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Grant funds DJCF series on legacy giving

Posted on 19 December 2018 by admin

A $15,000 grant from the Katherine C. Carmody Charitable Trust will allow the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation and the Southwest Community Foundation to produce a free series that will teach nonprofit organizations how to build a legacy giving program.
These programs will seek legacy gifts to be invested so the nonprofits earn income in the future. The importance of legacy giving also will be discussed.
“Month after month nonprofits spend valuable time fundraising and, for smaller nonprofits, that comes at the expense of their important missions,” according to a statement from the foundations. “Our community’s nonprofits know their respective communities and are fully capable of serving their missions in an effective way. That is why the DJCF/SWCF want nonprofits to prepare legacy giving programs, so they can focus long-term on what is most important — their missions.”
The Dallas Jewish Community Foundation and its DBA, the Southwest Community Foundation, have worked to improve the community and the world through the development and stewardship of philanthropic resources of donors and community partners.
Consistent with this mission, the Foundation has contributed more than $125 million in charitable distributions in the last decade to support a wide range of philanthropic interests, including education, human services, the arts and faith-based organizations.
The legacy giving program’s inaugural session will occur on Feb. 4 and will feature Phil Cubeta, assistant professor of philanthropy at the American College of Financial Services in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Each session is meant for both volunteers and staff of nonprofit agencies. A kosher lunch will be provided.
All nonprofits are welcome to register for this free series of lunch and learns. For information, visit www.djcf.org.

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ISIS leader’s ex-wife describes her ‘Escape and Triumph’

ISIS leader’s ex-wife describes her ‘Escape and Triumph’

Posted on 19 December 2018 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Tania Joya
Tania Joya, an activist and former wife of an ISIS leader, will speak about “Escape and Triumph” at the 2019 Intra-Faith Sisterhood Brunch on Jan. 13.

By Deb Silverthorn

Tania Joya, an activist and former wife of an ISIS leader, will be the featured speaker of the 2019 Intra-Faith Sisterhood Brunch, the theme of which is “Escape and Triumph,” at 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 13, at Temple Shalom.
The Temple Shalom Sisterhood is host of the 16th annual brunch, which is open to everyone ages 15 and older.
“Tania will speak about her transition from a marriage to a ranking ISIS member, to one countering the forces of violent extremism, and I believe the audience will be fascinated by her,” said Jerri Grunewald, who is co-chairing the event with Beth Lasher.
Connected by coincidence at an event, Joya immediately struck Grunewald as captivating. “Tania’s evolution as a woman, as a human being and her strength in becoming an independent thinker and role model is a story to be heard.”
The annual Sisterhood Intra-Faith Luncheon is hosted each year by a different Metroplex-area congregation, bringing together sisterhood members from all branches of Judaism. The hosting chapter creates the program and menu, and coordinates the afternoon. Previous guests have been Holocaust survivors, chefs, artists, experts on environmental issues and the history of Jews in Texas.
“Sisterhood is about social justice, about caretaking, about women who are professionals, at-home, who are mothers and those who are not, but it is about leadership and care. The spirit of Tania’s work mirrors a lot of what we are about,” said Grunewald, a former Temple Shalom Sisterhood president, vice president, treasurer and Woman of Valor recipient.
Joya, who grew up northwest of London, is a former extremist who now works in deradicalization. Her ex-husband, Plano native John Georgelas, known since conversion to Islam as Yahya al-Bahrumi, was radicalized as a teenager and, to all knowledge, remains active as the highest-ranking American member of ISIS.
The couple, who met online at age 19, returned to the United States for a time, then moved to Egypt after the Arab uprising in 2011. Her former husband believed that the surroundings were ripe for his sons to grow themselves to become Jihadists, she said. But even then, Joya had doubts.
After the family moved to Syria in 2013, with Joya pregnant with their fourth child, she found the courage to leave, and, with her ex-husband’s help, returned to Plano. Once the family was gone, he became involved with ISIS. She, on the other hand, renounced Islam, remarried and is living a mission of helping others.
Joya is now featured in a Clarion Project documentary called “Jihad Generation.” She is a member of Parents For Peace, an alliance of families affected by extremism that focuses on prevention and de-radicalization from extremism. She recently participated in a TEDx interview and is writing a memoir.
“My goal is to protect other young people from the indoctrination and grooming process that I was vulnerable to,” Joya said. “Prevention programs are the key to protecting all American youth from radicalization.”
Joya wants to help rehabilitate extremist radicals, to teach them skills and to give them a sense of community and the opportunity to reintegrate into society and be good citizens. “Jihadists need to be heard because if we don’t know their arguments, and how poor their arguments are, we’re not going to be able to discuss and refute them,” she said.
Co-chair Lasher, a former Temple Shalom Sisterhood vice president, said Joya’s story fits well with Sisterhood’s mission.
“Sisterhood had gone through a metamorphosis, beautifully meeting the diversity of our population, of women of all ages and stages,” she said. “In this season of #metoo and women’s strength, Tania’s story is so current and appropriate. While we of the congregations throughout Dallas might practice our Judaism differently, the tenets and how we live our lives is more alike than not.”
“Tania — a woman like many of us with a story like none of us — is dynamic, and her vision is one to respect and support,” Lasher said. “As a Sisterhood, and as a community, we’re proud to present her and what she has to give.”
For more information, visit bit.ly/2LnSYma. The brunch costs $20 per person, and registration is required by Jan. 3. To RSVP for more information, contact Toba Reifer at 972-898-4828 or email reifernotary@gmail.com.

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Plaskoff creates podcast launching pad

Plaskoff creates podcast launching pad

Posted on 13 December 2018 by admin

Photo: Kevin Porier
On-Air Media’s podcast studio

By Leah Vann

Melissa Plaskoff never thought her “Carpool Talk” show would lead to her being a local podcast sensation. But now, she’s helping others like her dip their feet into podcast media.
“I never thought it was possible,” Plaskoff said. “I’ve tried a lot of things and this is definitely my path, and if I were to go back and talk to myself 20 years ago, I would’ve said, ‘It’s OK, you got this.’”
Plaskoff, a lifelong Dallasite, grew tired of looking for something entertaining to listen to in her endless carpool commute as a mom with three kids, so she started “Carpool Talk” in 2015 as something all parents could listen to while waiting for their kids in what seemed like a monotonous daily routine.
Plaskoff’s podcast grew in both popularity and guest appearances. With that, networks came calling, but she wanted the freedom to dictate the direction of her podcast. She had meet Chris Jagger, former 102.1 The Edge host with experience in both radio and film industry through CBS and Warner Bros.
Both found out that the only way they could foster their own and others’ creativity was to start their own media company, On-Air Media.
On-Air Media would find its permanent home in a 12,000-square-foot facility outside the Dallas design district this summer, complete with two studios professionally equipped with four part-time production and sound engineers with editing experience.
The studios are soundproof with green screens, professional microphones and cameras. One has a 4K camera, while the other features an HD camera. There’s even a lounge with Kombucha on tap, where professionals can collaborate freely with people looking for ideas.
“We’re creating this environment where everyone is in it together, we can all win,” Plaskoff said. “We won’t have to charge a fortune and have our hands in everyone’s pocket.”
On-Air Media offers monthly memberships that include a package of four shows a month. The company keeps costs down with only three full-time employees and four part-timers. It streams every show live on Facebook, YouTube and On-Air Media’s website simultaneously, enabling it to keep the space affordable. Livestreaming cuts post-production costs, and all shows are stored away to stream on-demand via iTunes. The company is also leasing extra space in the building to other companies.
“We wanted to keep in mind there’s a number of different types of people that use it,” Jagger said. “Hobbyists, they have an idea for a show, want to do something that is interesting and entertaining, looks good and sounds good and has sound elements, that looks like it’s not embarrassing shooting out of your home somewhere. We also knew that professionals would want to come in.”
When new clients come in with an idea for a show, they first meet with Plaskoff and Jagger to find direction before launching. They can also schedule additional consultations. Jagger said that while it’s a freely creative environment, they’re able to balance the guidance.
“There’s a lot more freedom here,” Jagger said. “One of the things I ran into later in my career, at iHeartMedia, CBS Radio, you had program directors who tried to control everything because they were trying to be told what to do. Radio started to contract, eliminating a lot of jobs, fewer people involved in making decisions; it turned out to be a bad thing because they were just handing down edits. It became so restrictive, it was ridiculous; it continues to be that way. With what we do, anything goes at this point.”
And he adds that Plaskoff is a natural talent at pointing people in the right direction when starting or struggling with a show.
“She’s a natural-born producer,” Jagger said. “I tell her, ‘You should’ve been working for Oprah.’ She has the natural instincts. Had she been in that circle of people, she would’ve. You can’t teach that. I was like, ‘OK, you have a lot to learn, but you have great instincts, and if I’m not with you at some point down the road, you’ll fully understand what’s going on here.’”
Some of those instincts include which ideas resonate with an audience and how to execute those ideas in the best way possible.
“The way we structure the onboard of a new show is highly organized,” Plaskoff said. “Everyone knows their role and everyone knows their part.”
On-Air Media has produced an array of successful shows, including “The Benet Embry Show,” an unbiased progressive podcast that talks about today’s current issues while also promoting local artists in the R&B, neo-soul and hip-hop genres.
All podcast shows own their own content and can monetize if they choose. Sometimes, if a podcast needs help getting its feet off the ground, On-Air Media has professional co-hosts waiting in the wings with years of experience for consulting. They include former WFAA anchor Alexa Conomos, Dallas Observer and Pressboxdfw journalist Richie Whitt, KSCS voice Jasmine Sadry and Dallas blogger Julie Fisk.
It also provides an avenue for city business owners to try to get their messages out. Plaskoff and Jagger often meet with companies on how they can produce video and content professionally and how to spread it on social media.
Whatever the goal is, Plaskoff hopes that she’s providing a platform that helps people pursue their media dreams the way that she and Jagger have.
“It gives me so much energy,” Plaskoff said. “I love hearing the different stories people come in and tell me every day. No two are alike.”

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Chabad Fort Worth to expand next door

Chabad Fort Worth to expand next door

Posted on 13 December 2018 by admin

Photo: Courtesy of Dov Mandel
Chabad of Fort Worth and Tarrant County Rabbi Dov and Chana Tovah Mandel and their children look forward to their enlarged center. They are pictured here at the Kotel.

 

The Sonnenschein Chabad Jewish Center officially opened its doors in 2007 at 5659 Woodway Drive in Fort Worth. The center’s goal was to provide physical space for the then 5-year-old Chabad Lubavitch of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. It seemed fitting, therefore, that the 3,000-square-foot center’s first event was a Pesach dinner.
That dinner, however, presented a handful of challenges. The center was a house that was, in the words of Chabad Fort Worth leader Rabbi Dov Mandel, “a structurally sound but crummy-looking property.”
Mandel himself was recovering from a case of kidney stones. And he and his wife, Chana Tovah Mandel, found themselves hosting a larger-than-expected crowd, many of whom were Lockheed Martin-employed Israelis. “I’m not sure how we ended up with 90 people in this poorly lit house,” Mandel recalled. “Somehow, we did it.”
Some 11 years later, the Sonnenschein Center is no longer crummy-looking, but rather is a well-lit space where Tarrant County Jews come to worship, learn and eat. Yet, thanks to the organization’s growth, the house seems as cramped as it was when 90 people sat for that first Seder in 2007, due to the organization’s expansion. The children’s playroom is small, there is no yard to speak of and parking availability is non-existent. Said Mandel: “We’ve done all we can do in this space.”
To mitigate the issues, Chabad Fort Worth placed a bid on — and awaits the close of — the house next door. Chabad Fort Worth is expected to close on the house at 5663 Woodway Drive Jan. 9, 2019. Then, the organization’s growth can continue.
From apartment, to house,
to house
In 2002, Dov and Chana Tovah Mandel, along with their first-born daughter, arrived in Fort Worth at the behest of Chabad Headquarters in Texas and in conjunction with Chabad of Dallas. The goal was to spearhead Chabad activities in Tarrant County.
The family rented an apartment “to feel everything out, and keep expenses low,” Mandel said. Within a year, the Mandels bought a house to provide a place for their growing family and expanding Chabad programming. For a time, the three-bedroom home provided enough room for both. Until it didn’t.
Mandel moved his office out of the house and into a professional building, though he and Chana Tovah soon realized they could no longer host Chabad activities in their home. With help from donors, the Mandels acquired the Woodway house on behalf of Chabad, dubbing it Sonnenschein Chabad Jewish Center, after the grandmother of one of the donors.
Growth continued from that first crowded Seder. Minyans became more frequent, as did Shabbat and holiday services. The center added a mikvah in 2011. Two years later, an additional 700 square feet was built to provide more space for worship and programming. Meanwhile, the Mandels helped spearhead the launch of Chabad of Arlington and the Mid-Cities, to serve Jews in eastern Tarrant County.
But the Sonnenschein Center has been bursting at the seams, prompting Mandel to ponder expansion for the past several years. “We make do with what we have, but right now, we’re piling programs on top of programs,” He said. “We can only use the same room so many times in a day.”
Enter 5663 Woodway Drive, in a fortuitous bit of timing.
“The house was owned by three siblings whose parents had died,” Mandel said. “Two months ago, they indicated they were willing to sell.”
From house to . . . synagogue?
The 2,000-square-foot house currently under contract is on a corner lot, just north of the Sonnenschein Center. Mandel said that once the sale is finalized, the next step will be a building campaign. The eventual goal is development of an actual center, one that looks more like a commercial building and less like a house. Noted Mandel: “the zoning for the entire Wedgewood neighborhood is single-family residential, school or church. We’re not building a church. But we will be building a synagogue.”
This could mean razing part of one or both of the houses.
Mandel is adamant that permitting, platting and development will be done by the book, no matter how long it all takes. “My goal is to be able to sleep easily at night, knowing the city won’t show up with a bulldozer one day,” he quipped.
In all seriousness, Mandel envisions a Chabad center that will provide a great experience for the Tarrant County Jewish community by offering plenty of space, enough for programming and parking. As such, hosting a 90-person Seder in an old home was just a start for Chabad Lubavitch of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. Growth and momentum are the main goals, no matter how sticky things might become.
“People want to be part of something that is positive and forward-looking,” Mandel observed. “God wants us to go all the way in, and show we’re for real. Then He takes us to the finish line. That’s the philosophy of Chabad, and the philosophy of life.”

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Federation opens grant application process

Federation opens grant application process

Posted on 13 December 2018 by admin

Photo: Sharon Wisch-Ray/TJP
The Texas Jewish Arts Association’s Sukkah Project Dwell in Design, which was held in October 2018, was awarded a Short-Term Grant in both 2017-2018 ad 2018-2019.

 

The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas has begun the 2019-20 grant application process, through which community organizations can receive short- and Long-Term Grants to fund new and increased needs and foster innovation in programming for the Dallas community.
The application process started Dec. 3, targeting initiatives that address one of the Federation’s impact areas: education, social services, global and local responsibility, Jewish identity, outreach and engagement, and security. All applications are due Feb. 6, 2019. Grant applications will be reviewed in the spring by the Federation’s Planning and Allocations Committee and grantees will be notified in mid-July.
“The Federation is pleased to once again offer these grants for our community,” said Robin Kosberg, Planning and Allocations Committee chair. “These grants allow the Federation to encourage innovation and fill important needs for our partner agencies and community organizations. We have been inspired by the programs funded in the first year of this grants program, and we hope that this resource will continue to energize our community.”
Short-Term Grants are available to all Jewish 501(c)(3) organizations serving the greater Dallas area. The funds are for one-off programs and/or seed funding of a project. Organizations may submit up to two applications requesting up to $20,000 per project. The grant application is available online at www.jewishdallas.org/grants. These grants are offered annually. Last year the Federation allocated $134,850 in Short-Term Grants to Dallas-area non-partner organizations and $112,000 to local partner agencies.
Long-Term Grants are available to current partner agencies that receive core funding from the Federation. These grants enable organizations to address increased and new needs for their organizations, as well as new, innovative programming. The grant funding commitment can be from 18 months up to three years. The maximum funding request is $75,000 per year. Similar to other Dallas-area grant-making organizations, the Federation will commit funding for up to three years, pending its performance, without the need for agencies to reapply annually. Last year the Federation allocated $694,000 in Long-Term Grants to its partner agencies.
“With the growth in our annual campaign, we have been able to support an increasing number of these innovative programs and look forward to continuing this expansion,” Federation President/CEO Bradley Laye said. “These supplemental funds continue to allow us to support new ideas and programs that strive to ensure our community’s strength and vibrancy.”
For more information on the grants, contact Evan Wolstencroft at ewolstencroft@jewishdallas.org or 214-615-5262.
—Submitted by Jon Cronson on behalf of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.

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BBYO Kiev trip opens local teen’s eyes

BBYO Kiev trip opens local teen’s eyes

Posted on 05 December 2018 by admin

Photos: Courtesy Hannah Fritts
Hannah Fritts and 19 other teens represented the United States as BBYO ambassadors in Kiev last month.

By Hannah Fritts

On Nov. 4, 2018, I joined 19 other Jewish teens from across the United States for an eight-day journey to Kiev, Ukraine. The 20 of us were going as international ambassadors with BBYO, a Jewish teen-led youth organization, to explore the city, learn and bond together, tour historical sites, do service projects, and be part of the international delegation to BBYO’s partner organization in the former Soviet Union, Active Jewish Teens, fifth International Conference.
Our time in the city and engaging with the local Jewish community was absolutely incredible, but the conference is definitely what stuck with me the most from the trip.
At the conference, I was placed in a programming group filled with incredible people. There, I was able to make powerful connections with everyone in my group, despite not speaking the same language as all of them. With all the programming being in Russian, my translators were an integral part of my experience. The girls who would translate for me became my friends quickly. Our off-topic conversations turned into strong friendships, and we would spend our breaks chatting, bonding over our cultural differences, dancing the night away during the final party and crying into each other’s arms the next morning when we had to say goodbye.
I was crying not just because we had to go our separate ways, but because the stories of the teens at the convention, like these girls, were moving and inspiring.
Jewish life has always been an under-appreciated freedom of mine. I grew up at Temple Shalom and became a bat mitzvah, but in recent months I began to ponder my Jewish identity more than ever before. On the bus ride after leaving the convention, I began to analyze all the little things that led me to Kiev — the things that led me to meet these people, hear their stories, and be given the privilege to have them be a part of my lifelong Jewish journey.
All my Jewish ancestors came to America from Eastern Europe. They dreamed of an American Jewry so strong that it was able to be a light for other Jews around the world. This is the beautiful Jewry that BBYO enables, not just for teens in America, but for teens in places worldwide where Judaism is finally being rekindled.
That is what brought me to tears — the thought of these teens activating their Judaism and being the first generation in a long time to live a Jewish life, celebrating it, and sharing it with me.
I went on this trip wishing to have a stellar travel and learning experience, but I walked away with much more than just that. I left with many little blessings to carry with me in my mind for many years to come. Blessings of newfound friends, religious perspective and memories that will last longer than my lifetime, because I get to share them with all of you. Memories of laughter despite not sharing a language, smiles despite not sharing any acquaintance and lasting friendships despite not sharing geography.
This trip has excited and inspired me to take on new adventures, make the most out of the rest of my time in BBYO and not take my Judaism for granted. BBYO has given me the outlet to explore, refine and elevate my own Jewish identity, and through this trip, I have been given the privilege to honor our history, serve the community and be a small part of someone else’s Jewish life.
Hannah Fritts is a junior at The Winston School of Dallas and is engaged within the Jewish community. She holds leadership roles both within BBYO and her school’s student government. She also loves singing and spending time with friends.

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‘Never leave anything unfinished’ is her motto

‘Never leave anything unfinished’ is her motto

Posted on 05 December 2018 by admin

Photo: Deb Silverthorn
Janet Fein will receive her bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Texas at Dallas Dec. 19.

By Deb Silverthorn

Reading, ’riting, and ’rithmetic were always important to Janet Fein, but never more so than in the last six years, as she’s studied toward earning her bachelor’s degree. Never has there been more of an example of “better late than never” than this octogenarian, who will walk during University of Texas at Dallas’ commencement Wednesday, Dec. 19.
The 84-year-old sociology major and mother of David (Dena), Robert, Mitchell (Gail), Scott (Meryl) and Susan, of blessed memory, and the grandmother of Jonathan and Michael (Katia) Bittle, Adam (Kylee), Brooke, Joshua, Rachel and Zachary Fein, and Whitney (Blake) Silverthorn, is the second-to-last family member to graduate college.
“In my family, I’ve got a doctor, a speech therapist, a couple of artists, sales and marketing professionals, a nurse, a teacher and an engineer,” Fein said. “I’m excited to join them in getting my degree. I’ve worked hard and as proud as I am of them, I’m proud of me too.”
Born Janet Schwartz Oct. 16, 1934, Fein found herself uninterested at school, perhaps ahead of her classmates. She eventually skipped the eighth and 11th grades, and graduated from New York’s William Taft High School at age 16.
Fein went to work after high school as a secretary at a dress manufacturer. That’s where she met Howard, of blessed memory, the man who would be her husband of 35 years.
Once their children were born, Fein stayed home as the family followed Howard’s U.S. Army service to Fort Myers, Virginia; Miami; and Columbia, South Carolina. The family also lived in Maryland and Kentucky before Dallas became home in 1970. She reflects on a city where Belt Line Road was two lanes and “about as far north as most people traveled.” The Feins belonged to Congregation Tiferet Israel, then were among the founders of Temple Shalom.
Fein spent 12 years working at the Dallas Hilton Inn as a secretary, payroll clerk and, eventually, personnel director. Two years after work required a move to Buffalo, New York, Fein returned to Dallas, alone, wanting to be closer to her children and their growing families.
“We’d built a beautiful family, but it was time,” she said. “I came back to the kids, and I’ve never been sorry.”
Returning home, Fein earned her associate degree from Richland College in 1995, a journey begun years before.
“Mom’s been through a lot, and she’s always stuck by to finishing what is important to her,” said son Scott, recalling Fein riding DART with her walker and oxygen when her health required. “She still pursued it all and with lots of enthusiasm, and her family couldn’t be prouder of her.”
After returning to Dallas, Fein worked for the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and then Texas Scottish Rite Hospital where she built a 20-year career — the first and most soothing face one met in the movement lab.
“I loved it because it wasn’t ‘work,’” Fein said. “They appreciated me and treated me very well. I saw many of our patients grow from youngsters to adulthood.”
Retiring in 2012, at 78, Fein believed it time to finish her degree. “Because I was over 65, I got free tuition. I picked sociology because the study of people and society was a perfect match,” Fein said.
“I learned about cultures, people and religions, and I learned to respect many I didn’t know about,” said Fein. “Even at 78, I realized I had a lot to learn.”
“Janet soaked up our class materials and lessons and shared her knowledge and wisdom with her fellow students, helping them see the importance of the knowledge of history and the lessons learned through the study of religion and society today,” said UTD Professor Bobby Alexander, who taught one of Fein’s favorite classes, Religion in Society, along with the Immigrants and Immigration in U.S. Society course she took.
“She showed them how to stick to the task of study,” Alexander said. “The best part of teaching Janet was her referring to historical events related to our discussions, bringing wisdom of her years and experience.”
UTD Sociology Program Head Richard Scotch supervised Fein during her last two semesters through independent studies. Emailing lessons and assignments, the two created a bond without ever meeting.
“We had many interesting interchanges, and I’m glad we could accommodate her,” said Scotch, for whom online programs are rare. Making an exception, he said she wrote thoughtful papers and asked great questions. “It was more than a pleasure to work with her. I admire the energy she brought and her absolutely incredible pursuit of education.”
Scotch recalled that during a recent State of the University speech, UTD President Richard C. Benson spoke of the breadth of this graduating class, spanning the ages from teenage to Fein.
Her family being the most important part of her life, it wasn’t lost on her that a recent midterm exam was on lifecycles. Clearly, she was alone in turning in a project with photos expressing family births, deaths, weddings and more.
“Lots of people say they’d like to go back to school — and they should,” said Fein, who lives on her own, proud of her independence. When she’s not studying or hugging her children, Fein has enjoyed making dolls and jewelry.
“I’ve enjoyed the reading and I’ve learned a lot. This has been very rewarding and it feels great to have completed a goal I’ve had for so long. Never leave anything unfinished.”
TJP contributor Deb Silverthorn’s son Blake is married to Janet Fein’s granddaughter Whitney.

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JCRC helps persuade state school board decision

JCRC helps persuade state school board decision

Posted on 05 December 2018 by admin

Photo: JCRC
Texas social studies teachers learn about the Arab-Israeli conflict at the Texas Council of Social Studies Conference in October.

Guidelines adopted by the Texas State Board of Education in November to teach about the Arab-Israeli conflict and the geopolitical history of the Middle East were a huge win for the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and the Jewish community as a whole.
Since June of this year, Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) staff has been working with the San Francisco-based Institute of Curriculum Services (ICS) to monitor the state school board as it updated the social studies portion of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) standards. TEKS determines the content of textbooks produced for Texas school districts, which are purchased and utilized by 34 other states. Therefore, this has an enormous impact on what students across the country learn about Israel and the Middle East.
The JCRC and ICS have worked collaboratively since 2009. The Public Education Initiative was launched as a grant-funded joint program of the JCRC and ICS with the goal of impacting the Texas textbook adoption process, known as Proclamation 2015. The initiative successfully worked with members of the education board and the educational community to ensure accuracy about Jews, Judaism and Israel in Texas educational standards, textbooks and classroom materials.
During the state review process, more than 1,400 edits to the new Texas social studies textbooks were adopted by the State Board of Education, representing 88 percent of total recommended edits. This means that 2.1 million students in Texas received more accurate information about these topics.
ICS, in partnership with the JCRC, exhibited and presented at the 2018 Texas Council for the Social Studies Conference in mid-October in Houston. Hundreds of social studies educators statewide attended the conference. ICS presented in three separate sessions at the conference, engaging over 50 educators on topics like Teaching the Arab-Israeli Conflict with Primary Sources, Environmental Challenges and Cooperation in the Middle East, and Teaching Religion in the Classroom.
Feedback from educators who attended ICS breakout sessions at the conference was extremely positive, JCRC officials said. Following the Teaching Religion in the Classroom session, one teacher shared that she loved the open discussions that were held about the case studies that were provided. The teachers who attended the Environmental Cooperation session appreciated the collaborative activities that they can use with their students. In addition, one of the attendees shared that the Teaching the Arab-Israeli Conflict and Peace Process session was one of the best presentations at the entire conference.
Prompted by the positive feedback received at the conference, several social studies coordinators inquired about offering professional development within their districts, and the JCRC is working with ICS to try to bring a two-day summer institute to the Dallas-Fort Worth area in 2019. The institute is an in-depth opportunity for teachers to learn about teaching the Arab-Israeli Conflict and Peace Process. Participants are selected by application, and receive a $300 honorarium for attending.
As the public affairs division of the Federation, the JCRC’s mission is to build understanding and generate support for Israel and public policy and social issues that are important to the Dallas metro area Jewish community. To learn more about the work of the Dallas JCRC, visit www.jewishdallas.org/JCRC.

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Remembering President George H.W. Bush

Remembering President George H.W. Bush

Posted on 05 December 2018 by admin

Photos: Luke Frazza/AFP/Getty Images
President George Bush poses for photographers following his Oval Office address to the nation, Sept. 27, 1991.

By Ron Kampeas

WASHINGTON (JTA) — George H.W. Bush, who died last Friday, was a one-term president whose public grappling with Jewish leaders made headlines while his private interventions helped bring tens of thousands of Jews out of danger.
Bush, 94, died at his home in Houston, his family said, less than a year after the passing of his beloved wife of 73 years, Barbara.
His failed 1992 re-election bid marked a low point in relations between Republicans and the Jewish community. Bush scored just 11 percent of the Jewish vote in that contest, one-third of what he garnered four years earlier in his 1988 victory over Michael Dukakis.
The Bush presidency was marked by tensions both with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and the American Jewish leadership.
In 1991, Bush lashed out at pro-Israel activists who had flooded Congress in response to the president’s reluctance to approve loan guarantees requested by Israel to help absorb hundreds of thousands of Jews from the just-collapsed Soviet Union.
Bush called himself “one lonely guy” battling “1,000 lobbyists on the Hill.” Jewish leaders resented the insinuation that the pro-Israel community was possessed of a power sinister enough to unsettle the leader of the free world as borderline anti-Semitic.
The “one lonely guy” comment haunted Bush thereafter, with even Republican Jews apt to use the first Bush presidency as a signifier of how far they had traveled in attracting Jewish support.
Yet, that was hardly the whole story. Less remembered was how, as Ronald Reagan’s vice president, Bush quietly helped engineer some of the pivotal moments in the effort to bring Jews out of the former Soviet Union, Ethiopia and Syria.
“When you add up the Jews he saved, he will be a great tzaddik,” Abraham Foxman, the Anti-Defamation League’s former national director, said in 2013, using the Hebrew word for “righteous man.”
Bush was deeply involved in foreign policy as vice president, and Jewish leaders said he helped orchestrate the dramatic Seder hosted by Secretary of State George Schultz at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in 1987.
He also ignored advice from much of his national security team in 1991 — the very period when he was in the throes of his most difficult arguments with Jewish leaders — and approved American overtures to the Mengistu regime in Ethiopia that resulted in Operation Solomon, which brought 15,000 Jews to Israel. Among other things, Bush secured a “golden parachute” for Mengistu Haile Mariam, the dictator who was already plotting his escape to luxurious exile in Zimbabwe.
Bush also was instrumental in persuading Hafez Assad, the Syrian dictator, to allow young Jewish women to leave Syria for New York so they could be matched with men in the Syrian Jewish community.
Some of these actions were secret at the time, and Bush was averse to claiming responsibility even in subsequent years.
“He was a man who was old school,” said Marshall Breger, who was the liaison to the Jewish community under Reagan and Bush. “With him, you had the sense of him being private about his feelings and sensitive to the notion that he might be seen as vain and saccharine towards other with overstatements.”
Breger recalled traveling in the backseat of a car with Bush to dedicate the new quarters of the National Museum of American Jewish Military History in 1984. Part of the dedication included the affixing of a mezuzah, and Breger attempted to hand Bush a yarmulke. Bush wouldn’t take it.
Breger pointed out that he had secured a camouflage yarmulke for the occasion, but that seemed to make matters worse.
“I said, ‘You’ll need to wear one of these.’ And he said, ‘They’ll think I’m pandering.’ It was very much against his code to pander,” said Breger, now a law professor at Catholic University.
“I said, ‘First of all, they’ll think you’re appropriate, and second of all, they’d love you to pander,’” Breger recalled.
Bush reluctantly donned the yarmulke, but Breger noticed he had removed it before the ceremony concluded.
Bush’s intense privacy came across as stiffness and allowed his rivals to portray him as patrician and distant. Two moments in the 1992 election helped alienate the public from the president, whose masterful handling of the first Persian Gulf War helped bury post-Vietnam War ambivalence about the military.
His apparent surprise at supermarket scanner technology suggested that he was unfamiliar with the mundane chores of average Americans. Though the story was debunked — Bush was familiar with the device, but was amazed at a new generation scanner on display at a grocery convention in Florida — the image stuck.
At a town hall meeting in Exeter, New Hampshire, during the primaries, looking at notes, Bush read out aloud, “Message: I care,” not realizing it was advice from one of his aides. The phrase became an emblem of his awkward inability to connect.
Public service was a natural draw for George Herbert Walker Bush, whose father, Prescott Bush, was a U.S. senator from Connecticut. In later years he would recall how natural it seemed to enlist in the Navy after graduating from the elite Andover Academy in 1942. He became a bomber pilot and earned the Distinguished Flying Cross after the Japanese shot down his plane in 1944.
A year later he married Barbara Pierce and, like his forebears, attended Yale University. Seeking to make his own way in life, he declined his father’s offer of a job at an investment banking firm and headed to Texas, where he plunged into the oil business. First, he sold supplies, and within years he was an oilman.
But Bush couldn’t resist the call of public service, and by the end of the 1950s he was active in the state Republican Party. In 1966, he was elected to Congress — a signal achievement at that time for a Republican from Texas.
In Washington, he soon forged friendly ties with national Jewish groups. Appointed ambassador to the United Nations by Richard Nixon in 1972, he made headlines when he canceled an appearance on “The Dick Cavett Show” after Jewish leaders asked him not to lend legitimacy to another Cavett guest the same evening. The guest was Meir Kahane of the Jewish Defense League, whose radical and at times violent advocacy had alienated the Jewish establishment.
Bush wrote Cavett at the time that he had checked with “certain responsible, highly respected leaders of national Jewish organizations” who convinced him that “any move by me that would have even the slightest appearance of giving recognition or credence to Kahane would damage the serious productive and legal efforts that they and thousands of their fellow Jews have been making to alleviate the suffering of their brothers.”
At the United Nations, Bush made Soviet Jewry one of his signature issues, and the Jewish community organized a tribute dinner for him in 1973 after he left his post.
His concern for Israel and its relationship with the United States was evident again in 1976, when he was director of the CIA. Bush was furious that CIA officials had estimated in a semi-public forum that Israel had 10-20 nuclear weapons ready for use. Since the 1960s, the joint U.S.-Israel protocol had been neither to confirm nor deny Israel’s alleged possession of nuclear weapons.
In a statement that year to JTA, Bush would not address the apparent revelation, but added: “To the degree that any classified information might have been mentioned, I accept full responsibility. I am determined it will not happen again.”
Bush ran a contentious primary against Reagan in 1980, then accepted his offer as running mate. He assumed critical foreign policy roles under Reagan, but the two men never grew close. Reagan barely stumped for Bush in 1988.
Still, the departing president did his successor a favor in early 1989, giving the go-ahead for low-level U.S.-Palestine Liberation Organization relations. Bush would have faced a political firestorm had he initiated such ties, but he needed them to pave the way to one of his grand ambitions: corralling the Middle East cats into a new world order of peace, led by what was fast becoming the world’s only superpower.
Bush’s patrician lèse-majesté irked Israeli officials, especially Prime Minister Shamir, whose rough youth as the child of parents murdered by their Polish neighbors, and then as a prestate terrorist, could not have contrasted more with Bush’s upbringing.
In “A World Transformed,” the recounting of his presidency that Bush wrote with his national security adviser, Brent Scowcroft, Bush commended Shamir for making the unpopular decision not to strike Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War despite the raining of missiles on Israeli cities.
Just pages later, Bush wondered why Shamir was unenthusiastic about joining the Madrid peace conference that the United States had convened after the war. Bush wrote that he expected a degree of gratitude from Israel for protecting it during the Gulf War — apparently not realizing that it was precisely this unwanted protection that stirred resentment among Israelis fiercely committed to protecting themselves.
The diplomatic clashes did not abate. In June 1990, Bush’s most trusted adviser, James Baker, appearing before the U.S. House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, asked for a little “good faith” from Shamir.
“When you’re serious about peace, call us,” Baker said, addressing a virtual Shamir, and gave the number for the White House switchboard.
In March 1992, Ed Koch, the former New York City mayor, wrote that Baker had dismissed concern about Jewish anger, saying “F*** the Jews, they don’t vote for us.” Baker adamantly denied it.
Fred Zeidman, a Houston-area businessman and Republican fundraiser who is friendly with the Bush family and with Baker, said the remark has long been misunderstood. Baker was aiming his ire at another Cabinet member, Zeidman said, and intended it as a joke.
By mid-1992, with his presidential campaign underway, Bush seemed irreparably wounded in the eyes of the Jewish community. The strong primary performance by Pat Buchanan, a culture warrior known for meandering occasionally into Jew-baiting, didn’t help. Nor did Buchanan’s apocalyptic keynote speech at the convention that summer.
Jewish leaders have said that in encounters with Bush since his presidency, they endeavored to make clear to him how dear to the community he is. Malcolm Hoenlein, the executive vice president of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, recalled meeting with Bush not long after his “one lonely guy” remark.
Bush had tears in his eyes, Hoenlein said, and insisted he never intended offense.
“I led my whole life differently,” Bush told the delegation.
Bush rarely interacted with Jewish leaders after his presidency, and he never knew the adulation his son would earn in some Jewish quarters for his devotion to Israel.
His son, former President George W. Bush, seemed in some ways to directly contradict his father’s policies. One of the elder Bush’s first acts was to set in motion the process that would eventually welcome PLO leader Yasser Arafat into the American sphere. The younger Bush decided from the outset of his presidency to isolate Arafat, whom he reviled as an unrepentant terrorist.
Foxman said Jewish history would judge Bush kindly.
“I believe he will go down in Jewish history as the president who was engaged in more initiatives to save more Jews in countries where they were being persecuted,” he said.

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Brunch will fete Shalom Softball League’s 44 years

Brunch will fete Shalom Softball League’s 44 years

Posted on 29 November 2018 by admin

Photo: John Hauf
The Temple Shalom Softball League spring champions, the Astros, comprise: (front row from left) Danny Marti, Scott Elfenbein, Freddy Barreaz, David Ruiz and Jason Chapman; (top row) Jorge Quintero, Mark Elfenbein, Robert Santiago, George Reed, Brian Smallwood, Scott Sulzer and captain John Hauf. (Craig Einhorn is not pictured.)

By Deb Silverthorn

The Temple Shalom Brotherhood Softball League has rounded the bases for another season, and its team members, friends, families, fans and the community will celebrate its 44th season from 9:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 9, at Temple Shalom.
The Shalom League Softball awards banquet, featuring guest speaker Dale Hansen, the WFAA sports anchor, will celebrate the league’s spring and fall Season division winners, championship teams, most valuable players, rookies of the year, fan of the year, and recipient of the Mr. Shalom Brotherhood award.
“The Shalom League has been a huge part of my life, for more than half my life and that’s a long time,” said Bob Weinfeld, 92, one of the league’s founders who has captained his beloved Pittsburgh Pirates for all 44 years. The league, with 387 players participating for five years or more, grew out of a crew of teams gathering for pickup games over the six years previous. “I’ve kept years’ worth of logs, a real history, and now another year, literally, is in the books.” The Shalom League, open to all adult males, began in 1975 with six teams on two fields at Churchill Park. Heritage Yards in North Plano has been the league’s home field for the past 20 years. This year, 240 players on 20 teams made up the spring 2018 roster, and 168 players on 14 teams played this fall.
Honors will be given to the 2018 spring division winners, the Emeralds led by Sean Greeley, and spring champions, the Astros, captained by John Hauf; and the fall division winners, the Thunder, captained by John Miller, and the Rockhounds, led by Tyler Samsel, and fall champions, the Lake Monsters, captained by Scott Lawrence.
The 2018 rookie of the year and spring finals MVP Jorge Quintero, spring batting champion Max Henry and spring Gold Glove winners Brian Ortega and Darius Wu will be recognized. Wu will also receive honors as fall batting champion and home run champion for both the spring and fall seasons.
The recipient of the 16th Annual Phyllis Unell Scholarship — with this year’s scholarship money reaching $8,000 — 2018 inductees to the league’s Hall of Fame, captain’s MVP and Commissioner’s Awards also will be announced.
“For more than 20 years the league has been a huge part of my life and the friendships made, and the experiences shared, make everyone family,” said Wayne Casper, eight years the league’s commissioner, volunteering almost fulltime hours to coordinate 40 games each Sunday in the spring and 28 during the fall. “There are a lot of talented players, and lots with ‘less’ talent. But out on the fields, it’s nothing but camaraderie and goodness.”

Photo: Scott Lawrence
The Temple Shalom Softball League fall champions, the Lake Monsters, comprise: (front row from left) Kendal Anthony, Roosevelt Gonzalez, Tommy Baer, Adwild Perez and Jeff Radanof; (top row) Captain Scott Lawrence, Matt Brumley, Zack Kazda, John Burke, Tony Lowery, Kevin Knox and Craig Einhorn. (Brian Ortega is not pictured.)

Hansen, the 10 p.m. weeknight sports anchor and host of the Sunday night Dale Hansen’s Sports Special on Channel 8, has been with WFAA for 35 years. Beginning his career as a radio disc jockey and operations manager, then sports reporter at KMTV in Omaha, Nebraska, it was there, as part of a softball league, that Hansen met his future wife.
“Sports is a metaphor for life and all I believe and try to be is based on the lessons of the field,” said Hansen, who has enjoyed playing football, baseball, basketball, volleyball and bowling, golf his mainstay, since he was 12. “I’m honored to be asked to be a part of this event and I appreciate the invitation. I promise it’ll be fun, it’ll be exciting — it might even be a bit controversial, but it’ll be a great way to spend part of a Sunday.”
At the awards brunch, filmmaker Randy Kamen, a former Shalom League catcher and right-fielder, will share parts of his “Temple Shalom Softball” documentary, now covering the Fretz Park years of 1982-1992 and featuring Jay Lifshen, who died earlier this year.
“Jay, who was one of the winningest captains, a fierce competitor, and a friend to all who knew him, is such a central figure to the Fretz Park years of the league,” said Kamen. The filmmaker has completed production on the documentary’s “The First Inning,” spanning 1975-1977, and “The Second Inning,” covering 1978-1981, and continues to raise funds to complete the project. “A Temple Shalom Hall-of-Famer and die-hard Yankees fan, Jay is one of the legendary figures forever remembered for his play on the field and his brotherhood off the field.”
The spring draft begins each February (applications for spring 2019 now posted at shalomleague.org) and games run from March through August. A quick turnaround finds the fall draft in August with games played through November.
“The friends from all walks of life, the fellowship, and the brotherhood are something I don’t think can be found anywhere else,” said Weinfeld. Casper echoed the sentiments. “There’s a lot of ‘special’ out there, but the Shalom League — it’s its own kind of special. We hope the community will come see what we’re all about, maybe sign on, but for sure have a great day.”
Breakfast is free for spring and fall season players and all Shalom Brotherhood members in good standing, and $5 for all others. For more information or to RSVP, call Weinfeld at 972-814-6214 or email robert.weinfeld@tx.rr.com. To donate to the Temple Shalom Softball documentary series, email shalom.softball.documentary@gmail.com.

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