Dallas Doings: Shearith, DATA, DJHS
Photo: Courtesy Shearith Israel
Shearith Israel Board members, front row, from left, Yana Charney and Marsha Lev; back row, Josh Katz, Frances Jameson, Melanie Morris, Andrea Solka, Dr. Irving Prengler, Dr. Mark Fleschler, David Alexander and Reuben Davidsohn

Shearith Israel installs new officers at annual meeting

Congregation Shearith Israel held their 136th annual meeting Tuesday, June 1. Shirley Davidoff, who served as congregation president over the last two years, reminisced about the unique circumstances of her presidency, telling the gathered crowd, “Like Louis Kleinman, the Shearith president in 1918, I served during a global pandemic. Unlike my predecessor, I was fortunate enough to have Zoom and Facebook Live to engage congregants.” Shirley also told attendees — about 80 in person and 50 on Zoom — that although the congregation faced many challenges, Shearith was able to thrive through innovation, determination and outreach, and stay together and become stronger. In his remarks discharging Davidoff from office, Rabbi Ari Sunshine offered a Talmudic teaching from tractate Ta’anit 11a: “Whoever shares a congregation’s grief, will merit to see its comfort and relief,” noting to Shirley that her contributions to building a community with a reservoir of loyalty, good memories and warm, positive associations have well earned her the right to see the shul’s comfort and relief as it slowly and gratefully emerges from the shadow of COVID-19.

Dr. Irving Prengler, the newly installed president, was joined at the podium by childhood friend and incoming Executive Vice President Dr. Mark Fleschler. Reuben Davidsohn, incoming vice president, presented the synagogue’s financial report, and the assembled were treated to an uplifting video montage of Shearith’s 2020-2021 year in review.

Also installed as new board trustees were David Alexander, Yana Charney, Sherry Goldberg, Marsha Lev, Lupe Topletz, Megan Hyman, Frances Jameson, Josh Katz, Rachel Rudberg, Jared Sandler, Melanie Morris (recording secretary), Andrea Solka (corresponding secretary) and Leonard Epstein (gabbai rishon). Shearith Israel thanks all its volunteers for their dedicated service, past, present and future, and looks forward to an exciting 2021-2022 year ahead for the shul.

—Submitted by
Julie Carpenter

DATA dean and TJP
columnist receives award

Mazal Tov to Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried, dean/rosh hakollel of Dallas Area Torah Association and TJP columnist, who received the prestigious Rebbetzin Ella and Rabbi Aaron Soloveitchik Ben Zakkai Award of the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) on Wednesday.

This most prestigious award is in recognition of Rabbi Fried for pioneering and overseeing a rabbinical ordination (semicha) program for NCSY directors throughout North and South America and Israel.

The Ben Zakkai Society is known as NCSY’s “Hall of Fame.” and was selected by thousands of international delegates to confer this award upon Rabbi Fried.

In addition to Rabbi Fried, the 25th Annual Ben Zakkai Honor Society Scholarship Reception honored Isabelle Novak and Rabbi Daniel and Leah Feldman.

Photo: Courtesy
From left, Stuart Rosenfield, Fonda Arbetter, Jeanette Pincus and Susan Schackman display the “VIVA SHALOM!” kosher treat box given to all sponsors.

DJHS honors Latin American Jews

On May 27, the Dallas Jewish Historical Society (DJHS) honored the Dallas Latin American Jewish community at the Society’s One Story at a Time, “VIVA SHALOM!” program. This virtual program was headlined by Dr. Deby Roitman, a strategic adviser at the Universidad Hebraica, Mexico, and an adviser at the Museo Interactivo Judio de Chile. Roitman shared the history of when Jews left Europe, how and where they migrated to Latin American countries and how they eventually made their way to the United States and especially Dallas.

In addition to Roitman, “VIVA SHALOM!” included video oral history excerpts from local Latin American Jews. These recorded histories shed light on how they ended up in Dallas, while also sharing some harrowing details about how they or their parents or grandparents barely made it out of Eastern Europe before World War II and about others who were forced to uproot because of the Castro regime coming to power in Cuba. 

Throughout the program, Eli Davidsohn entertained the audience with his unique musical style, playing Jewish/Latin songs that reminded him of his early years in Bolivia and Peru. 

Following the event, the Dallas Jewish Historical Society will be creating a cookbook that includes Latin American recipes submitted by members of the Dallas Latin American Jewish community. If you would like to submit your recipe(s), please send them in PDF format to admin@djhs.org by June 30.

“VIVA SHALOM!” was chaired by Fonda Arbetter, Jeanette Pincus and Susan Schackman, who, together with their committee, delivered a very festive treat box to the generous DJHS sponsors, filled with many kosher Latin-themed snacks and drinks. The committee included Ellen Ungerman, Jo Reingold, Gail Weisblatt, Debbie Shulkin and Ximena Moiger. Lisa and Neal Goldberg were lead sponsors. 

Due to the generosity of very talented local artists, George Tobolowsky, the family of Morton Rachofsky z”l, Jeff Rasansky, Gary Eisenstat, Jeff Rosenfeld and Fanny Hartman, DJHS offered  beautiful, one-of-a-kind sculptures, blown glass vases and glass fusion pieces for its fundraising raffle.

Kudos to Stuart Rosenfield, board president; Debra Polsky, executive director; Jenny Claeys, office administrator; Jessica Schneider, archivist and volunteer coordinator; Reuben Davidsohn, board member, for their tireless hours making this program a success. 

The mission of the Dallas Jewish Historical Society is to preserve and protect collections of written, visual and audible materials received from the Dallas Jewish community. The DJHS archive, located in the Dallas JCC, holds more than 15,000 items dating back over 150 years.

Next spring, the Dallas Jewish Historical Society will mark its 50th anniversary. For further information on DJHS, please call the office at 214-239-7108 or visit www.DJHS.org.

—Submitted by
Fonda Arbetter

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