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Josh Goldberg soaring in the Jewish music world

Josh Goldberg soaring in the Jewish music world

Posted on 20 June 2019 by admin

Everyone can help with Dallas native’s 3rd album
Photo: Courtesy Josh Goldberg
Josh Goldberg hopes his hometown community will participate in a campaign allowing him to produce his third album, “Anchors and Balloons.”

By Deb Silverthorn
“It’s anchors or balloons, you keep building me up then shooting me down,” sings Dallas native Josh Goldberg. The title track lyrics of “Anchors and Balloons” reflect those closest to Goldberg; his friends, family, fans and his community, which began here in Dallas and now extends across the country as his beautiful and meaningful voice, the spirit in his step and song reach far and wide.
The musician, who turns 28 June 25, is hoping many of his followers will participate in an Indiegogo campaign, open until Monday, July 8. Goldberg will produce this, his third album, under his own label, Kosher Style Records, which has already produced 12 other contemporary Jewish music artists.
“Anchors and Balloons” is a mix of Hebrew and English, of liturgical and original heartbeats including “Adonai S’fatai,” “Found You,” “Hinei Mah Tov,” “Modeh Ani,” “Modim Anachnu Lach,” “Shalom Rav,” “Shema Koleinu,” “Shiru Ladonai” and “V’shamru.”
“Almost everything in life is either an anchor or a balloon. Anchors can keep you grounded, humble, calm and safe. But when they become too heavy, they can be burdensome, weigh you down, and make you feel stuck and unable to continue your journey,” said Goldberg, crediting friend Max Jared for the album’s metaphorical inspiration.
“Balloons, though, lift your spirits, bring self-worth and make you feel joy but, when too full of air, can give hubris and bloat your ego until you soar into the sun and burn like Icarus,” Goldberg added.
The one holding Goldberg’s chain and string is Andrea, his wife of 11 months. The two met in a choir. The upcoming album will feature “As Long As You’re By My Side,” their vows sung to each other under the chuppah.
Goldberg’s first taste of performance came through the Aaron Family JCC’s musical theater productions. The Booker T. Washington High School for the Visual and Performing Arts graduate studied piano at the age of six, and began guitar in middle school. After graduating from high school, Goldberg ended up at the University of Southern California, where he majored in contemporary music.
Much of Goldberg’s music comes from intimate moments and people in his life. On his album “One,” there is “Love, Love, Love,” which he wrote the night his grandmother passed away. “Anchors and Balloons” will offer “Jenna’s Song,” written and first performed for his sister on the occasion of her bat mitzvah nearly a decade ago.
In “The Day that Turned my World Around,” Goldberg’s broken soul is expressed about the loss of the late Tracy Fisher, who passed away at the start of their freshman year in college. A precious friendship formed for the two as young children on the stage at the JCC.
“This new album reflects Josh’s continuing journey in song and prayer. He continues to evolve as a Jewish artist,” said Josh’s father, Marshal Goldberg. “I never cease to be amazed by Josh’s talents as a singer and songwriter and the depth of his Jewish soul.”
A cantorial student at the Academy for Jewish Religion California, Goldberg performs around the country, is the musical director at The Open Temple in Venice, California and is a cantorial intern at Temple Akiba in Los Angeles.
It is the clergy of Goldberg’s home synagogue, Temple Emanu-El, and its former cantor, Richard Cohn, Goldberg said, that have lifted him since his childhood.
“Watching Josh blossom and grow as a spiritual leader has been one of the joys of my rabbinate. In song he’s found his own language for the Jewish commitment that has always been part of his and his family’s path,” said David Stern, senior rabbi of Temple Emanu-El. “His music is a window into his soul, providing an opening invitation to ours. What a blessing to the Jewish community that his vision and gifts continue to gain even greater reach, finding ever-greater depth.”
In addition to recording and performing, Goldberg was producer of the “Jewish Star” album. Among the three finalists of Jewish Rock Radio’s Jewish Star Competition chosen to record was McKinney resident and Adat Chaverim member Andrew Goldstein.
Houston native Joe Buchanan is one of the many Jewish music professionals with whom Goldberg has performed; Buchanan said being Goldberg’s friend and fellow musician is an honor.
“Josh has done so much to foster Jewish music,” said Buchanan, who will bring his own brand of Americana country about Jewish life to a concert in Dallas next year.
“Participating in this campaign, and helping this album come forth, is about joining the community around Josh, about supporting the music, the artist, this really fine young man. It’s about saying I support your vision and I’m on your team.”
Goldberg’s lifelong team cheerleader is his mom, Cyndi Goldberg, who looks to her son’s vocation as the definition of the man himself.
As a third-grader learning about the commandments, Goldberg took literally the concept of fulfilling all 613. The rabbi told him to do the best he could to care about people and the world. In that, he would be fulfilling what is asked.
“Between a song for his sister, for his grandmother — his Bubbe, for Tracy and together now with and for Andrea — those and so many others that define Josh, there’s never been anyone so full of love,” Cyndi Goldberg said. “He’s always had an old soul and a heart of gold and I’m so proud of him for reaching a place where he can give all of that to the world.”
To participate in the Indiegogo campaign, visit indiegogo.com/projects/anchors-and-balloons. For more information about Josh Goldberg, visit joshgoldbergmusic.com.

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Jewish community hit hard by June 9 storm

Jewish community hit hard by June 9 storm

Posted on 20 June 2019 by admin

Aftermath of high winds wreaks havoc for many
Photo: Courtesy Temple Shalom
Temple Shalom’s Alpha and Hillcrest campus was a pecan orchard before the synagogue was built. Many of the majestic pecan and oak trees were toppled by the June 9 storm.

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
A quiet Sunday afternoon, June 9, quickly turned treacherous when a violent thunderstorm whipped through the Dallas area about 2 p.m. Although winds ranged from 50 miles per hour to more than 70 miles per hour, outdoor sirens did not sound.
Flash flooding occurred rapidly as the banks of creeks and culverts crested, sending water into streets in many residential neighborhoods in North Dallas and making them difficult to pass.
There were no serious injuries to Jewish community members, though many lost power and trees, and sustained damage to their homes. The JCC and several synagogues were affected throughout the week. Many members of the Jewish community were observing Shavuot when the storm hit, and those who are shomer Shabbat were prevented from dealing with the aftermath of the storm until after dark on Monday, when the holiday ended. In some areas, residents were without power until Wednesday evening and into Thursday morning.

Camp starts a day late at the JCC

Perhaps the organization with the most challenging set of circumstances was the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center. The J was closed for Shavuot Sunday and Monday, and lost all power from the storm. Summer camp was supposed to start Tuesday, but because of the power outage, it was postponed.
JCC CEO Artie Allen explained that the J has lost power to one system or the other in the past, but this was the first time that it lost power to all its systems simultaneously.
From the pools and whirlpools to the exercise equipment and HVAC, each system had to be checked out methodically.
Camp was able to start Wednesday and all other programs resumed Wednesday.
In terms of damage to the property, Allen said the J lost a significant number of trees in the natural play areas and sustained damaged fences around the campus.
“We’ve had a tree service out there basically since the storm,” he said.
As things seemed to be approaching normal, the J lost power again to its fitness area Friday afternoon because of continued work by Oncor in the neighborhood.
“Because Shabbat was approaching we decided to go ahead and close for the rest of the afternoon,” he said.
Allen said that, interestingly, the J is served by two transformers, so part of the facility can be up while another can be down.
Allen lauded Oncor for quickly responding the J’s needs.
“We were very pleased with the response that we received from Oncor. They were very helpful. Obviously they couldn’t get the power on as quickly as we would have liked, but they were really amazing for us to work with.”
Allen said that Oncor understood the need that the JCC had to be back up and running, given the range of people it serves from toddlers in camp to seniors depending on hot meals.
“I believe the JCC was up and running two days before the rest of the neighborhood was up and running.”

Synagogues deal with storm aftermath

Several synagogues lost trees in addition to power and made adjustments to their Shavuot services.
At Temple Shalom, at the corner of Hillcrest and Alpha Road, many pecan and oak trees were damaged. Because of the downed power lines on the opposite side of Hillcrest and Alpha, the temple was without power until Tuesday.
“While there was only minor damage to our buildings, we suffered significant loss of trees. Our campus was a pecan orchard before the land was purchased in 1969, and there are dozens of mature pecan and oak trees throughout. An estimate of the cost to remove and remediate is not yet available but will be quite substantial,” Shalom Executive Director Steve Lewis shared with the TJP via email.
Further south at Hillcrest and Royal Lane, Tiferet Israel lost one tree in addition to its power for 30 hours.
“We were lucky and really only had minor damages. We were without power for 30 hours, so we lost the contents of our refrigerators and freezers. Services had to be held outside Monday for Shavuot, which was actually really lovely,” said longtime Tiferet office manager, Jennifer Williams.
Williams said the Tiferet community was grateful for their luck.
For Congregation Shearith Israel, at Douglas Avenue and Walnut Hill Lane, the power was out from Sunday through Wednesday. The synagogue held Shavuot services outdoors Monday. It lost all of its food in its kosher kitchens and kept people out of the office for a few workdays. A large tree crashed down, narrowly missing the stained-glass windows in the Aaron Sanctuary.
The Shearith Israel Cemetery on Dolphin Road was also affected by the storm. Two trees were toppled and the gate was knocked off its hinges.
A helping hand
Other synagogues that were not as hard-hit were quick to lend a helping hand to the community.
Temple Emanu-El sent “an email to all members letting them know we had power and that we welcomed them to stop by at any time to recharge their devices, have a cup of coffee and be greeted by our friendly, welcoming staff and the larger Temple community. As always, we were there to support them,” explained Connie Dufner, Emanu-El communications director.
She added that “many members did stop by the Tycher Gathering Space to recharge, read and have some coffee. Others set up mobile workspaces in our adult learning spaces. Being a hub for our members was exactly the role envisioned by our renovation and expansion of 2015-16, and we were happy so many chose to hang out for a bit at their Jewish home.”
Shaare Tefilla Executive Director Robyn Mirsky said that after Shaare’s power was restored late Tuesday afternoon, they offered the use of the internet to whoever needed it.
“Several people did take us up on the offer and it was nice to see everyone working together.”

Surveying the damage

Near Shadybank Drive, for example, the creek that runs down Meadowcreek crested and water was knee-high in some alleys. Water was as high as the wheel wells of some cars during the height of the storm.
As soon as the storm passed, it was evident that the Jewish community was hard-hit with regard to power outages and downed trees.

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Jewish groups slam Ocasio-Cortez for comparing US border control to ‘concentration camps’

Jewish groups slam Ocasio-Cortez for comparing US border control to ‘concentration camps’

Posted on 19 June 2019 by admin

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.). Credit: Screenshot.

By Jackson Richman

(JNS) Outrage from pro-Israel and Jewish groups is growing at U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) for her remarks on Monday on her Instagram account that the United States is “running concentration camps on our southern border,” in reference to the Trump administration’s policies regarding illegal immigration.

“AOC should ask Holocaust survivors and ex-GIs who liberated Dachau what that charnel House was like,” Rabbi Abraham Cooper, the SWC’s associate dean and director of global social action for the leading international Jewish Human Rights NGO, told JNS. “She is insulting victims of genocide.”

“AOC and others should stop demonizing Trump as a Nazi and instead forge bipartisan fix to disastrous humanitarian situation at our Southern border,” he continued. “Otherwise, all members of Congress will share responsibility for failing to stop the suffering and even deaths.”

In her social-media remarks, the freshman congresswoman said she wants to talk to those “who are concerned enough with humanity to say that ‘never again’ means something.”

“The fact that concentrations camps are now an institutionalized practice in the Home of the Free is extraordinarily disturbing, and we need to do something about it,” she continued.

Ocasio-Cortez warned, “We are losing to an authoritarian and fascist presidency.”

“I don’t use those words lightly,” she continued. “I don’t use those words to just throw bombs. I use that word because that is what an administration that creates concentration camps is. A presidency that creates concentration camps is fascist, and it’s very difficult to say that.”

On Tuesday, the Democrat, who has compared Israel’s actions to protect its border with Gaza from violent protesters “a massacre,” and that reducing U.S. assistance to Israel “should be on the table,” doubled down on her remarks.

“This administration has established concentration camps on the southern border of the United States for immigrants, where they are being brutalized with dehumanizing conditions and dying,” she posted in a Twitter thread.

“And for the shrieking Republicans who don’t know the difference: concentration camps are not the same as death camps. Concentration camps are considered by experts as ‘the mass detention of civilians without trial,’ ” she continued. “And that’s exactly what this administration is doing.”

Historian Gil Troy told JNS, “There is a long tradition of members of Congress saying dumb things; nevertheless, this comment belongs in the Hall of Fame. It’s not anti-Semitic. It’s too sloppy for that.”

He continued, “Anyone who compares the complicated set of tensions both Democrats and Republicans have been forced to make around immigration—as leaders of a complicated democracy—with the evils of Nazi concentration camps is both deeply ignorant and instinctively anti-American, shockingly unaware of the moral difference between democracy and dictatorship, and probably unable to distinguish between the two.”

Yossi Klein Halevi, an American-born Israeli author and journalist, said that “it’s tricky.”

“ ‘Concentration camps’ has become a generic term, not only about the Holocaust. (I would argue that “death camps” is unique to the Holocaust.),” he emailed JNS. “I think this is more an American than a Jewish issue. I am outraged at her slander of America.”

‘I would suggest that she visit Auschwitz’

Several other pro-Israel and Jewish groups condemned Ocasio-Cortez’s remarks, while some left-wing Jewish groups defended her statements.

“Six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust. It is disgraceful for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez to compare our nation’s immigration policies to the horrors carried out by the Nazis. We would hope that Rep. Ocasio-Cortez knows better, but sadly, she does not,” said Republican Jewish Coalition on Tuesday.

“Before Representative Ocasio-Cortez makes a statement like that, I would suggest that she actually visit Auschwitz, and try to understand what actually took place there,” Endowment for Middle East Truth founder and president Sarah Stern told JNS. “Her statement devalued the horrors of the Holocaust and of the 6 million who were systematically and purposely murdered. Statements such as these are ill-informed and flippant, and simply illustrate her vast ignorance.”

National president of the Zionist Organization of America Mort Klein said “the real story is that the U.S. government ran out of space and has to temporarily house minor teenagers who crossed illegally into the U.S. at an army base—something that former President [Barack] Obama also did. Comparing this to the horrors of the Holocaust death camps is a sin. AOC must be censured by her colleagues for this mindless and moronic analogy. She doesn’t belong in Congress making decisions on behalf of her fellow American citizens.”

However, Bend the Arc: Jewish Action defended Ocasio-Cortez, saying that the real outrage should be directed at the Trump administration and not the congresswomen’s language.

“Whether we call them concentration camps, mass detention centers or cages for children, they are a moral abomination,” said Bend the Arc: Jewish Action in a statement.

“The real question is not what we call these mass detention sites growing all over the country, the question is: What is every government official and citizen doing to stop this evil? Our government is scapegoating, demonizing and terrorizing immigrants,” continued the group. “These policies echo the worst of Jewish history and the worst of American history.”

“Anyone distracting from these clear facts with manufactured outrage is subverting Jewish history and trauma, and that is shameful,” it added. “Jewish Americans overwhelmingly reject the hateful, anti-immigrant policies being perpetrated by the very people pretending to be offended on our behalf.”

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When connected, Jewish teens flourish

When connected, Jewish teens flourish

Posted on 14 June 2019 by admin

Photos: NTO BBYO
Yael Schuller, Ethan Freed, Sarah Liener and Ethan Fine prep for the Hawaiian-themed convention dance.

Study finds youth groups are critical

By Deborah Fineblum
(JNS) There was a time when “Don’t trust anyone over 30” was the mantra for the young. But if a new study of Jewish teens — the largest of its kind ever attempted — can be believed, the situation is much different today, news that will no doubt come as a huge relief to parents.
Eighteen-year-old Yael Berrol is intimately involved in Jewish life — be it in her Conservative synagogue in Oakland, California, where she teaches fifth-graders in the Hebrew school; during her 10 years at Camp Ramah in Ojai, California; in Israel, where she rode with an ambulance crew; or at events at her B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO) youth group.
“The best part of BBYO for me is the conventions, a real connection with Judaism and a weekend away with a bunch of Jews,” says Berrol, who’s one of a handful of Jewish students in her high school. “Being together is when I feel like my true self.”
More than 17,000 Jewish teens like Berrol participated in an online survey, developed by the Jewish Education Project and Rosov Consulting. Most of the names came off lists from 14 youth groups representing Jews of all backgrounds, including Bnei Akiva, National Council of Synagogue Youth (NCSY), Young Judaea, CTeen (Chabad-Lubavitch), United Synagogue Youth (USY) and the Union of Reform Judaism Youth (URJ/NFTY).
“We were basically interested in the lives of Jewish teens and understanding the impact of youth groups,” says Stacie Cherner, director of learning and evaluation at the Jim Joseph Foundation, which, with the Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah, and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, funded the study.
The funders were especially interested in teens’ social and emotional development, “how these programs impact them in these ways,” says Cherner. One happy surprise: how many teens actually took the time to complete the survey.
The almost 18,000 respondents came in part from the youth groups that contributed and from a link pushed out through social media. “And we were all impressed with the honest, thoughtful answers we got,” replies Cherner.
Among the findings:
• Jewish teens like their parents; they enjoy spending time with their family and often look to their parents for guidance and to demystify the world around them.
• For most teens surveyed, Jewish beliefs and practices are closely linked with their family relationships and loyalties.
• The respondents believe teens need help in coping with pressures like academic pressure, self-esteem issues and a fear of failure.
• Jewish teens see social media as a mixed blessing, saying it can both cause stress and help them deal with stress, as well as connect with friends and help change the world.
• Most of the teens (75 percent) identify as Jewish (and 16 percent claim to be culturally Jewish), but many of those who say they have “no religion” also hope to engage with Judaism at some point in the future.
• Many (45 percent) rank anti-Semitism as a problem for today’s teens, though few feel personally threatened.
• Most of the teens (71 percent) report either a strong or very strong connection to Israel, with the majority of those who have not yet traveled hoping to do so one day.
Most crucially, the study found that teens active in a Jewish youth group (regardless of denomination) tend to flourish socially, emotionally and spiritually as compared with those who are not. They also report feeling more connected to being Jewish, have higher self-esteem and better relationships with family, friends and other adults, and feel empowered to make positive change in their world.
“The parental issue was the big surprise,” says Rabbi Michael Shire, dean of the Graduate School of Education at Boston’s Hebrew College and a member of the study’s advisory board. And, he says, together with the results of a few other studies, it makes “a pretty good case for religious education and youth groups specifically. It seems that, along with a strong family and the belief in a higher power you’re connected to — this makes for someone who’s healthier in every way. It’s almost like these young people have a protective shell around them.”
Carl Shulman regularly sees these trends in action. “In our programming, we look at Jewish values, including how they were expressed in the civil-rights movement and other social-justice causes,” says Shulman, the youth engagement adviser at Temple Etz Chaim, a Reform congregation in Franklin, Massachusetts. “And we make sure it’s tied to Jewish tradition — something in the Torah or Talmud that speaks to them.”
Shulman says youth-group advisers play a unique role in a teen’s life. “We’re a cross between a teacher, a friend and a camp counselor,” he says. “So they feel they can be open about their thoughts and feelings and confide in us.”
One feature of the study, giving the participating youth movements feedback on how their teens stacked up in a variety of ways, provided much-appreciated input, says NCSY’s international director, Rabbi Micah Greenland.
“This is a terrific opportunity to learn about what our teens are gaining from involvement with us. It invites us to better understand and reflect on where we are relative to the field and where we have room to grow.”
Over at URJ, they’re also evaluating the results. “We knew it anecdotally,” says Miriam Chilton, URJ’s vice president for youth. “But now we have the data that demonstrates that participation in Jewish groups goes a long way toward achieving our goals of seeking meaning and seeing themselves as connected to both Jewish tradition and the world.”
Not surprisingly, adds Chilton, most NFTY/URJ teens ranked higher on social justice than on the ritualistic aspects of Judaism, she says. “It’s not good or bad, but it is reflective of Reform values.”
Another take-away for Chilton: Multiple points of contact result in maximum impact.
“Those involved in youth group, their temple, Israel and a Jewish camp, for instance, had the most positive impact,” she says. “And given the number of our families who have just one Jewish parent, whose connection may not be as strong, we can look to offer a wide variety of programming. It gives us a pretty compelling case for the best ways of working with the next generation.”
For David Bryfman, The Jewish Education Project’s incoming CEO, this study’s biggest gift is “giving organizers of Jewish youth organizations a good look at the outcomes they’re having in outreach today. Basically, the study shows the more kids doing Jewish activities the more engaged they are.”
The study was also designed to go well beyond the previous emphasis on youth groups as nurturers of Jewish continuity, he adds. “Here we’re looking at how their engagement makes them not just more Jewish but a better person, a better member of the community, more effective in the world and just more human. Some people might argue that this isn’t the traditional use of youth group, but if we don’t help them thrive, none of the rest of it really matters.
“Besides,” he add, “when you can get the Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and even the unaffiliated to sign onto the same study, you’re already doing something right.”
The No. 1 finding, he says, is “even though we knew that youth groups have huge impact on teens, right up there with day schools, Jewish summer camps and trips to Israel, this study actually shows the power of that involvement.”
Looking to the future
“We got confirmation that generally speaking, we’re doing a really good job in Israel engagement with our teens, with Jewish tradition, and how much Shabbat and the holidays matter to them, and even the extent to which they attribute these values to their NCSY involvement,” says NCSY’s Rabbi Greenland. “But we can also see that we are below average in the realm of taking responsibility for making a difference in the world at large. And, in addition to everything else we do, that’s something we’ve been talking about a lot since the results came out; it’s pushed us to look at ways to enhance that quality, too.”
“If we design programming that reflects the way young people see the world, we’ll be able to maximize personal development and Jewish identity and commitment,” says URJ’s Chilton. “This study also gives us a benchmark so if we adjust something now, we can look back in a few years and see how we’re doing.”
“The study sends a clear message that Jewish engagement doesn’t have to end at bar or bat mitzvah if you provide young people with programming they see as meaningful,” says Bryfman. “If the Jewish youth organizations can provide that, the teens will be there.”
It’s a message the funders are taking to heart.
“What we’ve learned from these teens is that they are very Jewishly identified, though their ways of expressing it may not be the same,” says Jim Joseph Foundation’s Stacie Cherner. “It’s confirming to us that we’re on the right path — that our investments are having a positive impact.”
As California teen Yael Berrol puts it: “We don’t have many Jews near us, but my parents have made it easy for me to connect. Our family friends are mostly Jewish, Camp Ramah is like my home, and my synagogue is where I go when I’m missing being with other Jews, when I need that grounding, in community and in my authentic self.”
To see the entire study, visit https://www.jewishedproject.org/genznow.

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Shapiro brings her legacy to The Legacy June 19

Shapiro brings her legacy to The Legacy June 19

Posted on 14 June 2019 by admin

Photo: Submitted by Florence Shapiro
Florence Shapiro will speak at at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, at The Legacy. Here she’s pictured with the family she and husband Howard have built: front row, from left, Zachary Shapiro, Natalie Rubin, Eli Rubin, Ari Strauss, Olivia Shapiro, Sophie Rubin, Sam Rubin, Harper Shapiro, Ella Shapiro and Brody Rubin; back row, Todd and Jori Shapiro, Paul and Staci Rubin, Howard and Florence Shapiro and Lisa, Noa and Rabbi Brian Strauss (not pictured: Joshua Strauss).

By Deb Silverthorn
Florence Shapiro has been an advocate and educator, the mayor of Plano, a Texas state senator, and a leader of many organizations in the DFW area. Acclaimed for much, yet it’s as the daughter of Ann Donald, a resident at The Legacy Willow Bend since its opening, that she will sit as guest interviewee at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 19, in the Chapel at The Legacy.
“Many residents watched Florence grow up. While we’re proud and appreciative of her success, she’s Ann’s daughter and that’s a blessing right there,” said Bob Weinfeld, who has hosted more than 100 “Getting to Know Your Neighbors and Your Staff and Your Relatives of Residents” interviews.
The hourlong program, open to the community, has introduced residents, staffers and community members to business leaders, museum curators, chefs, journalists, sports executives, clergy and more.
“I look forward to the interview, and the buzz is building,” said Weinfeld, The Legacy’s own “mayor,” on interviewing Plano’s former mayor and the question-and-answer period to follow.
Interviewed on topics local and global, for the former Zesmer BBG member and Hillcrest High School and University of Texas graduate, sitting on Weinfeld’s dais — no doubt with her mother watching from the front row — is exciting.
“My community devotion comes from Mother, the ultimate volunteer, and my business sense from my father,” said Shapiro. Her mother is a former president of the Friends of Golden Acres Dallas Home for Jewish Aged, and resident at The Legacy since its 2008 opening.
“The Legacy is filled with people I’ve known my whole life, and it’s an honor to be interviewed by Bob,” said Shapiro. “He is the ‘connector,’ and I’m always engaged by whatever he does. Bob is a very special part of this wonderful community within our community, and to know him is to love him. Besides, who could ever tell Bob ‘no’?”
Shapiro was born shortly after her parents, Martin of blessed memory and Ann, arrived in the U.S. Her mother was pregnant with her while aboard the ship that brought them from England. The two survivors of the Holocaust immigrated first to New York, then to Dallas when Shapiro was 10.
A lifetime later, Shapiro is immediate past chair of the Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance, gratified and excited for the September opening of the new home of the museum her father helped found.
“The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum will be a showplace that no one could have dreamed of,” she said. “Started in the basement of the JCC, now the world sees us, learns from us and is affected by us. I’m sure my father and all who started it are very proud.”
Shapiro and her husband Howard, whom she met at UT and married 50 years ago, are the parents of Staci (Dr. Paul) Rubin, Todd (Jori) Shapiro and Lisa (Rabbi Brian) Strauss. They are grandparents of 12: Brody, Eli, Natalie, Sam and Sophie Rubin, Ella, Harper, Olivia and Zach Shapiro, and Ari, Joshua and Noa Strauss.
Serving on the Plano City Council, then as the city’s mayor, Shapiro was president of the Texas Municipal League before her 19-year career as Texas State Senator — first elected against a 13-year incumbent.
“When running for office you think you know it all. Then you go to Austin, the session begins, and it’s like trying to take a sip of water out of a fire hydrant. I was constantly learning, but it was the most amazing process,” said Shapiro. “The value, then and now, of the enormity of my responsibilities, lay on my shoulders, so I’ve always done my homework and really and truly enjoyed it.”
Among the results of her service Shapiro feels most proud of are the series of bills known as Ashley’s Laws, which protect against, adjudicate, and punish sex offenders whose victims are children. “Out of a tragic and terribly sad event came the absolute saving of many lives,” she said.
Shapiro started out as a high school teacher at Richardson High School, and education has never left her heart. As a member of the Advisory Council on Education Reform Initiatives at the George W. Bush Institute, and partner and public policy consultant with Shapiro Linn Strategic Consulting, children’s futures remains her priority.
“Texas is a great state and it needs a great education system,” she said this winter, working in Austin with the “best legislature in 25 years” to bring billions of dollars to public education, and she’s positive about the future. “We’ll always need new and innovative ways to teach. It must be a value and be valued.”
Shapiro is former president and founder of the Collin County Junior League and the Collin County Information & Referral Center, and has served on many boards including: AT&T Performing Arts Center, Collin County Business Alliance, COMMIT! Dallas, Communities Foundation of Texas, Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, Educate Texas, Southwestern Medical Foundation, TexProtects: The Texas Association for the Protection of Children, Texans for Education Reform and the University of Texas at Austin Annette Strauss Institute for Civic Life.
Raised at Congregation Shearith Israel, Shapiro and her family are founding supporters of Chabad of Plano/Collin County, now also longtime members of Congregation Anshai Torah. Last year, the Shapiros, who have both traveled on Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas missions to Israel, were invited to the dedication of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem.
“There’s so much we know, and so much to learn about Florence, and we’re honored for her visit,” said Weinfeld, who is soon to turn 93, and will interview Frisco RoughRiders President and General Manager Andy Milovich (June 26), Dallas Morning News journalist Michael Granberry (July 3), journalist and author Nancy Churnin (July 10) and Bruce Eisen, whose career experience includes CPA, Collin College professor and Jewish community professional (July 17).
“Florence is a great daughter, mother, grandmother, wife. She’s a great everything and a wonderful person,” said her proud mother Ann. “She’s everything a person could want.”
Expect a kvell factor of 110 percent to fill The Legacy, a parent/teacher conference like no other.

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Griggs and Johnson share perspectives at JCRC forum

Griggs and Johnson share perspectives at JCRC forum

Posted on 31 May 2019 by admin

Photo: Submitted by JCRC
From left, Dallas City Council Candidate Scott Griggs, JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin, Event Chair Dawn Strauss, Event Chair Jim Tolbert and Dallas City Council Candidate Eric Johnson

Staff Report

Mayoral candidates Scott Griggs and Eric Johnson shared their views about Dallas’ future May 23 at the Aaron Family JCC in a community forum sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council. The program was moderated by KERA’s Sam Baker.
By virtue of a coin toss, Griggs, a current city councilman, gave his opening statement first. A father of three, Griggs makes his home in Oak Cliff. He outlined the issues of key import:
“Taking care of public safety, transportation, housing economic development. I’m looking forward to earning your support tonight and the conversation.”
Johnson, a father of two, has represented District 100 in the Texas House of Representatives since 2010.
In his opening statement he focused on improving education for children, saying he wanted children to have access to strong public schools and to “grow up in a city that supports them with strong recreation centers and strong public libraries.”
The first question of the evening focused on public safety.
“How will you address safety of all citizens both in places of worship and elsewhere?” Baker asked.
“Increasing the number of police officers,” said Griggs. “Public safety is my No. 1 priority.”
Griggs, who has been endorsed by the Dallas Police Association and firefighters, wants to get pay closer to $72,000 and improve benefits.
“We just aren’t paying our police officers enough,” he said.
He added that he would speak out against leaders who come to Dallas who have bad track records on human rights and other issues.
Earlier that week, Griggs spoke out against Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.
“We should not welcome him to our city because of his track record in Brazil of not being friendly to minorities, not being friendly to the LBTQ communities.”
Johnson explained that paying police more and improving their morale is something that both candidates agree on and that virtually every candidate in the race has agreed on.
He turned his attention to being proactive.
“I’m from a community that has dealt with this issue of hate and discrimination for a long long time. And what I think is missing from this discussion sometimes is, the way you have to deal with hate is you have to be proactive about dealing with it.
“The police focus is great and important; that’s reactive. Police respond once something has happened. Once a synagogue has been desecrated and vandalized, once someone has been dragged through the street or beaten up. They respond to something that’s already gone wrong.
“Proactively we need a mayor who is going to stand up and talk about these issues and push forward initiatives that bring people together and bring back some of those conversations that we were having in the city about being a more united city….”
Bringing candidates together is one of the focuses of the JCRC.
As the public affairs and external relations division of the Jewish Federation, the JCRC is engaged in advocacy for Israel, legislative outreach and interfaith and interethnic relationship building, said Chair Melanie Rubin.
Event chairs for the evening were Dawn Strauss and Jim Tolbert. In addition to the JCRC, community partners for the event were: AJC Dallas; Congregation Anshai Torah; Congregation Beth Torah; Congregation Nishmat Am; Congregation Shearith Israel; Hadassah; The Jewish Latino Alliance; National Council of Jewish Women, Dallas; Southwest Jewish Congress; Temple Emanu-El; and Temple Shalom.

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Plano City Council candidate distances herself from Ilhan Omar

Plano City Council candidate distances herself from Ilhan Omar

Posted on 30 May 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Ann Bacchus
Ann Bacchus, who is running for Plano City Council Place 7, has been accused of supporting Ilhan Omar after attending a fundraising event Nov. 2. “I am not aligned with Ilhan Omar in any form or in any way. I went to one event. There was a picture taken. I don’t appreciate that she’s put Islam under attack. We [Jews and Muslims] are both under attack.”

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

According to Ann Bacchus, Plano City Council Place 7 candidate, she has nothing but admiration and support for the Jewish people and Israel, and the proof is her record of the last 20 years.
Bacchus spoke with the TJP by phone Sunday, May 26.
“If I’m elected, you will never find that I did anything or will do anything to hurt the Jewish community or the Muslim community or any community,” the candidate said.
Ann Bacchus, a native of British Guyana who has lived in Plano 20 years, will face opponent Lily Bao, a Chinese immigrant, in a runoff Saturday, June 8. Early voting is underway.
In the last several weeks, several members of the Jewish community have questioned Bacchus’ ideology after learning she attended a fundraiser Nov. 2 for then-candidate Ilhan Omar before the midterm election. The freshman Democrat won her House seat and represents Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District.
Since the election, Omar, more than once, has tweeted anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic tropes, which led to a U.S. House resolution March 7 condemning anti-Semitism and other forms of hate including Islamophobia.
Rumblings of Bacchus’ alleged anti-Semitism began to surface in the last few weeks.
“We first heard (from) a number of other people that she had participated in a fundraiser for Ilhan Omar,” said Eric Fine, who lives in Bacchus’ area of representation. “We wanted to make sure that it happened — that it was real and that it happened.”
Fine and others, set out to get clarification from Bacchus and her campaign.
They posted on Facebook, both Bacchus’ page and their own pages. They reached out to Bacchus’ campaign.
It seemed to them that Bacchus was ignoring their requests, and posts on her page asking for clarification were being deleted.
Their frustration and suspicion grew.
“I wrote to her on her Facebook page because I saw other people would write and she would ‘like’ it and respond to them. Then my posts ended up disappearing. Ann Bacchus responded and replied to every other question on her page, but deleted mine,” said Arona Ackermann.
She explained that she had no preconceived notions about Bacchus and started to do some research.
“I looked at every public offering I could find about who she is and what she stands for. I was heartened to see that she was interviewing adults and children alike, that she was getting her hands dirty. I saw she went to the Chabad of Plano Eva Schloss event. Then I put that together with this image that has gone around with her and Ilhan Omar at the same event.”
Bacchus explained her attendance at the event to the TJP.
“My reason for going to Ilhan Omar’s event was because she was a woman and a refugee… that resonated with me.”
Bacchus said that she doesn’t support Omar’s ideology.
“I am not aligned with Ilhan Omar in any form or in any way. I went to one event. There was a picture taken. I don’t appreciate that she’s put Islam under attack. We (Jews and Muslims) are both under attack.”
When asked if she supports BDS, Bacchus responded.
“You don’t separate Israel from the Jews. I would not support any boycott.”
Bacchus believes that her opponent Bao has used her attendance of the Nov. 2 to incite criticism against her.
“I think my opponent is using this, because there’s nothing else. I have more broad base than any other person.”
She explained that she believes the Bao camp has created collages of material that are being circulated about her that she has had nothing to do with.
When asked if she had anything to do with promoting Bacchus as anti-Semitic, Bao said, “No.”
Bao denied any involvement in producing or distributing anti-Bacchus literature.
“We run positive campaigns. I intend to represent all residents of the city when I get elected. I believe my love for Plano and Texas as well as my vision of ‘family, freedom and prosperity’ will be recognized and cheered as we work even harder to let the voters know who I am and what I will do for them,” Bao added via text.
Bacchus said that her history of involvement in Plano speaks for itself.
“I hope that people are able to look at the person themselves and see what they’ve done. There are many of us who go to an event especially if it’s for a woman. I went to the event because I was invited by another friend. People should look at me and see what I have done. You cannot come up with anything on me until you come up with the fact that I attended this one event.
“I think Lily and her supporters are trying to separate me from my Jewish supporters and the Jewish community, but what she doesn’t realize is that my support didn’t just happen because of an election. It’s happened because of years of making Plano better.”
Barry Hersh said, if true, he’s relieved to hear what some of Bacchus’ answers were. He was frustrated after his posts in relation to the Nov. 2 event on Bacchus’ Facebook page were taken down or called “fake news.”
“I wish I’d known that she was a supporter of Israel and the Jewish people,” he said. I probably would have campaigned for her.”

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American Jews send aid to more than 50 Israeli families who lost homes in Mevo Modi’im

American Jews send aid to more than 50 Israeli families who lost homes in Mevo Modi’im

Posted on 24 May 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Fire fighters extinguish the remains of a fire in in Mevo Modi’im, on May 24, 2019. Photo by Avi Dishi/Flash90

(JNS) As wildfires destroyed most of the 50 or so homes in the town of Mevo Modi’in in central Israel on Thursday, Israelis from all around the country and Jewish organizations have sent emergency assistance to the families affected as Shabbat approached. The moshav had a population of 246 in 2017.

Some 3,500 residents were evacuated from their homes in the extended area affected by the fires with only a few minutes warning, with more than 200 returning on Friday morning to find their homes severely damaged, and some even burnt to the ground. According to Magen David Adom spokesman Zaki Heller,  two-dozen people were hospitalized for smoke inhalation, including two in moderate condition.

Feigie Troupiansky, who grew up on the moshav, told JNS that the community has been relocated to a youth village as people from all over Israel drop off homemade cakes, clothing, shoes, packages, toiletries, baby carriages, bed and mattresses, suitcases, car seats and “anything else you can think of.”

While people are feeling “loss and shock,” Troupiansky noted, the amount of aid that is being brought is “beautiful.”

“It’s like a mall here, and people are treating us so well, as if you are at a hotel. If you sneeze, someone will immediately come running,” she said. “There is a couple on the moshav who is getting married in a week-and-a-half. Everything, including the wedding dress and suit, is gone. Dressmakers are sending pictures of dresses, offering to recreate the dress. Owners of wedding halls are telling them they can get married by them for free.”

Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, known as the hippie-Chassidic “singing rabbi,” founded the community of Mevo Modi’im in 1975. Many of its community members, followers of Carlebach, moved to the area from the United States. Today, the community is known for its eclectic mix of musicians, artists and farmers.

Authorities suggested that embers might have caused the fire, likely from the previous night’s Lag B’Omer bonfires that were not properly put out. According to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, while there were several fires near the border with Gaza that were caused by Hamas’ arson balloons, there were no indications that arson caused the fire.

In fact, the fire likely spread as a result of the intense heat wave, with Friday temperatures reaching 100 degrees throughout Israel—in Tel Aviv, it hit 110 degrees, and reports measured a scorching 122 degrees in Beersheva and the Arava region.

Firefighters from Egypt, Italy, Greece, Croatia and Cyprus arrived Friday morning at the scene of the fires that ravaged throughout the evening. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu publicly recognized Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for sending two helicopters to Israel.

“We were also contacted by many others, including the Palestinian Authority and other elements,” said Netanyahu. “Four to six countries, including Russia, are ready to send practical assistance. They contacted us even before we contacted them. For several of these countries, this is very important. The international capability is important and is assisting the national capability.”

Netanyahu maintained that he is considering “expanding the firefighting squadron for both day and nighttime operations, and enacting other structural changes” for the future. “We will help return people to their homes and if need be, rebuild their homes.”

The Jewish Agency for Israel and the Jewish Federations of North America also announced on Friday immediate emergency assistance that is being sent to the 60 families in Mevo Modi’im and Kibbutz Harel whose homes were destroyed.

According to a joint press release, the support comes from special funds provided by the Jewish Federations of North America, with the aim of helping families cover immediate needs like clothes and personal belongings in the aftermath of losing their homes. The assistance provided by the Jewish Agency, in coordination with the local welfare authorities in each community, amounts to approximately $1,000 per family.

In an English video address on Friday, Jewish Agency chair Isaac Herzog said, “We especially feel the strength of Jewish solidarity at times like these, when dozens of Israeli families coping with the shock of losing their home and property receive an immediate embrace from their sisters and brothers across the ocean. … The Jewish Agency will be there to support these families in any way possible, together with our Jewish family in the Diaspora.”

 

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Kohn, Clark fine-tune kosher comfort food

Kohn, Clark fine-tune kosher comfort food

Posted on 23 May 2019 by admin

The Market, at 13534 Preston Road in North Dallas, is open 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday; until 4 p.m. on Friday; and from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Sunday.

 

 

By Deb Silverthorn

Two parts heart and soul, and grand dollops of culinary expertise by Jordona Kohn and Stacey Clark, are the ingredients to Dallas’ newest kosher eatery, The Market, in North Dallas.

“At The Market we’re providing delicious food in a comfortable and family casual location. We couldn’t be more excited to share with our community,” Kohn said. She was grateful for the full house on the restaurant’s opening day — Mother’s Day — and all tables turning in the restaurant’s first week.

“Everything is good, and good for you, but we’re not afraid of butter,” Kohn added. Clark, meanwhile, calls the menu healthful, not health food, with dishes served as they were designed to be eaten.

The duo look forward to pop-up menus and hosting family and study groups, simchas and other social gatherings. The offerings are kosher, but both women note that, while they create and serve kosher food, what they have isn’t your typical kosher restaurant.

“There are wonderful kosher restaurants in the area,” Kohn said. “We’re happy to join the lineup with our own unique flavors and flair.”

The partners were introduced by Sharon Michaels, who knew both, and figured the team would be a sure thing.

“These two are great and we’re blessed to have them,” Michaels said. “It’s not just good kosher food, it’s great food. They have amazing skills and talent and couldn’t be kinder. I can’t wait for them to succeed, and they will!”

“I love feeding people in times of joy, the holidays and even in sadness. A good meal always comforts, and food heals (almost) anything,” Clark said. “Jordona and I are opposites in many ways but it’s why we’re a perfect match.”

Kohn, a Hollywood, Florida native raised in New York, is the daughter of a restaurateur, granddaughter of a kosher butcher, and great-granddaughter of a chicken farmer. “While most kids were outside, I was with Bubba Faye making soups and rugelach,” she said. She is married to Justin, and the couple are parents to Arianna Faye, Ezra and Gaby.

With a bachelor’s degree from Queens College, when the couple moved to Dallas, Kohn enrolled at Le Cordon Bleu Institute of Culinary Arts. Despite not being able to taste the many nonkosher offerings, she graduated as class valedictorian.

Kohn worked at Baylor Hospital, climbing the ladder, but her kashrut devotion meant she couldn’t taste what she prepared. She then worked with the Dallas Kosher-supervised Simcha Kosher Catering’s food truck, as well as being executive chef with A Taste of the World. She also hosts kosher cooking demonstrations at Whole Foods Market.

Clark, born in New York and raised around the world, comes to the business with an accounting background, and always turned to the kitchen for respite. She is married to Henry; their family is complete with son Kevin and his wife Taylor and Clark’s two nieces, Eleah and Anna, raised as her own daughters.

Breakfast at The Market, served alongside fruit or hash browns, includes a pesto omelet, Morty’s Scramble — a nod to Clark’s father (lox, eggs and onions), a DIY omelet bar and a variety of home-boiled and baked bagels and other bread choices with a schmear. Already favorites are the avocado toast served with two eggs and a lime crème, the Market Gravlax Plate with in-house cured salmon and buttermilk pancakes with berry compote.

Alan Press, who ordered a DIY omelet with cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, peppers and mushrooms and then an avocado toast to go, said the presentation was incredible and everything was cooked “just beautifully.”

Breakfast is served all day and the lunch menu, debuting soon, will include soups, paninis and toasted sandwiches with mixed greens or house-fried chips and a variety of salads with homemade dressings.

“Lunch was amazing and the latte is delicious,” said Heather Behr, having lunch with friend Marni Rael, the two women swooning over an avocado toast and pesto omelet, finishing the meal with a shared chocolate bobka. “Literally every bite is excellent.”

For Rebecca Sklaver, lunching with Rivka and Stera Goldschmidt, it was baked salmon and Greek salad — to the other women’s tuna salad and gravlax plate — to which she gave praise. “The salmon is out of this world, really just baked to perfection.”

House-baked specialties include banana bread, challah (water and egg), pastries, brown-butter chocolate chip and other cookies, cakes, bobka and Bubba’s Rugelach from Kohn’s family recipe. The Challah Challah Club allows customers to register for challahs that will be ready for pickup at requested times each Friday. The challahs will be prepped and prepaid, allowing guests to make a quick stop for pickup. Bobkas and other items will also be available for pre-order.

Delectables for little ones are available, and allergy and special requests including gluten-free, egg-white and Cholov Yisroel options are available. The Market serves many locally-sourced and organic ingredients.

Drinks include Fort Worth-based 5AM DRIPs, lavender vanilla and goldenmilk (with turmeric) lattes, espressos, affogatos and staple favorites. Juices, milk, Stacey’s Iced Tea, housemade lemonade and sodas are available too.

“We met at the Dallas Farmer’s Market and we’re now pretty much family,” said Ashley Davis, co-owner of 5AM DRIP. “Jordona and Stacey follow our business ideas and our dream, and the look and feel of The Market is something we’re thrilled to be a part of.”

The owners credit designer Ariella Mizell Bush and J.M. Construction for the restaurant’s unique décor. Bush transformed the space, a former jewelry store, into their eatery vision with a community table at its center, bar stools and tables for two and more.

The partners are proud.

“We’re in the right place,” Kohn said, “and this is the right time.”

The Market is at 13534 Preston Road in North Dallas. For more information, visit themarkettx.com, call 469-677-5424 or follow on Facebook and Instagram @themarkettx.

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Fire sweeps through Simcha Kosher Catering

Fire sweeps through Simcha Kosher Catering

Posted on 23 May 2019 by admin

Photos: Courtesy Simcha Kosher Catering

 

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Lowell Michelson is often the guy people turn to in their time of need. On Tuesday, May 14, the owner of Simcha Kosher Catering became the recipient of an outpouring of support when a seven-alarm fire swept through his Farmers Branch headquarters starting about 7:45 p.m.

“Obviously, I’m in shell shock,” Michelson told the TJP Tuesday. “All I could think about was the service to the community that I owe. I had jobs to go out starting Wednesday morning.”

Michelson’s lifelong friend, Harry Schick, came to the scene as the fire burned and asked, “What can I do?”

“Will you please call Shaare Tefilla — Jacques Ohayon is the volunteer who oversees the kitchen and the rabbi — to see if we can use their facilities?” Michelson responded.

Shortly after, Michelson got a call from his fellow kosher caterer and longtime friend, Chaim Goldfeder, owner of the Kosher Palate and Texas Kosher BBQ.

“He felt terrible, and said ‘What can I do?’”

Goldfeder loaned Michelson equipment and a van.

In addition to dealing with the trauma of watching his business burn down, Michelson had to stay focused on his obligations for the week — a full complement of catering jobs, The Star on Wednesday, the Federation Pacesetter lunch on Thursday, a bris on Friday morning, Shabbat dinner on Friday night, a Kiddush lunch on Saturday and another bris on Sunday. He also had his regular hotel and hospital clients for which he provides Dallas Kosher-certified meals.

“We’ve made it, we are fully functioning and full speed ahead,” he said.

Michelson said he couldn’t have done it without the “amazing” Dallas Jewish community.

In particular, he is grateful to Shaare Tefilla’s Rabbi Ariel Rackovsky; its executive director, Robyn Mirsky; and its lay leadership.

“I’m usually the one helping. It’s not easy for me to ask for help,” Michelson explained.

He added that his staff has been there every step of the way. “They’ve all jumped in.”

The fire starts

The fire began about 7:45 p.m. Tuesday, May 14. A three-person team representing Beth Torah’s Kosher BBQ competition was inside the premises waiting for Michelson to arrive when they smelled smoke. Michelson was en route to the meeting from a 250-person event for HaYovel Israel at Glenn Beck’s Irving studio, when Brian Rubinstein phoned him to say, ‘Your building is on fire.’” The trio had already called 911.

At first, Michelson wasn’t too concerned. He thought it was probably in the kitchen and knew that they had the latest in fire suppressant technology to deal with commercial kitchen grease fires.

As he approached the area, he could see black smoke billowing. When he arrived, he was surprised to learn that the fire had started in the warehouse.

“It was a perfect storm,” he said.

Michelson explained it officially hasn’t been determined how cotton rags, towels and aprons accidentally caught fire. Next to the textiles was a wooden shelf, which was adjacent to many cardboard boxes and wicker baskets. The fire caught and spread quickly through the 12,000-square-foot building.

It took three ladder trucks — seven in all — and close to four hours for firefighters from Farmers Branch, Carrollton and Addison to extinguish the flames.

The building has been deemed a total loss and structurally unsound.

Michelson said he is grateful to be properly insured and his agent, Barney Schwartz, has been helping him to navigate what comes next.

“We’ve already purchased a lot of new equipment and plates,” Michelson said.

Because the event Simcha was catering Tuesday night was so large, they were able to salvage a lot of their dishes, serving pieces and utensils and on-site catering equipment.

Business as usual

A week after the fire, Michelson says he’s providing his customers with the service they deserve and trusted him with.

“We’ve made it,” he said, though he’s not sure what will come next.

“The best analogy I can use is that this is like a baseball game. It’s only the first inning, and I’m not sure how this game is going to turn out. Today I’m in the second inning.”

One thing he is certain of is that he won’t be letting his clients down.

“I have a wedding this weekend for 350 people and they are going to have everything they need. Everything that’s promised.”

Michelson reiterated that he wouldn’t be in this position without the community’s support.

“We’re business as usual,” he said. “And we owe it to an amazing community and staff.”

 

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