Dallas Doings: Jewish engagement, honoring Joe Funk

Compiled by Sharon Wisch-Ray

Widening the tent: Rabbi Kerry Olitzky to explore Jewish engagement at Temple Emanu-El

Rabbi Kerry Olitzky has focused his much of his career on reaching out to intermarried households and helping the Jewish community better welcome them.
Olitzky will visit Temple Emanu-El Feb. 18-21 as the 2016 scholar-in-residence for the Rabbi David Lefkowitz Memorial Lectureship. From a special Thursday evening session geared to individuals and families navigating recovery to Shabbat services to a Sunday morning talk on how to nurture Jewish grandchildren, this rabbi known for encouraging inclusiveness will discuss topics that resonate with the congregation and community.
“This weekend represents the major themes facing the North American Jewish community in 2016,” Rabbi Olitzky said. “The issues of addiction and recovery are growing in awareness in the Jewish community and are important to discuss. The last session is about grandparents and they still represent the population bubble that’s often overlooked. Grandparenting is a very different model today than it was a generation ago with a large number of grandchildren being raised in interfaith families.”
He hopes that the weekend’s prayer, study and conversation will bring new energy to the idea of Jewish engagement. “The question of this generation is ‘Why be Jewish at all?’ I hope people come away from this weekend being able to answer that and knowing why to engage in the community,” he said. “It’s about how life can be improved through engagement of the Jewish community and its resources, whether someone is Jewish or not.”
As the executive director of the national organization Big Tent Judaism, Olitzky has done pioneering work in the area of Jewish 12-step spirituality. Big Tent Judaism is a national, independent, transdenominational organization reaching out to unaffiliated Jewish families with an emphasis on engaging intermarried households. Olitzky is also the author of many books and articles in a variety of fields with a particular focus on interfaith work and recovery.
“I think his four days of discussion will touch on topics that are sensitive and yet appeal to so many: spirituality of recovery, understanding why it is essential to be Jewish and promoting Judaism across multigenerations,” says Joan Becker, chair of the weekend. “We are so honored to have him share his wisdom and experience with us.”
For more information about the weekend, please contact Becky Slakman at 214-706-0000, ext. 125 or bslakman@tedallas.org.
— Submitted by Rachel Gross

TDSD will honor Joe Funk on March 6

Torah Day School of Dallas will reach the “age of mitzvot” next month, as it celebrates 13 years of educational excellence. Slated for Sunday, March 6, at the new venue Sixty Five Hundred (located at Mockingbird and Cedar Springs), the event promises to be both inspiring and exciting. The theme for the evening will be “Come, let’s do a mitzvah together.”
The importance of doing a mitzvah (a good deed), and the influence it has on our souls as well as the global Jewish community, is a well-known fact. Doing a mitzvah together, though, is all the more powerful and impactful. The efforts and camaraderie multiply.
At the gala, TDSD will honor Joe Funk with the Builder of Community Award. The inspirational academic excellence that is the TDSD hallmark has had its beautiful home on Frankford Road through the generosity of Joe Funk. In 2003, the TDSD building was a 38,000-square-foot supermarket, and underwent a $2 million transformation into a vibrant place of learning.
The project was led by Funk’s genuine heart and soul combined with his ambitious vision, through his company, Joe Funk Construction. Joe Funk’s characteristic blend of care (and concrete!) created a hub of academic scholarship, Jewish education and continuity ever since. The Builder of Community Award is fitting for Joe Funk. So much of the Dallas skyline — retailers, government and educational institutions and nonprofits — has been built by his company, now headed by his son Marshall.
Honorary chairs of the 13th Bar Mitzvah Year Gala are Mr. and Mrs. Marshall and Michelle Funk, Mr. and Mrs. Meyer and Dayle Bodoff, and Dr. and Mrs. David and Lisa Genecov.
As TDSD has matured and reached its bar mitzvah, the time has come to step up to achieve new milestones, so it has introduced its “+1 Challenge” to raise the “bar” on Gala attendance. The “+1 Challenge” asks supporters to bring one new guest, couple or single to the this year’s gala. Whether a family member, a co-worker, or a favorite Shabbat guest, their attendance will help make Torah Day School stronger. Take the “+1 Challenge”! You can either sponsor your guest or they can contribute by self-registering. This will be a non-soliciting event. Please register online at www.tdsd.org or call Rabbi Yisroel Katz at 972-964-0090 for more information.
Mark your calendars! Sunday, March 6 at Sixty Five Hundred!
— Submitted by Debra Koenig

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