Esther Hazan-Cohen

Esther Hazan-Cohen was born in 1950 in El Paso, Texas. Her mother was born in Mexico City and her father, raised in Turkey, served in the military during World War II and was stationed in Hawaii. Her family moved to Albuquerque in 1952, then to Oklahoma, and finally settled in Dallas. She attended Thomas Jefferson High School, followed by two years at the University of North Texas before meeting her husband, Jaime. They were married in 1971 and settled back in Dallas in 1977. Esther sent her children to Akiba Academy and worked with the PTA there, later becoming president of the school for two years. Following her presidency at Akiba Academy, Esther began working with Jewish Family Service and helped establish the program called “Centerpieces for Tzedakah”. She has been heavily involved in B’nai Zion and Bnei Akiva, and also served on the Board of Directors at Congregation Tiferet Israel.

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Sonny Hacker

Sonny Hacker z”l was born in 1931 in Brooklyn, New York. His mother, who worked in the garment district, and his father, a butcher, both came from Austria. Sonny went to the Drake School of Business, then went to work, and was drafted into the Navy. He went into naval aviation and then went into Aerial Gunnery School in Jacksonville, Florida. Sonny married  Merle in 1954, and together they had four children. Sonny was on the board of the Jewish Community Center in Dallas, led the membership committee at Congregation Shearith Israel, and was an active member of the Jewish community.

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Merle Hacker

Merle Hacker was born in 1935 in Jacksonville, Florida. She attended high school in Jacksonville and was the first one in her family to go to college. Merle went to the University of Florida for two years and then met her husband, Sonny, in 1952, while he was in the U.S. Navy stationed in Jacksonville. They married in 1954 and Merle began teaching kindergarten. She moved to Dallas with her husband and children in 1968, where she has been an involved member and supporter of the Jewish community. Merle has been a board member of Congregation Shearith Israel, working on its membership committee, was very active in the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, and also formed the first girls’ basketball league in the community.

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Ethel Gruen

Ethel Gruen was born in 1920 in New York City. She attended Julia Richman High School in downtown New York, which was the first time she and her twin brother, Sam, had been separated. Afterwards she went to Hunter College and married her husband, Ronnie z”l, in 1942. They settled down in New York and Ronnie was exempt from army service because he was a tool and dye maker. Ethel and her husband have always been very important advocates of Jewish education, having supported the Dallas Jewish community and its institutions like Akiba and Yavneh Academies in addition to Yeshiva University in New York. Ronnie and Ethel  were involved with the establishment and development of both Akiba Academy and Congregation Beth Torah and have served as major philanthropists in the Jewish community.

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Irwin Grossman

Irwin Grossman was born in 1931 in Paris, Texas, and moved to Dallas in 1937. His father came from Russia and his mother from Lithuania, but they met in Dallas. Irwin’s father started a dry goods store and later became a real estate investor. Irwin had his bar mitzvah at  Congregation Shearith Israel and later was confirmed at Temple Emanu-El. He attended MIT and later entered the general contracting business. Irwin was very involved in Golden Acres, building several buildings there, and eventually becoming president of Golden Acres as well. He also built some of the buildings at Temple Emanu-El and was vice president of Temple Emanu-El and of the Jewish Federation. Irwin, along with his wife, Irma, has been a very important member of the Dallas community.

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