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CJE leader Denn, family headed to Israel

CJE leader Denn, family headed to Israel

Posted on 10 May 2018 by admin

Photo: Meyer Denn
The family will spend the next year in Israel on sabbatical, living and loving the land in person.

By Deb Silverthorn

It’ll be a fond, albeit emotional, farewell for Meyer Denn and family at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, May 24, at the Aaron Family JCC’s Mankoff Center.
Fulfilling a dream, Denn, outgoing director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Center for Jewish Education (CJE), and his family will take a Sabbatical year in Israel — following their hearts to share the land, lore, and links to their heritage. With careers of teaching the core of the Jewish people at the core of this couple, Denn and his wife, Marni, look forward to having history come to life for their children Sydney, Jordan and Xander.
“We’ve wanted this gift for our children, and we’re so blessed to live in a time of miracles when the Jewish people have returned and are prospering in our country,” said Denn, who hopes to work in Diaspora affairs, education and engagement, and also share the country with tourists (“Come on Texans,” he says).
Denn was born in Wharton, Texas, and raised in Bay City. An involved Young Judaean in his youth and active in communal politics from early on, as a high school senior Denn ran for and won a seat on the city council. With a Bachelor of Arts in history and Judaic studies from UT Austin, he moved to Los Angeles where he served as executive director of the Pacific Jewish Center.
In 1997 he moved to Israel, working for the Jewish Agency and as a licensed tour guide. After returning to Los Angeles, where he pursued a bachelor’s degree in literature, a master’s degree in education and an MBA in nonprofit management from the University of Judaism, he reconnected with Marni, and his future was solid.
Since Denn’s arrival in Dallas, the then JED, Jewish Education Department of the Federation, has transformed into the center of our community, now the CJE.
“Meyer has brought together all walks of Jewish life, making what everyone cares about, something everyone cares about. He’s given the Federation a new credibility and a relationship with every institution in town,” Jaynie Schultz said. “Learning has become bigger than only for our children — education has become accessible and joyful for all ages.”
Ten years ago, Denn told the Texas Jewish Post that “as I’m meeting with rabbis, heads of school, teachers and lay leaders of the community, I’m finding an enthusiasm that is contagious and I couldn’t be more thrilled. It’s beautiful.” Ten years later, that sense of community and his commitment to understanding and enhancing it is his legacy.
“My role is to promote all types of Jewish education: day school, congregational, through organizations and agencies, and to bring crisp and new ideas through which we can partner,” Denn said.
“There was enough happening in our Mankoff space before Meyer, and he has brought it to life,” said Joy Mankoff. “Ron and I wanted more than a ‘room,’ we wanted learning, and a spirit for learning, and from the first time we met Meyer there was a click. He’s made that spirit contagious.”
Federation President and CEO Bradley Laye credits Denn with significant contributions. “The CJE has become the central convener and leader of major Jewish educational initiatives,” said Laye. “Meyer’s vision, creativity and of course his sense of humor, along with a stellar team of professionals, has made the CJE successful.”
Brought to Dallas as an enthusiastic and passionate visionary with the sharing of a new breadth of Jewish education and Jewish life, he’s opened many doors to help members of the community explore their Jewish identity.
Denn helped formulate numerous professional development opportunities for the community’s educators including the attendance of 200 early childhood educators at the National NAEYC Conference, bringing the Conscious Discipline philosophy to the community, sending 24 educators to Israel as part of the Schultz Israel Educator Fellows to teach Israel in the classroom, and the funding of scholarships for three community educators to receive master’s degrees from the Simmons School of Education at SMU.
Almost 2,300 children receive free books through PJ Library and thousands participated in LearningFest programs. The Night to Celebrate Jewish Education events hosted several distinguished speakers, all of whom also addressed area day schools.
The CJE supported strongly the growth of the Special Needs Initiative into becoming the Special Needs Partnership at Jewish Family Service and through Incubator Incentive Grants, CJE invested nearly $100,000 to seed new and innovative programs.
Technology grants for early childhood educators, Shabbat Scholars-in-Residence and this spring’s 13 Reasons Why NOT: Turning the Tide of Teen Suicide are additional examples of the impact Denn and his department has had on the community — the full list able to fill pages.
“I’m most proud that we’ve created an environment for every Jewish perspective in our diverse community to have a seat at the table of Jewish educational discussion and vision and that they show up and participate,” said Denn. “Today, our institutions engage and collaborate in impressive and meaningful ways and there’s a respect and trust that’s been built which continues to develop between our communal institutions.”
Denn believes his staff and all he’s worked with are positioned to maintain the department’s strengths. “We’ve constructed an educational landscape and brought the community’s leadership to understand how to serve its constituents,” he said.
“Meyer helped build up and promote those here who teach, those who support education, and those who want to learn,” said Helen Risch. “He’s upped the scale and helped us realize what we can achieve. We owe him and with his guidance, and the understanding, talent, and experience that we now hold, we’ll only continue to grow.”
Denn and his wife moved to Dallas in 2008 with their daughters and with the imminent debut of their son that fall. Akiba Academy, where Marni taught for years, has been their children’s academic home. With Sydney now headed for high school, the season was right for a family adventure of a lifetime.
“We’ve asked our kids to learn what they can about Judaism and to learn Hebrew, to have diverse experiences, and develop meaningful relationships,” said Denn. “We’ve been blessed here and we’ll never lose touch of our Dallas family. Learn Jewish. Think Jewish. Do Jewish. It’s what we’ve taught, what’s been learned, and it’s the key to goodness for everyone within Jewish Dallas’ grasp.”
Given that home is where the heart is, the Denns will always be home, wherever they go. Shalom y’all — it’s just the beginning.
The goodbye is co-chaired by the Mankoff, Risch, and Schultz families and the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Center for Jewish Education.
There is no cost to attend, but RSVPs are requested by email to kschlosberg@jewishdallas.org. Anyone wishing to share stories, photos or well-wishes should email them to jaynie@jaynieschultz.com, and anyone wanting to share in a donation to the family can send such to the Denn Fund at the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, 7800 Northaven Road, Dallas, TX 75230.

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Chessed in Action

Chessed in Action

Posted on 03 May 2018 by admin

Staff Report

The young women of Mesorah are demonstrating the essence of chessed, lovingkindness, with Project Shay (www.projectshay.com), a program the students developed to support Brooke and Barak Krengel, whose daughter Shayna, 2½, was diagnosed in May with Rett Syndrome.
According to Rettsyndrome.org, “Rett Syndrome is a rare non-inherited genetic postnatal neurological disorder that occurs almost exclusively in girls and leads to severe impairments, affecting nearly every aspect of the child’s life: their ability to speak, walk, eat and even breathe easily. The hallmark of Rett Syndrome is near-constant repetitive hand movements while awake.” Overwhelmingly, Rett Syndrome is found in girls.
When they learned of Shayna, the Mesorah students — with chessed always top of mind — “adopted” the engaging little girl. Mesorah junior Tehilla Rosenberg wrote recently, “The Krengels have shown great strength in dealing with their challenging situation. In an interview with students from Mesorah, the Krengels described their reaction to the diagnosis. ‘It was hard to get such heavy news, but if all we did was ask ‘Why us, why Shayna?’ …We are her parents, and we must be her cheerleaders, so that she can continue to advance. Shayna is so strong and rarely complains. She deserves the absolute best, and that’s what we are striving to give her. We have gained a lot from this experience: patience, trust, faith, love, determination, to name a few. Look, we don’t understand why this is happening, or why something so difficult was put on our innocent daughter, but we trust that everything happens for a reason. We are learning that we are a lot tougher and stronger than we thought we were. We know that Shayna is so special and positively impacts everyone she comes in contact with; she is our inspiration. Shayna’s positive upbeat attitude is what keeps us going, and we try to apply this to our lives every day.’’
The Mesorah girls go to the Krengels’ home. They play with Shayna, read to her and give her lots of hugs. This allows the Krengels to do necessary chores around the house and provides some respite.
The Krengels have been touched by the students, and the students have gained insights about themselves and their classmates as well.
Sophomore Moussa Shapiro is inspired by the Krengels’ fortitude, optimism and honesty. “It’s such a special family. They are putting their story out there and they want to inspire other people and show that it’s OK to have these challenges.”
“Project Shay represents what our school is all about,” says senior Rachel Dykman, “being a family, being here for one another.”
Junior Shira Michaels adds, “It has taught me so much about being grateful for what I have and for the people in my school because doing this project really brought so many of the girls together.”
To help raise awareness for Rett Syndrome and to help support the Krengel family, the Mesorah girls have produced a CD, Libeinu. Cut in a studio, the CD, which was released today, May 3, is available at projectshay.com for $15 or you can download the music for $10.
Many girls mentioned the hard work involved, and how rewarding it has been to see each girl use her unique talent to contribute to the project.
Freshman Tova Kam says, “We put a lot of work into this for a higher purpose.”
“This whole journey has been truly incredible… I feel so connected to more girls now because of it. It’s just really been a unifying experience,” added senior Leah Esther Broodo.
To download or purchase the CD and to learn more about Project Shay, visit projectshay.com.

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Chai times at Mesorah High

Chai times at Mesorah High

Posted on 03 May 2018 by admin

By Deb Silverthorn

As the Class of 20-Chai (2018) prepares to graduate from Mesorah School for Girls, its seniors leave with the honor and grace that has defined the school for its chai, its life, its 18 years.
In 2000, Rachel Leah and Shelly Rosenberg’s second daughter was bound for high school and, having already sent their oldest to Baltimore, Rachel Leah Rosenberg wanted an alternative for girls in the Dallas community. Together with a founding group that included Karen and Larry Kosowsky, Aviva and Oscar Rosenberg, and Leah and Jeff Secunda, a dream became a reality.
“There was no alternative to bringing a girls’ school to Dallas. Our parents wanted it, our girls needed it and we as a community were growing and to continue to inspire families to come here, we had to do it,” said Rachel Leah, whose daughter Yocheved is graduating this year, four of her sisters preceding her. “It’s meant a great deal to our families, and I’m very proud of what’s come of the school and its graduates.”
Mesorah students complete Judaic and secular studies, take Advanced Placement courses and partner with Richland College to earn high school and college credit. Many receive local and national academic and merit-based scholarships.
“We’re a college preparatory school with Torah at the forefront, and much more as the backdrop of a very full academic, social and extracurricular education experience,” said Mesorah’s Headmaster Rabbi Avraham Zev Kosowsky, the father of two graduates and one on the horizon. “Our students are immersed in a curriculum designed specifically for them and taught by teachers who are not just experts in their fields, but experts at educating young women. They learn in a joyful environment that develops critical thinking and leadership in its many forms.”
Kosowsky’s first year featured six graduates and 19 students. Today, there are 61 students. While growth is a good “dilemma,” there are hopes to begin a building campaign. The campus is now in an office building at Park Central.
“Mesorah provides not only ‘book learning,’ but learning of life built on relationships,” said Kosowsky, who taught at Akiba Academy before joining Mesorah’s administration in 2003. While now 10 times its initial census, Mesorah’s students and teachers share special bonds in and out of the classroom through Shabbatons, before- or after-school support and late-night phone calls for academic or personal connections. “Our faculty makes itself available at any time, and the friendships last long after our young ladies graduate.”
The tenet of tikkun olam is not taken lightly by students, who yearly amass over 6,000 chessed hours helping in their synagogues, babysitting, tutoring, visiting the elderly and infirm, mentoring others and more. They volunteer for CHAI/Community Homes for Adults, Inc.; Dallas Jewish Community Foundation; Dallas’ Friendship Circle; the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas; Israel Bonds; Od Yosef Chai; Yachad; and other organizations. They’ve used their talents to produce CDs helping others and promote health-issue awareness. They baked 2,000-plus challah rolls during Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.
“Mesorah has been a draw for those looking to move to our community, which has grown significantly, and single-gender academic institutions — religious or secular — have significant benefits,” said Rabbi Yerachmiel Udman, director of development, who also teaches in the classroom. “We have done a great job of recognizing the uniqueness of each student and building their strengths through a Jewishly-centered absolutely strong academic practice.”
The school’s Dedicated Day of Learning Campaign has been filled with tributes of “in memory” and “in honor,” “in the merit of good health” and general congratulations.
“This campaign has members of the community near and far supporting us while recognizing individuals close to them, honored truly by educating others,” said Udman, previously the founding rabbi and headmaster of Torah Day School and director of Judaic studies at Akiba Academy, the father of two Mesorah graduates, one this year and four in the future. “The priority is educating our ladies always keying in on how we can build each student with concern for the whole person, teaching them to think globally and scholastically, but also to think for themselves.”
Mesorah’s first graduating class of six (in 2004, Rebecca Levy Chastain, Tsippi Fried Gross, Yulia Dykman Hill, Miriam Lachterman, Malkie Rosenberg Ozeri and Rachel Secunda Sasson) and its 104 other alumni remain connected. Mesorah’s graduates are now lawyers, doctors, teachers, entrepreneurs, homemakers and more. They have graduated from schools ranging from Bar-Ilan University to Columbia Law School. Reunions have taken place in town, New York or Israel — where many have studied or made homes over the years.
On June 10, Leah Esther Broodo, Rachel Broodo, Rachel Dykman, Shani Epstein, Rachel Evans, Chaya Rochel Jager, Chasida Lurie, Rivke Notelovitz, Yocheved Rosenberg, Laya Udman and Tehilla Yachnes-Dear will turn their tassels, becoming alumnae as well.
“We were the first, but the impact the school made on all of us was huge,” said Ozeri, now an art teacher at Torah Day School of Dallas. “While the school has grown, the approach to connect with each individual remains. It’s not about schooling four grades of students, but about each student at the right level. There is a mix of students in many classes and from that comes friendships that last.
“The older we get the more about our identity we have to discover. Who each of us will be comes from asking questions and being with those who set examples,” Ozeri added. “Mesorah has always allowed a freedom of expression and helped its students develop a love for learning.”
For more information or to make a Day of Learning dedication, visit mesorahhighschool.org.

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Glass brings window shopping into 2010s

Glass brings window shopping into 2010s

Posted on 03 May 2018 by admin

Photos: Courtesy Daniel Black
“We can take our clients from idea to execution in one to two months — it really happens in a flash,” said CEO and Co-founder of Glass-Media Daniel Black. These truly digital watches in the window of Fossil at Frisco’s Stonebriar Centre share Black’s company’s display.

By Deb Silverthorn

It’s as clear as glass — Glass-Media, that is — how popular and successful Daniel Black and his business are.
“I saw a gap in omni-channel shopping, and our goal is to help our clients engage with the window shoppers — to bring them in,” Glass-Media Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder Daniel Black said. “Our clients can change screens in a blink for one or at all stores at the same second. We provide the ability to hit the brand relevant to any customer.”
Black’s vision came as he was working in online marketing in San Diego, when he’d notice paper window signs that were faded, cracked and outdated. He realized there was no technical solution.
“Storefront products for the most part haven’t changed in years, but everything around them has, many times,” said Black, a native of Toronto, to where his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor, had fled. “Paper and vinyl posters, stickers and neon lights can be outdated by the time they’re put up.”
Glass-Media’s product allows any storefront, street-facing glass or indoor surface to become an interactive arena with video, copy and other artistic displays available for change in the blink of an eye — literally.
Moving to Dallas, where he had friends and knew the start-up world was booming, he was first at The Dallas Entrepreneur Center and then its partner space at the Addison Treehouse. His offices are now at the Centrum. Black’s team includes Co-founders Nic Logan and Ilan Cane, Josh Grinnan, Becca Hollington, and Nate Schnurman. The group has customers around the country: Dairy Queen, McDonald’s, Nordstrom Rack, and Quicktrip. Local activations are in the windows of AT&T, Fossil Group, Pier 1 Imports and more.
“Daniel’s product is genius and one of the coolest marketing tools I’ve seen. It’s certainly helping us stand out in a sea of restaurants,” said Marc Mattox, co-founder of Dallas’ Poke Bop restaurants. “We have running video of our product, of kite surfing, of reviews. Even at the basic level, I’m so impressed with their absolutely on-point body of work.”
Glass-Media targets mall-based retailers, pop-up retail formats, convenience stores, fast-casual restaraunts and hospitality services. It allows retailers to boost foot traffic, enhance customer experience and engagement, build brand awareness and drive on and offline conversion.
“We can take our clients from idea to execution in one to two months — it can happen in a flash,” said Black, who graduated from Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California. “Dallas’ community works together and one company’s success is the success of all. It’s a magical place to be and we’re fortunate to be here.”
Black’s company, working with more than 50 brands and more in the pipeline, has, through angel investors, raised more than $2.5 million in investment capital, with almost half of that coming from the Metroplex. Winner of the 2018 Startup Pitch Competition at ShopTalk, the largest retail and e-commerce innovation conference, Glass-Media is continuously on the rise.
“We’re ambitious, and Daniel’s group has provided us with fantastic service. We post showings, associate introductions, community events — lots to reach the customers in our very neighbor-centric area,” said Sylvia Jennings. She and her husband, Wayne, are with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Rocky Mountain, Realtors in Colorado Springs. “We can always reach them and Daniel always has a hand in (the business). He’s a man of high integrity and, while we’re probably a small account, we always feel important.”
Black’s enthusiasm for business matches his zest for Jewish connection. Both he and his fiancée, Shelley Widom, are avid supporters of AIPAC, having just attended the 2018 Policy Conference in Washington.
“I’m five years out of college, and I didn’t think there was much I could do as a student, but I was wrong,” said Black. “We saw 3,500-plus students who are ‘boots on the ground’ and they need support. Now I know where I can be and what I can do and it’s helping grow the grass roots.”
In addition to AIPAC Lonestar Region events, Black and Widom can be found at Intown Chabad and YJP/Young Jewish Professionals programs. The two are also fans of Congregation Shearith Israel’s Torah on Tap, the Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off and Moishe House events.
“The synergy of young Jews here is incredible,” Black said. “We enjoy the breadth of programming and we’ve made a lot of friends. This town is booming with causes and people to be involved with. In college, my friends and I were looking for our identity; now we’re looking for what our ‘family lives’ will be, and Judaism is for me a priority.”
Whether it’s at a group Shabbat dinner or event in the city, the couple are just two of the many making Judaism work for their generation.
“Daniel cares passionately about the Jewish people and he wants to give back,” said Rabbi Mayer Hurwitz, DATA’s assistant dean and co-founding educational director of YJP. “He is creative and innovative both professionally and in everything he does and we’re thrilled for everything that he and Shelley share with us.”
Whether Black’s “light” is emanating from himself or his Glass-Media product line, seemingly his glass is always full.
For more information on Glass-Media, visit glass-media.com.

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Wende Weinberg’s sefer Torah comes home

Wende Weinberg’s sefer Torah comes home

Posted on 03 May 2018 by admin

Photo: Amy Palmer Gogan
(clockwise from front) Wende Weinberg’s sister Debbe Waterman Katz, Larry Elkus, Jefry Weinberg, and Laureen Waterman carried the chuppah while Steve Berman carried Wende’s Torah down Parker Road in Plano. More than 300 people made the journey from the Weinberg’s home, to Anshai Torah, where another 200-plus Anshai friends and family members awaited the Torah’s arrival.

By Deb Silverthorn

“This isn’t just an ordinary day,” Congregation Anshai Torah’s Rabbi Stefan Weinberg said, and April 15 wasn’t, as the congregation welcomed its Project 613 Torah, dedicated to its beloved Wende Weinberg, of blessed memory.
“It’s Rosh Chodesh Iyar, in which we celebrate the 70th birthday of the State of Israel. We all know who would be leading that celebration,” the rabbi said, speaking of his late wife, who loved Israel, celebrations and everything with a Jewish turn. “This is a unique day, a day of sanctity like none else. This sefer Torah, the source of everything we are as a people, is literally our eitz chayim hee. It is our tree of life. We cherish it, we embrace it, we respect it and we admire it.”
More than 70 percent of Anshai Torah’s membership, as well as members of the community at large, participated in the Torah’s writing. Fulfilling the 613th commandment, young and old felt the touch of the quill, the touch of the sofer (scribe).
“I’ve worked with many congregations in the past 25 years, and at Anshai I experienced something special,” said the sofer, Rabbi Zerach Greenfield.
“This was the love for a rabbi and his family, and a rabbi’s love for his congregants. I observed caring and warmth generated not only to the synagogue, but from the congregants to each other,” Greenfield added. “I experienced that warmth personally as I felt I became a part of the synagogue family, and I thank everyone for the experience. I hope this encourages and inspires many to a love of Torah and mitzvot.”
The Torah’s cover is embroidered “Hanoch l’naar al pi darko” (educate a child in such a way that he or she will thrive).
“Today we mark the completion of the Torah that was written in Wende’s memory, in honor of her legacy of being a teacher; of using those words of the Torah to teach children, to inspire adults, and to perpetuate our Jewish tradition,” Weinberg said, the message embodying everything about his wife, the mother of Adina, Danielle (Gilad) and Jordana, and the grandmother of young Ariel Zev. “There couldn’t have been anything more appropriate than to have begun our procession at our home from which we walked, together, to the synagogue every Friday night and Saturday.”
The journey to the ark was made by hundreds, with Steve and Judy Berman, Larry Elkus, Debbe Katz, Lauren Levin, Bruce Waterman, Laureen Waterman, Alla and Jefry Weinberg, and Marcy and Sandy Wohlstadter carrying the chuppah and the Torah. Once arrived, Michael Pincus served as master of ceremonies. Anshai Torah’s past presidents, Harry Benson, Richard Berry, Andy Cohen, Rusty Cooper, Andrew Farkas, Barney Goldberg, Debbie Katz, Philip Leibowitz, Michelle Meiches, Cindy Moskowitz, Howard Rubin, Warren Rubin, Neil Rubinstein, Josh Socolof, David Stanley and Carl Uretsky, led the next steps of the procession.
Gerry Romanik, escorted by Noah Feldman, Janet and Robert Behringer, Dot and Basil Haymann, and Nicole and Michael Roy, carried in Anshai Torah’s existing Torahs, while Levi and Nadav Kushnick brought in the Torah’s crowns. With the grace and strength of their mother, Adina and Jordana Weinberg carried in Wende’s Torah under a chuppah carried by Marcy Kahn, Jay Post, Andrew Silver. Barrett Stern and David Balis, and Alisa and Shayna Rubinstein served as Hagba’ah and G’lilah, lifted and dressed the Torah, as the Levine Academy Show Choir and Anshai Torah’s a cappella choir Kol Rina sang.
Eli Davidsohn’s musical ruach provided the backdrop for hearts bursting in song, dance and pure joy.
“From inception, our goal was to get as many people to participate in writing this Torah as possible and as we looked into the crowd of over 500, we knew that we succeeded,” said Nicole Post, who co-chaired Project 613 with Pam Goldminz. The committee also included Mojgan and Farzin Bakhshian, Jaime and Michael Cohen, Jonathan Goldminz, Jeanette and Michael Pincus, Jay Post and 72 honorary co-chairs.
Post and Goldminz joined Greenfield, Marcy Kahn, Gerry Romanik and Weinberg in sharing their hearts, memories and blessings on the occasion. “This experience will have a lasting impact on us as a committee, and Anshai Torah as a congregation,” said Post.
On April 28, Jasmine Herlitz’s voice rang out for the first reading of Wende’s Torah. “Wende was beautiful and so is her Torah,” said the bat mitzvah. “It was an honor to be the first to be able to read from what will always be a part of her.”
It was as though her blessings truly reached the heavens — and delivered right back.

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Putting one shoe in front of the other

Putting one shoe in front of the other

Posted on 26 April 2018 by admin

Photo: Brendan Chavez
University of Oklahoma senior and Dallas native Brennan Pailet puts his best foot forward as founding owner of ShoePlug pop-up shop — at West Village through Sunday and always online at ShoePlug.com.

By Deb Silverthorn

As he puts his best foot forward, Brennan Pailet’s ShoePlug pop-up shop has four days left of its run in Dallas’ West Village, offering high-end, exclusive sneakers, street wear and accessories. The store is open from noon to 8 p.m. through this Sunday, April 29, at 3699 McKinney Ave. in Dallas.
“We provide an experience; it’s not ‘just shopping,’” said Pailet, 22, a business major and senior at the University of Oklahoma. “Our clients are hype-beasts and luxury shoppers, and they want what they can’t find in the stores and on most websites. (The merchandise is) gone sometimes in seconds.”
Pailet’s lines run from $100 to $2,000 and across the board in-between, with items in men’s, women’s and children’s sizes. Brands include Fenty Puma by Rihanna, Kanye West’s Adidas Yeezy, Off-White x Nike, Supreme x Louis Vuitton and more.
Pailet opened his 10-day Dallas run, the first of six cities, on April 20. Next up, also with only 10-day advance notice, are Atlanta, Austin, Houston and more that he plans to spot in the coming months. After a similar and very successful trial last winter, Pailet was excited to see prospective customers waiting for hours in lounge chairs for the doors to open on the first day.
“We announce our openings and locations on social media, and if you want to be there, you’ve got to follow us. It’s the ‘get it now’ and adrenaline that pushes a lot of the business,” said Pailet, whose website, ShoePlug.com, is open year-round. The company’s Instagram “theshoeplugco” has more than 20,000 followers. “Part of what our shoppers enjoy is the spontaneity of the experience and that includes not knowing where we’ll be until about 10 days before we open.”
In addition to creative and innovative displays, including the Off-White Nike and Sean Wotherspoon 97/1, ShoePlug’s Creator Lab, a one-hour workshop, is open on a first-come, first-serve basis, with advance appointments sold out shortly after the social media announcement. At the Creator Lab, clients receive a pair of shoes, and then materials, colors and accessories to customize them. The ShoePlug staff provides cutting, gluing and stitching to realize each design.
One could say Pailet’s entrepreneurial sole, comes from his soul. He is the son of business owners Summer and Jeff, who he says have always set the bar high. Setting an example for his younger brothers, Asher and Jaden, who have put in their own sweat equity, Pailet definitely is a “doesn’t fall far from the tree” pro.
“We’ve definitely shared our experiences and some guidance but this is Brennan’s baby and we couldn’t be more proud,” said Jeff Pailet, who, like Summer, is on board and happy to advise. “Summer had her own business for many years and is now a partner at ID360, and I’ve worked in the family business, Pailet Diamond Company, my grandparents Frances and Ervin Donsky absolutely teaching me and influencing my decision to follow them.”
Brennan’s father says that he, his wife, and now his son’s businesses have all had creativity, a unique product line, and a must to connect with the customer as a baseline. “We’ve all had different things we sell but at the core, how we work is very similar.”
A Plano West High School graduate, Pailet was a member of BBYO’s Eamonn Lacey AZA and has grown up at Congregation Shearith Israel.
“When I’m working and setting up shop till four or six in the morning before we first open, it doesn’t matter. It’s all so exciting, and I’m learning so much along the way. I’m a sneakerhead too, and I get it. I want to provide customers with what they can’t find, what’s most often seen on the East and West Coasts,” Pailet said. “I’ve learned from my family and other mentors that being honest and treating my clients with respect is all I have.”
ShoePlug can be also be found at Facebook “ShoePlugCo” and on Twitter “TheShoe_Plug.”

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NTJDC hosts forum anticipating runoff vote

NTJDC hosts forum anticipating runoff vote

Posted on 26 April 2018 by admin

From left, Janice Schwarz, Lorie Burch, Sam Johnson and Mel Wolovitz at the April 23 candidate forum hosted by North Texas Jewish Democratic Council

 

By James Russell
Special to the TJP

Some Dallas County Democrats just need to win their runoffs on May 22.
Incumbent judges Carl Ginsberg, Martin Hoffman and Ken Tapscott made the case for their re-election to the bench at a forum hosted by North Texas Jewish Democratic Council (NTJDC) on April 23.
While the incumbents were not popular enough with voters to avoid the runoffs, they argued they are more qualified than their runoff opponents, Bridgett Whitmore, Kim Brown and Paula Rosales.
Voters have returned them to the bench multiple times, and Republicans do not field candidates against them. The eventual nominee faces no Republican opposition in the fall.
Other Democrats at the forum are not as lucky to avoid general election opponents.
But they know that. Like Democrats around the country since the election of President Donald Trump in 2016, they are anxious to take on Republicans.
Among those in attendance was gubernatorial candidate Andrew White of Houston, who is seeking the party’s nomination to take on incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. He faces Dallas County Sheriff Lupe Valdez for the nomination. The race is an uphill climb even to the most optimistic Democrat. But White thinks “common sense” Democrats like him have a chance by steering clear of divisive social issues and instead focusing on the nuts and bolts of government.
Valdez was not in attendance.
Down the ballot, four candidates seeking to take on Republicans running for Congress said they would love the audience’s votes. But they will completely support the eventual victor. Collin Allred and Lillian Salerno are seeking to take on incumbent Congressman Pete Sessions, a longtime Republican from Dallas. Sessions did not face a Democrat in 2016. But the party is bullish that Sessions is vulnerable. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton narrowly won the district.
Allred and Serano defeated five other candidates in the March 6 primary. Former Congressman Martin Frost, who is Jewish and whom Sessions defeated in 2004, has endorsed Allred. Both are from the district and worked in President Barack Obama’s administration. Both agreed that, whoever wins the runoff, Sessions should not be re-elected.
“Our democracy is at risk,” Salerno said, with Republicans like Sessions and Trump.
Lorie Burch and Sam Johnson are seeking an open congressional seat in Collin County — ironically being vacated by longtime Republican Rep. Sam Johnson. One of them will face Republican Van Taylor, a state senator, in the fall.
“People are hungry for leadership,” said Burch, a lawyer whose wife is Jewish. She has spent months talking to voters and listening to their issues. Voters want a problem solver who sees all perspectives.
“You can protect life and support reproductive rights. You can love God and believe in lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights,” she said.
Johnson, who is Jewish, has been involved in politics for as long as he remembers. Democrats are independent thinkers. Taylor is a conservative partisan, he said.
Both pledged to support the eventual nominee.
Audience questions took on issues most important to Democrats, including expanding access to health care, reforming the redistricting process and perceived Democratic weakness on Israel.
“Democrats are not weak on Israel. That is a Republican fallacy,” Johnson said.
In fact, Allred noted he was at the American Israel Political Action Committee annual Dallas dinner the previous evening.
“Among the photos on the screen were of former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter negotiating peace accords,” he said. “They are Democrats.”
But Democrats admitted they cannot rely on their party’s enthusiasm alone in their races. They need Republicans to cross over and vote for them, too.
Rabbi Neil Katz is an independent candidate running against a hard-right state representative in East Texas. He is neither a Democrat nor a Republican. But he spoke to the crowd, too. He is taking on Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, and leader of the Texas House Freedom Caucus. Polling shows Schaefer is vulnerable to an independent challenger. But his case is different from the other candidates. Without a Democrat on the ballot, he needs Democrats and Republicans to cross over and vote for him in November.
Common sense candidates need to win in the fall, he said.
They just need Republicans to agree.

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Bnai Zion to honor 3 ‘doers’ at Spring Reception

Bnai Zion to honor 3 ‘doers’ at Spring Reception

Posted on 26 April 2018 by admin

By Deb Silverthorn

Kavod. Kavod. Kavod. Honors three times over will be touted for Lowell Michelson, Summer Pailet and Caleb Waller at Bnai Zion’s annual Texas Spring Reception at 6 p.m. Thursday, May 10, at Temple Emanu-El, 8500 Hillcrest Ave. in Dallas.
“We invite the community to partake in a special evening supporting the urgent need by Israel’s at-risk youth,” said Bnai Zion North Texas Region President Diane Benjamin. “They need us and we must show up. We just must.”
The Ahava Village for Children and Youth, a project of Bnai Zion, helps Israel’s disadvantaged children in need of shelter and treatment due to abuse and neglect. Hundreds of children have found refuge in the residential community and funds are now being raised for a new therapy center to allow children to receive customized, coordinated and cutting-edge treatments.
The Spring Reception, whose honorary chair is Kim Kaliser with an honorary committee of Jay and Fonda Arbetter, Ann Stacy and Kim Zoller, will be catered by Michelson’s Simcha Kosher Catering. Michelson and the Bnai Zion staff have created a night to feature wine pairings and a dinner of Israeli tastes celebrating Israel’s 70th birthday. Jay Arbetter will moderate a panel including Royal Wine Corporation’s Regional Sales Manager Josh Feldman, Chef Jordona Kohn, and Food Stylist and Pastry Chef Alyssa Wernick discussing Israeli wines, food, and Israel’s premier food technology advancements.
A live auction will include naming opportunities for Ahava Village’s computer center, security and air conditioning systems; b’nai mitzvah celebrations and bike excursions for residents; vocational programming for soldiers; sound systems and instruments for music therapy; cost of living and school supplies. Ahava Executive Director Yoav Apelboim will speak.
Michelson, who also owns Catering by Arthur, never wanted to do anything but cook. The youngest of four of Calvin and the late Louise, Michelson was born and raised in San Antonio. His mother was a wonderful cook and “I was always stirring and chopping and tagging along,” he said. “I learned then and I’ve always loved being in the kitchen.”
For the last 18 years, his businesses have provided exclusively kosher meals. Weddings, simchas, and corporate events keep his staff busy.
Michelson, a member of both Congregation Ohr HaTorah and Shaare Tefilla, and “connected by my heart to every shul in town,” is thrilled to have recently welcomed daughter Melissa as his creative director.
From the time the University of Texas and Northwood University graduate came to Dallas in 1981, the skyline add-on of the new Hyatt Regency sold him. “I wanted to be here the minute I saw that building, the coolest building in the coolest city. Today it’s celebrating 40 years and I’ve just catered an event featuring Jill Biden,” Michelson said. “Dreams happen. For Bnai Zion, this night is about making support happen for children in Israel so their dreams happen too.”
Pailet, collaborating managing partner at ID360, facilitates training and learning programs. She’s a UT graduate with 25-plus years as a recruiter, business owner and consultant. A three-time recipient of SMU’s Cox School of Business Teacher’s Excellence Award for her Personal Brand Impact program, she calls herself a “soulpreneur,” rising up and working her light into a soul-driven career.
Pailet and her husband, Jeffrey, are parents to Asher, Brennan and Jaden. The daughter of Candice Ferney also calls in-laws Harrell and Marilyn Pailet her “most powerful role models.”
“My Jewish life became full when I came into this community, and to be honored by Bnai Zion is very special. I’ve made many trips to Israel, and every inch of the land has become a huge part of my heart,” Pailet said. “That part of me swells when I think of Ahava does and I want to share in it any way I can.”
Pailet, involved with the upcoming Sukkah Project, JLC’s Jewish Women’s Connection and its Shabbat Project, is a former board member and Synaplex co-chair at Shearith Israel. She has become enmeshed in the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project (JWRP), twice traveling as a participant, and twice a madricha (leader), responsible for raising thousands of dollars for organizations in Israel. At press time, touring with JWRP’s Momentum Grand mission, she will visit Ahava’s Youth Village.
Waller will connect by video, since he’ll be in Israel, his nearly 40th trip. The son of HaYovel founders Tommy and Sherri and the organization’s director of public relations, Waller also co-hosts The Joshua and Caleb Report television series with his brother.
“Israel is the land that God uses to show us who He is,” said Waller, who was introduced to Bnai Zion’s leadership during a trip to Dallas and plans to visit the Ahava Youth Village. “Since learning about Bnai Zion, we’re so impressed. Key to us is establishing our own roots and coming to the heart of support.”
Waller’s 10 siblings also are associated with HaYovel, the next generation now 25 strong with more babies on the way. In the last 12 years, HaYovel has recruited more than 3,000 volunteers to help.
Israel’s farmers in Judea and Samaria harvest 4,000-plus tons of produce. The nonprofit’s mission is to strengthen the often-overlooked small independent farmer in Israel through creative networking, education, tourism and activism.
“That Israel became a state was a miracle and there are thousands around the world who want to help and who have a desire to see the land grow,” said Waller, husband of Kendra and father to four, awaiting the birth of his fifth. “We’ve seen prophecy become reality. There’s a desire to see the land grow. We want to be involved, not just talk about it.”
Three honorees. One spirit to support those in need.
“Lowell is of the fabric of our community, Summer has carved her own way in a family of doers, and Caleb and his family are on the ground and in the moment,” Benjamin said. “Our region is among those leading the way, and with people like our honorees backing us, there’s no question our children in Israel have the best show of reaching their potential.”
For more information and registration, call 972-918-9200 or visit bnaizion.org/event/annual-texas-spring-reception.

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75 years ago, a boy escaped a death train

75 years ago, a boy escaped a death train

Posted on 26 April 2018 by admin

Photos: Amanda Harris
Mary Pat Higgins, Linda and Mervyn Sacher, and Veronique and Hylton Jonas

 

By Ben Tinsley
btinsley@live.com

Seventy-five years ago, 11-year-old Simon Gronowski jumped off a Nazi deportation train heading from Belgium to the deadly gas chambers of Auschwitz.
“I jumped and I escaped and I ran all night into the woods,” said Gronowski, now 86.
The 11-year-old barely escaped the Nazis with his life on that day, April 19, 1943. His mother and sister, unfortunately, later died in the gas chambers of Auschwitz.
Last week, on the 75th anniversary of his escape, Gronowski shared his incredible story of survival with several reporters and an audience of about 50 at the Dallas Holocaust Museum Center for Education and Tolerance. Later in the day, he gave a second, museum-sponsored, presentation at Congregation Shearith Israel.
Gronowski, his mother, Chana and his sister, Ita, were apprehended by the Gestapo at their Brussels home in February 1943. Gronowski’s father, Leon, was in the hospital when the Gestapo raid took place, and his presence went undetected. Gronowski’s mother told the Gestapo she was a widow.
Over 1,600 Jews were being transported to Auschwitz on the train on which Gronowski and his mother were placed. (Gronowski’s sister was on a separate transport.)
Gronowski said he still remembers hearing the members of the Belgian Resistance stop the train in an attempt to rescue the Jews on board.
There was a brief shootout before the train started moving again, he said.
The members of the Resistance were unable to reach Gronowski’s boxcar to free the people inside before the train started moving again.
However, heartened by the efforts of the Resistance, the deportees in Gronowski’s boxcar pried open the boxcar door so they could escape. Gronowski’s mother, also heartened, gave her young son 100 francs and urged him to jump from the train and run to safety.
Chris Kelley, a representative of the museum, said Gronowski’s mother was trying to convince him to escape by himself because she had very little chance of joining him.
“It was too far of a jump and it was far more important to her that her son be saved,” Kelley said. “There were 231 Jews who jumped from that train and he is one of the last survivors of the group.”
Kelley said this entire incident stands as one of the best examples of the Jewish people standing up during the Holocaust. It also is said to be the most significant rescue action taken by resistance fighters during World War II.
Only 5 percent of 25,602 deportees from the camp survived the Holocaust. Of the 116 deportees who were freed, Gronowski was the youngest.
“This was an 11-year-old kid who had to go into hiding for the rest of the war — but he survived,” Kelley said. “This is history that comes alive. This is history that moves us forward.”
After Gronowski’s escape from the Nazis, a Belgian police officer helped him return to Brussels.
The child survived the war by hiding.
Despite Gronowski’s tragedies, his story and positive outlook on life visibly moved Mary Pat Higgins, president and CEO of the museum. and members of an audience of 50 listening to his story last week.
“I do not bring to you a message of sadness — but one of hope and happiness,” Gronowski said to the museum audience. “Life is beautiful. Every day matters and I am happy — even more so because I met you.”
Gronowski told the audience he refuses to become jaded.
“Even today, there are people in the world who suffer,” he said. “I am keeping my faith in the future, because I believe in human goodness.”
His comments led to a standing ovation from the museum audience.
After the war, Gronowski became a lawyer and an amateur jazz musician, and was featured in Transport XX to Auschwitz, the only documented rescue attempt of a Nazi death camp during the Holocaust.
He co-wrote a French children’s book about his life experiences, titled Simon The Child of the 20th Convoy. He is also a regular public speaker.
His story is considered to be of great importance at a time that public memory of the Holocaust seems to be fading.
This month, a national survey released for Holocaust Remembrance Day disclosed that many Americans, particularly millennials, do not have basic knowledge of what happened during World War II.
As many as 66 percent of Americans ages 18-34 could not identify Auschwitz when asked. Furthermore, 31 percent of adults and 41 percent of millennials who were questioned thought 2 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, even though the actual number was at least 6 million.
Gronowski, meanwhile, said he has tried his best to live up to his words of hope.
There was one incident that took place in 2003, after Gronowski made public his identity as the 11-year-old who escaped the Nazis.
One of the former Nazi guards at the facility where Gronowski and his mother had been held before being placed on the Auschwitz train approached him begging for forgiveness.
“He heard about him (Gronowski) in the news,” Gronowski’s grandson, Romain De Nys, 24, explained
Gronowski forgave him.

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The story of second-graders and the two bears

The story of second-graders and the two bears

Posted on 05 April 2018 by admin

Every little girl dreams about her dream wedding. The beautiful flowers, perfect dress, a room full of friends and the perfect delicious cake. Of course, they dream about the perfect partner too — big brown eyes, a cute button nose, perfect white fur and 12 inches tall. Well, when you are a teddy bear planning your wedding at Temple Shalom Religious School, that’s what you dream about.
Earlier this year, second-graders in Tamara Farris’ class got to plan, organize and throw what organizers believe is the biggest teddy-bear wedding of all time — at least at Temple Shalom. Some kids dressed in their finest clothes. Others came in their favorite pajamas — since it was also monthly spirit day at Temple Shalom.
Boys and girls worked with Farris and her Ozrim assistants to write an original ketubah with all the “important rules of marriage:” Live a happy and healthy life, celebrate birthdays, take care of each other when sick, stay together, take care of the kids, be kind and honest, and use money wisely. These second-graders seem very wise at such a young age.
After writing the Ketubah was finished, it was time for the party planning. Hanging decorations, coloring beautiful doilies for the chuppah, decorating cupcakes for all the guests and even learning the traditional bottle dance from “Fiddler on the Roof.” The entire class stayed focused and on task all morning.
Rabbi Ariel Boxman and her assistant, “Rabbi Bear,” officiated the special ceremony. After both bears exchanged vows, it was time for the breaking of the glass. The wedding party and guests all practiced crushing plastic cups and even discussed the meaning of this symbolic tradition.
“The kids had such a good time making a ketubah, decorating their own wedding (cup)cakes, and designing their own chuppah,” Farris said. “As usual, I learned more from them than they learned from me.”
After the ceremony, it was time to hit the dance floor. Guests danced to “Love Shack” and a variety of other love-themed songs, as they practiced the bottle dance and showed off their best dance moves. Of course, the wedding party and guests had to pose for photos with the bride and groom, and then it was time for the highlight of the afternoon — the wedding cupcakes.
When the kids were asked if all the planning was worth it, they all shouted “yes!” What was their favorite part? You guessed it — the cake.
“The second-graders are having a wonderful time this year learning about Jewish lifecycle events,” Boxman said. “Even though it will likely be years before they have their own Jewish wedding, they now have an idea of what it may be like. The learning was joyful, experiential and memorable.”

— Submitted by
Lisa Rothberg

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