Marilyn Pailet: 2023 ALSHA “Born to Rock” Honoree

Marilyn – wife, mother, grandmother (Mimi), friend and realtor – has  been a true gift to DJHS. Her memory of early Dallas extends back to pre-DJHS where her authority comes naturally by being born into one of Dallas’ bedrock Jewish families. Her parents were the beloved Frances and Ervin Donsky. After teaching high school for 2 years, Marilyn joined her family’s business, Sterling Jewelers. After 43 years, Sterling’s closed. Marilyn and her 3 siblings, Michael, Howard and her sister Gayle Borovay, have carried on the family tradition of contributing greatly to the Dallas community.

Marilyn was born during WWII, attending Highland Park schools, and was an active member of Zesmer BBG, and Young Judea. After graduating from Tulane University, where she was a member of the Jewish Sorority, Sigma Delta Tau, and President of Hillel, she married Harrell Pailet in 1962. They recently celebrated their 60th anniversary. Harrell was an officer in the Army, where they were stationed for 2 years in Germany. During that time, they adopted their son, Eric, who was born in a US Army hospital. Upon their return to Dallas, they adopted their second son, Jeffrey, through Jewish Family Service. Their family was complete as Marilyn and Harrell were then blessed with their third son, Kevin and shortly after, their fourth son, David.

Marilyn is in her thirtieth year with Ebby Halliday Realtors. She has received numerous business awards from Big D Magazine as Best Realtor and Texas Monthly Best Realtor.

In Marilyn’s service to the community, some of her countless leadership roles have included Chair of the Federation’s Teen Tour, serving on the DJHS board, Vice-Chair of the JCC, Shearith Israel, Akiba Academy Academy PTA, Hebrew Free Loan, National Council of Jewish Federations Women’s board, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas (where she served as Champaign Chair & Division President), President of Chai Chapter of B’nai B’rtih Women, National Hillel board and the North Texas Hillel Vice-Chair.

Marilyn has been the recipient of the Jewish Federation of Great Dallas’ Frances Donsky Achievement Award and the Helen Gross Leadership Award. She was presented the L’Dor V’Dor award by the State of Israel Bonds. She is a life-member of Hadassah, Jewish Women International, National Council of Jewish Women and Shearith Israel Sisterhood. She was on of the 2013 Torah Fund honorees.

In recognition of Marilyn’s extraordinary commitment to our Jewish Community, it is an honor to present Marilyn Pailet with the Ann Sikora Humanitarian Award.

Liz Liener: 2023 ALSHA “Born to Rock” Honoree

Liz, a third-generation Dallasite, graduated Phi Beta Kapa from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Computer Science before joining Ericsson Inc. During her 17-year tenure at Erricsson, she married Robert Liener, and had three children, Aaron, Benjamin and Sarah.

Liz and Robert’s children attended Akiba Academy and Yavneh, believing strongly in Jewish education. Liz began volunteering at their school. She served on the Akiba School Board, serving as their VP of Education, then President. Additionally, she served as Board Trustee at Yavneh. When the schools merged, Liz joined the steering committee.

Liz authored and published a memoir, Markus, Planter of Trees, about the late Marcus Rosenberg, a Holocaust survivor, who was a prominent businessman, philanthropist, and influential member of the Dallas community.  He and his wife, Ann, were instrumental in founding Akiba Academy and Congregation Shaare Tefilla, planting the seeds of Dallas’ thriving Orthodox community.

Over the past two decades, Liz has taken multiple key leadership positions in our community to include serving on the boards of JCC of Dallas and The Legacy Senior Committee. She is the current Board Chair of Legacy at Home, and has additionally served as Vice Chair of Maccabi Games, Chair of Dallas Jewish Book Fair, JCC Cultural Arts Chair, VP of Portfolios for the JCC Preschool, Membership and Premiere Memberships. She was also on the Planning and Allocation Committee for JFGD.

Liz has received the JCC Leader of the Year Award.

Liz has been involved with the Dallas Jewish Historical Society (DJHS) for the past 11 years, first as a board member, then advancing to Vice President, a position she held through 2019. She has been an integral part of DJHS’ growth this past decade, imparting her wisdom and helping the organization with her outstanding non-profit expertise.

It is with great pride, DJHS honors Liz Liener, with the Ann Sikora Humanitarian Award for her outstanding vision, dedication, and commitment to our Jewish community.

Jeri Finkelstein: 2023 ALSHA “Born to Rock” Honoree

Jeri is a third-generation Dallasite. In 1995, she became the Executive Director of Dallas Kosher (The Vaad Hakashus of Dallas, DK), and currently serves as Board President. Under her leadership, DK has grown exponentially to include a wide range of restaurants, caterers, and food programs; assisting with kosher supermarkets, kosher sections in grocery stores and kosher events throughout our city. Jeri has also held leadership roles with the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, JFGD Women of Philanthropy, Israel Bonds, ADL, The Holocaust and Human Rights Center, JCC of Dallas, Jewish Women’s International (formally B’nai B’rith Women), National Council of Jewish Women, Chabad, Congregation Shaare Tefilla and Shearith Israel.

Jeri with a 1990s appointment from the State of Texas, was the first Chairperson of the Charitable Bingo Committee of the Texas Lottery Commission, raising proceeds benefitting many local Jewish schools and non-profit organizations. She also was integral in raising funds for the Jerusalem Hills Therapeutic Center in Israel, and Jewish Family Service’s Special Needs Program in Dallas. In the last three decades, Jeri’s efforts resulted in making available over $3.5 million in grants.

Over forty years ago, Jeri chartered a new chapter of B’nai B’rith Women, “The Career Network Chapter.”  In doing so, Jeri educated, conducted leadership training, and personally mentored many young women. Today, these women have continued to carry leadership roles throughout our Jewish Community.

Jeri, and her husband, Bill (JFGD Immediate Past Board Chair), have been married 51 years. They have 3 married daughters, Robin Stone (Evan), LeLe Sadoughi (Armand) and Shana Bygott-Webb (Sam). They have 8 grandchildren. Jeri is the sister of Kenny and Neil Goldberg.  Jeri’s parent’s Bob & Lois Goldberg “z”l”, who both passed away in 2020, lived a shining example of L’dor V’dor during the 74 year marriage.

It is with great pride, DJHS honors Jeri Finkelstein, with the Ann Sikora Humanitarian Award for her outstanding vision, dedication, and commitment to our Jewish community.

Who, What, Why?: The Ann Loeb Sikora Humanitarian Awards

Ann Loeb Sikora was a native Texan with roots in Ballinger and Sweetwater. After attending University of Texas – Austin, Ann returned to Sweetwater to work in her family’s business, Levy’s Department Store. Eventually, Ann made her way to Dallas where she worked in Neiman Marcus and became involved in community causes.

Endearingly dubbed a “professional volunteer,” she volunteered and/or served on the Board of Directors for a plethora of organizations including: United Way of Metropolitan Dallas; Community Council of Greater Dallas; Greater Dallas Community Relations Commission; American Jewish Committee; Council of Jewish Federations; National Council of Jewish Women; Congregation Shearith Israel; and, Golden Acres –Home for the Jewish Aged.

Ann passed in 2001, leaving an emptiness in all areas in which she served and big shoes to fill for her successors. Ann Loeb Sikora was loved and respected by many. Her legacy is rooted in her devotion to countless causes in the Jewish and general communities. And, her time and attention continue to resonate today.

Beginning in 2002, the Dallas Jewish Historical Society initiated the Ann Loeb Sikora Humanitarian Award, which recognizes those individuals who have demonstrated outstanding commitment to public service and who stand as role models for future generations.

Click here to register to attend Born to Rock: Celebrating our Rock Stars on September 28, 2023.

Past Honorees:

Harold Kleinman z”l
Simon Sargon z”l
Andrea Weinstein

Rabbi Gerald Klein z”l
Janice & Arnold z”l Sweet

Nancy Kasten
Harold Pollman z”l
Leslie z”l & Howard z”l Schultz

Craig Budner
Angela Horowitz French

Lois Finkelman
Adlene Harrison z”l
Ann Margolin
Laura Miller
Florence Shapiro
Annette Strauss z”l

David Genecov z”l
Jeffrey Genecov
Sally Genecov
Julie Genecov Shrell

Melissa Weinfeld Ackerman
Brenda Weinfeld Bliss
Susan Shosid Bendalin
Karen Shosid Weinreb

Debra Polsky, In Memoriam – Baruch Dayan Emet

Since 2012, Debra Polsky had been the face of the Dallas Jewish Historical Society (DJHS). The path which led Debra to Dallas, was an interesting one, gaining countless years of invaluable Jewish leadership experience along the way.

Debra was born in New York and raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where she was very active in BBYO (B’nai B‘rith Youth Organization) and Young Judea. After graduating from the George Peabody College of Vanderbilt University, she returned to her hometown, where she taught elementary education while simultaneously working at the Chattanooga JCC. At various times, she was their Camp Director, Aquatics Director and Tween Program Director, while also making time to teach religious school at the conservative shul and volunteering as a BBG advisor. Debra was hired to work on the regional level for the Cotton States Region BBYO which led her from Chattanooga to Omaha, Nebraska, where she began work at the Omaha JCC. While there, she was the Adult & Singles Services Director, also taking on professional responsibility for the Cornbelt Region BBYO.  Debra worked to merge Cornbelt with the Missouri-Kansas Region to create Mid-America Region BBYO. which laid the foundation for her long career in Jewish Communal Service.

In Omaha, while working as BBYO Regional Director and reading Torah at the conservative shul, Debra was able to earn a Master’s Degree in Public Administration & Social Work from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Debra then moved to San Francisco as the regional director of BBYO’s Central West Region (Northern California) where she was also involved in the JCRC (Jewish Community Relations Council) and the “Free Soviet Jewry” movement. In 1989, an opportunity arose for Debra to make a move to Dallas as BBYO’s Executive Regional Director, which eventually led to an opportunity for her to join DJHS as their executive director.

Once in that position, Debra got right down to work. She began developing strong professional relationships between DJHS and several Dallas Jewish, secular and cultural organizations, improving outreach within the community. This resulted in a historical marker waiting to be  installed in the old Frogtown neighborhood near the Perot Museum; she has greatly enhanced the Oral History Project, where hundreds of interviews have been added to the collection; she was instrumental in the preservation of the Blue House, a historic Jewish dwelling that was saved from demolition and relocated; she had a Customer Relationship Management System installed to track donations; she implemented tight financial controls; she applied for and received numerous grants; she fostered a deep love of Jewish Dallas and the mission of DJHS; and she devoted herself to her work. With Debra’s leadership and support as the DJHS Executive Director, it is clear that she provided s solid backbone on which to grow the agency into the powerhouse she always envisioned.

As if that weren’t enough to fill her days, Debra also found time to work or volunteer for many other local organizations or agencies. A few of those included SMU Jewish Studies, Dallas Memorial Center for Holocaust Studies, Congregation Kol Ami, Congregation Tiferet Israel, JCC Dallas, JCRC, Kosher Chili Cook-off, Texas Women’s Foundation, Girl Scouts of North East Texas, Center for Jewish Education/Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Family Compass Families/First Program, the Dallas Association of Directors of Volunteers, and all this while teaching for over 25 years at the Florence Melton Adult Mini-School.

Click here to watch Debra’s Oral History Interview.

We would like to extend our deepest condolences to Debra’s family and friends, for her passing is a monumental loss for our community and those who knew and love her. Additionally, we thank Debra for everything she has done for us and in the community.

Information regarding Debra’s funeral service and Shiva will be shared via our website and social outlets as soon as we know more.