NEXT ISSUE: EDUCATION & CAMP
VOL. XCVI NO. 6
MARCH 31, 2021 | 18 NISAN 5781
What Does Freedom Look Like to You This Year?
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CONTRIBUTORS THIS WEEK ALLEN LIPIS BOB BAHR CHANA SHAPIRO DAVE SCHECHTER JAN JABEN-EILON MARCIA CALLER JAFFE ROBYN SPIZMAN GERSON RABBI PETER BERG RABBI RICHARD BAROFF RABBI RUTH ABUSCH-MAGDER TERRY SEGAL
From Bondage to Freedom This year’s Passover seems to straddle between the heavily virtual seder of last year at the start of the pandemic and the in-person traditional family seder we experienced before COVID. As is the AJT’s custom, we asked community members and staff to respond to a Passover prompt and share their thoughts on: What Does Freedom Look Like to You This Year? Their responses largely stemmed from the Exodus story captured in the Passover haggadah and include hopes for a future no longer marked by masks and separation. They envisioned what a few months will be like as vaccinations continue to increase worldwide. Read their thoughts, prayers, insights and perspectives along with other stories on Passover, including how a Jewish group gets together every year to make horseradish. Doctors tell us if it’s safe to travel and health experts advise whether we should gather at large seders. Discover how seniors in the community are celebrating, considering that most of them have been vaccinated, and
what synagogues have on tap for the holiday. Our news section is busting at the seams. The AJT keeps you up-to-date on the latest efforts to put shots in arms, including those of Jewish educators. The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival wraps up its season with an awards ceremony. Rabbi Peter Berg of The Temple talks about the Equality Act to protect LGBTQ rights, and Rabbi Joshua Lesser updates us on how clergy of diverse faiths have helped each other during the pandemic through Facebook pages he created. And you’ll learn about the controversial effort to censor some of Dr. Seuss’ classic chidren’s books, including some characters critics deem as promoting negative stereotypes. Stay tuned for next issue when we continue to write about the everchanging face of education during the pandemic, and inch closer to the start of camp as the longer days of spring pave the way for summer, perhaps breathing a ray of sunshine into the pandemic. ì
Cover image: Breaking from the shackles that bound us to our homes and small gatherings illustrates the freedom we celebrate in this year’s Passover issue.
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ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES MARCH 31, 2021 | 5
NEWS Jewish Support and Empathy for Asian Americans
Photos by Nathan Posner //
Above, A woman leaves flowers in front of Gold Spa March 18. Left, A protestor at a Stop Asian Hate rally in Atlanta March 20.
By Dave Schechter As president of the Korean American Coalition Metro Atlanta, Sarah Park spent much of the past week fielding media requests for help in covering last week’s shooting deaths of eight people —- including six Asian women — at three Atlanta spas. Park, who has ties to Jewish Atlanta, expressed gratitude for the support and empathy the community has provided. “The Jewish community understands the victim and the trauma and the history, how that plays among the community,” she told the AJT. Assaults against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have escalated over the past year, particularly as COVID-19 spread. AAPI leaders have pointed to the manner in which the virus’ apparent Chinese origins were targeted, sometimes mockingly, by the White House and supporting media. Police said that the 21-year-old man now charged with eight counts of murder claimed a sex addiction and told them the spas were a “temptation” he wanted to “eliminate.” Korean and other AAPI leaders cite the six victims’ ethnicity as evidence of a hate crime. Many Jewish organizations issued statements in response to the tragedy. The American Jewish Committee’s regional office in Atlanta said, “The dramatic rise in incidents of hate targeting Asian Americans across the nation – nearly 3,800 in the past year, and more than 500 in the first two months of 2021, according to Stop AAPI Hate, is despicable. American Jews understand the fear and tragedy 6 | MARCH 31, 2021 ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES
that the diverse Asian American community is experiencing.” The Jewish Community Relations Council of Atlanta said that it “stands in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islander women and their communities against hate and violence. . . As Jewish tradition teaches, ‘Don’t stand by idly while your neighbor bleeds (Leviticus 19:16).’ We have an obligation to lift up our voices when faced with hatred and discrimination when fueled by race, ethnicity, religion or gender.” Though not Jewish, Park’s appreciation for the Jewish response stems in part from work with ACCESS Atlanta, the American Jewish Committee’s young leadership program. “I think the Jewish community is definitely a great model when it comes to civic engagement,” Park said. When Park considers the trajectory of her community, she sees parallels with the Jewish experience and much worth emulating, particularly in how the Jewish community has progressed through American history. Both communities also have suffered acts of violence that have reached to the core of their ethnic and American identities. Just as the American Jewish community is far from monolithic – with its range of ethnicities, races and religious practices – so is the Asian American community. And just as the Oct. 27, 2018, massacre of 11 Shabbat morning worshipers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh was a blow felt by all American Jews, the March 16 Atlanta killings have simi-
larly impacted the AAPI community. The Jewish world provided a model of another sort during Park’s childhood in South Korea, recalling that her parents had books, published in Korean, about Jewish parenting techniques. Her first personal exposure came as a student at Walton High School in Marietta, which she remembers having a significant Jewish population. Park likened the Jewish community to the older sibling or upperclassmen in school who provide something of a map for the those who might follow. “Every community is on their own course and path. We’re on a similar course maybe to the Jewish community,” she said. “I feel like it’s
okay for me to explain to them, we’re working on it, growing on it, we have our own pace to get there.” Park sees the Korean community emulating aspects of the Jewish experience, which included immigrant parents sacrificing for their children’s future; families placing an emphasis on education and respect for elders; and overcoming obstacles to achieve positions of influence in business and politics. “We are trying to build a community to make bridges, to make this country better. We’re actually learning how to do that right now,” she said. Park also voiced appreciation for what she termed the Jewish community’s “very intentional” approach,
Junko Horvath wants to be a bridge among her Jewish, Asian American and Japanese identities.
“I think the Jewish community is definitely a great model when it comes to civic engagement,” said Sarah Park.
seeking to create relationships and establish trust over time. “I think that if the Jewish community can let the Asian American community feel assured that we are understood and that they understand, I think that’s a huge piece. That feels more authentic,” she said. Junko Horvath works to bridge her Jewish, Asian American and Japanese identities. Over her 30 years in the United States, she said she has experienced varying attitudes within and outside of those communities, and seen how religious and ethnic prejudice can lead to harm and discrimination. Horvath, a financial planner who was the subject of an AJT profile in October 2019, said that last spring, as she read about street attacks on the AAPI community, she thought, “I’m not safe, because of my face. I have an Asian face. I have to be more careful. I didn’t even think that way before.” The first reported cases of COVID-19 came from the Chinese city of Wuhan, a circumstance that has caused some Americans to express animus toward Chinese. “Americans don’t know who’s Chinese, who’s Japanese, who’s Korean,” Horvath said. “They’re frustrated.” Horvath is aware when people look only at the surface characteristics. “I notice all the time because, even though I have been here for 30 years, my face doesn’t change. I look Asian. I was born with an Asian face and I’ll die with an Asian face. As long
as I look like an Asian, they think I’m a foreigner,” she said. Horvath embraces her identities. “I love being Jewish. I love being Asian,” she said, while acknowledging that both can be problematic, and not only from the threat of physical harm. She does not fit outsiders’ stereotypes of American Jews as white and Ashkenazic, whose lineage is eastern European. And within the Jewish community, Horvath has had her religious identity questioned by children at a day school — she passed their informal quiz on the Hebrew phrases for “good morning” and “good night” — and at an event for Jewish women. Because she is Asian and speaks English with a Japanese accent, she has on occasion confronted prejudice among potential clients. And within the Asian American community, Horvath said that resentments remain from the treatment Japan accorded other Asians, Chinese and Koreans, in particular, during World War II. The sum of Horvath’s experiences is her positive attitude: “I can be kinder to other people. I can be stronger. Those people make me stronger. I can be nicer, kinder, and understand other people better.” Horvath added, “I really want to be a bridge. I’m Orthodox.” She’s a member of Congregation Ariel. “I want to be a bridge among Jews. I want to be a bridge among the Jewish and non-Jewish, and also a bridge between Japanese and other Asians.” ì
Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90
Photo by Nathan Posner //
Protestors gathered during a March 20 protest to “stop Asian hate.”
This Passover, help us make it possible to celebrate another kind of freedom. Freedom from a pandemic. As the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage around the world, there’s reason for hope. And no country has offered more hope for what life might be like again than Israel, which has led the world in immunizing its people. Magen David Adom, Israel’s paramedic and Red Cross service, has played a major role in this success. MDA has treated tens of thousands of stricken Israelis, administered Covid tests to more than 4 million, and vaccinated Israel’s most vulnerable populations, including all its nursing home residents. When you support Magen David Adom, your gift has an immediate impact in helping Israelis — today and every day. Make a gift today. Pesach kasher v’sameach.
ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES MARCH 31, 2021 | 7
AJFF Stresses Quality in Year of Change By Bob Bahr
Awards, the country’s top film prize, as well as nominations in eight other As if to underscore a year of profound categories. It was also among Israel’s change, the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival official entries in the Cannes Film Feswound up its 21st year by presenting its Hutival. man Rights Jury Prize March 10 not to an Director Nir Bergman, in brief Israeli film but to a Palestinian one, made remarks from Israel, thanked the without any financial assistance from Israfestival for the recognition and said el’s government or Israel’s media companies. he hoped “it will help other people to The film was “200 Meters.” It told the hear about the film. And we wish that dramatic story of the difficulties a PalestinLeft, Kenny Blank, AJFF executive director, said that as many people as possible in Amerithe festival had to be prepared to reinvent itself. ian construction worker and father on the ca will see the film.” Above, “Here We Are” won AJFF jury prizes for Best West Bank faces as he attempts to maintain Bergman is perhaps best known Feature film and was an Audience Award winner. a relationship with his mother who lives in to American audiences as one of the Israel. creators of what became the HBO hit The Palestinian film, too, dwells on “It meant a lot to me to participate in Like most of its programming this year how distances are calculated in a world of this festival,” he said, expressing hope that series “In Treatment.” the award ceremony was virtual. It played to Taking home the award for best docuchange. Different generations of a Palestin- “this will also help the film to be seen by an empty house from the stage at the Sandy ian family live only 200 meters (219 yards) more people in the United States and every- mentary was another film by an Israeli, Springs Performing Arts Center. There was “Love It Was Not.” from each other but are separated by the where around the world.” no applause and no fanfare, and the credThe film’s director Maya Sarfaty wall that Israel has built along its border and The film is Jordan’s official entry in this its rolled over pictures of a largely deserted the territories on the West Bank, and by the year’s Academy Award for best foreign film. scoured film archives to piece together the stage. bureaucratic obstacles that have been erect- It previously won the People’s Choice Award astonishing story of a romance between a In this year of the pandemic the presenNazi SS officer and a young Jewish woman ed between them. at the prestigious Venice Film Festival tations announcing the AJFF prizes were viIn his brief comments accepting the With the festival over, the long-serving that takes place literally within the shadows wed by audiences via just another electronic award, director Ameen Nayfeh pointedly executive director of the event, Kenny Blank, of the crematoria in Auschwitz, the German screen that brought the winners into living concentration camp. emphasized that he was speaking from Pal- was generally happy with the result. rooms across Atlanta, though they may have The award was presented by Nancy estine. “I think all these pieces of the festival, actually been speaking from continents whether it was the virtual cinema, the drive- Spielberg, sister of Steven Spielberg, the away. in and the expanded Q&As, the virtual lobby famed Hollywood director. Her film “Picture conversations, they all had a crucial part to of His Life” was nominated for best docuplay in not just recreating the festival expe- mentary at last year’s AJFF. She described “Love It Was Not” as rience, but actually introducing some new innovations that I hope will stay with us in “a universal story that echoes some of the deepest ethical complexities of the Torah: future editions of the festival." If there was anything to be learned Who should live and who should die. This is from the dramatic changes at this year’s fes- not the kind of Holocaust story that we even tival, it is that there is no going back, Blank imagined could exist.” Other jury prize winners at the AJFF said. This year, Masa has continued to “I think that nothing is sacred, that we this year were Johanne Helgeland for “The make the impossible, possible. have to be prepared as an organization to Crossing,” which won the Emerging Filmreinvent ourselves, to think outside the box, maker prize; “The Sublet,” which was named to let go of maybe some of the traditions and as the Building Bridges winner; and “I Am Here” for Audience Award documentary. the way things were done in the past.” Honorees in the short film category The biggest award winner at the AJFF was “Here We Are,” a sensitive film about the were “Masel Tov Cocktail” for fictional short relationship between a father and his autis- and “Space Torah” for Audience Award short. tic son. This year’s festival, where 38 films and “Here We Are” was named best narrative film by a three-judge panel and also won 12 shorts were screened, was considerably top honors in the same category as the Audi- shorter than in recent years. Still Blank, the AJFF executive director, ence Award film, which is based on the votes had nothing but praise for the high caliber of festival ticketholders. The jury award was presented by Diane of the winning films. It was proof, he emphaBaker, the distinguished Hollywood actress sized, that as much as things have changed whose long career in films and on television this year, the standards that audiences have began with the 1959 film, “The Diary of Anne come to expect from the event remain the Frank,” where she played Anne Frank’s sis- same. “It really demonstrates that the cinter Margot. She described “Here We Are” as a film ematic tradition remains very much alive, as which “shows how a universe of meaning vital and robust as ever,” he said. “And that’s despite the challenges brought on by this can be packed into a single relationship.” “Here We Are” last year was nominated pandemic.” ì
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8 | MARCH 31, 2021 ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES
for Best Feature Film at the Israeli Ophir
Dr. Seuss Books Provide Teachable Moments
By Marcia Caller Jaffe
who are different. The Seuss Foundation is modeling the way to be good citizens in our Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced new world.” earlier this month that it will cease publiEarly in his career Geisel was referred cation of six children’s books that include to as a “sanitized Hitler” as some of his po“hurtful” portrayals of cultural stereotypes. litical cartoons depicted Jews very negaThe announcement came on what would tively. PJ Grisar’s piece in The Forward have been Theodor Seuss Geisel’s 117th March 2 sums up the current debate: “Yes, birthday March 2. Dr. Seuss Wrote Racist Books. He Still Has Geisel, who is of German descent and Things to Teach Us.” Grisar wrote that Sechildless, has been adored by generations uss “was not always so subtle or, it turns worldwide for positive values in many of out, morally lucid.” his works. Much like politics today, there In his later work, “The Sneetches and are disparate sides: goOther Stories,” the ing overboard with left “Star-Bellied Sneetchwing “cancel culture” es” showed Geisel’s versus aligning with disdain for anti-Semthe current reexamiitism, according to nation of racial steGrisar. And “Yertle reotypes. Examples of the Turtle” criticized the latter include an Hitler, scripted as, Asian depicted wearing “Wolf chewed up a conical hat holding the children, spit chopsticks while eatout their bones. But ing from a bowl. Blacks those were Foreign were shown in cages as Children and it really apes. didn’t matter.” The AJT asked Atlanta educaAtlanta Jewish profestor Lori Simon spent sionals and parents to 22 years instructing weigh in on the controgrades four to six and This Dr. Seuss book was one of versy. helping remediate the cancelled books selling for Laurence Rosenstudents as an early $4,400 to $10,000 on Amazon. thal, senior rabbi of intervention teacher, Congregation Ahavath Achim and father which included a diverse group from difof four, gave his take. “I’m glad that the ferent backgrounds, races and religions. Si[Dr.] Seuss Foundation came to the deci- mon taught her students “no matter their sion to make moves that honor the com- background, to believe that they are a vital munities they serve, keeping an eye on the part of society and can achieve whatever psychological and social impact that the they imagine for themselves in life.” books could have on their readers. Her perspective on the Dr. Seuss con“For me and my family, we welcome troversy is: “Any book that illustrates racist their revisions and decision to not make images in any form runs counter to core available those depictions any longer. The educational beliefs and should be removed. most impactful part of Dr. Seuss books I view this as a valuable lesson to our stuwasn’t their antiquated and culturally in- dents that we are never too old to learn, sensitive depictions of other cultures, but review and change.” rather their incredible imagery, fun and Susan Shapiro McCarthy is a licensed ridiculous tongue-twisting narratives and professional counselor with decades of exengaging storylines which often dealt with perience in the public school system and very important justice and social issues: now a private setting. “I utilize the concepts environmental, kindness, including people
Left to right, Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal, father of four, compliments the Dr. Seuss Foundation for modeling the way to be good citizens in our new world. Epstein parent Liz Korn-Botton doesn’t believe in removing the older iconic books, but believes they should be modernized. Susan Shapiro McCarthy said that early stereotypes can be the beginning of developing long-term core beliefs resulting in prejudicial thoughts. Educator Lori Simon views this as a valuable lesson to students: we are never too old to learn, review and change.
illustrated in cognitive behavior therapy, which outlines that our thoughts lead to our feelings, which lead to our behavior. “Underlying the thoughts are core beliefs which we develop from the time we are very young and throughout our lives through experiences and exposure to ideas. With that said, seeing negative stereotypes of groups can lead to core beliefs that are not fact-based, but [based] on our perceptions. Utilizing books for educational purposes that promote these stereotypes can be the beginning of developing longterm core beliefs resulting in prejudicial thoughts.” From a grandparent’s perspective, Dr. Mitch Lippman shared, “This is another example of perceptions going overboard. Banning Seuss books is just as silly as his wonderful stories. Our children loved his illustrated books and grew up without a hint of stereotyping. Alas, I feel sorry for the kids that won’t be able to enjoy his fables.
Even if it’s just a few books in question, the ban casts a spell over all of his works and will keep them from some children.” Epstein School parent Liz Korn-Botton offered her perspective. “Instead of perpetuating cancel-culture by removing older iconic books with imperfections, I’d like to see a shift where the Seuss estate modernizes them. We, as a society, have progressed from the space where Seuss reflected the values and energy of his time. We can simply update the words and imagery to be more progressive and modern. This is a teachable moment for the world to see.” Meanwhile Seuss books are flying off shelves and ecommerce sites. On March 2, Fox Business reported that some books are selling for five figures. To that, grandmother Iris Wynne countered, “So much for cancel culture! Amazon sold out of Dr. Seuss and I got the last two books at Target.” ì
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Governor Suggests Vaccination Road Trips By Dave Schechter Gov. Brian Kemp recently offered two words of advice for those frustrated in their efforts to secure a COVID-19 vaccine appointment: road trip. “Governor Kemp urges eligible Georgians in the metro Atlanta area who are unable to get an appointment to consider driving to a south Georgia site where appointments are more available,” his office said in a statement issued March 15. The state operates nine vaccination “mega” sites. Those in south Georgia include: Columbus (107 miles from the state capitol), Sandersville (127 miles), Albany (181 miles), Waycross (237 miles), and Savannah (248 miles). The price of gasoline in Georgia last week averaged $2.74 per gallon, up five cents from the previous week. The travel recommendation was made on the day people 55 and older – including the 57-year-old governor – became eligible for vaccination, along with individuals with disabilities and those 16 and older with certain medical conditions. Already eligible were health work-
Photo by Nathan Posner //
Gov. Brian Kemp suggests that metro Atlanta residents drive to south Georgia, where COVID-19 vaccinations are more readily available.
“It’s time to look out for your loved ones and your communities until we vaccinate more of the population,” said Amber Schmidtke.
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ers and first responders, residents and staff at long-term care facilities, people age 65 and older, teachers and staff at pre-K and K-12 schools, adults with intellectual and development disabilities and their caregivers, and parents of children with complex medical conditions. Next in line will be judges and court personnel. “We believe it is vital to get the third [judicial] branch of state government back operating smoothly and safely,’’ Kemp said March 16. Kemp also said that an effort would be made to redirect vaccine supply to areas of greatest demand. The mismatch between where demand is highest and where supply is readily available is reflected in Georgia ranking last among the 50 states in the percentage of adults who have received one dose of vaccine, though slightly better in the percentage fully vaccinated, and in the percentage of vaccine doses delivered to the state going into arms, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Kemp has preferred to point with pride to the state’s vaccination of 70 percent of its 65-plus population, compared with a 64 percent average nationally. Even with the well-documented difficulties that people have had securing vaccination appointments, 25 percent more doses were administered in Georgia last week than in the week before. In addition to the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which require a second “booster” dose, the state is now receiving the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. According to the CDC, as of March 21, 18.5 percent of Georgians 16 and older
had received at least one dose of vaccine and 10.5 percent were fully vaccinated. Nationally, 21.4 percent of Americans age 16 and older had received at least one dose and 11.1 percent had been fully vaccinated. More than 79 percent of the available vaccine doses nationally have been administered, as a first or second dose. Based on CDC data, the rate in Georgia is 70 percent. The Georgia Department of Public Health reports that there are 1,256 providers statewide administering vaccinations, ranging from the state’s nine “mega” sites to sites run by the state’s 159 counties to a mixture of grocery stores, pharmacies, large retailers, hospitals and clinics throughout the state. Kemp has said pointedly that the state does not control vaccine allocated by the federal government to non-government entities. The DPH reported that, through March 21, more than 2 million Georgians had received at least one dose, accounting for 38 percent of those then eligible and nearly 16 percent of the state’s population. Statewide, more than 1.14 million Georgians have been fully vaccinated. Amber Schmidtke, who holds a doctorate in medical microbiology and immunology, has been a source of COVID-19 data analysis for journalists and public health professionals. Schmidtke, who has worked at the CDC and Mercer University’s school of medicine, posted on Twitter: “It’s not the time to relax and live your best life. It’s time to look out for your loved ones and your communities until we vaccinate more of the population.” ì
Jewish Schools Vaccinate Teachers By Nathan Posner
Torah Day School has been When Georgia opened COVID-19 encouraging its vaccines to teachers March 8, it meant teachers to get vacthat educators and school staff could cinated by coorreceive the long-awaited shots. Atlanta’s dinating appointJewish schools have embraced the opporments and paying tunities, with many of them hosting their them for that time, own vaccine clinics so staff could be vacsaid Head of School cinated as quickly as possible. Rabbi Meir Cohen. From pre-K to high school, Jewish While many teachAmy Shafron, head of school of The Davis Two Epstein School nurses Jessica Blatt and Joyce educational facilities in Atlanta seem to ers at Jewish day Academy, with Max C. during the school’s Tritt bookend Assistant to the Head of School Denise have gotten their staff vaccinated quickly schools have been Purim celebration of Everyday Heroes. Gelernter, center, after she receives her vaccine. to protect themselves from COVID-19 as vaccinated, some AJA vaccinated 90 members of their out the year,” stated Epstein Head of well as to prevent future outbreaks. took a little longer than others. Some The Davis Academy, which dealt staff with the hope that the staff will be School David Abusch-Magder. “And now, teachers at The Weber School were waitwith a major outbreak of COVID-19 in fully vaccinated next month, according our community has helped connect us ing for the school’s clinic March 18. mid-February, didn’t wait an extra day to to Head of School Rabbi Ari Leubitz. with the vaccine,” he continued. “We Marni Karpel, a fourth grade teacher While teachers have been in person have operated in-person throughout this vaccinate staff. The school held a vacciat AJA, expressed a common sentiment nation clinic on the early hours of March since August, the vaccines will provide school year, and we are so excited for the among those who received the vaccine 8 for its entire staff through Tuxedo Phar- an additional layer of safety for teach- new phase that the vaccine provides.” recently. “Now I can breathe a sigh of remacy. The vaccination clinic, which oc- ers who have to come in direct contact While most schools the AJT consult- lief and give even more to my job and the curred almost exactly one year since the with children, who haven’t been eligible ed opted for hosting their own clinics, students.” ì school paused in-person classes because for vaccinations, according to those con- others are allowing their staff to receive of COVID-19, took place in the school sulted for this story. the vaccine on their own and are supRoni Robbins contributed to this report. Yael Katz, a first grade Judaic studgym, transformed overnight into a clinic porting them during that process. so that teachers could receive their first ies teacher, said, “Getting the vaccine was a bit surreal. ... I look forward to the shots on campus. Other schools also hosted their own day I can teach my students without my Sustainability • Conservation • Wellness • Cybersecurity clinics with Tuxedo Pharmacy, including mouth being covered.” While the school continues with its CMCH schools, Atlanta Jewish Academy current COVID-19 protocols, they will be and The Epstein School. modified once the staff is fully vaccinated, Leubitz said. Tuxedo Pharmacy has been working to secure vaccines for the Atlanta community since October, with a particular focus on schools in the Atlanta area, Denise Gelernter, assistant to the head of school at The Epstein School, said in a statement to the AJT. In addition to the Jewish Nurse Wendy Pakula signing kindergarten schools, the pharmacy has vacteacher Eva Shell’s COVID vaccination card. cinated school employees at The Paideia School, Marist School, Woodward Academy, and The Galloway School, among others, according to the statement. The pharmacy connected with The Epstein School and The Davis Academy through school parents and were able to The Center for Global Youth Leadership at Brandon Hall School will have sessions from hold clinics on the first day of June 14 to July 1, 2021 and July 6 to July 23, 2021. Apply now and spend your summer pursuing a eligibility at both schools. “We “passion project” and entrepreneurial ideas with the guidance of experts from the corporate, are so grateful to our communinon-profit, social service, and Consular sectors. Become the leader that the world needs! Laura Weiss, director of recruitment and enrollment ty for helping to ensure the safeat The Epstein School, receives her vaccine. ty of our professionals throughwww.brandonhall.org/summer • 770.394.8177
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Marjorie Taylor Greene Meets New York Jews By Nathan Posner Georgia Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene has made statements critics have called anti-Semitic and she’s believed to advance QAnon conspiracy theories. On March 15, she visited Jewish stores, a yeshiva and matzah bakery in Brooklyn, N.Y., as they prepared for Passover. Greene also met with a Holocaust survivor and her family. Greene, who represents Georgia’s 14th district, was invited to the “educational visit,” by Chovevei Zion’s executive director Nachman Mostofsky, according to Nick Dyer, Greene’s communications director. Chovevei Zion advocates on behalf of a segment of the Orthodox Jewish community on political issues and helps facilitate tours to Israel for politicians. Greene was stripped of her committee assignments Feb. 4, partly because of comments some in the Jewish community have regarded as anti-Semitic. An Atlanta rabbi who has served the Jewish community in Greene’s district
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Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene at a kosher pizza restaurant in Brooklyn.
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said that he doubted her visit to Brooklyn would change his perspective. Steven Lebow, rabbi emeritus of Temple Kol Emeth, regularly conducted services for Rodeph Shalom, a Rome synagogue that serves much of the Jewish community in northwestern Georgia in her district. Rabbi Steve Lebow wonders Greene remains a Of the Brooklyn why Greene visited New York controversial legislator. visit, Lebow said, “She Jews instead of her constituents. can visit as many Jewish institutions as she “The idea of the day was to bring a wants, I will still have doubts about her member of Congress who had very little open-mindedness.” interaction with the Jewish community He further questioned, “Why won’t and specifically the more religious Jewshe reach out to people in her own disish community.” trict or people in Atlanta?” The visit began with a tour of a boys’ Greene’s New York tour was largely yeshiva in Brooklyn, where the congressfocused around the Orthodox commuwoman visited an eighth grade class and nity in Brooklyn, Mostofsky told the AJT. had a discussion with the rabbi as well
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NEWS as a question and answer session with the students. The congresswoman and her team were accompanied by Mostof-
America.” The Holocaust survivor voiced her concerns about illegal immigration, the current state of the country, and her worries for the future. In an interview with the AJT, Mostofsky described the concerns the survivor expressed to Greene in their 30- to 35-minute meeting: “That the normalization of hate, and the normalization of othering, and the cancel culture was exactly what was happening in Germany.” The congresswoman has expressed similar Nachman Mostofsky invited Rabbi Yechezkel Moskowitz sentiments, accusing the congresswoman to visit. is president of Chovevei Zion, those who have atwhich organized the visit. tacked her character as giving in to cancel sky and Rabbi Yechezkel Moskowitz, culture. president of Chovevei Zion and a former Another highlight of Greene’s tour leader of the National Council of Young was visiting a matzah bakery preparing Israel who clashed in 2019 with what for Passover, Mostofsky said. was then known as Young Israel of Toco At the matzah manufacturing site, Hills. The dispute led to the Atlanta syna- Greene was greeted by Israeli workers gogue breaking away from the national who recognized her and thanked her for organization and changing its name. her work, according to Mostofsky. “They Mostofsky’s brother was among recognized who she was and changed rioters who stormed the Capitol Jan. 6, the music from Israeli music to the naand their father was a former president tional anthem,” Mostofsky said. “That of the NCYI, according to online news love of country came out to her.” sources. Dyer said that Greene seemed interGreene and entourage passed by ested in how the food was prepared. “She Hatzalah ambulances, which interested was astounded by it,” and asked, “‘you the congresswoman. Hatzalah is be- guys just eat this stuff for eight days?’” lieved the world’s largest volunteer amThe visit ended, largely, when she bulance service. went to Newsmax for an interview beThe New York tour included a visit fore dinner with Mostofsky and Mosto a Jewish grocery in the process of kowitz. gearing up for Passover and the kosher Mostofsky said, “Everywhere we Pizza Time, where Greene met with local went, people that noticed her and knew Jewish residents. she was a congresswoman and were told Her visit to the pizza shop spread who she was, would say ‘thank you, keep quickly on Facebook, enticing New York- up the good work, we are with you, we ers to come and meet her. While at the don’t believe any of this stuff that is bepizza shop, she met with a volunteer for ing said about you.’” the ambulance service and discussed the He said Greene “was greeted with program, in addition to meeting with rave reviews of how she fought for Presiother community members. dent [Donald] Trump and the values they Sam Beyda, a local resident, told share between the Orthodox community the AJT he saw that Greene was at the and her Christian faith.” pizza shop from a photo his brother sent, The larger issue of Greene’s accused which has now been shared widely. Bey- anti-Semitism wasn’t ignored by Mostofda went to the shop to meet the congress- sky. He said he has become friends with woman. “I was surprised she was visiting the congresswoman, regularly calling the Jewish community, in Brooklyn of all and messaging her, and has met with places.” The conversation was “amica- her multiple occasions during her short ble,” and the congresswoman left shortly time in Congress. “She was never an antiafter to meet with a Holocaust survivor Semite,” Mostofsky said. “A member like and four generations of the survivor’s Representative Green is a natural ally to family. our Jewish community.” Dyer said, “Rep. Greene discussed Some in the Jewish community, like the Holocaust survivor’s journey to Lebow, might disagree. ì
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Dunwoody Murderer Loses His Latest Appeal By Jan Jaben-Eilon More than a decade after the shooting of Russell “Rusty” Sneiderman in Dunwoody, the man convicted of his murder may be at the end of his legal journey. Last week, the Georgia Supreme Court upheld the 2016 murder and illegal firearm possession convictions against Hemy Neuman. The ruling was unanimous. “Everyone is relieved,” said attorney Esther Panitch. She was specifically referring to Neuman’s ex-wife Ariela, whom Panitch represented, and more generally, the Atlanta Jewish community, which was divided by the brutal killing. “It is time for Hemy’s victims to have peace and never have to hear his name again.” Members of Jewish Atlanta previously expressed how the community had been victimized by the slaying of Sneiderman on Nov. 10, 2010, outside the Dunwoody preschool where he had dropped off his child. Friendships were broken. Threats and accusations were hurled against attorneys, and one prominent Atlanta Jewish leader at the time, who did not want to be named, told the AJT that “it was a painful episode in the history of the Jewish community. It divided the whole
Hemy Neuman lost his latest appeal of his murder conviction of Rusty Sneiderman, who was shot in Dunwoody in 2010.
community.” Both the Sneiderman and Neuman families were active members in the Atlanta Jewish community. They became entwined because Sneiderman’s wife Andrea worked for Neuman at GE Energy. She was accused of helping Neuman kill her husband because of an alleged affair between her and Neuman. She eventually served 10 months of a five-year sentence after being found guilty of perjury and obstructing the apprehension of
“It is time for Hemy’s victims to have peace and never have to hear his name again,” said attorney Esther Panitch.
a killer. But murder charges against her were dropped. “This community lived the trauma of the murder and its aftereffects," Panitch said. “There are people who will always be fascinated by the story, especially because Andrea continues to live in the community. She has no shame in her role in her husband’s murder.”
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More than once, Panitch has received photos of sightings of Andrea Sneiderman, who has since changed her name. Panitch, of Panitch Law Group, handles domestic violence and murder cases. However, she represented Neuman’s ex-wife – who has also changed her name – in her divorce case against Neuman, and she represented the family of the deceased in a wrongful death case against Andrea Sneiderman. Asked whether the divisions in the Jewish community still exist, Panitch noted that “multiple friends of Andrea’s have hired me to handle family matters. These are people who wouldn’t go to a party if I was there, and they have since hired me. These are people who used to support Andrea.” They first apologized to Panitch for their past shunning of her, she said. The latest ruling follows a hearing before the Georgia Supreme Court on Sept. 16. Neuman’s public defender had claimed that his client deserved a new trial. Israeli-born Neuman was convicted after his first trial in 2012, being found guilty but mentally ill. But three years later, Georgia’s Supreme Court reversed that conviction because they said evidence that violated his attorney-client privilege should not have been admitted into evidence. In 2016, Neuman was retried and again found guilty and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. This time the court refused to overturn the decision. His public defender “respectfully declined to comment” to AJT’s request for a statement. According to Panitch, “this is the end of any direct appeals” about trial issues by Neuman. He could allege a violation of a constitutional right under a habeas corpus, but “this would be the legal equivalent of a Hail Mary,” she said. If he decided to take that action, however, he wouldn’t be provided a state-appointed lawyer. “Anything he would do would be on his own dime.” Up until now, he hasn’t had anything to lose by filing lawsuits, she said of Neuman, who was sentenced to life in prison without parole. “If I were locked up for the rest of my life, I would try to get out. I don’t expect him to have an epiphany that he deserves to stay in jail. That’s part of his narcissism.” Panitch said that Neuman’s ex-wife is “doing okay. She’s still at The Epstein School, although she’s no longer teaching. She has the most incredible work ethic. She’s maybe missed a couple of days of work, when she had to be in court. Many people would have locked themselves up away from the world.” The Neuman children are now adults, but Panitch wouldn’t speak for them. For herself, however, Panitch stated emphatically, “I hope I never have to hear Hemy Neuman’s name again.” ì
Diaspora Affairs Minister Spends Day in Atlanta By Jan Jaben-Eilon Israel’s Minister of Diaspora Affairs spent a day recently in Atlanta, but it wasn’t all work. Omer Yankelevitch came to Atlanta also to visit her daughter, Yael, whom she had not seen in seven months. Yael is one of the shinshinim, young volunteer emissaries working in Atlanta this year for The Jewish Agency for Israel. According to her mother, Yael is believed the first charedi, or ultra-Orthodox shinshinim, working for The Jewish Agency. This group of shinshinim began their service in Atlanta at the start of the school year. “I was so proud and inspired to see all that Yael has done over the last year. Despite it being a very challenging period, Yael still managed to be incredibly impactful and effective. She taught in the Jewish day school, really became a part of the community, and volunteered with many different groups. Yael feels that she succeeded to bring Israel and a love for the Jewish people to Atlanta, and I hope that she will bring the unique feeling for world Jewry and the story of Jewish Atlanta to Israel and to continue to be an ambassador within Israel between our communities.” Perhaps Yael is following in her mother’s footsteps. Omer Yankelevitch has served as Minister of Diaspora Affairs for nearly a year, after her Blue and White Party joined a unity government headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Yankelevitch is touted as the first-ever charedi female cabinet minister. “I see my role to build a stronger living bridge between Jewish communities around the world and the Israeli government and society. The Minister of Diaspora Affairs serves as the address for world Jewry within the Government of Israel,” she said. Since she’s been in office, her focus has been “to build a more mutual conversation and relationship between Israel and Jewish communities. We do this through listening, engaging and supporting Jewish leaders, organizations and communities every day. The government is taking increasing responsibility both in ensuring the relationship between Israel and world Jewry and in strengthening the diaspora. This represents a significant paradigm shift within Israel. My current focus is in creating a formalized consultation body within the Government of Israel to ensure that the State of Israel is listening to the voices of world Jewry on matters which directly impact them.” According to Yankelevitch, the Diaspora Ministry has a 450 million shekel (more than $100 million) budget that it invests in the diaspora, supporting Jewish formal and informal education, the Jewish peace corps and in monitoring and responding to antisemitism in Jewish communities around the world.
Although she considers her visit to Atlanta personal, it came at the beginning of an official tour of Jewish communities in the U.S. In Atlanta, she met with Eric Robbins, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. “We discussed how the community is doing during COVID, what Jewish organizations have done to help Jewish individuals, families, organizations during this challenging time, and challenges and opportunities moving forward.” After she left Atlanta, she headed to New Jersey for meetings. Despite limitations such as the pandemic and the March 23 elections, she said she is “dedicated to using every minute and every resource available to strengthen the relationship and connect the State of Israel and world Jewry. As the world slowly opens up, I am here on the ground to show solidarity and bring the message that Israel cares. I am here to bring back stories and experiences and share them with the Government of Israel and Israeli society.” Yankelevitch was able to take the trip to the U.S. because she decided not to run in the most recent Israeli elections, having been elected to the Knesset, or Israel’s parliament, in both the September 2019 and March 2020
“I personally feel so connected and appreciative of the Atlanta Jewish community,” Omer Yankelevitch said.
elections. “I am taking one step back to take two steps forward in the long term. While I was offered the number four position in Blue and White and the option to join other parties, I decided to take a pause and re-evaluate my next move from a position of strength. I aim to con-
tinue to advocate for women and minority communities in Israel and to continue to find ways to bring together the Jewish world. I see this as my ongoing mission, my shlichut, and purpose. Politics is just one angle in which to do this important work. I remain dedicated as ever to moving forward Israeli society and the Jewish people.” Whatever Yankelevitch decides for her future, she seems to have made a strong connection with the Atlanta Jewish community. “Through Yael, I personally feel so connected and appreciative of the Atlanta Jewish community,” she said. “For Atlanta’s Jewish community to connect with a young Israeli religious female and develop personal relationships, not only with Yael, but her family and network in Israel, is how we build community within the Jewish people today. Yael has made lifelong friends and connections. Atlanta’s Jewish community opened their homes and hearts to my daughter. We look forward to doing the same when members of Atlanta’s Jewish community come visit our home in Israel. This is a model for the two-way relationship that we aim to build across the Jewish world,” she added.ì
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Clergy Mark Year of Multifaith, Jewish Facebook Pages By Jan Jaben-Eilon A day after Purim last year, on March 11, Congregation Bet Haverim Senior Rabbi Joshua Lesser said it was clear that the city and the country were moving into some kind of quarantining or social distancing as the reality of the pandemic began sinking in. “I said to myself, I don’t know if I know how to do this by myself,” as the leader of a congregation. There were so many unknowns at that time. But Lesser realized that his congregation had nearly three dozen health professionals and it occurred to him, “I might have something to offer maybe 100 of my closest clergy friends and 100 of their friends,” he recalled. Within a week, hundreds of people joined a private Facebook page that became known as “Spiritual and Communal Responses to COVID-19.” The international members now number close to 8,000, of which about 1,000 are in Georgia. The multicultural members share resources such as approaches to opening their synagogues or churches or mosques, or even new liturgy that they are creating. “For me, the most important aspect is what an incredibly supportive place for clergy who are challenged by COVID” that the web page became, said Lesser, the creator and founder of the Facebook page. He talked about the emotional toll that the pandemic has taken on clergy, who not only have to deal with the fears personally and for their families, but also have to be available spiritually for their congregants. “So much of pastoral care is grieving, and there have been so many losses within the congregations,” Lesser said. Clergy and some lay leader-members of the Facebook page have offered workshops. “There have been opportunities to talk about grief and people suggest different ways to offer pastoral care.” Some clergy were more adept than others with technology, and soon rabbis who had learned how to do Passover via Zoom were advising Christian clergy what they learned, to help with Easter. Some rabbis even said they would be available to help with technology on Sunday for churches. Then, last year after Passover, a col16 | MARCH 31, 2021 ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES
league of Lesser’s, Minneapolis Rabbi Michael Latz, and a few other rabbis recognized that the pandemic wasn’t going to end any time soon. They held a Zoom call to discuss how to look at the upcoming High Holy Days. Over 300 rabbis launched the process. Available only for Jews, this Facebook page became known as “Dreaming Up High Holy Days 2020.” It has since been renamed “Dream Up 5781,” looking into the new year. “Before the High Holy Days last year, there were 2,000 members. Now there are 3,000, including all denominations. Mostly rabbis I didn’t know,” Lesser said.
“We became a tight group of moderators, and the folks who participated have been the most generous, supportive and open-sharing group I have ever been a part of. Everyone’s motivation has been to help each other out so that they can serve their congregations. There’s been no judgment.” According to Lesser, Congregation B’nai Torah Rabbi Josh Heller “took the lead in promoting a conversation with the Zoom company about how to make the technology halachically available.” As Lesser explained, the technology generally shuts down at certain hours. The company had to figure out how to keep it open during Shabbat and the High Holy Days so the more traditional congregations could avail themselves of the technology. Unlike the multifaith Facebook page, “Atlanta rabbis haven’t been heavily involved in the Jewish clergy Facebook page,” Lesser said. However, in addition to Heller, Congregation Shearith Israel Rabbi Ari Kaiman and Temple Beth Tikvah Rabbi Alexandria Shuval-Weiner “have posted more regularly.” Congregation Gesher L’Torah Rabbi Michael Bernstein, Lesser added, has been active on both Facebook pages. Lesser has not handled the moderat-
ing of the Facebook pages alone. Rev. Letitia Campbell, an assistant professor in the practice of ethics and society at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University, joined him as co-moderator of the multicultural Facebook page and she brought on some Emory students to help. Lesser explained that Campbell’s partner is a member of his synagogue. As he looks back at the last year of COVID, Lesser realizes that he spent much of his quarantining at home on the computer, creating the Facebook pages, advising Jewish Federations around the country on handling the High Holy Days, writing, and just generally being overproductive. “I got fueled” by the experience and “it helped me open up to the fact that I want to make a bigger impact” than just on one congregation. “I have the capacity and desire to do more,” Lesser said. He announced last year that he would be stepping down as the pulpit rabbi. As of May 31, he will become rabbi emeritus at CBH. “I’m most proud of these Facebook pages. No dollars went into this. They were fueled only by good will,” he said. “This is my understanding of what inclusion looks like.” Lesser said he believes that “everything I’ve learned about inclusion is from
This is my understanding of what inclusion looks like,” said Rabbi Joshua Lesser, above. Memes were created for the clergy Facebook pages.
being on the margins.” He was referring to the fact that he – as a gay man -- has led a synagogue created by the LGBTQ community. Taking a deep breath after pointing to his last busy but productive year, Lesser admitted, “I know I need a little bit of down time, maybe two to three months. I know that May 31 is coming soon,” Lesser mused. “I need to go inward to figure out what comes next. I have felt overly responsible.” ì
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Tomer Shushan via JTA //
Dawit Tekelaeb, left, and Daniel Gad star in the Israeli Oscar contender “White Eye.”
Israeli Short Film Among Academy Awards Finalists
The Israeli short film “White Eye” is on the shortlist of 10 finalists among 174 entries for best international short films. The short film focuses on the prejudice against Ethiopian immigrants in Israel. The film was shot in one night in Tel Aviv, in one take, and is only 20 minutes long. The film previously won the best short film award at the Haifa International Film Festival in 2019, among others. The film only cost $34,000, of which 90 percent was covered by the govern-
Today in Israeli History March 31, 1979 Israel’s Gali Atari and Milk & Honey win the Eurovision Song Contest with “Hallelujah.” The contest is in Jerusalem because Israel’s 1978 entry, “A-Ba-nibi” by Izhar Cohen and Alphabeta, also won.
I09/17/18DF photo A military food convoy drives toward Jerusalem in 1948.
April 1, 1948 Nine Jews are killed and 17 others are wounded in an unsuccessful attempt to move a 60-truck convoy of food and other supplies to Jerusalem through Wadi Sarrar. It is the second time the convoy has failed.
April 2, 1947 The British government notifies the United Nations that it plans to bring Palestine’s future before the next U.N. General Assembly session and that it wants a special commission to make recommendations. April 3, 1970 Avigdor Hameiri, Israel’s first poet laureate, dies at age 79. Born in 18 | MARCH 31, 2021 ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES
virus, or both, according to Maj. Gen. Itzik Turgeman. The military now believes that it can return to IDF Claims Its First more normal operations, Military to Achieve although troops will still Herd Immunity be required to wear masks, The IDF announced social distance and abide by March 11 it has successfully other COVID restrictions. achieved “herd immunity,” While the IDF has stated with at least 81 percent of that its operational capabilithe military having received ties have not been impacted Olivier Fitoussi //09/17/18 the vaccine or having pre- by COVID-19, trainings have Ethiopian immigrants arrive in Israel as part viously contradicted the been. “We can now do things of Operation Tzur Israel March 11. differently. We can four-month Operation Tzur Israel, train much more freely,” which brought a total of 2,000 Ethiopian said the IDF’s Chief Medimmigrants to Israel. ical Officer Brig. Gen. The immigrants were sent to quarAlon Glasberg. antine after arrival as per Israel’s policy during the pandemic. While the arrival was supposed to be marked by a large Ethiopian Immiceremony, it was called off due to congrants Arrive in cerns of politicization with the upcomIsrael ing election. Some 300 EthioThere are an estimated 7,000 to pian immigrants landed 12,000 Ethiopians still waiting to come IDF via Twitter // at Ben Gurion Airport to Israel. IDF Chief of the General Staff Aviv Kohavi is March 11, ending the vaccinated against COVID-19 in December.
Hungary, he was studying to be a rabbi when he turned to socialism and Zionism. He also wrote novels, children’s books and memoirs.
lad featuring “the garden of love.” Ilanit again represents Israel in 1977.
per in the Night,” during his playing career in 1995.
April 4, 1968 Moshe Levinger and several other Israeli Jews pretending to be Swiss tourists check into a Hebron hotel to establish the first permanent Jewish presence in the city since the 1929 massacre of 67 Jews.
April 8, 1960 U.N. Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold for the first time publicly criticizes Egypt for confiscating Israeli cargo on ships using the Suez Canal. Israel conditioned its 1956 withdrawal from the Sinai on the freedom of navigation.
April 13, 2004 Hapoel Jerusalem defeats Real Madrid, 83-72, to win Europe’s No. 2 club basketball championship, the EuroCup. Combined with Maccabi Tel Aviv’s EuroLeague championship, Israel holds both of Europe’s major basketball titles.
April 5, 1999 Kfar Saba-based M-Systems applies for a patent for the USB flash drive, which can store 8 megabytes, five times the memory of most floppy disks. IBM begins selling the drives after the patent is granted.
April 9, 1973 Ehud Barak leads a successful seaborne commando raid on Beirut to kill three PLO officials connected to the Munich Olympics massacre: Mohammed Yousef al-Najjar, Kamal Adwan and Kamal Nasser.
April 6, 1999 An Israel Defense Forces medical mission flies to the former Yugoslav republic of Macedonia (now North Macedonia) to care for refugees from Kosovo. The hospital treats more than 1,560 people in 16 days.
April 10, 2002 Eight passengers on a commuter bus in Haifa, including the 18-year-old niece of Israel’s U.N. ambassador, are killed in a Second Intifada suicide bombing claimed by both Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
April 7, 1973 Ilanit, Israel’s first entrant in the annual Eurovision Song Contest, finishes fourth out of 17 with the song “Ey-sham,” a dramatic bal-
April 11, 2002 In Madrid, U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell calls for an immediate Israeli-Palestinian cease-fire, then flies to the Middle East to meet individually with the leaders of Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
April 14, 1961 Illana Shoshan, who wins the 1980 Miss Israel title and in 2010 is voted the Miss Israel of All Time, is born Hapoel Jerusalem Basketball Club was in Kfar Saba. founded in 1935 and She becomes began playing in a fashion Israel’s top professional model, acleague in 1955. tress, producer, casting director and women’s rights activist. ì
Ilanit was Israel’s first Eurovision representative in 1973 and returned to the contest in 1977.
April 12, 1971 Eyal Golan, a 17-year pro soccer player who becomes one of Israel’s most successful Mizrahi singers, is born in Rehovot. He releases his first album, “Whis-
Items are provided by the Center for Israel Education (israeled.org), where you can find more details.
ISRAEL NEWS Israelis Optimistic as Third Lockdown Restrictions Ease By Jan Jaben-Eilon While Atlantans continue to desperately compete for COVID vaccination appointments, Israelis are just as frantically jockeying for a seat at the newly opened restaurants in the country. As Israel slowly comes out of its third long lockdown to reduce the pandemic’s effects on the country’s health and economy, it’s as if the gates have suddenly opened and the race for normality is on. The Times of Israel reported that in the first week since the country officially started to open, some restaurants in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Beer Sheva say there’s a 10-day waiting list for reservations. Up until recently, restaurants had only been allowed to offer takeout and delivery services. Even now, the restaurants can only host up to 100 people indoors at up to 75 percent capacity, or up to 100 people outside – with tables about 6 feet apart.
Left to right: By year’s end, elementary school students will be eligible for vaccinations, said Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla. Israelis can expect to celebrate Passover without restrictions, according to Nachman Ash. vaccination or recovery from the COVID virus. Introduced by the Israel Ministry of Health, the green pass initiative was designed to open up the economy. Out of a population of about 9 million, Israel has vaccinated more than 5 million, of whom more than 4 million have received both doses of the Pfizer inoculation. Since the start of the pandemic, more than 800,000 Israelis have been confirmed to have had COVID. The death toll passed 6,000 on March 14, with 1,000 of those deaths coming in the previous four weeks. Green passes allow those who have received both doses of the vaccine to access public areas such as houses of worship, cultural events, restaurants and bars, hotels, gyms, swimming pools and fitness and dance studios. Israelis can download into their smartphones an app known as Ramzor or the Green Pass from the Health Ministry website. Those without green passes can eat in outdoor areas of restaurants, but not indoors. Israeli newspapers report that diplomats,
Compassionate and ResponsiVe Family law RepResentation sinCe 1991.
Compassionate and RESPONSIVE Family Law Representation But there’s a catch: The doors are only Since 1991. being opened to Israelis who have been vacJosh Schwarcz said the Israeli economy may grow by 4 to 5 percent in the next year.
cinated. They receive what is known as green passes or green passports, which indicate
students and other foreigners living in Israel who have received both vaccination doses, however, cannot yet access the green pass because they lack an Israeli ID number. The government expects to continue easing coronavirus restrictions. Nightclubs are next on the list to be open to those carrying green passes. And there’s discussion of dropping the requirement to wear masks outside. There’s a “feeling of optimism in Israel” as it comes out of the latest lockdown,” said Josh Schwarcz, secretary general and director of external relations at The Jewish Agency. Speaking at a webinar sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta March 14, Schwarcz added that “the Israeli economy is expected to grow 4 to 5 percent in the next year.” While that’s good news for most Israelis, like in the United States, thousands of businesses have closed their doors in the past year due to the pandemic. Israeli Channel 12 recently reported that about 4,000 of the 14,000 restaurants that operated before the pandemic have closed for good.
Entrance and exit through the country's only international airport, Ben-Gurion International Airport, is still being tightly controlled for non-Israelis. However, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled on March 17 that it was unconstitutional to limit the number of Israelis arriving or leaving the country. Meanwhile, the government expanded the number of cities from which flights can arrive into Israel. Returning Israelis must still go into quarantine for up to two weeks. Initially, flights were only allowed from New York, London, Paris and Frankfurt. Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told Israeli media that it was “a question of weeks” until children aged 12 to 16 could start getting the Pfizer-BioNtech vaccine, depending on FDA approval. He added that, by the end of the year, elementary school students will be eligible as well. Adding to the country’s positive outlook, coronavirus czar Nachman Ash told the country’s media that, barring any unforeseen virus breakouts, Israelis should be able to celebrate Passover without restrictions at the end of the month. ì
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BUSINESS Cheryl Dorchinsky Joins Dentist is Diplomate of Americans United With Israel American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine By Nathan Posner
Cheryl Dorchinsky, founding executive director of the Atlanta Israel Coalition, will be joining Americans United with Israel in an executive position. She will continue her job at the AIC, with the hope that her new position will allow the organization to engage in more Israeli activism. “I am continuing to dedicate myself with AIC, but going forward with United With Israel, and the fact that it continues to complement both organizations, is a great thing.” Dorchinsky hopes her new position with Americans United with Israel will help AIC, saying that it “will provide an opportunity to amplify our work for Israel and the Jewish people.” The goals of this new partnership, through Dorchinsky, include helping Americans United with Israel get involved with “more boots on the ground things.” Some of the other goals include being involved in more local Jewish events, leading unique missions to Israel, and more hands-on projects in Israel.
Cheryl Dorchinsky will bring together Atlanta Israel Coalition and Americans United with Israel in her new position.
Dr. Wayne G. Suway was recently designated as a diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine. It is a leading national testing organization for dentists who treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy. Earning diplomate status from the ABDSM recognizes special competency in dental sleep medicine. Suway works closely with physicians to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. He is also a diplomate of the International Congress of Oral Implantology and an associate fellow of the American Academy of Implant Dentistry. He earned his doctor of dental surgery from Emory University School of Dentistry and received his bachelor’s degree from Bucknell University. Suway also completed a one-year program in Dr. Wayne Suway was named implant dentistry under the American Academy of an American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine diplomate. Implant Dentistry at the Medical College of Georgia. For over a decade, Suway has been recognized as a Master of the Academy of General Dentistry – a prestigious award in the dental field. With more than 1,000 hours of additional education in applied dental techniques and technology, Suway combines more than three decades of experience with continuous training in the general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry and implant dentistry fields.
Happy Passover Celebrate the courageous journey to freedom. jfcsatl.org 20 | MARCH 31, 2021 ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES
Dr. Andrew Kirsch Helps Project Chimps Dr. Andrew Kirsch, a pediatric urologist with Georgia Urology, volunteers as chief medical liaison for Project Chimps, a chimpanzee sanctuary in Blue Ridge, Ga., where former laboratory research animals receive a second chance to thrive and survive. Nearly 80 chimpanzees call this 236-acre forested facility home. He first learned about Project Chimps from his wife, psychiatrist Dr. Susan Kirsch. “We’re both animal lovers,” he explains, “and we thought it would be nice to visit the facility and talk to the staff about the medical needs of the chimpanzee residents.” Andrew Kirsch agreed to recruit and oversee an expanded team of physicians and surgeons while serving alongside a group of surgical care team consultants. In addition to urology, the surgical team represents orthopedics, gynecology, Dr. Andrew Kirsch volunteers as a chief general surgery, plastic surgery and medical liaison for Project Chimps. more. Andrew Kirsch’s responsibilities will be helping to provide urologic care and support. Susan Kirsch leads the psychiatric consultation. A medical care team specializing in hematology and nephrology rounds out the current crop of physician volunteers. Project Chimps was founded in 2014 ahead of the landmark 2015 federal government decision to end medical research on chimpanzees. The Humane Society of the United States became a founding financial supporter of Project Chimps, enabling the organization to purchase the North Georgia property. Advances included upgrading the chimpanzee villas, transforming the veterinary hospital, and kitchen renovations made possible by celebrity chef Rachael Ray. Project Chimps’ goal is becoming a forever home for more than 200 chimpanzees. “It’s thrilling to be able to help these animals live the best lives they can,” Andrew Kirsch said. “They involuntarily dedicated their lives to helping humans. Now it’s their time.”
Hackers Challenge Offers $100,000 Prize The fourth-annual Hackers Challenge will be online April 21 with a $100,000 prize. The competition, which pits hackers against each other to break into Cyber 2.0’s computer system, started in Israel and expanded to Atlanta before going online and worldwide last year. Over 3,500 hackers from 16 different countries have failed to hack the system during the previous challenges. The fourth challenge in April will be aimed at the European market but is open to hackers anywhere in the world. It is being billed as The Great European Hackers Challenge. The cybersecurity company is based in Atlanta with international offices in Israel. In its promotion of the challenge, Cyber 2.0 claims its system provides “total defense against the spread of cyber-attacks within the organizational network.” To register, visit https://www.cyber20.com/#/hackers-challenge.
ADL Honors Lawyers in Atlanta Two Jewish lawyers are among four to be honored by the Anti-Defamation League April 13 at the 24th Annual ADL Jurisprudence Awards. The ceremoney recognizes lawyers who have dedicated their careers to fighting for justice and fair treatment. The virtual ceremony will honor Walter Jospin and Scott ZweiThe ADL will recognize Walter Jospin (left) and Scott gel along with two others, including Zweigel at an awards ceremony next month. Justice Leah Ward Sears. Jospin will be the recipient of The Elbert P. Tuttle Award, given to a lawyer who best exemplifies the ADL’s mission to “secure justice and fair treatment for all.” Jospin is a partner at Finch McCranie, LLP, where he focuses on securities regulatory matters, corporate governance, internal investigations and SEC whistleblowers claims. The ADL’s Emerging Leader Award, given to those who “go above and beyond in their legal practice or civic contributions to uphold the spirit of the ADL’s mission,” will be given to Zweigel and another lawyer, Ana María Martinez. Zweigel, a partner with Parker, Hudson, Rainer & Dobbs, LLP, was instrumental in the most recent passage of the Georgia hate crimes legislation into law. The 2021 Lifetime Achievement Award will be given to Sears, who served 17 years on the Georgia Supreme Court and is touted as the first woman to do so. The previous year’s Lifetime Achievement Award was awarded posthumously to Congressman John Lewis. “ADL is thrilled to bestow awards upon such admirable figures in our legal community in such a critical year,” said Allison Padilla-Goodman, vice president of the ADL’s Southern division. ì
Wishing you a Happy Passover Andy N. Siegel CPCU, CIC, AAI Sheldon Berch
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OPINION Who’s Old? It’s Only a Number To the 3-year-old girl next door I am “Mr. Dave” and my wife “Miss Audrey.” This manner of children addressing adults — a Dave Schechter Southern comFrom Where I Sit bination of being polite, showing respect and recognizing age — took some getting used to when I became the subject. I grew up in the Chicago area and my wife in a smaller Illinois city along the Mississippi River. Our three Atlanta-born children, who range in age from 22 to 30, were not raised to use this honorific. So, when this child says hello to “Mr. Dave,” I find it cute, even though I recognize that, to her, I must appear to be an old man. While, yes, I carry a card in my wallet that entitles me to begin sentences with the phrase “I remember when,” I do not think of myself as old. That said, too many conversa-
tions with friends include mention of this person’s health or that person’s death. I admit that the younger me would kick my behind in the swimming pool or on the tennis court. And with only one haircut in the past year, what has grown longer in the back has continued to retreat from the front. On the other hand, I do think myself a better writer than when my professional life began more than four decades ago. I still find it a bit unsettling that the people in television ads for pharmaceuticals and Medicare plans appear close to my age. Some of you will understand when I say that Joe Namath was a terrific quarterback and cut quite the dashing figure back in the day, but the next time he appears on my television screen as a pitchman I am going to scream. In my 20s I became aware of a group called the Gray Panthers, who had little tolerance for television advertising or entertainment programs that depicted people of a certain age as nothing but physically frail and mentally diminished, making them ripe for stereotypes and laugh tracks. I found such depictions offensive then and
I do now, even more so. If you wonder what that certain age is, consider that in television the demographic most sought after by advertisers is ages 25 to 54. The most obvious insight in articles on the subject is that what people consider to be old depends on their own age. In a 2017 study, Millennials pegged old age at 59, Gen Xers said 65, and the Baby Boom and silent generations settled on 73. Then there was the 2018 survey in which American women ages 16 to 34 identified old age for women as 61 years old, while men ages 16 to 34 felt that men were old at 56. To the latter I say, get off of my lawn. The Bible tells us: “The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away” (Psalm 90:10). Moses is said to have written those words toward the end of his 120 years. Then again, the Bible also says that Adam lived 930 years and Noah 950. Sergei Scherbov and Warren Sanderson, demographers at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, de-
veloped a measurement based on what they called “prospective age.” In their book, “Prospective Longevity: A New Vision of Population Aging,” they wrote that chronological age “tells us [only] how long we’ve lived so far.” In a 2015 article, Scherbov and Sanderson said, “We categorize people as being ‘old’ not at age 65, but when people at their age have an average of 15 more years to live.” As the number on the odometer climbs, there is a natural desire to think of yourself as younger than your chronological age. You may be told that that age is only a state of mind, though the body has an unwelcome habit of offering physical evidence to the contrary. The face I see in the mirror is mine, though not exactly the one I remember looking back at me in early adulthood or at half my chronological age. I would like to think that the creases represent wisdom and perspective gained, and not just wear and tear. The changes that have come with age are obvious to me. But they don’t say that “Mr. Dave” is old. ì
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Discrimination and the Fight for LGBTQ Equality
This Passover Let’s Declare Dayenu
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Rabbi Peter S. Berg
P a s s over is right around the corner, and as synagogues have been emptied and seders turned into virtual gatherings by the pandemic, the story of Exodus re-
mains relevant. Every year, the Jewish community marks Passover by remembering our bondage in Egypt and celebrating God’s liberation of the Jewish people. Repeating the seder each year, we narrate the Exodus to draw out its meaning and find fresh perspectives in our search for true freedom. During this eight-day festival, kashrut laws become more intense. Observing the ancient period with sacrifice, we eat matzah, or unleavened bread, and avoid eating chametz (leaven or foods not kosher for Passover) to help us remember the days of bondage and sacrifice. As we reflect back to learn from the Passover story and the plagues that God set upon the land, we are reminded of the modern plagues we face – such as anti-Black racism, antiSemitism, Islamophobia, anti-LGBTQ bigotry and much more – that still oppress many in the United States. That is why we must continue to take up the cause of all who face discrimination as we would our own. There is a long history of Jewish Americans supporting civil rights movements, identifying through our own experience and cultural memory of marginalization. The logical alliance between Jewish Americans and African Americans has been particularly strong and is a source of personal inspiration for me: One of my heroes, Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, forged a close friendship with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and was a vocal supporter of civil rights. I serve as the senior rabbi at The Temple in Atlanta, an important landmark in the history of our civil rights movement. It was here where Rabbi Jacob Rothschild, the spiritual leader of the congregation, denounced segregation in his High Holy Days sermon
in 1947 and where Rabbi Alvin Sugarman, one of the first vocal supporters of the LGBTQ community, was senior rabbi. I draw strength every day from serving a congregation with such a storied legacy. I am proud that so many elected officials have established themselves as allies to the LGBTQ community and supporters of freedom by publicly pledging to support the Equality Act, a landmark bill that would update existing federal civil rights laws to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination in virtually every aspect of American life. Our work is not yet done, but the path forward is becoming increasingly illuminated for LGBTQ Americans. I urge Congress to prioritize the passage of LGBTQ-inclusive federal protections. There is overwhelming consensus: America is ready for nationwide nondiscrimination protections that ensure our LGBTQ friends and family members are treated with dignity and respect, no matter what zip code they call home. This Passover, as we embrace and preserve ritual, prayer and ceremony during another year of unusual circumstances, we must never forget our own plight in Egypt. We must continue to uphold justice as the jewel in the Reform Jewish crown, and we must act. Rabbi Heschel’s remarks should serve as a stark reminder that “indifference to evil is more insidious than evil itself.” There is significant common ground on LGBTQ nondiscrimination protections. We have a historic opportunity to bring together the bipartisan support needed to pass a federal bill and deliver equality for all Americans. Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. Senate should come together on this issue as senators did 57 years ago, when they reached across the aisle and passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. It’s time for a bipartisan solution to the discrimination and marginalization that LGBTQ Americans experience because building a country where all of us can thrive free from discrimination isn’t just a liberal or conservative value – it’s an American value, focused on freedom and opportunity for all. ì Rabbi Peter S. Berg is the senior rabbi at The Temple in Atlanta.
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OPINION Letters to the Editor The AJT welcomes your letters. We want our readers to have an opportunity to engage with our community in constructive dialogue. If you would like your letter to be published, please write 200 words or less, include your name, phone number and email, and send it to email@example.com.
Letter to the editor,
Regarding Nathan Posner’s article about the Congresswoman from Georgia’s 14th District. Thank you for giving so much space to an anti-Semitic, racist, QAnon adherent, and general loony-toon who poses a threat to democracy in the United States. We don’t get to hear enough about her so it’s a reason to celebrate that you would write such a heartwarming story about her visit to meet New York Jews (and check out their horns?) and include Nachman Mostofsky, whose brother was among those who stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6. She thinks Jews have lasers to set California forest fires. The more publicity you give her the higher the flames. Shame on you! Miriam Karp, Atlanta
in [former] President Barrack Obama’s “A Promised Land,” which “mislead readers about Israel and the Jews.” The letter, which is easily obtainable on the internet provides a detailed and ACCURATE history of the Jewish peoples’ 3,700-year history in Eretz Israel, focusing primarily on the last 100 years. It is disappointing that Random House failed to employ fact checkers or employed incompetent fact checkers in the case of “A Promised Land.” Richard Sherman, Margate, Fla.
rabbi says the ruling means that Israel has ceased to be a place where we can all agree on certain standards. No one addressed the real elephant in the room – the inordinate power several Haredi (fervently Orthodox) parties exert in Israel’s Knesset, where three elections in the past two years have failed to produce a single party that holds even onethird of the seats. Because their votes are needed to complete the 61-seat governing coalition, Haredi parties have succeeded in obtaining funding for their schools, in which boys receive essentially no secular education once they pass bar mitzvah age; nearly complete exemption from serving in the Israel Defense Forces or doing national service for their young men and women; and control of the State Rabbinate and the Interior Ministry, which set the standards for determining personal status (“Who is a Jew?”) This has caused friction between the Haredi authorities and secular Israelis seeking to marry, divorce or bury their dead. But the problems go beyond that. Israel’s Law of Return grants automatic citizenship to anyone with at least one Jewish grandparent, anyone married to a Jew, and any child of a Jew, even if the person is not considered Jewish according to halachah. This was done so that no Jew suffering per-
py Passover! Letter to the editor,
On Feb. 23, the Zionist Organization of America sent an 11-page letter to the CEOs of Penguin Random House, Markus Dohle and Madeline McIntosh, detailing 15 falsehoods
Letter to the editor,
“Conversion Ruling Elicits Strong Reactions,” March 15 Despite the headline, the reactions expressed by the rabbis were rather mild. A Reform rabbi noted that the ruling is a step toward non-Orthodox streams of Judaism being recognized in Israel. A Conservative rabbi noted that the ruling does not change the Chief Rabbinate’s monopoly on issues of Jewish marriage in Israel. An Orthodox
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secution would have to decide between seeking refuge in Israel and keeping their family intact. There are several hundred thousand people who entered Israel, quite rightly, from the former Soviet Union under the Law of Return but are not considered Jewish. Instead of welcoming these people and beginning to teach them about the Jewish heritage they had been denied by the Soviets, the State Rabbinate put obstacles in the paths of those who sought to convert, demanding that the would-be converts convince all their family to convert at the same time or insisting that converts become completely observant of Jewish law at the time of conversion. Even the few “Russians” who do manage to get themselves listed as Jews find their status can be reversed at any time. The approach of a child’s wedding or an attempt to register a birth can lead to a search into the convert’s past, resulting in the annulling of the conversion and the declaration that the convert’s child is not Jewish. This does not bode well for the future of the nation-state of the Jews. Toby F. Block, Atlanta
Letter to the editor,
In the ancient Roman democracy, there were two economic classes. Roman aristocrats (patricians) owned land, and the lower class plebians largely did not, but wanted to. In America, the divide is not so much over land as over wealth and income. This divide touches such issues as interest rates, salaries and wages, rents, unionization, social welfare benefits, and taxes. The Roman historian Livy wrote, “Political decisions always have been and always will be influenced by party spirit and concern for property.” Livy reported that aristocrats suppressed the plebians because they thought the commoners had a goal to expropriate their lands entirely. Republicans seem to express a similar fear about theft of their wealth by socialist progressives today. Rebalancing of wealth and income does not have to “go all the way.” It never did in Rome. It can be done reasonably, and perhaps by the states, so as to avoid one rigid national policy for all. ì Kimball Shinkoskey, Woods Cross, Utah Disclamer to our readers: This section of the newspaper is a forum for our community to share thoughts, concerns and opinions as open letters to the community or directly to the newspaper. As a letter to the editor, we proof for spelling and grammatical errors only. We do not edit nor vet the information the letter contains. The individual signing the letter is accountable for what they share.
No New Normal, Just Normal This Pesach, I want to give thanks and blessing as COVID-19 is finally passing over us. We are over the hump of the second wave, vaccines are rolling out years ahead of schedule and I believe as rapidly as humanly
possible, spring is around the corner, and the beginning
the power of
of getting back to normal now appears within our grasp. This is certainly reason to discuss around the Passover
Michael A. Morris Publisher
seder how the human spirit, yet again, defies the yoke of oppression – albeit, not unique to Jews this time – from an external threat. It also reminds us, white, Black, Jewish, Muslim, Asian or any other delineation, we are most
assuredly all human and ultimately belong to the same family. One of the blessings I will discuss around the seder table this year is how we in America came together to avoid real catastrophe of this plague. I recognize that not everyone wore a mask every time they should have, and not every business was closed every time it should have, and there were small gatherings when there should not have been. But as Americans we united enough to ensure our
Together we thrive.
worst fears were not realized. In the beginning months of COVID-19’s onslaught, as many as 2 million Americans were estimated to perish in the first year. That did
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ebrate as a family the passing of this plague.
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As we celebrate life, my family will also say a prayer for those who died at the hands of COVID-19 and those whose lives were forever changed. While no
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one in my family died of COVID-19, I did have friends whose parents or grandparents passed. I do, however, have many friends whose lives were significantly
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table. Others lost the roof over their head. And those were not the worst tragedies. It is important to understand and reflect on communitywide effects of this pan-
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demic. Both the rate of domestic violence and murder skyrocketed. Both are an unpleasant commentary on how the human condition can be affected under adversity. The most detrimental aspect of the murder rate statistic is that for the three months of almost universal lockdown (mid-March through mid-June) murder rates plummeted. This means that after the lockdown phase, murder became exceedingly more pervasive than normal to obtain such a high rate per annum. Our community will be working to repair itself for years to come. As the Passover seder begins to look at the bright side of our ancient trials to discover our path for Jewish self-determination, I, too, will look forward to our future. Specifically, around our table we will rejoice in the return to normal ac-
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tivities. I must admit, both my purse and waistline have appreciated eating home a preponderance of days this past year. But it is not the eating out directly that I
crave; it is the comradery that accompanies it. There are so many activities to look forward to: sports, concerts, museums, dance, festivals and just live music at dinner. I am even looking forward to attending charitable dinners; I miss my friends and acquaintances. Most important of activities may be vacations, visiting fam-
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ily and celebrating simchas together. All nourish my soul. For me and my family, there will be no new normal; there will just be normal. I say, this year with family
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and friends, this year with music and comradery, next year, in Jerusalem. ì ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES MARCH 31, 2021 | 27
Reflecting on the Plagues: Biblical, Medieval and Current Perhaps no pandemic in human history has altered the world as quickly and dramatically as COVID-19. This is a function of our globalized Rabbi Richard community. This is true M. Baroff even though there have been many plagues in human experience that have been more deadly. The worst pandemic in history was undoubtedly the Black Death of the 1340s and '50s. The Black Death devastated parts of Asia, Africa and especially Europe to a degree that is unimaginable. Many tens of millions of people died as a result of this form of the bubonic plague. At least a quarter, and perhaps as much as one half, of the people of Europe perished. The social, cultural and economic effects were profound and long-lasting. Clearly the people had no idea what was
causing the plague. Scientists have determined that this sickness is caused by bacteria carried by fleas which themselves infest rats. Rats were abundant throughout Eurasia, especially in the larger towns and cities. Large dark blotches would appear on the unfortunate victims, and so the term Black Death was used for this terrible curse, which came to be known as the Plague. The Black Death marked not only the most dreaded time in the Middle Ages generally, but for Jews, in particular. At the time, Germany was not a political entity but a cultural and linguistic region. There started a rumor that the Jews had poisoned the wells, and thus the Jews were the epidemic’s cause. It was noted that Jews were somewhat less likely to die in the plague than their Christian neighbors. If this were indeed true, then the reason probably had to do with halachah: Jews followed strict rules regarding washing and food preparation. Of course many Jews succumbed to the bubonic plague as well as the gentile population.
In the moral panic that ensued, hundreds of Jewish communities in Germany were completely wiped off the map. Some entire Jewish communities were burned alive. The number of victims of these pogroms remain unknown. There were Christian leaders who tried to stop the vengeful mobs. Most notable in this regard was the pope himself, a Frenchman named Clement VI. He maintained the Jews’ innocence and ordered Catholic priests to protect the Jews whenever and wherever possible. Others groups were also targeted to a lesser degree in the hysteria, including other foreigners and lepers, but the Jews were, as was so often the case, singled out for murder. Thousands were killed in Strasbourg, Speyer, Mainz and Cologne. There were even attacks outside of Germany in Switzerland, Flanders and Spain. Soon these Yiddish-speaking Jews of Central Europe who had already suffered expulsions, defamation and the Crusade massacres, would be welcomed in Eastern Europe – in Poland, in particular. There, in the second half of the 14th
From Our AJA Family To Yours Wishing You A Healthy & Joyous Pesach!
!חג כשר ושמח
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century and for centuries afterward, the Yiddish-speaking Jews would develop a flourishing civilization. Jewish life in Poland-Lithuania-Ukraine would define much of Yiddish culture, and mold so much of the Ashkenazi experience. Certainly a prominent feature of the Passover seder is the recitation, in the haggadah, of the Ten Plagues visited upon the Egyptians as a result of the Pharaoh’s recalcitrance. Some of these plagues we today would recognize as pandemics, others would not be. Some of the plagues would appear to be clearly supernatural: dam/blood, hoshech/darkness, makkat bechorot/slaying of the first born. Others are animal infestations: tzefardea/frogs, kinnim/lice, arov/wild beasts, arbeh/locusts. Barad/hail was a meteorological threat and stands on its own. Two plagues represent true illnesses: Dever was a pandemic affecting cattle; shechin /boils was the only disease attacking humans directly. It is worth noting that the Hebrew term for the Ten Plagues, Eser Makkot, really means the Ten Blows delivered by G-d. In Hebrew, magefah means plague in the medical sense. Nevertheless, in this age of coronavirus, when our second Pesach in two years will be altered by social distancing from family and friends, the translation Ten Plagues will have a special resonance. Ignorance, fear and panic gripped Europe in 1348 to 1350. This led to the scapegoating and murder of so many Jews and the destruction of hundreds of communities. In 2020 to 2021 we have the benefits of coordinated scientific communities that have moved very quickly by historical standards to solve the global crisis. Israel is helping to lead the way in vaccinations; the rest of the world is looking at how the Jewish state progresses in terms of herd immunity. We all look forward to next year when hopefully we can have a normal seder with family once more. In the meantime, we ask the Holy One for a bit more savlanut, a bit more patience, to get us through what is, we pray, the last chapter of this terrible virus. Have a Hag Samayach in spite of it all. ì Rabbi Richard Baroff is president of Guardians of the Torah in Roswell.
Passover — The perfect time to think about your legacy. Passover is the quintessential holiday for asking questions and having conversations. Whether you celebrate around the table, or virtually, you can make this year’s Seder one to remember, simply by what you talk about. What kind of Jewish legacy do you wish to pass on? Can you make commitments today that reflect Passover’s themes of freedom, gratitude, and hope? Is it possible to ensure your assets benefit both your family and the community organizations that make Jewish Atlanta vibrant, caring, and connected? The Atlanta Jewish Foundation is here to help answer those questions with a legacy plan. By partnering with legacy giving programs like LIFE & LEGACY® and the Jewish Future Pledge, our team can offer you and your family customizable philanthropic options. Contact Atlanta Jewish Foundation today and launch a legacy discussion with trusted professionals who are experts in charitable estate planning and the needs of Jewish Atlanta and the worldwide Jewish community. Your family will thank you, and so will generations to come. Learn more at atlantajewishfoundation.org
ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES MARCH 31, 2021 | 29
PASSOVER Fighting Modern Plagues and COVID By Stephanie Nissani When considering how the Ten Plagues of the Passover story compare to modern plagues, COVID-19 might be seen as a plague of darkness or for causing loneliness, polarization and isolation. The AJT asked several Jewish community leaders to name a few modern plagues and how they compare to those of the Exodus story captured in the Passover haggadah. Rabbi Mark Zimmerman of Congregation Beth Shalom compared current times to the plague of darkness from the seder story. “They just don’t see each other. They don’t see each other in the sense that they are on the opposite political spectrum, utterly demonizing the other.” He added that the plague is pervasive. “This is a drag, not just in the Jewish community, but also in the general community. It’s this toxic idea that anybody who takes a different point of view
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than ‘me’ is evil. We see this in the Jewish world with delegitimization.” Zimmerman believes that people cannot freely disagree anymore. Just weeks ago, he feels he was slammed because he cheered a majority Supreme Court decision in Israel that recognized Conservative conversion for the purposes of making aliyah. “I suppose it is sad to see how divided we are within our religion. … The strict rules of certain denominations. The opposition is clashing; ‘many different shades of black.’” The Conservative rabbi also named another set of modern plagues: loneliness and isolation. “We pray communally. We pray in a minyan, whether it is Passover seder, Shabbat. This idea that during the seder we have to be alone has been a tremendous plague.” He emphasizes the toll it takes, people depressed
due to loneliness and isolation. “We are not supposed to live in isolation. We are about hachnasat orchim (welcoming guests).” Rabbi Spike Anderson of Temple Emanu-El believes there are two current underlying plagues in the world: sinat chinam (baseless hatred) and lashon hara (derogatory speech). He said that sinat chinam, for example, is why the Second Temple was destroyed. “The physical plagues like COVID-19, inequality in wealth, should all be addressed,” he said. “But if we sit by and not address it when it becomes a problem then, just like a plague, it begins to festers. And now we are in a culture of it where it’s not the exception, but rather it becomes the rule, and we don’t want this to become the rule because then we are in
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PASSOVER deep trouble.” He referred to any problem that surfaces and becomes an extreme cause of divide. Anderson said that if a suitable remedy is found to solve the underlying plagues that are counterproductive to humanity, then there can be room for “an honest culture fulfilled with righteousness, mercy.” Judaism encourages differing opinions, he said. “If you look at the Talmud itself, the pages preserve margins for arguments. Big time arguments from people who vehemently disagree with them. At the time, these arguments were very long and detailed.” Today, split opinions in society are viewed differently. “We are not only not respecting differences, but we are also canceling differences with big wide paint brushes.” Rabbi Ilan Feldman of Congregation Beth Jacob claims that “everybody thinks that they’re entitled to an informed opinion about everything. Everyone has an opinion about everything and cannot be changed by facts.” He believes that the byproduct of the internet and information age, al-
lowing anything to be Googled, is catastrophic for humanity. “You can’t have a discussion with anybody anymore because nobody is intrigued by another person’s point of view.” For him that’s a plague because the human race doesn’t do well when it cannot dialogue with each other. Feldman called the social media age a plague and called it ironic that people are lonely when they’re virtually surrounded by hundreds of people. “There is an irony that at a time of social media, while people are instantly connected to thousands of people, people seem to feel very alone and disconnected.” He added that it is a lack of “belonging to a social community.” Just like the Ten Plagues imposed onto Pharaoh, Feldman believes there is a current divine intervention that calls for humanity to change its behavior and realize that G-d is running the show, not them. He admitted that “G-d is trying to teach us humility. As a society, we are very arrogant. We don’t know how to manage intergender relationships, our lives, marriage, single lives. We are struggling with everything and we need
a little bit of humility. The message is to live with awe and to be humble. Awe that the world can change in a month.” Renee Kutner, chief operating officer of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, agreed that the modern plagues are the manifestation of sheer isolation, loneliness, and a mass divide. “We have a plague of divisiveness and polarization. I think it has impacted society and the Jewish community and not for the better. I think as the world around us has gotten more complicated, it has become easier to think in a world of extremes.” She conceded, “The Jewish community used to be better at coming together than at what drives us apart.” Kutner is adamant that the community has been driven apart by politics more than ever. When asked about the relation between the ancient and modern plagues, she replied, “They are philosophically the same in the sense that they can destroy people. Food insecurity, divisiveness where people are lonely and isolated.” While the ancient plagues only affected the Egyptians, Kutner said no one is impervious now.
“If anybody thinks that Jews suffer any less in food insecurity than any other population, they are blatantly wrong.” And while COVID shed light on those issues, it also encouraged unity, she said. “You saw a lot of creativity of bringing people together. We are a religion whose entire paradigm is about being together, bringing people together. Thus, it is very hard when that is taken away from you.” Shifra Sharfstein, co-director of Chabad of Downtown Universities in Atlanta, said that while there is no doubt that we have a plague on our hands, it’s important how we survive it. She brings an excerpt from the Kabbalah which highlights that “light that comes from a place of darkness then is the most powerful light that exists.” She stressed, “As Jewish people, the message that we’ve always been taught is that challenges are only there to help us climb farther. Challenges are there in order for us to accomplish far more than we ever could. Darkness is only there to transform it into light.” ì
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Synagogues Stress Personal Connections at Passover By Bob Bahr Jaimee Boettcher, director of member engagement at Temple Sinai, spent a good deal of time recently preparing for distribution of gifts just before Passover to more than 1,600 member families. She recruited over 75 volunteers to make safe, socially distanced individual deliveries of a mailing tube that contained a matzah cover for the member’s seder table as well as a letter thanking them for remaining active in the congregation during the past, difficult year. “We want to say ‘happy Passover,’ but we also want to say, ‘thank you for being with us during this crazy year. Thanks for hanging in there with us and we appreciate you and we hope that you’ll use this gift for your Passover seder.’ We hope it’ll start to be a new tradition where they include Temple Sinai in their seder.” Each volunteer emailed the members on their delivery list and added their own personal touch to the synagogue’s gift. Another group of volunteers helped prepare the many gifts for delivery, which was yet another way Boettcher hopes to make Passover at
the temple more of a personal experience this year. “It’s also a way to engage a hundred people who haven’t been able to get out of the house and do much. So that’s another big added benefit. It engages a bunch of our congregants in a very healthy, social distanced way to be able to see other people and contribute to this project.” Chabad of North Fulton distributed gifts to its community as well. According to Rabbi Hirshy Minkowicz, the congregation delivered two handmade matzot made under strict rabbinic supervision and a guide to making Passover at home. For Minkowicz, the restrictions of the past year that have limited physical interaction have been both a challenge and an op-
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Cantorial Soloist Beth Schafer feels a deep loss in not being able to connect with her congregation personally at Passover. Photo courtesy of Temple Sinai //
Marc Cohen and Michael Vaughn (left) celebrate the completion of work at Temple Sinai on more than 1,600 Passover gifts they helped distribute.
portunity to connect one-on-one with the Jewish community. “Chabad has always been very little about our four walls. We focus a lot on outreach, not just in terms of bringing people from the outside in, but actually bringing things to the people. So we’re very accustomed to not being focused so much on our building and our physical structure.” His synagogue planned a seder on the second night of Passover to be held outdoors and limited to 40 people, something that would have been impossible last year, when the congregation suspended much of its regular programs. At Ahavath Achim Synagogue in the Peachtree Battle area, there won’t be any seders on site or through Zoom. Instead, the rabbis are focused on helping congregants find a more personal expression for their feelings during Passover. The synagogue’s senior rabbi, Laurence Rosenthal, who is only in his second year leading the congregation, is putting more emphasis on helping his members prepare for the holiday rather than holding their hands through each step of it. “Last year we provided a family seder, and that was fine, but it was chaotic and challenging. So we decided this year to give people tools rather than lead them through.” The reason, in part, is that the rabbi feels that in the last year the uniqueness of a large Zoom seder may be wearing thin. He believes his congregants are looking, this year, for a deeper experience. “I think people are looking now for more meaning because of the novelty of like, ‘wow, I could see people on Zoom’ is kind of gone and because we’ve done so much of it, there’s a fatigue of it. I don’t think we have found the key to using technology for deep meaning. And I’m finding that the deep meaning for a lot of people, especially now after a year of being separated, will be found with them connecting with their loved ones
in authentic ways. Therefore, we’re going with the approach to give you the tools that you can bring to those experiences and you will curate that yourself.” The synagogue is publishing a pamphlet of individual holiday reflections as a resource to be used at the seder table. The synagogue’s website also has a section with videos and recorded songs that can be incorporated into the ritual as well as instructional materials on how to prepare for and observe the holiday. At Congregation Or VeShalom, the traditional Sephardic synagogue where personal relationships sometimes stretch back generations, Rabbi Josh Hearshen is celebrating his first Passover since coming to the Druid Hills congregation. He wrestles with
Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal at AA Synagogue blames Zoom fatigue for not holding a virtual seder this year.
the dilemma of how to maintain decades of tradition with the challenges imposed by the pandemic. “This is the challenge of the day. I’m uplifted knowing that our ancestors in Europe during the 19th century or during the Holocaust, still found a way to make Passover in spite of not having any wine. They spent a night without matzah. They still made it work.” Since the first seder falls just after Shabbat this year and doing a proper house clean-
Rabbi Hirshy Minkowicz of Chabad of North Fulton, which is holding a second night seder outdoors for 40 congregants.
ing for the holiday must be done early, the synagogue is offering a catered Shabbat kosher for Passover dinner that can be picked up at the synagogue for use at home. The synagogue is also offering what it calls a seder in a box, which contains all the ritual items for the holiday as well as a number of supplementary readings that can be incorporated into the family haggadah. Religious services during the holiday in the synagogue are limited to 25 people with reservations and masks required. The synagogue is not doing a virtual seder either. At his own seder, Rabbi Hearshen is planning a looser structured, more reflective seder for his wife and young daughter. “It’s becoming a more discussion-based
cause Passover begins after the conclusion of Shabbat, the search for chametz and the ritualistic selling of foods that are not kosher for Passover had to be completed ear“The Prince of Egypt” is a Passover film being ly before the shown at Congregation Or VeShalom. holiday starts. night for my daughter and for my wife and There’s I. We’re going to talk about things a lot more. more hustle and bustle this year in the largely I don’t feel like I need to run through things Orthodox neighborhood along Lavista Road, like I normally do. I usually get dressed up where Congregation Ohr HaTorah is located. in my white kittel. I wear gold chains and I It’s in sharp contrast to Passover last year, wear slippers or sandals. And I usually carry when synagogue life was largely curtailed. a walking stick when I’m walking around the It’s part of the reason that Rabbi Adam table talking about the Exodus. I’m not going Starr is particularly optimistic this year for a to do those things; it’s going to be bit more newfound sense of freedom during the holisubdued.” day. Later in the week, also as a way of bring“I really feel this year is the beginning ing a lighter touch to the holiday, the syna- of that process of redemption; we’re at the gogue has scheduled a virtual showing of the beginning of that process. I’m starting to animated film classic, “The Prince of Egypt.” feel that redemptive spirit slowly in stages, For Orthodox Jews, this year there has emerging from a pandemic.” been a greater sense of urgency in spring At Temple Sinai, the emphasis is on cleaning in preparation for the holiday. Be- Passover as both a festival of freedom and of
hope. Cantorial Soloist Beth Schafer has even composed a new song, which she says is full of hope, “The Road To Freedom,” and created a video to accompany it at the second night seder the congregation is planning. “The theme of Passover at Temple Sinai for this year as a whole is hope and stressing what has kept us hopeful from last Passover to this Passover and how can we remain hopeful from this Passover going forward.” Getting back to a more normal way of worship is something she is more than ready for. Schafer has found the past year a difficult one where most of her interactions with the congregation have been mediated through the internet and the impersonal lens of a Zoom camera. Even at Passover she finds it difficult to create a connection between herself and her congregants. “It’s just an incomplete circle; leading services and leading readings on a Zoom call are kind of like being in an echo chamber. And gosh, I really just do miss the sound of the congregation’s voices because it’s the sweetest part of what I do. And I’m looking forward to us all being together where I can hear them again. I can’t imagine that it won’t bring me to tears.” ì
ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES MARCH 31, 2021 | 33
Can This Year’s Seder Be Different from Last? By Jan Jaben-Eilon A year ago, Atlantans adventurously re-imagined how to hold their Passover seders through either Zoom or in much smaller family gatherings. The community was still figuring out how to accommodate that most unwelcome new guest, the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, they are pros at Zoom meetings or holding services in parking lots or parks. And it’s a good thing, for despite many of the 65-plus age group already vaccinated, some public health specialists are warning that it’s too soon to return to normal, pre-COVID seders. While not addressing seders specifically, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – in its latest guidelines for those vaccinated – appears to be more flexible. In all other years – before COVID-19 – Passover was the holiday during which extended families gathered from near and far, numbering into the dozens. Atlantans hosted friends. Synagogues held second-night seders. Last year, communal seders were
Dr. Anthony Fauci predicts the country may reach herd immunity by late summer.
simply not held. Although some senior citizen institutions are gathering residents who have been vaccinated, at least one doctor is still cautioning against any assemblies of people outside family members who already live together. “There are no issues with your immediate pod of family members,” stated
“Even if many are vaccinated, it’s still not perfect” for large family seders, warns Dr. Harry Heiman.
Dr. Harry Heiman, associate professor in Georgia State University’s School of Public Health. If you want to include additional family members, he suggested that “you calculate on how large and small the family is and the risk factor of each family member, if the kids are in school virtually and if any family member
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works outside the home. That wouldn’t be unreasonable.” However, he added, “if you are extending family units to three or four [pods], you’re increasing your risks. Even if many are vaccinated, it’s still not perfect.” On March 8, the CDC announced its first public health recommendations for fully vaccinated people. Its guidelines are specifically directed towards people who have received two doses of either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. In each case, the recommendation applies to those who are two weeks past their doses. According to the CDC, fully vaccinated people can: ■ Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing, ■ Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing, ■ Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic. In public, fully vaccinated people, the CDC states, should continue to wear masks and socially distance themselves from others, and still avoid medium- to large-gatherings of people. Still, the new guidelines are encouraging for those who have completed their vaccination regimens by mid-March. By Passover, they should be past the two weeks required for full effectiveness. Heiman, however, expresses concern that people will become “too confident” after vaccinations. He believes that people “shouldn’t change their behavior even after the vaccines. A vaccine is both an individual activity and a communal activity.” As an individual activity, a person is protecting him or herself and their family. The communal benefits of people getting vaccinated, he noted, will only really be reached when the country achieves herd immunity or about 75 to 80 percent of the population is either vaccinated or recovered from COVID. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the U.S. might reach herd immunity by late summer. While that may not satisfy those yearning for their large traditional family seders, there’s always next year. ì
Passover Travel: Do We Let Our People Go? By Robyn Spizman Gerson
we should wait it out a few more months. Presently when my friends ask my opinion on travel to New York for Passover, I do not recommend it. We need to adhere to the low number of contacts. It is important to emphasize that the CDC’s new recommendations are only addressing personal gatherings and do not apply to public interactions, including the workplace and places such as synagogues.”
Passover focuses on family and uniting around the seder table. With another COVID Passover arriving, getting together with family is on our minds. Still, since more people are getting vaccinated, some may wonder whether it is advisable to travel. Traveling during Passover is complicated. Blink and COVID updates could change. With that noted, here is what some of Atlanta’s infectious disease doctors have to say about traveling during Passover. Most recommended staying at home with immediate family, but if you are traveling or gathering with small groups, continue to follow recLeft, Dr. Mitchell Blass prefers to travel by car rather than air. ommendations from Right, Dr. Richard Prokesch is concerned about a fourth the Centers for Disease surge because of the holidays and spring break. Control and Prevention. Prokesch offered further warning. “We “My take on SARS COV-2 travel and think if you are vaccinated to COVID with vaccination is really a question of risk two shots (Pfizer or Moderna) or one shot versus reward,” said Dr. Lee Diamond. “Ob- (Johnson & Johnson) and you waited the two viously, the safest recommendation is to weeks, you are likely immune, but theoretistay home and continue to focus on mask cally you could still transmit it to someone use, hand washing and avoiding large else that is not immune. While most chilcrowds. Since people can still transmit and dren do not become seriously ill with CObecome infected by COVID-19, even after VID, some have gotten really sick, and even vaccination, this makes the discussion died. about an individual persons’ risk factors “There is still a risk that needs to be that more important. As you know there are weighed before interacting. I worry about also issues regarding variant virus strains in grandchildren, but I agree with the CDC certain locals at any point in time as well.” guidelines stating it is OK to hug your Asked whether it’s safe to travel if grandchildren if you know for sure that the you’re vaccinated, Dr. Richard Prokesch household has been safe and taken measaid, “The easy answer is ‘no.’ COVID has sures not to be exposed to anyone that could been a crazy time and what I tell you today be COVID infected, even asymptomatically,” in two weeks could be different. Today, I he continued. would not advise traveling without certain “It is important to know everyone’s inrestrictions. If you are vaccinated and you teractions in the household. Variant strains are planning to visit a small gathering of are rising in the United States and seem to friends or family, that reduces, but does not be more transmissible than the original totally eliminate the risk. strains. … “Some airlines do better than others "If friends or family are not wearing and the primary risk is in the airports. If you masks, and are unvaccinated, they are not are planning to travel to a seder, all are fully considerate of me and putting me and othvaccinated, it is a small gathering, the CDC’s ers at risk. The vaccine is highly effective new guidelines allow interaction without and certainly the Pfizer and Moderna are wearing masks with minimal risk of infec- over 95 percent and it is not 100 percent,” tion or serious illness. However, if some at- Prokesch stressed. tendees are unvaccinated, I would advise “Currently we are moving in the right masking and social distancing.” direction but are not there yet. We had the He added, “I am afraid that due to the same sense of optimism in the fall only to holidays and spring breaks we will have see a surge worse than any of the previous that fourth surge. People are getting vacci- ones after the winter holidays. Now that nated and by May the vaccine will be made more and more are able to get vaccinated, available to persons 18 and up, so I feel that with persistent patience and intelligent be-
havior we will get to where we can safely hug our grandchildren and even our friends in the near future.” In general, he cautioned, “We don’t know all the answers and are learning. I want to relay the message that we must hold on a little longer and follow the CDC guidelines wearing a mask, social distancing and washing your hands in public places and when appropriate in private settings. If we let our guard down, this can go sideways fast and have yet a fourth surge resulting again with hospitals full of COVID patients and canceling elective surgeries. The cycle needs to stop as it could cripple the healthcare system.” Dr. Mitchell A. Blass told the AJT, “There are some things that are within our control, such as our own cough hygiene, social distancing and the wearing of masks when appropriate. There are other things that we cannot control, such as the actions of others. It is important to be mindful of the difference, because it is easy to become overwhelmed with matters that are beyond our control, and this may lead to frustration, anger and resentment,” he stated in an email.
“My understanding of the scientific studies to date indicate that after both doses of the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccinations, they provide substantial protection against death from pandemic coronavirus as well as nearly complete protection from mild to moderately severe disease. Ultimately everyone must determine their own level of comfort with that information and there are some important differences between air travel and traveling in a private vehicle. “Passover is a celebration of the Jewish people’s liberation from Pharaoh. I think it is important for those traveling to remain mindful of cough hygiene, hand washing, social distancing and mask utilization. My preference is to travel by car, rather than air-travel.” Blass concluded, “I plan to begin our Passover seder with a prayer for an end to the pandemic.” ì For the latest updates regarding COVID vaccination and guidelines for COVID safety, stay up-to-date with the CDC, www.cdc.gov.
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Seniors Begin to Feel Gratitude at Passover By Bob Bahr
Far left, Harley Tabak, CEO of Jewish HomeLife, is reducing restrictions on residents there.
Older members of the Atlanta Jewish community have approached the Passover holiday with a renewed sense of optimism and hope. Many of them in their 80s and 90s, who live in assisted living or retirement communities that had been locked down for months, are beginning to think once again about being with friends and families. Seders are being celebrated again at Jewish HomeLife, which operates The Jewish Tower and The William Breman Jewish Home in Buckhead and Berman Commons in Dunwoody, among its more than halfdozen senior living centers, “We’ll be celebrating in each of our communities but not ideally with family members yet,” said CEO Harley Tabak. “We are not quite ready for that yet. But we will be able to gather with residents in our buildings and have a seder.” A seder is planned at Sunrise at Huntcliff Summit in Sandy Springs, as well. Last year’s event was canceled for the estimated 100 Jewish residents there. They, too, have lived with many of the same restrictions
Right, JF&CS has created outdoor music performances to relieve some of the isolation seniors feel. Bottom, The William Breman Jewish Home is among the facilities where visitor restrictions are being eased.
that were imposed on the Jewish HomeLife communities. For Huntcliff Summit residents like Olive Ellner, who is 93 and has lived at the independent living facility for the past seven years, life has been an ordeal. She hasn’t seen her daughter, who lives in Atlanta, since the pandemic began, and she’s seen friends and fellow residents she’s cherished either pass on of conditions other than the virus or move away during this trying year. At Passover this year Ellner says she has a renewed sense of gratitude, what she describes as her “Dayenu” (it would have been enough) for having survived. “I had a very constricted existence in my apartment. I felt that sometimes maybe I was losing my mind a little bit.” Ellner said she felt a profound sense of relief when she completed her vaccinations against the COVID-19 virus last month. “When I had my second shot, I felt that I had survived it to this point, and I felt that the weight was lifted,” she said. At Passover, Jewish Family & Career Services has an extensive program of services for seniors, particularly for those who are living alone in their own homes or apartments. The coming of the holiday has seen a sharp uptick in requests for personal visits from those the agency serves. Often the visits are made simply as a way to provide 36 | MARCH 31, 2021 ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES
some social contact to older residents who have felt so isolated in the past year. Amy Neuman, program manager of Holocaust Survivor Services at JF&CS, said the seven case managers she supervises often have had to decide to prioritize which visits are most needed. “There’s a kind of triage they have to do. It’s been a long year and some percentage of our clients are not literally going out at all. So some of those we help are very lonely.” Beginning the second week in March, Tabak said he okayed plans to ease up on the restrictions that have kept residents separated from family members. He said that 97 percent of the residents have been fully vaccinated and there has been a significant drop in the infection rate in both Fulton and DeKalb counties where Jewish HomeLife communities are located. Moreover, in recent months, he said there have been no new cases in the homes they operate. According to Tabak, the improved situation has helped to make possible the plan to gradually bring residents together socially again. He said he was “excited” with the prospect of giving the more than 500 residents who live in the Jewish HomeLife communities more freedom. “We’re just thrilled to be able to have our residents gather together socially. We’re able to have family members to begin coming into our buildings, which we’ve already started visiting one-on-one. We’re just not ready yet for the group activity.” For Ellner, too, the Passover holiday has brought a new sense of excitement and appreciation for this time of the year. “I have so much gratitude for our freedom. We’ve been brought out of Egypt, so to speak, that we have been living in for the past year, and I have a new sense of the beauty of Jewish life. It’s wonderful.” ì
The Chrayn Gang Makes Horseradish By Chana Shapiro The Chrayn Gang gets together for several heady hours annually to produce their own inimitable horseradish. The potent homemade chrayn (Yiddish for horseradish) is guaranteed to elicit bitter-herb tears at the seder table, and as an added bonus, the rootand-vinegar blend is also a powerful gefilte fish condiment. The endeavor was initiated by Eric Singer, Mark Cohen, and Michael Robinowitz. Singer and Cohen have known each other since they met at Camp Blue Star when they were 9 years old. Singer lived in Columbus, Ga., during the camp years; however, the two renewed their friendship when Singer moved to Atlanta a couple of years later. As adults, in the mid-1980s, they decided to create custom horseradish, and the result is the Chrayn Gang. Cohen recalls, “The present group is much larger than when we started. Eric, Michael and I were the original Chrayn Gang. By now, preparing chrayn has become a cherished yearly tradition for us and many friends, a way we get together to mark the passage of time. We always create valuable memories.” Singer elucidates, “Our motivation at the time was to generate some first-rate, fresh, hot chrayn. It’s great to see people’s reactions to ‘the good stuff’ at the seder table. At this point we do it as much for the camaraderie, the ruach (spirit), and hiddur mitzvah (enrichment of a mitzvah.). “The name ‘Chrayn Gang’ is a play on Chain Gang. We have different theme songs: ‘Chrayn Gang’ (original by Sam Cooke), ‘Chrayny Night in Georgia’ (Brook Benton), ‘Midnight Chrayn to Georgia’ (Gladys Knight and the Pips), ‘Chrayn of Fools’ (Aretha Franklin), and more. We even have a country-western-style song written by Marshall Duke, to the tune of ‘West Texas Blues,’ that we sing every year at the event.” When the days start getting longer And the matzos are in store There’s a group that starts a-forming And here’s what they’re forming for. It’s the time to feel the spirit Midst the pollen and spring rain It’s the time to join together And together make the chrayn. With our hands joined round the table With our voices raised in song And the slivovitz a flowin’ There’ll be chrayn before too long.
Left, clockwide: Peeling and chopping the horseradish are Michael Robinowitz, Paul Wolpe, Zamir Norry, Mark Cohen, Marshall Duke, Cydney Schwartz, Jake Schwartz, Maayan Cohen, and Rabbi Hillel Norry. Marshall Duke, Andy Deutsch, Paul Wolpe, Eric Singer, Michael Robinowitz, and Zamir Norry in Chrayn Gang T-shirts pose with horseradish roots and plenty of vinegar. Hillel Norry, with his eyes protected by swimming goggles, and Arthur Kurtz display overflowing food processors of “the good stuff.” Netanya Norry and Paul Wolpe, wearing “Make Chrayn Great Again” T-shirts. Wolpe seems to be singing through his tears.
First the knives are honed and sharpened Then the root is peeled with care Then the root goes in the blender Blessed fragrance fills the air. Each one breathes that blessed fragrance Each one feels the power within As the chrayn fills up the bottles We all know the place we’re in. It’s a place that we all dream of Though we go there once a year Where our souls are bound together By that root we hold so dear. Bless this place and bless this moment Bless these jars, both red and white. Bless this gang, whose hearts together Have created chrayn tonight.
The Chrayn Gang has grown over the years, now with 15 to 20 participants. Some of the men bring their children and grandchildren, and the group became egalitarian two years ago, beginning with Jake Schwartz’s daughter Cydney. Joining them and the original founders, Chrayn Gang participants include Zac Singer, Effie Spielman; Hillel, Netanya and Zamir Norry; Barak and Neal Cohen, Andy Deutsch, Arthur Kurtz and Paul Wolpe. There is no official manager of the group. The leadership of the Gang is, in Singer’s words, “Organic, usu-
ally the ‘alter cockers’ (euphemistically translated as ‘feisty elders’) kick things off.” Making unforgettable horseradish is no simple feat and definitely not for the sensory-faint-of-heart. The chores are distributed among the participants. Preparatory tasks include acquiring the raw horseradish root, the mason jars and the vinegar. With the goal of perfection, gefilte fish and toothpicks are necessary for chrayn taste-testing. Each year, Effie Spielman creates a different label and one of the Gang volunteers his home. Special kosher-for-Passover food processors and knives are used, and the chrayn is made at night, currently outside. This year the Gang will meet on Wolpe’s large porch, and as last year, everyone will wear a mask. The pungent atmosphere is sometimes overwhelming, and restorative breaks are a necessity. “The Chrayn Gang begins with planning a few weeks before Pesach,” Cohen notes. “This, in turn, enlivens the anticipation of our family seders and builds our involvement in them.” Singer continues, “We start with a short d’var Torah (words of Torah) by Gang member Rabbi Hillel Norry and we recite the Shehechiyanu (blessing for a new endeavor). Then we clean, peel and chop the roots, shred and blend them in food processors and add vinegar. Sometimes we may add a little cooked beet and we’ve even experimented with adding some jalapeno or extra wasabi as a kicker. The atmosphere in the room gets
so strong that it is difficult to stay inside for very long. This is especially hard on the eyes and sinus passages. The initiation for new recruits requires them to stick their heads directly over a large bowl of fresh chrayn and take a big whiff, an awesome experience.” Duke adds, “The Chrayn Gang makes at least 20 pounds of horseradish every year, and it effectively engages all one’s senses. Like some other Gang members, Duke replicates the entire chrayn-making process with his children and grandchildren, the youngest of whom is 7. Knives are among the tools, but Duke has it covered, “Our oldest grandchild is a pediatric resident, and one of our children is a physician, so we always have a medical personality present!” Even though a great deal of manual work is involved, the exuberance of the Chrayn Gang permeates the experience. Slivovitz (kosher for Passover) and cigars are often involved, and all eventualities are covered with the employment of Uber and designated drivers. The ambience of the annual venture is picturesquely described by Singer, “We’ve been known to sing and dance around the kitchen island, with our chrayn-filled food processors on long extension cords, to the sounds of Shlomo Carlebach.” Duke sums up the group’s longevity and kinship, “The Chrayn Gang is a bonding experience totally unlike any other!” ì ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES MARCH 31, 2021 | 37
What Does Freedom Look Like to You This Year? Year? For our annual Passover issue, we asked members of the Jewish community to describe what freedom looks like to them this year. Many commented on the ongoing pandemic, and and how it has caused Passover to change from last year to now, with the growing ranks of vaccinated citizens. Most saw the connection between the Exodus story captured in the Passover haggadah that we retell at the seder. And a large number of submissions looked to a more promising future that includes larger groups of loved ones around the table next year. We share their thoughts, inspiration, advice and encouragement as you prepare for your own holiday experiences.
Rabbi Peter Berg There is a machloket (a rabbinic argument among our sages) as to when Passover really begins. Some suggested the 14th of Nissan and others the 15th, both groups quoting verses from the Hebrew Bible. Of course, the halachah (Jewish law) is clear that Passover is the 15th day of Nissan – but the argument itself is of interest. If we look at the symbols of the Passover seder, we notice that each of them has a positive and a negative meaning. Take matzah, for example: Matzah can mean the bread of affliction, which we mention only at the beginning of the haggadah in a passage which was likely added at the end of the editing process. But we also learn in the haggadah that matzah is positive because the Israelites were willing to go into the wilderness with no provisions, with just a little bit of matzah, because they trusted God. The rabbis who said that Passover begins on the 14th day of Nissan stressed the negative. They focused on the horrors of Egypt, the terrible idol worship, the suffering and the bloodshed. They felt, I imagine, that we should discuss and dwell upon the negativity that surrounds us. Jewish law would suggest that we focus on the positive: on how the Israelites never gave up their belief in God, on how they always believed that things could and would get better. With our second Passover during the pandemic, this has been a most challenging year. When we are positive about our faith and our God and our community, we are able to persevere through these challenges. Perhaps that is why the rabbis wanted Passover to be on the 15th of Nissan, the day on which we demonstrated our belief in God, the day on which we demonstrated our greatest optimism. Notice that the haggadah does not begin with a blessing. We are not interested in making a blessing over slavery. We will not remain Jewish by only stressing suffering. We will remain Jewish because, in spite of our suffering, in spite of this difficult year, we still believe. Spring is beginning. The trees and flowers are blooming. The vaccines are being administered. We live in the greatest, freest country in the world. Let us be grateful. Rabbi Peter S. Berg is senior rabbi of The Temple.
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Rabbi Michael Bernstein The words “Breaking News” used to mean that something big and unexpected just happened, something worth interrupting life to listen to. Now, every single news story begins with “Breaking,” whether the revelation of a new scandal or just an upcoming interview rehashing what is already well known. Obviously that means that most of the time “Breaking News” is meaningless to say. Our world has become simultaneously in need of repair and numb to its brokenness. The great singer and poet Leonard Cohen said: “Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering, There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” So, too, does the Passover seder teach that the road to freedom runs through breaking as well as repairing. Before we can begin telling the story of liberation, even before we can talk about enslavement, we break the middle matzah. Only then can we invite in those who are hungry for food or for meaning to join our conversation. This invitation breaks our routine, the boundaries we set around our table. We begin to notice and question, breaking our assumptions of what we think we already know. And then we begin to tell the story of our hardships and oppression under Pharaoh, breaking open our hearts and souls to new ways to let the light of freedom shine through. The festive meal ends with a return to the broken matzah, the afikomen that waits hidden until we have partaken of the rest of our feast and realized the breaking news: We are free! Rabbi Michael Bernstein is the spiritual leader of Congregation Gesher L’ Torah.
PASSOVER Terri Bonoff
Anna Meyers Burke
Passover 2021 appears as a beacon of light; a beacon of hope. There is sorrow and grief in the wake of 2020. There are stories of strength, love and resilience, and much to be grateful for. I have not seen my oldest son Joe since last March. He just got the vaccine. I recently got mine. He and his girlfriend are moving from D.C. to LA, where his brother and sister-in-law (my son and daughter-in-law) live. I have the incredibly good fortune to be travel buddy for Joe and his golden retriever Scout for the cross-country drive. I am jumping for joy at the thought of spending these days together for this long trek, ending in California, where I can be with them all. This is FREEDOM! I can taste and smell it! We used to fly back to Minnesota at least monthly to see family, including both of my parents, ages 86 and 89. We stopped flying when the cases spiked right after Yom Kippur. I finally saw them a week ago. They got the vaccines. This is FREEDOM! My executive assistant Natalie and I walked through the halls of JF&CS yesterday planning for the return of the staff in a hybrid function. It felt like we were waking up after a century of slumber. It was poignantly eerie. This is FREEDOM! We are having an on-site vaccination clinic on April 1 at our Independence Works building where our IDDS [Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services} clients and their families can get the vaccine. We plan to reopen our day program on June 1. Their social isolation will come to an end. This is FREEDOM. Passover tells the story of the exodus from Egypt — the escape from bondage. We know that during this pandemic many lives have not been spared. We have lost over 520,000. They are beloved sons, daughters, parents, grandparents, friends and community members. With the medical breakthrough of vaccines and the imperative to get these shots in arms, we are seeing the beginning of an awakening. The birds are chirping, the flowers are beginning to bloom, and we are gingerly emerging from our cocoons. This blessing is coupled with the somber understanding of all that has been lost. We have all felt grief and sorrow. One can’t help but think of the plagues as we reflect on the past year: the civil unrest, the deep and hurtful divisions among people, the sickness, the variants and yet amid it all, the hope. The human spirit yearns for freedom and love. A global will emerged to extinguish this pandemic. Scientists supported by government policies and resources created a worldwide solution. The vaccine brings the promise of a return to health. The ability to gather with those we love, to sleep knowing the threat of this virus is diminishing, waking with the sense that our borders and our countries will once again be open—all of this is FREEDOM. On this Passover as we ask, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” one answer may just be: “On this night we are re-discovering what it is to be FREE.”
At the Passover seder, we tell the story of our ancestors and the great freedom of the Israelite people from slavery in Egypt. The telling of the story is at the heart of our seder, and in the middle of Maggid, we read, “In each and every generation, a person is obligated to see himself as if he left Egypt. … Not only did the Holy One, blessed be He, redeem our ancestors, but also us [together] with them.” According to Rabban Gamliel, we must each view ourselves as if we personally were redeemed from Egypt and freed from slavery. While it can be easy to remember the collective redemption of our people, achieving a sense of personal redemption can be deeply challenging, especially for those in our community struggling with infertility. Infertility is a disease that causes individuals and couples to feel enslaved to their bodies, doctors, and all that they cannot control. The inability to conceive is an incredibly painful experience that creates emotional distress, financial burden, and feelings of shame and isolation. Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks told us, “There may be rare saints for whom suffering is spiritual, but for most of us, affliction turns us in upon ourselves. Slavery, which begins by imprisoning the body, can end by narrowing the soul. We need freedom, a sense of inner spaciousness, to be able to reach out beyond our own immediate needs and breathe the air of a larger reality.” For those wrestling with infertility, emotional and spiritual affliction is real and alive, and the road to freedom can become a long and embittered path. This Passover, when we eat matzah, the bread of affliction, along with maror, the bitter herbs, and dip karpas in salt water, let us remember not only the tears and affliction of our ancestors but the deep embitterment of our community members going through infertility. Their journey has not yet ended in the great freedom for which they so desperately hope, and just as the people of Israel embarked on their journey toward redemption together, we must unite around those suffering in our community and walk together with them on their journey until they are truly freed. Chag Sameach!
Terri Bonoff is the CEO of Jewish Family & Career Services.
Anna Meyers Burke is Jewish Fertility Foundation-CINCY manager.
Rabbi Jesse Charyn Z’man Cheruteinu. Judaism means living each day in gratitude to Hashem for our lives and everyone and everything in them. We are grateful for our freedom and work towards a more equitable and opportunity-filled future for everyone. For the past 13 months our day-to-day routines have been transformed. Freedom looks like exercising our abilities to strengthen our communities, concerning ourselves with the welfare of one another. We have the freedom to use our time, talents and energy to make a difference. Freedom is not about the individual. None of us are truly free until we are all free. Even the name for this time, Z’man Cheruteinu, is in the plural. At the seder we are all asked to envision ourselves as participants in the Exodus from Mitzrayim. Rabbi Jesse Charyn is the spiritual leader of Temple Beth David.
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PASSOVER Rabbi Daniel Dorsch Rabbis occasionally get cool nicknames. The Talmud tells us about two such rabbis. Rav Yosef was called “Sinai.” Rabbah was called the oker harim, the “uprooter of mountains.” Neither nickname had to do with their prowess on the basketball court. Instead, these rabbis received their monikers because of their approaches to Jewish law and innovation. Rav Yosef believed that Jewish law was an unbroken chain going back to Sinai: it could not be changed. His foil, therefore, was Rabbah. Rabbah understood that at times, it was necessary to “uproot the mountain” in order to preserve tradition. In every generation, our world has polarities like Rabbah or like Rav Yosef: Rabbis Kaplan and Heschel or Justices Bader-Ginsburg and Scalia. Yet during a pandemic, binaries prove impossible. How can we be free in a time when we are less free than years prior? How do we preserve our tradition when we must break our tradition in order to save it? I am reminded of the Conservative movement’s “The Feast of Freedom” haggadah that depicts the four children of the seder not as singular entities – wise, wicked, simple, and unable to ask question -- but as aspects present within each one of us. It is possible, this haggadah reminds us, to be both Sinai and uprooters when it comes to our connection to our tradition. This Pesach, I will feel a little “wicked” using Zoom for seder during the yomtov, but also somewhat wise because my family will have found a way to celebrate Passover together. My Pesach this year will no doubt be simple, and yet so complicated, with questions that I am still not entirely sure show to ask about the meaning of freedom in a pandemic. We can all be Sinai and uprooters of mountains. It is in these sacred choices, where this year, we will find our freedom. Rabbi Daniel Dorsch is the senior rabbi at Congregation Etz Chaim.
Beth Gluck The Jews’ exile from Egypt was an exodus from their homes, from their ways, and from their dreams. Change, even of the seemingly best kind, was difficult. It took four decades and interventions from God for a new generation to embrace lives as free men and women. This Pesach seder, I will think about our exodus from a COVID-driven year back to what we consider as normal living. What will we keep with us that grew out of the new norms of restricted activity? What will we let go of from the past that we now understand to have been detrimental to the life we want to live? Of these choices, what are we able to control, and what will be dictated by the social and economic environment around us? Pesach is a time of remembering, and as a Jewish New Year, it is also a time of renewal. This year, I will contemplate the past year and give thought to applying learnings from COVIDrelated living to the way I will live my life in the years ahead. Beth Gluck is executive director of the Jewish National Fund, Greater Atlanta.
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Robyn Spizman Gerson The Dance of Freedom
As Passover approaches and I define what freedom means to me, it certainly hits home. The freedom to be with family and friends has been something I have longed for and dearly missed. While our seder table has changed over the years as has our world, the freedom to gather reminds me of the preciousness of loved ones. Our choices and the exodus we have all gone through towards a healthy, happy life has been and still is quite a journey. Last year, our seder was made possible by Zoom technology. This year, news has arrived just in time, as we are told we can gather in small groups following important CDC guidelines. When the AJT staff was asked to write about what freedom means to us, I reflected on how fortunate we are thanks to modern medicine. How blessed we are to have frontline workers, professionals and service providers risking their lives to keep us safe. I thought about what President Biden said in his address to the nation. And yes, we have all missed a lot of moments and it is time to return to those small, shared experiences that keep us connected. From celebrating weddings, welcoming births, anniversaries, birthdays, to honoring our beloved and departed, may we soon have the freedom to carry on our traditions. I pray for the freedom to return to the moments that make life worthwhile. I pray our nation, families and neighbors stay cautious and careful. Let the surge we hear about only be one of joy and togetherness, versus the emergence and monopolization of new variants. Let our new normal inspire us to define a better life with less chaos, challenges and stress. As the flood gates are slowly opening, let us also not forget our actions, behaviors, and may they be respectful so we each contribute to the well-being of the greater good of humanity. When I think of the word freedom in the traditional sense, it is the right to go forward, to do what we want. Some of us have done well being told what to do, while others not so much. This year more than any other, we have had the opportunity to decide what our best lives will look like. We have learned how to reveal the truest part of ourselves to live a fuller, happier, healthier life behind closed doors while still reaching out and caring about each other. May we continue to emerge with more compassion and less suffering for all. Our friend Fred Katz signs all his emails with a poignant quote worthy of sharing: “Life is not just about weathering the storm but learning how to dance in the rain.” While we cannot predict the weather or life’s storms, it is how we respond that ultimately matters. Although we are not always free to control what swirls around us, we are free to choose wisely how we will live out our days building, strengthening and deepening the bonds between us. As Passover approaches, I hope I continue to make wise, loving choices and never take freedom for granted. As the sounds of freedom arrive with waves of wonderment and awe, may we all continue to learn how to roll with the tides, go with the flow and dance in the rain, even when no one is watching. Robyn Spizman Gerson is an AJT contributor.
PASSOVER Rabbi Josh Hearshen The question of what does freedom mean to me in 2021 is a profound question. Many of us have long held the belief that so long as there are people who are not free none of us are truly free. While I still agree with this idea and hold it up as an answer to the question of freedom, I do believe there is a more relevant and necessary answer this year as well. Each year the first night of Passover marks the anniversary of the end and the beginning. It marks the conclusion of our enslavement and the beginning of our move towards freedom. The first Passover began in Egypt when we were commanded to slaughter a lamb and place its blood on our doorposts. We were further commanded to eat the lamb with bitter herbs and unleavened bread. While we were eating and preparing for our journey, we were aware that in other homes that night something very different was transpiring. I imagine that night as one filled with fear. We were scared of the angel of death being so close to us and those we love. We were scared of possible retribution from the Egyptians and we were scared that maybe the blood on the door wouldn’t work. Fear was not only about the plague, it was also about the unknown. It was about the next day and the next and what it would bring. Would life truly be better in freedom? Would we make it on our own? I would like to set that fear against the backdrop of last year’s Pesach. We were secluded and isolated and in fear of the air that we breathed and the items we touched. I feel like last year, Passover was so much about that night we spent in our houses in Egypt in fear. I feel like this year our Passover will be about freedom to live with fewer fears. The freedom to live without fear is not a universal freedom either. But it is something that we need to be aware of this year. Pesach 5781 is a celebration of our last (we hope) Pesach seder that isn’t enormous. It is our last seder of adjusting recipes from many to few. This year we all will celebrate that we are free to not be afraid of the air we breathe and the people around us. We are free to not be afraid that going to a store will be a catastrophic decision. This year we all must appreciate that we need to become freer and freer to live without fear on a regular basis. Rabbi Josh Hearshen is spiritual leader of Congregation Or VeShalom.
Rabbi Joshua Heller As we approach this Passover, I feel very heavily the distinction between “freedom from” and “freedom to.” The Israelites leaving Egypt are happy to have freedom from slavery, but don’t have a clear sense of purpose or destination. While they are in the desert, their food is provided and they have no daily purpose. It is only with Shavuot, the giving of the Torah, and then with the task of constructing the tabernacle, that the Israelites’ freedom was directed towards worthwhile goals. The Israelites now had not just freedom from slavery, but also freedom to develop themselves as a nation. This distinction between different kinds of freedom is particularly important this Passover. Some of us are thinking of freedom in terms of the end of the pandemic for our society as a whole. Others anticipate the individual freedom that they will feel when they and those in their immediate circle are vaccinated. Each of us has things that we have lost or given up over the last year. Each of us has enslavements that we are eager to escape. As we anticipate our freedom, I hope that we can be mindful as to whether it is freedom from or freedom to. It is not just enough that we are getting back out into the world. What purpose, what meaning, will we create with newfound freedom and mobility? Will we make sure that others share the liberation that we enjoy? How will we make that freedom worthwhile? ì Rabbi Joshua Heller is the senior rabbi at Congregation B’nai Torah.
Marcia Caller Jaffe The Birdcage
Natural Passover freedom statements for 2021 mimic the “Groundhog Day” movie as a replay from 12 months ago when we assessed and bemoaned the freedoms we had lost: not being with family, eating out, loss of socialization to the mundane self hair-coloring. I recently interviewed an author who declared, “The pandemic has really not been so bad in many ways.” Taking this drastic step back from the daily treadmill is akin to a birdcage: traditionally those on the inside want to get out. I had a better lesson remaining inside the cage. Jewelry, purses and high heels literally accumulated dust. I have a more intimate relationship with television, not such a good thing except “Jeopardy” keeps the wits sharp. The months have both flown by and dragged on – primarily the former. The most valuable commodity is time. Somehow COVID brought more quality time. My freedom was getting off the treadmill. It’s the consistency and predictability, walking seven days a week (1,000 miles this past year) rotating friends, exploring neighborhoods and parks. Walking the Cumberland Boulevard Bob Callan Trail to Palisades is as beautiful as visiting North Georgia’s streams and gorges. Walking in fabulous Atlanta neighborhoods: Valley Road, Garraux Road off Paces Ferry, Rivers Call off Powers Ferry, Winterthur and off Heards Ferry, Arlington Cemetery, Bobby Jones Golf Course. Getting lost a few times happened also. Then there is more on the other type of streaming: documentaries like “My Octopus Teacher,” “The Surgeon’s Cut,” David Attenborough’s “A Life on Our Planet,” “Somebody Feed Phil” the Jewish answer to Anthony Bourdain. Media goes beyond “Unorthodox,” my introduction to Netflix. Using an immersion hand blender (soups!) replaced unhealthy dining out. Virtually attending out of town funerals and happy occasions that would have not been attended before got a bird’s eye view and ability to comment. There is sadness in driving by Sweet Tomatoes or Momoya and empty shells of businesses that may never again reopen. How will freedom go forward post COVID? We have become expert at dodging people coming down a grocery aisle. Will we ditch online mahjong and go back to putting on makeup and driving 20 minutes each way for a live game? I may not go back to having house cleaners. I’ve read dozens of books. The inside of the cage has its benefits. Freedom is separating the wheat from the chaff and deciding what to throw away and what to retain. That will define us. Marcia Caller Jaffe is a regular contributor to the AJT.
Rabbi Ari Kaiman Behind us was a wall of fire, beyond which an attacking army waited for its chance to bring us back to slavery. In front of us, a sea of water. Legend has it that as Moses prayed, God called to him and said, “Moses, why are you praying – lead the people forward!” The leader of the tribe of Judah walked into the sea, saying the words “Mi Chamocha – who is like You among the gods.” As the waters began to cover his mouth, the soft “Cha” turned into “Mi Kamocha” Who is like You…” and the waters split. Right now it feels like we’re walking through the sea on dry land. On either side, walls of water threaten to drown us. Behind us is a pursuing army. Ahead of us is freedom. Right now we cannot falter, we cannot lose faith. We still have to keep walking through this pandemic, because we are not yet on the other side. But when we get there, just like our ancestors did, we will break out in a song of freedom. We will sing in harmony together. Then, we will look ahead toward the wilderness and realize that we are still walking into the unknown. Perhaps we will be afraid of that vast expanse. Freedom “from” the pandemic is illusory, temporary. We’ll need a Torah to guide us. That will give us freedom “to” live all the days of our life with meaning, dignity, justice and joy. Rabbi Ari Kaiman is the spiritual leader of Congregation Shearith Israel. ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES MARCH 31, 2021 | 41
PASSOVER Elliot B. Karp As I prepare for Pesach this year, I am once again drawn to two powerful themes in our haggadot that we will recite during our sedarim. The first is Avadim Hayinu: “...we were slaves to Pharoah in Egypt and Adonai freed us with a mighty hand.” The second is B’chol dor vador: “...in every generation every one of us is obligated to regard ourselves as though we had experienced Mitzrayim and the Exodus to freedom.” The two themes have always resonated for me, even moreso this year given the COVID-19 pandemic. Avadim Hayinu: While we are grateful for the tremendous efforts of doctors and medical researchers who have developed vaccines to combat the virus, I also believe that, once again, Adonai is helping to free us from our modern-day enslavement with a mighty hand. B’chol dor vador: How much more powerful is our collective pandemic experience of contemporary enslavement to the virus and the fact that we must all realize the struggle for our health freedom. What does freedom look like to me this Pesach? The health and well-being of my family, friends and community members to be able to celebrate this Pesach together, whether in person or virtually, while recalling the blessed memories of those we lost due to COVID. On behalf of Hillels of Georgia, and the more than 5,000 Jewish students we serve on campuses across the state, Chag Kasher v’Semeach! Happy Passover! Elliot B. Karp is CEO of Hillels of Georgia.
Cantor Nancy Kassel
The Dance of Freedom
Going back to the Exodus from Egypt, when we safely crossed the Sea of Reeds, we danced and sang out joyously in our newfound state of freedom. There we WERE: on the other side of the sea with all the possibilities that awaited us, and here we ARE: always on the cusp of what was and what can be. From last Pesach to this, we’ve had more time than expected to reflect on the symbolic constrictions of Mitzrayim in our lives as well as what good has come from those experiences. We’ve experienced freedom FROM the routines we took for granted and freedom TO: opportunities to re-invent. Freedom FROM not realizing how interconnected we were with the rest of the world and freedom TO: realizing how extensive and delicate that interconnectedness can be. Freedom FROM assuming who will be in our day-to-day physical lives and freedom TO: finding new ways of creating community from afar as we encounter illness and loss of loved ones. We are always dancing this dance of what was and what can be. We dance with others even as we create our own individual choreography. During this Pesach, may we symbolically dance through the doorway with Elijah and expand our understanding of the freedom we have to live our lives with more compassion. May the isolation and loss experienced by many since last Pesach be met with deeds of loving-kindness in the year to come. Nancy Kassel is the cantor of Temple Beth Tikvah.
Susanne Katz Freedom looks different this year. A shot in the arm is giving us the freedom we need to get back to normal, but our normal looks so different. When the Jews wandered in the desert, did they wonder how their new normal would look? Was leaving Egypt anything like leaving COVID? Times change, and as they do we can have a voice in choosing how we adapt. We may have experienced loneliness, trepidation and silence, but we can now choose to fill the emptiness with new purposes and experiences. We named our new Puggle puppy Mazel. She not only filled our home with love, but also a new schedule that required more exercise. Online study groups kept us in touch with friends while learning and sharing classes taught by Jewish educators. A driveway yogurt party allowed us to invite neighbors who remained socially distanced while catching up with each other. And we enjoyed grandchildren who we could see and laugh with, but not hug. We have missed so much, so many special times, and so many special people this year. But hopefully the emptiness that we experienced has taught us to now begin to express our appreciation for those beautiful people and those special times that we hold so dear. As we look forward to Passover, we can’t plan on hosting a crowd, and we must avoid sharing food off our plates. But the holiday this year will be a vivid reminder of two journeys through unknown territory and the importance of the choices we are now free to make that leave valuable and loving memories during this time. As the Jews wandered in the desert, there were stories of miraculous events and survival. Passover stories bring meaning and understanding about the freedom of not only our past journey, but also of the journey ahead of us now. Susanne Katz is an AJT contributor.
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PASSOVER Rabbi Mark Hillel Kunis
Ma Nishtana haPesach Hazeh Mikol haPesachim? How is Passover now different from the Passovers we grew up with? The answer is, previously women had to do hard, backbreaking work for weeks in advance, while men had to go through the painful ordeal of watching their wives work so hard! But now, things are different. Now Jewish men are participating more in the Passover preparations and now we don’t have to work so hard because there is an incredible selection of Pesach foods you can buy at Spicy Peach: cookies, cakes, salad dressings, ice cream and sherbets, Coke and Sprite, herbal teas, pizza and pasta, jars of charoset — all kosher l’Pesach! I heard that one can now buy a frozen Passover seder plate, including the maror, roasted egg, karpas, zeroa, charoset, and chazeret. Just defrost and you’re ready to begin the seder! And if you want, you can just call Kosher Gourmet and order a delicious seder in a box! Yes, preparing for Passover doesn’t have to be that hard. The question is: Is this good or is it bad for the Jews? The answer is, it depends on whom you ask. I took a very informal survey. Some said, “Pesach shouldn’t be that easy. When I was a child, we didn’t eat dairy for the whole week. For breakfast, we had matzah brei, for lunch, we had matzah kugel, and for dinner we had matzah balls.” My opinion? I think it’s wonderful that we now have kosher l’Pesach tequila, pina colada macaroons, 20 different kinds of cheese, gluten-free Passover French toast, pancakes, hot dog and burger buns! Why not? Isn’t it better that our wives and mothers, many of whom have careers and jobs outside the house – and many modern-minded husbands who genuinely share the housework – should be able to make Passover without becoming exhausted? Isn’t that good for the Jews? There is one thing more that we should do. We ought to invest our time, energy and creativity into preparing for experiencing the haggadah on that special holy seder night. Go to Judaica Corner and buy one of their seder commentaries. It’s been so hard this year with the restrictions of the coronavirus. We now know — more than ever — what it’s like to feel like prisoners or slaves. So, lets do what we can now to make it meaningful and fun — even if your seder is a small affair this year. My friends, Judaism will not stand or fall on whether we use a frozen seder plate or not. But Judaism will stand or fall depending upon how much depth and dignity, how much seriousness and spirit will go into the recitation of the haggadah on seder night. That’s what’s really important! So, let it be observed, not only with new products, but also with a new attitude, an attitude in which husbands and wives, sons and daughters, pitch in together to make this Passover the most meaningful ever. Chag Sameyach! Rabbi Mark Hillel Kunis is spiritual leader of Congregation Shaarei Shamayim.
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PASSOVER Rabbi Micah Lapidus
Allen H. Lipis
Freedom is timeless. The essence of freedom, particularly from a Jewish perspective, never changes. Human beings are endowed with free will so that we might choose, of our own volition, to live lives of goodness, decency and kindness. Stated in more pious terms, we are free to cultivate our God-given capacity to serve God and bring about a better world. Very different from other ideas of freedom, to be free, Jewishly, is to consciously and joyously align ourselves with God’s vision for humanity and all creation.
On Sunday, March 7, my extended family celebrated via Zoom the 100th anniversary of my grandparents, my uncles and my mother arriving at Ellis Island, leaving Hungary and Romania for good. I look back on the freedom they found for themselves and for the rest of my family as a gift that I can never repay. They allowed me to live in the greatest country in the world, to survive the Holocaust, to get an excellent education, and to live here without war and in peace. The freedom I have is to live where I want, work where and at what I choose, and live the life I want for myself. I cherish the fact that I am an American citizen with all the rights that it entails: the right to vote, the right to criticize, the right to peacefully demonstrate against the government, the right to pray as I see fit, and the right to be treated fairly under the law. As we have seen only recently, democracy is not something we should take for granted. The will of the people is not something every country on earth agrees to offer to its people. Our country fought wars to establish democracy, to let us decide how we should be governed. The right to vote for whomever we want is a right that must be protected. What a privilege it is to vote, and to change who governs us by majority vote. I am thankful that the governments we have provide the water I drink, the lights I use with the flick of a switch, the heat that keeps me warm in the winter and cool in the summer, the sewer system, the garbage that is picked up from my home, and the police, firemen and other public safety organizations that make my life free for so many other things I enjoy. I have the freedom to travel to almost every part of this country and most everywhere else in the world. I have the freedom to call my family and friends as I wish, to see them via various technologies on my computer and to celebrate with them on so many occasions throughout the year. Freedom makes me happy and joyous. Our ancestors fought for the freedom I enjoy. I pray that I don’t have to fight for freedom now or ever, but if the need arises, count me in.
Rabbi Micah Lapidus is the director of Jewish and Hebrew Studies at The Davis Academy
Rabbi Shalom Lewis One of the most awkward moments in the haggadah is opening the door for Elijah with the words “Shfoch chamatcha el hagoyim … Cast your wrath upon the non- Jews.” If we have seder guests who are of another faith, we typically rush through the Hebrew and mumble some creatively non-inflammatory text. Yes. I know the horrific history behind the open-door policy. Showing our gentile neighbors we are not involved in murderous deeds but merely celebrating a family holiday with good food, libation and song. It is a tactic of self-defense against the blood libel. The Passover-Easter season was a terrifying one for our ancestors not so long ago when hostility between Christian and Jew was raw, nasty and brutal. Thankfully, we have come a long way since those vulgar days of pathological malice; and to underscore this shift, allow me to share a personal story that celebrates tolerance and harmony, not religious dread. She wished to meet with a rabbi and discuss the Book of Prophets. Teaching a Bible class in her church she wanted insight from a Jewish clergyman. We made an appointment. She showed up right on time. I welcomed her and offered her a seat. She sat down with pad and pen, we shared pleasantries, and then we began the Q&A. Her inquiries were well thought-out. We had a delightful chat, but as our time together wound down, our conversation took an unexpected turn. I noticed a cast wrapped around her left arm. It was covered with signatures and brief messages from friends and students. I asked if I might add my name to the well-wishers. “Certainly. That would be very nice of you,” she replied. I continued. “May I write speedy recovery on your cast in Hebrew?” A simple, innocent request. Her demeanor suddenly changed. She looked at me, grabbed the arms of the chair and began to quiver. She stammered in response. “In the holy language of Hebrew? In God’s sacred tongue? I would be so deeply honored.” Shaking, she held up her injured arm and with a Sharpie, I scrawled “refuah shleimah,” on the rough, plaster surface. From her reaction you would have thought I was Moses giving her a signed copy of the Ten Commandments. She stared at the Hebrew characters, transfixed by my message. After a few seconds, she stood up. In a soft, reverential voice she thanked me for my time, turned and left the office caressing her inscribed cast. I was a bit startled by her actions but understood. We birth Jews are jaded by our rituals, our customs, our traditions, but for an outsider we are the authentic people of faith living the holy words of the Bible. An eternal nation covenanted to God. Too often we brush aside our treasures, dismissing our magnificent legacy that literally tamed and transformed Western Civilization. Too often I have seen the stranger who values the wonders of Judaism while so many of us cast off the precious, glorious yoke of Sinai with a yawn. And so, I cry out with unapologetic gratitude, “Thank God for non-Jews.” It is they who can inspire us to greater spiritual fidelity while reminding us of the privilege of descent from Abraham and Sarah. Perhaps now when we open the door for the prophet, we should chant “Shfoch ahavatechaw el hagoyim … Cast your love upon the non-Jew.” Somehow that feels much better. Rabbi Shalom Lewis is rabbi emeritus of Congregation Etz Chaim. 44 | MARCH 31, 2021 ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES
Allen H. Lipis is an AJT columnist.
LaVon C. Mercer It is truly an honor to be able to write for Passover this year from a place that has shown the world a challenge. My first thought is that I’m still present among the living to share my Passover thoughts with you. Now just look at us today; people have forgotten that the Torah and Bible are living instruments to use for us to grow! I feel that challenges have slowed us to a grind to reflect, and for others, to gather to spew hatred! Passover is just what it has always been: a choice to find God or hate his children Black, Brown, Asian or White since life has become a place of color! As a child I felt trapped in hate because of my color. Today I feel all people are trapped because they only see color! So, to amplify what Passover means for me, is for God to grasp all this hate and remove it from this world! In closing, blessings to all of YOU and I love you so much, because GOD has commanded that we spread LOVE! LaVon Mercer, who played basketball while attending the University of Georgia, is a former Maccabi and Hapoel Tel-Aviv basketball player, and first African American Israeli national team member.
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PASSOVER Rabbi Rachael Miller
The year has certainly been unique, both negatively and positively, and through it all, I have found freedom in the opportunity to be creative and innovative. There were so many moments for innovation from last Passover to this one. We’ve had virtual seders, virtual Shabbatot and High Holy Day services, game nights, Torah studies, education classes, youth events, concerts, talent shows, and more, all done with new skills and creative thinking. Unlike the Israelites in our recent Torah portions, we didn’t have a blueprint ahead of time telling us how we would build a new sacred space. Instead, we had the opportunity to build something out of (almost) nothing and to take our community with us through the journey. I pray that this sense of freedom through creativity stays with us as we, God-willing, come through our modern wilderness together and continue to build a more beautiful world.
As an African American, the Jewish Passover is a very important and symbolic event to me. Even after the Jewish people gained physical freedom from Pharaoh, they still had to strategize, collaborate, and sacrifice through many generations to gain a more dynamic sense of freedom. So to me, freedom is a multi-layered concept that takes a lot of collaboration, creativity and time to achieve. In America, African Americans also gained freedom from chattel slavery, but then, the civil rights movement created new levels of freedom for both Jewish and African American people. But in hindsight, the civil rights movement was just a continuation of a long freedom movement that still continues today. Today, many Americans are still fighting to gain freedom in the areas of race, religion, gender, economics and health. Passover has had an even deeper meaning since the pandemic. Reflecting on Passover should give us the renewed energy we need to continue to fight for a deeper sense of freedom and justice. The great Jewish traditions and people who came out of those freedom struggles have blessed the world. We have to keep going onward and upward!
Rabbi Rachael Miller is an associate rabbi at Temple Emanu-El.
Tiffany Parks is an AJT contributor.
Rabbi Hillel Norry
Freedom is born in the mind, takes root in the spirit, and reveals itself in the body. The Israelites first dream of liberty while still enslaved. The Exodus begins when they choose to “cry out” to God. All freedom, even on the scale of a national exodus from slavery, begins with personal freedom. We must want freedom, imagine it, dream of it, and make it a part of our mindset before we can use our spirit, our perseverance to carry us through the inevitably difficult road through the wilderness. Ultimately, when our mind declares freedom and our spirit strives towards liberty, it is in and with our body that we experience both our slavery and our freedom. Personal freedom is rooted in a healthy and whole body. This year, to me, freedom looks like a liberated mind, an abundant spirit, and a healthy body. May this holistic personal freedom be shared by everyone, and may we all soon be free to be closer together. Next year ... IN PERSON. Chag Sameach. Rabbi Hillel Norry is the interim rabbi for B’nai Zion Congregation in Chattanooga.
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What Really Matters If truth be told, I have at times found myself feeling very ambivalent when it comes to the holidays. As the years rolled by, it was me who most often took the torch from our parents when they could no longer host the family for Thanksgiving dinner or Passover seder. Since I am not a famously amazing cook and our home is rarely in company-ready condition, it always felt like a big ordeal to get everything prepared for a holiday meal for a dozen or more guests, even if most of them were family. But the high of being together – however many of us could gather – always made it worth the time and commitment in the end. Passover has always been one of my favorite holidays. Growing up in Miami, I have wonderful memories of big seders set up on the back patio at my cousins’ house. At least 20 to 25 people – family, friends and lots of us kids – always made it so much fun. Last year during the first COVID Passover, I felt very nostalgic and called my Aunt Barbara to tell her that I still remember those days! As I grew up, I strongly connected with the themes and symbolism of Passover. And it was a big step, when I began hosting with my husband and two children, that I told my parents we were upgrading our old Maxwell House haggadah books we still used from long ago – the ones that implored us to help free the Soviet Jews – to a more contemporary version. Maybe one day we will take the time to write our own haggadah. Now into our second COVID Passover, the concern I used to feel about not creating the perfect holiday has been replaced by the sadness and real worry that, with my parents now both 89 years old, there might not be many more holidays together. If we are lucky and their assisted living facility permits it, perhaps we will be able to bring them to our house – in whatever condition it happens to be in – with my brother, his wife and maybe just our Atlantabased son in attendance, and simply be grateful to be together one more time for the occasion. Fran Putney is the AJT proofreader.
PASSOVER Eric M. Robbins
Freedom Looks Like a Big Fat Hug . . . With a Face Mask I began this Passover message thinking I’d write about the positive things this challenging year of COVID-19 has taught us and the specific innovations, adaptations and behavior changes we might want to keep. Indeed, many, many good things have emerged from our plague year. Crisis is always a catalyst for innovation and transformation, and Atlanta rode that thrilling wave. We created dozens of socially distanced ways to serve. We unleashed unprecedented levels of generosity and kindness. That’s all good, great even. But I am in the relationship business and I desperately miss the energy of being around people. Half a dozen people have joined the Federation team since we began working remotely. I’ve never met many of them, or any of our new donors, in person, and it tears me apart. I’m literally chomping at the bit to catch up with all of you. So, I’ll leave the catalogue of COVID “keepers” to other writers. For Passover I want to lift up the paradox of covenant vs. freedom, and the tension that exists between the two. As vaccines allow us to take our first tender steps of emergence from the narrow place of hand sanitizers, 6 feet apart and social pods, we will embrace family members we haven’t touched in a year! We are like a reborn people. Giddy with our newfound freedom, we rush back to what is familiar. Remember how the Jewish people, just weeks after the parting of the Red Sea, built the golden calf. Our post-COVID liberation comes with covenantal responsibility to each other and the world. Freedom may look like a big fat hug, but for a while it will likely be a hug with a face mask. Let us rejoice in our redemptive freedom but never forget that we were charged to be a light unto the nations with a unique mission to repair the world. Eric M. Robbins is the president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.
The Knock at the Door Three years ago, while my husband and I were conducting our seder for just the two of us, after reading the haggadah text directing us to open a door for the possibility of greeting the prophet Elijah, I stood up to open the screen door leading to our outdoor porch. A few seconds later, we heard a hard knock at our front door. We wondered who would be coming to our apartment at that same moment in time. We knew our family would be having a larger seder on the second night at our daughter’s home not too far from us, so we doubted it was her, or any member of our family. We paused our haggadah reading to see who had knocked. A tall young man appeared. He had come by to pick up a special vacuum machine that we had been using for a few days to suction up rain water that had seeped into our apartment, making the carpet in one area very wet. When he came in, I told him how coincidental it was that his knock on the door occurred just as we opened another door to be ready to welcome the Messiah, one of our Passover traditions. I explained how another Jewish custom was to offer a meal or food to a stranger who comes to your home at that time. So we invited him to join us for dinner, complete with chicken soup and matzah balls. He said no, but thanked us for the offer. I then said, can we at least give you some matzah. That he did take, and told us his mother had worked for a Jewish family, so he had some familiarity about eating it during Passover. I was told by our leasing office, that when Miguel (his name) came back to the office with the vacuum machine and told the staff what happened, he told them, he could have been the messiah! For several weeks, “Messiah” became his nickname. He still works here at our complex, and often when meeting up, we recall that unusual timing and what happened. Was it just a coincidence or bashert (meant to be) that a stranger would knock at our entry at the exact moment we were reading the haggadah text to open our door to welcome the prophet? Being a rare event, I wondered if there was a way to calculate the odds of something happening like that. A lot of things happen during life with some events being more unusual than others. Or is it a metaphor that one never knows if someone will come knocking on your door during your seder, that there might be an additional Jewish connection to your holiday experience. Flora Rosefsky is an AJT contributor.
ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES MARCH 31, 2021 | 47
PASSOVER Rabbi Neil Sandler “If I am not for myself, who will be for me? If I am not for others, what am I? And if not now, when?” These well-known words of Hillel found in Pirke Avot represent the essence of what freedom is: the ability and authority to exercise personal autonomy. Only one who is truly free can make decisions ... good ones, bad ones, personal ones and those that may benefit others. This year, now one full year into the global pandemic and anticipating better days ahead, Hillel’s words and how we choose to exercise our freedom have special resonance. All of us are “...for myself.” Some of us more so; some of us less so. We need to be “for myself.” But will this past year affect our self-perceptions? For example, will we reorder some of our priorities that impact on our personal well-being? With few exceptions, we are also “...for others.” Will what we have experienced throughout this difficult period impact how we view others and what they mean to us and our world? Will those views affect how we relate to other people and what we do on their behalf? Will we pay attention to people we have neglected? In short, will the pandemic serve to liberate us and enable us to reach out to others anew in caring and healing ways ... or will we return to our own Mitzrayim ... to the narrow confines of earlier predominantly “for myself” ways? The choice is each of ours to make, but the desirable directions are clear. “And if not now, when?” I hope you and your loved ones will enjoy a happy and meaningful Passover this year. Rabbi Neil Sandler is a spiritual leader at Ahavath Achim Synagogue.
Shaindle Schmuckler Freedom can be costly. Lack of freedom can be devastating. Freedom is such an illusive concept. We all are married to our own interpretations of freedom. To some, money is freedom. To some, love is freedom. Yet others see freedom as simply living in peace. For me, this past year, freedom was ripped from my heart; the freedom to share in my family’s lives, to touch them, to hug them and most importantly to bask in their beautiful faces. Last Pesach we shared seder virtually. In 2021 we all look forward to celebrating the freedom Pesach represents, the way Jews have done for thousands of years. This year, Passover will give us back the freedom to sit around the seder table celebrating family, reminding us how precious our freedom is, and to kvell in the bounty we have been given. For years our family celebrated out on my back screened-in porch. First however, one of my sons in love wrapped the entire porch in plastic to keep the “green yuk” of spring off the tables and food. Seven grandsons and four sons-in-law busied themselves with the setting up all the tables. All the cooking, baking, was and is a family affair. Then of course there was the preparing and decorating of the seder table with my granddaughters. These simple moments of freedom we longed for last year. Each year I keep a menu, which includes an agenda, our seating arrangements, who would read which passages from the haggadah. We counted, recounted and recounted the number of chairs needed. It usually required us a minimum of three or four times to get it right. We finally completed the counts only to discover we forgot one chair. We thank those on whose shoulders we stand, who showed us a freedom hard fought and won, a freedom we all enjoy because of those brave Jewish ancestors before us. Shaindle Schmuckler is an AJT columnist.
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Rabba Melissa Scholten-Gutierrez We don’t know a lot about the content of Miriam’s song after the Israelites passed through the sea, nor the dance the women did with their timbrels, but it is clear that they had their timbrels with them in this miraculous moment. On some level, the women knew (or maybe just hoped) that Moses was right, and there was a higher power who would safely lead them out of Egypt, and that their communal slavery was ending for good. They knew freedom was imminent, and it required joyful celebration with music. They left in such haste that they didn’t do many things (perhaps most famously, letting their bread bake to completion) and yet the women remembered their timbrels. They made an intentional choice to take their timbrels along in their precious and limited cargo space. I like to imagine a few women running among the Israelites saying, “don’t forget your timbrel!” as they busily prepared to flee Egypt. After this past year of the pandemic, how many of us know where to find our timbrels? Perhaps this is a literal instrument or perhaps it is symbolic of being able to find joy amid hardship and a core belief that better times await. I like to think that Miriam and the women of the exodus set the stage for us. That women everywhere have this instinct to know that things will get better and that Hashem will provide for us. That this keeps us going when times get tough and it is hard to focus on the future. That we can all channel the first prophetess in our own trying times. Most of all, that we always have faith enough to pack our proverbial timbrel and the freedom to find joy. Rabba Melissa Scholten-Gutierrez is the Jewish Camp Initiative manager at Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta.
Rabbi Beth Schwartz When I think back over the past year, and consider our many struggles, one of the things that has been difficult for so many of us has been exercising the freedom to remain compassionate and hopeful. We have always had this freedom, and we have relied on it in harder times than these to see us through. Indeed, as a People, the Jewish People have a pretty good track record of survival. We are commanded to be a light to the nations, and we are free to fulfill that mitzvah in an infinite variety of ways. We are free to reject unreasonable fear; we are free to seek scientific truth and understanding as well as emotional truth and community despite our being physically separate. We are free to love our neighbors as ourselves. As I look ahead to this z’man heiruteinu, this season of our freedom in celebrating Passover, I am also looking forward to more physical freedom, and I am very grateful for the freedoms of heart and mind and soul that have brought me to this time again. Shehechiyanu vekiyemanu ve-higiyanu laz’man ha-zeh. Rabbi Beth Schwartz is the spiritual leader of Temple Israel in Columbus, Ga.
PASSOVER Maayan Schoen Once we were taken out of Egypt, the Exodus became our go-to reminder of who G-d is and what He has done for us as a nation. We remember our enslavement and the miracles G-d performed in our daily prayers, in Shabbos kiddush, and, of course, on Passover, when we have special instructions to feel as though we ourselves have been freed. We do something unique as a nation. We remember and tell over our history nonstop, but we also live always moving forward toward the next redemption. Our historical memory powers us, gives us a shared identity, and hopefully, shapes our choices. In this generation, we have the opportunity to take our memory of persecution, ancient and recent, as a directive to intervene in the enslavement of another people. Uyghur Muslims in China are being persecuted and enslaved for their faith in ways that are all-too familiar. Forced labor, sterilization, abortions and disappearing dissidents are some of the horrors we know about. A great way to start getting informed is with the special online haggadah with Uyghur testimonies that Jewish Movement for Uyghur Freedom assembled, which will be part of my Passover this year. How can we think about others in a time when many of us are, ourselves, experiencing such darkness? In the trying depths of World War II, Winston Churchill said, “These are not dark days; these are great days — the greatest days our country has ever lived; and we must all thank G-d that we have been allowed, each of us according to our stations, to play a part in making these days memorable in the history of our race.” Our history has never been just letters in a book, just a story or just a ritual. Let us remember to make these great days memorable for how we transform them. Maayan Schoen graduated from Torah Day School and Atlanta Jewish Academy and studied in the Migdal Oz Beit Midrash for Women in Israel. She is a second-year student at Yale University.
Dr. Terry Segal Freedom this year, on a personal level, is appreciation of all of the shifts and decisions made during the crisis months when COVID-19 forced change into our lives. Now, I’m free to wear comfy clothes to work, without stockings and heels, as since March 2020 I only do telemental health. I’m free to work with my clients without masks, enabling me to observe the nuances in their facial expressions. If they’re ill, I’m now able to provide comfort and connection without compromising my own health. I can also fulfill my continuing education units at home, online, instead of packing meals, driving all over, and then sitting in freezing conference rooms for hours on end. There is also great freedom in being able to livestream religious services. There’s no shirt and shoes required for service. Just kidding about that, but again, we can be warm and dry, comfortable, without time spent on hair and makeup, without the drive time, and imposing the schedule on little ones. Our family can leisurely enjoy Shabbat dinner together and go in the next room to watch services. Our grandchildren are free to vocalize, move about, even eat or nurse during services. We’re all still together and there are no worries that they’re disturbing anyone. Sad to say, but there’s also greater freedom from concern over intruder safety issues. We still feel very connected to our temple family through the chat feature if we view services on Facebook Live, newsletters and Zoom opportunities. I facilitate a Rosh Chodesh group and I enjoy it so much on Zoom! Women can attend who don’t drive at night anymore. Weather isn’t an issue. There’s no anxiety over being the last to leave the building, implementing proper procedures, and no shopping for and schlepping snacks. It’s all about the meeting and then a click and we’re done and everyone is already home. Another type of freedom I’m experiencing involves nurturing the introverted part of myself. In December, we had to say goodbye to our beloved Toffee Dog of 13 ½ years. There was freedom in pulling my mask up over my tear-stained face at the grocery store and keeping to myself. I also love our home and I’m perfectly content to be in it. We froze our gym membership last March and instead of our daily workouts there, I’ve been doing early morning yoga with videos, free weights, and take 2-mile walks with the family each evening if it’s not rainy or too cold. I’m writing another book, painting, and for the first time ever, watching shows like “Downton Abbey,” all while on call 24/7. I love to cook, so not dining out isn’t an issue. With all of the devastating tragedies resulting from COVID, there are gifts of freedom in it, too. Dr. Terry Segal is an AJT columnist.
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PASSOVER Rabbi Larry Sernovitz The Questions Not Asked ?מה נשתנה הלילה הזה מכל הלילות
Why is this night different from all other nights? One of the highlights of the Passover seder is the recitation of what is commonly known as the Four Questions. Upon careful analysis, and a study of this section of the seder, one would realize that there aren’t really four questions. There is only one: “Why is this night different from all other nights?” What, then, are the others? These are called the “Arba Kushiyot,” the four difficulties. One of the goals of the Passover seder is to create an environment where our children are encouraged to ask questions. In Tractate Pesachim 115b, the Talmud reads in regards to the Passover meal, “Why does one remove the table? The school of Rabbi Yannai says: So that the children will notice that something is unusual and they will ask: Why is this night different from all other nights?” The Talmud is making an important point: We are obligated to encourage our children to ask insightful questions. In fact, the Talmud emphasizes this by teaching us that if the child is wise and knows how to inquire, let the child ask their own questions. In Judaism, asking questions is more important than finding the answers. Asking questions is essential to what it means to be human and to confront the challenges that we encounter each and every day. These questions push us to be active participants in our world and be the change that we want to see. This has been a difficult year with lots of questions that continue to remain unasked and unanswered. This Passover season, ask your questions and encourage your children to do so as well. You never know what a simple question might bring for you and our world. Rabbi Larry Sernovitz is the spiritual leader of Temple Kol Emeth.
Rabbi Alexandria Shuval-Weiner Bechol Dor V’Dor. In every generation, we are to see ourselves as if we were personally redeemed. This poignant verse in the Passover haggadah begs us to enter the story, to empathize with the oppressive nature of bondage, to breathe deeply into expansiveness of redemption and focus our hearts on the meaning of freedom. As the world struggled with the COVID-19 plague, no soul was spared from some shadow of it; the collective moan rose as we sunk under the weight of fear and uncertainty lo these many months. There were inconveniences of canceled celebrations, economic despair and for far too many, illness and so much death. Now with the availability of vaccines, we can begin to feel the fresh breeze of release, freedom from this plague. Avadeim hiyenu v’atah B’nei Horin! Just as the great rabbis of the past obligated us to see ourselves as personally redeemed, this year in particular we must ask the question: Mi Herut? What is freedom? Thinking about all the personal freedoms before the virus, like walking maskless among the living versus the the rabbinic ideal of freedom, the obligation of the unshackled to work for the redemption of those stuck in the narrow spaces. How are you thinking of freedom? This year as we taste the bitter herbs and sample the sweet charoset at my family Zoom seder we will talk about freedom. Highlighting lessons learned in our constriction and celebrating the gifts of resilience, empathy and generosity. We will grieve our loved ones and all that was lost this year by removing drops of wine and then refilling glasses to bless and name the newest member of our family, born during this time of darkness. Finally, on this night of questions, we will each recommit ourselves to life L’Chayim and to the holy pursuit of redemption and freedom for all. Rabbi Alexandria Shuval-Weiner is rabbi of Temple Beth Tikvah and incoming president of the Atlanta Rabbinical Association.
The Freedom Not to Agree I remember Sunday afternoons at my maternal grandparents’ house. All the aunts, uncles and cousins were there, and while we kids played games, we also listened to the adults. Our relatives had a wonderful time arguing. There were a lot of opinionated folks in our family, and not one of them was afraid to talk. Vehemently debating the issues of the day was my family’s favorite hobby. Voices were often raised, and once in a while someone would jump up to dramatically make a point, which, of course, was immediately challenged. But no one ever stomped angrily out of the room, broke a piece of furniture, or threw a punch or a tantrum, and no one ever called anyone else “stupid.” Violence and law-breaking are not forms of argument and disagreement. These acts are inexcusable, illegal and punishable. What I miss is the safe expression of opinions and the belief that we don’t all have to agree. Even if I’m sure that I’m right, it’s OK if you don’t think I am. A thoughtful woman down the block told me she’s “a doubter” about getting the COVID-19 vaccine. I did my best to convince her to get inoculated, and she explained her reasons. Neither of us was satisfied with the opposing view, but we listened and we were polite. During the last year, I’ve heard brutal and cruel remarks coming from all corners. Two friends who have been through hell and high water together decided that opposing political views are more important than their relationship of more than 30 years. An intelligent fellow I know has taken to calling anyone who disagrees with him “an idiot” or even worse. One of those “idiots” has vowed to never speak to his old friend again. Those two men had been in each other’s wedding party. Here’s how I want to be treated: Go ahead and dismiss my opinion, if you have the urge, but don’t dismiss me. I’ll happily return the favor. And remember, our kids are listening. Chana Shapiro is an AJT columnist. 50 | MARCH 31, 2021 ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES
Michelle Simon As the new normal unfolds and old opportunities resume, together with new ones, I hope that each of us can truly live out the phrase, L’Shana Haba B’Yerushalayim. When we are fortunate enough to gather together as Jews in Israel and here at home in Atlanta, may we each find renewed happiness in our regained freedom. Michelle Simon is a member of the Atlanta Leadership Cabinet for Birthright Israel Foundation.
PASSOVER Rabbi Albert Isaac Slomovitz A Covid Passover
This Passover begins our second year of living with COVID. The seder offers an opportunity to acknowledge this reality through its many symbols and rituals. Allow me to offer a few examples. When we eat a green vegetable dipped in salt water, it reminds us of the tears of our ancestors in Egypt. This same water also reminds us of the tears that have been shed due to Covid. When we raise our matzah and say, “All who are hungry – let them come and eat.” This can lead us to collect tzedakah that is given to those in need. At Congregation Etz Chaim, we have raised funds to help hungry children in the community in addition to supporting the Kosher Food Pantry at JF&CS. The Four Questions ask: “Why is this night different from all other nights?” This might be an excellent moment to talk about how much has changed over the past year and what people expect the next year to be like. This conversation goes well with the theme of Passover, “We were slaves; now we are free.” Indeed, are we free from Covid or not? This could be the point to acknowledge the scientists, medical personnel and all those who have worked on creating vaccines, that has allowed us to think about being free from Covid. These heroes all deserve mention at the seder. The Ten Plagues represent a fine time to memorialize those who have been lost to Covid or are the “long-haulers,” who are still fighting against this virulent plague. Before the seder meal, most people make a “Hillel Sandwich,” which is supposed to include more sweetness than bitterness. Our wish is for a much sweeter year to come than the one past. After we eat our Passover meal, we offer thanks for our food and then say the Hallel prayer. One of the most poignant verses is, “This is the day that God has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” This verse symbolizes our attitude: Despite the viciousness of Covid, we will persevere; we will, as Jews and Americans, make it through the pandemic. We will embrace our future with compassion, hope and the steadfast Jewish belief in the value of every day. Have wonderful seders and a meaningful Passover.
Rabbi Donald Tam If we live in a world unredeemed, in the midst of lives unredeemed, we do not loose heart. Pesach, after all, really did occur once. It can happen again. Slaves can be made free with G-d’s help. Societies can be made more just with G-d’s help. The proof is our history. We tell the story of Pesach to keep faith in goodness alive. This hope in goodness, this hope in justice, this hope in some Force in the universe which makes for moral law and balance, this is what we mean by faith in G-d. This is the hope held aloft by Pesach. What my mother used to call “Malcha Movets,” the Angel of Death, can be delayed. Indeed, sometimes he can pass over our houses. The cruel destroyer can be delayed so that the fullness of years can be enjoyed until a gentler messenger comes to take us from this life. There is a spirit of justice afoot in life and it sometimes wins. This is faith. This is the faith we are commanded to teach our children. The seder revolves around the story of discovery of Something new and at the same time more ancient than our world itself. Then the story moves from slavery, degradation, and the Exodus to freedom and human dignity, as answers to our children’s questions. They must learn the faith that carries life in the face of fear and death. It is a faith that must be taught, as Moses taught it to us so long ago. Life is more than being number one. Indeed, it has little to do with numbers. Numbers and place in the line are for those who have never been taught the faith, so they have little faith in themselves unless they can see their place in line ahead of others and count off the numbers which assure them they count for something. But life is only in a very narrow way (one of the meanings of the Hebrew word for Egypt – “mitzrayim” – “narrow,” or “constrained”) about numbers. Life is about feeling, creating, healing, hoping, sharing who we are with life and the people that fill our living – this is life. And when we forget this, as we often do – well – Pesach comes in the springtime to remind us. Rabbi Donald Tam is rabbi emeritus of Temple Beth Tikvah in Roswell.
Rabbi Albert Slomovitz is associate rabbi of Congregation Etz Chaim, assistant professor of history at Kennesaw State University and founder of the Jewish Christian Discovery Center.
Anat Sultan-Dadon The Passover haggadah, which we will all soon be reading with our children, as generations before us have done, was compiled during the first and second centuries, during one of the most difficult periods in the history of the Jewish people. Jews faced the loss of political independence, the destruction of the Temple, and the failure of the great revolt against the Romans, which led to the greatest shedding of Jewish blood prior to the Holocaust. The Jewish spiritual leaders turned to an event that had taken place over a millennium earlier in order to encourage and inspire in the people a hope for the future through the story of the Exodus from Egypt, a story of salvation and liberation following a period of hardship and enslavement. The lesson that they sought to instill is that even in times of darkness, in periods of hardship that may seem eternal, one must never lose hope, but believe in redemption and freedom. In modern history, in that same spirit, the Jewish people gathered the incredible strength and determination required to recover from the Holocaust and to stand strong again, rebuilding our sovereign nation state in our ancient homeland. As we soon read the haggadah and look back on the past year and all its challenges, from a global pandemic to an alarming rise in antisemitism, it is most fitting to be reminded of the strength and resilience of our people, of all that we have accomplished and of the legacy that we continue to pass on to our children and to humanity. Anat Sultan-Dadon is consul general of Israel in Atlanta.
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Thoughts From Your Friends at the AJT “The battle for freedom is never finally won but must be fought in every generation.” The late Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (z”l)
Kaylene Ladinsky In order to address freedom, we must first acknowledge those things that have us in bondage. Obviously, the pandemic is the big flashing red light of global bondage that has touched us all. Whether you are no longer free to physically go out to dinner, to a movie or simply to visit with friends and loved ones. Or maybe you are suffering from a feeling of being suffocated by the masks you are having to wear all day or feeling jailed by quarantining yourself by obligation from close contact with COVID. Or maybe you are simply held in bondage by fear itself. The ripple effects of all the items listed above could go on through infinity. Imagine the long-term effects this virus will have and its wave of destruction on the generation of students held from school or who missed out on some of what was supposed to be their most memorable lifecycles. For example, graduation, prom, state championships, weddings, b’nai mitzvah and so much more. What about our elders and the isolation they have suffered, the friends they have lost, or the sacrifice of inappropriate physical activity by having to remain in their room? The ripple of long-term effects includes resentment, depression, fear, loneliness, and many other severe deep-rooted emotional, physical and psychological disorders that will touch everyone’s lives, whether it is ourselves who are suffering or a loved one close to us. When considering this, it certainly comes across as doom and gloom and that can hold an entire community in bondage by fear alone. Which finally brings me back to needing to identify all ripples and their far-reaching effects that they will have on us as individuals, as well as the larger picture, including our very own community. Freedom will start with everyone being vaccinated and the world being set free from the bondage that the COVID-19 pandemic has held us in. But that only scratches the surface of what freedom looks like to me. Real freedom is going to look like our community breaking free from the long-term effects of these ripples of destruction. We need to address the psychological needs of our teens, elders and even ourselves. Freedom will include not only stopping the ripples of destruction but repairing the damage from its wake. Freedom looks like support groups, chat sessions and educating everyone on the long-term effects that we may not be aware are brewing under the surface. But also, information and assistance to address the internal wake we may all be experiencing in one way or another. Freedom looks like a community supporting each other and joining together to heal. Kaylene Ladinsky is the editor and managing publisher at the AJT.
52 | MARCH 31, 2021 ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES
PASSOVER Roni Robbins
Two Weddings and a Funeral I wish I could tell you the title of this column is a takeoff on a popular 1994 rom-com with heartthrob Hugh Grant and equally adorable Andie MacDowell. But as has been common during this past year’s pandemic for many, the three lifecycle events are two missed family simchas and an unfortunate passing that indirectly resulted from COVID. All three are from my husband’s side of the family. And they weren’t the only shattered dreams we and others experienced in a year marked by tragedy and disappointment. First, the weddings. My nephew and niece, who happen to be siblings, were to have big Jewish New York-style weddings last year: my nephew in late March – just a week after COVID began its chokehold – and my niece in May. Neither wedding occurred with the ostentatious fanfare typical of such simchas. We watched through a static screen as they tied the knot in separate, intimate outdoor ceremonies. And closer to home, my 22-year-old son, typically an animated extrovert, watched his college graduation online, standing in our family room in a cap and gown with a scowl on his face, followed by tears in his bedroom. And I hardly ever see him cry. Hours later he would return to campus in Florida – a five hour drive alone – for “closure” and formal graduation photos. I mourned with him the lost senior opportunities. I mourn now still his plans for senior year and beyond rerouted. But probably the most sorrowful of times during the pandemic for us came when we learned my mother-in-law was headed downhill. A feisty woman starting to lose her memory, who enjoyed shopping and an active social life in her independent living complex in Florida, was confined to her one-bedroom apartment during COVID. We are convinced she made up her mind she wasn’t going to live that way. Meanwhile, my husband and his two brothers were told they couldn’t visit. So we enlisted the help of the independent living home staff and spoke to the matriarch of the family through cellphones. We spoke; she pushed away the phone held up to her. Then my husband pushed the limits, challenged authority, requesting through as many channels as he could find, jumping through whatever hoops were required, to be allowed to say goodbye, as any child would and should do when it comes to their loved ones. He did get to see her one last time. And then we all came to Florida when she passed, no hugs, all masked, keeping our distance, the family that was to join twice for simchas with her included, and we said goodbye to the last of my husband’s parents. So what does freedom mean to me? Freedom means that soon, as I prepare for my second vaccine, that simchas are in store, including one of the previously mentioned big weddings tentatively rescheduled for July. And that when my daughter graduates in a few years, it will be in person. Most of all, I can’t wait to hug my parents, who I haven’t seen in more than a year. And everyone else I love that I can get my newly vaccinated arms around.
Harris B. Siegel, DMD, FAGO Arthur H. "Skip" Dolt, Ill, DDS, FAGO Marc “Chas” Plaisance, Jr., DMD
Torah Day School of Atlanta Wishes You a Happy and Healthy Pesach!
Roni Robbins is the AJT associate editor.
Building the Jewish Future One Student at a Time For more information please contact Leslee Morris at lmorris@torahday .org or call 404.982.0800 x100 1985 LaVista Road, Atlanta, Georgia 30329 torahday.org
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PASSOVER Jodi Danis
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As I think back to where we were last Passover – that scary time of uncertainty and isolation – I can’t help but be thankful to be on the other side of things. Not that all has returned to normal, of course, but we are finally tasting freedom again. And oh how sweet it is! Even in limited doses, it is a welcome salve to the woes the world has faced from the pandemic plague. A year ago my husband and I had our first “solo” Passover, our kids in their own places, family and friends afraid to be near one another. I wrote in last year’s AJT Passover reflection that although our seders would be apart from others, we would still be together thanks to the modern miracle of Zoom. Yes, it was different, as we all know and experienced. But we survived, we adapted, and here we are again. Thanks to the miracles of science, we now have effective vaccines and the promise of freedom again. Despite the ups and downs we may still encounter, that promise and that hope sustain us. Many of us have been riding an emotional roller coaster, so it is a welcome relief to finally see light at the end of the tunnel. I am certainly not the only one who cried after an aging parent or loved one received a vaccine dose. I not only wept tears of joy for my family’s wellbeing but also bitter ones for those who faced a battle too big to survive. This Passover still won’t return us to 20-person seders, at least not in my household. But we are on the road to freedom again, something which so many of us took for granted pre-COVID. Wherever and however you celebrate the holiday this year, may it be a joyous and meaningful one for you and your family. Jodi Danis is the business manager for the AJT.
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Passover is the celebration of the exodus from slavery to liberation. The Passover story teaches that the Israelite people were not freed in order to do whatever they wanted, but were freed from Pharaoh to create a holy community accountable to a higher law: The law that they received at Mount Sinai after leaving Egypt. Freedom looks very different for me this year than it has in the past. Based on the 2020 elections and all the political unrest in the country, I feel that anti-Semitism is on the rise as well as racial injustice. Passover this year marks a little over a year since the first statewide coronavirus “stayat-home” order, and the pandemic changed the lives of so many people in 2020. Freedom is to be accountable and responsible for how our actions and inactions affect other people. We all had to give up our freedom in order to save the lives of everyone around us because of the pandemic, which limited social gatherings, visiting our loved ones, mask requirements, etc. Hopefully, freedom this year will be much different than last year. Life is slowly getting back to normal now that the vaccine is being distributed. Families are now visiting their loved ones and businesses are opening back up. We also must never lose our freedom when it comes to anti-Semitism and racial incidents. Wishing you happiness, peace, prosperity and all the joys of Passover this year! Brenda Gelfand is an AJT senior account manager.
PASSOVER Michal Bonell
Through COVID I have been listening to a podcast called “Unlocking Us” created by Dr. Brené Brown, a research professor who has spent the past two decades studying courage, vulnerability, shame and empathy, and is the author of five #1 New York Times bestsellers. Through each episode, Brown “unpacks and explores the ideas, stories, experiences, books, films, and music that reflect the universal experiences of being human, from the bravest moments to the most brokenhearted.” A recent interview with Dr. Edith Eger, a Holocaust survivor, psychologist and New York Times bestselling author, made me think about this freedom narrative. Dr. Eger writes in “The Gift: 12 Lessons to Save Your Life” that “Many of us experience feeling trapped in our minds. Our thoughts and beliefs determine, and often limit, how we feel, what we do, and what we think is possible.” Some of these mental prisons can be victimhood, avoidance, self-neglect, guilt and shame, unresolved grief, rigidity, resentment, paralyzing fear, judgment, hopelessness, and not forgiving. Dr. Eger teaches that finding your mental freedom is a lifetime practice, a choice we get to make again and again each day. Ultimately, freedom requires hope, which Eger defines in two ways: the awareness that suffering, however terrible, is temporary; and the curiosity to discover what happens next. Hope allows us to live in the present instead of the past and to unlock the doors of our mental prisons. COVID has affected us all. At one point or another it forced us to stop in our tracks and reflect on life and ourselves. We were used to running around from one thing to the next, avoiding some of the mental prisons that locked us, but perhaps COVID’s lockdown was a time of reflection for you, as it was for me. A time to slow down and reshape my new normal. A time to tend to my mental health and needs and accept the changes taking place all around me. Dr. Eger suggests doing “one thing differently today than you did yesterday. These small steps might seem inconsequential, but they actually train your brain to know that you are capable of change, that nothing is locked in stone.” Are you evolving or revolving?
As the youngest of the children in my family, my thoughts of “freedom” and Passover turn to the Four Questions we ask during the seder. Why is this night different from all other nights? Well, in today’s world, why is this year different from all other years? In a word: vaccination! Yes, this year we have the freedom to receive a shot to help protect us from illness. All other years we eat vegetables, but during the seder we eat only bitter herbs. This past year was mostly filled with bitter herbs! So much pain and suffering. The hope for this year is to be freed from all the strife and return to a world of health and peace. All other years we do not dip our food even once and this past year we dipped into such salty and harsh conditions! This year we have the freedom to pray for the sadness and isolation to be lifted. All other years we eat sitting or reclining. This year we will pray for those who need help with food insecurity to join the world “seder” and be able to eat only reclining. To have the freedom to not be burdened with the worry of hunger. These four questions are one of the major cornerstones of the seder, the retelling of the story of the Exodus to Freedom for the Jews. My hope this year for all people is to feel in their world, wherever that may be. Chag Sameach! Lori Gluck is an AJT account manager.
Michal Bonell is the AJT senior account manager and team supervisor.
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PASSOVER Anna Levy
What does freedom mean to me? For a long time, I thought freedom meant doing whatever you want, whenever you want. For many of us, that is what we are taught freedom is. I first tasted what I thought was freedom when I went off to college. Nobody was telling me what to do or where to be. If I wanted to skip class, or stay up late to party, or not study for my upcoming test, that was my prerogative. It didn’t take long to realize that type of “freedom” was vastly overrated. What I’ve realized as I’ve gotten older, and as a result of the pandemic, is that freedom is less about what you can or can’t do, and more about how you feel. Freedom is about perspective. Being free means being able to live life on your own terms, with your own worldview, without worrying about what others think. It means being happy in your own skin and your own choices. We often talk about the prison of the body, but not often do we discuss the prison of the mind. A mind in prison is a mind with thoughts ruled by others. And it’s never too late to free your mind and live your life on your own terms. If you have anything that makes you not feel free, this is the time to let it go. Freedom of choice is a gift, and it isn’t something you should take for granted. You are the only person who can decide what your life will be, and this is what true freedom is.
Freedom to me in the year 2021, looks like the ability to accept the changes that 2020 brought. It is our choice to accept the fate that Mother Nature brought into 2020. It is our choice to accept what science has brought us in 2021. Freedom also looks for me personally to have choices whether they be who I vote for, the ability to make choices that not only affect myself but my family, or simply take in or eat out at a restaurant.
Anna Levy is the AJT online content coordinator.
Diana Cole is the AJT community coordinator.
Freedom is such a colossal word with multiple branches attached to it. Freedom should be comprised of the liberty to think and speak without the apprehension of harsh criticism that can be jarring to oneself. Freedom of vocation is just as significant. Many people feel so cocooned by fear to the extent of not showcasing their infinite ability. One should feel beyond worthy rather than limited by harsh criticism of society that can shut you down. Freedom is the ability to make a reservation at a clamorous restaurant or bar, sit next to each other, meet strangers up-close, chat about life, laugh and shake hands without getting jittery about some preposterous pandemic. Freedom is the privilege of setting my own standards as how far I wish to stand next to someone without ludicrous provisional guidelines, like wearing silly masks that hide half of your personality and facial expressions. Why is it that I am more afraid to stretch my hand out my window and hand the homeless guy a $10 bill than to receive G-d’s blessing? It is part of my mitzvahs that I want to fulfill. This world has become entrenched in selfish people rather than selfless beings, as we should be. This year, I want to have the liberty to give without the fear of catching a disease while wearing a silly mask that hides my smile. Freedom to me is being able to go out, wear my red lipstick and not worry about it smearing on my face because of a mask. Freedom to me is ordering tapas and sharing it with friends without the suspicion that one of us may be asymptomatic. Freedom is the ability to walk next to someone who accidentally coughs or sneezes without feeling paranoid that I got sick. I don’t want to over sanitize my hands, wear a mask, make a stranger feel terrible for walking beside them. Freedom is the ability to hear the cashier or the waitress speaking without saying “what” four times. Freedom to me is being together, happy, hug and kiss my friends, laugh out loud mask-less and taste the turkey at the deli stand before getting half a pound wrapped up. When did we become too afraid of one another? May this plague pass over us this Passover. Stephanie Nissani is the AJT executive assistant.
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For those in search of a quick and comprehensive historical overview of Jewish Atlanta, Jeremy Katz's new book is a good place to start. Katz, who manages the Cuba Archives for Southern Jewish History at The Breman Museum, has put together a thoughtful photographic history of Jews here over the last 175 years. The slim paperback, “The Jewish Community of Atlanta,” chronicles the growth of the community with the birth of Caroline Haas in 1848 in what looks, on a surviving postcard, like a simple wood building. She was the first Jew born in Atlanta and reputedly the first white child born here. The book concludes with pictures of Bernie Marcus’ Georgia Aquarium and Arthur Blank’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium. According to Katz, that kind of growth symbolizes the strong influence Jews have had on the development of the entire city. “The impact has always been much larger than just in the Jewish community. I mean, we’re talking about Atlanta icons that were created, in part, thanks to visionary leaders in the Jewish communities. Icons like Coca-Cola, Emory, Henry Grady, the Atlanta Braves. The list goes on. And when you think of Atlanta, those icons have so many deep connections to the Jewish community. And they’re very deeply intertwined.” Eric Goldstein, the Emory University historian and head of The Tam Institute for Jewish Studies there, writes in his introduction that the book is a “testament to the growth and dynamism of Atlanta Jewry, which continues to make history every day.” Fast moving events this year have already dated the book, which came out in January, Katz said. Because of publication deadlines, he was unable to include the election of Jon Ossoff, for example, as Georgia’s first Jewish senator, and its impact on national politics. Still, Katz believes that the book represents not only the growth of the community, but the large and important archive of Jewish life that is housed at The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum here.
“In the '80s, the archives just filled a closet in the old Federation building on Peachtree Street and has since grown into this regional powerhouse,” Katz pointed out. According to Katz, there are over 1,000 oral histories, tens of thousands of photographs and millions of documents making it one of the biggest collections of its kind in the country. “We are the largest repository for Jewish history in the Southeast. We have a very diverse collection, not only in terms of content and format, but also in terms of the demographics, as well as the timeline. We have materials dating back to the colonial period documenting Jewish life in Savannah all the way up until the pandemic.” There are four hundred pieces of clothing and textiles and another thousand artifacts and items of everyday Jewish life, including 18 that are in a special exhibit now at The Breman. Each item in that showing represents a major turning point in the life of the Jewish community here. The book, the special exhibit and the massive archive, Katz believes, have taken on special significance at a time when we have been inundated with informa-
ART Clockwise, far left: Steve Selig, former president of the Atlanta Jewish Federation, riding a camel in 1998 during a parade honoring Israel’s 50th anniversary. Passover seder at Joseph Schaffer home at 236 Atlanta Avenue in 1935. Cover of “The Jewish Community of Atlanta” is 1923 photo of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra founded by the son of an Italian rabbi. Rich’s department store, started in 1869 by Morris Rich and his brothers, became an Atlanta retail institution. Jewish servicemen celebrating Passover in 1944 at the Jewish Progressive Club in Atlanta. They were served by the Zionist District, Mayfair Club and members of The Temple.
tion online, not all of which is accurate. Primary sources of information, Katz pointed out, gives people the tools to do their own historical research and make up their own mind about what is true and what is not. “I think our archives are on the front lines of combating misinformation,” he said. “We’re presenting the public and creating access to those raw primary sources so that folks can make their own secondary interpretation using the facts and using those primary sources.” The archives at The Breman Museum are in the final stages of an extensive makeover that will allow the public, along with educators and historians, greater access and flexibility examining all the items in its archives. Later this spring the museum is planning to roll out new software that will integrate The Breman’s collection of printed material with its media collection and its oral history archives. “We’re one of only two archives in the country that have this integration between this media catalog system,” Katz pointed out. “It’s a really powerful tool
that allows for the media of an oral history, for example, to be displayed alongside a timestamp transcript index so people can jump to any point in the interview. They can search across it for keywords and jump right to that point in the interview. It’s really powerful stuff.” All of which, Katz believes, makes the new book he’s just written and these newly accessible archives a starting point to explore Atlanta Jewish history. “If you want to know about the present and be well-informed about the future, you need to understand the past and history.” ì ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES MARCH 31, 2021 | 59
Controversial Look at Evangelical Support for Israel By Bob Bahr It’s no coincidence that the new documentary “’Til Kingdom Come” has a national screening on PBS March 29 during the third night of Passover and the beginning of Holy Week for America’s Christians. The film, featured in the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival last month, looks at the passionate love affair between Israel and Evangelicals, and the potent intersection of money, religious belief and political power. Its focus is the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, a highly successful nonprofit that has raised over $1.4 billion for Israel since Conservative Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, a former Anti-Defamation League staffer, started it in 1983. In its latest yearly report, 2019, the organization raised over $130 million, which far outstrips such organizations that are much more familiar to our community here such as Hadassah, AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) or FIDF (Friends of the Israel Defense Forces). Much
Top left: “‘Til Kingdom Come” chronicles the relationship between Evangelicals and Israel. Top middle: The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews was founded by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, who died in 2019. Top right: Israeli film director Maya Zinshtein questions whether money Evangelicals contribute to Israel is in its best interest. Left: TV Evangelical pastor Pat Robertson has been an important supporter of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews.
of that money comes from Evangelical Christians that are estimated to make up as many as 100 million churchgoers in America. As its title suggests, “Til Kingdom Come” examines the community’s beliefs against the backdrop of religious prophecy. Evangeli-
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cals believe in the biblical scenario that is laid out in the final book of the Christian Bible, the Book of Revelation, which describes a scenario for the End of Days. The event will take place, according to the film, only when the Jews of world have been gathered in Israel and given the choice to convert to Christianity or be killed. Encouraging that ingathering and supporting Israel is a major tenet of evangelical faith in churches like the one in Binghamtown Baptist Church, which is in a corner of Appalachia in East Kentucky that economic progress has largely bypassed. Despite that bleak economy, the film shows the community’s children filling buckets with coins brought from home for Israel and ultimately shows the presentation of a $25,000 check to the International Fellowship. That kind of dedication, as the film points out, buys not only political influence in Israel, but reinforces the influence of Evangelicals at the highest levels of American government, particularly during the past four years. That influence is what worries American producer Abie Troen and the film’s Israeli director Maya Zinshtein, who recorded over a hundred hours of video in the small Kentucky church and later in Washington, Los Angeles and on Israel’s West Bank. “Being in the White House and seeing so many pastors is an image that Maya and I will take with ourselves, I think, for a long time to come,” Troen said. “And it’s important to remember, I think, especially now, that this is something which could happen again in four years and eight, looking forward to the next elections. The power that the evangelical church has on American politics is not something that’s going to disappear.” Zinshtein, whose family immigrated to Israel from Russia when she was 10 years old, had never visited eastern Kentucky until she arrived to work on the film there. She takes issue with the notion that all the money that’s raised by Evangelicals
is in Israel’s best interest. While the film describes how it has swayed American politicians, supported the settler movement on the West Bank and financed a partisan political agenda, it may not be moving Israel toward a more secure future, according to Zinshtein. “It is a very political question. And I think that the Christian and the Christian evangelicals are mainly supporting a very right-wing approach. …They won’t fight on our next war in Israel. And my brother here in Israel will, by the way. So I’m asking them why they think they have the right to push a certain agenda that is really based on the Bible?” The film, which was nominated for the Jury Prize for Best Documentary at last month’s AJFF, has gotten considerable attention since it premiered at Israel Docaviv film festival in September. Zinshtein has been interviewed at length in The New York Times, where the film got a favorable review. She and producer Troen also were featured in a podcast created by the Israel Policy Forum and the production is in an ambitious virtual national release with frequent stops at local Jewish film festivals around the country. The documentary’s veteran American distributor Richard Abramowitz, who had three films in last month’s AJFF, has made a considerable financial bet that new film will capture a significant following of Christians and Jews. “To think that the idea that you would take money from an impoverished community and use it to build settlements and displaced people and exacerbate a very delicate political dynamic concerns me. And so, the opportunity to make this film available to promote it and shine a light on that dynamic is something that interested us.” For those who miss the Independent Lens late night screening on PBS, the film will have a limited run on Georgia Public Broadcasting’s website and through visual cinema viewing platforms. ì
Narissa and Dan Bonnet were hands on in engineering a well thought out 8,200-square-foot three-level contemporary house in Sandy Springs. The couple is seen here in the dining room.
Chai Style Home
Professionals Go for Minimalist Vibe Narissa and Dan Bonnet are a hands-on productive duo. November 2019. We hit no snags along the way; everything Both Georgia Tech graduates, they made the small and big ran smoothly from permitting to completion. things materialize with trained eyes. The house is about 8,200 I drew and conceived of the plans. We used Tommy square feet in California Prairie Modern style. Webb of Carriage Partners, LLC. While we considered a flat “We definitely did not ‘wing’ it,” Dan said. “We are in- roof contemporary house, we just couldn’t get over the tree depth planners.” debris and heavy rains to move forward conNarissa said, “My experience has always fidently knowing we wouldn’t have a host of been residential architecture and design with a problems. flair for creating practical and functional spacI incorporated niches and lighting to aces. Many architects draw lines on a page and centuate both art and the architecture with forget about the experience within the space. I some hideaway spaces for the kids. like to believe my particular talent is visualizing We used strategic lighting in certain spacthe space and designing it with the end result es and were intentional in some spaces not to in mind.” over-accessorize, allowing the spaces to transDan echoed, “Our former house was form. Fundamentally, the house is bathed in predominately in brown tones. Here we used natural light. Window design and placement Marcia all stark white walls and let the art speak in a was paramount. Caller Jaffe minimalist way. We didn’t want a lot of clutter. Most of our lighting is Wi-Fi-controlled. Narissa might say that COVID has hampered My favorite lighting is in the basement bar, our shopping. Narissa designed the front door, for example, which resembles a jewelry display. taking four months to be constructed in Mexico from heavy My favorite aspects are the laundry room, which leads iron.” directly into the master, and an abundance of linen closets and oversized closets. Join the family tour. Marcia: You are both methodical Tech grads. How did Marcia: How specifically did you design for family life? the construction go? Narissa: I really wanted our home to feel like a reflection Narissa: We started building June 2018 and completed of our family as we like to entertain. Many of the spaces are
open and can accommodate our family and circle of friends. I was conscious of our hobbies and habits like cooking, with a huge pantry as an extension of the kitchen. The basement features a large playroom with an art room that we all use alongside the exercise room. Dan specifically wanted an upstairs patio where he can relax and unwind. Marcia: What goes on in this snazzy kitchen? Narissa: I designed the kitchen in its entirety; the cabinets and the hood were all custom designed. Several cabinets have pocket doors to allow for appliance garages. Then oversized cabinets, large platters storage, and huge drawers allow for easy access to everyday essentials. The oversized walk-in pantry is where you might find someone “hanging out.” The black backsplash tiles have gold inserts that “travel” as you pass by. Dan: Our kitchen is the epicenter where both of our offices extend. Even when working, we are not apart from the action. Narissa bakes wonderful homemade challah, and I create chicken marsala. Marcia: Describe your furnishings. Dan: We collect art that “speaks to us,” and have bought several pieces while traveling. We recently acquired an EsteATLANTA JEWISH TIMES MARCH 31, 2021 | 61
The Bonnets' centrally focused kitchen includes Mont Blanc Quartzite, sparkling gold backsplash tile, Wolf stove, and custom closet compartments. Lighting by Hudson Valley.
ban Patino collage. We love its color and mystery. Janet O’Neil did the colorful mixed media “Changing Energies.” We commissioned a piece by Fekadu Mekasha, whose technique of layering metal mesh to create depth and shadow is just astounding. Our unique bracelet chairs are Barbara Barry for Henredon. I created the viscous ebony piece in the Dutch Pour technique. Narissa crafted many of our hamsas and mezuzot. Marcia: Any family heirlooms? Narissa: I literally only have two items, each from my
grandmothers. I asked my “Bobba” at the age of 16 for one of her “red” glass ornaments, where she said, “Take it now” … Had I not, I would have nothing. It’s a sad aspect representing the finality of immigration from Johannesburg, in this case. From my paternal grandmother, I have an art nouveau white and gold glass ashtray. Marcia: Explain your role in the new far north Chabad. Narissa: My sister Candice Keilin and I were engaged to be the interior designers for the new Chabad in Forsyth. We are responsible for picking all materials and design of
Long shot of the entrance hallway leading to Dan’s viscous ebony enamel mixed media. All walls are Sherwin Williams Snowbound white.
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Top, The dine-in kitchen nook looks out onto the Bonnets' heated pool. The sputnik lighting is Sparta by Hudson Valley. Above, This head sculpture is resin wood, molded to look like shards.
The master bed is framed by dramatic Fredrick Ramond sconces and Blackamoor candelabras. Narissa chose silk bronze by Fabricut for the curtains.
interior spaces, including all religious furnishings, such as the mechitzah, bimah, ark etc. We are working closely with the architect for the project to bring the walls to life.
Top, The couple brought this red driftwood piece back from an Aruba vacation. Above, The playroom has space for Lego displays and adjoins the art room.
Marcia: Dan, last word on being married to your house’s architect and interior designer. Dan: First and foremost, the house was built exceptionally well. We over-emphasized structural components to ensure the home would last and have limited issues once complete. My father, who is a brilliant engineer and architect, consulted prior to getting started with advice on land optimization as well as offering 11 pages of “notes” for us to
incorporate to ensure we got a great end product. The spaces and flow are exceptional and everything just “feels right.” We’ve been able to accommodate all that we need to live, work and play, indoors and outdoors with variety. At night, when the house is quiet, I find myself walking around smiling and thinking how much I enjoy being here. We’re fortunate to have had Narissa lead this project. I’m just happy I didn’t have to pay her for this job (laughing). I’d love for her to design our next house, … but I just don’t want to move! ì
Ashley and Taylor, Epstein School students, have ample space to DREAM. Pretty in pink girl’s bedroom has pearlized furnishings.
ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES MARCH 31, 2021 | 63
MARCH 24-APRIL 13
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 24 Book Group Discussion: ‘The Lost Shtetl’ – 7:30 to 9 p.m. Join Congregation Beth Shalom Sisterhood Book Group in a discussion of “The Lost Shtetl” by Max Gross. Winner of the 2020 Book Club Award from the Jewish Book Council, this novel imagines what would happen if a small village in Poland had somehow escaped the Holocaust, and its Jewish community were continuing to live by the Jewish traditions of the mid-20th century today. Visit https://bit.ly/3c8Rk5q for more information.
Settling Cases During Covid-19: A Panel Discussion – 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Attorneys Jeff Shiver and Alan Hamilton from Shiver Hamilton will speak during a free webinar to discuss settling cases during COVID-19. They will share what they have learned in this new process to move cases forward and resolve them during the pandemic. Visit https://bit.ly/3rU1q0M to register and learn more. Frankly Speaking with Sherry Frank – 12 to 1:15 p.m. National Council of Jewish Women, Atlanta Section, is excited to continue our women’s discussion group for our members and friends. Moderated by noted Atlanta advocate Sherry Frank, this monthly lunchtime meeting focuses on current events through a Jewish lens. Visit https://bit.ly/3kWUGfP to register.
THURSDAY, MARCH 25 Cub Club: Hop into Passover with Mini Cubs – 10 to 10:30 a.m. Join Rabbi Micah from The Davis Academy and friends for a toad-ally cool Passover experience with ribbiting music and hands-on learning fun where we will stretch our legs, hop around and make our own Passover sensory bins for our little ones to explore. This is a virtual community program welcoming all families with children birth to 2. Visit https://bit.ly/3sJTfnO to register.
Clarinetist and Composer Michael Winograd – 5 to 8 p.m. Meet clarinetist Michael Winograd, one of the most respected and versatile working musicians in klezmer music today and get the inside story on his newest album. He is one-third of the transatlantic klezmer/cabaret collective Yiddish Art Trio, clarinetist of Tarras Band, a classic 1950s Jewish American tribute group, and the co-founder and director of the groundbreaking, bor-
Find more events and submit items for our online and print calendars at:
Calendar sponsored by the Atlanta Jewish Connector, an initiative of the AJT. In order to be considered for the print edition, please submit events three to four weeks in advance. Contact community relations director, Amy Seidner, for more information at email@example.com. 64 | MARCH 31, 2021 ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES
derless world fusion band Sandaraa. Register at https://bit.ly/2MMe2YA in advance for this event. Downtown Seder – 7 p.m. City Winery is proud to announce its annual Downtown Seder, at-home streamed around the globe. The highly anticipated interpretive seder will feature blessings from four New York City mayoral candidates including Andrew Yang, Scott Stringer, Ray McGuire and Kathryn Garcia, who will speak on one of the four glasses of wine; comedic performances by Lewis Black, Judy Gold and Mark Normand; musical performances by David Broza, Idan Raichel, Marc Cohn, Perry Farrell, Max Weinberg, and Speech of Arrested Development. There will also be greetings from Dr. Ruth, Al Franken and more. Visit http://bit.ly/2OsbXld to RSVP. 2021 Atlanta Unity Seder – 7 to 8 p.m. The American Jewish Committee will host a virtual sedar. Visit https://bit. ly/2PrsQg1 to register. Sue Monk Kidd, ‘The Book of Longings’ – 8 to 9 p.m. MJCCA Book Fest in Your Living Room Presents Sue Monk Kidd, “The Book of Longings.” Visit https://bit.ly/3sEvy0a to purchase tickets. Think Different – 8 to 9 p.m. Study one of the single most transformative Jewish spiritual texts written in the last three centuries with Intown Jewish Academy and master Tanya teacher Rabbi Ari Sollish. Information found at https://bit.ly/2MGGxq1.
FRIDAY, MARCH 26 Virtual Shabbat Sing – 10 to 10:15 a.m. Shabbat songs, blessings and birthday celebration with Rabbi Brian Glusman from the MJCCA for young children and families. Find information at https://bit.ly/2NVDN9v. Virtual Acoustic Shabbat – Weekly Sabbath Celebration 6 to 6:45 p.m. Soulful melodies, prayers and words of inspiration with Rabbi Brian Glusman from the MJCCA. Includes Mishaberach (prayers for healing) and Mourner’s Kaddish. Find information at https://bit.ly/2NVDN9v.
SATURDAY, MARCH 27 Story Time with Rabbi Jordan – 9:15 to 9:45 a.m. Join Rabbi Jordan from Congregation Dor Tamid for Story Time. Visit https://bit.ly/2PrDbsn for more information. Community Passover Seder – 7:30
to 10:30 p.m. It feels like we’ve lived through a modern-day plague. And we are here to tell the tale! We know you’ve been with your family for months on end, so join the Chabad Intown community for a unique and meaningful Passover experience. All seders include shmurah matzah, wine/grape juice, seder plate, two course dinner and dessert. Visit http://bit.ly/3enN6tr to register.
Young Jewish Professionals Spring Seder – 7:30 p.m. to 12 a.m. Overwhelmed by the never-ending Hebrew? Looking for a seder with a young, hip, and like-minded crowd? Or maybe you just want to experience what a four-course seder with an overstocked quantity of wine feels like? Join Young Jewish Professionals Atlanta in an interactive seder as we integrate the traditional texts with modern thought, contemporary experience, and a great, friendly atmosphere. RSVP at http://bit.ly/3qwPkcu
SUNDAY, MARCH 28 Kabbalah & Coffee -- 9:30 to 11 a.m. Discuss, explore and journey with Intown Jewish Academy through the world of Jewish mystical teaching and learn how to apply these profound teachings to your daily life. This ongoing class probes the esoteric through a unique program of English text-based study. No prior Kabbalistic experience required. Find more information at https://bit.ly/3kN0vMO.
Communal Passover Outdoor Seder – 8 to 11 p.m. Join Chabad of North Fulton for a warm and inviting atmosphere. Gourmet Passover cuisine. Meaningful and interactive seder. Outdoors, weather permitting. Visit http://bit.ly/3bsgtcf to register.
CANDLE-LIGHTING TIMES Tzav Friday, March 26, 2021, light candles at 7:36 p.m. Passover Saturday, March 27, 2021, light candles after 8:32 p.m. Sunday, March 28, 2021, light candles after 8:33 p.m. Monday, March 29, 2021, holiday ends at 8:34 p.m. Passover Friday, April 2, 2021 light candles at 7:41 p.m. Saturday, April 3, 2021, light candles after 8:38 p.m. Sunday, April 4, 2021, holiday ends at 8:38 p.m.
MONDAY, MARCH 29 Lunch & Learn: Reading Torah with Rabbi Gottfried 12 to 1 p.m. Organized by Your Jewish Bridge, join Rabbi Pamela Gottfried from Congregation Bet Haverim as we examine classical and modern midrash (interpretations) related to the weekly Torah reading and draw lessons from Jewish wisdom about how we can live and be our best selves today. All are welcome, no previous experience necessary. More information found at https://bit.ly/35zg6tc.
TUESDAY, MARCH 30 Brain Health Bootcamp – 1 to 3 p.m. If you are recognizing symptoms of cognitive changes or have been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, our fun and social class can help you strengthen your mind and body to stay sharp, especially during these times. The class will combine gentle physical exercise, including yoga and exercises to help reduce stress and anxiety, along with a full hour of brain exercises done in a non-stress and engaging way of learning. To sign up, contact Georgia Gunter at 770-6779421, https://bit.ly/39hGqsM NextGen Passover Giving Circle – 7:30 to 8 p.m. The story of Passover is about refugees fleeing their homes in search of a better future and a new homeland. As we celebrate Passover this year and retell this important story, let’s take time to help today’s refugees find their home. Join NextGen’s Passover Giving Circle to learn about local and global refugee aid organizations and give back to those in need. Visit http://bit. ly/3eu7tFr to learn more.
Shemini Friday, April 9, 2021, light candles at 7:47 p.m. Saturday, April 10, 2021, Shabbat ends at 8:43 p.m.
her own story with Gloria Estefan and the MJCCA Book Festival. Sharon Stone shares a journey of healing, love and purpose. She was one of the most renowned actresses in the world until a massive stroke cost her not only her health, but her career, family, fortune and global fame. In “The Beauty of Living Twice,” Sharon Stone chronicles her efforts to rebuild her life, and the slow road back to wholeness and health. In an industry that doesn’t accept failure, in a world where too many voices are silenced, Stone found the power to return, the courage to speak up, and the will to make a difference in the lives of women and children around the globe. More information found at https://bit.ly/30gYNtW. MIRRORS: Music by Six Jewish Wom-
an Composers – 7 to 9 p.m. The Breman Museum invites you to enjoy an online concert featuring the contemporary classical ensemble Bent Frequency performing the music of six Jewish female composers. The program will conclude with a conversation by some of the composers about their work. Receive the Zoom link by visiting http://bit.ly/3eBpTEt.
FRIDAY, APRIL 2
THURSDAY, APRIL 1 Sharon Stone, ‘The Beauty of Living Twice ‘ – 8 p.m. Sharon Stone shares
Virtual Acoustic Shabbat – Weekly Sabbath Celebration 6 to 6:45 p.m. Soulful melodies, prayers and words of inspiration with Rabbi Brian Glusman from the MJCCA. Includes Mishaberach (prayers for healing) and Mourner’s Kaddish. Find infor-
mation at https://bit.ly/2NVDN9v
SATURDAY, APRIL 3 Story Time with Rabbi Jordan – 9:15 to 9:45 a.m. Join Rabbi Jordan from Congregation Dor Tamid for Story Time. Visit https://bit.ly/2PrDbsn for more information.
20,000 European Jews took refuge in Shanghai during World War II. Rivaling all elements and in tragic contrast to those who could not escape, “Harbor from the Holocaust” is a story of life. A discussion afterward led by Rene Kaplan, a Holocaust educator. Visit http://bit.ly/3bTrLGV to get the Zoom Link.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7 Hillel College Fair – Explore Jewish life on more than 200 campuses in the U.S. and Canada at the spring Hillel College Fair. Meet with current students and Hillel staff from schools that you’re considering and ask questions that matter most to you. The Hillel College Fair is a completely online event and is free to attend for students, their parents/guardians, and anyone who wants to learn about Jewish college life. To register, visit http://bit.ly/3tuvNvk.
THURSDAY, APRIL 8
Kabbalah & Coffee – 9:30 to 11 a.m. Discuss, explore, and journey with Intown Jewish Academy through the world of Jewish mystical teaching and learn how to apply these profound teachings to your daily life. This ongoing class probes the esoteric through a unique program of English text-based study. No prior Kabbalistic experience required. Find more information at https://bit.ly/3kN0vMO.
Unto Every Person There Is A Name – 1 to 5 p.m. Since 1989, on Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, B’nai B’rith International has been the North American sponsor of the “Unto Every Person There Is a Name” ceremonies. Participants read the names of Holocaust victims along with where they were murdered and their age. These observances, created by Yad Vashem in Jerusalem, honor more victims each year as the project collects names over the years. Visit http://bit.ly/3qTQKOj to get Zoom link.
MONDAY, APRIL 5
SUNDAY, APRIL 11
Lunch & Learn: Reading Torah with Rabbi Gottfried – 12 to 1 p.m. Organized by Your Jewish Bridge, join Rabbi Pamela Gottfried from Congregation Bet Haverim as we examine classical and modern midrash (interpretations) related to the weekly Torah reading and draw lessons from Jewish wisdom about how we can live and be our best selves today. All are welcome, no previous experience necessary. More information found at https://bit.ly/35zg6tc.
The Daffodil Dash – 8 to 11 a.m. The 2021 Daffodil Dash, in memory of the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust and supporting children in Darfur, South Sudan and Rwanda. Join Am Yisreal Chai and register at http://bit.ly/30P3sn1.
SUNDAY, APRIL 4
TUESDAY, APRIL 6 Hadassah Ketura, ‘Harbor from the Holocaust’ – 7:15 to 8:15 p.m. Presented by Hadassah Ketura in honor of Holocaust Memorial Day April 7. The documentary is a story of hope, how
Governing a Jewish and Democratic State – 10 to 11:15 a.m. Explore with The Jewish Pluralism Watch under the Masorti movement about the history of “Governing a Jewish and Democratic State” and how Israel ended up where it is today. Congregation Etz Chaim will delve into the main issues debated within Israeli society such as conversion, the question of who is a Jew, marriage and divorce, Shabbat, kashrut, the public sphere, and more. Register at https://bit.ly/30RJ4BQ. ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES MARCH 31, 2021 | 65
Community Yom Hashoah Service of Remembrance – 11 to 12 p.m. Join us via Zoom for the 56th Annual Community Yom Hashoah Service of Remembrance at The Memorial to The Six Million. Jointly sponsored by Eternal Life-Hemshech, The Breman Museum and Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. Get the Zoom link by visiting https://bit.ly/3twHul9. Hadassah Health Professionals Advance Care Planning – 11 to 12:30 p.m. Hadassah Greater Atlanta Health Professionals Group invites you to an important healthcare educational event via Zoom: Advance Care Planning Additional Options for Georgians. Presented by Ronnie Genser, president of Bereavement Navigators, a Hadassah life member, and a member of Greater Atlanta Health Professionals. A 23-page handout with instructions will be sent to all registered attendees prior to the event. Visit https://bit. ly/38PT3vT to register. A Special Yom HaShoah Program: Daniel Lee, ‘The SS Officer’s Armchair’ – 2 to 3 p.m. Based on documents discovered concealed within a simple chair for 70 years, this gripping investigation into the life of a single S.S. officer during World War II encapsulates the tragic experience of a generation of Europeans. Presented by the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta. Reserve tickets at https://bit. ly/315lQs5. Israel-U.S .Relations and the New Middle East with Dr. Elai Rettig – 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. The Atlanta Israel Coalition is pleased to partner with St. Louis Friends of Israel and Kol Rinah and invite you to this presentation and discussion. How will election results impact Israel’s relationship with the U.S.? What are the implications for ongoing normalization agreements in the region and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Register for the Zoom event at https://bit.ly/2OZBMt4
MONDAY, APRIL 12 Rosh Chodesh Society: Code to Joy – 8 to 9 p.m. It’s a question that has launched a thousand self-help seminars, a riddle that has perplexed multitudes, a mystery that enthralled the ancients: What is the secret of happiness? Jewish thought has long emphasized the importance of living with joy. But how? And can you really choose to be happy? Join Intown Jewish Academy and RSVP at https://bit.ly/2KTIcYl. 66 | MARCH 31, 2021 ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES
TUESDAY, APRIL 13 Virtual Jurisprudence Luncheon – 12 to 1 p.m. ADL Southeast’s Annual Jurisprudence Awards Luncheon has become a must-attend legal event raising over $2.5 million, allowing the organization to perform its crucial work: Monitoring and combating antisemitism; fighting bias and bullying in more than 275 public, private and parochial schools throughout the Southeast; training law enforcement officers in dealing with extremist and terrorist organizations; and working to protect the civil liberties of all. RSVP at http://bit.ly/3ePIeNW.
Community Services: Anti-Defamation League – The Coronavirus Surfaces Fear, Stereotypes and Scapegoating: A blog post from ADL to help provide accurate information, explore emotions and, most importantly, play a role in reducing stereotyping and scapegoating. To read more, www.bit.ly/3dp5a3t. Atlanta Community Food Bank Text for Help SMS Function –The ACFB’s mission to provide nutritious food to the people who need it has reached a major milestone toward access to food for all. The Text for Help is ‘findfood’ (no space). Responses will include a list of three different nearby pantries and their contact information. For more information, www. acfb.org.
JF&CS - Telehealth Counseling Services – Now offering telehealth options via phone or videoconference for current and new clients to help our community during this crisis. For more information about our therapy services or to make a telehealth appointment, email us at therapy@ jfcsatl.org or call 770-677-9474. JF&CS - Telehealth Older Adult Services – Aviv Older Adult staff are there to help provide resources, care plans and support for you and your family. Call AgeWell at 1-866-AGEWELL (1-866-243-9355) to find out how they can help. For more information, www.bit.ly/2wo5qzj. Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta COVID-19 Resources – The unsettling, fast-moving and unpredictable world of life with COVID-19 is upon us. As we’re all discovering, a worldwide pandemic disrupts everyone on an unprecedented scale. For updates and more information, www. bit.ly/3ahrNVM. Please send Community Service Opportunities to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Synagogue Livestreaming Services:
Congregation Etz Chaim – Erev Shabbat Musical, Fridays at 6:30 p.m. Shabbat morning services at 9:30 a.m. Join in for weekly livestream Shabbat services. To join, www.bit. ly/3gWL02s. Congregation Or Hadash – Shabbat services Friday at 6:30 p.m. Saturday morning services at 9:15 a.m. Minyan Sunday and Tuesday mornings. To participate and get Zoom link, www.or-hadash.org. Congregation Shearith Israel – Daily and Shabbat services will continue at regular times through Zoom. They are counting participants in these Zoom services as part of a minyan, allowing members to recite full prayer services including Mourner’s Kaddish. To participate via phone, dial 929-205-6099 and then enter the meeting code 404 873 1743. To be a part of services, visit the Zoom link, www.bit.ly/2wnFWlD. Temple Beth David — Kabbalat Shabbat services every Friday at 7:30 p.m. Shabbat morning service and Torah Study every Saturday at 11 a.m. on our YouTube channel, (https://www. youtube.com/channel/UC2GcbAI_ HdLRSG5hhpi_8Cw). Temple Beth Tikvah Livestreaming Services – Fridays at 6:30 p.m. Saturdays at 10 a.m. To join on Facebook, www.facebook.com/TempleBethTikvah/ or www.bit.ly/2ZlCvrr. Temple Kol Emeth Services – Shabbat services on Fridays at 8 p.m. View our services on www.kolemeth.net or www.facebook.com/Temple Kol Emeth-Marietta, GA.
Israeli American Council – IAC @ Home brings you the most innovative content online while helping build a national community with Israel at heart. With activities for kids, teens, young professionals and adults, you can stay connected to Hebrew, Israeli and Jewish heritage, online activism and to one another. IAC @Home lets you enjoy a coastto-coast community right from your own home. For more information, www.israeliamerican.org/home.
Ahavath Achim Synagogue – Shabbat evening services at 6:30 p.m. Shabbat morning services at 9:30 a.m. To watch and for more information, www.bit.ly/38dS4Ed.
JF&CS - Emergency Financial Assistance – JF&CS is here to provide emergency aid for individuals and families. Please call 770-677-9389 to get assistance. For more information, www.bit.ly/2wo5qzj.
Congregation Beth Shalom’s Virtual Services – Erev Shabbat, Fridays at 6:30 p.m., Shabbat service, Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. Zoom minyan Sunday at 9:30 a.m. For more information, www.bit.ly/3gY0mUK.
Temple Sinai Livestream Services – Temple Sinai has live Shabbat services on Friday at 6:30 p.m. and Saturday at 10 a.m. For more information and to view services, www. bit.ly/2BXRfTF. The Temple Livestreaming Services – Find live streaming services here, www.the-temple.org. Please send Synagogue and Temple Streaming Services to diana@ atljewishtimes.com. Check the Atlanta Jewish Connector for updates: www.atlantajewishconnector.com. ì
Connector Chatter Directory Spotlight www.atlantajewishconnector.com
Career Services at Jewish Family & Career Services In conversation with Shelley Miller, program director of Career Services at JF&CS How does your organization help the community? In response to the pandemic, our Career Services of JF&CS now provides individuals with many virtual opportunities to build their best chance for success, such as a series of four virtual career workshops, one-on-one career coaching over the phone or video call, resources and referrals, networking opportunities, and virtual speaker events. Our four, monthly job-readiness workshops are designed to help job seekers create and build upon a solid strategy to gain employment. These four workshops provide participants with tips on the following topics: job search, resumes and cover letters, interviews and LinkedIn. We continue to dedicate our focus to helping job seekers navigate the job search process and support them along their career path. Where do you see your organization in 10 years? As the employment needs in the Atlanta community change and evolve over time, we will respond and adapt our programs and delivery of our services to meet that need. We will continually strive to help job seekers become job ready and attain employment that begins as or ultimately becomes ongoing, family sustaining employment.
Greater Atlanta Jewish Abilities Alliance In conversation with Annie Garrett, Jewish Abilities Alliance manager How does your organization help the community? JAA works to strengthen Jewish Atlanta organizations by equipping them to welcome, include, and support individuals with diverse abilities across their lifespan and in all aspects of Jewish life. We provide training, resources, and support to schools, camps, synagogues and other Jewish agencies. We offer close to 30 programs to help individuals and families transform lives. Career Services offers help for adults searching for new or better employment, and community employers to fill positions. How do you cater to the younger members of the community? JAA works closely with Jewish educational settings, including preschools, day schools and religious schools. We provide educator and student trainings, classroom observations and consultations, and funding for their inclusion initiatives and professional development. Where do you see your organization in 10 years? Over the course of 2020, JAA engaged in a deep exploration of inclusion in Jewish Atlanta in partnership with a consulting team from Matan. The results of this study will highlight our community’s inclusion strengths, opportunities for collaboration, and areas in need of deeper resources and support. This will shape how JAA supports and accelerates inclusion across Jewish Atlanta over the next 10 years, looking towards a community that includes individuals of all abilities in all aspects of Jewish life.
Alefbet Preschool at Congregation Beth Shalom In conversation with Risa Walter, director of early childhood education How long has your organization been in Atlanta? Congregation Beth Shalom saw the need 23 years ago for a quality, Jewish preschool in Dunwoody. With the help and support of parents and our community, Alefbet Preschool at Congregation Beth Shalom opened in 1998. How do you cater to the younger members of the community? We are a warm, inclusive Jewish preschool that emphasizes quality while preserving our small, heimish feel. We recognize that each child has their own unique personalities, their own strengths, interests and needs and we celebrate that. We build relationships with our children and our families; we are a kehillah and we understand that education is NOT ONLY about the child but also about the relationships between our families and our Jewish community. We meet the needs of young families in Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Norcross, Peachtree Corners, Alpharetta and more. We are babies
thru pre-Kindergarten and provide many scheduling options for parent’s needs. We are also open the whole year, with June and July becoming Camp Alefbet. How does your organization help the community? Alefbet Preschool’s mission is to provide meaningful Jewish early childhood education to our youngest friends and to their families. We understand that early childhood education is about the development of the whole child and about providing a safe, challenging, nurturing and caring space for our youngest children to learn, thrive and grow. Our pre-Kindergarten families also have access to the incredible ALEF Fund scholarship. Where do you see your organization in 10 years? The future of Alefbet Preschool at Congregation Beth Shalom is so bright. We look to the future eager to continue to instill a love of Jewish values and traditions, connect with young families and provide an early childhood education that puts our children’s and our parents’ needs first.
ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES MARCH 31, 2021 | 67
COMMUNITY Purim Off Ponce Holds 'Rocky Horror' Drive-In By Nathan Posner As cars piled into Ahavath Achim Synagogue’s parking lot for this year’s Purim Off Ponce celebration, it was clear the event was far different than before. SOJOURN, which serves the LGBTQ+ community in Atlanta and the South, has been hosting the event since 2007, and it has become an annual tradition. In the past, hundreds gathered in a ballroom adorned in spectacular costumes and drinking late into the night. Instead of a ballroom this year, guests parked for a drive-in experience of the 1975 cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.” The event was also open to those under 21 for the first time, with SOJOURN presenting its main award to a group of “20 under 21.” A Havdalah service also was held for the first time. As cars entered the parking lot, volunteers handed out boxes filled with a variety of goodies themed for the night, particularly for the Rocky Horror performance following the awards presentation. With stages set up throughout the lot for Rocky Horror performances, people were able to
Photo by Nathan Posner //
Rabbi Joshua Lesser recites a blessing during the Purim Off Ponce celebration.
watch the program and listen to it using their radios. And for those who couldn’t attend, the event was livestreamed. Rebecca Stapel-Wax, SOJOURN’s executive director, explained the planning process behind this year’s event. Last year the celebration occurred just before COVID-19 shut down the world, and it was important for it to be in person again this year, she said. “Purim Off Ponce is not a virtual event. The essential piece to it is making
connections, although events, Purim Off Ponce we will be physically provided an opportudistant.” While Purim nity for the community Off Ponce is certainly a to gather safely, he said. celebration and party“You can just sense the like event, it also holds electricity of people a special place in the who haven’t been able hearts of many comto see each other.” munity members. Aliza For example, hunAbusch-Magder, one of dreds of cars honked the honorees who atinto the night in suptended virtually, said port of both the honorthe event made her feel ees, and of the "Rocky “warm.” She added, “It Horror" performance. feels like there is a safe Following the A costumed Rebecca Stapel-Wax space for queer youth in awards, performers begins the awards presentation. Atlanta.” stepped onto their Stapel-Wax reinown stages as viewers forced the importance of the event. “We watched from their cars, armed with waknow that being together is critical in or- ter guns, a glove, and other Rocky Horrorder to uplift people’s spirits, to show that related items. For some, it was more than we are willing to go the length to support just a fun show. our community, and that we have to have Ethan Asher, a young activist with the fun in order to be productive and healthy.” Future Coalition among those honored, Rabbi Joshua Lesser, founder of SO- said he enjoyed the novel experience. “It JOURN, said that “While there are a lot of was my first time seeing 'Rocky Horror,' changes that have needed to be made, and and one of the other honorees said earlier this is a completely different format, I think it is like you are finally being indoctrinated
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it speaks to the resiliency and creativity of SOJOURN and our Jewish community.” While the event began with a Havdalah service, the main focus was on the Michael Jay Kinsler Rainmaker Award, this year presented to a number of young folks, from activists to writers. It is the largest group of honorees in the event’s history, Stapel-Wax said. Lesser said, “Just being able to see each other in person is really awesome, and I think being able to honor so many of our youth makes it really special.” Although COVID-19 prevented Atlanta Pride and many other LGBTQ+ community
into the gay community, in a way.” For those like Asher who viewed the film for the first time, Stapel-Wax said in advance of the event she was “thrilled there are so many 'Rocky Horror' virgins that are coming, and so many Purim Off Ponce virgins that are coming. “We will be celebrating Havdalah for the first time, and there are many folks who have not participated in Havdalah service.” As a testament to the success of the drive-in format, Stapel-Wax told the AJT, “It speaks volumes that we want to do this again.” ì
Need at Women’s Shelter Spiked With COVID By Jan Jaben-Eilon There is no vaccine against domestic abuse. Likewise, being Jewish doesn’t immunize someone against domestic violence. And in the past pandemic year, domestic abuse – mostly of women – has jumped more than 40 percent, according to Anna Blau, executive director of International Women’s House Inc., a DeKalb County-based shelter for abused families. “Nothing I’ve experienced during my tenure has prepared me for the 42 percent increase in domestic violence crisis calls – as well as 4,130 calls to our 24-hour hotline – since March 1, 2020,” said Blau, who has led the International Women’s House for 24 years. Statewide, Gov. Brian Kemp has reported a 92 percent increase in domestic abuse calls. The pandemic has exacerbated what is already a problematic issue in the country, Blau said. “People don’t become abusers overnight.” But the pandemic added stresses to everyone’s lives, particularly if jobs were lost, she said. “People were terrified of running out of toilet paper, meat, masks, gloves and milk, especially if there were a number of children in the house. Children need to feel safe and none of us felt safe.” On top of that, adults worked from home, children learned virtually. Victims of abuse felt they could not get away from their abusers, even to make calls to crisis hotlines. International Women’s House, a 21bed facility that serves women and children from all cultures, has 12 employees, five of whom are Jewish. “A majority of the staff are survivors of abuse,” including Blau herself. Four members of the staff, also including Blau, have been infected by the COVID-19 virus in the past year. Since Blau was persuaded to take the executive director position, the shelter has helped more than 100 Jewish victims of domestic violence. “Abuse cuts across all Jewish cultures,” she told the AJT. Fleeing an abuser, however, is more difficult in the Orthodox world, she acknowledged. “There’s an expression that you don’t speak [ill] outside the house. There’s an aversion to attracting attention in the culture. We are told, don’t say anything that will shed a bad light on the community. Silence is golden,” she explained. About two years ago, an Atlanta Orthodox woman fled her abusive hus-
band with sevI wasn’t stupid. The shelter had been closed at the eral children. I decided that time. Blau is proud of the fact that she “Her biggest I would be the has kept it open during the past year, defear was being smartest child spite major funding cuts at the county, shunned by the in the class, state and federal levels. Only one staff c o m m u n i t y. and I was,” she position was eliminated at the shelter. But she was said. In fact, she But Blau is struggling with a budget beaten regularwas the school’s shortfall of $24,000 which she needs to ly and sexually spelling cham- cover in the next six months. abused,” Blau pion when she Fundraising has been difficult dursaid of a forwas 12 years ing the pandemic. But a “well-known” mer resident. old. Jewish donor who wanted to remain Oftentimes, “I thought anonymous provided an emergency there’s also ecoI was retiring grant. Mostly the shelter has received nomic abuse when I left the “small grants here and there,” she said. if the women Jewish VocaBlau received the Eagle Award in are financially tional Service. 2010 from the Georgia Criminal Justice dependent on I didn’t want Coordinating Council, the highest state their husbands. to be an execu- award given for service to victims. She Since Anna Blau became executive director, the This resident tive director hopes the shelter can hold a fundraiser International Women’s House has helped more was allowed to anymore, but by the end of the year. Because, as she than 100 Jewish victims of domestic abuse. go to the grothey [the shel- notes, domestic abuse will outlive the cery store, but ter] begged me pandemic. ì she had to bring her receipts to show to come in for an interview and I didn’t her husband. One time she bought her- turn the job offer down. Working with For further information about the Inself stockings, which upset her husband. abused women touched me. I thought it ternational Women’s House, call 770-413“It can be any little thing” that sets off would be for three months, but then it 5557 or visit https://internationalwomenthe abuser. kept getting extended.” shouse.org. Blau’s shelter, which has assisted more than 12,000 victims in the past couple of decades, tries to be culturally sensitive to its residents. In the case of the Orthodox woman, a refrigerator and separate dishes were provided in her room. “We buy hallal meat for Muslims. One woman recently requested a prayer rug. We try to accommodate everyone,” Blau added. She noted that currently residents are from Nigeria, Egypt, Mexico, India and Iran. “Any given year, we have women from as many as 45 different countries,” she said. The staff speaks 11 languages, including Hebrew. Prior to joining the International Women’s House, Blau served as executive director of Jewish Vocational Service for 21 years, where she started its homeless program. During her time there, she placed more than 10,000 Jews in jobs, many of them refugees from Russia. Blau, who moved to Atlanta when she was 13 years old in the early 1960s, was once a refugee herself. The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Blau was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany. “I grew up feeling different,” she recalled. Benefiting the PAL Program of Jewish Family & Career Services “We see kids who come here who don’t speak English. I remember going to school when I was 5 years old and I didn’t know English. They called me ‘stuCreate your team, join a team, or pid.’ I didn’t know the word. I looked it donate today at Havinawalk.org up in the German dictionary, and I knew
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Blue Ridge Synagogue Gets Its Own Torah By Jan Jaben-Eilon Drive about 90 miles north of Atlanta towards the Georgia-Tennessee-North Carolina borders. There you’ll find more than 100,000 acres of Chattahoochee National Forest, hiking trails, trout streams and the city of Blue Ridge, last year ranked best Southern mountain town by Southern Living Magazine. Surprisingly, you’ll also find a synagogue. About 15 years ago, several Jews living in the region stretching across the GA-515 corridor discovered there were other Jews. Alan Schulman and his wife retired to Blue Ridge about six years ago, although they have had a second home there for 17 years. “Like every Jewish person here, we knew we were the only Jewish person here,” he said, laughing. One day he was checking on some property he owned in Ellijay. “There was a hobby farm there and I pulled in. A guy came out and within 30 seconds, asked me if I was Jewish,” Schulman said. Before long, a group started meeting once a month for “lunch and learns” led by a Chabad rabbi from Atlanta. They started holding high holiday services about six years ago.
Left, New Torah of the Jewish Congregation of Blue Ridge. Above, Bernie Wolfson of Congregation Beth Sholom in Gulfport, Fla., hands over Torah to Howard Winkler of Jewish Congregation of Blue Ridge.
As Schulman tells it, a group were celebrating Purim in someone’s house when they realized they had all the necessary elements of a congregation. Marty Pomeranz, who had led high holiday services, was religious, and was willing to continue to do so, but unwilling to do anything administrative. “One person said they could be the
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secretary, and another said they’d be the treasurer,” Schulman recalled. Soon they established the Jewish Congregation of Blue Ridge, holding their first service in January 2017. Today, 50 people contribute to support the synagogue, which meets in the Faith Presbyterian Church. And now, with the help of a Florida synagogue that closed its doors, the Jewish Congregation of Blue Ridge has a Torah. Synagogue board secretary Howard Winkler recalls a Rosh Hashanah sermon in 2019 during which Pomeranz raised the subject of the congregation having its own Torah. JCBR had been borrowing a Torah from Temple Kol Emeth in Marietta. Having its own Torah “seemed like an insurmountable challenge,” Winkler said. In conversations with the Institute of Southern Jewish Life about JCBR donating some siddurim it no longer needed, “it occurred to me that maybe they knew of a Torah.” Winkler, who lives part-time in Kennesaw and part-time in Mineral Bluff outside of Blue Ridge, was put in touch with Bernie Wolfson of Congregation Beth Sholom in Gulfport, Fla., near Clearwater. The independent Conservative congregation that started about 70 years ago closed its doors a few months ago and had four Torah scrolls for which it sought new homes. “I first contacted him in mid-October,” Winkler said of his four-month-long conversation with Wolfson. “He vetted me and our sustainability as a congregation. He wanted to make sure Beth Sholom was sending its child to a good home. His last call to me, saying we would get the Torah, occurred during a JCBR board meeting. Alan and I drove down to Gulfport to pick up the Torah.” Now the Torah, which is apparently of European origin written in the early 20th century, is being examined by Rabbi Ariel
Asa in Atlanta. “There’s no doubt it’s kosher and the required repairs are minor,” Winkler said. JCBR expects to start using the Torah after Passover. Like most congregations, JCBR has been holding virtual services during the pandemic. Recently retired Rabbi Steven Lebow of Temple Kol Emeth, as well as lay leaders from TKE, occasionally came to Blue Ridge to lead services. But services are not the only focus of the congregation. According to Schulman, the congregation is active and “well known” in the community. He said there are “two groups of people we live with: retirees from Atlanta and Florida who are educated and being around Jews isn’t unusual, and the locals, most of whom have never seen a Jew. I haven’t seen anti-Semitism as much as I’ve seen ignorance,” Schulman said. “The inequality between the retired folks and the locals is dramatic. The percentage of kids getting supplemental food is high, so we volunteer at the [Blue Ridge] food pantry. We want to be known as people who contribute.” Schulman added that the congregation continues to “find” Jews in the area. In addition to Blue Ridge, congregants come from Ellijay, Jasper, Blairsville, Young Harris and Hiawassee. “We have been collecting people,” said Schulman. “They come out of the woodwork.” This Rosh Hashanah, there will be one more Jewish person participating in the services at Jewish Congregation of Blue Ridge. Wolfson, of Congregation Beth Sholom, plans to attend the services, to hear the reading of his late congregation’s Torah. “I didn’t even wait for an invitation,” he said. “I’m going to that synagogue and see my Torah!” ì
Coming to America By Allen Lipis
1920, which soon became Romania. He vowed, “If anything ever happens, I am coming back to the United States.” As a safety measure, Jacob hid $2,000 in the bottom of his shoe with a cobbler’s help. Jacob then obtained a single passport for his entire family. In late 1920, as the U.S. was about to restrict the quota of Romanians allowed into the U.S., the American ambassador contacted Jacob and told him, “You’ve got to make up your mind: You either have to go to America now, or you will have to stay in Europe.” Frida didn’t want to leave her mother and the rest of her fam-
On March 7, 100 family members across the U.S. and Europe joined a Zoom meeting to celebrate the arrival of grandparents, great-grandparents and great, great-grandparents at Ellis Island exactly 100 years earlier. It took well over a year to organize the gathering, and in two hours every person in attendance spoke about their family and themselves, some meeting for the first time. About a year ago, my cousin Ira Klein of Florida mentioned that we were approaching the 100th anniversary of the arrival of our grandparents Jacob and Frida Klein to the U.S. as Romanian immigrants on March 7, 1921. Before the coronavirus struck, we contemplated meeting at Ellis Island, but the pandemic forced us to pivot to a Zoom event, which allowed for easy attendance. When I asked Ira the value of such a celebration, he The children of Jacob and Frida Klein and their spouses in the 1950s. My father is wearing a white kippah with my mother to his right. said, “We have always been instilled with a high sense of family. Some of our ily. Ultimately, she agreed. best memories were family-related getWhen the Kleins left Borgo, they only togethers. I want to see the family contin- brought what they could carry. Based on ue to have that feeling. We all appreciate their passport, they left Borgo in Decemthat the lives we have today are owed to ber 1920 and traveled to Bucharest. After the courage of Jacob and Frida.” meeting with the American Joint DistriWe were able to piece together their bution Committee, they left Bucharest by story from interviews with Klein family train, passing through several countries. members about coming to America and At every border, Jacob bought off the travel documents translated from Hun- guards with American dollars. Finally, garian, Romanian, German and Yiddish. the family arrived in Antwerp, Belgium, The Klein family lived in Borgo and boarded the SS Niagara for the U.S. Prund, an area in Hungary near the borThere were about 400 passengers on der with Romania. The main town was the boat. It was wintertime, March, and Somogyvar (now Gherla). There were no very cold. Many became seasick. The trip roads, although a few streets had gravel took 10 1/2 days. They arrived at Ellis Ison them. Jacob’s job was to take a team of land, N.Y., on March 7, 1921. horses to pick up pebbles and gravel from Jacob returned to Youngstown with lakesides four to five miles away to help his family since his job was available for pave the roads. him. However, to avoid working on SatWhen World War I broke out, Hun- urday, he began selling produce from a gary began drafting men. Jacob was horse-drawn wagon, then from a truck, about 25 years old. To avoid the draft, he and later opened a fruit store in Queens left behind his family in 1915 and came to when the family moved to New York. the U.S. Some of his sons worked in the business Once in America, Jacob knew a few with him. people in Youngstown, Ohio, and found Frida learned English by helping a job at a steel mill, Youngstown Sheet her children with their homework. Jacob & Tube. After five years, with $12,000 in spoke six languages dealing with his cuscash, Jacob came back to Borgo in early tomers. Some of the children, including
Left, My grandparents Jacob and Frida Klein in the 1930s. Top, My grandparents on their 50th wedding anniversary in 1956.
my mother, never finished high school. Some entered college, but none finished because they had to work during the Great Depression to support the family. As I listened to my family on our recent Zoom call, I realized my Bubbe and Zeyda now have grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great, greatgrandchildren. Members of the family include medical professionals, lawyers, accountants, financial analysts, teachers, executives, entrepreneurs, and college
students. Professionally, the extended family had become a success story. I asked my cousin Ira after the Zoom celebration about the reunion. “I loved the experience. Being as spread out as we are today, it was awesome to hear about the achievements of the family. I heard somewhere that we all die twice. Once when we expire, a second time when our name is said for the last time. I hope our grandparents and parents never die a second time.” ì
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SIMCHAS Mazel Tov
Rabbi Alexandria Shuval-Weiner For the past year, members of Temple Beth Tikvah gathered together – but physically apart – for Shabbat services, High Holy Day worship and workshops, and affinity group programs. On March 6, the Roswell synagogue celebrated a virtual congregational simcha to celebrate the “bat mitzvah” anniversary of the ordination of Rabbi Alexandria Shuval-Weiner. More than 100 participants joined from their computer screens to honor the rabbi and her accomplishments at the synagogue and A compilation of photos from the “bat mitzvah” celebration. in the Atlanta Jewish community. With musical and spoken tributes from those whose lives have intersected with Shuval-Weiner’s, the program offered insights into her career path, from her early days as a Jewish educator to her decision to become a rabbi. The synagogue also opened the online program to the Jewish community and included participants from throughout Atlanta and beyond. Shuval-Weiner also was touted as the first female rabbi to be installed as president of the Atlanta Rabbinical Association.
Chava (Eve) Natanya Limor Chava (Eve) Natanya Limor of Dunwoody became a bat mitzvah March 13 at Temple Beth Tikvah in Roswell. Chava is the daughter of Judy and Josef Limor and the granddaughter of Carol and Steve Cohn of Ooltewah, Tenn., and Susan Limor of Nashville, Tenn. She is the sister of Jordan and Abigail Limor. Chava is a seventh grader at The GLOBE Academy. Her mitzvah project was collecting winter coats and jackets for students of the Camp Jenny community.
Engagement Announcement Nissani-Gomez
Isabelle Shavit and Simon Nissani announce the engagement of their youngest daughter Stephanie Nissani to Brian Gomez, the son of Wendi and Bruce Gomez of Memphis, Tenn. Stephanie returned to the U.S. from Israel to obtain her bachelor’s in journalism and pre-law from Georgia State University. Brian graduated from Oglethorpe University with a bachelor’s in business management. Stephanie is the executive assistant at the Atlanta Jewish Times, and Brian is the vice president of commercial development at The Management Group. Stephanie Nissani and Brian Gomez were engaged Feb. 14. The couple first met on JSwipe and went on their first date to King + Duke restaurant in Atlanta. Brian proposed to Stephanie on Valentine’s Day at Floataway Café in Morningside. Brian and Stephanie live in Morningside and are planning an October wedding. ì 72 | MARCH 31, 2021 ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES
I Bet You Didn’t Know …
Atlanta is chock full of interesting movers and shakers, some bent on creativity, empire building, activism, or just plain having fun and living the good life. Lean in to hear some of the off-the-cuff remarks about what makes Doug Hertz tick. A native Atlantan, Hertz attended Westminster Schools and Tulane University earning a bachelor of arts and a master of business administration. He now serves as chairman and CEO of United Distributors, Inc. He began his professional career with KPMG and in 1977 joined United Distributors, a multi-generational family business touted as the largest wholesale alcoholic beverage distributor in Georgia and Alabama. He sits on the boards of Atlantic Capital Bank, Camp Twin Lakes, Georgia Power, Georgia Ports Authority, Holly Lane Foundation and The Marcus Foundation. He also is a past chairman of the board at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Research Alliance, The Temple, Tulane University and The Woodruff Arts Center. The Atlanta Business Chronicle included Hertz as one of Atlanta’s 100 most influential individuals. Last year, Hertz won the Four Pillar Award from the Council for Quality Growth. He was inducted into the Junior Achievement Atlanta Business Hall of Fame. Georgia Trend Magazine named him the state’s most respected business leader in 2018. In addition, he is a limited partner in the Atlanta Falcons and chaired Atlanta’s successful bid for the 2019 Super Bowl. The Hertzes have five “perfect” grandchildren: Zachary, Jill, Noah, Eloise and Jennings. Find out the favorite libation of the “lord of liquor” and how he spent a most treacherous New Year’s Eve 50 feet up.
Jaffe: Best advice your father gave you? Hertz: Surround yourself with trustworthy people who are smarter than you.
Jaffe: My most exotic vacay was ... Hertz: On safari watching cheetahs devour prey high up in tree branches.
Jaffe: If they made a movie of my life, I would choose to play the lead ... Hertz: Tom Hanks, but I don’t look like him. My wife would say Tony Danza.
Jaffe: If I had one more talent, it would be …
Hertz: Playing the saxophone, going back to my affinity for New Orleans culture.
Jaffe: Most unusual job?
Hertz: Taking inventory 50 feet up on New Year’s Eve in Baton Rouge on the top of a CITGO tank.
Jaffe: What’s your guilty pleasure?
Hertz: Blueberry muffins from the Long Cove Club in Hilton Head. They are so huge that I start by splitting, then succumb to the second half.
Jaffe: My favorite cocktail?
Hertz: A Woodford Reserve Manhattan is my “go to.” The sweetness of bourbon combines with orange peel and cherries.
Jaffe: I’m reading?
Hertz: “The Fish That Ate the Whale: The Life and Times of America’s Banana King” by Rich Cohen. Sam Zemurray lived one of the greatest untold American stories.
Jaffe: My kids say I …
Hertz: Have high expectations that they will always do the right thing. ì Reported by Marcia Caller Jaffe ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES JULY 12, ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES MARCH 31, 2019 2021 || 73 73
NEW MOON MEDITATIONS Freedom in Nisan Rosh Chodesh Nisan began on the eve of March 13. This month is the first of months and hosts Passover, the Festival of Freedom, which is always Dr. Terry Segal celebrated on New Moon Meditations the 15th day of Nisan. This year it falls on March 27 at sundown. Nisan honors the first flowers that appear in spring and we perform the mitzvah of blessing the flowering trees when we first see them. Passover, the spring festival, occurs on the night of the full moon after the Northern vernal equinox. According to NASA, this Full Moon, called the Worm Moon, will be at its fullest at 2:48 p.m. ET on March 28. It’s named so because earthworms begin to resurface at this time of year. Having collectively come through a very tough year of challenges and loss, it’s uplifting to witness signs of spring manifest
in blooming flowers and birdsong. Nisan’s themes include slavery versus freedom, new growth and beginnings, and sanctifying the New Moon. Speaking of freedom, why is this Nisan different from all other Nisans? Well, for me, I’ve been watching TV, something I never do. The synchronicity in this is that I’ve been watching a series called “The Lost Kitchen” on the Magnolia Network (created by Chip and Joanna Gaines) on Discovery Plus. It’s about a woman named Erin French, who grew up in the small Maine town of Freedom. She worked hard to leave her city, only to return home to open an exclusive dining destination, which has become its jewel. Pre-COVID, “The Lost Kitchen” was open from May to October. French, the owner and chef, cooked a set dinner with a prix fixe, multi-course menu, for 40 to 50 people, four nights a week, and edited the menu each day to keep up with the freshest seasonal changes and supply. The only way to make a reservation is to send a post card. The waiting list can span a few years. Its almost all-female staff is made up of local women who have limited professional
culinary experience, but what they possess is a passionate heart and fierce work ethic. Several of them are also farmers, providing the fresh meats, eggs, vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers served in the restaurant. French clinks her wine glass at each meal experience and offers a toast to the diners. Beyond the food, which is exquisitely prepared, is the love infused into each aspect of the dining experience. She raises her glass and offers a welcome to Freedom where, beyond the delectable food, is the lasting experience of how it makes the diners feel. The show highlights the readjustments that had to be made in order for the restaurant to survive COVID. Even though French is not Jewish herself, my Jewish soul is deeply touched by her indomitable spirit, creativity, the care that goes into feeding the stranger, and standing as an example of what’s possible when divine sparks are fanned in the human heart. I’ve watched this series again, inspired, marveling at G-d’s bounty, the power of nature during all of its seasons, and the beauty inherent in following a dream. The zodiac sign of Nisan is Aries. Those
born under this sign can be spontaneous, courageous and energetic or impatient, headstrong and impulsive. Hey is the Hebrew letter. We can use it as an out breath at the end of an accomplishment. It was the sound that Hashem made to speak the world into being. Mars is the red, or warring, planet that rules at this time each year when from the New Moon to the Full Moon on Passover, our wars and conflicts are determined for the coming year. Watch for what’s raging this month. The tribe is Judah, which means “to give thanks.” Speech is the sense. On Passover, we fulfill the mitzvah of telling the story of our people through reading the haggadah, which means “telling.” We can speak words of gratitude. The controlling limb is the right foot. This is the one on the gas pedal. How fast or slow do you need to go? Meditation Focus: Close your eyes and, like Erin French, enjoy the freedom to dream big. What are you inspired to blossom? ì
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Keeping Jewish Atlanta Connected
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Jewish time: imPAct of Politics And coVid-19 on us All
ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES MARCH 31, 2021 | 75
What is a Perfect Day?
From a perfect cup of coffee to escaping the everyday stress of our busy city, four Atlantans dream about a perfect day. By Chana Shapiro
Diane Braun Retired Greenfield Hebrew Academy Media Specialist My perfect day begins with freshly brewed coffee. I drink it black at the perfect temperature and in one of my favorite cups. Sometimes it’s the cup given to me by one of my closest friends, with a saying on it: “Don’t mess with me!” I smile, remembering all of the mornings we drank our coffee together. Depending on how I’m feeling, I might consider stepping on the bathroom scale. I try not to do it that often, and if I’m not happy with the number, I vow to remember to weigh myself before I’ve had my morning coffee (as though that will make much of a difference.) Recently, I read that two things make your day better: don’t watch the news and stay off the bathroom scale. Back to my cup of coffee, which I have rewarmed, making me think of my crazy, wonderful friends, which translates to “I am lucky. I have everything.” If my day continues to be a perfect one, I realize that I can change my plans if I want, and I don’t have to be happy all the time, as in “Put on a happy face.” Showing my emotions is healthy and authentic. Being authentic is better than being perfect, and the only thing that needs to be perfect is my coffee! And my perfect day ends with coffee Haagen Dazs ice cream for dessert. Another “perfect day” thought: I re-
Diane Braun: The essential component of a perfect day is a perfect cup of morning coffee.
Have something to celebrate? Share your simchas with the
Births, B’nai Mitzvah, Engagements, Weddings, Anniversaries, Special Birthdays and more ... Share your news with the community with free AJT simcha announcements. Send info to firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com.. 76 | MARCH 31, 2021 ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES
cently read on Facebook: “In my dream world, books are free and reading makes you thin!”
connected and engaged with the Jewish community offer even greater rewards. Every day is a good day.
Dave Savage Artist/Ceremonialist I wake up in a friend’s babbling brookside cabin in North Georgia with my wife and visiting daughter, son-inlaw and grandson. Waffles, fruit compote and whipped cream are on the menu. After breakfast is playtime with my 2-year-old grandson. After play, I go for a walk, David Reznick: Spending time with grandchildren and where I meet a vatelling them stories ensures a wonderful day. riety of people to share some of my good ideas and well-intentioned advice: David Reznick It’s great to feel appreciated. Kosher Supervisor for Major CertifyBack at the cabin for lunch, my soning Agencies in-law is grilling the trout he caught in A perfect day? I’ll settle for a good the brook. After lunch I go for a canoe day. Perfection is above my pay grade. ride with my wife on the nearby lake. My idea of a wonderful day is spending time with my Atlanta grandchildren and telling them a story for the 15th time (and my grandchildren still enjoy hearing it!) and having the opportunity to bless them. I bless the children and their parents before Shabbos; then I go home to enjoy the peace and beauty of Shabbos in my community. Engaging in my professional endeavors provides a measure of personal satisfaction. But, for me, inDave Savage: A canoe ride, a nap and great volvement in scholarfood are components of a perfect day. ly pursuits and being
Then, I return for a nap on the porch, with a soft breeze. For dinner, dear friends come to take us to a local BBQ shack. It’s my birthday, after all! Later, I lead my mezuzah installation ceremony at our friends’ new cabin. Then it’s time to eat my cherry a la mode birthday pie, share fond memories, and read a book to my grandson. I’m sleepy. It’s time for bed and cuddling under the comforter with my wife. Good night on a perfect day.
Evi Reznick: A neighborhood where all the street names come from the “Song of Songs” is perfection.
Evi Reznick Retired Librarian, Multi-media Storyteller My idea of a perfect day is being back in Modi’in, Israel, sitting outside in my tropical garden, watching my grandchildren, who are sitting at the picnic table, eating GranE’s soup. I’m holding my newest granddaughter, who was born last Mother’s Day, and I’ll finally get to give her a hug and a kiss. While the kids are eating, I get to read them a story and enjoy the brilliant sunshine. I’ll get no phone calls from the IRS or Georgia Power telling me they will disconnect my power in 30 minutes; or that it’s time to renew my auto service contract. There will be no inquiries from somebody wanting to buy my Atlanta house, or from the police, the army, the sheriff collecting funds. I won’t be sitting in traffic. I’ll just be feeling the joy of living in my homeland in a neighborhood where all the street names come from the “Song of Songs” (Shir HaShirim). Hopefully, my husband and I will travel soon and experience the perfection of coming home to Israel. ì
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ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES MARCH 31, 2021 | 77
OY VEY! HAVE I GOT A PROBLEM... Dear Rachel, se questions to you with advice, I am posing the ing giv th wi d goo are Since you able to guide me. for the hope that you will be something that worked rible acne and you found ter m fro ht ed ug fer bro suf you nd t If a frie will be sad tha t even mention it as he no or him tell you uld you, wo rible skin condition? is up the subject of his ter t canned pumpkin that eone I know realized tha Som s? los t ties igh per we pro out ab What suppressant. And the her!) is also an appetite I, too. already cooked (and kos d for my husband and wo et. I tried it and it rke ern int the ding on ad ed an firm beg were con daily diet. We incorporating it into our ply sim it by s ply nd sim pou w 10 ho t We los sounds, that’s urt. And as simple as it yog d t an jec ps sub sou , s fee thi id cof it to our ped off ! Do I avo sed, and the weight slip rea dec the ites up pet ng ap bri our to d, worke don’t even know how or tell them about it? I with my obese friends t can subject. eet and loving way tha that can be said in a sw rds wo e som t ul. ges tef sug gra Can you them? I will be so and will not embarrass convey this information Signed, A Concerned Friend Dear Concerned Friend, Your love and compassion for your friends come through with every word of your sensitive letter. The best-case scenario would be if your friends read this column and learn about the magic properties you discovered in pumpkin. You will succeed in accomplishing your goal and will then be spared from having to bring up the uncomfortable topic! Wouldn’t it be nice if problems could be solved so easily! In the event that your friends miss reading about this breakthrough information, or for those friends suffering from terrible acne who could benefit from the product you used that you did not wish to disclose in a public forum, how can you proceed to advise them without hurting their feelings? I think it depends on your relationship with these friends. Typically, when you’re very close with someone, you can discuss personal topics, and s\he will know that your concern and advice stem from a place of love and a true desire to assist. Are you intimately connected with any of these people, or are they part of your outer circle? If you are very close with them, I feel that an honest, direct and caring approach will be appreciated. “Debbie,” you can say, “I was wondering if I can share something with you.” Assuming Debbie agrees, take a deep breath, and proceed. “I care so much about you, and you’re so beautiful – inside and out. Would you mind if I share some information that really helped me? I used to suffer from terrible acne, and it was a very difficult experience for me! After a lot of trial and error and umpteen doctor visits, I finally found a product that really worked…” The same type of conversation can take place with your obese friends. “You are so special to me, and I think the world of you. I recently discovered a product that really helped on my weight-loss journey, and I was wondering if you want to hear about it…” If you are not best buddies with these people, can you ask their close family member or friend to be your anonymous messengers? Our rabbis wisely say, “Words that leave from the heart will enter the heart.” When a mature, regulated person senses your caring and love, the individual will usually be receptive to your message. Wishing you much success in trying to help your friends tap into a healthier lifestyle, Rachel Atlanta Jewish Times Advice Column Got a problem? Email Rachel, a certified life coach, at oyvey@atljewishtimes. com describing your problem in 250 words or less. We want to hear from you and get helpful suggestions for your situation at the same time! 78 | MARCH 31, 2021 ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES
Why Is This Day Different? Bill Gates is recruiting for a chairman for his company and 5,000 candidates are assembled in a large room. One of the candidates is Maurice Cohen, a little Parisian Jewish Tunisian. Gates thanks all the candidates for coming and asks that all those who do not know JAVA program language should leave. Two thousand people leave, and Maurice says to himself, “I do not know this language but what have I got to lose if I stay?” Gates says all those who have never had experience of team management of more than 100 people should leave. Two thousand people leave. Maurice says to himself, “I have never managed anybody but myself but what have I got to lose if I stay?” The same pattern continues with those who do not have a postgraduate degree in business and management studies followed by those who don’t speak Serbo-Croatian. Maurice says to himself, “I don’t speak Serbo-Croatian but what have I got to lose if I stay?” He finds himself alone with only one other candidate. Gates joins them and says, “Apparently you are the only two candidates who speak Serbo-Croatian, so I’d now like to hear you have a conversation in that language.” Calmly Maurice turns to the other candidate and says: “Ma nishtana halaila hazeh mikol halelot.” The other candidate answers: “Shebechol halelot anu ochlin chametz umatza.” Source: Chabad Naples Jewish Community Center.
YIDDISH WORD OF THE MONTH Matzah-Pizza n. A subgroup of demigoys who are half-Jewish and half-Italian. Leah Cristaldi says oy vey when she’s upset. A classic matzah-pizza. Matzah-pizza was coined in Massapequa, Long Island, where the phrase sounds like their city. It brings a smile to blended kids bearing names such as Rocco Finestein and Adina Bonavitacola. Modified from “Schmegoogle: Yiddish Words for Modern Times.”
By: Yoni Glatt, firstname.lastname@example.org Difficulty Level: Medium 1
21 24 28
1. Uber can give you one 5. Israeli 10. Israeli Abba 14. "Am ___ late?" 15. Beastly bunch 16. Part of Tevye's simile 17. Friend 18. Make like a Rabbi, often 19. "___ take a miracle!" 20. Part of the Seder for a rebel in the Torah? 23. “Moses” is a controversial one in Rome 24. Sat follower 25. Listing for 45-Down 28. Part of the Seder for a Mitch Albom title character? 32. State next to 33-Across 33. State whose first half is a superhero alter ego 34. Ocean predators 38. Women's rights advocate in the Torah 40. Sleep and airplane, for two 41. How to play it if you're nervous 42. LaBeouf of "The Peanut Butter Falcon" 44. Part of the Seder for Shammai's "sparring" partner? 50. Not fresh 51. Problem 52. Like some equations 55. Part of the Seder for
controversial Spinoza? 59. Casual shirts 61. Many melodic ancient Levites were part of one 62. Hodgepodge 63. New Israeli 64. Fund option 65. Loan out 66. What many do after having a big Friday night meal 67. Twisted-horn antelope 68. Sonic company
29. Holiday locale 30. Grandson of Chava 31. "King Kong" studio 34. Eight in Ecuador 35. Disturb 36. Ballpark offering adults enjoy on a hot summer day 37. Word with "rise" and "together" 39. "Take On Me" band 40. An Obama 43. Lacking social graces 45. LGA alternative 46. Fancy word for alluringly disreputable 47. Jewish common sense 48. Enlists 49. Actress Sobieski with a repetitive first name 53. Nailing a serve 54. "Mary Tyler Moore Show" spinoff 56. King Arthur of the court 57. Host Kotb 58. Ink 59. Little kid 60. One of the last Biblical Judges
1. Guitarist's lines 2. "Some Like ___" 3. Closing hour for many NYC bars (pre-COVID) 4. Fruit or vegetable, depending on whom you ask 5. "Ha!" 6. Many moons 7. Bnei follower 8. Info-gathering missions 9. Guru habitat 10. A Trump 11. Noodged 12. Letters you don't often see in emails, these days 13. Jets org. 21. Former baseball stars Schilling and Flood 22. Political Peron 26. It's often misread in emails 27. They might be patronized
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and will continue to do so. A variety of events focused around Passover, including a special seder as well as a map presentation, community festivity and a Jewish symphony are among the events.
ì More than 500 people toured a virtual Israel during jfest at Emory University. The festival allowed visitors to learn about Israel in an interactive environment while dining on pitas, falafel and hummus. The experiences ranged from a set up “shuk,” marketplace, to receiving hand massages using a lotion made from salts from the Dead Sea. In addition to the activities, visitors could write to their congressmen about issues in Israel, hear about Kabbalah, and buy local art.
ì Atlanta retailers are finding that promoting Pesach makes good business sense. Some area businesses, most owned by Jews and targeting a young market, are featuring Passover displays and selling specialty items. Sometimes these Passover displays are now overshadowing Easter and the Easter bunny.
25 Years Ago// March 29, 1996
Men’s Division Telethon being conducted from the Jewish Welfare Federation offices. More than 1,200 contributors to the annual campaign will be contacted on behalf of the 56 agencies who benefit from the local drive. A special effort will be made to reach a significant number of Atlantans, who have not been recent contributors to this lifesaving campaign. ì
15 Years Ago// March 31, 2006
50 Years Ago// April 2, 1971
ì Jewish rabbis in California are complaining after Gov. Ronald Reaì Sid Kirschner, a former Northside Hospital CEO, has taken the gan approved a push to eliminate all of the Jewish chaplains for the state’s Sid Kirschner volunteered as interim position of interim head of school for The Davis Academy. He had been 14 mental health facilities. The push, reportedly a money-saving measure, head of school for The Davis Academy. involved in the search for a new head of school, after the previous head of targets the state’s three Jewish chaplains while more than 30 Catholic and school was forced out, but was put in the position after the board realized it may take some time to find a more permanent replacement. Kirschner said he is committed Protestant chaplains remain. to staying at Davis as long as it takes to find a permanent head of school. ì A record number of campaign workers have volunteered to participate in the Annual ì This spring Atlanta Jews continue to celebrate Jerusalem 3000, the anniversary of King David designating the city as the Jewish capitol. Religious schools, day schools, synagogues, and Jewish organizations have commemorated the history event in Atlanta since September
ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES MARCH 31, 2021 | 79
OBITUARIES Victoria Beton Cadranel 94, Atlanta
Victoria Cadranel passed away March 6, 2021, in the loving care of her family and friends at the end of a beautiful life well lived. Victoria, Queen V or Vickie as many knew her, was born Oct. 10, 1926; she grew up in Montgomery, Ala., and moved to Atlanta when she married Nace, her loving husband for 44 years. Everywhere Vickie went she created deep and lasting friendships. Her generous, loving, feisty and effusive spirit touched everyone she met from Montgomery to Los Angeles to Atlanta, to her beloved Congregation Or VeShalom and the Anne Frank museum, where she dedicated so much time and energy, and finally to the staff and caregivers at The William Breman Jewish Home, where she was endeared to all. Vickie was very passionate about bringing her family together to enjoy her delicious Sephardic cooking, admired qualities and skills she handed down to her children and grandchildren. Whether it was a Friday Shabbat, a high holiday or Thanksgiving meal, her weekly card games with friends, or just a last-minute supper, Vickie loved playing hostess and entertaining all who graced her home. The world changes from year to year, our lives from day to day, but the love and memory of you shall never pass away. Victoria is survived by her children Kathie (Stevie) Alhadeff, Elaine (Steve) Katzman, and Steven (Janet) Cadranel; grandchildren Marlene (Jamie) Green, Lisa Duffey, Aaron (Julia Sisti) Katzman, Sarah Katzman, Michael Katzman (Deanna Paul), Lauren Cadranel, Heather Alhadeff (Miguel Christie), Naomi Alhadeff (Ryan Stutzman), and Noah (Batel) Alhadeff; 10 great-grandchildren and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and close friends. Victoria was preceded in death by her husband Nace Cadranel; parents Sam and Leah Beton; brothers Solomon and Morris Beton; sisters Katherine Beton and Belina Beton Hasson; and grandson Adam Cadranel. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to honor Vickie’s memory are encouraged to consider donations to Congregation Or VeShalom Sisterhood Fund http://bit.ly/VictoriaCadranelTributeOVS, or Jewish HomeLife, http://bit.ly/VictoriaCadranelTributeJHLS.
Adam Fain Goldsmith 52, Atlanta
Beloved and loyal husband, father, son, brother and friend, Adam Fain Goldsmith passed away peacefully in Atlanta at the age of 52. Adam was born on April 22, 1968, in Bronxville, N.Y., to Arthur and Sondra Goldsmith. He grew up in Savannah, Ga., a city where he found much beauty and friendship. He attended the Savannah Country Day School and later graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a bachelor of science degree. After moving to Atlanta, Adam’s entrepreneurial spirit empowered him to build and become president of his own international information technology consulting company, Fain Systems, Inc. Adam was a tech-savvy innovator and combined his creativity and expertise into a successful company that delivered cutting-edge networking solutions. His company was often sought out to work with well-known celebrities. Adam married Jackie, his longtime partner and soul mate, in May 2005 in Antigua, Guatemala. The couple welcomed two beautiful children Ellie and Alex, and Adam was a doting father who set about teaching them independence, resiliency and all that he valued and cherished. Adam enjoyed honing his exceptional talents in photography, gourmet cooking and baking. Adam had many interests and appreciated traveling the world, hiking, 80 | MARCH 31, 2021 ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES
gardening, art, music and astronomy. Adam and Jackie generously opened their beautiful home for many gatherings with family and friends. Adam was often compared to Martha Stewart. He was a generous, witty and dedicated individual who was a fierce lover of his family and very loyal to his abundance of friends. He was a dedicated member of The Temple and was of service to everyone he knew, volunteering to assist with any need, large or small, from a technical issue to remodeling a home. He was always there for others in times of need. Adam used his brilliant technical mind and attention to detail to research and battle cancer that extended his life by almost three years. The clinical trial that he found was a miracle drug that allowed him to live a full life during much of this time. The family would like to thank his incredible team of doctors and caregivers at MD Anderson, Piedmont Hospital and Emory University Hospital for their compassion and dedication to his treatment and care. Adam is survived by his wife Jacqueline Rosenthal; children Ellie and Alex; parents Arthur and Sondra Goldsmith; siblings Lance Goldsmith and Heather Margolis (Andrew) as well as many members of his extended family whom he adored. He is preceded in death by his grandparents Julius and Nettie Waldman, and Nathanial and Dorothy Goldsmith. A memorial, graveside service for immediate family was held March 16 in Atlanta with Rabbi Peter Berg of The Temple officiating the ceremony. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Atlanta Community Food Bank in East Point, www.acfb.org and Mayan Hands at www.mayanhands.org/pages/donate. Condolences and letters with your family memories of Adam can be sent to Goldsmith P.O. Box 8237, Atlanta, GA 30306. Arrangements by Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care, 770-451-4999.
Carolyn Eplan Goldsmith 96, Atlanta
Carolyn Eplan Goldsmith died peacefully on March 12, 2021, with a daughter by her bedside. Carolyn was a proud native Atlantan, born in this city on July 10, 1924, to Samuel and Bess Abelson Eplan. She graduated from Girls’ High, where she played a clarinet in the school band that played at the opening of “Gone With the Wind” at Loew’s Grand Theater in 1939, and in Piedmont Park when President Franklin Roosevelt visited Atlanta. She went on to attend Agnes Scott College, Louisiana State University and the University of Missouri, where she earned a degree in journalism. Following college, Carolyn worked as a buyer and bridal consultant at JP Allen until, in 1948, she wed Robert Henry Goldsmith. They were married until her beloved “Bobby,” as Carolyn called him, died in May 2011. From a young age, Carolyn worked to raise funds toward establishing the State of Israel. She was a life member of Hadassah and a past president of the Atlanta Hadassah chapter. She also served as city director of Young Judea and belonged to B’nai B’rith, for which she served as a youth group advisor. Carolyn traveled extensively as a fundraising speaker for Brandeis camps, Jewish Federation and Hadassah. As her children got older, Carolyn joined Bob in operating the Cricket Shops women’s clothing stores, where she also resumed her buying career. After selling the stores, Carolyn and Bob opened a showroom at the Atlanta Apparel Mart and became sales representatives for a number of “art clothing” manufacturers until their retirement. Carolyn was a woman of many self-taught talents: cabinet maker, antiques dealer, fabric and jewelry artist, interior decorator, building contractor, gourmet cook and mentor. She and Bob were active members of the Mount Paran Stock Club for more than a half century, and her backyard swimming pool was a happy gathering place for friends and family of all ages for many years. Carolyn is survived by four daughters Cory Begner (Alan) of Atlanta, Marta Goldsmith (Gary Rosenthal) of Washington, D.C., Kim Goldsmith (Dave Johnson) and Abby Goldsmith (Kevin Hendler), all of Atlanta; nine grandchildren Henry Begner (Rhianna Appel) of Asheville, N.C., Reuben Rosenthal (Anna Rieper) and Sophie Rosenthal of Washington, D.C., Noah Johnson of Washington, D.C., Roxy Johnson of Atlanta, Shira Sackett (Ezra) of Edison, N.J., Orli Hendler of Atlanta and Washington, D.C., Eli Hendler of Phoenix, Ariz.; and great-granddaughter Devorah Bina Sackett. She is also survived by her brother Leon Eplan of Atlanta as well as many nieces and nephews. The family would like to express their sincerest gratitude to Dr. Hyung Seok Oh, Heidi Roy, Patricia Comer and the entire staff at A.G. Rhodes Wesley Woods for their
OBITUARIES amazing compassionate care that carried Mom and all of us through her last few months. A private funeral was held March 15. Donations in Carolyn’s memory may be made to the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, https://www.thebreman.org/ Support/Tribute-Gifts/In-Memory or A.G. Rhodes, https://www.agrhodes.org/donate/ Arrangements by Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care, 770-451-4999.
Jonathan Marc Kreissman 52, New York
Jonathan M. Kreissman, 52, of New York, N.Y., transitioned from this world Feb. 18, 2021 after a valiant battle with COVID. Jonathan was born in Manhattan May 28, 1968. Jonathan attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, pursuing a career in theater and relocated to Los Angeles, Calif. In the late 1990s, Jonathan moved to New York City, pursuing a career in marketing, communications and consumer relations, employed by firms including Porter Novelli, Marina Maher, Bullfrog + Baum, Robin Leedy & Associates, and most recently in his role as senior vice president for Client Experience at Current Global. He is survived by his loving parents Marvin and Barbara (Schwartz) Kreissman of Dunwoody, Ga., and his brother Adam Kreissman of Birmingham, Ala., in addition to other extended family members. He is predeceased by his grandparents Abraham and Florence Schwartz, and Jules and Goldie Kreissman. In addition to his immediate family, Jonathan is survived by his loving boyfriend Sam Morrison, countless friends from across the U.S., and his inner circle aka “The Ptown Crew.” Jonathan’s heart and smile were truly bigger than life, his laugh was ever contagious, and he had endless love to share with all those he met. Jonathan loved theater, music (especially Lizzo), concerts, walks with friends in the city, amazing dinners, travels around the U.S. and the globe, Thanksgiving with his family, and dancing at home with Sam. Jonathan’s family and friends would like to express their sincere gratitude and thanks to his medical team at Mount Sinai West for their compassionate and loving care of Jonathan. A celebration of life will be planned soon in Provincetown, Mass., with lots of “appetizers for the table,” Tito’s and soda, bourbons, planter’s punches, and of course in pure JK form … dancing will absolutely be required. Baruch dayan emet, may his memory be forever a blessing.
ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES MARCH 31, 2021 | 81
Stanley Maier Srochi 94, Atlanta
Carolyn Costangy Wasser 87, Atlanta
Stanley Maier Srochi, businessman and philanthropist, passed away March 10, 2021.
Mr. Srochi was born in Atlanta on Feb. 11, 1926, the son of Abraham David and Sophie Hirsh Srochi. After graduation from Boys’ High School, he served in the United States Army with the 43rd Infantry Division before the start of World War II. He traveled to Japan in 1945 with the 103rd Infantry Regiment of the Maine Army National Guard. Upon his discharge from the service in 1946, he returned to Atlanta, where he studied law at Emory Law School. Following graduation from law school, in 1952 he went to work for the family business, the Atlanta Baking Company. When the family business was sold in the 1970s, he entered the real estate business. A longtime contributor to his community, Mr. Srochi established the Sophie Hirsh Srochi Discovery Center at the Marcus Jewish Community Center and Srochi Hall at The William Breman Jewish Home and has long maintained Srochi Auditorium at the Ahavath Achim Synagogue. Mr. Srochi and his wife Joan were honored for their philanthropy by the Atlanta Jewish Federation. On his 90th birthday, the Buckhead Coalition issued a proclamation honoring Mr. Srochi for his many years of philanthropic service and his work in the real estate field, declaring Feb. 11 Srochi Day in Buckhead. Mr. Srochi is preceded in death by his wife Joan Printz Perretz, whom he married in 1979. He is survived by three stepchildren Connie Dierks (Bill), Bruce Perretz (Mary) and Scott Perretz (Wendy); eight grandchildren Eric Dierks (Jillian), Karen Dierks, David Perretz (Caitlin), Alex Perretz (Cory), Margo Fary (Dave), Alissa Petrocelli (Chris), Jordan Perretz (Amanda) and Jake Perretz; and seven great-grandchildren Noa and Eli Dierks, Sawyer and Leo Perretz, Layla, and Joey Petrocelli and Happy Perretz. He also is survived by his nieces and nephews Darriel Gerson (Ronnie), Lenel Srochi-Meyerhoff (John), Lane Srochi, Marc Levin (Diana), Amy Weil (Craig) and Jonathan Levin (Marjorie). The family thanks Emily McKinley for her devotion and loving care of both Mr. and Mrs. Srochi. Funeral services will be private.
Carolyn Constangy Wasser died on March 15, 2021, at the age of 87. An Atlanta native, Carolyn met her husband Richard while she was a student at North Fulton High School. A lifelong learner, Carolyn resumed her education as an adult at Oglethorpe University, from which she graduated in 1979. She subsequently pursued a career in social work at The Link, Meals On Wheels and Visiting Nurse Association. In her spare time, Carolyn was a docent at The Temple and the High Museum of Art. Carolyn’s true calling, however, was as a grandmother. She delighted in Saturday mornings spent with her grandchildren and enthusiastically embraced their hobbies and academic interests. Granny, as she was lovingly called, was not above purchasing SparkNotes in order to keep up with her grandkids’ various high school classes. Carolyn was predeceased by her parents Frank and Eleanor Constangy; her husband Dick Wasser; and her granddaughter Alex Wasser. She is survived by her sons Neil Wasser (Valerie Habif) and Glenn Wasser (Joan); her grandchildren Frank (Hartley), Brent (Raleigh), Keith, Ellie Deedy (Chris) and Aaron; and great-grandchildren Eli Wasser and Juniper Wasser. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to The Temple or the Frank A. Constangy Scholarship Fund at the University of Georgia Law School, 120 Herty Drive, Athens, Ga. 30602. A private family graveside service will be held with Rabbi Peter Berg officiating. Arrangements by Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care, 770-451-4999. Sign online guest book at www.dresslerjewishfunerals.com.
Death Notice Norma Liebman Chase Cantor, 91, died at her home in Aventura, Fla., Feb. 8, 2021. Norma is survived by three children Susan Chase Wasserman (Earl) of Atlanta, Jonathan Chase of Aventura, Fla. and South Windsor, Conn., and Lawrence Chase of Tampa, Fla.; three grandchildren, all of Atlanta; and two cousins Sidney Becker of Hallandale Beach, Fla., and Karen Aspinwall of Palo Alto, Calif. She is buried at Knesset Israel Cemetery in Ellington, Conn. Funeral services were held privately.
Obituaries in the AJT are written and paid for by the families; contact Editor and Managing Publisher Kaylene Ladinsky at email@example.com or 404-883-2130, ext. 100, for details about submission, rates and payments. Death notices, which provide basic details, are free and run as space is available; send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
82 | MARCH 31, 2021 ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES
ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES MARCH 31, 2021 | 83
CLOSING THOUGHTS The Meaning of the Second Zoom Passover
84 | MARCH 31, 2021 ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES
Let’s face it, COVID has made us take a new hard look at Passover. In 2020, Passover was the moment when we collectively beRabbi Ruth gan to understand the full impact of the pandemic. As normal life imploded, our holiday norms did as well. The Jewish calendar conspires with the seasons so that our preparations for the holiday coincide with the first blooms of spring amplifying the hopeful nature of Passover. Like bears emerging from hibernation, we let go of winter and gather with family and friends in grand celebration. The rituals and liturgy of the holiday entreat us to remember that we ourselves were once slaves in Egypt and to revel in our liberation and promise of what is ahead. Last year, however, instead of feeling liberated, we felt trapped. Instead of feeling hopeful, we felt scared. We scrambled to modify recipes that normally feed a crowd. We worried about loved ones who were sick or stuck or newly out of work. Looking ahead, we were unsure and confused. As we grappled to master the novelty of a holiday by Zoom, we ended the seder with a twist on the traditional prayer “Next Year in Jerusalem,” with a prayer that in 2021 we would be together again. Now the daffodils once again dot the landscape, but we are not together. It has been a hard year. We are not as naive as we were then. I clearly remember thinking last year that given a lifetime of fabulous seders, I could do one that was highly unusual. Given all the energy I was putting into acquiring and cleaning all my groceries, worrying about loved ones and trying to make sense of the new abnormal, I did not have the enthusiasm I usually have for the rituals of the holiday. But when I sat down for seder, with a computer next to the seder plate and family members from around the country sharing from their virtual boxes, the rituals and story gave me comfort. Though the story did not resonate with the existential and practical angst I was feeling, the enduring
nature of these traditions were a reminder that we would survive. A year in, the “thrill”’ of Zoom has worn off and I am mourning the loss of a second Passover cycle without my octogenarian parents and other family members. But the story of the Exodus has become more personally powerful than ever before. After approximately 400 days of collective trauma, I am relating to the 400 years of Israelite bondage in a way I never, in my privileged life, have. As hard as it has been to stay inside, stay apart, mask up and be patient over the last year, how much harder it must have been for our ancestors. The return of warmer weather means I can once again gather with friends outside. With vaccines more readily available, my extended family is planning for a bat mitzvah in April and a wedding in the summer of 2022. This year the signs of spring are accompanied by the possibility of liberation in our own time. I have a small sense of relief our ancestors must have felt after they passed through the sea and were able to look back on the trauma that was behind them. And like our ancestors, I will sing with joy and hope this year at Passover. However, even as I embrace the holiday and its symbolic and real meaning for 2021, I am cautioned that the miracle of Passover was but a moment for our ancestors. For while they were liberated at the sea, it would take much journeying in the wilderness before they reached the promised land. It turns out that liberation is only one step in the process, one worthy of celebration but not complete in and of itself. We, too, will need to wait to reach the promised land, where we gather without masks with as many people as we like in whatever venue we like. The vaccines are working, but we will count many days before it is available to everyone who wants to take it worldwide. Nor is everyone on board with vaccination, a challenge that will need to be overcome if we hope to achieve herd immunity. So this Passover, I am hopeful once again but I am also realistic. As our tradition teaches us, celebrate the possibilities and prepare for the journey. ì
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