By Sharon Wisch-Ray
Beloved Dallas educator Wende Weinberg died Dec. 4, after a courageous 18-month battle with lung cancer. She was 57.
Weinberg was the heart and soul of Jewish education at Ann and Nate Levine Academy, formerly known as Solomon Schechter, for more that 30 years. She touched the lives of countless Levine students and their families, encouraging them to embrace Judaism.
Teaching Jewish education was effortless for Weinberg; she made it look easy and her passion and love for her students was evident in her every endeavor. Among her myriad programs she implemented and sustained at Levine was the annual eighth-grade trip to Israel, an event of which she never tired.
“Every year it’s a different ‘first’ because it’s the kids who make the trip. One child said ‘I’m in Jerusalem and I don’t know if I gave enough to my davening,’ or the time a windstorm stopped the cable cars on Masada and we couldn’t get right down and we huddled together in a cave. It’s when a young lady who was so emotional, again at Masada, and there happened to be a sofer (scribe) there who wrote her a bracha on a piece of parchment, he gave one to her and one to me — mine still a treasure. Israel is a fantastic place, but it’s not always the moments, but the moments within,” Wende reminisced in a Nov. 17 TJP profile.
Next to her husband of 32 years, Rabbi Stefan Weinberg, the couple built Congregation Anshai Torah in Plano. The synagogue, started in 1998, now has more than 500 families.
The sanctuary of Weinberg’s beloved shul was overflowing as mourners spilled into the hallways and sat on stairs in the balcony at her 2 p.m. funeral Tuesday, Dec. 6. Rabbi Michael Kushnick led the service. “Wende Weinberg was truly one of the most inspiring women I ever had the privilege to know,” Kushnick said. He explained that Wende nurtured him and his wife on the role of a rabbinic family.
“Wende may no longer be with us, but her actions and accomplishments surround us. We must constantly strive to incorporate the values and lessons that Wende taught us. By doing so we will ensure that her memory continues to make our world a better place,” he added.
Each of Weinberg’s daughters, Danielle, Jordana and Adina, spoke about the impact their mother had on them.
“I have her fierce independence, her work ethic, her passion, her stubbornness, her perfectionism,” said Danielle, who added that her mother inspired her to be the best person she could be every day.
“The mark of a true educator is to teach by example. She taught everyone around her by the way she lived her life; she was warm and she treated others with kindness, always had a smile on her face. A quality my sisters and I have all inherited,” Adina said.
A teacher, like her mom, Jordana said her mother was her go-to person.
“My love for teaching is directly from my mom.”
Rabbi William Gershon delivered the main eulogy. “I was deeply honored and humbled when Wende asked me to deliver the eulogy at her funeral,” he said.
“If the walls of this synagogue and of Levine Academy and so many other institutions of Jewish life in this community could weep, they would shed rivers of tears for Wende ….
“This community and the Jewish people have lost a leader, a cherished teacher of Torah, a woman who touched the lives of literally hundreds if not thousands of Jewish souls.
“To encounter Wende was to experience her warm smile, her outgoing personality. To know her was to be blessed by an extraordinary person, who gave of herself selflessly. In all that she did, she never sought praise. She never sought recognition. She was a humble and modest woman.”
In addition, to her husband and daughters, Weinberg is survived by her son-in-law, Gilad Zubery; her brother, Bruce (Debbie); sister, Debbe (Barry); sisters-in-law, Laureen, Jacqui (Larry); brother-in-law Jefry (Alla); nephews and nieces — Matt, Lacey, Jason (Jillian), Michelle, Bryan (Melissa) and Josephine, Lauren and Angela; and many loving cousins and friends.
Interment followed the service immediately at Congregation Anshai Torah Cemetery at Restland Memorial Park. A full obituary can be read on Page 23.