I feel like I just got back from the alumni version of the “Truman Show.” In Dallas Texas, if you are a community leader and are not an NCSY Alum as a kid, advisor, board member or all of the above, you are the exception not the rule. I was in for the Bar Mitzvah of Rabbi Israel and Baila Lashak's son Gavi. Rabbi Lashak is the Southwest Regional Director of NCSY and a world class Torah Orator in both English and Spanish. As can be expected the kid is so dynamic that the roof on the gorgeous new shul cannot contain his explosive personality. Everywhere I went I was greeted like a Godol Hador. I was driven around, treated to meals in three of the many kosher restaurants; the Rosh Kollel came over to where I was staying to greet me. My former Chavrusa and closest friend gave me every honor possible. It was pretty hard leaving the Dream Community of Dallas even though I don't believe them when they said it had never snowed so much before!
The Rosh Kollel Rabbi Fried is an alumnus, the Principal's wife Becky Sukof Udman is an alumnus, the man who makes it all come together, Oscar Rosenberg is an alumnus, and I could go on!
What I was most impressed with though was the Rebbeim in the community. I only got to visit one of the Orthodox shuls but there are more and higher quality educators in that one shul than any shul in New York. This is a feat I would never have believed without seeing it myself. For example, I was trying to understand an Orach Chaim on the use of an awl to put a hole in the Jewish slave's ear when he refuses his freedom. The gematria of the Hebrew is 400 and this alludes to the olamei kesef. I had no idea what this was. I asked Rabbi Lashak and he immediately directed me to a Rav Cohen who without missing a beat told me that the cave that Abraham bought to bury Sarah his wife cost 400 silver coins which alludes to the world to come vs. 300 which would allude to this world. So by using the awl 400 to stay a slave one gives up his world to come for the pleasures of this world instead…I stand corrected. I'm not sure 1 in 10 shuls in NY would have someone who could understand and explain that concept off the top of their head!!
Anyways, if you want to visit a model Jewish community, Dallas will be hard to beat.
Have an awesome Shabbat,