the focus of the ritual meal which Navy Cmdr. Joel D. Newman, chaplain of Marine Aircraft Group 39, 3rd Marine Air Wing, I Marine Expeditionary Force, during a visit to Okinawa here April 18. (U.S. Marine Corps Photo by Cpl. Brandon L. Saunders/Released)

 

 

By Rina Bergman and Alyssa Adler

(Alma via JTA) — Being an adult can be rough sometimes — like when you live too far from your family to go home for Passover or can’t find the time or money to do so. If this sounds like you, believe us, you’re not alone.

The good news is this in no way dooms you to an evening of eating matzo and drinking Slivovitz on the couch. With a bit of planning and some fine-tuned delegation, you’ll be hosting your own friend-Seder in no time.

Below, you’ll find some of our favorite friend-Seder tips. Consider it an afikomen present from your friendly neighborhood Passover fairies.

(Oh, one more thing before we start: Are you new to your city? Been there. Don’t be shy about reaching out to local synagogues and community centers to see what they have going on — they can point you in the right direction of people to celebrate the holiday with.)

Pre-Seder lesson plan

What do you want your Seder to look like? Maybe you’re a five-minute, in-and-out kind of Jew. Maybe you like singing and banging onto the table long into the night. Whatever you choose, do you. And make sure that’s decided ahead of time.

Need something to get you started? “A Night To Remember Haggadah” is Rina’s family’s favorite — and can help you visualize what kind of Seder you want to lead.

Invites

Make a list of people you want to have over, then start inviting immediately. People figure out their Passover plans early, so make sure your Seder is on your invitees’ radar. The guests don’t all have to know each other — icebreakers suck in the moment, but once you’ve all gone around the table sharing your first AIM screen name, a bond has been formed.

If you’re inviting non-Jewish friends — Rina did all the time in college — being extra explanatory at the Seder is key, especially if they’ve never been to one before. Giving them a heads-up before they arrive is a good call, too — send them something like “The Guide to Passover for Interfaith Families” from Interfaith Family (https://bit.ly/2KtLj8K)  so they have an idea of what to expect.

Potluck

Take it from us: You don’t want to spend the entire day before Passover cooking for the Seder. Delegate! You know your friends better than we do, so if someone’s known to cause kitchen fires, maybe they just bring the wine. Or the matzo. Or the citrus-shaped jelly candies (it wouldn’t be a Passover Seder without those bad boys). Need some recipe ideas? Might we suggest these lemon garlic green beans (https://bit.ly/2P0qtfZ), this Brussels sprouts salad (https://bit.ly/2D6l42b), this (vegan!) sweet potato spinach quinoa gratin (https://bit.ly/2KkMebB), this broccoli, cheddar and spinach frittata (https://bit.ly/2YZMAaP), or this incredible chocolate mousse (https://bit.ly/2U0IUlG) .

Know your kitchen

Keep your oven in mind: Both of our ovens are tiny, as in most commercial baking sheets don’t fit inside of them (thanks, New York City!). This means when we cook large meals, it takes a little longer than it would if we had ovens for, say, adults. Maybe you have a massive oven that can cook multiple dishes at a time — we envy you. If, however, your oven would be more fitting for a nursery school play kitchen like ours, then you need to strategize. We’re talking oven and stove-top space, cooking duration and temperature.

Oh, and your pans: Possibly even more important are your pans. Look at your menu and figure out how many pans and dishes you need — if you’re lacking, now is the time to grab some more, either disposable or reusable.

The actual Seder part: Haggadahs

The good thing about a Passover Seder is that it literally comes with an instruction guide, the Haggadah, so you don’t have to actually memorize any of the steps or prayers. But not all Haggadahs are created equal, even if their cover is identical. We learned this the hard way. Things become a little sticky when everyone’s Haggadah is a different edition and no one knows what page they’re supposed to be on. Do yourself a favor and order some online a few days before your Seder. Or, if you’re in a city with a Judaica store or Jewish bookstore, hit them up (and support small business!).

Traditions

Ask your guests about their traditions and what they want to bring to the table. If your friend’s grandma makes the best charoset this side of Broadway, let her family tradition shine through. If another friend spent the 10 plagues throwing ping pong balls at his brothers, then table props it is. Icebreakers suck as a rule, but these are great ways for everyone to get to know each other. If you’re looking to shake things up, Alyssa’s family always reads “Dr. Seuss’ Four Questions,” a  wacky version of the Four Questions — feel free to join in on the fun!

And to make it run smoothly …

Set the table the night before. Just one less thing to worry about.

Have fun!

As two type-A personalities, we understand how easy it is to get caught up in the chaos. Remember, this holiday is all about enjoying your freedom. Don’t let the chains of hosting bind you this Passover — what’s most important is that you’re with good company and you drink copious amounts of wine (or maybe sangria?!).

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4 hacks to make your Passover Seder more fun

4 hacks to make your Passover Seder more fun

Posted on 14 April 2019 by admin

An Israeli family seen during the “passover seder” on the first night of the 8-day long Jewish holiday of Passover, in Rishon le Tzion. March 30 2018. Photo By Nati Shohat/flash 90.

 

By Emily Aronoff Teck

(Kveller via JTA) — No joke: I love hosting the Passover Seder.

I love feeding people — I’m both Jewish and Southern, so this is deeply engrained in me. I love educating people, and I love being Jewish, so the Seder is a perfect opportunity to gather the ones I love for a meal — a meal during which they are actually open to me sharing all sorts of fun facts, songs and stories.

If it were up to me, I’d fill every shared meal with readings and inspired discussions. That’s not realistic, of course. But during a Passover Seder, at least, people are much more game. So I like to take full advantage of the opportunity and go above and beyond the typical readings and tunes that most people expect.

Yes, I’m a mom — but my toddler and baby weren’t my primary motivation for adding some sass to our Seder. (Although one of my all-time favorite Seder moments was last year, when our swaddled newborn, placed in a basket, formed a particularly memorable tablescape.) For years I’ve been motivated to find new and different ways to invite my Seder guests to see the joy in Judaism that I see every day.

Everyone — kids and adults — loves to play, learn and connect with one other. Passover is the perfect time for that. So here are a few of my Seder hacks that I’d totally recommend if you’d like to ensure your festive meal is, in fact, festive.

Make-your-own charoset bar

Having your guests concoct their own charoset is so much fun. On a side table in our dining room, I set up an array of diced fruits, nuts and a selection of honeys, wines and juices. (Pro tip: Martinelli’s makes the best apple juice!) I put out cheap, reusable plastic shot glasses so guests can make multiple variations to find their favorite. Sometimes a few of the grown-ups make a concoction that much more closely resembles sangria than charoset, but hey, that’s part of the fun!

Digital Haggadah

Like many families today, I like to make my own Haggadah, or Seder guide. But instead of making photocopies, I do it in PowerPoint. We usually drag a big-screen TV into the dining room — though this year we’ve upgraded: We invested in a small projector, so instead we’ll project the Haggadah on a wall. (This is for those who are willing to use electronics on a Yom Tov.)

I love doing this for several reasons. I can personalize the presentation and I can make changes up to the last minute. I’ll assign readings by writing a person’s name, add images of the people who are attending (I can add even add photos from previous years’ Seders, which is particularly fun since we have little kids who have grown a lot in the last year). It’s a multimedia presentation: We play a video about The Four Sons instead of reading that passage; we’ll sing along with the Maccabeats’ version of “Dayenu.” Plus, no one is ever on the wrong page, and everyone is looking up and around instead of down.

Storybook breaks

Though we follow the Haggadah, we frequently pause to share parts of the story using picture books. It doesn’t seem to matter that there are usually more adults than kids at my Seder; everyone welcomes the change of pace. We like to say the Four Questions all together, reading from an awesome picture book that’s in both English and Hebrew, and we read “The Longest Night” to help us imagine the experiences of the enslaved people. We also have several copies of the “Dayenu” board book (thanks PJ Library!), so we have multiple people holding onto it as we sing it in English (just before we watch the video mentioned above).

Shtick it up

I love shtick. But what I don’t love are some of the more popular ways to work it into the Seder. (Take those Ten Plagues finger puppets — the plagues weren’t cute, so let’s drop those, OK?) There are myriad other ways for putting some pep into the Seder. For example, we like to put the kids in laundry baskets — we give them a ride around the table when we talk about baby Moses in a basket (we do it while singing “Little Taste of Torah”).

We’ll use bubble machines and water sprayers when we talk about the parting of the Red Sea and, for babies, we will play afikomen peek-a-boo using scarves or cloth napkins. We use materials like kinetic sand and wax craft sticks, so everyone can craft little avatars of themselves, encouraging each guest to “imagine if you were a slave in Egypt.”

Trust me, with a little creativity (and not a ton of work!), you can have a lot of fun at your Passover Seder. I hope your Seder is meaningful, memorable and enjoyable. Chag Sameach!

Emily Aronoff Teck is a multitasking mom, musician and educator. “Miss” Emily visits Jewish communities to share celebrations and songs with young children and their grown-ups, and manages JewishLearningMatters.com. She earned her doctorate in education in 2018 at Gratz College.

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JFS’ new food truck increases its offerings

JFS’ new food truck increases its offerings

Posted on 11 April 2019 by admin

Photos: JFS Dallas
An artfest, inspired by Jonah Schwarz-Mullins, took place at Jewish Family Service Food Pantry last summer, raising more than $6,000 to support the organization’s new truck.

By Deb Silverthorn

On the road again, Jewish Family Service is on the road again, again and again. Its new, 26-foot refrigerated food pantry truck is making the rounds three times a week, collecting boxes and pallets of food from throughout the Metroplex.
“The truck is an absolute game-changer. We had offers from many stores to provide us with food but we just didn’t have a way to get it here,” said Cathy Barker, JFS’ CEO. Barker noted that previously, it was up to volunteers and employees to pick up donations. As a result, time and vehicle space constraints limited significant intake. “Now, we’re regularly collecting pallets of food, of produce that requires refrigeration, and all kinds of goods; that allows us to distribute it to the many who need it,” she said.
JFS’ Food Pantry, an affiliate of the North Texas Food Bank, provides food for nearly 60 qualifying families a day who have cleared the intake process for support — close to 4,500 individuals, in 20 ZIP codes. Clients come to the food pantry to shop, as they might at a grocery store. However, pantry clients pay nothing, and have access to the full scope of wraparound services, including employment and financial coaching, emergency financial assistance and much more.
The truck, donated by a group of individuals, now makes its way to organizations and synagogues that hold food drives throughout the year. In addition, Costco, Target, Walmart and many restaurants are expanding the amount of provisions to the community.
The JFS Food Pantry provides meats, dairy, frozen foods and fresh produce, all from local sources, as much as possible. Kosher products are available, and in the next weeks, items for those celebrating Passover are on the shelves.
“I started volunteering at JFS to meet my required mitzvah hours for school but I quickly learned to respect the many ways everyone there helps so many thousands of people and I wanted to be a part of that,” said Yavneh Academy senior, Jonah Schwarz-Mullins, the son of Janice Schwarz and Ed Mullins. Schwarz-Mullins, who was honored in February as one of JFS’ Kids with Heart Volunteer, spearheaded an artfest, which raised more than $6,000 for the truck.
While he himself is not an artist, many of Schwarz-Mullins’ family members are. He collected donations from them, other artists, and others willing to donate the art from their homes. The artfest took place on June 26, 2018, at the JFS Food Pantry, so donors could see firsthand where their support was going.
Meanhile, the truck’s driver is supported by David Goldberg, Randy Fleisher and their families.
“I’m so excited this has come together and that we are on the road, and on the road representing our community helping others,” Goldberg said. He takes pride that the truck is labeled as “Jewish Family Service — A Partner in Hunger Relief.” “Rather than letters that some might not recognize, it is important that our greater community understand what it is that our Jewish community does to support those beyond our own,” he said. “We are all, our own.”
For more than a year, after volunteering in the food pantry, Goldberg noticed there was little to no fresh produce available. He would buy and deliver hundreds of dollars’ worth of onions, potatoes, apples or oranges.
“I’ll never forget the wide eyes and ‘can I have more than one’ request of a man, for oranges,” he said. “More than one orange was a luxury — something most of us don’t think about.”
“Our food pantry client numbers are increasing, 20-25 percent in the last year alone, and it’s incredible for us to be able to react when we get a call from a store with items to donate,” said JFS’ Food Sourcing Coordinator Marilynn Wohlstadter. “The driver is bringing back more than we ever could have hoped to recover previously, and the truck has extremely increased both the volume and selection we can.”
The food pantry is open, by appointment only, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. Those wanting to donate dry and canned goods, meat, fresh produce and other perishables can deliver to JFS from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays-Fridays and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Mondays.
For more information, to donate or to make an appointment, call 972-437-9950.

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