Around the Town

Preparation for Elul

Last week I mentioned that the month of Elul will soon be upon us. I also mentioned that Elul, for me personally, means preparation. Another reader was nice enough to share her experiences with the upcoming month of preparation, noting that Elul is special to her. “I frequently attend the morning minyan,” she writes. “At the end of the morning prayers every day during Elul, the shofar is blown.” This individual goes on to write that some days she hears a lone shofar, while other mornings half a dozen people sound the call. “It so sets the mood for the coming High Holidays,” she concludes.
I imagine it does. Thank you for sharing.

And now for a somber event

September 11, 2001 was a day few of us will forget. Even now, almost 10 years later, I remember with a peculiar sort of clarity where I was, the fear I felt and the tears that were shed at a special service I attended, when Kaddish was recited for the victims of those horrific attacks.
There will be many remembrance activities this coming September 11, one of which will take place at 4 p.m. at Good Shepherd Catholic Community Parish Hall, 1000 Tinker Rd. in Colleyville. This is an interfaith memorial service to include prayers, reflection and discussions about how to best honor those who died on 9/11. Jewish organizations will be involved, including Beth Shalom, Beth Israel, Jewish Community Relations Council of Tarrant County, Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County and Jewish War Veterans, Post #755 taking their part with others including the Colleyville Fire Department, various Baha’i communities, Colleyville’s First United Methodist Church, the Islamic Association of the Mid-Cities and, of course, Good Shepherd itself.
For more information, contact Sandra Lydick at Good Shepherd at 817-421-1387 or Childcare is available. Though the flyer mentions signing up at the church’s website (, I checked there and didn’t see anything about the event. However, you may have better luck.

And a happier event

The good folks at the B’nai B’rith Isadore Garsek Lodge remind us that the Sept. 4 outdoor movie event is a little more than a week away. This free event (which starts around 7:30 p.m. in the parking lot of Beth-El) will feature the movie “Grease,” as well as an appropriate PG-13 rated cartoon before the main showing. Concessions are $1 and include kosher hot dogs, cold drinks and popcorn, with all proceeds directed toward BBYO upcoming programs. All that’s necessary are lawn chairs, a family and preparation for a good time! In the event of inclement weather (we should be so lucky) or excessive heat, the event will be moved indoors. So come on out to see a great movie and to have a great time! For more information call the Movie Hotline at 817-927-2555.

And a happier occasion

Under the category of “whoops,” I want to apologize to Rhoda Stryer and family for failing to include news about her 95th birthday and celebration in previous issues. Her birthday was June 23, and her daughter Debbie Stryer-Levine did contact us at the time and well … the news never made it into print.
From what Debbie writes, Rhoda enjoyed a wonderful celebration. On June 25, Rhoda, Debbie, her other daughter Fredi Stryer, and friends and family met at the birthday girl’s house for, as Debbie tells it “mimosas and mingling.” Then a chartered, air-conditioned bus took everyone to Café 1187 in Benbrook, where 40 friends and family dined on delicious food and had a wonderful time. The bus then returned everyone to Rhoda’s house for more mingling and celebration. “It was a wonderful afternoon and Rhoda had a wonderful birthday,” Debbie writes. “She thanks everyone for attending and making her birthday special.”
Personally, I believe making it to 95 years is a great accomplishment. The fact that Rhoda topped off her day surrounded by loving friends and family was icing on the birthday cake. So again, Rhoda, happy, happy birthday and may you have many more!


Joe Klein, a self-described “long-time Fort Worthian” who currently lives in Bedford with his wife Hannah, tells us he is now a published author. After having written a series of articles relating to his childhood in Pittsgrove Township, N.J. (a portion of historic Salem County), the Elmer Times Newspaper published all six of the articles. But these aren’t just any articles. They tell a colorful history of 19th century Jewish immigrants who arrived in this area of south-central New Jersey.
“The area, known as Alliance, was host to the establishment of a large settlement of Eastern European Jews, who escaped pogroms in the early 1880s,” Joe writes. As such, the articles’ content features a variety of topics ranging from old-country shuls, to his two-room school house (complete with outhouse — I can just picture that during frigid New Jersey winters), to dirt roads, Germany POW camps and everything else. He says the articles were originally written for “their use as history and for his peers and the younger generations still living in the area.” Upon contacting the Salem County Historical Society, he was referred to the Greater Elmer and Surroundings Historical Society — which, has, as its membership, the Elmer Times publisher and editor.
This is way cool for me. My ancestors settled around the Philadelphia area at that time (they came over from Russia probably for the same reason that Joe’s family did; to escape the pogroms). Philadelphia isn’t all that far from Pittsgrove Township, though back then, one didn’t hop into a car and make the 30-minute trek to the city, of course. Still, that particular region has a definite, and important, part in American Jewish history. Thank you, Joe, for sharing it with readers and for letting us know about it.

And welcome back

Len and Rose-Marie Schweitzer write that they recently got back after spending a month in Salida, Colo., population 5,500. Salida sounds lovely, nestled as it is “in a valley surrounded by three mountain ranges and blessed by the Arkansas River flowing through it,” according to the Schweitzers. Though it took this couple a few days to adjust to the 7,000-mile elevation, Len and Rose-Marie became acclimated — and then busy. They walked a local 2.5-mile scenic trail several times a week, hiked on a regular basis with a local seniors group, took line dancing and swam twice a week at the Salida Hot Springs swimming pool. Whew!
For leisure, Len and Rose-Marie dined frequently at the Laughing Ladies restaurant, owned by the couple’s son and his wife, Jeff and Margie Schweitzer. They also listened to quality chamber music, courtesy of the nearby Aspen Summer Music Festival. “Salida has a 33-year relationship with the Aspen Summer Music Festival and each year invites some of their performers to present concerts in the high school auditorium,” the Schweitzers note.
It sounds like a wonderful time.

Cashing in on a gourmet meal

And speaking of wonderful times, a gourmet dinner party won at the Beth Shalom Annual Gala auction took place on Aug. 6 at the Arlington home of Rochelle and Joe Bekerman. Randy San Antonio tells us that, as part of the Gala, held on April 30, the silent and live auction event included the donation by Chef Philippe Lecoq of a catered gourmet dinner party complete with champagne, wines, hors d’oeuvres, desserts and servers. The meal was prepared by Chef Philippe himself. Randy notes that this was the 14th year Chef Philippe graciously donated his services to the Congregation Beth Shalom fundraiser. At around midnight, this close group of friends ended the evening by discussing plans for next year’s bid.
I bet they did. Specially prepared, gourmet meals don’t come around all that often. Congrats to the group and a belated “Bon Appetite!”

Under the category of ‘training our future’

We received terrific news from Congregation Ahavath Sholom and Beth-El Congregation. CAS notes that the first day of religious school on Sept. 11 will begin at 9:30 a.m. with a 9/11 Memorial Service, followed by parent/student orientation (complete with surprise entertainment). Boys and girls will be invited to learn how to sound the shofar and then to participate in the shul’s Shofar Corps, which will be part of CAS’ High Holidays services. This will be followed, a week later, with instruction to the children about how to make their own shofars at the CAS Shofar Factory.
And this is just the beginning. Many family oriented activities will take place during the High Holidays, as well as during Sukkot and Simchat Torah.
Chairperson of the Education Committee, Louise Vermillion said she anticipates a “banner year” for the school as Rabbi Gary G. Perras assumes the office of education director. Vermillion points out the new guidelines for the school which include a refreshing blend of traditional Judaism and contemporary ideas and practices. Furthermore, the children will learn to be proficient in Hebrew prayer in order to lead Shabbat services and prayers for important family occasions. Above all, the goal here is to “show our children the beauty and celebration of the Jewish holidays and life-cycle observances,” Vermillion and Rabbi Perras point out. For more information about the CAS religious school, contact Rabbi Perras at 817-731-4721 or

Beth El students enjoy the first day of religious school. | Photo: Ilana Knust

Moving on to Beth-El, we’re told that religious school is already underway, having started on Aug. 21. Beth-El’s Education Director Ilana Knust writes: “We gathered together all morning, parents and students, to celebrate our theme: ‘And we were there … From Exodus to Mount Sinai’ in a very interactive and unique way. We ‘crossed the red sea’ through the Temple, we wandered and complained in the desert and received the Torah at Mount Sinai, complete with thunder, sounds of the Shofar and lighting.”
This year, Knust continues, “the goal is not only to learn the text, but also to follow as many mitzvot as possible so we can return to God what He did for us during and after the Exodus.”
Knust tells us that the overall curriculum this year will focus on “the heart and soul of the Jewish people, from Exodus to Mount Sinai.” This was a very important part of Jewish history — mainly because much of Judaic foundation is based on our people’s exodus from slavery and the receipt of God’s word.
As such, the Beth-El curriculum will teach the kids to “celebrate freedom from prejudice, intolerance, and injustice and understand the potential we all have within us, to learn to believe in ourselves and learn the beautiful truth in our past and traditions,” according to information about the religious school.
More specifically, children in kindergarten through fourth grade will focus on the theme “From Hunger to Happiness,” while those in fifth to seventh grade will work on “From Homeless to Shelter.” Children from eighth through 10th grade will study “From Slavery to Freedom.”

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