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TORCH to honor three active supporters
Jewish Herald Voice | October 31, 2013

TORCH (Torah Outreach Resource Center of Houston) will celebrate its 15th anniversary with a gala dinner at Congregation Beth Yeshurun on Nov. 19. The event not only will celebrate 15 years of its mission of connecting Jews to Judaism but also will recognize and honor three individuals who are dedicated supporters of the organization.

Honored with this year’s TORCH Bearer Award are Esther and Gary Polland and Wendy Hoffer Bleiweiss. Serving as honorary chairs are Rich and Vikki Evans, and Sandra and Steve Finkelman.

Esther and Gary Polland, who will receive the TORCH Bearers Award, are known for their leadership and commitment and have been longtime supporters of TORCH, serving on the board of directors for more than five years. They are past graduates of the Wexner Heritage Foundation Program, which reinforced their belief in the importance of providing meaningful learning opportunities for every Jewish individual. They have served on national and local boards of a variety of Jewish organizations, including the UJC/JFNA, ERJCC, the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston, Hillel, AIPAC, Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs and many others. The Pollands recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary and are the proud parents of two sons, Hal and Jonathan, and daughter-in-law, Lainie.

Wendy Hoffer Bleiweiss is this year’s recipient of the Torah Talmud Award. She has been a dedicated supporter of TORCH for several years and has a genuine commitment to learning. For the past four years, Bleiweiss has participated in a weekly Torah study class, culminating in her Bat Mitzvah this past August as part of TORCH’s Adult Bar Mitzvah program. A third-generation Houstonian and member of Congregation Beth Yeshurun, she is a life member of Hadassah and a supporter of the Jewish Federation of Greater Houston and AIPAC. She is involved with The Ann and Stephen Kaufman Jewish Book & Arts Fair and the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. She is married to Ira Bleiweiss and is the proud mother of three children, Evan, Ellen and Katelyn.

TORCH invites the community to join in honoring Esther and Gary Polland and Wendy Hoffer Bleiweiss. Funds raised will support the educational outreach programming that TORCH provides all over Houston, including at 16 congregations.

For details and to RSVP for the gala, visit For information on the classes TORCH offers, visit

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