By Linda Wisch-Davidsohn
JCRS honors the Tolmas family
The spectacular setting of the Freedom Pavilion of the National World War II Museum served as the venue for 500 guests, as the Jewish Children’s Regional Service presented “The Jewish Roots of Broadway” and honored members of the Tolmas family of Dallas and the Scharff family of Louisiana.
Dallas honorees at the March 22 Gala in New Orleans included Alan and Gina Tolmas, Jeanie Tolmas and Hyman and Connie Tolmas.
The event featured live entertainment directed by renowned musician and artist Harry Mayronne and highlighted Jewish contributions to the evolution of Broadway. The live acts were enhanced by historic video from some of the great Jewish performers, writers and lyricists.
Guests from the Metroplex included Marilyn Englander, new JCRS board member and recent past president of the Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County and her husband, Marty, Jaime and Esther Hazan-Cohen, Lionel and Gloria Reiman and Allan and Sandra Cantor.
The JCRS funds more than 150 Jewish youth each year from the Dallas/Fort Worth Area for services such as overnight camp scholarships, financial aid for college and special needs assistance.
JCRS President Leon Rittenberg III expressed great pride in the opportunity for JCRS to honor both the Tolmas family and the Scharffs, who have each devoted a great deal of time, effort and generosity, on behalf of the services of JCRS, the only regional Jewish children’s agency in the United States, as well as the oldest Jewish children’s agency. “Seldom does any organization get an opportunity to recognize, at once, multiple generations of two wonderful and committed families,” he explained. “Each of these families has produced a JCRS president, which in the case of the Tolmas family, is Jeanie Tolmas M.D.”
Each member of the Tolmas family has either provided distinguished service on the JCRS board, served as a JCRS officer and/or has been instrumental in setting up at least one of the four scholarship funds that the Tolmas family has established at JCRS.
Within the Tolmas family, Alan and Gina were the first within the family to relocate to Dallas, having come separately to the Metroplex in the 1970s and 1980s.
Alan is a CPA and the founder of Texas Financial Forensics LLC, a firm that that provides forensic accounting and business valuation services. He has been president of both the Estate Planning Council of North Texas and the DFW Chapter of the American Society of Appraisers.
Gina is the founder of GST Interiors, Ltd. and an interior design studio that provides both commercial and residential interior design services. She is a member of the Texas Association of Interior Designers and the Apartment Association of Greater Dallas.
Alan and Gina have been active members and leaders with many Jewish and civic groups within Dallas, including Tiferet Israel, Shaare Tefilla, Hillel of North Texas, Israel Bonds, Dallas Jewish Community Foundation, Hadassah and Altrusa. They are the proud parents of two college students — Sheina, who attends NYU and Cara, a student at the University of Michigan.
After Hurricane Katrina, Alan’s sister, Jeanie Tolmas and their parents, Hyman and Connie Tolmas relocated to Dallas.
Jeanie is a board certified pediatrician, specializing in adolescent and travel medicine, and a fellow of the American Academy of Medicine. She practiced for many years at the Tulane University Student Health Center and in 2004, was named by New Orleans Magazine a “Top Doctor.”
Within JCRS, she chaired for a number of years the Case Committee, a committee that has funded special needs Jewish youth for decades, long before this population came to the wide attention of the national Jewish community. She served as JCRS president from 2003-2005.
Since living in Dallas, Jeanie has been active with numerous Dallas organizations, including CASA, ECHAD, JFS and the JWV Auxiliary, to name a few.
When members of the family relocated to Dallas in 2005, there were returning to Connie’s hometown.
Connie Cohen Tolmas, is a Dallas native and grew up with a large, extended family in Dallas. In New Orleans, she was an active volunteer with the NCJW, the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, Charity Hospital, Jewish Federation and her synagogue, Shir Chadash.
She met Hyman Tolmas when she was a Tulane undergraduate and the couple were married in 1950.
Hyman practiced adolescent pediatrics in Greater New Orleans for 59 years prior to Katrina, in a career that included a thriving private practice, professorships at both Tulane and LSU Medical Schools and practice privileges at eight local hospitals. While his academic accomplishments, awards and recognitions have been numerous, it is perhaps the generations of past patients whom have come forward to remember “Doc Tolmas” that may be one of the most endearing elements of this current recognition.
The evening’s entertainment was directed by a New Orleans’ celebrated artist Harry Mayronne. After contracting to perform the entertainment, Brian learned that Hyman Tolmas was an honoree and proudly revealed to the JCRS event committee that he was among Hyman’s childhood patients 40 to 50 years ago.
The JCRS served more than 1,500 Jewish youth in 2103, funding 1,400 of them. The agency assists Jewish youth who reside in seven Southern states, including Texas. There are many residents of Greater Dallas who are current or former camp, college or special needs scholarship recipients. The agency is primarily supported through contributions from individuals, families and family foundations.
Learn more about the event, the honorees and the important work of JCRS by going to the JCRS website: www.jcrs.org.
By contacting the office at 1-800-729-5277 you can receive a 28-page booklet that not only tells about the honorees, but also chronicles Jewish contributions to Broadway.
The agency address is P.O. Box 7368, Metairie, LA 70010-7368.