When Rabbi Ariel and Dr. Jessica Rackovsky moved to North Dallas in the summer of 2015, they didn’t need to cook for quite some time.
“Dallas is an incredibly hospitable community, and people cooked and sent us meals to cover us through the Yomim Tovim,” recalled Rabbi Rackovsky. “My wife then gave birth to our second child, and we had another steady stream of meals coming in. In fact, we had to politely tell people to please stop cooking for us because we were so well-covered.”
North Dallas counts about 300 frum families, and Rabbi Rackovsky leads Congregation Shaare Tefillah, the neighborhood’s Modern Orthodox shul with about 185 member families and counting. Congregation Ohr HaTorah, the Young Israel of North Dallas, and Achdut Yisrael offers more yeshivish and Sephardic minyanim, respectively. Far North Dallas, another frum neighborhood about 10 minutes away, counts around 200 frum families and is home to a Chabad center and a shul, Congregation Ohev Shalom.
Most parents send their children to either Akiba Academy, the co-ed Modern Orthodox yeshiva, or Torah Day School. Yavneh High School, housed with Akiba on a $20 million state-of-the-art campus, offers a co-ed education, while Mesorah High School for Girls and the Texas Torah Institute for boys, a branch of Chofetz Chaim, offer single-gender high schools.
There are six kosher restaurants, and pit master Chaim Goldfeder runs the Texas Kosher Barbecue traveling trailer, which is stationed in North Dallas but brings authentic barbecue cuisine on the road to various Jewish communities. Area grocery stores offer full-service kosher deli stations and bakeries with very reasonable prices.
Richard Rohan, 57, is a lifelong Dallas resident and has seen the city’s Jewish infrastructure change exponentially over the years. “Growing up, there was one Reform, one Conservative, and one Traditional shul and now, there are a couple dozen and at least six Orthodox shuls,” he said. “There are several eruvim and kosher restaurants where there were none a few decades ago.”
Richard highlights the enduring friendliness of the South as one of its biggest assets.
“I see many families who came here expecting only to ride out a fellowship or some such, only to conclude that they want to remain in Dallas because they enjoy life here and the friendliness of the people here so much,” he explained.
Texas itself offers a year-round warmth and plenty of job opportunities; doctors especially like practicing medicine in Texas, which has strict caps on medical malpractice lawsuits and is also home to many prestigious hospitals and medical schools. Dr. Rackovsky is an attending physician on the faculty of UT Southwestern.
One other attractive feature of Dallas? “It’s actually something Texas does not have,” said Rabbi Rackovsky, “and that’s a state income tax.”
The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.