For the past 28 years, the Dallas Area Torah Association (DATA) has been extremely influential in shaping the Dallas Jewish community, and helping it grow and develop into a makom Torah. Under the leadership of Rabbi Yerachmiel Fried, Rosh Kollel, and Rabbi Bentzi Epstein, director, DATA has branched out into several divisions, spreading Torah and mitzvos throughout the Dallas Metroplex.
After decades of kiruv efforts, many families who are baalei teshuvah have become rooted in the community. People were thirsting for more and more, and ultimately several new mosdos were established in the city, including Congregation Ohr HaTorah (an Agudah-type shul), Torah Day School of Dallas and Mesorah Girls High School.
However, the time has come for even more. “As the community grew, we realized that we had to go back and dedicate more efforts to in-reach, to help those who had become frum continue to grow,” explained Rabbi Fried.
The result was the Dallas Community Kollel, a branch of DATA which was just launched for this Elul zman, with five yungeleit and a new Rosh Kollel, Rabbi Tzvi Rosenshein, a talmid of Shaar HaTorah, Yeshivas Brisk and Beth Medrash Govoha.
“The kollel has reached a point where adjustments needed to be made,” remarked Rabbi Shaya Fox, one of the DATA yungeleit. “It was because of our success, and the growth of the community, that we needed more.”
The goal of the Dallas Community Kollel is to focus more on in-reach, while DATA will remain dedicated to outreach. The new yungeleit will learn for two sedarim a day; DATA yungeleit will learn together with them during morning seder, and they will engage in kiruv or administrative work in the afternoon.
In the evenings, the kollel will strengthen the community night seder, with increased opportunities for chavrusa learning and shiurim with community members. All three sedarim of learning will take place in Ohr Hatorah, providing community members with the opportunity to witness the vibrancy of authentic limud haTorah.
Rabbi Rosenshein shared his vision for the Dallas Community Kollel. “We hope to help Dallas develop into a greater makom Torah and create a strong ruach haTorah in the kehillah. Our goal is to nurture an environment where anyone can come in, witness the learning, and join together with us. In this manner, we will elevate community members in many aspects of avodas Hashem.”
Forming the kollel during corona was not an easy feat; it was with much siyatta diShmaya that it came to fruition. “I clearly saw the Yad Hashem,” recalls Rabbi Rosenshein. “There was no sense of kochi v’otzem yadi. It was clearly the Ribbono shel Olam guiding us every step of the way. I met with people in many different ways — often outside, wearing masks. We now have a wonderful group of yungeleit who are all very excited to be a part of this wonderful community and help it to grow further. They want to be part of something bigger; they want to be part of a community. In fact, for many of the yungeleit, COVID prompted them to think more about their future and gave them a push to aspire to do more.”
As one Rebbi from the Mirrer Yeshivah in Eretz Yisrael said, “This new group of yungeleit is extremely impressive. Dallas has a lot to be proud of, and a lot to look forward to.”