By Deb Silverthorn
Sharon Michaels once used her voice to entertain children — and their parents — as “BB Good” on Radio Disney. As the inaugural director of Israel365Dallas, she is using her voice to bring Jews and Christians together to support Israel.
“Israel365 Dallas brings the local Jewish and Christian faith communities together to strengthen one another, to support Israel and to form authentic friendships based on mutual respect and our shared belief in the Hebrew Bible or Tanakh,” Michaels said.
It was at a Dallas event in December that Michaels was introduced to Israel365’s leadership. With just a few conversations it was clear to her, and them, that it was a match.
“Dallas, called the ‘buckle’ of the ‘Bible Belt,’ is a test case for us. We are blessed to have Sharon representing us there and around the United States,” said Rabbi Naphtali “Tuly” Weisz, Israel 365’s founder.
“In 10 years, we’ve grown an active and engaged online community. Now, we want and need to create and nurture relationships on a local level,” said Weisz. “We’re now in a position to reach out and connect and engage our audience wherever they are, and Sharon is the perfect person to help us build relationships.”
Israel365’s name is based on Deuteronomy 11:12, “A land for which the Lord your G-d cares; the eyes of the Lord your G-d are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.” Weisz emphasized that “G-d cares for Israel 365 days a year — and so must we.”
To that end, Michaels’ kickoff has taken off. In March, she, along with Yisrael Glass, head of Israel 365’s donor relations, and Rabbi Elie Mischel, Israel365’s director of education, both visiting from Israel, met with local Christian leaders. Michaels represented the organization at the Rally for the Heartland expo, supporting farmers in Judea and Samaria. In April, Israel365 partnered with Dallas Jewish Conservatives in celebrating Israel’s 75th anniversary and in May, Michaels joined Israel365 leadership at the NRB (National Religious Broadcasters) International Christian Media Convention in Orlando, Florida.
“Both Jews and Christians share a common struggle: inspiring the younger generation to remain committed to a life of faith. We see the fulfillment of biblical prophecy coming to life in Israel and we must help the next generation see this miracle for themselves and use it as a basis for their faith,” said Mischel.
Later this summer, Israel365 Dallas will host David Rubin, former mayor of Shiloh, Israel, and the founder of Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund and author of “Confronting Radicals: What Americans Can Learn from Israel.” In 2001, Rubin’s car was attacked by Islamic terrorists and showered with bullets; one hit his 3-year-old son. Shiloh Israel Children’s Fund was born after the boy’s surgeries, recovery and need for support while healing.
Dr. Victoria Sarvadi, a minister, executive director of the March of Remembrance’s Dallas chapter with her husband, Paul, co-founder of the Nathaniel Foundation, says the addition of Michaels to the Israel365 team is stellar. For her, the motivated positivity that comes from the organization is a light.
“Sharon is a lovely person whose enthusiasm shares her absolute exuberance to connect Christians to the Jewish community,” said Sarvadi. “She’s a great hostess who makes us feel welcome whether she’s delivering a challah just before Shabbat or presenting an event.
“The excitement in her eyes,” she added, “shares what’s in her heart.”
Michaels’ heart has always been one to spread joy. The daughter of Arline and the late Dr. Carl Goodman and sister to Marsha (Matt) Wood and Judy (Kevin) Asséo, the Quincy, Massachusetts, native was raised at Congregation B’Nai Shalom.
She is married to Charles, a registered nurse whom she met at a campus Shabbat dinner while both were students at Syracuse University. The couple’s family has grown to include Shira (Yehuda) Lewenstein, Rebecca, David and Esti. Torah Day School of Dallas, Mesorah High School for Girls and Texas Torah Institute have been the school base for the Michaels children. The family are members of Chabad of Dallas and Congregation Ohev Shalom while supporting Congregation Ohr HaTorah, Sephardic Torah Center of Dallas and Congregation Toras Chaim.
“It’s all about community for us. It’s why we’re here and why we have the life we do,” said Michaels, “and it’s a life we love to share.”
The Michaels family moved to Dallas in 1998 for her job at Radio Disney/ABC Radio Networks. They first connected to Dallas Area Torah Association, whose families inspired a more observant religious life.
“When we first moved here, we’d be invited for Shabbos dinner or lunch and I’d see the celebration of Shabbos, of their lives, of the food, goodness and of their children teaching us blessings,” said Michaels. “I thought, ‘I want that.’
“Years later, while subbing at Torah Day [School of Dallas], I had one of the children of those children from 20 years earlier in my class,” she added. “Everything in life is directed by Hashem. We absolutely now have what we were looking for.”
Michaels’ connection — and devotion — to the land, to her heritage and to reaching out across borders and boundaries to support them is stronger than ever.
“For whatever reason, communities have been together but at arm’s length,” said Michaels. “At our core, though, we are bound by our belief in the Bible. I want to bring us closer together, closer to Israel and closer to Hashem.”
For information and registration for upcoming Israel365 Dallas events, visit israel365.com/dallas; for more on the organization in general, visit israel365.com.