Archive | May, 2017

Around the Town: Annual meeting, award, caricatures

Around the Town: Annual meeting, award, caricatures

Posted on 18 May 2017 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Federation annual meeting to feature national board chair

The Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County will convene its 81st annual meeting at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 25, at Beth-El Congregation. Richard Sandler, chair of the board of trustees of the Jewish Federations of North America, will be the featured guest speaker.
JFNA brings together 148 Federations and 300 Network Communities to maximize impact as the central address of North American Jewry. Ranked among the top 10 charities in the world, JFNA collectively raises over $900 million through the Annual Campaign each year and distributes over $2 billion from foundations and endowments.
Sandler is the past chair of the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles. Joining Sandler will be JFNA National Campaign Chair and Fort Worth native Harold Gernsbacher.
Federation President Lon Werner will present the “State of the Federation.” JFS Chair Alden Karotkin will provide an update on JFS’ services. Other items on the agenda include: honoring board members completing their terms; election of the 2017-2018 board of directors and officers; and election of the 2017-2018 Jewish Family Services Committee. A dessert reception will follow the meeting.

Newest recipient of the Sylvia and Jerry Wolens Award

The announcement of this year’s Sylvia and Jerry Wolens Award winner is surely to be a highlight of next week’s Federation meeting.

Lisa Rein

Lisa Rein

Lisa Rein will be presented with the prestigious award Thursday. Lisa takes an active role as a director of the Federation. She solicited donors for present and future gifts through her service on the Annual Campaign team and the Life & Legacy endowment development committee. Lisa was a member of the 2015 Federation leadership program that traveled to Israel and has been a strong advocate since. A person of integrity, Lisa is a dedicated member of Congregation Beth Shalom in Arlington and she is grateful to call it her congregational family and spiritual home, with Cantor Sheri Allen as its leader. Lisa is a financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial. She is the proud parent of two children, Rachel and David, and has been happily married to Michael for 31 years. Mazal tov Lisa!

Richard Baratz: a ‘portrait’ of artistic talent

“Find something that you love to do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.”
Familiar advice for finding one’s life’s work and very appropriate for caricaturist and multitalented artist Richard Baratz, whose passion for drawing is among his earliest, treasured memories. “From a very early age, I picked up something to draw with on anything handy, and at age 10, I began art school,” Baratz said.
For the next three months, Fort Worth’s Beth-El Congregation will showcase his work in “Capturing the Famous and the Familiar.”
Diverse, creative and eclectic aptly describe his decades of artistic creation, including scenes of New York, cowboys and the Old West, and Judaic art, both cultural and religious, executed in watercolor, pastel, pen and ink, and various types of mixed media.

Submitted photo Richard Baratz will showcase his caricatures during the next three months at Fort Worth’s Beth-El Congregation.

Submitted photo
Richard Baratz will showcase his caricatures during the next three months at Fort Worth’s Beth-El Congregation.

Submitted photo Richard Baratz will showcase his caricatures during the next three months at Fort Worth’s Beth-El Congregation.

Submitted photo
Richard Baratz will showcase his caricatures during the next three months at Fort Worth’s Beth-El Congregation.

Submitted photo Richard Baratz will showcase his caricatures during the next three months at Fort Worth’s Beth-El Congregation.

Submitted photo
Richard Baratz will showcase his caricatures during the next three months at Fort Worth’s Beth-El Congregation.

In addition to his primary career as a currency engraver for the U.S. Bureau of Printing and Engraving, Baratz has served for more than 40 years as the caricaturist for Sardi’s, a 90-year-old New York City institution, which he describes as “a magnetic and exciting mecca for stage and theater professionals.” And, since 1995, he has also been the artist for the Bob Hope Cultural Center’s McCallum Theater in Palm Desert, California.
As Sardi’s fourth resident and longest-tenured artist, he has created more than 1,000 caricatures of Broadway stars, writers, directors and producers as well as other celebrities who have frequented the legendary restaurant.
Well-known in the New York theater district, Baratz, a Brooklyn native who studied at New York’s School of Visual Arts and the American Art School, relocated to Keller more than a dozen years ago. Since then, he created the majority of the caricatures from photos emailed to him by Sardi’s current owner, Max Klimavicius.
“Baratz’s engraving background brings a rich look to his work,” said the late Vincent Sardi, Jr. Specifically, cross-hatching used in engraving gives a three-dimensional look to caricatures, which have evolved to feature less exaggeration of features and greater emphasis on flattering, identifiable portrayals.
With decades of interacting with a great array of Broadway talent, both onstage and behind the scenes, Baratz has amassed some treasured memories. Among his favorites are Katharine Hepburn and Tom Hanks, both of whom he worked with in person. He brought Hepburn a dozen roses and found her “charmingly old-fashioned and solicitous of his welfare.” More recently, he flew to New York to caricature Tom Hanks, whom he termed “a regular guy and everybody’s friend.”

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Interfaith connections, discussion spark worldwide dialogue at Abu Dhabi conference

Interfaith connections, discussion spark worldwide dialogue at Abu Dhabi conference

Posted on 18 May 2017 by admin

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, near downtown Abu Dhabi Photo: Rabbi Andrew M. Paley

The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, near downtown Abu Dhabi
Photo: Rabbi Andrew M. Paley

Temple Shalom’s Paley attends event to promote interaction

By Sean Shapiro
Special to the TJP

Rabbi Andrew Paley traveled to the other side of the world to help promote, and learn a bit more about, interfaith relationships around the world.

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah (center) with Pastor Bob Roberts (left) at a gathering at the Sheikh’s home

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah (center) with Pastor Bob Roberts (left) at a gathering at the Sheikh’s home

Paley, from Temple Shalom, was among a group of more than 30 religious leaders that were part of An American Caravan for Peace, Faith, Trust and the Common Good: Working from the Marrakesh Declaration, which was held in Abu Dhabi.

Evangelical ministers, rabbis, and imams from 10 American cities made the trip for the three-day conference and to promote interfaith relations.
“The goal was that we would be able to create a working plan of interaction between the Evangelical, Jewish and Muslim communities,” Paley said, “whereby we would have educational and relational kinds of opportunities for our communities to come together. We were not solving world peace, we weren’t talking about any regional issues; this was really about building bridges within our communities.”
It turned into a thoughtful and thorough discussion.
“We spent the day discussing the obstacles to bringing us together in our religious communities and our communities in general,” Paley said. “We wanted to find and discuss ways we could come together and see what ideas and thoughts we could draw from the Marrakesh Declaration.”
Paley said there were already some interfaith connections in the Dallas area, but he worked on more specifics and looked at examples from others during the event.

The Banner of the Conference sponsored by the Forum For Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies

The Banner of the Conference sponsored by the Forum For Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies

“We talked about really specific dialogues among our communities here in Texas,” Paley said. “The idea was that faith leaders would come together a little bit better and create a trust, not just a working relationship but help to create a friendship. And then, work to create real programmatic opportunities for the congregations to come together, not just for a meal, but for some sort of social action program,” Paley continued, “where we could work side-by-side with each other. That’s one of the big things we discussed in Abu Dhabi.”
The conference was organized and hosted by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, who has been one of the foremost Islamic leaders in promoting interfaith peace.

In January 2016, Bin Bayyah was amongst the leaders who presented the Marrakesh Declaration in Morocco. The declaration, which represented more than 250 Islamic leaders, addressed and championed the rights of religious minorities in predominantly Islamic countries.

The goal of the declaration was to help create better understanding and dialogue between various faiths worldwide. That was the goal when Paley traveled to Abu Dhabi.

All the participants in front of the Grand Mosque

All the participants in front of the Grand Mosque

“I wasn’t very familiar with Sheikh Bin Bayyah up until the phone call (about going),” Paley said. “I quickly realized that this was going to be a potentially very powerful moment to bring people together. I had no idea what to expect. I knew some of the rabbis who went, but most of the others I didn’t know.”
Paley said he also enjoyed sightseeing in Abu Dhabi, and he left the conference particularly impressed with Sheikh Bin Bayyah.

Paley at the start of the opening session of the conference

Paley at the start of the opening session of the conference

“To see the Sheikh and what he’s working on over there, and to be part of that hopefulness and work for healing over here (in Texas), was very powerful,” Rabbi Paley said. “He’s in his 80s and he’s doing his part to make his world a better place, and it was very special to be a part of.”

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Evolution, religion and house gnats

Posted on 18 May 2017 by admin

The Dallas Theater Center has brought Inherit the Wind back to a local stage. Once again, we can live the infamous Scopes trial about science versus faith in the classroom.
But — how far have we come in more than nine decades? Texas continues to argue about public school textbooks: how to teach ninth-graders the coming-into-being of birds, animals and especially humans. This day and age isn’t all that modern when deciding how to pass on information about such vital matters.
Do you believe the Biblical creation story? Or do you believe Darwin’s theory of evolution? Can both really be taught in the same classroom at the same time? Are young minds able to handle this controversy, reasoning clearly enough to formulate their own conclusions — especially when some parents want their children to reach one conclusion while some prefer the other?
I’m thinking back now to my first day in college and my very first class: introductory zoology, which involved dissecting a frog. But before that came a disclaimer from our instructor, a graduate student teaching assistant, which I’ll paraphrase here: “I’m a scientist,” he said. “And I’m a Catholic. I believe in God and the Bible, but I also believe in science and evolution. This is how I make both work for me …”
Then followed the part I’ve never forgotten that I can recall virtually word for word after more than 60 years: “I believe that God created Adam and Eve, and put them into the Garden of Eden, just like the Bible says. But then along came Sin. So God made them leave that beautiful place, but not in the form they were in then. Instead, He took them down by the water that He’d already created, reduced them to amoebas, dropped them in and said ‘Now, work your way back!’ And that’s how we have evolved…”
What a wonderful, simple (OK — simplistic) answer to the whole question! I remember Ed Zadorozny’s words better than I remember the innards of the poor frog I cut up that day.
Recently, I suffered a Passover return of sorts: A plague of flying insects invaded my home. Thirty-three years in the same house, with never anything like this before! By day, they flew straight for the windows; at night, when everything else was dark, they flew to the TV screen. So I flew to Home Depot’s garden department for information.
“They’re not houseflies,” I told the expert. “They’re gnats,” he said. “Flies are attracted by odors. Gnats like light. And they’re attracted by house plants.” But I’ve never had any of those, because I have a truly black thumb and can’t grow anything. I once killed a small cactus garden just by breathing on it! The only outdoor work I’ve ever succeeded at is weeding! So why did they choose me?
The infestation lasted about 36 hours, making me wonder how long the Egyptians had to suffer from their bugs. A swatter was totally ineffective against them, so I had to resort to a spray that kills flying insects — something I find environmentally unsound in principle and truly offensive in the odor department. And afterward came another unappealing task: gathering up and disposing of the little black bodies littering every windowsill.
I would like to be in on those textbook debates. Did God create such annoying creatures? If so, for what purpose? Or did they just evolve from amoebas, developing wings and flying out of the water, but moving no further along on God’s — or Darwin’s — evolutionary scale?
Next Pesach, when I dip wine from my Seder cup as the plagues are read, I’ll recall this assault. But today, I’m remembering Ed Zadorozny, and wondering, Where are you now, with your elementary wisdom, when our sophisticated educators really need you? And this-coming weekend, I’ll be seeing, again that old (1955) play about an even older (1925) event, the Monkey Trial.
Maybe you’ll join me?

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Dallas Doings: Scholars, awards, lecture

Dallas Doings: Scholars, awards, lecture

Posted on 18 May 2017 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
sharon@tjpnews.com

Yavneh’s Schultz Scholars

On May 16, Yavneh Academy announced that six students have been named Schultz Scholars for the 2016-17 Academic Year. The Yavneh students include three graduating seniors and three juniors whose academic achievement and co-curricular leadership exemplify the best of Yavneh Academy.
They are:

Rosie Bernstein ‘17 (Stern College/Yeshiva University)

Rosie has served as co-editor-in-chief of the school’s award-winning student newspaper, The Bulldog Print; as co-chair of the Yavneh Spirit Committee; and as a leader in Points for Peace/Students Against Terrorism. A youth leader at Congregation Shaare Tefilla, Rosie has been active in Bnei Akiva and on the JFS Teen Editorial board. Following a gap year at Migdal Oz Seminary in Israel, Rosie will attend the honors program at Yeshiva University/Stern College.

Ariella Cohen ’17 (Barnard College/Columbia University)

Ariella, co-valedictorian of the class of 2017, has distinguished herself academically and co-curricularly during her four years at Yavneh. A leader in journalism, mathematics and community service/tikkun olam at Yavneh, Ariella represented Yavneh at last summer’s International Girls’ Math Competition — Ulpaniada 5776 — in Jerusalem, Israel.
She is active in Bnei Akiva and Junior World Affairs Council, she founded Every Smile Counts, and she completed a mechanical engineering internship at SMU. Ariella will attend Barnard College of Columbia University next year.

Megan Lacritz ’17 (Stern College/Yeshiva University)

Megan has excelled academically and has been a leader across the board at Yavneh and beyond. As co-chair of the Yavneh Spirit Committee, outstanding volunteer at CHAI, and Yachad Youth Leader, she has contributed grandly to school and community. As layout editor for the award-winning student newspaper, The Bulldog Print, Megan received top statewide awards for her graphic design. Following a Gap Year at Shaalvim for Women in Israel, Megan will attend Stern College of Yeshiva University.

Eliana Abraham ’18 (Grade 11)

A newcomer to Yavneh this year, Eliana has excelled in every area of school life and in the community. From volunteering with Bnei Akiva, to her involvement with NCSY, to her participation in the AIPAC High School Summit, Eliana has been a leader and organizer every step of the way. This coming year, she will serve as president of Dallas Yachad and as editor-in-chief of The Bulldog Print, Yavneh’s award-winning student newspaper.

Seth Gerstenfeld ’18 (Grade 11)

Seth is an all-around outstanding student at Yavneh and a patriotic U.S. citizen. From his participation in Yavneh cross-country and basketball, to his involvement with the Plano Rugby Club, Seth is a loyal and active student-athlete, photographer and athletic manager. He is also involved with the U.S. Naval Sea Cadet Corps (Sea Cadets) and plans to pursue ROTC during college and serve in the U.S. military.

Rachel Sasson ’18 (Grade 11)

Another Yavneh newcomer, Rachel excels academically and across a range of co-curricular activities. An active leader in cross-country, basketball and soccer, Rachel also serves as vice president of Yavneh’s Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD). Beyond school, she is involved with Girl Scouts, Friendship Circle of Dallas, and BBYO, where she serves as regional vice president of communications for the North Texas Oklahoma (NTO) region.

Beth Torah receives grant for welcoming interfaith families on website; more awards available

Congregation Beth Torah recently received a grant from The Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs Keruv/Understanding Intermarriage for openly advertising that they are welcoming to interfaith families. Liz Cox accepted the award March 16 on behalf of the synagogue.
Beth Torah was one of 23 congregations meeting the criteria by specifically welcoming interfaith families on the front page of their website and also creating a dedicated Interfaith Families page with specific programs and statements to encourage their participation in synagogue life. Additionally, the FJMC offered assistance in helping these synagogues. The responses to this Website Challenge are still being received after the original closing date.
Encouraged by the many synagogues who have been motivated by this grant opportunity to revisit who they are and who they want to be, the National Center to Encourage Judaism has extended additional funding to allow other synagogues to participate in this welcoming opportunity. For further information, contact keruv@fjmc.org.

Temple Shalom holds annual meeting, wraps religious school

May is always a busy month filled with celebrations at Temple Shalom. On Friday, May 5, Temple members gathered together for the Confirmation of the class of 5777. Then, on Sunday, May 7, congregants enjoyed Temple Shalom’s 51st Annual Meeting followed by a fantastic slide show, 7th grade graduation, Next Dor Graduation and awards.
Congratulations to the new Temple Shalom officers, new graduates and award winners: Mark Fishkind, Volunteer of the Year; and Nina Minney, chair of the Shomrei Adamah – “Guardians of the Earth” Committee was awarded the Social Action Initiative Award. Brotherhood President Bill Hoffpauer awarded Lauren Stock the Tracy Fisher Memorial Next Dor Valedictorian Scholarship. Named for Tracy Fisher, the daughter of Temple Shalom members Laurel and Mark Fisher, who died in 2009, this award honors her memory and her love of Judaism and all things NFTY. “We are so very proud of Lauren for receiving this award. She is an amazing role model and certainly embodies the passion and spirit that Tracy had,” exclaimed Tracy’s mom, Laurel Fisher.
Thank you to all the staff, teachers, volunteers, parents and students who made 2016-2017 so amazing! “It was another great end to a great year at Temple Shalom,”said Rabbi Ariel Boxman.

Mahra Fox Pailet joins JWRP national board

Mahra Fox Pailet recently was appointed to the national board of directors of the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project. JWRP also named Betty Grinstein of New York and Helen Zalik of Atlanta to its board. The three will help guide JWRP to inspire a new generation of Jewish women leaders.
Fox Pailet has extensive experience working in the Jewish community, at the Jewish Big Brothers Big Sisters of Los Angeles, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, and volunteering for Israel Bonds, the Dallas Jewish Historical Society, Congregation Shearith Israel of Dallas, the JCC of Dallas, the Ann and Nate Levine Academy of Dallas, and at AIPAC. In addition to her new role on the JWRP board, she will co-chair the JWRP’s development committee with JWRP’s vice president and co-founder, Michelle Leader.
She has an extensive professional background in marketing, communications, event planning, and product management. Fox Pailet lives in Dallas with her husband Kevin and three children.
“These incredible women personify our philosophy to a T. I am so honored to welcome them as board members and I am looking forward to the great work we will accomplish together,” said JWRP’s founding director, Lori Palatnik.

Ozsváth to discuss book at Sunday lecture

Professor Zsuzsanna Ozsváth with the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies at The University of Texas at Dallas will present a private lecture at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 21 in the Ackerman Center. Dr. Ozsváth will discuss her memoir, When the Danube Ran Red, about her time as a little girl in Budapest, Hungary in 1944. The lecture will be followed by a reception. Ozsváth is the Leah and Paul Lewis Chair in Holocaust Studies and director of the Holocaust Studies Program. Please RSVP to Bobbie Crowley at bcrowley@snabbo.com.

 

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Tikkun Olam in Action

Dr. Jonathan Nathan, son of Karen and Bassim Nathan, is a plastic surgeon specializing in reconstructive plastic surgery. Finishing his last year of fellowship at Loyola Hospital in Chicago, he recently joined a cadre of doctors sponsored by the Peruvian Surgical Society. The team went to Peru to perform surgeries to needy people in remote areas, particularly burn victims and children with cleft palates.

Dr. Jonathan Nathan

Dr. Jonathan Nathan

About 14 surgeons from across the United States flew to Arequipa on March 17 and returned March 28. They performed surgeries on numerous patients, young and old. At the end of the trip, Jonathan and his colleagues had time to visit the architectural beauty of the city of Cuzco.

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Made in image of God, how can men kill?

Posted on 18 May 2017 by admin

This wasn’t the first time I had been to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. I went many years earlier as a day school student on a school trip to our nation’s capital and keenly remember the powerful effect that exposure to the museum’s many exhibits had upon me.
The pictures lining the walls were difficult to take in. Black-and-white photographs of human skeletons, barely alive, peering with hollow eyes at the Allied soldiers who had come to free them from the hellish camps. Stacks of naked corpses piled high like firewood. A painful burning sensation filled my insides just thinking about the tortured, the murdered and the maimed. My young heart was broken over lives forever separated from loved ones and the great masses permanently scarred by ordeals human beings should never endure.
I couldn’t help but contrast the feelings I experienced then to the feelings I was experiencing now as I returned to those very same exhibit halls, this time as a grown man. It was to be expected that the shock factor would not be the same. After all, since that time I had read books on the Holocaust and seen Schindler’s List and movies like it. I knew, so to speak, how the story ended.
What came as an utter surprise, though, was the nagging sense that I wasn’t contemplating the same Holocaust narrative that I had exposure to as a schoolboy. If my first visit was a personal call to sympathy for the victims of the Holocaust, my second visit was more a philosophical inquiry into the minds of the evil Nazi perpetrators.
It was one particularly disturbing placard on the wall that caught my attention and sent my mind racing. The picture was of a Nazi soldier aiming his gun at the back of a Jewish man’s head. The victim’s eyes were blank, his knees bent on the earth, perched at the edge of a freshly dug pit quickly filling with the newly butchered. The blurb on the bottom of the placard noted that one-quarter of the Jews who perished in the Holocaust were shot by mobile killing squads.
Besides the sheer eeriness of a photo that kept frozen in time the last moment of a person’s life, it was the frightening statistic about the killing squads that most stood out to me.
As heinous as the gas chambers were, there is something about the way they were operated, the fact that the murderer and the victim were not face-to-face, that helped me comprehend how a human being could compel himself to the gas chamber’s usage.
But shooting someone face-to-face? Seeing the raw human emotions of a mother grasping onto her child, the tears rolling down her cheeks, and still mustering the wherewithal to shoot? Incomprehensible! And to think that this was not a small percentage of the murders of the Holocaust, but a full fourth! My mind was spinning, searching for answers.
Dehumanization may be the most powerful tool in the war against a people, and this was most certainly not lost on the Nazi propagandists during the lead-up to the Final Solution. The Jews were proclaimed a scourge upon Germany, as the lowliest of all nations and as a Poisonous Mushroom, as the title of the German children’s book about the Jews implied.
This was the real secret behind the success of the Nazis in implementing their evil plans. If the Jews were a plague upon Germany, the killing squads were merely taking out the trash.
It is with all of this in mind that in the midst of the Holocaust Memorial Museum I found myself returning to one of the most important teachings of the Torah, one with profound, everlasting moral implications: “For in the image of God He made man” (Genesis 9:6).
It is this singular, most powerful belief in the divinely inspired nature of man that beckons us to treat each other, all people, with love, respect and dignity. It is also this belief that spurred our Founding Fathers to write those most cherished of words — “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”
For when you see the divinity in one another, you cannot dehumanize. When you come to recognize that God is a Father to us all, you cannot pick out or pick on any of His children.
The Holocaust museum reminded me that “Never Again” and “for in the image of God He created man” are inextricably linked. They were connected back then, and they will be connected forever.
To contact Rabbi Yogi Robkin, email him at yrobkin@dataofplano.org.

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Burying non-kosher dishes simply a myth

Posted on 18 May 2017 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,
I recently visited my grandmother, who’s nearly 90 and not in the greatest health, and she told me many things about the family which I was hearing for the first time.
One thing she told me had me very confused and I was hoping you could shed some light on it for me. My grandmother shocked me by telling me that she and my grandpa actually kept kosher the first years of their marriage, until the kids were young. Then, one day when they were away on vacation, when they came back they realized that the maid had mixed up the meat and milk dishes. My grandmother wasn’t about to dig a hole in the backyard to bury the dishes to make them kosher again, so she decided on the spot that they were done with kosher.
Our family, although proudly Jewish, has had nothing to do with kosher, or any other observance for that matter, ever since. That decision obviously had a major impact on the future of her family for generations to come, and it was all based on the need to bury the dishes. Why is it that one needs to bury the dishes to make them kosher again? Dishes don’t die to need to come back to life or something…the whole thing has been upsetting to me and I need some explanation.
— Margie K.
Dear Margie,
Sadly, I’ve heard many similar stories from Jewish families of that generation. It seems to have been common knowledge in that time that the way to re-kosher dishes was by burying them.
The whole “burial of dishes” story is a complete myth; there is no source for it whatsoever in Jewish law. The Torah clearly outlines how one renders vessels kosher if they have been used for non-kosher food: Whatever was used directly on an open fire must be passed through fire to remove the absorption, whatever was used with boiling water should be immersed in boiling water, etc. (see Numbers 31:21-23). Entire chapters in the Code of Jewish Law are dedicated to the intricacies of various types of vessels and how to “kasher” them, render them kosher. Nowhere does it mention burial!
My best guess at the source of this myth is a paragraph in the above Code which states that if one cut fatty non-kosher meat with a knife which has crevices, in order to scrape away the fat of that meat to perform the koshering process one should push the blade of the knife into hard ground a number of times to clean it and make it possible to kasher. Perhaps that law got somehow misconstrued into the myth of the burial of dishes in the ground.
What is so tragic is that due to a complete myth, so many families who did not want to conform to that myth ended up dropping the observance of kosher. This carried tremendous consequences for the future generations of those families and, often, dire consequences for the Jewish people at large who have moved so far away from observance, as happened to your own family.
So, Margie, here’s my challenge for you to consider: Since your grandmother stopped the family’s observance of kosher due to a mistake in the facts, without that mistake your family would very likely still be kosher-observant today!  So, my challenge is for you to consider, perhaps, to rectify this mistake and bring things back to what they could — and should — have been. It’s not too late for you to rectify that mistake and try out the observance of kosher. You can contact Dallas Kosher and they’ll be more than happy to walk you through what needs to be done. (I promise they won’t make you bury anything!)
Historically, families that have kept kosher stayed more connected to the Jewish community. Kosher has, throughout the generations, been one of the most powerful guarantees for Jewish continuity and pride. It rightfully belongs to you, and you can make it your own!

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Individuality’s role in God’s directions

Posted on 11 May 2017 by admin

Dear Rabbi Fried,
I enjoyed your response to the two religious-school students in last week’s column comparing God’s involvement in the lives of mankind to a GPS.
That leads to another question in my mind. Since a GPS gives very clear directions of how to go, how does that leave room for freedom of choice? Furthermore, if we’re being “told” exactly where to go, what’s really our part in all of this … where’s the room for individuality and making a unique contribution?
— Jennifer B.
Dear Jennifer,
Great thinking! I love the depth!
We can analyze this on a few levels. Firstly, how many people do you know will have on their GPS but … they know better! With an advanced system, the GPS is factoring in traffic jams, closed streets due to construction and the like, but many will still choose to ignore the directives and try to figure it out on their own.
In the classical work The Path of the Just (by Rabbi M. C. Luzzatto, Amsterdam 1738), this world is compared to a maze. Kings would have a huge maze cut from shrubbery, and people would try to reach the middle. Those who reached the middle would climb a pedestal and watch the others, pointing out that they’re sometimes headed toward a dead end, although it looked like the straightest path to the middle. People could decide to trust those who made it, or try to make their own way, ignoring the advice from above. His comparison is to the true righteous people who have “made it,” and have risen above the confusion of this world, seeing clearly which paths lead toward, or away from, perfection. We can also use it in the context of our GPS from Above — whether or not we will notice, listen to the subtle hints sent our way to gently guide us along the proper path. Every person has the free choice whether or not they will heed those hints.
This leads to the next point. The subtlety of the message given to us through these Heavenly hints, and even through the Torah itself, is quite different from the GPS. We give the GPS the destination; it tells us precisely how to get there. The Torah, however, tells us the destination and often leaves to us the path to get there. Referring to the methodology of Talmud study, which has been compared to crossing the ocean, a great rabbi once made a famous analogy. R’ Yisrael of Salant used to say, “Many have crossed the ocean, but nobody has yet paved the way.” Each individual adds their unique understanding and feelings to the study of Torah.
Similarly, my mentor, the renowned sage R’ Shlomo Zalman Aurbach ob’m, made a statement to me concerning certain differences in customs in Jewish law. I asked him which one was preferable. His analogy was, if someone wants to get to the back of the house, he can walk around the right or the left side; either way he’ll get to the same spot!
As long as one is walking along in the right direction, Judaism leaves much room for individuality, all within the same system. There is, undoubtedly, a part of the system which is black-and-white and there’s no room to veer off from that. There is also, however, a lot of gray space which leaves room for individuality and spontaneity. Those are the places where a person can make their unique contribution. The GPS of Torah will get us to the right place if we listen to it. Unlike the GPS which shows only one route, Torah and God Himself leaves the individual multiple ways to fulfill His will. It could be through the deep piety and Kabbalistic service of the Sephardic Jews, the joy of the Chassidic movement or the scholarship of  Lithuanian Jewry, and myriad strains within all of the above and many more who all serve God, within the framework of Torah, in their unique and beautiful ways.

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Image of God tells us how we should live our lives

Posted on 11 May 2017 by admin

Dear Families,
I’m getting ready for camp and this important message is a favorite song that we sing!
In Pirke Avot 3:18, Rabbi Akiva says, “Beloved is man for he is created in the image of God.” This is both a gift and a responsibility. For many, these are the most important words in the Torah. “B’tzelem Elohim — We are created in the image of God” and that tells us how we should live:
What does this tell us about how to treat yourself?
If every person is b’tzelem Elohim, then what does that say about how we look at every person?
Does this mean we are all the same? What about people who are different from us? Are they b’tzelem Elohim?
There are so many ways to “interpret” text, and music and lyrics are interpretations of thoughts and feelings and even of Jewish texts. The world of “Jewish rock music” is expanding every day and the music speaks to us and teaches us. This important message of b’tzelem Elohim comes alive with this song.
Download it today!

B’Tzelem Elohim

(e18hteen — Dan Nichols, Mason Cooper & Michael Moskowitz)

Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. (2)
We all got a life to live, we all got a gift to give.
Just open your heart and let it out.
We all got a peace to bring, We all got a song to sing.
Just open your heart and let it out.

CHORUS

When I reach out to you and you to me,
We become b’tzelem Elohim.
When we share our hopes and our dreams
Each one of us, b’tzelem Elohim

We all got a tale to tell. We all want to speak it well.
Just open your heart and let it out.
We all got a mountain to climb. We all got a truth to find.
Just open your heart and let it out.

CHORUS

B’reisheet bara Elohim, all our hopes, all our dream
B’reisheet bara Elohim, each one of us, b’tzelem Elohim

Shalom from the Shabbat Lady.
Laura Seymour is the director of Camping Services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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JCRC hosts meeting with Dallas bishops

JCRC hosts meeting with Dallas bishops

Posted on 11 May 2017 by admin

By Anita Zusmann Eddy
Special to the TJP

Close to 30 Jewish community leaders met with the two new Bishops of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas on Monday, May 8, at a meeting organized by the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC), held at the Jewish Federation.

Submitted photo (From left) JFGD Chair Dan Prescott, Bishop Edward J. Burns, Bishop Gregory Kelly and JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin visit with Jewish community leaders Monday at Federation headquarters.

Submitted photo
(From left) JFGD Chair Dan Prescott, Bishop Edward J. Burns, Bishop Gregory Kelly and JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin visit with Jewish community leaders Monday at Federation headquarters.

This was the first official meeting between the new bishops, the Most Reverend Edward J. Burns and the Most Reverend Gregory Kelly, and Dallas Jewish community leadership. Bishop Edward Burns was appointed by Pope Francis as the Dallas Bishop in December 2016, replacing Bishop Kevin Farrell, who moved to the Vatican, Rome, after being elevated to Cardinal earlier last year. Bishop Gregory Kelly was ordained as the Auxiliary Bishop in February 2016, replacing Bishop Doug Deshotel, who moved to Louisiana as Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Lafayette.
The Catholic Diocese of Dallas and the Dallas Jewish community have a longstanding positive working relationship, based on mutual interests and involvement in issues of concern to both communities. Along with the JCRC, the Diocese is a founding member of the Anti-Poverty Coalition of Greater Dallas, which works to find solutions to multi-generational poverty in Dallas. The Diocese is also a generous supporter of the Dallas Holocaust Museum, and has donated tens of thousands of dollars to the Museum over the past years.
Participants at the meeting included Rabbi Heidi Coretz (SMU Hillel and Congregation Shir Tikvah), Rabbi Michael Kushnick (Congregation Anshai Torah), Rabbi Daniel Pressman (Congregation Shearith Israel), Rabbi Ariel Rackovsky (Congregation Shaare Tefilla), Rabbi Dan Utley (Temple Emanu-El), Rabbi Howard Wolk (JFS Community Rabbi) and Rabbi Shawn Zell (Tiferet Israel). Attendees also included leadership from Congregation Beth Torah, Adat Chaverim, Jewish Family Service, The Legacy, NCJW, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the Jewish Federation and the JCRC.
After opening remarks by Federation Board Chair Dan Prescott and JCRC Chair Melanie Rubin, attendees each introduced themselves and provided a brief description of their affiliated agency or organization, in order to provide the bishops with some information and understanding of the Jewish organizations serving our Dallas Metro community. It was noted that most of our Jewish social services organizations provide support to the general (non-Jewish) community as well as to Jewish clientele.
Bishop Burns noted how honored he was to be invited to meet and dialogue, sharing that his association with the Jewish community started when he was employed at a local synagogue during his teenage years in his hometown of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In his remarks, he stated that he “considers it a joy to work with the Jewish community and looks forward to working with the community in Dallas.” He noted that he has moved from the smallest Diocese in the nation, in Juneau, Alaska, which serves 12,500 Catholics, to one of the largest U.S. Dioceses, where as Bishop he cares for “1.3 million souls,” and leads 118 priests. Prior to living in Juneau, Bishop Burns was a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Bishop Kelly has lived in Dallas Diocese for more than 40 years and served in several different positions at the Diocese before being ordained as Auxiliary Bishop in February 2016. Bishop Kelly also stressed his longstanding connections to the Jewish community, noting that he learned much about “the complexity and beauty of the Jewish community” from the novels of Chaim Potok, among other sources.
Discussion during the meeting focused on a variety of topics. Megan Hyman, a leader in the Jewish Federation’s Young Adult Division, asked the bishops about their strategies for reaching out to and engaging Catholic young adults. Bishop Burns related that the Pope has requested a Synod to be held in 2018 to discuss youth, faith and priestly duties to keep young people engaged. He noted that the Pope has specifically requested feedback from non-Catholic youth as valuable input. There was also discussion about the rise of anti-Semitism nationally, and the role that the Church could play in educating young people and community members about how to oppose anti-Semitism and general bullying practices.
Both bishops noted the need and importance of vigorously combating anti-Semitism, and expressed support for the Jewish community in efforts to educate about and fight anti-Semitism. Bishop Burns ended the session by sharing a story about his visit to Auschwitz where he used his cell phone to photograph a commemorative plaque. He related that his cell phone camera automatically focused on the individuals depicted on the plaque, highlighting their faces in the photo.
He noted that “if a cell phone can recognize the humanity in each individual’s face, how as people can we not recognize the humanity in each of us?”

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Remembering voice from past

Posted on 11 May 2017 by admin

In the not-too-far-distant past, works of fiction usually carried — somewhere in those informative pages before the story starts — a disclaimer like this: “Any resemblance to any person, living or dead, is purely coincidental.”
So much for that. Today, I’m going to talk about some real people, but without giving their names. They are not fictional. I’m bringing them to you for reality’s sake, because once again, I’ve been reminded that what we humans call coincidence is when God arranges something but chooses to remain anonymous.
Two sisters “of a certain age,” both of whom live in our TJP circulation area, became b’not mitzvah during a recent Shabbat morning service at a local congregation. I had met them only once before, years ago, when their extended family had a reunion in Dallas. But the pair have another sister who lives in Indiana, and I’ve known her for years, because we’ve been together many times during some annual conferences of the National Federation of Press Women. She invited me to attend this simcha, and I did. However, it’s been quite a few years since our last meeting, so we both had to say “Are you …?” when we first looked at each other.
The two of us were sitting and talking quietly before the time for the service to start, and other conversations were swirling around us. Somehow, I heard a name from the past. “Are you …?” I asked, because I didn’t recognize her either. And it took her more than a moment to recognize me. Her late husband, gone now for almost a decade, had been the incredible editor who gave my freelancing start as a Dallas Morning News contributor when I was new to the city. And I had been one of the eulogists at his funeral! When she got the positive answer to her “Are you …?” question, she said, “It’s funny. This very morning I was taking a long walk and thinking about (no name here!), and I remembered what you’d said about him. It was so comforting…”
But what was she, the widow of a truly devout Catholic, doing here in this synagogue, obviously at home and among friends? “I’m converting,” she told me.
One of the necessary basics in a long journalistic career is the constant need to ask questions. Sometimes they are prying questions, but those are not to be shied away from. Everyone has the right to ask anyone any question — as long as the asker grants the askee the right to say “I prefer not to answer that.” So I asked: “Why have you chosen Judaism?”
Surprisingly — or maybe not so surprising — I got the same answer I’d recently received from another converter-in-progress, and from others in the past: It boils down to “I just couldn’t believe that ‘Jesus thing.’” (I’m sure my readers who have been after me for years to become a “Messianic Jew” are annoyed as they read this, but that’s OK; you’ve annoyed me that long, too. I know who you are, but I’m not going to name your names, either…)
Well: The two b’not mitzvah, wearing beautiful kippot and tallitot brought home from Israel’s Women of the Wall, were sure in their knowledge and effective in their readings and commentaries. I will carry their mental pictures with me, because I may not have occasion to see either of them again for a long time. But I will see their sister — the one from Indiana — this-coming fall, when our presswomen’s organization convenes in Birmingham, Alabama.
And I will see the woman who is my favorite editor’s widow, and whom I hope will now become my friend, in a short time, at her conversion ceremony.
(If any of you recognize the person I’m talking about here, you don’t have to tell me who you are; I already know. I’m sure I’ll see you very soon, too, when we’ll get to offer congratulations instead of condolences!)

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