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ADL: Bomb-threat arrest alone won’t stop ‘unprecedented’ wave of anti-Semitic actions

ADL: Bomb-threat arrest alone won’t stop ‘unprecedented’ wave of anti-Semitic actions

Posted on 09 March 2017 by admin

By Ben Sales
JTA

NEW YORK — Thanking the FBI and police for the arrest of Juan Thompson, who allegedly made eight bomb threats to Jewish institutions, the Anti-Defamation League called the current wave of anti-Semitic acts “unprecedented.”
“Law enforcement at all levels is a close friend to the Jewish people in America,” Evan Bernstein, ADL’s New York regional director, said at a news conference Friday. “Just because there’s been an arrest today around our bomb threats does not mean that the threats have disappeared or will stop.”

Juan Thompson

Juan Thompson

Earlier in the day, sources told the media that Thompson was a “copycat” and that the investigation continued into finding the hoaxers behind the dozens of other bomb threats reported since January.
The news conference was convened after law enforcement announced Friday that Thompson had been charged in connection with the deluge of bomb threats received this year by Jewish institutions. Thompson, 31, of St. Louis, allegedly made bomb threats to JCCs, Jewish schools and an ADL office as part of his cyberstalking of a former romantic partner.
The ADL and several other Jewish groups had met Friday with FBI Director James Comey. According to a statement from the groups in attendance, which were not listed but included the ADL, the Jewish Federations of North America and the JCC Association of North America, the meeting concerned recent anti-Semitic acts and collaboration between Jewish institutions and law enforcement.
“All the organizations in attendance expressed the deep gratitude of the entire community for the extraordinary effort that the FBI is applying to the ongoing investigation,” the statement said. “The representatives of the Jewish community left with the highest confidence that the FBI is taking every possible measure to resolve the matter as quickly as possible.”
The Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance echoed the condemnation.
“… Jewish cemeteries and other memorials are being desecrated, bomb threats have been made to dozens of Jewish Community Centers, Jewish students are threatened on our nations’ campuses, and anti-Jewish and anti-Israel social media rants are appearing with frightening regularity,” the museum’s Feb. 24 statement read. “The mission of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance is to teach the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights to combat prejudice, hatred and indifference. In light of our mission, we call upon every American to become an Upstander; to take action against prejudice, hatred and indifference by speaking up against these acts whenever and wherever you can.”
According to statistics compiled by the New York Police Department, anti-Semitic acts have nearly doubled in early 2017 as compared to one year earlier. The ADL said that due to the reach of the Internet and the quantity of recent bomb threats, white supremacists are more emboldened than ever.
“We’re in unprecedented times,” said Oren Segal, director of the ADL’s Center on Extremism. “We’ve never seen, ever, the volume of bomb threats that we’ve seen. White supremacists in this country feel more emboldened than they ever have before because of the public discourse and divisive rhetoric.”
In total, more than 100 Jewish institutions, mostly JCCs, have received bomb threats since the beginning of the year. The last two weeks saw vandalism at Jewish cemeteries in Philadelphia, St. Louis and Rochester, New York, as well as two more waves of bomb threats called in to JCCs, schools and institutions across the country, representing the fourth and fifth waves of such harassment this year. No explosive device was found after any of the calls.
There have been 90 incidents this year alone at JCC locations, at 73 centers in 30 states and one Canadian province, the JCC Association said. The FBI and the Justice Department’s civil rights division are investigating.
On Tuesday, another rash of threats was levied against JCCs. A spokesperson for the Aaron Family JCC said that no threat had been sent to the Dallas campus as of press deadline.
The ADL called on President Donald Trump to take action against anti-Semitism, including by directing the Department of Justice to launch a civil rights investigation into the threats, and by creating a federal interagency task force on combating hate crimes chaired by the attorney general.
“We need action to stop these threats,” Bernstein said. “History shows that when anti-Semitism gains the upper hand, courageous leaders need to speak out and take action before it’s too late.”
Segal said the ADL has been tracking Thompson, a disgraced former journalist, since he fabricated the identity of a cousin of Dylann Roof, the gunman who killed nine at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, in 2015.
On its Twitter feed Friday, the ADL posted information gleaned from the U.S. Attorney’s complaint and media portraying Thompson as a former journalist — he was fired from his job at the online news site The Intercept for inventing quotes and sources — who recently “became more hostile to whites in general.”
According to the ADL, he has posted inflammatory tweets about white police officers and the “white New York liberal media.”

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Moishe House working to connect young adults

Moishe House working to connect young adults

Posted on 09 March 2017 by admin

By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP

It isn’t easy to create friendships and build a community as a young adult.

Moishe Hosue residents Rayanne Kruse (left) and Mia Goetz

Moishe Hosue residents Rayanne Kruse (left) and Mia Goetz

 
While many college-aged members of the Jewish community quickly find friends on campuses, those who have entered the workplace sometimes struggle to find relationships and build friendships after completing their education.
That’s something the Dallas Moishe House is working to change.
“It’s a welcoming environment, it’s a place where people can quickly get to know their community right away,” Mia Goetz said. “It’s been a great experience.”
Goetz, 23, is one of two residents at Moishe House. She and her roommate Rayanne Kruse, 27, are responsible for culturing an inviting atmosphere and hosting events for other young Jewish professionals, typically between 21 and 35, at the home in the Knox-Henderson area of Dallas.
It’s one of more than 90 Moishe Houses around the world, and the community events are open to Jews no matter how much they practice religion on a traditional basis.
“It really is open to everyone,” Goetz said.
Over the past year Moishe House events, ranging from cooking classes to happy hours, have had 1,489 people attend 69 events. It’s an average of more than 22 people per event and word-of-mouth is often the catalyst for growth.

A Moishe House happy hour

A Moishe House happy hour

Havdallah at the Ginger Man

Havdallah at the Ginger Man

In March, events are planned around Shabbat dinners and a Kosher Chili Cook-off, amongst other things on the community calendar shared on the Moishe House website and Facebook page.
“Our vision has always been to try and create an environment in the house that feels like everyone is at home,” Goetz said. “We’re excited about our programs and we have flexibility to really fit the needs of our community.”
Residents at the Moishe House commit to living there for at least a year and have their housing subsidized. In exchange they commit to building a community feel and it’s something that Goetz and Kruse have felt right at home with.
“There’s two of us and we are actually looking for a third resident,” Goetz said. “The house is supposed to be ever changing and flowing. So we’re trying to help develop and find new leaders and continue growing what we’re doing.”
Several local organizations and individuals also support the house, and there was an event held last month for those benefactors to see the house and the community it’s helping cultivate.image (2)
“There is something like 25 new young adults moving to Dallas every day, this is a way for us to serve that group and we get to meet the people moving to the area,” Goetz said. “It’s really been an exciting process and we’re always looking for more people to come to our events.”
Those interested in finding more about the house can go to https://www.moishehouse.org/houses/dallas.

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JCRC to hold 5th Interfaith Seder

JCRC to hold 5th Interfaith Seder

Posted on 09 March 2017 by admin

Submitted report

 (From left) JCRC Executive Director Anita Zusman Eddy, Joyce Rosenfield, Rosemary Stromberg, Marlene Cohen, Presbyter Jan DeVries (holding Seder plate), Talia Kushnick, Wendy Palmer, Amy Roseman and Mika Manaster

(From left) JCRC Executive Director Anita Zusman Eddy, Joyce Rosenfield, Rosemary Stromberg, Marlene Cohen, Presbyter Jan DeVries (holding Seder plate), Talia Kushnick, Wendy Palmer, Amy Roseman and Mika Manaster

DALLAS — The Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas will host its fifth annual Interfaith Seder at 6 p.m. Thursday, March 30, at Temple Emanu-El.
The Seder is a unique opportunity for the Dallas Jewish community to join local faith leaders and individuals from different cultural and religious backgrounds. The program follows the traditional order and structure of a Passover Seder.

Local faith leaders at the 2016 Seder

Local faith leaders at the 2016 Seder

Each year the event has a theme that shapes the Haggadah which is written for the event. The theme of this year’s Seder is “Uniting our Community,” and the program will highlight the importance of building bridges between individuals and communities, and reaching out to support, understand, and respect the diverse communities in the Dallas Metroplex. The Haggadah is designed to maximize discussion on the theme, while allowing for a wide range of spiritual beliefs.
This year’s Seder is being co-led by Rabbi Debra Robbins of Temple Emanu-El and Reverend Dr. Jan DeVries, General Presbyter, Grace Presbytery. Grace Presbytery is comprised of approximately 150 congregations with more than 41,000 members. It will be Reverend DeVries’ second time leading the Interfaith Seder. Last year, 125 Presbyterians attended the event, some of whom had never previously been in a Jewish institution. “It is my great honor and pleasure to be co-hosting the Interfaith Seder again this year,” said Reverend DeVries. “We had such wonderful turnout last year and I’m looking forward to another inspiring occasion where people of all different faiths can sit together around a shared table and consider the values and duties that we have in common,” she added.
Rabbi Robbins remarked, “I am delighted to collaborate with Reverend DeVries on this special Seder. I hope this event will help us all remember that despite whatever differences we may have, there is more that unites us than divides us and we all have a similar devotion to effecting positive change in the neighborhoods where we live. I would encourage everyone available to join us to participate in this meaningful experience.”
The program will also feature a guest speaker, Dr. Fredrick D. Haynes, III, senior pastor of Friendship-West Baptist Church. Dr. Haynes’ passionate and engaging leadership has helped the church grow from 100 members to more than 12,000. He is committed to transforming the lives of others, as well as the community around him.
Traditionally, the Seder recounts the Passover story, which is rich in themes. It is impossible to study the Exodus narrative without being reminded of the issues of hunger, poverty and oppression. Each year, the JCRC Interfaith Seder explores these issues. Chair of the Interfaith Seder planning committee, Marlene Cohen, said, “We chose this year’s theme because the JCRC is dedicated to engaging with people of other faiths on issues that affect all of us and our community. We hope that the Seder will inspire attendees to work together to solve some of the issues that we all care about. The community’s response to poverty and hunger, for example, can be more robust when we are united in a common purpose to tackle what can be overcome, and provide necessary relief to families in our community that are in need.”
For more information or to register, please call 214-615-5293 or email jcrc@jewishdallas.org. This is a popular event, so those planning to attend should register in advance at www.jewishdallas.org/Seder. Cost to attend is $20 per person. A kosher dinner will be served. Child care is available for children 18 months to 5 years-old with advance registration.
— Submitted by Jamie Moore

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They fight skewed view of Israel with truth

They fight skewed view of Israel with truth

Posted on 09 March 2017 by admin

StandWithUs combats false, biased media reporting of nation

By Aaron Greenberg
Special to the TJP

Eden, a 25-year-old Israeli, says she grew up with a normal childhood, for the most part. The major difference between her experience and that of Americans her age was the constant fear of terrorism.
She’s proud of her country, which has been under physical attack or threat of attack for her whole life. Now she’s concerned about another type of attack — increasing anti-Israel rhetoric. When she sees or hears about people calling Israel illegitimate, it feels like a personal insult.

Submitted photo Ido (left) and Eden are college students and former Israeli soldiers who shared their personal stories as part of a StandWithUs speaking tour.

Submitted photo
Ido (left) and Eden are college students and former Israeli soldiers who shared their personal stories as part of a StandWithUs speaking tour.

“Imagine people saying really bad things about your parents that are not true,” Eden said.
Eden and Ido are college students and former Israeli soldiers who visited the region last month, telling their personal stories as part of a speaking tour sponsored by StandWithUs, a major pro-Israel education group based in California.
“All you’ve got to do is go online and hear all the horrible lies about your country,” said Ido, who has served in a combat role in the Israeli military.
Eden is particularly bothered by the idea that the only way to support Palestinians is to criticize Israel. She said many Israelis are pro-Palestinian, but love their country. She said too many people outside of Israel don’t have the right information or perspective. Some go so far as to call Israeli soldiers monsters.
The two said they want to set the record straight about their country and its military. One of six teams traveling across the U.S. in February, they started in St. Louis, then went to Oklahoma and Louisiana before wrapping up in Texas, including two trips through the Metroplex. Jesse Stock, the Southern Region coordinator, who is based locally, accompanied them.
The tour hit all kinds of stops, from Hillels such as TCU and North Texas, to congregations like Beth Torah and Shearith Israel, to clubs and church groups. They made hamantaschen with college students, stopped at a happy hour event in Addison, and spoke to students at Yavneh Academy and Legacy Christian Academy. There was even an event at the BBYO International Convention in Dallas.
For the most part, they found they were well received. There was only one protest, at Washington University in St. Louis.
“That’s a shame. Both of us wanted to have them in front of us, have a dialogue,” Ido said.
Many who are anti-Israel don’t want to have a dialogue, the soldiers said.
“We appreciate it when they challenge us,” Eden said. “Challenge us. Ask us these tough questions. All the people I’ve met who are pro-Palestinian have great values, but they don’t know they are on the wrong side of history.”
They said those who did take the time to discuss ideas — whatever their background or point of view — had their eyes opened.
“Some have never heard about Israel, and some are Jewish,” Ido said. “But we told them about our personal story and the need to protect the ones you love.”
Ido said there’s a ton of information out there, easy to access, but that it’s hard for people to wade through the complexity to get the truth. That’s the goal of StandWithUs, to clear the air by education, and denouncing falsehoods.
“People hear this misinformation about Israel’s army and the demonization about Israel to create ill will,” said Roz Rothstein, StandWithUs co-founder and chief executive officer. “Having Israeli students travel across the country, they meet thousands of people who never even met an Israeli before. It really builds bridges. So it came about because of the misinformation promoted about Israel, and particularly the Israeli army, and it’s been very successful in building bridges.”
Both of the soldiers went through training from StandWithUs, which has fellowships to groom and educate leaders in Israel education.
One of their biggest missions is to explain the role of the Israeli military. Ido talked about how he left a chance to see the World Cup in Brazil to be part of a mission into the Gaza Strip. His unit was under fire, and lost soldiers, because Hamas knew where they were going to be. How did Hamas know? The Israeli air force dropped leaflets warning the locals that the army would come through. There were also phone calls and text messages.
“Absurd as it may seem, I soon realized that because of this IDF protocol aimed at preventing any harm coming to uninvolved Palestinians, our enemy, Hamas, knew exactly when and where we were going,” Ido said.
That concept stunned many who listened to the soldiers speak, including former U.S. servicemen and -women, although it didn’t surprise some listeners at Congregation Beth Torah in Richardson. At least three people who spoke during the Q&A have had their own children serve in the IDF.
The leaflets are part of the code designed to keep the Israeli army the most moral in the world.
“People don’t understand how much responsibility that comes with,” Eden said.
Eden’s role, while not in combat, also included a strong morality component. She helped provide support for the welfare of soldiers. That could be through social, medical or financial help. One of her soldiers, Avram, was living in terrible conditions with his family, who emigrated from Ethiopia. The IDF provided them direct financial support.
“The IDF looks after the soldiers because it understands that these are young people, with families and everyday struggles,” she said.
Ido said that anyone who cherishes life and has liberal values will be moved by visiting Israel, and find it impossible to support the anti-Israel movement.
Rothstein thinks the message is getting through to those who heard the soldiers speak.
“I think people just don’t know what kind of morals they have and dilemmas Israeli soldiers face,” she said. “And to hear them straight from the mouths of young people who have gone through it is an awakening. … It’s just refreshing to hear from someone who actually had these challenges in person and just to know what an everyday Israeli young person is, like, in their 20s. They are very similar to you and me.”
They are also similar to previous generations of Israelis, Eden said, in their quest and hope for peace. Her parents told her that she didn’t have to worry about being drafted because there would be no need for an army when she turned 18. It’s what her parents were told, and what she tells her young brothers.
Unfortunately, Ido said, there is still the problem of those who don’t want peace. He told the audience at Beth Torah that it must be horrible to be a 6-year-old Palestinian taught to hate Israelis and groomed to be a suicide bomber.
“Both Israelis and Palestinians are held hostage by Hamas, because they put our lives, and the lives of our families, on the line,” Ido said. “I hope that in the future we will be able to overcome terrorism together, so we can finally reach real peace through dialogue and cooperation.”

 

******

 

Educating the influential media

By Aaron Greenberg
Special to the TJP

In May 2001, Roz Rothstein saw a problem with the way Israel was portrayed in the media, and she took action.
The media and the world it covers have changed significantly since then, but the organization she co-founded — StandWithUs — remains focused on the same challenges.
“There are two challenges that we face as supporters of Israel and the Jewish people,” Rothstein told the Texas Jewish Post. “One is a lack of good, solid education and inspiration about Israel. A lot of people take Israel for granted, and don’t really make a specific point of teaching some of the important details that everybody should know.”

Rothstein

Rothstein

And that leads to the second challenge. StandWithUs’ chief executive officer said that misinformation comes not only from those with an ax to grind, but journalists who don’t have the facts.
“It could be just innocent mistakes, it could be deliberate, but you’re just not getting it right,” she said. “Journalists educate the public, and sometimes it is unfortunate, because they don’t have proper information, proper context, and they really need to do a little bit more research to get it right.”
As a result, StandWithUs has focused on providing a platform to educate pro-Israel advocates and those seeking more information.
“When people who don’t have good information are challenged with misinformation, they don’t really know where to begin to respond,” Rothstein said. “We have tremendous platforms to meet these challenges. That is the nature of our work.”
When StandWithUs was founded, Rothstein didn’t anticipate it growing into an organization with huge national and international impact. But as the anti-Israel movement grew, the need to push back grew, and her organization went right into the fray.
Rothstein said those with anti-Israel sentiment have now adjusted by focusing on BDS.
“Now everybody sits under the same umbrella as the boycott movement,” she said. “Divestment on campuses is the tool.”
Groups are using apartheid weeks and Palestinian awareness weeks, bringing the same materials from campus to campus. But Rothstein said most of the political spectrum remains friendly to Israel except for the far left. And for those wondering how to determine what is honest debate and what is anti-Semitism, she points to the State Department’s three Ds — double standards, delegitimization and demonization.
For an example, she points to a speech by the new U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, about the double standard of committees specifically targeting Israel for human rights violations, but not other nations.
Rothstein believes real debate looks different and is welcome.
“If you’re going to talk about should women sit in the back of the bus in Mea Shearim where the religious guys don’t want women sitting next to them on a chair, that’s a policy issue,” Rothstein said. “If you want to talk about Labor versus Likud, policy issues, those are worthwhile discussions and shouldn’t scare people.”
StandWithUs now has 18 offices, a series of fellowships and a massive social media presence. Rothstein believes it is important to connect with people both through national campaigns and memes and on the personal level.
Locally, the organization is still in what Rothstein calls the “infant stages,” but Jesse Stock, the Southern Region coordinator, moved to the area last year. He handled the recent regional Israeli soldiers’ speaking tour, accompanying Eden and Ido from St. Louis to New Orleans, through Oklahoma and Texas. There were numerous stops in the Metroplex, including Frisco, Dallas, Fort Worth and Richardson.
“We have a long way to go, but we are making great progress,” Stock said. “Currently, we are working hard to make StandWithUs available to anyone who needs resources about Israel.”
Rothstein visited for an event at Shearith Israel last month, using it as a chance to highlight some of the ways StandWithUs has grown, including significant programs for high school and college campuses. A new effort is just beginning to help educate middle schoolers, too.
“We were talking about our work, the origins of the organization, and we showed all the different departments we have,” she said. “Two students spoke about how we helped them and their campuses.”
One of the biggest areas of growth has been on the legal side, with lawyers offering to do pro-bono work, including a prominent local attorney instrumental in getting the Dallas chapter started.
“Charles Pulman is a good friend, and he’s been invaluable as a pro-bono attorney for a legal department that helps faculty and community members when they have an issue they feel they need help with,” Rothstein said.
In addition to Pulman, Stock credited Robert Austein, Allyn Kramer and Ken Goldberg with helping make the event at Shearith Israel possible.
Stock has worked with a number of local organizations, including the Federation, schools and congregations; provided a pro-Israel perspective to the media; and taken part in Israel Action Day in Austin.
“We’re very excited because there seems to be a lot of interest,” Rothstein said. “If people support Israel, the doors usually open up to us.”

 

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Energizer Bubbie: 100 years of laughter

Energizer Bubbie: 100 years of laughter

Posted on 09 March 2017 by admin

2-Norma w grandson Evan Alterman

Gremm ushers in new century, reminisces on 100 years of funny stories, love and memories

By Katie Ray
Special to the TJP

No one would have expected Norma Ray Gremm to live to be 100 years old; when she was a child she drank a glass of gasoline that was lying around the house because she thought it was water.
She also was hit by a Model T Ford when she let go of her mother’s hand and ran into the street. To top that, she’s a breast cancer survivor. But after she tells these stories she always just laughs and says, “And that is what is wrong with me today.”


She means that if you want to be like her, living and thriving at 100, “you don’t quit talking, you don’t quit laughing and you never die.”
The feisty centenarian will receive a blessing from Rabbi David Stern at Shabbat services Friday, March 10, at Temple Emanu-El.
Norma was born at her grandparent’s house in Dallas, on Feb. 11, 1917, into a large family. The house was filled with people including her mother, Elizabeth Beck Ray; her father, Joseph David Ray; her father’s eight siblings and her paternal grandparents. Norma always points out that even though there was never any money it didn’t matter, because there was always so much love and fun.
When asked what is her favorite memory from all her 100 years, she says it is when she met her husband, Phil Gremm. He was a cousin of her best girlfriend, Jenny. He came in from Muskogee, Oklahoma when Jenny’s sister got married.
She noticed right away that he was good-looking, so when he asked for her number, she gave it to him, but she laughs, “I never heard from him.” It wasn’t until a year later when Jenny got married and he came back in town that the courtship truly started. Norma knew he was the one even though, as she says, he wasn’t a big talker like her. She says he was attractive, nice and modest. After a quick courtship, they got married and moved to Muskogee, where Phil had his own plumbing business.
During World War II after Phil enlisted, Norma moved home to help her mother and her siblings, Ola Ray Leibs, Betty Ray Rosenfeld and baby brother Gerald Louis Ray. After World War II, Norma refused to go back to Muskogee and Phil started Atlas Plumbing in Dallas. It was here they raised their three daughters, Beverly Gremm Fetterman, Judye Gremm and Susan Gremm Alterman.
After Phil sold his business, they enjoyed traveling the world with Ola and her husband Mervin Leibs. They went to Israel, Egypt, Hong Kong, Singapore and more.
Sadly, after 62 years of marriage, Phil passed away. Norma has since spent her time with her family and making sure the stories of her past will continue to be shared. She likes to say “this is history,” to stress their importance. She shares her love of history and family in many ways: by baking her mother’s old recipes (including her legendary mandel bread), showing both old and new photographs from her many family albums and telling stories. One knows that a story from Norma will always make them laugh, as some of her favorites include the pranks her dad did, her many misunderstandings she has had because she is hard of hearing, and the time she laughed hysterically at a funeral because she realized she was at the wrong one.
However, her most favorite tale of all is the time she was stopped in the Waldorf-Astoria by Geraldine Ferraro because her skirt was stuck in her pantyhose. Norma is never afraid to tell an embarrassing story about herself, because she loves to share and bring people joy.
Norma’s 100th birthday party was a giant fiesta with more than a hundred family and friends. Attendees from all over the country came, from states such as Oklahoma, Illinois, Nebraska, California, and Florida. Norma, as usual, was dressed in style, which included heels.
After a serious of toasts, Norma said, “When people ask me what my secret is (to living to be 100 years old) there are a few things that’s going through my mind: good genes, good family, good doctors, good drugs, and just as important as all of that perhaps is having a positive attitude.”
She added that she “wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for the love and dedication of my three amazing daughters, two sons-in-law (Hank Alterman and Rick Fetterman), one awesome grandson (Evan Alterman), two red-headed granddaughters (Blake Fetterman and Alex Fetterman Price) and two great-grandsons (Isaac Price and Hayden Price), who give me purpose every day and bring me such joy.”

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Yavneh falls short of TAPPS state title in 2OT, 46-39

Yavneh falls short of TAPPS state title in 2OT, 46-39

Posted on 03 March 2017 by admin

Photo: Ron Romaner Griffin Levine (right) hugs Our Lady of the Hills’ Chandlin Hale after the conclusion of the double-overtime game. Levine averaged 18.6 points per game during the season, including 14 in the state championship game.

Photo: Ron Romaner
Griffin Levine (right) hugs Our Lady of the Hills’ Chandlin Hale after the conclusion of the double-overtime game. Levine averaged 18.6 points per game during the season, including 14 in the state championship game.

Staff report

The Yavneh boys’ basketball team had the speed, but Our Lady of the Hills had the size.
Yavneh played from behind through most of the game before falling short in its first-ever TAPPS Class 3A state championship in double overtime, 46-39, at Abilene Christian.
The game time was changed from 1 p.m. to 10 a.m. to accommodate Yavneh’s trip home before Shabbat.
Luke Schultz, a 6-foot, 9-inch center, dominated the paint for Our Lady of the Hills and collected 14 rebounds and 12 points. Yavneh’s quick guards managed 12 assists and 12 steals — the Hawks had zero in both categories.

Photo: Ron Romaner Yavneh’s Pierce Bell drives toward the hoop during the TAPPS Class 3A state championship.

Photo: Ron Romaner
Yavneh’s Pierce Bell drives toward the hoop during the TAPPS Class 3A state championship.

Griffin Levine scored 14 points to lead Yavneh, while Noah Rubinstein had eight rebounds.
“The truth is it’s tough to come up a little short,” Head Coach David Zimmerman said. “It’s been such an unbelievable year. I really hope that the boys see it that way because I know the school does and the community does. As the days and weeks and years go by, we’ll be looking back and remember the whole season and the journey and the bus rides and plane trips, not the final score.”
Both teams played championship-caliber defense. Yavneh shot 30 percent for the game, while the Hawks shot 44. Yavneh exerted excessive energy on the defensive end, mainly guarding the Hawks’ interior size. That may have carried over into their shooting legs.
The Bulldogs trailed at halftime, 16-15, and appeared content to shoot jump shots and 3-pointers. Much of that decision was because of Hawks center Schultz. That unwillingness to drive inside led to a 28-23 deficit at the end of the quarter.
But the Bulldogs were able to negate some of Schultz’ effectiveness by keeping him away from the low post.
“We neutralized him as well as anyone this year,” Zimmerman said of the Montana State signee.
Then the Bulldogs pushed the tempo behind Levine. Levine made an assist, hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 28 and then a jumper to take a two-point lead with 2:20 left. Yavneh and the Hawks exchanged 3-pointers and a pair of turnovers. Our Lady of the Hills scored a layup with 49 seconds left to tie it and a Levine turnover right before the end of regulation stopped any chance for a game-winning shot.
In the first overtime, both teams played very conservatively. The Hawks ran off 2 minutes before turning the ball over. Then Yavneh followed suit with an over-and-back violation, giving the Hawks one last chance. The Hawks got to the rim but missed the layup as the buzzer sounded.

Photo: Ron Romaner

Photo: Ron Romaner

Photo: Ron Romaner

Photo: Ron Romaner

In the second overtime, Luke Schultz’ size became a factor again. The center grabbed offensive rebounds, made a basket and free throws to give the Hawks a 40-33 lead. Yavneh battled back and made it 42-39 on a Rubinstein basket, but the Hawks made their free throws down the stretch to reach the final score of 46-39.
“I could not be prouder of these student-athletes and their coaches for the incredible positive energy and pride that they brought to our school community all season long,” said Dr. David A. Portnoy, head of school for Yavneh.
Beyond that, Portnoy said he was “very grateful that TAPPS and the other teams involved accommodated our religious needs to be back for Shabbat in Dallas.”
Yavneh (31-4) will graduate Zach Epstein, Noah Rubinstein, Daniel Chernikov and Liad Guttman. Freshman Jonah Eber and junior Levine, who were both major players in the run to the state tournament, should return.
“We’re losing three seniors who gave so much,” Zimmerman said. “We’re losing size but anytime you can return a top player like Griffin (Levine), the future is bright. Our tournament experience is going to bode well for us.”

Photo: Ron Romaner Rosie Bernstein, left, and Megan Lacritz

Photo: Ron Romaner
Rosie Bernstein, left, and Megan Lacritz

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Jewish community remembers music maker

Jewish community remembers music maker

Posted on 02 March 2017 by admin

Submitted photo Bruce Feldman was best known for his singing ability, but he also was the president of Tiferet Israel and helped start the Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off.

Submitted photo
Bruce Feldman was best known for his singing ability, but he also was the president of Tiferet Israel and helped start the Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off.

‘Definition of mensch’ Feldman mourned in Feb. 27 memorial

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

Hearts broken, hundreds joined to heal, to hold each other and to bid “shalom,” to Bruce Feldman, who would have turned 63 on March 7.
Feldman — the Jewish community’s teacher, friend, mentor, buddy and a member of every family he touched — died Feb. 25.
Congregation Anshai Torah was a standing-room-only sanctuary of love on Monday morning, Feb. 27, all remembering the treasured man.
Those Bruce brought under the chuppah and his b’nai mitzvah students — “900-ish” in 23 years of tutoring — helped fill the room, gazes engraved with pain. For his Kol Rina choir and congregation, the thought of praying without him is heart-wrenching. Childhood friends and family remembered the Dallasite who grew up at Congregation Tiferet Israel — serving as president, and helping start the Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off — a teen leader in BBYO and throughout life. For the Level Ground and One Voice Outreach Choir and seniors at the Legacy, prayer will always ring with his passion.
Rabbis Stefan Weinberg and Michael Kushnick led a meaningful service. Kol Rina serenaded their friend’s soul, their solemn sound with one voice, deafeningly silent. Bruce’s children Liz and Eric, and their cousins Jen Bagesse and Gary Feldman, eulogized him.
“My Pops, the most charismatic, likable, and jovial person, pulled me through no matter what,” said Liz, married to Andy Chapel and the mother of Livi, Sophia and Henry, her memory bank full of painting Dad’s toes, making ankle bracelets and more. Finding her own voice through Bruce’s love of music, their duets she will miss. “He had a magical gift to make everything special.”
Liz and Eric spoke of Bruce’s kvelling as a grandfather, a role he treasured, calling time with his grandkids “a transfusion.” Weekend dates for oatmeal and a side of muffin — so simple, so lasting. The two promising to honor their father’s love of Jewish learning — she promising to learn Shacharit, and he to lead the Passover Seder — both wishing he’d give play-by-play lessons rather than their running the bases alone.
“Dad had an ear like no one and a photographic memory for the classics of the ’50s to ’90s and even modern-day rap,” said Eric, the husband of Erica and father of Levi, whose “Camp Dad” memories include pet shop visits, playing basketball, baseball card shows, travels, Dave & Buster’s and making movies.
“Dad was charming, spontaneous, and he helped me navigate through life, making everyone feel like they were the most important person on the planet.”
For Bruce’s wife Lori, his children and grandchildren, his mother Sylvia, mother-in-law Marilyn, stepchildren David (Rachel), (Erin), and Brett (Kat), brothers Marvin (Pam) and Herschel, sister Joan and grand extended family, the tentacles of the community hold you close.
“Bruce’s personality was infectious. It’s a terrible thing to not see his bright, shining face, to not share his bear hugs,” said Rabbi Weinberg. “This week’s Torah portion, Terumah, has God saying, ‘You shall bring gifts to me from everyone whose heart moves him.’ Bruce was defined by that love, giving of himself to all. That virtue must move us all to focus on the memories and finding something good to do to honor the man who taught us to smile, laugh and enjoy Judaism.”
At an almost full shul minyan Monday night many recalled stories — each person certain they were Bruce’s best friend, his closest confidant, the “one.”
Bruce once said, “It’s important we nurture and teach our kids about their faith and heritage. There’s one chance to instill this feeling and it’s important they connect and keep the feeling and spirit, hopefully forever.” Bruce was credited with connections and spirit throughout our community.
Upon learning of his death, community members filled Facebook with tributes. “Profound and deep impact.” “Changed our lives for the better.” “Guardian on earth.” “Bruce had a force of personality.” “The definition of ‘mensch.’ ”
May your name — and your awesome nicknames — be a blessing. One grand, Jewish, funny, musical, sports-loving, celebration-living, amazing blessing.
Memorials can be made to Levine Academy, Congregation Anshai Torah, or your favorite charitable organization. Those wishing to share messages, including tributes to Bruce pulled from his students’ b’nai mitzah speeches, can send them to the family at brucesbnaimitzvah@gmail.com.

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Yavneh boys 1 win from state title

Posted on 02 March 2017 by admin

Staff report

The Yavneh boys’ basketball team won their TAPPS Class 3A state semifinal, 55-40, and will play for a state championship at 1 p.m. Friday in Abilene.

The Bulldogs (31-3) defeated Dallas Covenant, which hails from the same District 3. Yavneh trailed, 15-8, after the first quarter but closed the first half on a 16-7 run for a 24-24 tie at halftime. Yavneh pulled away in the third quarter and kept space in the fourth for the victory.

Yavneh will face Kerrville Our Lady of the Hills (26-6) in the 3A state final. Our Lady of the Hills defeated Beaumont Legacy, 46-37, in the other semifinal.

 

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Jewish Communities Day at Texas Capitol promotes Jewish values, policy priorities

Jewish Communities Day at Texas Capitol promotes Jewish values, policy priorities

Posted on 02 March 2017 by admin

By James Russell
Special to the TJP

Photo: Senate media Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick meets with participants of the Jewish Communities Day at the State to show his support for the anti-BDS bill.

Photo: Senate media
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick meets with participants of the Jewish Communities Day at the State to show his support for the anti-BDS bill.

From left) Rivae Campo; Jaziah Masters, staffer for State Representative Helen Giddings (D-Dallas); Susie Avnery; and Alice Barnett met for a small advocacy session in the representative’s office.

From left) Rivae Campo; Jaziah Masters, staffer for State Representative Helen Giddings (D-Dallas); Susie Avnery; and Alice Barnett met for a small advocacy session in the representative’s office.

 House Speaker Joseph Straus meets with high-level representatives from each Federation. (From left) Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Board Chair Daniel J. Prescott, Rob Shoss, Robert Simon, Speaker of the House Straus, Kevin Epstein, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Bradley Laye and Executive Director of the JCRC Anita Zusman Eddy.

House Speaker Joseph Straus meets with high-level representatives from each Federation. (From left) Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Board Chair Daniel J. Prescott, Rob Shoss, Robert Simon, Speaker of the House Straus, Kevin Epstein, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Bradley Laye and Executive Director of the JCRC Anita Zusman Eddy.

Jewish organizations from across Texas descended upon the Texas Capitol on Wednesday, Feb. 22, for their biannual Jewish Communities Day at the State: Mission to Austin advocacy day.
The event was organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. It brought together 150 people from every Jewish Federation of Texas: Greater Dallas, Austin, Greater Houston, Fort Worth & Tarrant County, San Antonio and El Paso. The Community Relations Council (CRC) of San Antonio, Texas Hillel, Chabad at UT, Texas A&M Hillel, and Hillels of North Texas, also participated.
Attendees focused on three issues: access to early childhood education for all children, support for social services and Federation agency partners and legislation prohibiting the Texas State government from contracting or investing in businesses currently boycotting or planning to boycott Israel. They heard from longtime legislative observers, policy wonks and state officials.
Speakers included Harvey Kronberg, publisher of the nonpartisan online publication Quorum Report. (Editor’s note: The author of this article is a Quorum Report writer.) Marnie Glaser, executive director of Early Childhood Education for the Texas Education Agency (TEA), discussed the significance of high-quality early childhood education, which has been shown to narrow achievement gaps while improving lifetime outcomes for all students. Anne Dunkelberg, associate director of the Center for Public Policy Priorities, gave an overview of state and federal legislation that would cut funding from social service programs and echoed the attendees’ social service priorities,
But the anti-BDS bills were seen as key priorities among advocates and legislators.
House Bill 89 by State Reps. Phil King, R-Weatherford and Jeff Leach, R-Plano, and Senate Bill 134 by Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, are part of a national trend targeting the BDS movement.
King told the group he is optimistic about the bill’s passage but legislators must know it is a priority among their constituents. The bill has the backing of leaders of both Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Joe Straus, who is Jewish.
Even if the state’s top officials support the bills, Dallas JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin agreed with King: Advocacy is important. And not just to pass this bill or other priorities.
“It makes a significant impact on our state legislators when they see such a well-attended program, with participation from Jewish communities throughout Texas. Our Jewish Communities Day at the State is an occasion for all of us to show our support for Israel, as well as our concerns about issues that impact all of us who live in Texas. Anti-BDS efforts, increasing access to high-quality early childhood education and support for the social services provided by our Federation partners, Jewish Family Service, Legacy Senior Communities and CHAI are issues that are important to the Jewish community as well as our broader communities throughout the state,” Rubin said in a statement.
Their attendance was not just acknowledged in personal meetings but on the House floor as well.
Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, acknowledged attendees with a resolution declaring Feb. 22, “Texas Jewish Communities Advocacy Day.”
Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Board Chair Daniel Prescott and other Jewish Federation joined Villalba on the floor for the resolution.
Prescott noted, “It was a great honor to stand with Representative Villalba as he recognized our Jewish Communities Day at the State. Numerous state representatives approached me afterward to express their support for Israel and the Jewish community.”
Seth Kaplan, Day at the State chair, also noted, “We appreciated the support and participation of all the Jewish Federations and many Jewish organizations and agencies throughout Texas. As the only full-time JCRC in Texas, our Dallas JCRC is pleased to have served as the planning and coordinating entity that brings together all the Jewish communities in Texas for this critical advocacy program.”
The Dallas JCRC continues to work with other local and statewide organizations to advocate for and support the Texas anti-BDS bill currently under consideration in the current legislative session.

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LIFT offering language services

LIFT offering language services

Posted on 02 March 2017 by admin

Area synagogues helping non-English speakers fit in

By Aaron Greenberg
Special to the TJP

DALLAS — For more than half a century, Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT) has helped adults learn to read and write. The agency, founded by the Dallas chapter of the National Council of Jewish Women, has made a significant impact over the years in the Metroplex, while retaining close ties to the Jewish community that spawned it.
“We’re very proud of our founding heritage,” said Lisa Hembry, LIFT’s president and CEO. “The NCJW recognized that low literacy among adults was an intergenerational problem, and working with parents would enhance the learning of children.”
This past fall, LIFT started offering English Language Acquisition (ELA) classes at Temple Shalom. More recently, a partnership has started with Temple Emanu-El. A number of Jewish organizations and members of the community have also been involved through donations, volunteer work or partnerships.
Partnerships, such as the ones with the two congregations, have been a key part of LIFT from the start.
“They created this amazing program that was volunteer driven,” Hembry said.

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About two years ago, Temple Shalom was looking to identify an issue to focus on. Education stood out because “everyone felt this tied into the other issues,” said Debra Levy-Fritts, who helps coordinate LIFT classes at Temple Shalom. She cited the strong leadership at LIFT as a major reason for teaming up. As it turned out, the feeling was mutual.
“We got involved with Temple Shalom because of Debra Levy-Fritts,” Hembry said. “She is very, very passionate about teaching people who have learning differences, and not treating them like second-class citizens. She actually brought Rabbi (Andrew) Paley to visit with us about two years ago. She shepherded this process through adopting LIFT and literacy as their community initiative.”
After a year of training and preparation, classes in English Language Acquisition started on campus last fall. It’s a small group so far, with about a dozen students, but Levy-Fritts expects that number to double for the next semester. Several volunteers have been trained, and the word is getting out in the neighborhood, she said.
“I want to keep up the relationship and ties with the community and let them know we’re there,” Levy-Fritts said. “I want to give people time to grow as teachers, as a partner with LIFT. Things that look like they happen overnight are a result of years.”
She said volunteers need to be patient, understanding that students have families and jobs to attend to. It has also been difficult for those who struggle to read to open up about it.
“You have to be positive and persistent with them,” Levy-Fritts said. “You have to keep letting them know they will break through and do this.”
LIFT provides the training, curriculum and data on adult learners, helping to ease the burden on organizations that host classes.
The congregation has teamed with LIFT in other ways. Hembry and Doug Butler, who teaches adult literacy, spoke to the seventh-graders, who made goodie bags for the LIFT students. LIFT has also benefited from Temple Shalom’s help with awareness at events, and took part in the annual Food Truck Palooza event.
Temple Emanu-El has long had ties to LIFT, including a pair of the organization’s board members, Dave Millheiser (who is also a Temple Emanu-El board member) and Edward Stone. Pat Peiser, who was president of NCJW when it founded LIFT, and new Executive Director Nancy Rivin, are both congregants. Last month, the partnership became official.
“We have a very deep involvement with Temple Emanu-El, and it just made sense for us to deepen that engagement by having a more formal involvement,” Hembry said.
Another reason was that the two groups already work with a lot of the same nonprofits.
“Literacy, we believe, helps alleviate poverty, and we as a service projects committee thought that the mission of LIFT fit in with our mission at Temple,” said Alex Null, associate director of Social Justice.
“It is something that we take very seriously, and we are hoping more of our members get involved in LIFT. We have already had people contact us who are interested in getting more involved.”
Because the partnership is so new, they are still exploring options. Null pointed to opportunities for volunteers in the classroom, through advocacy and working on special projects, such as helping with workplace or interview skills.
“We were thrilled they reached out to us because we believe in their mission and they are a great organization doing great work in Dallas,” Null said.
Hembry said she’d like to see Emanu-El help support a project at Herbert Marcus Elementary School teaching parents of school kids how to speak English, interact with the faculty and empower and advocate for their children.
Another partner is Jewish Family Service. Allison Harding, director of Career and Employment Services, teaches a class on financial coaching and workforce fundamentals on Tuesdays.
“She is wonderful, and her students — the people that sign up for that class — really love her,” Hembry said.
The M.B. and Edna Zale Foundation has supported LIFT over the years as well. Hembry said Leonard Krasnow and Dana Gerard, Temple Shalom members, recently helped LIFT to navigate the grant process.
“The foundation allocated $50,000 to launch a public awareness campaign designed to get more students, more volunteers to teach the classes, more partnerships to offer our services on sites, and more donors to help fund those initiatives,” Hembry said.
There is a considerable amount of work to be done in the region, which has one of the most troubling rates of low literacy in the country. Hembry pointed to a study by JPMorgan Chase that said every year 42,000 new jobs are created that go unfilled because the workforce does not have basic skills to apply for the jobs.
While the classes at Temple Shalom so far are for those learning fluency in English, Levy-Fritts said there are many native English speakers who are helped by LIFT. Some have learning disabilities that are undiagnosed, or improperly addressed, and others simply fall through the cracks.
As a result, they can have a difficult time making connections while reading that they would understand in conversation. Hembry agrees.
“It’s amazing how many people can actually sound out the words fluently, but actually comprehending what they are reading is the basis of our adult literacy curriculum,” Hembry said.
“We were founded with the mission to teach adults to read. I believe what we actually do is empower adults to have a better life, to become more self-sufficient and participate more fully in the lives of their children, family members and community, through learning to read.”
Currently, LIFT serves about 3,000 people with classes for adult basic literacy, high school equivalency and ELA.
“Our goal is to have at least 10,000 people, three times what we are serving now, by the end of 2019,” Hembry said. “We have a scale-able model we feel really works. We’re just now at the point where we can take our adult basic literacy education out of this office, and our high school equivalency, and take it somewhere and deploy it.”
Hembry said there is plenty of information, as well as the appropriate forms, on volunteering, partnerships and donations at lift-texas.org.
“And for anybody who wants to, we love to have tours and observations by request,” she added.

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