By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn
Shearith Israel invites community to be a mensch program Sunday
Discover the magical feelings of becoming a mensch while you munch (because no Jewish event can be successful without food!) At the Weitzman Family Religious School of Congregation Shearith Israel, learning involves doing, experiencing, sharing and appreciating what our tradition has passed down to us. As students reach the middle of the school year, they decided to pause from their regular classroom sessions and engage in activities that reflect some important Jewish values, and together with the community experience and celebrate the act of giving to others. Different values were selected such as: feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, respecting their elders, caring for and preserving the environment, caring for animals, loving one’s neighbor as themselves and forging a connection with the people and land of Israel.
Each grade level was given the opportunity to explore one Jewish value and prepare a short “commercial” presentation to the school about the value and about an organization assigned to them that acts to sustain that value.
The Weitzman Family Religious School has extended an invitation to the Dallas community to join them and to experience this program Dec. 15 between 9:15 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. The day will begin with an assembly and a short presentation by children and a short magic show. Participants will then receive a mensch card and will be able to go to the various stations and DO things that will be donated to the various organizations. Among the organizations and causes are Jewish Family Service, Children’s Medical Center, cancer research, a senior residential community, Jewish National Fund, Operation Kindness, My Friend’s House, The Austin Street Shelter as well as low income neighborhood recreation centers in Israel. While the children are DOING, parents can enjoy Starbucks coffee. While munching, learning how to perform magic, create silver foil sculptures they will choose their special balloon shape. After visiting all stations and completing all tasks the mensch card will be displayed on the mensch board for the official mensch recognition.
This fun fair is very different from many popular “Mitzvah Malls” by giving families that opportunity to learn and to DO at the same time. Families are invited to bring canned goods, gently-loved children’s’ clothes in great shape, as well as dog and cat food. Students will be raffling two sets of tickets to a Mavericks game. All are welcome to participate.
This event is co-sponsored by the Weitzman Family Religious School tzedakah collection and Congregation Shearith Israel SISterhood.
DHFLA announces speaker for Dec. 15 annual meeting
The Dallas Hebrew Free Loan’s 2013 annual meeting will be held from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 15 at Prestonwood Country Club. Noted sports attorney, Chairman and Founder of the Greenberg Sports Group will be the featured speaker. A seated breakfast will be held, with dietary laws observed. The event is free to members and $15 for non-members. There will be no solicitation of funds. For reservations or additional information, contact Deborah Dana at 214-696-8008. Since 1935, the DHFLA‘s motto has been “A Hand Up, Not a Handout.”
Makom, Singer awarded 2013 Natan/NEXT Grants
Good wishes to Rabbi David Singer, of Shearith Israel’s Makom, who was one of the four recipients of the 2013 Natan/NEXT Grants for Social Entrepreneurs, designed to support ongoing cultural, educational, service and community-building projects run by young Jewish adults for their peers. The grants will total $25,000 to four recipients to further realize their vision of Jewish life in their communities.
“These entrepreneurial young adults are driven by a passion to inspire their peers,” said Morlie Levin, CEO of NEXT: A Division of Birthright Israel Foundation. “Their unique projects are indicative of the kind of authentic experiences the Birthright Israel generation creates for their friends — ones which we must support in order for them to find themselves in our Jewish community.”
Jackie Fishman, program officer of the Natan Fund, said, “The 2013 grant recipients are visionary leaders shaping their communities and making an impact on the Jewish future. From theater, to spirituality, to technology, these four projects show that young adults express their Jewish identity in many different ways and we hope our support will help these projects achieve even greater outcomes.”
Makom, an innovative spiritual community in Dallas, is a hub for experimentation and imagination. Makom takes the synagogue out of the synagogue, empowering Jews to build traditional, dynamic Jewish life on their own terms. Singer, one of Shearith’s associate rabbis, is the founder of Makom, and was named by The Jewish Daily Forward as one of America’s Most Inspiring Rabbis.
Kaya Haymann wins Level 5 Texas State Gymnastics Championships last month
On Sunday, Nov. 24 Kaya Haymann, a fourth grader at Ann and Nate Levine Academy, won the Level 5 Texas State Gymnastics Championships. She took the gold on vault with a 9.55, gold on bars with a 9.675, gold on floor with a 9.475 and silver on beam with a 9.55. She won the all-around competition with a total score of 38.25, a personal best.
Kaya began training as a competitive gymnast at the age of 5 at World Olympic Gymnastics Academy (WOGA) in Plano. This is the same gym Carly Patterson and Nastia Luikin trained, both All Around Olympic Gold Medalists. When asked, Kaya said “My dream is to go to the Olympics in 2020 and represent the Jewish people as Aly Raisman did in 2012. Also, my goal is to get a scholarship to the University of Michigan.”
Kaya trains at WOGA six days a week and has been making sacrifices for many years. When asked what keeps her motivated she said “my coaches, my parents and the excitement of learning new skills — I just love the sport of gymnastics. As soon as I get into the gym I forget about everything else going on in the world.”
Kaya is back in the gym working on new routines and plans to compete level 7 starting in January. She said the only goal she didn’t accomplish this year is meeting her hero, Aly Raisman. “It’s all I asked for during Chanukah,” said Kaya.
Kaya is the daughter of Gary and Julie Haymann. She also has a brother, Eli, who is a competitive gymnast at WOGA and a twin sister, Izzie, who plays tennis.
Plano’s Adat Chaverim to receive URJ award
Communicate is the online resource bank of more than 2,600 programs and ideas that have been created exclusively for URJ congregations and their members. Every two years, summaries in several categories are selected to receive an Epstein Award recognizing those congregations’ outstanding programming. Award recipients receive a $1,000 programming grant, presented at the URJ North American Biennial Convention, taking place this year in San Diego, Dec. 11-15.
Adat Chaverim of Plano will receive an Epstein Communicate Award for its B’nai Torah program in the category of Teen Engagement Program, small congregation. B’nai Torah is an integrated program that was built on “Al Sh’loshah D’varim,” and focuses on the three principles, Torah, avodah and g’milut chasadim. Students participate in various activities and opportunities for scholarship, accruing the 18 credits needed to be part of the Bagrut (graduation) ceremony, which, innovatively, occurs in 12th grade and coincides with the students’ graduation from secular high school.