By Deb Silverthorn
WE Jewish Dallas is coming together at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26 — and on many occasions — for the community’s millennial spirit to shine. This week’s Sabbath blessings will be exchanged amid costumes, spooky drinks (BYOB) and dinner.
“Dallas’ millennial Jewish community is of natives returning and others making the Metroplex their home,” said Rabbi Heidi Coretz, director of SMU Hillel. “WE is, and we are, a bridge for them between college and the next step in their Jewish communal experiences.”
WE — which stands for We Engage — is open to Jewish adults ages 21-35, graduate students and working professionals all seeking Jewish community. Programs are, with Coretz’s support, created by, for and of the participants.
WE comprises young Jews gathering for friendship, learning and celebration, defined visually through the group’s logo created by WE board member William Taylor: a Jewish star, created of six puzzle pieces that interlock, as do attendees of WE’s programs — connecting and each finding a place, Coretz explained.
The WE Advisory Board comprises Lance Barnard, Isaac Feigenbaum, Zee Herrera, Hannah Kavy, Mindy Le, Marissa Mackler, Lisa Raizes, Richard Raizes, Oscar Schechter, Chad Sheinbein, Taylor, Aaron Tverye, Samantha Waldman, Marlo Weisberg and Trish Weisberg.
“Rabbi Coretz is more than a rabbi; she’s a Jewish mom minus the parenting. She’s loving and supportive and being with her is always a positive, fun and connective experience,” said Schechter, originally from Corpus Christi. One of WE’s founders, he’s an SMU graduate and Fidelity Investments network engineer. “Rabbi sponsors WE, making Shabbat, learning, activities — whatever we’re searching for — available. WE is creative, exciting and open.”
Programs are scheduled three times a month, each independent Events scheduled from now through February — WE Shabbat, WE Learn and WE Social — take place at SMU, at offices, venues and in the homes of participants and Rabbi Coretz. All events providing meals include vegetarian options.
2018 events have included a Passover Seder at Thanks-Giving Square, a WE Shabbat barbecue and a WE Shabbat + Tango with Spanish wine tasting, a night in the sukkah, and this Monday’s first Torah + Tacos dinner.
Future WE Shabbat events include this week’s WE Spooky Shabbat, a Nov. 16 WE Shabbat + Art (Nasher Museum picnic), Jan. 18 WE Shabbat + Tu B’Shevat, and the Feb. 8 WE Shabbat +D (at D Magazine).
Upcoming WE Learn programs, Torah + Tacos, are scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 19, Jan. 28 and Feb. 25.
WE Social nights are a Nov. 8 WE + Dali (at the SMU Meadows Museum’s Dalí’s Aliyah: A Moment in Jewish History), a Dec. 5 WE Chanukah + Wine (Total Wine will host), Dec. 23 WE Sound Bath + Social (at member Rachel Fox’s The Refuge meditation center), and a Jan. 6 WE Movie + Discussion.
“I’ve been away for seven years, and connecting through WE is one way I’m finding a sense of community,” said Feigenbaum, a Dallas native who attended Akiba Academy and Torah Day School of Dallas. Now director of business development at Sinai Urgent Care, he studied in Israel, New Jersey and New York. “We’re of varying careers and ages, and raised in all levels of Jewish observance. Who WE are is a generation excited about experiencing Jewish identity together.”
A grant from the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, $10,000 for 2018-2019 and through the 2020-2021 year, and a gift from within the community makes it possible for most events to be free for participants.
“We are proud of our investment made by the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas’s planning and allocations committee to provide WE with a grant. This is in line with our overall outreach and engagement strategy of the next generation of philanthropists,” said Gary Wolff, Federation chief operating officer. “Additionally, this grant will complement the work of our Young Adult Division as it continues to focus on leadership and educating young leaders in our community.”
Joining the Federation in support are the family, colleagues and loved ones of Marion Sobol, of blessed memory, the first tenured female professor at SMU’s Cox School of Business.
“Anything to help our young people connect and keep to their roots was and would be meaningful to both Marion and me. Heidi, of whom I can’t say enough, has an exquisite talent of interfacing with young people,” said Sobol’s widower, Dick Helgason, professor emeritus in SMU’s Department of Engineering Management, Information and Systems. They were married by Coretz in 2010. “We attended many Hillel programs, all of them successful and informative, and with our gift, we absolutely trust Heidi to continue her amazing work.”
Coretz and the WE board are beyond enthusiastic for the gifts, which “support this sacred work,” she said. “As the next generation of Dallas’ Jewish community leaders, our world’s community leaders, moves past Hillel’s undergrad programming, we hope to connect at this crucial time in their lives.”
For additional details of times and locations, more information or to RSVP for WE events or further contact, visit the WEJewishDallas Facebook page or wedallas.org.
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