Archive | March, 2013

Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 21 March 2013 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

With Passover literally around the corner, you may remember some meaningful programs in years past spearheaded by the Dallas Jewish Community Relations Council and, more specifically, former director Marlene Gorin.

Last year, Marlene facilitated an interfaith community seder, held at Temple Shalom, which focused on ending hunger. In 2011, the JCRC along with the Rabbinic Association of Greater Dallas joined together to distribute a special Passover reading on hunger.

In honor of her 36 years of dedicated service to the Jewish and interfaith communities, Marlene was honored with the Jewish Council of Public Affairs’ Distinguished Service Award earlier this month at the JCPA’s annual plenum in Washington.

Marc Stanley of Dallas receives the Jewish Council of Public Affairs’ Tikkun Olam Award from former JCPA chair Lynn Lyss during the organization’s annual plenum. | Photo: Risdon Photography/JCPA

Marc Stanley of Dallas receives the Jewish Council of Public Affairs’ Tikkun Olam Award from former JCPA chair Lynn Lyss during the organization’s annual plenum. | Photo: Risdon Photography/JCPA

The JCPA is the national association of JCRCs and similar organizations.

JCPA national lay leadership and JCRC community directors and professionals joined in praising Marlene’s efforts and dedication in the areas of fostering intergroup relations and coalition building, conducting advocacy for Israel, promoting the government affairs and public policy agenda, and being in the forefront of calling attention to the many issues of social justice facing our society today.

At the presentation, Andrea Weinstein, past national chair of JCPA and a past chair of the Dallas JCRC, and Joy Kurland, president of the JCRC Directors Association and director of the JCRC of Northern New Jersey, spoke of Marlene’s efforts to build and create a partnership between professionals and lay leaders, which has greatly enriched both the Dallas community and the national Jewish community.

It was noted that Marlene served 18 years as assistant and acting director of the JCRC of Greater Washington and has just completed 18 years as executive director of the Dallas JCRC. During this time, Marlene served four years as national president of the JCRC Directors’ Association.

Munn earns place on Raymond James executive council

Irv Munn, a certified financial planner, was recently named a member of the Raymond James 2013 executive council. Executive council honors are presented only to those financial advisers who have demonstrated an extremely high level of commitment to clients through personal service and professional integrity.

Membership is based mainly on assets under management, education, credentials and fiscal year production. Re-qualification is required annually. This marks the sixth straight year that Irv has qualified for this important recognition.

Irv is the president of Munn & Morris Financial Advisors. The firm consists of a team of private wealth managers that help high-net-worth individuals manage and coordinate their financial affairs. Their proprietary investment process incorporates an exit strategy to mitigate the risk of large losses, and uses relative strength investing to take advantage of current market trends.

Irv received his undergraduate degree from UCLA and his master’s degree from the University of Texas. He is also a CPA, but recently sold his accounting firm to devote more time to financial planning. He has been a registered representative with Raymond James Financial Services for 15 years.

Save the date: May 5

Sunday, May 5 will be a big day for the Dallas area.

Michael Kimmelman will speak at the 2013 Dallas Design Symposium at 2 p.m. at the Nasher Sculpture Center, followed by a book signing of his most recent release, “The Accidental Masterpiece: On the Art of Life and Vice Versa.”

Tickets are available at Symposium-only admission is $35 for Nasher and Architecture Forum members; $50 for non-members. Cost for both the symposium and the reception is $100 for Nasher and Architecture Forum members; $150 for non-members.

Kimmelman is an author, critic, columnist and pianist. He is the chief architecture critic for The New York Times and has written on issues of public housing, public space, infrastructure, community development and social responsibility.

He was the paper’s longtime chief art critic and, in 2007, created the “Abroad” column, as a foreign correspondent covering culture, political and social affairs across Europe and elsewhere. He returned to New York in 2011, and his articles since have helped to reshape the public debate about urbanism, architecture and architectural criticism, according to a news release.

A fellow at the London School of Economics, he was born and raised in Greenwich Village, the son of a physician and civil rights activist. He attended Friends Seminary in Manhattan, graduated summa cum laude from Yale College and received his graduate degree in art history from Harvard University, where he was an Arthur Kingsley Porter Fellow.

A pianist who still regularly performs as a soloist and with chamber groups on concert series in New York and around Europe, he started as a music critic at the paper, then moved into art.

A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 and a 2012 Poynter Fellow at Yale, he also contributes regularly to the New York Review of Books.

Also on May 5, Texas Torah Institute will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a banquet honoring founders Rabbi Aryeh and Henny Rodin and Ivan and Melanie Sacks.

The evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. with hors d’oeuvres followed by the dinner at 7:30 at the Westin Galleria.

For reservations visit or call 214-446-8821.

Mazel tov to TTI on its decade of educating young Jewish men in a warm Yeshiva environment.

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Asparagus served near clean windows

Asparagus served near clean windows

Posted on 21 March 2013 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebPassover’s almost here. For me, it brings asparagus (when I lived up north, we always had the year’s first of that spring vegetable with our seder chicken) and a flood of memories …

When we came to Chicago in 1957, we were a little family of three living in an ancient building in an old Jewish section of the city. Our apartment was a “high first,” a few shallow steps above the entry hall. The place was too big for us, but made schlepping a stroller up and down two or three flights of stairs unnecessary. We moved in during summer, a trial because there was no air conditioning. But winter was worse: The place was heated by coal, and when springtime finally arrived, our 22 double-hung windows were darkened with soot.

As Pesach approached, an elderly, black man knocked at the door one day, offering to wash those windows for 50 cents each. My husband was in his first job and was paying back student loans; I was staying at home with our toddler son, which is what young mothers were supposed to do then, and budgeting very carefully. I bought no meat that cost more than $1 a pound, and for a big treat we would go to a local hole-in-the-wall where a kosher classic “Chicago dog,” with all the trimmings including kraut and fries, went for 30 cents. Eleven dollars to wash windows. Who was he kidding?

Oh no, I said. I felt bad for him, having to scrounge out an itinerant living like that. But what could I do? He turned around, started to walk off, then turned back. “You’re not going to have Passover with those dirty windows, are you?” he asked. He certainly knew the neighborhood — and human nature. “Start washing,” I said. Everything really sparkled at our seders that year.

The seder plate I used then for the first time, and for more than a decade after, has long since been retired from active duty, to hang instead on my dining room wall with its 11 companions. All Judaica has hit stunning artistic heights in these many springtimes since Chicago, and my collection rings us with varied beauty as we celebrate Pesach. The plates keep their places year-round as permanent décor, but have extra-special meaning as we follow our Haggadot and eat our memory-laden asparagus in a part of the country where we’ve started buying it in January.

Visitors first spot the dichroic glass plate that seems to change color with every variation of light, and they often have to look twice — or more — to realize that the patina “leaves” on a piece with metal branches are actually cups to hold the seder essentials. I especially treasure a small, simple plate sent by a cousin who knows how I love all things pewter.

The one I actually place on the seder table now spends its off-months in storage with the Haggadot and my old wedding china, designated years ago for Passover use only.

This year, I’m blessed that sympathetic cousins are taking the strain off my recovering broken leg by hosting the first seder; we’ll enjoy the second with friends at their synagogue. I’m missing the usual home hustle-bustle — the fish platter and server will go unused until next year — and I must forgo the fun of shopping for afikomen-finding presents. But I love sitting as a guest at someone else’s beautiful table and being surprised by some delicious new Passover dishes. There may not be any asparagus, but my dozen seder plates will be on the wall to welcome me with old holiday memories when I come home.

My once-toddler son is now himself the grandpa of a toddler who’s old enough this year to join in the afikomen hunt. And about my windows: there are only a dozen now, all waiting to sparkle for erev Rosh Hashanah dinner.

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Moses’ story is our story

Moses’ story is our story

Posted on 15 March 2013 by admin

By Laura Seymour

seymourforweb2Studies have proven it time and time again that sitting down to dinner together is one of the best things you can do for your kids and your family. And what better family dinner is there than the Passover seder?

Of course, you need to eat dinner together more often than yearly for it to make a difference in your family,

The seder is designed to open conversation and create an enjoyable learning (and remembering) session. This is how we pass on our traditions — through study, conversation, story and food. It is not too early to begin planning your Passover conversation — the story is really more important than the food.

So as you peruse, perhaps, a new Haggadah or plan to create your own, I have a book recommendation: “America’s Prophet: Moses and the American Story” by Bruce Feiler. The book jacket alone grabs your attention.

The pilgrims quoted his story. Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson proposed he appear on the U.S. seal. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were called his incarnations. The Statue of Liberty and Superman were molded in his image. Martin Luther King Jr., invoked him the night before he died. Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama cited him as inspiration.

For 400 years, one figure inspired more Americans than any other. His name is Moses. This is our story — the one we tell every year — yet, it is a story that inspires all. Read the book and add this to your table discussion. The story of Moses and the Exodus from Egypt is a story about freedom, a story about an imperfect leader rising to the occasion, a story with lessons on remembering so that you don’t repeat the same bad ways, and it is a story about us.

Read this book, and you may add a mini-Statue of Liberty or Liberty Bell to your seder table — that would definitely start conversation.

Feiler concludes: “I will tell my daughters that this is the meaning of the Moses story and why it has reverberated through the American story. America, it has been said, is a synonym for human possibility. I dream for you, girls, the privilege of that possibility. Imagine your own Promised Land, perform your own liberation, plunge into the waters, persevere through the dryness, and don’t be surprised — or saddened — if you’re stopped just short of your dream.

“Because the ultimate lesson of Moses’ life is that the dream does not die with the dreamer, the journey does not end on the mountaintop, and the true destination in a narrative of hope is not this year at all, but next.”

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

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Chametz sale shows you know obligation

Chametz sale shows you know obligation

Posted on 15 March 2013 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,

This year, for the first time, I intend to sell my non-Passover products to a gentile through a rabbi, after attending a class that taught that not only can we not eat leavened items on Passover, but we can’t even own them, which I never knew before (despite more than four decades of observing Passover).

What I had trouble understanding was the veracity of the sale. I know that the gentile knows that I know he’s not going to really keep all the stuff sold in the synagogue and will be coming in to the rabbi right after the holiday is over to “sell” it back. This looks to me like some kind of subterfuge just to get around the problem.

How does this sale fulfill the Torah’s requirement to truly release ownership of your bread products in keeping with the spirit of the law? I’ve asked this to many and not received a satisfactory answer, so your comments will be much appreciated.

— Micheal T.

Dear Micheal,

friedforweb2Great question, one actually raised by early commentaries to the Code of Jewish Law. The answer goes deeply into the crux of the Torah’s requirement to relinquish ownership of chametz, or all leavened products made from the five species of grains.

We are commanded to destroy any chametz that we own by burning or in some other way, (or to remove from our possession, in which case we would not need to destroy it, as the Torah only requires one to destroy chametz he owns. See Exodus 12:15, 17-20).

The Talmud explains the underlying theme of this mitzvah is the Torah’s very stringent attitude toward one who consumes chametz during Pesach. The Torah itself, to help ensure one would not eat that very chametz that is permitted all year, erected “fences” around the prohibition of eating chametz, so one should not even own it or see it in their homes.

What you are referring to, the sale of chametz, is not actually an enactment per se, rather a method devised by the rabbis to essentially remove the chametz from one’s possession through the sale to a non-Jew.

It was initially devised to help those who would sustain a considerable loss to destroy their chametz, such as the owner of a liquor store or a flour mill, etc. The sales later became customary for all Jews, especially as our home storehouses of food have grown considerably, rendering it quite difficult and expensive to remove it or destroy it all.

In order to make sure the sale is real and legally binding, both halachically and by secular law, the rabbis instituted several methods of acquisition to be performed between the rabbi (as agent of all those who appointed him to sell their chametz) and the gentile.

To answer your specific question, we do something else with our chametz — bitul. Bitul means to declare null and non-existent all chametz still remaining in your possession that you may not have found during your search.

This is performed through a special statement uttered the night of bedika (checking) and the morning before Pesach. This is based upon a statement in the Talmud that the Torah itself proclaimed all Jewish-owned chametz to be essentially ownerless on Pesach, as it forbade any benefit from chametz whatsoever.

If so, how could one ever transgress owning chametz if the Torah proclaims it ownerless? Answers the Talmud, the Torah itself, to emphasize the stringency of chametz, made it as if it is owned by the Jew to violate the transgression if he flagrantly does nothing to remove it from his possession.

To do the act of a sale exhibits one’s desire to have the chametz out of one’s possession, showing that he/she indeed cares and takes seriously the obligation of not owning chametz, as stated in the Torah. Although we reacquire it after Pesach, he has upheld the spirit of the law.

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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Laws for mourning friends are tough

Laws for mourning friends are tough

Posted on 15 March 2013 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebWhen I opened the newest issue of Conservative Judaism the other day, I rushed immediately to my extensive file of “somedays,” saying “I already know about this.”

The magazine features an interview with Daniel Greyber of Durham, N.C., author of a book with the more-than-intriguing title of “Faith Unravels: A Rabbi’s Struggle With Grief and God.”

Memory hadn’t failed me. From my trusty “future folder,” I extracted a page torn from a Washington Jewish Week of last November, sent to me by a former Dallasite who now lives near the capital and is an avid reader of both WJW and TJP.

Greyber’s dilemma arose from the death of two young friends. The first, a boy he knew in childhood who passed away of cancer at only 24, sent him off to rabbinic school, searching for an answer to this question: Judaism prescribes exactly how to mourn the loss of our first-degree relatives: mother, father, sister, brother, daughter, son, spouse. But what are we to do when we lose a dear, dear friend? If we tear our garments, if we sit shiva — are we seen as usurping the role of family members, thus somehow subtracting from their grief?

Greyber, only 25 himself at that time, did become a rabbi, but never received the answer to his question. It reared its ugly head again when someone we all knew and loved here in Dallas, Joel Shickman, died of leukemia in late 2007. This young musician, husband and father of three small sons had hopes of becoming a rabbi himself; he met, studied with and became a close friend of the rabbi at California’s Camp Ramah.

While the first loss had pushed Greyber toward the rabbinate, the second almost drove him from it. He was a few years older by then, but no wiser in terms of solving his earlier dilemma: “Surviving feels like a sin,” he wrote.

The day after Shickman’s funeral was Thanksgiving, and Greyber found himself “in grief, but trapped outside the circle of mourners,” as Washington Jewish Week put it. He, himself, wrote at the time, “I long to be commanded by the tradition. I long to be included within the circle of the Law. I should be sitting shiva with Joel’s wife and the boys, not having a festive dinner … ”

In the recent interview, Greyber speaks about a Jewish paradox: “The tradition obligates seven relatives to follow its prescribed path. The challenge of grieving for a friend is that you have sustained a loss that doesn’t fall within the circle of those seven relatives. That’s a problem for a number of reasons. One is that if you don’t fall in that circle, the default position is to practice nichum aveilim — to comfort mourners.

“There’s an implicit message here that you’re not one of those people in mourning. So your loss is unacknowledged because it’s ignored. Or, even worse, your loss is marginalized because you’re told that you are not experiencing a loss. Even if the family members understand what a loss it is for you, the tradition still implies that it isn’t.”

So: how has Greyber solved this dilemma? If he weren’t one himself, he’d advise people to “go see a rabbi.” But personally, he’s found a path through choosing to say Kaddish with a community of mourners.

“I think trying to grieve alone is a mistake,” he says, instead taking advantage of “ … a category in Jewish law of obligating yourself to do something, something you are choosing to do.” But he stresses that, “if you’re going to do it, then really obligate yourself. If you wake up two mornings later and don’t feel like going to the minyan, you need to take your obligation seriously … to push yourself beyond what you might do if this were just an ordinary choice … ”

Read all this and much, much more in Greyber’s book, out by Resource Publications and now available in paperback.

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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 15 March 2013 by admin

By Amy Wolff Sorter

We’re at that time of year when the Bradfords flower, the dandelions show their yellow faces (and release their annoying seeds), the clocks are turned ahead and the weather becomes warmer.

It’s also the time of year during which the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County raises funds for its many programs throughout the community. Money raised goes to local organizations including Jewish Family Services, Lil Goldman Early Learning Center, Tarrant County synagogues, University of North Texas’ Jewish Studies Program, the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization and Jewish War Veterans. A portion of what’s raised also goes overseas to help aid needy Jews around the world.

This Sunday (March 17) is the Federation’s Tzedakah Sunday — so when you receive that phone call, please donate. Even better, you can be generous with your time by volunteering to make those calls — Mitzvah Corps will meet this Sunday at Beth-El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven Rd. in Fort Worth to do just that.

Three-hour shifts are available between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. For information, call the federation at 817-569-0892.

Speaking of Beth-El

Ilana Knust, the synagogue’s educational director, shares with us that on March 3, religious school students and their parents participated in Family Day — which included family crafts, prayers and photo ops.

The Simanek family explores its roots during Family Day at Beth-El Congregation Religious School. Front row from left, Max Simanek and Leo Simanek. Back row, Valarie Simanek, Jack Simanek, Eric Simanek and Eli Simanek. | Photo: Ilana Knust

The Simanek family explores its roots during Family Day at Beth-El Congregation Religious School. Front row from left, Max Simanek and Leo Simanek. Back row, Valarie Simanek, Jack Simanek, Eric Simanek and Eli Simanek. | Photo: Ilana Knust

Parents also participated in a discussion titled “The American Jews: Choices and Challenges,” hosted by Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger and Knust.

“I was in awe,” she said. “It was very moving, creative and family oriented.”

Next up at the religious school is “Passover Around the World,” which takes place Sunday, March 24. Older youngsters can learn about how Pesach is observed around the world. Meanwhile, children ages 0-4 will be able to participate in “A Musical Passover Celebration” in the TINOKOT Toddler and Parents Playgroup. This takes place from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m.

Speaking of Passover

Don’t forget B’nai B’rith’s senior seder, which this year will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday, March 20 at Beth-El Congregation.

And speaking of seniors

Members of the Jewish Family Services Senior Program recently attended “Flight of the Butterflies” at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History’s Omni Imax theater, followed by a delicious lunch.

Writes Hedy Collins: “The movie was beautiful and of course lunch was plentiful and delicious!”

Thanks go to the community volunteers — Michael Edwards, Linda Maxville, Stephanie Dubinsky, Judy Massis Leventhal, Donna Bekman and Kim Marks.

Mazel tov to the Cherkasovs

Eugene and Larissa Cherkasov were honored for 35 years of marriage at a special concert (actually, part of the Wedgwood Chamber Music Series, which Larissa oversees) at Unity Fort Worth Church on Trail Lake Drive.

This is an appropriate way to observe the happy couple’s milestone: Eugene is assistant concertmaster with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, while Larissa is the adjunct faculty with TCU’s School for Classic and Contemporary Dance (as well as a private piano teacher).

The Cherkasovs arrived in Fort Worth during the mid-1990s from Russia, and have dedicated their time and lives to arts in the community.

And mazel tov to Hollace Weiner …

… who had an article published in the Jewish Historical Society of South Carolina’s spring 2013 issue. The article refers to a confederate soldier — Pvt. Edwin J. Sampson — who was killed in action in 1862 during the War Between the States and who was buried in a special Soldiers Section of Richmond’s Hebrew Cemetery.

Sampson, apparently, hailed from San Antonio. Hollace continues to research the family and will present her results at a November meeting of the Southern Jewish Historical Society in Birmingham, Ala.

Also on that panel will be Scott Langston, who teaches Southern Jewish history at TCU. The discussion will be about the so-called “Charleston Diaspora,” the migrations and influences of Jews who settled in South Carolina and who ended up moving west to Galveston, San Antonio and Austin.

And finally

The upcoming Passover holiday means friends, family and, of course, food (and plenty of it). Please feel free to share your celebrations by emailing me at

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A win in the wind

A win in the wind

Posted on 15 March 2013 by admin

By Rachel Gross Weinstein

Despite Sunday’s chilly weather outside, the community tasted chili that warmed them up inside at the 20th annual Kosher Chili Cook-off at Tiferet Israel Congregation.

Roughly 4,000 people attended the event and a record 52 teams competed, according to Neal Stollon, who co-chaired the cook-off with Ed Jerome. The level of excitement this year and the friendliness among the teams stood out, Stollon added.

“There was wonderful cooperation with everyone and people had fun,” he said. “We had the most number of teams this year and people came piling in until the last minute. We were pleased with the way everything was organized and there was a good vibe throughout the whole event.”

With any successful event comes challenges, but the organizers were able to overcome those. Teams had been scheduled to compete in a turkey-chili category, but miscommunication prevented the cook-off from obtaining enough turkey. The turkey teams switched to beef without a problem, Stollon said.

The buses from the Aaron Family JCC were a success, and people didn’t have to search for parking near the synagogue, he added.

Another highlight of the event was the presence of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, who was a judge and also read a proclamation.

“Congratulations for turning 20,” he said. “You do so much for the community and not only for the neighborhood, but for the greater community as a whole. We are blessed to have you in the city of Dallas. Thank you all for giving back to this wonderful community we all live in.”

The winner this year was The Dallas Fighting Maccabees/YJAM, two new organizations in the community. The Dallas Fighting Maccabees is the Jewish Special Olympics teams in the area. YJAM, the Young Jewish Altruist Movement, brings Generation Y together for volunteer work throughout the community.

Rachael Abrams, co-founder of YJAM, cooked the chili and used a special technique: blanching the peppers and adding brown sugar.

“Winning was a complete shock, and it was an honor to be involved in the cook-off,” said Jonathan Tobolowsky, founder of the Dallas Fighting Maccabees. One of the parts he enjoyed the most was the camaraderie with the other teams.

“It’s crazy that we won, and we are over the top about it,” he said. “We couldn’t believe we won, and we are very humbled. This is a great event to bring the entire Jewish community together and a great way for organizations to compete and share in each other’s glory.”


Top honors at Sunday’s Kosher Chili Cook-off

Veggie: Tiferet Israel
Beef: First place: The Dallas Fighting Maccabees/YJAM; second place, tie between the Anti-Defamation League and the Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association; third place, Chabad of Dallas
People’s Choice Award: Moishe House

Moishe House won the People’s Choice Award. Pictured are, front row from left, Moishe House residents Karli Ward and Elissa Riesenfeld. Back row, Moishe House resident Jaycee Greenblatt, Henry Litoff and previous Moishe House residents Raymond Kira, Austin Litoff and Damon Mathias. | Photo: Steven Ward

Moishe House won the People’s Choice Award. Pictured are, front row from left, Moishe House residents Karli Ward and Elissa Riesenfeld. Back row, Moishe House resident Jaycee Greenblatt, Henry Litoff and previous Moishe House residents Raymond Kira, Austin Litoff and Damon Mathias. | Photo: Steven Ward

Tiferet Israel won for best vegetarian chili. Accepting the trophy are, front row from left, Sarina Israel, Aaron Relyea and Gabe Relyea. Back row, Bob Mason, Nancy Israel and Melanie Skipper-Relyea. | Photos: Rachel Gross Weinstein

Tiferet Israel won for best vegetarian chili. Accepting the trophy are, front row from left, Sarina Israel, Aaron Relyea and Gabe Relyea. Back row, Bob Mason, Nancy Israel and Melanie Skipper-Relyea. | Photo: Rachel Gross Weinstein

The winning Dallas Fighting Maccabees/YJAM team comprises, from left, Jonathan Tobolowsky, Rachael Abrams, Stephanie Arbetter and Aaron Gottlieb. | Photos: Rachel Gross Weinstein

The winning Dallas Fighting Maccabees/YJAM team comprises, from left, Jonathan Tobolowsky, Rachael Abrams, Stephanie Arbetter and Aaron Gottlieb. | Photo: Rachel Gross Weinstein

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 15 March 2013 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

For years I have volunteered for Super Sunday, which hopefully you know is this Sunday. Last year, however, I overcame my anxiety of being a caller and picked up the phone, and honestly, my two-hour shift flew by. It was the easiest piece of volunteer work that I’ve ever done. I walked out with a huge smile on my face knowing that I had helped our Jewish community in a new way.

So, you may hear from me bright and early on Sunday morning, please answer my and all the other hardworking volunteers’ calls. It just takes a few minutes to help our community in such a meaningful way.

Jamie Weiss is finalist in TXU film competition

Jamie Weiss, daughter of Tara and Rich Weiss, is one of 10 finalists in the fourth annual TXU Energy Light Up the Red Carpet Student film contest. Jamie produced a short film, “Not Just a Dream,” on what energy means to her.

The process began back in the fall for the McKinney High School senior. Concepts were due by Nov. 23. Then, a panel of judges selected the top 30 concepts to move on to the next phase, a community online vote.

The top 10 high school and top 10 college vote-getters were selected for product enhancement. For Jamie, that meant working with Greg Christensen of The Richards Group as her mentor to flesh out the idea.

Jamie is an aspiring broadcast journalist. She is the executive producer for McKinney High’s bi-weekly news program MHS1. Jamie is active in Weinstein BBG and was regional s’ganit for the BBG’s North Texas Oklahoma Region last year.

To view and vote for Jamie’s film, visit Voting ends March 29, and winners will be announced April 12. Prizes of $500, $1,500 and $3,750 for both the filmmaker and school are up for grabs.

Good luck to Jamie and all the young filmmakers.

Smart Cookie

Clayton Drazner, son of Laurie and Mark Drazner and a graduating senior at Lakehill Preparatory School, has been named a candidate in the 2013 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program. Less than 1 percent (roughly 3,000) of the 3.4 million graduating seniors in the U.S. have been selected for this distinction.

Scholars are selected on the basis of superior academic achievements, leadership qualities, strong character, and involvement in community and school activities.

Candidates are selected for their exceptional performance on either the College Board SAT or the ACT Assessment. They then go through a rigorous application process, in which they must submit essays, self-assessments, secondary school reports and transcripts, which are then evaluated. Approximately 500 semifinalists will be announced in April.

The Commission on Presidential Scholars, a group of U.S. residents appointed by the president, will make final selection of the scholars. One male and one female Scholar are chosen from each state, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and families of U.S. citizens living abroad. In addition, up to 15 scholars are chosen at-large. The U.S. Department of Education will announce the scholars in May.

Scholars will be invited to Washington for several days in June to receive the Presidential Scholars Medallion at a recognition ceremony and to participate in events and activities with their elected representatives, educators and other leading individuals in public life.

“These astonishing young people have succeeded in the highest possible level of high school academic rigor. They go on to attend the nation’s top colleges and universities, and to exercise their gifts on behalf of our country and the world,” a program spokesperson said.

Waranch to join Team USA in Israel for 19th Maccabiah

Samuel Waranch, 15, a Greenhill School sophomore, has been named to the Maccabiah USA chess team and will travel to Israel this summer for the 19th annual games.

Samuel Waranch has been named to the U.S. chess team that will compete in the 19th Maccabiah Games in July in Israel. | Photo: Courtesy Waranch family

Samuel Waranch has been named to the U.S. chess team that will compete in the 19th Maccabiah Games in July in Israel. | Photo: Courtesy Waranch family

These games, the third largest international sporting competition in the world, will be held July 17-30 throughout Israel.

“I am honored to be able to represent the United States in such a way. Being a part of this group of Jewish athletes is such a great opportunity. I am really excited,” he said.

Samuel has played in more than 150 chess tournaments throughout the United States. He has been nationally ranked in chess many times over the last eight years. Besides chess, Samuel also plays soccer and participates in Lincoln Douglas debate at Greenhill. He is the son of Barry Waranch and Dana Einzig.

Samuel’s addition to the team makes 10 folks from the Dallas-area who will participate in the games. In addition to David Holiner in tennis and Alan Rosenthal in cycling, Rebecca Brown will compete in equestrian, while her mother, Becky, will be the dressage coach; Joel Cohen, Nathan Edwards and Eldad Block will compete in master’s (35 and over) soccer; and Jacob Baum will compete in master’s triathlon. Dallas Stars left wing Eric Nystrom will serve as assistant coach for the U.S. hockey contingent.

We look forward to providing a series of profiles on all of the local athletes who will participate on Team USA.

Weyser shows his stars and stripes

Sammy Weyser, son of Joan and Marc Weyser, a Yavneh Academy ninth-grader, took first place in the “Why I Am Proud to Be an American” contest sponsored by the Jewish War Veterans Auxiliary.

His essay highlights personal history, including the immigration of his great-grandparents from Poland in 1939 and the Holocaust survival of his grandfather, who endured several years of Nazi capture in his native Germany in the early 1940s before escaping to America.

“So, in a sense, the Holocaust created my life,” Sammy wrote. “What is so special about America that made my grandparents decide to come here? One main factor was that there were many different races and religions in America … Another main factor was peoples’ rights … Another huge factor was that America served justice during the war.

“America is the only place on earth where you can get Chinese, Mexican and Jewish food on the same street … It is like a mixture of all countries into a super nation! I am proud to be developing my life in the greatest country on earth, the United States of America!!”

Sammy’s proud grandparents are Ethel and Harlan Holiner.

Parenting workshop on tap

Becky Udman, preschool director at Torah Day School of Dallas will run a three-week parenting workshop from 6-8 p.m. on consecutive Tuesdays starting April 9 at Ohr HaTorah, 6324 Churchill Way in Dallas.

Couples are encouraged to attend together, but individual parents are welcome. The three-week program is $100 per person or $150 per couple, plus a $10 workbook fee.

Becky, who has been a parenting columnist for the TJP for many years, is trained in the Love and Logic approach. In addition she is the mother of 13 very well-behaved and adorable children.

For information, contact Becky at

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BREAKING NEWS: New pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, has Jewish connections

BREAKING NEWS: New pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, has Jewish connections

Posted on 13 March 2013 by admin

The Conclave Of Cardinals Have Elected A New Pope To Lead The World's Catholics(JTA) – Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Argentinian cardinal who was elected pope and will take the name Francis I, is said to have a good relationship with Argentinian Jews.

Bergoglio, 76, a Jesuit, was the choice of the College of Cardinals on Wednesday following two days of voting in Vatican City. He is the first pope to come from outside Europe in more than a millennium; reflecting the changing demographics of Catholics, he comes from Latin America.

As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio attended Rosh Hashanah services at the Benei Tikva Slijot synagogue in September 2007.

Rabbi David Rosen, the director of interfaith affairs for the American Jewish Committee, told JTA that the new pope is a “warm and sweet and modest man” known in Buenos Aires for doing his own cooking and personally answering his phone.

After the bombing of the AMIA Jewish community center in 1994, he “showed solidarity with the Jewish community,” Rosen said.

In 2005, Bergoglio was the first public personality to sign a petition for justice in the AMIA bombing case. He also was one of the signatories on a document called “85 victims, 85 signatures” as part of the bombing’s 11th anniversary. In June 2010, he visited the rebuilt AMIA building to talk with Jewish leaders.

“Those who said Benedict was the last pope who would be a pope that lived through the Shoah, or that said there would not be another pope who had a personal connection to the Jewish people, they were wrong,” Rosen said.

Soon after the chimney of the Sistine Chapel sent up a puff of white smoke signifying that the cardinals had selected a successor to Pope Benedict XVI, Francis addressed thousands of faithful from the balcony of St. Peter’s Baslica.

“Buonasera,” he told them, saying “Good evening” in Italian, and thanked his fellow cardinals for going “almost to the ends of the earth” to find him.

Benedict was the first pontiff to step down since 1415.

Israel Singer, the former head of the World Jewish Congress, said he spent time working with Bergoglio when the two were distributing aid to the poor in Buenos Aires in the early 2000s, part of a joint Jewish-Catholic program called Tzedaka.

“We went out to the barrios where Jews and Catholics were suffering together,” Singer told JTA. “If everyone sat in chairs with handles, he would sit in the one without. He was always looking to be more modest. He’s going to find it hard to wear all these uniforms.”

Bergoglio also wrote the foreward of a book by Rabbi Sergio Bergman, a Buenos Aires legislator, and referred to him as “one of my teachers.”

Last November, Bergoglio hosted a Kristallnacht memorial event at the Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral with Rabbi Alejandro Avruj from the NCI-Emanuel World Masorti congregation.

He also has worked with the Latin American Jewish Congress and held meetings with Jewish youth who participate in its New Generations program.

“The Latin American Jewish Congress has had a close relationship with Jorge Bergoglio for several years,” Claudio Epelman, executive director of the Latin American Jewish Congress, told JTA. “We know his values and strengths. We have no doubt he will do a great job leading the Catholic Church.”

In his visit to the Buenos Aires synagogue, according to the Catholic Zenit news agency, Bergoglio told the congregation that he was there to examine his heart “like a pilgrim, together with you, my elder brothers.”

“Today, here in this synagogue, we are made newly aware of the fact that we are a people on a journey and we place ourselves in God’s presence,” Zenit quoted the then-archbishop as saying. “We must look at him and let him look at us, to examine our heart in his presence and to ask ourselves if we are walking blamelessly.”

Renzo Gattegna, the president of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, offered Italian Jewry’s congratulations to the new pope with the “most fervent wishes” that his pontificate could bring “peace and brotherhood to all humanity.”

In particular, Gattegna voiced the hope that there would be a continuation “with reciprocal satisfaction” of “the intense course of dialogue that the Jews have always hoped for and that has been also realized through the work of the popes who have led the church in the recent past.”

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Chili in the air

Chili in the air

Posted on 07 March 2013 by admin

By Dave Sorter

A record 50 teams will participate in the 20th annual Tiferet Israel Kosher Chili Cook-off Sunday in the Tiferet Israel parking lot, 10909 Hillcrest Road in Dallas.

“We wanted to set a record for number of teams,” cook-off co-chair Neal Stollon said. “Then, we needed a hard cutoff. We had the team meeting [Feb. 26], and it would be very difficult for any additional teams to enter.”

Of the 50 entrants, 42 will compete in the regular (beef) division, while five teams will vie for the vegetarian chili title and three will feature turkey chili.

Judges are scheduled to be Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, state Rep. Stefani Carter, cook-off co-founders Jack Baum and Dan Prescott, community leader and federation Partnership Committee chair Ron Romaner, former Dallas Cowboys lineman Andy Frederick, Westin Galleria chef David Smith, Texas Health Resources chef Marty Cummins and laser eye surgeon Jeff Whitman.

Though team members will start formulating their concoctions as early as 8 a.m. Sunday, the event will be open to the public from 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Food (other than chili) will be sold, vendors will have their own tables near the cooking tents and games for children will be available.

The Dallas Jewish Historical Society, one of the beneficiaries of the cook-off, will take oral histories inside the Tiferet Israel building. Also inside, the PJ Library — a program of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Center for Jewish Education — will have a reading/arts and crafts room.

Admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 4-10 and free for ages 3 and younger.

The cook-off draws thousands of people each year, and parking has long been a major problem, Stollon said. Parking will be available at the Aaron Family JCC parking lot, 7900 Northaven Road, with shuttle buses traveling to and from Tiferet Israel. Event organizers provided the following tips:

  • Organizers highly recommend parking in the JCC parking lot. Two buses will run continuously throughout the event, so waits should be less than 10 minutes. You can also get your tickets and wristbands at the J. This is the easiest and most convenient option.
  • Limited handicapped parking will be available at the Royal Lane Baptist Church parking lot. All vehicles must have handicapped tags and must check in with cook-off staff
  • Limited parking will be available across Hillcrest Road from Tiferet Israel. As in previous years, parking is at your own risk. All vehicles must stay off the walking trail. No exceptions.
  • Street parking in the neighborhood is limited. This is a residential neighborhood, so please be respectful of how you park.
  • There is no parking on Hillcrest Road. No exceptions; you will get towed.

While tasting chili and participating in fun activities is a large part of the cook-off, tzedakah also is important. For example, a food drive is being jointly sponsored by the Jewish Family Service food pantry, Congregation Tiferet Israel and next-door neighbor Royal Lane Baptist Church.

Donations of non-perishable food or money will be accepted at the cook-off. Non-perishable food includes items stored in a pantry, such as oil, sugar, rice, crackers, dry cereal, canned goods, peanut butter and others. The food must have a valid shelf life; out-of-date food can’t be accepted.

Meanwhile, three local non-profits are chosen each year to be beneficiaries of cook-off proceeds. This year’s organizations are the Dallas Jewish Historical Society, Moishe House – Dallas branch, and the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s Dallas metro ALS division.

The Dallas Jewish Historical Society was established in 1971, according to a cook-off committee statement. The agency actively collects, preserves, and records the history of the entire Greater Dallas Jewish Community for research purposes. A partner agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, the DJHS is primarily supported by membership contributions. The DJHS continues to expand its collection of oral histories, having gathered more than 300 personal interviews with well-known Dallas Jews since 1971.

The Muscular Dystrophy Association’s ALS Division helps search for treatments and therapies for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). More than 30,000 American adults are living with ALS, with 5,000 people learning they have the disease each year. The MDA facilitates support groups for patients and families affected by ALS. MDA also operates 42 MDA/ALS centers across the country that specialize in ALS care and research, including the MDA/ALS Center of Dallas at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.

“The MDA/ALS organization is very supportive to families coping with the diagnosis of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease),” said Marty Weinberg, a past president and current board member of Tiferet Israel who is living with ALS.

Moishe House is an international organization providing Jewish experiences to young adults in their 20s. Its model trains, supports and sponsors young Jewish leaders as they create home-based communities for their peers. Currently, Dallas Moishe House residents Elissa Riesenfeld, Jaycee Greenblatt and Karli Ward, who have lived there since August, host five or six events each month; be it social, Jewish education or Jewish celebrations.

Last year’s Moishe House group won the beef division. This year’s trio is entering the turkey-chili competition.

“As Moishe House, we are thrilled to be a participant for a second year in the DKCC, and honored to be a beneficiary,” Greenblatt said. “We are also excited to engage our young adult community in this unique event. This event is a phenomenal representation of what the Dallas Jewish community can accomplish when we all work together.”

Moishe House won last year’s Kosher Chili Cook-off beef division. The residents of the house are new this year, and the 2013 team will compete in the turkey chili division. Moishe House is also one of the three beneficiaries of the proceeds from this year’s cook-off. | Photo: TJP archives

Moishe House won last year’s Kosher Chili Cook-off beef division. The residents of the house are new this year, and the 2013 team will compete in the turkey chili division. Moishe House is also one of the three beneficiaries of the proceeds from this year’s cook-off. | Photo: TJP archives



What: 20th annual Tiferet Israel Kosher Chili Cook-off
When: 10:30 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday, March 10.
Where: Tiferet Israel, 10909 Hillcrest Road in Dallas
Cost: $10 adults; $5 children 4-10; free for children 3-younger


Teams registered for the Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off Sunday.  A total of 50  teams are entered in the 20th annual event.

Akiba Academy
Ann & Nate Levine Academy
Anti-Defamation League
Beth Torah
Camp Nageela Midwest
Camp Sabra
Camp Young Judaea
Chabad of Dallas
Chabad of Plano
Chabad of Texas A&M
Dallas Jewish Historical Society
Dallas Holocaust Museum
Dallas Chapter of Hadassah
Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Assoc.
Dallas Kosher (Va’ad)
DATA Far North
DATA Sunday Experience
Far N. Dallas/Richardson Dems
Friends of Magen David Adom
Hebrew Men’s Poker Assoc.
Hillels of North Texas
Intown Chabad
JCC 1 – J Team
JCC 2 – Chai Campers
Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas
Jewish War Veterans
Kleinman Brothers
Legacy Senior Communities
Ohr HaTorah
Republican Jewish Coalition
Sephardic Torah Center
Sha’are Tefilla
Shearith Israel
Tiferet Israel I
Tom Thumb
Torah Day School
Toras Chaim
Yavneh Academy
Zohar USY

Anshai Torah
Jewish Family Service
North Texas Mensa
Temple Emanu-El
Tiferet Israel II

Temple Shalom
Bnai Zion
Dallas Moishe House

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