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Herman Wouk, legendary author who brought Judaism into the mainstream, dies at 103

Herman Wouk, legendary author who brought Judaism into the mainstream, dies at 103

Posted on 17 May 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Herman Wouk in 1975 (Alex Gotfryd/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

By Rachel Gordon

BOSTON (JTA) — Herman Wouk, the bestselling Orthodox Jewish author whose literary career spanned nearly seven decades and who helped usher Judaism into the American mainstream, died Friday at the age of 103.
His agent confirmed the news to The Associated Press.
Wouk was the author of two dozen novels and works of nonfiction, including the Pulitzer Prize-winning “The Caine Mutiny” from 1951, which was a fixture on best-seller lists for two years, and the best-selling “Marjorie Morningstar” from 1955. Both books were later adapted for the screen.
His novels “The Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance” both became successful television miniseries. By the mid-1950s, Wouk’s popular and financial success as an American Jewish novelist was unmatched.
Even more unusual for a writer of Wouk’s celebrity was his Orthodox observance and treatment of Jewish religious practice in his writing. Wouk embodied the new postwar possibilities for American Jews and his writing was both cause and effect of the normalization of Judaism within the larger American Judeo-Christian tradition.
When he appeared on the cover of Time in 1955, the magazine described Wouk’s blend of worldly success and Jewish religious observance as paradoxical.
“He is a devout Orthodox Jew who had achieved worldly success in worldly-wise Manhattan while adhering to dietary prohibitions and traditional rituals which many of his fellow Jews find embarrassing,” the article said.
At the time, Wouk’s fame seemed like an incredible feat for an Orthodox Jew. Unlike other Jewish novelists, who had focused on Jewish immigrant culture and tended to portray religious Judaism as foreign and exotic, Wouk made Jewish religious observance appear mainstream in his books. Scenes of a Passover seder and a bar mitzvah service became scenes of middle-class American life in “Marjorie Morningstar.”
None of this escaped criticism. With the exception of “The Caine Mutiny,” reviews of Wouk’s works were typically mixed. Both Jewish and mainstream reviewers expressed dissatisfaction with the quality of his writing, his conservative outlook on politics and sex, and his treatment of Judaism. Some rabbis even criticized Wouk for mocking Jewish observance — though in the coming decade, Philip Roth’s fiction would radically change their perspective on what counted as literary denigration of Judaism.
Meanwhile, fellow Jewish novelists like Roth, Saul Bellow and Norman Mailer viewed Wouk as conforming to middle-class American values that prioritized marriage, family, religion and service to country. Not only did he stay married to the same woman for more than six decades, but Wouk expressed pride in his military service, for which he received a U.S. Navy Lone Sailor Award. Wouk in turn saw the others as bowing to fashionable literary trends of rebellion and shocking readers.
From his debut novel, “Aurora Dawn,” in 1947, to his last book, “Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author” — published in 2015 when he had reached a century — Wouk wove themes central to the American Jewish experience throughout his work. Even “The Caine Mutiny,” a less Jewish novel than later works, included Lt. Barney Greenwald, who gives a moving speech in defense of a lieutenant who helped keep Greenwald’s Jewish mother from being “melted down into a bar of soap” by the Nazis.
Set in the 1930s and ’40s, Wouk’s fourth book, “Marjorie Morningstar,” heralded a new era for American Jews. The novel followed the journey of a New York Jewish protagonist no different from any other bright and beautiful young woman of the era, an image further cemented by Natalie Wood’s portrayal of Marjorie in the 1958 film version.
Not since the 1927 film “The Jazz Singer,” starring Al Jolson, had a movie shown Jewish religious scenes. But unlike “The Jazz Singer,” Marjorie and her religion were not exoticized — Jewishness was portrayed as middle class and American. With Marjorie, Wouk had succeeded in making a story about Jews into an American story.
Marjorie also marked a turning point in his writing career. With confidence that he had readers who would follow him to less popular subjects, Wouk’s fourth book, his first work of nonfiction, took on the subject of Orthodox Judaism. Published in 1959, “This Is My God” was a primer about the Jewish religion intended for both Jewish and non-Jewish readers.
As other American celebrities would do, Wouk used his fame to draw attention to his little-understood religion. Serialized in the Los Angeles Times, “This Is My God” introduced readers to such Jewish particulars as the laws of kashrut and family purity and the holidays of Sukkot and Shavuot. The book showed, through anecdotes from Wouk’s glamorous Manhattan life, that it was possible to be both a modern American and Orthodox.
At a time when Jews still encountered quotas at universities and discrimination in hiring and housing, Wouk’s example provided inspiration. “This Is My God” became a popular bar mitzvah and confirmation gift for young Jews of all movements.
Born in the Bronx borough of New York City on May 27, 1915, Wouk was the second of three children of Esther and Abraham Wouk, both immigrants from Belarus. Abraham Wouk began work as a laundry laborer and found financial success in the laundry business. Herman spent his early years in the Bronx receiving basic Hebrew training from his grandfather. His childhood included the teasing and bullying that was common for bookish boys in rough neighborhoods.
From an early age, Wouk found a haven in reading, family and Judaism. After graduating from the public Townsend Harris High School, Wouk entered Columbia University, where he served as editor of its humor magazine. He also took courses at Yeshiva University.
Upon graduating, Wouk briefly abandoned his religious lifestyle when he became a radio dramatist, writing for the comedian Fred Allen. Although the work was lucrative, Wouk felt a void in a life without Jewish learning and religion, and he eventually returned to his previous level of observance.
In the coming years he would reside in the Virgin Islands, New York’s Fire Island, Washington, D.C., Manhattan and Palm Springs, California — and in all those locales he was involved in setting up Jewish study and prayer groups.
Following Pearl Harbor, Wouk joined the Navy and served in the Pacific, where he was an officer aboard two destroyers, participated in eight invasions and won several battle stars. Wouk also started to write “Aurora Dawn” while aboard ship. After Wouk sent part of a draft to one of his former Columbia professors, the professor connected Wouk with an editor, and a contract followed.
While his ship was being repaired in California, Wouk met Betty Sarah Brown, a graduate of the University of Southern California and a civilian Navy employee. After her conversion to Judaism, the couple married in 1945 and had three sons. Betty, who died in 2011, would eventually become her husband’s literary agent.
Wouk is survived by two sons, Nathaniel and Joseph, and three grandchildren. His oldest son, Abraham, died in a 1951 swimming pool accident.
(Rachel Gordan is an assistant professor of religion and Jewish Studies at the University of Florida, where she is the Shorstein fellow in American Jewish culture.)

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DJCF to hold scholarship reception May 22

DJCF to hold scholarship reception May 22

Posted on 16 May 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Photo: Courtesy Dallas Jewish Community Foundation
Benjamin Galichia (left), recipient of the Gerardo and Helga Weinstein scholarship of the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation, and scholarship donor Helga Weinstein meet one another at the 2018 Dallas Jewish Community Foundation scholarship reception. Guest Margarita Solis, center, looks on.

Recipients, donors
make meaningful
connections

By Deb Silverthorn

Some students will get an early start to their 2019-2020 school year, beginning Wednesday, May 22. On that day, more than $130,000 of higher-education scholarships will be awarded to eligible students in Collin, Dallas and Denton counties by the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation. The awards will be announced, for the first time, at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

“We take great pride in the administration of this unique program and its anonymous applications that ensure fair evaluation,” said DJCF Director of Philanthropic Advancement Mona Allen. “The scholarships were created by fundholders who care deeply about education, and we take seriously our charge to find the best candidates — those who will someday shape our community.”

The DJCF program, along with the Southwest Community Foundation, has grown to more than 37 funds. To determine their eligibility, students file a general application, which is then put into a pool for whichever scholarship(s) they are eligible to receive. In addition to general need, there are special scholarships available to students studying in Israel, at Southern Methodist University, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, and for those from Texas towns with two or fewer congregations.

“The reception is a wonderful coming together to share the importance of higher education,” Allen said. “After navigating the selection process over the past months, the wait is finally over.”

The impact of the scholarships on recipients goes far beyond the provision of tuition and supplies. It has, in many ways, returned several recipients as supporters.

“I feel fortunate to have been on both sides of the process,” said Seth Kaufman, a Richardson High School alumnus and former DJCF scholar. Kaufman earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of Texas, then a law degree from SMU.

“I had the honor to meet and grow to respect my benefactor Martin Samuelsohn,” said Kaufman, who is assistant vice president, senior legal counsel and the lead attorney for corporate social responsibility at AT&T, as well as a DJCF committee member for 10 years. “Serving on the committee, and reviewing the amazing students now coming through, I’m grateful to return and give back to the program with my time.”

Being nice to everyone because you never know whom you’ll sit next to at some time and place in the future is a sound practice. Lauren Leahy, for one, made a good impression in 2002, as a recipient of a $20,000 Toyota Community Scholars award, bestowed by Karen Polan, who, at the time oversaw Toyota’s scholarship program.

Leahy received one of the 100 scholarships out of 10,000 applicants, and attended SMU, going on to receive her Harvard Law School degree. She’s now the chief legal officer and general manager of Express Business, at Pizza Hut, LLC.

Polan, who last year retired from Toyota after 25 years, and who was one of the company’s early Plano pioneers when it moved to North Texas, worked in human resources and staff development, customer and community relations and strategic planning.

“Good ‘carma’ delivers good karma, we said, and part of my job was to deliver that karma in the form of scholarships,” Polan said. “We delivered needed resources, knowledge and funds in the form of scholarships, but rarely heard the rest of the story, how students progressed.”

Flash forward almost 20 years, and Polan and Leahy, strangers at a committee meeting of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education & Tolerance, on whose board they both sit, exchanged pleasantries. Polan mentioned her history with Toyota, and Leahy was amazed.

“Through the years I’ve shared my story with individuals I’ve met from Toyota and here was someone who really touched my future,” said Leahy, who, long connected to human rights support, finds the Museum’s work touching her core. “I’m now proud to be on the corporate side of giving. Pizza Hut hosts a number of its own scholarship and educational opportunities.”

“We could only hope the grants were well spent and that awardees found a future and success,” Polan added. “It took nearly two decades for me to have something come full circle but it has, and what a special relationship it has become.”

Polan, a North Texas transplant of just nearly four years, is in awe of the overall generosity of Dallas’ Jewish community and the general community. As a member of the DJCF Scholarship Committee, she read and scored more than 100 applications.

“You never know how far your gift will go or how full your heart can be of joy. The generosity and the collaboration between corporations and individual donors here makes me very proud to call this home,” she said. “My passion has always been about education, and after some connections, I was invited to serve at the Museum. It’s my goal to help expand its mission to advance human rights to combat prejudice, hatred and indifference.

“How incredible — through this service — to reconnect with Lauren, someone so appreciative and who made the most of the scholarship,” she continued. “Now, not only an incredible professional, but one who has chosen to give back, and that’s what it’s all about.”

The 2019-2020 College Scholarship Reception will begin at 7 p.m. Wednesday, May 22, at the Aaron Family JCC, 7900 Northaven Road in Dallas. The event is free but an RSVP is requested by visiting djcf.org or by calling 214-615-9351. For additional information, visit djcf.org.

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Anti-Zionist imam delivers opening prayers in the US House of Representatives

Anti-Zionist imam delivers opening prayers in the US House of Representatives

Posted on 10 May 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Omar Suleiman giving an opening prayer for a session of the House of Representatives, May 9.(Screenshot from YouTube)

WASHINGTON (JTA) — An imam who has wished for the end of Zionism, called for a third Intifada and likened Israel to Nazi-era Germany delivered the opening prayer for a session of the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday.
Omar Suleiman, the founder and president of the Dallas-based Yaqeen Institute, an organization that describes itself as a resource about Islam, referred to recent attacks on houses of worship — which has included synagogues in the United States — in his opening remarks.
“Let us not be deterred by the hatred that has claimed the lives of innocent worshippers across the world, but emboldened by the love that gathered them together to remember you and gathered us together to remember them,” Suleiman said in a short prayer after being introduced by Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Suleiman has a long record of incendiary social media statements about Israel, as compiled two years ago by Petra Marquardt-Bigman, a researcher, and posted on the Algeimeiner Jewish news site. He has on multiple occasions wished for a third Palestinian Intifada, or violent uprising, likened Israeli troops to Nazis, and has wished for the end of Zionism, calling Zionists “the enemies of God.” He is a backer of the boycott Israel movement.
Suleiman’s congresswoman, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas, invited him to deliver the prayer through a standard form on the webpage of the Office of the Chaplain of the House, according to a congressional official.
Pelosi’s office is looking into how and why Johnson invited Suleiman, an official told The Jewish Telegraphic Agency.
Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., who is Jewish, said in a statement that inviting Suleiman to deliver the opening prayer was a “terribly bad call.”
Suleiman in 2016 was at the scene of an anti-police shooting, in which five policemen were slain. He delivered a prayer at a memorial service a week later appearing on a stage with Texas’ two Republican senators, Ted Cruz and John Cornyn, then-President Barack Obama and former President George W. Bush.
READ MORE:
Tennessee judge posts links on Facebook saying Jews should ‘get the f*** over the Holocaust’
Farrakhan speaks of ‘satanic Jews’ in talk at Catholic church
Dutch soccer fans beat Jew and sing song praising Nazis

-Ron Kampeas

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Knowing measles facts can help with protection

Knowing measles facts can help with protection

Posted on 09 May 2019 by admin

SALT LAKE CITY, UT – APRIL 26: In this photo illustration a one dose bottle of measles, mumps and rubella virus vaccine, made by MERCK, is held up at the Salt Lake County Health Department on April 26, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo Illustration by George Frey/Getty Images)

By Richard L. Wasserman, M.D., Ph.D.

By the time you read this, the window of risk for having contracted measles from a fellow celebrant during a Pesach holiday trip will have just closed. If you are not sick, you are OK, unless you’ve spent time with someone who has come down with measles. Because the current epidemic has involved Jewish communities, being fully informed about the disease can help protect you, your family and the community.
Measles presents with fever (maybe as high as 105 degrees), malaise, cough, runny nose and conjunctivitis, followed by a characteristic rash. People are contagious from four days before until four days after the appearance of rash. The incubation period is usually eight to 12 days, with the time from exposure to the appearance of rash averaging 14 days. Measles can be a serious illness with a 1/1000 rate of brain inflammation, and a fatality rate of 1-2/1000. Children under age 5, pregnant women and adults older than 20 years are at increased risk of complications from measles infection. There is no specific treatment.
Measles is one of the most highly contagious viral illnesses, infecting at least 90 percent of those who are exposed. The measles virus remains in the air of a room for two hours after a contagious person departs. Measles is also one of the most easily preventable infections because current vaccine recommendations confer protection to at least 97 percent of people. Measles vaccine should be given at 12-15 months of age, and again between ages 4-6. In fact, if the schedule is missed, the first dose can be administered at any time, and the second dose can be given as soon as four weeks after the first. Two doses of vaccine appear to provide lifelong immunity.
When the vaccination rate in a community is 93 percent or greater, the community benefits from herd immunity. Herd immunity means that enough protected community members exist, so the chance of an infected person passing his or her contagion to another community member is very low, and serial illness leading to an epidemic does not occur. Herd immunity is what protects babies less than 1 year of age who have not been immunized and people immunocompromised due to cancer, autoimmune disease or immunosuppressive therapy used to treat those diseases.
Because measles is so contagious and natural infection provides lifelong immunity, people born before 1957 (the introduction of the first vaccine) are presumed to be immune. The vaccine used from 1957 to 1967 was a killed virus vaccine that required three doses and was less effective than current vaccines. Most children who received the killed vaccine were revaccinated with the live virus vaccine. From 1967 to 1989, only one dose of vaccine was recommended. Many adults don’t have their vaccination records. The following assumptions are in place for those born in the United States.
• Age 62 or older: presumed to have acquired immunity through natural infection.
• Ages 36-62: received at least one dose of vaccine, and might have received two doses. Under normal circumstances, when there is herd immunity and the risk of exposure is very low, there are no concerns. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) makes no recommendations. However, vaccination is recommended for health care personnel, students in postsecondary educational institutions, international travelers and household or close personal contacts of immunocompromised persons with no evidence of immunity to measles (i.e., no documentation of having received two doses of vaccine).
• Age 36 or younger: presumed to have received two doses of measles vaccine and are protected.
Adults at increased risk of exposure and who are uncertain of their measles immunity should receive one or two doses of MMR vaccine. Alternatively, measles immunity can be measured with a blood test. If there is measles immunity, no additional vaccine is needed.
Significant vaccine side effects beyond injection site pain and low-grade fever are rare, and usually resolve on their own in a few days. It is clear, based on an overwhelming body of evidence, that the MMR vaccine does not cause autism.
Because some Jewish communities in the Northeast are in the middle of the measles epidemic, and because travel is common in our communities, adults with uncertain measles immunity, and who consider themselves to be at increased risk of exposure, should take steps to ensure that they are protected.
Richard L. Wasserman is an allergist/immunologist practicing in North Dallas.

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Hundreds join in Holocaust vigil

Hundreds join in Holocaust vigil

Posted on 09 May 2019 by admin

Photos: David Duchin/DSPNphotos.com
Earl Bills of Congregation Beth Torah takes part in Reading of the Names.

Hundreds of people of many faiths took part in Reading of the Names ceremonies over the weekend, honoring thousands of Holocaust victims by remembering them one by one.
The Congregation Beth Torah Men’s Club organized the 24-hour vigil for the 18th year, beginning with a Saturday night candlelighting ceremony and memorial service with the theme “Unto Every Person There Is a Name,” a classic Israeli poem about the Holocaust.
Throughout the night and all day Sunday, people ascended the Beth Torah bimah to read from voluminous lists of victims, their ages, where they lived and where they died.
“A huge number like 6 million is simply unfathomable,” said Laura Shwarts, publicity chair for the event. “But to focus on individuals, one at a time, makes it personal, and ensures they will never be forgotten. We are very proud and honored to do this each year.”
At a Sunday morning breakfast program, former Plano Mayor and State Senator Florence Shapiro spoke of her parents, who survived the Holocaust, and many other family members who did not. She was joined by Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance President and CEO Mary Pat Higgins, who presented a special preview of the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, which will open in September.
To mark the vigil’s 18th year, the recitation of names was interspersed with stories of Holocaust heroes, including Jewish partisans who fought the Nazis and non-Jews who sheltered and saved their Jewish countrymen.
“Amidst all the tragedy, it’s also important to remember the good deeds that were done, and the hope that it gives us moving forward,” said Jeff Markowitz, event co-chair.
—Submitted by
Michael Precker

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Local Chabads hold Poway solidarity event

Local Chabads hold Poway solidarity event

Posted on 09 May 2019 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

When a gunman entered Chabad of Poway, California, on April 27, the last day of Passover, his expressed mission was to kill as many Jews as possible. His hatred claimed the life of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, who is credited with jumping in front of the synagogue’s rabbi to shield him from the gunman’s bullets. The gunman injured three others: Chabad of Poway Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein; Noya Dahan, 8; and her uncle, Almog Peretz.
Chabad of North Texas held a Community Event in Solidarity with Chabad of Plano, Wednesday, May 1, at Chabad of Dallas.
In addition to honoring the memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye, the event framed what the Jews can do after this horrific tragedy. The overarching message was that in response to hatred against Jews, there really is only one response: Do Jewish and “Continue to be a Light unto the Nations.”
Rabbi Mendel Dubrawsky, the first Chabad rabbi in Dallas and North Texas, was pained as he discussed what had transpired. He said he wondered if he would have been as quick-thinking and brave as his boyhood friend “Sroel,” the rabbi who while injured shepherded his congregants to safety. In the process Rabbi Goldstein lost a finger on one hand and sustained severe damage to the other hand.
Rabbi Dubrawsky explained that living a Jewish life is based on three pillars: Torah study, prayer and gemilut chassadim, acts of loving kindness.
Ultimately, Dubrawsky said, that all people are created in God’s image, b’tzelem Elohim.
“Living as an example of btzelem elohim, being created in the image of God, means living a holier life, means defining the world around you, means bringing light and brightening up the dark which opposes and is the greatest threat to evil, to stone-cold evil.”
Rivkie Block, rebbetzin of Chabad of Plano, paid tribute to Lori Gilbert-Kaye and the life of tzedakah that she led that seemed effortless and natural to so many.
“We are gathered here, to take part in snatching back the light that evil sought to take, and choose holiness, mitzvot, in particular acts of tzedakah in her memory. Not only for Lori’s soul, but for our nation and indeed the entire world,” Block said.
She outlined several actives one can do “snatch back the light” (see box).
With regard to the community’s security, Mark Kreditor, board chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, spoke on behalf of the Federation.
He discussed the critical mission of the Federation to support Jewish education, social services, support for Israel and Jews around the world as well as “the new normal” — keeping the community safe.
“I am here to tell you your Federation has been involved with educating and supporting every community partner through our Community Security Initiative, funded largely though your support of our annual campaign and by select donors. Our goal is to increase the effectiveness of our local security efforts across our community with all the local law enforcement agencies. Through your support we are now part of the national security apparatus of the Jewish Federation movement called Secure Community Network (SCN).”
He concluded by hoping for a return to life as it was before the shootings at Tree of Life in Pittsburgh and Chabad of Poway as well as praying for the speedy recovery of the injured.
“I am here tonight representing your Federation to provide love, support, resources, and most importantly, vigilance as we together as a community pray for a return to our old normal.”
Also participating in the program were Rabbi Peretz Shapiro; Uptown Chabad’s Rabbi Zvi Drizin, who led a brief prayer service; and Linda Johnson, who lit two memorial candles in memory of Lori Gilbert-Kaye as well as the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust.

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2 Israelis killed, 1 critically injured in rocket strikes on Ashkelon factory, car

2 Israelis killed, 1 critically injured in rocket strikes on Ashkelon factory, car

Posted on 05 May 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Residents of southern Israel survey the damage to their home by a rocket fired from Gaza on May 4. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two Israelis were killed Sunday afternoon in a rocket strike on a factory in Ashkelon and on a car, bringing to three the number of Israelis killed by rocket fire from Gaza.
Two other men who worked for the factory in southern Israel are reported to be injured in critical condition.
A factory worker told Haaretz that his killed and injured co-workers did not reach the factory’s shelter in time. The killed worker was a truck driver for the factory, the Kan national broadcaster reported.
As of late Sunday afternoon, more than 600 rockets have been fired from Gaza at Israel, in an escalation which began on Saturday morning at 10.
Meanwhile, another rocket fired from Gaza scored a direct hit on a car driving near Yad Mordechai in southern Israel, killing the driver, according to Kan.
Early Sunday morning, Moshe Agadi, a 58-year-old father of four, was hit with shrapnel to his chest and stomach in the yard of his home in Ashkelon after a rocket fired from Gaza slammed into an apartment building. He died in an ambulance on the way to the hospital. Agadi had gone outside to smoke a cigarette between frequent rocket warning sirens and did not make it to the home’s bomb shelter in time.
A farm worker from Thailand, 30, working near the border with Gaza was moderately to seriously injured when a rocket landed in the field where he was working.
Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon also sustained a direct hit, reportedly to its oncology unit, but there were no injuries reported.
Barzilai Hospital reported that it saw 115 Israeli casualties since the escalation of rocket fire from Gaza. The casualties include three dead, three seriously wounded, one moderately wounded, 53 lightly wounded, and 55 requiring treatment for shock.

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Walk4Friendship will celebrate buddies

Walk4Friendship will celebrate buddies

Posted on 01 May 2019 by admin

Danielle Fuhrman and Anna Brindley share one of many afternoons together. The two friends will participate in the upcoming Walk4Friendship.
Photo: Courtesy Friendship Circle of Dallas

 

 

By Deb Silverthorn

The Friendship Circle of Dallas invites the community to walk the walk, of the talk they talk, beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday, May 19. The event, the first Walk4Friendship, is a two-kilometer walk launching at Flagpole Hill, 8100 Doran Circle, near White Rock Lake.

After the walk will be a carnival that is open to the public, at no charge. Included will be bounce houses, crafts, a bubble truck, a petting zoo, a magician, a face-painting artist, a photo booth and more. Kosher food and drinks will be available for sale.

“This is about creating friendship and support, not at all about a physical race,” said Leah Dubrawsky, director of the Dallas Friendship Circle, an organization that pairs individuals with those who have special needs. “Everyone around us is a friend, and we’re honored to be able to provide events and programming to help build relationships, share creativity and kindness, and bring people together to share in wonderful experiences.”

Friendship Circle, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, was founded in 1994 and is run by the Chabad movement. The organization encompasses more than 80 groups in 60 cities around the world, allowing children and young adults with special needs to enjoy the company of teenage and young adult volunteers in a full range of social activities. Friendship Circle enriches the lives of all participants through mutually advantageous interactions, creating lasting friendships, strengthening both the Jewish and greater communities.

The Dallas chapter welcomes participants ages 5-18 and buddy volunteers from eighth grade through high school. The group hosts a winter camp, sports, science and Torah-related crafts fun, Shabbat and holiday-related programming, yoga, drum circles and field trips to locations throughout the community. A Sunday Circle group meets twice monthly, and some participants buddy up and visit more regularly.

“When I first met with Leah I was moved by her passion and dedication to expanding the Friendship Circle. The concept of my son connecting typical teens with special needs kids on a regular basis, really resonated with me,” said Cynthia Christnagel, the mother of 12-year-old Miles, who has cerebral palsy. “Our son is wheelchair-bound and non-verbal, and because of his disabilities, he doesn’t have many opportunities to build relationships with his typical peers. Friendship Circle offers Miles a warm and wonderful group of friends with diverse abilities.”

Attending Friendship Circle events for a little over a year, Miles seldom misses a Sunday Circle and he also attended winter camp. He has formed special friendships with typical teens, who engage him and take the time to connect with him.

“Friendship Circle’s impact on the community cannot be underestimated and seeing the bonds between kids with special needs and those without, is truly heartwarming,” Christnagel said. “It gives me faith in future generations, and the power of inclusion.”

Friendship Circle’s “I-Volunteer” program partners with Intown Chabad in Dallas’ Uptown area to create volunteer and social occasions for those of all abilities. The group made shaloch manot for Holocaust survivors, had a paint night, and hosted an evening of pizza and karaoke.

Additionally, the group hosts mom’s night out events, along with Teens on the Town, offering age-appropriate events.

“Friendship Circle allows me the opportunity to help amazing Jewish kids in our community and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it,” said Tom Oster. As of press time, Oster was the walk-a-thon’s leading fundraiser, having raised $2,022.

A 15-year-old sophomore at Yavneh Academy of Dallas, Oster first registered to volunteer with Friendship Circle Dallas after his bar mitzvah. Every Sunday, with classmate and volunteer Elisha Klein, Oster visits his buddy. Sometimes they share time at home, other times they’ll go out.

“I’m excited for the walk because it is a way for me to get my family and friends involved in helping the community,” Oster said. “With relatively little effort, everyone can make a change in people’s life. It becomes part of each of us and we can actually enjoy the time, and make an impact, all at once.”

To date, $25,646 has been pledged to Walk4Friendship participants. The funds support community members with autism, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy and other emotional, physical and cognitive challenges. Donations from the event, as well as sponsors such as CD Wealth Management, Diamonds Direct and the Texas Jewish Post, allow Friendship Circle programs to be offered free or at a limited cost.

“In these times, in all times, it’s important that our community be friendlier and welcoming and open-hearted to all of our members. We’ve seen both volunteers and our friends come out of their shell, communicating and participating in ways they haven’t before,” Dubrawsky said. “Friendship Circle allows anyone who wishes to get involved in a warm, caring program.”

To register or to make a donation, visit walk4friendshipdallas.rallybound.org. For general Friendship Circle Dallas information, go to friendshipdallas.org.

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Dallas will celebrate 2nd Israel Week, May 7-13

Dallas will celebrate 2nd Israel Week, May 7-13

Posted on 01 May 2019 by admin

Photo: Jaman Facebook Page
Jaman will bring a high-energy performance to Blue & White Night at the JCC, May 9.

 

 

The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas will host its second annual Israel Week May 7-13 to celebrate Israel’s Independence Day.

Gary Wolff, chief operations officer of the Federation, said the events are an opportunity for the community to connect and celebrate Israel’s 71st birthday.

An Israeli delegation from Western Galilee, Dallas’ Partnership2Gether region, will be visiting and participating in events during Israel Week, Wolff said.

Yom HaZikaron, a national day of public mourning for those who gave their lives in defense of the State of Israel, is the first event of the week at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, at Congregation Anshai Torah, 5501 Parker Road in Plano.

On Thursday, May 9, the Federation will host “Blue & White Night” at 7:30 in Zale Auditorium at the Jewish Community Center, 7900 Northaven Road, to celebrate Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. Consul General of Israel to the Southwest, Gilad Katz, will be in attendance and the Israeli performance group, Jaman, will entertain.

Jaman has performed worldwide, including in exhibitions for Israel’s Ministry of Tourism. Wolff said those who attend the Independence Day celebration can expect a fun night complete with a drum circle and DJ.

“What better way to [celebrate] than to have the Consul General of Israel…to be at the official state of Texas’ Israel celebration?” Wolff said.

“An Israeli Love Story” will be screened during the JCC Film Festival Monday, May 13, at Studio Movie Grill Spring Valley at 7:30 p.m., marking the end of Israel Week.

Wolff said the week’s events include “something for everybody.”

“What makes Israel Independence Day and this week so awesome is that there are many organizations…all coming together to celebrate community and celebrate Israel,” Wolff said.

The events are free to the public, and attendees can register and sign up for complimentary babysitting for the May 9 event at jewishdallas.org/israelweek.

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Local Jewish communities have security plans in place

Local Jewish communities have security plans in place

Posted on 01 May 2019 by admin

Bill Humphrey

 

By Nicole Hawkins

Over the past couple of years, the Jewish communities of Dallas and Fort Worth have strengthened security and prepared for attacks similar to the ones that left 12 dead and many injured on Oct. 27 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and in Poway, California, on April 27.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and the Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County are working to strengthen security and heighten preparedness in the Metroplex.

Executive director of the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth, Bob Goldberg, said before the shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation synagogue in Pittsburgh, the Federation received a FEMA Homeland Security grant.

Goldberg said the grant was distributed to all Tarrant County Jewish congregations and organizations with a building in order to invest in “target-hardening equipment” such as video cameras, door access control and panic buttons.

The grant recipients met with security professionals who conducted risk assessments and made recommendations for what needed to be done to increase security, Goldberg said.

“I think the general consensus is that it hurts and we’re exhausted with these type of hateful acts,” Goldberg said of the shooting at Chabad of Poway, which left one dead and three injured. “But we have one choice and that is to go on, while at the same time doing everything we can to make sure that we’re protecting our institutions and our people.”

The Federation is preparing to hold a security summit with local community leaders, police, FBI and Homeland Security in order to “create a culture of security awareness,” Goldberg said.

The Federation of Greater Dallas recently appointed former deputy chief of the Dallas Police Department, Bill Humphrey, as its second director of the Federation’s Community Security Initiative.

According to the Federation’s website, the initiative was formed to ensure the Dallas Jewish community is prepared to handle security issues in a proactive manner; Humphrey is tasked with “convening, preparing and equipping Jewish organizations with the information and education needed to be safe and secure.”

“Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas Community Security Initiative has created an infrastructure to provide security site vulnerability assessments, offer direction for guard services, monitoring services and technology and has a strong working relationship with city, state and federal law enforcement partners,” Humphrey told the TJP in an email.

Humphrey said that although no one could completely ensure an attack like this won’t happen in their community, “planning, education, training and communications are the beginning key components to creating a safe environment.”

Humphrey said safety is everyone’s responsibility, so if something doesn’t feel right to you, move, tell someone and put yourself in a safe place.

“Situational Awareness is paramount,” Humphrey said. “Know your surroundings, know what looks out of place, trust your instincts.”

Rabbi Mendel Dubrawsky of Chabad of Dallas said a synagogue “should be a peaceful, a wonderful, calm place — to have this fear, it’s just appalling.”

Dubrawsky said Chabad of Dallas has an evacuation plan and lockdown procedures in place, works with the Community Security Initiative at the Federation and is consistently assessing what the synagogue’s weak spots are in order to heighten security.

Dubrawsky said if the evil act of one person at Chabad of Poway could cause so much negativity and commotion, then imagine the positive effect the Jewish community can have by performing good deeds, reaching out to and loving one another.

“You can’t chase darkness away with sticks and stones,” Dubrawsky said. “You can only do so by bringing light into the world, and that’s our job. We are to be a ‘light unto nations’ and brighten up God’s world. We will persevere.”

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