By Deb Silverthorn
The summer of 1998 was the beginning of a dream which, due to great effort, diligence and a lot of blessings, will result in the Nov. 7–9 weekend of celebration of Anshai at 10. Friday, Saturday and Sunday will be filled with services and ceremonies, celebration and revelry, for the Plano congregation, its families and the entire community.
“Out of the ashes of yesterday the fountains of youth thrive today. Congregation Anshai Torah is a testament to the eternal vitality of the Jewish people. Today, we don’t merely celebrate the passage of time but 10 years of accomplishment by our dedicated community,” Rabbi Stefan Weinberg said. “The psalmist implores, ‘Teach us to number our days.’ Indeed, we at Anshai Torah have lived by that charge, dedicating ourselves to the creation of a vibrant Jewish community where every day and every person is considered infused with God’s presence.”
When the leaders of congregations Anshai Emet and Shomray Torah came together to form Congregation Anshai Torah, it was a priority to all that the two congregations could fuse spiritually. Ten years later, with 526 children under the age of 18, 230 students are enrolled in the religious and high school programs, 90 attend Dallas-area Jewish day schools and almost 200 take part in the congregation’s preschool and early childhood programming. With 31 b’nai mitzvah celebrations in the coming year, the learning for young and “older” continues. Anshai Torah’s seniors have built a strong source of learning, entertainment, and socialization under the banner of Hazak, with 96 members participating in bimonthly programs. The congregation’s adult education program offers classes, taught by leaders from throughout the community, year-round.
“Since we began, the families of Anshai Torah have been one, and everything about the congregation is a part of our lives,” said Debbie Katz, president of the board of directors. “The compassion and leadership with which Rabbi Weinberg has led us, in times of joy and sadness, and the way in which he makes sure that we all live the best Jewish life possible, are a true gift. Rabbi Weinberg, Wende, Danielle, Jordana and Adina have all set the example and they are the base for us all.”
From their first home on Village Creek to the current address at Parker Road, and with grand plans for growth and renovation in the coming year, Anshai Torah has found a way to meet the needs of its congregants, which have more than doubled in its first decade. In the coming year the congregation looks forward to an intense growth with the building of a new sanctuary and renovation of the current building. “The plans have been approved for me to sign the contract and we look forward to being able to seat more than 1400 people at some point in the not-too-distant future,” Katz said. The building that now sits on Parker Road will continue to be used for classrooms and offices, and the current sanctuary and social hall will be enhanced as a larger hall for gatherings.
The weekend’s events will begin with a Friday night service and oneg Shabbat, dedicated to Past Presidents Neil Rubenstein, Cindy Moskowitz, Richard Berry, Rusty Cooper, David Stanley and Andy Farkas. Previous past presidents from Anshai Emet will also be recognized on the congregation’s Wall of Honor.
On Saturday morning, members of Anshai Torah’s service groups including Hazak, Men’s Club, Sisterhood, tutors from the b’nai mitzvah program and others who have generously impacted the congregation, will be honored throughout the service. “There are so many people here who put their time and heart into making Anshai Torah what it is,” Katz said. “From those who led before me to the many who are involved in every aspect of everything we provide, it is a group effort at its best.”
That involvement is evident in the co-chairmanship of the celebration weekend by Cathy Brook and Cheryl Weitz, and the participation of many others including Dr. Amy Balis, Beth Berk, Michelle Meiches, Rob Shrell and the members of the congregation’s a cappella choir Kol Rina, Ilene Sporkin and Susan Zetley.
Saturday night’s gala, with cocktails beginning at 7:10 p.m. at the Fashion Industry Gallery (FIG) in Dallas, is an evening of dinner and dancing to the music of the Dave Tanner Band. Sunday at 11 a.m., the community is invited to share in a family celebration of the future of Anshai Torah with a lunchtime picnic, the creation of a time capsule, the painting of children’s fingerprint tiles to be used in the new building and an afternoon of festivities.
“As I review the past 10 years, I can only conclude, ashreinu mah tov helkeinu, how fortunate I have been with my lot in life,” Rabbi Weinberg said. “I thank the membership of Congregation Anshai Torah for having the confidence to elect me as their rabbi. It has been an honor to teach, prod, dream and celebrate with them during the course of our journey. Hizku v’imtzu — may we go forth with renewed vigor, knowing that the work of our hands is blessed by G-d.”
For more information, or to RSVP for the weekend’s events, call 972-473-7718.
By Deb Silverthorn