Archive | News

Dallas cyclist competes in Texas-to-Alaska race

Dallas cyclist competes in Texas-to-Alaska race

Posted on 03 November 2017 by admin

UT student Herstein will ride for cancer cure

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

Dallas’ own Jacob Herstein is taking Queen’s musical message of “I want to ride my bicycle” very personally.
Soon, he’ll be riding 4,500 miles between Austin and Anchorage as a member of the 2018 Texas 4000 team.

Dallas’ Jacob Herstein is raising money for his 2018 bike ride, 4,500 miles between Austin and Anchorage, for the fight against cancer. Photo: Jacob Herstein

Dallas’ Jacob Herstein is raising money for his 2018 bike ride, 4,500 miles between Austin and Anchorage, for the fight against cancer.
Photo: Jacob Herstein

Since its founding in 2004, Texas 4000 has raised several millions of dollars, which has funded cancer research projects at MD Anderson Cancer Center, the UT Biomedical Engineering Department and more. Herstein is a biology and pre-med junior at UT-Austin. The issue he’s hoping to solve may likely be one he’s raising money for.
“We’ve lost so many people I care about to cancer and this ride is going to raise money to — I hope — help find a cure,” said Herstein, who had to apply to participate more than a year ago, and is looking forward to next summer’s 70-day adventure beginning June 2. “I wish there had been a cure for my grandfather and for Wende Weinberg and for so many others. Our family has been affected by this disease and many we love are still fighting. I want to push the pedals to help people survive.”
Herstein has raised more than $5,800 in tax-deductible pledges, hoping to surpass $7,500. The students coordinate the rides with room and meals provided by a mix of host families, nights camping in tents and community centers.
It’s rugged and rough, but previous hometown riders Elan Kogutt, in 2015 and Charlie Saginaw in 2010 wouldn’t trade the experience. Kogutt rode in memory of Margot Pulitzer, her children his lifetime friends, with the hope that no others would share the effects of loss and their pain.
For Saginaw, the connection is truly lasting. Last May, seven years after his ride, he married the former Rachel Brenner, who rode in 2011 following Saginaw’s advice to smile through the toughest trails.
“I feel a responsibility to fund raise but also to stand up for those I care about,” said Herstein, who nicknamed his bicycle “Gus,” after his grandfather Gustav Weiner, of blessed memory. “There are 80 riders and we’ll be doing 75 to 100 miles a day along three routes; the Rocky Mountains, the Ozarks and mine — the Sierra.”
Herstein’s route traverses the southwest through West Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Nevada then north through the California, Oregon, and Washington coasts and into Bristish Columbia and the Yukon before reaching Alaska. They’ll stop at hospitals presenting money raised by the previous year’s riders. After they’ve seen the impact the ride provides, they will return to determine where their funds will be distributed by the 2019 riders.
Recently making his first ride on his bike, Herstein said it was uplifting and he truly got a sense of what it means to ride for those battling cancer. Riding for this cause, and participating in many forms of service through the years, is an example set by Herstein’s parents, Bertta and Scott, and his sister Jillian, who look forward to meeting him for the final stretch of the ride. He is a member of Congregation Beth Torah and a graduate of Levine and Yavneh academies. Mitzvah projects are something he’s known all of his life. It’s how he lives.
“That Jacob decided to dedicate his journey in memory of my father and so many who lost their lives to cancer makes it even more meaningful,” said Bertta, recalling her son on his trike which had a storage compartment filled with action figures.
“We’re incredibly proud of his accomplishments and we look forward to seeing where this opportunity takes him! The bottom line is, when Jacob sets his sights on something, there’s just no stopping him!”
The Texas 4000 brings Herstein’s leadership skills to a new level. He’s learning about running a nonprofit and its logistics from inception. His resume on paper, and in his heart, is filled with entries. He is president of the UT chapter of Sigma Alpha Mu fraternity and a member of UT’s Texas Cowboys service organization. In high school, he was a member of BBYO’s Brandeis Chapter, and a Judaic Teaching Intern at Yavneh teaching an Oral Law class related to Jewish holidays and customs.
“Jacob has always been self-motivated and he likes to take on leadership roles. He leads by example, and this selfless act of sacrificing his free time to raise funds for cancer research and awareness is a reflection of his personality,” said his father, Scott. “We’re encouraging him as he trains and ready to cheer him at the finish line.”
“Every activity I’ve ever been a part of I’ve learned something or met someone I wouldn’t have if not for being there,” said Herstein. “I’ve made friends that I’ll have for all of my life. It’s nice to have a new group of friends to enlarge my circle. My circle is definitely wider, and brighter, because of this experience and it’s not really even here yet.”
To support Herstein, or learn more about the Texas 4000, visit http://bit.ly/2hcC4ZF.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (0)

Annual barbecue event rousing success

Annual barbecue event rousing success

Posted on 02 November 2017 by admin

‘99 Percent Kosher’ wins chicken, beef, overall reserve titles at kosher championship

Event Chairs Sandy Dorf and Brian Rubenstein with members of 99 Percent Kosher, winners of the Grand Reserve Champions Trophy: from left, Dorf, Ilan Felner, Ralph Landau, Rubenstein, Ajay Patel, Jason Wise and Ellis Shwarts

Event Chairs Sandy Dorf and Brian Rubenstein with members of 99 Percent Kosher, winners of the Grand Reserve Champions Trophy: from left, Dorf, Ilan Felner, Ralph Landau, Rubenstein, Ajay Patel, Jason Wise and Ellis Shwarts

By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP

The team may have been called “99 Percent Kosher,” but they were 100 percent winners at the Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship on Sunday, Oct. 29.
The team consisting of Ilan Fehler, Jason Wise, Ellis Shwarts, Ajay Patel, and Ralph Landau was judged to have the best chicken and beef ribs, while they finished second in the brisket category and third in turkey.
That combination crowned 99 Percent Kosher as the Overall Reserve Champion by the panel of judges.

Event chair Brian Rubenstein is flanked by “Celebrity’s Choice Turkey Winners” Jim Liston, left and Jeff Kort of Meat-Fire-Mishpacha.

Event chair Brian Rubenstein is flanked by “Celebrity’s Choice Turkey Winners” Jim Liston, left and Jeff Kort of Meat-Fire-Mishpacha.

“We were confident in some of the things, but there were a couple where we were surprised they won,” the team members said while celebrating. “Last year it was just two of us; this year it was five of us. So I guess the more of us the better.”
Having five team members made it easier to take the team picture with all their winnings. With four individual categories and the reserve champion plaque, they needed all five team winners to hoist their hardware for official photos.
“It’s exciting,” the group said, while holding their trophies. “We had a great time and being able to head home with this makes it even better.”
Wholesalekosherwines.com, a team based out of New York that wasn’t around for the award ceremony since they had to catch a flight, was the grand champion. That team was chosen as the brisket winner, while it also placed second in turkey and chicken, while claiming third in ribs.
The event was supervised by Dallas Kosher and was sanctioned and officially judged by the Kansas City Barbeque Society, which shared scorecards and comments with each of the teams after the results were announced.
Celebrity judges were Jody Dean, KLUV 98.7 FM morning radio host; Jon Tesar, chef/partner of Knife; Tim Byres, chef/owner of Smoke; Kent Ratbun, chef/owner of Abacus and Jaspers; and Jill Grobowsky Bergus, co-owner of Lockhart Smokehouse.

Dallas Kosher’s Rabbi David Shawel Photos: David Duchin, dspnphotos.com

Dallas Kosher’s Rabbi David Shawel
Photos: David Duchin, dspnphotos.com

The team named Rubbed and Ready won the turkey competition and took third in brisket. E&J Carolina was also on the winners’ stand with second-place finish in ribs and a third-place finish in chicken.
Altogether, the third annual championships were a success.
Steven Weinberger, one of the official judges, said he was impressed by the overall barbecue by all the teams.
“They all did a great job; it was difficult to separate many of the teams,” Weinberger, who is from New York, said. “This was my first time to Texas and the barbecue lived up to expectations; in fact it was even better. I hope to come back again.”
Weinberger also won an award himself as he participated in the pickle eating contest. Contestants had four minutes to eat as many pickles as possible, and Weinberger blew by the competition as he took home the pickle trophy.
“I’m a bit of a pickle aficionado,” he said. “I guess I needed to add a pickle trophy to my collection at home.”
If the food wasn’t enough — and it was — there were other attractions that kept attendees busy. There was a silent auction, local organizations had booths, and there was live music from Counterfeit Radio that kept people tapping their foot throughout the event.
Co-chairs for Sunday’s event were Brian Rubenstein and Sandy Dorf.
“We hope everyone who came out this year will come back next year, and anyone who could not make it this year, be sure to join us next year on Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018,” Rubenstein said.

“Rubbed and Ready” Turkey category winners, from left, Hunter Rose, Matt Stiffelman, Dylan Rose, Jared Elad with Event Chair Brian Rubenstein

“Rubbed and Ready” Turkey category winners, from left, Hunter Rose, Matt Stiffelman, Dylan Rose, Jared Elad with Event Chair Brian Rubenstein

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (0)

Dickinson reverses anti-BDS aid policy

Posted on 02 November 2017 by admin

Harvey-hit town ‘misinterpreted’ law, won’t require residents’ pledge to receive funds

By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP

Despite confusion and earlier reports, residents of a Houston suburb aren’t required to support Israel in order to apply for relief grants in their recovery efforts from Hurricane Harvey.
It had been widely reported those looking for hurricane relief would have to make a pledge not to boycott Israel or risk being ineligible for aid. After clarification from state lawmakers, that has become a non-issue.
The town of Dickinson, with close to 19,000 residents, was among the hardest hit by the storms in August. As the relief effort started in early October, recent anti-BDS legislation was unnecessarily dragged into the conversation, according to Representative Phil King, who sponsored House Bill 89 before it was signed into law back in May.
“I think that some people were trying to make an issue of it,” King told the TJP. “And it really wasn’t an issue to anyone that was actually involved in the process.”
The city opened a grant process Oct. 11 for residents looking to rebuild their homes ravaged by the storm. In the initial grant process there was a clause in the form that read:
“By executing this Agreement below, the Applicant verifies that the Applicant: (1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of this Agreement.”
That clause has since been removed, but it’s still being used as a talking point by the American Civil Liberties Union, which has been adamantly fighting anti-BDS legislation for months as unconstitutional and claiming it violates the First Amendment.
Defenders of the law said this is much ado about nothing, especially since it didn’t apply to the situation in Dickinson. The law prohibits the state of Texas from conducting business with companies in the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement against Israel. It doesn’t have anything to do with individuals looking for relief grants.
The legislation also goes to great lengths to define “company” as not applying to an individual. It lists six specific government “entities” that are required not to do business with the targeted companies: five retirement systems and the school fund. Dickinson’s grant program, with funds raised from private individuals, would not qualify.
Essentially, officials in Dickinson were trying to do their due diligence with a new law and misunderstood the legislation.
“The simple situation is it’s not unusual for when a new law rolls out — and this one just rolled out Sept. 1, almost in the midst of the hurricane — and it’s not uncommon for there to be some confusion when a new statute comes into play, especially one as sensitive as this,” King said.
While it’s led to some lengthy and explanatory phone calls for King, he said the situation in Dickinson has shown that the people of Texas are taking the proper anti-BDS legislation seriously.
“The good news is that even in the midst of hurricane recovery they thought they were aware of it and they thought they had been responding as the law required,” King said. “So I guess it’s encouraging that the knowledge of that statute has been communicated throughout the state.”
Overall, it’s an interesting time for anti-BDS legislation on a national scale. Right now 22 states have some form of legislation, and there are movements in other states to adopt similar laws. The big-picture plan is for a national law, but events like Dickinson and a recent case in Kansas, where a teacher trainer who supports a boycott of Israel is refusing to sign a state contract, have created some headaches for that long-term plan.
“We learn from every instance and while there are some bumps here and there, we’ve gone about this the right way,” said Charles Pulman, a Dallas attorney and one of the bill’s early advocates in Texas.
“There was some confusion in this situation, but it really was a non-issue and we’re very happy with the legislation.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (0)

Jewish Texas House speaker Straus to retire

Jewish Texas House speaker Straus to retire

Posted on 02 November 2017 by admin

By James Russell
Special to the TJP

Speaker of the Texas House Joe Straus rocked Texas politics Oct. 25 by announcing his retirement after more than a decade in office, with a majority of those years serving as the first Jewish speaker.

File photo Joe Straus (right) is sworn in as Speaker of the Texas House in 2009. Straus announced he will retire after more than a decade in office.

File photo
Joe Straus (right) is sworn in as Speaker of the Texas House in 2009. Straus announced he will retire after more than a decade in office.

The Republican from San Antonio left a legacy of increasing the Republican majority in the House, slashing taxes by billions of dollars and increasing investment for transportation and the water supply.
He also leaves behind an unsettling legacy of anti-Semitic criticism, most notably from the staunchly conservative wing of his party.
Straus did not intend to become speaker when he was first elected to the House in 2005. Midland Republican Tom Craddick was the first Republican speaker in 130 years. The body chooses who serves in the position. Historically members of both parties vote for a single candidate. Craddick’s governing style was seen as increasingly dictatorial, leading to multiple failed intraparty challenges to his candidacy. He consistently won re-election.
But in 2009 a coalition of Republican and Democrat representatives nominated Straus to become speaker. The move had been a year in the making, largely by a group of Republicans led by current State Affairs Chairman Byron Cook of Corsicana who met secretly for more than a year with a goal of replacing Craddick. After multiple meetings, the group chose Straus as their preferred candidate. The Republicans only needed to secure a handful of Republicans to cross over and join a majority of Democrats in supporting Straus. With enough votes secured, Craddick stepped down as speaker and cleared the way for Straus.
Straus faced challenges to his lifelong Republican credentials and anti-Semitic attacks from the start. After his election, multiple hyper-conservative donors challenged Straus’ speakership. Among them are Midland oil and gas magnate Tim Dunn, who leads the board of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a conservative think tank in Austin, as well as the group Empower Texans.
In 2010, conservative activists urged Texas House members to elect a Christian conservative as speaker. His faith was not directly mentioned but this was seen as a clearly anti-Semitic attack. In 2014, his Republican primary opponent Jeff Judson warned voters of disconnects between conservative Christian voters and Straus.
Judson, a former Texas Public Policy Foundation president, denied the accusations of anti-Semitism,
Straus was seen as an old guard, business-friendly Republican. His family are lifelong Republicans. He worked for former President George H.W. Bush in various roles. He is a lifelong member of Temple Beth-El, a Reform synagogue in San Antonio.
His political identity also concerns Capitol observers that the House, under a different speaker, will be open to passing legislation like the so-called bathroom bill restricting bathroom access to transgender individuals. The bill was a point of contention between Straus and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who leads the Senate, and Gov. Greg Abbott, who made it a priority during the special session this past summer.
Straus’ departure also diminishes the number of Jewish members of the legislature. They are all Republicans who are up for re-election this year.
Beside Straus, who as speaker is one of the most powerful elected officials in the state, there are only three other Jewish members: Sen. Kel Seliger of Amarillo, and Reps. Linda Koop of Dallas and Craig Goldman of Fort Worth. All have announced they are running for re-election, but Seliger and Koop both face primary opponents from the right flank. Seliger, who was first elected in 2004 and is a former Amarillo mayor, faces former Midland Mayor Mike Canon and restaurateur Arthur Leal in his primary. Seliger defeated Canon by double digits in 2014. Seliger’s West Texas seat is safely Republican. Seliger, coincidentally, was the only Republican senator who declined to support Patrick for re-election.
Koop and Goldman are both seen as rising stars in their party. Koop is more vulnerable than Goldman, however.
She faces two threats, including Scott Kilgore in a primary and two Democrats in the general election. Koop’s seat, which includes parts of North Dallas and Richardson, is seen as an increasingly competitive swing seat.
Goldman’s Southwest Fort Worth seat is safely Republican as well. So far Democrats Beth McLaughlin and Seth Martin have filed.
Filing for candidates officially opens Nov. 11 and closes Dec. 11. The primaries for the 2018 elections are March 6, 2018.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (0)

Holocaust memoir recounts life of survivor

Holocaust memoir recounts life of survivor

Posted on 02 November 2017 by admin

Lewin-authored book explains Repp’s harrowing experience

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

Jack Repp said he was 69 pounds and 99.9 percent dead when he was liberated from a concentration camp.
“I came the worst of the worst, not a tooth in my mouth … but I still had my mind,” he said.
“This book is me and Dan (Lewin) captured it.”
His life is now bound in the pages of Dreams & Jealousy: The Story of Holocaust Survivor Jack Repp as told to Dan Lewin.
“You must depend on God. He works in mysterious ways,” he adds.

Jack Repp (center), with Sarah Yarrin and Rabbi Dan Lewin, is proud of the recently published book Dreams & Jealousy, his story as told to Lewin. The book is available on Amazon. Photos: Deb Silverthorn

Jack Repp (center), with Sarah Yarrin and Rabbi Dan Lewin, is proud of the recently published book Dreams & Jealousy, his story as told to Lewin. The book is available on Amazon.
Photos: Deb Silverthorn

That fervent belief comes from Repp, for whom the book is an intense accounting of his experiences, some but not all, shared with thousands over the last two decades.
“Watching coverage of racist, hateful crimes,” he winces, “they beat Jews and burned homes. That’s how it looked. I’m reminded of pogroms enough it made me sick. I never thought I’d see this in America.”
It’s his struggle and survival that he wants people to read — hoping that it begets a change in the hatefulness of 2017, something he thought long over. “I want people should know the truth, accept what happened, and do their part so it doesn’t happen again,” said Repp, never accepting payment for speaking and donating the book’s proceeds.
“The book captures stages of Jack’s life, not only the horror but also experiences that brought him recovery,” said Lewin. “I approach this as a work of art and consider such a book the greatest gift someone can give their family, lasting beyond their lifetime.”
The son of Peter and Beverley, Lewin is married to Yael and is the father of six. He studied at Jerusalem’s Mayanot Chabad Yeshiva and was ordained by the Rabbinical College of America. After spending three years directing Binghamton University’s Chabad Center, he returned to Dallas, his hometown. In addition to writing memoirs, and a column for the TJP, he co-founded and directs the nonprofit Maayan Chai Foundation. He and Yael also regularly teach Torah study.
Lewin says it was necessary for Repp to recall significantly unpleasant experiences during their weekly six-hour meetings. “There were times I needed to press, and times we stopped, because it was unbearable,” said Lewin, noting that in previous interviews, including by the Shoah Foundation, there were recollections he simply couldn’t yet expel. “It’s almost impossible to believe this happened in our lifetime. It did.”
The book covers Repp’s life in Poland, the atrocities, his recovery, working with U.S. Secret Service bringing Nazis to trial, and a new life in America.
That new life included moving to Greenville, Texas, where there was family. Just 21 years old when liberated, Jack married Esther (later known as Edna), of blessed memory, whom he met in a displaced persons’ camp. Together they created a family: children Lotty (Peter) Casillas, David (Bobbie), and Stan (Marsha); four grandchildren; and his first great-grandchild, due soon.
“My parents gave us a nurturing life, very much ‘that was then, this is now.’ They wanted the rest of life to be wonderful and it was. Mom never spoke about the war and only after she died did Dad open up. What mattered was we make the most of every day,” said Lotty, born in Germany a year before her parents emigrated, her brothers native Texans. “His sharing has given new purpose to his life.”
Repp, who recently signed books at the Dallas Holocaust Museum, will speak at Dallas’ Jan. 7 Intrafaith Sisterhood Shabbat. However, he didn’t always volunteer. Only at the prompting of his dear friend Sarah Yarrin did he find that passion.
“Jack isn’t just a survivor of the camps, he’s a survivor of business and life,” said Yarrin, who coordinates his engagements. “Dan’s perseverance is a gift. They’ve created something that will last and be important for generations.”
After delivering the book, Lewin won’t ever forget watching Repp go through the pages of his life, clearly touched, reflective, and present in its pages — incredibly moving moments.
“Danny recorded and chipped away at memories of 50 or 60 years and now here’s a book. It’s something,” said Repp.
“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.”
Living lessons from his father, Repp says that God gives us our days, and you can be miserable, happy or sad. “Every day can be good but how it turns out largely depends on your mindset,” reflects Repp, recalling the boy he was as Itzik Rzepkowicz in Radom, Poland, and the man who survived as husband, father, and for many years the owner of a Dallas dry goods store, now living the next chapter in his life to its fullest.
“If someone is hungry, feed them. If someone’s thirsty, give them a drink; if they’re cold, give them clothing,” he shares. “It’s up to you how you live.”
To order a copy of Dreams & Jealousy, visit amzn.to/2isB6fy.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (0)

Your tour guide through Genesis

Your tour guide through Genesis

Posted on 26 October 2017 by admin

nrg2WEB

By Harriet P. Gross
Special to the TJP

Another Jewish year is unfolding.  We’ve said goodbye to our sukkahs; we’ve danced with our Torahs; we’ve joyously read the final words of Deuteronomy, then rolled the Holy Scroll back to its beginning: “In the beginning…”  The ongoing, everlasting study has begun again.
This would be a perfect time to begin our own personal study, according to Dallasite Nancy Reuben Greenfield, who has drawn a special roadmap for us.  Her third book, Tiptoe Through Genesis, is a unique approach that offers a simple — but far from simplistic — path to understanding Torah.
Greenfield is an eclectic writer.  She’d already published two books before this one: When Mommy Had a Mastectomy passes on the wise way she explained her own cancer to her two young children, while The Golden Medina is a novel that completes an unfinished manuscript left to her by her late father.  She credits the authorship of this one to Reuben and Reuben.
But Tiptoe is very different. For years, Torah has been the author’s chosen field of personal study, her passion and her inspiration. For many of those years, she’s been contributing weekly Torah portion summaries to the website My Jewish Learning (https://www.myjewishlearning.com/author/nancy-reuben-greenfield/). Her first volume in a series planned to “tiptoe” through the entire Torah is now available, but can only be accessed through TiptoeThroughTheTorah.com website.

tiptoe through genesis
Greenfield’s work is not word-for-word translation; rather, it is thoughtful adaptation that she calls “a verbal bridge, lovingly built for crossing over the fence of Torah…high enough to look over, and close enough to look within…” She follows each day’s parasha with a pair of questions designed to spark thoughtful conversation in families or other groups, among participants of all ages.  An example: Her very first text begins “In the beginning of God’s creating the heavens and the earth…Divine Presence hovered over the surface of the waters”; the questions she poses after this encourage exploration of God’s continuing creation(s), and how individuals may “hover” over matters themselves.
Now, as Greenfield prepares for book-by-book publication of the rest of Torah in her special format, the Tiptoe model is showing its worth as a teaching tool.  Susan Herzfeld has been using this approach for three years in Congregation Beth Torah’s Learning Center, and proven its success as an ongoing, yearlong creative project.  Director of Congregational Learning Beri Schwitzer says “We were looking for something exciting and engaging for our third-graders, and were enthralled with Nancy’s easy-to-understand and meaningful text.”
Every Sunday, Herzfeld’s class reads the week’s Torah portion in Greenfield’s simple language (before future appearance in book form, everything after Genesis can be downloaded free from My Jewish Learning) and, after discussion, the students write and illustrate their own interpretations on standard-size sheets of paper. The activity begins when Sunday school resumes each fall, and continues through May.  By that time, all the weekly sheets have been joined together and secured to dowel rollers, and the children have created mantles to cover their own completed Torahs, plus breastplates and finials to decorate them.  Then, during a special service of Consecration, they personally present them to their parents.  This project seamlessly and successfully integrates both art and writing exercises into the yearlong Jewish curriculum.  Herzfeld has become such a fan of Greenfield’s creativity that she calls it “Nancy’s gift to the world!”
Parents can do this at home with their children of any age. Begin with the children’s self-portraits and include a copy of each week’s parasha, using a new blank sheet for each child’s comments and illustrations for the week’s portion. Keep the sheets in order, using strong tape to hold them together. At the end of the year, each child will have a complete Torah of his or her very own.
A practical use has emerged as a surprise benefit:  When Carlie and Justin Ross were discussing her future bat mitzvah with their daughter Sarah, age 10, they first calculated its date, then turned to the Torah she had made to find what her portion would be!
But despite the commandment that every Jew should write a Torah, it’s not necessary to make a complete one to learn what it contains. Study will do that.  The Greenfield household began family Torah study when its children were very small. “My husband Richard and I were grieving the loss of his mother,” she recalls, “and we took comfort and gained insight from reading the beautiful poetry. It’s a joyful thing to do.  The surprisingly simple words have great depth and power. Torah is not mysterious, not beyond us; it’s a book for people of all ages, backgrounds and religions.”
The Greenfield children are long grown now.  Gabrielle, 22, is a student at the University of Maryland; Josh, 25, currently studies at a yeshiva in Israel, preparing to become a rabbi.
Now, as the yearly congregational Torah readings begin anew and religious schools gear up again, Greenfield is hoping that more young families will also try at home the study path she has found personally effective and enriching.  “You can take short passages from the daily Torah texts for group discussion or for personal meditation,” she says.  “The Tiptoe questions are real-life; there are no answers beyond the ones you provide!”
Greenfield’s true goal is “wanting more Jews to explore the richness of Torah in this easy and meaningful way.”  And now, with Simchat Torah behind us, the time is perfect to begin. Start with Genesis using the personalized approach found in her entries on My Jewish Learning, or in her already published book on Genesis (now available through Amazon for $7.99, or as a free Kindle download).

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (0)

Texas anti-BDS laws are hitting unintended targets along coast

Texas anti-BDS laws are hitting unintended targets along coast

Posted on 26 October 2017 by admin

By Ron Kampeas
JTA

WASHINGTON — On May 2, Israel’s Independence Day, Texas state Rep. Phil King stood smiling as Gov. Greg Abbott signed King’s bill banning the state from doing business with boycotters of Israel.
“Anti-Israel policies are anti-Texas policies, and we will not tolerate such actions against an important ally,” Abbott said of the bill that overwhelmingly passed the Legislature.
Less than six months later, King had to explain why his signature pro-Israel policy was not an anti-Texas policy.
City officials in Dickinson, a suburb of Houston hard hit by Hurricane Harvey, required any applicant for relief grants to verify that he or she “(1) does not boycott Israel; and (2) will not boycott Israel during the term of this Agreement.” The American Civil Liberties Union took notice and loudly objected. Observers noted the queasy-making optics of a pro-Israel policy standing in the way of hurricane relief.

File photo Gov. Greg Abbott displays the anti-BDS bill he had just recently signed into law. The bill is causing problems in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, as Dickinson is requiring residents to sign a pledge disavowing the movement in order to receive federal grants.

File photo
Gov. Greg Abbott displays the anti-BDS bill he had just recently signed into law. The bill is causing problems in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, as Dickinson is requiring residents to sign a pledge disavowing the movement in order to receive federal grants.

King, a Republican whose district includes Fort Worth, immediately started making calls to track down the Dickinson officials who drafted the contract.
“It’s a complete misunderstanding of the statute,” he said in an interview after what had been for him a surprisingly busy Friday, after the ACLU’s objections made news. The office of Larry Taylor, a Republican who sponsored the law in the state Senate and whose district includes Dickinson, also was fielding questions about the law last Friday.
If Dickinson is indeed misunderstanding the law, the case nevertheless brought to the fore misgivings about the measures passed in more than 20 states targeting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement aimed at Israel. Critics say they may impinge on free speech rights and create a backlash by making it seem the government is using the law to suppress one side in a political debate.
A federal law prohibiting compliance with or support of a boycott of Israel is facing stumbling blocks.
Opponents of the laws say the Dickinson case, and one in Kansas, where a teacher trainer who supports a boycott of Israel is refusing to sign a state contract that includes an anti-boycott clause, prove their point.
“In addition to being mystifying — what do home repairs in Texas have to do with a country more than 7,000 miles away? — this requirement is clearly unconstitutional,” Brian Hauss, an ACLU staff attorney wrote in a blog post.
The ACLU, which says it takes no position on boycotts per se, is leading a campaign to stem the tide of anti-BDS laws.
“The First Amendment protects the right of Americans to participate in political boycotts, a right explicitly recognized by the Supreme Court in a case that concerned an NAACP-organized boycott to protest white supremacy in Port Gibson, Mississippi,” Hauss wrote.
Defenders and sponsors of the law say that like many laws, the anti-BDS statutes are undergoing birth pains.
“These are new laws, they’ve been passed in the last couple of years and not everyone is going to immediately understand what they’re supposed to do,” Eugene Kontorovich, a legal scholar who helped draft many of the laws, said in an interview.
The Israel Project, among an array of national groups that advocated for the laws, said it was reaching out to officials on a case-by-case basis to make sure the laws are understood.
“We’ve been in touch with legislators when issues have come up; we’ve spoken with attorneys and legislators in various states,” said Jacob Millner, the Midwest director for The Israel Project.
The controversies over Dickinson and the Kansas case come at a critical time for a congressional bill that would extend 1970s laws targeting the Arab League boycott to those who comply with boycotts initiated by international organizations like the European Union or United Nations. The Israel Anti-Boycott Act, which has support from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, also would expand the prohibited boycotts to those that target only settlement goods. Violators who do participate in boycotts face fines and, in some cases, imprisonment.
AIPAC wants broad bipartisan backing for the bill, but only 14 of the Democratic caucus’s 48 members are co-sponsoring the legislation. Notably, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York — who in the past has assiduously courted the pro-Israel community — dropped her co-sponsorship after representations from the ACLU and pro-Palestinian activists.
Sen. Ben. Cardin, D-Md., the lead Democratic sponsor of the bill, said the law is sound, but he is open to some revisions to make it clearer that it does not undercut free speech.
Dickinson City Management assistant Bryan Milward told JTA Oct. 20 that the city was applying the law correctly.
“Because our application also functions as a contract, it was included in there,” he said.
King said that was simply not the case.
“My understanding of what Dickinson is doing is they have private funds being distributed for a grant program for individuals,” he said in the interview. “The law has nothing to do with private funds; it has nothing to do with individuals.”
A reading of the law bears out King’s bafflement: It refers only to for-profit “companies” as the targeted boycotters, and goes to lengths to define “company” as not applying to an individual. It also lists six specific government “entities” that are required not to do business with the targeted companies: five retirement systems and the school fund. Dickinson’s grant program, with funds raised from private individuals, would not qualify. A survey of other hurricane-afflicted local authorities in Texas by Electronic Intifada, a pro-Palestinian news site, found no other such requirement.
Laws have unintended consequences and even when misapplied can backfire on their drafters’ intent, said Rachel Lerner, the senior vice president for community relations at J Street. The liberal Jewish Mideast lobby opposes BDS, but sees the anti-BDS laws as infringing on free speech. Pro-Israel groups should stick to advocacy to counter BDS and avoid legislative bids to stop the boycotts, says J Street.
“You’re pursuing a strategy that’s out of your control how it’s implemented,” Lerner said. “It’s like using a cudgel for an issue; it’s the wrong tool. It’s not good for the Jews or Israel that people think that they can’t have a roof over their head if they boycott Israel.”
The New Israel Fund, another liberal group, said in a release that the Texas case proved the anti-BDS laws were “just plain wrong.”
The Jewish Federations of North America will feature a session at its General Assembly in Los Angeles next month on how to pass such laws. The session, featuring three lawmakers who put forward such bills, is still very much on, said Ethan Felson, the director of the JFNA-affiliated Israel Action Network.
“These laws are necessary, they’re effective and they need to be enforced appropriately,” he said in an interview. “These are laws that take a stand against discrimination, as drafted they do not infringe on individuals’ liberties.” (Also still on at the G.A.: a session on how best to assist Houston, post-Harvey.)
The case in Kansas may be stickier to defend: The state’s law does include “individuals” who boycott Israel as targets.
“The state shall not enter into a contract with an individual or company to acquire or dispose of services, supplies, information technology or construction unless such individual or company submits a written certification that such individual or company is not currently engaged in a boycott of Israel,” the measure says.
The law led the state Department of Education to send to Esther Koontz, who had completed a course on training math teachers, a form titled “Certification Individual or Company Not Currently Engaged in a Boycott of Israel.” Koontz, inspired by her Mennonite church, was boycotting Israel and would not sign the document. The ACLU filed a lawsuit on her behalf in a federal court.
Kontorovich said that in the Kansas case, it was Koontz and the ACLU who were misconstruing the statute: Koontz would still have the right to boycott Israel as an individual as long as she did not boycott it as a contractor — an unlikely scenario, he said, for someone who trains Kansas math teachers in how to improve their teaching skills.
“She’s a consumer boycotter, she’s trying to bootstrap that onto the commercial boycott” banned by the law in order to make a federal case, he said. “Her personal and her business relationship cannot be conflated.”
Hauss of the ACLU, who is representing Koontz, said the Kansas Education Department was enforcing exactly what the Kansas law, enacted this summer, prescribes.
“It seems to me that they’re enforcing the statute as written,” he said. “These laws are meant to do precisely the thing the Supreme Court has said is prohibited, which is to suppress the right to boycott.”
Also seizing on the Kansas and Texas cases to illustrate the pitfalls of the laws is Jewish Voice for Peace, a group that supports BDS. Its government affairs liaison, Rabbi Joseph Berman, calls the federal bill and the Kansas law “an anti-democratic attempt to silence a nonviolent movement for equality for Palestinians and a just peace for everyone in the region.”
Peggy Shapiro, the Midwest director of StandWithUs, a pro-Israel group that has advocated for the laws, said that opponents were cherrypicking cases in order to make the laws look bad.
“The fact that people want to generalize one or two outliers, their intention is not to expose the errors but to undermine the ability to prevent discrimination against Israel,” she said.
It has yet to be seen whether Dickinson and Kansas are anomalies, or whether there are other controversies in the offing. In its survey of Texas towns, Electronic Intifada found that Galveston, Austin and San Antonio extend the ban to include companies bidding to make uniforms and organize programming for 4-year-olds.
Rabbi Jill Jacobs, the director of T’ruah, a rabbinical human rights advocacy group, said the laws were likely to continue to backfire. She said the focus of pro-Israel advocacy should be on Israel’s government and its practices.
“The way to increase support for Israel is not to shut down dissent but make Israel a place we can be more proud of, and central to that is ending the occupation and making Israel a more democratic state,” she said.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (0)

Glauben tells life story to American Airlines

Glauben tells life story to American Airlines

Posted on 26 October 2017 by admin

By Aaron Greenberg
Special to the TJP

Seventy-five years ago, Max Glauben survived the horrors of the Warsaw Ghetto and several Nazi concentration camps.
Last week, Glauben, who is short of stature but full of energy and humor, stood before a crowded room and recounted his journey to an audience mesmerized by his story. That, in itself, is not unusual. Glauben often speaks to groups and is listed as one of the Dallas Holocaust Museum’s survivor speakers.
This audience at American Airlines headquarters, however, included a very diverse group of employees from throughout the company, as well as CEO Doug Parker and several executives.
“There are a lot of people who came up to me and said they’d never heard something like this before,” said Aaron Herstein, president of the Jewish Employee Business Resource Group at American (JEBRG), which hosted Glauben’s appearance.
“It’s really important to show to our company what’s happened in the past and how it affects us now,” Herstein said, “and to show that American Airlines as a company is supportive of everyone.”
JEBRG members and company officials worked with Deborah and Mark Fisher, employees, who are longtime friends of Max and his wife Frieda, to bring Glauben to speak.

Submitted photo Max Glauben with Doug Parker

Submitted photo
Max Glauben with Doug Parker

The Glaubens spent a good part of the day at American. After an executive luncheon, Max came out to a sixth-floor meeting room to speak. A number of additional chairs were required at the last minute to seat all those attending — something several employees said they didn’t recall ever seeing before.
Glauben was introduced by Maya Leibman, executive vice president and chief information officer, and Deborah Fisher.
Leibman related what Glauben said to her beforehand during a discussion of issues with technology: “I may get frustrated, but I never give up.”
The Fishers befriended the Glaubens at Shearith Israel. Deborah Fisher said her children see Max and Frieda as grandparents, especially since their own relatives live out of town.
Glauben does not write his speeches down, just some of the important names and dates, many of which he learned or verified years after his Holocaust experiences.
He related his upbringing in Warsaw, and how his family lived where the ghetto would be established, and were made to build the walls around it. They hid in bomb shelters during the destruction of the ghetto and were discovered afterward by the Nazis.
Glauben was very young, but had luck on his side when the camp officials decided who would be put to work and who would die. They thought he was two years older, and he looked larger next to his small father, whom he stayed close to.
“I am mechanically inclined and could perform the duties I was assigned,” he said, which included work at an aircraft factory.
He went from camp to camp, ending up in Germany. In April 1945, as the Nazi regime was in its final days, Glauben was taken on a death march. The dangers included a trip back and forth on a boxcar through Allied fire, killing hundreds.
Despite years in the ghetto and camps, he survived the war, his spirit unbroken. He was liberated by an American unit and spent two years in Nuremberg, where he became a mess sergeant for Polish soldiers guarding German prisoners of war. As an orphan, he was eligible to get a quota waiver and come to the U.S., which he did in 1947.
Glauben has often traveled to Europe since, including five times to Germany and 12 times on the March of the Living. It’s meaningful to him to watch young people get a sense of the brutality he lived through years ago. As he puts it, his speeches have no “scenery.”
“But if you go to Europe and see where these things happened, you see reality, see the magnitude,” he said.
He related the way the Majdanek camp stuns visitors. There’s a mushroom shape in the distance, he said. It takes some effort to get there, and the view is shocking.
“You look in the center and there’s a mound of 7 tons of human ashes and bone. The kids who see it break down,” Glauben said.
Still, he takes a positive approach to how he wants the lessons applied.
“I believe that we as Holocaust survivors should deliver our testimony in a way that does not create the same hate that was applied to us,” Glauben said.
He added that “today’s youth is the finest element of humanity that has ever lived in this world,” citing the way they’ve been given more freedom, the push to end bullying and the easy access to computers and information.
When Glauben finished speaking, he received thunderous applause. Instead of a question and answer session, he took some time to chat and take photos with several people. He then went to a table to sign copies of his DVD, Plagues of the Soul.
Glauben remained quite animated afterward, walking and talking with some of the executives and posing for more photos. Despite having just listened to a tale from one of the most difficult chapters in human history, they seemed to have an extra bounce in their steps thanks to his upbeat presence.
Herstein related how Glauben easily found ways to connect with the execs over lunch, and made people smile throughout the day talking about airline points, technology and whatever came to mind.
“It was funny, he always has something to say. He knows a lot about a lot of different things.”
American Airlines prides itself on diversity, and JEBRG is one of more than 20 employee resource groups covering different groups by ethnicity, age, race, religion and more. The company’s Diversity Advisory Council has placed in the top 25 each of the past nine years for the Association of ERGs & Councils, out of 1,300 applicants. It is the only one to stay in the top 10 each year.
Brooke Peterson, senior specialist in corporate communications, said the airline believes in establishing a safe space for employees. ERG members are given a chance to share some of their personal life with those who share a background or interest.
“Our objective is to create an inclusive environment so they can come to work as their authentic self,” said Mike Waldron, managing director for diversity and talent.
Two members of each ERG serve on the advisory council, and there are chapters not only in the Metroplex, but throughout American’s worldwide presence.
Anila Jivanji, senior specialist for inclusion and diversity, said the groups are very active, mentioning upcoming events such as a Diwali dinner Nov. 1, and an Inclusion Works Summit Nov. 3 featuring three Paralympians.
JEBRG was established as the American Airlines JERG in 1997, and US Airways formed its group, JHG, in 2011. The Jewish, Christian and Muslim ERGs meet at times for a gathering called Abraham’s Tent, the next of which is Nov. 28, dealing with the role of Abraham in each religion. A Hanukkah party will be held Dec. 14.
This kind of atmosphere makes for a good fit for someone like Glauben, who preaches being an upstander rather than a bystander. He said it was important speaking to a diverse group.
“It enlightens the public, listening to somebody that has been there, of what kind of tragedy it really was,” he said afterward. “It becomes reality in their mind, rather than hearsay.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (0)

Legacy names new president, CEO

Legacy names new president, CEO

Posted on 19 October 2017 by admin

Submitted report

Melissa Orth is the new president and CEO of The Legacy Senior Communities.
The not-for-profit organization is the parent company of The Legacy Willow Bend, the only life care retirement community in Plano; The Legacy at Home, a home health agency; and The Legacy Midtown Park, a rental continuing care retirement community under development in Dallas. Orth’s appointment is the result of a nationwide search and involved feedback from the search committee, executive committee, board, employees and other members of the Dallas Jewish community.

National Business Officers Association (NBOA), 2015 Annual Meeting, February 22-25, 2014, Boston, Massachusetts (Rodney Choice/www.choicephotography.com)

National Business Officers Association (NBOA), 2015 Annual Meeting, February 22-25, 2014, Boston, Massachusetts (Rodney Choice/www.choicephotography.com)

For the past 17 years, Orth served as the chief operating officer and chief financial officer of Greenhill School.
“Melissa’s talent, skill set and work ethic have enabled her to have great success in a variety of different industries. We are confident Melissa will bring the same energy and passion to The Legacy Senior Communities as she has with her prior employers and achieve great success with us,” said Marc R. Stanley, chair of the Board of Trustees of The Legacy Senior Communities.
“Those who have worked with Melissa in the past describe her as a compassionate and gifted executive who brings people together, solves problems, knows how to lead and understands when to listen. We are thrilled to have her join our organization, and we are confident that her skills and perspective will benefit our management team, associates, residents and families.”
During her tenure at Greenhill School, Orth supervised the management of campus operations, including facilities, human resources, technology, security, health services and purchasing. She also managed all financial operations and financial reporting. In addition, She managed the programming, design and construction of a significant expansion and renovation project at Greenhill School. Orth has an affinity for not-for-profit organizations, and prior to Greenhill School she served as vice president of finance for the American Heart Association, National Center. In addition, she has been active in many professional and civic organizations, including the National Business Officers Association, Dallas Women’s Foundation, Susan G. Komen Foundation, St. Philip’s School & Community Center and Planned Parenthood.
“For more than 20 years, I have had the privilege of working with strong mission-based organizations, and that is what initially attracted me to The Legacy Senior Communities,” said Orth. “The organization’s commitment to service, quality and excellence was immediately evident, and I am proud to join such a dedicated and compassionate community.
As an adult child, I understand and appreciate the importance of seniors living active, healthy and interesting lives, and I look forward to continuing to develop our innovative, creative and community building programming and initiatives. It is also important that we continue to expand our reach into the senior community to ensure our services and care are available to those who want and need what we provide, regardless of their ability to pay. It is critically important that our residents are intellectually stimulated and engaged, and that every person served by The Legacy Senior Communities receives the highest quality care and support.”
Orth graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Kansas State University, and she is a certified public accountant.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (0)

Yavneh boys’ soccer falls short of state tournament

Posted on 19 October 2017 by admin

Staff report

The Yavneh boys’ soccer team won its first-ever playoff game last week, but fell short of advancing to the state tournament with a 2-1 loss to Longview-Saint Mary’s Catholic in Tyler on Monday.
Yavneh finished the regular season 11-1 and cruised to a dominating 5-1 victory against Longview Christian in bi-district play. However, the Bulldogs couldn’t find the back of the net often enough in the second round of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools playoff.
St. Mary’s scored both of their goals in the first half, but Eli Minsky scored early in the second half to make the game tense.
Yavneh’s only regular-season loss came against Dallas International, which the Bulldogs defeated in the second round of district play. Dallas International defeated Nacogdoches Regents, 1-0, and will face St. Mary’s in the semifinals.

Max Weinstein, Sammy Nurko and Zach Bernstein earned first-team all-district honors, while Sammy Schultz, Eli Minsky and Ofek Reef were second-team selections. Jared Notelowitz and Elisha Klein earned honorable mention and Max Weinstein was the Newcomer of the year.
Most of the team returns for next season, with senior Sam Schultz the only graduate.

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Comments (0)

View or Subscribe to the
Texas Jewish Post

Advertise Here

Photos from our Flickr stream

See all photos

Advertise Here