By Ben Tinsley
DALLAS — Gil Elan, president and CEO of the Southwest Jewish Congress, is moving to Israel to spend more time with his family — particularly his grandchildren.
But the 69-year-old said he is neither quitting nor retiring from his SWJC duties. He isn’t shirking his responsibilities as a Middle East analyst or abandoning his post as a columnist for the Texas Jewish Post.
If anything, Elan said, he is stepping up his game. Learning about podcasting. Embracing the digital age.
“I’m taking my show on the road and doing it from Israel,” Elan explained to the TJP. “In between, I’ll go fishing in the Mediterranean with my grandkids. … I don’t understand the meaning of the word ‘retire.’”
Elan reminisced about his family, his youth, and Israel at the SWJC’s annual meeting at Temple Shalom from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 15.
He ultimately bid this large audience a fond farewell — at least until he resumes his Middle East briefings to the Dallas-Fort Worth area’s Jewish community in September. He’ll be using Skype to broadcast that long-distance message from Israel.
“It’s not goodbye,” Elan told the audience. “There is no word for ‘goodbye’ in Hebrew.”
Elan said Skype will be used to provide his signature Middle East briefings to the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center of Dallas, Congregation Ahavath Sholom in Fort Worth, and The Legacy Willow Bend senior living residence in Plano.
“Susan will teach how to hook up to projectors and we’ll have a few dry runs before I leave,” Elan said.
However, Elan said podcasting — creating a digital audio or video file or recording that can be downloaded — will be used to provide his audience with short updates on current events.
“People will be able to just hook up their earphones, click on my podcast and listen,” he explained.
Elan said both Skype-ing and podcasting will allow him to continue to reach his audience in the same basic time frame as before.
Elan, a former lieutenant colonel in the Israel Defense Forces, is a widely regarded expert on Israel and the Middle East. He has written multiple articles and columns on the subject. His biweekly TJP column combines his knowledge and wit into easy-to-read analyses on current events.
Elan said he will officially continue his work with the Southwest Jewish Congress after moving to Israel — although Susan Myers, executive director, will direct SWJC operations from North Texas.
“I will continue as president and CEO for the next year or so,” Elan told the TJP. “I will continue writing the TJP articles and continue to do the weekly update we send around.”
Elan — who has been married to his wife Esty for 45 years — has had years of pro-Israel advocacy experience in the United States. He said he will be continuing his work after moving to Israel because it is very important.
And, quite frankly, Elan enjoys it. He considers it fun.
“I long ago came to the conclusion that if what you do isn’t fun, there is no point in doing it,” Elan said. “Plus, I feel responsible about helping people understand what is going on in the Middle East.”
Elan said he and some members of his family — his wife, his daughter, son-in-law, and four of his grandchildren — are moving to Tirat Carmel, a city in the Haifa District in Israel.
“I will be on the beach, where we will live,” Elan said.
Elan has seven grandchildren — his daughter’s four kids and an additional three from his son, who lives in Sarasota, Florida.
Elan said he and his family leave Dallas around July 12 or 13 and will drive to Sarasota, where they will spend the week with his son and his son’s children.
On July 28, Elan will leave his vehicle in Sarasota. He and his wife, daughter, son-in-law, and four grandchildren will then fly straight to Tel Aviv.
Meanwhile, the SWJC held annual elections during their Wednesday, June 15 meeting.
The following 2016-2017 slate of officers was selected: Harry Ploss, founding chair; Jonathan M. Spigel, chair; Susie Salfield Avnery, Bruce E. Bernstien, and Nelda Golden, vice chairs; Keo Strull, secretary; and Mel Meyers, treasurer.
The following members of the 2016-2017 board of directors were selected: incoming member Hilary Blake; Richard Barrett-Cuetara; Gordon Cizon; Lauren Cohen; Michael B. Cohen; incoming member Laura Ermini; Andy Farkas; Ardo Fuentes; Michael B. Glazer; Robert Alan Goldberg; Stan Golden; Janet S. Goldsmith; Mark E. Jacobs; Marla Greenberg Janco; Cindy Ray; Dr. Marion Sobol-Helgason; Rose Marie Stromberg; incoming member Alan Tolmas; and Jenny Walters.