Dallas Doings: Hillel, Eli Block, Pam Rollins, Stephanie Blumenthal

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Hillels of North Texas welcomes UNT Hillel staff

Hillel at the University of North Texas expects to grow substantially this year as Hillels of North Texas invests more resources into its programs, student engagement and staff. This summer, with a grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Hillels of North Texas hired Jen Weintraub to serve as full-time engagement associate for Hillel at UNT.
Weintraub is originally from Los Angeles and is the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor. She has been a strong advocate for Jewish campus life since her time at Manhattanville College in Westchester, New York, where she started Hillel on her campus as part of Hillels of Westchester. After graduation, she worked with many Hillels through StandWithUs, teaching her peers about Israel.
She is thrilled to join Hillels of North Texas and the Dallas Jewish community. “I am so excited to be bringing my background of Israel education and engagement to UNT Hillel,” she said. “I am looking forward to an amazing year.”
Having a full-time engagement staff devoted to the UNT campus is an important step in Hillels of North Texas’ growth.
“Because UNT Hillel is a community without a physical building, our focus is on engaging students and building relationships wherever that may be to support them through this transformational time and create their own Jewish paths,” Executive Director Melissa Duchin said. “Hiring incredible staff to work with students and student leaders is a key component to our success.”
Also this summer, Hillels of North Texas installed UNT alumnus Stephen Falk as its board chair. Falk met his wife, Michelle, at UNT Hillel when they were both undergraduates, and now they live in Far North Dallas with their three young children.
“I’m honored to lead this organization that has given me so much,” Falk said. “With Jen joining the staff, Hillel will have an even greater impact on students in the Mean Green Family.”

— Submitted by
Melissa Duchin

Meet the author: Plano native releases book on mysticism

Rabbi Eli Block of Chabad at Legacy West, a Plano native and son of Rabbi Menachem and Rivkie Block, has just written his third book, An Inner Perspective.
He will present the book at a meet the author event at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29, at Chabad of Plano. No RSVP is necessary.
Released by Kehot Publications, the publishing arm of Chabad, the book is a collection of essays adapted from the mystical writings of R. Levi Yitzchak Schneerson (1878-1944), father of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of blessed memory.
R. Levi Yitzchak was the rabbi in the Ukrainian city of Yekaterinoslav (now known as Dnipro), a major industrial center on the banks of the Dnieper River. For his refusal to halt his religious activism under communism, he was exiled for five years to a remote town in Kazakhstan, where he contracted an illness and died at age 66.
He was known as a master kabbalist, and he wrote continuously throughout his exile. At times, he resorted to writing on the margins of books with ink prepared by his wife, Chana, from local plants, due to lack of paper. Most of his work was lost in the chaos of World War II, but some material was salvaged and brought to New York, where it was published in the original Hebrew by Kehot.
An Inner Perspective is the first English adaption of these dense texts. The book is available for purchase at Kehot.com, and will be available at the event.

— Submitted by
Rabbi Menachem Block

Pam Rollins named Mussar Institute president

Pam Rollins, professor at the University of Texas at Dallas, has been elected president of The Mussar Institute (TMI) board. A researcher and educator, Rollins has spent the past 35 years dedicated to understanding, identifying and treating children on the Autism Spectrum.
She has practiced Mussar since 2009 and facilitated TMI courses at Temple Emanu-El.
“We are honored that Dr. Rollins has taken on this important role,” said Steven Kraus, executive director of The Mussar Institute. “She is an extraordinary leader who brings expertise in both education and Mussar at a time when our organization and worldwide reach is growing. As demand for our facilitator training, in particular, is increasing, we deeply value her guidance.”
Rollins’ history with Mussar began in 2008 when she was given Everyday Holiness, Alan Morinis’ book on the Jewish spiritual path of Mussar. “When I read it, I was immediately excited about the idea of living Mussar in an authentic way,” she said. “To do that, I needed to create a spiritual community at my synagogue, and by coincidence, Alan was coming to speak to our congregation for Selichot.”
To start a study group after Morinis’ visit, Pam turned to The Mussar Institute for facilitator training and a curriculum. She lauds TMI resources with supporting her in leading a high-quality group with “people who would become my family over the next eight years. It changed my life.”
Rollins joined the TMI board four years ago and focused on resources and education for TMI facilitators. Among her goals as president are to expand and deepen the reach of The Mussar Institute across all affiliations.
“One of the beautiful and rare aspects of The Mussar Institute is that you are able to attend events where you study with people from all affiliations,” she said. “Our annual Kallah is a wonderful example of this.
“Looking back, as a little girl growing up in an Orthodox school in Providence, Rhode Island, I sat behind a mechitza. I remember being jealous of the boys. I truly felt, as a little girl, that I wanted to be up in the front. I find it really humbling to be a part of leading Jewish people on this amazing path.”
Rollins is a four-time gubernatorial appointee to the Texas Council on Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorders and was the lead author for the Robots4Autism social skills curriculum. She conducts research in developmental pragmatics, early social communication and autism spectrum disorder. Rollins earned her bachelor’s degree from Boston University, her master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, and her Ed.D. from Harvard University.

— Submitted by
Debra Pinger

Stephanie Blumenthal awarded scholarship to leadership conference

Stephanie Blumenthal was one of 23, 2018 Rising Through the Ranks scholarship recipients nationwide awarded by the Radio Advertising Bureau. The scholarship allowed Blumenthal to attend the BMI seminar at its Nashville office. The course focused on management and sales techniques, including problem solving, recruiting, difficult conversations, hiring and firing, personal brand building and the role of today’s radio manager. Stephanie, a senior account executive at Entercom, was the only one chosen from Dallas.
On the move: Bnai Zion Foundation to host dedication at new Dallas office
Bnai Zion Foundation’s Texas Region has moved its offices to the eighth floor of the North Dallas Bank Tower, 12900 Preston Road at LBJ Freeway. In celebration of this new space, the Texas Region board of directors invites the community to a Chanukat Habayit (dedication) from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 29.
To officially dedicate the new space, the board will affix a mezuzah to the front door of Suite 808, accompanied by a short blessing. Immediately afterward, attendees will celebrate in the building’s second-floor conference room with light refreshments.
RSVP by emailing texasregion@bnaizion.org or visiting bnaizion.org/event/dedication.

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