By Deb Silverthorn
Jack Molad, along with his daughter and son-in-law Miriam and Paul Geller, is bidding shalom to Dallas, as two generations in Israel wait with open arms to welcome them home.
“I was born in Israel and my granddaughter Molly is the pioneer of our family’s return,” said Molad, proud to have served in Israel’s army during the War of Independence, proud to be part of the building of the State of Israel. “My body and mind now return to where my heart and soul have always been, and I get to share it with my family.”
Born in Tel Aviv, Molad, born Yitzchak Moladavski, is the son of Manya and Moshe of blessed memory, and brother of Abir of blessed memory and Noam. After serving in the War of Independence, he headed for the United States to attend St. Louis University. Never did he imagine it would be nearly 70 years before he’d return for good.
Although an aeronautical engineering major, to continue his schooling after his parents passed away during his freshman year, he began teaching dance and Hebrew school. The work of bringing a love of Israel and Judaism into the hearts of “his” teens created a new direction for his career.Bringing a love for Israel, and Judaism in their hearts to “his” teens, Jack redirected his career. He became the youth and education director at Congregation B’nai Amoonah and, “Jack Ruach,” as he’s since been known, first in St. Louis, then at Beth El Synagogue in Omaha, Nebraska, and in Dallas since 1972.
Molad moved to Dallas with his wife Helaine of blessed memory, and their children Miriam and Steve. He served as director of education at Congregation Shearith Israel and founded the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’ Dallas Teen Tour six-week summer program.
In 1988, Molad joined the team at Congregation Anshai Emet in Plano, which eventually merged with Shomrei Torah becoming Anshai Torah, where he’s since served as education director, teacher and b’nai mitzvah tutor.
After Miriam married Paul (they met at a JCC Dallas event), the next branch of the family tree blossomed with their children Molly, Sophie and Ari.
The Geller children all speak to Israel connections and dedication to Zionism from their Papa, their parents, Akiba Yavneh Academy (and for Molly at Salanter Akiba Riverdale High School in the Bronx), their life at Congregation Shaare Tefilla and summers at camps Moshava and Stone. They each spent two years studying in Israel before Molly and Sophie went to Stern College, and Ari to Yeshiva University.
Molly moved to Israel in 2014 and made aliyah a year later, just six weeks before marrying Aaron Rosenberg. The two are now parents of sabras Tali and Dina. Sophie, her husband Ely Herskowitz and their son Koby made aliyah in 2018; their son Moshe was later born a sabra. Ari made aliyah in 2019 and is dating Gali Sadek, whom he met while at Camp Stone, then reunited with her while working, once he made aliyah in 2019, at Yachad Israel.
“Papa always told us about pre-1948 Israel (then Palestine), and how his whole family defended Israel in different ways, and it’s always inspiring,” said Ari, who lives in Tel Aviv near where his grandfather did — the layout much the same, yet much changed due to technology and modern strides. “When he tells his stories, it’s as if you’re experiencing them then and there and you forget it all took place over 70 years ago. Even more than his passion is his love for having brought so many people a connection to Israel including teens to their roots, to strengthen their strong Jewish identity and Zionistic identity that he provided.”
Ari, who like his sisters remembers family trips to Israel, can’t wait to take his Papa on the train that goes from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in under 30 minutes. “It’s something that amazes him each time he hears about it,” he says.
Miriam and Paul look most forward to being the Saba and Savti to their grandchildren that her parents exemplified. Jack and Helaine, they say, never missed a school event or occasion and were always in the front row smiling and cheering the kids on. This move fulfills a long-held dream.
“We’ve had a Nefesh b’Nefesh file open for 10 years,” said Miriam, referring to the organization that promotes aliyah from the United States to Israel. “We knew we’d be going and our ‘someday’ is here.”
Miriam, who worked at Akiba Yavneh Academy for more than 20 years, continued: “We always hoped this move would be with my parents. It’s not exactly how we planned but we know this is what my mom wanted for all of us.”
Paul, owner of Paul Geller Enterprises framing for nearly 35 years, also can’t wait to be with his grandchildren. He plans to continue to run his company from Jerusalem.
Molly is a health care coordinator at Midreshet AMIT, a gap-year program, where her husband is also a teacher. A native Londoner, Aaron is also a project manager for End Jew Hatred.
“From when I first studied and traveled in Israel, I realized I could see myself living here and I wanted this to be my home and that of my family,” said Molly. She cherishes wearing her great-grandmother’s ring at her wedding just outside of Jerusalem and feels a deep connection to what her great-grandparents worked so hard for.
“Each semester after I left Israel, I missed it more and more and three weeks after graduation, I was back,” said Molly. “I always hoped my family would come too, and Aaron and I now feel so fortunate as most of our families are here.”
Sophie lives in Talpiot, Jerusalem, in the same building her Papa will. She’s an office manager at the Emunah V’Omanut seminary and her husband is an account manager at Five Blocks Company, an online reputation management company.
“I’ve always imagined somehow living in Israel. The family trips, my grandfather’s stories and ultimately my own experiences here pushed me to make dream, reality,” she said. “Seeing Israel through my grandpa’s eyes, and learning about his life and experiences here, absolutely made a huge impact on me.”
As Molad and the Gellers prepare to board their plane and their family awaits, the patriarch says: “The deepest part of my imagination, which had my family reuniting in the place I was born, is coming true.”