Around the Town with Rene

Andy Karsner receives award from Swedish king
On March 18, Jonas Hafstrom of the Swedish Embassy in Washington, D.C., wrote to Alexander “Andy” Karsner as follows: “It is my great pleasure to convey to you the decision by His Majesty King Carl XVI Gustaf of Sweden to bestow on you the insignia of Commander of the Polar Star. This is an acknowledgment of and a sign of gratitude for all that you have done to successfully strengthen and develop the cooperation between Sweden and the U.S. in the field of renewable energy.
“During the summer of 2007, Sweden and the U.S. began an official/private cooperation, the first of its kind in research and technology development for renewable energy, with a special emphasis on biofuels. A bilateral agreement was signed by Sweden’s Minister of Commerce Maud Olofsson and by you on behalf of the American government. The Swedish government at the same time designated a quarter of a million crowns to research and development of environmentally friendly vehicles — heavy transport vehicles in particular.
“The following summer, 2008, a new bilateral agreement between Sweden and the U.S. was reached, once again signed by Ms. Olofsson and you. The goal of this cooperation was to develop new technology for powering the plug-in hybrid cars, with batteries that can be recharged via the electrical system. The project was based on technology provided by the U.S. Department of Energy and a concept car from Volvo.
“Through these accomplishments, for which you took the initiative, and your interest in contacts with Sweden, our country has received unique opportunities to spearhead a sustainable energy future together with the U.S.
“After you left your post in the American government in 2008, you accepted a position on the board of directors for House of Sweden. You [have] already [been] shown to be a very valuable addition to the promotional activities of the Embassy, and from your seat on the board you continue to be involved and press questions on alternative energy and environmentally friendly vehicle technology, which is of central importance to Sweden.
“The Deputy Prime Minister, Maud Olofsson, will be in Washington on March 30 and I was hoping that you would agree to receive this Order at 5 p.m. at the Residence on that day. My office will contact you to work out the details.
“My sincere congratulations.”
Andy, his wife, Maria, and their daughters, Caroline Hope, Jennie Faith and Julia Love, who reside in Alexandria, Va., spent the Passover holiday with his folks, Blanche and David Karsner. Also holidaying with the Karsners were their son, Fred Karsner, and daughter, Sarah, of Plano and daughter, Danielle Young, and her children, Rachel and Russell.
‘Weddings and Ketubot’ exhibit at Ahavath Sholom
A Jewish marriage certificate, better known as a ketubah, is both a legal document and a work of art. The Fort Worth Jewish Archives has mounted a small exhibit, “Weddings and Ketubot,” displaying marriage certificates from the 1890s to the present. Some certificates are ornate, with colorful birds and flowers filling the margins. Some are bilingual, written in Hebrew and English. Others are entirely in Hebrew calligraphy.
The backdrop for the exhibit is a bulletin board covered in white satin and lace. It evokes the chuppah, the marriage canopy beneath which couples stand during their wedding ceremony. In an adjacent showcase are photos of couples with ties to the Fort Worth Jewish community. These include the 1916 marriage of Gertrude Fox and Archie Salsburg, who stood under the chuppah at the old shul on Taylor Street, a building demolished in 1951. Alongside the faded photo of the Salsburg wedding party is a newspaper article describing the “popular” couple.
Of particular interest in the exhibit are documents from the 1913 marriage of Etta Fram and Asher Freeman, the parents of Hannah Meyer Howard. Beneath the Freemans’ ketubah are two Western Union telegrams. One telegram is in Yiddish. The other is a rhyme comparing their marriage to Edison’s electric lights. It reads:
“With utmost felicity
“We extend our congratulations by electricity
“That your future life may be as bright
“As Edison’s electric lights”
Also in the exhibit are a wedding portrait of Ann Bogart’s parents, who were married in Poland in 1919; the wedding party of Brigitte Altman’s parents, who were married in 1921 in Lithuania; the bridal attendants at the 1940 marriage of Sadye Mae Carshon and Rabbi Isadore Garsek in Fort Worth; and sheet music for Mendelssohn’s “Wedding March.”
Many artifacts in the exhibit were drawn from the collections of the Fort Worth Jewish Archives and the Beth-El Congregation Archives. These materials include wedding photos of Marion and Ito Perl, pictured in the small chapel at Beth-El in 1960; Stan and Deidra Bihari, married at Beth-El in 1974; and Fay Rosenthal and Leon Brachman cutting their wedding cake in 1941.
Two brides’ Bibles are in the showcase, including one on loan from Roz and Harvey Micklin. Each Bible is a pocket-sized book with a white leather cover embossed with gold lettering.
The oldest ketubah in the exhibit belonged to Ed Bond’s great-grandparents, who married in Colorado during the 1890s. Colorful ketubot of more recent vintage belong to Earl and Shirley Givant and to Rudy and Jan Myers Lambert.
The archival exhibit was designed by Adelene Myers and Ann Bogart, with text by Hollace Weiner and captions by Peppe Bailin. They were assisted by Hannah Howard, Joe Klein and Jack Gerrick, members of the Archives Committee. The exhibit, located in the hall outside the library at Ahavath Sholom, 4050 S. Hulen St., will remain on display through next spring.
The Fort Worth Jewish Archives is funded by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. It is housed in the library at Congregation Ahavath Sholom.

Leave a Reply