Rainbow LULAC and Congregation Beth El Binah team up for school supply drive

LULACRainbow LULAC and Congregation Beth El Binah teamed up for a second time for a Back to School Mixer and School Supply Drive. School supplies may be dropped off at the mixer from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 18 at Havana Lounge, 4006 Cedar Springs Road. Food will be catered by Tallywackers.

The list of supplies includes notebooks, looseleaf paper, construction paper, blunt scissors, pens, pencils and 3-ring binders.

The school supplies collected will be donated to Oak Lawn area schools.

—  David Taffet

VIDEO: Mark Shekter talks about MOM

Shekter.MarkMark Shekter died on July 19 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

Earlier this year, he won the GLBT Chamber of Commerce’s Lifetime Achievement Award. In April, he spoke at Outrageous Oral telling the story of Meals on the Move, the first program in Dallas to deliver meals to the homes of people with AIDS who were too sick to get out of their homes. MOM was responsible for delivering tens of thousands of meals.

In 2010, I wrote a story about Mark reinventing himself. He was a master of that. Professionally, Mark was an architect, a business that had its ups and downs. Mostly he designed high-end homes — Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, Nolan Ryan and Dave of Dave and Busters have lived in Mark Shekter-designed homes, but he also did some office buildings and apartments. His work is found around Oak Lawn. Among his Oak Lawn townhouses are homes on the north side of Throckmorton, between Cedar Springs Road and Lemmon Avenue about a block past Thairrific.

Mark started MOM during a downturn in the economy in the 1980s. At the time, he also created a travel agency. In the 1990s, when he was building in Oak Lawn, he decided the best way to sell the homes he was building was to create his own real estate firm. Surrealty still sells property in the area.

Many know Mark for his entertaining. For years, he catered the Beth El Binah Passover seder — in a French restaurant figuring that was kosher enough — and the synagogue’s break the fast after all-day Yom Kippur services in his apartment overlooking downtown Dallas in the Centrum.

He turned his love of catering into a business during the 2008 real estate market downturn with both a catering company and Ruthie’s Rugaluch.

Rugaluch is a pasty made from nuts, cinnamon and sugar rolled in a cream cheese dough. The word is Yiddish for little twists. Mark’s were the best. Ruthie was his mother, but he didn’t use her recipe. He said she just liked eating them. So did I, and every so often, Mark would surprise me with a batch.

Ruthie’s Rugaluch grew so quickly, he had to stop using his home kitchen to fill orders and move to a commercial kitchen.

But that new business wasn’t enough for him. He started another business during that downturn — helping people challenger their tax assessments. At a time when property values were stagnating, he was quite successful with most of the challenges he presented to the county.

In the LGBT community, Mark was a founder of the Stonewall Business Association and the GLBT Chamber. He served on the Oak Lawn Committee for years. Recently, he worked with The Dallas Way. His April presentation is below. It’s about a half hour and worth listening to how one person can make a huge difference in the lives of hundreds of people who he kept alive by making sure they had food at a time when there were few other resources and the Dallas AIDS agencies were just getting going.

His passing is a huge loss to the LGBT community in Dallas. A memorial service will be held at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday at Temple Emanu-El, 8500 Hillcrest Road (at Northwest Highway).

—  David Taffet

Purim — the gayest Jewish holiday

Purim is the gayest Jewish holiday — sort of Halloween and Christmas rolled into one. It’s the traditional gift-giving holiday (not Chanukah) and the day when everyone dresses up in costumes. Even Orthodox rabbis have ruled that it’s the one day during the year when men may dress as women.

The holiday celebrates the story of the book of Esther and follows the traditional Jewish festival theme — they tried to kill us, we triumphed, let’s eat.

Congregation Beth El Binah, Dallas’ LGBTS synagogue, celebrated the holiday with a party, costume contest and Mesopotamian feast. OK, so Mesopotamia is now Iraq, and Queen Esther was from Persia, which is Iran. Direct all complaints to the temple’s Vice President Gary Sinclair who organized the event. And the “S” in LGBTS stands for straight. Reform synagogues may not discriminate based on sexual orientation.

—  David Taffet

Outrageous Oral shares stories on Turtle Creek Chorale, Black Tie Dinner


Kay Wilkinson

Outrageous Oral, the oral history project of The Dallas Way, featured four speakers who told stories about the Turtle Creek Chorale, the Black Tie Dinner and the recent Supreme Court decisions last night at the Rose Room.

Bruce Jaster kicked off the evening talking about the early days of the Turtle Creek Chorale. Because of financial problems that almost bankrupted the organization, the previous director left. Payroll taxes remained unpaid. When Tim Seelig was hired, the chorale could afford to pay him just $12,500, but within a year the group broke even and the budget quickly grew to a million dollars a year.

Dallas Way President Kay Wilkinson raised money to pay off the deficit by announcing, “I have a huge hole to fill,” a line that still haunts her. But she filled the hole and today the chorale is the most recorded men’s chorus in the country and the only one with an Emmy Award under its belt.

Mike Grossman talked about who inspired him and some of the groups he helped found. He talked about a group he was trying to help form. The party at his house was a dud until his 16-year-old son suggested bringing out a few joints. The party picked up, the group formed and is now a synagogue that is a member of the Union of Reform Judaism and a Black Tie Dinner recipient.

Mike Anglin is an attorney who has helped incorporate a number of organizations including Razzle Dazzle Dallas and Black Tie Dinner. He told the story of the founding of the Black Tie Dinner and why the Dallas dinner is the most successful in the country — local groups are invested in making it successful by sharing in the funds raised. He also described the awards at early dinners. Originally the announcement of the Kuchling Award was made at the dinner and the recipient’s speech was “thank you.” I really like that.

The next Outrageous Oral takes place at University of North Texas in the Willis Library on Oct. 17 with a reception to dedicate the Resource Center Archives at 5 p.m. and Outrageous Oral at 7 p.m.

More photos below.

—  David Taffet

Easter week (and Passover) schedules for some local congregations

EasterCathedral of Hope

5910 Cedar Springs Road

“We are getting ready for Holy Week, where we will feature most of our traditional services, plus a new contemporary Easter service on Saturday evening at 5,” said CoH spokesman Phoebe Sexton. “I’m really excited about the Saturday service (called “Easter Extra”); it will feature Angie Landers (recent Voice of Pride winner), Scott Ayers, our own Voices of Hope and Gospel Choir, plus Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson and Rev. Dr. Dawson B. Taylor will preach in a new format. (The service will still be between an hour and an hour and 15 minutes.) We hope to offer an option to those with busy Easter Sundays, either with family, Easter in the Park or something else (there are some pretty fabulous brunch options out there.)”


March 24 — Palm Sunday at 9 and 11 a.m.
The Way of the Heart: “Unceasing”
Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson, preaching
Our indoor labyrinth will be set up for walking and meditation in the Interfaith Peace Chapel from Sunday afternoon to Tuesday evening (I can get you specific hours later today).

March 27 — 5 p.m.
Community Dinner ($10 at the door, $7.50 if you register online at http://www2.cathedralofhope.com/lenten-suppers — the food is amazing)

March 27 — 7:15 p.m.
Service of Anointing and Healing
Christian Clichés: “If You Have Enough Faith…”
Minister Todd Scoggins, preaching

March 28 — Holy Thursday at 7:15 p.m.
The Way of the Heart: “The Servants’ Entrance”
Rev. Dr. Dawson B. Taylor, preaching

March 29 — Good Friday at 7:15 p.m.
Featuring the Cathedral of Hope Sanctuary Choir and Orchestra

March 30 — Holy Saturday at 5 p.m.
Easter Extra: A Contemporary Easter Worship Service
Featuring Angie Landers, Scott Ayers, Voices of Hope and the CoH Gospel Choir
Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson and Rev. Dr. Dawson B. Taylor, preaching

March 30 — 7 p.m.
Congregacion Latina Easter Vigil

March 31 — Easter Sunday at 9 & 11 a.m.
Rev. Dr. Jo Hudson, preaching

March 31 — 1 p.m.
Congregacion Latina in the main sanctuary

Celebration Community Church

March 24 — Palm Sunday at 9 and 11 a.m.
Since we have many denominations represented at Celebration Community Church, we thought we would share a bit of background. The symbolism of Palm Sunday, is expressed in Zachariah 9:9 — “See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” The riding of a donkey, based on ancient Eastern tradition, is considered as coming in peace, whereas riding a horse was considered wanting to come in waging a war. Therefore, Jesus wanted to symbolize he was coming as the Prince of Peace. Palm branches, in ancient times, represented goodness and victory. When Jesus entered Jerusalem, the crowds lined his entry with palm branches. On Palm Sunday, we distribute palm branches and enter the church waving them as we remember His triumphal entrance.

March 29 — Tenebrae Service at 7 p.m.
Be sure to join us for Celebration’s annual Tenebrae service. This very moving step in the procession to Easter is one of our most meaningful services. Tenebrae is Latin for “darkness” or “shadows”. As you arrive for the service, the sanctuary is joyfully alight; however, as the service progresses, the lights are extinguished until total darkness envelops us. The service will be presented by Reverend West and the Music Department. Tenebrae is on Good Friday, March 29th beginning at 7:00 pm.

March 31 — Easter Sunday
Sunrise Service at 6 a.m.
Breakfast at 7 a.m.
Services at 9 and 11 am
Our Easter season tradition continues at Celebration Community Church on Easter Sunday, March 31st. Be here to worship at our Sunrise Service beginning at 6 am, in the Rose Garden (weather permitting) followed by Easter breakfast in the Fellowship Hall at 7am. Our 9 am and 11 am services will be identical and we hope you can join us for one or all three services. We look forward to seeing you during this Easter season.

Our Lady of Consolation Old Catholic Church

Interfaith Peace Chapel
5910 Cedar Springs Road

March 24 — Palm Sunday at 10–11 a.m.

March 28 — Holy Thursday at 7–8 p.m.

March 29 — Good Friday at 6:30–7:30 p.m. with Stations

March 30 — Holy Saturday/Easter Vigil at 7–9 p.m.

March 31 — Easter Sunday at 9–10 a.m. in the downstairs chapel

Congregation Beth El Binah

March 26 — Second day Passover Seder
Community seder led by Rabbi Steve Fisch at Resource Center Dallas on March 26 at 6:30 p.m. $45 for members and $65 for non-members. Email to make a reservation because the event is catered

—  David Taffet

PHOTOS: Black Tie distribution party

Members of Northaven United Methodist Church accept their distribution check. The church also received a special award for selling more than 100 raffle tickets, a Black Tie record.

Black Tie Dinner distributed proceeds from the November dinner on Thursday night. (CLICK HERE TO VIEW FULL STORY)

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin flew into town to receive a check for more than half a million dollars. Resource Center Dallas CEO Cece Cox and other staff picked up a check for more than $75,000 — a Black Tie Dinner record for a local organization. Erik Folkerth received a special award on behalf of Northaven United Methodist Church for selling more than 100 raffle tickets, another BTD record.

The distribution celebration was held at the Dallas Contemporary, a gallery of Riverfront (Industrial) Boulevard near Oak Lawn Avenue. Photos below.

—  David Taffet

Beth El Binah hosts Pride-themed Shabbat

Dallas’ LGBT Jewish synagogue Beth El Binah is celebrating Pride month with a family and friends Shabbat June 22.

Rabbi Steve Fisch

Rabbi Steve Fisch said the congregation has been doing the Pride-themed Shabbat for many years but it is the second year the congregation has held it at the Cathedral of Hope.

Fisch, who joined the synagogue last June, will deliver the sermon at the Pride Shabbat for the first time. Calling his first year at the synagogue “the most fulfilling experience I’ve had as a rabbi,” he said his sermon will combine the Hebrew words for friend and family, chaver and mishpacha. The two words help form the word for life, chayim, he said, so his message will focus on the vital ties our personal relationships have in impacting and enriching our lives.

Although the event is called the family and friends Shabbat, Fisch said the theme reflects pride in life and how “we are truly fulfilled and our lives are complete” when we reach out to those who are important in our lives.

“In many cases we form families not only from our families of origin but from those people who surround us with love and they become more important in some cases then our family of origin,” he said.

He said having the Pride Shabbat was important because June is LGBT Pride Month and he wants members of the congregation to embrace their religion and sexuality. He said when people pride themselves on who they are they lead “full and enriching” lives, learning to accept themselves and share their lives with others.

“We want our family and friends to know that we’re very proud of our status and very proud of our religion and that we can combine the two,” he said. “We’re very proud of being liberal Jews and we’re very proud of being gay and that the two are very much intertwined.”

Beth El Binah’s Family and Friends Shabbat is at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 22, at the Interfaith Peace Chapel at Cathedral of Hope, 5910 Cedar Springs Road.

—  Dallasvoice

Beth El Binah participates in Mitzvah Day

Sandy Horwitz

Congregation Beth El Binah helped plan and will participate in Mitzvah Day on Oct. 30 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Jewish Federation of Dallas.

“Mitzvah” means “commandment.” To do a mitzvah usually refers to doing a good deed, but more literally means living by the commandments to make the world better.

BEB member Sandy Horwitz helped plan the day that includes about 100 projects at a variety of agencies around the city.

Horwitz said that she wanted to include something in the LGBT community so she planned an event at Legacy Founders Cottage in Oak Cliff. The afternoon will include doing some landscaping work and putting together gift bags.

Another project Horwitz organized is a pumpkin carving party at Chai House, a home for people with cognitive disabilities. She said she arranged that project because a member of the congregation lives at that facility.

The Jewish Federation is the central coordinating agency for the Jewish community in Dallas. More than 40 local organizations, including everything from ultra-Orthodox through most liberal Reform synagogues, as well as a variety of other groups, participate together in fundraising and volunteer projects as constituents of the federation.

—  David Taffet

Congregation Beth El Binah rings in the new year


Happy 5772.

Congregation Beth El Binah celebrates Rosh HaShanah, literally “Head of the Year,” with services at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center at 8 p.m. today and 10:30 a.m. Thursday. Services will be conducted by Rabbi Steve Fisch (right), who was hired by the synagogue earlier this summer. The morning service will be followed by a catered lunch. Anyone is welcome to attend services.

Rosh HaShanah, the New Year, begins a month of holidays on the Jewish calendar.

Oct. 1 is Shabbat Shuvah, the sabbath that falls between Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur. That Shabbat is considered the most holy Shabbat of the year.

Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement, on Saturday, Oct. 8, is considered the holiest day of the year and is marked with services all day and fasting. The first service is Kol Nidre at 8 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 7. Services resume Saturday at 10 a.m. Yizkor service, the service of remembrance, begins at 5 p.m. Break the fast will be at the community center at sunset.

—  David Taffet

Lampanelli fights Westboro hate with comedy — and with cash for the GMHC

Lisa Lampanelli

Comedian Lisa Lampanelli — known for her equal opportunity insults against every group, minority or not and known as well as an LGBT rights supporter, despite her gay jokes — is performing tonight in Topeka, Kan. And of course, Fred Phelps and his bunch of loony-tunes from Westboro Baptist Church have announced they plan to protest outside the Topeka Performing Arts Center while Lampanelli is performing inside.

Taking a page, perhaps, from Resource Center Dallas‘ playbook, Lampanelli has announced that for every protester who shows up tonight, she’ll donate $1,000 to New York’s Gay Men’s Health Crisis, the country’s oldest AIDS/HIV service organization.

This has the potential to be a big money maker for GMHC.

Last July, the Phelps clan protested outside Resource Center Dallas because that’s where the primarily LGBT Congregation Beth El Binah holds its services. (The Phelps Phools protested outside Dallas’ Holocaust Museum and the Jewish Community Center that same day.) But instead of asking counter-protesters to come out to face off against the Westboro Baptist group — which often uses such encounters to provoke counter-protesters into doing something the WBC folks can sue over), RCD asked people to pledge donations to the center for every minute the WBC protesters remained outside the center. RCD ended up with more than $10,000, money that was used to purchase a new freezer to store food for the center’s meals program.

Personally, I am not a big fan of Lampanelli’s brand of insult-based comedy. It’s just not my cup of tea. But if I lived anywhere near Topeka, I would damn sure buy a ticket and go see her show tonight. Because anybody willing to open up their own pocketbook to turn Westboro Baptist’s hate into a positive thing for a worthy cause is somebody I am willing to support.

—  admin