Dallas Doings: DJCF, Anshai Torah, Tiferet

First responders shown some love

The Dallas Jewish Community Foundation has many funds that utilize volunteers, but these volunteers often do so anonymously to respect the applicants’ personal information, and the volunteers never know the applicants.
Contrary to this usual practice, there are some funds through which the volunteers get to meet the recipients. For example, the Foundation’s First Responders Fund, along with the help of the Tom Thumb bakery at Preston and Forest, helped make a brighter Christmas for hundreds of First Responders at fire, police and 911 call stations.
The First Responders Fund pays for holiday dessert trays to go to dozens of locations around Dallas. This is just a small way to say thank you to local first responders for being on duty to protect and serve the area and to remind them they are appreciated.
This year, more than 30 families and individuals made these deliveries all over the Metroplex, including stations in Wylie, Richardson, Lewisville, Plano and Dallas. Some volunteers intentionally chose stations far away to ensure those who normally don’t get treats from their neighbors got the attention and love they deserve.
One volunteer appreciated the opportunity to say thank you to some of the most important people in the Dallas community. Another said they probably liked it more than the recipients.
This fund was created following the tragic attack on Dallas police three years ago. Since then the First Responders Fund has provided a feeling of love and appreciation. Through the generosity of others, the number of trays continue to grow each year.
To learn more about the fund, visit www.djcf.org.

Ansahi Torah to honor Shawn Frank

Congregation Anshai Torah will celebrate Shawn Stern Frank as its Torah Fund honoree from 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 12,.
Frank was born in St. Louis to Larry and Sheila Stern. The family moved to Plano in 1975 when she was 5 years old. Frank attended the University of North Texas, where she majored in psychology.
She met her husband, Michael Frank, in December 2002; they dated for three years and were married Nov. 5, 2005. Shortly thereafter the couple joined Anshai Torah; it was very important to both of them their future children be raised in a conservative shul.
The Franks welcomed their son Cooper in 2008. When Cooper was in pre-school, Shawn Frank became more involved in the Jewish community, including Anshai Torah. In 2012, She was appointed to the Sisterhood board where she served in various board positions: membership co-chair, co-president, president, nominating committee chair and, currently, the Women’s League of Conservative Judaism (WLJC) representative.
In 2015, Frank became a board member of the WLCJ Intracontinental region. She is the on the Current Communication Committee as social media coordinator.
Volunteering is a part of Frank’s life. When asked why she always says “yes” when asked to volunteer, she said, “It has made me grow in ways I never expected. I have made friends that will last a lifetime. Also, I want to show that no matter how busy you are or what is going on in your life, there is always room to be on a committee. I volunteer because it shows my son how important it is to give back.”
Frank has served on various committees at Anshai Torah: Torah Fund, Diamonds and Dice, Tikkun Olam and Sunshine. Currently, she serves on the Anshai Torah board and is on the WLCJ Intracontinental Conference committee. Frank is also serving on the Levine Academy Gala Auction Committee.
Her favorite volunteer role is as a room parent at Levine Academy, where Cooper is a student.
Frank works full-time at Mcafee, Inc. as an enterprise inside sales representative. When she is not working or volunteering, she likes to read, watch movies, spend time with her family and to see Cooper in his many plays and musicals at the JCC – he will be in the spring production of “The Wizard of Oz.”
Frank’s volunteerism has been contagious in the Frank/Stern family — her father, Larry, served as a minyan coordinator, while her mother, Sheila, has been involved with Torah Fund, chairing the fund for two years. Frank’s husband has served on the Anshai Torah and Men’s Club board.
Frank’s biggest legacy is the strong, diverse board and membership base she helped create during her tenure on the Sisterhood board and as its president.
“How appropriate it is to honor Shawn during the Women’s League Torah Fund theme of Atid (future),” current sisterhood president Lisa Gerstenfeld said. “Shawn has worked tirelessly over the years to make the future bright for Anshai Torah’s Sisterhood.”
The Torah Fund is the dedicated philanthropy of Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, its members, and its affiliated sisterhoods in Conservative congregations across North America. Torah Fund supports scholarships and programming at these Conservative/Masorti institutes of higher Jewish learning.

Estrella Bengio joins Tiferet religious school team

What makes a successful teacher? According to Rabbi Shawn Zell of Congregation Tiferet Israel, it requires knowledge, dedication and love; words that exemplify new Tiferet religious school teacher Estrella Bengio.
Born in Tangiers, Bengio’s family moved to Israel after the Six Day War and later to Venezuela. She came to Dallas from Toronto in 1984 and also teaches in the preschool at Ann & Nate Levine Academy.
Bengio and Zell both take education seriously, and Zell is always available to work regularly with Bengio on curriculum planning for the small religious school.
Bengio likes to make a difference and loves to share what she knows. She believes that Jewish education is crucial, as is Jewish identity. She wants to make sure students don’t leave religious school classes with a bitter taste in their mouths.
Bengio adapts for different level discussions, so kids know that every thought, every opinion counts, making sure each child is engaged. In fact, students are so engaged that not only is weekly attendance excellent, parents sometimes have to wait on the kids because they want to finish an activity.
As Zell notes, these students are going because they want to—not just to satisfy requirements for bar/bat mitzvah. In fact, when Bengio proposed adding an extra day, which is logistically difficult for many parents, the students and parents voted to instead come an hour earlier on Sundays to allow time for all the activities they want to do.
Congregation Tiferet Israel welcomes new participants to the religious school at any time. Call 214-691-3611 for information.

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