STYLE Magazine: Atlanta Jewish Times Present Fall 2021

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fall 2021

STYLE Jewish Atlanta’ Atlanta ’ s Stylish Simchas and Celebrations






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Editor’s Letter

Stay Super Fab-and-Flexible this Fall


t’s been a strange year, to say the least. The COVID-19 pandemic upended most of our plans and forced many of us to postpone the weddings, b’nai mitzvahs, and other simchas we had been looking forward to. Then again, postponement has brought a sense of perspective, as well. We’ve rediscovered how important our families are to us, and how much we miss out on when we can’t meet up in person to celebrate and sanctify the time we’ve been given with our loved ones. In this special Fall Simcha issue we bring you stories of celebration and perseverance — the events postponed, delayed, and finally consummated — like the fabulous wedding of Rachel Leighton and Craig Schackner, who had to postpone their ceremony at the Piedmont Driving Club for almost a year. Or the wedding of Howard Fagin and Sheila Fagin Danz, who found love later in life, and whose recent wedding brought much-needed joy during a difficult pandemic period. We also bring you stories of inspiring celebrations, like that of Emily Tavani’s “Emilywood”— themed bat mitzvah, which finally took place after being postponed for ten months. The key word this year has been flexibility, as party planners and caterers did their best to balance celebration and safety. We spoke to trusted caterers Annette Marcus and Erin Lis, who said that most members of the Atlanta Jewish community just want to return to some sense of normalcy. This year’s innovations have included COVID-sniffing dogs and rapid testing; others are inviting only vaccinated guests. Yet, despite the uncertainty, both said that the simcha business remains brisk: “We are definitely ten times busier than the same time last year,” Lis said. “The quantity of events is as big, but events are smaller. An event that would have been 300 is now 150, or one that would have been 150 is now about 75.” Several parties are hitting the fresh air like Denise and Frank Rindsberg, who celebrate their 50th anniversary with the family at a memorable mountaintop lodge. Frank proposed (again) to Denise — and she said yes! The Antopolsky family prefers a natural setting for their simchas, and the Roswell River Landing provided the outdoors background they were striving for. As we continue our journey through this fall season, this issue of STYLE Magazine will whet your celebration appetite with anniversaries, b’nai mitzvahs, and weddings, including two local bakers who sweeten our pages with cakes designed from the heart. Bon Appetit. Sincerely,

KayleneLadinsky Kaylene Ladinsky Editor & Managing Publisher



fall 2021



Jewish Atlanta’ Atlanta ’ s Stylish Simchas and Celebrations



Cover Photo: Rachel Leighton and Craig Schackner ran down the aisle at Piedmont Driving Club courtyard after being pronouced husband and wife.




EDITORIAL Associate Editor


STYLE Magazine

Jewish Atlanta’s Stylish Simchas and Celebrations




Senior Account Manager


STYLE Celebr ations a ’ s Stylish Simcha s and Jewish Atlant a’


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CREATIVE & MEDIA Creative Designer


Community Engagement & Online Coordinator




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8 Caterers Stay Flexible for Simcha Events 10 50th Mountaintop Wedding Anniversary Is a Family Affair

12 A Double Mitzvah 16 Baker Takes the Cake and Sweetens Up Simchas 18 Cakes Designed with Detail and Heart 20 Southern Charm for Rachel and Craig 24 Never Too Late for Love 28 Morgan and Jacob’s Wedding Blossoms from Family Roots

32 A Wedding of Shared Values 36 Holy Land Ceremony Unites Seventeen Indian Couples

40 Family Rolls Out Red Carpet for Emily’s Bat Mitzvah

44 Twins Light Up ‘Personality—Laden’ Venue 48 A Family-Made Bat Mitzvah 52 Advertisers Directory 54 Marketplace 7•STYLE MAGAZINE



Caterers Stay Flexible for Simcha Events


By Jan Jaben-Eilon

By necessity, in these days of COVID-19, flexibility is Annette Marcus’s middle name. The head of Annette Marcus Catering, who accommodates simcha events in synagogues and homes for Shabbat kidduATLANTA JEWISH TIMES


shes, b’nai mitzvot, baby namings, birthdays and weddings, said her business changes “week to week.” People make plans and then cancel. Or instead of nice buffets, she boxes up lunches. “I did a bar mitzvah in August,” Marcus recalled. “It had been canceled from March 2020, then August 2020 and finally had it a year later. People just need to be creative. They have to be flexible. I try to steer clients for the most vulnerable people. I want them to be aware.” She compares it to a gathering that might include one person who requires kosher food, so all the food is kosher. Erin P. Lis, vice president of sales and marketing for Added Touch Catering, told the AJT,

2 “The name of the game is plans keep changing as COVID keeps changing. The Delta variant has really thrown the vaccination thing.” Indeed, in late spring and early summer, after people started getting vaccinations, many relaxed, thinking that the country was going to beat the pandemic that launched waves of viral infections, hospitalizations and death across the U.S., starting in late February 2020. Then the more contagious Delta variant snuck its way into people’s lives, unleashing more infections, hospitalizations and deaths. In Georgia, as of Sept. 10, more than 20,000 people have died of COVID-19 and there have been 1.51 million total cas-

es confirmed, according to the Georgia Department of Public Health. And while three states in the Northeast have reported vaccination rates of around 70 percent, in Georgia, only 45 percent are fully vaccinated. Hospital intensive care units are filling up. U.S. President Joe Biden echoed many Americans’ frustration that more people haven’t been vaccinated, thus requiring those who have rolled up their sleeves to remain vigilant against spreading the latest variants of the virus. Caterers report that most members of the Atlanta Jewish community just want to return to some sense of normalcy. “People are tired of waiting on life. Weddings that were postponed

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3 from last year might have been safer last year,” said Lis. “People put on seatbelts but don’t stop driving.” The COVID equivalent to wearing seatbelts might be wearing masks and getting vaccinated. Certainly, catering servers are wearing masks, but hosts of simchas are experimenting with many tools to safeguard guests. “We are doing a big bar mitzvah in a backyard,” reports Lis. Rather than requiring rapid COVID tests for arriving guests, there will be COVID-sniffing dogs and a “holding area, so if someone is sniffed positive, they can do a rapid test or go home. It’s a safe zone for the party.” Others are inviting only vaccinated people. “Once people are drinking, the masks come off,” Lis said. “Once people are drinking, they forget about masks.” Both Lis and Marcus recommend that parties be held outside. With cooling temperatures, food can be set up outdoors as well. “I tell clients not to have their bars in their kitchens” where people would congregate, Marcus said. “But some people act like nothing is happening. They are ‘old school,’” she noted, referring to one older

couple who were celebrating the husband’s birthday. “Not everyone is concerned.” Lis agreed: “Many are just living their lives. The issue for bar and bat mitzvah-aged kids is that there are younger siblings who can’t get vaccinated.” Flexibility is required, Marcus underlines, because “every little event has some little twist or nuance to address.” Both caterers, however, say business is brisk. “We are definitely ten times busier than the same time last year,” said Lis. “The quantity of events is as big, but events are smaller. An event that would have been 300 is now 150, or one that would have been 150 is now about 75.” Larger community events continue to be held virtually, caterers report, although Lis said there’s one on the community calendar for November. “It might be the first large community gathering,” with “might” being the operative word. Marcus believes that, for the most part, the community needs “to stay where we are for the rest of the year.” That means more creativity, more flexibility and more uncertainty. In other words, the new normal. ì

1. Flexibility is Annette Marcus’s middle name when it comes to her catering business.

2. Added Touch Catering is approximately ten times busier than it was last year at this time, reports Vice President Erin Lis.

3. If a fully vaccinated person attends an event or large

gathering, the CDC said, he or she should follow prevention measures that reduce COVID-19 spread, such as wearing a mask, social distancing and frequent hand-washing.

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50th Mountaintop Wedding Anniversary Is a Family Affair

2 1

By Robyn Spizman Gerson

It was a very special occasion for retired business owners Denise and Frank Rindsberg — ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES


and this time, a simcha of their own. The Rindsbergs, formerly of Johannesburg, South Africa, emigrated in 1983, starting again from scratch and are now retired from their companies, Let’s Celebrate and Rindsberg Electric. The Rindsbergs are not a couple to miss an occasion, so when it was time for their 50th anniversary, they chose the Smoky Mountain Villas in Tennessee for a family-wide celebration. Denise said, “Besides it being so memorable, our anniversary also fell on Sept. 6, the

first night of Rosh Hashanah. We could not dream of a better way to celebrate the Yom Tov with our children and grandchildren. We selected the Smoky Mountains since our family lives in Cleveland, Ohio, and the rest live in Atlanta. It made sense for us to meet on the way, as none of us were comfortable flying with the current COVID situation. Our family consists of 16 members: three sons, three fabulous daughters-in-law and eight grandchildren.” They started planning the celebration in June, feeling excited because, as Denise said, “this was such a huge milestone in our lives.” Besides being a holiday, it was also Denise’s 70th birthday a few days later. “We chose the mountains, since

the lodge was on Lake Douglas for the water sports, tubing and zip lining,” she recalled. “Preparations started soon after booking. It was a perfect opportunity to order two gold glittered tablecloths to add to the festivities. We then ordered a beautiful anniversary cake from the local Publix. Small frames were purchased as party favors, where we inserted our wedding picture for each guest. When picking up the cake, we purchased white flowers, which we set in clear vases, and to add extra pizzazz, a set of votive candles. Also personalized name tags, which we made ourselves, of course, with gold embellishments and rhinestones. Not to forget Rosh Hashanah, candles were lit, prayers were said, and

1. Frank proposed (again) to Denise — and she said yes!

2. A beautiful cake was the centerpiece for the evening, along with gold embellishments and personalized toasts.

3. The Rindsberg family: (L to R)

Jeff, Jamie (Atlanta), Emily, Denise, Jack (next to Denise), Frank, Michael, Ryan, Benni, Emily, Zachary, Meryl, Jamie (Cleveland), Lenny, Max, and Nathan.

4. Frank and Denise Rindsberg celebrate their 50th anniversary with family at a memorable mountain lodge.

5. The Rindsberg family tree was the heartfelt focus of their 50th anniversary celebration.


5 point in our lives,” Denise said. “We barbecued with all the grandsons having a cooking lesson, and a feast was had by all. There were three very emotional highpoints in this evening. Frank made a beautiful speech to me, which was very heartfelt. He then got on his knees and proposed again, giving me a round gold bracelet that resembled a wedding ring. I then read to him the story of our 50 years together, which was long, so we handed out gold-covered chocolates as an additional party favor. Let me say, there was not one dry eye after all our speech-


we even brought down a kugel to celebrate.” The evening started off with each member of the Rindsberg family sharing with the couple their favorite thing about them. “We laughed and cried and truly felt that our 50 years of marriage brought us to this ultimate

es. The kids then presented us with an art canvas of our family tree. We shed a tear or two and the grandchildren rallied around us with super big hugs.” For Denise, “The most beautiful part of the weekend, which we will never forget, is how our kids all got together within the last three months and planned all the activities and gifts. We were presented with personalized mugs, and Frank had t-shirts printed when he started Rindsberg Electrical 35 years ago. They had t-shirts recreated exactly as they had been, and a special memory. They had rock painting lessons and even got us all involved in tie dyeing, s’mores, games and trivia questions about their nana and papa. We finished off the evening with a video show, which we all loved and thoroughly enjoyed. Just watching all our kids and grand-

kids loving each other made 50 years of hard work worth it.” “We have always instilled hard work, honesty, loyalty, laughter, courage and most importantly, the love of family,” Denise reflected. “The week prior to us going away was full of stress and deep prayers. One of our grandkids was exposed to COVID, so she was quarantined until testing negative. Another grandson had a terrible sinus infection, and we were convinced it was COVID. Nevertheless, everyone got tested, and thank goodness, all negative.” The Rindsbergs are now enjoying retirement, though each has individual interests. Frank has become a wonderful artist, plays pickleball and golf. Denise loves rhinestoning, mahjong and crafts, and keeps herself very busy with freelancing in the event industry. They still laugh at one another, are close to all their kids and grandkids, and are blessed with wonderful in-laws. “The best part of anniversaries is that you can pat yourself on the back and look back at all your accomplishments,” Denise said. “Marriage is a two-way street; it takes sharing, compromising, loads of laughter, loyalty and definitely looking after one another.” ì 11•STYLE MAGAZINE


A Double Mitzvah

2 1

By Allen H. Lipis

On Thursday evening, April 19, at 8:15 p.m., the mitzvah began. The procession started out at the home of Anna and Shimon Kaminetzky on Jody Lane in the North Druid Hills community, wound around the neighborhood, and ended about half a mile away, at their son’s yeshiva, Ohr Yisrael. Thus began the bar mitzvah of their son, Sam — but it wasn’t just any celATLANTA JEWISH TIMES


ebration. The Kaminetzky family was donating a Torah to Ohr Yisrael. The community had been prepared for the event. The police were notified, and they blocked off all of the necessary streets for about two hours, so that about 200 people could celebrate, singing and dancing all the way. The family hired a small band to play, covered the Torah with a tallis chuppah that was held by four men, and lit a dozen-or-so torches to lead the way. It rained that afternoon, but at 8:15 p.m. the sky was suddenly clear. The day was not quite over, so people could meet and greet each other. Shimon took his son and together they began the march with the Torah, but Shimon wanted to share the simcha with as many of the people in attendance as possible.

One after another, he asked men in the crowd to hold the Torah, and I was lucky to be one of them. At Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael, Shimon told this amazing story: “The Torah was written 50 years ago, and on my last visit to Israel I saw the parchment — it was rolled in three separate pieces, neatly wrapped in garbage bags, sitting on a shelf. It is just a simple Torah. My mind began to wander — all the aliyot that were read, all the times it had been lifted in shul, countless people kissing it with their tallises, little kids being held by their fathers and grandfathers pointing to the Torah, dancing with it on Simchas Torah, and now it had been finally ‘retired’ to rest on a shelf in its old age. I was moved. I was more than moved; I was shaken. Could I simply walk away and let the moment escape? What


3 Photos by Allen H. Lipis //

1. Shimon Kaminetzky and his son, Sam, march with the 50-year-old Torah they donated.

2. A tallit canopy accompanies the Torah procession.

3. The Torah procession winds its way through the North Druid Hills.

4. The celebration allowed members of the community to greet one another for the first time since the pandemic began.

is my mission? Have I properly transmitted the mesorah [tradition] to my family?” The procession made for a memorable event for a number of reasons. First, it was a way to teach us all that Judaism was being passed on to a new generation for all to see. Second, it was an open and meaningful way to teach the community the value of keeping the Torah alive, providing the yeshiva with another Torah to be studied again and again. And it was also a way of teaching us all the value of donating to the causes that mean

the most to us. But it was more than that, too. It allowed the community to emerge from their homes and say hello to one another. Having been cooped up for more than a year because of COVID, often being unable to attend synagogue services and mingle afterwards for necessary social interactions, many of the procession participants hadn’t seen each other for a long time. People need to be with one another, and this was such an event. The march was a perfect way of meeting that need. 13•STYLE MAGAZINE


5 As night fell, with the almost full moon lighting the way, the march approached the yeshiva. Fifty or so yeshiva boys paraded as a group to welcome the Torah. Holding each other, step by step, singing and dancing, they welcomed the Torah and the procession into their school for a celebration. Shimon told the audience, “I had the privilege of learning almost the entire seder with my son. For me, the eight-



and-a-half-month experience was transformative. I literally watched Sam grow in front of my eyes from a twelve-year-old kid into a young man, finding the concepts and content interesting. His learning just developed beautifully, which provided a glimpse into the future of what he can achieve when he puts his mind to something. Sam recognized that he could dedicate time each day for learning, and it did not compromise his ability

to hang out with friends or any other activity. I also learned a lot about how little I know. Sam might say he had a good experience. Selfishly, I think I got more out of it than he did.” Rabbi Avi Tkatch, the Menahel or supervisor of the yeshiva, said, “It was a fabulous event with really good energy. It was beautiful to see the new students with the older students all together greeting the Sefer Torah.” Who could believe that

5. As the march approached Yeshiva Ohr Yisrael, a group of students came out to welcome the Torah to its new home.

such an event could take place in Atlanta? One could imagine it on the streets of Boro Park in Brooklyn or in Jerusalem — but Atlanta? Well, it did happen here, and it was a double mitzvah for the bar mitzvah and for the Torah, but it was really 200 mitzvot, one for each and every one in attendance. ì

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Baker Takes the Cake and Sweetens Up Simchas


1 By Robyn Spizman Gerson

When it comes to cake baking, cookie making and eye-catching edible works of art, Atlanta cakemaker, baker and artisan Alli Marbach is making quite a splash. With a well-equipped new kitchen at Temple Sinai, Marbach’s company Cakeology is ready to sweeten up your next simcha with creative delicacies and picture-perfect desserts worthy of sharing and resharing on Instagram. Marbach said, “Before starting my company Cakeology, I had a nine-to-five corporate job for a few years. AfATLANTA JEWISH TIMES


ter a hard day at work, I found that the best way to unwind and relax was to bake for my friends and family. Baking was always a hobby of mine, but once enough people said my creations were good enough to sell, I realized I could turn my hobby into a career. I decided to take a leap of faith and start Cakeology in January of 2019.” As to her favorite specialties, Marbach reports, “I love making cakes that don’t look like cakes. I’ve created cakes that look like purses, animals, porterhouse steaks, sneakers, and beyond. I also love to decorate cupcakes to

3 look like flowers for my popular cupcake bouquets. Since I only make custom desserts, each and every one of them is unique. I make sure that my dessert creations are a reflection of the person and simcha being celebrated. Planning a simcha can be stressful, so I love to be the one who can make someone’s day a bit sweeter with my unique and

completely customized desserts.” Once in a while a commission comes along that really presents a challenge. For Marbach, the cake that put her artistic ability and creativity to the test was a Nike-themed cake for a bar mitzvah. “It looked like a Nike Air Jordan sneaker made of cake,” she recalled, “sitting on another cake




7 that looked like a shoebox. The intricacy and dedication to details required really made that one of my most challenging and rewarding cakes. Another fun cake was for a young boy’s birthday. He specifically requested a cake that looked like a pickle that had fallen on the ground, broken in half and was covered in dirt and worms. That was definitely one of the funniest and most creative cake requests I had ever received. I absolutely love it when people let their imaginations run wild and allow me to capture their vision in a cake for their special day.” Another creative mitzvah celebration “was a bat mitzvah where we took dessert tables to the next level. We had three dessert bars divided into three separate courses

throughout the night. One course was cookie-themed, so we had chocolate chip cookies, snickerdoodle cookies, double chocolate cookies, edible cookie dough, chocolate covered Oreos, decorated sugar cookies and more. The next course was a cake course. We had cake bites, mini cupcakes, cheesecake and Cakeology’s famous cakelettes, which are a combination of cake and frosting covered in a white or milk chocolate shell and more. The final course was a confections course, which included chocolate tartlets, apple crumbles and chocolate covered strawberries, brownies and lemon bars. It was so much fun because it allowed guests to sample a large variety of desserts and there was something for everyone.” ì

8 1. Alli Marbach of Cakeology at a recent wedding show. 2. Cakeology’s popular cupcakes topped with hand-piped buttercream flowers.

3. Funfetti cake carved and covered in fondant to look like an adorable avocado for a 2nd birthday party.

4. Chocolate cake with chocolate mousse carved in the shape of a purse for a birthday party.

5. For a bar mitzvah, Marbach used mint chocolate chip cake covered in fondant to create this realistic sneaker, balanced on top of a shoebox made of marble cake. 6. Winnie-the-Pooh vanilla cake covered in buttercream and decorated with handmade fondant accents for a baby shower.

7. Flavored wedding cakes covered in fondant and hand-piped buttercream flowers.

8. Wedding cakes covered in fondant and flowers.



Cakes Designed with Detail and Heart



By Marcia Caller Jaffe

Inna Milter remembers baking cakes as a child for her parents in Lithuania. She recalled, “Each pastry I made was unique and special, and I always aimed to surprise my family ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES


with something new, though no one else in the family shared an interest in baking. Today I am honored that I’m able to share my cakes and pastries with the community as a full-time business. In 1993, my husband’s family [we] came to the United States to reunite with other relatives.” Many of her cakes have European flavors and styles. Because of this uniqueness, her customers are diverse and always seeking something distinctive. She said, “Those from Europe are especially fond of my desserts, as they remind them of something from home. We have created everything from a

3 cartoon tooth, which went on a cake for a dentist, to a beautiful woman in the typical ‘20s glitzy, fringy, loose-fitting fashion of that era. All of our cakes include 100% edible decorations and figurines. No idea is too big or too small. The list is endless. Our cakes have been used for family dinners, birthdays, holidays, engagements, and weddings.” Gluten free or Keto accommodations are available upon request. Milter sells mini-cakes for five to six dollars, cheese puffs for two dollars, meringue cakes

around forty to fifty dollars and a variety of Cheese and Chocolate Mousse Cakes from sixtyfive to one-hundred and-twenty dollars depending on detail, size, decoration and theme. Milter produced special Rosh Hashanah apple caramel and honey caramel cakes for the High holidays and cherishes participating in Jewish events. She said, “I was lucky enough to bake and hand deliver two cakes to a bat mitzvah in New York. I am a proud Jewish woman, and this was a highlight of my career.

I am hoping to get more of these orders as providing to the Jewish community is a simcha in itself.” Speaking of delivery, think of the logistics keeping the temperature and all the parts stable in transporting. Milter delivers for free for up to 15 miles from the 30338 zip code. She added, “We deliver our cakes the same way we make our cakes, with love. As a special thank you for the order, we deliver in a special cooler and box. We aim to be as accommodating as possible, and try to keep our delivery fee as low as possible. For example, one of our customers lives in Peachtree City, which we still delivered for only $15.” When AJT asked about her baking secrets, she emoted, “You have to have love and passion for what you are doing. We do not mass produce anything, and every cake is made to order. Our customers usually call and tell us stories about events that they want to celebrate, and often we are able to find an appropriate and unique theme for their masterpiece.” A standard design cake can be made in a day, where more detailed cakes can take two-to-three days. Each cake has a model constructed to allow settling of the chocolate in varied shapes. An unusually elaborate design was for a customer who requested a cake for his wife’s birthday. He explained how his wife was his world, and how his love for her was never ending.” Milter strove to represent this bounty of affection in a confection which ultimately concluded a large vase with several dozen chocolate roses atop. While working Inna, a mother and grandmother, listens to classical, modern jazz and sentimental klezmer music reminiscent of her Litvak homeland. Here she concludes with a scrumptious popular composition to whet the appetite: ■ ■ ■

■ ■ ■ ■ ■

Passion Fruit Crémeux White Chocolate Pistachio Crunch Pistachio Jocnde Mirror Glaze Velvet Spray

Contact Inna Miltner for your distinctive dessert, 404-797-3279 or go online to ì Photos by Julia Larrabee Designs and Sharvani Mangroo//


1. Inna Milter baked cakes for her family as a child in Lithuania.

2. Milter shows off her designs for a baby shower.

3, 4 & 5. Milter enjoys celebrating Jewish holidays and events. Shown here are her varieties of Rosh Hashana apple, honey, and caramel cakes.



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Mango Passion Fruit Pistachio Cake Mango and Passion Fruit Mousse Tropical Confit




Southern Charm for Rachel and Craig


1 By Marcia Caller Jaffe

On May 30, under crystal blue skies, the Piedmont Driving Club courtyard was the backdrop for the marriage cerATLANTA JEWISH TIMES


emony of Atlanta native Rachel Leighton and Craig Schackner of Dix Hills, New Jersey. The groom kissed his bride as 135 guests looked on at the lush private club. Cabbage-sized

hydrangeas and white azaleas set the theme for Rachel’s array of peach and white florals and Craig’s matching peach boutonnière. Exactly one week later, Rachel, originally an occupational therapist, started nursing school at Columbia University. The groom, a New York City mathematics teacher and soccer coach, gushed, “I loved getting to marry Rachel where she grew up. Everyone in Atlanta was so welcoming,

and all of our vendors made the process so easy.” As with many recent nuptials, details changed along the way to leave room for flexibility. The ceremony was delayed for almost a year because of COVID-19. The couple also changed their late August honeymoon from Greece (forest fires) to Hawaii. Rachel recalled, “At times the process became stressful with planning during COVID and having to




Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography //

1. The bride and groom pose in front of the chuppah.

2. Rachel and Craig promenade down the aisle following the ceremony. 3. Rachel is accompanied by her parents, Les and Debbie Perl Leighton.


7 4. Craig kisses his bride as 135 guests look on. 5. The groom hits the dancefloor.

6. The bride and groom share a moment on the dancefloor. 7. Rachel celebrates with her bridesmaids. 21•STYLE MAGAZINE



9 monitor everything day by day. Our planner, Sara Divine, made the process smooth and took away a lot of stress. We started planning almost two years before because we were supposed to get married Labor Day 2020!” Details included choosing nontraditional white for the attendants. Rachel remarked, “I picked ivory for the bridesmaids because it made for a very elegant wedding party. My dress was one of my favorite small details! It was simple, elegant and extremely comfortable. I had an amazing tailor in ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES


8. Craig breaks the traditional glass to much applause. 9. Rachel and Craig pose with their attendants ahead of the ceremony.

New York City who made it look like it was made for me. My bouquet was exactly what I wanted. James Hurley Designs made the flowers a ‘dream come true.’ I told him only, ‘peach, white, and greenery,’ and he delivered on my vision.” As a historical venue, the Piedmont Driving Club is a private social association that began in 1887 as a gentlemen’s club where horses and

carriages were driven on club grounds. In 1904, the club sold the adjacent acreage to the city to create what is now Piedmont Park. Minorities were admitted for the first time only in the 1990s. Even today, to hold an event there, one must be a club member or be sponsored by one. Father of the bride, physician Les Leighton, said, “I have been to the PDC numer-

ous times — multiple Piedmont Hospital balls and several weddings. It’s a beautiful place. The facilities and food are outstanding. Very classic and old Atlanta in elegance. We have friends who are members and they sponsored us. The catering director knew about Jewish weddings and told me they have held several. The club could not have been better for Rachel and Craig’s special day and made a real impression on our outof-town guests who knew little about Atlanta.” Experienced mom Debbie Perl Leighton had some advice for mothers of the bride: “Don’t forget that this day is about the bride and the groom. What is important to them might not be important to you. Remember this is not about you, it’s their day!” Ahavath Achim Senior Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal conducted the ketubah signing and chuppah service. Rachel recalled, “The rabbi was incredible throughout the entire year that we were meeting with him. He made the process enjoyable and made our ceremony so meaningful. He gave us great advice for starting out our journey as a married couple.” Rabbi Rosenthal reflected, “Rachel and Craig truly complement each other and hold up the characteristics that are still emerging in the other. They have a mature love for one another looking towards the future with realistic optimism and hope. They are not only connected to each other but committed to the spiritual journey they are on together.” Rachel summed up her advice for other brides-to-be: “Stay organized and on top of things. Don’t be so picky. Just give your ideas to the professionals and let them make the vision come true. They know what they’re doing. I would not change a single thing. And my dad and I practiced the dance beforehand, and it came out just as we envisioned!” ì



13 Photos by Mary Beth Marlow Photography //

10. Bride and groom enjoy the hydrangeas on the grounds of the Piedmont Driving Club.

11. Signing the ketubah with Rabbi Laurence Rosenthal looking on. 12. A perfect father-daughter dance. 13. The bride’s father delivers a toast.



Never Too Late for Love


By Roni Robbins

Little did Howard Fagin know — when he was trying to honor his deceased wife several years ago — that he would be led to his future spouse. The love story mirrors the biblical ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES


narrative of Abraham and Sarah, which Rabbi Ron Segal of Temple Sinai referenced at Fagin’s recent wedding. Under the chuppah at the July 10 ceremony, Rabbi Segal alluded to the story of the iconic and aging Jewish patriarch Abraham, who was arranging for the burial of his wife Sarah when his children introduced him to the woman who would become his second wife. “It’s an interesting parallel,” the 78-year-old Fagin told the AJT recently. Several years ago, Fagin decided to name a program of the Book Festival of the MJCCA for his first wife, Sharon, who

died in 2017. The couple were longtime supporters of the festival, and Sharon was a teacher. Arts & Authors Director Pam Morton met with Fagin to help create the Sharon V. Fagin Joy of Reading Program, but — unbeknownst to him — a more personal storybook ending was already in the works. Morton asked Fagin’s daughter, Shelly Danz, who had accompanied Fagin to the meeting, if he was dating again. Morton’s 81-year-old mother Sheila had been widowed for 20 years following the death of her second husband, and Morton saw Fagin as a perfect match. “I loved his

demeanor and personality,” she said. Plus, she knew Danz, another Jewish event organizer and a former MJCCA employee. The two had worked together on special events of the JCC Maccabi Games held in Atlanta. “They were lovely people, the nicest people,” Morton said of the family. Several months after Morton met Fagin, he told his daughter he was ready to date. That’s when Morton sent photos and compiled a one-page bio about her mother, which elicited Fagin’s interest. “She sounded exciting,” he said. “I wanted to go out with people who were interesting. …




1. Sheila and Howard Fagin under their stunning birch chuppah.

2. Howard and Sheila fly high during the customary hora to celebrate their union. 3. From L to R: Shelly Danz (daughter), Howard Fagin, and Craig Fagin (son).

4. Rabbi Ron Segal of Temple Sinai officiates the ceremony and blesses the newly married couple.

5. The blended family from L to R: Craig Fagin, Seth Fagin, Liza Fagin, Abi Auer, Megan Danz, Ryan Danz, Barry Danz, Shelly Danz, Howard Fagin, Sheila Fagin, Pam Morton, Heidi Morton, Paul Alexander, Wendy Alexander, Ariella Katz, and George Alexander.






6. Extended family love! The children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, cousins, aunts, uncles, and siblings of Howard and Sheila!


7. The ketuba was witnessed and signed during the ceremony. 8. Sheila and Howard cut the multi-tiered wedding cake.

9. Matchmaking daughters Shelly Danz and Pam Morton.

10. Scrabble groom’s cake featuring the marzipan couple by Masterpieces by Marci.

11. Wedding cake with buttercream flowers by Cakeology.




10 Event Vendor List

Venue: The Standard Club Photography: Life on Film Photography Florals/Decor: EventScapes Music Entertainment: Atlanta Fever Entertainment Ceremony Music: Primavera Strings Wedding Cake: Cakeology Groom’s Cake: Masterpieces by Marci

Sheila had an interesting background.” Fagin, a former financial advisor, also praised his wife’s artistic and design capabilities. “We had so much in common. We had the same political philosophy. We were very comfortable [together].” Sheila said of her now-husband, “he was so ethical and kind. He didn’t come on as someone who would steer me around the building … I had two very controlling husbands.” She said Fagin was the ideal mix of type A and type B personalities. “He never got out of sorts. He loves my talents.” After two years of dating, the couple moved in together during the pandemic and decided to get married. Asked why they would consider the move so late in life, Fagin said he believed in the Torah directive to “choose life.” He shared three other reasons to take the next step: He wanted to set an example for their children and grandchildren that marriage is the proper path for a committed relationship. “I wanted to make sure we had someone to take care of each other if either got sick and you can do that easier if you’re married. We loved each other and thought it was the right thing to do.” Neither of them expected to find love again. “I had no idea when my wife passed away that I would fall in love or every get married again,” Fagin said. He and Sheila both mentioned how happy their families are that they found a compatible partner in the late stage of their lives, and how the wedding sparked joy during a difficult pandemic period. The couple, who have five children and seven grandchildren between them, marked their union at The Standard Club with 58 of their closest friends and family for music, dancing and celebration. “Sheila and I are very lucky to have found each other,” Fagin said. “I have a new life, a new bride and a new house. It’s just new and special. Every day is exciting for both of us.” ì

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Morgan and Jacob’s Wedding Blossoms from Family Roots

2 1 By Marcia Caller Jaffe

Matches can be made in heaven and apparently even in Tampa, where Atlanta relatives conspired with Floridians to introduce early intervention teacher Morgan Dubrof to Tampa native Jacob Linsky. On June 12, at the InterContinental Buckhead Atlanta, ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES


235 guests in black ties watched as ten groomsmen and ten bridesmaids in black strapless mermaid dresses led the procession fit for a princess. Mini goldendoodle Wrigley was on his best behavior. Under the chuppah, Temple Sinai’s Rabbi Samantha Shabman Trief remarked, “May you travel the world, and build a family and

a house full of doodles, may you try new restaurants, cook new recipes, and have many events to get dressed up for. May you entertain tons of friends in your home, and enjoy quiet moments watching reality TV, cuddling with Wrigley. May you retain your individuality.” Looking back, the bride told the AJT, “The first time Jacob and I met was when I was visiting my grandparents in Tampa, where my mom grew up and Jacob was living. Shortly after, we

discovered that my great-grandmother Mildred and Jacob’s great-grandmother Eva were the best of friends in Tampa.” The ceremonial kiddush cup was brought to America by Mildred around 1922. It had been buried in Poland to avoid confiscation and continues to be used at family occasions. Morgan’s dress was a threedimensional strapless gown with layers of floral appliqué and cathedral train by Eve of Milady from Bridals by Lori. Mor-


gan changed into a deep v-line beaded reception dress, and an afterparty dress by Retrofete. The bride carried a bouquet of white peonies, while the white centerpieces were composed of hydrangeas, roses, and peonies. The cake was a frosted pumpkin four-tier white layer cake with gold accents matching the wedding invitation. Dealing with COVID-19, Morgan said, “My most stressful moment was March 2020 at beginning of the pandemic with uncertainty and confusion, having to decide whether we should make an early decision to postpone. At that point, we already had a long engagement and had been patiently waiting, so the thought of postponing another full year was tough. Once we made the decision, we felt at peace, and even more so when June 2020 came around, and we were still in a pandemic. Even without COVID, there were highs and lows throughout our two-and-a-half-year engage-

Photos by Adam Linke and Jess McGowan, The Decisive Moment //

1. Morgan and Jacob with mini goldendoodle Wrigley.

2. Morgan is honored to call stepdad Scott, “Dad.”

3. Morgan and Jacob after their first look.

4. Three generations of beauty: grandmother Dorothy Moskowitz Haskins (far left), and mother Jodi Karlin pose with Morgan.



Photos by Adam Linke and Jess McGowan, The Decisive Moment //

5. Ballroom for the ceremony. 6. Great-grandmother Mildred

Cohen Moskowitz’s Kiddush cup (circa 1920) from Russia.

5 wavering selflessness, unconditional love has proven that DNA doesn’t make a parent. Scott chose to be a dad and role model, and for that I am eternally grateful. It’s only fitting that the man who taught me the most walk me down the aisle and pass the baton from one man I love to another.” Jacob, director of capital markets at TriBridge Residential, had the last word: “The most unexpected piece was how beautiful the room looked. I knew it was going to be amazing, but was truly blown away walking in. I really felt like I was in a movie. The most special part is cliche but true — being able to have all our family and closest friends present is really a priceless gift. Being able to look out while Morgan and I were under the chuppah and seeing everyone is a picture I will never forget.” The honeymoon? Las Ventanas al Paraiso, Los Cabos, Mexico, of course! ì


ment, and in the wedding planning process. Jacob and I constantly leaned on each other.” Mom Jodi Haskins Karlin weighed in, “From the beginning of the engagement, I wanted them to have the wedding of their dreams and have them involved in the process. I can’t say that it was all ‘stress free’ because COVID added another layer. When the design team opened the ballroom doors for our first peek, Morgan and I looked at each other, hugged amid tears and said, ‘We did it!’ ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES


It was a dream come true.” Jodi’s dress was made by New York City designer Rubin Singer. She was over the moon about it, exclaiming, “The dress was even more than I expected. Comfortable, couture and classic!” Morgan was accompanied down the aisle by her stepdad and was sentimental about the role he has played in her life. “Over the past 16 years, Scott Karlin has been in my life and consistently gone above and beyond to be present. Through good times and bad, Scott’s un-

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Welcome Boxes and Give Away Candle: Sirmantha Ellison – From Sir With Love Ceremony Music: Sarah Paul

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A Wedding of Shared Values


By Chana Shapiro

It didn’t take long for Malka Deutsch and Cameron Isen to realize they were meant for one another — once they finally met in person. As it happened, this inperson meeting took under two months. Malka, one of Rabbi Menachem and Dena Deutsch’s nine children, was a talented and easily identifiable Atlantan who got around town on her bright green moped. After graduating from Temima High School, she spent two years in Israel, and subsequently earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the State University of New York’s (SUNY) Empire State College online. At the same ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES



time, she assisted her father in his work and travels for Olami, a worldwide outreach organization for college students and young professionals. Malka grew up in a welcoming Orthodox home of joy and learning. Rabbi Deutsch, a graduate of the Ner Yisrael Yeshiva in Baltimore, came to Atlanta as the founding director of the Atlanta Scholars Kollel. Malka’s mother, Dena, a programmer, models nonjudgmental concern for all Jews, in deed as well as in word. While traveling, working and studying, Malka had been on a few arranged dates, but had not met anyone she considered to be her bashert, or destined partner. Her father, however, was already on the case. From a friend and colleague, Rabbi Beryl Gershenfeld, the director or rosh yeshiva of Machon Yaakov Yeshiva in Israel, Rabbi Deutsch heard about a young man he was encouraged to introduce to Malka. He maintained interest in the prospective match for the next two years. That young man was Cameron Isen. During those two years, Cameron was on what he describes as “a journey of personal development.” He was not yet ready to start dating. A native of Philadelphia, Cameron had grown up with two siblings in a secular household. He was a serious high school hockey player, and attended Dartmouth College for two years, during which he began to consider whether he was living a meaningful life. Cameron describes his multi-year quest as “seeking a balanced, thoughtful, nuanced vision of life that traditional Judaism offers.” He traveled to Israel, where he studied at Machon Yaakov, Rabbi Gershenfeld’s yeshiva. When he returned to the U.S., Cameron enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated with a degree in classics, while at the same time studying at the Philadelphia Yeshiva. After graduating,


3 5

6 Photos by Joel Alpert/ Market Power //

1. Guests rush up to sing and dance as they accompany newlyweds from the chuppah.

2. Malka greets female guests before the bedeken, when Cameron and the men come in prior to the ceremony. They haven’t seen each other for a week.

3. Rabbi Menachem and Dena Deutsch with Malka. 4. Rabbi Deutsch, with grandson, entertains the couple. Photo credit: Yaakov Meir Swiatycki//

5. Malka and Cameron stop for a moment before entering the dancing crowd.

6. Checking the ketubah before the ceremony. Cameron (center) pays close attention to details.

7. The chuppah.




Cameron moved to Baltimore, where he entered the renowned Ner Yisrael Yeshiva, known for serious Talmudic studies and community leadership and outreach. Once he was ready to start dating, with the encouragement of Rabbi Gershenfeld and following one brief meeting with Rabbi Deutsch, Cameron conferred with Rabbi Aaron Feldman, the rosh yeshiva of Ner Yisrael. Rabbi Aaron (the uncle of Congregation Beth Jacob’s Rabbi Ilan D. Feldman) knows the Atlanta community well, including the Deutsch family. All roads led to Malka. “In fewer than 24 hours, I was on a plane to Atlanta!” Cameron declares. “I had been committed to my studies for two years, and I was ready to meet Malka. I hadn’t even seen her picture, but I knew about her and her wonderful family, and I believed we had similar ideals.” On May 10, Cameron and Malka met in Atlanta. They spent the next three days getting to know one another, visiting parks and other sites. Over the next six weeks, they took turns visiting each other in Atlanta and Balti-

9 8. Nieces watch the ceremony. 9. Men dancing.



more. On Malka’s third trip, she met Cameron’s parents, Lorna and Jonathan Isen. The intense travel culminated on June 20, when Cameron proposed. “I expected it, but wasn’t sure when it would happen,” Malka says. Cameron came prepared with a diamond bracelet, anticipating a response in the affirmative, and he received it. The couple chose an engagement ring together from a family friend’s jeweler in New York. In traditional Jewish families, the engaged couple spends the week before their wedding apart, creating a respite from in-person wedding-related stressors. During that week, Malka and her younger sister, Tsipora, who enjoy traveling together, shared — in Malka’s words — “one last hurrah,” with a three-day trip to the Virgin Islands befitting Malka’s wanderlust, which has drawn her to visit all fifty states and many foreign countries. The wedding, organized by wedding planner Martine Gershon, took place on Aug. 16 at Congregation Beth Jacob. Following the ceremony, several hundred guests were treated to an open buffet by Avenue K caterers. Then the celebration heated up with hours of nonstop, exuberant “simcha dancing.” The couple and their parents were entertained with stunts and acrobatics by cavorting family and friends. After Sukkot, the newlyweds will head to Israel, where Malka plans to work, and Cameron will study at the esteemed Mir Yeshiva in Jerusalem — the largest yeshiva in the world — with more than 9,000 students. They will live in nearby Ramat Eshkol, a community with many young couples. When asked about their future plans, their response was not about specific vocation or location. “We’re both passionate about the ideals of Judaism, and we want to imbue everything we do in life with idealism and meaning,” they agreed. Cameron will be at the Mir for a few years, Malka says. “Going to the Mir and living in Israel was her idea!” Cameron adds, appreciatively, “She brought it up first!” ì



Holy Land Ceremony Unites Seventeen Indian Couples


By Bob Bahr

Seventeen couples who emigrated to Israel from the Bnei Menashe community in ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES


Northern India were married in Israel in an Orthodox group wedding ceremony on Aug. 5. All of the participating couples, who ranged in age from 29 to 79, had previously been married in India. Because the Chief Rabbinate of Israel does not formally recognize the Bnei Menashe of India as Jews, the group had to undergo a formal conversion process before they were married once again in Israel. According to the Berman Jewish DataBank at Stanford

University, only about 4,800 Jews are said to remain in India today, out of a total population of 1.35 billion. There has been a steady decline in numbers since the founding of Israel in 1948. Three years ago, the 2018 Atlanta Jewish Film Festival featured a historical documentary, “Shalom Bollywood,” about Indian Jews during the 1930s. Among those saying their marriage vows again was 43-year-old Betzalel Haokip and his 41-year-old bride Bat Sheva. They were joined

in the wedding ceremony by Betzalel’s father, Simeon, who is 73. He re-wed his wife — and Betzalel’s mother — Rachel, who is 64. Both couples were recent Bnei Menashe immigrants to Israel. The group marriage took place in an absorption center run by Shavei Israel (“Returners of Israel”), an immigration nonprofit, near Netanya in central Israel. Shavei Israel was founded by Michael Freund, an American-born Israeli who made aliyah in 1995. Freund has worked to


3 bring to Israel many isolated groups of Jews throughout the world who may have lost much of their identity through religious and political persecution. Among the Jewish communities the nonprofit has aided are those in China, El Salvador, and the island of Majorca off the coast of Spain. Freund described the Indian couples his organization

assists as having many reasons to be joyous. “After realizing their dream of making aliyah and returning to the Jewish people, these Bnei Menashe couples now have an additional reason to celebrate,” he said. “Despite the pandemic, they have now been remarried in a traditional Jewish wedding ceremony which symbolizes the new lives they are

1. Michael Freund, who founded Shavei Israel, has traveled to India to prepare the Bnei Menashe for aliyah.

2. Seventeen Bnei Menashe brides all wore traditional Indian wedding gowns.

3. About 4,500 Bnei Menashe from India have settled in Israel.



4 4. The Bnei Menashe trace their ancestry back to the ten Lost Tribes of ancient Israel. building here in the Jewish state.” In a statement released by the organization, Israel’s Minister of Aliyah and Integration Pnina Tamano Shata said that the government has pledged to encourage immigration of Jews from all over the world. “This is a special community with a love of Israel in every sense,” she said, “a community that has kept the Jewish tradition for many years in faraway India and longs for the day when it will return to Zion.” So far, 4,500 members of Bnei Menashe have moved to Israel, and there are hopes to bring the remaining members ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES


to Israel as well. The community traces its history back to the so-called ten Lost Tribes of Israel, who were dispersed following the Assyrian conquest of the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 721 BCE. Descendants of the tribes were said to have wandered as far as Central Asia before some eventually settled in the Indian villages of Manipur and Mizoram along the border with Myanmar — once known as Burma — and Bangladesh. In the 19th century, many of them were converted to Christianity by Welsh missionaries, but in the latter part of the 20th century, the Bnei Menashe began to return to Judaism. They observed the Sabbath, kept kosher, celebrated Jewish holidays and

followed the laws of family purity. In the 1970s, they began to petition the government of Israel for permission to emigrate under the Law of Return. Eventually their requests landed on the desk of Freund, who was working at the time in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s public relations office. In 2005, Israel’s chief rabbinate recognized the community as part of the Lost Tribes, but required them to undergo conversion after making aliyah. There are several distinct Indian communities who consider themselves Jews. One community settled in Cochin after fleeing persecution elsewhere in Southern India. Another, calling itself Bene Israel, settled in the eastern city of Mumbai, formerly

known as Bombay. They were joined in the 19th century by Baghdadi Jews from Iraq and other Muslim lands northwest of India, including Turkey, Syria, Iran and Afghanistan. The Bene Israelis and Cochin Jews were very successful, rising to prominence in the colonial government and armed forces under the British prior to 1947. The Sassoon family of Bombay, originally Baghdadi Jews from Iraq, were often called the “Rothschilds of the East” for their immense wealth and the influence they wielded in Asia, the Middle East and the Indian sub-continent. Meanwhile, back in India, some 6,000 Bnei Menashe await their return to the Jewish homeland. ì








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Family Rolls Out Red Carpet for Emily’s Bat Mitzvah

2 1 By Robyn Spizman Gerson

After a ten-month postponement, Emily Tavani was finally scheduled to have the bat mitzvah of her dreams at Congregation Dor Tamid, and everyone was ready. Rabbi Jordan Ottenstein and Cantor Mike ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES


Zuspan oversaw the service portion of the simcha. According to Emily’s mother, Tracy, “Emily started studying for her bat mitzvah in January 2020, the original date being October 17, 2020. We postponed Emily’s bat mitzvah for ten months due to the

pandemic, so it was very special for all of us when she finally showed everyone how she was so well-prepared, poised and confident on the bimah. Masks were required throughout the service, and we were not able to have a kiddush luncheon. But most importantly, we all came together in person and saw Emily lead the service flawlessly and demonstrate all her hard work.” Tracy said, “We had a

smaller group attend than we originally thought as some out-of-town guests didn’t feel comfortable traveling during COVID. The temple spaced out the seating into smaller groups at the service and Emily was able to take her mask off while she was alone on the bimah, as she was behind a clear plastic barrier. When groups of people were on the bimah, they did wear masks. There was a Zoom that the temple set up for the



service, although most of the guests attended in person.” “Thirteen-year-old Emily turns 14 in September,” the proud mom added, “which is why we wanted to have her bat mitzvah before then. She is an 8th grade honor roll student at River Trail Middle School and has been playing soccer since she could walk. Also interested in acting and drama, she enjoys spending time with friends, family and her brother Brian, who is ten and in the fifth grade. “Emily loves animals, and for her mitzvah project, she volunteered at Planned PEThood helping take care of the cats. She helped clean out their cages, fed them, and most importantly, gave them much-needed love. Emily has always wanted to help animals that have been


5 Photos by Revelry Photo House//

1. The Tavani Family: father Gregg, Emily, mother Tracy, and brother Brian. 2. Emily, reading from the Torah scroll. 3. Centerpieces celebrate Emily’s love of all things Hollywood. 4. Emily and her family pose to welcome their guests. 5. Emily Tavani lights the candles. 6. Emily poses in front of her entrance to “Emilywood.” 41•STYLE MAGAZINE



8 7. The bat mitzvah girl is lifted up, chair and all.

8. Emily’s love of movies and entertainment was reflected in colorful centerpieces. 9. Emily dances with her father, Gregg.



abandoned or are in need and recently got a guinea pig named Bumble as a pet.” The Tavani family is a recognizable name in the community. Tracy said, “I am originally from South Florida and have been in Atlanta since graduating from the University of

9 Miami. My husband Gregg is basically an Atlanta native, after moving from New Jersey at the age of four. Gregg is a social studies teacher at Duluth High School and the academy director and soccer coach at Atlanta Fire United Soccer Club. He’s also directed the Tavani Soccer

Camps for the past 18 years, with three locations in metro Atlanta. Emily’s brother, Brian, is a fifth grader at Findley Oaks Elementary.” The Alpharetta Marriott where the evening’s celebration took place was decorated according to the theme “Emilywood,” since the bat mitzvah loves movies, acting, and entertainment. Her dream is to visit Hollywood one day. Tracy gave credit to the party planners and vendors: “All our vendors worked with us to change the date once we knew we wanted to postpone it. Total Lunacy did our décor, and Luna was so creative in envisioning Emilywood and bringing it to life. Atlanta Fever was our DJ and kept everyone on the dance floor, which helped Emily feel like the star of the show. Zach Porter at Revelry House worked with us to take amazing pictures, and Jack Winch of Dreampost Films filmed the event and created an amazing montage of Emily that we showed at the party. Robin Zusmann at Paper Matters worked with us to design the beautiful invitations, Emilywood themed presents, and Dan Rosen at DJR Photography did the greenscreen photos which everyone enjoyed taking throughout the evening.” Emily recalled, “My favorite part of the service was that everyone got to watch me accomplish something important in my life. My favorite part of the party was that a lot of my friends and family that I don’t get to see that often came together and had a good time, and I enjoyed dancing with my friends.” Tracy added, “We are so proud of Emily and how hard she worked throughout this whole process. She led the service confidently and chanted the blessings and the Torah portion beautifully. We are thankful for the support of our family and friends, and so happy that we could celebrate this important milestone with them after a year of not really being able to celebrate much together.”ì

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Twins Light Up ‘Personality—Laden’ Venue

1 By Marcia Caller Jaffe

The last weekend in August was a special one, as Talya and Jamie Berzack, students at High Meadows School, celebrated their b’not mitzvah at Congregation Beth Tefillah, culminating in the first event at Novare Events’ Bishop Station venue. “JusT” was the theme, incorporating the first letters of Jamie and Talya’s names, as in “just have fun, just eat,” with “us” (parents Robyn and Gary) in the middle. Twin personalities have long been a subject of interest and ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES


speculation. Jamie, the blonder twin, loves yellow as much as Talya does teal. The former is a “sophisticated hippie and ray of sunshine,” the latter a fashionista with a fondness for pigs, according to the twins. Throughout the huge round room, the girls were illustrated in various cutouts and place cards displaying their fondness for bicycles, trees, books, and vintage keys — all done in black and white, illustrated by Jessica Sommerville of Your Events Solutions. According to event planner Mireille Naturman, “The key was

being able to assemble an incredibly talented vendor group to execute our vision throughout the entire process. Planning a mitzvah in a pandemic had its challenges, but the end product, with all the finishing touches, was achieved.” At the service, Talya, older than Jamie by one minute, commented on the parsha: “As the Jewish people entered Israel, we’re entering into the Jewish community as young Jewish adults. Similar to the Jewish people showing gratitude by observing the commandments, so are we required to observe commandments.” Ja-

mie added, “Our Parsha, Ki Tavo (“When you enter”), is about the people of Israel entering the Holy Land and being grateful to Hashem and giving to those in need.” Thus their mitzvah project: the “Helping with Challah” fund. The twins sent each person attending the service (in-person or virtually) a challah as a way of requesting donations for those less fortunate. Donations were used toward the Sandwich Project, an outreach supporting the homeless and food-insecure. Talya and Jamie also participated in the Am Yisrael Chai Bat Mitzvah Twin-


Photos by Laura Tarquino, Vosamo Photography//

1. Dad Gary, Talya, Jamie and mom Robyn are a creative family.

2. The sketchbook library came fully furnished, with book sketches and Talya and Jamie’s names. 3. The expansive Bishop Station room was decorated with colored balloons, baby photos, and a DJ stage.

2 4 ning Project, for which they were paired with two young girls who perished in the Holocaust and shared the last name of their great-grandparents, who fled Nazi Germany. In employing Naturman, Robyn said, “We contacted Mireille 5 months ago. Not knowing where to start, she was instrumental in connecting us with our dream team of vendors who listened and brainstormed to make the story come to life. She ensured that everything was on track and connected. This was critical and showed in the

4. Added Touch Caterers creatively lined the shelves with “canned” foods and customized labels for gourmet tastes.

5. One of the favorite market stores was the PJ swag selection.




9 seamless design of the weekend.” Naturman said, “Robyn is extremely creative, so it was a huge compliment to plan her twins’ mitzvah.” Sommerville, the illustrator, commented, “Walking around the periphery of the huge room, guests got involved with mini venues and black and white original sketches. The library had phrases and books with furniture groups and custom pillows. The details included community seating tables with illustrated legs, ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES


stations with a French vibe, like the dessert bar with awnings, lighted hi boys, hearts and rainbows. The DJ had a custom back drop with instruments, near a TV with a sketched frame. The PJ shop storefront was a huge hit, with soft quality pajamas as swag. The chevron floors, and super tall windows indoor, and outdoor areas with patio furniture and striped umbrellas, made for safe COVID distancing.” Other fun areas included a fizzy truck with kid-friendly

and adult drinks, as well as flowers attached to the walls. Cuisine by Sandra Bank and Erin Lis, of Added Touch Catering, got five stars for a thematic pescatarian/vegetarian menu. Lis said, “We took inspiration from Jamie and Talya’s storybook, with hobbies like tennis, books, rainbows, fashion, art and music incorporated into the food presentations: golden arancini balls passed on tennis rackets, jars of crudité displayed inside books, and Thai rainbow summer

rolls on rainbow-lined trays.” Dinner was a “Market Station” high-end grocery store with lined shelves of “canned” foods with customized labels, like seared tuna in “Chicken of the Sea” containers, gazpacho in “Campbell’s Tomato Soup” cans, and homemade SpaghettiOs for the kids. The market also included a “Hot Sandwich Counter” with hanging heat lamps over salmon sliders, vegetable paninis, and grilled cheese sandwiches, a produce cart with jars of salads, and fresh produce on display. A fashion-forward “latke bar” was styled after a cosmetic counter, with makeup tins of flavored salts, shampoo pump bottles of apple and lemon sauce, dropper bottles with truffle oil, and syringes

Photos by Laura Tarquino, Vosamo Photography//

6. Guests selected trays and made their way through the Market Place. 7. The “JusT” welcome mat fea-



tured both girls’ names.

8. The entrance doors had cutouts of the twins to welcome guests.

9. Naturman put together a dream team to pull off such a grand event.

10. Added Touch thought outside the box to come up with gourmet food in familiar jars.

11. The table settings featured hand-drawn place mats.

12. Talya and Jamie Berzack

celebrated their b’not mitzvah at Congregation Beth Tefillah.

10 with sour cream and chipotle aioli. Dessert was inspired by the South African branch of the family, which has a store in Paris. The Patisserie desserts were in a refrigerated display case, alongside jars of baked treats. Outside, guests could pick an apple from a tree filled with candies for a take-home treat. Dad Gary gave credit to his wife for the success of the simcha: “Being able to celebrate our daughters b’not mitzvah was so special! Robyn has an incredibly creative side, which she has practiced every year with Talya and Jamie’s amazing birthday parties, building up to this incredible function. She was the key to the look and feel of the whole event.” ì

11 Event Vendor List


Mireille Naturman Event Planner, Unique Eventures Vosamo Photography Your Event Solutions

Added Touch Catering

Espeute Productions- DJ

Button it up- Graffiti Wall photo booth Robin Zusmann Paper Matters: invitations and giveaways



A Family-Made Bat Mitzvah


1 By Chana Shapiro

Yaffa Antopolsky is blessed with a close-knit, imaginative network of family and friends, who combined their talents to create a bat mitzvah celebration that perfectly reflected her personality. The group effort resulted in a pink-hued festivity of home-made food, homegrown talent, and home-spun activities. The theme of the celebration was Tehillim, or Psalms, and the spirit of King David — who wrote most of the psalms — was integrated into every ATLANTA JEWISH TIMES


aspect of the event, from Yaffa’s d’var Torah to table decorations and a lasting art project for Yaffa’s Chaya Mushka Elementary School classmates. “Yaffa led the way with the theme, and we came up with ideas and activities,” her mother Esther explained. “We wanted everybody to do something Jewishly meaningful, which would also be fun.” The Antopolsky family likes to hold their simchas in natural settings. The Roswell River Landing provided an indoor and outdoor background for words of Torah, evocative

3 activities for all ages, dancing, dining, socializing, and picturetaking. Two amenities specifically suited the Congregation Beth Tefillah Chabad family: They were given permission to kosher the oven in the kitchen for buffet food warming, and the site has a large loft area where Yaffa and her classmates created keepsakes. Each table had a tzedakah box, painted by Yaffa, which was surrounded by coins. Guests were invited to fulfill the mitzvah of giving charity by putting the coins in the boxes, and many reached into

their own purses and pockets for additional donations. The table decorations included harps. Esther explained, “King David played the harp, and we wanted to make that connection.” Yaffa loves art and crafts. Up in the loft, she and her classmates decorated their own hardcover psalters, books of Psalms. Yaffa’s paternal grandmother, Linda Antopolsky, noted, “Yaffa’s father, David, stayed up late last night, covering those books so the girls’ decorations would adhere permanently.”




8 David chimed in, “And my parents came from Augusta a few days early so that my mother could help with Chaya Mushka, our new baby. We had a lot to do!” Chaya Mushka,

7 Yaffa’s fifth sibling, was born seven weeks before the bat mitzvah. David did grocery and decoration shopping, helped Yaffa’s siblings write and choreograph an original song, and managed the logistics of the celebration. He hung all the decorations, which included a balloon arch created by Dawn Siegel. Michelle Leder helped with the buffet prep, and another close family friend, Malka Griffin, spent the afternoon taking pictures. Other guests led dancing. Yaffa’s maternal grandfather, Bernie, well known in Atlanta as “Bernie the Baker,” was in charge of the kitchen. Bernie, his son Alex, and daughter Esther are excellent cooks who

Photos by Malka Griffin//

1. Yaffa’s bat mitzvah theme, Psalms, was reflected throughout the celebration.

2. The Antopolskys stop for a photo: (l to r) Chana, Shayna, Esther, Yaffa, Avraham, David (holding Chaya Mushka), Eliana.

3. Yaffa and her classmates decorate personal books of Psalms. 4. The 12-photo clock was an original idea of Esther’s late mother, Janice Idov.

5. Yaffa’s siblings entertain guests with an original song. 6. Rabbi Yossi New of Congregation Beth Tefillah gives a d’var Torah. 7. Grandpa Bernie and Yaffa’s brother Avraham work in the kitchen. 8. Yaffa holds her baby sister, seven-week-old Chaya Mushka.



know how to cater to large groups of hungry guests. Yaffa likes to cook, too, and she and her 11-year-old sister Shayna prepared much of the food with their grandfather and their mother. The sumptuous dairy meal included Esther’s signature kugel, specialties by Bernie and Alex Idov, and bakery-worthy desserts made by Yaffa and her siblings. A poignant piece of original art, a clock with a photo of Yaffa at the age corresponding to each numeral, was prominently displayed. Esther learned that her late mother, Janice Idov, had planned to make a picture clock for Esther’s bat mitzvah, but she passed away a few months before the event. “When we made the clock, it was a way to bring my mother to our simcha,” Esther explained. “In that way, all of Yaffa’s grandparents were with us.” ì

9 Photos by Malka Griffin //

9. Yaffa and friends stand by “Mazal Tov Yaffa” balloon letters.


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