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Over 150 rockets fired from Gaza after Israel assassinates Islamic Jihad leader

Over 150 rockets fired from Gaza after Israel assassinates Islamic Jihad leader

Posted on 12 November 2019 by Sharon Wisch-Ray

By Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Dozens of rockets were fired on southern and central Israel after the Israeli army killed a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza.

Rockets fired from Gaza towards Israel, followed the targeted killing of Palestinian Islamic Jihad field commander Baha Abu Al-Atta, by an Israeli strike, on November 12. Photo by Hassan Jedi/Flash90

The rockets began targeting Israeli civilians at about 5 a.m. Tuesday, an hour after what the Israel Defense Forces called a “surgical strike” on Baha Abu al-Ata. In a statement, the IDF said that Abu al-Ata was a “ticking time bomb” with plans to carry out rocket attacks and other terrorist activities against Israel “in the coming days,” and also was directly responsible for several cases of rocket fire from Gaza on southern Israel over the past six months.

The terrorist leader’s wife also was reported to have been killed in the attack on the room in which Abu al-Ata was sleeping.

“We had an opportunity and we took advantage of it,” IDF Spokesman, Brig.-Gen. Hedi Silberman said in the statement. He said the IDF was not adopting a renewed policy of “targeted killings.”

Code Red rocket alerts sounded in Israeli communities in southern Israel and in central Israel, including Tel Aviv, Holon, Bat Yam and Modiin. As of 1 p.m., about 150 rockets had been fired on Israel.

The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted at least 60 of the rockets. Several homes sustained direct hits or damage from the rockets, as did a factory and a highway. No one was reported injured in the attacks.

Schools from communities on the border with Gaza in the south all the way to Tel Aviv in the country’s center were ordered closed on Tuesday, leaving more than 1 million children at home. Businesses also were ordered closed on Tuesday morning, though the ban on workers coming to their jobs in Tel Aviv was lifted as long as their business had a bomb shelter nearby.

Several hours after the rockets, the IDF carried out retaliatory attacks on Gaza, though it did hit at least one rocket launcher in northern Gaza on Tuesday morning. One Palestinian man was reported killed in that strike. The retaliatory attacks were aimed at Palestinian Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza, the IDF said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a televised address to the nation that the Security Cabinet approved the strike on Abu al-Ata 10 days ago, saying the Palestinian terrorist leader was planning more and imminent rocket attacks on Israel. He said the IDF was told to strike when it found an opportunity.

Netanyahu informed Blue and White party head Benny Gantz, a former IDF chief of staff who is working to form a coalition government, of the plans to assassinate Abu al-Ata ahead of the strike.

Gantz offered his support for the assassination.

“The fight against terror is ongoing and requires moments in which difficult decisions must be made,” he said. ” The political echelon and the IDF made the right decision last night for all Israeli citizens and the residents of the South. Blue and White will support all appropriate decisions made for the security of the State and will put the security of all of its residents above politics. Every terrorist who threatens our security should know that he will end up dead.”

A meeting scheduled for Tuesday between Gantz and Avigdor Liberman, head of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, in the effort to form a government was postponed due to the day’s events.

The head of the Joint List of Arab parties, Ayman Odeh, in a tweet accused Netanyahu of ordering the strike to improve his political prospects, calling it a “scorched earth” action “in a desperate attempt to remain in office.”

President Reuven Rivlin offered his support to the Israeli military, saying in a statement that “I know that they and the Israeli government that approved the operation, have Israel’s security, and only that, in their minds.”

Rivlin added: “This is no time for political squabbles, and those who do so bring no credit to themselves. It is the time to stop such statements immediately.”

IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi said the Israeli military was planning for an escalation in violence from Gaza in the wake of killing of Abu al-Ata.

The Islamic Jihad military wing, the Al-Quds Brigade, said in a statement that its response to the assassination “will have no limits and will be equal to the size of the crime that the criminal enemy perpetrated.”

The Hamas terror organization, which controls Gaza, said it would not let the attack on Abu al-Ata pass without a “punishment.”

“We in Hamas affirm that the Zionist enemy will bear responsibility for all the consequences and ramifications of this escalation and dangerous attack,” Hamas said in a statement.

The European Union in a statement condemned the rocket attacks on Israeli civilians.

“The firing of rockets on civilian populations is totally unacceptable and must immediately stop,” the EU said. “A rapid and complete de-escalation is now necessary to safeguard the lives and security of Palestinian and Israeli civilians.”

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A perfect day for smokin’ meat

A perfect day for smokin’ meat

Posted on 06 November 2019 by admin

Photo: Aaron Book
Jared Elad gets his coals going as Hunter Rose looks on.
Dallas Kosher BBQ marks 5th annual competition

The Fifth Annual Dallas Kosher BBQ Championship Oct. 27 brought more than 1,500 people together for a meaty celebration under sunny skies.

A record 12 teams fired up the smokers and grills after Shabbat and spent the night preparing brisket, chicken, turkey and beef ribs for the competition presented by the Congregation Beth Torah Men’s Club and supervised by Dallas Kosher.

As the crowd enjoyed the food and the festivities, judges from the Kansas City Barbecue Society meticulously evaluated the entries and awarded the Grand Champion Award to House Divided, the five-man team of Jason Wise, Ajay Patel, Brian Moe, Daniel Escaloni and Ellis Shwarts.

Savage Smoke came in second. In a more frivolous struggle, Albert Bravo won both the hot dog and pickle eating contests. Mallory Joy Rubenstein took the kids’ crown for hot dogs, while Chani Weinberger won the junior pickle championship.

“We’re really proud to combine our passions for barbecue and kashrut in an event that’s getting bigger every year,” said Brian Rubenstein, chair of the championship. “We’re grateful to everyone who pitched in and came out, and we look forward to making this a key date on Dallas’ kosher calendar for years to come.”

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Families heeded sirens, but storm left homes badly damaged

Families heeded sirens, but storm left homes badly damaged

Posted on 31 October 2019 by admin

Submitted Photo
The Schlossers’ home was devastated by broken glass embedded everywhere. It is pictured here after being boarded up.

By Sharon Wisch-Ray
If you’ve ever met Laura Seymour, then you know she’s pretty laid-back.
The longtime JCC camp director, and her husband Jeff, are among those affected by the Oct. 20 tornado that ripped through Preston Hollow and decimated many homes near the JCC.
When the storm hit, Laura says she was watching the Cowboy game by herself, because Jeff was out of town. “I was watching the Cowboy game and they were doing so well. I happen to love watching the game. Not everyone thinks I’d enjoy football, but I do. And it was so exciting. But then the power went out and the alarms went off.”
Seymour explained that the sirens are right near the JCC and thus very loud at her home.
She decided to head to the lower bathroom in their split-level home.
“A friend of mine texted me and said, ‘There’s a tornado in your area, where are you,’ and I said, ‘I’m hiding in the bathroom.’ Two minutes later it went over and it was fast.”
Seymour says it was over before she could even think.
“I walked out and looked in the living room and saw the glass had blown out all the windows and Jeff was calling me. I walked upstairs and I said, ‘There’s no roof up there.’”
Seymour says she went outside to check on neighbors and people had begun to mill about. Once she realized that the neighbors were OK, she and a fellow JCC teacher who lived nearby walked over to the JCC to assess the damage. The outside was a mess and the walk over there was treacherous with power lines down and debris.
Although it was clear the JCC had sustained damage on the grounds, Seymour described what she found when they went inside.
“We walked into the J and it was fine. It didn’t sustain the kind of damage you would expect. The preschool looked great.”
With no roof on her house, Seymour had to decide her next steps.
“I walked home and charged my phone in my car and I came back up and slept at the J.”
Seymour said that their insurance company has been stellar. By Monday, they were in a hotel, and by Thursday, the company had moved them into a nearby townhome.
“We’ve been totally taken care of,” she says, grateful that there were no serious injuries and that everyone survived. “It’s only stuff.”
The Schlossers
When Cristie and Rodney Schlosser built their home, they incorporated a basement into the plans. That basement provided the necessary shelter when their home was pummeled by the violent tornado that ripped through St. Marks and then on to Tulip Lane. Rodney Schlosser said that his high school senior son, Lee, alerted him and Cristie to the approaching storm and “dragged us to the basement.” They just had moments to spare.
“We heard like a wet sheet baying and heard all this glass. That was stuff being thrown around once the windows broke.”
When they surfaced and surveyed the damage, they saw tiny glass shards everywhere.
“Glass, when it flies, it’s like shrapnel,” Rodney Schlosser said. “It’s embedded in upholstery, walls, floors, everywhere.”
Thankfully the Schlossers’ structure is fine, but most importantly they are grateful that no one was hurt.
“We feel very fortunate, there’s no loss of life or injuries,” he said. “We are very sad. We have shed some tears. There are things that are lost that you can’t find.”
Rodney Schlosser said he was particularly struck by the mobilization of the first responders. Not just police and firefighters, but workers from Oncor and Atmos as well, who worked around the clock to keep the neighborhood safe, restore power and repair leaks. Central Market, whose store at Preston Royal was devastated, moved their portable kitchen to the parking lot and fed first responders and affected residents three meals a day through Sunday.
The outpouring of support has been overwhelming for the Schlosser Family.
“There were three folks who showed up at our doorstep who walked blocks to get here because the whole area was cordoned off.” Those were Temple Shalom (where Rodney is the board president) members and Rabbi Andrew and Debbie Paley. They all pitched in to help the Schlossers begin the recovery process.
“It was touching,” he said.
The Israel Family
Nancy, Solomon and Serena Israel had just come home from having dinner at some friends’ sukkah. They were in a rush to get home and walk the dog before it started to rain. It was drizzling.
“We heard the sirens and we halfheartedly went to the guest bathroom with the cats and the dog. The power flickered and then it went out. And then we heard this crash. We felt the house shake. The pressure in our ears changed and then we sat in the dark waiting, literally holding our breath waiting to see if we were going to get ripped up by the tornado or if the house was going to come crashing in. What struck me most was the silence.”
As soon as the storm was over, Solomon Israel went out and said, “You have a tree coming through your kitchen.” The Israels’ beloved oak tree, which has been estimated to be between 120 and 150 years old, had crashed through their home.
“It’s like a death in the family. I know people have suffered so much worse, but I think everyone’s suffering is unique. I’m grateful that we still have a roof over our heads, but it just broke our hearts.” Nancy Israel explained that they bought their house because of that tree and when they renovated it, they went to great lengths to make sure that the tree would flourish.
She says that they will probably have to be out of their house for three to six months.
“You have to be grateful for what you have. We have our lives, we are safe, we are free. We are grateful for the outpouring of love from our friends.”
Nancy Israel says her neighbors immediately checked on them and have brought food by the house. They’ve gotten to know each other better.
“We hurt together, we will heal together,” she said. “It also made me realize that with all the tribalism that is going on in the news right now — in a disaster, nobody cares who you vote for. They just care about each other. I think that’s an important message.”

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Federation, JCC buildings damaged by tornado

Federation, JCC buildings damaged by tornado

Posted on 23 October 2019 by admin

Photo:Courtesy JFGD 
The facade of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas after the Oct. 18 tornado.

Twister decimates Federation interior, J on Wheels

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Two key Dallas Jewish community institutions suffered major damage from the EF3 Tornado that cut a 15-mile swath from I-35 to Richardson. The Aaron Family Jewish Community Center and the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas which share the same campus at 7800-7900 Northaven Road were hit hard by the twister. 

Because it was Sunday night, the JCC was already closed when the storm hit and no one was in the building or on the campus. The JCC and Federation were already scheduled to be closed on Monday and Tuesday in observance of Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah.

The JCC, 7900 Northaven

JCC president and CEO Artie Allen ran through the significant damage that was known on Monday afternoon. 

“We have a lot of damage to the outside of the building. We lost our J on Wheels. It’s gone, we found it but it’s destroyed,”  he said referring to the JCC’s mobile unit which travels around bringing JCC programs to where Jewish people are out in the community at large. The state-of-the art trailer landed in the front yard of Bruce Birnbaum across Northaven from the JCC. The white pick-up truck which tows the trailer was also totaled thrown from the Federation parking lot into the fence that borders Northaven Gardens.

This is the second time in four months that the JCC has been pummeled by a severe storm. The June 9 windstorm damaged trees and fencing and knocked out power.

“This is much more devastating, much more devastating.” said Allen.

There is debris on the inside of the building that needs to be cleaned up he explained. The biggest issue is that the Donsky gyms took on water from gashes in the roof. There is standing water on the wood floors. All in all, Allen says he believes that the J was lucky because no one was on the campus or hurt. “Someone was looking out for us,” he said.

At press time Tuesday, the J planned to remain closed on  Wednesday. When it reopens will depend on when they can get power to the building which was still out Tuesday night.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, 7800 Northaven Road

While JCC will be able to restore operations in its own building as soon as possible, the interior damage to the Federation is extensive. 

“Our building is severely damaged. We won’t be back in it for a number of months,” said Mariam Shpeen Feist, Federation president and CEO. 

Federation COO Gary Wolff was the first on the scene about 7:45 Monday morning. Based on what he had heard about the damage at the JCC, he was expecting something similar at the Federation. “I walked inside the building and ceiling tiles were everywhere,” Wolff said. “As I walked around the Federation the sounds got louder [ water beneath his feet] and the water was more visible.” He estimates that there was approximately four inches of water.

Meeting Wolff at the Federation was Vincent Gammieri, the Federation’s director of Information Systems and Operations. The pair headed to the server room and began salvaging computer equipment.

Over the last four months, the Federation has been working on continuity planning in the event of needing to move their operations offsite in an emergency.

JFS was part of that plan, and the Federation will operate out of the JFS boardroom through Friday. Depending on when the JCC gets power restored, the next step would be to move to the Mankoff Center on the second floor of the JCC until next steps can be determined.

At press time, the Federation planned to be up and running Wednesday morning in the boardroom of Jewish Family Service through Friday. 

“From the outside view of everyone in the community, nobody will be able to tell the difference, said Federation Board Chair A.J. Rosmarin. “It’s a tribute to the staff. Everything will keep rocking along.”

Feist echoed the sentiment that the professional staff of both the Federation and other Jewish community organizations have been unbelievable.

This is about being there for the community to rebuild, our resilience and to be strong. I’m incredibly grateful to our agency and partner executive leadership. It’s been exemplary.

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Tycher Community Read set for Oct. 28

Tycher Community Read set for Oct. 28

Posted on 16 October 2019 by admin

Photo: Galen Evans
“‘In Another Time’ is my idea of what the rise of the Nazis looked like in that moment – how many didn’t know what was happening and what day-to-day lives were like,” said author Jillian Cantor. The author will be featured Oct. 28 at the Tycher Library Community Read, part of the 2019/2020 Aaron Family JCC Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer Dallas Jewish BookFest.

This year’s book, ‘In Another Time,’ engaging and thrilling

By Deb Silverthorn
Time machines may not be real, and time not always linear, but it’s the gaps in between Jillian Cantor’s “In Another Time” that offer a spinning story. Beginning at 7 p.m., Monday, Oct. 28, at the Aaron Family JCC’s Zale Auditorium, Cantor will introduce her book at the Tycher Library Community Read, part of the 2019/2020 Aaron Family JCC’s Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer Dallas Jewish BookFest.
“‘In Another Time’ is my idea of what the rise of the Nazis looked like in that moment — how many didn’t know what was happening and what day-to-day lives were like,” said Cantor, author of “Margot,” “The Hours Count” and “The Lost Letter.” This 2019 publication is a transporting love story, unfolding through decades and across continents, in alternating viewpoints.
In 1931 Germany, bookshop owner Max Beissinger meets Hanna Ginsberg, a budding concert violinist. As their love affair unfolds, the climate drastically changes as Hitler comes to power. Following Max in the years leading to WWII, and Hanna the decade after, “In Another Time” is a story of love and loss, passion and music and a family secret that may provide survival.
“I have loved Cantor’s work. She creates well-crafted page-turners and I’m looking forward to this,” said Linda Blasnik, a Tycher librarian for 10 years. “She creates a fantasy element, that is really thrilling.”
The author, who credits her fourth grade teacher for weekly assignments that introduced her to writing, enjoys Skyping and in-person discussions.
“I enjoy writing what I like reading,” said Cantor, a Philadelphia native, now living in Arizona with her family. “Music has always been a part of my life. Hanna’s character came to me while I was at the symphony during 2016’s election season. I listened, and thought, ‘no matter what happens, we’ll have beautiful music.’”
Rabbi Mordechai Harris, executive director of the Center for Jewish Education (CJE) & Rabbi in Residence at the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, will open the program co-sponsored by the CJE with support of the Jewish Book Council which is free and open to the public.
“This book is poignant and has such poetic flair. It’s beautiful. We’re happy to have Jillian here in person,” said CJE Coordinator of Projects and Administration, Karen Schlosberg. “The book is meaningful and her personal notes, of why she wrote it — that we can never forget our history — resonates.”
The Tycher Library, on the JCC’s third floor, houses 7,000-plus books, periodicals and more than 700 DVDs. In 1981, brothers Fred and Martin Tycher, of blessed memory, dedicated the library honoring their parents. The Tycher Library now pays tribute to the whole family’s dream to inspire Jewish learning through literature.
Texas Jewish Post contributor Harriet Gross helped launch the Community Read in 2006 after being inspired by citywide programs in Chicago and here in Richardson. Thirteen years later, the event is a go-to.
“The idea of a community reading and discussing one book was stimulating, to spark participation by asking groups to do something together with the book,” said Gross, who first shared it with then-librarian Joan Gremont. “Our first was ‘The Book Thief.’ Then, and ever since, we’ve shared good discussions and meaningful events and as the great ‘they’ say, the rest is history.”
Dallas’ Andrea Peskind Katz, reviewer of GreatThoughts.com and behind the Great Thoughts Great Readers Facebook book salon, with nearly 5000 readers and authors, is thanked by Cantor in her book’s acknowledgements. Katz says, “this is Jillian’s best, she’s a great speaker and ‘In Another Time’ is an on-target choice for the Community Read.”
The Tycher Community Read, and its Spring Read “Gateway to the Moon,” March 5, join this year’s BookFest schedule that includes themes of cooking, historical fiction, business entrepreneurship and fantasy.
For details, or to RSVP for “In Another Time” (by Oct. 23), visit jewishdallas.org/fallread. For overall BookFest details visit jccdallas.org/special-events/bookfest.

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A friendly trade: chopped liver for a kidney

A friendly trade: chopped liver for a kidney

Posted on 02 October 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Lisa Harris
Sheri Ido, left, and Lisa Harris are now “kidney sisters.” Harris donated a kidney to Ido Aug. 8 at Medical City.

Duo connects through friendship, 1 ‘golden kidney’

By Amy Wolff Sorter
Most people will give good friends just about anything, from advice, to money, to time, to the shirts off their backs. They’ll even give good friends chopped chicken liver, which is what Dallas resident Sheri Ido gives to her friend, Lisa Harris of Anna, each year at Passover.
But when put to the test, most people won’t step up and offer good friends a kidney. Yet, Harris did just that, giving her kidney to Ido, as the latter suffered from stage four of chronic kidney disease (CKD). The transfer of “the golden kidney,” as Ido dubbed it, improved her health, while further solidifying family and friendship bonds that began between the two families more than half a century ago.
In the Beginning
Lisa Harris, formerly Lisa Novin, and Sheri Ido nee Sheri B. Polunksy, weren’t strangers to one another during their formative years. “Sheri’s mother and mine met at Temple Emanu-El,” Harris said. “Because they were both originally from St. Louis, they hit it off really well.” The families regularly celebrated Jewish holidays together, and Harris was good friends with Sheri’s younger sister, Julie Polunsky. Meanwhile, Sheri would babysit her younger siblings, and the Novin kids, from time to time. “Julie and I were the friends,” Harris said. “Sheri was a few years older, but we hung out.”
Fast-forwarding several years, Harris’ older teenage son, Brandon, became fast friends with Ido’s son, Aaron. Neither mom realized the connection, until Brandon mentioned it to his mom. “My response was: ‘Huh. I know their parents,’” Harris said, with a laugh. In early 2017, the boys decided to attend the University of Kansas together. It was also the beginning of Ido’s health slide.
Mounting Issues
“I was never one to go to the doctor,” Ido acknowledged. However, burgeoning leg issues prompted her sister to take her to a specialist, who diagnosed her with rheumatoid arthritis. And, the doctor found additional problems with Ido’s blood, referring her to a urologist. The urologist, in turn, sent Ido to a nephrologist, who was blunt about his findings.
“He told me I was a very sick woman, that I had stage-four kidney disease,” Ido said. “It scared the heck out of me.” Healthwise, things went from bad to worse. A freak at-home accident led to a broken arm -— “I broke my humerus, which wasn’t so humorous,” Ido said. Following that, she ended up in the hospital with a ruptured bowel, which morphed into almost-fatal sepsis. Harris, as the mother of Ido’s good friend, helped take care of the Ido family, providing meals and other support. And, with husband Toby Harris, she ensured that Aaron and Brandon settled in at KU for their freshman years. “Sheri and I became closer, mainly because our boys were roommates,” Harris said.
Meanwhile, during Ido’s recovery and rehab, she underwent dialysis. “That was the worst thing I’d ever gone through,” said Ido, an RA patient, who experienced a ruptured bowel, and who almost died from sepsis.
Ido explained that, as soon as she was diagnosed with stage four kidney disease, her nephrologist told her to immediately get on a kidney donor list. “He said, you could be on a donor list and feeling great, and might not need it,” she said. “If the creatine is stable, you can pass it up.”
Creatine is a waste product in the blood, filtered out by the kidneys. Creatine levels for people with healthy kidneys don’t top 1.2 milligrams/deciliters. For a year, Ido’s baseline creatine levels were steady at 2.9. Then, in spring 2018, the level moved to 3.4. Right around the time when Harris visited Ido for an unrelated reason.
A chopped-liver connection
Every year for Passover, Ido makes homemade chopped chicken liver. Passover in 2018 was no different, though this year, Ido offered some to her friend, Harris, who gladly accepted. When Harris stopped by for the treat, Ido confessed that her creatine level was creeping up. Harris asked if anyone was providing a kidney. Ido told her friend that her husband, Leon, wasn’t a match, but wanted to do a kidney-for-kidney exchange. Her own family, in the meantime, had a history of kidney disease, leaving them out.
Then came the words that changed both women’s lives. “I told her I wanted her to have my kidney,” Harris recalled. Harris, in fact, had been prepared, according to Ido. “She told me she already talked to Medical City (the organization’s Kidney Transplant Program), talked to her employer and talked to her husband,” she said.
But Ido was skeptical. “I knew others, people who had offered me their kidneys, but it was like ‘if you can’t find anyone else, I’ll give it to you,’” she said. “When Lisa offered hers to me, I was kind of in denial, and I didn’t want to get my hopes up.”
But Harris was determined. “I had to go through a circle of stuff to get more information and to find out how to do this,” she said. “It’s not like there is a 1-800-I-wanna-donate number.” Harris was finally able to get the blood work done, and the news was very good. Harris, with O-positive blood type, was a universal donor, meaning her kidney was available to her friend.
The rest, as they say, is history. Following Harris’ months of tests, the transplant surgery took place Aug. 8. Both women are recovering nicely. Ido’s creatine level is below 1.0. And, Harris has returned to her position as lifestyle coordinator and member service coordinator at The Legacy at Willow Bend in Plano.
The urge to give . . .
It’s safe to say that Harris and Ido are adamant supporters of organ donation, when possible. “My biggest piece of advice is, indicate you’re a donor on the back of your driver’s license,” Ido said. “That way, loved ones don’t have to make that difficult decision if something happens. Most people don’t understand how easy that is.”
Harris, the donor, had other information to impart. Namely, anyone interested in donating a kidney should ensure a support system is in place for care, following the surgery — and that employers are OK with the necessary time off. Harris, herself, was out for six weeks, and is grateful to The Legacy Willow Bend for understanding. “They were beyond helpful and supportive in this decision,” she said.
Meanwhile, the link that began between the two families more than 50 years ago remains strong today. Ido has promised Harris chopped chicken liver each Passover. And, Harris stepped up as a friend, with the gift of her golden kidney. While Ido is beyond grateful for what her friend has given her, Harris doesn’t consider herself a hero.
“I believe God puts us on this earth for a reason,” she said. “It was something I felt I was asked to do.”

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1 year after state semifinal run, Yavneh Bulldogs at it again

1 year after state semifinal run, Yavneh Bulldogs at it again

Posted on 25 September 2019 by admin

Photo: Barry Warranch
Parents and players celebrate a win, from left, Jeremy Minsky, Mason Schwaber, Tom Oster, Tyler Winton, Michael Winton,Dusty Eber (in hat), Zander Feinstein, Adam Eber, Jonah Eber and Ayala Oster; front row, Harrison Christnagel.

2-sport athletes stay undefeated through 8 games

By Leah Vann
Alan Sandler, head coach of the Yavneh Academy varsity boys soccer team, would have been happy with a .500-win season and a playoff berth. One year removed from its historic state semifinal run, the team had lost nine of its starters to graduation. But, seven games into a 10-game district schedule, the Bulldogs are undefeated.
“We don’t have the quality that we had last year,” Sandler said. “This team has exceeded all my expectations.”
The Bulldogs don’t play an easy schedule, with a district including Dallas International, a regular contender at the state tournament. However, Yavneh defeated Dallas International 3-1 this year on the road, and hosts them again on Senior Night, Monday, Oct. 7.
“I don’t know how many districts out there have two teams that are perennial state contenders,” Yavneh Athletic Director David Zimmerman said. “It’s a dogfight between the two of us every year, on who wins district before we get to playoffs.”
The idea of a group of athletes banding together to find success sounds cliché. Sandler admits it, but it’s especially unusual in the age where club sports produce specialized athletes that filter into schools across the Metroplex. There’s no one superstar player; in fact, the captains on the team aren’t necessarily the most experienced.
Tyler Winton, a Yavneh senior and second-year Bulldogs veteran, describes this year’s team as a group of athletes, whereas last year’s was a group of soccer players.
“Me and my friend Reece Parker gathered our friends on the basketball team and we created a soccer team this year out of athletes who hadn’t played soccer before,” Winton said. “At the beginning of the season, our coach said we are a basketball team playing soccer, who is better at soccer than basketball.”
Winton said the experience has been interesting. Some of the players learning the flow of the game didn’t understand that certain positions played only defense or offense. But unlike other teams, he said the willingness to learn helped them progress quickly.
Winton joined the team last year as a way to get in shape for basketball season. Winton had played soccer before, but his experience was limited. This year, Winton and Parker recruited senior Jonah Eber, sophomore Ben Rael and junior Jason Prager from the basketball team to play soccer. Eber ended up being voted one of the team’s four captains; the others are Winton, Parker and Elisha Klein, a junior.
This is not to say there aren’t things on which to focus, such as not playing down to the opponents’ levels, or allowing success to go to their heads. The shooting could also use some work. “We lose a lot of shots by shooting them over the goal,” Sandler said.
Still, while expectations weren’t high at the beginning of the season, Sandler believes if the team stays in stride, it can contend for a district championship.

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Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum opens

Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum opens

Posted on 18 September 2019 by admin

Photos: Amanda Harris Photography
Speakers at Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum ribbon-cutting ceremony, from left, Mayor Eric Johnson, DHHRM Board Chair Frank Risch, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, Dallas Holocaust Museum President and CEO Mary Pat Higgins, DHHRM Chair-elect Nate Levine, Immediate Past Board Chair The Honorable Florence Shapiro and Lydia Nimbeshaho, a survivor of Rwandan genocide.

Ribbon-cutting reinforces tenet: Being an Upstander is everyone’s duty

By Sharon Wisch-Ray

Dallas-Fort Worth area Holocaust survivors, patrons, volunteers and invited guests celebrated the ribbon-cutting of the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum Sept. 17. The museum opened to the public Sept. 18.

Mary Pat Higgins, president and CEO of the DHHRM, welcomed those in attendance and set the tone for the speakers who followed.

“In 1977, a small group of Holocaust survivors came together with an extraordinary vision to teach the North Texas Community the lessons learned from the Holocaust and to memorialize the 6 million Jews and millions of others persecuted by the Nazis. 

“These amazing survivors saw as their legacy the creation of a museum for future generations of students and adults. Their mission — and ours — is to teach the history of the Holocaust and advance human rights to combat prejudice, hatred and indifference.”

Speaker after speaker stressed that as human beings all individuals need to take personal responsibility to advance human rights and to combat prejudice and hatred.

“We need to do everything we can to prevent genocide from happening — and that starts with making the choice that we can no longer allow it to happen simply by not believing it can happen…

“It can happen, it does happen, and that’s why we have to keep telling the story,” said Frank Risch, DHHRM board chair and co-chair of its capital campaign. 

Governor Greg Abbott added that in addition to doing the typical things museums do — educating visitors and displaying artifacts — the museum was one that left them wanting to make a difference.

“This museum also inspires, it empowers. At a time in our world where there is transformational change, this is a transformative museum.” 

Abbott added, “Visitors will leave inspired to take action to ensure that atrocities like what they’ve seen in here will be eradicated from this earth.”

Abbott also said as governor of Texas the state of Texas was proud of the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum and owed a debt of gratitude to those who made it possible and one of the “premier Holocaust and human rights museums in the world.”

When The Honorable Florence Shapiro, immediate past board chair and daughter of Holocaust survivors, took the podium, she illustrated the importance of the new museum with a timely anecdote, sharing her reaction to the shooting in El Paso Aug. 3 when 22 innocent people were murdered. She explained that the DHHRM is precisely the antidote that’s needed to combat senseless hatred.

“This museum teaches the history of the Holocaust and other genocides to show students what happens when hatred and bigotry can lead to violence — and permeate our society,” she said.

“At the new museum, we will educate students about the histories of persecuted and marginalized groups. By teaching this history, we educate visitors about diversity, tolerance and empathy.”

Shapiro said with her Aug. 3 defining moment she has set a goal to have 100,000 students visit the museum by the end of 2020.

She began the project by raising $250,000 for the Museum Experience Fund, so every student will be able to visit the museum regardless of their ability to pay.

Lydia Nimbeshaho, a survivor of Rwandan genocide, shared the impact the two upstanders made on her life. The courage of action of Dama Gisimba, who took her and her siblings into his orphanage at great personal risk. A second upstander was American missionary who blocked the doorway of the orphanage when “perpetrators/Interahamwe” came to kill those inside.

“I can never thank Mr. Wilkens enough for saving us. Because of him, I lived. He is the reason I am able to be here with you today.”

Mayor Eric Johnson said that he hopes that the new museum will draw people in and teach them tolerance and to be action-oriented.

“I want this museum — I am so grateful that (it is) right here in the heart of Dallas — to be a beacon for our entire community, a place for everyone. A place for respect and a place for acceptance.

“This is a place that can educate humanity about the history and nature of hatred. This is a place that can inspire an entire generation of upstanders.

“I believe the lessons taught in this museum will inspire us all — adults and children — alike to stand up for what is right — to fight hatred and intolerance with every ounce of our being so everyone knows that there’s no place for hate of any kind in Dallas or anywhere else in the world. Because fighting hatred is not just one person’s journey. Fighting hatred is humanity’s journey.

As he closed, Mayor Johnson declared Sept. 18, 2019, Upstander Day in the City of Dallas.

He also bestowed the key to the city to all DFW-area Holocaust survivors.

“Each one of you embodies the values of our community: strength, determination, hard work, resilience, hope and most importantly, being Upstanders.”

Nate Levine, who along with his wife Ann made the landmark gift ensuring the new museum’s long-term viability, concluded the speaker portion of the program. He shared some anecdotes from some of his tours with children, many of whom didn’t know what the Holocaust was when they arrived.

“At the conclusion of the tour I could see in their faces that the kids leaving were not the same kids that arrived just an hour ago.”

Another group of 15 students was so inspired by Anne Frank’s story they wrote their own diaries and presented them to Levine. 

Levine concluded, “Let us all hope and pray that the next century will be more respectful of human beings and the rights of people to live in peace — irrespective of their color, their religion or their race.”

The program concluded with Temple Emanu-El Rabbi David Stern leading the Mourner’s Kaddish.

Then, the Town View choir sang Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World,” as students from Cristo Rey College Preparatory School led Holocaust survivors in attendance to the stage for the ribbon-cutting.

Surrounded by the survivors, Ann and Nate Levine cut the stage-long red ribbon.

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SMU to host panel discussion on BDS campaign

SMU to host panel discussion on BDS campaign

Posted on 12 September 2019 by admin

Experts will discuss anti-Israel movement on college campuses

By Avery Cooper
On Thursday, Sept. 19, Southern Methodist University (SMU), Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, Hillel and SMU Jewish Studies will host a panel of distinguished guests to discuss the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) assault on academic freedom at college campuses.
The panelists include Texas State Representative Phil King, Executive Director of Academic Engagement Network (AEN) Miriam F. Elman, and Israel advocate and Dallas attorney Charles D. Pulman. There will be a reception beginning at 6 p.m. with the panel beginning at 7 p.m. in the Ernst & Young Gallery at the SMU Cox School of Business.
The guest speakers will discuss the origin of the BDS campaign, state legislation addressing the BDS boycott of Israel and BDS assault on academic freedom on college campuses.
Rep. King has served in the Texas House of Representatives since 1999 representing Parker and Wise counties. He is the author of H.B. 89, the Texas Anti-BDS Bill that passed the Texas House and Senate in 2017.
Charles D. Pulman is a Dallas attorney active on issues related to Israel, BDS and anti-Semitism. He worked with Rep. King in the passage of H.B. 89, the Texas Anti-BDS Bill, back in 2017.
Miriam F. Elman was newly appointed executive director of AEN in early 2019 and finds it important to understand the BDS movement’s current campus strategy and tactics. She hopes the event captures an audience of students and faculty.
Academic Engagement Network was founded in 2015 and opposes efforts to delegitimize Israel; supports robust discussion, researches and educates about Israel in the academy; promotes campus free expression and academic freedom; and counters anti-Semitism when it occurs on campus.
Elman’s vision for this particular event is to combat BDS and campus anti-Semitism, advance academic freedom and campus free speech and further literacy about Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
“BDS wins simply by monopolizing the conversation,” Elman said, “Which is why, on many campuses, anti-Israel resolutions are proposed year after year, despite the fact that they’re ultimately defeated every time.”
Eliana Abraham, SMU sophomore and Hillel co-president, hopes the event “explains what BDS actually is, particularly in regard to academic discourse as well as Texas legislature.”
Abraham cares about the event because she believes that as students on a college campus, even one with little anti-Semitism or BDS representation, it is important to understand the issue and how it impacts other universities, their students and even the state of Texas.
Pulman is happy to see the student-driven nature of the program.
“This program is an SMU student initiative that timely addresses an important issue affecting all students on all college campuses. Academic freedom is the bedrock principle of our educational system and everyone, regardless of their own beliefs and politics, must be on guard against infringement of any person’s freedom, as denial of freedom for one will lead to denial of freedom for all.”
Bibiana Schindler, an SMU junior and Hillel co-president, said Hillel learned of the opportunity to become involved with this event through SMU’s Republican Club over the summer. She and Abraham both agreed this event would allow the SMU community to engage in a conversation they may not know much about or already have an opinion about.
Schindler found a personal reason to engage in the conversation because she is a Jewish student with family living in Israel. However, she emphasizes that this is a nonpartisan event and its overarching focus is the elaboration of what BDS is and how it finds its way onto university campuses.
“Hillel and SMU stand firmly against anti-Semitism, especially in wake of the swastikas found on campus last semester and anti-Semitism around the U.S.,” Schindler said. “We are elated to see the support from SMU students of different faiths and groups on campus. Their hosting of events like start conversations about inclusivity — which Hillel at SMU aims to do.”
The SMU Hillel co-presidents hope all students, faculty and members of the community at large feel welcome to attend the event and leave feeling like their opinions are not being silenced, but embraced.
“We must understand that although we do not need to agree with others’ views, we do need to be able to listen to them,” Schindler said.
Shira Lander, director of Jewish Studies at SMU and senior lecturer in the department of religious studies, hopes those in attendance can have an open discussion about the true meaning of the BDS movement and what it means for students at SMU.
Lander says the AEN offers a more nuanced and academically-sensitive approach to campus issues related to Israel and Jews and “works with faculty and administrators to build bridges and deepen understanding.” She went on to explain that the AEN’s goals align well with the principles articulated by SMU President Gerald Turner in his March 20, 2018, online statement.
President Turner’s statement read: “SMU has always been a place where ideas are openly shared, examined and discussed. We value civil debate and meaningful dialogue that lead to discovery. We are firmly committed to the bedrock principle of freedom of expression.”
Lander agrees that civil debate and freedom and expression are core principles on SMU’s campus, and she adds the following remark about her goals for the upcoming event:
“Jewish Studies at SMU is dedicated to deepening knowledge about issues affecting Jews and promoting healthy and civil dialogue about those issues. As with many controversial issues in our day, the tendency is to become entrenched in our own points of view and refuse to listen to those who don’t share them. The goal of programs like this BDS panel is to support boundary-crossing conversation that enriches mutual understanding.”
All are welcome to the BDS Assault on Academic Freedom on College Campuses event at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19. Be sure to bring an open mind and any questions you may have for the esteemed panel of speakers.

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Sharsheret to hold ovarian, breast cancer event

Sharsheret to hold ovarian, breast cancer event

Posted on 04 September 2019 by admin

Photo: Courtesy Joel Schwitzer
“Mom would’ve been my greatest cheerleader,” said Joel Schwitzer, whose mother Marsha (seated, left) passed away one week after a Stage 4 ovarian cancer diagnosis. Pictured are, standing from left, Miriam, Max and Hannah Schwitzer and Miles Merrill; seated, Marsha Schwitzer, Gabrielle Merrill, Myron Schwitzer and Jordan Schwitzer.

Agency will bring together experts, survivors Sept. 17

By Deb Silverthorn
The heart of teal and pink — of the tackle against ovarian and breast cancers — will come together for a community-wide event at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 17, at the home of Lizzy and Dr. Jules Greif.
Dallas City Council Member Cara Mendelsohn will moderate a panel of experts on the topic. The panel will consist of Sharsheret Executive Director Elana Silber, Board-Certified Cancer Genetics Counselor Stacy “Sam” Utay and ovarian cancer survivor and co-founder of Be The Difference Foundation Julie Shrell. Simcha Catering and Event Design donated wine and cheese for the evening.
“It’s as simple as wanting to keep people alive,” said Lizzy Greif, whose sisters Margot and Sheri, of blessed memory, lost valiant fights against breast cancer. “The more we can educate, the more we can support patients and their families, before diagnosis and in the midst of the fight, the more we can help. Understanding these diseases doesn’t cure, but it provides an exhale in the throes of crisis.”
Greif, co-chairing the event with her husband Jules, Elaine Pearlman, Beri and Joel Schwitzer, Jacquie and Myron Schwitzer and Marc and Wendy Stanley, serves on Sharsheret’s national board.
Silber is chair of the Federal Advisory Committee on Breast Cancer in Young Women, and has brought Sharsheret programs to Dallas for many years. The organization offers personalized support and educational outreach, as well as between 300 and 400 programs annually. Silber said the organization changes, and saves, lives through personal connections.
“The connections we make in person, that last as we help people who can benefit from our services, are invaluable,” she said. “Our team of social workers and other professionals are available to teach the Jewish, and greater, communities what we can do today to protect our future.”
And Joel Schwitzer isn’t just talking the talk but walking the walk — actually running the run — on Team Sharsheret in November’s TCS New York City Marathon. Having completed eight half-marathons in the last year, he’s dedicating his first full marathon in memory of his mother Marsha, who died in 2011, just one week after being diagnosed with Stage 4 ovarian cancer. His wife Beri, and sister Eve, both ran with Team Sharsheret in 2013.
“Mom would’ve been my greatest cheerleader,” said Schwitzer, who was first introduced to Sharsheret while Hillel director at the University of Illinois, when two students’ mothers passed away from ovarian cancer.
“I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight and started running, something neither my mom nor I would have believed possible. I’m honored, through Sharsheret, to do a mitzvah and raise money and awareness for those grappling with this horrible disease.”
With one in 40 Ashkenazi Jewish men and women carrying a BRCA gene mutation, compared to one in 500 in the general population, the risks are significantly increased for hereditary breast and ovarian cancers, as well as melanoma, pancreatic, prostate and male breast cancers.
“We want to scream about the disease that whispers,” said cancer-survivor Shrell. The organization she co-founded, Be The Difference Foundation, funds research, provides awareness and supports those fighting against ovarian cancer. “We must educate, we must be aware, and we help the community understand more about the disease,” Shrell said. “We’re truly honored to work with Sharsheret.”
For Mendelsohn, the Dallas city council member, the proactive and reactive benefits of Sharsheret are vital. As former president of Jewish Family Service of Greater Dallas, she worked with the organization on many occasions to help initiate connections with Jewish Family Service’s clients.
“Every one of us has or somehow will be affected by these diseases, whether it is personally or through someone we care about,” said Mendelsohn, who was adopted as an infant. With no medical history available, she underwent a genetic testing series that ruled out 132 possible issues. Cleared, she is grateful to now understand what is, or what won’t be, on the horizon. “We can’t be blind, and we can’t ignore the information that is so readily available to us,” Mendelsohn said. “Learning is power and both Sharsheret and Be The Difference Foundation allow us all to be more powerful.”
To register for the community event, or donate to Schwitzer’s race, visit tinyurl.com/Sharsheret-Dallas-9-17. For more information about the event, including the Greifs’ address, email ekleinhaus@sharsheret.org.

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