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New life for everlasting light at Nishmat

New life for everlasting light at Nishmat

Posted on 02 November 2017 by admin

Dallas woman’s 4-decade struggle to restore ner tamid finally rewarded

By Aaron Greenberg
Special to the TJP

PLANO — A piece of pre-Holocaust German Jewry is about to be given new life at Congregation Nishmat Am after a Dallas woman’s persistence over four decades finally paid off.
Sunday’s ceremony will mark a new chapter in the history of a ner tamid, the sanctuary lamp hanging over the ark. Jeanette Augusta Rashti, who first saw it in a German-American home in the 1970s, knew right away it was likely looted during Kristallnacht.

The ner tamid is shown before restoration.

The ner tamid is shown before restoration.

“I feel relieved that a religious item out of a synagogue that was destroyed is back where it should be, in a synagogue, not a trinket in a German home,” Rashti said. “But I never really thought I would get it after that second ‘no.’ ”
She acquired the lamp from the Florida couple over the winter, and offered it to Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen for his congregation’s sanctuary.
Dr. David Patterson, a Nishmat Am congregant and expert on the Holocaust, found photos of the synagogue in Lörrach, Germany burning, as so many others did on that November 1938 evening. The survival of an item that wasn’t of great monetary value was surprising.
“I’ve seen remnants of Torah scrolls saved, at times restored and put back into use. Those are very rare,” he said. “I’ve never heard of something like this. It borders on the miraculous. It’s a really remarkable thing to come to our community, not just Nishmat Am, but the Jewish community at large.”
Patterson, the Hillel A. Feinberg chair in Holocaust Studies at the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies at UT-Dallas, called it “a light that survives the darkness and continues, l’dor vador (from generation to generation).”
The dedication ceremony comes just ahead of the 79th anniversary of Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass Nov. 9 and 10, 1938), and will double as a remembrance of that night. The program at Nishmat Am, located at 2113 West Spring Creek Pkwy., will begin Sunday, Nov. 5, at 11 a.m.
“I’m overwhelmed with joy and reverence that this thing is going to be in my synagogue, and that it’s come full circle,” Rabbi Cohen said.
Rashti’s part in the story begins in the early 1970s. Her close friend Viv lived in Texas in the 1960s, but later moved to Florida. Viv’s family came to America from Germany in the 1920s. Her father sponsored the arrival of his nephew, Wolfgang, and Wolfgang’s wife, Ute, in 1968.
A few years later, Rashti was visiting Viv in Florida, and they went to Viv’s cousin’s home.
“They were showing me the house, and in the living room was a lamp with two Stars of David on both sides,” Rashti said.
“‘Oh yeah, it came out of a synagogue in Germany,’ he said, casually,” she related. “It upset me.”
Wolfgang wasn’t terribly friendly, she thought, and perhaps he got it from his father, who lived under the Nazi regime, unlike Viv’s father. As much as it troubled Rashti, she didn’t want to upset her friend.
“I never told her, because I didn’t want to hurt her and there was nothing she could do,” Rashti said. “I didn’t point out how much it bothered me. I have a feeling (Viv’s) father’s youngest brother might have been 22, 23 when the war broke out. I think he was one who helped destroy that synagogue in Lörrach, Germany.”
Viv’s parents had given up on speaking German after they came to this country, but the family was still targeted during the war — “it’s interesting how prejudice goes both ways,” Rashti said.
Viv, her friend of 50 years, died in 2001, but Rashti kept in touch with Ute and didn’t give up on the idea of buying the ner tamid, which was eventually used as a kitchen lamp. If anything, she was more determined as time went on and she became more connected to the Jewish community.
“I got more concerned when I joined Shearith Israel in 2007,” she said. “Then I began to feel really badly about it.”
Twice, she asked to buy it, and both times Wolfgang said no. Then, in December, Ute wrote a letter. When Rashti called, she found out Wolfgang was on dialysis.
“She said ‘I’ll sell it,’ really fast,” Rashti said.
Rashti paid more than $100 for shipping, but it arrived undamaged.
Although she has attended Shearith Israel over the past decade, she felt Cohen’s congregation could use the gift.
“He has always been so kind to me and has gone out of his way,” Rashti said. “They’re not a very wealthy synagogue, but are a very caring synagogue.”
Cohen said he met Rashti at the bar mitzvah of one of her friends’ grandsons at Nishmat Am about three years ago.
“She’s a wonderful lady, and we formed a close friendship, and when this came about, she called me with such excitement, and I can understand why,” he said.
Cohen recalled seeing the ner tamid for the first time.
“She was in awe when she unpacked it, and showed it to me,” he said. “The feelings that overcame me, there are no words to adequately describe the feeling of holding such a holy item in my hands. She said, ‘Rabbi, it’s a piece of history.’”
Cohen wanted to see how it compared to other sanctuary lights from that era.
“We actually searched on the internet for ner tamids in Germany in the 1930s,” Cohen said. “We found ones that looked almost exactly like what we had. You can see the exact same style. This was actually an oil lamp. It was converted later on, either in Germany or once it came with this family. You can see the little oil container underneath and where they lit the ner tamid.”
He pointed out that photos of the Lörrach synagogue from Kristallnacht show the sides of the ark, but not where the sanctuary light would be.
“But we know exactly where it came from, that was the synagogue,” he said.
Patterson noted the symbolism of its survival.
“The ner tamid has all kinds of symbolic significance, and the fact that it survived that period has a lot of meaning and significance as well,” he said. “It’s exactly what the Nazis set out to destroy, the eternal light of Judaism and Jewish teaching and tradition.”
It was soldered by one of Rabbi Cohen’s congregants, Jimmy McClintock, who cleaned off a dark coating from perhaps a century of use.
“It needed a little restoring to its old glory,” Rabbi Cohen said.
Rabbi Cohen thought the fixture was black, and Rashti described it as antique gold. But as McClintock cleaned it, he discovered something even more beautiful.
“He says ‘You wouldn’t believe it, the black is coming off,’” Cohen said. “The black, maybe a hundred years, the fumes and everything else, took what was gold and made it black. He washed it in soap and water and the black started coming off. The original color was gold leaf. We have this gorgeous, gold leaf eternal light.”
On Sunday, Rashti will tell her story, Rabbi Cohen will discuss Kristallnacht, and there will be songs, readings, a poem about Kristallnacht and recitation of Kaddish. Children from the synagogue’s school will participate as well. The ner tamid will be lit for the first time in its new home. Brunch will be offered afterward.
For Rabbi Cohen, remembering Kristallnacht and what followed is personal. Both of his parents survived Auschwitz, and lost their siblings and dozens of family members during the Holocaust.
“You think about this one night, the one night about 1,350 synagogues burned to the ground, and this was one of them,” he said. “Thirty thousand Jews thrown into concentration camps, 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed.”
Rabbi Cohen said the ner tamid will serve as a memorial, but also “maybe a little hope for the future that our light should shine bright.
“The eternal light also tells the story of our people,” he said. “This is the perfect example of the eternal light that was supposed to be broken into pieces, but it was not, it represents the eternity of our people. Am Yisrael Chai (the nation of Israel lives).
“There’s a prayer we pray when we return the Torah to the ark, from Lamentations,” Cohen said. “The end is ‘chadesh yamenu k’kedem’ — restore our days as old. What does it mean? Restore the city of Jerusalem and the way it was when the holy Temple was in existence. Restore it to its old glory. And I think this is a perfect example of restoring something to its old glory.”

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Film review: ‘The Wedding Plan’ romantic comedy with an Orthodox twist

Posted on 25 May 2017 by admin

For those who remember Rama Burshtein’s first film, Fill the Void, you’ll want to grab your hat and coat (it’s cold in theaters these days — haven’t you noticed?) and head for a screening of her new film, The Wedding Plan.
Again, Burshtein pulls back the curtain on the Orthodox community and a wedding is the main event, but the similarities end there.
Michal, a charming 32-year-old Orthodox woman, is left at the altar (or more literally at the food tasting for the wedding). What’s a girl to do? She already has the dress. She’s paid for the venue. And moves into a new apartment. If you have faith, like Michal, you continue checking off your list leading up to the wedding, but add one item — a groom. Oy!
We join Michal (a terrific Noa Koler) on a bittersweet journey to find her true love. The only hitch is, the wedding is 30 days away, on the eighth day of Hanukkah. The audience joins her on her pilgrimage to matrimony where you’ll meet some real characters along the way. See if you can figure out who becomes Mr. Right.
And hope for a Hanukkah miracle.
Normally, one doesn’t think romantic comedy when you think of the Orthodox community. But Burshtein skillfully merges comedy with the concept of faith.
I was fortunate to speak with the writer and director of The Wedding Plan, Rama Burshtein, last week.
An excerpt from our conversation follows:
Susan Kandell Wilkofsky: I just have to tell you that I am thrilled to speak with you today. Your last film, Fill the Void, was one of those rare films that displayed such a delicate balance between drama and comedy. From the opening scene in the supermarket — I was hooked! And the same with the The Wedding Plan, a charming film that deftly contrasts drama and comedy. I’m not giving anything away when I say, “Wow.”
(Go see the film and you’ll appreciate that word reference.)
Rama Burshtein:    (with a laugh)    Thank you so much, thank you.
SKW: I want to talk a little about the stories that you tell, basically about women who are strong but are also observant. Does this pose a problem when storytelling?
RB: It’s interesting that you say it as if it’s an opposite thing.
As if “you’re observant and strong” doesn’t mix together. But for me, being observant is (a form of) strength and power.
SKW: Am I correct in saying that just like the main character, Michal, you were both raised as secular Jews and not in an ultra-Orthodox home? And by the way, Noa Koler was just terrific! So real! Any other similarities between the main character of The Wedding Plan and you?
RB: First of all, thank you again for all the beautiful things you say! The film is more of my world in terms of becoming religious. I’m 50 years old now and I became religious at the age of 27, so I have lived more years as a secular person than as an observant (one), so, everything I am, basically comes before I became religious. So we (Michal and I) dress a bit different, we’re not so traditional because we have both worlds living inside us. But the story is not autobiographical.
SKW: I enjoyed sneaking a peek behind the curtain. The Orthodox world is not a place that I would often have access, except perhaps in film. I am also the program director of a Jewish film festival in Dallas, and one of my observations is that the Orthodox rarely attend our films, even if it highlights their community.
RB: That’s right. My films are not for the Orthodox community at all. I actually don’t recommend that they go and see them. My films are for secular Jews and even non-Jews — I’m trying to be that little window and the Orthodox world doesn’t really need that window in terms of getting to know their world. So, they won’t go and see films and they won’t sit in a theater where men and women sit together.
SKW: In researching this film, I learned that it was shown in other countries with a translation of its Hebrew title, Through the Wall, but here in the United States it’s known as The Wedding Plan. Why the change?
RB: After hosting some screenings, Roadside Attractions (the distributors) decided that the word “wall” in an Israeli film sounded very political. And this film was not. And for me, it was OK that they made the change; I totally trust them.
SKW: Just as a side note here — there is a pivotal scene that takes place next to a wall (but not The Wall). Having the word “wall” in the title would then lead the audience to believe that the film heads into a very different direction.
RB: (a little laugh). Ah, I can see how you thought that. Interesting!
SKW: I love how you seamlessly integrated the music into the storyline (again, you’ll have to see it to understand my meaning). This is obviously an important element to you.
RB: Yes, actually the musician, Roy Edri, did both the score and the songs. His music goes very fast to the heart! You kind of listen to it and (right from the beginning), you can almost sing with it. I think he’s extremely talented.
SKW: In this country, Jewish singles use JDate to find suitable matches; does the Hasidic community still rely on matchmakers?
RB: Yes, that’s our JDate! (We both laugh.) It’s actually the same! The JDate is the matchmaker. Absolutely the same, except the big difference is, on JDate, it’s not necessarily for marriage — unless they declare they’re looking for something serious — but for us it won’t be anything but marriage. That’s mainly the difference.
SKW: For those who haven’t seen the film yet, there is a character — Shimi’s mother — who performs certain rituals. What was her title? What is she? Is there a name for what she does?
RB: (little snicker) I don’t think there’s a name, but in Judaism, we do believe in the evil eye. Sometimes you feel you kind of need something spiritual that will help you. If you’re stuck, you go to someone. You have it in the Orthodox world. You have it in the secular world. You go to a coach, you go to people who can help you overcome an obstacle. And she’s the type, when it comes to marriage, girls come to her and she brings them to a very genuine, honest place that starts something new.
SKW: Now I learned something new! What is your next project? What are you working on?
RB: It’s in the very, very early stages, but I think the next project involves television: to do a show, to go into the deeper level of a story. To (tell the story) in 10 hours and not two hours.
SKW: So many Israeli TV programs have been adapted for American audiences: Homeland, In Treatment. I am looking forward to that! Thank you for speaking so candidly with me today. Please keep sharing your stories with us.
RB: It was a pleasure!

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Tycher closing book on 2017 Spring Read

Tycher closing book on 2017 Spring Read

Posted on 20 April 2017 by admin

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

Just as the pages turn for readers of the Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer Dallas Jewish BookFest, so does the events calendar.
At 7 p.m. April 26, author Janis Cooke Newman will discuss A Master Plan for Rescue at the Aaron Family JCC.
“A Master Plan for Rescue is a demonstration of how storytelling is so much a part of life and of each person’s own story,” said Diane Calmenson, a Tycher Library ambassador. “The friendship that develops between the two main characters is sweet and significant. For the Tycher Library, it is important that we’re able to share such a treasure, the Spring Read, (which is) an opportunity to bring the community together.”

Janis Cooke Newman

Janis Cooke Newman

Cooke Newman’s first book, The Russian Word for Snow, a memoir about adopting her son from a Moscow orphanage, was written as the book about adoption she couldn’t find for her own family.  Her second book was Mary: Mrs. A. Lincoln. She is the founder and curator of Lit Camp, a nonprofit juried writers’ conference and a writing program at the San Francisco Writers Grotto.  Having published many travel articles, which have appeared in the Dallas Morning News and other periodicals, Cooke Newman is anticipating her first trip to Dallas.
“I’ve heard great things about the BookFest and I’m excited to be included,” she said.  “I was prompted to write this book while in Washington, D.C., doing research for Mary. I went to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and learned about the voyage of the St. Louis, a German ocean liner and how there were close to 900 Jews with visas headed for Cuba. Close to shore, the president of Cuba announced they were no longer welcome and the ship headed up the Atlantic, but President Roosevelt also wouldn’t permit entry. The ship returned to Europe where, while Belgium, France and England each allowed some entry, most on board perished during the war.”
Set in 1942 New York and Berlin, A Master Plan for Rescue, named a Best Book of 2015 by the San Francisco Chronicle, is the story of a Jack, a young American boy who struggles to cope with the death of his dear father and Jakob, a German-Jewish refugee as he mourns Rebecca, left behind in Berlin. As their stories intertwine, an unlikely friendship is born, and together they embark on a dramatic adventure that changes the course of both of their lives forever.
“I didn’t know about the raging anti-Semitism here and I knew my next book had to have a character who was on that ship and from that experience,” said Cooke Newman who took seven years to write Jack’s tale, working through the writing from the point of view of a 12-year-old boy. She finally realized she could write in the style of him looking back on life — rather than in the moment.
“I’ve never been a 12-year-old boy, but my son was just that when I started writing this book.” TYCHER SPRING book cover
Cooke Newman brings much of Jack to life through the stories of the New York City-based childhood her own father, George as well as the experiences of her son Alex.
“The Dyckman Street apartment is where my dad lived and I’ve been on that roof and the radio shows that Jack listens to, he told me about,” she said. “The fantasy meets reality world that a 12-year-old boy lives in, I was living with my own son and I wanted to capture that.  How would someone feel to lose the person most important to them — how, through his eyes?”
The Center for Jewish Education of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Tycher Library presentation of A Master Plan for Rescue closes the 2016/2017 Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer Dallas Jewish BookFest.
“There’s lots to talk about on this book; so many characters, the love story, the sad and redemptive moments, and so it really is a great book club choice,” said Cooke Newman.  “Each of the characters has a disability, or a talent, providing so much texture.  I’m really excited to meet those who’ve read the book, and even those who haven’t – yet – and to connect with your community.”
Liz Liener, who chaired BookFest for a fourth year, and who is looking ahead, says “we are looking forward to many wonderful opportunities for this next year and, as always, we greatly appreciate the generosity of our sponsors.”

 

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Tyc

her Library Spring Read Series

The 2016/2017 season opened with a sold-out crowd of more than 500 who welcomed author Daniel Silva who shared his The Black Widow followed by authors Nancy Churnin (The William Hoy Story: How a Deaf Baseball Player Changed the Game), David Eliezrie (The Secret of Chabad), Jessica Fechtor (Stir: My Broken Brain and the Meals that Brought Me Home), Nancy Sprowell Geise (Auschwitz #34207), Shep Gordon (They Call Me Supermensch: A Backstage Pass to the Amazing Worlds of Film, Food and Rock ’n’ Roll), Roger Horowitz (Kosher USA: How Coke Became Kosher and Other Tales of Modern Food), Jo Ivester (The Outskirts of Hope),  Dr. David Patterson (A Genealogy of Evil: Anti-Semitism from Nazism to Islamic Jihad), Susan Ronald (Hitler’s Art Thief),  Liliane Richman (The Bones of Time), Chanan Tigay (The Lost Books of Moses), and Gavriel Savit (Anna and the Swallow Man).
Preparing for the coming year, Rachelle Weiss Crane, producer of the Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer Dallas Jewish BookFest, is among those who will attend the Jewish Book Network conference in May.  Already set, for Dec. 4, is Martha Hall Kelly, author of Lilac Girls, an event that will be a joint presentation of BookFest, Dallas Holocaust Museum Center and Tycher Library.
For more information or to register for the Tycher Library Spring Read, visit jccdallas.org/main/bookfest.

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Around the Town: interfaith potluck, retirement

Around the Town: interfaith potluck, retirement

Posted on 06 April 2017 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Beth Shalom participates in interfaith potluck

It was a warm, loving and enlightening interfaith potluck dinner at the Shepherd of Life Church Sunday, April 2. Hosted by Pastor John Foster, Cantor Sheri Allen from Beth Shalom and Dina Malki representing Al Hedayah, participants socialized and shared stories while enjoying sumptuous dishes contributed by each attendee.

Attendees enjoy the food table.

Attendees enjoy the food table.

(From left) Pastor John Foster from the Shepherd of Life Church, Dana Malki from Al Hedayah and Cantor Sheri Allen from Beth Shalom

(From left) Pastor John Foster from the Shepherd of Life Church, Dana Malki from Al Hedayah and Cantor Sheri Allen from Beth Shalom

 Children from Beth Shalom Congregation sing at the Interfaith Potluck.

Children from Beth Shalom Congregation sing at the Interfaith Potluck.

After dinner, everyone gathered in the sanctuary to enjoy some music. Salah Mahmoud chanted the “Athan,” the Islamic call to prayer, as well as several verses from the Quran; singer Sarah Wolff and Music Director Eddie Creel from Shepherd of Life sang several beautiful settings from scripture; and Beth Shalomers Arielle and Samara Sasley, Joyce, Lauren, Joy and Shem Atkens, Hailie, Kendall and Kaia Posner, and Jessica Silverberg led the listeners in a moving round of Mah Tovu, Salaam and Oseh Shalom. Cantor Allen, Pastor Foster and Mrs. Malki enlightened everyone about the role of food in each faith tradition.
Everyone left physically sated and spiritually uplifted, already looking forward to the next gathering, which is now in the planning stages and will be held at Congregation Beth Shalom.
— Submitted by Phil Kabakoff

Mazal tov Mark Rosenfield

Double congratulations to Mark Rosenfield on his retirement and his upcoming Boy Scouts of America award. Mark retired from the practice of law, which he began in 1973 by joining the firm of Loe and Warren. He became a partner in 1975 and remained with the same firm until his retirement at age 69.
Throughout his professional life, he maintained his passion for scouting carried over from his youth as a Scout. Having his own Scout troop for 17 years, he was also involved with the explorer movement on the district level, participated in leadership training and became a member of the Longhorn Council board of directors in 2000. He also served on the National Jewish Scouting Committee. For all of his dedication to scouting, he will be receiving the Longhorn Council Silver Beaver Award this month.
This award was introduced in 1931. It is a Council-level distinguished award of the Boy Scouts of America. Recipients are registered Scouters who have made an impact on the lives of youth through service given to the Council. Standing in the community, including activities in business, professional, civic, religious and educational realms, is a part of an individual’s nominating process.
Well done and congratulations to Mark.

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Boy and woman he inspired share hugs, thank-yous

Boy and woman he inspired share hugs, thank-yous

Posted on 30 March 2017 by admin

BLUMBERG followup - kim & ariHunter meets Blumberg, creator of thoughtful gift bags for cancer patients

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

It’s almost impossible to describe what the meeting between core souls is like.
Those souls belong to a 13-year-old Jewish boy and a grown Christian woman who were strangers a month ago. On Thursday morning, March 23, the duo shared a moment at Akiba Academy as seventh-grader Ari Blumberg brought the spirit of a bar mitzvah project to life, and Kim Hunter, one of the recipients of his mitzvah, came to say “thank you.”
As the two first came together, with a brief hug, the assembly of students and faculty became anything but ordinary. Hunter spoke about her medical experience and how Blumberg’s project caught her at the right moment, in a manner he never could have planned.BLUMBERG - followup - akibakids
“I just had an MRI and I didn’t know if maybe the cancer had spread, and I was scared. I walked in for my treatment and went to my chair, and there was this beautiful bag. At first I figured it belonged to someone else but there were bags on all the chairs,” said Hunter, whose husband Matt, children Holt, Allie and Hodge, sister Stacy Sparagna and niece Skotlynn joined her at Akiba. “The first words on the card jumped at me: ‘You are not alone.’ I can’t explain how immediately it went from a terrible day to an incredible one.”
Hunter, first diagnosed in December 2012, finished the round of treatment and couldn’t stop thinking about the gift during her return home to San Angelo. Her monthly treatments require a five-hour trip, with additional treatments sometimes in Dallas, and others closer to home in Abilene.BLUMBERG followup - meeting
“I kept thinking ‘I want to thank this kid.’ I got home, snapped a photo, made my Facebook post public and went to sleep. I woke up to messages from Israel and around the United States and a friend of mine made the connection in less than 24 hours,” she said, never expecting almost 2,700 shares and over 5,300 likes, “loves” and more.
“I’ve had a lot of people praying for me in the last four years and to know now that people in Israel are praying for me? I knew there was something more to it — that a 13-year-old boy in Dallas took the time to care about me is something I couldn’t ever have imagined. When you are selecting mitzvahs, pray about it and see what’s in your heart because you never know who you might impact and the ripple effect.”
Hunter had never heard of the phrase “mitzvah project,” let alone experienced the benefit. Blumberg, whose grandfather Mike Degani is undergoing treatments at the same Texas Oncology-Presbyterian Cancer Center Dallas, was, in the spirit of his March 4 bar mitzvah, inspired by his grandfather to create a mitzvah project to help other patients.
“I saw how hard it was for my Saba and Safta (Hebrew for grandma and grandpa). He had brought home a smaller bag someone had left for him,” said Blumberg, the son of Sharon and Marc and brother of Ayla and Sam. “I wanted something bigger and fuller and I really just wanted to make it easier for patients and for them to know I was thinking about them. I’m glad Mrs. Hunter appreciated it, and it’s nice that people are learning about doing mitzvah projects, but it’s really just what I do, what we are supposed to do.”
Akiba faculty member Sarah Rosen spoke the words of many in the room, telling Hunter that it was she who inspired those present, that she wasn’t just receiving the goodness and education of what had transpired, but that she was teaching as well. “These children,” she said, “as they move forward in their mitzvah projects for b’nai mitzvah, and beyond as they perform mitzvot all of their lives, will have in mind the meaning and respect that is felt and appreciated, and I’m sure your example of appreciation will forever be remembered.”
Akiba’s principal, Rabbi Avi Spodek, presented Hunter with a tzedakah box like those gifted to students on the occasion of their bar or bat mitzvah. He explained the word tzedakah comes from the word tzedek meaning righteousness or justice and that fulfilling commandments is justice, the right thing to do.BLUMBERG followup - kim name
One of Blumberg’s classmates, Noa Terenyo, asked Hunter for her mother’s name, explaining that the students pray daily for those who are ill. “We want to keep you in our prayers and hope you’ll be better soon,” she said. To that, with tears welling, Hunter added her name and that of Gayle Hamilton to the whiteboard.
“I’ve always been taught to stand with the Jewish people and I know that I was put here to be a voice. I promise to keep learning, talking, and teaching others about how amazing the Jewish people are,” Hunter said. “I know God put me where He did.”
There were tears, they were joyful, and in the middle of the Beit Knesset, there was Blumberg’s mom Sharon at Hunter’s side. A month ago, the two women were unknown to one another; now there is mutual support, now they are friends, really a new world of family.
“We struggled with what Ari was going to do for a mitzvah project, wanting something that was meaningful and would deeply speak to him,” Sharon said. “Once my father was diagnosed it became emotional and there was a reason for what to do. We became inspired and Ari ran with it.”
“Kim’s presentation inspired all who listened to her message of faith and understanding. Through the story of her medical treatments and living with metastatic cancer, she conveyed her unwavering belief that everything happens for a reason and all is in God’s hands,” said Akiba Head of School Tammie Rapps. “When we teach how our actions matter, and about our Jewish responsibility to be a light unto the nations, it’s sometimes difficult to imagine what those lessons look like. After our meeting, those lessons looked like a blonde 41-year-old mom who has assumed the mantle of spreading goodness and kindness because she’s been on the receiving end of thoughtfulness and compassion.”
Touring the Schultz Rosenberg campus, Hunter was in awe of all the meaning put into the construction and creation by “spiritual architect,” artist David Moss and others involved in the purposeful design. “This is a special place and I love that from the youngest of the babies, the influence of good, and beauty and kindness, is here,” she said. “I don’t know if I’ll ever have the opportunity to go to Israel but walking down the corridor, someone explained to me that we were on target with the longitude and latitude to keep walking straight into Jerusalem. I believe in the power of prayer and in the power of healing and I thank you.”BLUMBERG followup - families
Hunter spoke to the importance of allowing others to help when facing a challenge. She had always been on the giving end, helping those in need. When she became ill, she had to learn to receive, to let others in.
Hunter believes wholeheartedly that this experience is not just about an incredible mitzvah project, but the chance for her to take it one step further, and that she vows to educate Christians about the Jewish community. “I absolutely will spread the amazing things you do and how we must stand by you. I want to stay in touch with you and learn more,” she said, after her talk hugging students and faculty members, many of whom offered babysitting and playgroups for her children whenever the family is in town. “I’m really overwhelmed and know that we will forever be entwined. This can’t be explained but I know it is God speaking to me and letting me know I’m not alone on this journey.”

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Dallas Doings: Points for Peace, Beacon of Hope luncheon

Dallas Doings: Points for Peace, Beacon of Hope luncheon

Posted on 23 March 2017 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Get ready for P4P

Now that Tiferet’s very successful Chili Cook-off is a wrap, it’s time to look forward to the next big community event.
Students Against Terrorism will host its 15th annual Points for Peace 3-on-3 basketball tournament from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, April 2, at the Aaron Family JCC. SAT is a student-run organization associated with Yavneh Academy of Dallas. Its goal is to demonstrate solidarity with Israel and provide support for victims of terror in Israel. The organization is committed to raising awareness in Dallas about the devastating effects of terrorism on Israeli citizens.
SAT began in March 2002, when six Yavneh Academy of Dallas high school students attended a Yeshiva University-sponsored leadership conference in Connecticut. It focused on active leadership and various ways to help combat terror in Israel. After the insightful and motivational conference, the students returned to Dallas to share their thoughts with other students. The result was the formation of Students Against Terrorism.
In 14 years the organization has raised $544,000 for victims of terror in Israel. This year, the goal is to raise $50,000 for Operation Embrace, which provides assistance to injured survivors of terror in Israel. With the guidance from social workers throughout Israel and Bituach Leumi (Israel’s National Insurance Agency), Operation Embrace helps all people who have been violated by random acts of terror and does not discriminate by race or religion.
The goal is to facilitate a brighter future and to help individuals who suffer with physical and emotional trauma to rebuild their lives. The $50,000 will allow Operation Embrace to provide victims of terror with therapeutic Shabbat retreats, therapeutic horse riding camp, social business-café, a rehabilitation training program for PTSD survivors in Sderot and individual assistance.
The 12 divisions of this year’s tournament are: grade 1-2, boys grade 3-4, girls grade 3-4, boys grade 5-6, girls grade 5-6, boys grade 7-8, girls grade 7-8, high school boys, high school girls, adult men, special needs and adult women. There will also be a 3-point shooting contest.
Registration is $30 per team and must be paid online and completed no later than Wednesday, March 26, 2017. Each team must raise a minimum of $200 in sponsorships that will all be donated to Operation Embrace. Teams will not be allowed to play without the minimum amount of sponsorships. All checks and money, excluding the registration fee, can be mailed in before Points for Peace or turned in on the day of the tournament.
All checks should be made payable to Students Against Terrorism, 12324 Merit Drive, Dallas, TX 75251. To sign up or donate, please visit us at points4peace.org, or email contact@points4peace.org.

Grant Halliburton Foundation holds Beacon of Hope luncheon

Popular lifestyle blogger and No. 1 New York Times bestselling author Glennon Doyle Melton spoke at Grant Halliburton Foundation’s eighth annual A Beacon of Hope Community Luncheon at the Renaissance Dallas Hotel on Thursday, Feb. 23.

Grant Halliburton Foundation Presents the Beacon Of Hope 2017 Luncheon photographed Thursday, February 23, 2017 at The Dallas Renaisance Hotel. Photography by Bruce E. Maxwell.

Grant Halliburton Foundation Presents the Beacon Of Hope 2017 Luncheon photographed Thursday, February 23, 2017 at The Dallas Renaisance Hotel. Photography by Bruce E. Maxwell.

Grant Halliburton Foundation Presents the Beacon Of Hope 2017 Luncheon photographed Thursday, February 23, 2017 at The Dallas Renaisance Hotel. Photography by Bruce E. Maxwell.

Grant Halliburton Foundation Presents the Beacon Of Hope 2017 Luncheon photographed Thursday, February 23, 2017 at The Dallas Renaisance Hotel. Photography by Bruce E. Maxwell.

Steve Noviello of Fox 4 News emceed the event, and Co-chairs Heidi Perry and Kate Anderson kicked off the ceremony with words from the foundation.

Luncheon speaker Glennon Doyle Melton with Jacob Wisch

Luncheon speaker Glennon Doyle Melton with Jacob Wisch

The Grant Halliburton Foundation works to help families and young people recognize the signs of mental illness through a variety of avenues including education, conferences, collaboration and encouragement. The luncheon aims to bring focus to the vital work needed to educate the North Texas community on adolescent mental health and suicide prevention.

Katie Ray, Speaker Glennon Doyle Melton and Alyson Ray

Katie Ray, Speaker Glennon Doyle Melton and Alyson Ray

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Dallas Doings: Annual gala, BBYO

Dallas Doings: Annual gala, BBYO

Posted on 02 March 2017 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Levine’s featured models, artists at annual gala

Levine Academy students Bennett Towbin, 5, and Zachary Goldminz, 10, will be featured models and artists at the Children’s Cancer Fund Annual Gala, a NYC-themed “Broadway Nights and Runway Lights” event — the nonprofit’s 29th annual fundraiser for pediatric oncology research and treatment programs. The gala features live and silent auctions, a children’s fashion show, dinner, drinks and dancing to musical entertainment by DJ Lucy Wrubel. It will be held Friday, April 21, at 6 p.m. (Champagne reception), 7:15 (dinner and program), at the Hilton Anatole Hotel, 2201 N. Stemmons Fwy. A fashion show presented by Dillard’s and produced by RSC Show Productions will feature children who are undergoing treatment for cancer at Children’s Health in Dallas. The children, “models” for the fashion show, will be escorted down the runway by Honorary Event Chairmen Troy Aikman and Roger Staubach, along with many other celebrities and sponsors.
Gala Event Chair Pamela Moayedi, will kick off the program with Aikman and Staubach, who will turn it over to CBS11 News Anchor Karen Borta, mistress of ceremonies.
Proceeds from the gala, slated to raise more than $1 million, go to Children’s Cancer Fund to support pediatric cancer research and treatment programs at Children’s Medical Center. Since 1982, Children’s Cancer Fund has donated almost $8 million to the cause. The Children’s Cancer Fund spring event is the organization’s largest annual fundraiser for pediatric cancer, hosting over 1,000 guests from North Texas and across the nation.
Bennett — Bennett Towbin, 5, was diagnosed with pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia at the age of 2½, and is in pre-K at Levine. He is the son of Laynie and Hal, and has a younger sister and a dog. He loves sports, including soccer and baseball, and he also enjoys playing with his toys and playing games. He would really like to be a team mascot when he grows up. His mom and dad are his heroes because he loves them so much.
“I am excited to wear special clothes and be onstage for everyone,” said Bennett. “I’m also excited about the Gala because everyone there wants to make a difference in kids’ lives.”
Zachary — Zachary Goldminz, 10, was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma at the age of 8, and is a fourth-grader at Levine. He is the son of Pamela and Jonathan and has a younger sister. He likes reptiles and has a leopard gecko, a crested gecko, two Jackson chameleons and a panther chameleon. His favorite subject in school is science, and he wants to be a professional swimmer and an oncologist when he grows up.

Former Cowboys quarterback and NFL commentator Troy Aikman takes a photo with Zachary Goldminz, who was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma two years ago.

Former Cowboys quarterback and NFL commentator Troy Aikman takes a photo with Zachary Goldminz, who was diagnosed with Ewing Sarcoma two years ago.

Another former Cowboys quarterback, Roger Staubach, takes a photo with Bennett Towbin.

Another former Cowboys quarterback, Roger Staubach, takes a photo with Bennett Towbin.

He is a big fan of the Dallas Cowboys as well as European “football” and would love to go to Spain one day to attend a real Madrid soccer game.
“My hero is a 5-year-old Ewing Sarcoma warrior named Claire, who inspired me to fight harder during treatment,” said Zachary. “I’m excited to meet celebrities at the Gala and raise money for cancer research.”
Children’s Cancer Fund brings together local celebrities, dignitaries, philanthropists, sponsors, and media personalities to serve as runway escorts for these young patients modeling in the fashion show. Honorary Event Chairs Aikman and Staubach have been involved for many years: Aikman for 20 and Staubach since the event’s inception 29 years ago. Additional celebrity escorts include current Dallas Cowboys players, cheerleaders, Dallas SWAT, Jane McGarry of WFAA, Miss Texas America and the Pink Heels Firefighters.
“When I was diagnosed with a tumor in 2009 at UT Southwestern, I was terrified about what would happen next. Thankfully my tumor was benign, but my fear was real,” said Gala Chair Pamela Moayedi. “My experience has made me so much more passionate about helping children in that kind of situation. I’m committed to supporting local research that saves lives, especially young kids.”
Individual tickets are $300 or $2,750 for a table of 10. Contact Children’s Cancer Fund at 972-664-1450 or visit www.ChildrensCancerFund.com/Gala for reservations and more information.
The finale of the show each year is a special time for all the children, both those currently battling cancer and young cancer survivors. As they join together onstage, they will be introduced by the evening’s special entertainment, DJ Lucy Wrubel.
“You have to see the look on these kids’ faces as they walk down the runway. It’s what inspires us in our work and in everything we do,” said Jennifer Arthur, CCF executive director of development. “They are fighters and survivors every day, but on that night, they’re stars and they’re shining brightly for their families, for the audience and for each other.”
Children’s Cancer Fund has created a special 2017 lookbook for the Gala, featuring the children modeling in the show. The lookbook includes photos as well as original artwork by these young cancer patients.
To purchase copies after the Gala, please call CCF at 972-664-1450 or visit www.ChildrensCancerFund.com.
Sponsors include: $100,000: Centurion America; $50,000: Texas de Brazil; $25,000: Jennifer Stroud Foundation; Marianne and Roger Staubach, Pauline Allen Gill Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s Medical Center; $15,000: Emergency Physicians at Presbyterian Hospital; $10,000: Troy Aikman; Albertsons — Tom Thumb; $5,000: Belmont Icehouse; Fee, Smith, Sharp & Vitullo, LLP; Fischer; The Kitchell/Leete Family; Fashion Sponsor: Dillard’s; Media Sponsor: CBS11; In-Kind Sponsors: ALBRITTON DAY; American Airlines; Belmont Icehouse; Elle Films; Gene and Jerry Jones Foundation; Gold Crown Valet; Hilton Anatole; Kendra Scott; Nomad Productions; Patty Foppen Photography; Picasso’s Pizza and Grill; RSC Show Productions; Salon Pompeo.
— Submitted by Elizabeth Lenart

Legacy Willow Bend welcomes BBYOers from abroad

The Legacy Willow Bend was honored to welcome student members from BBYO (formerly B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, now BBYO, Inc.) who recently visited the senior living community for a unique intergenerational event, which offered valuable interactions that positively impacted the lives of everyone involved.

Submitted photo A group of international BBYO participants with bottles of smiles, an idea created at a past convention

Submitted photo
A group of international BBYO participants with bottles of smiles, an idea created at a past convention

Forty-two high-school-aged students arrived at the community, where they divided into groups and spent time with each lifestyle group within the community. The students and residents participated in various activities and projects while getting to know one another. For many of the community’s Jewish residents, this visit was a special opportunity to share traditions and memories that are meaningful to them and learn from others from different countries and backgrounds.
The students participating in the activities at The Legacy Willow Bend were in Dallas for BBYO’s annual International Convention held in Dallas on Feb. 16-20.
— Submitted by Amy Jones

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Jewish community remembers music maker

Jewish community remembers music maker

Posted on 02 March 2017 by admin

‘Definition of mensch’ Feldman mourned in Feb. 27 memorial

By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP

Hearts broken, hundreds joined to heal, to hold each other and to bid “shalom,” to Bruce Feldman, who would have turned 63 on March 7.
Feldman — the Jewish community’s teacher, friend, mentor, buddy and a member of every family he touched — died Feb. 25.
Congregation Anshai Torah was a standing-room-only sanctuary of love on Monday morning, Feb. 27, all remembering the treasured man.
Those Bruce brought under the chuppah and his b’nai mitzvah students — “900-ish” in 23 years of tutoring — helped fill the room, gazes engraved with pain. For his Kol Rina choir and congregation, the thought of praying without him is heart-wrenching. Childhood friends and family remembered the Dallasite who grew up at Congregation Tiferet Israel — serving as president, and helping start the Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off — a teen leader in BBYO and throughout life. For the Level Ground and One Voice Outreach Choir and seniors at the Legacy, prayer will always ring with his passion.

Submitted photo Bruce Feldman was best known for his singing ability, but he also was the president of Tiferet Israel and helped start the Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off.

Submitted photo
Bruce Feldman was best known for his singing ability, but he also was the president of Tiferet Israel and helped start the Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off.

Rabbis Stefan Weinberg and Michael Kushnick led a meaningful service. Kol Rina serenaded their friend’s soul, their solemn sound with one voice, deafeningly silent. Bruce’s children Liz and Eric, and their cousins Jen Bagesse and Gary Feldman, eulogized him.
“My Pops, the most charismatic, likable, and jovial person, pulled me through no matter what,” said Liz, married to Andy Chapel and the mother of Livi, Sophia and Henry, her memory bank full of painting Dad’s toes, making ankle bracelets and more. Finding her own voice through Bruce’s love of music, their duets she will miss. “He had a magical gift to make everything special.”
Liz and Eric spoke of Bruce’s kvelling as a grandfather, a role he treasured, calling time with his grandkids “a transfusion.” Weekend dates for oatmeal and a side of muffin — so simple, so lasting. The two promising to honor their father’s love of Jewish learning — she promising to learn Shacharit, and he to lead the Passover Seder — both wishing he’d give play-by-play lessons rather than their running the bases alone.
“Dad had an ear like no one and a photographic memory for the classics of the ’50s to ’90s and even modern-day rap,” said Eric, the husband of Erica and father of Levi, whose “Camp Dad” memories include pet shop visits, playing basketball, baseball card shows, travels, Dave & Buster’s and making movies.
“Dad was charming, spontaneous, and he helped me navigate through life, making everyone feel like they were the most important person on the planet.”
For Bruce’s wife Lori, his children and grandchildren, his mother Sylvia, mother-in-law Marilyn, stepchildren David (Rachel), (Erin), and Brett (Kat), brothers Marvin (Pam) and Herschel, sister Joan and grand extended family, the tentacles of the community hold you close.
“Bruce’s personality was infectious. It’s a terrible thing to not see his bright, shining face, to not share his bear hugs,” said Rabbi Weinberg. “This week’s Torah portion, Terumah, has God saying, ‘You shall bring gifts to me from everyone whose heart moves him.’ Bruce was defined by that love, giving of himself to all. That virtue must move us all to focus on the memories and finding something good to do to honor the man who taught us to smile, laugh and enjoy Judaism.”
At an almost full shul minyan Monday night many recalled stories — each person certain they were Bruce’s best friend, his closest confidant, the “one.”
Bruce once said, “It’s important we nurture and teach our kids about their faith and heritage. There’s one chance to instill this feeling and it’s important they connect and keep the feeling and spirit, hopefully forever.” Bruce was credited with connections and spirit throughout our community.
Upon learning of his death, community members filled Facebook with tributes. “Profound and deep impact.” “Changed our lives for the better.” “Guardian on earth.” “Bruce had a force of personality.” “The definition of ‘mensch.’ ”
May your name — and your awesome nicknames — be a blessing. One grand, Jewish, funny, musical, sports-loving, celebration-living, amazing blessing.
Memorials can be made to Levine Academy, Congregation Anshai Torah, or your favorite charitable organization. Those wishing to share messages, including tributes to Bruce pulled from his students’ b’nai mitzah speeches, can send them to the family at brucesbnaimitzvah@gmail.com.

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Film Review: What to watch before new year arrives

Film Review: What to watch before new year arrives

Posted on 22 December 2016 by admin

Photo: Amazon Prime If you're not in the mood for a run to the movies, try out The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime.

Photo: Amazon Prime
If you’re not in the mood for a run to the movies, try out The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime.

As I’m writing this, the temperature is in the teens and I have no idea what the thermometer will read this Sunday.
But I do know a place you can go Dec. 25 where the weather is always perfect — your local movie theater, of course! And there is something for everybody to enjoy. My choices are listed below (in no particular order):

La La Land

A modern take on the Hollywood musical from Damien Chazelle, the Academy Award-nominated writer and director of Whiplash. Ryan Gosling is a devoted jazz musician and Emma Stone, an aspiring actress who sing and dance themselves into our hearts. The opening number is a joy to watch! I always wondered what folks did in L.A. when caught in an endless traffic jam. Now I know.

Passengers

Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt star in an exciting sci-fi thriller directed by Morten Tyldum (The Imitation Game) about two passengers who are on a 120-year journey to another planet when their hibernation pods malfunction. Sounds very bleak, but the story is actually told with a great deal of humor and has a wonderful message about humanity and solitude. Are some of the futuristic plot devices contrived? Of course, but strap yourself in and go along for the ride.

Jackie

Living in Dallas, we often believe we know everything about what happened that tragic day and in the aftermath of the Kennedy assassination. See it from a very different perspective. Natalie Portman deftly captures first lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s breathless speech patterns and mannerisms to a “T.” Surely an Oscar nomination is in her future.

Lion

Lion, directed by Garth Davis, is the true story of a 5-year-old Indian boy who gets lost on the streets of Calcutta, thousands of miles from home. Living with his adoptive parents in Tasmania, he sets out to find his lost family 25 years later. A truly stunning performance by Sunny Pawar as the young Saroo. Lion manages to be sad and uplifting, all at the same time.

Sing

Even if you don’t have kids, you’re going to want to see and experience Sing. A koala bear named Buster Moon (voiced by Matthew McConaughey) has one final chance to restore his theater to its former glory by producing the world’s greatest singing competition. The animation is brilliant and the soundtrack will have you humming all the way home.

On TV

If Sunday is a little chillier then normal, you may decide to stay home, break out the microwave popcorn and do a little binge watching. That’s what Netflix is for. I have a few recommendations that will keep you busy for hours on end.
If you haven’t seen House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, you’d better play catch-up before the fifth season is released in February. The Majority House Whip (Spacey) takes you on a long political journey as he exacts his vengeance on those he feels wronged him. And if you think the November election was rough, watch Frank Underwood in action. Even the soundtrack (by Jeff Beal) is smashing!
Were you a fan of Downton Abbey? Trick question — who wasn’t! Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) is back on TV in Good Behavior as Letty Raines, a Southern gal (with a deep accent to match) who’s a thief and con artist just released from prison. She’s attempting to go straight, but instead meets a man who derails her plans. He’s charming and handsome; so what if he’s an assassin? Before you know it, they are enmeshed in a dangerous and seductive relationship. All episodes can be watched on demand on TNT; new episodes at 9 p.m. Tuesdays.
If you are an Amazon Prime member, you’re in luck! The Man in the High Castle is an Amazon series and season two has just been released. Based on a novel by Philip K. Dick, this sci-fi drama, set in 1962, depicts an alarming premise: What if the Nazis had won the war?
So start a tradition. Go to the movies or stay home. Consider it your Hanukkah gift to yourself.
Susan Kandell Wilkofsky is the secretary of the North Texas Film Critics Association and a co-founder of 3 Stars Cinema.

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Celebrating Anshai Torah with ‘Diamonds and Dice’

Celebrating Anshai Torah with ‘Diamonds and Dice’

Posted on 20 October 2016 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Bruce Katz Congregation Anshai Torah’s men’s a capella group, Kol Rina, will be toasted at the Nov. 5 Diamond’s and Dice party at the synagogue. Pictured (front Row from left) Stuart Rosenfield, Ron Friedman, Rusty Cooper, Harry Benson, Bruce Feldman, Merv Ginsburg and Rabbi Stefan Weinberg; (standing behind the front row, from left) Jeff Romick, Rob Shrell, Joel Futterman, Matt Kurtzman, Eric Berman, Jim Schwartz, the late Larry Kramer, Bruce Katz, Howard Goodman, Ron Nevelow and Lorin Subar (not pictured) Roy Ehrlich and Carl Uretsky.

Photo: Courtesy Bruce Katz
Congregation Anshai Torah’s men’s a capella group, Kol Rina, will be toasted at the Nov. 5 Diamond’s and Dice party at the synagogue. Pictured (front Row from left) Stuart Rosenfield, Ron Friedman, Rusty Cooper, Harry Benson, Bruce Feldman, Merv Ginsburg and Rabbi Stefan Weinberg; (standing behind the front row, from left) Jeff Romick, Rob Shrell, Joel Futterman, Matt Kurtzman, Eric Berman, Jim Schwartz, the late Larry Kramer, Bruce Katz, Howard Goodman, Ron Nevelow and Lorin Subar (not pictured) Roy Ehrlich and Carl Uretsky.

Submitted report

It’s a sure bet that the Nov. 5 “Diamonds and Dice” Casino Party at Congregation Anshai Torah will be a winner.
Friends and family will gather to hear music and more; to honor Kol Rina; to celebrate the congregation at large; and to raise funds for its programming and general support.
From 8-11:30 p.m., the craps will be shooting, the cards will be played and the general community is invited to share in the fun.
“We have a great congregation and we’re so excited about this great evening to celebrate all that we are,” said Kim Velevis who is co-chairing the event with Leslie Krajmalnik. “We’re going to have craps and roulette tables, games of Texas Hold ’Em and so much more.  It’s going to be a really fun evening.”
In addition to the casino games, there will be light snacks  to nosh on and a cash bar.  A silent auction, featuring sports and travel packages including a week in Breckenridge, Colorado, and a stay in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, as well as items for all ages, and a casino raffle will be held. At the end of the evening, players can trade in their “winnings” for prizes.
The tribute to Kol Rina will include the presentation of a commissioned piece of art created by Anshai Torah member Traci Laizerovich.  The heart, and brain-child of Congregation Anshai Torah Rabbi Stefan Weinberg, Kol Rina started 11 years ago with an occasional presence at a Friday night service.
“I recognized the need to inject our prayers with a good dose of the energy, harmonious sound and ruach (spirit) that a group such as Kol Rina might be able to produce,” said Rabbi Weinberg, himself a member of the group. “The journey of the men who comprise Kol Rina has been astounding and, while I imagined Kol Rina would lead us toward a more spiritual prayer experience, they continue to exceed my expectations.”
Kol Rina’s participation at Congregation Anshai Torah’s services is a soulful definition reflecting its translation as a “sound of rejoicing.” Members Harry Benson, Eric Berman, Rusty Cooper, Roy Ehrlich, Bruce Feldman, Ron Friedman, Joel Futterman, Merv Ginsburg, Howard Goodman, Bruce Katz, Matt Kurtzman, Ron Nevelow, Stuart Rosenfeld, Jim Schwartz, Rob Shrell, Lorin Subar, Carl Uretsky, Rabbi Stefan Weinberg, those who have retired of the choir Jonathan Goldstein, Andrew Goulston and Gil Wolfe and, now of blessed memory, Ted Gruen and Larry Kramer, bring harmony to Friday night, Saturday morning and holiday services.
The group rehearses most Sunday mornings, creating memories and melodies for themselves and their congregation’s members. “We most definitely are a brotherhood and while we have many different reasons for participating, we all enjoy singing and we all love Jewish music,” said Bruce Katz, who recently handed over the director’s baton to Matt Kurtzman. “The rabbis allow us liberties with many of the prayers and that allows us to share our expressions of fun and interests while keeping to the liturgy.”
Whether sharing their voices to an audience of 75 or 300, the group’s harmonious variations of Adon Olam; be it to the tune of Sweet Georgia Brown, Under the Boardwalk, or even Take Me Out to the Ballgame, are always received with smiles.
“I could not have imagined the sense of ownership that would develop amongst the participants and we have grown from a small group of singers to a cadre of musicians,” said Rabbi Weinberg. “We don’t just perform, we sing with our hearts and souls, the Hebrew texts that have inspired our people in every generation.”
Kol Rina has performed at hundreds of b’nai mitzvah Shabbat services at Congregation Anshai Torah and in the Dallas community and at many luncheons, afternoon and evening services.  The group has produced a CD; performed at the Men’s Events of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and Community Yom HaAtzmaut assemblies; as well as at a Unity Church Sacred Global Music Festival; at the Legacy at Willow Bend; and other community events.
Memories created, notes hit — high and low — Kol Rina, the “Voice of Joy,” is just that.
To RSVP for the Nov. 5 Diamonds and Dice event, provide sponsorship or donate prizes for the raffle or silent auction, call 972-473-7718.
Submitted by Deb Silverthorn on behalf of Anshai Torah

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