Rabbi Howard Wolk
Jewish Family Service of Dallas, TX
Mar 14, 2014
Rabbi Howard Wolk serves as community chaplain with the Jewish Family Service in Dallas, TX, as well as the menahel of the Dallas branch of the Southeast Regional Beit Din for Conversions, under the auspices the RCA's GPS Conversion system.
Rabbi Wolk attended Hebrew Academy of North Queens, MTA High School, and Yeshiva University. He spent his third year of college learning in Israel at Beit Midrash leTorah in Jerusalem where his teacher was Rabbi E. Yechiel Simon. While studying for semicha at Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, Howard Wolk became a talmid muvhak of Rabbi Moshe Tendler, with whom he remains very close.
Rabbi Wolk is the founding rabbi of the Young Israel of Patchogue in Suffolk County, NY, and served there for nine and a half years. “It was a great training ground,” says Rabbi Wolk. “It gave me the opportunity to teach, to speak, and to help establish an Orthodox presence in an area ... we built an eruv and helped many find a home in an Orthodox synagogue.”
Rabbi Wolk then moved to Dallas, Texas, where he was involved with a new Orthodox shul, Shaare-Tefilla. He became active in the local Federation, serving on its board and participating in eight missions to Israel. He served as a rabbinic chair of the local vaad, helped build an eruv and found Yavneh High School, established a community chevra kadisha, and served as chairman of the local rabbinic association. Rabbi Wolk also convinced local non-Orthodox rabbis to refer people to Rabbi Nathan Greenblatt of Memphis, TN for gittin.
After almost sixteen years in Dallas, Rabbi Wolk moved to West Hartford, CT. Five years later, he returned to Dallas to serve as community chaplain, a position created by community members and Jewish Family Service. He works with a wide range of families in times of crisis and with staff members and clients in a variety of cases, from domestic violence to end of life issues. “The position of community chaplain allows me to interact in critical times with fellow Jews. Unaffiliated individuals and families often feel that they are alone. I feel that my work helps them realize that they are part of Am Yisrael.”
Rabbi Wolk is now in his fourth year working at JFS and teaching at Yavneh High School. He also speaks throughout the community on a wide range of subjects and gives two weekly shiurim at Chabad of Dallas, where he also serves as Baal Koreh. He also has previously served on the Executive Committee of the RCA and Rabbinic Alumni.
He boasts Texas license plates that read: “1-METS.”
Rabbi Wolk’s paternal grandfather, Rabbi Pesach Wolk, served as a shul rav was a musmach of R. Yaakov Reines, one of the leaders of the Mizrachi movement. Rabbi Wolk’s father is a retired chazzan.
Rabbi Wolk is married to Annette Becker of Silver Spring, MD, a Stern alumna. Annette teaches at Akiba Academy and at Yavneh. She and Rabbi Wolk are the proud parents of six children, five of whom graduated from Yeshiva University. One son, Akiva, also received semicha from Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. Rabbi and Mrs. Wolk have fifteen grandchildren.