Archive | November, 2019

Ceasefire off to shaky start as sirens wail in southern Israel

Ceasefire off to shaky start as sirens wail in southern Israel

Posted on 14 November 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray

An Iron Dome battery missile set up in Sderot, Southern Israel, near the border with neighbouring Palestinian Gaza Strip on November 13, 2019. Since Israel’s targeted killing of Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata yesterday morning, more than 220 rockets have been fired at Israel from Gaza. The Israeli air defence forces have intercepted 90 percent of the rockets. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

(JNS) A ceasefire between Israel and Gaza-based terrorist groups that went into effect early Thursday morning was immediately put to the test as five rockets from Gaza sent Israelis scrambling for shelter in the south.

The ceasefire comes after two days of intense rocket-fire from Gaza and retaliatory Israeli air strikes, and was reportedly brokered by Egypt. It went into effect at 5:30 a.m., shortly after an Israeli strike killed Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) rocket unit commander Rasmi Abu Malhous and five of his family members in a house in Deir al-Balah in central Gaza.

According to PIJ spokesman Musab al-Berim, the terrorist organization provided Israel with a list of demands for the ceasefire, laid out by Damascus-based PIJ Secretary General Ziad Nakhala late Wednesday. Included in the list were demands for a complete halt to Israeli air strikes and targeting of PIJ leadership, according to the spokesman.

However, less than an hour after the truce went into effect at least five alert sirens sounded in Gaza-area communities, sending Israelis running for cover.

Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system is reported to have intercepted several of the incoming projectiles. No casualties were reported.

On Wednesday evening, the IDF Home Front Command reopened all schools, except in those regions closest to Gaza, and instructed central Negev and Lachish region residents to return to work as long as they had easy access to bomb shelters.

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Dallas Jewish War Veterans mark Veterans Day

Dallas Jewish War Veterans mark Veterans Day

Posted on 13 November 2019 by admin

Members of Dallas’ Dr. Harvey J. Bloom Post 256 and Ladies Auxiliary of Jewish War Veterans of the USA marked Veterans Day by volunteering to perform mitzvahs and raise money to help the North Texas community’s veteran population. The Post began the Sunday prior by honoring its fallen and departed comrades with graveside flags at Jewish burial grounds throughout the Dallas area. On Thursday, they joined more than 20 Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs) for a “Stand Down” event at the Dallas VA Hospital, distributing warm clothing and personal hygiene items to some 500 homeless veterans. The following day, the Post Color Guard modeled patriotism at several local schools, including Hickman Elementary in Garland. They concluded that evening with a Presentation of Colors at Temple Shalom’s annual Veteran’s Shabbat service. Sunday morning found its volunteers conducting a Poppy Drive at coffee houses and brunch cafés around town, seeking donations from generous fellow Texans to help hospitalized veterans — the Post provides nonmedical equipment, furniture, appliances and recreational equipment to benefit patients at the area’s VA facilities. And finally, despite Monday’s wild weather forecast, Post members participated in the City’s annual Veterans Day parade.

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Fish and chips’ surprising Jewish history

Fish and chips’ surprising Jewish history

Posted on 13 November 2019 by admin

Fish and chips, the iconic British dish, has Jewish roots.

By Ronnie Fein
This story originally appeared on The Nosher.


You may be surprised to learn that fish and chips, though wildly popular in England for what seems like an eternity, actually was a specialty of the Portuguese Sephardic Jews who fled the Inquisition in the 16th century and found refuge in the British Isles. Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver referred to this recently in an article in The New York Times, adding that “Dishes evolve, impacted by trade, war, famine and a hundred other forces.”
Among those “other forces” are dishes born of religious ritual. For observant Jews, fish is pareve, a neutral food in kosher terms, thus an easy way to avoid treif (non-kosher food) and possibly include dairy in the same meal. It was especially important for Marranos, the so-called crypto-Jews, who pretended to be Christian during the Inquisition. They ate fish on Fridays, when meat was forbidden by the Church, and also saved some to eat cold the next day at lunch to avoid cooking on Shabbat.
Frying was natural for Jewish home cooks — think of latkes and sufganyiot — and as the Jewish community began to flourish in England, it spurred a taste for its beloved fried, battered fish throughout the country. According to Claudia Roden’s “The Book of Jewish Food,” Thomas Jefferson tried some on a trip to London and said he ate “fish in the Jewish fashion” during his visit. Alexis Soyer, a French cook who became a celebrated chef in Victorian England, included a recipe for “Fried Fish, Jewish Fashion” in the first edition of his 1845 cookbook “A Shilling Cookery for the People.” Soyer’s recipe notes that the “Jewish manner” includes using oil rather than meat fat (presumably lard), which made the dish taste better, though also made it more expensive.
There’s some dispute about the where and when of “chips” (what we Americans call french fries and the French call pommes frites). Many historians say that deep-fried, cut-up potatoes were invented in Belgium and, in fact, substituted for the fish during hard times. The first time the word “chips” was used was in Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” in 1859: “husky chips of potato, fried with some reluctant drops of oil.”
The official pairing of fish and chips didn’t happen until a few years later, though. Although there are some who dispute it, most authorities say that it is thanks to a Jewish cook, this time a young Ashkenazi immigrant named Joseph Malin, who opened the first British chippy, aka fish and chip shop, in London in 1863. The shop was so successful it remained in business until the 1970s.
Who could foresee that fearful Jewish immigrants hiding their true religion and practicing in secret would be responsible for creating one of the most iconic dishes in the U.K.? The down-home dish that Winston Churchill claimed help the British defeat the Nazis, the comfort food that George Orwell said helped keep the masses happy and “averted revolution.” The dish, by the way, that was among the only foods never rationed during wartime because the British government believed that preserving access to it was a way of keeping up morale. A dish that continues to be a mainstay of the British diet.
Think about that the next time you find yourself feasting on this centuries-old — Jewish? British? — recipe.
These days, some restaurants are putting a new spin on fish and chips. Almond crusted. Baked instead of fried. Quinoa coated. Sweet potato fries instead of regular. And those are all fine; as Oliver says, “Dishes evolve.” But plain old fish and chips endures and probably always will. Good recipes usually do.

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JDC to honor Stan Rabin Nov. 21

JDC to honor Stan Rabin Nov. 21

Posted on 13 November 2019 by admin

Photo: JDC
European Jewish youth celebrate their Jewish identity at Szarvas, the JDC-Lauder International Jewish Summer Camp located in Szarvas, Hungary. Funds raised through the Nov. 21 event will enable the dedication of the Rabin Roost at Szarvas in honor of Stan and Barbara Rabin.

As his tenure at JDC helm concludes, his impact is felt worldwide

By Jeremiah Jensen
Special to the TJP

On Thursday, Nov. 21, JDC, the global Jewish humanitarian organization, will host an event to honor its president and one of the men who has shepherded its mission toward ever more effective and efficient benevolence across the world: Stan Rabin. Rabin will conclude his four-year term as president of the organization.
JDC works in 70 countries to lift lives and strengthen communities, according to its mission statement. It rescues Jews in danger, provides aid to vulnerable Jews, develops innovative solutions to Israel’s most complex social challenges, cultivates a Jewish future and leads the Jewish community’s response to crises.
“Stan Rabin is one of the finest — a man whose high intellect, impeccable judgment, and broad experience have benefited so many — nationally, internationally, and here in our own community,” says Frank Risch, current board chair of the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum and Rabin’s close friend.
Over his career, Rabin served in the military, as an engineer at G.E. and finally as the CEO of multinational corporation Commercial Metals. He worked at Commercial Metals for 38 years and served as CEO for 28 of them.
Rabin has served on JDC’s board of directors since 2007. He served as its president since 2016. More than this, Rabin’s heart for service extends well beyond one organization, and he has brought his considerable leadership expertise to bear on the boards of United Way Foundation of Metropolitan Dallas, Texas Health Resources, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, Temple Emanu-El of Dallas, the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation, and the Dallas Holocaust Museum, as well as the Board of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion and the Board of Governors of the American Jewish Committee.
Stan’s impact globally and locally is immeasurable,” says Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas President and CEO Mariam Shpeen Feist. “It’s quite possible that we won’t know his total impact for many years. He is a pillar of not just our Dallas Jewish community, but around the world.”
The early years
Rabin was born in the Bronx in 1938, the son of Jewish refugees. His father came to New York from Belarus at the age of nine in 1908, his mother from Ukraine at age six in 1914.
He grew up in a Jewish neighborhood, with an Italian neighborhood and an Irish neighborhood bookending the blocks and corners he called home.
Rabin and his family lived on the fourth story of an apartment building that housed 97 Jewish families. Though it was a humble upbringing, it was wholesome. His mother, father and family had little in the way of formal learning, but they understood its power and pushed young Rabin to pursue his education.
“I was very fortunate in my own life and the things I’ve done…reflect that,” Rabin says.
“My whole generation…so many of us graduated from college, and when I look back it was pretty remarkable. I didn’t think so necessarily at the time, but when I look back how remarkable that was and that we were pushed by our parents, my parents or aunts and uncles, to get a great education and then move on from there and be able to do things in that first generation.”
Rabin attended the prestigious Bronx High School of Science, a New York City public school that opened the year Rabin was born. There, he received an education a cut above the rest. He excelled and went on to gain admission to Columbia where he studied metallurgical engineering. He graduated in 1959 and worked for the military in the Oakridge nuclear program in Tennessee. Rabin and his friends would often travel down to Atlanta to fill their social calendars, and it was during one of these weekend excursions that Rabin met the woman who would help him meet the woman who would become his wife.
Rabin met his wife, then Barbara Benjamin, in California after finishing his stint with the military and moving there to begin his career with G.E. in 1964. Shortly after arriving in the Golden State he called the Atlanta woman to see if she knew anyone he should meet in California. Though she was expecting a call of a different nature, her kindness prevailed, and she told him about Barbara.
Barbara grew up in Borger, a small town in the Texas panhandle, and had a very different upbringing than her New York beau. Though the two shared a strong Jewish heritage, their childhoods were worlds apart. Whereas Rabin was immersed in Jewish culture with Jewish people everywhere he looked, she grew up in small-town Texas with only 10 other Jewish families around. She went to the University of Texas at Austin for two years before deciding there had to be more to the world than Texas, packing her bags, and transferring to the University of California at Berkeley.
“No comment about Stan can be made without citing the critically important role that his wonderful wife Barbara has played at every step of the way, in both his business life and his charitable good work around the world. She too is an ‘upstander’ in every way,” says Risch.
Rabin fell in love with the Texas belle and the two married in 1965. They opted to stay in California and had both their children there. Together, they have become pillars of the local, national and international Jewish community, epitomizing the concept of mensch and leaving everything they touch better than they found it.
“Barbara is Stan’s partner in everything that he does, he would admit his better half, and nothing happens without the quiet voice and strength of Barbara behind him,” says former Federation President Bradley Laye. “She herself is a tour de force and a real spitfire…she’s not a wallflower.”
Their children are now grown, 53 and 51, and have given Barbara and Rabin five grandchildren.

Stan and Barbara Rabin


During his time in California, Rabin went to night class and earned his MBA from the University of California Santa Clara. Then, he began looking for his next step in the corporate world.
He stayed with G.E. until 1969; family ties and new opportunities called him to Texas. He joined Commercial Metals, a multinational steel manufacturing and scrap-metals processing corporation, and moved to Dallas in 1970.
A worldwide leader
Rabin worked at Commercial Metals for more than 38 years, serving as its CEO for 28 of those years. Throughout his career, he dedicated what time he could to Jewish and non-Jewish nonprofit work, but he always had a desire to give more. He was involved in the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas for years during his career. It was in his service there that he began to create ties with the JDC. Its mission was the work he longed to do, and as he approached retirement, he began to take more and more active roles in the JDC, garnering a board position in 2007 before retiring from Commercial Metals in 2008, eventually becoming the JDC’s president and tone-setter in 2016.
“I just can’t think of words to describe specifically how incredible he is,” says Laye. “What he’s done in his life, self-made, educated, hard-working, titan-of-industry as the CEO of Commercial Metals, professionally, to do all he’s done as a philanthropist and a volunteer leader…it is rare to have someone as incredible as Stan Rabin in your community.”
Under Rabin’s guidance, the JDC has accomplished incredible things.
As with any corporate entity — for-profit or not-for-profit — future-proofing and efficiency are at the forefront of any leadership team’s agenda.
The JDC’s mission is to preserve and build Jewish life. All of its work takes place overseas in places where Jews can still face many challenges including anti-Semitism, poverty, and a pressing need to find innovative ways to build Jewish life for the next generation — places like Argentina, Venezuela, and former Soviet Union countries like Ukraine and Moldova. The bulk of the ongoing work takes place in Eastern Europe where many Holocaust victims still live and where many Jews were so oppressed under the Communists that they have hidden or forgotten their Jewish heritage for survival’s sake.
Supporting the poor, Jewish elderly in the former Soviet Union is a gargantuan undertaking that represents roughly a third of the JDC’s annual budget. JDC CEO David Schizer says this year that sum was $130 million. Of that $130 million, $105 million of it comes from the German government via the Claims Conference as restitution for the country’s role in the Holocaust. The other $25 million is used to take care of the non-Holocaust-victim Jewish elderly population.
The youngest survivor is now 75 years old. Eventually, as the survivors pass away, the funding will dry up. On the surface, this does not appear to be a problem. But it actually poses a great challenge to the way JDC’s mission is carried out in that region. Rabin was among those who spotted the problem and was critical to finding a solution for it.
Schizer says Rabin’s experience running a multinational company was critical in the plans to right-size JDC’s care model in the former Soviet Union to ensure ongoing aid for the elderly poor in these areas long after German funding dries up.
To combat the suppression of Jewish identities in Eastern Europe, JDC built a summer camp, Szarvas, in Hungary outside of Budapest. This camp is where many young Jews in Central and Eastern Europe first learn about Judaism. The camp is designed to create leaders who are proud of their Jewish identity and heritage, then empower them to lead their communities back home. It has been so successful that if one were to ask any leader in an Eastern European Jewish community under 40 years old if they went to Szarvas, their answer is “yes” more often than not.
The event honoring Rabin Nov. 21 will serve as a fundraiser for the Szarvas as it seeks to fund a much-needed renovation.
“One of our large donors to that camp once said: ‘You know it’s more than a camp. It’s a concept. It’s a dream. It’s a vision. It’s a mission. It’s a bridge between past and present. It’s a portal to the future. It’s a sanctuary. It’s a place to smile. It’s a place to sing. It’s a place to pray. It’s a place to play. And it’s a place to hope,’” Rabin recalls. “Those aren’t my words; they’re someone else’s, but it’s just an indication of the kinds of things that you can do.”
As Rabin looks back on his life, he is astounded at the hand of God and encouraged to see the impact one person can make in one lifetime.
“If we look on any given day how many thousands of lives in the world we’re helping make much better, and I’m talking from a pretty fundamental level, that gives a lot of satisfaction in terms of the kinds of things that we do but [also] that an individual can do in terms of giving back within their own life,” Rabin says.
Laye sums up Rabin’s efforts and his impact perfectly.
“Stan is known around the country in Jewish philanthropic circles…he’s done so many things. Locally, there’s very few large organizations in the Jewish and general community that haven’t felt Stan’s touch and internationally, there’s no question his role as president of JDC is a legacy that’s a great source of pride, not just for Stan and his family, but for the city of Dallas.”

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Hand in Hand to honor memory of Moe Stein, z”l

Hand in Hand to honor memory of Moe Stein, z”l

Posted on 13 November 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy of Lee Gordon
Moe Stein with, from left, Lina Daragmeh, an Arab graduate, and Tamar Borman, a Jewish graduate. Both are members of Hand in Hand’s Jerusalem School Class of 2013.

His vision was one of partnership

Hand in Hand (Yad B’Yad) will host an event in memory of Moe Stein, z”l, at 7 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18, at Congregation Shearith Israel, 9401 Douglas Ave.
In Israel, there are few institutions as important to advancing coexistence between Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs as the Hand in Hand Schools. Started in 1998 with 50 students, Hand in Hand enrolls nearly 2,000 students each year and impacts more than 10,000 people everyday in Israel by bringing Jewish, Christian Arab and Muslim Arab Israelis together in schools starting in pre-K through high school. There are six schools across the State of Israel including in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and the Galilee. The Dallas event will feature both a graduate and a current student of Hand in Hand as well as a member of its senior staff from Israel.
Moe Stein, z”l, former executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and longtime adviser to the Feldman Family Foundation, became involved with Hand in Hand Schools early in its development. His friend, Lee Gordon, of Portland, Oregon, is both co-founder of Hand in Hand and chair of the American Friends of Hand in Hand. Stein was widely known for his advocacy for coexistence between all of Israel’s citizens in order to make Israel stronger and safer for all Israelis.
Friends and family of Moe Stein, including Event Chairs Cynthia and Robert Feldman, Marcy Helfand, Rabbi Nancy Kasten, Bradley Laye, Rabbi Adam Roffman, Jerome Stein, Jourdan Stein and Andrea and Loren Weinstein, along with a robust host committee, hope to engage the Dallas Jewish community in the important work of Hand in Hand. Event attendance is a $36 donation for adults and an $18 donation for students. Tributes and memorial gifts may be made at https://handinhandk12.org/donate/.
To RSVP or for more information, please contact Andrea at andrea@handinhandk12.org or call 503-892-2962.

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Emanu-El commits to affirming LGBQT+ members

Emanu-El commits to affirming LGBQT+ members

Posted on 13 November 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy URJ
Temple Emanu-El won a Belin Award for its Gender Identity Training program. The program is generously supported by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
By Chris Harrison

In 2015, the Union for Reform Judaism adopted the “Resolution on the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People,” a declaration of the Reform community’s commitment to the full equality and inclusion of people of all gender identities and gender expressions. Temple Emanu-El decided to implement this value in its Gender Identity Training program, which won the congregation a 2019 Belin Award.
The Reform Movement’s commitment, along with that of Temple Emanu-El, is based in the Jewish value that we are all created in God’s image, and our different gender identities deserve to be acknowledged, respected, and affirmed in all areas of Jewish life.
“Temple Emanu-El has always been an open, welcoming community, and one of the first synagogues in the south to officiate same-sex marriages,” Rabbi Daniel Utley says. “We felt like we wanted to continue being at the forefront as much as possible.”
In that vein, the focus of Temple Emanu-El’s Gender Identity Training program is twofold.

  1. Training for the synagogue’s leadership, clergy, and school faculty about inclusive language; connecting Jewish values relating to gender and gender identity; and pastoral care for transgender individuals
  2. Offering education for Jewish communal leaders throughout the broader Dallas Jewish community on gender identity; how to better affirm trans and queer-identifying people in the community; and the necessity to continue the conversation around gender identity and allyship training
    The initiative began after a temple staff member attended the URJ Biennial in 2017 and learned about an outreach program to the trans community led by Temple Israel in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. This, in turn, inspired Temple Emanu-El’s Rabbi Dan Utley to do something similar.
    The training took several steps, including both physical changes, staff and clergy training, and parent education courses. After changing the synagogue’s bathroom configurations to have all-gender bathrooms with brand-new signage, Rabbi Utley and program co-leader Erika Purdy-Patrick received a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas to bring in Keshet to facilitate trainings with a wide range of Emanu-El staff.
    Keshet’s trainings covered topics such as the difference between sex and gender; LGBTQ+ terminology; and inclusive language for congregational staff’s phone conversations with members and prospective members.
    The trainings also provided Emanu-El staff with the knowledge to make the congregation’s membership applications more inclusive of all gender identities and expressions, which, Purdy-Patrick says, “sends the signal to people that Emanu-El is ready to welcome them, no matter who they are and what their experience is.”
    Afterward, Purdy-Patrick and Rabbi Utley brought in an Emanu-El community member — a social worker who identifies as transgender — to provide additional gender identity training for clergy and religious school staff and faculty, equipping them to have conversations with children to explore their gender identities. The training also equipped them to have conversations with Temple Emanu-El families, allowing them to engage in conversation.
    This led to parent education courses led by Emanu-El’s youth learning and engagement team and facilitated by a local LGBTQ social worker and therapist.
    “It was really eye opening for the parents,” Purdy-Patrick recalls. “It made us realize that this is an ongoing conversation; it’s something that will continue to happen regularly at Temple Emanu-El because there’s a thirst for it, especially from the parents.”
    Rabbi Utley agrees.
    “This has opened the door to talk about different aspects of individual identity and lived experience that go beyond just LGBTQ+ identities and transcend into the identities and experiences of Jews of Color, conversion students, etc. which has sparked some broader conversations in the community,” Rabbi Utley says. “Temple Emanu-El is a place that always thought of itself as being on the forefront of social justice, equality and inclusion in the community, and this opened the door for us to have more heart-opening conversations about where we’re holding prejudice and don’t realize it.”
    When asked about the impact these trainings have had on the community, Purdy-Patrick shares the story of a transgender teenager who had been involved with the synagogue since preschool.
    “Shortly after his bat mitzvah ceremony, he stopped attending temple activities as he began exploring different gender expressions,” she says. “His mother was nervous about how this might change her relationships within the larger Temple Emanu-El community, and so she withdrew from temple, as well.”
    After learning about the gender identity learning sessions in the synagogue’s monthly newsletter, The Window, the teen’s mother came in to speak with Purdy-Patrick and Utley, which led to her taking the training and re-engaging with the community — along with her son.
    “This act of audacious hospitality led to her son feeling that he could return to temple as the person he truly is — a happy, thriving teenage boy who wants to teach the world more about gender identity,” Purdy-Patrick says.
    Acts like this are only the beginning. Temple Emanu-El has more planned for the future, including follow-up trainings and refresher classes for their early childhood, youth, and general staff and board members, as well as initiatives to empower their LGBTQ+ teens to lead the way to a more diverse, inclusive and equitable community. As for how other congregations can follow Emanu-El’s path, Purdy-Patrick suggests it’s as easy as looking inward:
    “Look at who in your community has these talents and these outsets,” she says. “Do you have clinical therapists or educators who are trained in gender identity or are familiar and knowledgeable about common obstacles faced by the LGBTQ+ community?
    “If so, see if they’re willing to lead a training. There’s a really good chance that you’ve got someone in your congregation who’s waiting to become a lay leader and maybe this is their pathway in.
    “This work takes a lot of small steps and community building, it’s a lot of hands-on education and awareness. I think gender identity work within Reform Judaism is kind of in a pioneering phase to a degree, so there’s a lot of pioneering and experimenting involved, which sometimes can feel scary — but how else will you make progress?”
    This first appeared on the Union of Reform Judaism’s blog, https://bit.ly/2NGumI1, and is reprinted with permission.

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Around the Town: David Patterson, Israel

Posted on 13 November 2019 by admin

Kornbleet Scholar Lecture Dec. 4

This year’s Kornbleet Scholar Lecture will feature David Patterson, Hillel Feinberg Chair in Holocaust Studies at the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies, University of Texas at Dallas. The program is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, at Beth-El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven Road in Fort Worth.
A winner of the National Jewish Book Award, the Koret Jewish Book Award, and the Holocaust Scholars’ Eternal Flame Award, Patterson is a prolific author and researcher, publishing more than 35 books and more than 220 articles, essays and book chapters on topics in literature, philosophy, the Holocaust and Jewish studies. His most recent books include “Shoah and Torah” (forthcoming), “Portraits: Elie Wiesel’s Hasidic Legacy” (forthcoming), “The Holocaust and the Non-Representable” (2018), “Anti-Semitism and Its Metaphysical Origins” (2015), “Genocide in Jewish Thought” (2012) and “A Genealogy of Evil: Anti-Semitism from Nazism to Islamic Jihad” (2010).
During his lecture, “Understanding Modern Anti-Semitism: From Hitler to Hamas,” he will discuss the historical links between the Nazis and the Jihadists, both politically and ideologically, and how it continues to be significant with respect to anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and the future of the Jewish people.
The lecture is free to attend. A dessert reception will follow the program.


Community Israel trip planned


Bob Goldberg tells the TJP that plans are underway for a Tarrant County community trip to Israel next fall, Oct. 11-22, 2020.
Trip highlights will include:
• Geopolitical tour with IDF Lt. Colonel at Syrian border
• See Safed’s famous synagogues and learn about Kabbalah
• Home-hosted Intimate Shabbat Dinner
• Quality time with our Partnership2Gether friends
• Tour of the Western Galilee; including Acco’s UNESCO Heritage sites and Old City and the Northern Command Center
• Enjoy an amazing dinner while visiting with IDF Soldiers
• Visit archeological sites such as Beit Shean
• Shabbat evening service at the Kotel
• Walking tour of Jerusalem’s oldest neighborhoods
• Seam line/security fence tour with former security official and fence architect
• Visit the Shalom Hartman Institute, a leading center of Jewish thought and education
• Culinary markets and street art/graffiti tours
• Beer Sheva Gav-Yam Negev High Tech Park
• Visit museums such as the Israel Museum, Air Force Museum, Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, and Independence Hall
• Explore the Negev Desert and Mitzpe Ramon region
• Experience Ethiopian and Bedouin hospitality and learn about their histories
Basic cost for the tour package (land only) is $4149 per person. Earlybird registration and deposit payment ($1000) will save $200 per person. For more information, visit www.tarrantfederation.org or contact Federation Executive Director Bob Goldberg at 817-569-0892 or b.goldberg@tarrantfederation.org.

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Rethinking the death penalty

Posted on 13 November 2019 by admin

How does the Torah view the ultimate punishment?

Ray Jefferson Cromartie is set to be executed in my home state of Georgia in just under three days as of the writing of this article. He’s the next man up in America’s prolonged history of judicial application of capital punishment. Ray Cromartie continues to proclaim his innocence in the 1994 killing of Richard Slyz, a 50-year-old store clerk who was shot in the process of a robbery which Cromartie admits to participating in. Yet, according to Cromartie’s telling, it was his co-defendant, Corey Clark, who ultimately pulled the trigger of the gun that killed Mr. Slyz.
Cromartie’s requests for the state to re-examine key pieces of evidence using modern DNA testing have since been rejected, something the deceased victim’s daughter finds unconscionable. “My father’s death was senseless,” Elizabeth Legettte writes in a letter. “Executing another man would also be senseless, especially if he may not have shot my father.” By the time this article is published, Cromartie will likely have been put to death by lethal injection.
“To err is human,” wrote the English poet Alexander Pope. And so it is that even the finest of human court systems will, at least on occasion, condemn the innocent and exonerate the guilty. Such is the burden of maintaining law and order. But how much erring is simply too much for society to accept? This is a question of the utmost poignancy when considering the death penalty, a punitive measure with irreversable consequences.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, at least 4.1% of those languishing on death row are innocent. Is that a number we simply cannot accept? Or, do the purported societal macro-benefits of carrying the death penalty on the books outweigh the heavy costs that these innocents are to bear?
If that were not enough to provoke renewed discussion on the continued application of the death penalty, the problems with America’s utilization of the death penalty run much much deeper. According to the Equal Justice Initiative’s website, “Prominent researchers have documented a pattern of discrimination in the application of the death penalty based on the race of the victim, race of the defendant, or both, in nearly every state that uses capital punishment.”
Then there is the issue of the role that poverty plays. Again the Equal Justice Initiative: “Whether a defendant will be sentenced to death typically depends more on the quality of his legal team than any other factor,” and the poor receive court-appointed lawyers who are typically overworked, underpaid and often ill-equipped to argue cases of such magnitude. As Anthony Ray Hinton, an innocent man who sat on death row for almost three decades, describes it, “It’s called capital punishment because if you don’t have the capital you get the punishment.” Add to this the approximately 10% of “death rowers” with documented cases of mental illness (something which calls into question the apropriateness of handing out the death penalty), and the seemingly arbitrary nature of when the death penalty is applied, and you have a veritable cocktail of systematic judicial disfunction.
Almost all western democracies have abondoned the death penalty, with the Council of Europe going so far as making the abolition of the death penalty a prerequisite for membership. What’s of particular interest to me, though, is their particular rationale in abandoning this ancient method of retributive justice. According to an official website for the European Union, the death penalty should be abolished for, among other things, being “inhumane, degrading and unnecessary.” Similar abolitionists, like the American Civil Liberties Union, argue that “Opposing the death penalty does not indicate a lack of sympathy for murder victims. On the contrary, murder demonstrates a lack of respect for human life. Because life is precious and death irrevocable, murder is abhorrent, and a policy of state-authorized killings is immoral.”
In this regard, the Torah unequivocally diverges in thought.
Regardles of the frequency of its application, the punishment of the death penalty for murder was one of the very first God-given commands to mankind: “Whoever sheds the blood of man through man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God He made man” (Beresheet 9:6). When we dissect the verse, we see that the very rationale for the application of the death penalty for murder is precisely due to man’s special place in creation, a being created in the image of God! It is the very sanctity of man and of human life itself that warrants the meting out of such a harsh punishment. For it is the punishment which alerts man to the severity of any given action, and insofar as murder is concerned, any underpunishment of the crime only serves to diminish the heinousnous of the crime and to cheapen the dignity of man and life itself. According to the Torah, it is indeed the absence of the death penalty in societal penal codes that is, to quote the European Union’s terminology, “inhumane” and “degrading.”
In Part II of this article we will examine how often the death penalty was actually applied during Jewish judicial history and ask how the Torah might advise a modern country in its potential formation and application of the death penalty.

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Remembering the master mime, Marcel Marceau

Posted on 13 November 2019 by admin

I never thought that a recent trip my wife, Deanna, and I took to North Carolina for a Road Scholar workshop would eventually lead me back to the master mime entertainer I had thoroughly enjoyed years ago, Marcel Marceau.
Marceau, considered by many to be the best mime ever, helped make mime internationally popular from 1948 through 2003.
Trying to contact an old Army buddy, Ben Martin, who had lived near our Montreat destination in North Carolina, I learned sadly that Ben had passed away two years previously.
Speaking to a friend of his, I also learned that Ben and Marcel Marceau had become good friends in Paris while Ben was a Time-Life photographer.
With Marceau’s’ permission, Ben took numerous photographs of the King of Mime, producing a wonderful 150-page display of the art of mime, titled “Marcel Marceau, Master of Mime.”
While this is primarily a photo book about Marceau, the entertainer, it also briefly mentions Marceau’s experiences evading the Nazis and helping to save hundreds of Jewish children from the Holocaust, a mitzvah he rarely mentioned. Just what you would expect from a silent mime.
Marcel’s real last name was Mangel, but he later changed it to Marceau when he needed an alias after joining the French resistance movement during World War II.
His family evacuated Alsace-Lorraine for central France. Sadly, like so many others, Marcel’s father, a butcher, was caught, deported to Auschwitz and gassed upon arrival.
Marcel, serving in the French underground with his brother, helped to hide many Jewish children from the Nazis and their French collaborators.
Changing the children’s ages from older to younger on their identity cards, Marcel was able to convince the enemy that the children were not old enough for heavy labor.
His acting ability shone through when he dressed, at times, as a Boy Scout leader, leading his charges to a campground in the hills, and across the border to safety in neutral Switzerland.
Because of his modesty, I suspect that many people are unaware of Marceau’s heroism during the war and are more knowledgeable about his successful mime career after the war.
With the liberation of Paris and the war in France drawing to a close, Marceau joined the Free French Army to use his language skills as a translator for General Patton.
Soon after Marceau’s pantomime skills became known to the GIs, there was a clamor for him to perform, resulting in his first professional performance, in a huge army tent before 3,000 troops.
In April 2001, Marcel Marceau received the Wallenberg Foundation’s award in recognition of his solidarity and courage during the Second World War.
If you don’t learn anything else from having read about Marcel Marceau, remember this: “Actions speak louder than words.”

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Grandparents can aid in Jewish youth engagement

Posted on 13 November 2019 by admin

Dear Families,
The Jewish Grandparents Network just came out with “Jewish Grandparenting Today: A Report on the findings from the National Study of Jewish Grandparents.” The sample included grandparents 55-80 years of age who self-identify as Jewish. There are a lot of interesting statistics to look at but here are a few dealing with attitudes and aspirations:
Grandparent Attitudes Toward Jewish Identity
•75% say being Jewish is an important part of my life
•70% say I feel that it is important to support Jewish charities or causes
•53% say I wish that my kids had a greater appreciation for their Jewish heritage
•51% say I consider myself a spiritual person
•30% say I consider myself a religious person
The “bottom line” is that Judaism is a strong part of the grandparent’s identity. Now how does that relate to their Jewish aspirations for their grandchildren.
•71% say it is important to me to transmit Jewish values to my grandchild
•70% say it is important to me to teach my grandchild about Jewish heritage
•64% say I want my grandchild to have a strong connection to Judaism
•63% say I want my grandchild to be interested in doing Jewish activities
•38% say it is important to me that my grandchild marries a Jewish partner
Grandparents, grandchildren and parents can learn much from this study. Of interest for us all are the questions on what constitutes Jewish identity, how do you define your identity as a Jew, and then the crucial question for all of us is how to transmit our values and heritage. It isn’t simply a desire but we each need a plan: What do you do that shows who you are and what you believe?
The final conclusion in the study is the challenge for us all today. Communities, parents, children AND grandparents must do their part.
“Communities and organizations would be best served by engaging today’s Jewish grandparents as true stakeholders with a full ‘seat at the table’ as they seek to better understand their interests and needs and to chart a path forward. When the Jewish community truly engages grandparents as partners, listen carefully, and invites them to play a lead role in designing and piloting new initiatives, they will harness a remarkable resource. The experience, talent, wisdom and passion of today’s Jewish grandparents will ultimately benefit the entire Jewish community.”
So all you grandparents out there — GET INVOLVED! Check out www.jewishgrandparents
network.org.
Laura Seymour is director of camping services at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center.

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