Dallas Doings
By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

Beth Torah’s Men’s Club awarded Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs’ national Quality Chapter designation

Congregation Beth Torah Men’s Club has been awarded the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs’ national Quality Chapter Award for the sixth year. This honor cites the group’s excellence in programming, membership and contributions to synagogue life.
Beth Torah is one of about 60 Conservative synagogues throughout the country to receive the honor for the 2013-2014 year and notably the only one in Texas and the Federation’s four-state Southwest Region.
“We’re thrilled to get this honor, but it’s not what we’re about,” said David Mandell, who was recently re-elected to his second one-year term as president. “Helping each other and doing good works for the synagogue and the community are what really matter.”
The CBT Men’s Club’s busy calendar includes monthly lox-and-bagel breakfasts, High Holiday ushering and building the synagogue sukkah, cultural and sports programs, the annual “Remember the Names Holocaust Commemoration,” community service projects at Thanksgiving and Christmas, an annual Scotch-and-cigars night and periodic “Guys Nights Out” for pizza and beer.
“We’ve found that our club is a great way to build bonds among our members and help people feel welcome in the synagogue,” Mandell said. “That’s more important than a plaque on the wall.”
However, he added, “We fully intend to keep winning the award.”

BlueWave Express Car Wash partners with Vogel Alcove for week of giving

It’s time to treat your car to a good car wash and do a mitzvah at the same time. Most of us know of the good works that the Vogel Alcove provides.
BlueWave Express Car Wash is partnering with Vogel Alcove for a weeklong fundraising opportunity. Ten percent of all sales from each of the four Metroplex locations (Allen, Addison, Irving and Roanoke) will be donated directly back to Vogel Alcove’s Childcare Center.
Patrons of BlueWave Express will have the opportunity to give back to Vogel Alcove by simply purchasing a car wash during the weeklong promotion, no coupons needed. Visit http://www.vogelalcove.org/carwash to learn more.
The initiative will culminate with Vogel Alcove staff, volunteers, interns and Flight (Young Professionals Group) on-site at the Addison and Allen locations from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Saturday, July 19. Patrons will have the opportunity to win free car washes and a chance at a six months pass while on location. The organization’s Facebook page will also run a contest giving free car washes to people who answer trivia questions posted on the page.
This event is one of several new initiatives by the organization to increase revenue needed to fund the new childcare center. Recently entering into a partnership with Dallas ISD, Vogel Alcove remodeled former City Park Elementary, a vacated 55,000 square feet school and moved its childcare center and administration offices under one roof. This move allows for increased enrollment and specialized programs throughout the year. With the addition of more space and staff, the need for more funding will allow the organization to increase enrollment and services to more than the current amount of 115 homeless children each day.

Temple Shalom welcomes Melissa Beldon as new youth advisor

Good wishes to Melissa Beldon, who is the new Temple Shalom youth advisor.
Melissa grew up in Tampa, Fla., and moved to Fort Worth the summer before she became a high school junior.
Active in her National Federation of Temple Youth Texas Oklahoma Region (NFTY-TOR)  Fort Worth chapter (FWFTY), Melissa served as its social action vice president.
Melissa graduated from Texas State University in 2012 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor focus in family and child development and was an active member of Hillel.
She grew up as a dancer, and her current hobbies include arts and crafts and baking, both of which she will put to good use as Temple Shalom’s youth advisor.

Laurel Ornish performs with Dallas’ Orchestra of New Spain

Laurel Ornish is an aficionada of Spanish music, dance and culture.

Laurel Ornish recently performed with Dallas’ Orchestra of New Spain. | Photo: Courtesy of Laurel Ornish
Laurel Ornish recently performed with Dallas’ Orchestra of New Spain. | Photo: Courtesy of Laurel Ornish

Not only is she a flamenco dancer, she also plays castañuelas (castanets), the Spanish percussion instruments, professionally.
Laurel recently performed as a musician with Dallas’ Orchestra of New Spain, led by Grover Wilkins, III, which plays music of the Spanish Baroque era.
In conjunction with SMU’s Meadows Museum’s current exhibition, “The Spanish Gesture: Drawings from Murillo to Goya,” which runs through Aug. 31, the orchestra recently held a concert in the main gallery of the museum, among the Spanish art masterpieces, and attracted a standing-room-only crowd of more than 200.
Laurel participated in the orchestra’s performance of three tonadillas, operetta-like pieces sung by two sopranos and a tenor.
“For me,” she says, “making music is a way to connect to Hashem. To be playing beautiful Spanish music with an orchestra among the Spanish art in that museum was an incredible high.”

Legacy Book Club to present review of ‘Defending Jacob’ at 3:30 p.m., Monday, July 21

When I received the item below, I was particularly enthused as I’ve just completed reading “Defending Jacob.” The book, which is now out in paperback and available on e-readers and audiobook, is a definite must-read for those who enjoy a complex, meaty novel with multiple twists and turns. It has been ranked on The New York Times best-seller list for more than two years.
The novel was highly recommended to me by my daughter-in-law, Suzy Davidsohn and a close friend, Dr. Rochelle Middleman, more than two years ago. I decided to save the book for a special occasion — and what better occasion than mono? I enjoyed the book so much that I bought it for my best friend.
Here is a summary: Andy Barber has been an assistant district attorney in his suburban Massachusetts County for more than 20 years. He is respected in his community, tenacious in the courtroom and happy at home with his wife, Laurie and son, Jacob. But when a shocking crime shatters their New England town, Andy is blindsided by what happens next: His 14-year-old son is charged with the murder of a fellow student.
Award-winning author William Landay has written the consummate novel of an embattled family in crisis — a suspenseful, character-driven mystery that is also a spellbinding tale of guilt, betrayal, and the terrifying speed at which our lives can spin out of control. Every parental instinct Andy has rallies to protect his boy. Jacob insists that he is innocent, and Andy believes him. Andy must. He’s his father.
But as damning facts and shocking revelations surface, as a marriage threatens to crumble and the trial intensifies, as the crisis reveals how little a father knows about his son, Andy will face a trial of his own between loyalty and justice, between truth and allegation, between a past he’s tried to bury and a future he cannot conceive.
This is as much a nuanced family drama, love story, and social inquisition as it is a murder/courtroom/legal thriller. If you can engage with the narrator, whose reliability or unreliability is a puzzle to piece together, you will be satisfied with this warm yet dark story of a community and family unhinged by a violent crime.
The author is a former DA who is skilled at informing the reader about the law and procedure without telegraphing it. The narrative is even, polished, and intelligently observant of a community in shock, a family shattered
Jacob is accused of murdering his classmate, Ben Rifkin. In Massachusetts, 14-year-olds charged with first-degree murder are tried as adults.
Barber narrates the story with depth and dread, exposing some family secrets along the way, which could impact the case, and creates increasing internal trauma for his wife, Laurie. Their marriage has always been an ongoing love story; they met as freshmen in college and have loved each other unfailingly through the years. This event mires them in vulnerability and heavy exposure to the media placing them under a public microscope.

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