www.davidlv.com OCTOBER 2011
SUKKOT WHAT’S WITH THOSE HUTS COOL GOLF
DRIVING FOR GREEN
DINE OUT DILEMMA KEEPING KOSHER IN SIN CITY
LETTING GO TO MOVE FORWARD
LOOKING FOR LITVAK RETURNING FROM BEYOND THE PALE
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14 explore The month’s event listings to help plan your day or your stay 18 devour Where to find some of the best eats, drinks and foodie happenings in the Valley 20 desire Sin City abounds in worldclass shopping ... these are a few of our favorite things 22 discover Hot spots to go, cool things to do, hip people to see—the Entertainment Capital of the World, need we say more? 23 mingle Snapshots of the latest, greatest Vegas events
28 believe Sukkot, the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles rediscovered through an international design competition.
42 Looking for Litvak Yiddish language and culture in modern day Lithuania.
58 Magician, Jan Rouven The month’s spotlight on someone of interest
32 play Fall temperatures provide the ideal golf conditions, especially for those wanting to use the sport for fundraising. 36 taste With or without pita Las Vegas has some of the best Greek food options around.
48 A Dine Out Dilemma Being kosher and classy has its challenges in Sin City. 52 Forgiveness A pescription for renewed prosperity.
on the cover 2010 Sukkah City winner, Fractured Bubble, designed by Henry Grosman and Babak Bryan. Photograph by Brian Dubé, NewYorkDailyPhoto.com
Copyright 2011 by JewishINK LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. DAVID MAGAZINE is protected as a trademark in the United States. Subscribers: If the Postal Service alerts us that your magazine is undeliverable, we are under no further obligation unless we receive a corrected address within one year. The publisher accepts no responsibility for unsolicited or contributed manuscripts, photographs, artwork or advertisements. Submissions will not be returned unless arranged for in writing. DAVID MAGAZINE is a monthly publication. All information regarding editorial content or property for sale is deemed reliable. No representation is made as to the accuracy hereof and is printed subject to errors and omissions.
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Publisher/Editor Associate Publisher
Joanne Friedland firstname.lastname@example.org
Jeremy Leopold a
Jim Begley Bill Bowman Marisa Finetti Jaq Greenspon Alan Margolies Brianna Soloski Pat Teague Lynn Wexler-Margolies
ART & PHOTOGRAPHY
Art Director/ Photographer Contributing Photographers
Brian DubĂŠ Yann Plantier Julie Doniol-Valcroze Adrus
ADVERTISING & MARKETING
Advertising Director Editorial Board
Joanne Friedland email@example.com
Andrea Behrens Stewart Blumenfeld Nancy Katz Ellen Kominsky Lori Nelson
SUBSCRIPTIONS 702-254-2223 | firstname.lastname@example.org
Volume 02 Number 06 www.davidlv.com DAVID Magazine is published 12 times a year.
Copyright 2011 by JewishINK LLC. 1930 Village Center Circle, No. 3-459 Las Vegas, NV 89134 (p) 702-254-2223 (f) 702-664-2633
To advertise in DAVID Magazine, call 702-254-2223 or email email@example.com To subscribe to DAVID Magazine, call 702.254-2223 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
DAVID Magazine sets high standards to ensure forestry is practiced in an environmentally responsible, socially beneficial and economically viable manner. This copy of DAVID Magazine was printed by American Web in Denver, Colo., on paper from well-managed forests which meet EPA guidelines that recommend use of recovered fibers for coated papers. Inks used contain a blend of soy base. Our printer meets or exceeds all federal Resource Conservation Recovery Act standards and is a certified member of both the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative. When you are done with this issue, please pass it on to a friend or recycle it.
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2nd Annual Nevada State Birthright Missions to Israel! Summer 2011 This past summer 80 young Jewish adults from Las Vegas and Reno traveled from one desert to another to experience the opportunity of a lifetime. A 10-day Jewish journey throughout Israel took participants through the history of the State while exploring the land and culture and helping them to find their own true Jewish identity. “Going on the Birthright trip was truly a life changing experience for me. Before, I was not involved in the Jewish community. Now, I am asking myself, ‘What can I do to help?’ My passion for Israel and the betterment of the Jewish community is all thanks to Birthright.”
- Jeremy Weiser, Birthright Participant
Nevada Birthright Israel Participants Leilani Aquino Melissa Barnes Amanda Barr Elizabeth Blumenthal Adam Brikman Jamie Faryn Brotsky Shira Butt Shai Cohen Dana Connolly Shawna Connolly Jason Crystal Mason Cunha Maximillian Cunha Matthew Daneman Mathew Drate Sarah Durr
Sabrina Fares Spencer Franklin Samuel Freeman Rachel Gershin Aryana Glasser Jeffrey Goyer Casey Griffith Makenzie Heinemann Josh Heisler Eliot Heller Robert Hersh Christopher Kaplan Daniel Kessler Anthony Khazatsky Justin Kitman Matthew Kitman
Morgan Kolber Tess Kramer Jana Kramer Jeremy Lellouche Lisa Levine Michael Liderman Kayleigh Lindemuth Kevin Lyons Eric Mehta Matthew Miller Tori Murphy Brett Nadler Joshua Nadler Sasha Nizgoda Joshua Perkins Megan Rome
Elliot Rosenberger Lacey Rubenstein Daniel Safirstein Max Samarov Allison Sender Noy Shoshan Daniella Silverstein Jonathan Smith Adina Soffer Andrew Spivak Mia Stein Samuel Stein Ashlee Tesser Carly Tesser Jadin Tredup Krista Tsukashima
Jonathan Tuzman Nathan Vaisbort Molly Wagmeister Evan Walsh Daniel Weinstein Micah Weisblat Jeremy Weiser Benjamin Weiser David Weiser Amir West Rebecca Wikler Debra Yavitz Alexander Zajack Jennifer Zuckerman Rebecca Zuckerman
Thank you to our generous donors who made it possible for these young Jewish Nevadans to go on Birthright Israel which has forever inspired them to be committed to Israel, Judaism, the Jewish people and our Jewish community.
Todah Rabah! Leonard Stone Chairman of the Board Stefanie Szlamkowicz Director, Women’s Philanthropy
Elliot B. Karp President & CEO
Emily Conroy Director, Young Leadership & Special Projects
Gil Kahn Director, Hillel Las Vegas
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Marisa Finetti is a local writer, marketing professional and blogger. The Tokyoborn Finetti has called Las Vegas home since 2005. She has written for such publications as Spirit and Las Vegas and Nevada magazines and has a healthy-living blog at bestbewell.com. When she’s not writing, Finetti enjoys family time with her husband and two boys.
Bill Bowman Bill Bowman is a Las Vegas-based writer who has spent the past 10plus years covering the southwest golf scene. He has profiled and played golf with a wide range of celebrities for golf publications and websites including comedians Bill Engvall and Kevin Nealon, actor Jeffrey Donovan (USA’s Burn Notice), ESPN radio/TV personality Colin Cowherd, NASCAR’s Kurt Busch, Collective Soul lead singer Ed Roland, former major league pitcher Greg Maddux, Baltimore Ravens’ all-pro Jonathan Ogden and others.
Jaq Greenspon is a noted local journalist, screenwriter and author with credits on The New Adventures of Robin Hood and Star Trek: The Next Generation. He also is a literary and movie critic, has taught and written about filmmaking but is most proud of his role in the film, Lotto Love. A Vegas resident for most of his life, his native language is Hebrew, but he doesn’t speak it anymore.
Jim Begley is an avid food lover who has recently taken up food writing in a feeble attempt to defray his obscene restaurant spending. If you like what you’ve read, follow him at splurgemonkey.com or via Twitter@ splurgemonkey.
Pat Teague has been a practicing journalist, manager and editor for international and regional wire services, and has worked for several metropolitan daily newspapers. He also has worked for one of the world’s largest corporations and was one of five Southern Californians in the Los Angeles chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists honored in 2000 for career achievement.
Lynn WexlerMargolies & Alan Margolies Together they devote themselves to work, play, family & the Jewish community. A former TV news anchor & reporter, Lynn is a feature writer for various national publications, & the Founder of Perfectly Poised which teaches manners & etiquette to individuals & groups of all ages. Alan is a financial planner who writes for, and offers advice in, financial publications. They believe teamwork is the hallmark of a successful marriage, and family life!
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feedback Dear Editor, Despite the many years that have passed since I last celebrated the High Holy Days in Israel, your article Jerusalem, If I Should Forget Thee made it seem like yesterday. I am so glad to have found your magazine, because amidst the stress of daily life here in Vegas, I was given a moment to escape back to my memories of that very special city. I remember how on the eve of the holidays everything around became so still and peaceful. Families would stroll down deserted streets, discovering new details of their neighborhoods obscured by the hustle and bustle of normal life. As I paged through DAVID I realized just how much of my homeland I missed. Mr. Greenspon’s article provides an important historical perspective to the tragic struggles that we hear about in the news. As Jews it is important to remember what we are fighting for. We have a deep and abiding connection to those holy stones. They glow golden because of the thousands of years of longing, hopes and prayers, just like the kvitels, that are placed in them. We have repeated these words “Next year in Jerusalem” for so long. They represent yearning and so much more. Sincerely, Noy Shoshan Las Vegas
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We want to hear from you! Compliments and complaints are welcome, but only if we get them. Send them to the editor at email@example.com with “Letter to Editor” in the subject line or mail them to DAVID, 1930 Village Center Circle, No. 3-459, Las Vegas, NV 89134
corrections Last month’s story Rewriting Their Scripts requires clarification and correction: The Diary of Anne Frank was a production of the Nevada Conservatory Theatre. Charlene Sher is an Equity actor. The entertainment for the Elevate benefit was The Fab Four not staged readings. The readings will be part of a trio series for the upcoming season of the Jewish Repertory Theatre of Nevada. Readings will also be part of the Elevate curriculum. In April 2012 the JRTN will partner with the Smith Center and the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas in the staging of Golda’s Balcony a one-woman show starring Tony nominated Tovah Feldshuh. The JRTN has not joined forces with the Adelson Campus and the Suncoast Hotel and Casino. Both those organizations have however been most supportive of the JRTN.
DAVID TISHREI/CHESHVAN 5772
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from the publisher We are making a big deal about sukkahs in this issue of DAVID. In fact, we could be correctly accused of going “sukkah crazy,” placing an image related to one our shorter story’s sidebar on our cover. The unwritten law is that the cover is reserved for images related to feature stories. The lesson in all of this, I suppose, is that life can offer challenges to the status quo, and we must learn to go with the flow. It would have been so easy to pick one of Jaq Greenspon’s many exquisite images. They were of Vilnius, Lithuania, and would have been a great extension to his thoughtful piece Looking for Litvak. This was our early choice but then we found Brian Dube’s photograph. Finding the photographer became my personal obsession. In the world of publishing you need the artist’s permission to use his or her work; a highquality copy of the picture also would not have hurt. Some things are beshert (Yiddish for fated). After days of poking around on the Internet, something old school happened. A phone call was had with a gentleman in New York City. What confused us was that there seemed to be two Brian Dubes: one was our phantom photographer; the other owned a juggling equipment supply company. Our phone call confirmed they were, in fact, one and the same, and he is now a new friend of DAVID. For full disclosure: Along with those at the magazine I wear another hat. I am an architect. The idea of an international design competition focused on sukkah designs was more than I could resist. Giving ancient customs the spotlight and reinterpreting them for our times is part of our mission at DAVID. Finding kindred souls and connecting with them is what drives us. Sukkahs are designed to be flimsy, porous and, as in the tale of the three little piggies, no challenge to the big bad wolf. No symbol serves better to illustrate life, especially in these turbulent times. Look at all the vacant houses in our Valley. No matter how much we decorate them like the sukkah, we will not make them more permanent. At these times, especially on the eve of the High Holy Days, it is imperative to build our lives not of sticks and stones but of values that have stood the test of time. Gosh, I am sounding too much like the rabbi. I have to watch out. I may get into copyright infringement issues all over again. Jokes aside, friends, G’mar Chatima Tovah, and Tzom Kal. May you be sealed in the book of life for a good year and have an easy fast.
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Trick or Treat Ghostly ghouls, haunted houses and jack-oâ€™-lanterns bring out the pagan in all of us. Halloween is on the 31st but can be celebrated all month long in spooky Sin City.
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Rodney Carrington. Through Oct. 30, 10 p.m., $79.99, 18+. Hollywood Theatre at MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas. 702-891-1111. mgmgrand.com
Emerald Isle Escapade: Literary Jaunt of Ireland. 7:30 p.m., free, 21+. Bar-
rick Museum Auditorium at UNLV, 4505 Maryland Parkway, Las Vegas. 702-8953381. barrickmuseum.unlv.edu
Fade, Sag, Crumble: 10 Las Vegas Writers Confront Decay. 7-9 p.m.,
free. Clark County Library Theater, 1401 E. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas. 702-5073400. lvccld.org
America’s Got Talent Live. Through Oct. 30, 7:30 p.m., $42.50-$99.50. The Colosseum at Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas. 702-731-7110. caesarspalace.com Martina McBride. 7 p.m., $42.50-$75,
all ages. Grand Events Center at Green Valley Ranch, 2300 Paseo Verde Parkway, Henderson. 702-617-7777. greenvalleyranchresort.com
George Lopez. Through Oct. 29, 10
p.m., $69.99-$89.99, 21+. Terry Fator Theater at the Mirage, 3400 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas. 702-791-7111. mirage.com
Unmasking the Mind Art Auction & Fundraiser. To benefit Innovations
International Charter School of Nevada. 6-9 p.m., $50. Stan Fulton Building at UNLV, 801 E. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas. 702-216-4337. Dance Dance Dance! Through Oct. 30,
8 p.m. (29) & 2 p.m. (30), $29. Paris Theater at Paris Las Vegas, 3655 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas. 702-946-7000. parislasvegas.com Louis C.K. 9 p.m., $53-$83, 21+. Pearl at the Palms, 4321 W. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas. 702-942-7777. palms.com
Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition.
Haunted tours through Oct. 31, 5 p.m., free with admission. Luxor, 3900 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas. 702-262-4200. luxor.com To submit your event information, email firstname.lastname@example.org by the 15th of the month prior to the month in which the event is being held.
Catering your Break the Fast Platters and Desserts. 301 N. Buffalo Drive 255-3444 www.thebagelcafelv.com
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devour The Bagel Cafe Looking for great food to serve during your high holy days feasts? Look no further than Bagel Café, voted best of Las Vegas 12 years in a row. Offering a variety of traditional deli fare, the restaurant is popular among Jewish and non-Jewish people alike. Although dining in is an option, the restaurant also offers a number of platters for your convenience, everything from fish to sandwiches to fruit and veggies. Platters range from $11.95 to $15.95 per person and must be ordered at least two days in advance. Bagel Café, 301 N. Buffalo Drive, Las Vegas. 702-255-3444. thebagelcafelv.com
Milos Estiatorio Milos at the Cosmpolitan is home to the Valley’s best lunch deal — a $20.11 three-course prix-fixe offering. Amongst numerous main course choices is the Lavraki, a grilled Mediterranean Sea Bass simply finished with lemon juice, olive oil and capers. The presentation allows the fish to be the star. Two things about this meal: don’t forget to eat the fins — they’re like meaty potato chips – and hurry because in 2012 the price jumps to $20.12! The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas , 3708 Las Vegas Blvd. S, 89109.
Hofbrauhaus With the dawning of October comes Oktoberfest - the traditional German celebration which is considered the world’s largest fair. Here in the States you can authentically celebrate at Hofbrauhaus where the brewer ships in their Oktoberfest lager specifically for the limited-duration celebration. The easy drinking lager weighs in at an acceptable 6.3% alcohol by volume and is available through the end of the month. Prost! Hofbrauhaus Las Vegas, 4510 Paradise Road, Las Vegas. 702-853-2337. hofbrauhauslasvegas.com 18
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“Buckle your seat belts” – Rolling Stone
Tickets on sale at all Venetian® | Palazzo® Box Offices 702.414.9000 | venetian.com
9/25/11 8:35 PM
Fall Accessories As seen on celebrities, this exquisite swirled filigree cuff by Isharya, is a must-have arm candy, $398. Ice Jewelry at The Shoppes at The Palazzo 3327 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas. 702-369-2955.
Block out the sun in style with a chic velvet hat with contrasting spice brown tie, $110. Michael Stars at Town Square, 6569 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas. 702-851-0511.
Fendiâ€™s Crazy Carats Collection of timepieces features a revolutionary technology that changes the gemstones with a simple turn of the crown. Comes in coordinating crocodile leather bands this fall, $2,400. Â These limited edition watches are available at Fendi at The Forum Shops at Caesars, 3500 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas. 702-732-9040.
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Glamorous and dressed up to the spirit to the season, fall is all about saturated, contrasting shades which add modernity through color-blocking, like with this Fendi bag, $2,050. Neiman Marcus at Fashion Show, 3200 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas. 702-731-3636.
Christian Louboutin’s iconic red sole shoes are still the rage this fall with the new signature Daffy Suede Royal Red platform pumps, $995. Christian Louboutin at The Shoppes at The Palazzo 3327 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas. 702-818-1650.
A slim, but serious “waisted” soft leather belt by French designer Maison Boinet, features double stitching and contrast colored loop, $58. Exclusively Intermix at The Forum Shops at Caesars, 3500 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas Las Vegas. 702-731-1922.
Timeless and exquisite, designer Wendy Brigode’s jewelry pieces exhibit a supreme sense of color and creative use of semiprecious stones and pearls, $2,150. Neiman Marcus at Fashion Show, 3200 Las Vegas Blvd. S., Las Vegas. 702-731-3636.
OCTOBER 2011 DAVID
9/26/11 11:31 AM
discover CBS Television City @ MGM Grand
Have you ever wanted to critique a television show before it airs? Have you ever fancied yourself in the position of network executive? If so, CBS Television City Research Center is the perfect place for you. Giving tourists and locals alike the opportunity to view and critique television shows before they air, CBS Television City Research Center is a great way to spend an afternoon. There are four studios participating and shows are selected randomly. Just before the screening begins, visitors are led into a studio and shown how to use the test pad in order to record their opinions. CBS Television City Research Center, 3799 S. Las Vegas Blvd., Las Vegas. 702-891-5752. Daily 10 a.m.-8:30 p.m. Free.
Age of Chivalry Renaissance Festival The Age of Chivalry Renaissance Festival is returning to Las Vegas this month for a weekend of old-fashioned fun. With more than 50 shows per day, the festival will showcase jousting tournaments, reenactments and other demonstrations. There will be a royal parade of kings, queens, warriors and peasants. More than 100 artisans will be showcasing and selling their unique wares. There will also be numerous vendors there selling authentic food and drink from the renaissance. October 7-9. Friday and Saturday 10 a.m.-10 p.m. & Sunday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Silver Bowl Park, 6800 E. Russell Road, Las Vegas. $10. lvrenfair.com
Nevada Wild Fest
Go back to the old days of the wild, wild West with the Nevada Wild Fest, sponsored by Nevada State College, benefiting the Lili Claire Foundation. Featuring carnival games, ziplining, and a series of concerts, the Festival is sure to have something for people of all ages. There will also be a beer garden and wine tasting patio. Holly Madison, of Playboy Bunny fame, will be hosting the opening night festivities. Juice Newton and Sixpence None the Richer will also be performing free concerts. Oct. 12-16, times vary, $9 per day. Nevada Wild Fest at Henderson Pavilion, 200 S. Green Valley Parkway, Henderson. 702-862-8141. nevadawildfest.com 22
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Hugh Bassewitz and Lisa Daitch
(left to right) Honorees: The Honorable Michael A Cherry, Neil Galatz and Russell Price
jewish repertory theatre of Nevada, elevate benefit
Suncoast Hotel & Casino Sunday, September 18 (left to right) Fran Fine, Dr. Leon Steinberg, Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, Dr. David & Betsi Steinberg and Faye Steinberg
(left to right) Norma Morrow Zuckerman, Master of Ceremonies Steve Schorr and Charlene Sher
Ken & Michelle Stern
The Fab Four, The Ultimate Tribute.
Photographs by Tonya Harvey & Alan M Rosenberg
Ray & Rosanne Nelson
(left to right): Laura Litt, Rosalee Sher, Margo Lewis, Norma Morrow Zuckerman, Charlene Sher and Jennifer Sher
Dr. Geoffrey Sher and Russell Price
(left to right): Linda Wilner, Shevy Shalev, Norma Morrow Zuckerman, Barbara Lipschitz, Charlene Sher and Esther Pokroy with members of the Fab Four.
SEPTEMBER 2011 DAVID
9/26/11 11:44 AM
33rd annual international jewish menâ€™s slo-pitch tournament
Sunset Park, Henderson Saturday, Sunday , September 3 & 4 Photographs by Nili www.niliphoto.com
DAVID TISHREI/CHESHVAN 5772
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Dorit Schwartz and Sharon Gainsburg
Jewish Community Center of Southern Nevada, Presents: Where Art thou?
Bar & Bistro @ The Arts Factory Hilary Scheele and David Fiigler
Robert Garrison, Zoe Mehr and Hanna Kelley
Thursday, September 15 Niki J Sands.
Photographs by Tonya Harvey
Chef Benny Velazquez and Wes Myles
Juli Ruben and Neil Poppish
(Left to right): Mike & Leslie Murdock, Melanie Kushnir and Elliot Karp
(Left to right): Jodi & Michael Mehr, Richard & Cynthia Daly
SEPTEMBER 2011 DAVID
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cosmopolitanconnections.com HOSTED BY YVETTE BROWN
CARAMEL BAR & LOUNGE at Bellagio Thursday, September, 22 Photographs by Noel Gonzalez
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live INSIDE believe @ 28 An Alfresco Mitzvah
give @ 32
Driving for the Green
taste @ 36
Get me to the Greek
JNF Golf Tournament Take to the links for Jewish National Fundâ€™s Charity Golf Tournament, taking place November 6 at Siena Golf Club. Enjoy your favorite sport while supporting a great charity.
OCTOBER 2011 DAVID
9/25/11 8:41 PM
An Alfresco Mitzvah Shaking it Out in Their Huts Brings Jews Together
ith Rosh Hashanah in the rear view mirror, Yom Kippur and Sukkot lie ahead. The Jewish season of reflection and questioning continues. It is a time of growth, learning and change. Hours are spent in the synagogue praying and reflecting on the past year, focusing the devout on the need to atone for past transgressions. With the powerful conclusion to the Neâ€™ila service, the focus shifts to renewal: rebirth, as if having been cleansed, for yet another cycle of living. Four days later comes Sukkot, or the Feast of the Tabernacles. Sukkot runs for seven days, with the first two being most important, as full days of prayer and celebration. The remaining five are known as Chol HaMoed (festival weekdays). The final days of Sukkot are known as Hoshana Rabbah. Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah are two additional days of religious observance that follow Sukkot. Although the seven species play a role in Sukkot, 28
there are four that come to the forefront during this time: On the first day, you will take for yourselves a fruit of a beautiful tree, palm branches, twigs of a braided tree and brook willows, and you will rejoice before the L-RD your G-d for seven days. â€” Leviticus 23:40. The etrog is a citrus fruit, similar to a lemon, that is native to Israel; a palm branch (lulav); two willow branches (aravot); and three myrtle branches (hadassim). The six branches are tied together and collectively become the lulav, because the palm branch is the largest part. During Sukkot, many people build a sukkah, a three-sided dwelling made of natural materials (ordinarily flora and bamboo shoots are used to create the structure). A sukkah typically has three sides and an open roof, allowing its inhabitants to see the sky and stars. Certain laws, or halakha, must be followed when constructing a sukkah. A sukkah must be made of organic materials and able to withstand autumn weather. Requirements must be met
when building a sukkah: It must be at least 3 feet tall; it must be positioned so all or part of the roof is open to the sky. Various religious figures disagree over whether a sukkah may sway in the wind and still be kosher. Some say swaying occurs naturally and is OK; others believe there should be no swaying. This leads to debate over what materials are appropriate for building a sukkah. If a material is not rigid, the sukkah will sway and not be considered kosher. If the material is rigid, then there can be no swaying and the sukkah will have been built according to Jewish law. Only natural materials may be used when creating the roof of a sukkah, and it must be something that has grown in the ground but is no longer connected to it in any way. Typically palm fronds, pine branches and bamboo are considered appropriate for the roof of a sukkah. The sukkah should have more shade than sun, but enough gaps in the roof to let in the rain.
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Your Family. Your Home. SERVICE
Yom Kippur Kol Nidre Yom Kippur Morning Sukkot Simchat Torah
Fri., Oct. 7 7:30 pm Sat., Oct. 8 10:00 am Wed., Oct. 12 6:30 pm Wed., Oct. 19 6:30 pm
Got Kids? Call the Office for Tot-Shabbat and Family Shabbat early worship schedules.
Lulav and Etrog
For many, the best part of building a sukkah is decorating it. Natural materials are best, but some people use ornaments, streamers and pictures as well. It’s important to include the seven species, especially the lulav and etrog, when decorating the sukkah. Reflecting today’s trend toward instant gratification, the Bet Shira synagogue in Miami, Fla., has created a drive-through sukkah, allowing congregants to experience the holiday without the work. Guests drive through the sukkah, shake the lulav and the etrog, and receive snacks on the way out. Congregants affectionately refer to it as the “McBet Shira Sukkah.” As with all Jewish traditions, there is a prayer that must be recited when using the sukkah. Barukh ata Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha-olam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tzivanu leishev ba-sukah. It means “Blessed are You, Lord, our G-d, King of the universe, who has sanctified us with His commandments and commanded us to dwell in the sukkah.” For more traditional Jewish people, there is also a prayer that can be recited to welcome the seven exalted guests into the sukkah. Those guests represent the seven shepherds of Israel: Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron, Joseph and David. Tradition states that each night a different shepherd enters the sukkah, followed by the other six. For example, Jacob
would enter, followed by Moses, Aaron, Joseph, David, Abraham and Isaac. Many resources for building a sukkah are available, especially online. But for those pressed for time, there are prefabricated options that can be bought and put together in minutes. Sukkot.com is a great website for purchasing sukkah materials and decorations. A variety of resources also can be consulted for learning about and celebrating Sukkot. For those with children, a great site is Torah Tots (torahtots. com/holidays/sukkot/sukkot.htm). This site has information about the history of the holiday, games to play, coloring pages and virtual greeting cards to send to friends and family. For the older children, teens and adults, jewfaq.org and jewishvirtuallibrary.org offer concise histories of the holiday and blessings to be recited. Each branch of Judaism also has its own information page, with guidelines for building a sukkah, cooking for the holiday and explanations about many of the traditions behind the observance. The chabad.org website has audio and video resources to enhance the education process. The site also provides a search engine for finding local events for many of the Jewish holidays. Simply enter your city and state, and a comprehensive listing of events is provided, including date, time, location and cost. — Brianna Soloski
Cantor Mariana Gindlin
Rabbi Malcolm Cohen
Shabbat Worship Friday evenings at 7:30pm
Interfaith Marriage? Looking to get Involved? Seeking Adult Education? Temple Sinai is Your Family - Your Home! Call Temple and ask Debra for membership information. 9001 Hillpointe Road, Las Vegas, NV 89134 702-254-5110
Temple Sinai a Reform Congregation in Summerlin Member
OCTOBER 2011 DAVID
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Sukkah City by Reboot A sukkah serves two purposes: to remind us of the dwellings the Israelites lived in during the exodus from Egypt, and to share the universal ideas of permanence and transience in architecture. In New York last year, a contest was held to create a “city” of sukkahs. The 12 participants were mainly architects, some Jewish, some not — all exuding the talent to create an imaginative dwelling within both general and specific parameters. The basic structure had to be fashioned from something grown in the ground, but no longer attached to the earth. The designers were picked from a pool of more than 600 applicants. Some guidelines needed to be followed, a few of them serious, others a bit silly, perhaps. But each was important to retaining the dwelling’s holiness and reflecting the reason for the Sukkot holiday. According to Sukkah City guidelines, it was OK to use a whale or an elephant, for instance, to build the “walls” of the sukkah; the sukkah had to enclose a minimum area of 7-by-7 handbreadths; the roof could not be made of food; a sukkah could be built on a boat; and it must be at least 10 handbreadths tall, but no more than 20 cubits. The competition was sponsored by Reboot, an organiza-
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DAVID TISHREI/CHESHVAN 5772
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tion dedicated to helping young Jewish people “reboot” traditions, handed down from generation to generation, in a way that works for them. Reboot believes Jews must continue to be forward-thinking, and should ask questions that help them grow and learn more about their culture. Reboot does a variety of things, but its most popular program is 10Q (for 10 Questions), a series of online questions that help people reflect on the previous year as they head into the new one. The questions are diverse and personal, with topics ranging from family to work and relationships. Those who sign up for the project receive a question each day for 10 days. Each answered question is emailed to a secure vault just after Yom Kippur. The next year the questions are emailed back to the responders and the process starts all over. The idea, according to rebooters. net, is for participants to make an annual tradition out of answering the questions, and to build up an archive for future years. In its inaugural year in 2010, the site attracted more than 80,000 visitors. To sign up, visit renewyear.com or email email@example.com. For more information on Sukkah City, visit sukkahcity. com, and for additional details on Reboot and 10Q, go to rebooters.net.
Jewish NatioNal FuNd
siena Golf Club 10575 siena monte ave. las vegas, Nv 89135
Las Vegas Region
Annual Golf Tournament
10575 siena Monte ave. Las Vegas, nV 89135
suNday, November 6 Registration: 7:00 am • shotgun start: 8:00 am Cost: $180 (tax deductible) per golfer Elizabeth Schwartz Fray Broker Salesman REALTOR 702.236.1616 firstname.lastname@example.org
Phyllis R. Schwartz Broker Salesman REALTOR 702.378.2808 email@example.com
Two generations of real estate experience with more than 56 years of combined experience. Specializing in Residential, High Rise, Commercial and Land.
special guest: KdwN radio talk show host alan stock Proceeds from this event will benefit Friends of Israel Firefighters. sponsorship opportunities available Kosher catering provided by Gayla Bar Zvi For more information, or to register visit www.jnf.org/lvgolf or contact Nancy Rodgers at 702-435-6505.
Experienced and succesful short sale and foreclosure agents. Las Vegas Avoid Foreclosure… for information visit www.lasvegasavoidforeclosure.com
Jewish National Fund OCTOBER 2011 DAVID
9/25/11 8:44 PM
Golfers Paradise Cool Autumn Driving on Vegas Links
9/25/11 8:45 PM
At left: Siena Golf Club. Above: Red Rock Country Club’s Arroyo.
s the temperatures cool off, the Las Vegas golf scene really starts to heat up. With more than 50 area golf courses sporting prime conditioning, residents and guests alike should get set to enjoy some of the best weather and course designs anywhere. Add in world-class resorts, top-notch restaurants, extravagant shows, dynamic shopping and gaming choices galore (including the ever-popular college and pro football seasons) and it’s no wonder Vegas is THE place to be in the fall. So sit back, relax and check out some of the best golf courses you can play … if you can fit them into your busy day. We’ll start right on the Strip. On the north side is Wynn Golf Club, a Tom Fazio design; Bali Hai, a Brian Curley/Lee Schmidt masterpiece, anchors the south side. Close to all the action (just a short cab drive away) are designs by some of the game’s best-known players and architects. There’s Jack Nicklaus (Bear’s Best), Rees Jones (Rio Secco), Arnold Palmer (Red Rock Country Club’s Arroyo Course), Johnny Miller (Badlands Golf Club), Ted Robinson (Tuscany and Rhodes Ranch), Fuzzy Zoeller (TPC Summerlin), and a host of others. On the outskirts of Vegas, away from the hustle and bustle, are golf layouts that have sprouted in the middle of nature. Courses like Cascata (Rees Jones), Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort (three Pete Dye tracks) and Primm Valley Golf Club (two Tom Fazio offerings) inspire golfers to tee it up alongside nature, where the only traffic you’ll run across is the four-legged kind.
The variety of designs and quality of the work on all the courses (and most of those in Vegas) leave nothing to the imagination. From amazing waterfalls to impressive desert landscaping, the designers put their best work on display to get players to the course … and, more importantly, to get them back. The fall season also means higher prices at most golf courses, due to elevated demand amid ideal weather. Sure, there are plenty of bargains available but remember: If you want to play an early morning round on a weekend, you’ll pay a premium price. If you can play during the middle of the week, in the afternoon, that rate will drop drastically. It’s a simple case of supply and demand. If you haven’t played any (or all) of these courses, there’s no better time than the fall to book your trip. And if your better half doesn’t play golf, it’s no problem. Plenty of options are available to keep a person occupied for 4 ½ hours (provided your credit card doesn’t give out from all the swiping it’ll endure). So take a few minutes and go online to check out the golf courses and resorts in and around Vegas. And, remember: Fall is the perfect time to visit and tee it up. But if you’re thinking of making the trip, chances are hundreds (if not thousands) of golfers worldwide also have that in the back of their minds. The early bird gets the worm (and the best tee times), so start checking out prices now. OCTOBER 2011 DAVID
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James Canfield -Artistic Director
NBT SEASON 40 photo by Virginia Trudeau
2011 - 2012
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Dec 17-24, 2011 Paris Théâtre
A Choreographers’ Showcase Dates & Theater TBA
One Step Closer: The Studio Series
April 17-22, 2012 The Smith Center for the Performing Arts Studio Theater
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Packages If you’re visiting Las Vegas (or looking for a getaway if you’re a resident), the best way to get the most bang for your golfing buck is a package deal that includes lodging and links. Online places for booking your trip abound, but the best way is simple: Check out the website of the course or courses you’re looking to play. Whether they’re top-of-the line or a notch or two below, you’ll find deals to fit your time and budget. There will be pricing for a single round, multiple rounds or — and here’s the best part — rates that can include lodging if you’re playing a course affiliated with a hotel (or hotels). The courses are here, the resorts are here, the entertainment is here and the restaurants are here … the only thing missing is you. We’ve shown you this is the perfect time of year to play golf in Las Vegas. And with the variety of golf courses available, there’s certainly one (or more) to fit your needs … or that of your group. Every course or group of courses has courteous and helpful staff members who can work with you or your group to find the best time to tee it up. Whether you prefer a morning “drive” (and afternoons free), or a “sleep in” start (if you’re checking out late-night shows or clubs), you’re covered. If you’re planning a trip to Vegas to play golf — or you live here — remember, we have it all. From Aria to Zumanity, and everything in between, there’s no better place to spend your next vacation than Las Vegas. What are you waiting for? These tee times go fast. — Bill Bowman
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Linking up for a Cause Las Vegas is also one of the top spots for charity golf tournaments. Golfers are renowned for generosity, and if there’s a round of golf available for their charity dollars … all the better. One of the latest events is the Jewish National Fund Las Vegas Annual Golf Tournament set for Nov. 6. This year’s event is being held at Siena Golf Club. Lee Schmidt and Brian Curley designed this 6,843-yard beauty that rolls gently near the Spring Mountains. Add in picturesque bunkering, dazzling Las Vegas Strip views and a variety of golf holes and you’ve got a challenging golf experience you won’t soon forget. Tony Lenzie, director of golf at Siena Golf Club, said courses like Siena, as well as its sister layout, Arroyo at Red Rock, are prime examples of ideal places to hold that charity golf tournament. “We really try to add value to those charity events with our pricing,” he said. “Both courses are very playable, so whether you’re a scratch golfer or a 35 handicap, you’ll be able to compete.” Many advantages attract tournament organizers to Las Vegas courses, Lenzie adds. “With the quality of the course and the food and beverage, it really adds to the event. It makes it a great way to spend a day, and these events are always for a good cause.” With charities looking at a variety of ways to raise money, you might wonder why people pick golf tournaments. For Lenzie, it’s a no-brainer. “You’re able to incorporate a lot of different items into a golf tournament,” he said. “There can be raffles, special contests like ‘beat the pro,’ beverage sponsors … there are just a lot of ways to add to the bottom line of raising funds for the charity.” And, best of all, players get the chance to tee it up on fine golf courses. “We definitely have a lot of repeat tournaments because people have had success here and the golfers have enjoyed the courses,” he said. “It’s just a great way to have fun, plus raise money for good causes.” Some charity tournaments may seem a little costly, but you’ve got to remember it’s for a good cause. You get a round of golf, tee prizes, drink/food specials, great camaraderie and the satisfaction of knowing you’re helping a worthwhile charity make a difference in people’s lives. (Don’t forget, some charity tournaments are tax deductible, so check with your expert). It’s the same with the Jewish National Fund Tournament. “We’ve held the tournament for about seven years,” said Alan Kerner, cochairman. “This is a big golf town, known nationally for our golf courses.” Over the past three years the tournament has raised $77,000. The $180 registration per golfer includes a kosher light breakfast and lunch as well as the tournament. The event also features all the bells and whistles, including closest-to-the-pin contests, raffles (jewelry items, manicures and pedicures, golf vouchers, etc.) and an auction (including a grand prize as co-host for a day with Alan Stock, the event’s MC, on KDWN radio). “This is a great chance for people to get out and have fun and raise funds for Israel,” Kerner said. “They will have a good time and the money is going for a good cause.” Proceeds will benefit the Friends of Israel Firefighters program, with money used to help outfit Israel’s firefighters with adequate equipment and new fire trucks. Co-chair Larry Monkarsh agreed. “For over seven years we have developed an event that people in our community can look forward to,” he said. “We hold it on a Sunday in the fall when the weather is mild and ideal for golfing. We encourage families to come join us for lunch and feel that as a community we are doing a great deed for our homeland, Israel.”
OCTOBER 2011 DAVID
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Get Me to the Greek! Savour our Local Mediterranean Masters Cuisine
Gyro Salad served at Market Grille Cafe.
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number of Greek and Mediterranean options are available throughout the Valley. While our selection may not be truly reminiscent of my hometown Chicago, where it seemed every corner had a Greek diner, our options have improved over the years. Depending upon your tastes, there are any number of offerings. We’ve elected to highlight four of the best local options (Estiatorio Milos in the Cosmopolitan aside) for your eating pleasure.
Paymon’s Mediterranean Café and Lounge Paymon Raouf is the elder statesman of the Mediterranean dining scene in Las Vegas. Paymon’s provides an inviting atmosphere for sampling myriad cuisines. The menu “travels,” if Dolmades (Grape Leaves) served at Paymons’s Mediterranean Café. you will, from Italy in the east to India in the west, with stops in Greece and the Middle East in between. While slight sweetness is offset by the heaping portion of basmati rice Paymon’s represents all of them very well, there are some definitive that accompanies it, making each bite perfectly balanced. Hidden go-to dishes. among some of the better known offerings, the fesenjan is not to be Don’t miss the Athens Fries and their amazingly addictive dipping missed. sauce. This sauce is SO good I’ve been tempted to order it with other Paymon’s saganaki cheese – saganaki refers to the pan in which dishes. The fries themselves are coated with a proprietary spice the cheese is prepared – is salty kefealotyri Greek cheese flambéed blend. While I don’t know everything that’s in it, I do know there in rum, then doused with freshly squeezed lemon juice. It’s a tart yet are ample amounts of paprika, garlic, onion and parsley in the mix. smoky dish, with a crunchy exterior opening onto a gooey interior. The sauce is another secret blend, with hints of garlic, sumac for a Be sure to snag the crusty edges – you can thank me later. bit of tartness and turmeric for its quintessential yellowness. Almost equally addictive is the fesenjan, not a Greek dish per The Fat Greek se but not to be overlooked either. It consists of a chicken breast Recently, there was a bit of concern when the Fat Greek changed cooked in a pomegranate sauce with crushed walnuts. The sauce’s ownership. While it’s true that the eponymous portly Grecian is no longer at the helm, the new Russian owners still turn out some of the best Greek food in town. Apparently key to the business transaction was the transfer of already successful recipes. And if recent visits are an indication, little was lost in the translation. For starters, try the taramaslata, a traditional Greek salted fish roe dip. The Fat Greek has what’s probably the Valley’s best rendition — rm seafood’s aside — so delightfully fresh it’s sometimes unavailable. The roe’s inherent saltiness is cut by the addition of olive oil and the dip goes wonderfully with the piping hot pita served alongside. Another fabulous one-off is the agvolemono. This Grecian soup combines chicken and egg in a wonderful creamy broth amidst a generous helping of rice. The soup is Braised Lamb Shank with tomatoes, onions and herbs on buttered Orzo Pasta served at The Fat Greek. infused with the just the right amount OCTOBER 2011 DAVID
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Chicken Skewer served at Market Grille Cafe.
of lemoniness, and the aroma of dill is noticeable even across the table. This is great soup for our upcoming cooler months. For the more adventurous diner I suggest the marides, or panfried whitebait. They have the characteristic saltiness of sardines, so if those aren’t your favorites you should probably skip this dish; however, if your taste buds are willing these wholly edible swimmers are just for you. With a squeeze of lemon, chow down on the fish whole — head and all — for a unique treat. While the Fat Greek’s portions may tempt you to skip dessert, don’t. Fat Greek only serves the Valley’s best baklava – the traditional repast of layered filo dough and chopped walnuts sweetened with honey. This wonderfully dense, sweet dish provides the perfect ending for your meal.
Yassou! Greek Grill Cafe
It’s easiest to prevent the devastating effects of bullying when you can stop it at the source. So we have to rewrite the story from the beginning. Each of us is responsible for intervening in a bad situation. Sometimes it’s telling an adult and sometimes it’s acting like an adult. But it’s never to look the other way. Take the pledge today at flipthescriptnow.org.
Yassou! is another Valley Greek restaurant that flies under the radar. Truth be told, getting to it is a bit tricky. Sitting in a strip mall just off Buffalo, the easiest access is when heading east on Charleston. Otherwise, you have to make an illegal U-turn or meander from the McDonald’s parking lot. Either way, it’s worth the effort. You’ll find that Yassou! has a fairly standard slate of offerings, which reminds me of every family-run Greek joint back home — that’s a good thing. As such, it makes sense to start with the gyros (YEE-rohz). Yassou’s consist of a substantial beef/lamb mixture served atop a warm pita with feta cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions and tzatziki — a yogurt dill sauce. I appreciate the sandwich being served with feta and tzatziki, the combination I grew up on. The feta’s saltiness complements the tzatziki’s tartness. Sometimes restaurants serve them without feta, a travesty as far as I’m concerned. Order your gyro with a side of Greek fries. They’re sprinkled with an abundance of parsley and feta cheese for a twist on the standard side fare. Once again, the feta imparts saltiness to the dish beyond that found on regular fries, while balancing with the herb blend for a delicious treat.
Market Grille Cafe One of our Valley’s more unique restaurants is Market Grille Cafe.
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Ordering from a cashier may suggest a casual restaurant, but the ambiance far exceeds the fast-food world’s. The space is comfortable and inviting, suggesting someone’s Greek childhood home, with food to match. For starters, I suggest some of the best babaganoush in town, instead of an ordinary hummus. The eggplant, lemon, garlic and yogurt mixture has a number of profound flavors. The roasted eggplant abounds in chunks indicative of its fresh nature, and the fresh garlic is powerful without overwhelming the dish. It’s simply a wonderful version of the traditional Mediterranean dish. Equally memorable are the dolmades, or stuffed grape leaves. While the menu indicates they’re served cold, you actually have the option of getting them warm. I suggest you take that option. You also can choose between vegetarian or meat fillings: most places offer one or the other. Both are remarkable — stuffed with crisp basmati rice, currants and the occasional pine nut for textural interplay — and are some of the best in town. Gyros are served directly from a rotating spit and you’re given the option of topping yours with tzatziki or hummus. While tzatziki is typical at Greek restaurants, hummus is not. Traditionalist or not, you’ll get an appetizing sandwich – a warm pita overflowing with a lamb/beef blend and an ample amount of feta to fulfill any meat craving you may have. Don’t bypass dessert because Aphrodite’s cheesecake is worthy of the calories. Expect cheesecake atop a baklava crust, for a wonderful amalgamation of flavors and cultures. The crust can be difficult to cut —not unexpected for the Greek dessert — but the effort’s worth it. The cinnamon undertones of the baklava nicely balance the cheesecake’s sharpness in every bite. Now you know where to get Greek. Go forth and enjoy! Opa! — Jim Begley
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The Fat Greek
4001 S. Decatur Blvd., Suite 34 702.222.0666 M-F 11 am – 9 pm; Sa Noon – 9 pm; Su 1 pm – 8 pm www.thefatgreeklv.com
Yassou! Greek Grill Cafe 7871 W. Charleston Blvd. 702.798.8989 M – Sa 11 am – 8 pm www.yassoulv.com
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Market Grille Cafe
7920 W. Tropical Parkway, Suite 170 702.396.0070 7175 Lake Mead Blvd. 702.564.7335 M – T 10:30 am – 9 pm, F – Sa 10:30 am – 9:30 pm www.marketgrillecafe.com
2697 East Eldorado Lane Las Vegas, NV 89120 702-464-8570 www.kingdavidlv.com OCTOBER 2011 DAVID
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Rabbi Elaine Schnee Cantor Jonathan Friedman 702-391-2750
CONGREGATION SHAAREI TEFILLA
1331 S. Maryland Parkway Las Vegas, NV 89014 Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America Rabbi Yakov Wasser 702-384-3565
2991 Emerson Ave. Las Vegas, NV 89121 Sephardic Orthodox 702-369-1175
9590 W. Sahara Ave. Las Vegas, NV 89117 Modern Orthodox Outreach Rabbi Yitzchak Wyne 702-360-8909
CHABAD OF SUMMERLIN/ DESERT SHORES
2640 Regatta Drive Las Vegas, NV 89128 Orthodox/Chabad Rabbi Yisroel Schanowitz 702-855-0770
YOUNG ISRAEL AISH LAS VEGAS
Green Valley/Henderson AHAVAS TORAH CENTER
55 S. Valle Verde Drive, Suite 430 Henderson, NV 89021 Traditional Rabbi Yehoshua Fromowitz 702-487-3133 ext. 1
CHABAD HEBREW CENTER
8502 W. Lake Mead Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89128 Sephardic Orthodox/Chabad Rabbi Samuel Attal 702-271-8025
BETH EL CONGREGATION
2756 N. Green Valley Pkwy, Suite 195 Henderson, NV 89121 Traditional Reform Rabbi Simon Bergman 702-389-8090
TEMPLE BET EMET
1261 S. Arville St. Las Vegas, NV 89102 Orthodox/Chabad Rabbi Shea Harlig 702-259-0770
Mountain Shadows Community Center 9107 Del Webb Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89134 Reform Rabbi Craig Rosenstein Cantor Lola Rivera 702-254-8103
CONGREGATION Pâ€™NAI TIKVAH
(formerly Valley Outreach) Services 3975 S. Durango Drive, Ste. 104 Las Vegas, NV 89147 Office 2045 Grouse St., Las Vegas, NV 89134. Reconstructionist Rabbi Yocheved Mintz Music Director Marek Rachelski 702-436-4900
CHABAD OF GREEN VALLEY
10870 S. Eastern Ave., Suite 104 Henderson, NV 89052 Orthodox/Chabad Rabbi Mendy Harlig 702-617-0770
TEMPLE BETH SHOLOM
CONGREGATION NER TAMID
10700 Havenwood Lane Las Vegas, NV 89135 United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Rabbi Felipe Goodman Asst. Rabbi Adam Watstein cantor Avraham Alpert 702-804-1333
55 N. Valle Verde Drive Henderson, NV 89074 Union for Reform Judaism Affiliate Rabbi Sanford D. Akselrad Asst. Rabbi Leonard Zukrow Cantorial Soloist Philip Goldstein 702-733-6292
MIDBAR KODESH TEMPLE
BET KNESSET BAMIDBAR
Desert Vista Community Center 10360 Sun City Blvd. Las Vegas, NV 89134 Traditional Reform
9100 Hillpointe Road Las Vegas, NV 89134 Union for Reform Judaism Affiliate Rabbi Malcolm Cohen Cator Mariana Gindlin 702-254-5110
1940 Paseo Verde Parkway Henderson, NV 89012 United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism Rabbi Bradley Tecktiel Cantor Andres Kornworcel 702-454-4848
Candlelighting Tishrei/Cheshvan 5772 FRI., SEPT. 30, TISHREI 2
FRI., OCT. 7, TISHREI 9
FRI., OCT. 14, TISHRE 16
FRI., OCT. 21, TISHRE 23
FRI., OCT. 28, TISHRE 30
Second Day of Rosh Hashanah Light candles at 6:08 p.m.
Erev Yom Kippur/Kol Nidre Light candles at 5:58 p.m. Fast begins at 6:12 p.m.
Second Day of Sukkot Light candles at 5:48 p.m.
Simchat Torah Light candles at 5:39 p.m.
Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan Light candles at 5:31 p.m.
SAT., OCT. 15, TISHREI 17
SAT., OCT. 22, TISHREI 24
SAT., OCT. 29, CHESHVAN 1
Shabbat ends 6:43p.m.
Blessing of the New Month Shabbat ends 6:35p.m.
Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan Shabbat ends 6:27p.m.
Shabbat ends 7:02 p.m.
SAT., OCT. 8, TISHREI 10
SUN., OCT. 2, TISHREI 4
Yom Kippur Fast ends 6:53 p.m.
Fast of Gedaliah Fast begins at 5:06 a.m. Fast ends at 6:53 p.m.
WED., OCT. 12, TISHRE 14 Erev Sukkot Light candles at 5:51 p.m.
THURS., OCT. 13, TISHRE 15 First Day of Sukkot Light candles at 6:46 p.m. 40
WED., OCT. 19, TISHRE 21 Hoshana Rabba Light candles at 5:42 p.m.
THURS., OCT. 20, TISHRE 22 Shemini Atzeret Light candles at 6:37 p.m.
Andre van Zijl
SAT., OCT. 1, TISHREI 3
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think INSIDE Looking For Litvak@ 42
Exploring roots through language and location.
A Dine Out Dilemma @ 46 White tablecloth kosher in Vegas ?
Forgiveness @ 52
Finding the power in letting go.
Lithuania Return to the old country and explore a Jewish world youâ€™ve never imagined existed. The country of Lithuania is rich in the cultural and religious history of the Jewish people.
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Vilnius Synagogue on Pylimo Street.
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Litvak Discovering Roots of Language and Culture By Jaq Greenspon Photographs by Julie Doniol-Valcroze, Yann Plantier and Adrus
he idea of roots in today’s world is an odd one. Today, we are never more than a click or two away from any bit of information, no matter how important or trivial. Our children are a mobile phone call away, no matter where they are (and if they don’t want to tell us, there’s an app for that, too). We exist in a universe where seemingly everything we could want to know is at our fingertips. It’s an alienating universe, one where human contact is replaced by long nights behind the keyboard. Our connection with history is as tenuous and fleeting as last week’s news. And yet … It wasn’t that long ago, geographically or even genealogically speaking, that we as Jews were being forced from our homes, our villages and sent to other lands or, even more recently, to die in camps. So, today, as we get to a certain age, when we begin to understand that we actually came from somewhere, somewhere we longingly refer to as the “The Old Country,” the realization
Memorial to Jews of the Kaunas Gallery.
hits that we hold a sacred responsibility to discover who left and who stayed behind. We need to know who died and who lived. We need to find a connection with our past to make our future slightly more comprehensible. But thanks to the same technology responsible for our alienation, we are able to search for our past and then, when ready, pack our bags and actually visit the places our Bubbies and Zaidas came from. A prime spot to start searching is in the Baltic states, specifically Lithuania. In the introduction to The Litvaks, author and professor Dov Levin writes: “Although (the) Lithuanian Jewish community comprised a relatively small portion of world Jewry on the eve of the Holocaust, it has always held a unique place in Jewish history and been an important cultural center carrying a weight far greater than its relative size.” For centuries, Lithuania was the cultural center for Jewish scholarship, and it was known as a great center of Torah learning. Levin states that “the Lithuanian Jews, OCTOBER 2011 DAVID
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nicknamed Litvaks, have been characterized by their rational, intellectual approach to learning and spiritual matters as well as to day-to-day affairs.” Once Germany invaded, however, the Jewish population of Lithuania “sustained some of the highest losses among the Jewish communities in Europe (approximately 95 percent destroyed), as a result of the enthusiastic cooperation of the Lithuanians with the Germans.” But this didn’t stop the Litvak community. “When faced with these challenging circumstances,” Levin continues, “the Lithuanian Jews demonstrated an unusually strong spiritual and moral stance as well as an extraordinary level of community organization.” Jewish Center of Culture, Information and Gallery Šofar.
Choral Synagogue in Kaunas, Lithuania.
Statue dedicated to Elijah, the Gaon of Vilnius. Inscription says “To Elijah, Gaon of Vilnius” 44
‘Jerusalem of Lithuania’ According to linguist William F. Weigel, “Yiddish has historically been the language of the Ashkenazim, the Jews of Central and Eastern Europe and their descendants around the world. At its peak, in the years immediately preceding the Holocaust, there were perhaps 10 or 11 million Yiddish speakers worldwide, making Yiddish the most widely spoken Jewish language.” This, of course, makes it the ideal language to learn while searching for our heritage. The odds are that if your relatives came from this part of the world, they spoke Yiddish. Learning the language allows you to feel a direct connection, and can put you in the wonderful position of being able to read many stories of life and lifestyle in the original. Nobel laureate Isaac Bashevis Singer, for example, wrote all his stories in Yiddish, only translating them to English for their book publications. In 2001, Vilnius (Vilne in Yiddish) University started the Vilnius Yiddish Institute, or VYI, “to provide academic and cultural programs for the preservation, enrichment and continuity of Yiddish and East European Jewish culture.” The institute, first of its kind established in post-Holocaust Eastern Europe, found its own roots in the Vilnius Summer Program in Yiddish (which moved to Vilnius University after being founded at Oxford in 1982). The Summer Program offers a four-week intensive course every August. Instruction is offered at four levels of Yiddish education, and cultural activities are included within the course framework. But Jewish education and research is no stranger to Vilnius. The first Yiddish academic institute, Yidisher Visnshaftlekher
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Institut, or YIVO, was founded there in 1925. And 200 years earlier it was home to Rabbi Eliyahu ben Shlomo Zalman Kramer, the “Vilna Goan,” arguably the greatest scholar and one of the most influential Jewish leaders in modern history. Vilnius was also home to Zemach Shabad, the physician who co-founded the YIVO and was part of the inspiration for Korney Chukovsky’s famous character, the good doctor Aybolit. In fact, the Litvak have contributed so much to the linguistic heritage in Lithuania, a number of Yiddish words, particularly slang, have crept into every-day use among even the most non-suspecting Lithuanian. It was this richness of Jewish culture and identity that caused Napoleon Bonaparte, during an 1812 encampment, to declare Vilnius the “Jerusalem of Lithuania.” The VYI is also creating a cartographic look at the Yiddish cultural geography of the region, as well as producing CDs of authentic Yiddish folk music. Of even more importance for those seeking their history, though, is the “documentation of major sites of pre-war Jewish culture in Vilnius and their marking with multilingual historical plaques; helping people from around the world rediscover the towns from which their families hailed, and seeking out genealogical records.” “It is no wonder that many Jews all over the world, descendants of Lithuanian emigrants, are extremely interested in their Litvak heritage,” says Levin, “and are making tremendous efforts to reinforce this connection through their search for roots. Numerous travelers are journeying to the towns and villages that had been home to their ancestors, tracing the footsteps of their loved ones who lived there, to their final resting place — the local Jewish cemetery or a mass grave.” The good news, of course, is you don’t have to do it alone. Online or in person, there are a number of resources that can make your search easier, starting with JewishGen.org. JewishGen is “committed to ensuring Jewish continuity for present generations and the generations yet to come.” As a free service, it helps you design your quest, providing resources and tools to ensure maximum success. The idea is to keep Jewish heritage alive. At the site, you’ll find step-by-step instructions to get you started. It doesn’t matter how much experience you’ve got with genealogical studies. All you need is the desire and JewishGen will guide you along the right path. They are associated with a number of databases worldwide, in-
Choral Synagogue in Kaunas, Lithuania. OCTOBER 2011 DAVID
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The Jewish Council (the Judencricle), 1200 Jews were killed on 3rd of November, 1941.
Fragments conserved on a wall of a house on Pranciškonu (Franciscan) street.
“Elijah, the Gaon of Vilnius,” 1720-1797, lived in the house once standing here.” 46
cluding the very specialized Litvaksig.org. Their mission is to “preserve Litvak heritage by discovering, collecting, documenting and disseminating information about the once vibrant Jewish community of Lithuania.” And they do a great job. The All Lithuanian Database, or ALD, contains 1.2 million names. It is connected to archives of Lithuanian names throughout Lithuania, and in Poland, Germany and Russia. You can even search by village or shtetl if a name search offers no connections. Not being alone means having website help and the assistance of everyone doing the same thing you’re doing. In 2010, JewishGen launched a program to create the “Family Tree of the Jewish People.” Like all of its work, this is designed to “increase interest in Jewish genealogy” by providing a way to connect multiple people researching the same “branch” of the tree. In other words, as you create a family tree using a site like MyHeritage.com, you can upload it to a master database where everything is correlated. This way, overlapping families will be virtually joined, creating a more complete historical picture and possibly reuniting long-lost family members. And because it’s all run on donations, the service itself is free. You can only do so much online, though. At some point, you need to see the land your ancestors saw. The nine-day Jewish Heritage Trail Tour not only covers Lithuania’s two largest cities, Vilnius and Kaunas, but also spends time in Riga and Tallinn, the capitals of Latvia and Estonia, respectively. It also hits the high spots of Jewish history, including each city’s remaining synagogues. Vilnius, which once boasted close to 150, now has one. Kaunas also has a single remaining temple out of a pre-war high of close to 50. The flexible Heritage Tours include a “Root Tour,” where guides take you to the town or village (the shtetls have been destroyed) from where your ancestors hailed. Then you have The Information Bureau, which helps you track down lost Lithuanian family. It does all the legwork so when you hit the ground in Lieutuva, it’s a simple matter of picking up the pieces. “We have found that conversations are easy and friendly. There is a lot to catch up on, on both sides!” exclaims organizer Vilius Vaseikis. Vilnius, particularly, needs to be experienced firsthand. The Jewish Community of Lithuania has put together a walking tour that pays homage to the town’s amazing heritage. This stems in part from the May 8,
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1990, “Statement on the Jews,” an official declaration the Supreme Lithuanian Council made right after the country regained its freedom from Soviet rule. It reads: We “unconditionally denounce the genocide on behalf of the Lithuanian people. … Crimes against the Jews in Lithuania and elsewhere could not be justified by any means and that immortalizing the Holocaust victims’ memory was the concern of the Lithuanian State.” The Jewish State Museum, named for the Vilna Goan, is a high point on any Jewish tour of Vilnius. It has been the showpiece for the Council’s commitment to its own decree. Jono David, writing in the Jewish Magazine, explains the museum’s heritage: “Jewish museums in Vilnius have been as integral a component of the community as any other since the first one was opened in 1913. All share a common thread of commitment to the preservation of a heritage by staff and researchers. The first museum’s priceless collections were virtually all destroyed during World War II. The second museum was established in 1944 but was short-lived, closed on June 10, 1949, at the hands of the Soviets during their campaign against ‘Cosmopolitanism and Zionism.’” Today, the museum is filled with a number of artifacts and relics, beautifully curated exhibits both in the main building and in a secondary structure known as “the Green House,” which focuses primarily on the Holocaust and its relationship to Lithuania. The Tolerance Centre, a branch of the museum, includes relics from The Great Synagogue and permanent exhibits, with titles and emphasis on varied topics, including “Signs of Ruined Litvaks World,” “The Throne of King Solomon” and “Jewish Life in Lithuania.” For our purposes, though, the most important is the Gallery of the Righteous. Here you will find memorials to special souls like the Dutch Ambassador to Lithuania Jan Zvartendijk, who in 1940 granted 2,200 visas to Jews on the island of Curaçao, saving their lives. The next monument you’ll see is dedicated to Sempo Sugihara, Japanese consul in Lithuania between 1939 and 1940. In those two years, he issued more than 6,000 transit visas to Jews. Without these people doing what they did, we might have lost the Litvaks history. In the end, it’s really all about your unique and individual past. Your ancestors, those who made it out and those who did not, lead metaphorically to where you stand now. It might be nice to turn around and shake their hands.
Street sign in Vilnius
Desperate Polish Jews waiting to escape from Lithuania, April 1938.
Doors at Choral Synagogue in Kaunas, Lithuania. OCTOBER 2011 DAVID
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Whereâ€™s the Hec Keeping Kosher in Sin City By Lynn Wexler-Margolies & Alan Margolies
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’m starving. I keep kosher. Isn’t there a decent kosher restaurant anywhere in this doggone city?” Before we solve our proverbial traveler’s predicament, let’s turn back the clock to acquire a kosher perspective. The year was 1915 … New York City. It was a bitter cold morning. The thermometer seemed to shudder as it desperately tried to hold on to 3 below. The Bronx was teeming with Russian Jewish immigrants. During the past 10 years, hundreds of thousands of Jews had fled to America. The Cossacks had murdered their men, raped their women, burned their homes and stolen their livestock. Their time-honored traditions and observances accompanied them. Three a.m. in the dead of winter on Fox Street can be brutal, but the handsome, strappy 26-year-old immigrant was in the best mood of his life. It was the first day of work, in the first of three butcher shops he would own. isHhhhHis father had beenHis father had been a kosher butcher in Odessa, Russia, and now he was carrying on the family tradition in America. His name was Max Margolies. He was my grandfather. His family, along with most other Jewish immigrant families, followed the laws of kashrut, or kosher eating. It was their way of life. It began in 1492, with 23 Sephardic Jews escaping the Spanish Inquisition, fleeing to Greece, the Middle East, England and the Netherlands. By 1654 their descendants arrived in the Americas via Recife, Brazil, to New Amsterdam (the name was later changed to New York). They founded
Shearith Israel, a Spanish-Portuguese synagogue, and provided kosher meat for the entire Jewish community. By 1752, Shearith Israel was supervising all of New York’s kosher beef, and even exported beef to Jamaica and Curaçao. And thus these practices spread across America as Jews moved north, south and west, settling the land and preserving their beliefs. Fast forward to Vegas 2011. We were dining at a favorite Italian restaurant. It wasn’t kosher. We overheard a gentleman at a nearby table order a drink from the waiter, “I’ll take mine kosher, with a little ice.” That means you would like your alcohol undiluted. Later that week I was watching the World Series of Poker tournament on TV. The commentator whispered, “If the fellow who just took the pot with four aces drops a fifth ace as he hauls in the chips, something isn’t kosher. Hmmm … is the player cheating? The word kosher, or kashrut in Hebrew, is one of Judaism’s contributions to the international vocabulary. People of many cultures and languages use the term to denote that which is proper; and meets, or fails to meet, accepted rules and standards. As it applies to food, Jews are commanded to follow the laws of kashrut as specified in the Torah. Contrary to popular misconception, rabbis or other religious officials do not bless food to make it kosher. Rabbi Shea Harlig, Chabad’s head rabbi of Las Vegas, said “that keeping kosher stipulates a number of restrictions and requirements, such as certain foods that Jews are forbidden to eat, including pork and shell fish;
foods and utensils that must be separated, like milk and meat; and certifications or symbols (hechshers in Hebrew) on food labels that make it possible to identify kosher from non-kosher products. There are several accepted hechshers, but the main one here in America is the OU (certified kosher by the Orthodox Union). There are three categories of kosher food: meat, dairy and pareve. All fruits and vegetables, for instance, are pareve and naturally kosher, but must be washed for insects. Only meat from animals who chew their cud and have split hooves are kosher, but can only be eaten if the animals are humanely slaughtered and cleaned according to the laws of kashrut. Products are kosher if the label displays an accepted hechsher; and a kosher restaurant is either exclusively dairy or exclusively meat, and has a mashgiach on site that supervises the buying and making of the food. Then there’s kosher style food. “Sounds kosher to me!” Not necessarily. Kosher is not a fashion or trend. The laws must be followed for the food to be certified kosher. When a restaurant calls itself kosher style, it usually means they serve traditional Jewish dishes, such as matzoh ball soup, blintzes, knishes, etc., but invariably the food is trief, which translates as torn in English, and not certified kosher. The Bagel Café offers kosher style food. The food is delicious, and we have never been there without waiting for a table, but it is not certified kosher. Our kosher traveler, by now, is impatient and ravenous for a Las Vegas culinary experiOCTOBER 2011 DAVID
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Crispy potato latke with sour cream and chives.
ence! Surely, we can find him a fabulous restaurant here that caters to the strictly kosher palate. We’re one of the world’s restaurant capitals, offering some of the most exquisite and exciting cuisines. Turns out there are only about seven kosher establishments, and most of them are casual or fast food. That’s not to say they aren’t good, in fact they’re great! But it does speak to a void. What we offered our visiting friend was a kosher Chinese restaurant called Big Dragon, at Flamingo and the 215. The décor is pleasant, the ambience warm and friendly — mostly because of the personal welcome customers receive from the owner, Tyrone Li. The food is excellent, and the portions and prices are reasonable. Being the only game of its kind in town, I assumed Li would be bursting at the seams with business. “Not as much as I would like,” says Li. “It’s the economy. Ninety per cent of my business comes from tourists, and that’s way down. Only 10 per cent is local, and no nonkosher business comes through the doors at all.” Rabbi Eli Davidowitz feels the local Jewish community needs to support kosher restaurants more. “As demand grows, more kosher restaurants will open,” he said. “Jews who do not observe the kosher laws should be educated about the significance of kosher food for greater health and stronger spirituality.” Mark Attia knows all too well from lack of local support. He opened Summerlin’s Village Steak House in October 2008, “just three weeks before one of our worst recessions hit.” But he had plenty of experience 50
as the general manager of two fine dining restaurants on the strip. “We held our own for two years, but the economy hurt us, plus there was a lack of community support.” The Steak House was the first fine dining kosher restaurant in Las Vegas. Having dined and hosted several private parties there myself, the ambiance was East Coastsophisticated, with excellent meat and signature dishes. It was not enough to keep the doors open. It’s not that there aren’t enough Jews in Las Vegas. According to the Jewish Federation of Las Vegas, there are 70,000 to 80,000. Only about 6,000, however, actively participate in the various synagogues and
community organizations. Attia noted that “… the involved Jewish community here doesn’t go out that often, and they need to. The Jewish community needs to support itself in order to promote financial prosperity.” I asked him about the non-kosher customer. “It’s very difficult to attract them without a lot of marketing, and I was undercapitalized. Their impression of kosher meat is not favorable, which is of course misinformed. If I was located closer to the Strip I would have at least benefited from the tourist traffic.” Nonetheless, it seems Kosher is big business and would be well worth the investment, given the right gastronomic concept. Menachem Lubinsky of Integrated Marketing Communications Inc. announced new data in 2010 for the kosher food industry: There are 14 million regular kosher consumers, with an additional 45 million occasional consumers. Upward of $40 billion is spent each year on all kosher-certified products combined. There are 150,000 packaged goods items. So where are the great, upscale kosher restaurants, and what can we do to get them to open and prosper in Las Vegas? Michelle Micek is the GM of etc. steakhouse in Teaneck, N.J. They pride themselves on a fine-dining steak menu and excellent pareve desserts. They also promote their chef and owner, Seth Warshaw, as a local celebrity. Micek says, “The fabulous success of our little steak house is our love of our patrons and the care and time we take to serve them
Baked sea bass on a bed of purple potato puree topped with roasted artichoke quarters and cauliflower carpaccio.
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the finest cuisine possible, with excellent service.” She believes understanding your clientele is essential to attracting and keeping them. “And our success doesn’t depend on a wine menu. We don’t serve alcohol! But you can BYO … mevushal, of course,” which translates as cooked, but essentially means the wine was prepared in a kosher way. In New York City there’s Tevere and Va Bene for truly authentic Italian; and Le Marais and The Prime Grill for outstanding steaks and fish. In Chicago there’s Shallots and Morgan Harbor Grill for the finest cuts of carne enjoyed in intimate settings; and Tu Do, offering a delectable Thai cuisine in a posh setting. In Los Angeles there’s Shilo’s Steak House, where I’ve indulged on amazing salmon and to-die-for cuts of beef; and Pat’s, which offers a varied Mediterranean menu and draws a packed daily business lunch crowd. For international excellence, there is one restaurant that exceeds all expectations, kosher or non-kosher, called Le Télégraphe in Paris. Having sat at the bar once a few years ago, because I could not afford the prices, I can attest that the ambiance, menu selection and service are par excellence. Including Las Vegas, all of these cities have sufficient Jewish resident and tourist
traffic to sustain this kind of fine dining. And while prices can be higher in this type of restaurant, keeping kosher is a must for many Jews, and well worth supporting for those who do not, especially when the food is superb. Frankly, we would love to be able to dine at a restaurant that served traditional Jewish dishes, like our Bubbe’s yummy brisket and kugel; stuffed cabbage, cholent, soup with kneidlach, gefilte fish and schnitzel! And what about a Persian cuisine, or Mexican? As a kosher Las Vegas resident, I’m feeling inhospitable toward our hungry kosher traveler. It seems that what separates the successful kosher restaurants in other American cities from our city, which has so few and they struggle, is many-fold. Certainly, the local community needs to care more to come out, spend and consistently support the kosher restaurants. Sufficient capital is necessary for an owner to market to the community at large and tourists. Ambiance, cuisine and customer service must be excellent to compete with non-kosher food establishments. And it’s up to savvy restaurant managers to know and cater to their clientele. There’s one more essential component for the survival and success of a kosher restau-
Kosher Vegas Adar Pizza (702) 385-0006 318 W. Sahara Ave., Las Vegas NV Sun. - Thurs. 10 a.m. - call, Fri. 10 a.m. - 3 p.m., Sat. Open call www.adarpizza.com Big Dragon Chinese Cuisine (702) 220-6400 4145 S Grand Canyon Dr, Las Vegas, NV Mon. - Thurs. 11:30 a.m. - 10 p.m., Sat. 7p.m. - 12 a.m., Sun. 12 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. Haifa Restaurant (702) 940-8000 855 E Twain Ave, Ste 101, Las Vegas, NV Sun.-Thurs. 11:30 a.m.- 9:30 p.m., Fri. 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat. 6:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. www.haifarestaurant.com Jerusalem Grill (702) 341-5555 4825 W Flamingo Rd, Las Vegas, NV Sun. - Thurs. 11a.m. - 10 p.m., Fri. 10 a.m. to sun down www.jerusalemgrillvegas.com
rant: catering. According to most restaurant managers we spoke with, a large percentage of their business comes from catering outside events. Said one: “The bread and butter of a kosher restaurant, especially in Vegas, is the catering.’’ He tried to work with Temple Beth Sholom, arguably the largest synagogue in town. “They wanted $200,000 just to get in, a percentage of each contract, plus a room rental charge. I couldn’t afford it, and without it I couldn’t survive.” Our kosher traveler, now satisfied by his delicious sustenance at The Big Dragon, expressed appreciation for the food tip. We, on the other hand, were disappointed that we could not offer more. We are hopeful, however, that when the economy improves a bit, and the Jews of our wonderful city find opportunities to increase their knowledge of their great heritage, traditions, values and cuisines (thus developing the deep pride and respect that comes from knowing who one is and what one is connected to), we will see diverse and outstanding kosher restaurants springing up here and there … on the Strip and in our suburbs … casual and upscale … but, most importantly, serving up a food that reaches back in time, pays homage to the laws and traditions that link us and would make my Zeidy Max proud.
Kosher on the Go/ Wok-On-In Mongolian Restaurant (702) 309-5971 1040 E. Flamingo Road, Las Vegas. NV Sun. - Thurs. 8 a.m. - 8 p.m., Fri. 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. www.kosheronthegovegas.com Panini Cafe (702) 558-6555 2521 S Fort Apache Rd, #100, Las Vegas, NV Sun. - Thurs. 10 a.m. - 9 p.m., Fri. 10 a.m. to sun down www.paninicafelv.com Sababa (702) 547-5556 3220 S Durango Dr, #B1, Las Vegas, NV Sun. - Thurs. 10 a.m.- 9 p.m., Fri. 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. www.sababarestaurant.com Shawarma Vegas (702) 651-1818 2521 S Fort Apache Rd, Las Vegas, NV Mon. - Fri. 9 a.m.- 9 p.m., Sun 9 a.m. - 9 p.m. www.shawarmavegas.com Kosher Restuarants are closed on the Sabbath and Jewish Holidays. OCTOBER 2011 DAVID
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A person always feels more whole when they know that they’re not holding a grudge toward other people. — Rabbi Yisroel Schanowitz
By Pat Teague
t this time of year Jews are urged to find people they’ve wronged, to make amends and seek forgiveness — person to person. That’s because not all forgiveness is outside mankind’s purview, as Rabbi Yisroel Schanowitz of the Chabad of Summerlin explains. “For sins that you’ve committed to G-d, i.e., breaking commandments that are between man and G-d, one must ask for forgiveness from G-d on Yom Kippur … ,” the rabbi said. “However, Yom Kippur will not absolve somebody who (has) hurt another man. When one commits a sin against another human being, he or she must ask that individual to forgive them. “Naturally, that includes, first, repairing the damage. For example, if someone stole money they must first repay the money they’ve stolen,” Rabbi Schanowitz said. “If someone injured someone, they must first pay damages for the injury. In other words you have to make good what you’ve done wrong to a person, and then ask forgiveness.”
Taking forgiveness ‘beyond the grave’ Rabbi Malcolm Cohen of Temple Sinai lists “three things that you can do to get forgiveness … teshuvah (repentance) … tefilla (prayer) and tzedakah — usually translated as ‘charity.’ … The literal meaning is ‘justice.’ “Charity is something you do in a good mood. Tzedakah is something which you’re meant to do because it’s the right thing to do, whether you want to do it or not,” he added. Receiving forgiveness from another, Rabbi Cohen said, involves going to that person and asking him or her for it. “And if they say no, you have to go and ask again. You go up to three times and ask for forgiveness. If they say no
even then, you’re forgiven. You don’t need to go and ask them any more. You’ve done your level best.” But sometimes it may be impossible to confront the aggrieved in person, Rabbi Cohen said. “If the person who you’ve wronged has died, then you would go to their grave, with witnesses, and ask for forgiveness. So, forgiveness can even go beyond the grave.”
Misplaced forgiveness But Rabbi Schanowitz finds it ridiculous that some people urge a blanket forgiveness for the 9/11 terrorists, for instance. “Because you’re not the victim who got hurt from these terrorists, so you’re not the one to forgive them,” he said. “In other words, only the victim has the right and the mitzvah to forgive. It is not the place for others to ‘forgive’ who haven’t been affected by the crime. “In addition, the terrorists have to truly show remorse and that hasn’t happened. So, sometimes forgiveness is taken out of context or out of its proper position.” Rabbi Albert Friedlander, who grew up in the states after fleeing his native Germany, and died in his adopted London in 2004, was asked years ago if the Jewish people could forgive the atrocities of the Holocaust. “Who are we to usurp G-d’s role?” he asked in reply. “Once, at a Kirchentag in Nurenberg, I talked about the anguish of Auschwitz. A young girl rushed up to me after the lecture. ‘Rabbi,’ she said. ‘I wasn’t there, but can you forgive me?’ and we embraced and cried together. Then an older man approached me. ‘Rabbi,’ he said. ‘I was a guard at a concentration camp. Can you forgive me?’ “‘No, I said. I cannot forgive. It is not the function of rabbis to give absolution, to be pardoners. Between the New Year and the Day of Atonement, we try to go to any person
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whom we have wronged and ask forgiveness. But you cannot go to the 6 million. They are dead. I cannot speak for them. Nor can I speak for G-d. But you are here at a church conference. G-d’s forgiving grace may touch you, but I am not a mediator, pardoner or spokesperson for G-d.’”
A two-way street Friedlander said a number of his Christian counterparts were unhappy with the stance he took, believing a person must forgive, and that refusal to do so amounts to human weakness, which conceivably could lead to another Holocaust. “However, throughout rabbinic literature,” the rabbi wrote in reply, “there is an awareness that an act of forgiveness is a relationship between humans, requiring action from both sides.” But what about the psychological upside of forgiveness? Are there salutary effects for those who offer it? “A person always feels more whole when they know that they’re not holding a grudge toward other people,” Rabbi Schanowitz said, “especially in matters involving family arguments that perhaps erupted over petty things and escalated into a major dispute. “Forgiving and letting go is extremely beneficial to our souls and our greater well being. This is even when we feel wronged and we feel others should ask our forgiveness. It is still praiseworthy to show humility by being the first to express willingness to mend the relationship.”
Forgiving debt: Does it make cents? Are there viable economic benefits to forgiveness as well? Should developed nations, for example, forgive a portion or all of the debt preventing some Third World states from helping their own, or fostering commerce at home or in the global economy? And should the banking system in the United States find tenable ways to forgive mortgage debt that has millions of homeowners “underwater” and facing foreclosure, including many Clark County residents? Those are complex issues, if not entirely novel ones, within the economic and social context of this financial crisis, now in its fourth year. Professors Stephen Miller and Stephen Brown, both of the UNLV economics department, were asked recently to survey this tumultuous landscape. Brown addressed the U.S. housing crisis first. “The forgiveness of homeowner debt in the United States is something that a number of people have advocated,” he began.
“What I would say that would do is it would fix ‘consumer balance sheets,’ similarly to the way (the bailout) fixed the banks’ balance sheets. And it would put consumers in a position to stand and make the economy go. We have weak demand. We have both weak investment and consumer demand. “And businesses are sitting on top of very high profits, and very high retained earnings, so there is little reason to think that businesses might need forgiveness.
Underwater in many U.S. neighborhoods “But we know a lot of homeowners owe a lot more on their house than their houses are worth,” Brown said. “And that’s creating a real impediment to recovery of the economy. But (forgiveness would have) to be done carefully, so that you’re picking people who need forgiveness, not people who recklessly pile up debt. “When we look at it from the international perspective, that’s kind of the same issue. If you’re looking at countries that kind of need the forgiveness so they can get their economy moving, you have to kind of separate it out (between) the countries that could get their economies moving if they were to have their debts forgiven, or if it’s a country … that’s like, ‘Well, every 10 years we’re going to have forgiveness; therefore, we might as well pile up debt for the next 10 years.’ “So that’s always the problem. That’s the problem with individuals and the countries. You want the result to be something good, rather than the person gradually (coming) to think that they’re entitled to (forgiveness), or gradually (coming) to expect (it). “I think in the housing market, there’s a little bit easier case to make. The last time we had a housing market meltdown in the United States was in the 1930s. So there’s nobody who is underwater in their house (now) who also got into this back in the 1930s. They would have been all children then.
Something borrowed, someone blue “So one of the things that happens with some of the bailout or the forgiveness that occurs with countries is that it really helps the banking system rather than helping the country. “Generally, the case is (that) these countries aren’t going to repay anyway, and so the money tends to go to the international banks … So the United States gives the country money to cover its debts, and what (the U.S. is) really doing is giving money to Citi corporation.”
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Miller, chairman of the UNLV economics department, said there are the forgiveness issues between individuals, and those at the institutional or government levels, where “it’s a different story.” “If banks have outstanding loans … that’s a big issue right now in the United States. We have all these (places), particularly in Las Vegas, (where) the vast majority of homes are underwater right now. And some people can’t make their mortgage payments, and there’s been some pressure put on the banks to renegotiate, (to) lower the principal, lower the monthly payments so the people can stay in their homes. We haven’t seen a lot of progress in that area.
Cost of a haircut “Then the federal government says ‘Could we step in and help with this forgiveness process?’ The problem is that in the housing sector almost everybody shares some blame, including the homeowners, who took on mortgages that … they were unable to carry. But then there are the mortgage bankers, the banks, the securitizers, Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac, the ratings agencies, AIGs, the credit default insurance. … “We’re coming out of a big mess; and it’s not just the United States. It’s global because the rest of the world bought a lot of our securitized mortgages,” Miller said. If U.S. banks agreed to take a haircut on thousands of home loans, Miller said, “They probably wouldn’t call it ‘forgiving debt.’ They’d probably call it ‘renegotiating terms.’ But (it would involve) writing down the principal. “And exactly that’s what happened in the developing world. There was a Mexican crisis (in 1994), and several crises that occurred, when the banks and the worldwide agencies (had to write) down some of the principal.”
All in the family Miller recalled that during the Asian financial crisis, the International Monetary Fund “had a big meeting in South Korea, trying to figure out what to do. That was 1997 … That was Thailand, Malaysia and Korea, Indonesia (the Philippines, Hong Kong that suffered) … Taiwan came through it pretty well. “I know in Korea they had a lot of short-term foreign debt, and the lenders — when the crisis occurred — just withdrew the money, because it was short-term, and it caused a severe problem. And the currencies crashed visà-vis the dollar, but it was short-lived … unlike the current financial crisis.”
One of the problems then, he said, were the Korean chaebols, large conglomerates that were basically family businesses run as multinational corporations, “in sort of an incestuous relationship” that got them overextended. But writing down principal, or forgiving debt, is painful. “The negatives are the balance sheet of the lender is hurt. For example, in the United States, you have a lot of homeowners who are underwater and you can make an argument that … the banks need to forgive some of that principal, so that people can stay in their homes. But the banks are going to take a loss on that. And stockholders are going to be hurt by that as well,” Miller said. Banks already have a foreclosed homes inventory in Las Vegas. “The real issue,” Miller said, “is how large is that inventory and how quickly can they go through it, and get us to the bottom so we can start recovering?”
In the spirit of the Jubilee Another aspect of the federal government’s forgiveness program for homeowners, Miller said, is that it doesn’t work for most Las Vegans, who simply are too far underwater to qualify. Meantime, relief for heavily indebted and developing nations became a rallying cry in the 1990s for a coalition of non-governmental and Christian organizations, under the Jubilee 2000 banner. The campaign reflected the concept of a Jubilee year as described in the Book of Leviticus, a time every 50 years when slaves and prisoners would be freed, debts forgiven and G-d’s mercies particularly manifest. Today, the International Monetary Fund’s Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative, known as MDRI, provides for 100 percent relief on eligible debt from three multilateral institutions to a spate of low-income countries. The IMF said the goal is to cut poverty in half by 2015 in the targeted nations. Perhaps it is the time of year for all of us to consider asking for forgiveness, and offering it to those who demonstrate sincere remorse for past wrongs against us. As our financial crisis has no doubt taught us by now, there is plenty of blame to go around.
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grill Jan Rouven Illusionist DAVID: What first attracted you to magic? How old were you? Who were your heroes?
DAVID: What’s it like performing for peers versus performing for people in Las Vegas?
Rouven: At age 8, I got my first magic set from my grandmother. Every child gets a magic set at some point, but it gets tossed aside. I never tossed it aside. When I performed tricks for adults, they would always ask how I did it. There was something about being a kid and having an adult ask how I did something. I also saw a magician on television, on the variety shows in Germany, and decided I wanted to become a magician.
Rouven: The American audiences are more outgoing. They show emotion and make it known whether or not they like something. In Germany, the audiences just sit and watch. They applaud if they like something. They appreciate the performance, but don’t show emotion the same way the Americans do.
DAVID: Where are you from?
Rouven: Americans want to give a positive answer. They want to say yes when you ask them a question. I had to change show to fit the audience, especially when it comes to audience participation. Americans want to be positive and look to the future. In Germany, if something goes wrong, they aren’t as positive.
Rouven: I’m from Cologne, Germany, in the center of the country. DAVID: What’s the magic scene like in Europe? Rouven: There are lots of good magicians in Germany, which may have something to do with Siegfried and Roy. Their fame brought new, young magicians to a higher level. I saw them on TV. When people think of magicians, they still think of children’s birthday parties, but that’s just one part of it. It’s actually an art form, involving illusion and audience participation. I saw the Houdini exhibit at the Skirball in Los Angeles, which also tells the history of magic. The exhibition really should travel to Germany. DAVID: What is the skill set needed to be a good magician? Rouven: You need technique to learn the trick; performing skills to sell the trick. I use different techniques to engage the audience. I write a prediction before the show and then take a lady from the audience and talk about a rendezvous. There is illusion and psychology involved. The illusions are not simple — there are a lot of steps involved. If you don’t see the show two or three times, you can’t figure out the trick. DAVID: Why did you choose Vegas for your show? Rouven: I came to Las Vegas at age 19 to see Siegfried and Roy. I stayed at the Frontier. I love the city and I love the weather. There are lots of magic shows. At the time, there were eight different magic shows, so there was obviously a demand for it. I knew then that one day I would perform here. If I could give anyone any advice, it would be to follow your dreams. 58
DAVID: How have you adapted the show to fit your audience?
DAVID: How has performing magic changed the way you look at life? Rouven: Life is a bit more interesting than if I had any other job. Because of magic, I sometimes take risks in other parts of my life, but I wouldn’t consider myself an adrenaline junkie. I am more of a risk-taker. I’m open to whatever comes along. Sometimes people think I have special powers. I do not have supernatural skills. I am an illusionist. DAVID: How did you get the nickname “Jan Rouven – Man With Nine Lives?” Rouven: I was on a German show once a month to do death-defying stunts. The host said you must have nine lives. In Germany, the saying is that you must have seven lives, so I have two extra lives in America. DAVID: What does the future hold for you? Rouven: I’d like my show to become more personal. It’s not about being the biggest and greatest. It’s about being likable. I see myself as an entertainer, who uses magic to entertain. People love to see magic to help them forget the troubles in their own lives. Magic today is very modern and personal and not as showy as it used to be. It has become more personal and less like a production show. It’s important to not show-off.
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