Around the Town with Rene

Congregation Beth Israel
to dedicate garden
In 2006, a barren plot on the grounds of Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas, became the bat mitzvah project of Sloane Sander. Her goal was to convert the 50 foot by 50 foot tract into a place of peace and beauty, where people could reflect on their faith. Two years later, on Oct. 19, 2008, the realization of Sloane’s dream came to pass with the dedication of the CBI Meditation Garden. Outlined by a Star of David, the garden features different sections including a Shabbat Garden, a Memorial Garden, an Israel Garden, and a Texas Garden.
The transformation began with a little help from her friends, as Cody Cramer, Ben Friedland and Ethan Kerstein adopted the garden endeavor as their own Bar Mitzvah Projects. Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker approved the project with encouragement and excitement, as did the CBI board of directors.
Together, these students, their families, friends and other members of the congregation truly made this a community project, pitching in on everything from fundraising to clearing the land to hauling bricks to planting flowers and trees. They also weeded, and weeded and are still weeding.
Master Gardener Christy Perry, Sloane’s mom, helped select flowers and trees able to thrive in North Texas’ unique conditions. Landscape architect Stephanie Alexander brought the students’ vision for the garden to life with a professional design. Congregation members Celia and Dana Mortensen built its arbor, and artist Richard Baratz designed a replica Wailing Wall. CBI Federation Liaison, Cory Abbott, petitioned the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth for funds, and they responded with a $1500 donation. Additional funds were raised through generous donations from congregation members, a contribution from the CBI Rabbi’s Fund and a garage sale put together by the Mitzvah students.
Though Mother Nature slowed progress with rain, hail, cold weather and sometimes, unbearable heat, the garden development steadily moved forward. Sloane, Cody, Ben and Ethan pushed their hopes and dreams along, under- standing the importance of the garden and connecting it to Judaism and the members of the entire congregation. Their goal was to create a garden which was sustainable and would be part of the temple and its spiritual inspiration for generations to come.
Sitting on one of a trio of benches crafted from recycled material, the most recent additions to the garden, Sloane reflects on the journey, “We knew it was going to take a lot of time and effort, and we stuck with it. I hope now the congregation will make it their own, and add to the garden and take time to enjoy the calm.”
The DFW community is invited to attend the dedication of the CBI Meditation Garden on Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008 at 11:30 a.m. For additional information on the Garden Dedication please contact Sloane Sander or Christy Perry at 214 415 7754.
Daytimers to hear
Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis
Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis will speak to the Daytimers about “Demons and Dybbuks and Golems, Oh My!”  on Wednesday, Oct. 22, noon, at Beth-El Congregation.
“Daytimers” are looking forward to hearing Rabbi Geoffrey speak on the mystiques of Kaballah..  He wowed the group when he spoke last year.  He is the author of The Encyclopedia of Jewish Myth, Magic, and Mysticism, the only comprehensive one-volume reference guide to Jewish lore on these disciplines, as well as the rest of the great Jewish esoteric traditions.
A large crowd is expected to hear Rabbi Dennis.  Already signed up are:  Betty Baccus, Kenneth and Sandra Baum, Mike Blanc, Abe and Lee Cohen, Rita Hoffman, Rosanne and Bill Margolis, Sylvia and Carl Morgan, Evelyne Neimand, Lillian Norman, Raylene Latta, Jim and Pat Werner, Barbara Rubin, Hy Siegel, Steve and Rochelle Sternblitz, Sylvia and Al Wexler,  Rabbi Dennis will be introduced by Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger.
Rabbi Dennis, of Congregation Kol Ami in Flower Mound, is also a lecturer in Rabbinics at the University of North Texas. He received his M.HL and was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. He also has degrees in Education and Nursing. He is an advocate of life-long Jewish learning and has taught for the Melton Mini-School for Adults and for URJ’s “A Taste of Judaism” program. Prior to his ordination, Rabbi Dennis was a registered nurse working in cardiac care and hospice.
His articles have appeared in The Journal of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, Sh’ma, Parabola, and The American Journal of Hospice and Palliative Care. He is a major contributor to the online “Encyclopedia Mythica.”  He sold out of copies of his first book, “The Encyclopedia of Myth, Magic, and Mysticism,” at his appearance last year.  He is married and has two sons.
Lunch will be catered by Jason’s Deli.  Choices are breast of turkey, Jason’s famous chicken salad, or tuna salad on rye.   Cost is $8 per person, or $3 for program only.  Deadline for luncheon reservations is Monday, Oct. 20.
For reservations, call Barbara Rubin, 817-927-2736, or Sylvia Wexler, 817-294-1129, or checks can be mailed to Daytimers, Jewish Federation, 4049 Kingsridge Road, Fort Worth, TX 76109.  There has been a change in credit card processing.  “Daytimers” can now accept Discover cards in addition to Mastercard, Visa, or American Express.  Each card must include the mailing zip code and the three or four number security code from the card.
The Sylvia Wolens “Daytimers” is a program of Congregation Beth-El with financial support from the Jewish Federation.
Singles in the Sukkah at  CAS
You are invited to come and celebrate the mitzvah of Sukkah with the Tarrant County Jewish Singles from 4-6 p.m.  They’ll meet in the Sukkah outside the building by the parking lot at Congregation Ahavath Sholom on Hulen St. in Fort Worth.  Snacks and soft drinks will be available.  The sukkah is the only mitzvah in which you are completely surrounded by the mitzvah itself, so I encourage all of you to join us on Oct. 19.
Daughters of Abraham
My friend, Corrine Jacobson tells me that inadvertently this column erred in reporting the Daughters of Abraham info in last week’s TJP. The new data is same place, Beth-El Congregation; same time, 7 to 8:30 p.m.; same topic, “Does Religion Influence Your Vote”; new date, Tuesday, Oct. 21. Corrine, by the way, is just back from a great weekend in St. Louis where she attended the Bas Mitzvah of her granddaughter, Paige Krug and visited with Paige’s proud parents,  Elise and Mark Krug. Paige is the granddaughter of the late Phil Jacobson.
Mazel Tov to Kim and Abe Factor on the bar mitzvah of their son, John this Saturday at Beth-El Congregation. Among the many out-of-towners attending the simcha will be former Fort Worthians Lori Railenau and daughter, Atara of St. Louis who will represent the Railenau family.

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