Around the Town with Rene

Federation campaign kicks off

The evening of Jan. 10 brought the Federation’s Major Givers to their annual reception at Dick and Julie Abrams’ home. Over 40 of Tarrant County’s most generous folks heard from Dr. Richard Golden, director of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of North Texas; Dr. Carole Rogers, director of Jewish Family Services; and featured speaker, Dan Gordon.
After shmoozing and enjoying the wonderful food from Chef Point Café, the crowd was welcomed by Dr. Barry Schneider, president, and Marilyn Englander, campaign chair, who began the evening’s program. After a short DVD presentation, Mort House, executive director, introduced both Dr. Golden and Dr. Rogers.
Dr. Golden, chair of UNT’s Jewish Studies Program, gave an impressive report. The audience was pleased to hear that the program, which was just an idea in 2000, has grown into a full-fledged department with over a thousand students. The Federation, one of the first to support the program, allocated $7,000 to it this year.
Dr. Rogers explained the Federation’s financial assistance program, which she administers out of JFS. Deserving individuals or families are given assistance with housing issues, medical issues and other areas where assistance may be needed. Dr. Rogers emphasized the fiscal responsibility and great care that goes with this program. She, with Susan Luskey, JFS chair, the JFS committee, Mort House and Dr. Schneider, runs this program with compassion and strength.
Marilyn Englander introduced the featured speaker, screenwriter Dan Gordon, who began his talk with a little biographical information that had the audience laughing heartily. Let’s just say that his family immigrated to Calgary and in addition to learning the Black Foot Indian language, the Gordons taught the Indians a bit of Yiddish…. He described his experiences in the Israel Defense Forces, of which he has been a part for 37 years. As a spokesman for the IDF, he was able to tell the audience the real story behind the headlines of Israel’s war with the Hezbollah and the Hamas.
The program ended with a passionate speech by Englander, who shared her motivations for volunteering with the Federation and asked the audience to join her in preserving the community’s Jewish identity. She said, “Thankfully, the economy has improved somewhat since this time last year. While the campaign last year was down by 10 percent, we hope that our donors can increase their generosity and bring our campaign back up to $1 million.”

Kornbleet Scholar-in-Residence Charles C. Haynes to speak at Beth-El, Jan. 21

Charles C. Haynes, an esteemed educator, author and columnist, has been named the 2010 Larry Kornbleet Memorial Scholar-in-Residence. He will speak on “Religious Liberty and the Future of American Democracy” at Beth-El Congregation, 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 21.
Haynes is a senior scholar at the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center in Washington, D.C. He writes and speaks extensively on the First Amendment and issues concerning religion in American public life.
He is best known for his work on First Amendment conflicts in public schools. Over the past two decades, he has been the principal organizer and drafter of consensus guidelines on religious liberty in American schools. In January 2000, three of these guides were distributed by Pres. Bill Clinton to every public school in the nation.
He is the author or co-author of six books on First Amendment issues. His column, “Inside the First Amendment,” appears in more than 200 newspapers nationwide.
Haynes, who holds a master’s degree from Harvard Divinity School and a doctorate from Emory University, chairs the Committee on Religious Liberty of the National Council of Churches. He is also a frequent guest on television and radio. He has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal and on ABC’s “Evening News,” and is the recipient of numerous awards.
For over 200 years, the religious-liberty clauses in the Bill of Rights remain the boldest and most successful experiment in religious freedom in human history. But today, through ignorance and contention, there is a growing assault on the separation of church and state that threatens the future of religious liberty in America as it undermines the First Amendment.
No part of our nation’s story better reminds us of what is at stake than the receptions given in 1654 and 1658 to the first two boatloads of Jewish families in what is now the United States. The starkly contrasting receptions in the 17th century echo through our history down to the present-day culture wars over what kind of nation we will be in the 21st century as well as the experience that Jewish children may have in the school systems of Texas and elsewhere.
Parents of school-age children especially are urged to attend and hear Charles Haynes’ call to vigilance about the intrusion of religious doctrine in our schools.
The event is free and open to the public. A dessert reception will follow the presentation. There will be no solicitation of funds. The program is brought to the community through the beneficence of Marcia and Stan Kurtz in memory of their loved ones.
For babysitting reservations (children 4 and under) or more information, please call the Federation office, 817-569-0892.

CAS Film Series continues with ‘Praying With Lior,’  Jan. 17

Movies come and go, but “Praying with Lior,” the second in Congregation Ahavath Sholom’s “Til 120 and Beyond Jewish Film Series,” will remain in your heart and mind for a long time after viewing.
You won’t want to miss this fabulous documentary about young Lior Liebling, a young man with Down syndrome, who is filled with an unquenchable spirit of prayer, a love of singing and reverence for God. As he anticipates his long-awaited bar mitzvah, the film documents how the family and community he loves affirms the essence of the man Lior is becoming.
“Praying with Lior” will screen at 3:30 p.m. The doors will open at 3 for those who want to come early for a good seat.
Remember, the films are free. Popcorn and lemonade are free as well. Cold drinks and candy bars will be on sale with the proceeds going to the shul’s United Synagogue Youth organization. Babysitting is available by calling JoAnn English in the congregation office at 817-731-4721.
Thanks to the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County for generously funding the CAS Film Series.

‘Bart Got a Room’ at Beth-El Film Festival, Jan. 16

Nerdy high school senior Danny has spent $600 on the hotel room, the limo and the tux for his prom. He’s missing only one thing: the girl. Hampered by well-intentioned but clueless advice from his newly-divorced parents and unsympathetic mocking from his best friends, Danny battles peer pressure, teen angst and his own raging hormones as he desperately searches for a prom date. His luckless quest turns to panic when he learns that even Bart — the school’s biggest dweeb — has secured not only a date, but also a hotel room for the night.
That’s the plot of “Bart Got a Room” (rated PG-13), which will be shown at the 2010 Congregation Beth-El Film Festival on Saturday evening, Jan. 16. Dinner will be at 6:30, followed by showtime at 7:30. There is no charge for those wishing only to see the film.
The Yucatan Taco Stand meal, $12/person, will feature roasted tequila lime chicken, chipotle mashed potatoes, braised Latin vegetables and Yucatan house salad with fried plantains. Reservations for the meal must be made in advance by calling the Temple office, 817-332-7141.
For children, two films will be shown: “The Chosen” and “Something for Nothing.”
The Congregation Beth-El Film Series is funded by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.

‘Fiddler’ lands at Bass Hall’s roof, March 9–14

Performing Arts Fort Worth and Casa Manana will welcome back the family-friendly musical “Fiddler on the Roof” to Bass Performance Hall March 9–14. Single tickets are $30–$75, and will go on sale Monday, Jan. 18, at 10 a.m.
Starring in the lead role as iconic milkman Tevye will be Harvey Fierstein, replacing Chaim Topol, who left the production last year due to a shoulder injury. Fierstein played Tevye in the recent, critically acclaimed Broadway production of “Fiddler.” Audiences now have the rare opportunity to see the Tony Award winner embrace one of his favorite roles in this Jerome Robbins-inspired production.
“Fiddler on the Roof” has captured the hearts of people all over the world with its universal appeal and timeless message. The North American tour continues the tradition of the 1964 Jerome Robbins, Tony Award-winning production.
When “Fiddler on the Roof” opened in 1964, it was a time of change and crumbling traditions in our own country. Students of the time identified with the rebellious student, Perchik, and strongly related to the breaking of hallowed traditions. Tevye and others of his time struggled with these problems in 1905, and emerged triumphant, offering the hope and promise of reconciliation to a turbulent society.
Today, “Fiddler on the Roof” is as relevant as ever. Forty-five years and a generation later, new audiences can identify and take heart as they experience the tradition in great musical theater that is “Fiddler on the Roof.”
To charge tickets by phone, call 817-212-4280 in Fort Worth, 877-212-4280 (toll-free) outside Fort Worth; or order online at or Tickets are also available at the Bass Performance Hall ticket office at 525 Commerce St. Ticket office hours: Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m.–6 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Discounts are available for groups of 15 or more.

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