Archive | October, 2013

Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 24 October 2013 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Playgroup at Beth-El Congregation

In its second year, Beth-El Congregation’s Parents/Toddler Playgroup “Tinokot” is bringing mothers of young children together to provide a place where they can meet, network and enjoy learning about the Jewish faith, home and community. The toddlers and mothers and fathers initiate everlasting friendships. Children (from birth to age 4) have the opportunity to play in a secure, loving environment while mothers and fathers are able to visit with each other.

Alice Finkelstein and Ashton Finkelstein enjoy Tinokot at Beth-El on Oct. 13. | Photos: Courtesy of Ilana Knust

Alice Finkelstein and Ashton Finkelstein enjoy Tinokot at Beth-El on Oct. 13. | Photos: Courtesy of Ilana Knust

The most recent program was held at Beth-El Congregation on Sunday, Oct. 13. The topic was “Torah — A Reason to Dance.”

Tinokot, which is Hebrew for toddlers, meets once a month in the preschool room in the Religious School on Sunday mornings; mothers or fathers bring their infants and children. Beth-El Education Director Ilana Knust tells us that the families are benefitting in a number of ways, including:

  • Enjoying the company of other members of the community and making new friends.
  • Learning about prayers and blessings, and discussing Jewish and general parenting topics (for example, observing Shabbat, Sukkot and Chanukah in your home; how to cope with toddlers with colds and flu; the annual “December dilemma” and more).
  • Valerie Simanek and Eli Simanek learn about the Torah at Tinokot at Beth-El on Oct. 13.

    Valerie Simanek and Eli Simanek learn about the Torah at Tinokot at Beth-El on Oct. 13.

    The youngsters are being introduced to Jewish activities, stories, words, foods and so on. Ultimately, of course, the objective is to enhance Jewish identity by bringing in young parents to do Jewish things and learn to provide an enriching Jewish environment for their children.

  • Introducing young families to various community resources.

Along with Knust, Alice Finkelstein is coordinating the program. Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger is also involved, along with other Jewish community experts from congregations and JEA programs.

Robbi Sherwin will entertain ‘Daytimers’ next week

Talented entertainer Robbi Sherwin will be featured at the “Daytimers” Wednesday, Oct. 30 luncheon and program, at Beth-El Congregation. The program begins at noon.

Robbi Sherwin

Robbi Sherwin

Sherwin leads Shabbaton, life-cycle events and retreats specializing in spiritual connections to God through music and nature. Her specialty is congregational songwriting and she enjoys helping those from every flavor of Judaism think outside the bimah. She received cantorial smicha in 2003 and is vice president of the Women Cantors’ Network, a certified Maven with Storahtelling and she remains an energetic instigator. For the last seven years, she has served as the spiritual leader of B’nai Butte Congregation in Crested Butte, Colo., enjoying the Rocky Mountain “chai” of a community located at 9,000 feet, complete with Ski Shabbat mountain minyans, alpine hikes and an attitude of high-altitude gratitude that draws participation from around the world.

Catering for the event will be Pak-A-Pocket, and guests have a choice of turkey, pastrami, chicken schwarma, or the Israeli favorite falafel, all on pita sandwiches.  Cost is $9 for lunch or $4 for the program only.

For information and reservations, call with your credit card to Barbara Rubin, 817-927-2736, Larry Steckler, 520-990-3155 or Hugh Lamensdorf, 817-738-1428, or reserve for yourself at The Sylvia Wolens “Daytimers” is a program of Beth-El Congregation with financial support from the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

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Tribute to Levine teacher inspired by Chagall

Tribute to Levine teacher inspired by Chagall

Posted on 24 October 2013 by admin

Student Toni Buskin uses the Chagall Window as inspiration for her creation.

Student Toni Buskin uses the Chagall Window as inspiration for her creation.

Fifth grade students (from left) Andrew Goldman, Connor Boyle, Eliov Yona and Jack Greenman get advice from artist Tim Todd while creating their glass tiles.

Fifth grade students (from left) Andrew Goldman, Connor Boyle, Eliov Yona and Jack Greenman get advice from artist Tim Todd while creating their glass tiles.

Rachel Rouhani’s tile concept involved blue glass frit, a form of crushed glass used in the fusion process.

Rachel Rouhani’s tile concept involved blue glass frit, a form of crushed glass used in the fusion process.

Campus nurse Karla Jacoby and second grade teacher Sandy Myer enjoying the creative process.

Campus nurse Karla Jacoby and second grade teacher Sandy Myer enjoying the creative process.

A tray of glass tiles ready to be taken to artist Tim Todd’s Fort Worth studio for the fusion process.

A tray of glass tiles ready to be taken to artist Tim Todd’s Fort Worth studio for the fusion process.

Glass artist Tim Todd of T2 Glass was recently commissioned by the Mace Adams Memorial Fund, SiNaCa Studios School of Glass, to commemorate its first grant project with Ann & Nate Levine Academy in Dallas.

Mace Adams

Mace Adams

Mace Adams, who died suddenly in 2011, was a teacher at Levine Academy and a member of the Founding Committee for SiNaCa Studios. He was also Tim Todd’s beloved partner, and was himself a very accomplished glass artist.

The concept for the project, “The Twelve Tribes of Israel – Levine Style,” came from Levine Head of School, Mark Stolovitsky who suggested the project be inspired by the Chagall Windows displayed in the Abbell Synagogue at Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. The Chagall Windows are Marc Chagall’s representation of the 12 tribes of Israel and are designed with stained glass.

Tim sought the advice of artist/painter Sidney Torres, who after studying the Chagall Windows, provided a list of the major colors used in the individual art panels. The color listing was then translated into a color palate that the students and faculty used to design individual fused glass tiles measuring approximately two inches by two inches.

The designs were created in a series of workshops held in the art studio at Levine Academy. Students in grades four through eight and Levine Academy faculty designed the tiles over a three-day span of 12 workshops, each session representing one individual Tribe of Israel.

Each gathering began with a description and discussion led by art teacher Wendy Cramer. The discussion included information on the assigned Tribe, quoted blessings and details such as the gem designations and descriptions of the Tribe’s flag.

Each designing student was also provided a picture of that session’s Chagall Window, and a picture of the original painted study by Chagall that led to the stained glass version. The students were provided with a supply of glass tiles and glass materials (glass frit of various sizes and colors, glass stringers of various colors) that were selected by Torres.

They were then asked to design their individual tiles based on their interpretation of the colors they saw in the Chagall Window, or painted study for their specified Tribe.

The finished tiles were transported from Levine Academy to Tim Todd’s private studio in Fort Worth, first to be fused as individual tiles, then fused again onto a base sheet of clear glass, approximately 22 inches by 22 inches, to represent the individual tribe.

Vertical accent “stripes” were added to each base glass to distinguish between the individual tribes.

The glass panels will be installed in a “grid” of three horizontal panels by four vertical panels on a presentation wall in the newly renovated Weinreb Family Childhood Center on the Levine Academy campus.

The collaborative masterpiece was officially unveiled on Oct. 23 at the dedication ceremony of the Weinreb Family Early Childhood Center.

Photos and story submitted by Mireille Brisebois-Allen, Levine Academy admissions director.

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Lessons for our children from books

Lessons for our children from books

Posted on 17 October 2013 by admin

By Laura Seymour

Dear Families,

seymourforweb2I love books, especially Jewish children’s books. Come to my office and you will see books galore. But an even better place to look is the Tycher Library upstairs at the JCC — a beautiful setting with lots wonderful Jewish books, and a knowledgeable and helpful staff led by Nina Golboro.

Nina and her staff recently compiled an amazing list of books that reinforce the Jewish values we emphasize at our children’s camps. Here are a few of their recommendations; go to the Tycher Library and tell them that Laura sent you. (And don’t forget that children’s books can teach values to adults, too!)

Kehillah — Community

“Speak Up, Tommy!” by Jacqueline Dembar Greene

“God In Between” by Sandy Eisenberg Sasso

“Joseph and Anna’s Time Capsule: A Legacy from Old Jewish Prague” by Chaya M. Burstein

“Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword” by Barry Deutsch

“Butchers and Bakers, Rabbis and Kings” by Jacqueline Dembar Greene

“What Zeesie Saw on Delancey Street” by Elsa Okon Rael

Chesed — Kindness

“Noah’s Ark” by Lucy Cousins

“Brothers: a Hebrew Legend” by Florence Bernstein Freedman

“Sammy Spider’s First Day of School” by Sylvia A. Rouss

“Hanna’s Sabbath Dress” by Itzhak Schweiger-Dmi’el

“I Am Kind” by Juliet Concord

Hoda’ah — Appreciation

“The Hanukkah Ghosts” by Malka Penn

“Joseph Had a Little Overcoat” by Simms Taback

“A Nickel, a Trolley, a Treasure House” by Sharon Reiss Baker

“In Jesse’s Shoes: Appreciating Kids with Special Needs” by Beverly Lewis

“Marc Chagall” by Howard Greenfeld

“The Tattooed Torah” by Marvell Ginsburg

Shalom … from the Shabbat Lady,

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

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Home sweet home

Home sweet home

Posted on 17 October 2013 by admin

“To save one life is to save a people,” says the Talmud and Janine and Charles Pulman have never swayed from an opportunity to do just that. They will share their recent experiences at 9:30 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 20. “From Ethiopia to Israel — The Rescue of a Lost Tribe” is a compelling story of rescue and freedom.

The Pulman’s passion for the Jewish community and a Jewish future enabled them to witness the recent return of 40 Ethiopians to their Jewish roots in Israel. Joining them was their daughter Jodi Rubenstein along with members of the Jewish Agency for Israel. The group accompanied nine families, 40 olim (new immigrants), as they took the first steps to making Israel their new home.

“We knew this was a once in a lifetime opportunity and, while we’ve been to Israel and we are passionate about Israel, nothing can compare to this,” said Charles who will, through a multi-media presentation, share the story of the resettlement of the families; some with grandparents and some with infants. “This pulled together why we do what we do, and who we are as a people.”

“As involved as we’ve been, we saw what it means to be part of the Jewish People, why Israel matters and why we matter to each other,” he said. “Being a Jew isn’t only a religion, it is being part of a faith, and part of a people. Who else rescues an ancient tribe, with whom they have nothing in common, other than they are Jews?”

“Whether addressing communal needs at Jewish Family Service or emphasizing the importance of Israel, Janine and Charles, as dedicated members of our community, are guided by passion,” said Congregation Anshai Torah’s Rabbi Stefan Weinberg. “We are thrilled to invite our greater community to experience their story firsthand, and to take advantage of the opportunity to listen to how their lives have been influenced by the manner in which they care for others. The Pulmans understand what it means to be concerned with the fate of all Jewish people.”

The Pulman family joined the Golems and eight other families as they made aliyah and journeyed from Addis Ababa to Israel this summer. Standing from left are Tangute Golem, Feteleein Golem, Jodi Pulman Rubenstein, Atsde Golem, Janine Pulman, Tadlo Golem and Charles Pulman. Kneeling, from left, are Antebet and Wolde Golem. | Photo: Courtesy Pulman Family

The Pulman family joined the Golems and eight other families as they made aliyah and journeyed from Addis Ababa to Israel this summer. Standing from left are Tangute Golem, Feteleein Golem, Jodi Pulman Rubenstein, Atsde Golem, Janine Pulman, Tadlo Golem and Charles Pulman. Kneeling, from left, are Antebet and Wolde Golem. | Photo: Courtesy Pulman Family

The group flew from Israel to Addis Ababa and then to Gondar to spend three days witnessing how the lives of those relocating went from the pre-modern extremes without running water to high tech 20th century. “This is a people,” said Charles, “whose lineage is charted by an oral history for seven generations and who, despite being discriminated against as Jews, practiced their Judaism by the Torah, as it was written, before Purim, before there was Chanukah.”

At the airport in Israel, an image from film came to life as the Pulmans witnessed many of the olim dropping to the ground to kiss it upon their arrival. From the airport, the families were taken to absorption centers where they received health, education and vocational assistance, preparing them for their new lives.

The event is open to the entire community and is free of charge; breakfast is included. The program is sponsored by Congregation Anshai Torah’s Hazak, Men’s Club and Sisterhood organizations.

To RSVP or for more information, call 972-473-7718 or email

— Submitted by Deb Silverthorn on behalf of Congregation Anshai Torah.

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Remembering the legacy of a great teacher

Remembering the legacy of a great teacher

Posted on 17 October 2013 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Readers,

friedforweb2Last week we witnessed a historic event that took place in Israel. It was a very sad event, but pivotal nonetheless for a variety of reasons. On Monday, Oct. 7, somewhere between 800,000 and 1 million people came together in what was probably the largest gathering of Jews in the history of the exile, to mourn at the funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, ob’m.

Rabbi Yosef, at the time of his death, was the world’s leading expert in Jewish law. I feel that as a community, we should share together in some words of remembrance for a man whose passing brought together a crowd of such magnitude that included every type of Jew: Sephardi and Ashkenazi, Chassidic and modern Orthodox, right-wing and left-wing, religious and secular, those who followed Yosef’s rulings and those who vehemently disagreed with him. The commonality among this vast group of mourners who gathered at a mere three hours’ notice from death to funeral, nearly a sixth of the entire population of Israel: They had lost a man whose scholarship and love for every Jew was unmatched, and who embodied the entirety of Torah. We lost a father of the Jewish people, and all those assembled — and many of us who could not be there — felt that, in a way, we have all been orphaned.

This 93-year-old rabbi, who was born in Ottoman, Baghdad, was the world’s leading Sephardi rabbinical authority for decades. He held numerous rabbinical positions, including Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel; but those positions, in my opinion, were mere formalities next to what this man was and what he represented. Yosef returned the crown of honor and glory to the Torah, for a generation who had lost much of their connection to their heritage. This is especially applicable to those Jews, perhaps the majority of the country, who came to Israel from Sephardi countries and backgrounds. His regal bearing, greatness in scholarship and the power of his leadership made it honorable and respectable, again, to be an observant Jew dedicated to Torah. And he did this in an environment that had become hostile to a lifestyle of observance, as many people cast derision and shame upon those who adopted it.

One of the most striking elements of his persona was the power of his leadership, in the midst of a generation largely bereft of true leadership. In a time when “leaders” are more concerned with polls and popularity than with truly leading the people, and cower from saying what really needs to be said, R’ Ovadia remained outspoken despite the potential unpopularity of his message.

Other rabbinical leaders often disagreed with him. But none could dismiss his conclusions without addressing the myriad sources and Talmudic logic by which he arrived at them. No serious Torah scholar in our generation would think of forming a conclusion about Jewish law without consulting R’ Ovadia’s encyclopedic works. Although I only heard him speak once in person, I am a student of sorts as I personally own a small library of his writings and often consult them. This is with the knowledge that once I finish reading what R’ Ovadia wrote on a subject, I probably will have explored almost everything recorded on that subject throughout Jewish history.

R’ Ovadia’s brilliant mind and photographic memory embraced the contents of some 30,000 Jewish authoritative works in his personal home library. Legally blind for the past many years, he could still ask someone to bring down the sixth book in the third pile next to the north wall and turn to chapter so-and-so to read what that author wrote on exactly the subject they were studying! I am constantly blown away, when I study his works, just imagining how it was humanly possible to know what he knew. This was coupled with an intense love for and dedication to the Jewish people. His heart was occupied, day and night, with matters of concern to our nation.

The Talmud says, just as the Torah was given in the presence of 600,000 at Sinai, so too when someone is taken from us who knew, taught and represented the entirety of Torah, his passing should be attended by 600,000. For the first time in diaspora history, this has been fulfilled. May R’ Ovadia’s memory be a blessing. May we all increase our Torah study and observance to fill a bit of the void of his loss, and may he continue to pray for us in his place on high.

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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Around the Town

Around the Town

Posted on 17 October 2013 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

I am super proud of my nephew, Jacob Wisch, son of Judy Wisch, and grandson of the late Rene and Jimmy Wisch. Jacob appeared on Channel 11’s morning broadcast at 6:45 a.m. last Thursday, Oct. 10, sharing his story about bullying. If you missed the broadcast, you can catch it at

Jacob wrote a moving poem when he was 12 about his experience on both sides of bullying. His mom had the poem made into posters, which were distributed to middle schools and high schools throughout North Texas. Jacob incorporated this into a mitzvah project.

October is National Bullying Prevention Month and Jacob’s story is not unique. Often times, kids who are bullied by others end up bullies themselves. Jacob is now 15 and a freshman at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas. Also attending Booker T. and now a sophomore is Jordan Gernsbacher, daughter of the late Toni and Harold Gernsbacher.

Save the Date: Nov. 3

The Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County will hold an open house from 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 3 at the Federation office, 4049 Kingsridge Road.

This is a great opportunity to bring the whole mishpachah and meet new Federation Director Bob Goldberg and his family. There will be refreshments, good conversation and a few surprises.

For more information, contact Cindy Simon at 817-569-0892.

Enjoying the Young Adult Group Murder Mystery Dinner on Sept. 28 at Beth El Congregation are, from left, Kim Davis, Michelle Kronman and Rachel Feldstein | Photo: Courtesy of Angie Kitzman

Enjoying the Young Adult Group Murder Mystery Dinner on Sept. 28 at Beth El Congregation are, from left, Kim Davis, Michelle Kronman and Rachel Feldstein | Photo: Courtesy of Angie Kitzman

Mystery Dinner is tons of fun

I’ve been trying to work in photos from the Murder Mystery Dinner for a couple of weeks now, and I finally have a little space. Angie Kitzman tells me that the event was well attended and most everyone got into the Roaring ‘20s spirit.

Rockin’ Ruach Shabbat

Next Friday evening, Oct. 25, Congregation Ahavath Sholom will hold Rockin’ Ruach Shabbat at 6 p.m. Cantor Shoshana Abrams will lead the congregation and guests in a lively family-oriented service. An Oneg Shabbat will follow.

In the CAS newsletter, Cantor Abrams wrote this month, “Please join me as I lead our community in a lively, family oriented, joyous musical service together with our fantastic ruach-stars musicians. Come and celebrate Shabbat through music! While the voice is a versatile instrument which inspires prayer, musical instruments bring a whole new dimension to the prayer experience and I invite you all to take part in this very powerfully spiritual experience on a monthly basis here at CAS.”

Yasher Koach Cantor, it sounds like fun!

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Bullying prevention: a parents’ responsibility

Bullying prevention: a parents’ responsibility

Posted on 17 October 2013 by admin

By Harriet P. Gross

grossforwebOctober is National Bullying Prevention Month. What can be done about this menace, the cause of suffering — even to the point of suicide — in an ever-increasing number of our young people?

Jewish Family Service of Dallas, which has always provided important information to our community on important issues, took the (question of) bull(ying) by the horns during a recent weekend of learning. About a hundred mental health professionals and teachers attended two sessions with a pair of psychoanalysts/psychologists who are making this problem a centerpiece of their work.

Kerry Kelly Novick and Jack Novick have more than four decades of clinical experience with children and families. Now, their emphasis is on positive parenting techniques that can help prevent bullying. “Emotional Muscle” is the name of their book, which promises that strong parents can make strong children: not children who can handle bullying, but — much more important — children who are strong enough NOT to be bullies.

During the evening, part of the Dr. Sol Lurie Community Education Program, the couple talked about how to build this emotional muscle. That was followed by the full-day 17th annual Janis Ablon Professional Conference on the theme, “Children in the Shadow of Violence: Engaging the Cycle of Bullying.”

The Novicks reinforced their words with pictures. Parents, they said, can actually be early starters of aggression problems in their children. To illustrate, they showed several film clips of a mother with her growing boy. At first, she was feeding the infant a bottle, but teasing him with it and laughing at his discomfort.

Then, at several months of age, he sat with her before a pile of toys as she repeatedly offered him one, but grabbed it away to replace it with another. Such aggressive play could make him aggressive, they warned: “Children get messages of power and control from these interactions. By the time they go to school, these have been reinforced by video games and the like. … Then, their destructive behavior makes others the helpless ones.”

The old adage rang frighteningly true in this new context: “Train up a child in the way he should go, and he will not depart from it.”

Today’s terrifying statistics: Every month, 282,000 young people are physically attacked in U.S. high schools, while 2.5 million American children are medicated in attempts to control their behavior.

The Novicks teach children to be in charge of their own lives, to learn that “quick and easy” is not always best and that there are other choices. But they need help to make such distinctions, and parents have to recognize that their children will need self-esteem in order to find those other, better ways. Adults are role models who must model cooperation and collaboration, rather than forcing others to do their will.

Community Rabbi Howard Wolk set the tone for the conference with a straightforward statement: “To stop bullying is the moral equivalent of saving a life. Being a friend to someone is the best gift you can give. … With one small action, you can change a person’s life.”

Dr. Joan Berger, board member and education committee chair of Dallas Psychoanalytic Center, introduced the Novicks and moderated the discussion after their presentation. Also a member of Jewish Family Service’s Domestic Violence Committee, Berger stressed that putting a stop to bullying is an ethical obligation.

The day after the conference, I heard a report from a college professor who is studying this phenomenon. He’s learned that the bullying prevention programs currently used in schools not only do not stop the practice, but actually teach kids new techniques for making others miserable! The Novicks believe the only prevention that works must begin at home, from the day the child is born. And not just during the “prevention month” of October.

(You can find “Emotional Muscle: Strong Parents, Strong Children” on Amazon for as little as $15 for a bound copy and only $3 for the Kindle version. Good gift for new parents, don’t you think?)

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Dallas Doings

Posted on 17 October 2013 by admin

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Longtime Town Council of Addison member Roger Mellow will come in for well-deserved honors when he is recognized at the Seasons of Service event at 11:30 a.m., Tuesday Oct. 29 at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Addison.

Whether in the role of organizer, behind the scenes worker, or inspirational leader, community servants help address critical needs and build better communities. Seasons of Service was designed to identify and thank those individuals like Roger, groups and businesses whose efforts have addressed the needs of a special group or have produced a constructive change in the Metrocrest community. Roger became very involved in Senior Adult Services when he was a Council Member in Addison. His term expired in June 2012 after serving seven years.

By publicizing and celebrating these efforts, the event will highlight existing needs, demonstrate the impact of service and encourage more people to become involved. This new event will focus on a few individuals, faith communities and businesses that have had a positive impact on the lives of the senior residents of Addison, Carrollton, Coppell and Farmers Branch. In addition to Mellow, the 2013 Seasons of Service honorees are: Baylor Hospital, Carrollton, Home Instead Senior Care #407, Christ United Methodist Church, Deanna Masoner, Frito-Lay/Pepsico, GEICO, Riverside Church, Glenna Grimmer and Herb Weidinger.

Hosted by the mayors of Addison, Carrollton, Coppell and Farmers Branch, funds raised at the event will benefit programs for older adults provided by the former Senior Adult Services, now newly merged with Metrocrest Social Services, a 501©3 non-profit organization. These two organizations have served as the safety net for Metrocrest residents of all ages for more than 35 years and the August 1 merger combines the expertise and rich history of both organizations to better serve the community.

The public is encouraged to participate in honoring these community servants by becoming a sponsor or by purchasing individual tickets. Sponsorships are available at many levels and single tickets are $50 per person.

New officers named for Dallas Jewish Historical Society

The DJHS, an organization dedicated to preserving the history of the Dallas Jewish community has named its 2013-2014 officers and new board members. Newly elected officers are: Jim Schwartz, president; Stuart Rosenfield, first vice-president; May Sebeel, second vice-president; Liz Liener, recording secretary; and Lori Ordiway, parliamentarian. Newly elected board members include: Marc Andres, Michael Cohen, Scott Cytron, David Golman, Joan Gremont, Hylton Jonas, Peggy Millheiser, Terri Schepps and Ellen Ungerman. Returning board members include Pauline Gravier, Harriet Gross, Angela Horowitz, Esther Meyers, Elya Naxon, Sherry Roosth and Sarah Yarrin.

Join Beth Torah for special guest Stephen Fagin this Sunday

Stephen Fagin, associate curator and oral historian of the Sixth Floor Museum, will be the guest speaker at Congregation Beth Torah on Sunday, Oct. 20.

Just a month before the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy assassination, Fagin will discuss how Dallas came to grips with the tragedy that occurred here and how it ultimately resulted in the opening of the Sixth Floor Museum.

The synagogue’s Sisterhood is sponsoring the breakfast program in collaboration with Men’s Club, Adult Education Committee and the Chai Lights seniors group.

Fagin, who joined the museum staff in 2000, is the author of the new book “Assassination and Commemoration: JFK, Dallas and The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza.”

The breakfast begins at 9 a.m. and the public is invited. The cost is $5. Beth Torah is located at 720 W. Lookout Drive in Richardson. For more information, call the synagogue at 972-234-1542.

Jerry McDonald joins Highland Springs

Jerry McDonald is now the director of continuing care at Highland Springs, the Erickson Living retirement community located at the intersection of Coit and Frankford Roads in Far North Dallas.

Previously with the Legacy at Preston Hollow, McDonald holds over 18 years of senior living administration experience.

Opened in March, the continuing care neighborhood at Highland Springs features 108 residences, offering assisted living, memory care, post-acute rehabilitation and nursing care services. It incorporates the integrated health care model developed by Erickson Health that includes full-time physicians, electronic medical records and comprehensive employee training.

In his leadership role, McDonald will be responsible for providing clinical services and achieving a high quality resident experience through a holistic, patient-centered care model that reflects the core values of Highland Springs.

A Plano resident, McDonald has a master’s degree in science for long-term care administration from the University of North Texas.

Currently chairman of the advisory board for Dallas-based AIDS Arms, Inc., he also served as the organization’s board chairman from 2006-2008.

Lakehill students excel on SAT

Mazal tov to three Lakehill Preparatory seniors, John Devine (son of Sharon Mansfield and John Devine), Matt Graff (son of Jonathan Graff and Audrey Miklius) and Ethan Harrison-Weil (son of Alan Wright and Jenny Weil) who have been named National Merit semifinalists for the Class of 2014.

More than 1.5 million juniors in nearly 22,000 high schools entered the 2014 National Merit Program by taking the 2012 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT).

The nationwide pool of semifinalists, which represents less than one percent of U.S. high school seniors, includes the highest scoring entrants in each state. These academically talented high school seniors have an opportunity to advance in the competition for National Merit Scholarships, with a combined worth of more than $35 million, that will be offered next spring.

“These students represent some of the most academically talented in the country,” said Headmaster Roger Perry. “We join our teachers and their proud parents in congratulating them for this highly esteemed academic honor.”

While on the subject of Lakehill goings on, the school will hold its 15th annual Trek for Tech on Saturday, Nov. 9.

The one-mile Fun Run and chip-timed 5K race begins and ends at Lakehill’s main campus at 2720 Hillside Drive. The Fun Run begins at 8 a.m., followed by the 5K at 8:30 a.m. Enjoy live music from Lakehill freshman Ruby Sanchez and Lakehill eighth grader Kaia Brown and her band Rosalynd throughout the event.

An awards ceremony will follow the races at 9:30 a.m. Awards will be presented to the overall male and female finishers and the top three male and female finishers in the following age groups: 8 and under, 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-19, and first place male and female for the following age groups: 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, and 60+.

Packet pick-up is available at the school Nov. 4-8 from 8-10 a.m. and 3-5 p.m. and on race day beginning at 7 a.m.

On-site registration is available Nov. 4-8 from 8-10 a.m. and 3-5 p.m. Race day registration closes at 8 a.m. Late registration is $30. All proceeds are used for technology enhancements for the school. Get more information and register online at

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Dallas Doings

Dallas Doings

Posted on 10 October 2013 by admin

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

Dallas Area Interfaith to hold public meeting on Health Insurance Exchange Initiative

Healthcare is a hot media topic of conversation. The general public needs factual information on the Health Insurance Exchange/Marketplace. The Dallas Area Interfaith (DAI) will hold a forum at 7 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 17 at Temple Emanu-El, 8500 Hillcrest Road. The DAI has a constituency of 90,000 families — many of whom are eligible for affordable health insurance.

The plan is to introduce DAI’s copyrighted pamphlet explaining the access to affordable health insurance through the Exchange/Marketplace in Texas. DAI congregations and groups, as well as those contributing to the production of the 100,000 copies of the pamphlet will receive copies. Additionally, DAI will distribute their pamphlets to public libraries, clinics and hospitals. At least 300 DAI congregation/school/organization delegates will participate.

Mah Jongg tournament to be held Sunday, Oct. 27 at Akiba

Akiba Academy will be busy  Sunday, Oct. 27. The second annual Lois Goldblatt Mah Jongg Tournament will occur at the school to benefit the Ryan Goldblatt Foundation to help fight against pediatric cancer. Event organizer, Joanne Goldblatt, stated that last year’s tournament was “a success with 120 players and $10,000 was raised.” Cost of the tournament is $40 per person which includes snacks and prizes. Check-in begins at 12:30 p.m. and play begins at 1 p.m. Prizes will be awarded to the winners and a raffle will be held. Registration is required by Oct. 20. To register, complete the registration form online at ( and send a check for $40 made out to The Ryan Goldblatt Foundation c/o Akiba Academy, 12324 Merit Drive 75251. Please add Attention PTA in the “memo”.

Three-and-a-half year old Ryan Goldblatt lost his courageous two-and-a-half year battle with AT/RT (brain cancer) on Sept. 15, 2010. Although cancer never defined Ryan, it did invade his brilliant brain and took him from this earth. This youngster never let cancer get in the way of life. He enjoyed living each moment of his young life to the fullest. He was only 6 months old when diagnosed with cancer. When Ryan died, his family felt that it was their responsibility to make certain that Ryan’s memory would never be forgotten, and to help fund the nasty disease that took him from his family — hence the Ryan Goldblatt Foundation was born.

Just a columnist’s thoughts — even if you cannot play Mah Jongg, perhaps you could help make a difference by making a small contribution to this worthy endeavor.

Don’t Dreidel Your Keppe

Can you believe it? Chanukah is almost here, and if you are not aware of it, I have a feeling that there are those among you that will be doing early Chanukah shopping at the 2013 Chanukah Boutique on Oct. 27 at Akiba Academy. The event will be held in Akiba’s atrium. Multiple vendors will be on hand selling their wares — from Judaica items, jewelry, health and beauty packages and more. There will also be activities for kids of all ages, such as a bounce house, obstacle course, arcade style hoops and a soccer game. The event will commence at 11 a.m. and end at 4 p.m. Gift wrapping is available for $2. A portion of the proceeds will benefit the mah jongg tournament. The entire community is invited to attend the event. For additional information contact:

Kol Hakavod to Yavneh seniors Shanee Abouzaglo, Lexi Riche, Jason Epstein, Adam Steinbrecher and Adam Schor, shown here, from left, with Yavneh Head of School Dr. David Portnoy and College and Guidance Counselor Allyn Schmucker, on receipt of the students’ honors from the College Board. Jason, Lexi, Adam and Adam have been named as Commended Students in the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program and Shanee was named a National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar. | Photo: Deb Silverthorn

Kol Hakavod to Yavneh seniors Shanee Abouzaglo, Lexi Riche, Jason Epstein, Adam Steinbrecher and Adam Schor, shown here, from left, with Yavneh Head of School Dr. David Portnoy and College and Guidance Counselor Allyn Schmucker, on receipt of the students’ honors from the College Board. Jason, Lexi, Adam and Adam have been named as Commended Students in the 2014 National Merit Scholarship Program and Shanee was named a National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar. | Photo: Deb Silverthorn

News from Yavneh Academy

Approximately 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation are recognized for their academic promise. Yavneh’s seniors have placed among the top 5 percent of more than 1.5 million who entered the competition by taking the 2012 PSAT/NMSQT.

Yavneh’s Head of School Dr. David Portnoy stated that “we are extremely proud of these students for this singular accomplishment. Yavneh Academy enjoys a proud tradition of academic excellence, and these outstanding students are worthy inheritors of that tradition.”

At 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 15, Yavneh will hold a Prospective Families’ Open House at the school’s Schultz Rosenberg Campus at 12324 Merit Drive in Dallas. The evening will feature a Q & A forum with Yavneh students, parents and administrators as well as tours of the campus. For additional information, call 214-295-3500 or email

At 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 20, Yavneh will extend an invitation to the community to share in an evening to support the school’s arts department. It will feature an auction including published works Icarus at the Airport by Assistant Principal and Social Studies Faculty member, Dr. Tim Cloward; Small World by Creative Writing and Humanities Faculty member, Lisa Huffaker, and Polly’s Pipers by Yavneh’s Art Teacher, Monica Ribald. In addition, other auction items will include tickets to Dallas-area cultural events including The Dallas Opera, The Kitchen Dog Theater, Theatre Three and Wordspace. Artwork by students and faculty members will be available. Kim Corbet, Dr. Tim Cloward, Michael Federico, Lisa Huffaker and Monica Ribald, faculty members will perform during the evening.

The Yavneh Arts Benefit will be held in Pollman Hall of the Schultz Rosenberg Campus. Admission is $5, and all proceeds will support the art department of Yavneh Academy. For additional information, please contact Dr. Cloward at 214-295-3500 or email

Kudos to The J Group Fitness Team for new classes

The Aaron Family JCC of Dallas recently announced that the J Group Fitness Team, voted “Best Classes” by the Dallas Morning News, is bringing its top-notch group fitness instructors and innovative class formats to the hottest green space in Dallas — Klyde Warren Park. J President Artie Allen said “in today’s world it is very difficult for people who don’t live near the J to fit our unique J community workouts into their busy schedules. This is our opportunity to bring a little bit of the J to them…We are eager and excited to show the Uptown-Downtown community what we have to offer.” The J will be the first in flash fitness to bring such an extensive “on the go” group fitness program to the park. Classes will be offered on Sundays from 12-1 p.m. beginning Oct. 13.

J Flash Cross Conditioning Circuit will include a variety of different workouts such as spin bikes, agility equipment and functional training and Insanity segments in a circuit style workout. This format is a first for Klyde Warren Park. Like Dance Fitness? The J has got you covered! Try their Zumba Pound Rock Out fusion format. Yoga your thing? Dare to gently flow in and out of your poses to the rhythmic beat of the drums. It’s Fitness on the Go!

For more information on class format and specifics, visit the J’s website at

NCJW announces “Mitzvahs with Mom” project Oct. 20

National Council of Jewish Women is pleased to announce the formation of a new project: “Mitzvahs With Mom.” This opportunity is geared toward women who want to share the gift of giving back with their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren in a quarterly weekend mitzvah project to continue to meet the NCJW mission.

Readers are welcome to bring friends who would like to participate. NCJW is happy to share the impact that their organization has made in Dallas for 100 years, as they continue to improve the quality of life for women, children and families. The inaugural project will be “Bingo and Ice Cream with the Seniors” at 3 p.m., on Sunday, Oct. 20 at The Legacy at Preston Hollow, 11409 North Central Expressway. Co-chairs of the event are Allyson Raskin and Julie Liberman. Please RSVP to the NCJW office by Thursday, Oct. 17. Call 214-368-4405 or email

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Mitzvot: Too many, or just the right number?

Mitzvot: Too many, or just the right number?

Posted on 10 October 2013 by admin

By Rabbi Yerachmiel D. Fried

Dear Rabbi Fried,

What is the reason for there being so many mitzvot? I recently learned that according to the Torah, the gentiles only have seven mitzvot. Jews have 613. Why such a huge discrepancy? Wouldn’t 10 commandments be enough? Is God out to make life difficult for His “chosen people”?

— Leah G.

Dear Leah,

friedforweb2Excellent question! There are many reasons why God chose to give us the number of mitzvot that He did. We’ll try to look at a few of them.

Our sages state: “The Holy One, blessed be He, desired to bring merit (lezakos) to Israel (the Jews); therefore He increased for them Torah and mitzvot” (Mishnah, Makos Ch. 3).

This Mishna seems counterintuitive, based on your question: If more mitzvot are difficult, how is it, then, a merit for the Jews to increase the number of mitzvot? It would seem to be a punishment.

Maimonides (13th century) explains this statement: “It is a core Jewish concept that if a person observed one mitzvah out of the 613 properly and respectably without tainting it with any personal motivation, rather purely for its own sake out of love; that person will have merited, from this one observance, to the world to come. This is the meaning of the Mishnah. The mitzvot, by them being many, make it extremely likely that during a Jew’s entire lifetime at least one of them will be fulfilled with perfection of thought and deed. With that perfect mitzvah the person’s soul will attain eternal life. … ” (Ramba’m, Commentary to Mishnah, end of Makos).

We see from this that the increased number of mitzvot is not a penalty, but rather, an expression of God’s immense love for His people — to grant them as many opportunities as possible to merit His ultimate, eternal goodness.

Another, deeper explanation is given for the number of mitzvot. The word lezakos in the Mishnah, besides meaning “merit,” also means “to purify.” Every mitzvah one performs brings the body and soul to a greater level of spiritual purity and perfection: a tikkun for that person. The personal tikkun also brings about a tikkun to the world.

There are numerous areas in which each person, and the world, needs a tikkun. Each mitzvah affects the person and the world in a different way.

The Midrash compares this to a royal orchard planted by the King’s botanists. Each of the varied trees gives off a different fragrance, diverse fruits and colors; no two are alike, providing abundant and manifold pleasures. God, in providing this gift to His children, demonstrates His great affection and His desire for us to have a wide range of diverse and distinct spiritual pleasures and opportunities for growth.

Lastly, the Kabbalists explain that the 613 mitzvot, made up of 248 “positive” and 365 “negative” (do’s and don’ts) correspond to the same count of body parts contained in a person’s body. Each mitzvah matches up precisely to its body-counterpart, providing it light and life.

Thus, the sages provide an even deeper understanding, that our bodies were actually created by God to fit the mitzvot! This is based partly on the statement of the Book of the Zohar (“Book of Illumination,” the key text of the Kabbalah): “God peered into the Torah and created the world.” This means the Torah was not introduced after the world was created; rather, it is the blueprint of creation itself.

A part of the soul also corresponds to the same body parts. In this way the body and soul very precisely achieve their perfection, their tikkun, through the mitzvot. For this reason the number of 613 is very precise, and couldn’t be any other way.

How fortunate we are to be the recipients of so many special, unique mitzvot! We should only be open to the possibilities of growth and joy they can provide.

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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