Dallas Doings

Gov. Rick Perry names UT Dallas instructor to Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission

Dr. Zsuzsanna Ozsvath, Leah and Paul Lewis Chair of Holocaust Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas, has been named to a newly formed state commission by Governor Rick Perry.
The Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission is intended to provide educational materials to schools and colleges and help implement course studies and awareness programs of the Holocaust and other genocides.
Dr. Ozsvath said, “I feel honored to be chosen for this important office, and I’ll serve with pleasure the state of Texas, where I found my home 45 years ago.”
The founding director of the Holocaust Studies program at UT Dallas, she is also an award-winning author, having received the Hungarian National Academy of Sciences Milan Füst Literary Award for the book “Foamy Sky: The Major Poems of Miklós Radnóti,” which she co-authored. A Fulbright Award recipient, Dr. Ozsvath earned a final diploma in piano from the Béla Bartók School of Musical Arts, a concert diploma in piano from the State Academy of Music at Hamburg and a doctorate of German language and literature from the University of Texas at Austin. For the past 20 years, she has organized lecture series and international conferences on the Holocaust.
In additon to Dr. Ozsvath, Gov. Perry has named Peter Berkowitz of Houston chair of the commission and appointed Laura Allen ­McCarthy of Richardson, David Schultz of Plano and LaSalle R. Vaughn of Helotes to the commission, which will work with organizations, agencies, museums, survivors and liberators to help preserve information and experiences of the Holocaust and other genocide events.

Joel Shickman to be remembered with musical party

The late Joel Shickman, or “Mr. Joel” as his littlest musical protégés called him, believed in the healing power of music. In his memory, Music Together of Dallas will present its Annual Winter Disco Party benefiting the Joel Shickman Children’s Music Fund on Sunday, Jan. 17, 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., in Pollman Hall at Temple Emanu-El. All of the proceeds from the party will go toward the fund, which allows families battling childhood cancer to bring all of their children to Music Together classes for free.
Tax-deductible tickets are $10 for dancers 8 months and older. You can now order then online.
“Everyone between the ages of 0 and 120 is invited,” said Gila Vinokur, owner and director of Music Together of Dallas. “Disc jockey Joey Ben Ami will spin multi-generational sounds, from swing to disco, rock-and-roll to hip-hop. B.B. Good, formerly with Radio Disney, will be the emcee for the afternoon. We’ll have a musical time and be raising funds for a wonderful cause in Joel’s memory.”
Shickman knew that one of the most perfect matches in all of creation is music and children. The music one learns as a child becomes a part of their being and memory for the rest of their lives. Music speaks when there are no words to express incredible joy, sorrow, fear or love. Shickman was a man who could bring this incredible power of musical expression to everyone around him, young and old.
Joel grew up in a musical household, and his most significant interactions with his parents centered on music. Although his mother, a classically trained pianist, died of breast cancer when he was a toddler, the spirit of her music remained a part of him throughout his life. His father was passionate about classical music, and music remained a uniting force in their relationship. They often played duets, performed choral works and studied music together.
Shickman played violin from the age of 6. He studied theater in high school, where he also picked up the guitar. He was often found playing for free at local cafés on weekends. In college, he decided to broaden his musical studies and learned composition, theory, piano and conducting. He sang with the Houston Symphony and the Dallas Symphony choruses for more than a decade, touring with them around the world.
Joel’s true calling to teach was awakened when he became a father. When his first son was old enough, Joel signed up for a Music Together class. Soon, he was a Music Together teacher. “Mr. Joel” was a magnet to children and parents alike. He was honored to be their guide through Latin rhythms, African drums, American folk songs and classical orchestras.
Joel knew that everyone could speak through music. He empowered the parents in his classes to sing and dance and bang on drums regardless of their pitch, ear or talent. He knew that a child needs to hear a parent’s voice and doesn’t care about quality. When a baby hears Mom or Dad singing, the connection between them is made no matter what key or how broken the tune. He knew that children can learn the languages of rhythm and music to express themselves before they could even speak.
He grew as a teacher and expanded his classroom to include his synagogue and Sunday school communities. He was always seen with a guitar or at the piano leading prayers or songs for children or conducting the choir for the High Holy Days. In 2005, Joel entered the seminary and began studying to become a rabbi. In every way, music was a part of his teaching and learning.
Joel Shickman died in November 2007 of leukemia. During his illness, there were jam sessions around his hospital bed and he played his guitar daily. A visitor to his room during one of these sessions could see him visibly lifted up in strength and spirit by the music. The hospital staff stood in awe at this healing power. They could be seen smiling and dancing down the hall for hours afterward.
Joel’s sons were 2, 5 and 8 when he died. They remember the learning, the love, the silliness — and they remember the music. The youngest always asks to hear Daddy’s CD in the car, at bedtime, and in the classroom. He will smile and say, “That’s my Daddy’s song.”
The Joel Shickman Children’s Music Fund will bring the healing power of music to families who need it most. It will heal them and unite them in unbreakable ways. It will be Joel’s song.
For more information about Music Together’s Annual Winter Disco Party benefiting the Joel Shickman Children’s Music Fund, or to make a donation, please call 972-267-4452 or e-mail gila@musictogetherdallas.com or miriam@musictogetherdallas.com.

Yavneh dinner to be held Jan. 25

Yavneh Academy’s Uniting Students of Dallas will hold its annual dinner benefiting the Texas Access to Justice Foundation, in Pollman Hall at Yavneh on Monday, Jan. 25. Keynote speaker will be Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson of the Texas Supreme Court; there will also be presentations by State Bar of Texas President Roland Johnson and Texas Young Lawyers Association President Cori Harbour. The event will start with a 6:30 p.m. reception followed by dinner. Cocktail attire is suggested. For reservation information, e-mail info@yavnehdallas.org or call 214-295-3500.

Akiba Academy workshop for parents with Ann Lewin-Benham

The Early Childhood Education Department of Akiba Academy invites parents to attend a special workshop on “Reading, Writing and Essentials of Early Childhood Literacy Experiences,” given by well-known educator and author Ann Lewin-Benham, on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 7 to 8:30 p.m. in Pollman Hall.
Ann Lewin-Benham returns to Akiba to address an entirely new subject: early childhood literacy. Among the topics to be discussed will be how preschool environments can create experiences that support emerging literacy, the benefits of encouraging playing with sounds at home, and how to best nurture early signs of writing.
Lewin-Benham has written two books: “Possible Schools: The Reggio Approach to Urban Education” (2006), and “Powerful Children: Understanding How to Teach and Learn Using the Reggio Approach” (2008). Her strong credentials have made her an expert in the Reggio educational approach, a method that is a strong element in the philosophy of early childhood education at Akiba.
Currently a consultant to Johns Hopkins University’s School of Education, she has been conducting a four-part workshop this year at Akiba, for the benefit of educators and parents of Akiba, as well as educators and members of the Dallas community.
Wine and desserts will be served There is no charge to attend.

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