Temple Shalom, a Reform synagogue in North Dallas, and the Temple Shalom Brotherhood presented Cathedral of Hope pastor the Rev. Neil Cazares-Thomas with its 2017 Shalom Award on Sunday, Feb. 26 at a dinner at the Intercontinental Hotel.
This is the first time the award has been given to someone who is either not Jewish or not affiliated with a Jewish organization.
Earlier in the month, Cazares-Thomas addressed Temple Shalom at a Friday night Shabbat service. Citing Cathedral’s work in areas of homelessness, drug and alcohol addiction, abuse of women and LGBT rights, Temple president Josh Goldman said, “It is my belief that this evening is demonstrative of our desire to form a bond and partnership with Rev. Cazares-Thomas and Cathedral of Hope in addressing the social justice issues of the day.”
The program began with music from Cathedral’s Voices of Hope singers, directed by Chris Chism and accompanied by Sean Baugh.
While the tributes were extensive, those who know Cazares-Thomas the best — such as Resource Center CEO Cece Cox — roasted him. Dallas Jewish Federation CEO Bradley Lay, who is gay, called it a testament to Cazares-Thomas that the synagogue could get this many gay men out of the house on one of the gay high holidays — Oscar night.
Other tributes were delivered via video, including congratulations from Cazares-Thomas’ family in England.
Rabbi Denise Eger, a lesbian who is president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, leads an predominantly LGBT synagogue in Los Angeles and is a close friend of Cazares-Thomas, who led Founders Metropolitan Community Church in L.A. before moving to Dallas to head CoH about 18 months ago. She also congratulated him via video.
Temple Shalom’s Rabbi Andrew Paley said Cazares-Thomas taught Torah brilliantly when he spoke at the synagogue earlier in the month. So, Paley said, he would attempt to teach a Christian parable. His attempt to talk about some guys who went fishing was humorous.
Cazares-Thomas was the final speaker, graciously accepting the honor. Paley ended the evening with the traditional priestly benediction in Hebrew. The evening was running long, especially for everyone who needed to get home to watch the Oscars, so when Paley turned to Cazares-Thomas to add to the final prayer, Cazares-Thomas said in his glib style, “What he said,” to a loud standing-ovation.