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Dallas Doings: Torah Fund, Paige Rothstein, Art,

Posted on 20 January 2020 by admin

Torah Fund time

The beginning of the year often marks when Conservative synagogues across the year announce and honor their Torah Fund recipients. The events raise funds for support of five seminaries that train rabbis, cantors and other Jewish professionals in the United States, South America and Europe. This year’s theme is Chesed, taking its name from Psalm 89’s hope that our work may build a world of kindness.
Dallas’ three Conservative shuls have named their honorees and announced their celebration dates. Anshai Torah will honor Paige Rothstein Jan. 25, Beth Torah will honor Lisa Miller Feb. 23 and Shearith Israel will honor Cantor Itzhak and Dr. Leora Zhrebker March 22.
Over the next several weeks, we will spotlight the accomplishments of the Torah Fund honorees.

Paige Rothstein, Anshai Torah

On Saturday, Jan. 25, Congregation Anshai Torah Sisterhood will host its annual Sisterhood Shabbat–Torah Fund program honoring Paige Rothstein.
Paige has taken on many roles in CAT Sisterhood as well as the Jewish community. Her accomplishments are like her — impactful and thoughtful. Under her tutelage, CAT Sisterhood thrived and grew in innumerable ways. Paige has also had significant impact in the Jewish community with her projects outside of Congregation Anshai Torah.
“Paige Rothstein demonstrates the very best qualities of a volunteer. She is smart and inquisitive, warm and welcoming,” said Rabbi Stefan Weinberg of Congregation Anshai Torah. “Paige wears a smile on her face, expressing to others a positive outlook at every juncture. Thanks to her guidance the Sisterhood of Anshai Torah is functioning with such resolve. Her leadership and wisdom have given the women of Sisterhood a sense of mission and purpose that touches so many in so many wonderful ways. Paige, thank you for dedicating so much time and energy. We are so much stronger as a shul because of your vision and willingness to ensure success.”
Paige, a native Texan, grew up in a small farming community in Havana, Illinois, with her father, Jim Bryan, and her younger brother, Chris. Spending summers in Michigan with both her maternal and paternal grandparents gave Paige some of her best childhood memories. Paige obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois, and her Master of Public Administration from Northern Illinois University. After graduation, she worked for the City of Mason, Ohio, doing economic development, attracting and retaining small and large businesses within the city.
Paige met her future husband, Neal Rothstein, in 2002 when she and her brother traveled with friends to St. Croix for spring break (Neal just happened to be good friends with Paige’s brother, Chris). They dated for three years before marrying in 2005. They lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, and made their way to Texas in November 2007, when they joined Congregation Anshai Torah.
In February 2009, Paige was hired as the community organizer for the Dallas Special Needs Initiative (now known as the Special Needs Partnership) that was incubated at the Center for Jewish Education and is now part of Jewish Family Services. She embraced her role and considered this to be the most rewarding job she ever held. Paige said, “I was given the opportunity to work with parents who don’t hear the word ‘No’ for their children. Parents of children with special needs fight for every step of their child’s personal growth — mentally, physically and religiously. Being able to convene resources for families who face daily challenges that I cannot fathom was a true honor.”
Also in 2009, Paige was asked to serve as programming chair for CAT Sisterhood. Since 2009, Paige has been on the Sisterhood board and has been integral to Sisterhood’s success. She served as Sisterhood president from 2016 to 2018 and, during her tenure, membership and volunteering flourished. During Paige’s presidency, Sisterhood played an integral role in Anshai Torah’s inaugural kashrut event “Mexi-Kosher with Chef Katsuji Tanabi” in 2018. And last spring, Paige was the local chair for the IntraContinental Regional Conference for Women’s League. In addition to her accomplishments for Sisterhood, Paige has served on the Dream Event Committee as well as the Rabbinic Search Committee which brought Rabbi Michael Kushnick to Anshai Torah.
Another program Paige helped implement was the Interfaith Grandparents Discovering Judaism program that began in January 2017. Jaynie Schultz, who was the “creative mind” behind this program, asked Paige to convene a focus group of non-Jewish grandparents to see if/what they could learn to help them find/feel a religious connection with their grandchildren who were being raised Jewish. Paige was the perfect choice for this program — as a convert to Judaism, Paige was keenly aware of how important it was for non-Jewish grandparents to understand Judaism in order to help them foster a deeper connection with their Jewish grandchildren.
Paige met with eight non-Jewish grandparents for two months to discuss their personal goals on ways they would like to become involved with their Jewish grandchildren’s religious life. Their invaluable insight led to the creation of a nine-month-long education program which teaches non-Jewish individuals about the foundation and fundamentals of Judaism. Over the past two years, Paige and Jaynie have empowered 20 grandparents through this educational program to find creative ways to play integral roles in their Jewish grandchildren’s religious lives.
Both Anshai Torah and the Jewish community are lucky to have someone like Paige who embodies the very essence of this year’s Torah Fund theme, which is chesed, meaning “kindness” in Hebrew. Chesed can also be translated as “loving kindness,” which conveys the deep love that punctuates Jewish acts of kindness, done without thought of reward. As is says in the Talmud, “The highest form of wisdom is kindness.”
When asked, “What does Torah Fund mean to you?” Paige poignantly stated, “Torah Fund is an avenue to ensure that Judaism will remain strong and is passed on from generation to generation. Many of the roles I have played in the Jewish community here in Dallas remind me of Torah Fund. Our time and financial commitment take what we have today and spread our knowledge to a new and broader population who is hungry to learn and give back. Torah Fund is the fuel to the fire of our future.”
Rabbi Michael Kushnick explained, “Paige is one of the most dedicated members of Anshai Torah. She is dedicated to our shul, Sisterhood and the broader community. Paige is not afraid to develop a new program and do whatever is necessary for it to succeed. Paige is an incredible example for others and we at Anshai Torah are incredibly lucky that she devotes so much of her time and energy to Anshai Torah. Mazal Tov on this award — you are incredibly deserving.”
Paige and her husband, Neal have two amazing children, Maya, 11 and Gabe, 9; both children attend Levine Academy. They also have Harry Rex, their family pup, who is a spry 13 years old. Paige also works in the Rothstein family business. The Rothstein family stays very busy with Maya and Gabe’s sporting events, volunteer commitments and summer vacations. Paige currently serves on CAT’s board of directors as well as being past president of Sisterhood.
Lisa Gerstenfeld, Sisterhood president, added: “This year, the Torah Fund theme is chesed, acts of loving kindness. Paige is a shining example of someone who leads her life through acts of chesed. She pours her heart into doing for others, whether its for Anshai Torah, the community at large, her friends or her family. I can’t think of a better person to honor as we celebrate the value of chesed and Torah Fund.”
To learn more about Torah Fund and/or to make a donation, please contact Torah Fund Co-chairs Sharon Ginchansky and Bonnie Rubenstein at Sisterhood@anshaitorah.org. You may also wish to visit the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism website at http://wlcj.org/about/torah-fund/.
—Contributed by Cynthia Brooks

Art collaborative focuses on peace and unity

Texas Jewish Arts Association and Texas Sculpture Association have joinded forces to present a mixed media show entitled: “Resolution: Peace and Unity — Valuing Our Differences; Strengthening Our Understanding and Acceptance of Others.” The show will run at The Eisemann Center in Richardson through Jan. 26. The Show Reception is from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19.
“The idea for this show came after the horrific Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. It was felt that, as artists, we needed to speak out on peace and unity through our art,” said Veronique Jonas. “As Jews, we are tasked with tikkun olam, or ‘repairing the world.’ As artists, we can speak out, and promote thoughtfulness, through our individual mediums and styles.”
Artists were challenged to consider what represents peace, what represents inclusiveness, what ills or wrongs do we see in the world that need attention and repair? They were given the opportunity to use their art — in their own various mediums and styles — to speak of something that is so important today.
The show was juried by Celia Eberly, who had the task of selecting and curating the show from 61 pieces submitted by 35 artists.
At the Jan. 19 reception, Rabbi Elana Zelony of Congregation Beth Torah will speak on the show theme.
The reception will also include performances by TJAA Music and Dance Division Chairs Sarah Price and Suki John.
The program will feature two musical works by members of the Israeli Composers League: “Hassidic Duets” for violin and viola by Dr. Max Stern and “Winters and Afterthought” for string trio and piano by Israeli composer Ayala Asherov.
Dancers Ally Elliot, Terrance Carson, Rose Kotopka, Allie Zenobia Shives and Suki John will perform to to the music “Winters” as well an improvisation.
Exhibiting artists at the show are: Lynn Baskind, Marvin Beleck, Henry Biber, Patty Bruce, Carol Chanson, Diana Chase, Linda Chidsey, Gary Eisenstat, Jan Ayers Friedman, Art Garcia, Ronna Gilbert, Donna Harris, Della Isaacson, Veronique Jonas, Joy Kees, Debbie Landa, Goran Maric, Nan Martin, Rose Marie Mercado, Barbara Nehman, Stephen Perkins, Nan Phillips, Esther Ritz, Marco Rubino, Breanne Schwarz, Ginger Shanholt, Abby Smith, Stan Smith, Jim Stalder, Allison Streett, Janna Tidwell, Bernardo Vallarino, Marcia Wallenstein, Robertus van der Wege and Stephen Weinberg.

January is Upstander Month at the DHHRM

Throughout January, events at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum will honor people who embody what it means to be an Upstander, highlighting the times in history featured in the permanent exhibition.
The latest installment in the permanent exhibition highlight series is “Exceptional Courage: Righteous Gentiles during the Holocaust.” At the event, which begins at 7 p.m. Jan. 16, a small number of people who stood up and rescued Jews from persecution during the Holocaust will share their stories. These extraordinary people were eventually recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem (see related story on pages 11-12 of this week’s TJP).
Upstander Month will also focus on Holocaust Upstanders during a family activity at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18. Families will be able to learn about Upstanders through free activities geared to families with young and school-aged children.
Lastly, the museum’s film screening, at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, “Sustainable Nation,” follows three individuals who are doing their part to bring sustainable water solutions to an increasingly thirsty planet. This film also features the story of Sivan Ya’ari, the Funk Family Upstander Speaker in February.

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Dallas Doings: Beth Torah, JNF, JBA

Posted on 08 January 2020 by admin

Beth Torah hosts solidarity vigil

About 100 people of many faiths from the Richardson community gathered at Beth Torah Sunday night to pray for peace and express solidarity in the wake of attacks on Jews and other religious groups. Speakers included Richardson Mayor Pro Tem Janet DePuy, Richardson Police Seargent Frank Bradford, Imam Shpendim Nadzaku of the Islamic Association of North Texas and Linda Anderson Little of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. Rabbi Elana Zelony, who appeared on KERA’s Think radio show last week to discuss preserving a sense of sanctuary and spirituality in houses of worship despite the need for security, thanked the guests for their support and stressed the need for diverse religious communities to support one another.

JNF hosts director of Arava

Nearly 50 people joined Jewish National Fund (JNF) for a fascinating event with David Lehrer, director of the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies, to discuss the Arava Institute’s work toward educating future leaders on dealing with the environmental challenges of our time. The event was held at the home of Mitch and Cindy Moskowitz and was unique in that Cindy’s sister, Susan, lives on Kibbutz Ketura in the Arava where the institute is located.
With support from JNF, the Arava Institute advances cross-border environmental cooperation, and educates and prepares future leaders from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Jordan, and students from around the world to solve shared environmental challenges.
During the event, Mitch proudly spoke of his family’s connection to the region, his visits there, and his respect for the work being done there. “I loved hearing about and seeing people from different backgrounds putting their heads together to learn about and to apply new and novel environmental methods to the Arava desert. The Arava Institute is the good news. People facing things together. It’s authentic progress and it builds relationships.”
Cindy added, “In the day-to-day, the Arava is hot and sandy and it can be tiresome. And then there are those moments that happen on Kibbutz Ketura that remind you of what a special and unique place it is. Conversations at the table, initiatives like solar power, or algae, or some crazy curative tiny fish.”
Water, air, energy, and land are shared natural resources in the Middle East. Ensuring that these resources remain available to Israel is essential to Jewish National Fund’s mission. Trust, however, is the scarcest resource, and building trust with Israel’s neighbors is a critical part of the Arava Institute’s mission.
To learn more about Jewish National Fund’s impactful work, contact Ellie Adelman, director, Dallas at 214-433-6600, ext. 945 or eadelman@jnf.org.

JBA makes annual holiday donation to JFS to help with tornado recovery

Jewish Business Alliance, a business networking organization, held its annual holiday luncheon Dec. 12 at the Legacy Willow Bend. Each year JBA contributes to local Jewish based organizations from funds that the group has raised over the course of the year.
In light of the devastating tornado that destroyed much of the area around the JCC Oct. 20, 100% of the funds were presented to Jewish Family Service relief campaign to assist displaced residents. In addition, members contributed gifts for families in need over the holidays. This was coordinated by Kristen Jackson of Jewish Family Service.
Now in its ninth year, JBA was founded by Mark Lowey, owner of Stonebridge Insurance Group and Jay Levine, owner of Energy Brokers of America. JBA meets on the second and fourth Thursdays of every month at the Coffee House Cafe in North Dallas. For more information on the group or membership, please contact Mark at 214 558-2727 or mark@marklowey.com.

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Suitcase Project restores dignity to abuse survivors

Suitcase Project restores dignity to abuse survivors

Posted on 02 January 2020 by admin

Photos: Courtesy NCJW
NCJW shoppers, from left, Diane Colton, Phyllis Stoup, Sylvia Cohen and Shifra Cohen, make a killing on bargain shopping.

NCJW is on the case

By Shari Goldstein Stern
When National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW) members Nonie Schwartz and Sherilyn Bird put their imaginations together, the synergy took them straight to NCJW, where they pitched an innovative project idea.
In 2017 the energetic volunteers kicked off the Suitcase Project (SP), with a goal of offering hope and dignity to survivors of human trafficking and domestic abuse, while providing them with their essential needs to live independently and comfortably. According to Schwartz, SP is designed to help women, men and children coming out of domestic violence or trafficking situations meet minimal, material basic needs. “NCJW volunteers help survivors live a more stable, secure and dignified life,” she said.
NCJW recognizes that many survivors arrive at a shelter with their only belongings on their back and in a trash bag. SP gives back their dignity by enabling them to transport their belongings in a suitcase or tote bag, which is packed with necessities for life at the shelter and beyond.
A core group of 12 volunteers under the leadership of Co-chairs Schwartz and Bird, collaborates with Mosaic Family Services, a nonprofit agency that provides temporary shelter to survivors of trafficking and domestic abuse.
Donations from the SP are distributed through Mosaic to those who require them, with priority given to those who need them most. Nancy Rocha, Mosaic shelter director, notes that the essentials most of us might take for granted, like soap, a toothbrush and a fork, aren’t luxuries for their clients. They are immediate needs and that’s where the NCJW cadre is on the case. SP’s mission is to help survivors get back on their feet.
Schwartz said, “Our partnership with Mosaic is built on shared values. NCJW strives for social justice by improving the quality of life for survivors. The agency creates access to opportunities for survivors of human abuse, empowering them to aspire to independence.”
What’s in the bag?
SP volunteers procure items for two sets of recipients: survivors while they reside in the shelter, and those who are transitioning to their own independent living.
Everything NCJW donates to Mosaic is brand-new, with the exception being suitcases in like-new condition. Items are not pre-used nor are tote bags grocery-store bags, but made of high-quality fabric, many handmade. The tote bags and suitcases the SP turns over to Rocha to distribute are filled with essentials for daily life while residing in the shelter. Examples are pillows, toothpaste and toothbrushes, deodorant, feminine products, soap, washcloths and towels. Children’s toys are included as well.
A team of SP volunteers goes budget-shopping at their favorite retail stores for everything a survivor requires to transition from the shelter to independent living in their own apartment. The team purchases kitchen utensils, cookware, cutlery, glassware and kitchen tools like strainers, dicers, can openers, timers, hot pads, mitts, towels and more. Cleaning supplies are purchased, like laundry and dish detergents, laundry baskets, waste baskets, mops, brooms and incidentals.
Bathroom and bed linens are purchased, along with toiletries, toothpaste and toothbrushes, new bathrobes, makeup, toilet paper, tissues and other necessities. For families moving into unfurnished apartments the team has supplied airbeds.
Making a difference
“The impact NCJW has had on our shelter is noticeable,” Rocha said. “Without the NCJW assistance, many of our residents were leaving the shelter without anything to start their new homes. They were packing their belongings in large black trash bags.”
According to Bird, “When we started the project, the shelter immediately needed two suitcases to transport a new mother and her baby from the hospital to an out-of-state shelter to protect her from her abuser. We quickly collected two large suitcases with wheels from NCJW members. Shelter staff put the woman with her luggage on a bus immediately after we collected it.”
Schwartz and Bird have grown the SP exponentially for three years, and they say they’re just beginning. They don’t mind if you call them “bag ladies.”
Rocha said that about 25% of Mosaic’s residents are single women and 74% are families. The shelter can accommodate 46-50 residents a night and stays full most of the time. “During the holidays we get more swamped due to an increase in violence. Some of that results from spouses being at home more. There’s typically an increase in alcohol consumption and children are on a break from school,” she added.
“If the shelter has to turn away survivors due to lack of space, we do a ‘warm transfer.’” Rocha explained that the staff checks for other shelters’ availability for bed space and tries to ‘warm transfer’ survivors over for screening and placement. She added, “We also use ‘safe night’ when needed to arrange a safe hotel stay with suitable accommodations.”
Rocha added, “The look on the residents’ faces every time they get a ‘starter kit’ is priceless. They are overwhelmed with joy at not having to spend their own money to get these necessary items. And believe it or not, as incidental as a pillow may be, it means all the difference in the world to someone who doesn’t have one.”
The co-chairs expressed their appreciation to NCJW members and friends, along with area synagogues for their help in making the project a success. They also acknowledged the East Dallas Rotary Club, of which Bird’s husband is a Rotarian, for their suitcase contributions.
“We appreciate the untold numbers of quilters and seamstresses who have supplied beautiful bags for the residents the agency serves,” said Rocha
Bird added, “The shelter ensures that our efforts go to support clients with the greatest needs first. These women and children have a lot of hurdles to overcome in their transitions to independent living. We want to relieve them from transporting their few belongings in trash bags to ensure they could travel with dignity, so we provide suitcases and tote bags. Once we learn that a family has signed a lease on an apartment, we budget shop for products.”
Mosaic is partly funded by federal grants including Health and Human Services and Office for Victims of Crime: Human Trafficking. United Way provides some funding as well, along with support from private and corporate grants. “Every $18 donation buys a bucket of basic cleaning supplies or five bed pillows. NCJW collects tote bags, backpacks, duffel bags and gently used two-wheel suitcases throughout the year. Pickup can be arranged and coordinated with the shelter through the NCJW office,” Bird advised.
Rocha said, “I love working for Mosaic and coordinating NCJW’s program from our end. This experience has truly changed my life. I never knew the impact that I had on someone’s life until a survivor changed her first name to mine during her immigration ceremony to remember me.”
For additional information and to volunteer or donate new goods, contact nonieschwartz@sbcglobal.net or smbird@sbcglobal.net. For more information about NCJW’s Suitcase Project, visit ncjwdallas.org/suitcase-project/ or Facebook. For information about Mosaic Family Services, reach out to nancyr@mosaicservices.org/.

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Dallas Doings: Ken Horwitz, DJCF, Temple Shalom

Posted on 18 December 2019 by admin

Just in time for Hanukkah, Ken Horwitz publishes cookbook

Local attorney Ken Horwitz recently published “Deep Flavors: A Celebration of Recipes for Foodies in a Kosher Style.” He will be signing copies from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday, Dec. 20, at Central Market at Coit and George Bush in Plano.
Horwitz’ kosher-style cookbook celebrates the joy of cooking and eating with everything from appetizers and soups to mouth-watering desserts in traditional Jewish dishes, non-Jewish ethnic, vegetarian and American regional fare. The author combines his hunger for cooking with his passion for making international and regional favorites with the goal to create recipes that are easy to read and easily followed by anyone with a basic knowledge of cooking.
His award-winning Spinach/Mushroom Lasagna is a completely vegetarian dish accessible to Jews, vegetarians and foodies, with a unique twist on ingredients that gives it a complex flavor profile. Classic foods like brisket and roast turkey take on a whole new flavor with newly imagined taste combinations, yet manage to maintain recognizable features of each dish.
The Beet Borscht, a family recipe from Horwitz’s grandmother, is somewhat unusual in that it is vegetarian. “A non-Jewish friend almost refused to eat it because he does not like beets; he had a third helping that evening,” Horwitz shared. “Too many existing recipes, whether online or in print, leave out critical stages or ingredients, assuming that the reader will instinctively know what to do next,” he added.
Author Ken Horwitz has spent 51 years as a CPA and lawyer in a general tax and transaction practice, where he developed a creative and focused approach to finding and fixing problems — a skill that translates well to the development and modification of recipes based on traditional (and nontraditional) family favorites.
His professional drive and the care given to his work have earned him multiple awards, including the Honorary Fellow for a lifetime of distinguished service and the 2017 Chairperson of the Year by the Texas Society of CPAs. Currently residing in Dallas, Horwitz enjoys sharing his passion for cooking with his wife and his children’s families. Horwitz believes that one of the highest compliments he has received came from a longstanding client who uses numerous lawyers. He said, “Ken, you are the only lawyer we use whose work we have not had to fix.” Horwitz’s goal is for “Deep Flavors” to reach that same standard.
“Deep Flavors” is available on Amazon for $39.95 for the hardcover or $9.99 for the Kindle edition. To learn more, visit www.deepflavorscookbook.com.

DJCF college and camp scholarship applications open

The Dallas Jewish Community Foundation awards more than 50 college scholarships each year based on financial need, academic merit, involvement in extracurricular activities and/or community service. Anyone that will be a full-time college or post-grad student next school year (2020-2021) is encouraged to apply. While the Foundation has offered these scholarships for many years, there are new specialty scholarships this year: a scholarship for a student who is visually impaired, one for a student who is majoring in theater or musical theater and another for a student born in Israel or who has at least one parent who was.
The average scholarship award is $2,700 and most are for studying at the college or university of the recipient’s choice. In addition to these new scholarships, the Foundations also awards for fields in medicine, law, education, fashion merchandising and Jewish studies. There are scholarships for studying in a yeshiva and in Israel. These are for students studying full-time at the undergraduate and graduate level.
Even with so many scholarships the DJCF makes it simple to apply. All applicants complete just a single application to be considered. The application is then automatically matched with those scholarships with which it meets the criteria.
The Essie and Reuben Rosenbloom Jewish Overnight Camping Fund of the DJCF is a need-based scholarship available to assist Dallas Jewish children entering grades 3-8 in the fall of 2020 who otherwise would not have an opportunity to attend Jewish overnight camps. Since the creation of this fund, more than 300 campers from Dallas, Denton and Collin counties have been able to attend camp.
A unique feature of this scholarship fund is that both the applicants AND the review committee are anonymous, meaning the committee reviews the applications after all personal information has been redacted and members of the committee are known only by a select group of DJCF staff members. Even the DJCF chairman of the board does not know who the committee members are. This high level of confidentiality is to ensure the families can maintain their pride while requesting scholarship assistance.
To be eligible to apply for a scholarship, a family must demonstrate financial need and the eligible camp must be a nonprofit overnight residential camp affiliated with a Jewish organization in the United States. The DJCF welcomes all applicants who fit the need, age criteria and eligibility requirement. Repeat applicants will be considered, with priority given to first-time campers. The application will close March 3, with notification in early April. For the application and more information visit www.djcf.org.

Temple Shalom announces 2020 WOV honoree

On Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2019, Temple Shalom Sisterhood hosted its annual Paid Up Membership Dinner, co-chaired by Julie Gothard and Lauren Green and catered by Zoe’s Kitchen. More than 125 attendees heard featured speaker Mary Pat Higgins, president and CEO of the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, speak about “Humanity — Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” and the new downtown museum. At the conclusion of Higgins’ presentation, Temple Shalom Sisterhood presented her with a donation to the Museum Experience Fund. This fund, originally initiated by Temple Shalom member Ken Glaser, pays the expenses (admission and transportation to the Museum) for economically disadvantaged students.
A highlight of the evening was the announcement of Sisterhood’s 2020 Woman of Valor (WOV). Much to her surprise, Event Co-chair Julie Gothard was named as this year’s honoree. Julie is a past Sisterhood co-president, is a past Temple Shalom Connections Council co-chair, serves on the Jewish Family Service (JFS) executive committee, and is currently co-chairing the JFS 2020 Woman to Woman event. She has been a member of the Greene Family Camp Committee for many years. Julie shares her passion for serving the community with her husband Dr. Sander Gothard; together they co-chaired the 2018 AIPAC Dallas Annual Event.
Plans are in the works for Sisterhood’s 31st Annual Spring Event/Woman of Valor Celebration on April 5. For more information, contact WOV Chair Kim Kort at kimberlykort@gmail.com.

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Dallas Doings: Yavneh, Kreditor

Dallas Doings: Yavneh, Kreditor

Posted on 11 December 2019 by admin

Yavneh hoop teams place second at annual Baltimore tournament


For the first time in their collective history, the Yavneh Bulldogs’ girls’ and boys’ basketball teams both advanced to the Championships at the Beth Tfiloh Weiner Basketball Tournament in Baltimore, Maryland. The tournament draws Jewish high school teams from the U.S., Israel and Canada. Both Bulldogs teams fell short during the championship games, but they showed tremendous heart and grit throughout the tournament.
“While winning championships and playing basketball are wonderful goals, the true winners of this tournament are all the participants from around the world that come together in the incredible Jewish community of Baltimore to play, daven, practice tikkun olam, and above all else establish relationships that will last a lifetime,” said David Zimmerman, Yavneh athletic director and head boys’ basketball coach.
—Submitted by
Sara Mancuso

Photo: Courtesy Mark Kreditor
Mark Kreditor will share the history of Jewish songwriters who wrote Christmas songs and lead a sing-along at “The Jews of Christmas,” Dec. 15 at Shearith Israel.
Kreditor will dish about Christmas music and its Jewish songwriters Dec. 15


Santa Claus would not be coming to town — at least not with such a musical flourish — without Jewish songwriter Fred Coots, who penned the song in 1934, when it became an overnight hit! Are you surprised a Jewish songwriter wrote one of the most iconic Christmas songs? In fact, almost all the great Christmas classics were written by Jewish songwriters. On Sunday, Dec. 15, at 7 p.m. at Congregation Shearith Israel, Mark Kreditor will present an informational sing-along: “The Jews of Christmas.”
Kreditor grew up as a shul kid going to services with his late father and like most kids learned to lead services in preparation for his bar mitzvah. He played trumpet in his school band, which gave him the opportunity to blow the shofar. Throughout high school and college, he also played the piano and studied composition and theory. Out of this varied experience came an appreciation of the deep connection Judaism has to American society. Building on that connection, and the knowledge that many songwriters were the children of professional cantors, Mark teaches about the connections of synagogue and theater.
“On Shabbat, as you sit in shul, you’ll hear the genius Jews have in the area of music, theater and film,” he says. “Think about the aliyah chant when the Torah is read; the melody sounds like ‘It Ain’t Necessarily So’ written by George and Ira Gershwin. When we sing the melody of ‘Hatikvah’ to the prayer just before we recite the Shema, can you hear the melody of ‘Brother Can You Spare A Dime?’”
Kreditor says it’s not a coincidence. “The mind of a songwriter is like a computer with unlimited memory. These songwriters were raised Jewish, probably had bar mitzvahs and had these shul melodies in their kishkas.”
When it came to the holidays, these Jewish songwriters employed their shul backgrounds to write Christmas songs. During Kreditor’s informational sing-along you’ll learn many humorous, interesting stories about the songs we all love to sing.
Kreditor has taught many popular courses at the JCC and given lectures throughout the country on all subjects Jewish and musical. Plus, his weekly Melton classes at the Aaron Family JCC are always filled to capacity. Mark, now retired from a career in property management, was most recently the chairman of the board of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. He and his wife Carol have two daughters, a wonderful son-in-law and a very cute granddaughter.
To celebrate the genius of Jewish songwriting, register for “The Jews of Christmas” at www.shearith.org or call 214-361-6606.
—Submitted by
Julie Carpenter

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Rosanna Zielke creates hand-painted wearables

Rosanna Zielke creates hand-painted wearables

Posted on 04 December 2019 by admin

Photo: Deb Silverthorn
“My pieces are made of natural silk, one of the most exquisite and elegant fabrics ever used for fashion,” said artist Rosanna Zielke, whose wearable fashions will be featured at the Aaron Family JCC’s Hanukkah Hoopla on Dec. 8 and year-round at etsy.com/shop/RosannaSilkScarves.
Wrap yourself, or gift others 1-of-a-kind scarves

By Deb Silverthorn
With winter approaching quickly, artist Rosanna Zielke brings out the warmth of the colors of the rainbow in sheaths of magnificent design. Her handmade accessories are available at holiday festivals throughout the community including the Aaron Family JCC’s Hanukkah Hoopla from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, and year-round on Etsy. Each is one-of-a-kind, and one in a million.
“I’ve had some clients use their purchases as art to hang on the wall, or across a table, but most reply they wear them over and over and that there are always many compliments,” said Rosanna, whose decades-long career brings together her talent in the form of scarves, shawls, ties and other handmade specialties. “It makes me so happy to see my pieces being worn or used for everyday enhancement.”
A native of the Soviet Union, Rosanna earned degrees in economics and fine arts before making her way to the United States more than 40 years ago. She arrived in Maryland after a long process, joining the onslaught of Jews who escaped the then-USSR amidst religious persecution and more. The artist first worked in the U.S. as a graphic designer for a magazine in Washington, D.C., and at the New York Stock Exchange for more than 25 years. In Texas she’s taught art classes one-on-one and for groups.
She began with oil paintings based on her personal life experience and found her way to the smoothness of silk as her canvas. During a trip to Leon, France, the now-retired Rosanna came upon a boutique with what she thought of as the most unique creations, silk and velvet — combined — with painted designs.
“Because I do each piece, one at time, there are some variations in the color and design but that makes each one unique, each one ‘yours’ alone,” said Rosanna, the mother of two who delights in her only granddaughter, who moved to Dallas 14 years ago with her husband Mark. “That’s the beauty of the handmade process.”
Rosanna, who is inspired by nature and design, by lines and scenes, loves to create herself, but also to take a client’s ideas and notions and bring them to life. Visions of stars and flowers, of religious and holiday symbols, personalized or with shapes galore coming together can be found on her screens in myriad color palettes.
Each piece takes between two and four days from start to finish, from laying out the design to painting, drying, steaming and washing. Her designs, all of which are washable, are created of natural silks with non-toxic silk dyes, lasting permanent colors.
“My pieces are made of natural silk, one of the most exquisite and elegant fabrics ever used for fashion. Vivid and softly draping, they are an excellent accessory for women’s dresses, office outfits, and casual wear and special occasion,” said Rosanna. “Excellent gifts for any occasion. I create affordable, indulgent luxury that never goes out of style.”
At holiday festivals around the community, Rosanna provides discounted pricing. For those ordering online at etsy.com/shop/RosannaSilkScarves, she provides free shipping.
Inspiration on silk, the gift of one’s art, spirit and soul — created and produced in BigD.

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Acks’ handcrafted wood pieces serviceable, beautiful

Acks’ handcrafted wood pieces serviceable, beautiful

Posted on 04 December 2019 by admin

Photo: Deb Silverthorn
“Even when I’m in my workshop, they’re usually shooting hoops or coloring close by. The kids love watching things happen,” said Michael Acks, who creates cutting boards, menorahs, tables and more through his M&A Woodcraft with children Caroline and Blake looking on, and “helping.”

By Deb Silverthorn
There are thousands of slivers that Michael Acks brings together in his cutting boards, lazy Susans, menorahs, pencil boxes and more. Shades of the artist’s heart, and shades of wood cuttings, make for stunning and utilitarian results.
“You never know what you ‘know’ how to do until you try. I wasn’t a woodworker but that’s changed, and it’s become something people are appreciating and I love it,” said Acks, first inspired by a piece his wife Ashley saw in a store.
Acks, who also makes shoe benches, entry tables and other special requests, turned a section of his garage into his workshop, where he designs and builds his creations of cherry, mahogany, padauk, walnut, wenge and other cuts — myriad colors and grains. While his wife and children play in the yard nearby, checking in on dad, or in the evenings after the house has quieted, Acks spends between two and 10 hours on most pieces.
“I started with the learning tower which lets kids stand by while an adult is cooking or working. Whatever they’re doing, they can be part of the action,” said Acks, who sold more than 100 towers in two months. After a recommendation, he posted the stepstool to Facebook. Voila, the birth of M&A Woodcraft Custom Woodworking.
“I’ve started a couple of menorahs that will be meaningful to the families they go to,” said Acks, who, if requested, can personalize his work, engraving in many fonts, Hebrew lettering too. “One hundred percent realizing the art that I’m making becomes part of a family, keeps me creating.”
It is said that Thomas Jefferson invented the lazy Susan because his daughter complained she was always served last. At the Gross house, Amy and Brad have found dinnertime more peaceful as their children Ethan and Hailey swing their 36-inch monogrammed poplar-wood centerpiece to whatever dish or condiment they need.
“Now, ‘I can do it’ means they can ‘do it,’ getting whatever they want themselves,” said Amy, whose functional centerpiece has the couple’s initials lasered in and filled with an almost-silver epoxy. “We have big family dinners with no — OK, fewer — passing spills. It’s useful and beautiful.”
Acks, from Cleveland, Ohio, is the son of Cherie and Harvey and brother of Jamie. He has been married to the former Ashley Cobbel for nine years; the two met on JDate. Dallas was Ashley’s home and a year after they were married, they made their way back to Big D. Michael’s sister, then his parents, made Dallas home too — Ashley’s parents Geanine and Gary rounding out the close family ties.
Not allowing distance to disconnect, Acks keeps close ties to his alma mater, Purdue University, serving as vice president and treasurer of the governing board of the school’s Hillel. Raised at Cleveland’s Park Synagogue, in youth groups and religious school, Acks found connection, something he hopes his children will too.
The Acks bought their home, walking distance from Congregation Anshai Torah. Their children Blake and Caroline are products of the congregation’s preschool and Michael serves on the congregation’s IT and security committees.
Acks is a project manager for the business strategy firm Slalom Consulting. In his spare time, he plays on the Direwolves, a Stars recreation league hockey team.
“Family is most important to me and I love sharing everything with them,” said Acks. “Even when I’m in my workshop, they’re usually shooting hoops or coloring close by. The kids love watching things happen.”
For more information, or to order, email mandawoodcraft@gmail.com or visit the M&A Woodcraft Facebook page. To guarantee receipt for Hanukkah, orders must be placed by Dec. 8.

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Anshai Torah to honor Pam & Matt Kurtzman

Posted on 04 December 2019 by admin

Congregation raises a toast to 21 years

Congregation Anshai Torah (CAT) will celebrate 21 years at its annual Diamonds & Dice Casino Party by honoring one of its founding families, Pam and Matt Kurtzman from 8 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at Congregation Anshai Torah.
“Anshai Torah has grown through the years and we now have generations of connections,” said Shawn Frank, co-chairing the evening with Julia Kaufman and Eric Olschwanger. “Pam and Matt, their daughters and family extensions, are examples of what the Anshai Family is, and we’re thrilled to honor them.”
Little of Anshai Torah’s success hasn’t been touched by Kurtzman family fingerprints. The couple, and their daughters Melissa and Heather, have been staples since Shomray Torah and Anshai Emet became one.
“When the concept of a new synagogue came up we jumped on the bandwagon, excited about being a part of something new. Our families have grown, and grown up, over the years but Friday night at Anshai is still where we connect,” said Pam, a former CAT Sisterhood co-president and member of the congregation’s board of directors.
A leader of adult education and Miriam’s Cup programming, and a member of the religious school director search, membership, and Shabbat Shiddach dinner committees, Pam’s warm welcome is a fixture at Kabbalat Shabbat services. “Anshai is where you can participate as much or as little as you’re able,” she says, “and always feel a part of something special.”
A New York native, Pam was raised in Overland Park, Kansas, the daughter of Lenny and Roberta Poznick and sister of Karyn. She attended services and religious school through Hebrew High, at Ohev Shalom Synagogue. A committed BBYO member and leader, in high school, Pam found her personal connection to prayer and her Jewish identity.
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s The Wharton School, with an MBA from Duke University, Pam began her career in commercial lending. A few years after the family moved to Dallas, she became the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ first CFO and since 2008 has been the program administrator for the National Jewish Federation Bond Program.
The son of Jimmie, of blessed memory, and Laura, and the brother of David, Felice and Hillary, Matt was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. His family were founders of the Canarsie Jewish Center, a traditional Conservative shul, and synagogue life, participation in junior congregation, and acting as a lay cantor have been at his core. “To know and understand prayers — to pray, not just ‘say’ the prayers — has always been important,” he says.
A founder and now director of Anshai Torah’s a cappella group, Kol Rina, Matt has served on CAT’s board of directors, as financial and recording secretary and treasurer on the executive committee, and twice as Men’s Club president.
“Anshai has always felt like family,” said Matt, who earned an accounting degree from Brooklyn College and an MBA from the University of Chicago. The longtime director of finance for Brinks, Inc., began his career in Dallas with SABRE/American Airlines. “We didn’t have family here for many years but we made friends, who became family, and those relationships are great treasures. Anshai is the base of those relationships.”
CAT’s Diamonds & Dice event co-chairs are joined in planning the special event by Jackie Austein, Beth Berk, Cynthia Brooks-Delgado, Debbie Cohn, Jon Feldman, David Ginchansky, Marcia Kaufman, Harvey Swento and Brad Welcher.
In addition to the casino games, there will be light snacks, desserts and a cash bar. A casino raffle, and silent auction featuring a tour of WFAA, led by Pete Delkus, and shopping, pampering, sports and travel packages will be held.
Table sponsorships are available and individual ticket prices are $80. Each ticket includes a donation to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, honoring Pam’s dedication to the organization — her family joining her in the Komen 3 Day walk — in the wake of her own fight against breast cancer a decade ago.
“The warmth that brought us to Anshai, has kept us here,” said Matt, “and we are honored to celebrate, and be celebrated, with and by the congregation we love.”
For more event details, to RSVP, or to provide sponsorship for Diamonds & Dice, call 972-473-7718 or visit anshaitorah.org.
— Submitted by
Deb Silverthorn

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Emanu-El commits to affirming LGBQT+ members

Emanu-El commits to affirming LGBQT+ members

Posted on 13 November 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy URJ
Temple Emanu-El won a Belin Award for its Gender Identity Training program. The program is generously supported by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
By Chris Harrison

In 2015, the Union for Reform Judaism adopted the “Resolution on the Rights of Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming People,” a declaration of the Reform community’s commitment to the full equality and inclusion of people of all gender identities and gender expressions. Temple Emanu-El decided to implement this value in its Gender Identity Training program, which won the congregation a 2019 Belin Award.
The Reform Movement’s commitment, along with that of Temple Emanu-El, is based in the Jewish value that we are all created in God’s image, and our different gender identities deserve to be acknowledged, respected, and affirmed in all areas of Jewish life.
“Temple Emanu-El has always been an open, welcoming community, and one of the first synagogues in the south to officiate same-sex marriages,” Rabbi Daniel Utley says. “We felt like we wanted to continue being at the forefront as much as possible.”
In that vein, the focus of Temple Emanu-El’s Gender Identity Training program is twofold.

  1. Training for the synagogue’s leadership, clergy, and school faculty about inclusive language; connecting Jewish values relating to gender and gender identity; and pastoral care for transgender individuals
  2. Offering education for Jewish communal leaders throughout the broader Dallas Jewish community on gender identity; how to better affirm trans and queer-identifying people in the community; and the necessity to continue the conversation around gender identity and allyship training
    The initiative began after a temple staff member attended the URJ Biennial in 2017 and learned about an outreach program to the trans community led by Temple Israel in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. This, in turn, inspired Temple Emanu-El’s Rabbi Dan Utley to do something similar.
    The training took several steps, including both physical changes, staff and clergy training, and parent education courses. After changing the synagogue’s bathroom configurations to have all-gender bathrooms with brand-new signage, Rabbi Utley and program co-leader Erika Purdy-Patrick received a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas to bring in Keshet to facilitate trainings with a wide range of Emanu-El staff.
    Keshet’s trainings covered topics such as the difference between sex and gender; LGBTQ+ terminology; and inclusive language for congregational staff’s phone conversations with members and prospective members.
    The trainings also provided Emanu-El staff with the knowledge to make the congregation’s membership applications more inclusive of all gender identities and expressions, which, Purdy-Patrick says, “sends the signal to people that Emanu-El is ready to welcome them, no matter who they are and what their experience is.”
    Afterward, Purdy-Patrick and Rabbi Utley brought in an Emanu-El community member — a social worker who identifies as transgender — to provide additional gender identity training for clergy and religious school staff and faculty, equipping them to have conversations with children to explore their gender identities. The training also equipped them to have conversations with Temple Emanu-El families, allowing them to engage in conversation.
    This led to parent education courses led by Emanu-El’s youth learning and engagement team and facilitated by a local LGBTQ social worker and therapist.
    “It was really eye opening for the parents,” Purdy-Patrick recalls. “It made us realize that this is an ongoing conversation; it’s something that will continue to happen regularly at Temple Emanu-El because there’s a thirst for it, especially from the parents.”
    Rabbi Utley agrees.
    “This has opened the door to talk about different aspects of individual identity and lived experience that go beyond just LGBTQ+ identities and transcend into the identities and experiences of Jews of Color, conversion students, etc. which has sparked some broader conversations in the community,” Rabbi Utley says. “Temple Emanu-El is a place that always thought of itself as being on the forefront of social justice, equality and inclusion in the community, and this opened the door for us to have more heart-opening conversations about where we’re holding prejudice and don’t realize it.”
    When asked about the impact these trainings have had on the community, Purdy-Patrick shares the story of a transgender teenager who had been involved with the synagogue since preschool.
    “Shortly after his bat mitzvah ceremony, he stopped attending temple activities as he began exploring different gender expressions,” she says. “His mother was nervous about how this might change her relationships within the larger Temple Emanu-El community, and so she withdrew from temple, as well.”
    After learning about the gender identity learning sessions in the synagogue’s monthly newsletter, The Window, the teen’s mother came in to speak with Purdy-Patrick and Utley, which led to her taking the training and re-engaging with the community — along with her son.
    “This act of audacious hospitality led to her son feeling that he could return to temple as the person he truly is — a happy, thriving teenage boy who wants to teach the world more about gender identity,” Purdy-Patrick says.
    Acts like this are only the beginning. Temple Emanu-El has more planned for the future, including follow-up trainings and refresher classes for their early childhood, youth, and general staff and board members, as well as initiatives to empower their LGBTQ+ teens to lead the way to a more diverse, inclusive and equitable community. As for how other congregations can follow Emanu-El’s path, Purdy-Patrick suggests it’s as easy as looking inward:
    “Look at who in your community has these talents and these outsets,” she says. “Do you have clinical therapists or educators who are trained in gender identity or are familiar and knowledgeable about common obstacles faced by the LGBTQ+ community?
    “If so, see if they’re willing to lead a training. There’s a really good chance that you’ve got someone in your congregation who’s waiting to become a lay leader and maybe this is their pathway in.
    “This work takes a lot of small steps and community building, it’s a lot of hands-on education and awareness. I think gender identity work within Reform Judaism is kind of in a pioneering phase to a degree, so there’s a lot of pioneering and experimenting involved, which sometimes can feel scary — but how else will you make progress?”
    This first appeared on the Union of Reform Judaism’s blog, https://bit.ly/2NGumI1, and is reprinted with permission.

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Dallas Doings: Raskin Family, Levine Volleyball

Dallas Doings: Raskin Family, Levine Volleyball

Posted on 06 November 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Sandy Raskin
Pictured from left, top row, Gus Solis, Sandy Raskin, Philip Raskin, Robbin Raskin Solis, Roman Solis, Michael Solis and Grady Raskin; bottom row, Myles Raskin, Allyson Raskin and Mya Raskin.

Raskin Family will be honored at MS On the Move luncheon Nov. 8

Each year, the MS on the Move luncheon, which will be held Friday, Nov. 8, at the Ritz-Carlton, honors a family and a company “On the Move.” This year Texas Instruments and the Raskin Family are honorees. Read on, for the Raskin family’s story:

Relocating from Pittsburgh to Dallas 49 years ago, Sandy and Philip Raskin found themselves alone without family support locally. The only natural thing to do was to bind together as a family unit with their children Robbin and Grady. This unit has grown and has remained tight over the years, only to become tighter when Robbin was diagnosed with MS in May 2007 at the age of 38. 

Robbin was determined to continue her life as normally as possible as the wife of Michael Solis and mother of Gus and Roman. She continued working her fast-paced, stressful job at Neiman Marcus as a senior art director, traveling several times a year as the location of her shoot dictated and overseeing the lives of her busy family. With the help of monthly infusions of Tysabri, she was able to continue this hectic life for 10 years until the scare of the Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (PML) virus forced her to switch to Ocrevus, which has kept her on the right path for the past two years. 

Since her initial contact with the MS Society, the MS Walk every spring has been Robbin’s passion, raising thousands of dollars over the years. The passion infected Roman, who raised $4,254 for the 2018 Walk as his bar mitzvah project. He was recognized as the youngest Mission Mover becoming a member of the top fundraiser club. The whole family participates every year with Robbin’s Team SkyRocket including her niece Mya and nephew Myles, no matter the weather, beginning when they were still in strollers. Michael, although he also is committed to Team SkyRocket, raised over $50,000 over the four years that he rode in the MS Bike from Dallas to Fort Worth. Gus, an avid hockey player since he was 4, has been playing select, travel hockey in recent years. He has been deeply affected by the role that Jamie Benn, captain of the Dallas Stars, has played hosting the kick-off event for the annual luncheon for the past four years.

In 2016, Robbin and her father Philip, a professor of medicine at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center specializing in diabetes research and patient care, co-chaired the On the Move Luncheon as a father/daughter duo, bringing tears to many eyes. In 2017 Robbin again co-chaired the Luncheon for the second time.

The year that Robbin was diagnosed was the first year for Dallas to host a luncheon. At that time, it was called the Women on the Move Luncheon and has evolved into the Dallas On the Move Luncheon, which is more inclusive. Robbin’s sister-in-law Allyson served on the committee for the first two years of that luncheon. It proved to be such a success and has become the wonderful event it is today. Sandy has supported every luncheon since 2007 with her financial commitment and by encouraging others to attend and write a check. Robbin’s brother Grady has initiated support from local sport franchises and area businesses.

The Raskin family as a whole is committed to raising the awareness of this dreaded disease and appreciates the strides that research has made because of all your financial support. One day multiple sclerosis will find a cure and even perhaps a prevention. 

Levine sixth graders capture volleyball championship

Mazal tov to Ann & Nate Levine Academy’s sixth-grade girls’ volleyball team, which won the 2019 MAL Volleyball Championship Tuesday, Oct. 29. It was a very exciting game ending in a decisive victory: 25-11 and 25-17. The team, made up of Mia Blum, Sydney Kramen, Tannah Levin, Addison Monfried, Shira Rahamim, Brianna Richardson, Maya Rothstein and Jordan Zimmerman, worked incredibly hard this season and represented Levine Academy to the highest level. They were led by Coaches Shoshana Ambers and Sheryl Ambers.

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