Archive | February, 2012

Around the Town

Posted on 23 February 2012 by admin

By Amy Wolff Sorter

On Monday night, I watched one of my favorite TV shows, “2 Broke Girls.” The premise of this sitcom is that two lower-income waitresses (one a former heiress) are working toward building a cupcake business. The reason I got a chuckle out of the Monday episode however, was because the waitresses made cupcakes for a young boy’s bar mitzvah; the family was clearly observant.

The “clash of cultures” subtext was funny enough, but on a personal level, the episode made me chuckle, not the least of which was because it reminded me of the somewhat blue language my then 10-year-old son picked up while attending Camp Gan Israel/South Padre Island in 2007 (sometimes the phrase “nice Jewish boy” is a misnomer, I’m thinking).

It also reminded me to remind you that I want to start offering congratulations and mazel to sons and daughters of the covenant in Tarrant County and surrounding environs. One of our contributing writers, Deb Silverthorn, does a terrific job with b’nai mitzvot on the Dallas side, writing articles about these young men and women and their achievements. In that spirit, I’m offering space in this column to highlight Tarrant County bar and bat mitzvahs (as well as those in Johnson County). If any of your sons and daughters (or grandsons, granddaughters, nieces, nephews, etc., etc., etc.) are going to observe their bar or bat mitzvahs, please send that information along, as well as photos. The address, as always, is

Congratulations, Corrine

Corrine Jacobson wrote us explaining that she had recovered from her second major surgery in seven months (ugh) — but that’s not why the congratulations. While recuperating from that surgery, Fort Worth mayor Betsy Price sent along a Certificate of Recognition for all the good things Corrine has done on behalf of Cowtown. The list is long; she’s volunteered at the Fort Worth Convention Bureau, Bass Hall and at the Visitor’s Center at the Fort Worth Stockyards. She’s been a mainstay at Beth-El Congregation, donating generously of her time, as well as taking on leadership positions in the Fort Worth chapter of the Daughters of Abraham. “This was a most welcome greeting during my recuperation,” she writes, and yes, it is — but you clearly have earned it. Along those lines, Corrine thanks everyone for their cards and good wishes during her recuperation. We’ll add ours as well — may you continue to receive God’s blessings and healing.

Meanwhile, at Edohana Hibachi

Hedy Collins with Jewish Family Service e-mailed something that made me very hungry. The Jewish Family Service Senior program traveled to the above-mentioned Edohana Hibachi Japanese restaurant in the Cityview area last week, and from what she writes, everyone had a good time watching master chefs flip eggs into their hats and make onion volcanoes. Also on the menu was Japanese-style chicken and salmon. Yum.

Kudos to volunteers and chaperones Adele Arensberg, Gail Berlin and Robin Stein for helping with this outing. Hedy also wanted to pass along her thanks to Martin Smith for his purchase of hamentaschen from the Congregation Ahavath Sholom Ladies Auxiliary on behalf of the Senior Program. “His donation will make one giant mishloach manot basket for the participants,” Hedy writes, “thank you so much, Marty!”

Travelling Light

No, this isn’t about how to take trips. Rather, it’s the title of a new play by Nicholas Wright. The play is onstage now at National’s Lyttelton Theatre. The good news, however, is that it’s been filmed and is being shown, via satellite, today at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. The story itself centers around Motl Mendi, circa 1900, who moves from his Eastern European roots to become a famous American film director. The three-hour broadcast also features behind-the-scenes footage as well as interviews with the artists. Tickets are $20. If you can’t make it today and are still interested, the broadcast will also take place Saturday, Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. the Angelika Theater in Dallas and Sunday, Feb. 26 at 2 p.m. and Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Angelika Theater in Plano.

Tzedakah Sunday reminder

If you pick up your phone this Sunday, Feb. 26 and the person on the other end introduces himself/herself as calling on behalf of the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, please give the caller your courteous attention and, if you are able, pledge some funds. Many of the community activities I mention in this column are funded through the Federation.

The Federation could also use some volunteer help this Sunday as well. Callers and support volunteers are being asked to work one of three shifts at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 4050 S. Hulen St. in Fort Worth: 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you’re able to help, call the Federation at 817-569-0892 or contact Tzedakah Sunday chair Cindy Simon at

Get your grogger on

I’ll have more Purim-centric information in next week’s column, but for now, mark the following in your calendars:

Chabad of Arlington will offer a couple of pre-Purim events, the first being a women’s night out, at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 1, during which the discussion will focus on Kabbalah of the Hamantasch and the activity will include an interactive dessert demo with Sherlock Spice. Wine and dessert will be served, with suggested donations at $15 per person. Sponsorships are also available for $36. A few days later, on Tuesday, March 6, Coffee and Kabbalah will focus on the mysticism behind Purim. All activities will take place at 2136 Lindblad Court in Arlington. Also taking place there, on March 8, will be Purim in China.

The Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County with help from the Dan Danciger/Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation is actively looking for volunteers to help with its upcoming Purim Carnival, which will take place at 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, March 4, at Congregation Beth Israel, 6100 Pleasant Run Rd. in Colleyville. If you’re interested in volunteering, contact Stephanie at Beth Israel by emailing her at Now, the event itself will feature a lot of fun stuff — cake walks, pie-tosses, bounce houses, prizes, games, costume contests … you get the idea. So volunteer your time and/or come out to enjoy the fun!

Moving ahead to March 7, Congregation Ahavath Sholom will host its Purim Extravaganza beginning at 6 p.m. at 4050 S. Hulen Rd. The Purimshpiel presented was written, directed and produced by Louise Vermillion and will feature CAS’ religious school’s all-star cast. Costume contests, food and a parade will also be presented. For more information call 817-731-4721.

Getting back to Arlington, Congregation Beth Shalom will present the “Great American Purim Play” at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 7 at the synagogue, 1212 Thannisch St. The nine-sketch play was penned by Emmy-Award-winning writer Richard J. Allen (author of “Parashah Plays” and a writer for “As the World Turns”) and takes Esther and Mordecai, Haman and Ahasuerus through the prism of time, giving the Megillah a different twist. The event is open to the community and a hamantaschen party will follow. Questions? Call 817-860-5448.

And at 6 p.m. on Thursday, March 8, Chabad of Fort Worth and Tarrant County will host “Purim and Persia,” complete with fun and food prepared by Jacob Kohannim, the former owner of Marsala Restaurant in Grand Prairie. Tickets are $18 for adults, $9 for kiddos and the event will take place at 5659 Woodway Dr. For more information call 817-263-7701.

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Ride to Change the Future

Ride to Change the Future

Posted on 23 February 2012 by admin

Ovarian Cycle raises more than $250,000 … so far

By Deb Silverthorn

The Aaron Family JCC’s Zale Auditorium turned into a land of magic Sunday, and the magicians — Jill Bach, Helen Gardner and Julie Shrell — and their 300-plus assistants’ main trick? To raise awareness and funds to fight ovarian cancer. With a reported $282,660 raised, the 2012 Ovarian Cycle Dallas Ride to Change the Future will be one tough act to follow.

Sisters Brooke Cohen (far right) and Brett Levy, of Team Hotness, rode in memory of Joy Ginsberg and Genie Weitzman. | Photos: Deb Silverthorn

Bach, Gardner and Shrell co-chaired the event. Ovarian Cycle, the Clearity Foundation and the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF) were beneficiaries of the local inaugural race.

“Someone pinch me. We WILL survive this stupid disease!” said Shrell, now in remission after an October, 2010 diagnosis of Stage 3C ovarian cancer. “We’ve got names of people ready to ride again and others who can’t wait to join us next year.”

The JCC’s Zale auditorium provided the backdrop for the roomful of riders on pink, blue and silver balloon bedecked bicycles, most decorated by each team. Team members were dressed in t-shirts, tie-dye outfits, tutus and more. The Pap Shmears, Pedaling for Progress  and Team Not My Ovaries were just some of the fun names working to raise funds for the serious cause. On the stage sat an empty bicycle, with balloons in memory of lost loved ones.

Ovarian Cycle was founded in 2004 in Atlanta by Bethany Diamond after the loss of her  friend, Debbie Greene Flamm. Diamond’s mission then, as it is eight years later, is to fund research to find a reliable screening test for ovarian cancer. Since 2004, monies raised through rides in Atlanta, Birmingham, Tallahassee, Seattle and New York City have allowed the non-profit organization to donate a minimum of 80 percent of the money it raises to medical research to find an early detection test for ovarian cancer. Each year in the United States, more than 21,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and about 15,000 women die of the disease. Ovarian Cycle, to date, has raised more than $1 million.

“Julie, Jill and Helen, and everyone in this room are changing the future for all women,” said Diamond who rode the local race, noting that many women are diagnosed in later stages of ovarian cancer because there is no diagnostic test. “There’s nothing I can do to help my friend Debbie but she had a daughter, I have a daughter, and I do this for them, for the Julies, Jills and Helens, for every other woman and those who love them. There has been a synergy created here today that will last for years.”

The Clearity Foundation, a group of scientists, physicians and volunteers, was founded after Dr. Laura Shawver was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2006, learning first-hand that treatment options are extremely limited. “Helen Gardner found our organization and, after tumor blueprinting, determined that she and I had the same diagnosis of clear cell cancer, just two years apart,” said Shawver. The international Clearity Foundation provides doctors access to molecular profiling for their ovarian cancer patients, as well as offering clinical trial options and access to novel therapeutics.

“Helen is an inspiration because, while still battling this disease, she put on this event, helped us, and she’s been a strong wife and mother,” said Shawver, now five years in remission, who joined in the premiere ride. “I want Helen to have her cure and we won’t stop until every woman has her cure!”

OCRF program grants in the past have gone to research such as Joanna Burdette’s study “Identifying Early Events in Ovarian Cancer Using a 3-D Model of Ovarian Tissues” at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and Sharmistha Sarkar’s “Finding a Marker to Detect Early Stage Ovarian Cancer Study” at M.D. Anderson Cancer Institute (previously at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute). According to Katie Dillon, OCRF’s director of events, 2012 grants will be determined later this year, after all the Ovarian Cycles have been completed.

Amy Lester and Mark Elfenbein emceed the event that featured messages and encouragement from The Breast Center at the Medical Center of Plano’s Beth Anglin, M.D.; Texas Oncology’s James Strauss, M.D.; and Dell’s Entrepreneur in Residence, Ingrid Vanderveldt.

Team Charlotte’s Charlotte Huthnance spoke as one of many in the middle of the battle against ovarian cancer. “My doctor, Jane Nokleberg, diagnosed my cancer during an annual exam in early December. Two weeks later I had two tumors removed and, with seven rounds of chemo to go, in April, I’ll be done,” said the wife of Rob and mother of Thompson, Georgeann and C.C. The children all under 10 years of age joined two sets of riders on their mother’s behalf. “The depth of this event, of the devotion to find a cure is beyond anything I could have imagined.”

“I am proud, joyful, and grateful everywhere I look today. This is a dream,” said Gardner who co-chaired and trained for the event, while undergoing chemotherapy. Gardner was diagnosed with ovarian cancer just two years ago. “We women deserve better and I want ovarian cancer off of the list of things for us to worry about.”

“There’s a lot of community in this Jewish Community Center today,” said Artie Allen, president of the Aaron Family JCC. The Ride to Change the Future is the first fundraising event, sponsored by the JCC, with all donations made to an outside organization. “We broke through a boundary by hosting an ‘outside’ event, which really benefits so many inside our J and inside our community. We are glad these women came to us, and this was definitely the right decision. This event really defines community.”

Jon Mize, director of Fitness and Wellness at the J, coordinated a team of trainers who, since October, have donated their expertise during training sessions over the last four months, with more intense rides in the six weeks leading up to the event. The JCC’s Group Exercise Director, Terri Arends along with Heather Dixon, Bob Grossman, Howard Ketelson, Jill Mearns, Kara Schull, Richard Wharton, Ben Williams, and Dorothy Zarbo, worked with first-time riders and those who’ve ridden the distance.

“You don’t know what tomorrow holds so we need to worry about today, and we are doing what we can right now,” said Williams who on Sunday coached the Ride to the Future’s last, and very emotional, hour. “We were honored to be a part of this and the greatest gift we could all give is the give of time. You can earn more money but you don’t get time back. This was time given with our hearts and respect. I didn’t know Jill, Julie or Helen before but I’ll tell you, these women have zero quit. They’ve fought an uphill battle with absolutely zero quit!”

“The silver lining to my getting sick was being a part of this,” said Bach, now in her fourth year of remission. “I’m alive for a purpose and I want to make the most of that.”

Donations to each team’s website can be made at through Aug. 31, 2012 (the end of the fiscal year). For more information, email

Jack Baum (left) and Dr. David Genecov, brother of Julie Shrell.

Charlotte Huthnance, top right, is shown here with part of “Team Charlotte,” which included Georgeann, husband Rob, Thompson and C.C.













Event co-chairs Jill Bach (left), Julie Shrell and Helen Gardner

Trainer Ben Williams helped bikers prepare for the event over the past four months.

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The unchanged Torah

The unchanged Torah

Posted on 23 February 2012 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Readers,

I would like to thank those of you who have contacted me about the series concerning Maimonides’ 13 principles of Jewish belief; I appreciate the positive comments. In discussing the 9th principle, we see that Maimonides writes in his commentary: “ … the Torah is God’s permanent word and no one else can change it. Nothing can be added or subtracted from either the Written Torah or the Oral Torah. It is this written ‘You shall not add to it or subtract from it’ (Deut. 13:1).”

Maimonides further explains this in his “Code:” “The Torah clearly states that its commandments will remain binding forever, with neither change, with no addition or subtraction. The Torah thus states ‘All this word that I command you, you shall keep and do. You shall not add to it nor subtract from it (Deut. 13:1).’ The Torah likewise says ‘Things that are revealed belong to us and our children forever, to keep all the words of this Torah’ (Ibid. 29:28). We thus see that we are commanded to keep the words of the Torah forever. Similarly, with regard to many laws, the Torah clearly states, ‘It shall be an everlasting statute for all your generations’ (Lev. 3:17 and many similar verses).”

Maimonides goes on to show how not even a prophet may make any change to the Torah.

This principle is summed up in the Ani Maamin section of the siddur: “I believe with perfect faith that the Torah will not be changed, and that there will never be another Torah given by God.” And the Yigdal song states it in the following words: “God will not replace or change His law, for all time, for anything else.”

One of the most commonly asked questions concerning this principle is the many rabbinical decrees found throughout the Talmud and some in even later literature. There is, for example, the decree of Rabeinu Gershom (10th-11th century, France) forbidding the marriage of a man to more than one wife, although the Torah permits the marriage of a man to multiple wives. Wouldn’t this be adding to, or changing, the Torah?

The earliest Talmud commentaries point out that there is a basic distinction between changing the Torah itself versus adding “fences” around the Torah. The Torah itself commands the sages who safeguard the Torah to “guard my guard.” Talmud outlines this by explaining that God asks the Jews to “erect guards around my guard;” in other words, to build a system to protect the Torah from being desecrated. The Torah itself remains intact as ever, even more so, as it is protected by the fences which ensure its fulfillment.

Rabbeinu Gershom never intended to change the Torah in any way. Rather he saw that the Jews of his era had diminished in their level and were in a downward spiral; the marriage to multiple wives was causing undue discord. He therefore enacted a decree (which he limited to 1,000 years) to protect the integrity of the Jewish home, knowing full well that he merely erected a fence. He in no way intended to “change” the law of the Torah permitting multiple wives to a man. The later sages who led the Jewish people at the end of the 1,000-year period saw fit to continue this decree, as things had not improved in the way R’ Gershom had hoped; on the contrary, it became crucial to uphold his decree, and it remains codified in the “Code of Jewish Law.”

Let this example be a guiding light in the understanding of all Talmudic decrees. In fact, the very same Maimonides who laid down the principle of the unchanging Torah codifies all the Talmudic rabbinical fences in his own “Code!” This is not a contradiction at all, as we have explained.

The other question raised is the vast library of response literature to the Torah. This is also not an addition to the Torah per se, rather the application of Torah principles by the sages to modern-day situations that have never been before discussed. This, as well, points to the eternal nature of Torah. Property understanding of new issues have their basis in answers from the Torah!

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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Purim preparation involves more than groggers and hamentaschen

Purim preparation involves more than groggers and hamentaschen

Posted on 23 February 2012 by admin

Laura Seymour

Purim is almost here. Though this is a fun holiday that carries with it a festive atmosphere as we celebrate Esther’s bravery, this holiday also requires some preparation and thought to make it truly meaningful. Certainly get your costumes and groggers ready, and dust off those hamentaschen recipes. But also take time to do the following:

Prepare food for giving

We are obligated to send at least one gift of food to another person during Purim; and this gift must consist of at least two types of food that are ready to be eaten — in other words, they require no cooking. This is definitely a family event for planning, preparing and delivering.

In addition to sending gifts of food, we’re obligated to participate in the mitzvah of matanot l’evyonim, donating funds to at least two poor people. Think about making this a family donation either directly to homeless individuals or through charities that work with homeless and low-income families.

Read the Purim story

We are mandated to read and/or listen to a reading of the Megillah, the Purim story. Keep in mind that the Book of Esther has a great many mature themes; some of the racier portions will need to be adapted to reflect the understanding and sensitivity of younger children. Also make sure you understand the story yourself — there are a variety of online commentaries concerning the Megillah, so take advantage of them and read.

This is also a good time of year to discuss issues of Jewish identity and anti-Semitism, especially with your older children. Both of these themes are prevalent throughout the Megillah and Purim makes it easy to bring up such issues.

In his book “The One Hour Purim Primer,” Shimon Apisdorf suggests the following to start conversations:

Have you ever felt uncomfortable or unaccepted because of your Judaism?

Are you proud of being Jewish? If yes, why? If no, Why not?

Do you think it could ever become dangerous for Jews to live in the United States? Why or why not?

If it was against the law to celebrate Purim, would you celebrate anyway? Would you risk your job, a large fine, six months in jail or even being denied admission to college to celebrate this festival?

Generally speaking, do you think religion is a positive or negative force in the world?

Talk about your Jewish identity and what contributes to it. Parents? School? Friends? Israel? Anything else?

After you prepare for Purim, enjoy! Go to your synagogue and celebrate — it is a great holiday filled with fun and food and friends!

Laura Seymour is director of Camping and Youth Services at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 23 February 2012 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Throughout the month of February Jews around the country have been observing Special Needs Awareness month. The Dallas area is no exception. The Special Needs Partnership of JFS has led a number of different activities throughout the month for children, families, teens and educators.

It all will culminate this weekend with a special Shabbat experience featuring Rabbi Shimshon Jacob, Talmud instructor at Rae Kushner Yeshiva High School in Livingston, N.J.

Rabbi Jacob struggled with learning issues as a child. He credits that struggle with helping to shape him into who he is today. “The value of having struggled in school helped me to find my own door through which I could find my way,” he explains. “That makes me aware of all the different doors people have available to them to help them find their way. I’m here to help my students find their way, just as my teachers helped guide me.”

Families are invited to attend any or all of these free events. On Saturday Feb. 25. at 9 a.m. Shabbat services, Congregation Shaare Tefilla, 6131 Churchill Way, Dallas 75230 will host Rabbi Jacob. Childcare is provided, but an RSVP is required.

At 9:45 a.m. there will be an inclusive family service for beginners. Then, at 11 a.m., Rabbi Jacob will speak on “Inclusion in the Jewish Community.” There will be an inclusive activity for kids provided by Dallas Yachad. Kiddush at 11:45 a.m. will be hosted Malka and Rabbi Maury Grebenau in honor of the recent birth of their daughter, Talia Ta’ir. A Taste of the World is catering.

For Saturday lunch and afternoon, Congregation Ohr Hatorah and Torah Day School will host a community luncheon and fun activities for kids at 12:30 p.m. Please RSVP if you plan to attend. Ohr Hatorah (6324 Churchill Way) is located across the street from Shaare Tefilla, an easy walk after morning services.

At 5 p.m., Rabbi Jacob will speak on “Jewish Education for All Children,” at Ohr Hatorah. Maariv/Havdallah Services will be held at 7 p.m. at Ohr Hatorah.

The weekend will round out at 8:30 p.m. at DATA of Plano with a fireside chat and desserts with Rabbi Jacob. This talk “Inclusive ‘Special’ Education: One Man’s Experience” is for adults only. DATA of Plano, is located at 3251 Independence Parkway, Plano, 75075 It is the strip mall at the Southwest corner of Parker and Independence behind Half Price Books.

For more information visit website: The synagogues hosting the Shabbat experience have extended the invitation to join them for any or all of Shabbat.

In addition to the Shabbaton weekend, Rabbi Jacob will visit with ATID students at Levine Academy on Sunday morning.

Next week, March 4 another special program will be held at Shearith Israel, 6101 Douglas Ave., at 9:15 a.m. It will begin with the training program for the teens: “Inclusion: I’m In, Are You?” and followed by inclusive activities: D’var Torah, Purim BINGO, face painting, make your own mask, games and create your own shalach manot hamantacshen.

Incidentally, “The Inclusion Experience: Taking A Walk In Different Shoes” is available upon request at schools and organizations. Contact Teri Kachur at or 972-437-9950 to schedule an “Inclusive Experience” for your class or organization.

It is an interactive, multi-sensory curriculum designed to simulate the effects of specific disabilities, to help build awareness and to create an environment of empathy and inclusion for students and adults.

A companion presentation includes posters of notable individuals who have adapted and overcome the affects of their disabilities to be recognized for their achievements.

Target disabilities include: Developmental disabilities: including Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Down Syndrome and other intellectual developmental disabilities; dyslexia; ADHD; physical disability: fine motor; physical disability: gross motor; speech and hearing.

Stephen Steinlight on immigration

One of America’s leading thinkers on immigration policy, Dr. Stephen Steinlight, will discuss “What’s at Stake in the Immigration Debate for All Americans and American Jews?” on Tuesday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Museum of Biblical Art, 7500 Park Lane in Dallas.

Steinlight has written extensively and spoken widely on this topic across the nation. He has shared the podium with presidential candidates, members of Congress, governors, leading public intellectuals and grassroots activists. He has also provided expert testimony to the Judiciary Committees of the U.S. House and Senate.

Dr. Steinlight is the author of two books: “The Fractious Nation?: Unity and Division in Contemporary American Life” and “Children of Abraham.”

The program is sponsored by Bnai Zion.  A $5 minimum donation is suggested. For more information and reservations please contact Avrille Harris-Cohen at 972-918-9200 or

Tycher Spring Read this Sunday. Feb. 26

Join the Tycher Library for its Spring Read Sunday, Feb. 26 at 11 a.m. to hear Austin Ratner speak about his new book “The Jump Artist.” The event will be held at the Tycher Library housed inside the JCC, 7900 Northaven Road.

Based on a true story, Ratner recounts the life of Philippe Hallsman, world-renowned photographer, and his time spent in prison for allegedly killing his father on a hiking trip in the Alps. This gripping tale of murder, love, anti-Semitism and guilt is sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

This event is free and open to the public. To read a book review by Harriet Gross and some quotes from the author, visit

DHFLA receives Sylvan T. Baer Fund grant

Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association was awarded a grant from the Sylvan T. Baer Fund, administered by the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation. Stuart Prescott from the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation presented DHFLA treasurer Ivan Edelman with the check at the Feb. 12 board of directors meeting.

From left DHFLA President Donald Gross; DJCF Development Officer Marna Edenson DHFLA Treasurer; Ivan Edelman; and DJCF Trustee Stuart Prescott

The Sylvan T. Baer Foundation was established in 1965 in memory of Mr. Baer’s parents, Helen and Jacob Baer, to assist needy and deserving Jews. According to the instructions left in Mr. Baer’s will, an endowment fund was created to award up to $100 each year to Jews in need of financial aid.

The board of directors of the DHFLA gratefully acknowledge the support of the Sylvan T. Baer Fund and the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation in furthering its mission to assist people of the Greater Dallas Jewish Community who are in need by providing interest free loans.

No need to pack a suitcase — London is coming to you

TJP movie reviewer Susan Kandell Wilkofsky shared with us that this week National Theatre Live will present the best of British theater with a performance that is filmed live in high definition and broadcast via satellite to over 700 cinemas around the world. And the best part is … Dallas, Plano and Fort Worth will host screenings.

Award winning actor Antony Sher leads the cast in “Travelling Light,” a new play by Nicholas Wright, directed by Nicholas Whitener and filmed live at the National’s Lyttelton Theatre.

“Travelling Light” is a funny and fascinating tribute to the Eastern European immigrants who became major players in Hollywood’s golden age. In a remote village in Eastern Europe, around 1900, the young Motl Mendl is entranced by the flickering silent images on his father’s cinematograph. Bankrolled by Jacob, the ebullient local timber merchant, and inspired by Anna, the girl sent to help him make moving pictures of their village, he stumbles on a revolutionary way of story-telling. Forty years on, Motl — now a famed American film director — looks back on his early life and confronts the cost of fulfilling his dreams.

The broadcast features behind–the–scenes footage and interviews with artists, in addition to the full performance. Tickets are $20, available in advance at the box office and online. The running time is approximately 3 hours including one 20 minute intermission. You can catch the performance at the Angelika Dallas on Feb. 25 at 2 p.m. or the Angelika Plano on Feb. 26 at 2 p.m.

Camp Fair Day is March 4

J Camp Registration is now open! Camp Fair Day is on Sunday, March 4 from noon-3 p.m. There will be lots of great activities including a “J Naturescape Pass” for families to visit the new playspaces after you register. Camp Fair Day is the last day for the early bird fees — don’t lose your spot at camp — plus get 2011 prices!

To get more details, contact Laura Seymour, Director of Camping Services, at

A golden wedding anniversary for the Dickters

Mazel tov to Ivonne and Isaac Dickter who recently celebrated their 50th anniversary on Jan. 27. To celebrate the milestone the Dickters traveled to Israel. The Dickters are blessed with daughter Ruth and son Reuben and his wife Sandra. They kvell over their three grandaughters, Liora, Ronit and Talia.

We would love to hear from our readers! Send your simchas, awards, honors and news to me by email at, or by snail mail at 7920 Beltline Rd., Ste. 680, Dallas, TX 75254 or you can fax to 214-466-2633. We are still looking for Good Sports to include in that special column.

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 16 February 2012 by admin

Young Adults and Caring Congregation team up for 6th Annual Mitzvahs & Mimosas

In an effort to broaden social justice programming as well as partner with Temple’s Caring Congregation, Temple Emanu-El Young Adults created Mitzvahs & Mimosas in 2007. Each year, there is an overwhelming response (now upwards of 50 people) for this event which involves preparing “Mitzvah Meals” for Temple’s members recovering from illness. What began as a small gathering in Tobian Kitchen now boasts a series of “stations” for soup-making, matzo balls, rugellach, cookies, challah and get well cards that extend from the kitchen into Tobian Auditorium.

Mimi Zimmerman, Carlie Gotlieb, Sharon Goldberg, David Cordell and Peggy Papert

The 2012 co-chairs of Mitzvahs & Mimosas, Sharon Goldberg and Carlie Gotlieb, coordinated a group of young adult volunteers to manage each station: Jamie Barstein, Emily Beaver, Staci Bloom, David Cordell, Randi Gordon, Jennifer Hoffman, Jena Maharramov, Scott Price, Aron Siegal, Aaron Sonkin and Ashley Sonkin. An extraordinary Caring Congregation volunteer, Brenda Waters, works with the young adults in the kitchen. While mimosas provide part of the draw for the event, volunteers are busy at work making meals and cards on a Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Child care is provided for young families with children 3 months to 5 years.

A highlight of the event each year is the opportunity to hear from someone who has benefited directly from Caring Congregation, which reaches Temple members in times of need and celebration, from birth until death, in times of sickness and health, and times of sadness. This year, David Cordell, who is connected with both Caring Congregation and the Young Adults community, spoke to us about his involvement in Temple’s Military Initiative. David teaches leadership courses with Air Force ROTC at University of North Texas. He has been involved in Caring Congregation’s Military Initiative by participating in Temple’s Veterans Day service honoring those in the military, by teaching about “Jews in the Military” in Temple’s religious school, and through support meetings for families of military members. David says these military initiatives of Caring Congregation have made him feel a part of a community at Temple: “What I lost in a military community, I’ve gained in the Jewish community.” We are thrilled that David has chosen to lend his talents to Temple in so many ways and grateful to have him as part of our community.

All in all, the young adults community produced 30 delicious soups, 80 beautiful and cheerful cards, 400 cookies and rugelach, and several challahs which will go a long way to help heal those in the hospital and recuperating!

For more information about the Young Adults community at Temple, please contact Mimi Zimmerman, Young Adults Coordinator, at or 214-706-0000, ext. 166. For more information about Caring Congregation, please contact Peggy Papert, Director of Caring Congregation,, or 214-706-0000, ext. 151.

TTI to hold 9th Annual Scholarship Banquet

TTI Community Service Award recipients Sharon and Charles Michaels, with their children, (left to right) Shira 10, Esti 4, Rebecca 8 and David 6.

It should be a spectacular evening on Feb. 26 when Texas Torah Institute holds its ninth annual Scholarship Banquet at the Renaissance Hotel in Richardson.

The school will honor Charles and Sharon Michaels with its Community Service Award; Travis and Ceci Katz with its Hakoras Hatov Award and Rabbi Yosef and Rachel Novoseller as Parents of the Year.

TTI Hakoras Hatov Award, Ceci and Travis Katz with their children Frieda 12, Elliot 10, Shayna 5 and Avi, 2-1/2

Texas Torah Institute / Yeshiva and Mesivta of Dallas was established in 2003 as a Yeshiva high school and Bais Medrash. Founded with only eight students and two grades, the Yeshiva has grown to a full 7-year program with dozens of students from Texas and across the United States, Canada and Mexico. It has established itself with a reputation for excellence in its Limudei Kodesh program, college preparatory instruction, and extracurricular programs. The Yeshiva is under the guidance of Roshei Yeshiva, Rabbi Eliyahu Kaufman, Rabbi Shlomo Pacht, and Rabbi Daniel Ringelheim, and is one of over 70 global affiliates of Yeshivas Chofetz Chaim in Queens, NY.

TTI campaign chair is Marcy Abadi Rhoads; dinner chairs are Gavin Kam and Ivan Sacks; journal chairs are Shane Stein and Aaron Yurowitz. For reservations for the evening, which are $150 per person, visit

Of note

TTI Parents of the Year, Rabbi Yosef and Rachel Novoseller, with their son, TTI student, Meshulem

This Sunday, Feb. 19 from 10:15 a.m. to 11:15 a.m., Robert Epstein will discuss the founding of the State of Israel. His talk, “Israel: David Ben Gurion, Theodor Herzl, Chaim Weizman” will be held at Congregation Shearith Israel, 9401 Douglas Ave. in Dallas.

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A Perennial Family Favorite

A Perennial Family Favorite

Posted on 16 February 2012 by admin

Theater notes

This week we have a few of the cast members of the J Players upcoming performance of the Music Man on the TJP cover. Shown are Lily Shane (Amaryllis); Miles Shickman (Winthrop Paroo) and Jennifer Randolph (Marian Paroo). Opening night of musical is Saturday Feb. 25 at 8 p.m. at the Aaron Family JCC. The show will have two performances on Sunday Feb. 26 (2 p.m and 7:30 p.m.); an evening performance on March 1 at 7:30 p.m. and March 3 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Students and seniors are $12 in advance and $18 at the door. The Music Man, a winner of eight Tony Awards, will include cast members: Matt Kurtzman, Herb Bennett, Frank Rosamond, Ken Kercher, Cameron Guiterrez, Frank Rosamond Jr., Merv Ginsberg, Duncan Gilman, Gary Gamble, Jerome Stein, Will Naxon, Jennifer Randolph, Judy Gamble, Lily Shane, Miles Shickman, Shinn Katrena Jonas O’Toole, Melissa Kurtzman, Soleil Singh, Ethel Gila Vinokur, Jourdan Stein, Lora Baker, Anna Aharony, Leanne Palmer, Anita Alhadef, Zelda Mash, Katy Dennis, Francis Clay, Ian Kraemer, Jared Steinhart, Liam Taylor, Ethan Fisher, Elizabeth Kraemer, Caitlyn Fleisher, Heather Zander, Cassidy Kaye, Ariella Vinokur and Soliel Singh.

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When (supposedly) ‘good’ Jews do ‘bad’ things

When (supposedly) ‘good’ Jews do ‘bad’ things

Posted on 16 February 2012 by admin

By Laura Seymour

This year for LearningFest, I conducted a session entitled “Confronting Scandal.” I struggle with this topic because I struggle when I hear about Jews who do “bad things.” I did read Erica Brown’s book, “Confronting Scandal,” and while I found it to be well-written, it didn’t provide me with the answers I’d hoped for.

Now, when people attend LearningFest sessions, they sometimes want a lecture and sometimes want to talk. I opted for talking and was upfront in my comments about my struggles with confronting scandals, especially when it comes to Jews who are part of scandals or who even start such scandals.

So we began with this topic: Think of an incident during which a Jewish person in a public arena did wrong. Think about the feelings that this person’s actions evoked.

I was fortunate in that participants at this session were very outspoken and eager to share their own concerns about Jews and scandals. We talked about Madoff, of course. We also brought the discussion down to community leaders; rabbis and teachers who might have done wrong. We also discussed teshuvah — repentance — as well as forgiveness and forgetting. Everyone had thoughts and the discussion was lively. But for me, the questions remain unanswered. Why do we feel responsible for another Jew’s behavior? Are we judged differently as a group? Do we have collective guilt and should we? And perhaps the larger question, does a gut response we have when a Jew does wrong have to do with our strong Jewish identity?

One thing I learned through the “Confronting Scandal” section is that there really are no right or wrong answers to these questions, but they do need to be discussed with our children. Values are passed on to our children through actions and discussion and the feelings evoked when a Jew does something bad is both our burden and responsibility, especially as we’ve been chosen to be a “light unto the nations.”

It’s never too early to start exploring this ideas of “bad Jews” with your children. As such, you can talk about the following with them.

  • How bad does a Jew have to be to be considered a bad Jew?
  • Is “badness” defined by the number of people affected or the extent of the harm?
  • Can “badness” be balanced by other acts of goodness, or is it a label that is all-encompassing? What if a white-collar criminal is also a philanthropist? What about the pedophile who brought many people to Judaism through his outreach? Does that change anything, or is it irrelevant?
  • Then there is the issue of how bad the public deems these acts. Does that change the way that we think of the person behind them?

Laura Seymour is director Camping Services at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas.

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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 16 February 2012 by admin

By Amy Wolff Sorter

In previous columns, I outlined the very fine work and support the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County provides to the local Jewish community. The good news is that you have a chance to support the Federation (and the terrific community programs it sponsors) by donating on Tzedakah Sunday, Feb. 26. When the nice volunteers from the Federation call you, please pick up your phones … and donate.

And, if you have the ability, a donation of time would also be terrific. The Federation is looking for Tzedakah Sunday callers and support volunteers to work three shifts at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, 4050 South Hulen Street in Fort Worth: 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.

If you’re interested in helping, call the Federation at 817-569-0892 or contact Tzedakah Sunday chair Cindy Simon at Those participating will be fed and will received prizes … and from what Cindy hints at, surprises as well!

Speaking of the Federation campaign

Federation program director Angie Kitzman tells us that the 2012 Campaign Kick-Off on Jan. 29 at Shady Oaks Country Club in Fort Worth was a success.

Marilyn Englander and Susan Sher | Photos: Angie Kitzman

The Major Givers’ reception was very well-attended as was the event itself, a presentation by Susan Sher, First Lady Michelle Obama’s former chief of staff. Sher was a wonderful speaker who provided some great anecdotes about life at the White House, including an amusing story about the first-ever White House staff seder.

The event was capped by a lovely dessert reception.

Membors of Alton Silver BBG, (from left) Leah Vann, Courtney Smith, Carli Clay, Dorie Kaye and Emily Englander at the Federation Kick-Off event.

Marilyn Englander, Jeff Hochster, Jane Cohen and Linda Hochster spearheaded the evening. Special thanks as well to members of Alton Silver BBG — Leah Vann, Dorie Kaye, Emily Englander, Carli Clay and Courtney Smith who helped make this event possible.

And speaking of the Federation and Daytimers

The Sylvia Wolens Daytimers program at Beth-El Congregation is one of many organizations benefitting from the dollars raised by the Jewish Federation.

Jeff Hochster, Melissa Morgan, David Saul and Cindy Simon

Attendees at the Feb. 8 Daytimers luncheon were treated to political expert James W. Riddlesperger, Jr., who sliced and diced the political muddle that we are facing for the 2012 elections. He received questions at rapid fire that lasted half an hour after he finished speaking.

Bruce Miller, Roberta Corder and Jim Riddlesperger. | Photo: Barbara Rubin

Next month’s Daytimers attendees will be treated to swing dancing, courtesy Chandler Smith, TCU development director, and Angelia Williams, petroleum land manager for Thurston Energy. They have taught swing dancing at many venues throughout the Metroplex, as well as on a variety of cruise ships. I’ll have more information about the date and time in a future column.

The musical tribute reminder

Don’t forget to be in attendance at Congregation Ahavath Sholom beginning at 6 p.m., Friday, Feb. 24. Following Kabbalat Shabbat, the choirs of Arborlawn United Methodist Church and Rising Sun Baptist Church will pay a visit to sing musical selections composed by Rabbi Gary Perras’ father, Cantor Hyman Perras. Membership of both churches has been invited to attend so they can hear their choirs. Help CAS celebrate Brotherhood Month by attending what is sure to be a lovely presentation and service.

If it’s March it must be Purim

Well, it isn’t March quite yet, but it’s never too early to start getting Purim events on your calendar! Most of the organizations throughout Tarrant County will host activities before and during Purim, so stay tuned to the column for more information in the next few weeks. Here are a couple on hand:

Chabad of Arlington will help kick off the season of hamentaschen and groggers with a couple of “Coffee and Kabbalah” sessions.

The first, a women’s night out event, will take place at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, March 1, during which the discussion will focus on Kabbalah of the Hamantaschen and the activity will include an interactive dessert demo with Sherlock Spice (where, I assume, hamantaschen will be prepared). Wine and dessert will be served, with suggested donations at $15 per person. Sponsorships are also available for $36.

A few days later, on Tuesday, March 6, Coffee and Kabbalah will focus on the mysticism behind Purim. All activities will take place at 2136 Lindblad Court in Arlington.

Also in Arlington, Congregation Beth Shalom will present the “Great American Purim Play” at 7 p.m., Wednesday, March 7 at the synagogue, 1212 Thannisch Street. The nine-sketch play was penned by Emmy-Award-winning writer Richard J. Allen (author of “Parashah Plays” and a writer for “As the World Turns”) and takes Esther and Mordecai, Haman and Ahasuerus through the prism of time, giving the Megillah a different twist. The event is open to the community and a hamantaschen party will follow. Questions? Call 817-860-5448.

Still waiting

Last week, I made a request that readers send notices about weddings, b’nai mitzvah, trips, travels and other types of community news. I will KEEP making that request because this is what “Around the Town” is about. Certainly it’s about community activities. But it’s also about YOU, the Tarrant County Jewish community.

When Rene Wisch, of blessed memory, wrote this column, she regularly wrote about reader news of interest. Help continue that tradition by sending your news to

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Things change, Torah doesn’t

Things change, Torah doesn’t

Posted on 16 February 2012 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Readers,

We continue with our discussion of the 13 principles of Jewish belief.

Maimonides writes in his commentary: “The eighth principle is that the Torah given to us by Moses originated from God. It is therefore called ‘God’s word’ … when it was transmitted, Moses wrote it down like a secretary taking dictation. In this way, he wrote the events of his time and the other stories in the Torah, as well as the commandments. Moses was therefore called a ‘secretary.’ Every verse in the Torah is equally holy … they all originate from God, and are all part of God’s Torah, which is perfect, pure, holy and true.”

Maimonides goes on to explain that it is a key point of this principle to believe nothing in the Torah was written by Moses from his own accord, and even the stories in the Torah are true and carry intrinsic and beneficial messages. This is inherent in the belief that “Torah is from heaven,” which means every word of Torah was dictated exactly to Moses to be written as it is.

Now let’s go back to last week’s topic, the seventh principle, the unique prophecy of Moses. We mentioned in the last column that Moses was endowed with an absolute clarity in his prophecy, (unlike other prophets), so he could receive the Torah and record God’s words, verbatim, without his own interpretation.

Maimonides continues, “If one truly understands the Torah, then he finds every word filled with wondrous wisdom. It contains a depth that can never be plumbed completely, ‘it is broader than the earth and wider than the sea.’ One need only to follow the example of King David … who prayed ‘Uncover my eyes, that I may behold the wonders of Your Torah.’”

Maimonides concludes indicating: “The same is true of the accepted explanation of the Torah (the Oral Tradition), which was also given by God. Following this Oral Tradition we make such things as the Succah, Lulav, Shofar, Tzitit and Tefillin in exactly the manner that God dictated to Moses. Moses transmitted this to us as a trustworthy messenger.”

The Torah teaches us this principle when it says “Moses said, through this you shall know that God sent me to do all these things, and I did not do it on my own accord,” (Numbers 16:28).

Maimonides elucidates the last point in the introduction to his “Code” in which he says, “Every commandment given to Moses on Mount Sinai was given together with an explanation. God thus told Moses, “come up to Me to the mountain … and I will give you the tablets of stone, the Torah and its instruction, (Exodus 24:12).” “Torah” refers to the written Torah, while “instruction” refers to the explanation. We are thus commanded to keep the Torah according to its explanation … which we call the Oral Torah (Torah She’baal Peh).

With the Oral Tradition we also know which verses are to be taken literally and which are allegorical or are to teach a message outside the simple meaning.

Maimonides explains all the above ideas at great length, outside the limits of this column. His entire lecture on this principle is summed up, in short, in the “Ani Ma’amin” recital at the beginning of the Siddur prayer book: “I believe with perfect faith that the Torah we now have in our hands is that which was given to Moses.”

Now, how did Jewish law discusses matters that did not exist at the time it was given at Sinai? For example, we’re forbidden to drive cars on Shabbat, to turn on and off electric lights and so on. Cars and electricity didn’t exist at the time the Torah was handed down.

Maimonides answers this by including belief in the Oral Torah as part of this principle. Through the Oral Torah our sages have the power and ability to utilize and extrapolate Torah concepts, finding their application in today’s world. In other words, Torah itself hasn’t changed from when it was handed down to Moses, but its applications are constantly useful to our ever-changing, ever-evolving world.

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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