In the beginning:
On October 20, 1965, an organizational meeting was held. Nine days later, worshippers gathered at SMU’s Perkins Chapel and, led by Louis Cohen, held their first service.
Seventy eight people signed an application for a Charter in the State of Texas, which was approved in December 1965. Thus, Temple Shalom came into being. Service were held at St. Mark’s Chapel for the first year.
This was the first time in almost 100 years that a Reform Jewish Congregation was born in Dallas, Texas.
An indestructible warmth and congeniality existed among the members from the beginning, an extended family. In February we consecrated our portable ark; in March we formed a choir and consecrated our Torah; and in April we established a Sisterhood. Congregation Shearith Israel presented us with the gift of a Sefer Torah in June in our new shared facilities at Northaven Methodist Church.
Our worship services were conducted by members of the congregation who studied the history and meaning of our liturgy. We welcomed out first Rabbi, Hirshel Jaffe, in July 1966. We were now 112 families. We held our first Sunday School classes in September at The Hockaday School.
We purchased 14 acres of land in July 1967, broke ground in 1971, and held our first service at our own facilities in September 1972. We had held services at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Sunday School at Ursuline, and had an office in the upstairs of a furniture store. Our second Rabbi, Saul Besser, joined us in July 1969 and was with us until 1984.
History of our Clergy and Professional Staff
Kenneth Roseman succeeded Rabbi Besser in 1985 and became Emeritus in 2002. His successor, David Lyon, came in 2000 and assumed the senior position in 2002 and then moved to Houston. Rabbi Andrew Paley has been our Senior Rabbi since May 2004.
Our first Associate Rabbi was Steve Jacobs in 1976, followed in turn by Murray Berger in 1977, Mark Goodman in 1982, Jordan Parr in 1986, Elizabeth Stern in 1992, Rick Schechter in 1997, Robert Haas in 2002, and Jeremy Schneider in 2006. Ariel Boxman was Rabbi-Educator on June 24, 2013. Michael Harvey was Rabbinic Intern from June 2014-March 2015. Ariel Boxman was Rabbi-Educator from June 2013-June 2019.
Cantor Don Alan Croll joined us in 1996 to replace Lisa Lipco Levine who had been our Cantor from 1989 to1996. Cantor Croll became Cantor Emeritus when he retired on May 31, 2013. Cantor Devorah Avery became Cantor on July 1, 2015.
In 1993, Rivka Arad became our Religious School Director (until 2009), in 1998 Bonnie Rubinstein became our Preschool Director (until 2010), in 2005 Steve Lewis became Executive Director, and Barrett Harr became Youth Director in 2006. Barrett Harr was promoted to Director of High School and Youth Programs in 2009 and served in that position until May 2013. Deborah Massarano served as our Director of Lifelong Learning from June 2009-May 2013. Jane Kadosh was our Director of Early Childhood Education from 2010-2011. Sara “Rosie” Tesson, a former Temple Shalom SHFTY-ite, became Youth Advisor in August 2013. Melissa Beldon became Youth Advisor in July 2014. Michaela Rollins became Youth Advisor in July 2016. Janel Cassorla was Youth Advisor 2018-2019. Emma Eichelbaum and James Darling became Youth Advisors for 8th-12th graders in June 2019. Marcy Finn was our Religious School Principal from 2019-2020. Debbie Niederman, RJE became Director of Lifelong Learning in May 2020.
In 2013, emphasizing the commandment to “teach them diligently to your children,” we eliminated religious school tuition for our children, making religious school a standard part of membership.
Temple Shalom is an integral and leading part of the Jewish community in Dallas and of the Union of Reform Judaism (URJ). We have thriving Sisterhood and Brotherhood and youth programs. We are active in interfaith relations across the Metroplex and we welcome interfaith families within our congregation.