Archive | July, 2010


Dallas Doings

Posted on 08 July 2010 by admin

Beth Torah reaches out to interfaith families

Congregation Beth Torah, in the vanguard of Conservative Judaism’s effort to “welcome strangers into the tent,” has laid the foundation for a Greater Dallas Keruv group. “Keruv” means to come closer and that is the exact description of efforts to welcome interfaith families and actively include them in synagogue life.
Statistics tell the story. More than one-third of American Jews are married to non-Jews. Close to one-half of recent “Jewish” marriages are between a Jew and a non-Jew. Of all the Jews who are cohabiting today, over 80 percent of these partnerships include individuals of non-Jewish origin.

With nearly half of all Jews marrying a non-Jew, there are few people in Conservative congregations who do not have an intermarried family member. Yet until recently, the issues surrounding intermarriage were rarely acknowledged in Conservative synagogues. At Congregation Beth Torah, the Keruv programming provides opportunities for people to explore issues relating to intermarriage in a safe and supportive environment. Intermarried families are welcome to join a forum to discuss their concerns and emotions and are invited to cross the synagogue threshold to discover acceptance and support.

Couples searching to find a community both to support raising Jewish children and to help husbands and wives grow as intermarried couples can now explore what is available right on their doorsteps. Rather than imposing preset programming, it is by meeting one another, the congregation, rabbi and educators that the families themselves guide what they need in order to feel comfortable at, and a part of, Beth Torah.

Known for its warmth and inclusiveness, Congregation Beth Torah and its dynamic spiritual leader, Rabbi Adam Raskin, have set a major goal to provide opportunities for interfaith families to participate in specially designed programming with no pressure to convert, change or do anything different in their lives except to raise their children in a Jewish household and to observe Jewish rituals as best they are able.
All too often, interfaith living is a lonely state. By providing opportunities to meet one another and to be warmly included in greater synagogue life, it is the intention of the congregation to strengthen interfaith families by developing and deploying a spectrum of specifically designed programming that provides connections into the main synagogue offerings.

Liz Cox, one of the Keruv leaders, continues to experience the acceptance, the vibrancy, the bonds she and her non-Jewish husband have found at Congregation Beth Torah. “This shul is exceptional and unique in how non-traditional families can become integrated in and integral to synagogue life. That is why I am excited about us serving others who are searching for a religious home. In other times, the Jewish people grew by having children. Today we must supplement that growth by embracing those who have cast their lots with us, by embracing those who help raise our Jewish children with us.”
Congregation Beth Torah, located at 720 W. Lookout Drive in Richardson, invites all interested people to join them from 9 to 11 p.m. on Saturday, July 10 for a summer Keruv luau. The plan is to have fun and meet others with similar interests and needs over dessert and finger foods. Please RSVP to to find out the specific location in the Frankford-Hillcrest area or call Carren Carpenter at the synagogue office, 972-234-1542, Option 3, for more information.

Looking for high school history teachers

Recognizing the national influence of Texas in the textbook adoption process, Institute for Curriculum Services (ICS) based in California, and the JCRC of Greater Dallas became partners in a five-year project called the Public Education Initiative. PEI seeks to guarantee historical accuracy about Jews, Judaism and Israel in the Texas standards (TEKS) and the textbooks that will ultimately be adopted for use in Texas classrooms.

PEI achieves its goals through local outreach and Austin-based advocacy. Pat Epstein, who lives in Austin, has closely monitored the Texas standards revision process for the past year and has developed strong relationships with members of the SBOE and the Texas Education Agency, along with other key stakeholders, to achieve PEI goals. To date, this project has had tremendous impact. The vast majority of recommendations in the form of edits to the TEKS have been accepted and incorporated into the final TEKS which were approved in May 2010.

For the next phase of its work, PEI is looking to build relationships with Dallas and Fort Worth area Jewish history teachers at the secondary and high school level, Jewish parents who are active in their school districts at the PTA and Council of PTAs level, and school administrators. The help of the organized Jewish community is needed to identify such Jewish individuals.

If you can help, please contact June Penkar, outreach liaison, at or at 214-615-5233.

Kids: Take the Tycher challenge!

The Tycher Library, in cooperation with the J summer camps, is offering a special program to encourage summer reading called “The JCC/Tycher Library Summer Reading Challenge.” They are inviting all children to read or be read to.
Participants will log their own minutes weekly, and the library will offer incentive prizes for reaching certain goals: 500 minutes, coupon for an ice cream at Gooey’s; 1,000 minutes, coupon for a slice of pizza from Café Fino; 2,500 minutes, discount coupon for Half Price Books; 5,000 minutes, Tycher Library Summer Reading Challenge T-shirt.
The program is open to all young people, both JCC campers and others. While families are encouraged to include selections from the Tycher Library’s extensive collection of Jewish-themed children’s books, any books qualify. Stop by the Tycher Library, 7900 Northaven Road, to register or call Joan Gremont at 214-239-7132.

Sign up for your flu shots

It’s not too early to begin thinking about flu shots for this fall. Adat Chaverim Brotherhood will provide regular and H1N1 combination flu shots on Sunday, Sept. 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., for a cost of $22 per person. The immunizations will be given at Adat Chaverim, 6300 Independence Pkwy., Plano. Please contact Howard Hoffman at by Sept. 19 to RSVP.
A night to remember …
at Camp Chai!
Overnights at camp are the very special times; the fun begins when campers usually go home and continues through the next day. Camp Chai’s first overnight of the summer was on Thursday, June 24. A surprise Native American theme turned the overnight into a wonderful adventure. Face painting, headdress making, teepee creations and even archery lessons for older campers made this event a special one. The evening came to a close with a drum circle and naming ceremony. Camp Chai Director and TJP “Shabbat Lady” Laura Seymour says, “Magic happens on every overnight. Not only do we try new things and bond with our friends but our campers grow up right before our eyes. An overnight is truly a growing experience.”

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 08 July 2010 by admin

Federation targets three focus goals

The Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County is continuing its strategic planning process. With the consulting help of Jewish Federations of North America, the project has gone through the data-gathering and analysis phases, as well as a final data review by the Federation board. The last phase of the project is final tactical recommendations to the board, in August. This will identify more specific actions, associated costs and timeframes.

According to Executive Director Mort House, “The board has arrived at three general areas of focus over the next 3–5 years … outreach to our younger adult population; outreach to Eastern Tarrant County Jewry; and enhanced Federation marketing and communications. This will in no way alter our current mission nor deemphasize the significant strengths in our traditional areas such as support for Israel, JFS and local Jewish education. Rather, these new priorities will demand a higher level of lay involvement and some additional funding for programming. But after a community survey, several focus groups and a board retreat, it is clear that we need to work more on these areas. Implementation will begin once the board approves final recommendations from our three area committees. We see a September implementation.”

Woody Allen film on tap for ‘Daytimers’

Next event for the “Daytimers” is the annual movie and ice cream social, at 1 p.m. on Wednesday, July 14, featuring the Woody Allen film “Whatever Works.”

The film is about an eccentric New Yorker played by Larry David who abandons his upper-class life to lead a more bohemian existence.

Boris Yelnikoff (David), a misanthropic chess teacher from Greenwich Village, finds a young woman (Evan Rachel Wood) from Mississippi lying on his doorstep. He takes her in for the night and eventually marries her, despite their 40-year age difference and their clashing cultural backgrounds. His philosophy on the matter is that life is short so he might as well enjoy himself. But when he meets her family, no two people seem to get along in the entanglements that follow.

The program includes all the popcorn and ice cream you can eat plus the film for only $5. Reservations are requested so there will be enough ice cream for all. No-fat, low-fat and sugar-free have already been ordered. For other special diet requests, please call Barbara Rubin.

For reservations, call Barbara Rubin, 817-927-2736, or Sylvia Wexler, 817-294-1129, or checks can be mailed to Daytimers, Beth-El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven Road, Fort Worth, TX 76109.

The Sylvia Wolens “Daytimers” is a program of Beth-El Congregation with financial support from the Jewish Federation.

Israel Scouts/Tzofim Friendship Caravan takes Fort Worth by storm

On Wednesday, June 30, as the month of June came to a hot and humid end, the Israel Scouts/Tzofim Friendship Caravan rolled into Cowtown for the first time in many years. The Caravan, sponsored by Friends of Israel Scouts, Inc., is sent to the United States each summer as informal ambassadors of the state of Israel bringing a sample of Israeli culture to America. This team of talented 16- and 17-year-old boy and girl scouts spends months during their 11th-grade year in high school preparing a multimedia program of videos, songs and dances which they perform from June through August in cities all over the United States. The 40 teens and their eight 20-something counselors divide into four teams and crisscross the country in a 12-passenger van towing a U-Haul trailer filled with their equipment and personal belongings.

Their day in Fort Worth began by spending a morning with the campers and staff at the JEA’s Camp Sholom. They brought a program with them from Israel to teach the campers a little bit about the Jewish state, Judaism and Zionism in an informal, fun environment. After enjoying a typical American hot dog lunch, the scouts bid farewell to the campers and spent a couple of hours at the Fort Worth Stockyards, where they experienced the cattle drive, seeing longhorns for the first time and ending their visit with a taste of Texas, Blue Bell ice cream cones.

Returning to Congregation Ahavath Sholom, they prepared for their 7 p.m. performance for the Fort Worth community. Over 100 people came out on a rainy evening to participate in the “Caravan experience.” The songs and dances reflected the diversity of cultures found in Israel. Videos included greetings from the mayor of Jerusalem and an invitation to visit the holy city, an introduction to the scouts’ families and a special tribute to Gilad Shalit, the kidnapped Israeli soldier who has been held by Hamas terrorists in Gaza for the past four years. The tribute also included a message from Shalit’s father, thanking us for not forgetting his son and for our support in attempting to gain Gilad’s release. Everyone that saw the performance left Zale Auditorium with a smile on his face and the anticipation of next year’s visit by the scouts. Special thanks go out to the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County for their funding of this wonderful cultural event.

CAS elects new board, officers

Congregation Ahavath Sholom is proud to announce the election of its new officers and board of directors. Officers include: Marvin Beleck, president; Dr. Murray Cohen, first vice president; Ebrahim Lavi, second vice president; Dr. Nancy Faigin, third vice president; Edwin Bond, treasurer; Naomi Rosenfield, secretary; Stuart Isgur, parliamentarian. Directors include: Irwin Blum, Suzanne Herman, David Saul, Rick Savitz, Jodi Berger, Elsie Blum, Harry Labovitz, Andres Zapata, Robert Dubinsky, Walter Listig, Debby Rice, Carol-Ann Schwartz, J.R. Faigin, Aaron Levy, Naomi Brand. Elections were held at the annual congregational meeting on June 13. Congratulations to the new board of directors.

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In My Mind’s I

Posted on 08 July 2010 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

We all know that Emma Lazarus, who wrote the famous poem that graces the Statue of Liberty, was Jewish. Don’t we? And that lots of the “huddled masses yearning to be free” who accepted her invitation to enter the United States’ “golden door” were Jewish, too? They may not have found the streets paved with gold, but many of them found gold in other places.

As a people, we probably count for no more than 1 percent of the world’s population, but we can be proud of our impact. Take a look at the trio of men who can easily be cited as the globe’s most influential in the past couple of centuries: Einstein. Freud. Lenin. Science, medicine and history would have been vastly different without them.

And so would the mercantile industry of our own country. Here’s something I learned a long time ago, that has much to do with what I mentioned last week: the inability of many Jews, in many parts of the world, for many years, to own property. Or to work in many trades, either. What can men and women do then to feed their families?

Shakespeare made much of Shylock the moneylender. Years and years ago, in much of Europe, Jews were encouraged to enter that business because the church forbade its members to make interest-bearing loans. Yet people sometimes needed to borrow. They would bring things as security for the currency they required, and so the pawnshop was born.

Then, what if those things were not redeemed? Ah — they became the possessions of the one holding them. Pawned clothing turned into a source of literal material for making items that could be sold; learn to reshape garments, and one was now a tailor, a dressmaker. The tools were minimal, and portable: a needle and thread, and a skill that could go anywhere, as necessary. It’s not a surprise that when those “huddled masses” arrived in America, they huddled again in sweatshops, and our country’s garment industry was born.

Selling could also take place on streets, from carts. And when those peddlers could, they stabilized themselves in shops. It’s no surprise, either, that so many great names in department stores, and of the clothing sold in them, are Jewish ones. Altman. Gimbel. Magnin. Kuppenheimer. Strauss. In a way, the church helped, or forced, this to happen.

Here’s another interesting connection: In the fourth century, a young priest in Turkey became legendary by helping out a poor family in a way the time and place required: by providing dowries for its three daughters, without which they would not be considered marriage material. In the dark of night, Nicholas tossed a bag of gold for each of them through a window of their house, and tradition says the bags landed in the shoes the girls had left on the floor. Of course he became famous, was revered and was eventually sainted. In America, “stockings are hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that Saint Nicholas soon will be there”; but in some other countries, children still find holiday gifts in their shoes on Christmas morning.

Guess what? That’s not all! Those three bags of gold moved from being the stuff of legend to solid reality: Three gold balls became the symbol of — pawnbrokers, who would display them outside their shops! And in the tradition of the church, Santa Claus — a quick verbal shorthand for “Saint Nicholas” — is the patron saint of pawnbrokers. And also of merchants.

“Curiouser and curiouser,” as Lewis Carroll had Alice in Wonderland say; the Jewish-Christian connection goes on. There was a time, not like our own, when many foods were strictly seasonal. Fruits, especially. An orange in winter was an expensive rarity. So oranges — precious gold balls that they were then — became treasured Christmas gifts, fillers of shoes and stockings. Another little factoid buried in history.

So why am I talking about all this now, in the heat of summer? Because of Israel’s famed Jaffa oranges. Isn’t it amazing that people once denied land of their own, when they finally secured some, were able to grow the most delicious balls of gold on earth and send them all over the earth to be enjoyed?

On my recent Israel visit, I enjoyed many wonderful oranges — even though the Jaffas are no longer such important exports as they once were. (But I also ate what I’m sure are the most delicious dates on earth!)


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Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 08 July 2010 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,

I would like to inquire about the three weeks of mourning being observed by Orthodox Jews. Why need we mourn something that happened so long ago? I always thought Jews don’t mourn the loss of a loved one forever; we accept God’s will and eventually move on. Why is this different?

—Jonathan P.

Dear Jonathan,

The period you are referring to, known as the “Three Weeks,” is based upon a verse in Lamentations which mentions the mourning period “between the borders.” This is the three-week period between the 17th of the Jewish month of Tamuz and the ninth of the month of Av, known as the fast day of Tisha B’Av. The latter fast will begin on Monday, July 19 and end Tuesday, July 20 at nightfall. During this time we mourn, among other things, the destruction of the two Temples in Jerusalem, both on the same Jewish date of Tisha B’Av.

The destruction of the Temples is the focal point of our subsequent exile and dispersion among the nations of the world. It punctuates the downfall of the Jewish people from its greatness to becoming the punching bag of the nations. This event also epitomizes the spiritual distance we created between us and the Al-mighty, from the Shechinah or Divine Presence. The Temples stood as “G-d’s dwelling place” among our people. Our understanding is that all subsequent calamities which have befallen our people are outgrowths of the distance between us and G-d, which was finalized by the destruction during this period.

During this period we are not simply mourning what happened “once upon a time,” although that’s a part of it. We are not merely bereaved over the loss of that edifice called the Temple, as terrible as that loss was in its own right. We mourn the physical distance between most of us and Israel, the spiritual remoteness between the Jews and the Shechinah. We continue to mourn all the pogroms, inquisitions and expulsions we have suffered over the years. We mourn the Chemelnitzki massacres; the unspeakable Holocaust; the suicide bombings of Israeli cafés and buses which plague us until today. We also mourn the “silent holocaust” transpiring right in our midst: the complete assimilation of hundreds of thousands of Jews right in our front yards.

To understand this a bit deeper: The Talmud says that “any generation in which the Temple was not rebuilt, it is as if they destroyed it.” This means that there were certain misdeeds and sins which brought about the destruction of the Temple. The Second Temple’s destruction relates most directly to us as we currently are living in the exile wrought by its annihilation. The Talmud cites the reason this Temple was ruined: hatred between fellow Jews. Combining this with the previous statement, we learn that if the Temple has not yet been rebuilt in our generation, we still harbor a level of loathing between one Jew and the next which would be sufficient to have the Temple destroyed if it were standing today!

Hence we have a more profound understanding of the mourning of this period. We lament the present state of our people: lacking the love and understanding and brotherhood which would make us the Jewish community that we should be. Your question is correct. We truly don’t practice open-ended grief for the loss of a loved one. We accept G-d’s judgment as true and just; we mourn for a period of time and then move on with our lives. The bereavement of these three weeks is different: The reason for the loss is alive and well and needs to be dealt with. Its purpose is to wake us up and make us take notice of our situation and, it is hoped, cause us to rectify our circumstances in a way which is redeeming. In this case, going out of our way to build love, trust and respect for our fellow Jews would be a great start. Who knows, it just might tip the scale!

Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried, noted scholar and author of numerous works on Jewish law, philosophy and Talmud, is founder and dean of DATA, the Dallas Kollel. Questions can be sent to him at

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Shalom From the Shabbat Lady

Posted on 08 July 2010 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

Each morning, there are traditional blessings recited upon waking up. One of the prayers says: “Blessed are You, Adonai, our G-d, Ruler of the universe, who gives sight to the blind (pokei’ah iv­rim).” Thankfully, very few people are actually blind, so why do we say this prayer every morning? It may be that in some ways, we are all blind as we close our eyes, not seeing the wonderful things in our world. We take so much for granted and we have become blind to the wonders around us. When we say this prayer, we are asking to have our eyes opened.

Here is a fun activity to enjoy outdoors in nature, in your back yard or even in your home. What are the things that we have closed our eyes to and taken for granted? Why is it important to open our eyes and really see?


•Choose a partner. This activity should be done in silence.

•The “A” partner closes his/her eyes and the “B” partner walks the “A” partner to a special natural view (a flower, a rock, etc.).

•”B” partner should take the head of “A” and adjust the line of vision just as if they were a camera — it can be a close-up or a panoramic view.

•Recite the pokei’ah ivrim blessing and tug on the ear of “A” to open his/her eyes.

•“A” should take in the view as if for the first time.

“Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, pokei’ah ivrim.”

“Blessed are You, Adonai our G-d, Ruler of the universe, who gives sight to the blind.”


•How did it feel to be led around? How did it feel to be able to see again?

•What did you see that you didn’t notice before?

•How did it feel to lead a blind person around?

•What was it like to choose a special sight to see? Why did you choose that view?

Laura Seymour is director of camping services and Jewish life and learning at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.

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Gan Shalom is a garden for kids

Gan Shalom is a garden for kids

Posted on 08 July 2010 by admin

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By Deb Silverthorn

Digging through the dirt, feeling the slime of earthworms as they crawl up the arm of a 4-year-old and tasting the fresh first cut from a pepper plant, the children of Temple Emanu-El Preschool, through their Gan Shalom Chai science and garden centers, take it all in.

Committed to connecting children to G-d through nature, the preschool has 230 little gardeners who make their way through the Gan at least once a week. From the earliest toddlers to the pre-kindergarten students, age-appropriate activities and curriculum provide lessons in ecology, gardening, nutrition, animal science and more.

“There is so much value in being a part of our outside world and, even for our youngest students, the environment provides connection to nature and G-d’s world,” said Heidi Kutchin, the preschool’s science and garden educator since 2006. “You never know from day to day, even with a planned curriculum, what might happen and there is nothing more wondrous than children learning they are a partner with everything around them.

“Learning to put others’ needs — whether the ‘other’ is a plant, animal or friend — ahead of themselves is a life lesson,” said Kutchin of the program, which is funded through the proceeds of a hot lunch project, donations and Temple Emanu-El’s preschool budget. “Our program, with all of its richness, teaches the compassion that our tradition teaches.”

“All Jewish children learn to sing blessings before eating that praise the Creator, but do they have the chance to appreciate and praise the Creator’s Creation?” said Temple Emanu-El’s Rabbi Adam Allenberg, director of congregational learning. “In order to develop a mind and a heart that stand in awe of God’s Creation, children — and adults — must have the chance to explore and interact with it.

“We are helping to raise our children with an awareness of the cycles of the earth and a calling to be shomrei adamah,” Rabbi Allenberg said. “We are guardians of the earth and all of its bounty.”

Animals, including rabbits, a chinchilla, a bearded dragon, turtles and a Chinese water dragon, provide opportunities for caring and compassion. Each week, the student responsible for bringing in the class snacks must also research and provide snacks appropriate for that class’ animal.

The Gan provides hands-on experiences in tikkun olam, repairing the world, while exploring and practicing the principles of bal tashchit, which prohibits being wasteful or unnecessarily destructive. Composting is something each class participates in, with the children collecting organic waste from snack and lunchtime to bring to the Gan’s compost bin.

“Heidi is incredible in how she interacts with the kids, always tying together learning about nature with our learning as Jews,” said teacher Alisa Sureck, noting that feeding “Bubbles,” the bunny, is a highlight of her children’s week. “Every week is something new, from upkeep to picking ingredients for a salad, pulling a piece from the broccoli plant and eating it on-site.”

“The impact of the Gan on the children with regard to how they care for the earth, its creatures, and themselves, is lasting,” said Kim Pariza, the mother of 5-year-old Chase, as well as former Temple Emanu-El preschoolers, Hannah and Sterling. “While [I was] visiting the garden at my daughter’s school, she told me that the worms were good because they aerate the soil. This she remembered two years after leaving Temple.

“We found a toad and Chase brought him to school. We now have a garden at home and the kids eat what they plant,” Pariza said.

“I like to pick the weeds from the Gan so that it will be healthy,” Chase Pariza said. “It’s cool because you can do a lot of stuff there. My favorite animal is ‘Spicy’ the bearded dragon and I love to feed him crickets.”

“The Gan was the reason we chose to send our son to Temple. It sealed the deal,” said Jane Larkin, the mother of Sammy. “He was almost 2 years old and the idea that he could be a part of this beautiful oasis, learning to love nature and to care for the earth, while understanding the concepts of tikkun olam — that’s what we wanted for him.”

“I love a lot of nature and there are a lot of things we could learn and do in our houses too. We planted carrots at home because they’re my favorite.” Sammy Larkin said. “At school, I also liked seeing the real ladybug larva; I think it was yellowish and blackish.”

For the Larkin family, the Gan is an extension of their own home gardening where they compost, plant and harvest. “You can’t have a good harvest, like during Sukkot, without composting,” said Larkin, whose husband Cameron was a guest in Sammy’s class, bringing in the family’s tools.

“The kids try eating things that most kids would never eat,” Larkin said, noting that the children made pesto from the garden’s kale plants. “Last summer, Sammy asked me to buy purple peppers, ‘just like the ones we planted,’ he told me.”

“The children are involved in an array of sensory experiences through the Gan and the program finds its way into much of the curriculum,” said Shelley Sender, director of early childhood education at Temple Emanu-El. “They are digging, planting and then cooking with what they grow, and they are painting from the pigment of the flowers. They learn about same and opposite, feeling the furry and scaly or spiked friends.

“The interaction, the responsibility and the depth of language skills that we see growing are so exciting,” Sender said. “We have explosions of vocabulary as the year goes on and it’s really very powerful.”

Throughout the Jewish calendar, the Gan and the preschool staff use nature to re-energize their holiday curriculum. Dipping their apple slices in honey at Rosh Hashanah, the kids make a direct connection to the bees they saw pollinating the Gan’s flowers. A visit by local beekeepers, with their product in tow, was just one of many hands-on memories for the children.

As the Gan’s pomegranates ripened, the children learned how the 613 seeds represent the 613 commandments and at Yom Kippur, the students observed tashlich at their waterfall. On Sukkot, the children celebrated in their garden sukkah, decorated with fresh herbs and branches. During Simchat Torah, they learned that rimon, which means pomegranate, is also the name for the crown on the Torah.

In the next year, the Gan will add an earth oven, one that cooks by the heat of the sun, and children will prepare pita pizzas and challah from the wheat that they grow.

“This generation is experiencing a nature deficit disorder and they need the opportunity to connect with the outdoors,” Sender said. “Life is just too sterile and kids need to be digging in the dirt!”

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JFGD 99th annual meeting cites ‘impact,’ draws 175 people

JFGD 99th annual meeting cites ‘impact,’ draws 175 people

Posted on 01 July 2010 by admin

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By Rachel Gross

The theme for the 99th annual meeting of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas (JFGD) was aptly named “Impact begins with ‘I.’” The gathering highlighted the Federation’s “impact” over the past year through the efforts of dedicated individuals.

The event, co-chaired by Barbi and Scott Cohen, took place at the Aaron Family JCC last week. Cantor Jacob Cohen of Congregation Nishmat Am led the National Anthem, and Rabbi Aryeh Feigenbaum of Congregation Ohr Ha Torah gave the d’var Torah.

The program honored those who demonstrated excellence in their support for the 2010 Annual Campaign and included the election of new officers and board members.

“The theme tonight is Impact Begins with ‘I’,” Barbi said. “Not only does it set the tone for our meeting, it also conveys how we as individuals and as Jews are responsible not only for each other, but also for making a difference in our world and our community.”

Past Federation Chairman Carol Aaron spoke about plans for the upcoming year, such as the 100th anniversary celebration in February; the making of a documentary; a traveling historical exhibit that explains how the Federation came to be; educational guides for religious and day schools that help students understand how the Federation meets needs of the Jewish community in Dallas and overseas; and community-wide events that will take place throughout the year.

She said it is significant for the next generation to become future leaders and get involved with the Federation.

“Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the Jewish Federation in Dallas,” she said. “The theme ‘IMAGINE 1911 ~ 2011 ~ 2111’ was chosen as it ties back to the founders of the ­Jewish ­Federation in Dallas who had the vision to imagine what could be in this western frontier when only a handful of Jews lived here. They were able to imagine a vibrant Jewish community that could grow together through prayer, education and community service. It is the same imagination that will move us forward to the next 100 years.”

Chairman David Veeder, beginning his second term, said although challenges arose and budgets, staff and allocations were reduced, the Federation became more efficient.

It raised more than $10,000,000 during the annual campaign, a 5 percent increase from last year.

Other accomplishments included outreach; the creation of a task force to review shifting from an institutional-based model to a program-based one; expanding overseas programs; the thriving Special Needs Initiative; and the formation of the Public Education Initiative of the Jewish Community Relations Council, which examines how the subject of Jews in Israel is treated in public textbooks.

Veeder said he enjoys being part of the impact the Federation makes on the community.

“I have had the opportunity to work side by side with extraordinary individuals, who contributed endless energy, time, resources, passion and enthusiasm in support of our Annual Campaign,” he said. “Not a day has gone by in the last 12 months that I have not been committed to guiding and initiating changes for the betterment of the Federation and my fellow Jews in Dallas and overseas.”

He added that among the goals for the upcoming year are to put a new marketing protocol in place with agencies receiving allocations, and to provide guidelines to enable partner agencies to acknowledge their relationship with the Federation.

Veeder believes that dedicated individuals will fulfill these aspirations and lead the way to the future.

“There is much we can accomplish not only individually, but when we work together as a group; the possibilities are endless,” he said. “It is important to keep our community vibrant and our Federation relevant to serve future needs here, in Israel and abroad. I am excited to be a part of a celebratory milestone year, honoring a century of service the Federation has provided…. It is the responsibility of each Jew to care for one another and we must keep Federation’s mission alive in the years to come.”

Awards were presented to individuals who made their mark in the community. The recipients were: Stacey Baer, the Bess Nathan Leadership Award; Doug Baer, the I. Zesmer Leadership Award; Sandy Cohen, the Helen Gross Leadership Award; Bill Finkelstein, the Campaigner of the Year Award; and Stuart Blaugrund and Louis Zweig, Special Recognition Awards.

Leaders from the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center made a special presentation as well, donating $100,000 to the Federation’s Annual Campaign. Alan Shor, JCC chairman, said the Federation assisted when the JCC was in need and he felt it was imperative to give back.

“The JCC and Federation have a long and proud history of supporting each other,” he said. “We share not only a campus, but much more. The JCC is healthy and we have built a solid foundation. We are growing, and it’s time for us to give something back to the community. That will always be our goal — to be community-minded and support the Federation and other Jewish agencies.”

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 01 July 2010 by admin

Goldberg Brothers support Dallas fireworks show

Dallas will have a Fourth of July fireworks celebration this year at Fair Park after all. After the disappointing news of this festive tradition being canceled due to insufficient funds, Gold Metal Recyclers stepped up to the plate last week with a sizable donation to keep this civic event alive. Kenny and Neil Goldberg are natives of Dallas and remain very involved with the community. “Sponsoring the annual fireworks show is just one way we can show our support for our city and our nation’s birthday,” Kenny Goldberg said. “We have operated our business here for over three decades and will continue to give back to our community in times of need.”

This year’s celebration will take place on Monday, July 5, at Fair Park. Admission is free, and food and refreshments will be available. Everyone is encouraged to join the Goldbergs on Monday evening to celebrate this exciting and memorable occasion for our city of Dallas.

Big winners score at Casino Night at the J

Bingo, roulette, craps, three-card poker, slot machines and blackjack were all part of Casino Night, June 17, at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center. Between games there was plenty of cheesecake drizzled with chocolate and caramel along with light appetizers to accompany the punch bowl full of sangria. The big winners took home restaurant gift cards, a Neiman Marcus spa package, wristwatches and accessories for the home. The J thanks the Bingo/Casino Committee and sponsors (Anita Marx, Bravo Health, Faith Presbyterian Hospice, Institute for Exercise and Environmental Medicine, Research Across America, Town Village North Dallas, Treemont Retirement Community and 770 KAAM Radio) for their generous support. For more information about senior programs and activities at the J, contact Heather Cordova at 214-239-7149 or

ExxonMobil Foundation grant brings summer intern to Media Projects

Andrea Schpok has joined ­Media Projects, Inc. as an ­ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program intern in Dallas this summer. At Media Projects, Andrea will engage in marketing and social networking work while getting a behind-the-scenes introduction to film production and the nonprofit sector.

Filmmakers Allen Mondell and Cynthia Salzman Mondell, founders of Media Projects, bring important social and community issues to life through their films, which have earned numerous awards and their place at prestigious screenings in the United States and abroad for the past three decades. Media Projects has a strong history of addressing historical and current Jewish issues through their films, “The Monster Among Us,” “The Dallas Jewish Journey,” “West of Hester Street” and “Make Me a Match.”

Andrea’s marketing work will focus around two Media Projects films. The first, “Sole Sisters,” Cynthia Salzman Mondell’s newest film in progress, unites women of all walks of life through stories of their relationships with shoes. The second, “A Reason to Live,” sheds light on the serious issues of depression and suicide among young adults and their impact on families.

“After watching one of these films or even meeting the Mondells, you realize that Media Projects is really something special,” Andrea said. “I am delighted to have the task of promoting material I can believe in and am excited to be involved with the production of the latest films in progress.”

Back from Tufts University in Boston to her hometown of Dallas for the summer, Andrea will intern for eight weeks. Media Projects was selected as one of 75 Dallas-area not-for-profit agencies granted student interns through the 2010 ExxonMobil Community Summer Jobs Program, funded by the ­ExxonMobil Foundation.

For more information, visit and “Sole Sisters” also has a Facebook page at

JWVA plans fun, food, music at elegant luncheon

The Jewish War Veterans’ Auxiliary 256 membership luncheon will be held in an elegant setting at The Tradition–Prestonwood, 15250 Prestonwood Blvd., on Sunday, July 18, at 11:30 a.m.

There is no pressure to join the auxiliary. The occasion is to honor members who give of themselves in so many ways and to enlighten guests as to what they do. Attendees will enjoy the music of vocalist Lori Cohen and pianist Mimi Guten. The event promises fun, food and entertainment.

There is no charge to members or guests, but reservations are required by Friday, July 9. Please RSVP to Dottie Garment, 972-985-7806, or Rosalee Cohen, 972-233-2001.

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Around the Town with Rene

Posted on 01 July 2010 by admin

Julian Haber publishes thriller

Julian Haber’s new mystery/espionage thriller, “A Nail In The Body of Christ,” was recently published. Terrorists in Morocco send a message to an American newsman that they will put a nail in the body of Christ and a bullet in the heart of Israel. Mark Allen, former FBI regional director in Dallas, retires to Port Aransas near Corpus Christi. However, an unusual friendship and accident that almost costs his life forces him out of retirement and into direct conflict with a terrorist shadow cell. Nonstop action, romance and mystery takes place in this fast-paced thriller with secret codes, modern criminal technology and intrigue. With colorful characters, the novel will keep you at the edge of your seat and guessing at the conclusion until the very end.

Signed copies are available for $16 at Free Lance Writers, 7001 Candlestick Court, Fort Worth 76133. It is also available at, and

For more information, contact Julian Haber, 817-346-1902 or

JVW Post #755 installs new slate of officers

On Sunday, June 13, more than 80 people attended the installation of officers, the presentation of the first Veterans Service Award and silent auction held by JWV Post #755 in the great hall of Congregation Beth-El. A wonderful breakfast was prepared by Congregation Beth-El Brotherhood.

TALO (Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma) District Commander Jerry Benjamin of Dallas conducted the installation. Mike London of Austin, outgoing district commander, was present. Elected officers include: Commander Dr. Julian Haber for a second term; Senior Vice Commander Richard Morris; Junior Vice Commanders Ron Silvenell and Peter Levy; Quartermaster Leroy Solomon; and Staff Judge Advocate Jim Bressert.

Appointed officers were: Chief of Staff Ron Sloter; Adjunct Tom Collins; Chaplain Rabbi Sidney Zimelman; Historian Mike Bugamen; Assistant Chaplain Pete Levy; Returning Secretary Hannah Howard; Assistant Quartermaster Les Berman; and James Bressert, officer of the day.

The First Veterans Service Award was presented to State Senator Wendy Davis for her efforts in the Senate on behalf of Texas veterans. She co-authored the Texas veterans assistance and veterans court bill and was instrumental in the passage of the veterans lottery.

JFS Seniors check out Mrs. Baird’s bread bakery

The JFS Seniors toured Mrs. Baird’s bread factory and then had a wonderful lunch at Joe’s Pizza and Pasta on I-35 and Sycamore School Road. The tour was a lot of fun, with the most laughs and giggles watching everyone put on red hairnets and hard hats. Hot fresh bread at the end of the tour and donuts to take home also made it a memorable and fun time.

Next month, the JFS seniors are hoping to go to Sam Moon and Cabela’s for shopping and touring. In the meantime, they continue to meet daily for fun, games and lunch. Please join them at Beth-El Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for coffee and friendship.

Send your get-well wishes

You can send a get-well card to Leon Brachman, long a pillar of our community as well as on a national basis, to Life Care Hospital. His daughter, Wendy Fisher, is visiting from Efrat, Israel.

Speedy recovery wishes to Genie Long.

Update from the Goldsteins

Red Goldstein recently gave the TJP the following update: “Son Andy Goldstein has been in South Africa for the World Cup games. Son David Goldstein has been accepted to American University on a partial scholarship to study international relations. He wants to improve his already impressive Spanish, Chinese and Hebrew language skills. Son Jacob Fuld is at Greene Family Camp having a wonderful time and is looking forward to his freshman year at Paschal.” Julie and Red have added a poodle and a tabby to their already crazy collection of pets, which now consists of two dogs, three cats and one gecko!

Mazel tov

Mazel tov to some newly betrothed couples! Stephen Luskey, son of Susan and Alan is engaged; Linda Hochster’s son Brent is engaged; Hannah Howard, who lost her husband a couple of years ago, is engaged to Joe Klein, and they will have an August date set! Congratulations to a new graduate as well: Justin Tirsun, son of Robin and Dan Tirsun and grandson of the late Beverly Miller, graduated from Rutgers Graduate School in New Jersey with his degree in city and urban planning.

It’s a small world

When daughter Sharon Wisch-Ray was traveling in the Western Galilee two weeks ago, she spent considerable time with Dr. Norman Loberant and his wife. Dr. Loberant is the co-Chair of the Medical Task Force of the Central Area Consrtium Western Galilee Partnership and the director of the Department of Radiology of the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya. He mentioned that his college roommate was originally from Dallas and now lived in Fort Worth. Sharon was so surprised to hear that it was our own Dr. Martin Tobey, as she was the longtime babysitter for the Tobey family. Message to Marty and Judy, “Hello from the Loberants.” By the way, Fort Worth is part of the 15-city United States Consortium that makes up the Partnership with the Western Galilee.

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In My Mind’s I

Posted on 01 July 2010 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

Waves from the recent Helen Thomas affair keep washing over me. I remember once standing up in a speedboat and watching its foamy wake heal into smoothness again. But I look back on this and, although many may have already sailed on, forgetting the once-revered journalist’s poisoned remarks about Jews and Israel, I have not. I still see roiling waters. Let me share a few of them with you.

First: Ralph Nader. The long-esteemed consumer advocate who has, since his early triumphs, trilled off into other areas, came quickly to Ms. Thomas’ defense, characterizing her career termination as “swift and merciless.” He called the action an “evisceration” launched by, among others, Ari Fleischer. In her defense, he offers quotes from a couple of Jewish journalists: Fox’s Ellen Ratner (“We all have said things that we wouldn’t want to see in print or on video…. Anyone who denies it is a liar. Give Helen a break…”) and Michael Freedman, formerly of UPI (“Who among us has not said something we have come to regret? Let’s not destroy Ms. Thomas now…”). He concludes that she has been fired “ostensibly for a gaffe, but really for being too right, too early, too often.”

(Should I [not] mention that Nader, like Thomas, is of Lebanese origin, and “perhaps” shares similar sympathies?)

In contrast: an open letter to Helen from a rabbi in New York, David Algaze — also of Lebanese descent. He’s sarcastic to the max when he begins with a “thank-you for the important service you rendered through your words about the Jews and their place in the world….” Discounting the theory of some that one of journalism’s formerly finest is now too old to be practicing her craft, he goes on: “I do not believe your words were the result of some incipient symptoms of Alzheimer’s; your words revealed what is in your mind, and that is why I am grateful for your honesty…. Now the mean, unforgiving and biased Helen Thomas has been revealed to us in full. It certainly is not flattering to you, but it is the true self, and we appreciate your allowing us to see the true Helen Thomas at last.”

The meat of the rabbi’s message comes next: “This is not to deny your right to your opinions. You have every right to defend the Arab claims … but to do it in such an ignorant and hateful manner reveals that under the patina of courteous speech and elegant demeanor, there lies beneath the skin … a measure of hatred, a desire for revenge, and a meanness of spirit. Your position is not just anti-Semitic; it is anti-human…. Thank you, Ms. Thomas, for allowing the world to see what an Arab sympathizer really is about … I hope the world is grateful to you for the candid revelation of the mind of a ‘progressive’ Arab.”

In the wake of my previous Thomas column and my reminiscent speedboat ride, a reader has sent me the words of Canadian writer Mark Steyn (not a Jewish Stein, notes my correspondent), whose post-Thomas piece in Macleans magazine is headed “The lesson of a Jewish cemetery,” one he visited recently in Tangiers, which once had a thriving Jewish community, he says. But now all of Tangiers’ Jews “live” in that burial ground… as do the Jews of many former communities around the world.

“Wherever a Jew is, whatever a Jew is, he should be something else, somewhere else,” Steyn says. “And then he can be hated for that, too.”

For this thoughtful commentator, everything today still comes down to one of the world’s oldest prejudices: “…that in the modern world as much as in medieval Christendom, Jews can never be accorded full property rights,” he says. On a patch of the Holy Land, they are certainly the current leaseholders, but they will never have recognized legal title…. That’s the reason the Palestinian question is never settled. Because, as long as it’s unresolved, then Israel’s legitimacy is unsettled, too.”

So I’ve been pondering Nader’s hatred along with Thomas’; wondering if Rabbi Algaze’s sarcasm can hit home or do any good; and considering the truth of Steyn’s bottom line: “There are a lot of Jews in Israel right now. But then, there were a lot of them in Tangiers and Baghdad and Bukovina and Germany and Poland, for a while. Why shouldn’t Tel Aviv one day be just another city with some crumbling cemeteries and a few elderly Jews?”

My metaphoric speedboat sails on in still-troubled waters.


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