Dallas Doings
By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

Congregation Shearith Israel‘s Annual Torah Fund luncheon will take place at noon, Sunday, Feb. 23 at the synagogue, 9401 Douglas Ave., Dallas. Now in its 71st year, the Torah Fund Campaign of The Women’s League for Conservative Judaism has raised more than $90 million to support The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, the Zeigler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles and The Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. Funds raised help ensure the future of Conservative Judaism by providing scholarship assistance to future rabbis, cantors and Jewish educators.
A theme for the Torah Fund is chosen yearly. How appropriate is it that the theme for this year is “Mishpachah” (family). The Torah tells us the stories of many families — from Adam and Eve to Abraham and Sarah, which emphasizes the central role of family and Judaism.
Kimberly Ross and her family exemplify the beauty and importance of mishpachah in Jewish life. Born and reared in Leesville, La., Kimberly’s parents were the only Jewish family in town. They made certain that she knew about her heritage, sending her to religious school an hour away from home. She graduated from Tulane University, and then received a master’s degree in early childhood special education from Vanderbilt University prior to moving to Dallas, where she taught preschool and kindergarten at the Lamplighter School for six years. During that time she met and married Jon Ross, a fourth generation member of the Shearith Israel family. They have three sons, Shane, Sterling and Stratton.
As her children grew, Kimberly became part of another mishpachah — that of Congregation Shearith Israel. She was instrumental in starting the ITSE program for parents and young children. She was a co-chair of Sisterhood Shabbat, and one of the chairs for Shearith’s 13/125 event honoring Rabbi William Gershon. Most recently, she has participated in the Wheel to Survive event in honor of her mother, a nine-year ovarian cancer survivor. She works tirelessly to spread awareness and to “be the difference” in order to end the fight against ovarian cancer.
For additional information about the luncheon, please contact Lisa Schwarz, at lisaschwarz1@gmail.com or Debbie Weinstein at hweinstein451@aol.com.

‘Building meals for super heroes’ is theme for annual sisterhood intrafaith brunch

“Building Meals for Super Hero Health” will be the theme when Tiferet Israel opens its doors at 10:30 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 16, to welcome women from all area congregations for 2014’s Annual Intrafaith Sisterhood Brunch. Presenting the event’s program will be Tope Oguntona, nutritional health coach at the Preston Forest branch of Natural Grocers, a company that views wellness and nutrition education as a community service. And of course a healthy, Dallas Kosher-supervised meal by Café Fino will be served.
All Natural Grocers’ nutritional health coaches have degrees in dietetics or nutrition, and follow a rigorous program of continuing education. Tope earned her BS in food science and nutrition from Sam Houston State University. Passionate about helping people live healthier lives, she thoroughly enjoys educating others on how to reach optimal nutritional goals.
Women especially love Tope’s relaxed take on healthy meal planning: “Real superheroes don’t just put on capes. They fuel up with dense foods that give their bodies the energy and endurance to leap tall buildings in a single bound — and still empty the dishwasher at the end of the day,” she said. She and Tiferet’s Sisterhood hope many women will join them to “learn basic principles that get the Kryptonite out of your diet and help you experience the POW! of superhero health.”
Sue Kretchman, president of the hostess sisterhood, invites women to make reservations at $18 per person by contacting the synagogue office, 214-691-3611 or jennifer@tiferetdallas.org, and asks for them by Jan. 31 to facilitate meal planning. Congregation Tiferet Israel is located at 10909 Hillcrest Road, Dallas, just north of Royal Lane.

The J to present Shabbat in nature this Sunday

Most families are looking for fun activities to do with their children in grades K-6. From 3-4:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, is a perfect opportunity to spend some “qt” (quality time) with your youngsters and experience the Aaron Family JCC’s program “Shabbat in Nature.” For a mere $6 per project (parent participation required), children and parents will be able to experience “Jewish Time” with their five senses: by creating their own natural spice box; a song session; a marshmallow roast; and fun in the woods at the J. For registration or more information, contact Rachelle Weiss Crane at the J at either 214-239-7128 or rweisscrane@jccdallas.org.

Celebrating their Golden Anniversary last month were Deanna and Jerry Kasten. Pictured back row, from left are Reyna and Andrew Kasten, Ruth Kasten Joseph, Jerry and Deanna Kasten, Howard and Jenny Cohen and Spencer Joseph; pictured front row from left, Eli Kasten and Coco Cohen, the youngest members of the family.
Celebrating their Golden Anniversary last month were Deanna and Jerry Kasten. Pictured back row, from left are Reyna and Andrew Kasten, Ruth Kasten Joseph, Jerry and Deanna Kasten, Howard and Jenny Cohen and Spencer Joseph; pictured front row from left, Eli Kasten and Coco Cohen, the youngest members of the family.

Simchas — Deanna and Jerry Kasten celebrate Golden wedding anniversary

Jerry and Deanna Kasten celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with a family weekend at Hyatt Lost Pines Resort in Bastrop, Texas, the weekend of Dec. 21-23.
Jerry and Deanna met at the University of Texas in Austin when they were both students in 1959. They married four years later on Dec. 22, in 1963 and moved to Dallas, where they have lived since. Family members joined in the celebration with wagon rides, a guided hike in Bastrop State Park and activities at the Hyatt for the holidays like family dinners and games. The Kastens were joined in Bastrop by Reyna and Andrew Kasten and Eli, Ruth Kasten Joseph, Howard and Jenny Cohen and Coco and Spencer Joseph. Not present was oldest grandson, Harrison Joseph, who was home with the flu. The group was also joined by niece, Vanessa Kasten Urango and her family, who came from Houston for the event.

Ann and Nate Levine Academy Headmaster Mark Stolovitsky, center, taught the same topic, “The Christian/Jewish Relationship: Year 1 to 2014,” to two generations of the Hacker family in the fall — Merle (left) at the Frisco Lakes mini-Melton class and Carly, in his eighth grade Jewish studies class.


One of the best parts of writing this column is writing about people I have known since I came to Dallas. A recent conversation with Merle Hacker was a joy to listen to — and now write about. Many years ago, Merle was one of the best in apartment rentals and leasing agents in Dallas. It would be fair to say that she successfully found apartments for at least three Wisch sisters. Merle is a fascinating lady who stays active and continues her Jewish learning. She and her husband, Sonny, live at Frisco Lakes. The JCC has hosted several mini Melton courses at Frisco Lakes’ Activity Center through their Shalom Club. Recently, Merle, a veteran of many Melton courses, took a course entitled “The Christian Jewish Relationship” taught by Ann and Nate Levine Academy Headmaster Mark Stolovitsky. On the first day of the course, Mark asked Merle if she was related to Carly Hacker, daughter of Suzie and Howard Hacker, and an eighth grader at Levine. The answer from Merle was a resounding, “Yes! She’s my granddaughter.” Mark stated that he had never taught the same course to two different generations in all his years of teaching! Carly, an accomplished student, is president of Student Council at Levine, and will attend JJ Pearce next year. She is also the granddaughter of Gloria and Lionel Reiman and the great-granddaughter of Rose Fruchthandler of Montreal.
The course material studied by both grandmother and granddaughter explored some of the following: “The Christian/Jewish Relationship: Year 1 to 2014.” Why do Jews have a collective discomfort with the image of a cross? What are the mother/daughter dynamics in the relationship between Judaism and Christianity? Questions like these and more were addressed in this course and they studied the changing image of Jews found in the stories of Christianity throughout history; and the ways this has impacted the Jewish/Christian relationship.
For additional information on Melton individual courses or the Melton School, contact Rachelle Weiss Crane at the JCC, 214-739-7128.

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