TTI alumni dedicate Torah to Rabbi Dov Ber Weisman, ob’m
By Deb Silverthorn
Strength, wisdom, maturity and looking ahead were part of the legacy of Rabbi Dov Ber Weisman, of blessed memory.
On Sunday, Sept. 11, the Texas Torah Institute (TTI) family and alumni dedicated a Torah in Rabbi Weisman’s name to the Dallas yeshiva.
“TTI was, and is, a most family-spirited yeshiva; we are one. Rabbi Weisman and the relationship he had with everyone is the perfect example of that. He had a talent to make each person feel good, to want to study, to want to be a better and more learned Jew,” said Milech Sterns, who attended TTI beginning in 2005. He and Shookie Jacobs spearheaded the project, which raised more than $50,000, to create the masterpiece Torah.
The Torah was written in Israel with its last letters completed at the home of Magi and Yehuda Katav. A parade and dancing followed, escorting the precious gift to the yeshiva’s Haymann Family Educational Campus in North Dallas.
Sterns is from Cleveland, Ohio, and went to TTI for grades nine to 12 and then three years in its Beis Medrash. He said, “Rabbi’s character was tops. We wanted to do something good in his memory and Hashem led us to good people. We started in 2020 and now the students of the yeshiva, and the members of the community, have something special to learn from. We hope to always remember him by [it].”
Rabbi Weisman was a Texas native who, after graduating from the University of Texas, studied at Yeshiva Ohr Sameach in Jerusalem. He returned to Dallas, by way of years teaching in Atlanta, Georgia, and Chattanooga, Tennessee, along the way creating “Torah From Dixie” tapes of divrei Torah and authoring a number of books.
He came to Dallas and for a time taught Hebrew with Jack Molad at Congregation Shearith Israel, where his mother Sarah, of blessed memory, was a beloved teacher. He was also the son of Rabbi Yishai David, he too of blessed memory, and the brother of Liba Perlow.
In 2003, when TTI was founded, he and his wife Ora (formerly Ora Malka) were living near the yeshiva’s original base at Congregation Ohev Shalom. The couple met when she was catering at Ohev Shalom and they started as friends, with him helping her with errands.
“We married in Adar, his favorite month in which he was so full of joy every moment. I miss his laughter and that joy. After he passed, I found notebooks he’d kept with a record of so many things we’d laughed about: the conversations, silly things, everything. He kept notes of it all and they are such a gift to me now as sadly, he also passed away in Adar,” said Ora, who has returned to live in her native Israel but came to Dallas for the dedication. “On Shabbat, he only spoke of Torah, nothing else. He would never speak loshon hora [gossip] and he never did anything without a bracha. Not take the tiniest bite, not get out of bed, not even get into his car.
“For every single thing he was thankful to Hashem and he was careful and serious about his brachot. He taught his students, but he taught me so much every single day and I miss that so much,” said Ora. She takes comfort in knowing that three former students have named their sons after her late husband. “I knew he loved his students, and they loved him, but this gift of the Torah is their love. They knew him and knew what would matter to him. Through this Torah he will never stop teaching.”
Early on, he contacted the leadership offering to teach, to study with the students, to share whatever he could. Before that, he’d sit in on classes — even though he was 30 years senior to most of the students — asking to be included on the attendance sheets so he’d be accountable to attend.
“Rabbi Weisman gave his whole self with such an absolute love for his students that lasted long after they were here at TTI. He was a real Southerner and people appreciated that. He educated for a love of Torah and the love of his students, and that came through his colorful personality that he always stayed true to,” said Rabbi Daniel Ringelheim, rosh hayeshiva and director of development at TTI.
Until he passed away in 2018, Rabbi Weisman impacted hundreds of young men who came to TTI from around the country. Whether their exchanges were in the classroom, while playing football or on a fishing expedition, those who spent any time with him say they were impacted.
“I was in his Chumash class, but it wasn’t only there that he reached us. He was so interconnected with everyone; he was ‘cool’ and ‘with it’ and made everyone feel very special to him. When Milech called with an idea of honoring Reb Weisman, I was in,” said Shookie Jacobs. Jacobs shared many classes with Sterns, the two forging a friendship that has grown closer through the years.
“I had always wanted to be part of writing a Torah and he was the perfect person and reason to do so. So many people got involved right away and it became just a beautiful success,” said Jacobs, who came to TTI from Cedarhurst, New York.
People light up when asked about Rabbi Weisman; their sense of respect shines through.
“This gift by the students, by the community, is a testament to the connection of our yeshiva, this city and Rabbi Weisman. He was one of the most unique people I’ve ever known, steeped in Torah but yet still so personally connected to every person he was in contact with,” said Rabbi Eliyahu Kaufman, a founding rabbi and rosh hayeshiva at TTI; with Rabbi Ringelheim, he heads the yeshiva’s Beis Medrash.
Rabbi David Shawel, who has for years attended the minyan and learned with TTI students, had the honor of being the one to fill in the Torah’s last letters, sharing the merit of the mitzvah with many who participated.
“Rabbi Weisman cultivated and brought so many young students to become young men, real mensches, and we miss him terribly,” said Rabbi Shawel. “He was a rabbi beyond the text, beyond the halacha — all very important to him but he was a whole, holy man.”