Andy Starr Owner, Executive Director
Andy has a knack for business, but has always wanted to use that talent to serve people at critical times in their life, whether suffering from an injury, dealing with aging & frail parents, or enduring the loss of a loved one. Accordingly, before getting involved in the funeral business, Andy was a Co-Founder and Senior Executive with Hearthstone Assisted Living, which he helped grow from scratch to over 30 communities in 10 states. Before Hearthstone, Andy was a Senior Member of the Founding Management Team for U.S. Physical Therapy, which he helped grow from scratch to over 75 clinics nationwide, and transitioned the business from a private company to being publicly traded on the Nasdaq exchange. As a prelude to his business career, Andy was a Real Estate & Banking attorney at the Houston firm of Hirsch & Westheimer, after graduating with Honors from the University of Texas School of Law. Andy also received a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Tulane University in New Orleans.
Andy grew up in Tennessee, but married a native Houstonian (Wendy Kosberg), with whom he has three grown children, all of whom attended The Shlenker School (Jewish elementary) and the Emery/Weiner School (Jewish Junior & Senior High) in Houston, where Andy and Wendy each served on the respective boards. For many years, Andy & Wendy were also active members at Temple Beth Israel in Houston, and Andy was a Trustee of The Seven Acres Jewish Campus for the Aged in southwest Houston.
Just before the pandemic hit, Andy and Wendy made a big move to the Dallas area, where two of their three children now reside. In addition to making a new home in Dallas, Andy and Wendy have joined Temple Emanu-El, and look forward to becoming active members, and contributing to the growth and strength of the overall Jewish community in the metroplex.
Zane Belyea Owner, Community Relations
From an early age, Zane wanted to help people in need, so when he attended Southern Illinois University, he decided to study Social Work & Psychology. During his first year after graduation, Zane worked with abused and neglected children, before spending eleven years in the education industry, eventually becoming Vice President of Recruitment for a large education firm. In 2011, after many years of business travel, and a growing family in Dallas, Zane followed the advice of one of his mentors, and began a new career in the funeral industry. True to his roots in social work, Zane finds it deeply rewarding to help families during one of the worst moments of their lives, and he has instilled that passion for service through-out the organization. “Every member of our team has a solemn commitment to serve all our families well beyond their expectations. We absolutely won’t let them down.”
The Jewish community is extremely important to Zane and his family, and he continues to be involved daily. Whether it’s playing softball in the Temple Shalom Brotherhood Softball league, or putting on Tefillin with one of the Rabbis, every experience is beyond meaningful.
In 2018, Zane had the fortunate experience of joining Dallas Area Torah Association on the Momentum trip and experiencing Israel for the first time. This was certainly a trip of a lifetime full of laughter, deep reflection, and at times tears. Growing up, Zane didn’t have the traditional Jewish household and unfortunately never had a Bar Mitzvah. During the Momentum trip, this important Jewish tradition was fulfilled on Masada!
In 2019, Zane returned to Israel this time to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of his oldest son, Dylan. To see your children go through this experience at the holiest site on Earth can never be expressed in words.
Zane is married to a Dallas native (Jill Liberman), and has two sons, Dylan & Zachary. Although members of Anshai Torah, Zane and his family have a strong connection to Rabbi Block and Chabad Plano as well as Rabbi Zakon/Rabbi Nissel from Dallas Area Torah Association. We will forever be grateful to Rabbi Nissel and his efforts in tutoring Dylan in preparation for his Bar Mitzvah.
Liz Vargas Owner, Human Relations
Liz Vargas is the VP of Accounting at Jewish Funerals USA where Liz has full responsibility for financials, procedures, budgets and human resources for multiple locations.
Liz has worked as an accounting professional for over 25 years in different industries and specializes in the direction and setup of accounting systems and establishing policies and procedures for financial and operational activities for startup companies.
Liz enjoys working in her garden and watching her favorite sports team the Houston Astros in her free time
Kyle Ko Location Manager, Funeral Director
Kyle is a Location Manager and a Licensed Funeral Director for Dallas Jewish Funerals. Kyle was born in South Korea and moved to the US when he was 9 years old. After spending his childhood in Alabama, Kyle moved to Dallas TX, where he attended high school and College. After experiencing a death in his family, Kyle directed his passion to help others in need by making the decision to become a Funeral Director so he could help ease the pain through simplifying funeral arrangement processes for families. He started a new chapter in life of being part of the Funeral Industry in 2017. Kyle is married to his one and only love of his life Joan.
As a funeral professional in the funeral service industry for several years, Kyle has brought dignity, respect, professionalism, and compassion to everything he does.
He manages daily operations and makes sure that the families we serve receive the best quality care and comfort they need while making informed decisions about how to honor their loved one's life, and also works hard to exceed families’ expectations by overseeing our staff and promoting their professional growth.
“I love being in the funeral industry, it is an honor and a privilege to serve. families. It’s more than a job, more than a career. It is my calling; it is a true blessing”
Kyle is also a member of Texas Funeral Directors Association and National Funeral Directors Association.
Cristela Edwards Funeral Director
Cristela is a Native Texan from Rockport, Texas. She moved to Dallas in 2008 and graduated from Dallas Institute of Funeral Service in March of 2017. She is the mother of three beautiful children and a Yellow Lab named Hawk.
As a proud single Mother, her family is extremely important to her as is her passion to help less fortunate children. She likes to spend time volunteering with the Shriner Hospital which is dedicated to ensure all children have access to top notch health care regardless of their family’s financial ability. Cristela is also an avid animal lover and spends time volunteering to the Wildlife Conservation Society that fights to save endangered Animals.
“I got into the Funeral Industry to help guide others through a very tough time and to make their experience a little easier.”
Stephen Blend Funeral Director
Stephen is a native Dallasite with his maternal grandparents arriving in Dallas in 1906. His parents owned and operated Blend Brothers Bakery in South Dallas and after his father’s retirement in 1970 he operated it for another 11 years.
Stephen started his journey in the funeral industry selling cemetery property and pre need funeral plans at a major funeral home in Dallas. After working there for four years, he went to school to become a funeral director. He has now been a funeral director for more than 20 years working almost exclusively with Jewish families. He is well versed not only with all branches of Judaism but also all cemeteries available to the Jewish community. He can assist the family in finding a suitable cemetery plot to fit their needs. He is personally available 24 hours a day seven days a week since he operates as an independent contractor through Dallas Jewish Funerals. He can be reached at 214-505-2993.
Logan Roberts Pre-Planning Advisor
Logan was born in Dallas, Texas where she was raised in the Jewish community in Dallas. She was Bat Mitzvah and attended religious school at Temple Emanu-El and participated in BBYO where she held numerous chapter positions. Through BBYO she was able to connect and lead other area teens and even served on the Regional Board for the North Texas-Oklahoma region. Logan graduated from Hillcrest High School in 1998. Logan attended college at the University of Texas where she received her Bachelor’s in Social Work in 2002. While in Austin, attending school, Logan was a member of the Jewish sorority, AEPhi, and was a member of the UT Student Government representing the School of Social Work. After graduating, Logan continued her social work studies at Washington University in St. Louis, MO where she received her Master’s in Social Work with a concentration in children, youth & families in 2003. During her tenure at Wash U, she received practicum student of the year for her dedication to serving area foster care children and youth.
Logan started her career in social work in adoptions working with all members of the adoption constellation offering counseling, support and planning through one of life’s most difficult decisions. She worked for many of the Texas agencies including the Gladney Center, Adoption Access, Little Flowers, and Hope Cottage . After years in adoption, Logan moved to the health care sector in social work and worked for Children's Medical Center in Dallas and Plano. There she continued to support those faced with difficult situations of illness (and often death) of children. She worked in both inpatient and outpatient settings in both acute and chronic service lines. Her last position at Children’s was working at the Psych Social Worker in the Emergency Room. After taking a small break from the workforce to raise her children, Logan returned to the world of adoptions.
Logan is a mom to four children whom she is raising with in the Jewish community in Dallas at Temple Emanu-El. All four children attended the ECEC program and now continue Jewish learning through YL&E (religious school) at Temple Emanu-El. Logan’s 2 oldest children are currently preparing for the B’nai Mitzvah in 2024.
Logan’s dedication to helping others while being a guiding light during difficult times led Logan to join our team.
Masha Pavlov Pre-Planning Advisor
Masha Pavlov was born in Odessa, Ukraine. She is married and loves to travel and enjoys family gatherings. Family is first in her heart. This “family comes first” motto translates into her career as well. Masha comes to Dallas Jewish Funerals from a long standing career in the North Dallas area as a Funeral Planning Advisor for over 12 years. She truly enjoys educating people with regards to end of life decisions and knowing your options. She didn’t get to us by accident. Masha and her family fled for their lives after many generations had been persecuted for being Jewish while in the Ukraine. When they arrived to the United States, her parents left their Jewish religion and Russian culture behind out of fear of being mistreated here too. Her parents raised their children in traditional American ways in hopes to provide them with better opportunities. Masha recalls some of her Jewish faith from childhood and now that she is working closely with the Jewish Community, she is reminded of her roots and embracing her original faith. Masha is excited to work with the local Rabbi’s, the Hadassah and local Synagogues to help take the fear out of having the most important conversation all of us will have in our lives. She is also fluent in Russian thanks to her parents insisting the language being kept in the home.
Eileen Flusche Pre-Planning Advisor
I moved to Plano TX from California in 1990. I was an Elementary School teacher before having my kids. I raised my three kids in Plano where I had the privilege of volunteering at their schools. When my youngest son started high school, we joined Young Men’s Service League and that was a wonderful way to experience helping others. My kids are grown and now I have five amazing grandkids to enjoy life with. My mother lives close by in a retirement community (also a former teacher) and this is where I learned about my passion to be around our aging community. Nothing gives me more pleasure than helping others.
Scott Bennett Pre-Planning Advisor
Scott was raised in Dallas where he attended Temple Shalom and was a member of AZA and the JCC. He went to Richardson High School and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1982. His professional career included 14 years in the advertising industry in Chicago, Richmond, VA and Dallas. From there he was in senior sales and marketing management positions with Verizon and the American Cancer Society.
Scott is married and has three grown children. The youngest, Sam, has intellectual disabilities and currently lives at home. Scott allocates his time across four priorities:
1. Helping Sam live an active life as independently as possible.
2. Helping families navigate, anticipate, and proactively manage end of life arrangements.
3. Providing fractional marketing, sales, and messaging consulting to mid-size companies and non-profits.
4. Enjoying golf and photography during his time off.
Scott’s first experience with Dallas Jewish Funerals was on behalf of his father. “My father was elderly and hadn’t planned for his passing. So, me, my brother and sister stepped in to help. Taking care of his medical needs, assisted living, his estate, and his funeral planning. We saw first-hand the benefit of planning things in advance when emotions are in check.
Based on what we learned caring for my father, I feel I’m in a great position to help Jewish families navigate what can be a confusing and stressful experience. My goal is to listen, be totally transparent, and advocate on their behalf. I encourage people to plan their own funerals in advance, so that their spouses and kids won’t be burdened with expenses and details when they are grieving. Regardless of what they choose to do I want them to know I’m here to help and serve as a trusted resource. Dallas Jewish Funerals is authentic and is best equipped to serve the needs of any Jewish family in the Dallas area.”
Harold Harris Pre-Planning Advisor
Harold Harris has worked in the Jewish funeral business the last 4 1/2 years assisting with hundreds of funerals and memorial services. Harold transferred to us from Houston Jewish Funerals and now lives in Frisco, TX so he can be closer to his grandson. Harold has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee & a Masters from Tulane University. He has lived in Ohio, Wisconsin, Louisiana, Georgia, and Texas.
Member of Congregation Beth Israel since 1974.
Taxoma Regional Director of the B’nai Brith Youth Organization from 1974-1978.
Coached youth basketball for eight years at the Houston JCC.
Volunteered at the JCC, Congregation Beth Israel, YMCA & the Multiple Sclerosis Society
Officer of three different HOA’s & the inaugural president of Super Neighborhood 31 which is composed of nine subdivisions
US Army Veteran
Esmeralda Castillo Administrative Assistant
Esmeralda Castillo was born and raised in Texas to her Mexican family. As a kid she traveled every summer to Mexico and is very grateful for being able to go, for it helped her keep up with her Spanish.
"Respect and kindness are the most important things for me and I am so grateful to work here and help make our families comfortable in such tough times. My dream is to be an embalmer and a funeral director because I grew up being afraid of mortality until my great grandfather died. His death taught me that even when people are gone, they remain in your mind and heart always. Working at Dallas Jewish Funerals means so much to me because I get to spread my kindness and maybe even help someone smile at such a hard time. One day I would like to own my own funeral home so when I have kids, they can follow in my footsteps if they would like. When I die, I would like to be remembered as kind and respectful successful mexican woman who did anything and everything to help others."
Dallas Jewish Funerals (DJF) is owned by over twenty active members of our Jewish community (some of whom are pictured below), who came together with the belief and commitment that our community shall always have a Jewish-owned and operated funeral home to serve our families at their most difficult time, with full knowledge and respect for the rituals and traditions of our faith. Our community owners represent many congregations and all levels of observance, and come from a variety of backgrounds. In addition to their involvement with DJF, our owners have made Tikkun-Olam a priority in their overall life, and have served in leadership roles with a variety of organizations that care for all facets of the Jewish community. As such, our community owners set the tone and mission for the whole team at DJF, and we strive on a daily basis to fulfill their vision, and meet the needs of every family who honors us with the care of their loved ones.