Dallas Doings: November 4th, 2021

Cheniae joins Anshai as executive director

Photo: Deb Silverthorn
Congregation Anshai Torah is guided by (left to right) Rabbi Michael Kushnick, Executive Director Chris Cheniae and Rabbi Stefan Weinberg.

Congregation Anshai Torah will welcome Chris Cheniae as its new executive director, at an Oneg Shabbat planned for 5:45 p.m. Friday, Nov. 12, at the synagogue and online. Kabbalat Shabbat services following.

“We dedicated a considerable amount of time to find the right person.  Chris has a unique blend of talents that fits Anshai Torah so very well,” Congregation Anshai Torah’s Rabbi Stefan Weinberg said.  “Following in the footsteps of Harvey Swento, who retired this year after 15 years of dedicated leadership, Chris too knows that shul business is all about relationships.  His combination of a strong business background, and outstanding people skills, present Chris as an outstanding addition to our professional staff.”

Rabbi Michael Kushnick added,  “Chris has a great wealth of experience and an incredible skill set that will continue to lead us to great heights. He has a wonderful personality and is already making his mark.”

Cheniae is the congregation’s third executive director in its 22-year history.    

“We worked hard as a committee to find who would next direct our clergy, staff, board and our congregation.  This has been a lengthy process, and we waited to find the right person and in Chris, we feel secure and safe that we have done just that,” said Barrett Stern, CAT past-president and chair of the search committee.  “His background, professionally and in the nonprofit space, is strong and respected.”

Cheniae was born and raised in Maryland. He is the son of Janet, of blessed memory, and Richard, and the older brother of Cyndi, Cathy, Lauren and Matt. He is the husband of Karen and father of Joseph.  A graduate of Lenoir-Rhyne University, Chris majored in international business and worked in the women’s accessories field spending almost 30 years with The Remac Group of J. Reneé, Kay Unger and Phoebe Brands, then another four with Circus by Sam Edelman Brand, much of that commuting from Dallas to New York.

When the pandemic hit,Cheniae who had spent more than a decade serving on the board of Dallas’ Temple Emanu-El including the last two years as president, decided it was time for a professional shift.  When the position at Anshai Torah presented itself, it was b’shert.

“My son went to Levine Academy and as a family we’ve spent many Shabbat mornings at Anshai celebrating the simchas of his classmates. I’ve always felt it to be a vibrant place, clearly a community within itself, and a warm and inviting congregation,” said Cheniae.  “When the executive director posting was sent to me, and I realized it was at Anshai, I simply smiled and knew it would be a match.”

“The chance to work here,” he said, “with rabbis who are so giving and caring and sharing, and a team that has built a really beautiful synagogue, was just what I was looking for although I didn’t know it.”

Cheniae, who began his new post Sept. 27, has been meeting with past presidents, with congregants and staff says his reception has been kind and generous.

“We’ve now spent just a few weeks with Chris on board, we’ve shared several meetings, and he’s already hit the ground running.  He’s organized and enthusiastic,” said CAT President Dan Cohn.  “He is clearly ready for the demands of the position. His passion for synagogue life and his community connections will serve us well.”

—Submitted by
Deb Silverthorn

Beth Torah holding Founders Day celebration

To mark Congregation Beth Torah’s 47th anniversary, the synagogue is holding a special Founders Day Shabbat celebration Friday, Nov. 5.

The Friday evening service will include presentations by Harriet Gross, Patti Fields and Zelene Lovitt about Beth Torah’s history and tradition, followed by a dessert reception and a quiz game about the synagogue. Exhibits from the Beth Torah archive will also be on display.

Beth Torah was founded by six families in 1974 and held its first service on the first Friday of November that year. That prompted the idea of inaugurating a Founders Day observance, which will become an annual event, said President Lynda Markowitz.

“We want to pay tribute to the people that established our synagogue and keep their stories alive,” she said. “As we grow and evolve, their faith, their values and their devotion are still very much a part of who we are.”

The Founders Day celebration begins at 7:30 p.m. and the public is welcome. For more information, call Beth Torah at 972-234-1542.

— Submitted by
Michael Precker

Area seniors receive honors

National Merit Scholarship Corporation recently announced its semi-finalists and commended scholars. Among the semi-finalists are Eleanor Lockhart, Josh Rubel and Benjamin Schussler. Samuel Mandell was named a commended scholar.  In September, Grant Katz was elected J.J. Pearce Homecoming King. Here’s a closer look at the honorees:

  • Eleanor Lockhart is a senior at The Hockaday School. She is the daughter of Michelle and Bill Lockhart.
  • Josh Rubel is a senior at Greenhill School. He is the captain of the 2021 Texas State championship Quiz Bowl Team for Greenhill, which also took fifth at Nationals and is passionate about tennis where he plays at Brookhaven Tennis Academy as well as his school team where he was voted MVP for the 2021 season. He is the son of Melissa and Matthew Rubel of Dallas and the brother of Michael and Jeffrey. Josh and his family attend Congregation Shearith Israel.
  • Benjamin Schussler is a senior at Akiba Yavneh Academy. He is the son of Helene and Dr. Jeff Schussler and the brother of Paul and Sarah. Ben enjoys being a member of AYA’s engineering, math, cross-country and mock trial teams as well as participating in chess club. He is an avid volunteer of Frienship Circle, a member of BBYO and plays piano. He is considering majoring in mathematics and computer science in college. Ben and his family attend Congregation Shearith Israel.  
  • Samuel Mandell is a senior at J.J. Pearce High School in Richardson. He is the son of Dr. Susan Cohen Mandell and the brother of Nathan. Samuel plays varsity tennis, drums in the Pearce band and is an SOS Lifeguard (senior mentor to freshmen). A member of Troop 1077, he is a Life Scout and hopes to complete his Eagle Scout project in the spring. Samuel plans to study engineering in college. Samuel and his family attend Temple Shalom.
  • Grant Katz was elected when J.J. Pearce Homecoming King He is the son of Shannon and Gary Katz and the brother of Sean and Layla. Grant is a member of National Honor Society and plays tuba in the Pearce band.

Grandtime at Shalom

Temple Shalom will begin its five-class series, Grandtime at Shalom, with its first installment from noon to 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 21 at Temple Shalom, 6930 Alpha Road. The classes are designed to give grandparents the tools to teach their grandchildren about the joy and wonder of Jewish life. Folks can attend one class or all five and are encouraged to bring their grandchildren and invite their fellow grandparents. The Nov. 21 event will focus on the miracle of Hanukkah. Participants will create their own hanukyiot, learn about the holiday through stories and receive a Hanukkah goodie bag. There will be a pizza picnic and a special program with grandchildren. RSVPs are required by 3 p.m. Nov. 17 at https://templeshalomdallas.org/grand-time-at-shalom/.

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