By Sharon Wisch-Ray
Known for her commitment to social action, Dallas’ Shirley Davidoff has been named chair of the board of MAZON: A Jewish Response To Hunger (MAZON), a leading national anti-hunger advocacy organization, which works to change governmental and institutional policies that allow hunger to persist in the U.S. and Israel. Shirley is recognized locally and nationally as a leader in the Jewish community.
“Shirley Davidoff is a remarkable community leader and visionary member of MAZON’s Board of Directors,” says outgoing Board Chair Rabbi Harold Kravitz of Minneapolis, Minnesota. “As she begins her tenure as chair, I know she will lead the organization with wisdom, common sense and a passionate commitment to the mission of MAZON.”
Shirley says MAZON has accomplished much in the last 30 years. Looking forward, she says she wants to focus on three initial areas: gaining bipartisan acceptance of and solutions for ending hunger in the United States; strengthening MAZON’s active advocacy initiatives by connecting more closely with donors and urging them to action; expanding MAZON’s programs in Israel when they open their first office in that country this year.
She recognizes the challenge in dealing with the current state of political life in Washington, D.C. “We constantly talk about Congress and bipartisanship,” she says. “Hunger is an issue that should be above partisanship. I understand that people see things differently. But nobody wants people to suffer hunger. We need to talk more about how we can make sure our vulnerable who are hungry are protected.”
As a nurse for 31 years and a nurse practitioner for 18, she says she witnesses every day the fallout from people who lack nutritional food.
“I’ve seen how malnutrition effects individuals both in children and adults. Nutrition is vital for growth and health,” she says. “If they aren’t getting nutritional food, they face severe heart disease and other complications.”
Growing up in Galveston, Shirley became involved in community activism at an early age. “My parents were very philanthropic,” she said. “From the time I can remember, we were volunteering, giving back. They made sure we understood that this is expected and part of who we are.”
She said she got her experience for the anti-hunger fight from her work in homeless shelters and food banks. “I have seen that what we do on the streets, here in Dallas and in communities all across the country, is important but it is only a stop-gap. This is a huge, complex problem touching everyone from the elderly and disabled, to children and military families and veterans. We can’t rely just on charity to do the job. We need the government because of the scope of the problem and its continuing growth.”
Shirley is First Vice President of Congregation Shearith Israel and serves on its executive committee. She is a past chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas.
Shirley is a past Torah Fund honoree and is a life member of Shearith Israel’s Sisterhood, Hadassah and National Council of Jewish Women. Shirley served previously in roles as co-chair of Shearith Israel’s Mitzvah Day and social action committee, member of the Shalom Bayit Advisory Committee and chair of the JCRC Anti-Poverty Task Force.
A graduate of the University of Texas, where she was a member of the Sigma Delta Tau (SDT) sorority, she received her master’s from Texas Women’s University. She is director of Clinical Services at Cardiology and Interventional Vascular Associates (CIVA) in Dallas.
Shirley is married to attorney Bill Davidoff and they have two grown sons. She recently earned professional recognition when named 2015 Texas Nurse Practitioner of the Year by the Texas Nurse Practitioner organization.
Holocaust Survivor Zsuzsanna Ozsvath to speak at Allen Public Library
Holocaust survivor Zsuzsanna Ozsvath will discuss her gripping memoir, When The Danube Ran Red at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, October 8, at the Allen Public Library.
As a little girl in Hungary, Osvath began hearing stories from friends about Polish and German Jews being tortured and killed.
She continuously lived with the real possibility that this could happen to her family for the remainder of the war. Terrified, her parents assured her that Hungary was different, but in the spring of 1944, German officers stormed into Hungary to implement “The Final Solution.”
The Oszvaths survived the first six months of the occupation mainly because of the selfless devotion of their former nursemaid, “Erzsi” (Erzebet) Fajo, who supplied them with food and clothing. In October 1944, the Niylas (Hungarian Nazis) seized control of the city, and through a radio address, they blamed all of the country’s ills on the Jews. The Ozvaths knew that, once again, they were in serious danger.
As the Russians began to bombard the beleaguered city, the Nyilas wanted no witnesses. Hearing gunfire, Zsuzsi crawled to a window where she was hiding and peeked through broken panes to see “a bunch of children, men, and women …standing on the bank of the Danube, on their chests the palm-sized yellow star.
They were bound together by ropes. At least four or five Nyilas aimed their guns at them, shooting them into the river, which flowed red like blood. Nobody screamed, nobody cried. … Nothing … but the splash of the bodies falling into the red foam.”
Ozsvath is now a professor of literature and the history of ideas at the University of Texas at Dallas. She is the Leah and Paul Lewis Chair in Holocaust Studies and diretor of Holocaust Studies at UTD’s Ackerman Center for Holocaust Studies. Her harrowing memories of her Jewish childhood bring a child’s-eye view of the world, and her perception and recollections are consistent with the historical record.
Sponsored by Bach to Books, this program is free.
The library is located at 300 N. Allen Dr.
Call 214-509-4911 for more information.