Shalom chaverim: Esther and Harold Wolf
By Deb Silverthorn
Dallas’ Jewish community shares a fond “shalom chaverim” to Esther and Harold Wolf as the couple’s dream of aliyah becomes reality today.
“It’s time. We’ve both always felt a need to go back to Israel. It’s where we met and it’s in our blood,” said Esther. She and Harold will be married 45 years in December. “If not now, when,” she says.
“We’re in a good place,” said Harold. “Our kids don’t ‘need’ us and professionally we’ve given so much. Now, it’s time to ‘do us’ and there’s no better place than Israel.”
The couple, who’d met while in college, returned to the United States in 1980 and, after two years in Peoria, Illinois and Orlando, Florida, joined Harold’s parents, who were living in Dallas.
The parents of Gadi (Amy) and Josh, and grandparents of Avery, Bella and Wyatt Schoen-Kiewert; and Asher Wolf, look forward to reconnecting with family. Son Josh made aliyah in 2011 and Esther’s mother, Harold’s father and many other family members have also settled close by. The couple will first stay with her mother in Shoham, in the center of the country, and then decide where home will be.
“We’ll miss them so much but are thrilled because there’s no better place than Israel,” said Gadi, who plans to visit often. “My parents are famous here. They’ve focused on helping build this Jewish community and it never mattered to them what branch or how religious someone is. They’ve always just been focused on the people and they are loved.”
Josh Wolf can’t wait to spend time with his parents. “Almost exactly 10 years ago I made aliyah and it’s been the longest, shortest decade ever,” said Josh who served in the IDF and now, living in Ramat Gan, works for Shopify. “While I have missed my family, it was the best decision ever. Now, it’s incredible to know my parents will be minutes away.”
Over the years, Gadi and Josh attended Solomon Schechter Academy (now Ann and Nate Levine Academy) and Akiba Academy (now Akiba Yavneh Academy) and the Wolf family affiliated with congregations Ohev Shalom, Shaare Tefilla and Chabad of Dallas where, for the last many years Harold has served as chazzan.
“Esther and Harold have been integral in bringing up two generations of Yiddishkeit in Dallas, sharing the love and beauty of every aspect of Jewish life,” said Chabad of Dallas’ Rabbi Mendel Dubrawsky. “Anyone who knows them, knows them as a friend, and now we definitely experience two emotions. We’ll miss them terribly and at the same time be excited for Israel’s benefit.”
Esther, born in Montreal, Canada, is the daughter of Nick, of blessed memory, and Ruth Mandel and the sister of Aviva, Chana and Joel. Esther’s father, a Holocaust survivor, immigrated to Canada from Hungary as an orphan after the war who regretted not going to Palestine. After high school, there was no doubt for Esther and she moved to Israel for college. Her parents and siblings eventually followed and there they remain.
A Cincinnati, Ohio native, Harold is the son of Bill and Lora (she, of blessed memory) Wolf and brother of Carol, who lives in Israel, Nancy and Sam. Raised in a traditional Jewish family, Harold went to high school at the Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, Illinois and then spent a year at Beit Midrash L’Torah in Jerusalem before attending Bar Ilan University.
Esther’s career has been in Jewish education (see story on page 5) and he started out in that field. Once in Dallas, Harold worked for Bee Hat Company, first selling hats and then other apparel before founding Galit Diamonds. In 2004, he opened Lone Star Judaica and for 15 years provided a vast array of Judaic books, art, ritual items, jewelry and more.
“I loved the store and I got to know so many people in the community,” said Harold, who has also tutored for b’nai mitzvah, led Torah study courses and served many years as chazzan during the High Holy Days for Laredo’s Congregation Agudas Achim. “I enjoyed finding what people needed, educating people about different items, and I think really meeting the needs of so many. When it was time to close [the store], it was time, but I’m still happy to always connect in preparation for Sukkot, still providing lulavim and etrogim. From Israel, I’ll still be sending.”
In the past two years, Harold has worked with North Dallas Funeral Homes, again supporting the community and being there in his clients’ most difficult times.
“Our lives have really been centered in the Jewish community and Jewish life is at our core, it’s who we are,” said Esther. “To complete that, to complete ourselves, means going back to Israel. It means going home.”