Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
Spring debut of ‘SNP Honors ‘Celebration
Reappointed Chairman of the Special Needs Partnership (SNP) at Jewish Family Service, Louis Zweig, announced the upcoming, spring debut of the “SNP Honors” Celebration. This exciting event will take place at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 2, 2017 in the Beck Sanctuary at Shearith Israel.
The inaugural program will pay tribute to two outstanding role models and contributors who have advanced the special needs movement throughout the Dallas Jewish community.
To be honored are Laura Seymour, longtime Director of Camp and Youth Services at the Aaron Family JCC, and Eileen Kreisler, creator of the Lomdim program at Temple Emanu-El and driver of numerous special needs programs in area preschools, day schools and religious schools. “Both are highly deserving of our gratitude for making Dallas a more inclusive city and for all of their efforts that have positively impacted so many deserving individuals and families,” emphasized Zweig.
Helping to launch this highly anticipated special needs fundraiser, featuring luscious desserts, flavorful noshes, Israeli wine and tasty whiskey, are Co-Chairs Barbi Cohen and Amy Harberg. Serving as honorary co-chairs are Susan and Martin Golman and Barbara and Stan Levenson.
In addition to the sale of admission tickets, valued sponsorships and generous contributions to the SNP, the Zweig Family and the Gladys Golman/Faye Dallen Special Needs Fund are combining interests to advance the first $10,000 toward an achievable goal of raising $150,000. Their gift follows nearly a decade of annual contributions, most recently generated from the Fund’s annual bowling tournament that concluded earlier this year.
Among the various programs and services benefiting from the “SNP Honors” celebration, the following are to be funded:
A full-time JFS Community Organizer
Special needs resources to work in day schools, preschools and religious schools in collaboration with JFS
Monthly Inclusion Experiences and PERK programs designed to educate students, teachers, parents and community leaders.
Louis underscored that “the support and participation of our entire community will be highly valued and genuinely appreciated.”
For more information about SNP Honors, please visit www.JFSSNPHonors.org.
— Submitted by Leah Guskin
Anshai presents donation to families of lost officers
Dallas’ Fire-Rescue Department Station 27’s Brad London, a driver/engineer and paramedic, represented the men and women in blue in symbolically receiving a donation from Congregation Anshai Torah’s Rabbi Stefan Weinberg just before Kabbalat Shabbat services Oct. 27. A fundraising appeal was made to the congregation before Kol Nidre, to support the families of Dallas’ five slain officers: Lorne Ahrens, Michael Krol, Michael Smith, Brent Thompson, and Patrick Zamarripa. The mitzvah is an extension of Anshai Torah’s participation in the Conservative movement’s support of Project Isaiah through which donations are made to a local food bank — a reminder of the obligation to care for those who need our help throughout the community.
“The gravity of Yom Kippur reminds us that while our attention is focused on our own personal transgressions we are inextricably bound to the welfare of our greater community. The pain experienced by the families of the five slain officers will remain in our thoughts and prayers,” said Rabbi Weinberg.
“This past Kol Nidre we encouraged everyone to actively support the grieving families as they struggle to find a way to move forward. A few piggy banks were emptied and the breadth of support demonstrated by the congregation reminded everyone of our civic responsibilities and the tremendous gratitude we owe our policemen and firefighters who protect us on a daily basis.”
London, the son of Cheryl, of blessed memory and Murray London, the husband of Audra, father of Vivian and Zachary, and brother of Marc, became a bar mitzvah under Rabbi Weinberg’s charge a few years ago.
The reunion sweet as a number of family members belong to Congregation Anshai Torah, the congregants in attendance proud of their hometown hero.
“This is a career that each of us as firefighters, paramedics and police officers, and others we work with have chosen to serve our community that we love. I was taught at a very young age by some of the great rabbis in our community about living a life of giving tzedakah, of giving back, whether it be through monetary donations or through service,” said London, a member of the Dallas Fire Department for close to 16 years, nodding in Rabbi Weinberg’s direction.
“I chose service and I get to do that every day and I get to see a lot of great things and a lot of things no one should see on a daily basis. This contribution will go a long way to support the families of the police officers who risked their lives. That’s what we do — it’s what we do every day.”
— Submitted by Deb Silverthorn
Rubenstein Named 2016 Volunteers in Plano Supervisor of the Year
Becky Rubenstein has been named the 2016 Volunteers In Plano Supervisor of the Year. For more than 12 years, it has been all teens all the time for Teen Court Supervisor Becky Rubenstein. As juvenile court manager, she has worked with hundreds of teen volunteers — coordinating, training, and mentoring them as jurors and attorneys in the Municipal Court’s Teen Court program. The program allows juvenile Class C misdemeanor offenders to pay for their citation by completing community service hours. Defendants’ cases are presented to a jury of their peers and volunteer teen attorneys represent defendants and teen jurors assign community service hours.
Rubenstein, a Fort Worth native, is married to Jason and is the mother of Brayden. She is the daughter of Barbara and Jeffrey Gilbert and a graduate of Southwest High School and Southwest Texas State University (now just Texas State). She grew up at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, a member of BBYO’s Alton Silver and Beth El Congregation Fort Worth’s TOFTY chapters, at Greene Family Camp, and as a participant on URJ Garin Greene in Israel ’94. A former volunteer herself in the Fort Worth Teen Court, she previously served as Teen Court Coordinator for the City of Arlington.
Chief Administrative Judge Don Stevenson attributes the growth of the teen court program to her continuous efforts.
“Through the dozen years that I have worked with Becky, I have seen her demonstrate an amazing rapport with teenagers of all backgrounds,” he said. “She communicates with each young man or woman as an individual and senses whether cajoling, additional instruction, praise, or critique will motivate them to do their best in the courtroom.”
Through Rubenstein’s leadership, the Plano Teen Court has assembled moot court teams and participated in North Texas Regional Moot Court competitions sponsored by the Texas A&M School of Law in Fort Worth. With her encouragement and support, the Plano team consistently progressed and won the overall competition two years ago.
“My favorite experience is to see the students who volunteer develop and grow. Over the years I have seen some young students who come to teen court afraid to speak up, barely giving any eye contact, and trying to sink into their chairs and appear invisible. With some training, constructive criticism, and someone to believe in them, I have watched them grow and transform into amazing critical thinkers, debaters and court advocates,” said Rubenstein. “It is then when they discover their voice and confidence that they grow into true leaders in the courtroom, and that is when I am most proud to have helped them on the journey.”
— Submitted by Deb Silverthorn