Dallas Doings: Children's theater, good reads, singer/songwriter
Photo: Craig Lynch Members of the Dallas Children’s Theater group pose with a patient. The Ryan Goldblatt Foundation offers tickets to DCT productions for families of patients at Children’s Health.

By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn

Ryan Goldblatt Foundation, Dallas Children’s Theater and Children’s Health join forces

Ryan Goldblatt passed away from a rare brain tumor just shy of his fourth birthday; however, one afternoon at Dallas Children’s Theater (DCT) had a great impact on the quality of his life.
The Ryan Goldblatt Foundation (RGF), which was established by his family in his honor and memory, now gives back to other families by distributing DCT tickets to families of children at Children’s Health, and results show that it is already making a difference amid their daily fight.
Ryan’s grandparents took him to DCT to see How I Became a Pirate when his mother, Joanne, heard about the show from a friend. Joanne knew that Ryan had always loved the book and as it turned out, he was equally thrilled with the stage play.
“I was a little nervous,” she says, “He didn’t get out a lot, but he came home just bouncing off the walls. He had so much fun. He loved the characters that went with the book. He just loved it!”
In honor of Ryan, his parents, Joanne and Andy, decided it would be great to give other children a chance to have a similar experience.
Davinique Roberson and her family recently attended a production of DCT’s SkippyJon Jones with tickets they received through the RGF, and she couldn’t have been more excited. Davinique, like Ryan, has a brain tumor and is at Children’s Health every other week for chemotherapy.
Her mother Quatia explains, “I thought it would be a wonderful opportunity for my kids to get some kind of culture in their lives, and to get a break from the pressure and the stress we have every other day.”
In addition to offering families tickets to come to DCT, the RGF has also decided to underwrite several promotional appearances at Children’s Health by Dallas Children’s Theater this year.
All of the kids in the hospital could tune their TVs to the hospital network and watch the segment in their rooms live as well.
Melinda Goff, Child Life team leader at Children’s Health, says they are thrilled about working with DCT.
Goff expressed, “We are so grateful and honored to have Dallas Children’s Theater provide the opportunity for patients and their families to attend performances which they may not otherwise get to experience.”
When he was asked what Ryan would think of the Goldblatt Foundation program, his father Andy was certain. He says, “You know, these parents aren’t going to come to the theater on their own. They need someone to stick tickets in their hand and push them out the door and say, ‘Go!’”
For more information, visit theryangoldblattfoundation.org.

Good Reads
The Hospitalist

Michael Weisberg

By Author, Michael Weisberg, M.D.
‘How the art of medicine became a business in the 21st century’
Plano physician Michael Weisberg, M.D., believes in the power of role models. When asked why he became a doctor, Weisberg immediately credits the kindness of his childhood pediatrician, Dr. Robert Kopp. Frequently sick as a child, Weisberg would receive regular house calls by Dr. Kopp. Michael’s father would describe to him how Dr. Kopp carried his medical bag in one hand and, with the other hand, pulled himself up to climb step-by-step until he reached Michael’s room on the second floor. “Here was a man who was stricken with polio as a child and as a result, lost the use of one of his legs,” says Weisberg, “but that didn’t stop him from being a doctor.” His pediatrician’s gentle disposition and perseverance inspired Weisberg to pursue medicine.
At present Michael reflects on medicine, his 24 years as a gastroenterologist in Plano and the changes he has seen in the concept of doctor-patient relationships. He has channeled both his experience and creative writing talent into the newly-released novel, The Hospitalist.
In a recent interview, Michael was asked about his writing and his novel.
Michael replied that “first of all, I’ve written all my life. My hobby and passion has always been writing. I came across a problem in medicine that I felt no one was talking about or addressing: that when you became sick, your doctor no longer took care of you. The doctor who had taken care of you for 5, 10 or 15 years was willing to take care of you as long as you were well.
“However, once you were ill and went to the hospital, a whole new set of doctors took care of you. They were called ‘the hospitalists.’ These doctors didn’t know you or have any history of taking care of you. Most of the time, things went well. Doctors in America do a good job overall.”
Michael was asked, “What do you think the key takeaway from your book is?”
He replied, “When you go to the hospital, it’s best to have an advocate with you — someone in the family or a close friend that can be with you. That person knows that your medication list has been given correctly, that you are seeing the proper doctors and that the patient’s hospital course is progressing the way it should.”
Weisberg allows his readers more than just a bedside view, by his creation of a riveting novel of various characters who come in and out of each other’s lives and how their behaviors affect each other.
Additionally, the novel opens up a paradox that we may have in this country. On one hand our hospitals are equipped with the highest level of medical technology, and yet there appears to be a mounting deficit in the area of long-term doctor-patient relationships.
The Hospitalist is available through Amazon in paperback and e-book format.
For additional information or to schedule Michael Weisberg, M.D. as a speaker for your next conference or meeting, please contact Diane Feffer at Diane@DianeMarketing.com or 972-670-7078.
Beth Torah joins National inclusion initiative
Congregation Beth Torah is one of 16 Conservative synagogues across the country joining an initiative to make Jewish communities more inclusive and welcoming to people with special needs.
The project is a partnership between the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, the movement’s umbrella organization, and the Ruderman Family Foundation.
At a recent conference in New York to inaugurate the effort, Foundation President Jay Ruderman told representatives of the 16 synagogues that in a truly Jewish community, every soul is important.
“It’s all about what kind of community we really want to be,” he said. “Inclusion of people with disabilities is a civil rights issue. It’s a human rights issue. It’s a social justice issue.”
Rabbi Elana Zelony of Congregation Beth Torah agreed.
“Often, people with disabilities have to fight through life,” she said. “They have to fight with their schools, places of employment, and those responsible for managing public spaces just to get the accommodations they need.
“The last place they should need to struggle to be included is in their spiritual community, a place that should be a haven for all God’s creations.”
Rabbi Zelony said the Richardson synagogue is honored to have been chosen for the program, formally named the USCJ Ruderman Inclusion Action Community, and would start with a three-step process.
The first is a survey of Beth Torah members to identify people with special needs, from youth to senior citizens, and assess how to help them by improving facilities, education, outreach and other means.
After analyzing the responses, the synagogue hopes to have an action plan in place by August.
The barriers are not necessarily physical. The initiative also will focus on raising awareness and changing attitudes to ensure that everyone has a place at the table.
“I think that in the process of building a more inclusive community we’ll become a better community,” Ruderman said in an interview with the USCJ magazine Kolot, “a more attractive community, a community where all Jews want to participate.
Beth Torah welcomes input on the issue from the broader community. The synagogue is located at 720 W. Lookout Drive in Richardson, near the crossroads of Bush Turnpike and Central Expressway. Its Web address is www.congregationbethtorah.org.

Update on Emily Claire Shlessinger

A note from Barbara Shlessinger, brought me up to date on Dallas’ teen performer, Emily Claire Shlessinger. Emily will be featured on the Singer Songwriter Stage at the Deep Ellum Festival at noon, Saturday, April 4. Emily graduated high school in February and has been in L.A. working on her original album with Grammy Award producers. She was selected as one of six teens out of 4,000 for the House of Blues Music Forward project ‘Bringin’ Down the House’ which will be held April 28 in Hollywood, California.

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