How owner of Cindi’s made bridge between Asian, Jewish communities

When I attended the Jewish War Veterans/JWV Auxiliary meeting on a recent Sunday morning, it was with no idea that I’d witness a welcome, growing intergroup connection in the Dallas area — and that I might even be a part of it.
I arrived early for the 9:30 a.m. breakfast and took a seat at one of the many round tables set up in the JCC’s Senior Lounge. A few coats on chairs marked spots that people had informally “reserved,” and one of them was soon occupied by a young Vietnamese man named Anthony Tran. He is editor/publisher of Asia World, a glossy quarterly publication originating in its office on St. Paul Drive in Richardson — the very heart of the Dallas area’s Asian community. With him was a “no nonsense — this means business!” camera; he had come to learn about JWV and take some pictures for his paper. Why? Because of Ahn Vo.
You may not know her by name, but you surely know her by sight. She is the owner of Cindi’s, the entrepreneurial woman who took an old deli, retained its Jewish flavor and food offerings as she improved them and everything else, and has expanded to four other “New York style” restaurants and bakeries from the original spot near the JCC that so many of us have come to love.
Keeping the Jewishness was Vo’s smart plan from the start. And making other connections with our community must have been part of her plan as well. Tran learned much about her when she recently received our local Bnai Zion Foundation’s 2015 Community Service Award.
You may not know of Vo’s support to the Asian community, and how it extends to our Jewish community as well. And you may not know the story behind all her extraordinary business success and generosity. But you should.
Anh Vo was one of the Vietnamese “boat people” who fled her native country in 1979. She landed in America with little in the way of money, English language skills, or knowledge of its culture. But she was a fearless, fast learner. Tran covered the Bnai Zion event for his paper and wrote this: “Vo credits her success to her ‘willingness to make mistakes and to continually move forward.’ I see her as an immigrant refugee who is living the American dream because she made it come true herself.”
Avrille Harris, director of Bnai Zion’s local office, also made another important connection; she reminded attendees that it was especially fitting at this event, which raised thousands for Israel, to remember that the Jewish State rescued 66 boat people stranded at sea when other countries refused them entry, offering them citizenship as well as physical safety.
And it was at this event that another Jewish connection came to light for Tran: He learned that Anh Vo has welcomed Jewish War Vets and Auxiliary members to sit outside her original restaurant twice a year, every year, as they solicit contributions for red poppies on Memorial Day and Veterans Day. These Poppy Day collections raise the money that JWV uses to support the Dallas VA Hospital and the veterans there. The post had also honored her recently for that, as well as for her yearly donation of turkeys to feed those vets at our JWV’s annual Thanksgiving dinner.
So Tran came to this recent meeting to find out more, and to take pictures. It turned out to be an especially good day because it made another learning connection for him: Guest speaker that morning was Gil Elan, who writes regularly for the TJP, giving an update on the state of terrorism and the Middle East.
The March News Carrier, JWV’s monthly bulletin, announced the meeting Tran attended with a report on Vo’s good deeds in support of the post. I’ve mailed a copy to him, and we’ll be keeping in touch. We can both thank Anh Vo for getting our journalistic cooperation started.

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