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Dallas Doings

Posted on 25 August 2011 by admin

Nishmat Am celebrates six years in Plano

Mazel tov to Congregation Nishmat Am as it gets set to mark its sixth anniversary. Thanks to Stanley Siegel, Nishmat Am executive director for sharing the details of the plans that are under way for the gala next month.

Cantor Jacob and Mara Cohen

To mark its sixth anniversary, the Plano synagogue will hold its Annual Fall Gala on Sunday Sept. 18 and will honor two couples that have been central to the synagogue’s growth and success since its inception — Aaron and Debra Kaplan and Cantor Jacob and Mara Cohen.

The Gala will be held at the NTX Auto Museum and will acknowledge the many accomplishment of the synagogue since it was founded in 2005 by Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen.

With a membership of 200 families, Nishmat Am attracts members and participants from North Dallas and Collin County. It is known for its lively and participatory form of prayer and its robust educational programs. The musical Friday Night “Freilachs,” Lunch and Learn, Gateways to Judaism and weekly Torah Reflections are only some of the many programs that typify the extent of programming. This Fall, a newly expanded Adult Learning Center will be launched as will an expanded youth program.

The Fall Gala will note these accomplishments, so much of which is due to the commitment and drive of the evening’s honorees.

Debra and Aaron Kaplan

Aaron and Debra Kaplan are part of the group that joined Rabbi Cohen in establishing Nishmat Am six years ago and have been loyal and dedicated members ever since.

Aaron, a member of Nishmat Am’s board of directors and a former vice-president, is an internationally acclaimed symphonic and film composer, orchestrator, pianist, songwriter and performer whose talent spans many musical genres and whose music can be heard worldwide on radio, television and film. So much of Aaron’s talents are devoted to Jewish causes and Israel.

In 1996, his award winning song, “We’re Coming Home,” was selected as the best religious and Jewish song of the year in America. It has been recorded and broadcast both in the United States and overseas to raise millions of dollars to rescue persecuted and oppressed Jews around the world and bring them to Israel. And now, Glenn Beck is using “We’re Coming Home” on his Facebook page “facebook.com/824restoringcourage,” to help promote his mega-event in Israel, “Restoring Courage” that took place earlier this week. Its purpose is to show support and stand by Israel. An Israeli version with Hebrew lyrics has also been recorded.

Debra Lewis Kaplan is an international author and lecturer on Mind-Body Medicine and spiritual psychology. She is an integrative psychotherapist who maintains a successful private practice and teaching center in Plano. She is also a senior faculty member for the Center for Mind-Body Medicine in Washington, D.C.

Debra has worked for over 30 years as a child, adult, marriage and family therapist and her specialties include stress reduction, spiritual growth and intuition development, grief and crisis counseling and Mind-Body-Spirit Medicine.

Among her many academic and professional accomplishments and awards, Debra’s pioneering work with children and their families traumatized by war and terrorism was no more apparent than when she answered the call after 9/11 to counsel the families of first responders as well as her work in Israel for the CMBM program, “Healing the Wounds of War.” Her work has been utilized in New Orleans after Katrina and earlier this year in Haiti following the devastation of the earthquake

The Kaplans are the proud parents of two beautiful daughters, Melissa and Leah, as well as their son-in-law, Michael Slaughter, and granddaughter, Cady Elizabeth Slaughter.

Jacob and Mara Cohen have been central to the life of Nishmat Am since its inception. Their involvement and contributions have put their mark on almost every part of the synagogue’s life.

Raised in Dallas, Jacob Cohen is a graduate of the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Ill. and of Brandeis University. He is known to many in the community as “the young cantor,” having been trained by his father, Rabbi Yitzchak Cohen and by some of Israel’s most prominent traditional cantors. Jacob’s leading of services — especially during the High Holidays — are both moving and inspiring to the throngs who delight in his voice and in his cantorial style. In addition to his cantorial duties, Jacob also serves as chief financial officer of The Renewed Group, Inc., a manufacturer and wholesaler of eco-friendly and sustainable apparel.

Mara Cohen is a native of Connecticut and a graduate of Yeshiva University’s high school and college in New York. For the past three years, Mara has been a teacher at the Ann and Nate Levine Academy’s Early Childhood Center and has led the Tot Shabbat program at Nishmat Am on Shabbat mornings.

The Cohens are proud parents of Orly and Avi, both students at Levine Academy.

The entire community is invited to participate in the Gala and to acknowledge the special spirit that Nishmat Am and the Kaplans and Cohens have brought to the expanding community in North Dallas and Collin County.”

For more information and to make a reservation for the gala, contact Nishmat Am at 972-618-2200 or at info@nishmatam.org.

Free Hebrew Reading Course

The Jewish Studies Initiative of North Texas(JSI) is offering two free Hebrew Crash Courses Level 1 and 2 to all members of the Dallas Jewish community. These courses were designed by the National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP) in an effort to open the door to Jewish growth and commitment.

Level 1 is designed to teach those with no basic knowledge of the Hebrew language how to read Hebrew in five easy lessons. Level 2 is geared to reading select prayers for the High Holy Days. The five week Hebrew Reading Crash Course Level 1 began on Aug. 23, 2011. The five week Level 2 Course begins on August 25. The two classes take place from 8 to 9:30 p.m. Registration for both courses is still open. They are taught by Gail Stolovitsky. For further information and to learn of the location of the classes, call JSI at 214-789-7241 or send an e-mail to  ravhanan@sbcglobal.net.

Hadassah breaks records with Movie Night!

The Dallas Chapter of Hadassah hosted their annual summer movie night on Aug.17. A sold out show packed the theater with more than 160 attendees. In true Hadassah form, the diverse audience consisted of men, women (both younger and older), professional and retired and more. “The Help” did not disappoint the audience with continuous laughter mixed with shock, and yes, even some tears. Susie Avnery chaired the event, along with several volunteers making the evening a huge success. Each attendee received a goodie bag filled with Kosher snacks sponsored by Andrea Krolick Custom Interiors, Dallas Jewish Funerals, IsoBreathing, Inc., Legacy at Willow Bend and Legacy at Preston Hollow, Medallion Assisted Living and Memory Care, Shear Haven Salon and Spa and VistaCare Hospice. Robbe Epstein, the co-V.P. of Programming assisted in putting the bags together and enlisted the help of her daughter Rachel Epstein and her friend Sylvia Schepps, both seventh graders at Akiba Academy.

Before the movie, The Dallas Chapter President Terri Schepps, addressed the audience with passion stating, “We must be ambassadors for this organization. Hadassah is the second largest employer in Jerusalem. Can you imagine what it would be like without Hadassah in Israel? We can’t imagine that — we must step up and share with others what is going on in Israel, with Hadassah. They are depending on Dallas, Texas to stand with them — they are depending on us to do something.” A short video was shown highlighting Hadassah’s accomplishments in Israel as along with a short documentary about Multiple Sclerosis and the advances Hadassah is making. Audience members were encouraged to check out more videos at Hadassah’s website, www.hadassah.org.

Hadassah is currently offering Life, Child and Associate memberships for $100 during 2011, for its 100th birthday. The Dallas Chapter’s goal is to reach 1,000 new members during this campaign. They have also been tasked to raise more than $350,000. They have raised over $50,000 to date and are turning to the community for donations of any size. Susie Avnery and Robyn Rovinsky Mirsky, the Co-VP’s of Fundraising, are asking for community members to stand with Hadassah and to help Dallas meet their fundraising goal. Contact the office at 214-691-1948 or email at chapter.dallas@hadassah.org to make a donation. One of the most popular levels of support is the Keepers of the Gate, a commitment of $1,000 a year. This commitment can be paid in monthly increments of $83.33. Visit the local website at www.dallas.hadassah.org.

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