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The Jewish Herald-Voice newspaper is the only recognized source of Jewish news in Houston, Texas, the Houston area and along the Texas Gulf Coast, in print and online. Distinguished as being the oldest (since 1908) Jewish newspaper in the Southwest.
Updated: 20 min 54 sec ago

Harvey grants strengthen camp enrollment

Thu, 06/14/2018 - 9:50am
In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, fears were expressed that local Jewish camps might suffer a significant decline in this summer's enrollment, given that so many families in Greater Houston's Jewish community are facing financial hardships, caused by one of the worst flooding disasters in U.S. history. Some 10 months after Harvey, however, many of those fears have washed away, as camps have been able to provide more financial aid to those in need. Far from losing campers to Harvey, many local Jewish summer camps are boasting higher enrollment numbers for this summer, compared to previous years, according to data obtained by the JHV. The largest Jewish summer camp program in Houston, run by the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC, has approximately 1,110 kids registered for its camps this summer. Based on the latest enrollment numbers, J Camps is tallying up a total of 6,725 camper weeks throughout the summer of 2018, which is 800 more camper weeks than J Camps had registered at the same time last year. "We are thrilled about this and are very excited that the community is supporting J Camps again this summer," said Anna Shabtay, director of Children and Camping at the J. The Evelyn Rubenstein JCC and its Merfish Teen Center were among the community institutions that suffered flood damage from Hurricane Harvey. Both facilities have been repaired and are hosting programming for J Camps this summer. The J's basement level, which was hardest hit by flood damage, partially reopened earlier this month, in order to accommodate new camp programming for kids who love science and digital technology. Jewish kids across Greater Houston told the JHV that Jewish summer camp helps strengthen Jewish identity, builds connections to Jewish community and Israel and creates opportunities for them to make lifelong friendships. Growing numbers J Camps isn't the only Jewish day camp in Houston that has experienced growth this year, despite hardships brought on by Hurricane Harvey. At the start of Session I, on June 11, Yeshiva Torat Emet's Camp Ruach had 190 children registered for camp - 30 more kids from a year ago. "Other campers will still be joining us towards July, so we will probably hit at least 200," said Camp Ruach director Devorah Ouzzan. The two largest Jewish overnight camps in Texas also have more Houston kids registered for summer 2018, compared to 2017. Camp Young Judaea-Texas is ready to host one of the largest groups of campers from Houston in its history, according to CYJ director Frank Silberlicht. Some 249 Houston kids are heading to CYJ this summer, compared to last summer's 213. Houston enrollment for this summer also has increased at URJ Greene Family Camp, which is expecting 247 campers from the Houston area. More scholarships Local Jewish summer camps have increased scholarships this year in order to make camp available to Houston families impacted by Hurricane Harvey, officials told the JHV. Camps have been able to offer more help to those in need, thanks to an increase in grants provided by the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, Foundation for Jewish Camp and other partner agencies, as well as internal donations. Houston's Federation, to date, has allocated nearly $290,000 for overnight camp, more than $60,000 for day camp and an additional $27,000 for students to participate in Israel experiences. "We are grateful to the Jewish Federation for their extra support for those affected by Harvey," said J Camps' Shabtay. "We did have a very large request for financial assistance this year and their support has allowed us to get kids in camp who might not have been able to without it." Federation leaders convened a series of meetings this past year to consider the impact Hurricane Harvey will continue to have on the community's financial well-being, in general, and on individual households, in particular. Specific concern was expressed over the storm's effect on families being able to afford Jewish summer camp and Jewish day school tuitions over the coming years. "Even eight months after the storm, many families remain out of their homes and continue to struggle with plans for the future," said Kari Saratovsky, director of Harvey Recovery for Houston's Federation. "How do you sustain Jewish life when all of our Jewish day schools and Jewish camp programs have families who have to make tough choices between prioritizing these Jewish experiences or addressing their needs to rebuild their homes and lives?" she told the JHV. "We are trying to lessen some of that burden by keeping our kids connected through day school, summer camp and Israel experience scholarships," Saratovsky said. "We know how crucial adolescent and teen programs are for lifetime connections to Judaism, and we want to ensure those continue for families who are struggling as a result of Harvey." Flood assistance With help from the Houston Federation, Foundation for Jewish Camp and Greene Family Camp, itself, GFC was able to increase the amount of financial aid it gave this year to families, according to Larry Nathan, GFC's director of development. About 45 percent of Houston campers received some form of financial aid to attend camp this summer at GFC, Nathan noted. "Each year, Greene awards approximately $250,000 in financial assistance and incentive grants to families throughout Texas and Oklahoma," he told the JHV. "That said, GFC allocated an additional $100,000 to accommodate 62 campers impacted by Harvey," bringing the total amount of financial aid awards this year to $350,000, he said. GFC and CYJ each received $200,000 this year from the Houston Federation and Foundation for Jewish Camp, Nathan noted. Silberlicht said 114 CYJ campers received financial aid for camp this summer from at least one source, including CYJ, itself, and other community organizations, apart from the Foundation for Jewish Camp's One Happy Camper program. The latter gave assistance to 25 campers for CYJ this summer, and CYJ gave scholarships to 45 campers, totaling $51,355. Like GFC and J Camps, CYJ has increased its overall financial aid in order to assist families impacted by Harvey. "We gave flood assistance to 70 campers," Silberlicht said. "$63,481 from CYJ, $118,300 from the Federation, and $181,781 overall. "Of the 70 [recipients], 16 are new to CYJ," he said. "Eleven of those, I think, registered because of the grant. The others are siblings of existing campers." In order to increase financial aid, CYJ raised money earmarked for "Harvey tuition support," "Harvey help" and for "Harvey refugees that stayed at camp," Silberlicht added. GFC campers also have benefited from internal fundraising efforts at their camp. "The Union for Reform Judaism, in partnership with Greene, launched a relief appeal immediately after Harvey made landfall," Nathan said. "Over 2,500 donors contributed close to $400,000, which was used to provide direct support to Reform congregations and families throughout Greater Houston." GFC's ability to enroll more campers from Houston this year "is a direct result" of additional financial assistance provided by GFC, Jewish Federation of Greater Houston and Foundation for Jewish Camp, Nathan added. Shabtay said J Camps saw a 39 percent increase this year in the number of kids receiving J scholarship assistance. This translates to 181 recipients of J scholarships, plus another 44 campers, who received outside financial aid to help with camp tuition. J Camps did not conduct direct fundraising in response to Harvey, according to Shabtay. "We supported and directed people to the Federation campaign," she said. "However, we did have some of our loyal donors and also people from across the country send in donations to directly support the efforts of the J." Flood recovery Not all local Jewish summer camps have larger enrollments this summer. Beth Yeshurun Day School's summer camp has fewer campers this year, yet its enrollment remains strong with approximately 200 campers registered for 2018. Besides providing financial assistance to several families impacted by Harvey, Camp BYDS also offered early-bird registration discounts and a siblings registration discount, camp director Karla Morales told the JHV. Like the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC, BYDS suffered heavy flood damage during Harvey. The facility was repaired earlier this year in time to host students for the spring semester, as well as camp this summer.

5 Jewish baseball players hit home runs on the same day

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 3:02pm
June 8 was the most productive day for Jewish batters in Major League Baseball history. Five members of the tribe combined for six home runs on Friday to help their respective teams to victory. Here's the scorecard: Alex Bregman hit his eighth home run, a solo drive, in the Houston Astros' 7-3 win over the Texas Rangers. The Astros selected his younger brother A.J. in the recent MLB draft, so it's conceivable they could become the first set of Jewish brothers to play on the same team since Norm and Larry Sherry were members of the Los Angeles Dodgers from 1959 to 1962. Ryan Braun, "The Hebrew Hammer," hit two home runs, driving in five runs to lead the Milwaukee Brewers to a 12-4 win over the Philadelphia Phillies - who have a Jewish manager in Gabe Kapler. Braun's three-run shot with two outs in the first inning broke a scoreless tie. His two-run homer, again with two outs, left Philadelphia's Citizens Bank Ballpark with an exit velocity of 112.9 miles per hour, according to the new high-tech analytics. It's the hardest ball Braun has hit since they started measuring these things in 2015. Kevin Pillar, the Toronto Blue Jays outfielder who is known more for his outstanding defensive play than his skills at the plate, hit his sixth homer of the year and third in seven games in a 5-1 win over the Baltimore Orioles. His eighth-inning solo shot gave the Blue Jays their final run. Danny Valencia, the third baseman for the O's that night, was the only Jewish position player not to hit one out on Friday. Ian Kinsler's seventh homer was good for two runs and gave the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim the cushion they needed in their 4-2 win over the Minnesota Twins. He hit his eighth home run (and fifth in June) the next day to give the Angels their first run in a 2-1 win, their sixth straight. Finally, fellow Angelino Joc Pederson launched lucky No. 7 - his sixth in June - as the Dodgers beat the Atlanta Braves, 7-3. Pederson gained some national distinction last fall when he set a new record for homers by a Jew in a World Series by connecting three times against the Houston Astros. That surpassed Detroit Tigers Hall of Famer Hank Greenberg, who had two in the 1934 Fall Classic against the St. Louis Cardinals. All told, Bregman, Braun, Pillar, Kinsler and Pederson accounted for 29 percent of their teams' RBIs on Friday. To give this a little historical perspective ... On May 23, 2002, former All-Star Shawn Green of the Dodgers hit four home runs - along with a double and single - in a 16-3 win over the Brewers. Fewer than 20 batters in baseball history have managed that feat. Green also set a single-game record that day with 19 total bases. On Aug. 20, 1938, Morrie Arnovich and Phil Weintraub of the Phillies hit home runs in an 8-7 win over the New York Giants. Harry Danning, the Giants catcher, also hit one out. According to the Jewish Major Leaguers 2009 card set, this marked the only time that three Jewish players accomplished the feat in the same game.

Hate for Israel displayed in Houston at Quds Day protest

Wed, 06/13/2018 - 10:46am
Local anti-Israel activists heeded a call from the Iranian government to publicly demonize the Jewish state. About 100 activists participated in this year's Quds Day protest on June 8, held on the last Friday of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The protest was staged near the Israeli consulate office in Houston. Anti-Israel activists lined the corner of Weslayan Street and U.S. Highway 59, carrying placards and repeating chants that attacked Israel's right to exist. The activists accused Israel of "genocide," "terrorism" and "apartheid" against the Palestinians. They called for boycotts against Israel - which would be illegal under Texas law - and said the Jewish state should be eliminated, shouting: "From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!" Houston was one of at least 14 cities across the U.S. that saw Quds Day protests again this year. The demonstrations typically draw support from Shia Muslim communities in response to a call from the Iranian government, which established Quds Day as an annual political protest, decrying Israel's victory in the 1967 Six-Day War. A group calling itself the Muslim Congress organized this year's Quds Day protest in Houston. Dozens of parents brought children to participate in the noisy demonstration. Several witnesses scoffed at the public display of hate against Israel. Pedestrians were forced to change routes, while some drivers paused to examine the scene. "Imagine driving peacefully in your car and then you hear a protest. You aren't sure what it's about and you get out of your car and it is a large group ... protesting Israel and talking about freeing Gaza," said Daniel Wachsberg. "It was all taking place in front of the Israeli consulate building," he said. "I had to park my car to take a breather and I walked [over] to hear some of the things that were being said, and I was heated. "So, I went back in my car and proceeded to play Hatikvah and drove on," he said. The JHV attempted to interview some of the protesters, but was rebuffed by those who said they don't speak to "the Zionist media."

Poll shows deep divide between Israeli and American Jews - on Trump

Tue, 06/12/2018 - 1:59pm
WASHINGTON - Israeli and American Jews disagree on much - settlements, religious pluralism, even the degree to which they are "family." And now you can add Donald Trump to the mix. Twin polls of Israeli and American Jews published by the American Jewish Committee on June 10 uncovered divides on all these issues, but an especially stark one about perceptions of the American president. Asked if they approved of Trump's handling of the U.S.-Israel relationship, 57 percent of American Jews disapproved while 34 percent approved. Among Israeli respondents, the divide was 77 percent approved while 10 percent disapproved. That gap extended to perhaps Trump's best known Israel related policy, moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. American Jews were statistically evenly split, with 46 percent supporting and 47 percent opposing. Israeli Jews were overwhelmingly in favor, with 85 percent supporting and 7 percent opposing. There are areas of agreement as well, on the importance of a thriving Israel and a thriving Diaspora to the Jewish future, and on whether being Jewish is a matter of religion or ethnicity. "The surveys reveal sharp differences of opinion between the world's two largest Jewish communities on President Trump, U.S.-Israel relations, and Israel's security and peace process policies," the AJC said in a release. "On Jewish communal issues, such as Jewish religious equality in Israel, the surveys confirm fissures between American Jews and Israelis, though, at the same time, the data show a degree of commonality in opinions about the vitality of both the Diaspora and the State of Israel and their significance for the future of the Jewish people." There's also a small bright light for Trump stateside: American Jews still overwhelmingly disapprove of him, but not as much as they did the last time AJC polled them - he gained 6 points, going from 77 to 71, just outside the margin of error of 3.9 percentage points. Favorable ratings climbed 5 points, from 21 to 26. (By way of contrast, a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll last week scored 44 percent approval ratings for Trump among the general population.) Other areas of division included: Settlements: Asked whether Israel should dismantle some, all or none of its West Bank settlements in a peace deal with the Palestinians, 4 percent of Israeli Jews said all, 35 percent said some and 54 percent said none. Among American Jews, 15 percent said all, 44 percent said some and 35 percent said none. Pluralism: Among American Jews, 80 percent said non-Orthodox rabbis should be able to officiate at weddings in Israel and 17 percent said they should not; among Israeli Jews, the split was 49 percent in favor and 45 percent against. Asked whether Israel should allow civil marriage, 81 percent of American Jews said it should while 13 percent said it should not. A majority of Israeli Jews also favored civil marriage, but it was a closer split at 55-40. American Jews favored by 73 percent "a mixed-gender prayer area adjacent to the Western Wall administered on an equal basis with the services at the Wall itself," while 21 percent were opposed. Among Israeli Jews, the split was 42 percent in favor and 48 percent opposed. Peoplehood: Asked how they viewed Israelis, 12 percent of American Jews said "siblings," 15 percent said "first cousins," 39 percent said "extended family" and 31 percent said "not part of my family." Affections were greater among Israelis: 28 percent regarded American Jews as "siblings," 10 percent as "first cousins" and 40 percent as "extended family," while just 22 percent said "not part of my family." There were areas of agreement, too: The Jewish future: Among Israeli Jews, 78 percent thought a "thriving" Diaspora was vital to the future of the Jewish people, while 15 percent did not. The split among American Jews was 69 percent agreeing and 17 percent disagreeing. The same question regarding a "thriving" Israel had 87 percent approval among Israeli Jews, with 6 percent disagreeing, while among American Jews the split was 79 percent agreeing and 17 percent disagreeing. Jewish identity: 56 percent of American Jews said being Jewish was "mostly a matter of ethnicity or culture," while 24 percent said it was mostly a matter of religion and 17 percent said it was both equally. Among Israeli Jews, the split was 40 percent believing ethnicity and culture were more important, 19 percent listing religion and 37 percent listing both. The Israeli poll, carried out by Geocatography, reached 1,000 Jews over the age of 18 by phone in May. It has a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. The American poll was carried out by SSRS; it reached 1,001 Jews over the age of 18 by phone between April 18 and May 10, and has a margin of error of 3.9 percentage points.

Disruption of Nikki Haley speech at UH: freedom of expression?

Wed, 06/06/2018 - 11:58am
When U.S. Amb. to the U.N. Nikki Haley was invited to speak by the University of Houston, she was to speak to students about leadership and global challenges, and then take part in a Q&A session. On May 22, Haley opened with Hurricane Harvey and Santa Fe, Texas, school shootings. Less than three minutes later, she was interrupted by a young male who shouted, "The blood is on your hands." A number of students began chanting pro-Palestinian slogans, including "Nikki, Nikki, you can't hide/you signed off on genocide." Haley waited silently at the podium for several moments, while members of the UH police escorted those students outside the Cullen Performance Hall. "Any more?" she asked, to the applause of students who remained inside. "While disruptive as that might have been," she continued, "it's a reason to celebrate, because my husband and my brother are combat veterans and they fought for their right to be able to do that." Haley was, of course, referring to the right of freedom of speech. But, she had it correct the first time. What was going on was disruption, not freedom, of speech. * * * Freedom of speech is protected under the First Amendment. U.S. courts often have struggled to determine what exactly constitutes free speech.  On the UH campus, the official policy on "Freedom of Expression" is defined in the Manual of Administrative Policies and Procedures, No. 13.01.01 (MAPP 13.01.01). The policy reads, in part: "The University of Houston is committed to fostering a learning environment where free inquiry and expression are encouraged. The University expects that persons engaging in expressive activities will demonstrate civility, concern for the safety of persons and property, respect for University activities, respect for those who may disagree with their message, and compliance with University policies and applicable local, state, and federal laws ... "The President or designated University representatives shall have the authority to take such steps to prevent expressive activities that materially interfere with the educational mission of the University. Such activities include, but are not limited to, the following: "Activities that create a sustained or repeated noise disturbance that substantially interferes with a speaker's ability to communicate and/or rights of others to listen." The JHV spoke to Dr. Richard Walker, vice president for Student Affairs, who oversees the university's Freedom of Expression policy, and UH executive director of Media Relations, Mike Rosen, on the May 22 event. Rosen said, "As far as we're concerned, at the event, our law enforcement determined the students crossed the line. Any other action taken or not taken, we're not allowed to discuss publicly due to federal privacy laws. What occurred at the event is in the public domain. Once the interruption was over, the ambassador continued with her scripted remarks, answered questions for 45 minutes and met with students inside the theater before she left." * * * It's not the first time students at UH have shouted down a speaker. On Nov. 2, 2017, at a lecture hosted by Young Americans for Freedom, students repeatedly interrupted David Horowitz chanting. "Zionists off our campus."  Dr. Walker did not acknowledge whether patterns of intolerance to free speech exist at UH. Regardless, he said, the university actively enforces its policies when violations, such as disruptions, occur. In contrast, UH students who shouted down Haley made it clear their goal was to confront, not engage, her speech. In a written "Statement Against the Presence of Nikki Haley at The University of Houston," students charged that "in inviting Nikki Haley to its campus, the University of Houston demonstrates how little it cares about the safety and concerns of its students, including the large community of Palestinians that attend and contribute to UH's diversity. "We, the undersigned student organizations and faculty, declare unequivocally that hatred in all its forms is not welcome at our University and that no matter when injustice rears its ugly head, those of us on the correct side of history will confront it."   UH student organizations signing on to the statement included Students for Justice in Palestine, Students for a Democratic Society, CoogSlam Poetry Community and Slam Team, Muslim Student Association, Youth Empowerment Alliance, UH Students of East Africa, Ahlul Bayt Student Organization and the National Lawyers Guild Student Chapter at UHLC. The UH student newspaper, The Cougar, quoted one of the protesting students, junior Muhammed Fattouh, who said, "We figured trying to talk with her in a Q&A session, with her views already well-grounded, would only further her misinformation. ... Why should we walk into these events and assume that what we're listening to is good?" * * * What happens when a student violates someone else's free-speech rights on campus? Most of the time, nothing. That's according to Jim Manley, a senior fellow at the Goldwater Institute. The institute is a free-market think tank, based in Phoenix.  Manley helped craft a model bill that inspired campus free-speech legislation, passed in Arizona, North Carolina and Georgia. The bill forbids public institutions from disinviting speakers and requires that they remain neutral on "issues of public controversy." It also establishes mandatory minimum penalties for students found to have twice interfered with the free expression of others. Suggested minimum penalties are suspension and expulsion. "The bill is a response to the campus free-speech crisis. It has provisions related to speech codes, free-speech zones and shout-downs," explained Manley. "When you see events like the Haley shutdown, it demonstrates that free expression is not being protected on campus. What administrators are doing when they don't punish a shout-down is encouraging students to respond to people they disagree with by trying to silence them, instead of trying to have a conversation with them. The alternative to speaking with a person is physically silencing them. The university ought to treat that sort of disruptive shout-down as an act of aggression. "The university is abdicating their duty to protect the free exchange of ideas. Until the university creates some disincentives for this behavior, it will continue," said Manley.   The Chicago Statement on the Principles of Free Expression Adopted at 35 universities as of March, 2018 In a word, the University's fundamental commitment is to the principle that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed. It is for the individual members of the University community, not for the University as an institution, to make those judgments for themselves, and to act on those judgments not by seeking to suppress speech, but by openly and vigorously contesting the ideas that they oppose. Indeed, fostering the ability of members of the University community to engage in such debate and deliberation in an effective and responsible manner is an essential part of the University's educational mission. As a corollary to the University's commitment to protect and promote free expression, members of the University community must also act in conformity with the principle of free expression. Although members of the University community are free to criticize and contest the views expressed on campus, and to criticize and contest speakers who are invited to express their views on campus, they may not obstruct or otherwise interfere with the freedom of others to express views they reject or even loathe. To this end, the University has a solemn responsibility not only to promote a lively and fearless freedom of debate and deliberation, but also to protect that freedom when others attempt to restrict it.

Roseanne sobbed, apologized for racist tweet in unaired interview with Rabbi Boteach

Tue, 06/05/2018 - 2:49pm
(JTA) - Entertainer Roseanne Barr reportedly cried and apologized for her racist tweet in a podcast interview with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach. Barr "was sobbing and very apologetic about the whole thing," according to the Hollywood Reporter, which cited an unnamed source. Boteach did not air the interview. The call in to the podcast came two days after ABC canceled her show last week over the tweet mocking Valerie Jarrett, a former adviser to President Barack Obama and an African-American. The tweet said the "muslim brotherhood & planet of the apes had a baby=vj." The reboot of Barr's immensely popular late 20th-century sitcom had drawn high ratings. Barr later deleted the tweet about Jarrett, which had drawn widespread criticism, and issued an apology, saying she had made "a bad joke about her politics and her looks." Barr, who is Jewish, and Boteach, a rabbi to several stars, have been friends for 20 years. She has not given any in-depth interviews on the tweets and her firing. Boteach tweeted about the interview: "I did record a podcast with my friend @therealroseanne & I have decided not to release it out of respect for Roseanne. I want to give her space to reflect on the recent events and releasing the recording is a decision she will make at the appropriate time." He also tweeted: "I have known @therealroseanne for 20 years. She has apologized for what she acknowledges is a violation of Torah values & in the spirit of Jewish repentance. It is time America learned to forgive so that we may together affirm the image of [G-d], and equal dignity of all humankind." Barr canceled a planned appearance on comedian Joe Rogan's podcast that had been scheduled later that week.

Incendiary kites flown from Gaza spark large fires in southern Israel

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 1:18pm
JERUSALEM (JTA) - Large fires broke out in kibbutz fields on the border with Gaza, ignited by an incendiary kite flown across the border by Gazan Palestinians. The fires on Sunday come a day after a burning kite, or a balloon filled with chemicals dripped flames in the area, burning hundreds of acres of agricultural fields as well as part of a nature reserve next to Kibbutz Carmia. Saturday's fires, which claimed more than 740 acres, was the worst since the new terror tactic took root about two months ago. At least one-third of the nature preserve was destroyed, according to reports, and required several teams of firefighters to put out. The fire fighters on Saturday battled three large blazes and several small ones throughout the area. Sunday's fires destroyed agricultural fields in three kibbutzim located near the Gaza Strip: Nir Am, Or Haner and Be'eri. A major highway in the area also was closed as area residents worked in tandem with firefighters to put out the blazes. Four planes dropping fire retardants were required to assist in putting out the flames. Damages to agriculture from fires set by the incendiary kites since the protests started in March are estimated at $1.4 million, the Times of Israel reported, citing Israel's Tax Authority. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday ordered the government to withhold customs duties collected by Israel for the Palestinian Authority on items that come through Israeli ports on the way to the PA in order to offset the cost of the damage. This, despite the fact that Hamas and not the PA control Gaza and Hamas is considered responsible for the attacks. A total of some 6,200 acres of agricultural land and nature reserves in the Gaza border area of southern Israel have been damaged or destroyed by the burning kites and balloons sent from Gaza.

Design firm fulfills dream with Celebration Company art showing

Wed, 05/30/2018 - 12:02pm
Opening night and there was a different vibe in the air. Up on the third floor of the Pennzoil Building, 711 Louisiana St., clients, friends and employees of Gensler (Architecture & Design) began arriving to view the first showing of "Perspectives," by Celebration Company's artists. For 15 years, the architecture, design, planning and consulting firm has mounted quarterly curated art exhibits in its downtown Houston office. "Perspectives" was its first exhibit curated in-house. The exhibit features photographs by 10 artists at Celebration Company, the faith-based nonprofit organization that provides life skills and meaningful employment for adults with disabilities. Gensler's relationship with Celebration Company began when the firm was hired to double the size of the Jewish Family Service building and provide a permanent home for Celebration Company. The project was completed in 2017.  Ellyn Wulfe, Gensler's Firmwide Civic and Culture Practice leader, told the JHV the opening night of "Perspectives" was the culmination of a five-year dream. "We wanted to share with our clients one invitation-only night, featuring new artwork accompanied by storytelling. When people understand the 'why,' they can understand the 'how' and 'what.' Everything is more memorable through the art of storytelling and, believe me, there's an art to storytelling." Gensler is considered an influencer in the design world. The company's quarterly art exhibits are one example of its support of the nonprofit and cultural community. Another example is the fact that, in the person of Wulfe, the global architecture and design firm supports a corporate specialization dedicated to supporting the needs and missions of nonprofit community and cultural organizations.  Wulfe believes a nonprofit organization's facilities can have a major impact on its brand, business and culture. She is dedicated to raising the profile of, and financial opportunities for, nonprofit organizations. Wulfe has served as auction chair for the annual galas for nonprofits, such as Stages Repertory Theatre, AIA Houston and Annunciation Orthodox School, rethinking their approach and raising record revenues. Wulfe and Gensler Lead Design director, Yishio Kuo, curated "Perspectives." "We had the idea of partnering with a great nonprofit organization. Celebration Company was a perfect fit," said Wulfe. "I called their art director, Samara Rosen, to ask if they would be interested." Of course, the answer was "yes." Celebration Company established its Center For Art and Photography in 2013. Participants are taught how to use adaptive cameras before going out on weekly photo shoots. The Center For Art and Photography has its own website at celebration Wulfe and Kuo were able to look at a large body of work. They sought images that went well together, would tell a story and would complement Gensler's open office space.  Celebration Company usually prints 11-by-14-inch photos to sell. Gensler wanted 30-by-45-inch photo prints. "It was an exciting opportunity for our artists to see their photography enlarged to that size," said Rosen. "It enabled our photographers to see their work in a new light." Sixteen photographs and two acrylics on canvas were selected for the exhibit. The 10 artists represented in "Perspectives" are: Arthur Alexander, Becca Golub, Ellen Reichenthal, Evan Levine, Gabrielle Howard, Halley Turner, Harry Samelson, Ian Spindler, Jeffrey Markman and Melissa Shapiro. Seven of the artists attended the opening of "Perspectives." They greeted visitors and spoke about their art. "The pride and excitement of the artists is contagious," Rosen said. "They enjoy talking to visitors about their work. I noted people stayed for the whole two hours of the opening. The evening had a different energy than a typical art opening. People told me that it was one of the better exhibitions. "Gensler is supporting Celebration Company by using their office space to exhibit socially conscious art. They are also introducing Celebration Company to a wide range of people who have never heard of us before. "Art enables our artists to be able to communicate and work through issues that they may not be able to communicate through words," said Rosen. "A few of our artists are non-verbal. Through their art, they are able to express themselves. When they are painting or doing the photographs, they are absorbed in the creative process. It isn't until a piece is complete and framed that they take ownership of their art." "Over a four-year period, I've become aware of how art is able to unlock what's in their minds," Rosen said. "There's a certain magic about art that enables one to connect to the world. Art is a transformation of thought and materials. I am often amazed and delighted by what they see. And, once you teach them a new technique, they absorb and add that to their toolbox. You see that in their later works. "This is a great example of corporate involvement in innovative programs for adults with disabilities. We hope this will open the doors for other corporate opportunities to partner with our artists."

Mortar shell explodes in kindergarten yard amid rocket barrage on Israel

Tue, 05/29/2018 - 12:45pm
JERUSALEM (JTA) - At least 28 mortar shells were fired from Gaza on southern Israel, including one that exploded in the yard of a kindergarten shortly before students were set to arrive. The Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted most of the shells, which were fired in three barrages on Tuesday morning, according to the Israel Defense Forces. It was the largest number of projectiles fired on Israel from the coastal strip since the 2014 Gaza war. Code Red warning sirens were heard throughout southern Israel. Later the same afternoon, the warning system activated again in several communities. In response, the IDF said it struck more than 35 targets belonging to the Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist organizations in Gaza. Among the targets was a terror tunnel that stretched under the Kerem Shalom border crossing for humanitarian goods, as well as weapons storage sites, naval targets and a terrorist headquarters. "Israel views with utmost gravity the attacks against it and its communities by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from the Gaza Strip," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in the hours following the attacks in an address to the Galilee Conference. "The IDF will respond with great force to these attacks. Israel will exact a heavy price from anyone who tries to attack it, and we view Hamas as responsible for preventing such attacks against us." The kindergarten struck by a shell and all other schools in the area opened as usual on Tuesday morning. The attack from Gaza reportedly has been linked to the death of three Islamic Jihad operatives, who were killed early Sunday morning in a retaliatory strike by Israel on a Hamas outpost. The terrorist group had placed a bomb near the border fence between Israel and Gaza in an effort to blow up Israeli patrols. The Al-Quds Brigades, the military arm of the Islamic Jihad terror group, vowed revenge. "We will not relent in our duty towards the blood of those killed and know how we'll react to this serious escalation," the group said in a statement. On Monday night, Palestinians used a machine gun to open fire from the Gaza Strip on the southern Israeli town of Sderot. The gunfire damaged several buildings and a car. It was the second attack on Sderot in two weeks.

Jewish Houstonians featured in Harvey oral history project

Thu, 05/24/2018 - 9:58am
Scholars from University of Houston's Jewish Studies program will discuss their progress in collecting oral histories from local community members impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The community is invited to the presentation, "Documenting Hurricane Harvey: The Houston Jewish Community," which will take place Sunday, June 24, beginning at 2 p.m., at Brith Shalom synagogue, 4610 Bellaire Blvd. Over the past several months, historians at UH have been interviewing Jewish Houstonians, who were affected by the worst flooding disaster in U.S. history. These accounts are being archived under the "Neighborhood Narratives" section of the University of Houston Center for Public History's "Resilient Houston: Documenting Hurricane Harvey" oral history project. Dr. Mark Goldberg, director of UH's Jewish Studies program, together with Paula Davis Hoffman and Alberto Wilson III, UH graduate students, will offer an update on the project's progress in the Jewish community. Presenters also will reflect on some of the interviews the team has conducted, thus far, including those with flood-impacted families, rabbis and relief organizers. "The interviews give insight into a variety of experiences, documenting the Jewish community's stories," Dr. Goldberg told the JHV. "They offer windows not only into specific responses to Harvey, but also into the everyday ways the textured community grew in Southwest Houston, and how it continues to exist and behave as a community." Interviews collected by the project will be archived for future researchers in the UH Center for Public History's Oral History of Houston collection, which holds thousands of interviews on Houston history, spanning a wide range of topics, Dr. Goldberg noted. "As the city, as a whole, plans for the future, 'Resilient Houston' offers the human components of flooding, helping answer the question: Where do we go from here?" he said. "Resilient Houston" is an ongoing project. UH historians plan to conduct and collect more interviews this summer. Project leaders are hoping to use their presentation on June 24 to recruit potential interviewees, Dr. Goldberg told the JHV.

New location, new home for Bellaire shul

Wed, 05/23/2018 - 11:12am
A new, larger location for The Shul of Bellaire has been in the works a long time, Rabbi Yossi and Esty Zaklikofsky told the JHV. As early as 2009, the couple began to lay the foundation for a Chabad house in Bellaire. Previously at 4909 Bissonnet St., The Shul now is located at 5307 Bissonnet St. After making the move from Brooklyn, N.Y., to Houston, the Zaklikofskys have fulfilled the Lubavitch mission and philosophy of unconditional love and acceptance of all people, regardless of their level of Jewish observance, to unite and have the opportunity to learn, worship and build everlasting bonds through Jewish values, culture and heritage. "Before the move to our newest location, we were working out of multiple locations and hosting events in homes and finding meeting halls or sites to host special events," Rabbi Zaklikofsky told the JHV. "Our new location will allow for a central location where all can feel proud that there is an established, single place to come to worship and take part in all that The Shul offers." Read the full story right now in our e-edition. Lots of stories and special features are only available in the print and E-editions of the Jewish Herald-Voice. To make sure you are not missing out, subscribe to the print edition or subscribe to and read the E-edition right now.

Israel defends Gaza crackdown as self-defense: 'We are saving human life'

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 12:14pm
NEW YORK (JTA) - Despite growing condemnation for the deaths of 60 Palestinians on the Gaza border yesterday, Israel defended its military's actions as an act of self-defense in the face of a mass attack. "We didn't want it to happen, but we understood these were Hamas' intentions," Dani Dayan, Israel's consul general in New York, told reporters Tuesday. "We are not going away. We will defend our border. We will defend our population. If they invade Israeli communities, we will have to take much harsher measures. By doing what we did we are saving human life." On Monday morning, tens of thousands of Palestinians rushed Gaza's border with Israel as part of a string of protests called the March of Return. The protesters say they're opposing Israel's blockade of the coastal strip, and pushing for Palestinians' return to their ancestors' homes within Israel. Israel says the protest is an invasion by Hamas, the militant group that governs Gaza, and that it endangers Israeli lives and communal security. On Monday, Palestinians charged the border fence en masse, some carrying weapons. Israel responded with tear gas, water cannons, rubber bullets and live fire. Over sixty Palestinians were killed and thousands were injured. Israel was pilloried in the press. The optics were particularly bad on Monday: In Jerusalem, an hours' drive away, American and Israeli diplomats were all smiles as they dedicated the United States Embassy. The front page of the New York Daily News, a leading tabloid, showed a picture of a grinning Ivanka Trump juxtaposed with a photo of the carnage in Gaza. The headline: Daddy's Little Ghoul. But don't expect Israel to say it's sorry. Israeli officials say their country did the right thing. And if this happens again, they'd do it again. The same way. Dayan said the protest was anything but peaceful. The goal, he said, was to invade Israel by breaching the Gaza border fence and pouring into Israeli towns that are just yards from the border. Israeli soldiers, he said, never target unarmed civilians. He pointed to evidence that some protesters carried improvised bombs and wire cutters, and to video of a Hamas leader saying "we will tear out their hearts from their bodies." "It was a mass attack at innumerable points to breach the fence," Dayan said, comparing the rush at various points to a tsunami and to a soccer riot in Europe, where spectators get trampled by overzealous fans. "To have a breach of a thousand Palestinians, armed, into the kindergarten of a kibbutz is an imminent danger," he said. "Those were people who were trying to break the fence, and for that there is zero tolerance." Israel says 24 of the 60 people killed were Hamas operatives. Dayan did not have information regarding the other 36 fatalities. This is not the first time Israel has had to handle a rush on its borders. In May and June of 2011, protesters stormed Israel's northern borders from Syria and Lebanon. Then as well, dozens were killed when Israel responded with gunfire. Israelis agree with their government's stance. Eighty-three percent of Israeli Jews, and 70 percent of Israelis overall, said in April that the Israeli policy of opening fire on the Gaza border was appropriate, according to a poll by the Israel Democracy Institute. Jewish Israelis have also given near-unanimous support to previous Israeli military actions in Gaza. Dayan blames Hamas for the deaths Monday, saying that the terror group wanted to distract Gazans from their dire economy by shifting blame to Israel. Israel withdrew its army and settlers from Gaza in 2005. After Hamas won Palestinian elections in 2006, Israel and Egypt initiated a blockade of the strip, though they let in humanitarian goods. Hamas and other Gaza terror groups have continued, on and off, to bombard Israel with missiles in the intervening years. In response, Israel has launched three military operations in Gaza, in 2008, 2012 and 2014. "Sinwar sends his people and his children and his women to the border to get killed," Dayan said. "Because the situation in Gaza is extremely difficult, Hamas decided, as many dictatorships do, to direct the blame elsewhere."

Federation awards outstanding teachers

Wed, 05/16/2018 - 10:00am
The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston presented the 2018 Irving L. Samuels Outstanding Teacher Awards for Judaic Studies to Judy Ney of Congregation Emanu El's Helfman Religious School and Royee Phillips of The Shlenker School. More than 150 students, teachers, parents and friends gathered at the Evelyn Rubenstein Jewish Community Cener on May 7 to honor these two outstanding educators. The awards honor two outstanding Jewish educators in the Greater Houston area, whose primary role is classroom teaching in Judaic subject matter. Each honoree receives $1,500 toward attending a Jewish educational program of the recipient's choice. An additional $300 stipend is awarded for the purchase of educational materials by each honoree. Each honoree's name is engraved on a plaque to hang in their school and on a permanent plaque at the Federation. Award funds are made possible by proceeds from the Irving L. Samuels Outstanding Teacher Award Fund of the Houston Jewish Community Foundation. This award was established as a loving tribute in Samuels' memory by his late wife, Elsie, and his children. Read the full story right now in our e-edition. Lots of stories and special features are only available in the print and E-editions of the Jewish Herald-Voice. To make sure you are not missing out, subscribe to the print edition or subscribe to and read the E-edition right now.

Israel, Netta Barzilai win Eurovision song contest

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 2:59pm
For the fourth time in its four decades of participating in the Eurovision song contest, Israel has won the international competition. The song "Toy" by Netta Barzilai, 24, secured Israel's victory at the Eurovision contest this year at the Finals Saturday in Lisbon, Portugal. The victory means Israel will host the event next year. Barzilai's song is a warning to a boy not to treat her like a toy. Israel's song, which is performed in English, has consistently been ranked on betting sites in first place or at least in the top three at the festival, a hugely popular phenomenon in Europe that combines elements of "American Idol"-style song competitions and the Olympic Games. The score is determined by points given by the contest's official juries and by callers. "Toy" won the match with a combined score of 529 points, giving it a huge lead of 93 points over Cyprus, which came in second, and a 187-point lead over Austria in third place. The score for "Toy"was the fourth-highest in the contest's history. The track by Barzilai, whose stage name is Netta, is about female empowerment and was inspired by the #MeToo movement, she has said. "The song has an important message," she is quoted as telling the Daily Express before winning the contest, which features artists from dozens of countries in and around Europe, plus Australia. "The awakening of female power and social justice, wrapped in a colorful, happy vibe," she said. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated Netta and indicated that the festival next year will be hosted in Jerusalem. "You have brought the State of Israel a lot of pride. Next year in Jerusalem!" wrote Netanyahu on Twitter to Netta. Speaking about the chicken noises she makes during the song, she told Wiwibloggs: "The noises are supposed to imitate the voices of a coward - a chicken. Someone who doesn't act the way he/she feels and treats you like a toy." The three Israeli songs that had won the contest before "Toy" - "A-Ba-Ni-Bi" in 1978, "Hallelujah" in 1979 and Dana International's "Diva" in 1998 - were sung in Hebrew.

Houston activists near Galleria display hate for Jewish state

Tue, 05/15/2018 - 2:21pm
Local anti-Israel activists appropriated the language of Holocaust remembrance to accuse the Jewish state of "ethnic cleansing" and "genocide." The activists staged an anti-Israel demonstration near The Galleria Houston on Saturday, May 12, where they glorified Palestinian terrorism and called for the elimination of Israel. Members of University of Houston's chapter of Students for Justice in Palestine participated in the annual demonstration, which coincides with the anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel - an event known in anti-Israel circles as al Nakba, meaning "the Catastrophe." At their demonstration, the activists displayed placards that read, "Never Again - the Nakba." The group chanted, "Long live the Intifada!" and gave speeches that compared Israel to Nazi Germany, as well as Apartheid South Africa. A couple dozen people participated in the demonstration, which significantly was smaller than years past, and was promoted via social media. The following Tuesday - the day after the U.S. Embassy opened in Jerusalem - several of the same anti-Israel activists staged a similar demonstration outside the local Israeli consulate's office. On its Facebook event page, organizers alleged that "May 15th, 2018, marks 70 years of the ethnic cleansing of almost 800,000 Palestinians from their homes and lands, at the hands of Zionist militias. ... The Palestinian people, alongside their international allies, are organizing to let the world know that the land, from Haifa to Jerusalem to Gaza and all in between, will be liberated and that a sovereign, independent, free Palestine is inevitable as long as its people remain beacons of resistance. ..." The activists called for "an end to Israeli colonization of ALL of historic Palestine." Calling for the elimination of the Jewish state is a common motif in anti-Semitic propaganda, according to experts. Local anti-Israel activists openly have expressed hatred toward Jews and Israel.

US dedicates embassy in Jerusalem amid jubilation and violence

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 12:00pm
JERUSALEM (JTA) - The United States dedicated its new embassy in Jerusalem, reversing decades of American policy as tensions flared on Israel's Gaza border. Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin during the Monday afternoon ceremony pronounced the "Shehechyanu" prayer, said when one is thankful for a new or unusual experience. "Today we officially open the United States embassy in Jerusalem. Congratulations it's been a long time coming," President Donald Trump said in a video greeting. He added that "Israel is a sovereign nation with the right like any other nation to determine its own capital." "Today we follow through on this recognition and open our embassy in the historic and sacred land of Jerusalem," Trump said. He added that it is opening "many, many years ahead of schedule." Tens of thousands of Gazan Palestinians massed on the border with Israel, sparking reaction from Israeli soldiers posted there. At least 41 Palestinians were killed on Monday and hundreds injured, according to the Gaza Health Ministry. Thousands of Palestinians also marched in protest in the West Bank. A large stage with an American flag motif was erected in Jerusalem's Arnona neighborhood, where the existing U.S. consular headquarters will take on many of the Embassy functions. Previous administrations declined to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, preferring not to buck the international consensus that the city's status was disputed until resolved by negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. The Jerusalem Embassy Act of 1995, which passed by an overwhelming vote of both houses of Congress, recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and called for the relocation of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. A waiver signed every six months has allowed the president to suspend moving the embassy if it is deemed "necessary to protect the national security interests of the United States." Among the administration members attending are U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Special Envoy Jason Greenblatt, Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner and daughter and adviser Ivanka Trump. The U.S. president asserted that the United States continues to "support the status quo at Jerusalem's holy sites, including the Temple Mount also known as Haram al Sharif." Jared Kushner told the crowd, "I am so proud to be here today in Jerusalem, the eternal heart of the Jewish people," adding that he was "especially honored to be here today as a representative of the 45th president of the United States Donald J. Trump." Kushner asserted that the embassy move shows that the United States can be trusted and that: "When President Trump makes a promise, he keeps it." Trump, he added to applause, also kept his promise in exiting the "dangerous, flawed and one-sided Iran deal." He added: Iran's aggression threatens the many peace-loving citizens throughout the region and the entire the world," and that "in confronting modern threats and pursuing common interests previously unimaginable alliances are emerging." Netanyahu thanked Trump "for having the courage to keep your promises," and called the opening of the embassy a "great day for peace." "You can only build peace on truth. And the truth is that Jerusalem has been, and always will be, the capital of the Jewish people, the capital of the Jewish state," he said. He praised the Israeli soldiers protecting the country's borders "even as we speak," an acknowledgement of the day's unrest. Several of the speakers, including U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Rivlin, reminded the audience that exactly 70 years ago, nearly to the moment of the ceremony, the United States under President Harry Truman became the first country to recognize the new state of Israel. The ceremony opened with a prayer by controversial Baptist Pastor Richard Jeffries, who praised Trump's "tremendous leadership," and ended with a benediction by Pastor John Hagee, the founder of Christians United for Israel. Ivanka Trump and Mnuchin, the highest ranking White House official, unveiled the official U.S. seal on the building. During the ceremony, Trump tweeted his congratulations, calling it a "big day for Israel." During the ceremony, Israeli fighter jets struck five Hamas targets in a military training facility in northern Gaza. "The strike was conducted in response to the violent acts carried out by Hamas over last few hours along the security fence," the IDF said.

Jerusalem soccer team adds Trump to its name to honor US embassy move

Mon, 05/14/2018 - 10:06am
JERUSALEM (JTA) - Jerusalem's largest soccer club announced that it has changed its name to honor President Donald Trump. The team will now be known as "Beitar Trump Jerusalem," it announced on social media on Sunday, a day before the dedication of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem. It is not known if this is a permanent change or a temporary gimmick. "For 70 years has Jerusalem been awaiting international recognition, until President Donald Trump, in a courageous move, recognized Jerusalem as the eternal capital of Israel. President Trump has shown courage, and true love of the Israeli people and their capital, and these days other countries are following his lead in giving Jerusalem its rightful status," the team wrote in its post on Facebook. It continued: "The football club Beitar Jerusalem, one of the most prominent symbols of the city, are happy to honor the President for his love and support with a gesture of our own. The chairmen of the club, the owner Eli Tabib and the executive manager Eli Ohana have decided to add to the club's title the name of the American President who made history, and from now on will be called Beitar Trump Jerusalem." The post included a photo of Trump surrounded by an Israeli and an American flag, and the symbol of the soccer club. Beitar Jerusalem is known for its blatantly racist fans, including a core group that goes by the name La Familia, a reference to the Italian mafia. In the last year the club has cracked down on such racism, directed mostly at Arabs and Muslims.


Fri, 05/11/2018 - 11:39am
April 8, 1933 - May 4, 2018 Arlene Lyons Lockshin was born on April 8, 1933, in Great Neck, N.Y. In the 1950s, Arlene moved to Houston, where she was reacquainted with Allen Lockshin, whom she first met in college. Allen and Arlene were married on Feb. 1, 1958. Allen's work took them to Akron, Ohio, then back to Houston in 1968. In Houston, they settled and raised their daughters, Jody and Kay. They were long-time members of Temple Emanu El. In 2012, Arlene and Allen relocated to Austin to be with their daughters and son-in-Law, Rod Schnuriger, and they enjoyed their new life close to their daughters. Arlene was preceded in death by Allen in 2015. Arlene made friends of all ages everywhere she went, and especially enjoyed the friends she made at the Atria. Arlene took advantage of many activities, including the Austin Symphony, which delighted her immensely, and she also enjoyed participating in Power for Parkinson's exercise classes and activities. Having a strong work ethic, Arlene was in retail sales most of her life and mostly at Neiman Marcus; she loved her job, co-workers and customers. She also volunteered at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where she took young Jody and Kay to help on holidays. Loyal, humorous, devoted, strong willed, stylish, poised, charming, funny, vivacious, a great mother, wife, friend and confidante describe Arlene, who will be missed by her family and friends. A "giver" until the end, Arlene donated her body to the UT Health Science Center in Houston. Special thanks to caregivers, Sylvia Salinas and Mariza Sanchez, for taking such good care of Arlene throughout the last few years. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Power for Parkinson's or MD Anderson Cancer Center, or a charity of your choice. A memorial service will be held at 1p.m. on Monday, May 14 at Temple Beth Shalom, 7300 Hart Ln, Austin, Txas. Reception following. Wear bright colors, as Arlene would have wished! Guestbook and online obituary at

Lots of food, fun for Lag B'Omer

Fri, 05/11/2018 - 9:36am
Chabad Outreach of Houston sponsored a community-wide Lag B'Omer celebration at Godwin Park. The event on May 3 included food, music, basketball, inflatable playscapes and children's activities. See all the pictures right now in our e-edition. Lots of stories and special features are only available in the print and E-editions of the Jewish Herald-Voice. To make sure you are not missing out, subscribe to the print edition or subscribe to and read the E-edition right now.


Thu, 05/10/2018 - 2:02pm