Kehillat Tzur Yisroel: ‘Rock of Israel’
Robert Nelson, Andrew Cohen, Edan Baynglass, Mike Korenman and Bentzi Baynglass led the lighting of the chanukiah for Kehillat Tzur Yisroel participants in December 2022.

Tarrant County’s Orthodox congregation is over a year old

By Deb Silverthorn

Members of Tarrant County’s Kehillat Tzur Yisroel have been connecting in prayer now for more than a year. The founders hope others will join them at their Shabbat morning services, weekly at 10 a.m.

Kehillat Tzur Yisroel literally means the congregation of the Rock of Israel, a reference to G-d.

“Kehillat Tzur Yisroel came together over a year ago when a tight-knit group felt something was missing. We are dedicated to a traditional approach to Jewish observance and welcome others to join us. I appreciate and get so much out of our davening and our time together,” Dr. Michael Korenman said of the lay-led Orthodox community he is helping to build.

Korenman, a Fort Worth native who was raised at Congregation Ahavath Sholom, recalls its traditional roots led by Rabbi Isadore Garsek that have influenced him throughout his life.

Korenman has been married to Etta for 43 years. They met through a play at the now closed Dan Danciger Jewish Community Center in Fort Worth. Over the years, Korenman has become more observant in his religious practice. For over 30 years, the couple have worked with others in the community to foster Jewish study and practice, holding events at home, including some services and Shabbatons. While the couple had long been engaged in a number of congregations over the years, and in study with rabbis and leaders from throughout the Metroplex, they found themselves searching.

The group plans to rent a larger space as more people participate; since November 2021, it has held services in members’ homes. Enjoying weekly Saturday morning and holiday services, always concluding with a delicious meal and time to enjoy each other’s company, the participants have grown close.

“The openness and comfortable sense among us is wonderful. I have never felt so connected. This group of men and women is so devoted, with such a feeling of acceptance and peace. We’re together to pray, for a nosh, to talk, learn and just be together. It’s beautiful and it makes me want to be in shul,” said Etta Korenman.

Photos: Jesse Nadel
Dr. Steve Cross, Jesse Nadel, Bentzi Baynglass, Andrew Cohen, Mike Korenman and Robert Nelson during a Kehillat Tzur Yisroel mincha service

As Kehillat Tzur Yisroel looks to increase in size, its participants look to a time when they will add a Torah and readings. They are still without a minyan most weeks; therefore, there is as yet no obligation for the Torah to be read. However, the group does hold services, during which men and women are separated by a mechitza (partition). During the time normally devoted to reading Torah, they all sit together to discuss the weekly Torah portion.

Most weeks they reach close to a minyan and, on the occasion where a yahrzeit is observed, the group has had no problem finding friends or family to join them to allow Kaddish to be said.

“This is friends coming together to pray and have a good time; that’s the base of it all. We knew each other from attending other synagogues and have come together in a new way in comradeship; it’s a pleasure. We’ve met almost every week since the start and it’s become one of the best parts of my week,” said Jesse Nadel. Jesse and his wife, Neomi, often host services. He has lived in the area since 1981. The couple also hosted lunch in his family’s sukkah last year.

Jacob Kohanim, who was born in Iran, was raised in Israel and came to Texas as a UT Arlington graduate student in 1981, says, “Kehillat Tzur Yisroel is a new chapter for ourselves and our children and it’s an honor to be a part of it.”

Andrew Cohen and his wife, Miriam, have become more observant over the years. For them, Kehillat Tzur Yisroel has been a blessing.

“We were missing ‘something,’ and found this great, fun corps of people who are like-minded. We are growing naturally and there is no effort in connecting,” he said.

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