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Sisterhoods invite Repp to tell his story

Sisterhoods invite Repp to tell his story

Posted on 27 December 2017 by admin

Holocaust survivor will discuss book at Jan. 7 luncheon

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

Reflection, reconnections, and the relishing of friendships new and old are certain at the 2018 IntraFaith Sisterhood Brunch. This year’s luncheon will be hosted by Temple Emanu-El’s Women of Reform Judaism at 1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 7, and catered by Simcha Kosher Catering. The featured speaker will be community member and author Jack Repp.

Photo: Deb Silverthorn Jack Repp will speak at the 2018 IntraFaith Sisterhood Brunch at Temple Emanu-El. Repp (center), here with event Honorary Chair Sarah Yarrin, has told the story of his life in his recently published Dreams & Jealousy, his story as told to Rabbi Dan Lewin (right).

Photo: Deb Silverthorn
Jack Repp will speak at the 2018 IntraFaith Sisterhood Brunch at Temple Emanu-El. Repp (center), here with event Honorary Chair Sarah Yarrin, has told the story of his life in his recently published Dreams & Jealousy, his story as told to Rabbi Dan Lewin (right).

“Sisterhoods across the country connect, advocate, and act and Temple Emanu-El’s WRJ couldn’t be more thrilled to host this year’s gathering,” said Celia Rose Saunders, co-chairing the event with Elise Mikus and Sue Weiner and Honorary Chair Sarah Yarrin. The co-chairs are excited that the event is open to both women and men (ages 15 and over), hoping to see the generations represented.
“Everything that Sisterhood stands for is meaningful and to have Jack Repp as our guest, a man we honor, admire and really love so dearly, here to share his own story that is so important, is a gift to us all,” Saunders said. “We’ve opened the event to men and women and to teens, and we’re bringing in Simcha Kosher Catering hoping those from all the congregations, and those who are unaffiliated as well, will join us together — as one — as Jews — to experience and strengthen what we know as community.”
Each Sisterhood IntraFaith Luncheon, this one the 15th annual affair, is hosted by a different Dallas-area congregation, bringing together the members of the sisterhoods of all branches of Judaism. The women of each chapter create the program and menu, and coordinate the afternoon with previous event themes related to cooking, the environment, the history of Jews in Texas, the arts, career planning and more.
“Sisterhood is about our heritage and an incredible forum for friendships and connections at the many ages and stages of life,” said Rachelle Weiss Crane, who serves as Temple Emanu-El WRJ co-president with Kay Schachter. “The relationships that are built are treasures and the platforms of issues, of youth, education, social action, world Jewry and more cross the lines of the branches of Judaism and are concerns to all of us as Jews, as women and as Jewish women.”
Repp, known for speaking to groups large and small throughout the community, will reflect on his experiences during the Holocaust as shared through the publication of his book Dreams & Jealousy; The Story of Holocaust Survivor Jack Repp as told to Dan Lewin. After his lecture and a question-and-answer session, Repp will sign copies of his book, available on Amazon and which will also be sold at the event.
“I started my life as Itzik Rzepkowicz in Radom, Poland and now I get to tell my story to children and adults, in schools and in museums, and here in the temple that I love,” said Repp, who is excited about speaking to the intrafaith sisterhood audience, and this the rare occasion for men to share in the celebration. “I am so glad that this program is open to everyone in the community. To me, if you believe in God, you are a religious person and it isn’t about Reform or Conservative or Orthodox. I was born twice — once to my parents, and once again when I was 15 and instead of going to the crematorium, I went to the other line. God has watched over me all my life and everything to do with Him has turned my life in a positive direction.”
Repp’s struggle and survival are the focus of the book that tells his story. Just 69 pounds and 99.9 percent dead when liberated, he is grateful — and amazed — to have still had his mind. “I’m not educated but I can recall 70 years ago like this morning — my marbles are working. At 94 years young, I don’t want to get old,” said the 44-year-long business owner who has remained in the same house for 58 years — always resilient, with one foot forward moving after the next. “You must depend on God. He works in mysterious ways. I want people should know the truth, accept what happened, and do their part so it doesn’t happen again.”
Immigrating to Greenville, Texas, where he had family, Jack and his wife Esther (later known as Edna), of blessed memory, raised their family: children Lotty (Peter) Casillas, David (Bobbie) and Stan (Marsha), four grandchildren and recently — a first great-grandchild.
“Jack’s done it all. He’s been a merchant, a smuggler, a spy, and a survivor and he makes lemonade out of lemons like no one I know,” said Yarrin, a past-president of Temple Emanu-El’s WRJ. “To have him speak at Temple, where I’ve belonged since 1946 and he since 1949, a place that is truly my ‘home away from home,’ is so exciting. WRJ makes a huge difference to so many and supports so many and I just love that he’s coming to speak at a program of those who serve the community. It’s what he’s done for so long on his own — and now, we come together. It’s going to be just beautiful and very, very meaningful.”
RSVPs by Dec. 29 are appreciated for the luncheon. Tickets are $20 per person and can be purchased online at tesisterhood.org/brunch or by calling 469-230-5195.

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Cycling for awareness, research and a cure

Cycling for awareness, research and a cure

Posted on 27 December 2017 by admin

Wheel to Survive returns Feb. 18

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

Be The Difference Foundation’s Wheel to Survive participants are racing with thousands of supporters and founders.
The sixth Wheel to Survive returns from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 18, at the Aaron Family JCC. Practice rides are underway. The force behind the $2 million donated since the wheels began spinning has been a fearsome foursome: Jill Bach, Lynn Lentscher, Julie Shrell and the late Helen Gardner.

The 2017 Wheel to Survive had 380 riders and raised over $336,000, allowing the organization to give away its 2-millionth dollar this year. Registration is open for the Feb. 18, 2018 ride at the Aaron Family JCC.

The 2017 Wheel to Survive had 380 riders and raised over $336,000, allowing the organization to give away its 2-millionth dollar this year. Registration is open for the Feb. 18, 2018 ride at the Aaron Family JCC.

Jill Bach, a wife and mother of two who’ll celebrate 11 years of survivorship in April, was 44 when what she thought was just a cough lasted six weeks. Expecting bronchitis, her world was rocked when X-rays showed an obscured image of her left lung, revealing nodules. A biopsy and PET scan confirmed an extensive disease, most likely stage 4 ovarian cancer.
“Given the statistics I felt I survived for a reason and that was Be The Difference Foundation,” said Bach, who inherited the BRCA1 mutation. Her father had no knowledge he was a carrier before being tested himself.
Now a retired president and founder of a web development and interactive agency, Bach worked through her illness. Blogging a form of self-therapy and communication, her work and family schedule kept her feeling healthy.
Lynn Lentscher, a wife, mother of three and grandmother of three, is a retired real estate and title professional. At 53, the athletic picture-of-health woman experienced painful and prolonged diarrhea. After palpating a mass and an elevated CA125 test, Lentscher who’d previously had a hysterectomy, agreed to have her ovaries removed. She woke up to a stage 3 diagnosis. After six months of chemo, a second-look surgery showing more cancer, there was more chemo, then radiation. She endured a year of treatments and 11 years of associated issues. Now she is 18 years ovarian cancer-free.
“I prayed for survival, but also that if I survived I’d know my purpose. I understood the importance of offering hope,” Lentscher said. “The stars aligned, the four of us met and we were strong and courageous.”
Julie Shrell’s paternal grandmother had breast cancer twice — three decades apart. After her ovarian cancer diagnosis, at 48, BRCA1 testing proved positive, her family history revealed.
“There’s a lot about ovarian cancer symptoms that people don’t recognize,” said Shrell, a senior residential mortgage loan officer, married and the mother of three. “I had classic symptoms and some lesser-known, but never imagined they were a big deal. I was wrong.
“It’s funny that I hardly remember life before cancer,” Shrell said, adding that she’d focused on work and the “Mom thing.”
“I still do those things but with more intention.”
Helen Gardner, of blessed memory, was a 55-year-young wife and mother of three when she died Aug. 20, 2014. Gardner researched and sought life-extending treatments, making the most of her life. Her family is still dedicated to the Foundation as husband Gary remains on the board of directors.

Jill Bach, the late Helen Gardner, Lynn Lentscher, and Julie Shrell, founders of the Be The Difference Foundation, have shared the $2 million mark of money donated for research toward a cure for ovarian cancer. Their 2018 Wheel to Survive will take place on Feb. 18, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Aaron Family JCC in Dallas.

Jill Bach, the late Helen Gardner, Lynn Lentscher, and Julie Shrell, founders of the Be The Difference Foundation, have shared the $2 million mark of money donated for research toward a cure for ovarian cancer. Their 2018 Wheel to Survive will take place on Feb. 18, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Aaron Family JCC in Dallas.

About 1.3 percent of all women will develop ovarian cancer. For those with inherited gene mutations, 39 percent of women with the BRCA1 mutation and 11 to 17 percent who inherit the BRCA2 mutation, will develop ovarian cancer by age 70. The likelihood that breast and ovarian cancers are associated with these genes is highest in families with histories of multiple cases of breast cancer and ovarian cancer, where one or more family members have two primary cancers, ovarian cancer at any age, or those of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. When detected and treated early, the five-year survival rate of ovarian cancer is greater than 92 percent. With vague symptoms, and late diagnosis, only 50 percent live that long.
Making sure women find and get to treatments is the goal of the Lazarex Foundation, one of BTDF’s beneficiaries. Unique in providing assistance for FDA clinical trial participation, airfare, parking, tolls, housing, additional medical testing and the identification of trial options, they’ve helped 3000-plus patients.

Photo: Be The Difference Foundation Riding in her fifth Wheel to Survive, Linda Bezner, Dallas’ 2018 chair (center) at the 2017 ride, with her son Cole and sisters-in-law Nancy Lesch (left) and Janet Bezner. Linda’s team, “A Positive Spin,” rides in her honor, as she is a three-time ovarian cancer survivor whose first diagnosis came after a complete hysterectomy. “I had no ovaries — NO ovaries — but I am celebrating being a 14-year survivor from the first time of diagnosis and as a five-year survivor of the third,” she said. “I don’t know how anyone that learns about the wonderful things that Be the Difference and Wheel to Survive are doing could not be impressed.”

Photo: Be The Difference Foundation
Riding in her fifth Wheel to Survive, Linda Bezner, Dallas’ 2018 chair (center) at the 2017 ride, with her son Cole and sisters-in-law Nancy Lesch (left) and Janet Bezner. Linda’s team, “A Positive Spin,” rides in her honor, as she is a three-time ovarian cancer survivor whose first diagnosis came after a complete hysterectomy. “I had no ovaries — NO ovaries — but I am celebrating being a 14-year survivor from the first time of diagnosis and as a five-year survivor of the third,” she said. “I don’t know how anyone that learns about the wonderful things that Be the Difference and Wheel to Survive are doing could not be impressed.”

“Be The Difference impacted 15 of this year’s patients — their $35,000 earmarked for ovarian cancer patients, that need surpassed months ago. We continue clinical trial navigations, expense reimbursements, paying for someone to accompany the patient — it all adds up,” said Program Services Coordinator Erin Miller, whose husband Mike was diagnosed in 2003 with pancreatic cancer. Mike, and Erin’s sister Dana, searched for options and Mike lived another 19 months and Dana founded Lazarex to help others. “We’ve been there. Our path allows us to help others find time and some peace.”
In 2016, rides in Austin, South Florida, Houston, Lubbock and Northern California’s Bay Area, directed by Jon Mize, also supported Clearity Foundation, Gynecology Research Lab at the Laura and Isaac Perlmutter Cancer Center, Mary Crowley Cancer Research Center, MD Anderson’s Ovarian Cancer Moon Shots Program, and the Ovarian Cancer Research Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
Bach, Lentscher, and Shrell volunteer at UT Southwestern and Survivors Teaching Students, speaking to patients and helping medical students see cancer not only as statistics, but a journey of human survival.
“We’re serving survivors and others touched but there’s more to do. We need to share more stories, find early diagnostic testing, better treatments and a cure,” said Lentscher. “We want to, we will, Be The Difference!”
The ladies look forward to a future when ovarian cancer is a chronic disease with lifesaving treatments, ultimately hoping for a cure. Until then, their mission is to support and provide hope for women fighting the disease. Hope is the drive, keeping their wheels spinning.
Fore more information, email wts@bethedifferencefoundation.org or visit www.bethedifferencefoundation.org for Wheel to Survive 2018 registration. Use promotional code “TJP” for $10 discounted registration.

 

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Jewish ex-neo-Nazi promotes education, activism, change at Texas A&M Hillel

Jewish ex-neo-Nazi promotes education, activism, change at Texas A&M Hillel

Posted on 27 December 2017 by admin

Submitted photo (From left) Aggie student Gabe Noble, of Dallas; Daniel Brea, writer, producer and director of Escape from Room 18; John Daly, former neo-Nazi skinhead; student Aaron Blasband of Dallas; and Rabbi Dan Aronson, A&M Hillel executive director

Submitted photo
(From left) Aggie student Gabe Noble, of Dallas; Daniel Brea, writer, producer and director of Escape from Room 18; John Daly, former neo-Nazi skinhead; student Aaron Blasband of Dallas; and Rabbi Dan Aronson, A&M Hillel executive director

After he was left for dead, Daly reforms, co-films documentary

Submitted report

“Change begins with you” was the message delivered by John Daly and Daniel Brea following a screening of Brea’s documentary, Escape from Room 18, on a recent Thursday at the Hillel at Texas A&M.
Daly and Brea should know. As a teen, Daly was a non-racist skinhead at home in Ocala, Florida, when a group of neo-Nazi skinheads arrived unexpectedly to escort him to a waiting car. Inside the moving car, the thugs began the process of indoctrinating Daly into a world he never wanted to be part of, but could not escape. They told him about stories of all the people who joined their white supremacist group and tried to leave.
The consequences of parting ranks for those who questioned the hatred of the neo-Nazis were terrifying, ending in the escapee being shot or badly beaten, his family terrorized.
Unbeknownst to the neo-Nazis who made Daly one of their own, Daly was Jewish. For a long time, he managed to keep his secret hidden from his new friends. Eventually, though, a member of the gang found out and shared his secret with the group’s leader. On Oct. 7, 1990, the leader insisted that Daly come to a late-night meeting on the beach. That night, Daly was badly beaten and left for dead. His comrades struck him, kicked him and held his head under water until he lay lifeless.
But that was not the end of the story for Daly. Miraculously, he was discovered on the beach and survived.
In 1997, as the last of the skinheads were being released from prison, Daly made aliyah to Israel, where, in 2009, he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. After two “awake” surgeries to remove the tumor, a piece of the tumor remains attached to Daly’s brain.
“Just as I refused to let the skinheads win, I won’t let this mass in my brain stop me from fighting for this country with my words, encouraging support of Israel from people abroad and helping people living here,” he told The Jerusalem Post in 2016.
In the early 2010s, Daly was contacted by Daniel Brea, a former neighbor of Daly’s in Israel. Brea was now a film director, producer and writer. He convinced Daly to let him make a documentary about Daly’s extraordinary life. Originally a tightly scripted docudrama, the film took a different course when a friend of Daly’s, who also had been a neo-Nazi skinhead, located Daly, asking him if they could meet up in Prague. Unsure whether his friend, Kevin Connell, was looking for revenge or for reconciliation, Daly took him up on the invitation. Brea and a camera man traveled with Daly to Prague to capture the reunion.
What followed profoundly changed both men, then around 40 years old. Connell had come to make peace with Daly in Prague, but upon Daly’s suggestion, the two left Prague, production crew in tow, to visit Auschwitz. In Poland, the men were confronted with the full horror of the Nazi Holocaust and vowed to never let such an atrocity happen again.
Nowadays, Daly, Connell and Brea tour the world with the film, encouraging people of all ages and religions to examine their beliefs, become educated, and take action when they witness hate. “It all begins with you,” Daly told the Hillel audience. “You have a choice.”
Daly could have gone into witness protection to testify against his attackers, he said. If he had gone quietly into hiding, though, he would have been letting his attackers off the hook. Instead, he feels he must speak out against hate. “I know that there are people who want me dead. I’m not afraid of them,” says Daly. “It’s more important for me to speak out and to teach others about hate groups and how to stop them.”
Brea, too, teaches his audiences to learn about the Holocaust and to speak up. “Don’t be silent,” Brea says.
Rabbi Daniel Aronson, executive director of the Hillel at Texas A&M, invited Brea and Daly to speak at A&M. “In the wake of Richard Spencer’s visit to campus last year and all that is happening in our world today, when I learned about Escape from Room 18, I felt it was important to bring the film and its makers to College Station. Maybe if we can understand why people like Spencer espouse hate, we can do something to prevent people from following them. This film and the discussion that took place afterward are a good beginning.”
The screening of Escape from Room 18 to the audience of 70 students and community members and Brea’s and Daly’s appearance was funded by Hillel’s Shirley Reiser Speaker Fund and by United Campus Ministries at A&M and the Texas A&M International Studies department.
— Submitted by A&M Hillel

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Plano Democrat hopes to turn District 3 blue

Plano Democrat hopes to turn District 3 blue

Posted on 21 December 2017 by admin

Johnson in running to replace Republican with same name

By James Russell
Special to the TJP

Plano resident Sam Johnson, a Democrat, is running for an open congressional seat currently held by U.S. Rep. Sam Johnson, a Republican, also of Plano, who is not related.
But make no mistake. His candidacy is not a joke.
“It’s (not) like in that Eddie Murphy movie The Distinguished Gentleman,” the Jewish Democrat said, referring to the 1992 movie about a con artist played by Murphy who succeeds a recently deceased congressman of the same name for financial gain.

Johnson

Johnson

“It’s not a joke. As people have gotten to know me they see I am qualified,” he said.
The Democrat lives in his hometown with his wife Amber and three sons. He has been there most of his life, noting the only exceptions were attending the University of Texas at Austin, where he studied government, and South Texas College of Law in Houston.
“Plano is home to me,” he said.
Like many Democrats, the election of Republican President Donald Trump in November 2016, propelled him to consider running for office. After the longtime Republican incumbent decided to retire, he jumped in.
Running against an incumbent, much less a popular incumbent in a solidly Republican district, would have been tough.
With Republicans in control of both Congress and the White House, the business lawyer worries Congress is not serving as a check and balance on the executive branch. Congress, after multiple unsuccessful attempts, backed away from repealing the Affordable Care Act. Now they are pursuing a major overhaul of the tax code, which Democrats oppose.
“It’s just terrible and reaching into all facets of people’s lives. Voters are also worried about rising insurance premiums and possibly not having coverage,” he said.
His other interests include voting rights, gerrymandering and money’s influence in politics. Voting rights are a vital measure of a healthy democracy. He is for a single-payer health care system, a public insurance system commonly referred to as Medicare For All. It was popular among progressive Democrats like Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Independent who caucuses with Democrats. But for now he is interested in reining in health insurance companies’ convoluted contracts. The power of pharmaceutical companies worries him, too.
He does not oppose the recent decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
“But it seems like the administration did not take into account the possible consequences of doing so,” he said.
He’s talking primarily to Democrats given he still faces a primary challenge, and needs a majority of Democratic votes to become the party’s nominee. But he will knock at anyone’s door, and has found himself talking to frustrated independents and Republicans too.
“They see a moral vacuum in Washington. They are interested in talking to us because they are unsure about their Republican identity. They are considering voting for a Democrat for the first time.”
His Jewish upbringing influences his commitment to service.
“Judaism is a service-oriented religion. You are taught to participate. (It is) where I get my desire for public service,” he said, including that he is on the regional board of the Anti-Defamation League. “I’ve carried my leadership skills throughout my life through BBYO.”
When he is not campaigning, he serves as counsel to startup businesses. He is involved with the ADL, lobbying in both in Austin and Washington. He is the most qualified of his primary opponents.
“Right now, regardless of your political, religious or socioeconomic identity, there is one concern: There is more of a willingness to be harmful and not helpful,” he said.
He hopes to change the attitude of Congress, and hopefully influence the country too. But he first needs to win his primary. Filing to appear on the March 6 ballot ended Monday, Dec. 11. As of press time, he faces Lorie Burch, Adam Bell and Medrick Yhap.
Republican State Senator Van Taylor of Plano is running against David Niederkorn and Alex Donkervoet. The general election is Nov. 6, 2018.

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UT students attend inaugural Black-Jewish Summit

UT students attend inaugural Black-Jewish Summit

Posted on 21 December 2017 by admin

By Alicia Garnes
Special to the TJP

The David Project hosted 28 students at its first Black-Jewish Summit in Washington, D.C., Nov. 3-5.
Eight students representing the pro-Israel community and 20 students representing the black community participated from eight college campuses. The summit was organized in conjunction with AJC and the Greater Washington Urban League, and held at Hillel International’s Schusterman International Center.

Photo: The David Project University of Texas students Jason Epstein and Kayla Eboreime attend the Black-Jewish Summit in Washington, D.C.

Photo: The David Project
University of Texas students Jason Epstein and Kayla Eboreime attend the Black-Jewish Summit in Washington, D.C.

The goals of the summit were to bring together black and Jewish leaders from all over the country to identify mutual concerns and cultural understanding, learn best practices in bringing together the Jewish and black communities and plan new initiatives to bring back to their campuses. Over the weekend, participants heard from experts in the fields of relationship building, advocacy and storytelling.
Students were also trained on tools to help build strategic, cooperative relationships between black and Jewish students. As one of four University of Texas-Austin representatives at the summit, attendee Caleb Hurd, a sophomore finance major from Houston, said, “The summit was a first step in re-establishing a long forgotten alliance between the black and Jewish community. I gained a new perspective on the issues facing both of the communities. I also learned a great deal about the historical significance of the relationship, especially during the civil rights movement.
“For me, the summit was like putting two parts of myself together. I am in the process of Orthodox conversion and also African-American. I spend a lot of time in the Jewish community and consider it home, but I’m also a part of the African-American community. These two communities seem completely different, but they have much in common. I realized this at the summit when I participated and observed interactions between Jewish and black students.”
Jason Epstein, a former intern at The David Project and an active Texas Hillel participant, also attended as a representative from The University of Texas. Jason, a senior from Dallas, majoring in accounting and Plan II, went to the summit to gain a greater understanding of what other communities are facing, improve leadership skills and learn how to inspire others to continue building black-Jewish relationships on college campuses.
The weekend schedule was packed with experiential activities, speakers and one-on-one dialogue opportunities, including the Fishbowl, where members of one community sat together in front of the other community and spoke about perceptions of both communities and leaders of their communities. After hearing other students’ stories, Jason “recognized that differing backgrounds don’t define you and not everyone fits a mold. You can’t go in with a blanket statement (that) there is one mold that fits each community.”
At UT, Jason, whose senior thesis is a viable model of black-Jewish relations for college campuses, has worked hard to build relationships and community between the Black Student Alliance and Texas Hillel. As a graduating senior, Jason hopes that the other participants walked away from the conference inspired to get involved and take leadership roles in continuing to build relationships with the black community.
Jason says, “The conference was a great opportunity for blacks and Jews to come together, learn shared experiences and prompt more people to get involved to build more black-Jewish relationships on college campuses.”
Alicia Garnes is a development associate with Texas Hillel.

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DHM honors H-E-B for hurricane relief

Posted on 21 December 2017 by admin

By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP

The Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance presented one of its most prestigious honors last week at its annual Chairman’s Reception.
For the second straight year the organization presented the Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell Upstander Award, given each year to the individual or organization whose actions have modeled or inspired Upstander behavior. It’s one of the highest honors the museum can give, and it’s presented to those who advance human rights and combat prejudice, hatred and indifference.
The Texas-based grocery company H-E-B was the perfect fit after its efforts to provide relief in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.
One of the costliest natural disasters in American history, Hurricane Harvey hit Texas hard in August and September, and the impacts are still being felt as we head into 2018.
H-E-B did its best to hit back.
One day after the hurricane made landfall in Rockport, on Aug. 25, H-E-B had already mobilized its convoy of disaster relief trucks. There was a team of H-E-B volunteers delivering cases of water, bags of ice and more than 2,500 meals per hour.
It was a needed lifeline for some people that lost everything.
Days later H-E-B made a financial impact when it donated $5 million dollars to Houston Texans football player J.J. Watt’s relief fun. The money came directly from Charles Butt, H-E-B’s chairman and CEO, and helped Watt raise more than $37 million for the city.
So when it was time to present its annual Upstander award, the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance had an easy choice.
“Charles Butt’s generosity was inspiring, but so too were his words,” Museum Board Chair Florence Shapiro said. “Following the hurricane, Charles made this insightful observation: ‘Hurricane Harvey has taken a catastrophic toll on my great state; now is the time to come together, and collectively help rebuild our communities.’ Such a profound and powerful statement by an amazing individual, and his company, H-E-B, did just that. They heeded his words and followed suit with generosity beyond words.”
Because of a recent loss in their family, the Butt family was unable to accept the award in person. But Mabrie Jackson, the director of public relations for H-E-B and Central Market, stepped up and accepted the award on their behalf.
“We try to fly under the radar at H-E-B,” Jackson said. “We are so honored to have this recognition for our recent hurricane relief efforts.”
Jackson said the award holds special meaning for both its namesake, Cardinal Farrell, who now works in the Vatican and was the former Bishop of Dallas, and the message the Holocaust Museum shares.
“The spirit of giving is alive and well at H-E-B every single day,” Jackson said. “It’s a top-down service organization that just happens to sell groceries. We are so inspired by this gracious family that we work for.”
Jackson made sure to share individual stories of company employees that went above and beyond. One man in Houston walked through miles of water, much of it chest-high, to get to his local H-E-B to stock groceries. When asked about it, he simply said, “My community, my people have to eat.”
Overall it’s been a big year for the museum, and Shapiro shared several of the highlights with those in attendance.
The museum made strides to make better connections with the families of Holocaust survivors, hosted an Upstander series, raised and surpassed financial goals quickly, and broke ground Oct. 10 on its new museum that will open in 2019 at 300 N. Houston St.
The new location will allow the museum to double its visitors, including a 250-seat theater, pair of classrooms, library, archives and memorial.
“Today we have more than 1,300 members,” Shapiro said. “Double the amount of members we had three years ago.”
The museum has also created partnership with 16 local businesses in the past year, increasing money raised by more than 200 percent, and there was a more than 350 percent increase in grant funding for educational programs.
“Finally, we are on target to finish 2017 with more than 85,000 visitors,” Shapiro said. “That is a new record for our small museum.”
It was a pretty good year, and capping it off by recognizing the second Cardinal Kevin J. Farrell Upstander Award winner was a nice exclamation point.

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Hanukkah at Governor’s Mansion

Hanukkah at Governor’s Mansion

Posted on 21 December 2017 by admin

Gov. Greg Abbott looks on during the ceremony.

Gov. Greg Abbott looks on during the ceremony.

Cecilia Abbott and Trevor Pearlman light the menorah at the governor’s Hanukkah party Dec. 17.

Cecilia Abbott and Trevor Pearlman light the menorah at the governor’s Hanukkah party Dec. 17.

AJC Dallas President Susie Avnery and State Rep. Craig Goldman of Fort Worth at the governor’s Hanukkah party

AJC Dallas President Susie Avnery and State Rep. Craig Goldman of Fort Worth at the governor’s Hanukkah party

Staff report

Texas Governor Greg Abbott hosted an intimate gathering at the Governor’s Mansion in Austin Sunday, Dec. 17, to celebrate the sixth night of Hanukkah.

The governor tweeted Sunday, “Cecilia & I were honored to celebrate Hanukkah at the Governor’s Mansion with so many friends devoted to a strong relationship between Texas and Israel. #HappyHanukkah.” Among those from the Metroplex in attendance were Susie Avnery, Ari Feinstein, Zander Feinstein, Lily Feinstein, Coby Feinstein, Kim and Alex Kamen, Jaden Kamen, Maya Kamen, Kevin Pailet, Trevor Pearlman, Ryan Pearlman, Lori and Todd Platt, Janine and Charles Pulman, Dave Roberts, Samantha Roberts, Fredell and Dr. Allan Shulkin, Dr. Zev Shulkin, Joel Schwitzer, Miriam Schwitzer, Hannah Schwitzer, Barbara and Shelly Stein, and Texas House Rep. Craig Goldman (R), who represents District 97 in Southwest Tarrant County.
Yavneh Academy Freshman Zander Feinstein shared a d’var Torah about Hanukkah. Trevor Pearlman helped facilitate the event and introduced Governor Abbott.

 

 

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True runner’s high — in Jerusalem

True runner’s high — in Jerusalem

Posted on 14 December 2017 by admin

Jerusalem Marathon awakens Dallas man’s desire to lead team back for next race

By Aaron Greenberg
Special to the TJP

Walking through the streets of Jerusalem tends to be inspiring enough. But when Avi Mitzner ran in the Jerusalem Marathon earlier this year on a team helping individuals with disabilities, it awakened something in him. Now Mitzner’s actively recruiting people from the Metroplex to join him for the 2018 event.
“I try to appeal to people, come and conquer a challenge in the most wonderful place for the most wonderful cause,” Mitzner said.

Avi Mitzner ran the Jerusalem Marathon earlier this year on a team that helps individuals with disabilities. He is hoping to recruit enough people to create another team in 2018. Runners receive admission to a 450-seat auditorium to hear an internationally touring band, a post-race 800-meter run, a victory party, Shabbat services and a closing ceremony. Submitted photo

Avi Mitzner ran the Jerusalem Marathon earlier this year on a team that helps individuals with disabilities. He is hoping to recruit enough people to create another team in 2018. Runners receive admission to a 450-seat auditorium to hear an internationally touring band, a post-race 800-meter run, a victory party, Shabbat services and a closing ceremony.
Submitted photo

Last year, Mitzner’s friend, Rabbi Erez Sherman of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, was leading a team for Shalva, an Israeli organization helping children with disabilities and special needs.
“I looked into it and it seemed like a great cause to run for,” Mitzner said.
Running the race was amazing, Mitzner said, but he discovered that being part of Team Shalva made it even more special. He had a chance not just to meet the young people the organization helps, but to spend quality time together.
“The night before the marathon, they take all of Team Shalva to the Shalva facility and give you a tour and have some presentations, including the Shalva band made up of the children,” he said. “They play a few songs and then you have your pre-race carbohydrate-loading meal there. It’s a first-class experience.”
Shalva actually helped transform the race. Fran Cohen, the Team Shalva race director, said the event had been a half-marathon or 10K, but her daughter pushed the municipality to change it. Cohen was one of the 17 international runners in that first race. There are now hundreds who participate.
Their team has grown as well.
“It grew from word-of-mouth because it’s so well organized,” she said. “People came to see where their money was going to and were so impressed with what the money does. It’s fundraising for an organization in Israel, they get to Israel, they see the facility and what is being done, and it is a win-win.
“Whether you train for a marathon or 10K, you have to train. It gives meaning to all that training. You wake up in the morning and say ‘I’m running for me, but also something bigger and better and making my running mean something.’ Then when you get to Israel and see the meaning of it all, it is phenomenal.”
Taking place March 9 next year, the race will include the full marathon, a half-marathon, a 10K and 5K. Shalva also created an 800-meter community run for those with disabilities.
Unfortunately for Mitzner, he will have to undergo foot surgery. While he won’t be able to run, he still plans on fundraising and attending to help out.
As a member of the Sinai Temple contingent of Team Shalva, Mitzner said he was part of a very diverse group, and that brought interesting new ways to view the Holy Land.
A security guard for the congregation had converted earlier in the year and became a bar mitzvah at the Kotel on Shabbat afternoon.
The heart of the trip is three days with Shalva. Team members arrive Thursday and get a tour of the massive Shalva National Center.
“They get a tour of the Shalva center, then visit the Shalva café, serviced by alumni,” Cohen said. “After they visit the café, there’s also the gift shop.”
The runners will check out the 450-seat auditorium and hear the Shalva band, which recently went on an international tour. After the race, there’s the 800-meter run, which Cohen said many consider the highlight of their trip. A victory party follows, and Shabbat is marked with Friday night services and an inspirational speaker, Shabbat lunch and Havdalah. Student groups tour the Old City and have a closing ceremony, which adults can join, at the Western Wall.
The full and half marathons, as well as the 10K, go into the Old City through the Jaffa Gate.
Mitzner’s first marathon was here in Dallas, in 2006, and he has done about 25 in total. But running in Jerusalem is like nothing else he’s done.
“The Jerusalem Marathon was the most difficult marathon I’ve ever done,” Mitzner said. “It’s very hilly, and very challenging. Toward the end, my legs were just seizing up on me. They weren’t used to those kinds of hills. Here in Dallas, we don’t have hills.”
Jordana Bernstein, who will also be running with Team Shalva, said that part of her training has also been a challenge.
“As much as I can possibly train here, it’s probably not going to prepare me enough for the hills of Jerusalem, but I feel just the adrenaline from being in the middle of Jerusalem and the people cheering will get me through the whole thing,” she said.
For Bernstein, it’ll also be a chance to reconnect with her 18-year-old daughter, who made aliyah this month. They will be doing the half-marathon together.
That’s just another reason why running in Jerusalem is like nowhere else. It’s where Jews come together.
“It’s Jerusalem, right? As Jews, it’s our holiest city, and to be able to go and run through the holy city, how special is that?” Mitzner said.
His team is through Shearith Israel, but any members of the community are welcome.
“There’s a very diverse group from Dallas going, and we’re running for Shearith Israel, but there’s Conservative, Orthodox, Traditional Jews all running for Israel as a team,” Bernstein said. “It’s a nice way our community can come together to support Israel.”
Team members need to raise $3,400, and while it’s no small amount, it comes with quite a few benefits, Mitzner said.
“Once you reach that level, you get round-trip airfare from Dallas to Israel, you get three nights at the Crowne Plaza in Jerusalem,” he said. “You get the pre-race visit to Shalva and the pre-race pasta party that they have. You get a party for Team Shalva when you finish the race. You get a Shabbaton at the Crowne Plaza after the race. And you get your marathon entry as well.”
Best of all, the entire amount raised goes directly to Shalva’s work.
“What this project does besides directly providing for the services, it creates tremendous awareness of the organization and persons with disabilities, raising hope, love and dignity for them and for a more inclusive society,” Cohen said.
That’s what drew Bernstein, the early childhood director at Akiba Academy.
“I had the desire to run the marathon in Jerusalem this year and started researching organizations involved,” she said. “It seemed like the one I most wanted to run for because I have devoted my life to Jewish children and families, and because they help support children and families in Israel with special needs.”
Mitzner’s team webpage is www.run4shalva.org/my/avimitz. More information about the race can be found at run4shalva.org or Jerusalem-marathon.org. Shalva can be found at shalva.org/new.

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“Travel Time with Linda” debuts on AXS TV

“Travel Time with Linda” debuts on AXS TV

Posted on 14 December 2017 by admin

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

Holding the globe in the palm of her hand, Linda Cooper is traveling the world, now bringing her luxurious travels and experiences to homes as Travel Time with Linda debuts at 8 a.m. Jan. 6.
The 13-episode series, produced by 24-7 Productions and airing on AXS TV, features tours from Costa Rica to the Bahamas — and she’s just getting started.

Enjoying a great meal in St. Lucia, Linda Cooper who is the executive producer and host of Travel Time with Linda, which begins airing in January on AXS TV, has an appetite for sharing the most beautiful of the world, and the best tastes too.

Enjoying a great meal in St. Lucia, Linda Cooper who is the executive producer and host of Travel Time with Linda, which begins airing in January on AXS TV, has an appetite for sharing the most beautiful of the world, and the best tastes too.

“This show comes from my heart’s absolute love of travel, of fine things, of excellence, and so many interests that I have,” said Cooper, Travel Time’s host and executive producer, excited to see her dream coming true. “It’s amazing to see how different cultures create, serve, live and enjoy, and to be among the people, and the splendid beauty that is out there. It’s a lot of work, writing the scripts, doing the research, the interviews and the travel — but man, this is my dream job and I’m so happy to share it with everyone.”
The series features glamour, luxury and adventure, through the sites, shopping, cuisine, entertainment and activities including zip-lining and whitewater rafting in Costa Rica, a candid conversation with reggae superstar Bankie Banx in Anguilla, a trip to the Caicos Conch Farm in Turks and Caicos, watersports and retail therapy in Bermuda and rum tasting and surf lessons in Barbados.
“I’m already planning the next 13 shows, really my bucket list of must-do destinations,” said Cooper, the wife of Simmie and mother of Teal and Tristan. Among the Cooper’s adventures in the first set of episodes: She swam with sharks and explored Mayan Ruins in Belize, bobsledded and filmed a spooky look at the legend of the White Witch of Rose Hall in Jamaica, kayaked and climbed a volcano in St. Kitts and more.
“Simmie and I moved to Dallas right after our wedding so we put a honeymoon on hold but we made up for it many times over,” said Cooper, who with her husband has traveled to Europe, Hong Kong, Israel, South Africa and many other locales. “So many of the places I’ve visited I’ve been able to go to with my husband — he’s really my best friend — and as a family, traveling has always taken us to some great adventures with special memories.”
Soon to be available in the United States, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico, the series on AXS TV can be seen in North Texas, thanks to a partnership between founder Mark Cuban, AEG, Ryan Seacrest Media, Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and CBS. The show is already airing, translated into Chinese, on TVB Asia.
“I am so grateful for the opportunity to share my adventures and these really incredibly fabulous places,” Cooper said. “Our viewers will experience some truly magnificent sights and sounds from all across the world and I couldn’t be more thrilled that my show has found the perfect TV home Saturday mornings.”
An entrepreneur at heart, Cooper is a former fitness trainer who has also run her own promotional services and products company, 24-7 Star. In 2004 she created a line of T-shirts — a nod to her commitment as a stay/work-at-home mom — featuring “Shopping Is My Cardio,” “Carpool Couture,” and one with “Random Acts of Kindness” on the front and “Pass It On” on the back.
A Los Angeles native, Cooper graduated with a bachelor’s degree in broadcasting: radio-TV-film from California State University Northridge. A former model who worked on fitness-related programs early in her career, she was a segment host on Good Morning Texas, Home & Lifestyle TV, and Designing DFW and the co-creator, host and executive producer of Live Love Laugh Today, all of those shows airing locally on WFAA, her experiences there the impetus for Travel Time with Linda.

On her Travel Time with Linda television show, which debuts on Jan. 6, Linda Cooper features shopping venues around the world – here previewing Choratega Pottery she found in Costa Rica.

On her Travel Time with Linda television show, which debuts on Jan. 6, Linda Cooper features shopping venues around the world – here previewing Choratega Pottery she found in Costa Rica.

Many of the “Caribbean Dreaming” locales Cooper featured in the 13-week initial broadcast were affected by 2017’s devastating hurricane season. A member of Congregation Anshai Torah, a former Levine Academy parent, and “Dancing with the Jewish Stars at the J” participant, she believes wholeheartedly in the tenet of tikkun olam, repairing the world. Cooper is using her forum to partner with IsraAID to help victims in Houston, Dominica and Puerto Rico. A PSA for support will air during commercial spots of her show.
“I was shooting the show in the Bahamas just a week before Hurricane Irma hit and we postponed our St. Lucia schedule which was set for the second week of September. This fall’s hurricane season just left behind a trail of destruction,” said Cooper. “Many of the areas we visited were spared but so many lost everything and there’s a momentous task ahead to rebuild. IsraAID has boots on the ground and I’m proud we can work together to help rebuild these areas and help the residents.”
“Fabulous” is how Cooper ends each show, the absolute definition of her experiences, her own personality, and the production she now brings to North Texas homes.
For Travel Time airtimes and information, visit: traveltimewithlindatv.com. To make a donation to IsraAID, visit: israaid.co.il.

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Polarizing president draws rare, broad Jewish support with Jerusalem declaration

Polarizing president draws rare, broad Jewish support with Jerusalem declaration

Posted on 14 December 2017 by admin

Metroplex, US organizations applaud action

 President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Dec. 6 and has said he plans to move the embassy at some point.

President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Dec. 6 and has said he plans to move the embassy at some point.

By Sean Savage
JNS

It’s not often that the American Jewish community is united on issues pertaining to President Donald Trump, or on any political topics for that matter. But Trump’s Dec. 6 recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and his expression of the intent to move the U.S. embassy to that city drew widespread support from Jewish organizations, dovetailing with the expected backing of Christian Zionist groups.
The Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, an umbrella body for 50 national Jewish groups, said it is “gratified that its decades-long policy calling for U.S. recognition of Israel’s capital in Jerusalem has now been realized.”
Sarah Stern, founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, told JNS that Trump’s decision is a “victory for pluralism and religious freedom,” noting that Israel has allowed unfettered access to Christian and Muslim holy sites since it took full control of Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War.
Stern dismissed concerns that Trump’s Jerusalem decision may ignite regional violence.
“If this is going to cause mass violence, it is not the fault of the United States,” she said. “It is the fault of the Arab world, which has not even recognized pre-1967 Israel in their textbooks, but teaches that all of Israel, even pre-1967 Israel, will one day be ‘Palestine.’ ”

Local and national response

Several Metroplex Jewish leaders and organizations were eager to voice their support.
“Jewish history provides a shining example for all of us on how to tackle difficult issues,” Temple Emanu-El President Mike Simms and its clergy wrote in an email. “Then as now, it’s important for us to embrace difficult conversations and to strive to engage with those with whom we may disagree passionately, and with respect and civility for each other’s views and experiences.”
The Shearith Israel clergy wrote to its membership, “We celebrate this important step in the fulfillment of the promise and destiny of our holiest city — but it is only a step. We must never rest in our endeavor to unite these two Jerusalems — the Jerusalem of earth and the Jerusalem of heaven. We must continue to advocate for recognition of our ancient ties to our capital, but we must also rededicate ourselves to pursuing peace, to rejecting and preventing violence …”
The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County issued similar statements. The Dallas Federation’s statement read: “The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and the Jewish Federations of North America, our national organization which issued a similar statement earlier today, welcome this decision as it upholds our long-standing policy of encouraging recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. We also welcome the affirmation by the President of a negotiated two-state future between the parties in which Israelis and Palestinians live side by side with secure and recognized borders.”
Congregation Ahavath Sholom Rabbi Andrew Bloom commented on Facebook, “It is time to rejoice upon the renewed recognition of Jerusalem’s importance and centrality to Israel. For thousands of years Jews around the world have claimed Jerusalem as their home, and now all of them can rest in the recognition that ‘The City of Gold’ is truly their/our own.”
American Jewish Committee Executive Director David Harris expressed hope that “other countries will value the clarity and wisdom of President Trump’s historic decision, and also recognize Jerusalem and relocate their embassies there.”
Harris also praised Trump for emphasizing in his Dec. 6 remarks that the announcement does not affect the role of the U.S. in navigating final status issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“The administration’s commitment to advancing that peace process is most welcome,” said Harris.
Similarly, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed the Jerusalem announcement as a “significant step that acknowledges reality” and urged the Trump administration to push forward in peace negotiations.
“We recognize that this is an enormously sensitive and volatile issue, and we call on the administration to implement this new policy in a careful and thoughtful manner in consultation with regional leaders,” said Marvin D. Nathan, ADL’s national chair, and Jonathan A. Greenblatt, its CEO.
Dallasite Lillian Pinkus, president of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, said Trump’s decision “is more than an important benchmark — it is a milestone that corrects a historical wrong.”
Yet some Jewish leaders, while recognizing the importance of the Jerusalem move, said the timing was not right.
Union for Reform Judaism President Rabbi Rick Jacobs said that although the U.S. embassy “should, at the right time, be moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” the Reform movement “cannot support (Trump’s) decision to begin preparing that move now, absent a comprehensive plan for a peace process. Additionally, any relocation of the American Embassy to West Jerusalem should be conceived and executed in the broader context reflecting Jerusalem’s status as a city holy to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike.”
Reconstructionist Jewish organizations said they are “concerned over the possible impacts of the timing and the unilateral manner of President Trump’s decision for the U.S. to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital outside the framework of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.”

‘Tough, ultimately correct’

Boris Zilberman, a deputy director at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank, called Trump’s announcement a “historic step in U.S.-Israel relations and an important affirmation of Israel’s international standing as a co-equal.”
“President Trump made a tough but ultimately correct decision,” Zilberman told JNS. “While the move of the embassy will not happen immediately, the Trump administration is moving to make the move a reality in the very near future as they select an appropriate site.
“A more secure Israel,” said Zilberman, “is better placed to make tough decisions in the peace process, something (PA) President (Mahmoud) Abbas would be wise to consider as he calibrates his response.”

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