By Deb Silverthorn
Dallas’ Jewish community will come together at the end of this month to remember and revel in the history, heroes and heart of the state of Israel. The “Israel, A Multi-Cultural Mosaic” commemoration and celebration of Yom HaZikaron and Yom HaAtzmaut will take place Tuesday, April 28, beginning at 7:30 p.m., and Wednesday, April 29, from 4:30 to 8 p.m., rain or shine. Sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas (JFGD) with organizations from throughout the Dallas Jewish community, both events will be held at the Aaron Family JCC.
Folks in Fort Worth and Tarrant County will mark Yom HaZikaron on April 27 at Congregation Ahavath Sholom at 7 p.m. The service is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County with financial support from the Dan Danciger/ Fort Worth Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation.
Yom HaAtzmaut will be celebrated in Fort Worth on May 3 from 12:15 to 3 p.m. at Beth-El Congregation. A professional Israeli dance instructor will be on hand for the festivities, which also include a political forum, an archaeological dig and a keepsake to take home. Traditional Israeli fare will be served. The cost is $6 for adults and children over 12 and $3 for children 3–12. Children under 3 are free. This cost includes all food and activities. Reservations are a must and can be made by contacting the Federation office. The celebration is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County with financial support from the Dan Danciger/Fort Worth Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation and Hartman, Leito, and Bolt, LLP. For more information, call the Federation office at 817-569-0892.
“People have come from the four corners of the earth to create the land of Israel,” said Congregation Shaare Tefilla’s Administrative Director Rabbi Benjy Myers. “That mosaic, the design in who we are, also means that people from around the world have given their lives in the name of our state. On Yom HaZikaron, we will turn to those who have fallen in our defense.”
There are more than 3,000 Israelis now living in Dallas, few of whom have not been touched by or known of a downed soldier. Also remembered is the late Ari Weiss, a beautiful young man who lived his childhood in this community.
“Every day for us is a ‘Yom HaZikaron’ as we remember Ari [constantly],” said his father, Rabbi Stewart Weiss, formerly of Congregation Tiferet Israel in Dallas and Ahavath Sholom in Fort Worth. “Ari serves as an inspiration, a model of devotion to Israel and striving to be the best that one can be. Knowing that so many people all over the world are connected to Ari is a great tribute to him, as he has brought together thousands of Jews who unite in love of Israel and respect for our fallen heroes.”
“It is important as American Jews that we show our appreciation for the dedication of those who have fallen,” said Gary Weinstein, JFGD president and CEO. “This is an event to stand in solidarity.”
“I look forward to emceeing the Yom HaZikaron program, one that gives us time to remember the sacrifices that so many have made over the last 61 years,” said Glenn Geller, Marketing and Strategic Planning Committee chair for the JCC, who also serves on the JCRC’s Executive Committee. “We must recommit, in this time when world opinion is so against Israel, so that our homeland might remain a vibrant one for our people everywhere.”
Tuesday night’s program, at its end, will segue into the celebration of Yom HaAtzmaut. On Wednesday, the cheer of the crowd and voices of the community will be heard in song as all are invited to gather again at the Aaron Family JCC for Yom HaAtzmaut, Israel Independence Day. There will be pita baking in a Bedouin tent, an opportunity to send a message to the Western Wall, Israel advocacy workshops led by Gil Elan of the American Jewish Congress, bounce houses, a climbing wall, carnival games, a petting zoo, information about the Anti-Defamation League and “Israel on Campus: What Parents and High School Students Need to Know,” mosaic art activities, “Going Green” artwork with recycled products, roving historical figures and musical performances.
While all activities are free, snacks, dinner and drinks will be sold; American and Israeli foods will be catered by Simcha Kosher Catering. With a new layout for food services to alleviate mealtime traffic, the JCC will be hosting a Kiddie Café, Café Israel (an Israeli-style coffee house) and snack kiosks throughout the campus.
Participating organizations are the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center, Adat Chaverim, Akiba Academy, Ann and Nate Levine Academy, American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Congress, Anti-Defamation League, B’nai B’rith Youth Organization (BBYO), Community Kollel of Dallas, Congregation Anshai Torah, Congregation Beth Torah, Congregation Nishmat Am, Congregation Shaare Tefilla, Congregation Shearith Israel, Congregation Tiferet Israel, Dallas Kosher, Greene Family Camp, Hadassah (Dallas chapter), Jewish Family Service, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Jewish National Fund, Jewish War Veterans Post 256, The Legacy at Willow Bend, Rabbinic Council of Greater Dallas, State of Israel Bonds, Temple B’nai Israel, Temple Emanu-El, Temple Shalom, Torah Day School of Dallas, Tycher Library, Veranda Preston Hollow and Yavneh Academy.
“This is the community event to remember and to celebrate Israel. There’s no better chance for everyone to come together,” said Craig Prengler, who is co-chairing the events with his wife, Tami, Amy and Steve Schachter and Krista and Craig Weinstein. “The staff at the J and the community representatives have put so much effort into making these nights to remember. We hope to see kids with their parents and grandparents, friends and families.”
“This is a wonderful time of year for all of the community to show their support. These are events for solidarity and commitment, of ruach [spirit] and good fun,” said Laura Seymour, director of camping and youth services. She and Rachelle Weiss Crane, JCC director of the Melton and Gesher Graduate programs, have been working with community chairpeople.
“These events are important because of the emphasis on family, learning and connection to our Jewish community in Dallas — secular to Torah traditional under one umbrella — and our community as Jews worldwide,” Weinstein said. “We have a magnificent opportunity to gather in the name of our heritage, with a sense of belonging.”
“Israel, A Multi-Cultural Mosaic”: Tues., April 28, 7:30 p.m. & Wed., April 29, 4:30 p.m., Aaron Family JCC
Tarrant County: Yom HaZikaron Service, Mon., April 27, 7 p.m.; Ahavath Sholom;
Yom HaAtzmaut Celebration: Sun., May 3, 12:15 p.m., Beth-El
By Deb Silverthorn