Vote for your Jewish heroes!
Many of you may have heard that the United Jewish Communities recently launched a massive new interactive initiative to identify the Jewish community’s top hero. Although nominations are closed, voting is on and five potential heroes have Dallas connections.
Among the 380-some people nominated as part of the contest are Brian Cuban, Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis, Rabbi Michael Rovinsky, Laura Seymour and Tara Steinberg.
According to the UJC Web site, Brian Cuban is “very passionate about the Jewish community and is very active in helping with awareness of preventing hate groups against the Jewish people. He is also dedicated, intelligent, and informative in helping others. Brian has passionately created an awareness in the local community and beyond through his blogging, his online Rant show, and speaking to others about it.”
Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis is best known to the community as the spiritual leader of Congregation Kol Ami in Flower Mound. In addition, he serves as a volunteer chaplain for the City of Flower Mound Law Enforcement and Fire departments, and is a professor of Jewish studies at the University of North Texas and a past president of the Flower Mound and Lewisville Ministerial Alliance. He maintains his credentials as an R.N. and is an involved husband and father.
Rabbi Michael Rovinsky was born and raised in Dallas and now resides in St. Louis. He is the son of Shirley and Irv Rovinsky and a graduate of Akiba Academy. In 2003, “Rabbi Mike” introduced the Jewish Student Union of St. Louis (JSU). JSU facilitates outreach to Jewish teens attending public schools and serves as a conduit to BBYO, NCSY, JCC, USY and NFTY. In addition, to JSU, Rabbi Mike is the founding director of Camp Nageela Midwest, a Jewish camp in Marshall, Ind. for children in grades 3–11.
Perhaps Rabbi Mike is best known however, as the flying mohel. He travels around the United States performing brit milah and making it a meaninful experience for Jews of different backgrounds.
According to the UJC Web site, “Rabbi Mike has dedicated his life to inspiring unaffiliated and under-engaged Jewish youth in an effort to “pay back” those who inspired him Jewishly in his youth. Whether it is through JSU, NCSY, Camp Nageela, The Florence Melton Adult Education Program, his brit milah practice or any of the many boards on which he serves, Rabbi Mike’s goal is to reach and inspire the unaffiliated and under-engaged Jews he meets. His work has earned him the support and respect of rabbinic and lay leadership across ALL denominations of Jews. That alone is the greatest endorsement of the sincerity, quality and success of his programs.”
Known as the Shabbat Lady to TJP readers and the JCC faithful, Laura Seymour truly needs no introduction. Over the last 30 years, Laura has educated thousands of children at the JCC either through the Early Childhood education center, at which she formerly was a teacher, or through the J’s summer camp programs. In multiple cases, more than one generation has been touched by Laura’s unique take on any given situation.
The UJC Web site states, “Most Jewish communal workers are passionate, dedicated and work long hours. However, you have not seen dedication until you’ve met Laura Seymour. Laura Seymour embodies all the qualities of a Jewish Communal professional and more. Laura has played many roles in her career at the Jewish Community Center of Dallas. Her versatility is unsurpassed as she has held the position of Youth Director, Youth and Family Director, Director of Jewish Life and Learning, Preschool Director, as well as Director of Camping Services. In each of these roles, Laura’s can-do attitude propels her to success. After 33 years at the JCC of Dallas, Laura still works 12–14 hour days, 6 days a week. Laura has helped the JCC maintain needed youth programming, schools out and break programs, Jewish ambience in the agency, Jewish learning for staff and members, special events such as the Father/Daughter Dances, Passover dinners, music and dance programs. These programs would not have happened without Laura’s leadership. As a camp director, no task is too big or too small. Whether it’s filling the water coolers or cooking camper stew for 350 kids and staff — Laura does it with joy….”
Dallas psychologist Tara Steinberg has also been nominated. According to the UJC Web site, “Tara is a wonderful person with a very strong Jewish identity. She has been involved in the Jewish community all her life and has spent all her adult years giving back to the community. She has dedicated her life to Judaism, always with pleasure and a smile on her face. She is a Jewish Community Hero!!!!!
“Tara is a psychologist and has done extensive research in the area of AIDS/HIV with a focus on helping Jewish people in need. She has also spent a great deal of time with Jewish mothers with drug addiction. She has such a strong desire to help people and bring happiness to the Jewish community. She is a selfless person and a true class act.”
Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas President and CEO Gary Weinstein is thrilled with the great showing of heroes nominated from our community. He says, “I am pleased and delighted that Laura Seymour, Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis, Rabbi Michael Rovinsky, Brian Cuban and Tara Steinberg have been nominated for our Federation’s umbrella organization, United Jewish Communities Hero Award contest. I can attest to the day-to-day unsung work of these folks. Because of them our lives have been enhanced, our causes advocated and our religious spirituality moved. We in Dallas can take great pride that they have been so duly acknowledged by those among us. Let them serve as an inspiration to all of us who strive to lead meaningful and relevant Jewish lives. On behalf of all the lives they touch, let me simply say, thank you.”
Voting will continue through Oct. 8. The UJC estimates that about 100,000 people have cast votes, and roughly 30,000 people have registered on the organization’s Web site to receive updates on the contest. UJC officials are hoping to use the contest to spread the word about the federation system and will allow local federations to reach out to registrants in their catchment areas. According to a UJC spokesman, the organization has spent less than $100,000 on the project, including the $25,000 prize.
Save the date: Temple Shalom golf tourney, Oct. 19
Temple Shalom’s eighth annual Charity Golf Tournament and silent/live auction will be held Monday, Oct. 19 at The Honors Club in Carrollton (formerly the Columbian Country Club). For the sixth consecutive year, Temple Shalom is pleased to partner with Texas Health Presbyterian Foundation (formerly Presbyterian Healthcare Foundation) in this very exciting charitable event. Since 2004 the event has grossed over $325,000. This money has helped benefit both Texas Health Presbyterian Foundation and Temple Shalom charities and programs.
Special night in the sukkah for Chabad’s WOW
Chabad of Dallas’ Women of Worth (WOW) will host a special ladies’ night out next Tuesday, Oct. 6 at the home of Rebecca Sklaver. The event, “Soups in the Sukkah,” will include meaningful insights into the holiday of Sukkot. The evening begins at 7:30 p.m. Couvert is $10; RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Vote for your Jewish heroes!