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Dealing out dreidels

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“I grew up playing with dreidels at Chanukah parties,” said Jennifer Rivlin Roberts, “and my husband Webb and I love to play poker.”

It is no surprise, then, that, during a six-hour drive home from a family visit in 2005, the Atlanta couple conceived a way to “make dreidels more fun” by combining the two games.

“When we got home we wrote the rules down,” said Roberts, adding that they introduced “No Limit Texas Dreidel” to friends and family at their next Chanukah party.

“Everybody loved it,” she said. “It’s much more complicated than dreidel, but less complicated than poker.”

In 2007, friends encouraged them to market the game, which is suitable both for adults and for children older than 9.

Last year, the couple sold 1,000 games through their retail outlet, This year, they’ve produced even more games, distributing thousands through retailers such as Bloomingdale’s, “which picked it up after the team of holiday buyers sat around and played it themselves.”

They are also offering the sets to Jewish nonprofit organizations “looking for a unique fund-raising opportunity.” According to Roberts, nonprofits can buy discounted tournament kits to use at fund-raisers and purchase additional sets on consignment to sell to members, keeping 40 percent of the proceeds.

“We still play it at our own parties,” said Roberts, who encourages players to use chocolate Chanukah gelt for wagers.

For addition information, call (404) 372-6418.

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Building his hidden past

Fair Lawn resident constructs model of his Holocaust refuge

Michael Mark is a man of few words who works with his hands.

So when it came time to unburden himself of the memories he had kept to himself, he let his hands start the conversation.

Mark, 83, was born Mischka Margierowicz. He came from the city of Brody in what is now the Ukraine.

His children, Anne Benzachar of Fair Lawn and Benjamin Mark of Long Branch, like many children of survivors, didn’t hear his stories growing up or even later. Not until shortly before their mother’s death in 2008 did they convince her to tell her story to her children and grandchildren.


Hiding in a stable’s root cellar

Michael Mark’s story of survival

On a recent Sunday morning, Michael Mark sat at his kitchen table with his daughter Ann Benzachar and a reporter from the Jewish Standard and talked about his life as a teenager after the Nazis had conquered his town from the Soviets. He and his father, Benjamin, a sheet metal worker, lived in the Brody ghetto with special privileges that allowed them to come and go. His older brother was shot by the Ukrainians and his mother and sister had disappeared. As a talented craftsman, Benjamin was in charge of turning railway cars into mobile kitchens for the Germans and Michael was his apprentice.


Cycling through Israel for health, peace, and the environment

“You have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, I shall walk before the Lord in the land of the living” (Hallel, Psalm 116:8-9). As I said these words on Yom Ha’Atzmaut in Tel Aviv on the 61st anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel — and at the beginning of the longest bicycle ride I have ever done — I realized how literally they applied to me.

Two months ago, I had begun to ride my bicycle again after a six-week hiatus, owing to treatment of my larynx for cancer. I had been literally speechless since the middle of January, able to communicate only in gestures and whispers, and here I was in the middle of Tel Aviv about to embark on the ride of a lifetime. How did it happen? I resolved that if and when I recovered, I would do this ride, to prove to myself that life on the bicycle has not come to end. In addition, I wanted to see whether I could do it on a folding bike (Brompton) that fits in a suitcase. That is how I came to participate in Israel Ride, sponsored by Hazon and the Arava Institute.

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