Happy faces and shrills of delight are filling our classrooms, hallways, pools and play areas at the J. Camp isn’t just about the smiling faces and swimming though. J Camps build leadership skills, instill confidence and strengthens Jewish identity. The included daily swim instruction introduces lifesaving skills around water. And camp counselors get mentorship and build professional skills they’ll use throughout their lives.
No hot water, no air conditioning… these are all necessary inconveniences our members have endured lately for an infrastructure upgrade. We have been serving families and individuals of Houston out of our current facility for more than 50 years. The current mechanical equipment has exceeded its expected useful life. Utility bills at the J understandably have skyrocketed over the years, leaving less money to serve the community. We have also experienced significant indoor comfort issues and extensive repair costs because of its aged and inefficient equipment.
by Rabbi Jill Levy, Director of the The Bobbi and Vic Samuels Center for Jewish Living and Learning
Disclaimer: This is not a prescriptive post. I am not writing this to convince others to be like me. I am sharing my process as a way to help people think through the big question – “What does it mean to live Jewishly”?
I should start off by admitting that to the general Jewish population my Passover practice still seems pretty “religious”. We clean our house and cars, hide and burn our chametz. We do not eat out during the holiday week. But this year, I did not kasher or change out my dishes and we bought and ate certain foods, that while free of chametz, did not contain Kosher for Passover certification.
By Gerald Blaise LaBita, Producing Director Theater LaB Houston
As a big fan of The Ann and Stephen Kaufman Jewish Book & Arts Fair at the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC for many years (decades) now, it has always been with great anticipation to see who the talented and esteemed writers that will present at the J each year. Rabbi Chaim Potok was a headliner of the Book Fair back in November 1982 and I had the good fortune to see, meet and hear Potok talk about his life, writings and literature. It was a special personal event because years earlier I had become a fan of Potok’s fiction work. I stood in a very long line that night armed with my first edition hardback books and was able to say hello and have him sign my copies of The Chosen and My Name is Asher Lev.
The very first ever Olympic swimming champion learned to swim because his father drowned. Alfred Hajos was a Jew from Hungary. He won the 100m Freestyle and the 1200m Freestyle at the 1896 Olympic Games in Athens. His races were held in the Mediterranean Sea where the water temperature was 55 degrees. He was able to swim the 100m Free is 1 minute and 22 seconds and the 1200m Free in 18 minutes and 22 seconds while swimming through 14 foot waves. The Athenian Journal Acropolis called him the “Hungarian Dolphin.” He was the youngest winner at the games at the age of 18 years old.
by John Dreyfus, Houston Jewish Film Festival Chair
After all the previewing and planning, it is hard to believe the 13th Annual Houston Jewish Film Festival is upon us. Doreen Joffe and Sharon Kagan gave birth to this project 13 years ago. Now our adolescent program celebrates a Bar Mitzvah. The celebration kicks off with a sneak preview of the drama Fever at Dawn on Monday February 27, and officially opens March 5 and runs through March 19.
The 27th Annual Children’s Scholarship Ball is coming up Saturday, March 4, 2017. There is nothing more important to us at the Evelyn Rubenstein JCC than making a lasting impact on the lives of children in our community. Each year, 300 children at the J benefit from scholarship assistance, but the need is great year round. This is why the Children’s Scholarship Ball benefitting the Irvin Kaplan Children’s Scholarship Fund was created to ensure that all children from six-week-old infants to teenagers, of all religious and ethnic backgrounds, and with different abilities, can participate in our early childhood programs, preschools, special needs programs, holiday events and J Camps.
We are bringing an outstanding show to Houston for one night only. Soul to Soul will perform at the J on Saturday, February 18 at 8:15 p.m. Soul to Soul was scheduled during the month of February, purposely. But timing is everything, who knew that in today’s America, bridging cultures, celebrating our similarities and our differences, would be so very important, urgent, actually.
In 1988, Dance Month at the Kaplan Theater presented little-known choreographer, Ohad Naharin. In 1990, Naharin was appointed artistic director of Batsheva Dance Company. Now Naharin is revolutionizing modern dance with the advent of his Gaga technique.
Rabbi Israel Salanter stated: “Any rabbi whose congregation never considered firing him [her] is no rabbi. Any rabbi whose congregation does fire him [her] is no mensch.”
This statement captures the essence of the debate – should rabbis become involved in politics? On one hand, if rabbis do not take a stand to lend a voice to contemporary issues, then are they really engaging in leadership? On the other hand, the rabbi’s role is to welcome members of the entire Jewish community, and how can one do that in a mench-like way if he or she isn’t able to address the needs of all of their constituents?