Advisory Board | Jewish and Israel Studies

Advisory Board

Bernard Appel, Z"L: Bernard Appel was born and raised in Boston. Straight out of high school, he worked in a general merchandise and catalog discount house for ten years. During that time, he served in the US Coast Guard and graduated from Boston University School of Management evening division in 1959. He then joined Radio Shack as a buyer and worked his way up the ranks to merchandise manager, vice president of merchandising, senior vice president of merchandising and advertising, executive vice president of marketing, and, finally, President of Radio Shack. Mr. Appel later became the Chairman of Radio Shack and Senior Vice President of the Tandy Corporation. He arrived in Fort Worth in 1970. He currently runs Appel Associates, a marketing consultant service. He is also President of Safe City Commission Crime Stoppers and a member of various boards in the Fort Worth area. He is active in the Fort Worth community as a member of the Rotary Club, the International Board of Visitors at the M.J. Neeley School of Business at TCU, and the Board of Directors for Congregation Ahavath Sholom. On a national level, Mr. Appel is a member of the Board of Directors for the Singing Machine Company and the Business Products Advisory Committee for the Jewish National Fund. He is an Honorary Life Member of the National Commission of the Anti-Defamation League. He also belongs to the Masons of Tabernacle Lodge and the Shriners of Moslah Lodge. In 2002, He was inducted into the Consumer Electronics Hall of Fame and is the recipient of multiple awards from industry and Jewish organizations. Mr. Appel is married to Ellen, and they have three daughters and a son.

Susan Brokhin: Susan Brokhin is the youngest member on the Jewish Studies Program Advisory Board since its inception. She graduated with honors in political science in 2009 from UNT. Upon graduation, she moved to Jerusalem for a fellowship with the American Jewish Joint Distribution committee. While in Israel, Susan developed Oli'im and social entrepreneurship programs in Modi'in and Jerusalem. Moreover, Susan was the first fellow to develop youth programs with Bedouin teens in Rahat, a recognized Bedouin village. In 2010, Susan returned to Texas as the Political Affairs Director for the Consulate General of Israel in Houston. She later joined the City of Houston as the Community Outreach Manger for the City's Digital Inclusion Initiative, which works in underserved and at-risk Houstonian communities. Currently, Susan is the Director of Clinical Integration and Project Management at Legacy Community Health Services. Susan's involvement with the Jewish Studies Program during her time at UNT shaped her education and involvement with the Jewish Community. She is thrilled to be a member of the Board and to have the opportunity to help continue to grow this esteemed program.

Karen Cane: Karen E. Cane, a native Houstonian, spent her early childhood years at Kibbutz Alonim in Israel. Prior to attending the University of North Texas, Karen spent a year in Israel as a participant in Young Judea's Year Course program where she studied, volunteered, and spent time in an IDF basic training program. During her years at UNT, Karen served on the Hillel board as Membership Chair, Vice President, and later as the President of the organization. Additionally, she served as the Jewish Studies Ambassador for the College of Arts and Sciences and worked under the leadership of Dr. Golden at the Jewish and Israel Studies Program. Karen graduated from UNT in 2010 with honors in Fashion Merchandising, E-Merchandising and Business.

Currently, Karen resides in Dallas and works at Fossil Group, Inc. as the Global Brand Specialist for Emporio Armani Swiss Made Watches. In this role, Karen helps develop global brand strategies for the Emporio Armani Swiss Made watches. Past brands include Michele Watches, Burberry Watches, and Zodiac. Karen continues to be an active participant in the Dallas Jewish Community with strong ties to UNT.

Mike Friedman: Senior Vice President of Retail Services at CB Richard Ellis. He has 35 years of experience in commercial real estate, specializing in retail leasing and sales, dispositions, sale-leasebacks, shopping center sales, and retail land sales. He has represented clients such as 7-Eleven, Blockbuster, RadioShack, Pep Boys, Lone Star Restaurants, and WAMU. He is actively involved in numerous organizations and volunteers each week at Medical City Dallas and Children's Medical Center where he is a performing clown for children with cancer. Mr. Friedman holds a B.S. from the University of North Texas and a Masters of Real Estate Finance from Harvard University. He holds the position of Board of Directors at Harvard Real Estate Initiative, University of North Texas Alumni, Juvenile Diabetes of Greater Dallas, Cancer Foundation for Life, Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Legacy at Willow Bend, Jewish Family Service, and is also Board of Directors and President Legacy at Preston Hollow. Mr. Friedman is the past president of the Lions Club, a past board member of Dallas Hebrew Free Loan and was awarded the Stemmons Award in 2006. In 2013 he was awarded UNT's Outstanding Alumna Service Award.

Arnold Gachman: Arnold G. Gachman is the owner of Gamtex Industries, a 100-year-old family business, and has over 50 years' experience in the metalworking industry. He attended public school in Ft. Worth and graduated from R. L. Paschal High. He received his BBA degree in Financial Management from TCU. He is a past National President of ISRI, the trade association for recycling of ferrous & non-ferrous metals, glass, paper & plastic. He is also a past chair of the NASCOOP, past chair of Fort Worth Human Relations Commission, past vice chair of TCEQ and SBAC, a founding board member of the Texas Cast Metals Association, and the vice president of the Recycling Council of Texas. Arnold serves as the Chair of Trustees of Baylor All Saints and as a board member of Sammons Transplant Institute at Baylor Medical. Arnold is also on the Board of Governors of the Fort Worth Club. He is also the vice president of Beth El Congregation and Add Ran College of TCU Board of Visitors. He is the immediate past chair of University of North Texas Health Science Center Foundation and a member of the UNTHSC advisory board. He received the Person of Vision Award from UNTHSC in 2012. He also serves the Health Benefits Advisory Board of the City of Fort Worth. Arnold is married to Harriette Gachman, has two children and four grandchildren. They are members of Congregation Ahavath Sholom and Beth El Congregation, Jewel Charity Ball, Shady Oaks CC., and Fort Worth Club.

Marlene Gorin: Former Executive Director, Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Dallas.

Stephanie Hirsh, PhD: Dr. Stephanie Hirsh is executive director of Learning Forward, an international non profit membership association. Learning Forward's more than 10,000 members are committed to increasing student achievement and educator effectiveness through standards-based professional learning. She began her career as a secondary teacher and later served as a school district administrator in the Richardson (Texas) Independent School District. In 1996 she was elected to the Richardson school board and served for three terms. Today, Hirsh advises policymakers, state and local superintendents, foundation leaders, and other thought leaders on improving student learning through effective professional learning. She has co-authored more than ten books and numerous articles. She has been recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award by Learning Forward Texas; as a Distinguished Alumnae from the University of North Texas; and as Master Trustee and member of an Honor Board from the Texas School Boards Association. She has served on the boards of Temple Shalom, Jewish Community Center, Jewish Education Committee and JCRC of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas. Hirsh earned her masters and doctorate degrees from The University of North Texas and undergraduate degree from The University of Texas.

Michael Kissner: ​I am a UNT graduate (1970), a U.S Air Force Veteran and I am married with four children and four grandchildren and my wife and I are life-long residents of Dallas.
I am accredited as a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) and as a SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) with extensive executive-level experience in private and publicly held retail, wholesale, distribution, building materials, fresh food processing and petroleum companies working with diverse employee populations around the U.S., Canada and in Turkey.
I have a comprehensive understanding and a career based on business fundamentals and the importance of profitability, productivity, expense control and efficiency.
My public speaking ability is based on over twenty years of college level teaching experience in several business courses that demonstrated a strong commitment for my passion for training and people development in my HR career.
I am also a certified mediator having completed the graduate level certification program in Alternative Dispute Resolution at SMU.

William S. Lee, JD: Attorney and CPA. Principal areas of practice include mergers and acquisitions, contract negotiations, and income tax planning. Member of the board of Hebert Acquisitions, LLC in Austin, Texas. Formerly, board member of Tide-Air, Inc. of Houston, Texas, and Vice President and General Counsel of INDSPEC Chemical Corporation in Pittsburgh, PA. Member, State Bar of Texas, and a member and former board member of the Texas Society of CPAs and the Dallas Chapter, TSCPA. Past President of Congregation Kol Ami, Flower Mound, Texas.

Mike Leve: A 1970 UNT graduate with a B.S. in Education, Mike worked as a secondary school teacher from 1970 to 1973 at Terrell and Dallas, Texas schools where he became interested in the effect of vision problems on learning. Graduating from the University of Houston College of Optometry in 1979, Mike has practiced family optometry for 35 years in the Dallas area. He has been the owner of Leve Eyecare in Mesquite for the past 20 years and is a member of the Dallas County Optometric Society. Mike has participated for many years in Vision U.S.A., which provides free eye exams to the working poor, as well as the Sight for Students program. He has been married 44 years to Rita with whom he joyfully shares two daughters and six grandchildren.

Brett Levy: Senior vice president and senior financial advisor of the the Charne & Levy Group at Bank of America Merrill Lynch - Wealth Management since 2010. Brett was born in Johannesburg, South Africa. His strong accounting and financial background are the culmination and foundation of his graduate degree at the top ranked University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business (Hook 'em horns!). He earned his Master's degree in accounting (MPA) while concurrently obtaining his Bachelor degree in Business Administration (BBA) with a concentration in finance and accounting. Brett began his career at Price Waterhouse in their Audit and Business Advisory Services Group. He then joined the investment bank of CIBC Oppenheimer as a financial analyst and wealth manager. Brett utilizes a disciplined approach and robust financial tools to assist him in implementing strategies which include proactive performance audits, implementation strategies, financial reporting/analytics, and research & fund manager due diligence. He has lived in Dallas, Texas, for the majority of his life where he resides with his wife and two daughters in Plano. His wife, Jill (an RN at Baylor Plano Hospital) serves on the board of Anshai Torah, and he is an active member in numerous religious and charitable foundations.

Lou E. Pelton: Marketing professor at UNT, Lou (Ph.D., University of Mississippi) served as visiting scholar at prominent universities across the U.S. and abroad. His principal research interests include relationship marketing and international distribution. He is senior author of four marketing channels textbooks that are published in several languages. He is also senior editor of several books on business ethics. He has published more than 100 research articles in prominent journals and international conference proceedings.

Dr. Pelton has delivered educational programs and keynote addresses for governments, firms and tertiary institutions worldwide. Past President of the Association of Marketing Educators, Federation of Business Disciplines, he served as vice president of the Academy of Marketing Science, the American Marketing Association, and the World Marketing Congress. He represented the U.S. in the APEC Leadership Summits. He is recipient of national and university teaching awards, as well as the UNT President's Award.

Bernard Rapoport, Z"L: Bernard Rapoport, better known as B, was raised by Jewish Russian immigrant parents - his father initially sold blankets from a pushcart in San Antonio. B went on to found the American Income Life Insurance Company, which grew to a multi-billion dollar company catering to labor unions. B never forgot his roots, which helped shape the establishment of The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Foundation. Today the foundation seeks to further the pursuit of social justice and equality, help the disadvantaged and underserved, support reading and music, and provide children with education. B had been active in civic affairs, and his interest in politics often led him to the national stage, as a major supporter of the late Governor Ann Richards, Senator Ted Kennedy, and President Bill Clinton. B's, along with his wife Audre's, gifts to institutes of higher learning in Texas funded buildings, established scholarships, and created endowed chairs. The Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice at the University of Texas (UT) serves as a focal point for critical discussion and analysis of human rights law and advocacy. For his service on UT's Board of Regents, B received the university's highest recognition in 2008: the Santa Rita Award. In 1999, B was recipient of the Horatio Alger Award of Distinguished Americans, given to individuals who succeed despite adversity and in turn encourage young people to pursue their dreams. He was also named one of America's 40 most generous philanthropists by Fortune magazine in 1988. For more than 40 years, the Rapoports also supported the Texas Observer, a twice-monthly news magazine that serves as the state's leading journalistic outlet for liberal voices and hard-nosed political coverage in Texas.

Larry Strauss: Current Chairman of the Board, Texas Region of Bnai Zion, Board member of Hillel of UNT and UTD, Board member of Legacy at Home. Past president of Congregation Beth Torah and former board member of Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, Dallas Hebrew Free Loan Association and Israeli Bonds.

Shirley Strauss: Avid fundraiser for many Jewish causes, Dallas, TX.

Peggy Tobolowsky, JD: Professor in the Criminal Justice Department, University of North Texas. Past chairperson and currently life trustee of the Board of Trustees of the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation. Previous Board of Directors member of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, United Way of Metropolitan Dallas, and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas Foundation.

Ilan Troen: Ilan Troen was born in Boston, educated at Brandeis, the Hebrew University, and the University of Chicago. Before making aliyah in 1975 when he joined Ben-Gurion University, he was on the faculty of Missouri and Princeton. At BGU he was the Lopin Professor of Modern History; Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences; Director of the Ben-Gurion Research Institute and Archives in Sede Boker; and Director of the Kreitman Foundation Fellowships. At BGU he contributed to pioneering programs in Israel Studies and was the founding Editor of Israel Studies -- a BGU publication that is the leading journal in the world in this new area of study to which more than 3,000 universities worldwide subscribe.

His work in Israel Studies brought him to the attention of Brandeis University which initially brought him to Brandeis on "loan" from BGU to establish the largest and most significant center outside Israel for the study and teaching of Israel: the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies. He was also appointed to the Stoll Family Chair in Israel Studies, the first such chair in the United States. He has authored or edited numerous books in American, Jewish and Israeli history. They include Divergent Jewish Cultures: Israel and America (Yale, 2001); Imagining Zion: Dreams, Designs and Realities in a Century of Jewish Settlement (Yale, 2003); and Jews and Muslims in the Arab World; Haunted by Pasts Real and Imagined (Roman and Littlefield, 2007); and Tel-Aviv at 100; Visions, Designs and Actualities (Indiana, 2011).

Martin M. van Brauman: Senior VP, Corporate Secretary, Treasurer, Director, Zion Oil & Gas, Inc. (NASDAQ - "ZN"), Dallas, Texas & Caesarea, Israel. He is also the Managing Director of The Abraham Foundation (Geneva, Switzerland) and the Managing Director of the Bnei Joseph Foundation (Israeli amuta). He is the co-founder and President of Jews and Christians United For Israel, Inc. (Texas nonprofit corporation - §501(c)(3)) and published the book entitled Jews and Christians, Fellow Travelers to the End of Days and publishes a monthly posting on its website concerning Judaism, Christianity and anti-Semitism.

He is Board Certified in Tax Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and a past Adjunct Professor, Southern Methodist University, School of Law, LL.M. Tax Program and a past Adjunct Professor, University of Texas at Dallas, Masters in Accounting Program. He holds a B.E. (Electrical Engineering) from Vanderbilt University, an M.B.A. (Finance & Accounting) from Southern Methodist University, a J.D. from St. Mary's University and an LL.M. (Taxation) from Southern Methodist University.

He is a board member and Vice President, Texas Region, for the Bnai Zion Foundation, a member of the Rotary Club of Dallas and an AIPAC - Capital Club member.

Stephen A. Waldman: Born in 1951, Steve Waldman is a second generation Dallasite. Steve holds a Bachelor of Business Administration Degree in Risk Management & Insurance from the University of Texas at Austin, and the CPCU Designation from the American Institute for Chartered Property Casualty Underwriters. In 1973, Steve joined Waldman Bros (now IMA | Waldman), a legendary insurance, employee benefits and financial services firm, to specialize in Property and Casualty Insurance for both businesses and families. He currently serves as President of IMA Texas.

With a passion for advancing the goals of numerous philanthropic organizations, Waldman takes an active role in the community. A past president of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, his community service has included leadership roles with the Dallas Jewish Community Center, Congregation Shearith Israel, Texas Friends of Rabin Medical Center, Jewish Federations of North America, the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas, and participation with the Lone Star Chapter of the National MS Society.

Waldman currently serves as chairman of the board of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance. In 2015, he received Dallas Business Journal's Outstanding Non-Profit Director Award as well as Business Council for the Arts' Obelisk Award in the category of arts leadership in recognition of his great work on behalf of the Dallas Holocaust Museum and overall community involvement.

Steve and his wife Jackie, have three children, who, along with their spouses, have blessed them with eight beautiful grandchildren.

Steve Waldman | 6200 LBJ Freeway | Suite 200 | Dallas,TX 75240

P: 972.759.3722 M: 972.679.8755 E: swaldman@waldmanbros.com

Howard Watt, JD: Attorney at Law, The Law Office of Howard E. Watt, P. C., Former Municipal Judge, City of Denton; former president, Congregation Kol Ami, Flower Mound, Texas; former chair, Big Brother, Big Sister of Denton County; Denton Country Child Welfare Board; and Regional Hillel of North Texas.

Sharon Wisch-Ray: Sharon Wisch-Ray was born and raised in Fort Worth where she graduated from Trinity Valley School. She graduated from Washington University with a BA in Psychology. She earned her MSSW from UT Arlington. She maintained a private practice for several years and was an adjunct at UTA's school of Social Work. In January 2002, when her father passed away, she was "ABD" for her doctorate, and left social work to help out at the Texas Jewish Post. She has been at the TJP ever since.

Donald Zale: Born and raised in Wichita Falls, Texas, where at a very early age he worked at his family's jewelry store. He attended Texas A&M University and received a BBA from Southern Methodist University. He held numerous positions at Zale Corporation, was elected President and Chief Executive Officer in 1971, and became its Chairman and CEO in 1981. In 1980 he led a challenge to several universities to provide a curriculum in retailing which resulted in the establishment of the Center for Retailing Studies in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University. After Zale Corporation was sold in 1986, he left the company and associated with Blockbuster Video, becoming for several years their largest franchisee. Zale became Chairman of Zale Lipshy University Hospital at UT Southwestern Medical School in 1987 and has been in several director positions at the Southwestern Medical Foundation since that time. He also served as Chairman of the M.B. and Edna Zale Foundation and the Abe Zale Foundation. In 2003 he was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree from Texas A&M University. He and his wife Barbara reside in Dallas, Texas.

Fred S. Zeidman: Fred S. Zeidman, Chairman Emeritus US Holocaust Memorial Museum, was appointed by President George W. Bush in March 2002 and served in that position from 2002-2010. A prominent Houston-based business and civic leader, Mr. Zeidman is also Chairman Emeritus of the University of Texas Health Science System Houston, interim Chief Financial Officer of the Texas Heart Institute, and member of the Board of the Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR). He further serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the University of Saint Thomas and Houston Community College. Mr. Zeidman currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Petroflow Energy, and as a Director of Petro River Oil, Hyperdynamics Corp., Straight Path Communications, Inc. and Prosperity Bank in Houston. He was formerly Chairman of the Board of SulphCo Inc., Chief Restructuring Officer of Transmeridian Exploration, Inc. and Bankruptcy Trustee of AremisSoft Corp. He has previously served as Chairman of the Board of Seitel Inc. and Unibar, Inc.

Mr. Zeidman holds a Bachelor's degree from Washington University in St. Louis and a Master's in Business Administration from New York University.

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