Anshai Torah’s Cathcart filling shelves, marking off to-do lists
While the summer season is filled with vacations and time off, Anshai Torah bids a Bruchim Habaim and welcome “home” to its new director of education, Jason Cathcart, and his family.
For Cathcart, school is already in session as his desk is busy, his bookshelves filling, and his task-list grand with “to do” dreams to make happen.
The Cathcarts — Jason, wife Vicki, and their children Jordan, Daniella, and Samara — have made their way west to join the Anshai Torah family, bringing with them a lifetime of love of Jewish learning, teaching and sharing. His experiences of a decade as youth director at the congregation he grew up at, and most recently as director of congregational learning at Bnai Zion Congregation in Chattanooga, Tennessee, are the perfect foundation on which to base his new role in Plano.
“We are so excited to be here and ready to be rolling,” said Cathcart, a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, where he was raised at Temple Israel and later in Orlando, Florida, at Congregation Ohev Shalom. He is the son of Terri and David (of blessed memory), and the brother of Phil. “My mom loved going to services and the temple is where I grew up. I want to enhance that love in the children of Anshai Torah and from all we’ve seen, and everyone we’ve met, there’s a lot of love in this congregation.”
“Jason brings to Anshai a ton of passion and excitement for Jewish education and a host of new ideas and innovative ways to connect with our youth,” said Congregation Anshai Torah’s Rabbi Michael Kushnick. “We look forward to incorporating the best models from his experiences in camp and technology, and I believe our students, our parents, and our teachers — and we, the leadership — will have lots to learn in a very spirited way.”
It was his participation in religious school and USY, from Kadima through Senior USY conventions, that spurred Cathcart’s interest in a career in Jewish education. Following an initial trip down a career path of media studies, he redirected after working at Beth David Synagogue as a Kadima adviser, Congregation Beth Sholom in Memphis, and then for Camp Ramah.
While working at a Camp Ramah pilot program, which grew into Camp Ramah Darom — the Georgia summer home to many Anshai children — Cathcart met his bride-to-be, Vicki, spending three years formulating the experience that would become his future.
“Jewish camp is an experience for a child not to miss,” said Cathcart, excited that his son spent part of this summer as the first second-generation camper at Darom. “It doesn’t matter what size or kind of community you come from; at camp, everyone is totally immersed in the best of Jewish life. You wake up in the morning and your bunkmates are Jewish, and the connection to our peoplehood is huge. It’s really where many of us find our ‘Jewish voice.’ For me, I also found my path.”
“Jason is incredibly respected throughout the Jewish community and anyone who has heard that he is joining our staff guarantees we will be more blessed than we can imagine,” said Rabbi Kushnick. “We are so excited to have Jason here, and while it’s summer ‘vacation,’ we are headstrong in the mode of prepping for the coming school year.”
Reviewing and setting the curriculum for Anshai Torah’s Religious School, which benefits children from kindergarten through high school, where all students regardless of learning differences or special needs will thrive — Jason is impressed with what has been put in place. “We have an excellent program here, and it’s long been a strong academic curriculum. We’ll be looking through the year to see what changes we might make, not in a critical manner but a mindful review.”
A review from Alef to Tav, with the enthusiastic eye, and heart, of Jason Cathcart.
The 2016-2017 Anshai Torah Religious School year will open Sunday, Aug. 28, at 9 a.m. with an open house for prospective members — to tour the synagogue, meet members and leadership and (beginning at 9:30 a.m.) see classes in action. Registration and congregational membership information and forms are available at anshaitorah.org. For more information, call 972-473-7718.
Submitted by Deb Silverthorn on behalf of Congregation Anshai Torah.