By Deb Silverthorn
Dallas Jewish Historical Society will host its 50th annual meeting, and its Jim Schwartz Annual Lecture Series June 23. Mark Elfenbein (KCTK-AM/The Ticket) will interview Dallas natives Becca Genecov, Laken Litman and Dani Sureck, who all scored success in the world of sports.
“History is told by the victors. If we don’t tell our stories, no one will. So much of our history has been lost to tragedy and we must hold on to whatever we can, especially our role in the history of Greater Dallas,” said Debra Polsky, Dallas Jewish Historical Society executive director. DJHS has more than 15,000 items in its archives, some of them dating back to the 1850s.
“With 16 new board members, bringing much-needed growth, and looking to expand our physical space, nights like this share the best of our community and our in-the-moment history-makers,” Polksy added.
Mark Elfenbein is Houston born and Dallas raised. A graduate of Hillcrest High School, and a BBYO Henry Monsky chapter alum, Elfenbein graduated from the University of Texas at Austin. He is the son of Judy and the late Marty Elfenbein and brother of Scott (Ronna) and Faith Hollister. Raised at Tiferet Israel, he now attends Temple Shalom. Elfenbein is the father of Landon (Alexandra) and Tanner and the grandfather of Sydney.
“It’s always great to see professionals coming up in the ranks and these young women are crushing it,” said Elfenbein, who has been on-air in Dallas for more than 30 years.” Their dads and I were teens and college buddies and I watched these ‘kids’ grow up. I couldn’t be prouder, and I’m thrilled to get to talk to them.”
The first interviewee is Becca Genecov. Genecov, social media manager for the Dallas Mavericks, is the daughter of Dr. Jeff and Lisa Genecov and sister of Adam (Breanna). She is a graduate of The Episcopal School of Dallas and the University of Texas at Austin. Genecov was raised at Congregation Shearith Israel and Temple Emanu-El. Genecov was also a member of the BBYO chapter Fannie Sablosky and Alpha Epsilon Phi at UT.
“I love telling the stories of the players and the team, building relationships with a really cool group of people,” said Genecov, who previously worked with the New York Mets and Knicks. “I was a dancer and cheerleader and I’ve always been interested in sports. I’m honored now to work for my hometown team.”
Laken Litman Prosperi is married to Alex Prosperi and is the daughter of Andra and Craig, and sister of Taylor (Eli) Brook. A club soccer athlete since she was a child, Litman Prosperi is also an alumna of The Episcopal School of Dallas and University of Texas at Austin where she was in Alpha Epsilon Phi.
Now a writer for FOX Sports, Litman Prosperi has been a USA Today reporter, covered Notre Dame for The Indianapolis Star and been a staff writer for Sports Illustrated.
In April 2022, Litman Prosperi published her first book, “Strong Like a Woman: 100 Game-changing Female Athletes.” She notes that the DJHS event is timed “just right,” as it is being held on the 50th anniversary of the passing of Title IX, which protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.
“I loved writing and I loved sports. Inspired by my English teacher, Greg Randall, I combined them and I love what I do every day,” said Litman, who will participate in the meeting virtually while covering the U.S. Women’s National Soccer team in Denver.” From my start at the Daily Texan, until now, I feel like I’ve covered every sport and I just love it.It’s an honor to speak at this program and to do so with these other successful and incredible women.”
Dani Sureck was named team reporter and producer of the Arizona Cardinals in September. She is the daughter of Alisa and Brian; sister of Lindsay (Scott) Chiu and Jessie; and aunt to Elliot Chiu. She grew up at Temple Emanu-El.
“I have always loved playing and watching sports. It’s fun, unpredictable and this is unlike any other career. The passion of the athletes, the fans — really everyone involved, is something I love sharing” said Sureck, who danced and played basketball and club soccer as a child and continues to play soccer in adult leagues.
Sureck is an alumna of BBYO’s Fannie Sablosky chapter and former sweetheart for the Eamonn Lacey chapter. She graduated from Plano Senior High School and the University of Missouri, where she was a member of Tri Delta sorority.
“My job changes from day to day and I get a front row seat to it all,” said Sureck, who has worked for the Dallas Cowboys and FOX Sports Southwest. She credits Jessica Armstrong, Julie Dobbs and Jill Montgomery among her mentors.” I love watching the hard work pay off.”
Sharing the DJHS dais is appropriate for the ladies whose fathers grew up in the Dallas Jewish community. The Epstein, Genecov and Litman families were neighbors on San Gabriel in North Dallas and Sylvia Epstein, Sally Genecov and Bud and Rena Silverberg (Litman’s maternal grandparents) are all now residents of The Legacy Midtown Park. Sylvia Epstein’s granddaughter, Jori Epstein, covers the Dallas Cowboys and NFL for USA Today, but was unable to participate in the June 23 panel.
“These young ladies are all to be looked up to. The Historical Society is the place to bring them together,” said Mitch Meyers, event chair and DJHS board member.
Meyers has recorded many oral histories for DJHS’ archives. “The stories of our community, of the past – and those happening now, are extraordinary,” he says.
DJHS is recruiting volunteers to build the Morton Rachofsky Oral History Archive, currently with 750-plus recorded interviews. One of the oldest interviews is that of Minnie Marcus, the mother of Stanley, both of blessed memory.
The Oral History Archive is supported by a donation from the Sam Feldman family, who also provided sculptures and inventions created by Rachofsky. The collection, can be found on the DJHS website. New interviews can be conducted in person or virtually. The DJHS provides interviewer training for all those interested in aiding the organization in documenting the history of the Jewish people in North Texas.
“This is a wonderful opportunity and I enjoy doing the interviews – our community is filled with remarkable people,” said Jo Reingold, one of many volunteers who conducts interviews. She’s interviewed more than 50 community members over five years.” I’ve met Holocaust survivors, Jewish war veterans, business and civic leaders — everyone has a history to share. I’ve learned so much, about people I’ve just met and even about people I’ve known for years,” Reingold added.
The Jim Schwartz Annual Lecture Series is supported by an anonymous donor. It remembers Schwartz, of blessed memory, who respected the mission of the DJHS. His wife Suzy says he’d enjoy the June 23 session.
“It was important to Jim that we not lose the stories of those who made the history that is our city — everyone here has something to contribute.
He always championed success, especially for women, and these ladies would have him charged. He’d be delighted to see the growth and history the next generations are making,” said Suzy Schwartz.
To register for the June 23 event, in person or to receive a virtual link, visit bit.ly/WomenTalkingSportsDJHS2022.For more information about DJHS, to make a donation or to volunteer or be interviewed with the Rachofsky Oral History Archive program, visit djhs.org or call 214-239-7120.