Around The Town: Grinspoon Foundation, Beth-El rabbi retires, wedding exhibit

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Harold Grinspoon Foundation selects the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth & Tarrant County as a LIFE & LEGACY program partner

The Jewish Federation of Fort Worth & Tarrant County was recently selected to participate in the Jewish Federations of North America/Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s LIFE & LEGACY program as one of only eight small Federated Jewish communities from across North America.
“The Harold Grinspoon Foundation is very excited to be partnering with the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth & Tarrant County to establish a culture of legacy giving in Fort Worth and Tarrant County,” said Arlene D. Schiff, national director of the LIFE & LEGACY program. “The time is right. This legacy program will make the most of the generational transfer of wealth, change the language and landscape of giving and provide generous and forward-thinking members of the Fort Worth and Tarrant County Jewish community with the opportunity to express their passion, purpose and commitment to their most valued Jewish organizations.”
LIFE & LEGACY is a two-year program that assists communities, through partnerships with Jewish Federations, to promote after-lifetime giving to benefit local Jewish schools, synagogues, social service organizations and other Jewish entities. LIFE & LEGACY’s goals are to:
Educate, train, motivate and empower Jewish organizations to engage their loyal stakeholders in conversations to establish legacy gifts;
Increase community awareness of the power of bequests, other legacy vehicles and endowments;
Integrate legacy giving into the philanthropic culture of the Fort Worth and Tarrant County Jewish community.
“I am so excited that joining our Federation in this important initiative are Congregations Ahavath Sholom, Beth-El, Beth Israel and Beth Shalom,” said Bob Goldberg, executive director of the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth & Tarrant County.
LIFE & LEGACY is the newest initiative of the HGF, the visionaries behind PJ Library and the JCAMP180 programs, which has committed $30 million over the next 10 years to engage communities in legacy building efforts to secure the future of vibrant Jewish communities.
Since the LIFE & LEGACY’s launch in the fall of 2012, 289 organizations in 23 communities and 13 Hillel campus affiliates have secured more than 6,700 legacy commitments with an estimated value of $257 million in future gifts to the Jewish community.
For more information, contact Bob Goldberg at 817-569-0892.

Beth-El retirement

Fort Worth’s Beth-El Congregation will honor Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger’s retirement with a number of events from February through April. Rabbi Mecklenburger has been at Beth-El for 32 years … the longest-serving rabbi and, for many of us, the only rabbi we’ve ever known!
The next celebratory event in Rabbi’s honor will be the Oneg Shabbat on Feb. 19, following the Scholar-in-Residence Shabbat. Oneg Chairs Roberta Gerrick and Linda Hochster invite you to contribute a dish to the event. All are welcome at the very popular Scholar-in-Residence Weekend, and no reservations are needed.
A tribute book will accompany the formal retirement weekend April 15-17, honoring Rabbi and Ann for their many years of service to Beth-El and the community. Sponsorship ads (from $50 to $10,000) are available for purchase. More information is online at, or contact Noreen Houston, The deadline for contributions to the book is Feb. 15.
Friday, April 15, will be a special countywide Shabbat service at 7 p.m., with rabbis and cantors participating in the service. The oneg that followes will be chaired by Jacque Bzosteck, Trudie Oshman and Beverly Ross.
Saturday, April 16, at 6 p.m. is  a reception, dinner, and program honoring Rabbi Mecklenburger. Reservations are a must, and more information is online at
Carol Minker, who chaired the events for Rabbi Mecklenburger’s 20th and 25th anniversaries, is chairing these retirement events. Carol graciously thanks her committee:
Louise Appleman, Adele Arensberg, Cheryl Baum, Kenneth Baum, Ellen Berenzweig, Jackie Bzosteck, Jill Clay, Jane Cohen, Barbi Eisenman, Marilyn Englander, Debbie Feld, Phyllis Fenton, Roberta Gerrick, Cynthia Gilbert, Jeanne Ginsberg, Kim Goldberg, Julie Goldstein, Judie B. Greenman, Judie W. Greenman, Michele Hartman, Barbara Herman, Linda Hochster, Sandy Hollander, Noreen Houston, Laurie James, Alden Karotkin, Joan Katz, Diane Kleinman, Ilana Knust, Marge Kottler, Marcia & Stan Kurtz, Julie Lazarus, Maddie Lesnick, Genie Long, Susan Luskey, Neta Mandel, Carol Minker, Jane Nober, Jane Oderberg, Trudie Oshman, Eileen Pink, Alice Pritchard, Milena Razack, Ruth Roper, Roz Rosenthal, Beverly Ross, Evelyn Siegel, Faye Slater, Hollace Weiner, and Margie Zentner. Also serving are Beth-El’s President Laurie Kelfer and Assistant Rabbi Jordan Ottenstein.

Wedding exhibit highlights a century of Fort Worth Jewish weddings

“Over a Century UNDER THE CHUPPAH" event
“Over a Century UNDER THE CHUPPAH” event

“Over a Century UNDER THE CHUPPAH” event

“Over a Century UNDER THE CHUPPAH” event

“Over a Century UNDER THE CHUPPAH” event

A nostalgic archival exhibit, filled with mementos from more than a century of Fort Worth weddings, is on display at Beth-El’s Hall of Remembrance until the end of June. Wedding gowns worn by three Beth-El brides (in 1954, 1969, and 2004) will delight visitors. Together, the gowns and ketubot in the exhibit demonstrate changing trends under the chuppah.
Titled “Over a Century UNDER THE CHUPPAH in Fort Worth,” the display was organized by the Beth-El Archives. The room arrangement — which includes the Temple’s organza chuppah — was designed and arranged by Sandra Hollander, Laurie James and Margie Zentner.
The Temple’s gauzy white wedding canopy is set up in front of the ark. Beneath it are vintage pictures of brides and grooms from decades gone by and a mannequin in the strapless bridal gown worn by Melissa Minker Miller on her wedding day in 2004.
Another mannequin wears Rachel Pikkel Goldman’s high-necked, candle-light satin dress from 1969. The bride’s pillbox headpiece is reminiscent of the styles First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy made fashionable.
Draped across a display board is the third dress in the exhibit — the lacy gown that Louise Jacobs Jayson wore to her 1954 wedding at the old Texas Hotel.
Ketubot — Jewish marriage certificates — from the turn of the century to the present illustrate how the marriage contract has evolved from an Aramaic document discussing dowries and virginity into an illustrated text reflecting couples’ contemporary concerns. At the entrance to the exhibit is an amazing, hand-lettered, illustrated ketubah created by Rabbi Sidney Zimelman, who, as this document shows, is an artist and calligrapher as well as a rabbinic scholar.
— By Hollace Weiner

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