Around the Town
By Sharon Wisch-Ray

I love a good it’s a small world story. On Sunday, I was celebrating the “50 and fabulous” birthday of my friend Dr. Susan Mandel. Susan is now a Dallasite, but a former resident of Fort Worth, where her older son Nathan attended Trinity Valley.
It was a lovely girls night out: a delicious dinner at Blue Mesa, followed by creative fun at Quiggly’s Clayhouse (I’m not so crafty … but I persevered). When singing happy birthday, one voice stood out. Harmonizing beautifully, this girl had talent.
I introduced myself and asked her if she sang at her synagogue. “Yes I lead the choir at my synagogue in Fort Worth,” she replied.
It was none other than ourtowner Angie Kitzman, with whom I’ve corresponded for a couple of years now, as she does yeoman’s work providing me with Federation and other Fort Worth news. In fact, the next two items are courtesy of Angie!

The Thelma Yellin Big Band Jazz Group performed at Beth-El Congregation Jan. 12. | Photo: Angie Kitzman
The Thelma Yellin Big Band Jazz Group performed at Beth-El Congregation Jan. 12. | Photo: Angie Kitzman

Thelma Yellin Big Band Jazz Group performs at Beth-El

On Sunday, Jan. 12, Fort Worth was graced with a group of fantastic musicians from the Thelma Yellin Fine Arts High School in Israel. Just fewer than one hundred people came in from the beautiful weather to listen to an incredible performance. The performers stayed to talked with community members before going to dinner hosted by B’nai B’rith at Congregation Ahavath Sholom.
Special thank yous to Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger of Beth-El Congregation, Rich Hollander and Harry Kahn of B’nai B’rith, Rabbi Andrew Bloom and Congregation Ahavath Sholom for all their contributions. It was truly a community event. David Clay and his son John, and Larry Berlin volunteered their time, expertise and vehicles to the cause.
The event was sponsored by Beth-El Congregation, B’nai B’rith, Congregation Ahavath Sholom, and the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County

Havdallah Sing-In: Singing and Sweets on Saturday

Music leaders from every congregation in Tarrant County will hold a community Havdallah and Sing-In at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25 at Congregation Ahavath Sholom. Community members are encouraged to bring their own instruments and, of course, their vocal chords and be prepared for an evening of music and a beautiful beginning to the week.
The event is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County and hosted by Congregation Ahavath Sholom, Congregation Beth Shalom, Beth-El Congregation and Congregation Beth Israel.

I think I can: An update on Hillel Academy

Etta Korenman shared the following on behalf of Hillel Academy, Northern Tarrant County’s new Jewish day school.
“I think I can.” The Little Engine That Could” is the children’s book that teaches children the value of optimism and hard work. The story’s signature phrase, “I Think I Can,” first appeared in a 1902 article in a Swedish journal.” (Wikipedia)
Teaching children optimism and the value of hard work may not be on the official syllabus at Hillel Academy, but the children, parents and teachers, know very well that those traits, and a little prayer, helped to see the school open. Not only open, but as one parent, Mrs. Melanie Bernstein said, “When I came to open house, the place was still a bit unfinished. However, in a few weeks, when classes began, the fence was up, things were painted, and it looked like the warm inviting and safe place it is.”
Walls alone do not make a school. Another parent said the level of education being taught, secular and Judaic, far exceeds her expectations. The children enjoy going to school everyday…no “mom my tummy hurts” for these children! With the smaller classes, the teachers are able to work with each child and move along accordingly, which has them surpassing other schools for like grades.
As a parent, we all want our children to feel important and cared for. One parent noted that at a previous school, their child often was overlooked, and was not even sure the director knew his name. Every parent I spoke with is planning on continuing next year at Hillel Academy, even the ones where it is a “shlepp.” (take it from me, it beats driving to Dallas) Anyone thinking of sending their child/children there next year, or now, the current parents give you a “thumbs-up recommendation.”
So, what are you waiting for … “I think YOU can.”

News and notes:

Dr. Julian Haber and Rita Hoffman are among the teachers at the Tarrant County College Spring Senior Education classes at the South Campus starting Jan. 27.
Dr. Haber is the instructor for the Great American Musicals on Mondays from 2 to 3 p.m., while Rita Hoffman’s specialty is mah jongg on Fridays from 10 a.m. to noon.
To register for these courses and more, contact the Senior Education Office, South Campus, Mondays through Thursdays from 1- 4 p.m. at 817-515-4538 or go to the Registrar offices at any TCC campus.

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