Archive | February, 2011

Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 24 February 2011 by admin

Yavneh Academy seniors receive National Merit ‘Commended Student’ honors

Yavneh Academy of Dallas is pleased to announce that seniors Abbie Denemark and Leora Mitzner scored in the top five percent nationally on the 2009 PSAT and therefore received the honor of “Commended Student” in the 2011 National Merit Scholarship Program. About 1.5 million juniors in 22,000 high schools entered the program.

“Both of these young women are very intelligent, multi-talented, successful and respected by faculty and peers. They are keen examples of Yavneh’s student body,” said Head of School Donald O’Quinn. “Abbie and Leora achieved these scores without outside tutoring, a testament to both their intellect and the college preparatory curriculum that Yavneh affords our students, as taught by a premier faculty.”

“Recognition of academically talented students and the key role played by schools in their development is essential to the pursuit of educational excellence in our nation,” said Sharon R. Smith, vice president of educational and scholarship services for the National Merit Scholarship Corporation. “The young people being named Commended Students have demonstrated outstanding academic potential by their strong performance in this highly competitive program. We hope that this recognition will help broaden their educational opportunities and that they will continue to pursue scholastic excellence.”

Town Village North chef named regional winner of Ultimate Chef America 2010

Chosen from more than 91 eligible regional chefs within 88 Brookdale Senior Living communities locally, Chef William Anchondo of Town Village North Dallas, a Brookdale Senior Living retirement community in Texas, has earned the regional culinary honor of 2010 for participating in Ultimate Chef America.

Throughout 2010, the culinary professionals of Brookdale Senior Living, leading owner and operator of senior living communities throughout the United States, put on a yearlong series of first-class cooking competitions nationwide from Phoenix to Jacksonville, Fla. with stops along the way in Dallas, Denver, Detroit and Atlanta. At each event, two teams of senior living chefs had two hours to produce four courses with the theme of healthy cooking, using only a grill.

Dishes prepared by the chefs were judged on-site by a panel of five celebrity judges headed by Leeza Gibbons and a Brookdale resident with a culinary background. The teams won awards for taste, creativity and presentation. In addition, each individual chef was awarded points on his or her dish.

Each event showcased the talents of Brookdale’s professional chefs, who created dishes that were not only flavorful and unique, but were made especially for less sensitive senior palates. Anchondo’s team prepared a seafood duo with red pepper coulis, grilled lamb chops with orange berry sauce and a fruit napoleon. They won “Best Taste” and “Best Creativity.” Anchondo prepared the side, which was pan-Asian whipped potato duo and Asian vegetable toss.

Born and raised in Washington, D.C., Anchondo cites his mother as a wonderful cook and culinary mentor. He attended La’Acadamie de Cuisine in Bethesda, Md. after graduating from high school, and worked in several restaurants in various kitchen positions. In 1987, Anchondo began with Club Corp., and remained with them for 19 years. During that time he moved up in the ranks, progressing from pantry cook to executive chef. While employed with Club Corp. he participated in its corporate culinary competition at the Culinary Institute of America in Greystone, Calif. three times. Anchondo is the director of dining services at Town Village North Dallas, and began in February 2009.

“Cooking for seniors requires special training and expertise because the sensitivity of taste buds and palates change with age, so the flavors have to be bolder and richer and the textures of foods need to be more ‘senior-friendly’ as well,” said Joska Hajdu, Brookdale’s senior vice president of dining services and an executive chef by trade. “That’s one reason why the participating chefs and their creations are special; they are created with passion and an intensity that surpasses food served in other venues.”

Ultimate Chef America, however, was much more than a professional cooking competition. Each event was a celebration of great food and life fulfillment. In each of the six locations, residents and guests were in the audience for live talk shows with celebrity judges and senior health and culinary experts that were streamed over the Internet and broadcast to other Brookdale communities. The competition also featured seminars on food, wine and seasonings, presented by experts on each topic. There were also guided tours of the host community; a silent auction benefiting the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation and its signature program Leeza’s Place, “A Place for Caregivers,” a community gathering place and resource center for family caregivers impacted by chronic or progressive illness; and a business expo highlighting the event’s sponsors, including Nestle Vitality, Nestle Professional, Advanced Foods, Walgreens, Tyson Foods, Royal Cup, Fidelity Print, Ecolab, SCA and Entegra.

The six events have welcomed, entertained and served almost 5,000 guests. The silent auctions conducted at the events have raised more than $100,000 to support the work of the Leeza Gibbons Memory Foundation and $16,000 to help the victims of the earthquake in Haiti.

“Ultimate Chef America also gave our residents and those considering a move to a Brookdale community a first-hand experience with our concept for living, Optimum Life,” said Sara Terry, vice president of Optimum Life for Brookdale Senior Living.

A way of life offered exclusively by Brookdale Senior Living at its communities, Optimum Life®, focuses on six key dimensions – emotional, intellectual, physical, social, spiritual and purposeful.

More information about Ultimate Chef America can be found at and

Camp Gan Israel open house is Feb. 27

Learn all about Camp Gan Israel’s amazing summer camp at its open house this Sunday, Feb. 27, at 4 p.m. Meet the director, Tia Sukenik, as well as Rabbi Menachem Block. Learn all about CGI’s different divisions starting at 3 years old and going up to seventh grade. No RSVP is needed and there is no charge to attend the open house. It will take place at the Lang Chabad Center, 3904 W. Park Blvd. in Plano. For more information, please e-mail

JFS to celebrate annual Volunteer Appreciation this Sunday morning

Come join Jewish Family Service as the organization celebrates its annual Volunteer Appreciation, Sunday morning, Feb. 27. The event begins with bagels and shmears at 10:30, followed by the awards presentation at 11:15. Volunteers to be recognized are: JFS Leadership Awards, Mike MacAdams and Steve Rice; JFS Outstanding Volunteer Awards, Lisa Kleinman and Marlene Rapport; JFS Pro Bono Awards, Melinda Marcus, Harlan Pollock, Patton Boggs Law (Matthew McGowen, Jennifer Keefe, Karen Lahrman); JFS Rookie of the Year Award, Deidra Cizon; JFS Social Justice Award, Stacey Jourdain, Shalom Bayit Committee (Caren Edelstein, Carol Pinker, Karen Topletz); Special Recognition, Olivia Baskin, Paula Kerber, Linda Garner, Diane Hopson, Debbie Steckler, Don Wolman; The Spirit of JFS, Sheryl Fields Bogen; JFS Spotlight, Baer Ackerman, Melissa Ackerman, Judy Mendelzon, Rose Watel, Louis Zweig; JFS Kids With Heart, Leah Prager, Sam Robbins. Family and friends are welcome. Please RSVP to 972-437-9950. Jewish Family Service is located at 5402 Arapaho Road, one block east of the Dallas North Tollway.

JCC holding tryouts for Maccabi Games

Maccabi U.S.A. tryouts for the Dallas JCC teams at the games in Springfield, Mass., and Philadelphia, Pa., will be held next week as follows:

For games in Springfield to take place Aug. 14–19:

Girls’ Soccer: Sunday, Feb. 27, 3 p.m., and Monday, Feb. 28, 7:15 p.m.; both at the JCC Soccer Field.

Table Tennis: Monday, Feb. 28, 7:30 p.m., at the JCC.

Boys’ Basketball: Tuesday, March 1, 6 p.m., and Wednesday, March 2, 6 p.m., both at the JCC.

For games in Philadelphia to take place Aug. 14–19:

Tennis: Sunday, Feb. 27, 3 p.m., at the JCC Tennis Courts.

Baseball: Sunday, Feb. 27, 1 p.m., at the ESD Baseball Field.

Athletes must attend at least one tryout to be eligible for the team. For further information or to schedule your tryout, contact Jon Mize at 214-239-7147 or The JCC is located at 7900 Northaven Road in Dallas.

Fight hunger with JFS

Jewish Family Service will again participate in the annual Feinstein Challenge to fight hunger. From March 1 through April 30, The Feinstein Foundation will give a percentage match to agencies which participate and spread the word about this opportunity. Every food item and/or cash donation made to Jewish Family Service’s Food Pantry counts!

Please help by spreading the word and organizing a food drive in your neighborhood, school, congregation, team, or group.

It is through donations that JFS was able to feed more than 2,600 people last year, and the numbers are increasing.

Call or e-mail for a list of needed food items or if you have questions, 972-437-9950 or

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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 24 February 2011 by admin

Tzedakah Sunday is March 6: Please answer the call

Once again, Tzedakah Sunday volunteers will be calling you asking for your gift to the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County’s Annual Campaign. Please answer the call.

By now you know that programs at Jewish Family Services, Lil Goldman Early Learning Center, Tarrant County synagogues, UNT Jewish Studies Program, BBYO, Jewish War Veterans and other local programs are funded by the Annual Campaign. In fact, 50 percent of the allocable dollars raised in Tarrant County stays in Tarrant County. Another portion (42 percent) of allocable funds from Campaign was sent overseas last year to fund programs of the Jewish Agency and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, aiding needy Jews in Israel and around the world. The last 8 percent was used to fund regional and national agencies including university programs (Hillel), Birthright Israel, Jewish Children’s Regional Service and Jewish Council for Public Affairs, to name just a few.

So now that you know where the money goes (40 different places) and the thousands of lives the Annual Campaign contribution affects every day, please answer the call. It’s for you; it’s for all of us. Better yet, please join the Federation’s Mitzvah Corps at Ahavath Sholom that Sunday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Volunteers are needed to help make phone calls, do administrative tasks or assist with refreshments. Shifts are only three hours in length. Call the Federation at 817-569-0892 to learn how you can help our community.

New York author visits ‘Daytimers’

“Daytimers” is in for a real treat when New York author and blogger Ben Feldman will speak for the group at a luncheon, Wednesday, March 9, at noon, at Beth-El Congregation. His title tells it all: “From Billy Graham to the Baal Shem Tov: A Jewish boy’s flight from the South in the time of Sputnik.”

A New York City historian, author, raconteur and New York Wanderer blogmaster, he delights the mind’s eye of history, riding the tall-tale bus with stories of growing up Jewish in a small Southern city in the time of Sputnik. Immersed among foot-washing Baptist neighbors and their revival-tent summers, Benjamin Feldman found his Yiddishkeit by fleeing to New York, first with his nose in a book of Damon Run­yon, then off at age 17 to Jewish Gotham for the next 40 years.

His love of Yiddish and stories of growing up down South are filled with delicious idioms and nostalgic endings: tartly observing the treasures of life and death in Vilna-on-the-Hudson, from Orthodox retro brashness to obscure eateries in the Chassidic hinterlands.

Feldman arrived in New York from Oak Ridge, Tenn., at 17 to attend Columbia College and hasn’t lived anywhere else since. In love with New York City, he said, “They’ll have to carry me out feet first.”

Lunch will be catered by Boopa’s Bagels, and guests have a choice of Turkey and Hummus on Sesame Bagel, Lox and Cream Cheese on Pumpernickel Bagel or Tuna Salad on Honey Wheat Bagel plus chips and cookies, coffee or tea. Lunch is $9, or guests may attend for $4 for the program only.

For reservations, call Barbara Rubin, 817-927-2736, or Irv Robinson, 817-731-7447, 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.

CAS plants 10 trees for Tu B’Shevat

The Kisin family with Susie Herman (second from right) and Etta Miller (right) at the CAS tree planting

Ahavath Sholom’s Interim Education Director Naomi Brand shared the following with the TJP: “On Jan. 30 members of Congregation Ahavath Sholom and the community continued the celebration of Tu B’Shevat by planting 10 donated trees from the City of Fort Worth in Kellis Park. The event began with a hot lunch in the Zale Auditorium cooked by parent volunteers: Mary Gilstrap, Stephen and Valerie Kaye, Daina Eckles and Max Brand. Stephanie Corso, a member of the congregation and environmental scientist with the City of Bedford, gave a moving introduction about why we should care about our environment and that even the smallest effort to recycle, plant or leave a smaller imprint makes a big difference and is important. She also talked about how humans are actually more like trees than one might think. After lunch everyone joined in for a police escort out to Kellis Park for the planting. It was a gorgeous day. Many had previously also ordered trees to be planted in Israel and were wearing Tu B’Shevat shirts that said things like ‘God Loves Green’ and ‘As my parents planted for me so I plant for my children.’ This saying from the Talmud not only is a great one, but had extra-special meaning for the families that had three generations planting together: Ben, Chad and Ted Herman; Sheryl, Aaron, Jacob and Carter Levy; and Jakub, Max and Gabriel Brand. About 60 people participated including most of our confirmation class and many from our religious school. Special thanks go to Etta Miller and Rabbi Gary Perras for coordinating with the city to make this event possible, and to Harry Bulbrook for drilling the holes. Everyone in the community is welcome to join us for our events. Please call the shul for more information and to find out what we have planned next. 817-731-4722.”

JWI monthly meeting March 2

Ina Singer tells us that Jewish Women International will hold its monthly meeting next Wednesday morning, March 2, at Beth-El Congregation. Dr. Carole Rogers will speak on co-dependency.

Save the date: Purim ball at Ahavath Sholom

Come to the Purim Masquerade Ball at Congregation Ahavath Sholom on Saturday evening, March 19, at 7 p.m., immediately following the 6:30 Megillah reading. There will be dinner and dancing with live music, an exclusive white elephant raffle and lots of surprises. BYOB. Cost is $25 per person (adults only; child care is available with reservation). Please prepay for tickets at the shul office by calling 817-731-4721. Ahavath Sholom is located at 4050 South Hulen St. in Fort Worth.

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The Search for Beshert

Posted on 24 February 2011 by admin

Meddling mothers

By Tamar Caspi Shnall

It’s one thing for your mom to insist on paying for your JDate membership; it’s quite another thing when your mom creates her own JDate account to pick out eligible men on your behalf. True story: My mom actually used to log on to JDate, find men she thought were appropriate for me, write down their screen names and then hand me the list. Curiosity ultimately would get the best of me and I would then log on to see who my mom thought was right for me. One after another I typed in screen names and one after another I was supremely disappointed. My mom got it all wrong: She picked guys who had been on JDate for years, guys who preyed on every girl at YAD events and guys who just simply weren’t my type.

This isn’t an uncommon scenario. Many Jewish mothers are known for their meddling ways. Every Jewish mother thinks her child is the best, the brightest and the most attractive. It’s a good trait that Jewish mothers take advantage of. Jewish mothers are great at promoting their kids, but when they’re trying to set their kids up on dates it can get out of control quickly. So many mothers told me how handsome their son was, how successful, how funny and so on — only for me to meet the guy and find he was anything but.

Back when I was single, every time I spoke to my mom, she asked if I was dating anyone. When I made the mistake of divulging the information, I instantly regretted it. Suddenly I was bombarded with questions, the first of which had remained the same since I began dating at the age of 15: “Is he Jewish?” If it got even slightly serious, she would even go so far as to Google the guy! And after the relationship ended, my mom continued to ask about the guy, forcing me to recount how he dissed me or was such a dud I had to cut him loose.

If I told my mom I had a date, she’d call the next day to ask how it went. She asked me for information I didn’t even supply to my closest girlfriends. And when I refused to tell her every last detail, she got upset and said I never told her anything.

Telling your mom that she “doesn’t understand because dating is different nowadays” will get you nowhere. But it’s true. Our parents didn’t have JDate, they didn’t have Google and on the average they got married a lot earlier in life than our generation. But our moms have a point too. The differences between men and women haven’t changed since Eve took a bite of the forbidden fruit, and the ins and outs of dating remain the same as well.

Jewish mothers do tend to have good instincts because they have only our best interests at heart, but be prepared to have your mother judge your dates in ways you never thought you would have to defend someone. They’re only doing it to protect us and because they love us, but it sure makes it difficult to pretend that your relationship is perfect! The great thing is, when your mother becomes your intended’s mother-in-law, she will treat your spouse like one of her own children, in good times and bad, for better or for worse.

Tamar Caspi Shnall recently married a Dallasite but has 15 years’ worth of dating advice to share! If you have any dating dilemmas you can e-mail her at:

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Ask the Rabbi

Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 24 February 2011 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,

Time magazine recently ran an article on Singularity Theory, which was new to me and very fascinating and scary at the same time, asserting that human intelligence is about to be surpassed by machines. Are you familiar with this theory, and what does Judaism have to say about it?

Claire W.

Dear Claire,

I am a bit familiar with, but far from well-versed in, this theory. Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil take the lead among other scientists and mathematicians who have studied technological progress, especially that of computer intelligence, and have extrapolated that progress into the future with very compelling predictions. They forecast, assuming the current rate of technological progress, that in some 30 years, computers will become “superintelligent,” far bypassing human intelligence. Since it is impossible to predict how the world, and mankind, will continue to progress, that time spells the end of human intelligence and control as we now know it. At that time, we will potentially be replacing our intelligence, and perhaps control of the world itself, with that of computers. Hence, it is called “Singularity,” borrowed from the astrophysical term describing a black hole. Much like scientific and mathematical predictability breaks down in a black hole, expectedness becomes illusory after the time of superintelligence.

Much of this theory is predicated on studies which show that technological advancement is not linear but exponential, especially with regard to computer intelligence. This is particularly intriguing to me, as this very fact was prophesied by the renowned pre-war sage R’ Yisrael Meir Hakohen, better known as the Chofetz Chaim. He based his prediction upon Torah sources and said that the industrial revolution, which was then really “picking up steam,” would move ahead exponentially as we approach pre-messianic times. He also said that the world would have a spiritual downturn which would also advance exponentially, and that the two are related. My mentor in Jerusalem, of blessed memory, explained the relationship decades ago: The more machines take over for man, the greater the potential for man’s self-esteem, personal growth and even spiritual greatness to decline. This was not to say we should shun progress, only that we should recognize its potential pitfalls and take them into account.

One thing which is clear from Singularity Theory is its proponents’ glaring omission of the human soul from the equation. From a Jewish perspective, it is not possible for a computer, no matter how intelligent, to truly replicate human thought, despite Kurzweil’s adamant insistence. His assertion that a computer could potentially duplicate all of human emotions and responses is based on his purely physiological and mundane outlook on the human experience. Judaism, however, proclaims that much of what we think and feel is not chemical-based, but soul-based. Although with regard to raw intelligence it is possible, the lack of a soul negates the thought that a computer, even with a full-functioning human brain, could truly operate as a human.

Another prediction made by some Singularists is that superintelligence could do away with death and dying. From a Jewish perspective, this is not only impossible but counterproductive. Man was initially created to live forever, if not for the sin of eating the forbidden fruit. At that time, G-d decreed that mankind must die for the souls to disconnect from that sin, which is now part of the makeup of mankind. There will come a time, according to Judaism, when we will indeed rejoin our souls and live eternally. But in the world we live in presently, only via death can the soul purify itself from any negativity which would taint its eternal nature. Not only could computers not overthrow G-d’s decree, we wouldn’t want them to!

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

Shalom From the Shabbat Lady

Posted on 24 February 2011 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

Snow days mean reading days! Since Amazon didn’t deliver, I went to the bookshelf to find a favorite. If you don’t have this book in your home, you need it: “Heroes for My Son” by Brad Meltzer is a wonderful book to share with your whole family. Meltzer wanted to give his son important advice — something we all want. But what can we say? The best way to give advice to children is to give them role models. As much as we would like to be inspiring, sometimes the best idea is to share inspiring stories — which Meltzer has done wonderfully!

Each hero has two short pages with a wonderful picture, a story and a quote. Each provides a family discussion — 52 heroes for a year of advice. Among my favorites are the creators of Superman, Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel. The words on their page: “They weren’t good-looking. They weren’t popular. And they were so poor that they used to draw on the back of butcher’s paper. But they were two best friends. With one dream. At the brink of World War II, in the midst of the Great Depression, two kids from Cleveland didn’t just give us the world’s first superhero. They gave us something to believe in.” I love Superman — kids love superheroes! There is something special about having superpowers that we all love. However, the story of these two guys is really the super story — you can do amazing things if you have a dream. That is an important piece of advice to give to all of our children.

The other 51 heroes include many names that are familiar to all, with a few unknowns and surprises (I won’t spoil it for you!). The last two are Meltzer’s mom and grandfather. When I interview camp staff, I ask about role models. I am always happy to hear Mom or Dad; yet, I’d love to hear a list, even a short list. So think about it, talk about it and share heroes from Meltzer and others! Tell me — who is your hero?

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

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Imagine: JFGD is 100 years old!

Imagine: JFGD is 100 years old!

Posted on 24 February 2011 by admin

Some 1,500 folks gathered at the Hilton Anatole on Feb. 12 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. At press time more than $1.43 million had been raised to support the Federation’s Annual Campaign. The 100th anniversary celebration will continue throughout the year.

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 16 February 2011 by admin

SWJC presents two programs on threats to Constitutional freedoms

On Thursday, Feb. 24, at 7 p.m., the Southwest Jewish Congress will present the first of two important programs on homegrown “Threats to Our Constitutional Freedoms.” These events will look at how some groups in the United States are trying to impose their extreme religious or ideological agendas on local communities, in direct contradiction to the inalienable rights and freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

The program is co-sponsored by SMU’s Office of the Chaplaincy and will feature U.S. Attorney James T. Jacks, one of the lead prosecutors during the Holy Land Foundation (HLF) trial and the subsequent appeals. He will speak on “First Amendment Freedoms and the HLF Trial.” The session will be held at McCord Auditorium in Dallas Hall on the SMU Campus in Dallas.

The second event, on Wednesday, April 13 at 7 p.m., features SMU professor Mark Chancey, who will discuss challenges to public education and the Establishment Clause posed by religious, legal and political organizations.

The programs are free, but seating is limited. For more information and reservations contact the SWJC office, 214-361-0018.

Mali Michelle Fine Jewelry trunk shows will benefit SharshereMichelle Hadad of Mali Michelle

Fine Jewelry will return to Dallas next week for two private trunk shows benefiting Sharsheret, a national non-profit organization dedicated to supporting women and families of all backgrounds facing breast cancer. Sharsheret also offers specialized support to women facing ovarian cancer or at a high risk of developing cancer.

Hand-made in Israel, Mali Michelle jewelry is frequently featured in fashion editorials such as InStyle and Lucky magazines, and is sold in over 300 fine retail establishments across the United States.

On Tuesday, Feb. 22 from 5 to 9 p.m., Hadad will be at the home of Lizzy Greif, 6532 Longfellow Drive in Dallas. The following night from 5 to 9 p.m., Hadad will be at the home of Karla Jacoby, 5120 Glenview Court, Plano. For more information about Hadad and Mali Michelle Fine Jewelry visit

Chili Cook-Off on the horizon

Cook-Off co-chair Diane Benjamin tells the TJP, “The forthcoming Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-Off (DKCC) at Tiferet Israel promises to be the icing on the 18 candled DKCC cake. This year’s annual event will be enhanced with the theme of ‘Life’ as Tiferet Israel, the historical 120-year-old synagogue, which proudly hosts this annual event.

“This year’s theme is helping to feed those in need. The recipients of part of the event proceeds serve the community in this area and include the SoupMobile, VNA Meals on Wheels, and Jewish Children’s Regional Services.

“In addition, in partnership with its neighbor, the Royal Lane Baptist Church, Tiferet will encourage its members and event attendees to bring non-perishable food items to be donated to the Jewish Family Services Food Pantry. The cooperative effort of both congregations to address a pressing community need is a good model for future cooperation between faith-based organizations. Tiferet has a history of not only encouraging food collection efforts but also has donated from its own on-site victory garden, over 200 pounds of fresh produce to the Jewish Family Service Food Pantry.

“It also creates an opportunity for hundreds of adult and youth volunteers to participate in a meaningful community service project. Students may receive community service credit for their volunteer work at this event. Students should check with their schools to qualify for this service credit. In addition, the Boy Scouts and area will be contributing volunteer manpower to make this a successful event.”

The 18th Annual Kosher Chili Cook-off is scheduled for April 3 at Tiferet Israel, 10909 Hillcrest Road in Dallas. More than 40 teams are expected to compete for the best chili in town.  Dr. Jeanie Tolmas is organizing the Team Meeting Orientation and is encouraging teams to call 214-691-3611, to get the DKCC Team registration forms and a place at the orientation.

Special Needs Awareness month activities ongoing

The Special Needs Partnership of Jewish Family Service has been hosting a number of events this month in recognition of Special Needs Awareness month.

Everyone in the Dallas Community is invited to broaden their horizons and open their hearts to be increasingly inclusive of individuals with special needs and their families.

his weekend, Dallas-area spiritual leaders will take note at Shabbat services with special needs sermons and D’var Torahs

On Feb. 23, from 7 to 8:30 p.m., Judy Kogutt will address, “Planning Ahead: Life After School – Resources, Social Activities, Family Dynamics and Financial/Legal Planning. This CHAI Community Workshop will be held at Jewish Family Service, 5402 Arapaho Road in Dallas.

Throughout the rest of the month, there will be family-to-family community gatherings to inspire, inform and share inclusion ideas for everyone. If you are interested in participating, please contact, Teri Kachur, community organizer, Special Needs Partnership, Jewish Family Service at or 972-437-9950.

On the slate for March 4, 5, and 6, Yachad, in conjunction with the Special Needs Partnership of Jewish Family Service, will hold a scholars-in-residence weekend in Dallas. Dr. Shulamis Pollak, director of Guidance at Robert M. Beren Academy of Houston and psychologist at Camp Hebrew Academy for Special Children; along with her husband, Rabbi Avi Pollak, Judaic Studies principal at Robert M. Beren Academy and head counselor of Camp H.A.S.C.; and joined by her sister, Tikva Juni, National Jewish Council for Disabilities representative, will share their professional and personal experience with special needs families. They will be leading both teen and adult sibling workshops, facilitating sensitivity training sessions in classrooms at Jewish Day Schools, Religious Schools, youth groups, CHAI, and synagogues – including a keynote address at Congregation Shaare Tefilla.  See for complete information.

Metrofest for college kids coming again to Austin

DATA and Aish Connections are bringing back to Austin, for a second year, a great program for college kids. The Metrofest all-inclusive weekend retreat, only $49, will include luxurious accommodations, gourmet cuisine, an ultimate Shabbat experience and Saturday night surprise entertainment. Meet new friends! The Feb. 25–27 event will take place at the Austin Marriott South, 4415 South IH-35. To apply, please go to For more info, contact Rabbi Israel Lashak at JEX Dallas,

All Aboard the Akiba Early Childhood Express

Akiba Academy of Dallas announces their Preschool Open House, Sunday, Feb. 20, 2011, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. This is an ideal time for current and prospective families to learn more about Akiba Academy and gain a good firsthand impression of the school.

Take this opportunity to meet our teachers, visit with current parents, tour our classrooms, and see why so many families are choosing Akiba Academy, the only Jewish preschool in the southwest to have both JECEI and NAEYC accreditation.

Bring the kids along for the visit! Childcare will be provided while you get to know more about the school. Breakfast will be served and train rides will be available.

Please RSVP to Karen Hazan-Cohen in Admissions via e-mail at, or by calling (214) 295-3400.

Congregation Nishmat Am to host art show and sale Feb. 20

The Nishmat Am men’s club will present an art show and sale this Sunday, Feb. 20 featuring the work of Mitch Goldminz. Signed lithographs by Michel Shevach Schwartz and estate art from a local collection will also be available.

It will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 420 N. Dorothy Drive in Richardson. For more information, call the synagogue at 972-618-2200.

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Around the Town

Posted on 16 February 2011 by admin

Carole Rogers will speak for ‘Daytimers’

The “Daytimers” Feb. 9 luncheon at Beth-El was iced out, so the program will be held Thursday, Feb. 24, same speaker, same menu, same time, same place.

Dr. Carole Rogers, director of Jewish Family Service, will take an in-depth look at the rapidly changing demographics in our Jewish community. Her discussion “The Changing Jewish Family: Are we Losing Our Culture and Our Children?” zeros in on the dilemmas faced by the changing generations, looking at our children and grandchildren and what has happened to Jewish organizations. As the family landscape is changing, what does this mean for the future of Jewish traditions and Jewish values? Rogers has dealt with these issues in depth, and will share many of her insights into the changes in our family life and our community.

Lunch will be catered by Quiznos, and guests have a choice of Pesto Turkey on toasty bullet (slim baguette ciabatta bread), Cantina Chicken Sammy (chicken with mushrooms/onions on flatbread), or Tuna Melt on toasty bullet, plus chips and cookies, coffee or tea. Lunch is $9, or guest may attend for $4 for the program only.

For reservations, call Barbara Rubin, 817-927-2736, or Irv Robinson, 817-731-7447, 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 of Tarrant County.

Jeffrey Swann to perform Feb. 26

Former ourtowner and pianist Jeffrey Swann will join the Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth for a 2 p.m. performance on Feb. 26 when he will perform Beethoven Piano Trio in E flat, Op.70, No.2; Strauss Sonata for Violin & Piano, Op.18; and Fauré Piano Quartet in G minor, No.2, Op.45. Swann recently shared the following with the TJP, “My Grandfather Samuel Sheinberg came to Fort Worth in 1907 and had a Western Wear store on Exchange St. for 50 years. He married my grandmother, Pauline Fram in 1921, and they lived in Fort Worth until their deaths in 1968. My mother (Gloria Swann) and her four brothers and sister (Joseph Sheinberg, Philip Sheinberg, Israel Sheinberg and Bayla Biskin) were all born and grew up in Fort Worth. My mother went to TCU and then later got her masters there as well. I lived in Fort Worth as a small child and then in the Fort Worth/Dallas area as a high school student. My parents and older sister (Susan Swann) lived here until the late 1980s.”

Swann enjoys an international performing career, which has taken him throughout the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia. He won first prize in the Dino Ciani Competition sponsored by La Scala in Milan, a gold medal at the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, and top honors at the Warsaw Chopin, Van Cliburn, Vianna da Motta and Montreal Competitions, as well as the Young Concert Artists auditions in New York City. His large and varied repertoire includes more than 60 concertos as well as solo works ranging from Bach to Boulez.

In addition to presenting lecture/recitals worldwide, Swann has performed with the symphonies of Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Seattle, Indiana, Dallas, St. Louis, Phoenix, Houston, Lexington, Baltimore and Minneapolis; and in Europe with the orchestras of Rotterdam, The Hague, Belgian National and Radio, Santa Cecilia, La Scala, Maggio Fiorentino (Florence), RAI Turin and Rome, Südwest Rundfunk, Bayerischer Rundfunk, the Prague Philharmonic, Radio France de Montpellier, and the London Philharmonia, among many others. The conductors with whom he has performed include Zdenek Macal, David Robertson, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Marek Janowski, Kazimirz Kord, Myung-Whun Chung, Roberto Abbado, Riccardo Chailly, Daniele Gatti and Leonard Slatkin. In addition, he continues to lecture regularly at the Wagner Festival in Bayreuth, Germany, and at Wagner Societies in the United States and Italy. Swann has also served as a judge at many competitions, most recently at the Utrecht International Liszt Competition.

A native of Northern Arizona, he studied with Alexander Uninsky at Southern Methodist University and with Beveridge Webster and Adele Marcus at The Juilliard School, where he received his B.M., M.M. and D.M.A. degrees.

Swann can be heard on Ars Polona, Deutsche-Gramophon, RCA-Italy, Replica, Fonit-Cetra, Music & Arts, and Agorá recordings. His CD, “The Virtuoso Liszt” (Music & Arts) won the Liszt Society’s Grand Prix, and his first volume of the Complete Beethoven Sonatas (Agorá) was chosen one of the Best of the Year by Fanfare magazine. His most recent release features works for piano and orchestra by Chopin with the Haydn Orchestra of Bolzano.

Since 2007, Swann has been artistic director of the Dino Ciani Festival & Academy in Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy. From 2008 to the Fall of 2010, he was the Adel artist-in-residence at Northern Arizona University, in Flagstaff, and in the Fall of 2010, joined the faculty as professor of piano at New York University.

Tickets for the concert are available by contacting the Chamber Music Society All concerts are held at the Modern Art Museum 3200 Darnell in Fort Worth.

Hadassah Dessert Donor March 9

For Hadassah, tomorrow is a world of healthy people living in peace. But did you know that medical miracles that may affect your life and that of your loved ones are happening every day at Hadassah Medical Center in Israel? It’s about healing, compassion and life.

Hadassah was the first to bring modern medicine to the Middle East, and now after nearly a century, is poised to open its new Sarah Wetsman Davidson Tower in Jerusalem in 2012.

Sharing stories and keen personal observations of the exciting work and life-saving discoveries being done at Hadassah Medical Center every day, the Fort Worth Chapter of Hadassah is excited to welcome award-winning writer and speaker Barbara Sofer to a “Decadent Desserts and Dreams Donor”  on Wednesday, March 9, at 7:30 p.m. It will be held at the beautiful new home of Laurie and Lon Werner, 3708 Riverhills Drive in Fort Worth. For reservations or more information, call Laurie Werner at 817-921-0165 or email Minimum contribution is $50 per family, plus a $10 couvert per person.

As an expression of thanks to those who give $360 or more, a cocktail supper with Barbara Sofer will be held prior to the dessert reception at the home of Rhoda and Howard Bernstein at 4963 Overton Woods Court at 5:30 p.m.

In honor of the upcoming Hadassah Centennial in 2012, all Life Memberships and Associates Memberships are now being offered at only $100 through December 31, 2011. To enroll online or to give as a gift, visit, or call Debby Rice at 817-924-8788. This is a great opportunity to give that special person in your life a connection with Hadassah. Space is limited. Make your reservations now.

Checkout this flick, Sunday at Beth El

The Beth El Congregation Film Festival will continue this Sunday, Feb. 20 featuring “The Deal.” A down-and-out film producer agrees to make his nephew’s film about 19th century English statesman, Benjamin Disraeli, but can only get financing if he casts a well-known action star. The production abruptly comes to a standstill
when the lead actor is kidnapped from the film set. The producer, with help from a struggling creative executive, comes up with a plan to save the star and the movie.
The optional is at 6:30 p.m. and show time is at 7:30 p.m. at the Temple, 4900  Briahaven Road.
Dinner will be catered by Pulido’s, and the menu includes enchiladas, rice and beans,
a taco, guacamole, iced tea, and a praline.
The price is $12. To be included in the dinner, RSVP to 817-332-7141.

The Beth-El Film Festival is made possible by allocations from its Endowment #2 and the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

News and Notes

Marvin Blum tells the TJP that “daughter Elizabeth and her husband Ira Savetsky are spending three months in Israel while Ira does surgical research at Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. Laurie and I plan to visit them in March and be in Israel for Purim. Elizabeth and Ira will spend Passover in London with friends, and return to the United States in May for Ira’s medical school graduation. Ira then begins his residency in surgery.

While in Israel, Elizabeth is writing a blog at Check it out.

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Ask the Rabbi

Ask the Rabbi

Posted on 16 February 2011 by admin

Dear Rabbi,

I have a tattoo on my back which I got as a teenager. Now that I am getting more involved in Judaism, I heard that one shouldn’t have tattoos. Is this true, and if so, could I or should I have it removed? If I don’t, when I die can I be buried in a Jewish cemetery?

Zachary R.

Dear Zachary,

The Torah states “…and you shall not put a tattoo upon your body” (Vayikra/Leviticus 19:28). Rashi explains that this means to perforate the skin and add ink in a way that it will remain permanently. This law is codified in the Code of Jewish Law (Yoreh Deah 180:1).

This commandment stems from the Jewish understanding of the human body. The Torah says that we were created in the “image of G-d” (Beresheet/Genesis 1:27). This is obviously a spiritual concept, as Jewish belief is that G-d has no physical characteristics. There is, however, a physical connotation from the perspective of our bodies. The Kabbalists explain that every part of our bodies was crafted to coincide with one of the pathways or traits through which G-d connects with and controls the world. We have arms, for example, to mirror the concept that G-d performs certain actions “with an outstretched arm.”

The body is the vehicle through which the soul is able to have expression in the physical world and to accomplish the mission for which it was sent there. The body was perfectly fashioned to “fit” the soul, as an expression of G-d’s will and His connection to the world. Together, the body and soul form a partnership called “the image of G-d.”

To alter the body would be to mar its unique image and minimize its ability to be an expression of G-d’s will.

Furthermore, we are not considered the owners of our bodies. We are, rather, stewards; to use the body properly, protect it and return it back to its Maker when it concludes its partnership with the our soul at the end of life on this world. We do not have the right to alter the body, or even to inflict a wound upon it (Devarim/Deuteronomy 25:3). (This is unless, of course, it is necessary to do so for medical reasons. Perhaps in the future we will discuss the question of cosmetic plastic surgery, as well as the permission, in light of the above, of piercing ears and the like which has been Jewish custom for millennia.)

As far as removing the tattoo: According to Jewish law, once it is already done, you would not have an obligation to remove it, especially since it involves an often painful and extensive surgery. If you would want to have it removed because it makes you uncomfortable, you would be permitted to do so. This would not fall under the prohibition of mutilating the body.

It is a very common misconception that if one has a tattoo he or she, after they die, cannot be buried in a Jewish cemetery. This has no basis and is not true. The only prerequisite to be buried in a Jewish cemetery is to be Jewish, and a tattoo renders its bearer no less Jewish.

There are those still among us, may they live and be well, who are bearers of tattoos which demonstrate that they are survivors of hell on earth. The fact that they remained Jewish after what they experienced is living testament to the eternal Jewish soul. A great Chassidic rebbe, a survivor himself, was known to receive “kvitlach,” or notes of petition to pray for the petitioner, as his Chassidim felt his blessings went straight to Heaven. When he became much older his closest confidant asked him, after he leaves us, who should the Chassidim bring their kvitlach to? He answered, “If you see a Jew in shul who lifts his shirt sleeve to don his tefillin, and you see a number on his arm, to him you can bring your kvitlach!”

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

Shalom From the Shabbat Lady

Posted on 16 February 2011 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

There is an important Jewish value called “rachamim.” The Hebrew word is usually translated as “compassion.” As we acknowledge other people’s feelings, thoughts and experiences, we feel compassion for them — we identify with them and want to help them, which is also called empathy. Psychologists tell us that compassion and empathy begin to develop in the first years of life. In fact, scientists assume that we are biologically wired for these feelings. Yet, we must also teach our children to be empathetic and compassionate. Rabbi Wayne Dosick in “Golden Rules” says:

You can teach your children that a good decent, ethical person has a big, loving heart when they feel you feeling another’s pain, when they know that you are committed to alleviating human suffering.

You can teach your children that a good, decent, ethical person has big, open hands when they watch you give of your resources — generously and often — and when they watch you give of the work of your hands — willingly and joyfully.

You can teach your children that a good, decent, ethical person can fulfill the sacred task of celebrating the spark of the Divine in each human being and the preciousness of each human being when you teach them to imitate G-d who is “gracious, compassionate, and abundant in kindness; who forgives mistakes, and promises everlasting love.”

* What does it mean to be kind to a friend? What does it mean to be kind to an animal?

* Think of a time when someone hurt you. How did it feel?

* Try to “put yourself in someone’s shoes.” What does that mean? How does it help us to understand others?

This Shabbat, tell about Rabbi Tanchum, of whom it is said, “When he needed only one portion of meat for himself, he would buy two; one bunch of vegetables, he would buy two — one for himself and one for the poor.” How can you do this in your family? Make a promise to think of others when grocery shopping — buy a second portion of something for the food bank. Start this week.

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

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