Dallas Doings

Locals participate in VisionWalk

From left, Greta Herskowitz, Howard Herskowitz, Miriam Creemer, Al Creemer and Marcia Forest at the 5K Vision Walk in Grand Prairie May 14.

Al and Miriam Creemer, together with their ‘Cheyes of Texas’ chaverim Howard and Greta Herskowitz and Marcia Forest, participated in the 5K VisionWalk supporting the Foundation Fighting Blindness.  VisionWalk is the national signature fundraising event of the Foundation Fighting Blindness. The walk was at Pizza Hut Park, Grand Prairie on 14 May.  Their walk team “Brendan’s Buddies” is named for the Creemers’ grandson Brendan who has Usher’s Syndrome.  The urgent mission of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, Inc. is to drive the research that will provide preventions, treatments and cures for people affected by retinitis pigmentosa (RP), macular degeneration, Usher syndrome, and the entire spectrum of retinal degenerative diseases.  This year, Brendan’s Buddies raised close to $7000 in support of this effort and the team wishes to thank all our their supporters in the Jewish community and across the US and Canada.

Yavneh Academy Stars Scholars & Schultz Family Community Service Scholarships Awards of up to $20,000 available

Yavneh Academy of Dallas Star Scholars Awards, for prospective and incoming students, who are currently studying in a secular school, and who will be entering the ninth and 10th grades in the fall, provide for up to $20,000 on a renewable basis.  Scholarships are based on student qualities of academic merit, citizenship, community service, and a desire for Judaic study in an environment where Jewish tradition, history, culture, and the preparation for success at competitive universities come together.
Yavneh’s Schultz Family Community Service Scholarship, for current students, rewards community leadership, involvement, and a personal commitment to giving back to others. In addition, these one-year, $3,000 awards, for which students may reapply each year, celebrates academic achievement and Jewish identity, and is one that celebrates the Howard and Leslie Schultz family’s steadfast belief that Jewish education builds Jewish leaders.
Yavneh Academy is Dallas’ only co-ed Jewish college preparatory high school.  The school is home to teachers that are nationally recognized for their excellence and expertise, championship winning sports teams, mock trial, debate, Students Against Terrorism and Points for Peace, HELP/Helping Everyone Live Peacefully, the nationally award-winning Bulldog Print, and other extracurricular activities, as well as small class sizes that guarantee individualized attention.
The deadline for Stars Scholars Awards is June 15.  The deadline for Schultz Family Community Service Scholarships is July 15.  Yavneh Academy is located at 12324 Merit Drive, Dallas TX 75251.  For more information, or to apply, call 214-295-3500 or email info@yavnehacademy.org.

Honorable Menschen

Jason Christian, Jeff Birnbaum and Lee Allen logged the most service hours for the 2010-2011 school year for the Dal-Rich Chapter of YMSL. | Photo: Eileen Birnbaum

For his bar mitzvah project, Markie Merlene has joined the efforts of DATA by selling raffle tickets for the DATA Spring Scholarship Raffle. The raffle prize is a Bachendorf’s $10,000 gift certificate. Markie, the son of Tonia and Mark Merlene, is a sixth-grade student at Robinson Middle School in Plano. Markie attended preschool and kindergarten at Congregation Beth Torah and is a former student of Levine Academy. The raffle is raising money for scholarships for Jewish education programs. Only 999 tickets will be sold at $100 per ticket. Markie’s goal is to sell $100 tickets toward the raffle. Tickets can be purchased via credit card or check and you do not have to be present to win. To help support Markie’s goal, mail a check to DATA FAR North,16818 Thomas Chapel Drive, Dallas, TX 75248. Please include Markie’s  bar mitzvah project in the memo line. For more information, contact Tonia Merlene, 972-978-1972 or tonia@mydallasareahomes.com. The deadline is May 29 and the raffle will be held on June 1.
Yavneh Alum ‘08 and co-founder of Yavneh’s HELP, Helping Everyone Live Peacefully, Gabbi Lewin will be spending her summer making memories, and HELPing the world – her favorite “hobby.”  As a participant in the Uganda Orphans Rural Development Program, she will spend two months promoting care and support to orphans with HIV/AIDS, their families and communities.  Gabbi and her peers will be working on the construction of two primary schools in the Ramogi local village, the renovation of a health center and the building of a community market stall at a trading center. With no running water and limited electricity, Gabbi is expecting this to be one of the most humbling experiences and challenges in her life. “My familial ties to South Africa have always sparked a dream for me to volunteer near my roots,” said the rising senior at New York University, and daughter of Beverley and Peter Lewin.
The project is organized by the American Jewish World Service a non-profit humanitarian organization that partners with grassroots organizations in local impoverished communities to foster growth, alleviate poverty, hunger and disease.  Gabbi was first introduced to AJWS when funds from the premiere year of HELP were shared, through American Jewish World Service Sudan Relief and Advocacy Fund. “Ruth Messinger, President of AJWS, remains a role model of mine and I am excited to participate in one of their largest hands-on projects.”
Gabbi has received a generous scholarship from AJWS to participate with this program, but is hoping to raise the remaining $2,500 necessary.  To donate, visit https://secure.ajws.org/site/Donation2idb=1628441184&df_id=1360&1360.donation=form1 and enter “Gabbi Lewin” under the “Volunteer Information” section.  All donations, which must be received by June 1, 2011, are tax-deductible and anonymous to other donors.
Mazel tov to Jason Christian (Class of 2012), son of Dana and Dale Christian, Jeff Birnbaum (Class of 2013), son of Eileen and Scott Birnbaum, and Lee Allen (Class of 2014), son of Mona and Artie Allen, for logging the most community service hours for the Dal-Rich Chapter of the Young Men’s Service league (YMSL). Jeff also posted the most community service hours overall. YMSL is a non-profit organization that initiates and encourages young men and their mothers to pursue philanthropic involvement in their community and provides an opportunity to enhance mother/son relationships. Among the philanthropies supported by YMSL Dal-Rich are: Austin Street Shelter, Catholic Charities Refugee Resettlement, Down Syndrome Guild of Dallas Chai Home Levy House, Community Garden at St. Thomas Apostle Church, Dallas Ramps, Jewish Family Services, Gilda’s Club, Groundwork Dallas, Meals on Wheels, North Texas Food Bank, Town Village North Dallas, Trains at North Park and Welcome Home a Hero among many others.

Congregation Beth Torah honors adult b’nai mitzvah class

Pictured from left to right are; Leslie Morgan (co-instructor), Scott Silvis, Myrna Robins, Elizabeth Stein (co-instructor), Sue Friedmann, and Karen Koopferstock.

Congregation Beth Torah will be celebrating the b’nai mitzvah of the 2010-2011 adult class on May 27th and 28th.  The proud participants of this year’s simcha are Sue Friedmann, Karen Koopferstock, Myrna Robins and Scott Silvis.
This is the fourth group that co-teachers Elizabeth Stein and Leslie Morgan have instructed for this special occasion and the eighth or ninth class that have “graduated” thus far from Beth Torah.
As part of the curriculum, the students study the weekly Torah parasha, learn to read Hebrew, learn to lead the Shabbat services, chant Torah and Haftarah trope, understand Maimonides thirteen principles of faith and perform at least 18 mitzvah hours.
This is the smallest class as far as members (the other classes have ranged from seven to 18 students) but they are not small as far as their goals and commitments to Congregation Beth Torah or to Jewish learning.
All of them have embraced their studies with enthusiasm and dedication.  During the actual b’nai mitzvah, they will all lead Shabbat services, be called to the Torah, chant from the Torah and Haftarah and give a speech.  Their speech will include a d’var Torah on the week’s portion as well as personal insight as to why they embarked on this journey and why now.
When Scott Silvis was asked why he was taking this class now, he shared the following “When I was at the last adult class b’nai mitzvah and learned that Susan Blumka (a member of that class) had lost her battle with cancer that night, I didn’t want to take life for granted.  I didn’t want to have any regrets for not doing this and I wanted to do it for her.”
Sue Freidmann considers this class as a logical part of her 10-year spiritual journey.  Karen Koopferstock said she was glad she finally got to “go to Hebrew School and have a bat mitzvah” like her brothers did growing up.  She also feels she’ll be better equipped to support her kids when they go through this.
Myrna Robins shared that she has known that she wanted to do this for a while and the timing was finally “right.”
For all of them, the timing was now “right.”

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