By Deb Silverthorn
Dallas Jewish Historical Society (DJHS) will make history on Thursday, June 15, with “Talking DFW Sports: A Jewish Sports Panel.” The event will begin with a reception at 6:30 p.m. followed by the annual meeting and sports panel starting at 7 at The Legacy Midtown Park. Open to the public, the program will feature Chuck Cooperstein, Mark Elfenbein, Brad Sham and Robert Steinfeld.
“Our Dallas Jewish community is rich in history, tradition and beauty and the Dallas Jewish Historical Society captures it all. Who we were, who we are and what we will be comes together in our archives, in our recorded oral histories and in the experiences of us all,” said Jeanette Pincus, DJHS president.
In the last year, DJHS has explored planning from generation to generation by ensuring sacred values and stories are passed down; investigated Jewish self-erasure in Dallas; highlighted the cultural phenomenon of home DNA testing; and paid tribute to Jim Schwartz, of blessed memory.
DJHS co-sponsored events with Jewish War Veterans Dr. Harvey J. Bloom Post #256 and the Jewish War Veteran Auxiliary for women, as well as with the Aaron Family JCC’s Margot Rosenberg Pulitzer Dallas Jewish BookFest and its Jewish Film Festival. There was the Judaica Roadshow at Congregation Beth Torah and a mosaic workshop at the Biblical Arts Center. The Dallas Jewish Community Foundation named Jo Reingold, DJHS executive board member and longtime volunteer, an “Unsung Hero.”
Interviewed days before she passed away May 9, the late Debra Polsky, who served DJHS as its executive director for a decade, was proud, excited and looking forward to so much.
“A Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas grant allows us a part-time archive assistant. We’re busier, and providing more, than ever,” Polsky said.
The Morton Rachofsky Oral History Archive, with more than 750 entries, continues adding histories of community members including residents of The Legacy Senior Communities and JFGD presidents relating to their terms in office. Jewish Dallas bus tours resumed and the Aaron Family JCC (Jewish Community Center), home to DJHS, posted exterior signage and expanded its lobby exhibit space.
“We’re always teaching about Jewish Dallas in many ways. We hope people bring us their personal stories and collections for the archives and support us in time, donations and whatever manner to continue our very important work,” Polsky said.
That important work includes introducing Jewish community members to one another. Mitch Meyers, a DJHS board member, organized the panel of illustrious sports professionals with careers in front of the camera, behind the mic or in the production booths for the June 15 event.
“I’ve known these guys and been a friend, and fan, for most of my life. Bringing them together in one room? We’re in for a great evening,” Meyers said.
The panel has an illustrious resume. “We’ve got the ‘voice of the Cowboys,’ the ‘voice of the Mavs,’ an incredible producer. And Mark, another amazing talent on the air and a mensch always wanting to give back,” Meyers added.
At DJHS’ 2022 annual meeting, Mark Elfenbein interviewed Becca Genecov (Dallas Mavericks social media manager), Laken Litman (FOX sportswriter) and Dani Sureck (Arizona Cardinals reporter/producer). This year, the Houston-born, Dallas-raised broadcaster will moderate the panel.
Elfenbein is the son of Judy and the late Marty and brother of Scott (Ronna) and Faith Hollister; he is a Hillcrest High School and BBYO Henry Monsky alumnus. The University of Texas at Austin graduate, raised at Tiferet Israel Congregation, now attends both Chabad of Plano and Congregation Nishmat Am. Elfenbein, who visited Israel for the first time this spring, says each one of the 12 days of the tour was more amazing than the one before.
“Coop, Brad and Bobby are more than friends; they’re family. They’re consummate professionals and great men,” said Elfenbein. He is the father of Landon (Alexandra) and Tanner; he is Zayda to Sydney, also looking forward to her sibling’s arriving later this year.
Elfenbein’s 32 years on DFW’s airwaves include nearly three decades on The Ticket 96.7 FM/1310 AM. Off-air he’s a blow-by-blow announcer for boxing’s “The Undercard” and sales consultant at Pulte Homes. Elfenbein and Sham both provided voiceovers for the “Shalom Softball League” documentary series, which is narrated by longtime Texas Rangers play-by-play announcer Eric Nadel.
Chuck Cooperstein, the father of Jeffrey — who is following in his father’s path — has spent 18 years as the Dallas Mavericks play-by-play announcer and 19 for ESPN Radio.
“I’m excited to spend the night sharing stories of the athletes and who they are on and off the court or field. We’ve all crossed paths and worked together through the years. This is going to be a good time,” said Cooperstein. He and his wife, Karen, are this year’s Scottish Rite for Children’s Treasure Street co-chairs.
In 1984, Sham hired Cooperstein, a University of Florida graduate, to work at KRLD. Prior to joining the Mavs, Cooperstein did play-by-play with TCU and the University of Texas football, for the basketball teams at TCU, Texas A&M and SMU and for college basketball, football and NFL games on Westwood One.
“I knew I’d never be 6’10” and I didn’t want to spend the days required on the practice tee, but I loved sports and talking about them,” said the 2022 Texas Sportscaster of the Year chosen by the National Sports Media Association and recipient of the Dallas Press Club Katie Award.
After graduating from the University of Missouri, where he was an AEPi, and serving in the National Guard at the height of the Vietnam War, Brad Sham followed his parents, Harriet “Chick” and Jack, to Dallas.
“As a kid, my best days were Cubs and White Sox days. I had an epiphany, at 13, when I realized the announcers were at the stadium every day. It had to be the best,” said Sham. He started his career at WRR AM radio and has worked for every network covering every major sport. This year he celebrates 45 seasons with the Dallas Cowboys and still believes covering sports is the best.
Sham’s been named Texas Sportscaster of the Year 12 times and inducted into the Media Section of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. The brother of Eric and the father of Paul, the author of “Stadium Stories: The Dallas Cowboys” is an eight-time Dallas Press Club Katie Award recipient.
He is a life member of the Cotton Bowl board of directors and member of the boards of directors of trustees of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame and Temple Emanu-El, where he enjoys adult education classes.
Robert Steinfeld, “Bobby” to those he’s grown up with, is married to Sarah. He is the father of Elaine (Mike) Makara and Lee (Rebecca) Steinfeld and the grandfather of Remi Makara and Ellory Steinfeld. The WNBA’s Dallas Wings and Fort Worth’s Panther City Lacrosse Club executive producer will soon publish “3…2…1 We’re On The Air,” about his five decades of producing network sports.
“My folks moved to Dallas for its Jewish community and I saw the J’s pool outside our apartment window. I played basketball and baseball. I was always in the game room, and I met my best friends — still dear friends — right there. This community’s always been home,” said Steinfeld.
Steinfeld, the son of Elaine and Fred, of blessed memory, and brother of Jay (Barbara Winthrop), had always wanted to be “in the biz.” He called and invited WFAA reporters to speak at his school, at 13 visited the station, went out with reporters and watched them create magic.
“I wanted to do what they were doing,” said the Hillcrest High School and University of Texas at Austin graduate with 14 Emmy Awards. He’s worked for the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, New Orleans Pelicans, Texas Rangers, NBC Olympics and the NBA. He credits Julia Jeffress, his Hillcrest journalism teacher newspaper adviser, with helping him realize that he could.
Attendance is free, with registration, at tinyurl.com/DJHS-Sports-PM-Annual-Mtg.