Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray
VITAS welcomes Rabbi Peretz Shapiro as chaplain
Rabbi Peretz Shapiro is VITAS Hospice’s newest Jewish chaplain.
Working with seniors and watching his own parents deal with terminal disease in hospice was one of the reasons why Peretz Shapiro decided to change careers from lawyer to rabbi. As a VITAS chaplain serving patients in the VITAS inpatient hospice unit at Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Carrollton, Rabbi Shapiro offers spiritual support to patients, family members and caregivers of all faiths. Born and raised in London, England, Rabbi Shapiro received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Birmingham University.
He attended BPP Law School in London and then joined the Carter-Ruck Law Firm, where he qualified as a Solicitor.
But his calling, he discovered, was elsewhere. Inspired by the ideals of interfaith pastoral work, Rabbi Shapiro “gave up practicing law to make a real difference in people’s lives and make a mark on their spirits.”
After moving to Morristown, New Jersey, he attended the Rabbinical College of America, where he received his smicha. He completed a unit of clinical pastoral education at the Healthcare Chaplaincy Network at Texas Health Resources Hospital in Plano. Rabbi Shapiro worked as the director of adult education at Chabad of Dallas and founded the Jewish Life Network with his wife, Michal, to meet the spiritual needs of Jewish seniors in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
“It was through my extensive work with seniors that I saw the tremendous impact pastoral work can have on patients and families dealing with end-of-life issues,” he explains. Rabbi Shapiro joined VITAS in 2016. “I see my mission as providing spiritual and pastoral care to all of our patients and their families at this extremely critical time in their lives, regardless of their level of observance and background.”
He and Michal have five children — four girls and a boy. He is a self-proclaimed news junkie and sports lover.
— Submitted by Elise Power
Young Family Hanukkah Service at Temple Shalom
On the first night of Hanukkah, Temple Shalom members celebrated the first Young Family Hanukkah Service in the Epstein Chapel. Rabbi Ariel Boxman and Ray Farris led the Shabbat service. Before the service began, Rabbi Boxman explained, “This is your space; please know that all voices are joyous and should be celebrated. Don’t think you have to shush the little ones.”
Boxman pointed out that there’s a mat in the back of the chapel for babies to crawl on and a small table for kids to color on.
“This service is for children of all ages. This is your home!”
The service included something for all ages. Traditional prayers were sung, a piece of Talmud was taught and all the kids’ favorite Hanukkah songs were also included.
“We had to include the kids’ favorites like There’s A Dinosaur Knocking on My Door; Dreidel, Dreidel; and Oh Hanukkah,” explained Ray Farris. With guitar in hand, he led the congregation in song. They danced through the aisles and twirled like dreidels while shaking musical eggs and tambourines.
The service concluded with homemade challah and grape juice, and then members enjoyed a delicious Kiddush reception complete with breakfast pizza, cupcakes, fruit and, of course, jelly doughnuts and latkes.
— Submitted by Lisa Rothberg
Akiba students get coding
Akiba Academy Educational Technologist Mrs. Aimee Wortendyke led Akiba students in the global initiative of “Hour of Code” for students in grades K-6. This exciting 21st-century program of collaboration, communication, critical thinking, problem-solving and logical thinking is held annually during computer science education week. According to its website, “The Hour of Code started as a one-hour introduction to computer science, designed to demystify ‘code,’ to show that anybody can learn the basics, and to broaden participation in the field of computer science. It has since become a worldwide effort to celebrate computer science, starting with one-hour coding activities but expanding to all sorts of community efforts. Check out the tutorials and activities. This grassroots campaign is supported by over 400 partners and 200,000 educators worldwide.”
All Akiba students were presented with certificates acknowledging their completion of the global initiative Hour of Code.
— Submitted by Leslie K. Morgan