By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn
The occasion of a bar or bat mitzvah is truly a pinnacle in a young person’s life. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed to watch many in my own family, as well as friends cross the threshold into young adulthood and comprehend the true mitzvah of it.
That being said, I’d like to share the following with you, not because he is my grandson, Zachary Bernstein, but because his efforts were unselfish and his tenacity unwavering. Zach’s thoughts appear below:
“Wow!!! We did it!! I was nervous and uncomfortable at first, but as the race went on, I got more used to my surroundings and kept pedaling on!! My dad and I ended up biking 43 miles in the race. We biked to the second rest stop, took a van to the fifth rest stop and then biked into the finish at the Texas Motor Speedway. It was very hard to do the 43 miles, but knowing that I raised so much money for such a good cause with your help was my motivation for me to go as far as I did….Thanks to your donation, I became the top fundraiser on my team, the Feisty Devils. I ‘took down’ the previous top fundraiser, who is the captain of the team, and became the top fundraiser. There are over 80 people on the Feisty Devils; so being all the way at the top is very hard. I also got the award for the most inspirational rider.
“On behalf of everyone living with multiple sclerosis, thank you for your generous donation in support of my Bike MS fundraising! Not only did your donation help me exceed my fundraising goal of $5,000, it helped support cutting-edge research and programs and services for everyone impacted by MS. Ending MS means no one will receive an MS diagnosis again. Every dollar helps. Every person makes a difference.”
Early in January, Zach’s uncle, Jed Bernstein, obm a seemingly healthy 42-year-old, passed away without warning. Jed’s participation in the MS Race was legendary. Zach made a promise, along with his dad, Josh Bernstein, to be a participant in the race in Jed’s memory. Zach succeeded in raising approximately $6,200. In addition to this writer, he is the grandson of Eli Davidsohn and Mel and Barbara Bernstein. Congratulations to Zach for fulfilling his mitzvah project and for being a true mensch.
JCC receives multiple awards at JCCA Biennial convention
The Jewish Community Center of Dallas (The J) has returned from the JCC Association (JCCA) Biennial with three awards in excellence. As the name implies, the JCCA Biennial is a national gathering held every two years as an opportunity for lay leaders and staff alike to learn about innovative JCC programs and services, receive leadership education, share best practices within the industry and to build a lasting sense of camaraderie among colleagues. This year’s event was held March 28-April 1 in San Diego.
During the Biennial, The J was recognized for three excellence awards. The first was for “Programmatic Excellence and User Engagement” for its Parents Showcase Week, which provides parents and children with an opportunity to present and share their special activities at the J — including events ranging from preschool time to pool activities. The second award was for “Push Media,” given for its innovative new e-blast, “The J HOTBOX Weekly” that keeps members up to date on the breadth of the center’s programs, courses and activities. Lastly, it was recognized for its “J Idol” Fundraiser. Inspired by reality show talent competitions such as “American Idol,” this event highlighted local amateur talent, while raising funds for the organization and providing the community with an entertaining and engaging evening.
Ten Dallas lay leaders attended the Biennial along with JCC President Artie Allen. The leaders included: Board Chair Scott Cohen, Jay Liberman, Neil Beckerman, Jack Baum, Angela Horowitz, Sherry Goldberg, Doug French, Mona Allen and Kenny Goldberg. All had positive feedback about the opportunity to learn about the future of JCC culture.
“The Biennial proved to be a valuable experience for both staff and lay leadership,” said Liberman. “Collaborating with JCCA staff and leadership of JCCs throughout the country, we gained valuable perspective on our beloved Aaron Family JCC. We return better equipped to evaluate current programs and practices, but also with new ideas and visions for the future.”
Baum agreed adding, “I have been to multiple JCCA Biennials as well as other Jewish nonprofit conferences. This one was the first to exceed my expectations. The learning from the facilitators as well from each other was priceless. I would recommend attending the next JCCA Biennial to any Jewish communal professionals and lay leaders. I thought the J Talks sessions captured the spirit of all that the conference aspired to convey. They were outstanding.”
Among the highlights of lecturers, guest speakers and various education workshops was a presentation from Dr. Ron Wolfson author of “Relational Judaism: Using the Power of Relationships to Transform the Jewish Community.”
“My favorite part of the conference was the opening plenary address by Dr. Wolfson [explaining what] ‘Relational Judaism’ can do for Jewish communities across the globe,” said Sherry Goldberg, who has been attending biennials for 30 years. “ [He also] spoke of how important relationships are in life, and how the relationships we build and nurture will be the key to bringing people back to those facilities and programs that brought us together in the first place. It was a wonderful lesson to communicate to our JCC communities!”
Following on the heels of the Biennial, further details about the upcoming JCC Maccabi Games were announced, including the selection of Dallas lay leader Steve Schneider to join the Sports Advisory Council (SAC), the national committee responsible for the athletic competitions at each of the JCC Maccabi Games.
“The SAC selects the sports, creates the format and rules for the competitions and oversees the games, with a focus on the Jewish values and Olympic spirit that make the JCC Maccabi Games such an exciting and inspirational experience for everyone involved,” explains Schneider. “I have admired their work for many years, especially the emphasis on inclusiveness, fairness and compassion, which are some of the most important Jewish values, not just in sports competition but also in life. It’s an honor to be asked to serve on the SAC at the national level, and I am proud that the JCCA continues to recognize the Dallas JCC as a valued partner and a source of people who can help make a meaningful contribution to the Maccabi Games and to the national community.”
The 2014 JCC Maccabi Games will be held in three host communities: Boca Raton, Fla.; Cherry Hill, N.J.; and Detroit. The J will send 100 local athletes to the games in Boca Raton held August 10-15, 2014 as it prepares to host the 2015 games in Dallas.