Mid-Cities leaders, community
welcome new rabbi
by Janet Aaronson
Special to DJW
Jewish leaders joined members of Congregation Beth Shalom on Oct. 27 for the installation of Rabbi Ned Soltz as the synagogue's new spiritual leader.
The installation of Soltz at Beth Shalom was performed by Rabbi Lawrence Jackofsky, regional director of UAHC Southwest Council. It was part of an evening of joyful celebration that included a formal dinner, a havdalah service conducted by the ARFTY youth group, and a slide show of Congregation Beth Shalom over the years.
"This truly is a bashert moment, a moment meant to be," said Jackofsky.
Other special guests for the evening included Rabbi Ralph Mecklenburger of Beth-El Congregation in Fort Worth, Rabbi Baruch Zeilocovich of Ahavath Sholom Arlington Mayor Elzie Odom, and the Rev. Dick Lord of Rush Creek Christian Church in Arlington.
Mecklenburger, who has known Soltz for many years, told the gathering, "You have brought a mensch to town. Cherish him, as we around the county will."
The installation followed an elegant dinner honoring Soltz and his wife, Mary, and a sweet havdalah service led by youthful congregants, who related the elements of the service to their new rabbi.
"The wine, when it is spilled on the plate, is a sign of plenty. This reminds us how fortunate our congregation is to have a rabbi with such abundant talents."
"Smelling the spices reminds us of a sweet beginning with our new rabbi in the week to come."
"As we light the havdalah candle, the intertwined wicks remind us of the bond shared between a rabbi and a congregation."
Havdalah was followed by the formal installation. Jackofsky's comments were a poignant reminder of the duality of life and dark events in the world.
"This is a time of great opportunity, and yet it's also a time of great stress. I can think of no better rabbi coming to Arlington with all this swirling around us than Ned Soltz. There's a need for healing and you have no better rabbi to be a part of that process than Ned, with his positive outlook."
Marian Feld, chair of the Ritual Committee and a founding member of the synagogue, voiced the feelings of many congregants, who have gotten to know Soltz in the months since August when he joined Beth Shalom, the Jewish spiritual center of the Mid-Cities. "It's a chance to grow, not only number wise, but spiritually. ... He works with us, and I think that has brought Beth Shalom back to what we used to be when we were much smaller."
The highlight of the evening for many who attended was the slide show history of Congregation Beth Shalom. Think back, back to the synagogue's beginning in Marian and David Feld's family room. Think of younger, thinner members. Think of the jewelry store. Think of the pool hall. In the play, "The Music Man," townsfolk are warned of the evil effects of pool on young people, but early members of Beth Shalom led their young people to a pool hall for religious lessons. It was a rough-edged time, but also a time of great enthusiasm and forging of bonds.
In 20-plus years, Congregation Beth Shalom has grown considerably, moved to a more traditional home and now, with the addition of Soltz, its third rabbi, looks forward to new era of spiritual and community prosperity.
For more information, contact Executive Director Janet Aaronson, (817) 261-6211.
This story was published in the DallasJewishWeek
on: Thursday, November 15, 2001