DJHS Board of Directors Spotlight: Michael B. Cohen

Dallas Jewish Historical Society is privileged to honor and recognize Michael B. Cohen, who has been a member of the Board of Directors since 2013!

Michael recalls, “In those days, experienced board members included Pauline Graivier, Elya Naxon, and Harriet Gross with Past Presidents Ginger Jacobs and Ruth Andres often in attendance. Stuart Rosenfield was wearing short pants at that time [he says in jest of his life-long friend who also a fledgling board member around that time and later became President of DJHS].

Michael is a native Dallasite and lawyer by trade. His memories and connections, attention to detail, and insight regarding the nuances of law have proved invaluable both for business operations and overall culture of the Board of Directors. Michael originally joined the board because he wanted to be a part of preserving the history of his community: “Although history is being made daily, the knowledge of our local rich Jewish heritage and the lessons from the past should give great pride for generations to come.”

In addition to reviewing legal documents for the agency, and participating on various committees over the years, Michael has participated in many programs and speaking engagements on behalf of DJHS – most recently he was part of panel discussing the notion of L’Dor V’Dor and ethical wills (available for viewing on

Upon reviewing his tenure with DJHS, Michael is most proud of the growth of our oral history project and our archival collections, recent fundraising events that have reached unprecedented heights in revenue growth, increased interest in our annual lecture series, and how the board has been shaped: “Jimmy Schwartz was a great president. Stuart built upon what Jimmy did and increased DJHS to a higher level; and Jeanette has built upon that to the highest level I have seen during my terms of being on the board.” He is also impressed by how DJHS was able to reach a new audience with our very successful Annual Meeting program featuring several local sportscasters – Michael notes that it was “an illustration of history being made in our time.”

In closing, Michael wants us all to know that, to him, DJHS means: “to know where you are going or where you want to go, it is best to know from you came – our roots. The fabric of our history grows daily and should be cherished.”

Testimonials from the Board:

We all know people who have dedicated their lives to helping others.  Michael Cohen is one of those people.

Michael has spent much of his adult life serving on boards, being a radio personality, volunteering his time, and he even became a professional helping those navigate the legal intricacies many of us face in our later years.

For the past decade, we have been fortunate to have Michael serve on our board. His wisdom, humor, and overall sense of caring helped us navigate many issues of the day, whether in a financial, legal, or programming capacity.  We were fortunate in that time to have Michael, as he was also busy serving on several other boards at the same time, but when we needed his advice or counsel, he was always there for us.

This is not surprising, as Michael learned from the master the importance of service. If you were in Dallas in the 1960s, 70s, and early 80s, you knew of Michael’s mom, Bess Cohen, who was just about everywhere on the Dallas Jewish Community service scene. Bess was on many boards and committees at the same time, just like Michael, and her impact on those organizations was felt for decades after she stepped down from those positions.

Michael, in your case, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree.  Like your mom, your impact with not only our organization but other organizations will be felt for years.  Thank you for your decade of service to the DJHS, and we hope to see you at future events.

                                                                                                                                                –Stuart Rosenfield




DJHS Board of Directors Spotlight: Mitch Meyers

Dallas Jewish Historical Society is privileged to honor and recognize Mitch Meyers, currently a member-at-large on our Executive Board, who has been with us nearly six years!

He was originally approached by his dear friend and Past President of blessed memory, Jim Schwartz, and later asked by immediate Past President Stuart Rosenfield. Mitch felt compelled to participate in the preservation of Dallas Jewish History. When asked about his tenure, Mitch jests, “Like in the Godfather, every time I try to get out…they pull me back in.”

Since 2018, Mitch has conducted oral history interviews—specifically to commemorate an annual gathering, The Christmas Day Classic (and its participants), that is near and dear to his heart—volunteered at programs and events, planned many programs and events, and has been a voice of unique perspective. Mitch is particularly proud of “learning to work collaboratively with the DJHS Board, the Executive team, and helping to lead us into the future for the new leaders at DJHS.”

Some personal highlights for Mitch over the last several years include:

– Our program featuring Dallas raised sports journalists Laken Litman, Dani Sureck and Becca Genecov. These ladies were impressive and all are in the sports business from Dallas. As we mentioned at the program, we can’t wait to see where they are in five years.

– Our program with Brad Sham, voice of the Dallas Cowboys. Chuck Cooperstein, voice of the Dallas Mavericks, and Robert Steinfield, producer extraordinaire. Interviewed by Mark Elfenbien, radio host of The Ticket. A very lively night with audience participation. 

– Christmas Day Classic Movie – We held a virtual movie of the Christmas Day Classic movie during covid that brought a lot of people to the DJHS.

– The Life and Times of Jim Schwartz – A live concert event that showcased the life and times of Jim. The committee, including Suzy Schwartz and Rusty Cooper helped create a beautiful event showcasing Jim, his time with DJHS, and his many friends and family memories. 

The mission of DJHS resonates with Mitch on a personal level, as he notes: “It means to me, to help connect the present and future generations with Jewish Dallas through Oral history and programs. To help keep the past as a living legacy for our Dallas Jewish community. I’m hopeful that I have helped in some small, fun and entertaining way.”

Testimonials from the Board:

“It was a night I will always remember … and it was all because of Mitch Meyers!        

Mitch contacted me in 2022 to talk about an event he wanted to do honoring Jim’s contributions to the DJHS. He had a fabulous idea to somehow integrate Jim’s well-known passion for music along with remarks from people who knew Jim, bringing him to life both as a community servant and as a friend, family member, colleague and more. The result was fantastic; spirited, fun, inspirational… sold out/SRO! I am so grateful that Mitch made this happen AND that I had the opportunity to get to know this man whose reputation precedes him.  He is one of the nicest human beings I’ve known and had the opportunity to work with creatively, logistically and otherwise.  He is a GREAT asset to the DJHS and I am sure Jim is smiling, so pleased that Mitch has lent his talents to his (Jim’s ) favorite organization!” — Suzy Schwartz

Mitch kept our programming going during the pandemic. If not for him, DJHS would have been silent! He brought us two outstanding programs for our annual meetings that highlighted members from our Dallas Jewish community in the sports field. Mitch also had the passion and vision to organize a very special tribute to celebrate Jim Schwartz, OBM, filled with music, friends, and sweet memories that raised funds for the lecture series in Jim’s name. Mitch has served on our executive board for the past two years and has done numerous Oral History interviews. His wit, insight and leadership have brought so much to our organization. We appreciate him!”  — Jeanette Pincus

“Over the past 3 years, Mitch has executed new and innovative programs that have been both well received and well attended. These programs have significantly increased publicity for the DJHS and resulted in new DJHS memberships as well as a increased connectivity to a larger pool of people in the Dallas Jewish community.” – Stuart Rosenfield

DJHS Board of Directors Spotlight: Stuart Rosenfield

Dallas Jewish Historical Society is privileged to honor and recognize longtime board member and past President of DJHS, Stuart Rosenfield!

Stuart served as President of DJHS for six years after serving on the Executive Committee and general board for many years prior to that. Upon stepping down in 2022, Stuart has remained active on the board, spearheading more than one committee, and offering advice whenever needed.

Stuart has been a constant – a consistent masthead, a voice of reason, motivation, and support through many years of uncertainty and, this past year, immense transition – even after stepping down as President. He continues to support DJHS because the mission, the stories, the history of the organization and the history of this community are near and dear to his heart. Just as he is near and dear to ours.

Stuart joined the board in 2011 after being asked by a member of the nominating committee – “I felt it was important to preserve the history of Jewish Dallas,” he recalls.

On the success and exponential growth of the agency during his time, Stuart notes:

“Together with many great mentors and leaders, we transformed the DJHS from a little known agency into a much more recognized integral part of the Dallas Jewish Community.  We upgraded our technology to better serve our members, developed innovative programming to highlight/inform about Dallas Jewish History, and honored many great people who had an impact on not only the Dallas Jewish Community, but the entire Dallas area community as well.  Our board consists of a diverse group of Dallas leaders from multiple generations who share the same commitment and drive to preserve and promote our history.

A personal highlight for me has been the opportunity to meet and work with some amazing people over the years. Some of these people I’ve known since BBYO while others I’ve grown to know and admire through our mutual board work on the DJHS.

Jews have been a major part of Dallas’s growth and success for 150 years. The DJHS is the primary research resource and repository for the history of Jewish Dallas.  No other organization has the type of programming we offer, which includes guest speakers, authors, genealogy programs, archive preservation programs, digitally-preserved and accessible oral histories, as well as an archive (managed by a professional archivist) with over 15,000 artifacts.“

Testimonials from fellow board members:

  Stuart is one of the most intelligent people I’ve ever known. His written and oral skills are excellent as are his leadership abilities- he was an effective and wonderful DJHS President. We truly benefitted under his presidency. He also has a great wry sense of humor on top of it all! – Jo Reingold

How blessed we have been to have Stuart’s leadership over these many years. He has an uplifting perspective on how to work with others, how to work thoroughly and efficiently, and has the unsurpassed wisdom and vision for DJHS that is so close to his heart. He is such a pleasure, a terrific mentor and a true “mensch”! We are so proud to recognize Stuart for all he has done and who he is.  – Jeanette Pincus

Stuart, You are a tireless servant leader, devoting your life to service (after family). DJHS is indeed lucky to have had your leadership for so long! I’m out of town but am there in spirit! XO, Suzy Schwartz

Stuart, Thank you for your leadership for so many years, which has brought us to the great place that DJHS is now! Fondly, May Sebel

A Little Genealogy Goes a Long Way!

One afternoon in early 2013, I received a phone message from Rabbi Zell of Tiferet Israel. He said to call him back on his personal cell phone, so I did. He had received an odd e-mail from a man identifying himself as Douglas Parker from New York who believed he was a cousin of a congregant named Bill Pakowsky.

The rabbi, not knowing my maiden name, asked around to see if anyone knew of a Bill Pakowsky, to which Tina (Tobolowsky) Israel replied that the Pakowsky family had been very active at Tiferet Israel. Tina had provided the rabbi with my married name and phone number.

The rabbi wanted to know if it was OK to forward this e-mail to me and I said that was fine. I read it over very carefully. There were several details in it about my grandfather, Morris Pakowsky, and his family; things I didn’t know about, but Douglas Parker did. For example, my grandfather and father kept the original spelling of their last names, but the rest of the siblings (there were 7) didn’t. They ended up with “Parker,” “Parks” and a few other last names. This was all news to me, and I grew more and more interested in what this cousin had to say and what he knew.

Douglas included his phone number in case I wanted to call and chat. I reached him and we began our official connection with each other. He had done some research into his grandfather’s background and family tree, and that’s how he discovered that he had family in Dallas. He looked through newsletters of synagogues here and came across my father’s name – and, as they say, “The rest is history!!”

It’s been a wonderful discovery. I’ve visited my new cousin and his brother in New York, and his sister in California. We’ve kept in touch pretty regularly and I hope some day they’ll come here for a visit and a “Big D” welcome.

The moral? I encourage everyone to look into your family trees; you never know what goodies you’ll discover!!

Marcus Rosenberg and his Legacy of Jewish Learning in Dallas

Today, Dallas boasts six Jewish day schools. How did a city in the Southwest, one that could not keep even one Kosher restaurant in business in the 1970s, get to a point that it could accommodate and maintain so many Jewish schools? Actually, the seeds for Dallas’ diverse and growing Jewish community that supports these schools were planted more than 50 years ago by a man named Marcus Rosenberg.

Growing up in the idyllic town of Bardejov, Czechoslovakia, before World War II, Marcus’ rights and freedoms as a Jew were protected by a democratic government. However, when the fascist Hlinka party gained control of the country in 1939, the situation took a dire turn. Sympathetic to the Third Reich, the new government instituted a vast number of Nazi-like, anti-Jewish laws and began deporting its Jewish citizens “to the east.”

The Rosenberg family was torn apart by war, deportations and horrific experiences in the Nazi death camps. Miraculously, Marcus and three of his siblings survived, returning to Bardejov to rebuild their lives. Within a few years, the country was again taken over, this time by Communists – and the Rosenbergs escaped to the United States.

Marcus found his way to Dallas to reunite with family members in the area, and in his new life here, he emerged as a dynamic, unstoppable businessman and influential philanthropist who greatly enriched Jewish life in the city. It was in Dallas that Marcus established the first sustainable Jewish day school, Akiba Academy of Dallas.

When Marcus came out of Auschwitz, he struggled with serious questions about God. Although he was always profoundly silent about that period of his life, the effects of the war greatly impacted his personal theology. Yet, he loved being Jewish, and when the opportunity presented itself, he became fully committed to doing what he could to give children a strong Jewish education and identity. The best way for Marcus to dull the hurt in his heart was to give back to others, and in large part, he did this by obligating himself to the next generation.

From the establishment of Akiba Academy in 1962, the concept of educating Jewish children in a day school environment took hold, and other day schools were gradually established in the area, reflecting various Jewish denominations and the continual growth of the community.

For more information about the life of Marcus Rosenberg, his memoir, Markus, Planter of Trees, is available in the library of the Dallas Jewish Historical Society and in the Tycher Library at the J.

Let’s Pray for Each Other

I have a client in Atlanta who does bookkeeping; he is an incredibly nice guy and has a great practice, but what really sets him apart is his faith.

We produce a quarterly newsletter for him that includes a “president’s message” in which he expresses some kind of view, mostly about the future business outlook. For the most recent newsletter, he talked about prayer. I knew he was a deeply religious man; in fact, for his client gift this past holiday season, I made a donation to his local church in his honor. I was stunned when he sent us this message:

We recently made a decision to pray for each of our clients by name in our weekly team meetings. We have actually already had the opportunity to pray for particular needs that our clients have had, such as when they have lost a loved one or have been in the hospital.

We would love to be able to pray for you and/or your business more specifically. Obviously, we are not asking that you share anything personal or confidential in nature. But, if you have something you need prayer for and you feel comfortable in sharing, we would love to pray for you. Our desire is to not only see our clients experience God’s blessing in their business, but also in their families and personal lives.

I was deeply moved by his words, and while we have vastly different religions, I believe there is a strong, universal message here that anyone of us, regardless of our religion, can take away.

It’s prayer. Prayer for each other, our families, neighbors, co-workers and just about anyone else you can think of. In a time when our nation is divided on so many issues, it seems to me prayer is sorely needed in our lives. I’m not a preacher by any means; I’ve always considered myself more spiritual than religious, but I, for one, am going to pray more often.

It is the mission of the Dallas Jewish Historical Society to “preserve and protect collections of written, visual and audible materials that document the history of the Dallas Jewish community, to make these materials available to the public and researchers, and to keep the past as a living legacy for our community.” A huge part of this mission is rooted in Judaism, which translates – for me – to observing my Jewish values and heritage.

If this blog resonates for you, then that’s great; if it doesn’t, then I know you’ll find your own path to faith.