By Rachel Gross Weinstein
The Aaron Family Jewish Community Center (the J) is a gathering spot for the entire Jewish community, regardless of affiliation. Each year, this its goal is to host fun, innovative events to engage the community. On Saturday, Dec. 3, of the second season of “Dancing with the Stars” will be geared to do just that.
Ten dancers will compete this year: Shawn Alhadef, Peter Fonberg, Brian Glaser, Amy Harberg, Bruce Katz, Mark Kreditor, Dan Pidgeon, Stephanie Prescott, Sury Sacher and Barbara Stein.
The contestants were selected from the community at large, and represent various age groups, synagogues and programs. Each of the community “stars” are paired with a dancer from Studio 22, where Marc Cuban and Emmitt Smith trained for their appearances on the TV show. All of the participants chose a local Jewish organization to dance on behalf of, and the competition’s winner will receive $1,000 on behalf of that organization.
The J launched this event last year as its annual fundraiser partly because of the “Dancing with the Stars” television show’s popularity. In addition, the St. Louis Jewish Community Center had a great deal of success by hosting a similar competition. Last year’s sold-out crowd and fund-raising success convinced event organizers to bring it back for a second year.
“We like to make the J fundraiser innovate and fun each year,” said event co-chair Wendy Stanley, who also co-chaired the program last year.
“‘Dancing with the Stars” is so popular on TV and we believe we have our own community stars who have been so generous with their time and should be recognized,” Stanley said. “They are the number one key ingredient to the success of this event. They spend so much time practicing and work really hard. We have another great lineup this year.”
The winners are selected by the judges’ decisions and through popular vote. This year’s judges are commentator Phyllis George, Ken Downing of Neiman Marcus and Ben Rogers of the “Ben and Skin Show” on ESPN radio. In addition to the competition, the evening will include dinner, an open bar and non-competitive dancing.
“We are excited to have this program again and it’s unique because it includes the entire community,” commented J President Artie Allen. “The dancers work so hard and volunteer so much time. This is a fabulous event.”
What: Dancing with the Stars Season 2
When: Saturday, Dec. 3; Event begins at 7:30 p.m. and the show beings at 8:45 p.m.
Where: Hyatt Regency Dallas, 300 Reunion Blvd.
Cost: Individual tickets are $200 each and sponsorships are available
Info: Kerri Aikin, 214-239-7103, email@example.com, www.jccdallas.org
Meet the Dancers
The dancers shared their thoughts about why they chose to participate, which organizations they chose to support and why an event like this is so important.
Shawn Alhadef, dancing on behalf of the Berry Family Fund: “I thought it would be wonderful to dance for the Berry Family because they need so much support. I have family friends who are related to them, and thought it would be a nice way to show that I care. I am excited to participate in this.”
Peter Fonberg, dancing on behalf of Jewish Family Service: “JFS does wonderful work and anything I can do for it is important. Also, as far back as I can remember, the J has always been a focal point in my life. It was a lynchpin for my youth and I will do whatever I can do to continue supporting the J.”
Brian Glaser, dancing on behalf of The Teen Travel Camp at the J: “I believe in the J as the place to “grow up” Jewish in Dallas. I did, and still have best friends from those days,” he said. “Tween trek, as they called in in my years as a young kid, was a memorable time for forming those friendships and growing up. I like the idea of providing an opportunity for one kid go to camp, that may not otherwise afford it, and travel and bond with new friends that he or she may have for a lifetime.”
Amy Harberg, dancing on behalf of Jewish Family Service: “JFS is a fabulous organization that helps so many people. The counseling department especially speaks to me because of my background in that area. ‘Dancing with the Stars’ is a great way to support the J and is a fun way to get everyone together.”
Bruce Katz, dancing on behalf of Congregation Anshai Torah: “Anshai Torah does a lot for the community and my family is very involved. My wife is past president and I am the director of the Kol Rina Men’s Choir. I am looking forward to participating in this. The J touches the entire Jewish community and always brings people together for common causes.”
Mark Kreditor, dancing on behalf of The Florence Melton Adult Mini School at the J: “I have become a student and this is a wonderful way for me to show empathy for all of the wonderful students of Melton. I wanted to support Melton because my wife is a student of the program and I have taught in it.”
Dan Pidgeon, dancing on behalf of the The Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance: “I chose to dance for the Dallas Holocaust Museum to bring more awareness of the truly great exhibits in Dallas. It is even more important that we have actual survivors, willing to relive their stories, for the sole purpose of making sure we never forget. Jews and non-Jews alike can enrich the human experience by being involved in the DHM.”
Stephanie Prescott, dancing on behalf of the Tennis Department at the J: “I chose to participate in Dancing with the Stars because I thought the event was so much fun last year and I wanted to try something totally out of my comfort zone. I have played on a tennis team at the J for years and have watched the program grow substantially and involve people of all ages from kids to seniors. I hope the evening is a big success, all the dancers have a great time and enjoy their performances.”
Sury Sacher, dancing on behalf of Congregation Shearith Israel: “When I was presented the opportunity to do something that would benefit both the J and Shearith Israel, I was all about it. Though dancing has never been a forte or a passion, I have accepted the challenge knowing that it is not about me. I would say the J and Shearith are the two most important places in my life and are the epicenter of so many of our lives in the community.”
Barbara Stein, dancing on behalf of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas: “I am happy to participate in this event and support the J, which I consider to be a true gem that serves our whole community. The Federation is the umbrella that serves all of our schools and organizations. It enriches and enhances Jewish life in Dallas and literally saves the lives of Jews in Israel and around the world.”