Dallas Kosher: connecting to the community
 By Deb Silverthorn
Vaad Hakashrus of Dallas, Dallas’ Kosher (DK), might have a 50- year history in Dallas, but even after half a century, the organization continues to rejuvenate its spirit, building, growing and reaching out to the community with support, programming, education and more.
“The kosher world has grown significantly beyond matzah balls and borscht, in everything from availability to taste and presentation. We are here to give that all to our community,” said Cindy “Meira” Naor, DK’s executive director. “There are too many ‘best kept secrets’ and we want to shout out every update, every bit of news, and to bring those for whom kosher is ‘out,’ in!”
DK is well-known, leading kosher supervision at Congregation Beth Torah’s Kosher BBQ Competition, Congregation Tiferet Israel’s Dallas Kosher Chili Cookoff, Jewish Family Service’s Meals on Wheels, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and Aaron Family JCC’s Israel Independence Day Celebration, the JCC’s Maccabi Games and Senior Lunch Program, and others.
And, already in evidence with kosher community days at the Texas Rangers and Frisco Rough Rid- ersbaseballgames,DKisspreading its influence to hockey, specifically, the Dallas Stars hockey club. At 3 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 11, DK and Young Jewish Adults of Plano will offer the first Kosher Game Day at the Stars game. Tickets include ad- mission and a choice of Fino’s fin- est cheese pizza or quesadilla, with cheese fries, or a Greek feta wrap. Also included with the ticket is a bag of chips and a cookie.
The mission of DK — to pro- mote the observance of kashrut through supervision, education and service — continues in homes and community entities and facili- ties. It is the oldest kosher super- vising agency in the Southwest, and a member of the Association for Kashrus Organizations. Its trademarked DK symbol, and all that is behind it, is recognized and approved by certifying agencies around the world.
“The kosher market is a $24 billion market — it’s not a niche space anymore — from events and education for those who observe religiously, to those eating healthier, and other categories,” Naor said.
Naor works with Kashrus Administrator Rabbi Sholey Klein,
Photo: Rabbi David Shawel Dallas Kosher’s Director of Supervision Rabbi David Shawel, with Shoshana Fine, exploring many kosher sweets and treats.
Director of Supervision Rabbi David Shawel, and Mary Stevenson, office manager. “DK is really the perfect fit for me, and I’m so ex- cited to continue its incredible history. I’m truly in awe of where DK is today, and excited to promote and grow the organization too,” she said.
A West Texas native, Naor has lived in Israel, and has now made Dallas her home. She has been married to Itzak for 32 years, and is the mother of Mya (Shmuel), Sivan (Aaron), and Roz; and grandmother of Aryeh, Nechama, Shifra, Talia, Tova, Yehuda and Yisroel Meir.
Working closely with Naor is Jeri Finkelstein, DK’s former ex- ecutive director, and now its first woman president. Together with husband Bill, Finkelstein has been behind the organization’s growth for years.
“Anything to promote kashrus is on our timeline, and we’re thrilled to have Meira working with us,” Finkelstein said, noting that more than 700 families are on the DK membership rolls. “I’m glad to take my professional experience, now working with the board, to help our community bring their needs to us — and us working to fulfill them, rather than our presuming what everyone needs.”
To that end, DK formed its Community Advisory Committee (CAC), consisting of representatives from synagogues, organizations and schools of all affiliations. The committee’s goal is to establish relationships with Jewish organizations in the DFW area, and for all to benefit from informal dialogue about DK’s benefits and relevance. The group will also help DK understand what it can bring forth as an active partner in Jewish life in Dallas.
“The Community Advisory Committee is a chance to involve the community to come in, to meet with them as a group and to hear their voices and to truly be a part of each other’s best efforts,” said CAC Chair Andi Bonner. “With the early momentum, we invite each organization, school, synagogue and Jewish entity to join us to maximize all that DK can provide.”
Part of DK’s outreach was its response to Hurricane Harvey victims with A Taste of the World, Simcha Kosher Catering and Texas Kosher BBQ. The outreach provided close to 40,000 kosher meals over a four-week period, supported by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and many others. Houstonians were served warm, delicious and healthy food.
“Kosher means inclusivity — in crisis and in joy, at simchas, office meetings, learning sessions, and your own family dinner tables,” Naor said. “It means coming together, and that’s what we do.”
A tax-deductible DK membership begins at $36, and includes newsletters and promotions, as well as a 10 percent discount to most local organization-connected eateries. For more information, call 214-739-6535 or visit www.dallaskosher.org.
For tickets to Kosher Game Day at the Stars Feb. 11, visit bit. ly/2Ghb6uM.
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