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April 30, 2009 - Image 61

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2009-04-30

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A former football player kicks off a new life of religious observance.

Shelli Liebman Dorfman

Senior Writer


ake one humorous, motivating
speaker ready to share a candid
description of his unique
religious lifestyle change. Throw in the
fact that he is a former offensive lineman
with the Green Bay
Packers and Dallas
Cowboys — and
earned a Super Bowl
ring — and you have
the entertaining, yet
inspirational story of
Alan Veingrad.
A Torah-observant
Jew with his own
football card, five
game balls" and a
signed thank-you-
gift Rolex watch
from former Dallas
teammate Emmitt
Smith, Veingrad
will address a local
group on Sunday,
May 3. He will speak
following a 6 p.m.
strolling dinner at
the 35th anniversary
celebration of the
Alan Veingrad — now
Sara and Morris
and then
Tugman Bais
Chabad Torah Center in West Bloomfield.
The dinner, program and Veingard's
talk, "From NFL to NFL (Newly Frum
Lubavitcher)" will take place at Young
Israel of Oak Park.
"It's hard being a professional football
player," said Veingrad, who lives in Ft.
Lauderdale. "It's harder being a Jewish


Teen Summer Sendoff
The new Beverly Prentis Wagner Teen
Center will open its doors for a Summer
Sendoff on Sunday, May 3, with food,
dancing and fun for all Jewish sixth-
through eighth-graders. The Teen Center
is located at the Jewish Community Center,
6600 W. Maple, West Bloomfield.
All Jewish sixth- through eighth-grad-
ers are eligible to participate and advance
registration is not required. The cost is
$5 per person, but individuals who bring
a kosher canned food item will pay only
$3. The Summer Sendoff is a program

professional football player. At East
Texas State University [now Texas A&M
University-Commerce], I was the only Jew
on the football team and was in a town with
no Jewish community. When I was with the
NFL, I was the only Jew with the Packers:'
When teammates held hands in pre-
game prayer sessions, reciting the Lord's
Prayer, he would say his own Jewish prayer
Not observant growing up, Veingard was
always proud to be Jewish, and at times
wondered about the answers to religious
questions posed to him by non-Jews.
"But I was well into retirement, ready
to start a family when I took a real look at
Judaism and what it has to offer," he said.

The Road To Observance
Veingrad grew up in a secular home and
attended Hebrew school classes. "But I
was uninspired:' he said. "Mostly I learned
history, but not how to embrace and love
In 1995, he began to attend a weekly
Torah study class. "That's where I learned
the relevance of that history," he said. "I
took the class for seven or eight years
with a rabbi who did a lot of outreach
work. I enjoyed going, but I wasn't doing
anything outward outside of class. I tried
Conservative and Reform shuls, but was
not moved by them.
"Then someone said, `Go to a Chabad
shul.' I did and through Chabad I met a
rabbi who ignited my fire. I liked that he
looked authentic. I liked the long beard
and the hat and that he was a rabbi who
did not judge me and allowed me to
observe and learn at my own pace
Thoroughly enjoying Torah observance
and learning, Veingrad and his family

of B'nai B'rith Youth Organization Teen
Connection and the Jewish Community
Center of Metropolitan Detroit.

Kindergarten Prepping
Gan Shalom Preschool and the Kinderist
Program at Congregation Beth Shalom in
Oak Park prepares children for kindergar-
Through creative play, music and drama,
children learn to discover and social-
ize. Curriculum modified for each child
includes Math Their Way, Handwriting
Without Tears, Zoophonics, inventive spell-

began to join the rabbi at his home on
Shabbat."I was inspired by the words of
Torah at the Shabbos table," he said. "I
wanted to make changes toward the things
I was learning."
Veingard's family made those changes
with him.
"My wife and I embraced this
meaningful purpose together," he said.
"Our kids — ages 14, 12 and 10 — said,
`Wow Dad, are we going to have a party
every Friday night?'" Five years ago, his
children left the public school system for a
Jewish day school.

A Dedicated Life
A former member of the 1992 Super Bowl
XXVII World Champion Dallas Cowboys
— playing alongside legendary quarter-
back Troy Aikman — these days Veingrad
doesn't watch televised football games and
doesn't know much about what's going on
in the NFL. But he says he's glad he played
and uses sports metaphors to describe his
religious journey, relating the dedication,
self-control and training of being a pro-
fessional football player to the process of
becoming an observant Jew.
"The organization
and discipline from his
life as a professional
football player connects
with the discipline of
leading a life of Torah
and mitzvot," said the
Center's Rabbi
His local talk
highlights a celebration of the 35th
anniversary of the Torah Center, the hub
of prayer services, educational classes,
youth and teen programming, social

ing, science, geography and fitness through
Kids Sport. Hours are flexible from 7:30
a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday. There
are also a.m. and p.m. hours.
The program is bilingual so children
learn to speak and hear Hebrew as well as
language development.
Gan Shalom offers a bilingual p.m. kin-
dergarten program.
For applications, contact Susan
Gartenberg, (248) 547-7970, ext. 234.

Kol Ami Fundraiser
Temple Kol Ami in West Bloomfield will

events and programs
of the Elvin and
Loraine Pollack
Learning Center
and the Hyman and
Sonia Blumenstein
Outreach Institute,
which funds
Yael and Ethan Gross
lectures, classes and
other community outreach projects.
Torah Center President Ethan Gross
and his wife, Yael, chair of the synagogue's
Tears and Cheers committee, will receive
the Keser Shaim Tov, Crown of Distinction
Award. "They are Torah Center leaders
and communal volunteers, giving of
themselves in a meaningful way in
their support of many local charities:'
Silberberg said.
Perel Schulkind will be
presented with the Aishes
Chayil, Woman of Valor
Award. "My mother-in-law
is a survivor of Auschwitz,
now living in New York
and has spent holidays
with us at the Torah Center Perel
for many years," Silberberg Schulkind
said. Known always to
have a smile, a clever and encouraging
word and positive attitude, she is "bubbie"
to everyone, he said. Dinner chairs are
Paul Draznin and Suzy Rivkin.

For information or to make a
reservation to attend the 6 p.m.,
Sunday, May 3, Sara and Morris
Tugman Bais Chabad Torah Center
dinner at Young Israel of Oak Park,
call (248) 855-6170. $300/couple.

host Aces Chai 3-Peat. This Monte Carlo
event will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday, May
16. It will include casino games, a raffle,
a silent auction and a Chinese auction.
There will be a cash raffle with a top prize
of $750.
Advance tickets are $50; tickets at the
door are $60. Admission includes $100 in
chips as well as appetizers, desserts, wine,
coffee and soda. Chips convert to tickets
for prizes.
Proceeds will support Temple Kol Ami.
You must be 21 or older to attend. For
information, call (248) 661 0040.



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