Party like it’s 1999: Anshai Torah turns 20
Photo: Deb Silverthorn
“The history of Anshai proudly reflects a congregation whose roots are deeply embedded in the fertile soil of the greater Jewish community,” said Rabbi Stefan Weinberg (left), who has led Congregation Anshai Torah since its beginning, sharing the pulpit with Rabbi Michael Kushnick for the last six years.

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Congregation Anshai Torah is celebrating 20 years as a family, a spiritual home, a place to grow, to learn, to pray, and to build one’s Jewish stronghold. Together with the greater community, that celebration will break out at 6 p.m. Sunday, March 31, at the Hilton Granite Park Hotel.
Gathering to party like it’s 1999, the event is open to the public.
“It’s been a supreme honor to lead Anshai Torah from its outset on July 1, 1998. To witness the pride, joy, and spiritual fulfillment experienced by so many who never dreamed of creating a synagogue has been the most exciting aspect of my leadership,” said Rabbi Stefan Weinberg. “The nurturing of our congregation has been a labor of love and to have shared this journey with Wende z”l, and a dedicated and passionate cadre of others, have been some of the most meaningful blessings in life.
“This celebration gives reason to pause and appreciate our blessings and the impact we’ve had on so many.”
The evening will offer food from Simcha Kosher Catering, a photo montage and program honoring the congregation as well as Dot and Basil Haymann (among the congregation’s founders) and entertainment and dancing with the music of the Jordan Kahn Orchestra.
Co-chairs Ashley Grossfeld and Julie Haymann, along with Beth Berk, Cathy Brook, Dot Haymann, Marcy Kahn, a dedicated committee and Anshai Torah’s staff, are planning a night of fun and honor.
“Twenty years as a Conservative congregation that continues to thrive is quite an accomplishment and this is the perfect time to celebrate,” said Julie Haymann. “It is a great honor for us all to work on something so exciting that celebrates Anshai Torah as well as Dot and Basil.”
Anshai Torah’s family tree began with roots in Anshai Emet and Shomray Torah.
•1998: They formed their first joint home on Village Creek Drive. Those roots have grown branches and generations with more than 550 families.
• Sept. 3, 2001: A march of Torahs and ruach made its way to Anshai Torah’s permanent home on Parker Road in West Plano.
•2004 marked the first of many congregational trips to Israel.
•2005: The voices of the Kol Rina men’s a cappella choir first sounded.
•2010: The Behringer Sanctuary was built.
•2011: Anshai Torah’s Illustrated Torah arrived.
•2013: Rabbi Michael Kushnick joined Rabbi Weinberg.
•2017: Light began shining through in a more colorful manner, stained-glass panels at the front of the sanctuary now complemented by 12 encircling the sanctuary, depicting the tribes of Israel.
•2018: Project 613 brought Wende’s Torah, the first congregational Torah written specifically for them — in memory of its late rebbetzin.
A melding of families, Anshai Torah will toast the Haymanns, who have been involved since their arrival from Johannesburg, South Africa, in 1978. Originally members of Anshai Emet, they are among many who have contributed to two decades of success at the shul.
“From early on our love of Anshai was born and our commitment began. We’ve always supported Anshai as a cornerstone of the community and from that we expanded our involvement to many aspects of Dallas’ Jewish life,” said Dot Haymann. “We believe that to impact change and make a difference you need to be involved. Only by being a leader can you influence the direction of change.”
The Haymann family includes children Gary (Julie), Sandy (Andrew) Marks and Tracy (BJ) Elliott; and grandchildren Abby and Alex Elliott, Eli, Izzie and Kaya Haymann and Adrianna and Jake Marks. The Haymanns have shared to Anshai Torah the ark that houses its Torahs, the Haymann Foyer and Menorah — which stands 20 feet tall at the synagogue’s entrance — and a Torah rescued from Tehran, donated in memory of Basil’s father Fred and the couple’s late son Clinton.
“We’ve been so fortunate to have people like Dot and Basil, with their beautiful family at their side, supporting Anshai in such significant ways,” said Rabbi Weinberg. “Their leadership profile is defined by their support for the community at large.”
The Haymanns’ children have taken their example to heart.
“Our parents taught us early on to give back and that means more than financial donations; it means helping wherever we can with time and energy,” said Sandy Haymann Marks, who celebrated her bat mitzvah at Anshai Emet and was married at Anshai Torah. “The best is coming together, three generations to pray and celebrate together.”
Supporting AIPAC, the Ann and Nate Levine Academy, the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education & Tolerance, Greene Family Camp, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, the Holocaust Museum, Texas Torah Institute and The Legacy at Home and Legacy Senior Communities, Inc., the family’s touch is seen throughout the Dallas Jewish community
“Lead with passion and example has always been our mantra,” said Dot, “and we’re so humbled to share this tremendous milestone as Anshai celebrates 20 years of strength and possibility.”
Rabbi Weinberg reflected on the congregation’s two decades.
“The history of Anshai proudly reflects a congregation whose roots are deeply embedded in the fertile soil of the greater Jewish community,” he said. “May God’s presence continue to nurture and protect the precious spiritual home we’ve been privileged to construct.”
To RSVP, for sponsorship opportunities or to participate in the tribute book (by March 8), visit

— Submitted by
Deb Silverthorn

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