By Judy Tashbook-Safern
Special to the TJP
A Los Angeles businessman wished to celebrate his birthday with his 50 closest friends in the French Caribbean, on St. Barts, where it is impossible to get kosher food. He turned 70 in style, hosting five lavish glatt kosher events on the island and two on a yacht.
Eight couples luxuriating over a long weekend in Puerto Rico, two families vacationing for a mid-week jaunt to Oahu, and a group of friends who wished to experience an exquisite gourmet holiday while on a 14-day African safari all had the same idea:
Subar, a 26-year-old former yeshiva student from New York, is now the darling of the kosher food world. He doesn’t have a restaurant. He works as a private chef and caterer and he’s booked months, sometimes years, in advance.
He’ll be in Dallas on Nov. 20 to cater Texas Torah Institute’s gala dinner that evening.
It all started when a wealthy client booked the young chef to cater three meals a day for a kosher tour group of 80 Jews taking a trip to China. From there, his reputation grew like wildfire and now Subar is running a multimillion-dollar private dining empire.
“It’s not all birthday dinners and weekends,” Subar says. “We do the Super Bowl every year. We have corporate clients who have boxes at sporting events and holiday parties. We cater kosher food to anyone who wishes to entertain at the highest level.”
Bringing Subar to town is a big deal. His services are saved for the most important occasions. Recently the Jewish community of Oslo, Norway dedicated a new Torah. This doesn’t happen every year or even every ten years in Oslo, so, the community leaders imported Subar to cater the Hachnosses Sefer Torah because, as they told him, the food had to be as special as the event.
“This is the bar mitzvah year for Texas Torah Institute,” said Dot Haymann, who is co-chairing this year’s gala. “TTI is a special yeshiva and so the bar mitzvah has to be really special. We all agreed. We must have Sruli Subar cater our event.”
Texas Torah Institute, the only Talmudic academy in the American Southwest, is well-known and highly regarded worldwide for its emphasis on character development and personal growth. Enrollment has nearly doubled every year for the past 13 years and the yeshiva, now celebrating its bar mitzvah, has applicants from California, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, Mexico City, Montreal, and Toronto.
“While we attract many boarding students, this year the yeshiva has a higher ratio of local students than out-of-towners,” said Aaron Yurowitz, president of TTI’s board of directors. “Along with excellence in traditional Jewish learning, our General Studies curriculum is top-notch. We have a National Merit Scholar among our graduating class and our students regularly score very high on the SAT.”
Not content to innovate in the classrooms alone, TTI has also developed a reputation for its cutting-edge fundraising events. Last year, the fundraiser at the TTI gala was run by the same auctioneer who headlines the Cattle Barons’ Ball. The year before that, the yeshiva produced a video that beat the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association to become runner-up for Nonprofit Video of the Year in an award ceremony at the National Press Club.
“TTI produces a Destination Dinner,” said Gala Co-Chair Michael Oster. “Word has gotten around and people travel to join us. Especially this year: From the distinctive Texas location at Cross Creek Ranch to the authentic sentiment of the evening, TTI’s bar mitzvah will be a special event. But the bottom line is, the story of this yeshiva genuinely moves people.”
“This is actually the first yeshiva dinner I have ever catered,” Subar laughs. “But I have a connection to Dallas. I lived there for a few months and I’m friends with a few guys who went to TTI, so I really wanted to do this for them. This meal, in this setting, will be like an evening of theater.”
Chef Subar describes Tapas stations where attendees will get beautifully composed dishes, carving stations delivering generously laden plates, and action stations where guests will enjoy seeing the chefs plating artistic compositions.
“I like presenting this form of interactive dining,” Subar says. “It’s entertainment, it facilitates the socialization and, unlike a sit-down dinner, you get whatever you want. Good food brings people together.”
Jeri Finkelstein, who is chairing the committee with her husband Bill, said, “Having a yeshiva in Dallas puts us on the map as a vibrant Jewish community that can serve Jews of all stripes. This is one of our favorite events each year because it’s a great evening out and we are supporting Jewish education in Dallas!”
Tickets are still available. Please visit www.texastorah.org to RSVP.
TTI inspires people of all ages, stages of life
By Judy Tashbook Safern
Special to the TJP
When he was 60-something years old, native Texan Lane Harris was astonished to discover a yeshiva in North Dallas. An academy of Talmud study unlike anything he had seen outside the movies or a trip to New York or Israel, Texas Torah Institute (TTI) changed Lane’s life.
He immediately began studying with the rabbis who taught in the yeshiva, befriended the many students, and he and his wife Hanki began a tradition of generously hosting and mentoring TTI students that began that first day.
Lane and Hanki feel that those who support TTI participate in “the transmission of our Jewish heritage and mission.”
“But it’s more than that,” Lane insists. “TTI is actively developing future community leaders. This is the only Talmudic academy in Texas, the only Jewish Bible college in the entire region. TTI alumni haven’t all followed the same path — some have become rabbis, others have joined the IDF, become doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs and CEOs — what they have in common is they are all actively involved in the continuity of the Jewish community.”
Many of those on the planning committee echo the sentiment that it is because the yeshiva long ago adopted Lane Harris as an honorary student that Lane and Hanki Harris are the Guests of Honor at this year’s bar mitzvah celebration, which is sponsored by The West Group at Merrill Lynch.
“We couldn’t imagine anyone more appropriate,” says Rabbi Daniel Ringelheim, rosh yeshiva. “Together, they possess the qualities of respectfulness and respectability, sensitivity, kindness, generosity, and menschlichkeit that we try to cultivate in our students. If you want to know what true dedication to Torah looks like, look at Lane and Hanki Harris. And if you want an example of a healthy, happy marriage, there is none better than this loving couple whose devotion to each other is deepened by their shared passion for supporting Torah education in Texas.”
TTI’s bar mitzvah celebration will also honor three esteemed alumni: Shmuly Hirsch, Yehuda Kramer and Yaakov Rabinowitz.
“We started off with seven students in a room at Congregation Ohev Shalom,” reminisces the head of school, Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Eliyahu Kaufman. “Of course, we dreamed of exponential growth, but no one would have predicted we could have achieved this amount of success in such a short time. Thank God, enrollment has nearly doubled almost every year. We have had students from all over the United States, Canada, South America, Europe and Israel.
“Young men apply to TTI from all over the world because they are attracted by the opportunity to study with these particular rabbis — Rabbi Kaufman, Rabbi Pacht and Rabbi Ringelheim — and to live in this specific environment they have created. It is an air of kindness one breathes here. There is no school like it.”
TTI is proud of its Texas roots and chose to celebrate the yeshiva’s bar mitzvah Gala at Cross Creek Ranch to honor the soil in which this tree of life has been planted. Although it is only a short drive from Dallas, the 42-acre Cross Creek Ranch in Parker, Texas transports visitors to another time and place. The outdoor pavilion is nestled under huge cedar, elm, pecan, and live oak trees and guests will enjoy the program in a 10,000-square-foot log cabin followed by dinner under the stars.
For more information and tickets, please visit www.texastorah.org or call 972-250-4888.