Torah Fund time
The beginning of the year often marks when Conservative synagogues across the year announce and honor their Torah Fund recipients. The events raise funds for support of five seminaries that train rabbis, cantors and other Jewish professionals in the United States, South America and Europe. This year’s theme is Chesed, taking its name from Psalm 89’s hope that our work may build a world of kindness.
Dallas’ three Conservative shuls have named their honorees and announced their celebration dates. Anshai Torah will honor Paige Rothstein Jan. 25, Beth Torah will honor Lisa Miller Feb. 23 and Shearith Israel will honor Cantor Itzhak and Dr. Leora Zhrebker March 22.
Over the next several weeks, we will spotlight the accomplishments of the Torah Fund honorees.
Paige Rothstein, Anshai Torah
On Saturday, Jan. 25, Congregation Anshai Torah Sisterhood will host its annual Sisterhood Shabbat–Torah Fund program honoring Paige Rothstein.
Paige has taken on many roles in CAT Sisterhood as well as the Jewish community. Her accomplishments are like her — impactful and thoughtful. Under her tutelage, CAT Sisterhood thrived and grew in innumerable ways. Paige has also had significant impact in the Jewish community with her projects outside of Congregation Anshai Torah.
“Paige Rothstein demonstrates the very best qualities of a volunteer. She is smart and inquisitive, warm and welcoming,” said Rabbi Stefan Weinberg of Congregation Anshai Torah. “Paige wears a smile on her face, expressing to others a positive outlook at every juncture. Thanks to her guidance the Sisterhood of Anshai Torah is functioning with such resolve. Her leadership and wisdom have given the women of Sisterhood a sense of mission and purpose that touches so many in so many wonderful ways. Paige, thank you for dedicating so much time and energy. We are so much stronger as a shul because of your vision and willingness to ensure success.”
Paige, a native Texan, grew up in a small farming community in Havana, Illinois, with her father, Jim Bryan, and her younger brother, Chris. Spending summers in Michigan with both her maternal and paternal grandparents gave Paige some of her best childhood memories. Paige obtained her Bachelor of Arts in Business Administration from Monmouth College in Monmouth, Illinois, and her Master of Public Administration from Northern Illinois University. After graduation, she worked for the City of Mason, Ohio, doing economic development, attracting and retaining small and large businesses within the city.
Paige met her future husband, Neal Rothstein, in 2002 when she and her brother traveled with friends to St. Croix for spring break (Neal just happened to be good friends with Paige’s brother, Chris). They dated for three years before marrying in 2005. They lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, and made their way to Texas in November 2007, when they joined Congregation Anshai Torah.
In February 2009, Paige was hired as the community organizer for the Dallas Special Needs Initiative (now known as the Special Needs Partnership) that was incubated at the Center for Jewish Education and is now part of Jewish Family Services. She embraced her role and considered this to be the most rewarding job she ever held. Paige said, “I was given the opportunity to work with parents who don’t hear the word ‘No’ for their children. Parents of children with special needs fight for every step of their child’s personal growth — mentally, physically and religiously. Being able to convene resources for families who face daily challenges that I cannot fathom was a true honor.”
Also in 2009, Paige was asked to serve as programming chair for CAT Sisterhood. Since 2009, Paige has been on the Sisterhood board and has been integral to Sisterhood’s success. She served as Sisterhood president from 2016 to 2018 and, during her tenure, membership and volunteering flourished. During Paige’s presidency, Sisterhood played an integral role in Anshai Torah’s inaugural kashrut event “Mexi-Kosher with Chef Katsuji Tanabi” in 2018. And last spring, Paige was the local chair for the IntraContinental Regional Conference for Women’s League. In addition to her accomplishments for Sisterhood, Paige has served on the Dream Event Committee as well as the Rabbinic Search Committee which brought Rabbi Michael Kushnick to Anshai Torah.
Another program Paige helped implement was the Interfaith Grandparents Discovering Judaism program that began in January 2017. Jaynie Schultz, who was the “creative mind” behind this program, asked Paige to convene a focus group of non-Jewish grandparents to see if/what they could learn to help them find/feel a religious connection with their grandchildren who were being raised Jewish. Paige was the perfect choice for this program — as a convert to Judaism, Paige was keenly aware of how important it was for non-Jewish grandparents to understand Judaism in order to help them foster a deeper connection with their Jewish grandchildren.
Paige met with eight non-Jewish grandparents for two months to discuss their personal goals on ways they would like to become involved with their Jewish grandchildren’s religious life. Their invaluable insight led to the creation of a nine-month-long education program which teaches non-Jewish individuals about the foundation and fundamentals of Judaism. Over the past two years, Paige and Jaynie have empowered 20 grandparents through this educational program to find creative ways to play integral roles in their Jewish grandchildren’s religious lives.
Both Anshai Torah and the Jewish community are lucky to have someone like Paige who embodies the very essence of this year’s Torah Fund theme, which is chesed, meaning “kindness” in Hebrew. Chesed can also be translated as “loving kindness,” which conveys the deep love that punctuates Jewish acts of kindness, done without thought of reward. As is says in the Talmud, “The highest form of wisdom is kindness.”
When asked, “What does Torah Fund mean to you?” Paige poignantly stated, “Torah Fund is an avenue to ensure that Judaism will remain strong and is passed on from generation to generation. Many of the roles I have played in the Jewish community here in Dallas remind me of Torah Fund. Our time and financial commitment take what we have today and spread our knowledge to a new and broader population who is hungry to learn and give back. Torah Fund is the fuel to the fire of our future.”
Rabbi Michael Kushnick explained, “Paige is one of the most dedicated members of Anshai Torah. She is dedicated to our shul, Sisterhood and the broader community. Paige is not afraid to develop a new program and do whatever is necessary for it to succeed. Paige is an incredible example for others and we at Anshai Torah are incredibly lucky that she devotes so much of her time and energy to Anshai Torah. Mazal Tov on this award — you are incredibly deserving.”
Paige and her husband, Neal have two amazing children, Maya, 11 and Gabe, 9; both children attend Levine Academy. They also have Harry Rex, their family pup, who is a spry 13 years old. Paige also works in the Rothstein family business. The Rothstein family stays very busy with Maya and Gabe’s sporting events, volunteer commitments and summer vacations. Paige currently serves on CAT’s board of directors as well as being past president of Sisterhood.
Lisa Gerstenfeld, Sisterhood president, added: “This year, the Torah Fund theme is chesed, acts of loving kindness. Paige is a shining example of someone who leads her life through acts of chesed. She pours her heart into doing for others, whether its for Anshai Torah, the community at large, her friends or her family. I can’t think of a better person to honor as we celebrate the value of chesed and Torah Fund.”
To learn more about Torah Fund and/or to make a donation, please contact Torah Fund Co-chairs Sharon Ginchansky and Bonnie Rubenstein at Sisterhood@anshaitorah.org. You may also wish to visit the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism website at http://wlcj.org/about/torah-fund/.
—Contributed by Cynthia Brooks
Art collaborative focuses on peace and unity
Texas Jewish Arts Association and Texas Sculpture Association have joinded forces to present a mixed media show entitled: “Resolution: Peace and Unity — Valuing Our Differences; Strengthening Our Understanding and Acceptance of Others.” The show will run at The Eisemann Center in Richardson through Jan. 26. The Show Reception is from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19.
“The idea for this show came after the horrific Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. It was felt that, as artists, we needed to speak out on peace and unity through our art,” said Veronique Jonas. “As Jews, we are tasked with tikkun olam, or ‘repairing the world.’ As artists, we can speak out, and promote thoughtfulness, through our individual mediums and styles.”
Artists were challenged to consider what represents peace, what represents inclusiveness, what ills or wrongs do we see in the world that need attention and repair? They were given the opportunity to use their art — in their own various mediums and styles — to speak of something that is so important today.
The show was juried by Celia Eberly, who had the task of selecting and curating the show from 61 pieces submitted by 35 artists.
At the Jan. 19 reception, Rabbi Elana Zelony of Congregation Beth Torah will speak on the show theme.
The reception will also include performances by TJAA Music and Dance Division Chairs Sarah Price and Suki John.
The program will feature two musical works by members of the Israeli Composers League: “Hassidic Duets” for violin and viola by Dr. Max Stern and “Winters and Afterthought” for string trio and piano by Israeli composer Ayala Asherov.
Dancers Ally Elliot, Terrance Carson, Rose Kotopka, Allie Zenobia Shives and Suki John will perform to to the music “Winters” as well an improvisation.
Exhibiting artists at the show are: Lynn Baskind, Marvin Beleck, Henry Biber, Patty Bruce, Carol Chanson, Diana Chase, Linda Chidsey, Gary Eisenstat, Jan Ayers Friedman, Art Garcia, Ronna Gilbert, Donna Harris, Della Isaacson, Veronique Jonas, Joy Kees, Debbie Landa, Goran Maric, Nan Martin, Rose Marie Mercado, Barbara Nehman, Stephen Perkins, Nan Phillips, Esther Ritz, Marco Rubino, Breanne Schwarz, Ginger Shanholt, Abby Smith, Stan Smith, Jim Stalder, Allison Streett, Janna Tidwell, Bernardo Vallarino, Marcia Wallenstein, Robertus van der Wege and Stephen Weinberg.
January is Upstander Month at the DHHRM
Throughout January, events at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum will honor people who embody what it means to be an Upstander, highlighting the times in history featured in the permanent exhibition.
The latest installment in the permanent exhibition highlight series is “Exceptional Courage: Righteous Gentiles during the Holocaust.” At the event, which begins at 7 p.m. Jan. 16, a small number of people who stood up and rescued Jews from persecution during the Holocaust will share their stories. These extraordinary people were eventually recognized as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem (see related story on pages 11-12 of this week’s TJP).
Upstander Month will also focus on Holocaust Upstanders during a family activity at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 18. Families will be able to learn about Upstanders through free activities geared to families with young and school-aged children.
Lastly, the museum’s film screening, at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 19, “Sustainable Nation,” follows three individuals who are doing their part to bring sustainable water solutions to an increasingly thirsty planet. This film also features the story of Sivan Ya’ari, the Funk Family Upstander Speaker in February.