Archive | Around the Town

Around the Town: CBS, CAS, Beth-El

Posted on 22 January 2020 by admin

CBS to launch a new musical service

On Saturday morning, Jan. 25, at 10 a.m., Arlington Congregation Beth Shalom will be premiering its new “Shirat Shabbat” service — a musical prayer experience led by guest artists Chuck and Cantor Rachel Rosenberg, Cantor Sheri Allen and guitarist Chris Curtis.
The idea to launch this new service began a year ago, when Cantor Allen attended a liturgical music conference in Chicago, organized by friend and colleague Cantor Rachel Rosenberg, who serves Conservative Congregation Rodfei Zedek on Chicago’s South Side. Cantor Rosenberg and her husband Chuck are members of a popular band called “Shakshuka,” and they perform in programs and events throughout the Chicago area. Seven years ago they decided to widen Shakshuka’s appeal even further, and created a service called the “Na’Aseh v’Nishma Minyan,” complete with their own siddur.
Cantor Rosenberg explains, “With the exception of summers, we have been doing it once a month consistently. We worked with congregants and listened to what they were looking for, and Chuck and I worked up a bunch of arrangements for melodies we like. We continue to add and change these whenever we have the inspiration and time.”
Their service runs concurrently with the main sanctuary service. She remarks, “Attendance was inconsistent at first but then grew to about 30-40 so it’s been great… one family requested that their son’s bar mitzvah be celebrated at Na’Aseh V’Nishma so we did — about six years ago. Since then, more and more families choose this service so that now 70% of our b’nai mitzvah are Na’aseh V’Nishma style. As we have many non-Jews attending we find this service is much more accessible — and we insist on everyone’s participation!” Both services then come together for Kiddush and lunch.
Cantor Allen found the service so energizing and uplifting that she couldn’t wait to share her experience with the Beth Shalom board, who gave her the green light to bring Chuck and Cantor Rachel in to help CBS develop their own “spin-off.” They even graciously allowed CBS to share their siddur.
Everyone is invited to attend services and experience CBS’s version of “Na’Aseh V’Nishma,” which Beth Shalom has renamed “Shirat Shabbat.” After services, all are welcome to stay for Kiddush lunch. There is no charge, but RSVPs would be appreciated. For questions or more information, please contact Thressa Lobel at
—Submitted by
Cantor Sheri Allen

CAS Mitzvah Day: Feeding Children Everywhere

Congregation Ahavath Sholom will take on the ambitious project of making 36,000 lunches at its annual Mitzvah Day, from 10 a.m. to noon, Sunday, Jan. 26, at the shul, 4050 S. Hulen St. “We will be packing 36,000 meals in 90 minutes,” Rabbi Andrew Bloom told the TJP Tuesday. “Eighteen thousand will be shared locally and 18,000 will be shared nationally,” he added. All the Tarrant County religious schools are participating and community members are invited to help.
According to its website (, Feeding Children Everywhere is “committed to providing healthy meals to those in need…to sustainability. Creating a hunger-free world will be possible if we have an awareness of our impact on the world around us. We have implemented sustainability goals to reduce our carbon footprint and to eliminate the utilization of harmful plastics.”

Beth-El Congregation Scholars-in-Residence

Beth-El will host two scholars-in-residence beginning next week.
Rabbi Ron Segal: Beth-El Scholar-In-Residence Weekend
The Beth-El Scholar-In-Residence weekend will feature Rabbi Ron Segal for Shabbat Friday, Jan. 31, through Saturday, Feb. 1.
At Kabbalat Shabbat Services, 6:15 p.m. Friday, Jan. 31, Rabbi Segal will discuss “The State of Things.” A wine and cheese reception will precede the service at 5:45 p.m. At Havdallah services, at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, the topic will be “American Reform Jewry: What We See.” All programs will be held at Beth-El, 4900 Briarhaven Road.
Rabbi Ron Segal is the president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, which represents Reform rabbis in all of North America. Rabbi Segal has been the rabbi at Temple Sinai in Atlanta for his entire career. He grew up in Bryan, Texas, and will visit Fort Worth with his wife, Jill Greenman Segal, who grew up in Fort Worth at Beth-El.
Rabbi Mike Comins: Spiritual Scholar-in-Residence
At 7:30 p.m. on three Tuesdays, Jan. 28, Feb. 11 and 25, at the Temple, Rabbi Mike Comins will address “Making Prayer Real: Why Prayer is Difficult and What to do About It,” as the synagogue’s Spiritual Scholar-in-Residence.
Who is responsible for your inner life? Is it the rabbi, the cantor, the educator? Rabbi Mike Comins believes that one key to transforming synagogue worship is to spend less time thinking about what happens up front on the bimah, and more time on what happens in the hearts of prayers. He interviewed over 50 spiritual leaders for his book, “Making Prayer Real,” and discovered that those who find prayer meaningful often had little in common theologically, but shared similar practices and techniques to bring prayer alive. Rabbi Comins shares the wisdom and best practices he gleaned to enliven and deepen our prayer lives.
Rabbi Mike Comins grew up in Los Angeles, made aliyah in his twenties, served in the Israeli Army, studied extensively in Israel and eventually moved back to the States to write books and create curriculum to help Jews focus on the meaning behind the words. He is the author of “Making Prayer Real: Leading Jewish Spiritual Voices on Why Prayer is Difficult and What to Do about It.” He has taught adults about the power of transformative worship and living through Jewish text study, outdoor hiking Shabbat experiences and through his Making Prayer Real program. He has also created an online course and curriculum to guide confirmation students and college students through the conversations of a prayerful guided life.

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Around the Town: Mecklenburger, JWV / JWVA

Posted on 08 January 2020 by admin

Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger to speak at Congregation Beth Shalom Sunday, Jan. 12

Congregation Beth Shalom will welcome Rabbi Ralph Meckenburger to the synagogue’s Arlington campus Jan. 12. At 9:30 a.m., there will be a complimentary breakfast. Rabbi Mecklenburger will speak at 10:30 about his book, “Our Religious Brains.”
Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger grew up in suburban Chicago, attended the University of Cincinnati and the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, where he was ordained in 1972 and granted an honorary Doctorate of Divinity in 1997
Rabbi Mecklenburger served congregations in San Francisco, California and Ann Arbor, Michigan before becoming senior rabbi of Beth-El Congregation, Fort Worth for 32 years until his retirement in 2016. He continues to serve as an adjunct faculty member at Brite Divinity School, TCU.
His book, “Our Religious Brains,” was published in 2012 and reissued in paperback in 2015.
Among many honors, Rabbi Mecklenburger has been president of the Southwest Association of Reform Rabbis and Jewish co-chair of the Texas Conference of Churches’ Jewish-Christian Forum. He and his wife, Ann, have two grown children, Elissa and Alan, and they are blessed with four grandchildren.
Please contact Thressa in the CBS office at or by phone at 817-860-5448 to RSVP for breakfast by Thursday, Jan. 9. Copies of this book will be available for purchase for $15 each, and Rabbi Mecklenburger will be happy to autograph your copy.

Fort Worth’s JWV, JWVA install officers

Sandra Cantor, national president of the Jewish War Veterans Auxiliary, installed the officers of the Dolores R. Schneider Post 755 Sunday at Congregation Beth-El, Fort Worth.
The officers are: Charwynne Hazelwood, president; Elaine Bumpus, vice president; Jayne Michel, secretary; Christine Levy, treasurer; and Marian Haber, chaplain.
In a joint ceremony Barry Schneider, past national commander of Jewish War Veterans, installed the officers of the Jewish War Veterans, Martin Hochster Post 755.
The officers are: Nana Atkens, commander; Phil Kabakoff, senior vice-commander; Laurin Baum, staff judge advocate; Fred Korngut, officer of the day; Michael Ross, quartermaster; Rabbi Sidney Zimelman, chaplain; and Will Kutler, aide de camp.

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Around the Town: Garsek Lodge, Hanukkah

Around the Town: Garsek Lodge, Hanukkah

Posted on 02 January 2020 by admin

From left, Robert Chicotsky, Jackie Herman, Al Faigin and Martis Herman help prepare Christmas Day meals at Beautiful Ministries in Fort Worth.

Garsek Lodge continues its Christmas Day tradition of helping Fort Worth homeless

For the 34th year, the Isadore Garsek Lodge of B’nai B’rith successfully completed the Christmas Breakfast/Lunch and gift distributing for the homeless people at the Beautiful Ministries in Fort Worth.
About 100 homeless men, women and children came to the Mission, and after a short service, the Lodge fed them with breakfast and lunch. Between the meals all of them received gifts. Adults received new clothes, and the kids were given a lot of toys and books in addition to kids’ clothes.
As he has done for the last 32 years, Marvin Beleck was in charge of the whole event, and Jim Stanton was in charge of the gifts.
Fifteen B’nai B’rith members and their families showed up to help.

Ahavath Sholom President Dr. Jerry Stein lights the first candle of the menorah and Rabbi Andrew Bloom leads the community in the blessings on the first night of Hanukkah Dec. 22, 2019.

Hanukkah fun at Congregation Ahavath Sholom

Congregation Ahavath Sholom held its annual Hanukkah party Sunday, Dec. 22. Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price helped more than 150 community members welcome the Festival of Lights. Rabbi Andrew Bloom shared an inspirational message and Cantor Jeffrey Weber led the adult and children’s choirs in Hanukkah favorites.

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Around the Town: BBBI, Preparedness, Tradition

Around the Town: BBBI, Preparedness, Tradition

Posted on 04 December 2019 by admin

Photo: TJP File
Clothing collected for last year’s Christmas Day mitzvah event, a B’nai B’rith tradition. This year new clothes such as overcoats, socks, sweatshirts, underwear, gloves, caps, shirts, etc. for men and women are needed, especially in large sizes. You can drop the items off at Ahavath Sholom, Beth-El or Beth Israel.

Beleck and Hollander receive BBBI President’s Awards for their leadership

Marvin Beleck and Rich Hollander of the Isadore Garsek Lodge of B’nai B’rith were among the 30 leaders who were honored with the first President’s Awards at B’nai B’rith International’s Leadership Forum in Washington, D.C., last month. The award was given for “doing heavy lifting for the B’nai B’rith in their communities,” said B’nai B’rith International President Chuck Kaufman.
“These are volunteers who do work without seeking recognition. They do the work just because it’s simply the B’nai B’rith thing to do. They did great work during the past 12 months. They had a great year,” Kaufman added.

Be prepared to act in case of active shooter

Tarrant County synagogues are working together to provide security awareness training at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, at Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth, 4900 Briarhaven Road.
You’ll learn what to do if you’re caught in an active shooter situation at work, shopping, restaurant, movie theater or even at services.
The workshop will led by Daniel Sherwin of Sherwin Safety Consultants. They conduct life-saving seminars for businesses and houses of worship and teach preparedness and survival techniques and tactics to help you make decisions that may save your life.
The Jewish community training is presented by the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County in cooperation with the Safety and Security teams at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, Congregation Beth Israel, Congregation Beth Shalom and Beth-El Congregation.
It’s open to the entire community and is free. No need to RSVP. Just come to Beth-El for the 90-minute training session. It will be followed by a short breakout group for each synagogue.
You will leave with a common-sense plan for you and your family during the important first minutes of an incident before police arrive.
For more information, contact Jim Stanton at 817-307-9167 or Daniel Sherwin at 682-203-6486

B’nai B’rith Christmas Day tradition

Once again on Christmas, Jewish volunteers will serve meals and provide gifts for the homeless in Fort Worth.
Organized by B’nai B’rith, 60-70 volunteers show up every year from Congregation Ahavath Sholom, Congregation Beth Israel and Beth-El Congregation, to work together to help the homeless.
B’nai B’rith has a good supply of toys, but needs donated new clothes such as overcoats, socks, sweatshirts, underwear, gloves, caps, shirts, etc. for men and women. Large, extra-large and extra-extra-large are always in short supply. Drop off your donations in the collection boxes at the three participating synagogues.
If you are looking for an all-ages volunteer activity, you can participate at Beautiful Feet Ministries, a Christian mission that serves the poor and the needy on Christmas Day when volunteers take over to cook and serve a hot breakfast and a hot lunch, and distribute toys, clothing and toiletries. This project allows the mission staff to spend Christmas at home with their families.
Because of this project, 125-150 homeless clients have their day brightened when the Tarrant County Jewish community works side-by-side to help those in need.
Volunteers sort, package and deliver the gifts. Children are particularly helpful because they are able to tell adults which toys are most appropriate for kids their age. And it provides an opportunity for them to see the importance of helping others.
The gift distribution team starts at 9 a.m. on Christmas Day and is finished around 1 p.m., leaving plenty of time for Chinese and a movie.
Beautiful Feet is located at 1709 E. Hattie St. in Fort Worth. No need to register; just show up. If you have questions, contact Jim Stanton at 817-307-9167.

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Fort Worth native to perform at Shearith concert

Fort Worth native to perform at Shearith concert

Posted on 04 December 2019 by admin

Photo: Stefan Loeber
Tsvey Brider, brothers from other mothers — Anthony Russell, left, and Dmitri Gaskin — will perform at Congregation Shearith Israel’s Small-Waldman-Cohen East to West concert on Dec. 8. The two won Mexico City’s 2017 Concurso Internacional de Canciones en Idish, the Der Yidisher Idol–The Yiddish Idol.
A sheyn gezunt: the beautiful sound of Yiddish art songs

By Deb Silverthorn
Brotherhood never looked, never sounded as good as it will when Tsvey Brider (Two Brothers, translated from Yiddish) performs Sunday, Dec. 8, at 7 p.m. at Congregation Shearith Israel’s Small-Waldman-Cohen 2019-2020 Signature Series’ East to West concert.
“People who sit in front of me in shul turn to hear my voice and you can tell they’re surprised by who they see. I used my performer’s tools to learn Hebrew pronunciations, to assimilate the sounds comprehensively and to learn the song of the prayers,” said Anthony (Mordechai Tzvi) Russell, a Fort Worth native with family roots in the historic African American Church of Christ.
“There are ministers in my family, and 150 years of family lore connected in the church. Now, I am a vocalist, composer and arranger specializing in Yiddish art and folk songs, chazzones and Chasidic niggunim,” he said. “My first ‘Jewish music’ was shul music. I loved it first almost 20 years ago, and I love it now.”
Russell’s “brother from another mother” in Tsvey Brider, Dmitri Gaskin, won the ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award for a contemporary classical composition; he makes his accordion sound like many instruments. He brings to performance the virtuoso harmonica playing of the American South, the organ of cantorial recordings of ages past as well the blues-inflected organ of gospel.
Together, Tsvey Brider has been featured in Berlin’s Radical Jewish Culture Festival, toured Poland and performed for culture, throughout the United States. The two won Mexico City’s 2017 Concurso Internacional de Canciones en Idish, the Der Yidisher Idol–The Yiddish Idol.
When he was a child, Russell and his family moved into a home that had stacks of video tapes. He played “Amadeus” and, combined with his mother’s love — and often performances of Handel’s Messiah — was hooked on classical music and then opera. A lifetime later Russell’s professional operatic debut was in Philip Glass’ “Appomattox” with the San Francisco Opera Company.
“There was always a strong emphasis on Biblical literacy and the formative narratives of my family were steeped in Judaism. By the time I fell in love with a Jew, and Judaism, I had more than a working knowledge of the Torah,” said Russell, who converted in 2010. “It was a matter of making good on the informative text and my wanting to solidify the connection I’d always felt with the Jewish Bible.
“As an opera performer, part of my job was acting, part was learning lines and melodies quickly,” said the singer, who is married to Rabbi Michael Rothbaum. The couple lives in Massachusetts. Russell has traveled in Canada, Europe, Israel, the U.K. and around the U.S.
Russell decided he wanted less acting, more the chance to “be myself through music,” he says. People connected to the depth and heart they heard in his music and so he began studying Yiddish art songs, which, unexpectedly, reminded him of the spirituals of his family.
Russell, recorded his debut album, “Convergence,” with the klezmer trio Veretski Pass. The album allowed him to celebrate the musical sounds of the early blues, klezmer, fiddle, synagogue tunes and contemporary classical.
Through his “Written in Breath” series, Russell leads discussions comparing and contrasting Tehillim, Nevi’im and Talmud with Yiddish texts from songs performed.
Introduced to the music of Yiddish performer Sidor Belarsky, Russell continues the late singer’s legacy, sharing the richness of Ashkenazic Jewish culture and song to the generations.
“I bring two kinds of music into conversation together. It’s an opportunity to make music that makes sense and embodies all parts of me simultaneously,” said Russell. “Being a performer of Jewish music allows me to connect with the audience and to share what enriches my life, and I hope theirs too.”
For details about Congregation Shearith Israel’s Small-Waldman-Cohen East to West concert, visit

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Jewish doctor, son of Nazi, shares journey to peace

Jewish doctor, son of Nazi, shares journey to peace

Posted on 20 November 2019 by admin

Photo: Karen Garfield
Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger shared his upbringing and his conversion process at an event presented by the Southwest Region of Israel Bonds and the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County Nov. 13 at Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth. From left, SWJC Executive Director Susan Myers, Fort Worth Chapter of Hadassah President Debby Rice, Israel Bonds Dallas Chair Dr. Zev Shulkin, Beth-El Congregation Rabbi Brian Zimmerman, Wollschlaeger and Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County Executive Director Bob Goldberg.

By James Russell
Special to the TJP

Bernd Wollschlaeger’s Nazi father deserves a lot of credit for putting him on the path to becoming a Jewish advocate for acceptance and justice.
The Florida physician told his story to a crowd of 150 people Wednesday, Nov. 13, at Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth at an event which was co-presented by the Southwest Region of Israel Bonds and the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County. His journey to self-discovery and eventually Judaism was spurred by a string of events beginning in his childhood in Bamberg, Germany, in the middle of the 20th century. His father was strict, a Catholic and an alcoholic. He barely described his mother, other than that she was doting, Protestant and fearful of her husband.
World War II had been over for a decade by the time he was born in 1958. The city in East Germany looked untouched by the war, as if nothing had ever occurred there. The past, he said, was never discussed.
“The sense of history was off. No one talked about the past, just the present,” he said.
When the past was discussed at home, his parents shared dueling narratives. His father described a story of glory, how he was awarded some of the most prestigious awards by the “Fuhrer.” His mother’s was more painful, about a difficult time in the country’s history.
He learned more about German history, and his family’s, from an unlikely source, his landlady, Nina Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg. She knew the Nazis well. Her entryway was a portrait of her late husband, Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, who led a failed attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
His father dismissed the late general and called him a coward. When teachers taught about the Holocaust, his father said his teachers were lying Communists and the S.S. was acting within its authority to exterminate 6 million Jewish people. But when his father had no remorse for the 11 Israeli athletes and a West German police officer who were killed by a Palestinian group during the 1972 Munich Olympics, Wollschlaeger was done with his father, and, eventually his Christian faith, too.
He soaked up all the information he could about the Jewish people and Israel. He discovered what that yellow star above a building in town represented. He learned about the Holocaust.
He was 18 years old when he met a group of Israelis visiting one of his Catholic teachers, who led interfaith dialogue sessions. Among them was a young woman whom he would eventually follow to Israel.
Wollschlaeger hitchhiked from Germany, across Italy, and took a ferry to get to Israel to see her. But as the son of a well-known, decorated Nazi general, he was nervous he would be turned away. He was welcomed with open arms by the young woman’s family. Her father, who showed him his Auschwitz tattoo, showed him the Holocaust museum Yad Vashem in Jerusalem.
“How can my father hate these people?” he remembers thinking.
When he returned to Germany to study medicine, he acquainted himself with members of the local synagogue.
Inside, a man showed him another memorial. “Who are these people?” he asked his guide.
“They died in the Holocaust,” he said.
That’s it, Wollschlaeger thought. He was going to become a Jew.
He worked for months as the “Shabbos goy” (a Gentile who turns lights on and off and performs other duties for those who are shomer Shabbos) for the community of survivors, studying the faith and preparing for his conversion.
His relationship with his family was strained. His father eventually cut him off after he ditched Christmas for the Sabbath. The small community of survivors became his adopted family and even paid for his medical education.
When he went before members of the German beit din in 1986, they only had one question for him.
“How does the son of a Nazi become a Jew?” he recalled. “Guilt doesn’t count.” (Not feeling guilt is sort of hard for a Catholic, he quipped.)
He made his case and passed. He moved to Israel and served in the Israel Defense Forces for a year. He then moved to Aventura, Florida, to practice medicine and raise a family.
But he still felt guilty about his past.
The guilt became public when his son, who inspired him to tell his story, told his Jewish day school classmates about his Nazi grandfather. The rabbi summoned Wollschlaeger, concerned about this news. He told his story to the rabbi in his office. Then to his son. Then, he said, he was encouraged to speak to anyone who would listen to his story.
“I stepped out of the shadow. I made sure I learned my lessons and could go on forward,” he said. He was his father’s son but not responsible for his father’s sins.
Decades later the burden was finally lifted.
In addition to Israel Bonds and the Federation and host Beth-El Congregation, community partners for the event were Chabad of Fort Worth, Chabad of Southlake, Congregation Ahavath Sholom, Congregation Beth Israel, Congregation Beth Shalom, Fort Worth Chapter of Hadassah, Isadore Garsek Lodge of B’nai B’rith, Jewish War Veterans and Southwest Jewish Congress.

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Around the Town: David Patterson, Israel

Posted on 13 November 2019 by admin

Kornbleet Scholar Lecture Dec. 4

This year’s Kornbleet Scholar Lecture will feature David Patterson, Hillel Feinberg Chair in Holocaust Studies at the Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies, University of Texas at Dallas. The program is at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 4, at Beth-El Congregation, 4900 Briarhaven Road in Fort Worth.
A winner of the National Jewish Book Award, the Koret Jewish Book Award, and the Holocaust Scholars’ Eternal Flame Award, Patterson is a prolific author and researcher, publishing more than 35 books and more than 220 articles, essays and book chapters on topics in literature, philosophy, the Holocaust and Jewish studies. His most recent books include “Shoah and Torah” (forthcoming), “Portraits: Elie Wiesel’s Hasidic Legacy” (forthcoming), “The Holocaust and the Non-Representable” (2018), “Anti-Semitism and Its Metaphysical Origins” (2015), “Genocide in Jewish Thought” (2012) and “A Genealogy of Evil: Anti-Semitism from Nazism to Islamic Jihad” (2010).
During his lecture, “Understanding Modern Anti-Semitism: From Hitler to Hamas,” he will discuss the historical links between the Nazis and the Jihadists, both politically and ideologically, and how it continues to be significant with respect to anti-Semitism, anti-Zionism, and the future of the Jewish people.
The lecture is free to attend. A dessert reception will follow the program.

Community Israel trip planned

Bob Goldberg tells the TJP that plans are underway for a Tarrant County community trip to Israel next fall, Oct. 11-22, 2020.
Trip highlights will include:
• Geopolitical tour with IDF Lt. Colonel at Syrian border
• See Safed’s famous synagogues and learn about Kabbalah
• Home-hosted Intimate Shabbat Dinner
• Quality time with our Partnership2Gether friends
• Tour of the Western Galilee; including Acco’s UNESCO Heritage sites and Old City and the Northern Command Center
• Enjoy an amazing dinner while visiting with IDF Soldiers
• Visit archeological sites such as Beit Shean
• Shabbat evening service at the Kotel
• Walking tour of Jerusalem’s oldest neighborhoods
• Seam line/security fence tour with former security official and fence architect
• Visit the Shalom Hartman Institute, a leading center of Jewish thought and education
• Culinary markets and street art/graffiti tours
• Beer Sheva Gav-Yam Negev High Tech Park
• Visit museums such as the Israel Museum, Air Force Museum, Peres Center for Peace and Innovation, and Independence Hall
• Explore the Negev Desert and Mitzpe Ramon region
• Experience Ethiopian and Bedouin hospitality and learn about their histories
Basic cost for the tour package (land only) is $4149 per person. Earlybird registration and deposit payment ($1000) will save $200 per person. For more information, visit or contact Federation Executive Director Bob Goldberg at 817-569-0892 or

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Fort Worth actor writes his ‘Ninja Turtles’ story

Fort Worth actor writes his ‘Ninja Turtles’ story

Posted on 06 November 2019 by admin

Kenn Scott in 1989 in his Rafael suit. Originally, he was supposed to be an extra in “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II.”

By Nicole Hawkins

Special to the TJP

Originally cast as an extra, a Fort Worth man writes of his experiences playing the iconic role of Raphael in the 1991 “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze” in his newly released book, “Teenage Ninja to Mutant Turtle: Becoming the Reel Raphael.”

Kenn Scott pursued a life of martial arts, acrobatics, fencing and many other adventurous activities throughout his youth in his quest to be a movie and action hero, he said. 

While he was living in North Carolina, a movie studio opened a few hours from Scott’s house, and he made it his mission to get through its doors. 

When Scott eventually got into the studio, mostly by dressing up as a pizza delivery boy, he met someone who had information about a martial arts movie that was set to be filmed in North Carolina, he said.

Originally, Scott was hired as an extra for the first and second “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movies. Early into filming the sequel, the stunt double for Raphael broke his nose and was unable to wear the turtle costume, leaving an opening that Scott had the opportunity to fill.

“It was like a dream come true,” Scott said. “Even though I was wearing a big stupid green rubber suit, I was playing an awesome…ninja hero in the movie.” 

“I knew that was just one step of many on the way to achieving my dreams but at that moment it was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me,” Scott said.

A mistake that Scott made was assuming his role as Raphael would lead him to be cast in other movies, he said. 

“When I moved to Hollywood after [filming], it didn’t mean anything, really, nobody cared,” Scott said. “All it really meant was I had a great conversation starter.”

Although the role did not jumpstart Scott’s career, he said playing Raphael helped him as an actor. 

“It mattered to me because it was like getting a tremendous education on making movies and what it took,” Scott said. “It prepared me for everything else I was going to do after that.”

“Being a ninja turtle is the single most defining thing about my life as far as the rest of the world is concerned,” Scott said. “More people know me because I was Raphael the ninja turtle than anything else I’ve ever done.”

Because of his “low level of celebrity” Scott is able to support a variety of charities, including the Sea Turtle Conservancy, which he is supporting through profits from his book, he said.

“It allows me to travel around the country and support various causes I believe in,” Scott said. 

Scott said he decided to write his book for two reasons. The first, to provide fans behind-the-scenes stories about filming the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movies.

The second and more personal reason was born when Scott’s father was diagnosed with terminal cancer. While dealing with his diagnosis, his father began writing memories from his life and Scott decided to do the same. By the end of this process, Scott had the outline of a book, he said.

Scott decided to move from Los Angeles to Fort Worth for the start of a new chapter of life and to be closer to his brother, who lives in the area. He now serves as the Chief Creative Officer of Avadel, a Fort Worth-based advertising agency.

“Teenage Ninja to Mutant Turtle: Becoming the Reel Raphael” was released Oct. 31.

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Around the Town: Peace Together, Mitch Reitman

Posted on 23 October 2019 by admin

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Join the Peace Together Walk Nov. 2

Congregation Beth Israel and the Multi Cultural Alliance are among the sponsors of the Peace Together Walk, which will be held, at 2 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2, at Colleyville Masjid, 500 Cheek-Sparker Road in Colleyville. Check-in begins at 1 p.m.

Peace Together is an inclusive interfaith organization based in Tarrant Country, whose mission is building relationships among people of all beliefs, cultures and backgrounds. The Peace Together Walk is a public activity and event that encourages people to put this into action by linking individuals from diverse communities with a public walk designed to build and strengthen relationships between member organizations and the general public.

The Peace Together Walk is free an open to the community. Supporting levels are also available. To register for or support the Peace Together Walk visit To inquire about volunteering, contact Howard Rosenthal at or Rabbi Charlie Cytron-Walker at

Mitch Reitman named TBFAA Person of the Year

Mitch Reitman has been selected as the 2019 Texas Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (TBFAA) Person of the Year. As in years past, the selection is made by a committee of past winners and the TBFAA executive director.

Mitch was selected for his longterm service to Texas TBFAA and his industry involvement with a multitude of industry associations. He will formally receive the award at the Roast & Toast Dinner as a part of the TBFAA Convention to be held in Rockwall in October.

 Mitch began his involvement with TBFAA as a member in 1996. He joined the board as financial adviser in 2007. Over the years he has served on the convention & Legislative Committees. He has also worked with TBFAA and local associations to setup and administer a scholarship program for children of public safety officers.

 For over 20 years, Mitch has been actively involved in local, state and national security trade associations and held leadership roles on boards with the Electronic Security Association (ESA) and Alarm Industry Research and Education (AIREF). He is a frequent speaker on business and financial topics at local meetings as well as state and national conventions.

Mitch is a member of the Security Sales & Integration Industry Hall of Fame and Editorial Review Board and is a columnist for Security Sales & Integration Magazine.  He served as a city councilman for Coppell, Texas.

Mitch began his career at Coopers and Lybrand, Certified Public Accountants where he was an audit manager. He has been in the security industry for 23 years and was Vice President of Acquisitions for Select Security, and Director of Acquisitions and Business Development for Protection One Alarm Monitoring. He is currently Management Principal of Reitman Consulting Group in Fort Worth.

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On the Road with Marvin Beleck

On the Road with Marvin Beleck

Posted on 16 October 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy of Marvin Beleck
Marvin Beleck, at the opening reception of “Bits and Pieces: A Celebration of Judaica,” at Shalom Austin’s J Gallery. He is standing next to his very first mosaic, which he made in the eighth grade.

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
As the High Holidays approached, Marvin Beleck headed to Austin Sept. 18 for the opening reception of Bits and Pieces: A Celebration of Judaica,” at Shalom Austin’s J Gallery. The exhibit will run through Oct. 28. In addition to Marvin’s art, the work of Ginette Jordan, Susan Ribnick and Martha Kull is being showcased.
Nineteen of Marvin’s mosaics are on display, including his first one which he made in the eighth-grade.
Marvin was born and raised in Tyler. Following the Navy and college he made his home in Fort Worth along with his wife Ava.
Marvin’s original one of a kind designs are inspired by symbols and images that are meaningful to Judaism. His unique method of creating his art includes his use of various colors and textures in a variety of materials and tiles to execute his vision. Production of these rich mosaics involves a process of selecting a theme, laying it out on a plywood board and meticulously hand-cutting appropriate materials for each piece which is individually permanently glued in place on the board.
In addition to this artistic passion and hobby, Beleck has accumulated a vast collection of stamps featuring Jewish people and themes, which he published in 2017 in a book entitled “Noted Jewish People of the World on Stamps.”

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