Written by Elana Goldenberg, Special to The Chronicle
Thursday, November 21 2013 11:00
A team of third-grade students at the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy qualified earlier this month as one of the top 10 elementary teams in an innovative, local science and engineering competition called Battle of the Brains, earning $2,500 for the school. The Burns & McDonnell Foundation and Science City are sponsoring partners in this educational competition to create the best idea for a new exhibit at Science City. The winning group of students will earn the opportunity to create their exhibit with architects and engineers from Burns & McDonnell, a top engineering design firm headquartered in Kansas City. The top team in each age division will win $50,000 for their schools.
The initial qualifying score for the team’s proposal was decided by a panel of contest judges. Once the judges chose the top teams, students, teachers and families at HBHA, supported by members of the Kansas City Jewish community, voted online for “One World One Well.” The many online votes they received between Nov. 7 and Nov. 14 account for 30 percent of the team’s final score in determining if HBHA’s exhibit will be chosen for Science City.
(The final results of the Battle of the Brains were to be announced yesterday, Nov. 20, at Union Station. The Chronicle will publish those results in the Nov. 28 issue.)
Under the guidance of Vickie Sisco, HBHA’s gifted education facilitator, third grade students Aviva Clauer, Annie Fingersh, Judah Schuster and Roman Katz worked together to propose an exhibit they would like to see at Science City. These students initially chose to make their exhibit about fountains because of their love of fountains and the abundance of them around Kansas City. After doing some research on water, they gained insight into the global lack of clean water.
“We decided to have our exhibit because [clean water] is a big sustainability problem,” said Judah, age 8. To help combat this problem, the team proposed an interactive exhibit called “One World One Well.”
If chosen as the first place winner, “One World One Well” would educate Science City visitors on ideas about the world’s water supply, water movement with the Archimedes’ screw, forces at work with water in motion, water conservation/sustainability and new technologies in the field. The Archimedes’ screw is a machine used to move water for purposes of irrigation. The exhibit will feature an interactive fountain, touchscreen games and an opportunity to learn about the motion of water.
The team of HBHA students submitted their proposal to the Burns and McDonnell Foundation in late October. When they learned a few weeks later that their idea had been chosen as one of the top 10 ideas in the elementary category, they were beyond thrilled.
“We were really excited,” exclaimed Aviva, age 9. “I was wearing my mood ring and it was green, so I was really excited!”
Teacher Vickie Sisco said competing in Battle of the Brains was an amazing experience for these young students. She wanted the students to participate in the project because it “was really designed well.” She added, “I knew I had to do it with one of my classes.”
The students really enjoyed competing in Battle of the Brains, as well. When asked if they would want to participate in this competition again, all four students responded with an enthusiastic “yes!”
Elana Goldenberg is a sophomore at HBHA.
Written by Barbara Bayer, Editor
Thursday, November 14 2013 11:00
Rabbi Herbert Mandl has taken some special trips over the years. His most recent trip to the Vatican in October, where he studied in its exclusive library, will surely rank high on his list of memorable experiences.
He has described the experience as both incredible and awesome, saying he was barely able to skim the surface of what he wanted to research. Even though he has a doctorate, as a pulpit rabbi he said he felt somewhat out of place actually being in the prestigious library with other academics.
“I’m fascinated by Jewish and Catholic law. I guess every rabbi is somewhat scholarly in what they do. (But) I felt like a peon sitting there with all these people and all these things. I really felt like the boy from the cornfields of Kansas. You really feel humbled when you do something like this,” he said.
The rabbi emeritus of Kehilath Israel Synagogue will give a presentation about his research during services on Saturday, Dec. 7. His talk will begin at approximately 11 a.m. That gives him a few weeks to sort through what he found and get a better idea what to present. Other than this presentation, he doesn’t know what he will do with this research long term.
This article is too short to mention all the things that fascinated him about the library itself and the books and manuscripts he got to see. He can’t even pinpoint what he enjoyed the most.
“I don’t think there was one particular best part. It was like going into a candy story every day. What am I going to find today?”
It’s not easy to get the chance to study in the Vatican Apostolic Library. A person has to meet a variety of standards for admittance — a doctorate is one of the requirements — and basically jump through many hoops to obtain the proper credentials. Rabbi Mandl, who is considered an expert in Medieval Jewish and Catholic matrimonial law, is not the only rabbi who has ever studied in the exclusive library, but according to a Vatican archivist, he is the first rabbi to be invited to do so.
“They sought me out, which I thought was kind of cool,” he said. “I know one or two rabbis who have been in there and they have been in there not as functioning pulpit rabbis but more as researchers that happen to be rabbis,” said Rabbi Mandl, who continues to teach a course each semester at Rockhurst University in Jewish theology.
Rabbi Mandl explained the library, established in 1475, is vast and filled with 75,000 codices from throughout history. He’s especially happy that he didn’t decide to visit until recently. It was closed for remodeling from 2007 to 2010 and is now completely computerized, making it must easier to do research.
“The library had been living in the Middle Ages. Everything was paper card files and they really brought it into the 21st century,” he said.
“Everything is electronic. You scan your way onto the elevator. I felt like I was in the CIA in a lot of ways.”
When he was there, about 20 to 25 people were also researching at the same time. He expects a third to a half of those were Catholic priests or nuns. The rest were academics.
“The person next to me — you can’t talk in there but I met her in the locker room — was an art professor from Penn,” he said. “
Rabbi Mandl said he worked three to four hours a day when he was there. It’s closed on weekends.
“It is such an intense experience I really couldn’t concentrate more than that. I felt my mind wandering after about four hours,” he said.
The security to just get in to the library is difficult he said. Unfortunately, his wife didn’t have the clearance to get on the private property.
“I wanted her to at least get to see the reading room, which was quite an experience,” he said. “It’s extremely impressive,” noting that he has no photos because taking photos is not permitted.
In fact while you are in the library, you have to lock up your personal items in a locker, including cell phones, cameras and pens. Researchers are allowed to use pencils, small laptops or iPads, which Rabbi Mandl used, in the library.
His plan was to find certain books that he knew about when he was writing his dissertation for his doctorate, but he couldn’t actually get access to at the time.
“I wrote it in the early ’80s. There were no computers then. It was so hard. I would find excerpts about books. I traveled a couple of times to Washington, D.C., to get my hands on certain documents … I couldn’t get a lot of primary sources.”
Rabbi Mandl said he never could have finished his doctorate without one particular book from 1600 — there are only five in the world — and one of them is at Conception Abbey in Conception, Mo. He used it at the abbey and they actually let him borrow it.
“It was piecemeal and anyone who wrote a doctorate prior to 1990 or whatever will tell you,” he said. “But at the Vatican library I was able to get my hands and eyes on a lot of things I was looking for when I wrote my doctorate.”
His original invitation from the Vatican gave Rabbi Mandl admission to the book part of the library and limited access to the manuscript room.
“When I got there, somebody had approved total access to the manuscript room, so I had total access to anything that they had. That’s why I wish I had more time there than I did,” he said.
He plans to return someday because he really didn’t get a chance to complete everything he had hoped. His admittance file will remain active for five years.
Rabbi Mandl said he was blown away by some of things he got to see, especially a manuscript, stitched together with thread, from the early 1500s. It was a partially handwritten and partially printed (the printing press came out in the late 1400s) treatise attacking the Catholic Church at the beginning of the Protestant revolution.
It turns out the German comments he saw written in the margins of that manuscript were by Martin Luther. He also saw an original love letter written by King Henry VIII to Ann Boleyn.
“This is not my field but once I was in there I was like a kid in a candy store,” he said about looking at the English documents. “I knew certain rare things were there I wanted to see.”
While he was at the Vatican, Rabbi Mandl was supposed to get an audience with Pope Francis. Unfortunately it didn’t happen. But the rabbi said he felt a little less disappointed when he learned that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was also in Rome in October, didn’t get a chance to meet the Pope either.
This was the very first time Rabbi Mandl has been granted access to the Vatican library, but not the first time he’s been to the Vatican. Even though he didn’t meet Pope Francis, he did meet Pope John Paul II in January 2005 right before died. He was with a delegation of 100 rabbis who thanked the pope for his Holocaust work.
In fact Rabbi Mandl said the pope told him, “You are the rabbi who wrote on cannon law. That’s unusual.”
Rabbi Mandl also still has a standing invitation to attend the Oxford Roundtable of Scholars, held twice a year. At this time he has no specific plans to attend.
Written by Barbara Bayer, Editor
Thursday, November 14 2013 11:00
“It’s about us, not them,” said Kansas City, Mo., Mayor Sly James to hundreds of people gathered at a rally Saturday, Nov. 9, on the grounds of the Liberty Memorial. “Those guys are bozos. We cannot change people that ignorant.”
The mayor was referring to members of the National Socialist Movement, called neo-Nazis by many, who were holding a rally at the same time on the steps of the Jackson County Courthouse downtown. James was a surprise speaker at the Liberty Memorial counter rally, which was attended by more than 400 people of all races, religions and sexual orientation. The rally was organized by Leonard Zeskind, president of the Institute for Research & Education on Human Rights (IREHR). A second counter rally, which took place across the street from the courthouse, was also attended by hundreds of people.
Zeskind said two counter rallies were held Saturday because “some people wanted to go downtown and scream at the Nazis. I didn’t.”
In fact many people at the Liberty Memorial rally, including Anita Russell of the NAACP, noted the common thread between the people of all colors and faiths who attended the rally was to “say no to hate, intolerance and discrimination.”
Most of the speakers, more than 10 total, made similar statements to this one made by KCMO City Councilman John Sharp, when he said the neo-Nazi rally reminded us that unchecked hatred and prejudice leads to violence and murder.
Congregation Beth Torah’s Rabbi Mark Levin gave a passionate speech early in the rally, noting that everyone there “knows what it’s like to be hated.
“All of us are created in God’s image and equal in God’s eyes,” the rabbi said. “Hatred toward one of us is hatred toward all of us.”
In addition to standing up to hatred, the rally’s main focus was to support immigration reform. Many speakers, including Mayor James, suggested rally participants need to support immigration reform at the ballot box.
“This is a country of immigrants. We all, except Native Americans, came from other countries,” NAACP’s Russell stated.
Dr. David Rudman, president of the Jewish Community Relations Bureau|American Jewish Committee had similar comments.
“Many of our parents and grandparents were immigrants,” Dr. Rudman said. “Today we need comprehensive immigration reform in this country.”
The rally was organized by the IREHR, NAACP, JCRB|AJC, El Centro, Advocates for Immigrant Rights and Reconciliation, and Amber Versola. Other organizations represented at the rally included Veterans for Peace, Greater Kansas City Interfaith Council, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Mattie Rhodes Center, Guadalupe Center, League of United Latin American Citizens and the Jewish War Veterans — including one vet who fought against Hitler.
It is Zeskind’s understanding that 47 NSM members participated in Saturday’s anti-immigration rally. On Monday morning he did not know how many people attended the private swastika-lighting ceremony, similar to a Klan cross burning, held later that day. Zeskind does believe the size of the counter rallies kept some of the NSM members away from their rally.
“I thought they were going to get some Klan men and they didn’t,” Zeskind said.
The rally was peaceful and well attended, but it was not endorsed by everyone in the Jewish community because it took place on Shabbat. In an e-blast sent just prior to the beginning of Shabbat on Friday, Nov. 8, Congregation Beth Shalom’s Rabbi David Glickman suggested alternative ways to protest the neo-Nazi rally. The Conservative rabbi wrote that he did not want to draw attention to a fringe group of evil-doers and give them the power to diminish Shabbat.
Rabbi Glickman, among others, suggested people attend the 75th Anniversary of Kristallnacht. The memorial, organized by the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education and held Sunday night at Beth Torah, attracted about 240 people. MCHE’s Executive Director Jean Zeldin said that’s about double the number that usually attends that commemoration.
Last week members of Temple Israel of Greater Kanas City urged people to donate money to MCHE in response to the NSM’s rally. Zeldin said on Tuesday it’s too soon to tell if donations to the agency spiked because of the request.
Many believe it was not by coincidence that the neo-Nazis held their rally on the anniversary of Kristallnacht, including JCRB|AJC’s Dr. Rudman who reminded the crowd that the Night of Broken Glass was one of the darkest days in Jewish history.
Many also noted that the rally was held at the Liberty Memorial, high atop a hill, to symbolize that those at this rally had higher moral standards than the neo-Nazis. It was also symbolic that it was held on land that pays tribute to veterans.
“It is not by chance we stand on ground where veterans are honored who gave their all for this country,” said Daniel Morin, national vice president of the Midwest League of United Latin American Citizens.
Zeskind said he believes the rally was a success.
“Everybody who came to the rally felt good about it and felt it had achieved its goal of creating a mix of black, brown, white, Christian, Jewish, etc. …,” Zeskind said.
Last Updated on Thursday, November 21 2013 12:07
Written by Barbara Bayer, Editor
Thursday, November 14 2013 11:00
Brian Cole has crossed the finish line seven times in the past six weeks. He has just one more to go on Nov. 24 to meet his goal of running eight marathons in eight weeks in hopes of raising money to help fund a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.
Why does he want to find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes? It’s to support his wife, Karen Levy Cole, who has been battling the disease for 41 years.
“She is very healthy and doing very well in large part due to all of the new technology that helps keep her blood sugars in check day in and day out,” Cole wrote in his blog, “Running for my Wife — 8 Marathons in 8 Weeks” (Runningformywife.com).
“Karen’s journey is my journey every single day. I do what I can to support her. What better way to support my wife than to bring together the thing I love the most and use it to make a change in the world.”
Brian Cole made the decision to run eight marathons in eight weeks after seeing the movie “The Spirit of the Marathon” this summer. The movie follows a group of people who are preparing for the 2012 Rome Marathon.
“One person in the movie was running 52 marathons in 52 weeks to raise money for a charity that was close to her,” Cole said. “That got me thinking. I said something to Karen and she said you are absolutely not running 52 marathons, we can’t work that out.”
But Cole was already registered to run in the New York City Marathon as well as races in Wichita, Kan., and Tulsa, Okla. So he had another discussion with his wife, telling her he’d like to see just how many marathons he could actually run without undertaking a lot of travel.
Once he did his research he devised the eight marathon schedule, noting there is no special significance to choosing eight.
“Some were local and some not too far away. The farthest was New York,” he said.
Karen Cole said they knew running multiple marathons this year would be a huge commitment.
“Getting ready to run one marathon is a very big physical, emotional and time commitment, but multiple marathons require an enormous amount of dedication. Brian eventually did decide to pursue this dream, in part because he loves running and in part because he decided that he wanted to help raise both awareness and money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation,” she said.
“I have been diabetic for over 40 years and Brian knows, more than anyone else, the effects of diabetes and the headaches and heartache involved. Establishing ‘Running for My Wife’ is such a huge show of love and devotion that I continue to be beyond proud of him!” she continued.
Brain Cole, 43, is the director of catering for the Panera Bread Bakery Cafes franchise that owns 34 locations in Kansas City, Topeka, Wichita, Lawrence and Manhattan. He also happens to be a certified running coach and said it’s extremely unusual for someone to run this many marathons in such a short time. In fact he definitely doesn’t recommend it.
“As coaches we tell you you shouldn’t run more than one or two marathons a year. You need to give your body time to rest between them,” he said.
On his blog he wrote that he has taken on this challenge simply because he can.
“I run to take care of myself, to be healthy, to be strong. I run to prove to myself that I can do anything. If I can make it through eight marathons in eight weeks, what can’t I accomplish?”
The last marathon in this quest will be Route 66 Marathon in Tulsa, Okla., on Sunday, Nov. 24. The first of the eight was the Mo Cowbell Marathon Oct. 6 in St. Charles, Mo. Since then he’s run in the Prairie Fire Marathon in Wichita, the Blue Springs Marathon and last week’s Pilgrim Pacer. He finished that one at 3:36.39, two minutes better than his previous best. He also won his age group. Both Coles ran in the New York City Marathon Nov. 3.
In the middle of October Cole actually doubled up and ran two marathons in two days — the Kansas City Marathon was first on Saturday, Oct. 19. He then jumped in the car and drove to Des Moines, Iowa, for another marathon on Oct. 20.
“That was one of the most physically demanding weekends,” said Cole, who has been running since 2005.
“You just have to eat and drink and keep hydrated. The next morning you just kind of have to go and eventually your body just falls back into it. After a couple of miles the muscles relax and everything just fit,” he continued.
Karen Cole said physically, “Brian has gotten through seven marathons almost pain free, a testament of his training and dedication!” It’s definitely been a challenge for him.
“I wanted to do something that was kind of extreme and bring awareness to the JDRF. I want to raise money for that cause. The woman in the movie who was running 52 marathons in 52 weeks inspired me and I thought surely I could do something like that and train myself to the point where I could successfully do that,” he said.
He’s been running 20 miles every weekend since July because he wanted his body and legs ready so that he could run the 26. 2 miles in each of the eight marathons.
“My body is basically ready for it. But I had been running 20 miles every weekend for a while anyway,” he said.
When Cole runs the 20 miles, he does it in one day and usually doesn’t run any longer than three hours. To accomplish that and still attend family activities, he often gets up very early in the morning.
“There were a lot of early 5 a.m. runs that happened over the weekend. Not to mention Karen was training for the marathon as well so we had a lot of juggling of schedules and moving around of who was running where and when and what days but it all worked out,” said the father of 15-year-old Sam and 12-year-old Hannah.
The local JDRF chapter, Cole said, has been very supportive helping him get the word out about his fundraising effort. As of Monday, he had raised $2,588 toward his $5,000 goal. To donate, visit http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/briancole/8marathons8weeks.
“One of my goals is to get 2,000 miles running this year. I’m at about 1,600 now so once I get done with these marathons I’ll concentrate on that goal. Then I’ll probably sit back and figure out what I’ll do next year. I don’t have any plans for next year yet, I want to get through this first.”