Jewish Longhorns reconnect at Dallas Alumni event

By Rachel Goodman

On Sunday, Aug. 24, Jewish Texas Exes in Dallas gathered at the Ginger Man in Uptown to catch up with old friends, show support for Rabbi Zev and Ariela Johnson and the UT Chabad, and to display Jewish unity in light of the tension in Israel these past few months.

The reunion was the second of its kind, with upwards of 50 alumni attending. There was a wonderful atmosphere and camaraderie as the alumns caught up with each other and Rabbi Zev and Ariela.

“I hear from so many alumni about how hard it is being thrown into the workforce. It’s a transition,” Rabbi Johnson said. “Events like these allow them to remove some of the barriers and intensity of the working world and revisit a simple place and a simple time when they were in college.”

The intimate setting proved terrific for casual conversation, but also for more serious topics to be discussed. No one could ignore the constant stream of news from Israel that has been on everyone’s minds.

“Anti-semitism and antiIsrael sentiments are at an all time high in academic circles and these sentiments are threatening to Jewish students on college campuses,” said UT alumn Dr. Zev Shulkin. “At a time when the Jewish Community frets about what is occurring on college campuses, Rabbi Zev and Ariela Johnson are all about what is right with Jewish life on a university campus. They provide a home for Jews and they are helping to develop a foundation for a lifetime of Jewish leadership.”

There is much more to the UT Chabad than Shabbat services and meals. This semester, which is Israel focused, is filled with special classes, interesting speakers, holiday activities and more.

“I went to show support for [Rabbi Zev and Ariela’s] hard work and I encourage others to as well,” Shulkin continued. “They attract a wide spectrum of the young Dallas community and this shows the impact they have made on hundreds of former students.”

Appreciation and support was most definitely on many of the alumni’s minds. In addition to Rabbi Johnson speaking, both Jonathan Itzhakov, a member on the alumni board, and Jarret Arkin, a UT and Birthright alumn, lent their thoughts to those in attendance.

“Giving back is both a way to say thanks for the experiences we’ve had and ensures that what is here today exists tomorrow (and, hopefully, in an enhanced state),” Itzhakov said to the crowd. “Giving back strengthens community ties, brings people together and leads to positive outcomes across the board.” Itzhakov has led by example, sponsoring the first Shabbat of the semester at the Rohr Chabad Jewish Student Center at UT. Arkin also made a financial commitment in support of Jewish Longhorn life.

“We have a big future out there and many alumni turned to me with some great ideas and advice on how to build a strong Jewish Texas Exes alumni network,” Rabbi Johnson said. “Stay tuned!”


Rachel Goodman is a UT sophomore.