Around the Town — April 2008

Around the Town with Rene
Hollace Weiner’s newest book a must-read
Fort Worth author and historian Hollace Ava Weiner is on a roll! Her recently published “Jewish ‘Junior League’: The Rise and Demise of the Fort Worth Council of Jewish Women” is expected to reach the heights and popularity of several of Weiner’s previous books.
“From its founding in 1901 through the second half of the twentieth century, the Fort Worth Section of the National Council of Jewish Women fostered the integration of its members into the social and cultural fabric of the greater community. Along the way, it championed important social causes, including an Americanization school for immigrants and literacy initiatives. But by 1999, facing declining membership — and according to some, decreased relevance to the lives of Jewish women — the Council’s national and local leaders found themselves confronting the end of the group’s existence.
“Hollace Ava Weiner has mined the records of this organization at both the local and national levels, interviewed surviving members and examined Fort Worth newspapers and other local historical documents. Her lively and careful study reveals that the Fort Worth Council of Jewish Women was, in fact, so successful that it prepared the way for its own obsolescence. By century’s end, the members and the times had changed more rapidly than the Council.
“While ‘Jewish “Junior League’ focuses on a particular organization in a particular city, it simultaneously serves as a case study for the exploration of important themes of women’s and Jewish history throughout the 20th century.
“Hollace Ava Weiner, a former writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, is also the author of ‘Jewish Stars in Texas: Rabbis and Their Work,’ now available in paperback from Texas A&M University Press. She is the editor of ‘Lone Stars of David,’ a coffee table anthology that won the 2006 Deolece Parmelee Award from the Texas Historical Foundation. A native of Washington, D.C., she resides in Fort Worth” with her husband, Dr. Bruce Weiner.
The book is chock-full of photos of well-known women and will bring to mind much of the good deeds done by Council and their dedicated members.
Harry Labovitz joins local MetLife firm
On the business scene, MetLife Financial Group of Texas, an office of MetLife, is pleased to announce that Harry Labovitz has joined the firm as a financial services representative.
Labovitz is a longtime resident of Fort Worth and the past president of Congregation Ahavath Sholom and Mid-Continent Region, USCJ.
MetLife Financial Group of Texas, an office of MetLife, offers a broad array of financial products and services including life, disability income, long-term care insurance and annuities, mutual funds and investment products. The company is located at 6500 West Fwy., Suite 950, Fort Worth, TX 76116, 817-377-5300.
MetLife is a subsidiary of MetLife, Inc. (NYSE: MET), a leading provider of insurance and financial services with operations throughout the United States and Latin America, Europe and Asia Pacific regions. Through its domestic and international subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife, Inc. reaches more than 70 million customers around the world. MetLife is the largest life insurer in the United States (based on life insurance in-force). The MetLife companies offer life insurance, annuities, auto and home insurance, retail banking services and other financial services to individuals, as well as group insurance, reinsurance and retirement and savings products and services to corporations and other institutions. For more information, please visit
On the political scene
Prominent Republican politico and activist Craig Goldman will manage the southwest operation for Republican presidential contender John McCain. From a recent issue of the Dallas Morning News, we note that Goldman ran McCain’s Straight Talk American political action committee during the 2006 election cycle. It includes Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kansas, Oklahoma and Nebraska. Goldman was an aide to former U.S. Sen. Phil Gramm. He ran unsuccessfully for the GOP nomination for the Texas House seat to replace Rep. Ann Mowery, who resigned. Raised in Fort Worth, he is the son of Carol and Ronnie Goldman.
Manchester Dance Ensemble to perform for Yom HaShoah program
On Thursday, May 1, 7 p.m. at Beth-El Congregation, the Tarrant County community will commemorate the Holocaust with its annual service and program. This year we are honored to have the Manchester Dance Ensemble perform their “Spirit Unbroken” and “In Anticipation of a New Nation.” Both pieces were choreographed by Lesa Broadhead, who is also the artistic director of the Manchester Dance Ensemble. These two dance works combine contemporary dance and music in order to emphasize the healing aspects, the power and the impact of the Holocaust as well as the formation of the state of Israel. On May 16, 1999, the MDE performed at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, the first dance performance in the museum’s existence. The MDE has performed diverse works, from “Cinderella” and “Sleeping Beauty” to “We Shall Stand Tall,” dedicated to the victims of 9/11, and “At Last,” dedicated to Martin Luther King, Jr. The ensemble, which has performed in their native Ohio, in New York and in Washington, D.C. is a pre-professional, not-for-profit company of talented dancers between the ages of 11 and 18.
This program 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, Brite Divinity School and TCU Jewish Studies Program, Martin Hochster Memorial Post #755–Jewish War Veterans, Multicultural Alliance, TCU Hillel/University Ministries, Congregation Ahavath Sholom, Beth-El Congregation, Congregation Beth Shalom and Congregation Beth Israel. For more information, please call the Federation office at 817-569-0892.
Around the Town with Rene
Fort Worth Hadassah Lunch and Learn: ‘What Women Need to Know about HPV and Cervical Cancer’
The Fort Worth Chapter of Hadassah is excited to invite women from Fort Worth and Tarrant County to a special Lunch and Learn on Sunday, June 1, 2008 at Beth-El Congregation. Beginning at 12:30 p.m., they will present an educational session to teach important facts about cervical cancer and how to prevent it.
The program encourages women to take their health into their own hands, learn the facts and spread the word. Hadassah’s “What Women Need to Know” was designed to empower women with key information and take advantage of one of the most important talents women have: communication.
Unlike most cancers, cervical cancer can be prevented. Did you know that there’s a new test you can have along with your Pap smear to detect the virus that causes HPV? It’s called the human papillomavirus test (HPV test). Recent research has shown that HPV is the cause in almost all cases of cervical cancer. Did you know that the two ages women are most susceptible to HPV and cervical cancer are 15–30 and 55–75?
Come to this luncheon and take control of your cervical cancer risk! Experts on hand to answer questions include Valerie Lowenstein, immediate past president and national chair of “What Women Need to Know about HPV and Cervical Cancer”; Melissa Mendelson, National Hadassah women’s health and advocacy associate specializing in HPV and cervical cancer; and Dr. Douglas Tatum, assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at The University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth and the city’s leading expert on HPV and cervical cancer.
Hadassah’s working luncheon committee includes Debby Rice, Lihi Zabari Kamen, Karen Johnson, Elyse Kitterman, Karen Kaplan, Jill Imber, Cindy Simon, Randee Kaitcer, Orit Paytan, Mona Karten, Zoë Stein Pierce, Posy McMillen, Naomi Rosenfield, Laurie Werner and Rhoda Bernstein.
For more information, please call Debby Rice at 817-332-0022 or Lihi Zabari Kamen at 817-764-3452. See you there!
Thirteenth Mitzvah Day more successful than ever
Two hundred people representing Fort Worth’s religious community — Beth-El, Ahavath Sholom, and Arlington’s Beth Shalom — participated in the 13th Mitzvah Day on April 6. Sixteen nonprofit agencies across Tarrant County benefited from the various projects. The Blood Drive collected 27 units of blood, which exceeded the target goal of 20. The mitzvot will even extend beyond Tarrant County since one of the activities was “Cards for Soldiers,” which will be sent to U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mitzvah Day Co-chairs Dan Halpern and Jenny Solomon from Beth-El, Ben Weiger from Beth Shalom and Elaine Bumpas from Ahavath Sholom are grateful to all the volunteers who helped make the event a success.
The co-chairs thank Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger, Rabbi Baruch Zeilicovich and Rabbi Ned Soltz for their consistent and unwavering support. Additionally, thanks to the three congregation presidents, Mark Sloter, Al Fagin and Stuart Snow. Thanks also to the wonderfully helpful Beth-El staff, who are always present and know exactly what to do to make an event like this run so smoothly.
Dan Halpern acknowledged men from the two congregations who provided the food for 200 hungry workers. Men’s Club President Marvin Beleck and the Ahavath Sholom Men’s Club provided breakfast. Beth-El MRJ President Mike Kalpin and the Men of Reform Judaism provided the delicious lunch.
Halpern acknowledged Registrars Corrine Jacobson and Ellen Rubinson, as well as Mileyna Razack, who coordinated the T-shirts. Because of some last-minute publicity, there were dozens of people who walked in and wanted to help.
Finally, Halpern expressed his thanks to the team captains: All Church Home for Children, David Levine; Cards for Soldiers, Gloria Sepp; Carter Blood Bank, Genie Long; Friends of the River, Laurie Kelfer; Gladney Center, Joan Katz and Carol Minker; Habitat for Humanity, Marty Rubinson; Hebrew Rest, Jerry Weiner; Hospice, Terri Halpern; Food Bank, Linda Hoffman; Meals On Wheels, Lynell Bond; Ronald McDonald House, Howard Bellet, Faye Slater and Ann Cobert; Oak Park Retirement Center, Monica Braverman; Ellen Rubinson, Linda Hoffman, Angie Kitzman and Sonja Stein.
Brandon Chicotsky to speak about anti-Semitism on campus
Brandon Chicotsky, a young key figure on the local, state and national scene, will be the guest speaker at Fort Worth’s Isadore Garsek Lodge’s B’nai B’rith Jewish Person of the Year Dinner on May 4 at Ridglea Country Club. Born and raised in Fort Worth, he is the son of Donna and Robert Chicotsky.
He will speak on “The New Hate: Defending Israel and The Jewish Identity on College Campuses.”
Brandon Chicotsky is the founder of Texas Ventures, an entrepreneurs’ organization offering early-stage investments to young companies. He is an alumnus of the University of Texas at Austin, where he began acting on his passions for public service and strengthening the U.S.-Israel relationship.
He is a champion for Texas Hillel, the center for Jewish student life at his alma mater. On campus, he worked with Texas Hillel as a member of Texans For Israel to battle Israel’s detractors and anti-Semitic academia. In 2006 the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) awarded Brandon and his activist colleagues the Duke Rudman Award, their highest activist award for campus pro-Israel advocacy.
In 2007, Brandon established an Israel Travel Fund, which financed his third study abroad in the Middle East region. He is a member of the Texas Breakfast Club, AIPAC, NORPAC, Hillel International, B’nai B’rith, and Texas Ventures.
During his four years in college, Brandon worked on several national races. As a former president of Austin’s largest political charter, he co-managed a successful U.S. presidential campaign office of 40 interns and hundreds of volunteers. The office gained enough attention to garner a visit and cover story from NBC’s Tom Brokaw.
In the summer of 2006, Brandon organized pro-Israel students along the East Coast to join him in Senator Joe Lieberman’s re-election campaign in Connecticut. Prior to this campaign work, he interned in the Washington, D.C. headquarters of AIPAC. Some of his department work included meetings with candidates running for federal office to educate them on Israeli issues.
Brandon has studied abroad with numerous visits to the Middle East, Mexico and Central America. His trips to the Middle East region have included meetings with the Israeli military, cultural leaders and government officials over issues of Western economic interest, military conflict and counter-terrorism. He is an active advocate for America’s interest in the Middle East and frequents Washington, D.C. to lobby on legislative items concerning the region.
Currently, Brandon runs Texas Ventures in Austin and aids local candidates for public office. He aspires to work in the Jewish Liaison’s Office of the White House in 2009 and will pursue graduate studies in public affairs.
Rabbi Mecklenburger recognized
Congratulations to Beth-El’s Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger, who was recognized in Fort Worth Texas magazine’s March issue as one of Fort Worth’s “14 Brilliant Minds.” Writer Gail Bennison says that “the 14 gifted and very accomplished individuals recognized … have pushed their life’s work in innovative directions for the good of all mankind.” Mecklenburger was singled out as a “Modern Day Philosopher” for his accomplishments within Beth-El and within the Fort Worth community. He is the only religious leader recognized in this issue.
Mother’s Day party honors Israel at 60
The community is invited to join in a significant event at a party on Mother’s Day honoring Israel at 60. The community birthday gala will celebrate 60 years of Israel’s independence.
The May 11 evening celebration will be held at Beth-El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven, Fort Worth.
As you step through the doors you’ll find your senses assaulted by the tastes, aromas and sounds of Israel. Listen and dance to modern Israeli, classic, Yemenite and Chassidic melodies sung by sabra Yoel Sharabi, who will captivate you with his wide repertoire and dynamic style. You will be inspired by a short ballet piece performed by Liliya Aronov and Assaf Benchetrit, both Israelis who are now with the Texas Metropolitan Classic Ballet.
Cocktails will be served at 6:30 p.m. and dinner will follow at 7:30 p.m. Dietary laws will be observed. Cocktail attire is suggested.
Tickets are $25 per person and may be purchased with cash at the Federation office; by checks sent to 4049 Kingsridge Road, Fort Worth, TX 76109; or by credit card by calling 817-569-0892. Babysitting is available by reservation only. All reservations must be made by May 5, 2008.
Sponsors include the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County with financial support from the Foundation of the Jewish Federation, Dan Danciger/Fort Worth Hebrew Day School Supporting Foundation, the Molly Roth Fund, the Israeli Community of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, Yad B’Yad/HaShomer, and Ruthy and Eldad Erez.
The gala is endorsed by Congregations Beth-El, Ahavath Sholom, Beth Israel, Beth Shalom, the WRJ groups of Beth-El and Beth Shalom, Hadassah, the Jewish Education Agency, Brite Divinity School and TCU Jewish Studies, and UNT Jewish Studies.
JWI closing luncheon, May 7
Jewish Women International are secure in the choice of their president for the coming year. Ina Singer, who has served as head of the group for the last eight years, will continue leading JWI to greater successes. Ina tells the TJP that the closing luncheon will be held on Wednesday, May 7, 11:30 a.m. at the Olive Garden. Luncheon reservations are $7.50 and should be made with Rita Hoffman, 817-370-7209. JWI makes significant contributions to many local charitable and service organizations.
Around the Town with Rene
Lizzy Michan, Marc Bumpuss, Karen Silverberg, Steven Silverberg, Emily Cobert, and Carly Karten at the Community Purim Carnival.
Rosanne and Billy Rosenthal honored
Fort Worth philanthropists Rosanne and Billy Rosenthal came in for well-deserved added honors last week when the Multicultural Alliance presented their major award to them. Billy is the third member of his immediate family to receive the award. His father, the late Manny Rosenthal, noted community leader, received the award 20 years ago, and his mother, Roz Rosenthal, was recipient of the award nine years ago. The alliance was formerly known for years as the National Conference for Christians and Jews and later as the National Conference for Community and Justice.
In the past 29 years, the Rosenthals have been major benefactors to Cook Children’s Medical Center, Susan Komen for the Cure, Trinity Valley School, the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, Texas Christian University, Beth-El, Modern Museum, Texas A&M, UT and the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, among others.
Among the past recipients of the award are Rabbi Robert Schur, M.J. Neeley, Dr. Edwin Guinn, Dr. John Richardson, Dr. Frank Cohen, David Beckerman, Van Cliburn, Hazel Harvey Peace and, last year, Tim Sear, Alcon executive.
Dinner chairs were Howard and Joan Katz, longtime friends of the Rosenthals. In acknowledging his friends, Howard said, “The work of the Multicultural Alliance, to teach young people that we can all be different but that our DNA is pretty much the same and that those differences enhance our society — that’s what Billy and Rosanne have demonstrated in their lives.”
Proceeds from the dinner support the Alliance’s programs, such as Camp CommUNITY for high school students and a weeklong retreat for seminary students. Both programs offer opportunities for young people to share life experiences with people of other cultural, racial and religious backgrounds.
Beth-El’s 13th annual Mitzvah Day, Sunday, April 6
Across Tarrant County, members of three Jewish congregations will be engaged in meaningful volunteer activities as part of Beth-El Congregation’s 13th annual Mitzvah Day. Over 200 volunteers will combine their efforts on behalf of 16 community-wide projects on Sunday, April 6. Mitzvah Day originated in Tarrant County at Beth-El Congregation, and congregants from Fort Worth’s Ahavath Sholom and Arlington’s Beth Shalom continue to join in giving back to our community.
A wide array of volunteer projects will meet the needs of almost every volunteer. Planting, building, sorting clothing and food donations, cooking or making cards for American service men and women are a few of the opportunities available, according to Chair Dan Halpern.
A new project for this year is assisting “Friends of the River” in a cleanup of the Trinity River and its banks. Volunteers can also assist Meals on Wheels to assemble and deliver pet food donations for Meals on Wheels clients’ four-legged friends.
Families with children can find child-friendly activities like preparing lunch at Ronald McDonald House for delivery to families staying in the house and at local hospitals. The Tarrant Area Food Bank also provides an opportunity for families to work together to help those less fortunate.
Finally, Halpern encourages everyone to double their mitzvah by giving blood to Carter BloodCare. There is a constant need in Tarrant County for donated blood, as someone needs blood every three seconds. The bloodmobile will be available through the afternoon, and Halpern encourages volunteers to come back for lunch at 12:30 and stay to donate blood.
Agency projects include All Church Home for Children, Friends of the River, Gladney Center for Adoption, Habitat for Humanity, Hebrew Rest Cemetery, Hospice, Meals on Wheels of Tarrant County, Mission Arlington, Mission Metroplex/YWCA, Oak Park Retirement Center, Ronald McDonald House, Tarrant Area Food Bank and Women’s Center.
Mitzvah Day begins with check-in and breakfast, followed by a short prayer service at 9 a.m. in the Great Hall. By 9:30, volunteers will be heading out to agencies throughout the area to work. Lunch will be provided at 12:30 for those finished with their projects.
Pre-registration is not required, although Halpern encourages potential volunteers interested in a particular agency project to let him know in advance.
“But if you just come on April 6, we will find something for you to do,” he says.
For more information or to sign up for a particular project, call Dan Halpern at 817-426-3239.
‘Shushan Idol’ hits Beth-El
Hundreds of people attended the Community Purim Carnival on Sunday, March 23 at Beth-El Congregation. Lunch was served by the Beth-El Brotherhood while the attendees shmoozed and bought tickets for the carnival. The celebration began with Tarrant County’s first annual “Shushan Idol” show, written by award-winning Richard Allen. Although Mordechai, King Ahasuerus, Queen Esther, Vashti and Haman vied for the Idol title, the Jewish community was the winner this year. By the sounds of laughter and clapping, it seems that the contest was a big success.
The carnival was full of fun and even included a station for each of the Purim mitzvot. Children who visited the Mishloach Manot (sending gifts), Reading the Megillah, Seudat Purim (meal of Purim) and Matanot Le’evyonim (gifts for the needy) booths enjoyed giving, getting and eating hamantaschen! In addition, they were rewarded with extra tickets for participating in all four booths. The youngsters also enjoyed face-painting, pie-throwing, ring toss, Mordechai’s Muffin Game, Shushan Shuffleboard, Purim Plinko, Wheel of Purim, Hit Haman’s Hat, and two bounce houses. Everyone enjoyed the sno-cones, popcorn and hamantaschen. The committee — Ilana Knust, Rivka Marco, Ruthy Erez, and Shirley Ben-David — worked very hard to make sure the carnival was both fun and educational. The smiles on the tired faces as they left seemed to say they had succeeded.
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, many Tarrant County organizations helped to make the carnival a success. BBYO, FWUSY, FWFTY, the Junior Youth Group of Beth-El, the religious schools of Beth-El and Ahavath Sholom, JEA, Beth-El’s WRJ, Beth-El Brotherhood and TCU Hillel.
From Mona
Hi all,
It’s been a long, busy winter. I don’t know about you, but I sure am glad it’s spring! And we’re having another Girls Night Out. I would love to see all of you there. We’ll be meeting at Lucile’s on Camp Bowie at 7 p.m. next Thursday, April 3. If you can be there, e-mail Cindy Simon at
The Regional Conference is coming up on May 16–18 in McAllen. We’ll be honoring our wonderful Laurie Werner as she steps down as region president. If you’d like to attend, please let me know.
Enjoy this pretty weather before it changes again!
WRJ breakfast May 4
Women of Reform Judaism will hold a Membership Appreciation Breakfast on May 4.
The menu includes quiche, fresh-fruit salad and coffee as well as good company and a special program.
All Sisterhood members will be honored with a free breakfast and enthralling speakers in Beth-El’s Great Hall. This is your opportunity to mingle with old friends and make some new ones. Members will vote for WRJ’s 2008–2009 executive board at the event of the year! This is the way the WRJ board thanks their membership for their support and dedication in helping the Beth-El Sisterhood reach new heights in 2008. The daughter and granddaughter of the legendary Stanley Marcus (as in “Neiman Marcus”) will speak during the breakfast meeting about their new book, “Reflection of the Man: The Photographs of Stanley Marcus.” In their first Fort Worth appearance, these two women — Jerried Marcus Smith and professional photographer Allison V. Smith — will tell the stories behind the pictures.
We know of Stanley Marcus as the retailing wizard who turned Neiman Marcus into an international shopping destination. However, many of us did not know that he was a gifted photographer who snapped candid shots of the rich and famous. Books will be for sale, and Marcus’s daughter and granddaughter will sign them.
This program is chaired by fellow WRJ “sisters” Carolyn Bauman Cruz, Solace Weiner and Liz Cooper. Questions? Please contact Carolyn Bauman Cruz at, or Liz Cooper at Want to bring a friend? No problem. Non-WRJ members are welcome to attend for a nominal charge of $5. Reservations should be made with Liz Cooper at

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