By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn
One of my dearest memories from the tenure of my four children (Amy Doty, Reuben Davidsohn, Jordana Bernstein and Ethan Davidsohn) at Akiba Academy was watching them grow and thrive as they participated in their Hebrew and Torah studies as well as the secular classes. It seemed as though they were “tiny sponges” soaking up the knowledge imparted to them by their teachers. Akiba had not yet moved to the Schultz-Rosenberg campus, and we made the drive daily initially from Richardson and then from Carta Valley. Many years have passed, and now eight of my grandchildren (Shea Doty, Zachary Bernstein, Tessa Davidsohn, Jessie Doty, Micah Bernstein, Joey Davidsohn, Shaya Bernstein and Isabella Davidsohn) roam the halls of the beautiful campus of Akiba. My oldest granddaughter, Rosie Bernstein, is now a Yavneh student. This group of cousins is phenomenal, and an integral part of their neshamahs comes from the legacy of wonderful teachers and rabbis that taught their parents. (I think Crosby and Nash said it well in their song “Teach Your Children Well”).
Weeks ago, our city was paralyzed by icy roads, yet like the mail, the newspapers, the daily news — the mitzvah of the brit milah must go on.
Rabbi David Shawel had two separate brit milahs to do that icy Shabbat. He davened, as usual, at Texas Torah Institute (Frankford Road) on that icy Shabbos morning. As the weather worsened, he wondered how he could walk to the brises (one at noon and the other around 4 p.m). At Kiddush following Shabbat services, he had the opportunity to visit with the students of TTI.
Rabbi Shawel is a wonderful man. He asked if anyone would possibly spend the afternoon with him, and keep him company on his journey to perform the mitzvah. Two boys in ninth grade — Aryeh Barnett from New Jersey and Yitzchok Raczcowski from Baltimore — offered to make the trek with him. After services they went to Rabbi Shawel’s home in far North Dallas where his wife, Goldie, had prepared delicious cholent to fortify them. The trio began their walk — first to the home of Osnat and Shlomo Bahan, in the McCallum/Hillcrest area. Following the ceremony in North Dallas, they walked — in temperatures of less than 20 degrees — to the Parker and Ohio home in Plano of Amy and Josh Belkin.
“We walked and talked — about their families, about Torah and their learning, it was a really nice afternoon,” said Rabbi Shawel. “But, I fell three times, and really could have hurt myself but the boys were there and they picked me up — thank G-d I didn’t break anything, and I thank Hashem they were there.” After the Belkin bris, the threesome waited until Shabbos was over and they received a warm ride home.
“This was nothing less than a selfless act by a couple of beautiful kids who saved the day,” said Rabbi Shawel. “I really do give praise to the boys, kindness of the next generation and I’m lucky to be a part of that,” added Rabbi Shawel. “The company of these boys, and their true and kind hearts, made a very, very cold day — very, very warm.”
Rabbi Shawel has made an impact on our Jewish community. I have my own Rabbi Shawel stories that make me smile with gratitude for his presence here in Dallas. And, I know for a fact that if he comes into contact with any of my adult children, they will be addressed as Rachel, Reuven, Gila and Noach.
Hadassah brings cancer patients holiday cheer
Volunteers with the Dallas Chapter of Hadassah provided free gift wrapping for patients and staff at Texas Oncology at Presbyterian Hospital Dec. 16-20. Gifts were brought in and the volunteers wrapped them in the waiting room. They hoped to relieve some of the stress of the holidays by doing this task. About 30 Hadassah members took shifts all week long. This is the second year the Dallas Chapter of Hadassah provided complimentary gift wrapping. “It’s a great way to show our support of those fighting cancer and it’s great to see the patients smile” says Terri Schepps, the chapter president.
The Dallas Chapter of Hadassah participates in several community service projects year-round. All projects are listed its event calendar and on the Community Outreach section of its website www.hadassah.org/dallas. Please contact Hadassah at 214-691-1948 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you have a community service suggestion or would like to volunteer for a current community service project.
Adat Chaverim rabbi gives invocation at Frisco City Council meeting
Good wishes to Rabbi Ben Sternman, spiritual leader of Plano’s Congregation Adat Chaverim, who was the first member of the Jewish clergy to receive the honor of giving the invocation at Frisco’s City Council Meeting on Dec. 3. Rabbi Sternman read the “Prayer for our Government” from the Reform siddur “Mishkan T’filah” and then spoke briefly about both Adat Chaverim and Chanukah He told council members about the miracle of the oil and the concept that Chanukah is actually a holiday about freedom of religion. Councilman Tim Nelson, an Adat Chaverim congregant, sponsored the event.
Following the rabbi’s presentation, Maya Klein, a third-grader in both the Adat Chaverim Religious School and Smith Elementary School in Frisco, was asked to lead the session in the Pledge of Allegiance. She stood before the council and led everyone in reciting both the American and the Texas State pledges. When she was finished, Mayor Maher Maso presented her with his mayor’s pin to commemorate and applaud her efforts.