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Ethan Fine mourns loss of friend in plane crash

Ethan Fine mourns loss of friend in plane crash

Posted on 11 January 2018 by admin

Plano resident coming to terms with loss after Costa Rica tragedy

By Shari Stern
Special to the TJP

Any time you lose a special friend, it’s tough. But if you’re a child who loses a special friend, that’s just not fair.
Ethan Fine, of Plano, can tell you all about it as he recently lost his buddy, Ari Weiss. Ari and his family, his parents Leslie and Mitchell Weiss and Ari’s sister Hannah Weiss, perished when aboard a small plane that crashed in Costa Rica on Dec. 31. The entire family from Belleair, Florida perished.

Ari Weiss (center) with his friends Ayden (left) and Ethan Fine

Ari Weiss (center) with his friends Ayden (left) and Ethan Fine

Ari had a penchant for the guitar and entertaining, “Ari lit up the camp through music, playing guitar, bass and piano at concerts. It’s not an exaggeration to say he was a rock star,” Camp Director Geoff Menkowitz told JTA.
He added, “This made Ari a big name throughout the camp, even among those who were not in his immediate circle of friends.”
Mitchell and Leslie Weiss were both physicians; their daughter, Hannah, 19 and son, Ari, 16 were members of Congregation B’nai Israel in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The nine victims were among 12 casualties — 10 U.S. tourists and two local crew members — in the accident in Guanacaste. Costa Rican investigators said afterward that the cause was probably strong winds or mechanical problems, The Associated Press reported. The second family was the Steinbergs of Scarsdale, which is a suburb of New York City.
Hannah Weiss was a sophomore enrolled in a joint program at Columbia University and List College, the undergraduate school of the Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS). She cared deeply about the environment.
Before moving to New York, Hannah spent summers at Camp Ramah Darom, a Conservative Jewish summer camp in Clayton, Georgia. Her brother Ari Weiss also attended the camp, along with his friend, Ethan Fine of Plano. “They were really stars, the two of them, just shining bright,”  Menkowitz said. “It’s a huge loss that we are all reeling from and heartbroken from right now.”
Ethan and Ari met at camp in 2011. They didn’t become friends right away. They were in different cabins. But the next summer, 2012, they became tight, and they texted and visited each other during the school years.
Understandably, Ethan said he was in shock when he learned the tragic news. One of his friends texted him the newspaper article. He said about his friend, “What I will miss most about Ari is how caring a person he was. He always looked out for everyone.”

Ethan Fine at Camp Ramah Darom

Ethan Fine at Camp Ramah Darom

Camp Ramah Darom established a fund in memory of the Weiss family last week.
The Weiss Family Scholarship Fund was created at the request of relatives of the Weiss family. It will be used “to enable other campers to experience the magic of Ramah,” the camp website said.
A service for the family was held Jan. 9 in Tampa. Ethan was asked to speak at the memorial service. Ethan, now in 10th grade at Shepton High School, asks that contributions be made to the Weiss Family Scholarship fund at Camp Ramah Darom. You can mail donations to 70 Camp Darom, Clayton, GA 30525 or call 404-531-0801.
JTA contributed to this report.

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Anshai Torah welcomes Middle East peace adviser

Anshai Torah welcomes Middle East peace adviser

Posted on 11 January 2018 by admin

Scholar-in-Residence Makovsky will speak Jan. 26-27

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

As the United States has named Jerusalem the capital of Israel, and the world looks again to the center of our Jewish lives — traditionally, spiritually, and politically — Congregation Anshai Torah welcomes David Makovsky, the 2018 Arnie Sweet Scholar-in-Residence, Friday through Saturday, Jan. 26 and 27.
“The Arnie Sweet SIR weekend always gives us pause, reminding us of the spirit that defined Arnie,” said Rabbi Stefan Weinberg. “His constant attention to community, alongside his thirst for knowledge and deep interest in the people of Israel, compel us to follow in his footsteps. … Welcoming an individual of David Makovsky’s stature serves as an ideal opportunity to honor Arnie’s memory by pursuing some of the most important ideals that inspired him for a lifetime of dedication to the Jewish people and humanity at-large.”

Photo: David Makovsky “David Makovsky, considered the leading expert in U.S.-Israeli relations — in academic, political, and personal realms — is certain to bring our weekend to a most in-depth level,” said Warren Harmel, chair of Anshai Torah’s Jan. 26 and 27 Arnie Sweet Scholar-in-Residence program. “When critical conversations and decisions have happened, he was there.”

Photo: David Makovsky
“David Makovsky, considered the leading expert in U.S.-Israeli relations — in academic, political, and personal realms — is certain to bring our weekend to a most in-depth level,” said Warren Harmel, chair of Anshai Torah’s Jan. 26 and 27 Arnie Sweet Scholar-in-Residence program. “When critical conversations and decisions have happened, he was there.”

The Scholar-in-Residence weekend, presented by Janice and Dr. Art Weinberg, Cindy and Dr. Mitch Moskowitz, Cathy and Dr. Joel Brook, and Etz Chaim sponsors Debbie and Manuel Rajunov, will feature a Lunch & Learn at noon Friday at Congregation Anshai Torah focused on “U.S.-Israel Relations in the Age of Trump — Knowns and Unknowns.”
Friday night, Makovsky will speak on “After More Than 125 College Visits, a Journey about Israel, BDS and Young American Jews” during Kabbalat Shabbat services beginning at 6:15 p.m. and at a keynote and dinner where he’ll address “The Potential and Limitations of Strategic Convergence in the Middle East.” Saturday morning, Makovsky will speak of “Succession in the Israel and Palestinian Arenas: What is Real?” with a discussion following lunch. Saturday evening’s sponsor and synagogue leadership reception is at a private home.
“David Makovsky’s voice, one that’s been at peace talk tables and at the center with decision makers, is one we’re lucky to hear. How incredible to have him here during this historical time for Israel and for all Jews,” Janice Weinberg said. “Arnie loved our Shabbat table discussions, and the conversations that will come from Anshai Torah’s family Shabbat table would make him proud.”
Makovsky, a native of St. Louis, is the Ziegler distinguished fellow at The Washington Institute and director of the Project on the Middle East Peace Process. He’s an adjunct professor in Middle East studies at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and is a former senior adviser to the special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations in the office of the U.S. Secretary of State.
Makovsky, an award-winning journalist who covered the peace process from 1989 to 2000, is a former executive editor of the Jerusalem Post, diplomatic correspondent for Haaretz and a former contributing editor to U.S. News and World Report — for 11 years as its special Jerusalem correspondent. Makovsky was the first journalist for an Israeli publication to visit Damascus, one of five trips to Syria including when he accompanied then–U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In 1995, with assistance from U.S. officials, Makovsky was given unprecedented permission to file reports from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia for an Israeli publication.
“We need to be humble and we need to take steps forward. There have been many noble efforts through the years and I hope we’ll come to an overlap, but we’re not there yet,” said Makovsky. He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Columbia University and a master’s in Middle East studies from Harvard University, having testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs, and on multiple occasions before the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs Middle East Subcommittee.
Author of Washington Institute monographs and essays on issues related to the Middle East peace process and the Arab-Israeli conflict, he co-wrote, with Dennis Ross, Myths, Illusions, and Peace: Finding a New Direction for America in the Middle East. His maps on alternative territorial solutions to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were reprinted by The New York Times in the paper’s first interactive treatment of an op-ed. He’s a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.
“I talk to students and I’m speaking to tomorrow’s future. I want millennials to not give up, to know about the good times and the handshakes, to learn of the reservoir I have in my mind as I can give hope,” said Makovsky, former chairman of the World Union of Jewish Students. He has made more than 130 visits to college campuses and a TEDx talk discussing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I was 7 during the Six-Day War and 13 at the Yom Kippur War. I look back, a ‘minute’ ago to watching Anwar Sadat in Jerusalem and I was recently at a dinner honoring that occasion’s 40th anniversary,” Makovsky said. “From when I spent a gap year in Israel I wanted to be a part of ‘peace,’ I wanted to be ‘on the ground,’ and that’s where I’ve lived my life and career. It’s important moments that make our lives, that make a difference.”
Program chair Warren Harmel said, “David Makovsky, considered the leading expert in U.S.-Israeli relations — in academic, political and personal realms — is certain to bring our weekend to a most in-depth level.” He added, “When the critical conversations and decisions have happened, he’s been there and we’re honored to bring his astounding practical and theoretical experience to Anshai Torah.”
For information or to RSVP (child care provided Friday night and Saturday morning) call 972-473-7718 or email receptionist@anshaitorah.org. Friday night dinner tickets are $30/CAT members, $38/nonmembers, $8/children. There is no charge for Friday lunch or evening services or Saturday’s events, but RSVPs are required. For sponsorship information, email warrenharmel@gmail.com.

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Transformative experience: MoMENtum trip to Israel gives travelers a unique view into Israel

Transformative experience: MoMENtum trip to Israel gives travelers a unique view into Israel

Posted on 11 January 2018 by admin

The Dallas-area contingent in Jerusalem

The Dallas-area contingent in Jerusalem

By Aaron Greenberg
Special to the TJP

A trip to Israel is expected to be transformative for any Jew. For a group of 28 men from the Dallas area, a Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project MoMENtum trip in October delivered far more than just the wonders of visiting the Jewish state.
Kevin Pailet’s wife, Mahra, is on the JWRP board and convinced him to go. It wasn’t an easy sell. Kevin is on AIPAC’s national board and had been to Israel many times before, primarily on business or organizational trips.
“I told my wife I go to Israel all the time, I don’t need to go on this,” Kevin said.
For others, it was seen as a chance to have fun. Chuck Butler, one of the last to sign up, went on his first trip to the Holy Land looking forward mostly to spending time away with friends.
What they received was life-changing advice, experiences and bonding opportunities — all with a backdrop of Jerusalem and other holy sites. In fact, months later, the entire group remains actively in touch, continuing their growth as Jews, fathers and husbands.
“It’s given me a different lens to engage my wife and kids with, and I’m really happy that I’ve got that lens,” Chuck said.
Chuck recently hosted a dinner for the group, and 26 of the 28 came — the other two being out of town. The bond developed last year is clearly lasting.
“I don’t think I could build these friendships in a normal setting, ever,” he said.
Although the JWRP is best known for its work with and for Jewish women, its focus on family and the success of the women’s trips made the men’s trips a natural next step. Many of the women want their husbands to get a similar experience.
“Because we are an organization that listens to our constituency, the MoMENtum trip was born,” Mahra said.
Her involvement with the board reflects that responsive nature. Mahra reached out to learn how she could do more as soon as she returned from Israel. Within a week, she was working out the next steps with the development department.
It’s not only normal for those who go to want to stay involved — it’s the rule of thumb.

Rabbi Shlomo Abrams and Trip Madrich Billy Warshauer

Rabbi Shlomo Abrams and Trip Madrich Billy Warshauer

“One year later, based on our follow-up, 99 percent still say being Jewish is more important to them,” she said. “98 percent have encouraged family and friends to visit Israel. 75 percent say the trip had a large or life-changing impact on them. We’re sending home leaders.”

A new focus

Most of Kevin’s trips have a very specific focus. He meets with elected officials, members of the military, bureaucrats and experts, he said, and it’s “like attending a conference or business trip that happens to be in Israel.”
On the MoMENtum trips, tourism is secondary. Instead of the skyscrapers and beaches, there’s introspection. Just as with the women’s trips, speakers focus on bettering oneself to improve family life and one’s place in the Jewish community. Charlie Harary, an inspirational speaker, shared his advice on a daily basis, and it hit home for Kevin.
“Once you are out of high school and college and have a family, you are doing very little for yourself,” Kevin said. “On this trip, it’s all guys having the same struggles of how to pause, how to focus on the important things in our lives, to transition away from that treadmill and be present in the moment. That was a big part for me, to learn skills to apply back here in daily life.”
Chuck said that one of his biggest challenges is explaining what he received from the trip without sounding like a zealot.
“When people come back, they want to witness to you about how awesome it is. If you haven’t been through it, these people seem crazy,” he said.
“If I could get people to go, I think they’d be better dads, better husbands, better leaders in the community. I struggle with how to not oversell it.”
He suggests looking at it the way he did — a chance to bond with fellow men. There were several guys he knew well, and others he had met briefly over the years.
Dallas has been very much a part of JWRP since its beginning. Two local rabbis — Nasanya Zakon of DATA of Plano and Shlomo Abrams of the Jewish Learning Center — went on the trip. Jewish Education Texas has also been supportive of JWRP.

Rabbi Nasanya Zakon, Mike Stern and Billy Warshauer enjoy dinner.

Rabbi Nasanya Zakon, Mike Stern and Billy Warshauer enjoy dinner.

“This trip has been a game-changer for men,” said Rabbi Abrams. “We are all running around on the treadmill of life trying to balance our work, family and kids and we tend to forget about our spiritual needs and our power as a Jewish man.
“This trip offers the opportunity to stop and look inside and rebuild our core and renew our relationship with our Jewish identity and God.”
Mahra describes the purpose of JWRP trips as rekindling the spark often lost in the daily grind. As such, it could appeal to a wide range of adults.
Future right of passage?
“I see a future where a JWRP MoMENtum trip becomes a rite of passage much like Birthright or March of the Living is for our children,” Mahra said.
Most of the trip was in Jerusalem, but there was also a day at the Dead Sea and Masada. The Dallas contingent was part of a larger group of about 200, including 13 men, most of who grew up in the Soviet Union, who decided to have a bar mitzvah ceremony atop Masada.
The symbolism was extremely apparent and moving, especially after an F-16 flew over.
“You’re having that emotional moment, you are at this ancient place of Masada with that last stand with the Romans and you are sitting here looking at these families from the Soviet Union, they were not able to live openly as Jews, and here they are in the modern state of Israel with Jewish sovereignty and having their bar mitzvahs,” Kevin said.
The men were also moved by their time in the Old City, especially Shabbat at the Kotel. They prayed and danced with others, befriending several members of Israel’s equivalent to Navy SEALs. Kevin said it felt like barriers were broken down, and Chuck described it as like being at the center of the world.
Rabbi Abrams explained, “Once we step into Israel, something special happens and the guys start bonding and come back with a fresh new perspective as a dad, husband and as an inspired Jew in Dallas.”

A true group

Chuck said there were no real cliques, regardless of who knew whom beforehand. He mentioned a trip to the shuk (traditional marketplace) where several smaller groups started exploring and ended up together.
The experience continues after the men and women come home. They are encouraged to stay connected and get involved.
“Everybody focuses on the trip because that’s what they know,” Mahra said. “They think it’s Birthright for moms. But a participant goes through teambuilding, is educated about Jewish values and has the Israel experience. Then the journey continues when they get home.”

The Dallas contingent

The Dallas contingent

Kevin said his emotional connection to God has changed as a result of Harary’s words. Celebrating Shabbat with family has taken a bigger role in his life, and the Pailets now include blessings over the children and additional songs.
Chuck, who converted about six years ago, is more spiritual than religious, but the experience reached him on multiple levels. He’s looking forward to future trips to Israel, but it’s not to see as many sights as he can.
“I don’t care how many times I go back, I would always spend a few days in Jerusalem,” he said. “It’s the center of it all. I’m looking down at the Kotel, and at this mosque dome, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, there’s every religion, the holiest sites within 15 minutes of each other. It’s an overwhelming thing to see so many people emotionally charged and caring about one place. And it’s not a big place.”

Brett and Adam Diamond at the Kotel

Brett and Adam Diamond at the Kotel

As a group, the Dallas members rotate sharing a Shabbat inspirational message and keep in touch through WhatsApp, meeting when they can.
“We don’t realize as guys how much we also crave connection and friendship,” Rabbi Zakon said. “What is amazing to see is how this trip provides an opportunity for guys to bond. These friendships are only getting stronger since the trip. We have events just for the guys and we all stay and talk over beers for hours.”
“It’s an easy connection. It’s never handshakes, it’s always hugs. It’s a brotherhood,” Chuck said.

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Yavneh teams start district with victories

Posted on 11 January 2018 by admin

Staff report

The Yavneh boys’ and girls’ basketball teams opened Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools District III-3A play this week, with both claiming at least one win.
Here’s a roundup of the first week:

Girls (8-9, 1-1 III-3A)

The girls’ team opened district play with a 41-23 victory over Cristo Rey. Yavneh opened the game with a 13-4 run in the first quarter and essentially put the game away with a 16-3 advantage in the second quarter. Senior Anna Wernick scored 17 points, while junior Gabbe Krasovitsky and sophomore Jessica Lampert both scored six.
Against Dallas Covenant, Yavneh struggled to a 5-2 lead in the first quarter before Covenant took a 14-12 lead into halftime. Covenant extended its lead in the second half for Yavneh’s first district defeat, 27-20. Wernick led the team with 15 points and five rebounds. Lampert had three points and four rebounds.
After this week’s press deadline, the girls traveled to Dallas Lutheran. They host Lakehill Preparatory at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11.

Boys (19-0, 2-0 III-3A)

The undefeated, No. 1 Yavneh boys’ basketball team opened district play with a commanding 85-6 victory over Cristo Rey. The Bulldogs scored 31 points in the first quarter and cruised to the easy victory with three players scoring in double figures: senior Pierce Bell (22 points), sophomore Mason Schwaber (14) and senior Griffin Levine (11). Nine total players scored.
In its second district game, Yavneh faced a tougher foe, but emerged with a 57-44 victory over Dallas Covenant. Yavneh outpaced Covenant with double-digit scoring in each of the first three quarters before Covenant’s 16-9 fourth-quarter push made the score closer. Junior Ofek Reef led all scorers with 18 points, while Levine was right behind at 17. Reef posted a double-double with 17 rebounds, while the team combined for 14 assists.
After press deadline, the boys faced Dallas Lutheran on Tuesday night. Lakehill Prep travels to Yavneh at 8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 11.

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Deadline approaching for JCC’s Emerging Filmmaker Contest

Deadline approaching for JCC’s Emerging Filmmaker Contest

Posted on 11 January 2018 by admin

All submissions, applications due March 1

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

Lights. Camera. Action.
Action, as in care of young filmmakers, is at the core of the first Jewish Film Festival of Dallas Emerging Filmmaker contest. Applications recently posted and submissions are due March 1, 2018. The contest, in memory of Dr. Peter Marcus, looks to receive contributions of film and video creations with a Jewish tone.
For 10 of its 21 years, Marcus and his wife Brenda were dedicated to the Jewish Film Festival of Dallas, serving as event chairs for eight years. Each fall they helped bring creative, evocative, educational, humorous and thrilling films with Jewish stories to the community.

Photo: Marcus Family Peter Marcus (bottom center), of blessed memory, seen here with sons Barry (left) and David and his wife Brenda, is the namesake of the JCC’s Jewish Film Festival of Dallas Emerging Filmmaker Contest.  Applications are open online and film submissions are due March 1.

Photo: Marcus Family
Peter Marcus (bottom center), of blessed memory, seen here with sons Barry (left) and David and his wife Brenda, is the namesake of the JCC’s Jewish Film Festival of Dallas Emerging Filmmaker Contest. Applications are open online and film submissions are due March 1.

“Film is a reflection of our culture and our history and I love, and Peter would love, that the J has chosen to honor his memory in this way,” said Brenda. With her husband she screened more than 100 films each year, working with a dedicated committee, narrowing the field to 10 for the community to experience. The couple researched films, contacted distributors, spending almost full-time hours going through the process. Brenda is already deep in reviews for the 2018 festival, continuing her husband’s legacy and love for sharing Israeli and Judaic culture through film.
“I miss my sounding board and while it’s hard to be screening films now without him, I just watched a prospective film about a baker who was describing the ‘respect’ one needs for the dough as he worked in the kitchen. I both laughed and cried as I imagined Peter here making his potato loaf, and how his mind went into creating it. That’s how we watched films together — finding bits and pieces that touched us and brought out emotions, whether of joy, sadness, love, anger — it didn’t matter as long as it made us feel.”
When one festival ended, the Marcuses would watch films for the next year, often the very next day.
“People coming to the festival only see the end product but my parents worked amazingly hard to bring the best Jewish-themed films,” said David, who with his brother Barry is co-chairing the competition named for their father, who passed away last June. “We are honored and we look forward to seeing what the filmmakers have to offer. I think we’ll view them and think ‘what would Dad have liked,’ and if it launches the career of an upcoming young filmmaker, all the better.”
“Peter and Brenda, really as one, have been an integral part of our film festival and the J is thrilled to reach out to the next generation of filmmakers,” said Rachelle Weiss Crane, Aaron Family JCC director of Israel Engagement and Living. “Even from his hospice bed Peter was screening films and taking calls and that dedication kept all of us going, and made even last year’s festival, his last, so incredibly magnificent. This prize, in his honor, is something very special and important to us all.”
The Emerging Filmmaker prize will be presented to an artist younger than 25 who is chosen for his or her submission of an outstanding short film which contains a Jewish theme. Applicants under the age of 18 are required to have a parent’s written permission. Submissions will be accepted from all genres including narrative, documentary and animation. A committee will choose the winner. More than one award may be given depending on number of applicants and value of works submitted.
Films, no more than 40 minutes in total, must be shot in HD or 1080p format and submitted in the form of a link to a viewable film. While the filmmaker(s) don’t have to be Jewish, the piece must reflect some aspect of Jewish life or the Jewish experience, whether historical, religious, cultural or personal. In addition, applicants must include a personal statement explaining why the Jewish element of the film is important to its creation and a brief treatment or synopsis of the film as well as a plan for securing rights that still require clearance (stock footage, music, etc). Complete rules and information are available on the J’s website. The prize for the winning applicant will be $500 and the honor of having their film screened during the 2018 Jewish Film Festival of Dallas.
“My father grew up in 1950s during the ‘golden age of Hollywood,’ he was enchanted by the movies he saw as a child, and he imparted this love of film to us,” Barry said. “He was able to memorize and quote much of the dialogue from his favorite films, and together we watched Ben-Hur, The Ten Commandments, The Greatest Show on Earth, Giant, Lawrence of Arabia, the James Bond films, and many others. Diary of a Mad Housewife and Lost in America were annual viewing traditions in our home.
“David attended film school as an aspiring actor before becoming a professional sports anchor and reporter. I was a film critic for my high school and college newspapers, I wrote film soundtracks for student movies, and I worked as a script doctor for a small film company in Austin,” Barry continued.
The brothers explained that they are both aspiring screenplay writers. “Our love of culture and the arts is definitely a gift from our parents and something we’re excited to impart through this competition, the Jewish link something deeply embedded and important to everyone connected.”
For more information, or those wishing to make a donation to support the arts prize, email filmmaker@jccdallas.org or www.jccdallas.org/film.

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Estate planning with purpose

Estate planning with purpose

Posted on 05 January 2018 by admin

Photo: Sharon Kuhr Photography Nationally known speaker Chris Erblich is flanked by Dallas Jewish Community Foundation’s Chairman of the Board Rusty Cooper (left) and CEO/President Meyer Bodoff at the 22nd annual fall seminar that the Foundation hosts. Chris will return to speak at the DJCF annual meeting Jan. 25.

Photo: Sharon Kuhr Photography
Nationally known speaker Chris Erblich is flanked by Dallas Jewish Community Foundation’s Chairman of the Board Rusty Cooper (left) and CEO/President Meyer Bodoff at the 22nd annual fall seminar that the Foundation hosts. Chris will return to speak at the DJCF annual meeting Jan. 25.

Husch Blackwell’s Erblich offers insights at Annual Meeting

By Amy Sorter
Special to the TJP

Chris Erblich wants people to know one thing about estate planning, something that has nothing to do with estate tax. The managing partner with Phoenix-based Husch Blackwell LLP indicated that “90 percent of wealthy families will go from shirtsleeves to shirt sleeves in three generations.” The reason why wealth tends to be squandered within three generations? “What people don’t spend time on,” Erblich explained “is figuring out ways to pass down values. Passing wealth down without values can be destructive.”
Erblich, who is highly passionate about this topic, will be the main speaker at the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation’s Annual Meeting, which will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 25, at the Aaron Family JCC. There, amid a lavish dessert selection, attendees will learn the importance of values and estate planning, no matter the size of the estate.
“Passing the values down is more important than passing the wealth down,” Erblich noted. “That’s true, whether you’re passing down a dollar, $100, or $1 million.”
Erblich said the fundamental question to be answered concerning wealth is what the money will be used for, beyond the necessities. Philanthropy is certainly important, but even more vital is the reason behind the giving. “People need a purpose,” Erblich said. “They need to know their values.” Such values can differ from family to family, he noted, adding that donating to an organization such as the Foundation helps broadcast a specific purpose of wealth and giving to family members.
Erblich’s information, as well as that passed along from other experts in Annual Meetings past, is what helps make the Foundation’s annual events somewhat different from others of its type. “When people hear the term ‘Annual Meeting,’ they think about a bunch of tired speeches and nothing else,” said Meyer L. Bodoff, Dallas Jewish Community Foundation president and CEO. Yes, the Foundation January event will have board elections and Sylvan T. Baer Foundation award presentations to Jewish community organizations. But year after year, it is the speakers, and their audience-friendly presentations, that are the main draw. “It’ll be a fun night,” Bodoff said. “Plus, nobody does dessert like we do.”
As an aside, the desserts are being offered up by Taste of the World Catering, and according to Dallas Jewish Community Foundation Director of Scholarships and Programs Mona Allen, they are “show-stoppers.”
Though satisfying the sweet tooth could be considered a decent lure to the event, the main purpose of the Annual Meetings is to encourage all individuals from the community to attend. Bodoff indicated that, as the Foundation represents all age groups, socioeconomic strata and sectors of Judaism — a “true cross-section of the community,” as he puts it — the main speakers are selected to appeal to everyone.
“Last year (2017), Morgan Stanley’s national vice president of philanthropy was the speaker, and she had an excellent presentation,” Bodoff said. “Chris’ presentation will be markedly different.” He went on to say that people don’t generally have the opportunity to learn about estate planning and ways to make a difference, even if they aren’t thousandaires, millionaires or billionaires. “Information like that is typically presented in technical, IRS and legal terms,” Bodoff added. “This presentation will be in a way that the average person can understand.”
And Erblich himself is no stranger to the DJCF. “He spoke a few times to our professional advisors, for continuing education classes,” Allen said, adding that those sessions tended to be more technical, and geared toward an audience of lawyers, estate planners and accountants. Erblich’s most recent presentation to DJCF professional advisors focused on handing down values in tandem with wealth. The topic resonated, and Allen said the presentation would be perfect for the Annual Meeting. Furthermore, “Chris will be presenting in a way that is geared toward non-professionals, helping them gain from his insights and understanding,” Bodoff said.
As for Erblich, he considers it an honor to present at the DJCF event. “It’s my honor to have this opportunity,” he said. “This group truly has an incredible purpose and mission that is impacting other people, and I’m thrilled to be doing this.”
The Dallas Jewish Community Foundation’s 2018 Annual Meeting will take place from 7 to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 25, at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center, 7900 Northaven Road in Dallas. Reservations are required by Jan. 18. For more information, visit http://www.djcf.org/annualmeet2018.

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JCRC holds Community Teen Havdalah event

Posted on 05 January 2018 by admin

Submitted report

DALLAS — More than 150 teens gathered on Dec. 9 at the Aaron Family JCC for the first-ever Community Teen Havdalah hosted by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
The program began with a Havdalah service and singing led by the beloved-by-teens music team of Eric and Happie (Eric Hunker and Happie Hoffman), followed by an Israel education and advocacy training led by Rayna Exelbierd, Southeast High School Coordinator of StandWithUs, and Zachary Schaffer, Community Strategy Associate of the Israel Action Network.
The program, titled Israel on Campus: A Reality Check, is an interactive Israel advocacy program that follows modeled civil discourse on issues relating to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and showcases effective and ineffective conversational skills. Event partners included all local synagogues, Jewish youth groups, StandWithUs and the Israel Action Network of the Jewish Federations of North America.
Following welcome remarks by JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin, teens Noga Even, a member of the JCRC Teen Advisory Council and a StandWithUs intern, and Zach Denn, also a member of the JCRC Teen Advisory Council, introduced Eric and Happie to lead the Havdalah service. After Havdalah, Exelbierd and Schaffer presented tools and strategies for how to participate in conversations about Israel with someone who may hold differing beliefs. Part of the program involved using a small group of teens role playing with the trainers.
“The Community Teen Havdalah was a really special night to gain some knowledge and skills related to Israel. I’m glad so many teens joined us, and am grateful to our Jewish community for putting together this kind of event for teens,” Noga said.
The evening’s program concluded with a song session led by Eric and Happie while teens enjoyed a kosher candy bar and green-screen photo booth, with backgrounds of Israel. Custom-made stadium seat cushions were handed out as free giveaways to the teens in attendance.
“It was so nice to be a part of the Community Teen Havdalah event. Happie and Eric led a beautiful Havdalah service, and I learned a lot from the Israel advocacy trainers about how to better respond to a potentially difficult conversation about Israel on campus, said Sophia Fineberg, member of the JCRC Teen Advisory Council and Shlicha of BBYO’s North Texas-Oklahoma Regional Board.
The Jewish Federation’s High School Impact Committee and JCRC staff planned and prepared for the event with feedback from its Teen Advisory Council. Members of the 2017-18 JCRC Teen Advisory Council are Maayan Abouzaglo, Alec Becker, Rachel Berkowitz, Zach Denn, Noga Even, Sophia Fineberg, Mikayla Gothard, Chandler Kassel, Avery Klatsky, Ben Levkovich, Alexandria (Lexi) Lewis, Eli Minsky, Robert Roseman and Ross Rubin.
“This event is part of a larger and critical initiative in our community to engage our teens in conversations about Israel. We are committed to educating and empowering our youth regarding the complexities of the issues and provide the resources so that they can do their part to support a strong and vibrant Jewish State of Israel. I am grateful for the dedication and diligence of our lay leadership and JCRC staff for putting together such a meaningful event for our teens,” remarked Rubin.
Part of the mission of the Federation/JCRC Combatting BDS Committee is to educate local teens about responding to potential BDS and anti-Israel activity on campus. To that end, the High School Impact Sub-Committee, chaired by Ruthy Rosenberg and Melanie Pinker, continues to engage local teens in educational programming about Israel.
For more information about the JCRC and the Federation’s Combatting BDS Initiative, please visit www.jewishdallas.org/JCRC, call 214-615-5293 or email jcrcdallas@jewishdallas.org.

 

 

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JCRC Community Teen Havdalah

Partner organizations:

  • Anshai Torah
  • Adat Chaverim
  • BBYO
  • Beth-El Ft. Worth — Camp Impact
  • Congregation Beth Torah
  • Congregation Shaare Tefilla
  • Congregation Shearith Israel
  • Congregation Kol Ami
  • Chabad of Plano
  • Israel Action Network of Jewish Federations of North America
  • The JCC
  • Jewish Student Union (JSU)
  • NCSY
  • NFTY
  • Nishmat Am
  • Shir Tikvah
  • StandWithUs Texas
  • Temple Shalom
  • Temple Emanu-El
  • Tiferet Israel Congregation
  • USY
  • URJ Greene Family Camp
  • Yavneh Academy

The event was made possible by a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.

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ONE Night to feature comedian Mandel

ONE Night to feature comedian Mandel

Posted on 04 January 2018 by admin

The Maccabeats to provide music

The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas will host its third-annual communitywide fundraising event featuring comedian Howie Mandel. ONE Night with Howie Mandel, generously presented by BB&T, is chaired by Angela Aaron Horowitz and Doug French, Jolie and Michael Newman and Natalie and Michael Waldman. It will take place at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 28, at McFarlin Auditorium on the Southern Methodist University (SMU) campus.

Howie Mandel

Howie Mandel

ONE Night with Howie Mandel will bring together the Dallas Jewish community as it celebrates the event’s theme, “ONE Night, One Event, One Community.” ONE Night is the Federation’s largest annual fundraising and outreach event of the year supporting the Jewish community in Dallas, in Israel and in more than 70 countries around the world. In addition to a night of community, giving back and laughter, special musical guests The Maccabeats will perform. Last year’s ONE Night with Jim Gaffigan was a huge success with more than 1,300 in attendance raising more than $1 million.
There is no charge to attend the event but a suggested minimum gift to the Federation’s Annual Campaign is required. More information about donating can be found at jewishdallas.org/onenight.
“As immediate past board chair of the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center, it’s a special privilege to serve as an event chair for the Federation’s ONE Night,” said Angela Aaron Horowitz. “Without the support of the Federation, the JCC’s largest donor, we could not remain the vibrant organization serving as the central address for the Dallas Jewish community.” She explains, “The ONE Night epitomizes the very essence of the partnership and support for the entire Jewish community and offers everyone an opportunity to come together to support so many Jewish agencies in the greater Dallas area.”
Mark Kreditor, Federation board chair adds, “I hope every Jewish person in our Greater Dallas community will join us for this amazing evening of laughter and philanthropy. Our Federation has grown and expanded its allocations over the past few years because our community is able to see all the good we do through amazing events like ONE Night. ONE Night is a celebration of our community’s commitment to ensure the safety, success and continuity for every Jew in this community, in Israel and throughout the world. It is my hope we have a very full house. You do not want to miss Howie Mandel.”
The evening’s highlight will be comedian Howie Mandel, who has remained a constant force in show business for more than 30 years. Mandel is executive producer of many shows through his production company Alevy Productions and also serves as one of the judges on NBC’s summer hit talent competition series America’s Got Talent alongside Heidi Klum, Mel B and Simon Cowell. Previously, Howie received an Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Host For A Reality or Reality- Competition Program” for Deal or No Deal and a Daytime Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Game Show Host” for the syndicated version of the show.

Submitted photo The Maccabeats will perform at ONE Night.

Submitted photo
The Maccabeats will perform at ONE Night.

Howie started his career on a dare in Toronto in 1979. During a trip to Los Angeles, he was at the legendary Comedy Store on amateur night and was coaxed by his friends to get up and try his luck. As fate would have it, there was a producer in the crowd who immediately hired him to appear on the comedy game-show Make Me Laugh. His appearance on the show led to talk show appearances, a stint as Diana Ross’ opening act and eventually to the award-winning NBC drama St. Elsewhere, where Howie spent six seasons as Dr. Wayne Fiscus.
Howie has done countless comedy specials on both cable and network television and continues to perform as many as 200 concerts a year throughout the U.S. and Canada. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Terry, and their three children.
To register, visit www.jewishdallas.org/onenight. Tickets are non-transferable and online registration is required.
— Submitted by JFGD Marketing and Communications Director Hillary Burlbaw

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Therapy co-founder hopes to make sizeable hoofprint

Therapy co-founder hopes to make sizeable hoofprint

Posted on 04 January 2018 by admin

Submitted photo Hallie Sheade created a new framework for care in her doctorate thesis. It is known as Spectrum of Therapeutic Equine-Partnered Services, or STEPS.

Submitted photo
Hallie Sheade created a new framework for care in her doctorate thesis. It is known as Spectrum of Therapeutic Equine-Partnered Services, or STEPS.

Sheade’s Equine Connection Counseling growing rapidly

By James Russell
Special to the TJP

Hallie Sheade has a problem: The Fort Worth-based equine therapist cannot turn away clients.
Through her Cleburne-based private practice Equine Connection Counseling (ECC), which specializes in providing counseling and psychotherapy to veterans and at-risk youth through interaction with horses, she sees about 25-30 clients a week. (The waiting list currently hovers at around 80 individuals.)
“I just can’t say no!” she said.
(She still, however, finds time to attend Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth, where she hopes to eventually join as a member.)
Sheade loves her job in part because she loves horses too. At 2 years old, the Illinois native was the only kid who went on those pony rides at the county fair. Her parents signed up the 5-year-old for horse riding lessons.
“It became my obsession,” she said. She was so obsessed, in fact, her parents steered her sister toward other hobbies.
“They couldn’t afford to have two kids obsessed with horses,” she said.
At 9 years old, she worked at a barn full of horses. She was especially attracted to Cowman, who liked neither people nor other horses, continuing her interest in horse-human relationships.
She studied psychology and biology at the University of Miami and later received a degree in counseling from Georgia State University.
The empathic workaholic who loves her job and horses has the data to prove she needs to provide her services longer than the usual counselor. She noticed that many of her clients were reluctant to end services once treatment goals had been met because they did not want to lose the connection with the horse. Many of them relapsed after termination of services.
For her doctorate thesis at the University of North Texas, where she earned the degree in 2014, she established a new framework for care, known as Spectrum of Therapeutic Equine-Partnered Services or STEPS.
After completing counseling, clients can continue their relationship with the horse by participating in supportive activities designed to help them build upon the progress and skills achieved during counseling. They can become active members of a horse community through which they can deepen their relationship with horses while also connecting with other people who share similar interests and experiences.
“The STEPS model is a revolutionary, one-of-a-kind approach to mental health treatment and ongoing wellness after treatment has ended,” Sheade said. “Counseling works and has a high outcome. But a problem in the mental health field is what happens post-counseling?” she added.
Using the model, in 2017, Heade and her husband, Paul Ziehe, a Marine Corps veteran and a certified therapeutic riding instructor, founded the nonprofit STEPS With Horses. It pairs horses with active and veteran military service members and their families, at-risk youth and others.
The STEPS approach is a great fit for veterans, said Ziehe.
As many as 30 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans suffer from posttraumatic stress, depression or traumatic brain injury and an estimated 22 veterans commit suicide each day. Many of these individuals go untreated, avoid traditional therapies or drop out of treatment prematurely due to the stigma, and sometimes discomfort, associated with seeing a counselor, Ziehe said.
Veteran John Halpin is a former ECC client who did not want to give up seeing his horse, a Belgian named Marshall. Halpin retired from the Marine Corps in 2009 after serving almost 25 years, with the final rank of sergeant major.
“I didn’t come to grips with some of the things I saw in combat and with the Corps in general,” Halpin said. “I started the groundwork with Hallie and picked the horse. He and I just bonded. The comfort and bond with the horse has a calming effect for me. It helps me to forget. It grounds me and helps me out in my daily life. It’s closed the loop for me.”
If Sheade and Ziehe are to help veterans like Halpin, however, they need some help.
ECC currently operates on the site of another nonprofit. But to successfully deliver and expand services, they need their own site. They recently launched a $1.2 million capital campaign with that goal in mind. Funds would go toward acquiring land and facilities and purchasing necessary equipment.
Sheade and Ziehe do not plan to keep STEPS confined to the Dallas/Fort Worth region. They hope to replicate the model elsewhere.
“We need land. But we will start with a barn. It just takes getting one person or a few people to help,” Sheade said.
For more information on STEPS with Horses, visit Stepswithhorses.org.

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Charter school emphasizes STEM, languages

Charter school emphasizes STEM, languages

Posted on 04 January 2018 by admin

Ms. Otey’s kindergarten art class

Ms. Otey’s kindergarten art class

Lone Star Academy preparing students for 21st-century jobs

By Amy Sorter
Special to the TJP

Staci Weaver was hired May 26, 2017, as principal and superintendent of Lone Star Language Academy, one of Dallas-Fort Worth’s newest charter schools. Three months later on Aug. 21, the new charter school in West Plano opened its doors for the first time to welcome 108 new students, from kindergarten through third grade.
According to Weaver, the school opening in that short span was nothing short of a miracle.

Mr. Rodriguez and Ms. Weaver at the red ribbon ceremony

Mr. Rodriguez and Ms. Weaver at the red ribbon ceremony

“We usually get a year to launch a charter school,” she said, with a laugh. But with assistance from another charter school, the Region 10 Educational Service Center, Academica Southwest and Priscila Carrera, the school’s office manager (“who is nothing short of amazing,” Weaver said), the school at 5301 Democracy Drive is now in the business of education. Furthermore, Weaver and the school have definite plans for growth and expansion.

Ms. Matto’s kindergarten class during drug-free week

Ms. Matto’s kindergarten class during drug-free week

Each day, students are immersed in science, technology, arts and math (STEAM/STEM) programs, along with English/language arts and social studies, as well as the ability to learn two languages: Hebrew and Spanish.

Isaac Carrera

Isaac Carrera

“The reality is that many of the STEM-related fields and jobs are international,” Weaver said, adding that being bilingual and trilingual ends up being a competitive advantage on the job market. Spanish is offered, as it is the second-most spoken language in the United States. The Hebrew component, in the meantime, ties into the Jewish community’s growth in Far North Dallas and Collin County, a natural fit for Weaver, who is also Jewish.
“We felt that the Jewish families would want their children to learn more Hebrew in school,” Weaver said. Future languages, such as French, are being considered; Weaver indicated she is soliciting feedback from parents.

Staci Weaver

Staci Weaver

Many of those parents have jobs in the area of Legacy West Plano, which is one reason why the school was conceived. Launched by a group that believed a charter school should be up and running near a major employment center, Lone Star Language Academy’s doors open as early as 6 a.m. to accommodate parents who work in and around the Legacy area. In addition to its being open to students attending school in the Plano Independent School District, families belonging to the Allen, Carrollton-Farmers Branch, Frisco and Richardson ISDs may apply as well.
In addition to learning about languages and an emphasis on STEAM/STEM curriculum, students will be armed with marketable skills by the time they graduate from high school, specifically, an associate’s degree. Weaver said Lone Star Language Academy will eventually offer a K-12th grade curriculum, with students obtaining high school credits while in middle school, and high school students ending up with college credits before they graduate. The plan is to add fourth- and fifth-grade levels for the 2018-2019 school year, have a middle school up and running the following year, then culminate the process with a high school component.
Weaver herself is no stranger to charter schools. An ex-police officer, she found a second passion as a teacher after retiring from the police force. Though she originally taught in Florida, her Texas teaching and administrative backgrounds include stints with the Comal ISD (near San Antonio) and two charter schools. One institution was New Frontiers Charter School in San Antonio; the other was Meadowland Charter School in Boerne, in the far northern reaches of the San Antonio area.

Elia Puente and Eliyana Rey study Hebrew at Lone Star Language Academy.

Elia Puente and Eliyana Rey study Hebrew at Lone Star Language Academy.

Weaver and her husband came to Dallas because her son and daughter-in-law live in the area. When she spotted a job ad for the Lone Star Language Academy leadership position, she applied, was hired — then opened the school’s doors in a little more than 90 days.
Though the rush toward the 2018-2019 school year won’t be quite so dramatic, Weaver is already discussing the application period, which begins Jan. 10, 2018. The period will be ongoing until all available spots are filled, after which applicants will be placed on a waiting list.
Meanwhile, she is enjoying the ride during Lone Star Language Academy’s first year.
“I love what I do, I love going to work and I love working with the children,” she said. “they are simply amazing.”
Lone Star Language Academy will host an open house next week for families interested in enrolling in the school. The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 10, at the school at 5301 Democracy Drive in Plano. For more information, log on to http://www.lonestartx.org/ or call 972-244-7220.

 

 

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Anatomy of a Charter School

Charter schools in the state of Texas are considered public schools, and are funded as such. Such institutions, however, have a specific educational twist, or direction. According to the Texas Educational Agency (TEA), the mission of charter schools is to “cultivate innovative, high-quality learning opportunities, and to e

Yael Cohen

Yael Cohen

mpower the charter community through leadership, guidance and support.”
However, one doesn’t just simply find a vacant building and open a charter school. The path from concept to opening day can take up to two years. The basis is a small core team of founders who set a goal for the charter school, an additional group of people to get the whole process moving and a rigorous application and interview process with the TEA. The process of founding and opening a charter school can take up to two years.
Charter schools must be set up as nonprofits, and they aren’t allowed to charge tuition. Staci Weaver, Lone Star Language Academy’s superintendent and principal, indicated that the school gets funding from the state, but its income consists mostly of attendance dollars. As such, fundraising and donations are definitely encouraged.
For more information about charter schools in Texas, log on to https://tea.texas.gov/Texas_Schools/Charter_Schools/

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