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Volume 7, Number 8 Rosh Hashanah

Serving the Local New Orleans, Northshore, and Baton Rouge Jewish Communities

9 Things You Didn’t Know About Rosh Hashanah Impress your friends and family with these little-known facts about the Jewish New Year. By MJL Staff Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, starts at sundown on September 20, 2017. It’s known for apples dipped in honey, record synagogue attendance and as the kickoff to the Days of Awe, which culminate in Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. We’re guessing that even the most experienced holiday observer, however, won’t know all of these facts about the holiday: 1- It’s traditional to eat a “new fruit,” or fruit you haven’t eaten for a long time, on the second night of Rosh Hashanah.

This tasty custom is often observed by eating a pomegranate, a fruit rich in symbolism (and nutrients). It developed as a technical solution to a legal difficulty surrounding the recitation of the shehecheyanu blessing on the second day of the holiday. Use it as an excuse to scout out the “exotic fruit” section of your grocery store’s produce department. 2. And speaking of fruit, apples and honey (and pomegranates) aren’t the only symbolic foods traditionally enjoyed on Rosh Hashanah.

dates, string beans, beets, pumpkins, leeks — and even fish heads. Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews often hold Rosh Hashanah seders in which a blessing is said for each food, and they are eaten in a set order. If you want to try this but are a vegetarian or just grossed out by fish heads, consider using gummy fish or fish-shaped crackers instead

This lively gathering, which dates back to the early 19th century, takes place in Uman, the town where Nachman of Breslov, founder of the Breslover sect and greatgrandson of the Baal Shem Tov, was buried. Breslov believed Rosh Hashanah was the most important holiday, hence the timing of the pilgrimage.

3. Rosh Hashanah liturgy has inspired at least two rock songs.

5. It is traditional to fast on the day after Rosh Hashanah.

Avinu Malkeinu, the prayer that means “Our Father, Our King,” inspired Mogwai, a Scottish postrock-trio to write a 20-minute epic song “My Father, My King.” The song, which borrows the prayer’s traditional melody, is alternately soft and beautiful and loud and raging. More famously, Leonard Cohen’s “Who By Fire” draws on the Unetanah Tokef, which many consider the most important prayer in the High Holiday liturgy.

The Fast of Gedaliah is not a cleanse for those who overindulged at holiday meals, but a day set aside to commemorate the assassination of Gedaliah, the Babylonianappointed official charged with administering the Jewish population remaining in Judea following the destruction of the Temple in 586 B.C.E. Unlike Yom Kippur, which comes just a few days later, this fast lasts only from sunrise to sundown. 6. If Rosh Hashanah felt ‘late’ 4. Tens of thousands of Hasidic in 2016, that’s because it was. Jews make a pilgrimage to Ukraine for an annual Rosh Hashanah gathering known as a “kibbutz.”

The latest date that Rosh Hashanah can fall on the Gregorian calendar is October 5 (as happened in 1967 and will happen again in 2043). It wasn’t quite that late in Hasidic Jews outside Rabbi 2016, but was on the later end Other foods traditionally eaten to Nachman of Breslov’s tomb in because we were in a Jewish leap symbolize wishes for prosperity Uman in 2001. (Nahoum Sabban/ year — which is more complicated than the Gregorian leap year of and health in the New Year include Wikimedia Commons)

adding a day to February every four years. To coordinate the traditional lunar year with the solar year and ensure that the season in which a holiday falls remains consistent, Judaism worked out a system of 19-year cycles, during which there are seven leap years. Instead of adding a day, the Jewish calendar adds a full month — a second Adar — to the year. 7. American Jews used to exchange telegrams for Rosh Hashanah. A LOT of them.

In 1927, the Western Union Telegraph Company reported that Jewish people send telegrams of congratulations and well-wishing much more frequently than members of any other group. In particular, they exchanged thousands of messages for Rosh Hashanah. “So great has the volume of this traffic become that the Western Union has instituted a special service similar to those for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter,” JTA wrote. “This special service, started in 1925, showed a 30 percent increase in 1926.” 8. Rosh Hashanah was not always the Jewish New Year.



Community News


Ever Feel Lost at the Services Because You Can't Follow Hebrew?


WALKS IN THE PARK ELUL WEDNESDAYS, 8:00AM ST. CHARLES ENTRANCE, AUDUBON PARK AUG 23, AUG 30, SEPT 6, SEPT 13 ELUL WALKS ARE BACK! Come prepare your body and soul for the High Holy Day season with our conversations and contemplations while walking in Audubon Park. Dogs and strollers welcome!

Want to help your children with their Bar/Bat Mitzvah lessons? Planning on visiting Israel and want to read the street signs? Want to study the Torah in its original language? Perhaps it’s time to learn your own Jewish language To register, visit jewishlouisiana. com/classes or email Mendel This time proven course will teach you to read Hebrew in only five weeks. We will be using text

books (that will be provided) with PowerPoint’s to get you used to the Hebrew letters, vowels and order so that you will be fluent in them at the end of the five weeks. This class is geared toward those who are currently unable to read Hebrew, as well as those who would like to improve their fluency. Whether you are interested in classical Hebrew (as found in the prayer-books) or modern Hebrew as spoken in Israel, this class is ideal for you. If you are unsure if you qualify for this course or would like to learn to speak and understand Hebrew please contact us through using the contact information above. For more on upcoming Hebrew Reading classes information please email: mendelc@jewishlouisiana. com or call: 347-351-6476 ì

Gates of Prayer Softball Team Synagogue Softball League Champions 2017 In the Kitchen WITH RABBI SILVERMAN

CHALLAH & HONEY CAKE THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 14 6:00PM TOURO KITCHEN “They attacked us. We won…Let’s eat!” No truer words exist to describe the experience of living a Jewish life — so let’s own it and eat it! Join us for another four sessions throughout the year as we learn about and taste Jewish foods that help make up Jewish homes. We'll roll up our sleeves, flour and oil our surfaces, and delve into the world of culinary Judaism. For information on the full course of sessions, be sure to see the forthcoming High Holy Day bulletin. Our first meeting of the year will be "Challah and Honey Cake" in honor of (and just in time for) the High Holy Days!

SPACE IS LIMITED Materials and Registration Fee: Members - No Charge / Non-Members - $18 Register by emailing

On July 16, 2017, the CGoP Softball Team won the Synagogue Softball League, beating Beth Israel 15-2. The team was lead by veteran pitcher, Damion Michaels, who was unanimously selected as the team’s MVP! The CGoP team was 4-4 in the regular season, plagued with injuries and vacation plans. Nonetheless, the team fought hard in the playoffs from its third seed to defeat its bitter rival, Touro, in the semifinals. The team was coached by

Jared Davidson, who now boasts a 2-0 record since becoming head coach. In addition to Michaels, the team was comprised of many veteran CGoP players including Michael Gilman, Christopher Williams, Max Michaels, Michael Finkelstein, Mark Jaffe, Mattew Friedman, Jeremy Jacobson, Jake Gitter and Martin Fischman. The entire team would like to that the Brotherhood for its continuous support!ì



SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 16 5:00 Film Viewing and Discussion 7:15 Dinner (Suggested donation of $10 per person) 8:00 Contemplative Selichot Service - Music and Reflections Please join us for a screening and discussion surrounding Ava DuVernay’s Oscar-nominated and critically acclaimed documentary, 13th. The title of DuVernay’s documentary refers to the 13th Amendment of the US Constitution, which reads “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States…” The progression from that second qualifying clause to the current rate of mass criminalization and the state of the American prison industry is easily and articulately laid out by DuVernay, Mark your calendars and plan to join us for this important conversation.





Date: August 27, 2017 Time: 11:00 am - 3:30 pm New Orleans JCC - Uptown 5342 St. Charles Avenue New Orleans, LA 70115 Harriet W. Kugler Mah Jongg Tournament

Enjoy a lovely catered lunch and a fun afternoon of mah jongg at our annual Harriet W. Kugler Memorial Mah Jongg Tournament. Bring your friends to this fun threeround tournament. Contact: Judy Yaillen Phone: 504.897.0143 Email: $40.00 / $60.00 / $75.00 members and non-members ì Date: August 28, 2017 Time: 7:00 pm - 9:00 pm

Location: Shir Chadash Conservative Congregation 3737 W. Esplanade Avenue Metairie, LA 70002 Monday Movies In Metairie - Chariots Of Fire

The Jewish Community Center is joining with Metairie synagogues for three Monday nights during the summer to show both classic and new films of Jewish interest. The third and final film of this series will be Chariots of Fire and will be shown at Shir Chadash Conservative Congregation. Contact: Judy Yaillen Phone: 504.897.0143 Email: Free and open to the communityì Date: August 31, 2017 Time: 12:00 pm - 1:45 pm

New Orleans JCC - Uptown 5342 St. Charles Avenue New Orleans, LA 70115 Movie Day: Magic In The Moonlight Exposing a phony soothsayer proves harder than expected when the debunker (an Englishman) becomes smitten with the purTHE



Community Calendar


ported fraud (a French beauty). This deft romantic comedy, starring Colin Firth, Eileen Atkins, Marcia Gay Harden and directed by Woody Allen, unwinds amid the gilt and glamour of the French Riviera in the 1920s. Movie snacks will be served. RSVP by Monday, August 28 to Rachel Ruth at 8970143 x161 or Contact: Rachel Ruth Phone: 504.897.0143 Email: No charge members and nonmembersì September 3, 2017 2:30PM - 4:00PM

Goldring-Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus 3747 W. Esplanade Avenue Metairie, LA 70002 Chabad-Family Bbq & High Holiday Fair Jewish Kids club family BBQ and High Holiday fair! Join us at the Goldring-Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus for a delicious BBQ, bounce-house and lots of fun holiday games and activities. Contact: Libby Groner Phone: 504-710-7891 Email: http://www.jewishlouisiana.comì September 4, 2017 11:00AM - 4:00PM

Torah Academy 5210 West Esplanade Ave. Metairie, LA. 70002 Torah Academy-2nd Red Beans & Rice Cook-Off Fundraiser Fundraiser to benefit Jewish Community Day School and Torah Academy. Food will be available for purchase.ì Date: September 7, 2017 Time: 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

New Orleans JCC - Uptown 5342 St. Charles Avenue New Orleans, LA 70115 Lunch & Learn With The Rabbi Phone: 504.897.0143

Email: Rabbi Berk, from Touro Synagogue, will join us and lead a discussion on a topic close to her heart. A light lunch will be served. RSVP by Monday, September 4, to Rachel Ruth at 897-0143 x 161 or $3 members / $5 non-membersì September 9, 10, 2017 8:00PM - 12:00AM

Hadassah-Fundraiser Contact: Charisse Sands Phone: 504-231-6464 Email: annsandsc@aol.comì September 10, 2017 9:00AM - 4:00PM

Goldring-Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus 3747 West Esplanade Ave. Metairie, LA 70002 Jewish Children's Regional Service-Chanukah Gift Wrap-A-Thon Community service event for families, students, and volunteers of all ages. We wrap thousands of Hanukkah gifts for disadvantaged children who are served by JCRS programs all across the South. All gifts and wrapping materials supplied. There will be Hanukkah door prizes for each household, community service hours for students, and awards for the best wrappers! Pizza and refreshments will be served throughout the day. A fun mitzvah activity for all! 504-887-5158 Contact: Ned Goldberg Phone: 504-828-6334 Fax: 504-828-5255 Email: Web: September 10, 2017 10:00AM - 3:00PM

National Council Of Jewish Women Board Orientation & Retreat Contact: Barbara Kaplinsky: 504-9826259


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If your group has an event that you would like for us to include on the Community Calendar please e-mail the information to All submissions are subject to acceptance by the Editor. ì

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ROSH HASHANAH LUNCHEON You are cordially invited to join us for lunch after Rosh Hashanah Morning Service on Thursday, September 21 in the Jacobs Social Hall OPEN TO ALL $20 adults / $10 children RSVP ONLINE

No charge members onlyì

Date: September 11, 2017 Time: 11:45 am - 1:30 am

Happy New Year to our many Jewish Friends Over 80 years of service in New Orleans

New Orleans JCC - Uptown 5342 St. Charles Avenue New Orleans, LA 70115 Morris Bart Sr., Lecture Series At The J: A Reading From 'Ecotone': A Journey Into The Wilderness During this presentation, poet and writer Benjamin Morris will read from and discuss his new book Ecotone, published by Antenna in New Orleans. This collection, first born while in residence at A Studio in the Woods in Algiers, envoices the endangered forest landscape of coastal Louisiana, and is accompanied by the surreal, atmospheric paintings of Myrtle von Damitz. Morris will present this special collaborative edition, and invite the audience to enter the strange new world of the landscape of their own backyards. Lunch will be served. RSVP by Thursday, September 7 to Rachel Ruth at 897-0143 x161 or rachel@ No charge members / $10 nonmember ì Date: September 13, 2017 Time: 9:15 am - 10:15 am


Date: September 14, 2017 Time: 7:30PM - 9:30PM

Chabad Jewish Center 4505 Laplace St. Metairie, LA 70006 Chabad-Holocaust Speaker Cost: $ 10.00 Contact: Mendel Ceitlin Phone: 347-351-6476 marthecohn Date: September 18, 2017 Time: 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm

New Orleans JCC - Uptown 5342 St. Charles Avenue New Orleans, LA 70115 JCC Book Club - Rav Hisda's Daughter JCC Book Club will review the book RAV HISDA'S DAUGHTER, by Maggie Anton. Contact: Judy Yaillen Phone: 504.897.0143 Email: No charge members and nonmembersì Date: September 28, 2017 Time: 12:00 pm - 2:15 pm

New Orleans JCC - Uptown 5342 St. Charles Avenue New Orleans, LA 70115 Parents Circle Join other parents for coffee and conversation in our newly formed group, Parents Circle. We will meet once a month to share parenting experiences, discuss universal Jewish values, and learn about Jewish holidays and other customs. Parents of all faiths in all family constellations are welcome. No prior knowledge is needed. Bring your questions, share your experiences and come be a part of this warm and nurturing group. Please RSVP to Robyn Silverman at Contact: Robyn Silverman Phone: 504-897-0143 Email: Instructor: Robyn Silverman

New Orleans JCC - Uptown 5342 St. Charles Avenue New Orleans, LA 70115 Movie Day: Lion In this affecting true story, 5-yearold Saroo is adopted by an Australian couple after losing his way in the urban jungle of Kolkata. More than two decades later, new mapping technology prompts Saroo (Dev Patel) to search for his lost family in India. This movie was nominated for 6 Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Movie snacks will be served. RSVP by Monday, September 25 to Rachel Ruth at 897-0143 x161 or rachel@ Contact: Rachel Ruth Phone: 504.897.0143 Email: No charge members and nonmembers ì

Best Wishes to my many Jewish Friends and constituents for a Happy New Year!

Monique G. Morial Judge, First City Court, New Orleans 4





Holiday Features


Fear and Trembling About High Holidays Services (Wikimedia Commons) By Joshua Ratner (Rabbis Without Borders via JTA) -- Fear and trembling make a triumphant return to the Jewish calendar with the month of Elul and the initiation of the holiday countdown that leads to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. As a rabbinical colleague wrote, Elul itself carries spiritual significance as a time to begin soul-searching and stock-taking of our individual behaviors over the past year. Elul carries with it a particular sense of urgency, if not dread, for those officiating at High Holidays services. Summer vacation is now officially over. The lists of details for the myriad services that will take place — who is leading each reading, getting each aliyah, opening or closing the ark — can be truly staggering. Searches begin in earnest for those pithy anecdotes or fascinating studies of human nature that were clipped from newspapers or dogeared in books we have been reading over the past year. Rabbis in smaller shuls now must coordinate with guest cantors, synagogue choirs or brush up on their own chanting abilities. And, of course, there is the coup de gras —the High Holidays sermons. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that for those looking for a new house of worship, “Americans look first and foremost for a place where they like the preaching THE

and the tone set by the congregation’s leaders.” At 83 percent, the quality of the sermon was the single highest factor in determining Americans’ choice of congregation. So the pressure many rabbis feel, myself included, to craft and deliver sermons of high quality is tremendous. But if I am honest with myself, the sermon actually is the easy part of transmitting meaning and content on the High Holidays. It is conveyed in the vernacular and crafted to connect, deeply and personally, with those in attendance. What is truly hard, and what really fills me with fear, is how to make the rest of the services resonate. There are (at least) three fundamental challenges posed by the Yamim Noraim (Days of Awe) services. (I will speak specifically about Conservative Jewish services because those are the ones I am most familiar with.) First is the sheer volume of Hebrew used during services. From Maariv on Rosh Hashanah Eve through Neilah on Yom Kippur, worshippers confront a relentless onslaught of Hebrew poetry and prose. While there are opportunities to inject English readings or inspirational messages (“kavanot”), these are usually the exception rather than the rule. Why do we inundate ourselves with so much Hebrew? Because the

machzor, the prayerbook we use for the High Holidays, simply has a ton of content and we know that must synagogue-goers only have a limited time span during which they will sit in the pews. This leaves two options: cut out some Hebrew and




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Holiday Features



Just Do It: A High Holidays Call to Action Thinking and feeling are the fertile soil of teshuvah, but action is the harvest, David Markus writes. (Public Domain) By David Markus

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(Rabbis Without Borders via JTA) -- As the High Holidays tides approach and soon over-wash with their poignant waters of joy, awe, solemnity and introspection, it’s tempting to imagine that this season is only for emotional and spiritual internals. This season of teshuvah (returning, repairing, forgiving) is for thinking and feeling teshuvah – but mainly as springboards for action. It’s good to think teshuvah in our minds and feel teshuvah in our hearts. It’s healthy to commit to change behaviors that don’t serve us, others or the world. It’s right to arouse intention to seek and give forgiveness. Good, healthy and right as our inner turns can be, they aren’t fully teshuvah until they spur action where action is possible. Jews are called to action. Our spiritual ancestors answered Sinai’s call by responding "na’aseh v’nishma," “We will do and we will hear” (Exodus 19:8) – doing is paramount. Shabbat doesn’t just happen magically: “The Children of Israel will … do Shabbat for all their generations as an eternal cove-nant” (Exodus 31:16) – doing makes Shabbat. Doing is our covenant. Doing is the goal of the inner return and repair we call teshuvah. The riveting High Holidays Avinu Malkeinu liturgy pleads to God "Aseh imanu va’chesed" – “do with us justice and lovingkindness.” On Yom Kippur, we hear anew the call to emulate God – “Be holy, for I [the Holy One] am holy” (Leviticus 15:2) – so this season calls us to do likewise. We are to do the

same justice and lovingkindness that we crave for ourselves. What is a teshuvah of doing? It depends on context, but usually includes action knowable to others. It can mean actually speaking apology to people we wronged (not just thinking or feeling it). It can mean correcting a rumor we spread (even if we can’t undo all of a rumor’s harm). It can mean sending an email to begin repairing a relationship. It can mean communicating forgiveness long restrained by grudge. It can mean returning an item that belongs to another. In all of these cases, teshuvah means doing: Thinking and feeling are the fertile soil of teshuvah, but action is the harvest – the purpose and fulfillment. Teshuvah often is risky: action risks rejection and failure. But in most cases, that’s exactly the point. Except in abusive or dangerous contexts in which repair is not safely feasible by action in this world, risk is part of what we must do to heed the call of teshuvah. A true teshuvah of action asks courage to risk our hearts in service of doing true repair and healing. Our hearts and souls – and others’ hearts and souls – are worth it. That’s the call of this season – a teshuvah of action that’s riskier – and far more healing and liberating – than thinking or feeling alone. Justice and loving kindness, community and spirituality, compassion and mercy, forgiveness and repair, Shabbat and Jewish life – all of these call us to do. So in this season of teshuvah, what are you waiting for? Make that call. Send that email. Just do it. (Rabbi David Evan Markus is co-chair of ALEPH: Alliance for Jewish Renewal, the umbrella organization for the Jewish Renewal movement, and co-rabbi of Temple Beth-El of City Island in New York City.) ì

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Holiday Features


How I Keep My Bubbe’s Memory Alive During the High Holidays (Wikimedia Commons) By Stacey Zisook Robinson

(Kveller via JTA) -- As a kid, I didn’t live a particularly Jewish life. We were sent to Hebrew school on Tuesdays and Thursdays and got dropped off at Sunday school. We fidgeted through services occa-sionally — usually because we were attending a bar mitzvah or it was High Holidays season. I went to Saturday morning services pretty regularly the year prior to my own bat mitzvah — only because it was a requirement. My parents were under no such requirements, so their weekends were filled with other things. They got their Judaism through osmosis, I guess — the act of taking us to temple, their proximity to the building, hearing us practice a prayer or a chant. That was Jewish enough for them. Don’t get me wrong, they took great pride in their Judaism. Not only did they occasionally drop into a service on Shabbat, they never missed attending High Holidays services, enjoyed lox and bagels on Sunday mornings at the local deli (and the much less kosher ribs on Sunday nights), followed all the “famous” Jews who made it into the news for good (ya!) or ill (oy!), and observed all the holidays (that they knew of), and by “observe” I mean mom cooked a huge meal and the extended family came to feast. The beginning of every holiday meant soup. Chicken soup, replete with lokshen (noodles), knaidlach (matzah balls, the harder the better), kreplach (think “Jewish ravioli” and you’ll be close). Even those occasional Friday nights when, for no discernible reason, mom got it into her head to “do Shabbat,” dinner started with chicken soup. And while her mother would make the noodles from scratch, along with the kreplach and knaidlach, mom was happy to start with the package variety of everything but kreplach. My mother visited her mother THE


often. We lived in the south suburbs of Chicago; Bubbie was on the north side, our version of the shtetls of Poland and Russia, though made up of high rises and gorgeous lake views. Still, Tevye would have fit right in after a day or two. Every so often, her pilgrimage had a specific mission: replenish the kreplach supply. She stored them in the freezer until needed. I would come across the bag every so often as I searched for something else and I would seriously think of tak-ing — just one! — to eat, but in the days before microwaves, I couldn’t come up with a way to do it quickly and, more important, stealthily. As my grandmother aged, though the quality never diminished, the amount of kreplach did. It was difficult for her to chop the meat by hand, in her wooden bowl and with an ancient blade. Somewhere my mother has that recipe for kreplach, as dictated by my Bubbie. There’s even a video of her, my mother, sister-in-law and niece learning the art of kreplachmaking. Mom also has the recipes for brisket and chopped liver and challah and roasted chicken and kishke and every other food that has come to mean holiday and feast and family and love. Most are kept in her head. I told her years and years ago that she never needed to buy me another present, that for any birthday or holiday, all she needed to do was write down one of the recipes. She swears she’s doing this, but I’m not holding my breath. I know — I could look up the recipe for anything I would ever want to cook on the interwebs. But those recipes don’t taste the same as the ones from my mother, who got them from her mother, who got them from her mother, who got them from that long line of ancestors going back into almost for-ever ago. When I make my soup — as I did last year for Rosh Hashanah — I think back to my Bubbie, whom I called the first time I made her soup. Add some salt, she said. How much? Enough. You’ll taste it. But it’s water, Bubbie!! You’ll know. An exasperated sigh. Add the carrots after you’ve skimmed off the dreck that floats to the top. Dreck? Ew. Don’t forget the dill! How

much dill? Enough. You’ll know. Oy. I was beginning to sense a pattern here. Finally: And five minutes before it’s done … Wait. What? How will I know when it’s done? You’ll know. I feel my grandmother with me whenever I make her soup. I feel her mother, and hers, and all of them — that long line of them back to forever ago. My kitchen is crowded with their presence, in the steam and the scent and the bubbling pot that holds so much more than soup. I got lost in that thought as I stirred and skimmed that day. My

17-year-old came into the kitchen. “Soup!” he said. I nodded. “You know, you have to write that recipe down for me before I go away to school next year.” I nod again, mostly because I couldn’t talk in that minute. “Is it done yet?” How will I know if it’s done? I’ll know. (Stacey Zisook Robinson has been published in several magazines and anthologies. She is the author of the book, “Dancing in the Palm of God’s Hand.” She blogs at http://staceyzrobinson.blogspot. com.) ì

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Best wishes to my friends in the Jewish community for a happy New Year. Thank you for your continued support!

Chief Judge Sidney H. Cates, IV

Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans



Holiday Features



How Can We Forgive the Unforgivable? By Alana Suskin (Rabbis Without Borders via JTA) -- The month of Elul is the season of repentance and forgiveness that culminates with Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. In the rabbinic imagination, Elul is an acronym for “Ani L’Dodi V’dodi Li” – “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” This verse from Song of Songs is understood in regards to this season as reminding us that when we reach out to God, God in love takes us back. This culminates in the holiday of Sukkot, in which the fragile hut with the open roof symbolizes the marital home and the trust in its ability to withstand the winds and the rains in the grace of God’s love. But what happens when it doesn’t? It’s not a terribly uncommon story these days to hear of a husband or wife who decides that the stability of marriage isn’t as exciting as a new infatuation. Some people are so addicted to those feelings that they pursue them time and again, through multiple marriages, and nonstop entanglements and drama. We like to think of love as that

which cures all, the cause of all happy endings, but for too many people, love ends in betrayal and brokeness. Even God, throughout the Torah, suffers from these feelings – it is not for nothing that the metaphor most commonly used for Israel turning away from God is the deepest, most heartrending one of the marriage betrayed. What about when love doesn’t carry the day? It is well known that Jewish law states that for wrongs between people, God does not forgive until forgiveness is asked and received by the people involved. And in theory, no one wants to be that person who can’t let go, who refuses the request for forgiveness. But is it really possible, or even right to forgive everything? The word "elul," when one adds the letter yud at the end, becomes “eluli” — “if only, if it weren’t for.” In the rabbinic imagination, the letters that make up God’s name become an extension of God, so that adding a yud to elul is symbolically pouring God into the month of Elul. If it only weren’t that, we might

say, then I could forgive. Our society loves the prodigal. Social media are filled with inspirational memes about forgiveness – that we should forgive, that it will help us, if not the person who wronged us. But I’m not entirely sure. Forgiveness doesn’t necessarily mean the cleaning of the slate, but it certainly implies that what was done can be repaired, or at least moved on from – but what if it can’t? This season is replete with people sending each other messages of trivial apology and forgiveness – “If I have done you wrong, please forgive me…” “Of course!” But perhaps some years we should live in our sin for a while. Maybe it would be worthwhile to spend longer saying “If only I hadn’t ...” or insisting that some wrongs cannot just be glossed over. There is much discussion these days of micro-aggressions and triggers. “Brush it off!” comes the choir. “Grow up!” “Grow a thicker skin!” But perhaps what we really need is a thinner skin, and more attention to the small things that do harm,

and instead of brushing off, maybe we should grab them and wave them around a bit. Maybe those tiny barbs are actually the building blocks for larger wrongs, the way that they hook on to those with less power. Maybe the wronged spouse shouldn’t be so ready to forget and move on, and maybe we shouldn’t ask them to. Maybe eluli really means “If I only could hold on a minute more, maybe next time things will be different.” Maybe when we say that “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine,” we should think of love as an aspect of eternity, that what we do and say doesn’t disappear, for good or for bad, but lives on in us, and we shouldn’t be so ready to let it go. (Rabbi Alana Suskin received her rabbinic ordination and master's degree in rabbinic studies from the University of Judaism's Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies.)ì


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17 School Lunch Ideas for Every Special Diet


Happy New Year to all my friends & supporters in the Jewish Community

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Ok, so you cut out peanut butter from your school lunches. And then you cut out other nuts from lunches. And now you need to send in gluten-free, low sugar, nut free, allergy sensitive baked goods for birthdays. Good grief! We know that every kid has their own sort of eating thing–allergies, sensitivities, preferences. And so packing school lunch can get…. complicated. We wanted to try and make that a little easier with a few ideas for every restrictive diet we could think of. Check out our 20 school lunch ideas your kids will actually eat. Nut-free, gluten-free lunch ideas 14. Salted caramel chocolate oat Nut-free, vegetarian lunch ideas bars from With Salt and Wit 1. Apple cheddar grilled cheese (Also vegan. Note: Almond from i am a food blog butter can be replaced with 2. Vegetarian baked samosas sunbutter.) from Weelicious 15. Gluten-free sandwich bread 3. Sweet potato mac and cheese from Meaningful Eats 4. Catsadilla from Fork and Beans (can also be made glu16. Black bean brownie bites ten free and non-dairy) from Kitchen Treaty 5. Hungry hippo sandwiches 17. Sunflower butter ants on a from Two Healthy Kitchens log from Babble ì

Stephanie Hilferty State Representative, District 94 Happy New Year to my many friends in the Jewish Community. Thank you for your continued support! Constable Tasso “Tiger” Taylor III St. Tammany Parish, Ward 3






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This Yiddish Film Is a Rare Look into Hasidic Brooklyn Life By Charles Munitz BOSTON (JTA) — With more than a decade’s worth of experience in the film industry, mostly in documentaries, director Joshua Weinstein has released his first featurelength narrative film. What’s surprising is that Weinstein, a secular Jew, has made a movie entirely in Yiddish. "Menashe," about Hasidic Jews in the Borough Park section of

Brooklyn, is among the first fulllength Yiddish language films to hit the big screen in more than 70 years. “I love going into small, closed societies and trying to understand and to represent them, and to tell all sides of their stories – the good and the bad – with honesty,” Weinstein, 34, told JTA recently when he and the film’s Hasidic star, Menashe

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Lustig, attended a screening at the Boston International Film Fes-tival. Though Weinstein knew he wanted to do a film about the Hasidim, he was not sure at the outset about the topic. He began to spend time among them in Brooklyn -- to gain their trust and become familiar with their world. “You can’t cast a film like this in the usual way – you put on a yarmulke, hang out and show up every single day," he said. "I was researching and meeting people. I was also trying to find actors because you can only make a film if you can cast it." Lustig said a minor miracle occurred when he and Weinstein crossed paths. “I had been acting very locally in the Hasidic community in a nonprofessional way when Josh approached me after he saw me appear in a short Hasidic commercial,” Lustig said. “We talked together and he said he’d like to make a film with me.” As Weinstein got to know Lustig and began to hear the details of his life, Weinstein realized he had found his story. A recent widower, Lustig had been pressured by his religious community of Skver Hasidim to yield the rearing of his 9-year-old son to others until he remarried “Menashe” tells the story of a 30-something widower and single father, and contrasts the title charac-ter’s urge toward self-sufficiency with the demands of traditionalism in a small, tightly knit religious community. “The whole movie is a 95 percent true story,” Lustig said. “We just touched it up a little bit.” The film focuses on the decision by the community's rabbi that Menashe yield the rearing of his son, Rieven, to the family of his late wife's brother. The decision causes Menashe much anguish, which is made considerably worse by his brother-in-law’s severe and self-righteous demeanor. In the eyes of the community Menashe, a grocery clerk, is a schlemiel. He bucks authority but, at the same time, does not carry himself in a way that garners respect. Menashe doesn't want to marry just anyone, however, and he

wants to prove he can adequately provide a home for his son. “It is an emotionally true story,” Weinstein said. “The film expresses how Menashe Lustig actually felt when he went through what he did.”ì With the exception of a few lines in English and Spanish — this is Brooklyn, after all — the film’s dialogue occurs entirely in Yiddish. “The sheer challenge of making a new and unique film about Hasidim in Yiddish was very exciting,” Weinstein said. It was just one of many challenges facing Weinstein. The production schedule, for example, was frequently thrown off schedule — some actors who originally signed up, including Lustig, were pressured by their communities not to participate. Fortunately, Weinstein said his background making documentaries, which often depends on bending to the unexpected, gave him the flexibility to see the process through. Another challenge: Weinstein doesn’t speak Yiddish. And yet, “You couldn’t really make this film in English,” he said. “If it weren’t going to be in Yiddish, then why not just make ‘Home Alone 7’?” (As it happens, one of the executive producers of “Menashe” is Chris Columbus, the director of the wildly successful 1990 movie “Home Alone.") Much of the script was written, in English, before filming started, said Weinstein, with translators providing a Yiddish version. Lustig developed some scenes by improvising in English — so Weinstein could understand — then would translate them into Yiddish. After that, with the help of translators, the dialogue was again reviewed carefully. The accuracy of the words was not taken lightly. In post-production, a team of translators worked on the subtitles — many debates over word choices ensued. "It was almost like translating the Talmud in some way,” Weinstein said. “Menashe” will be in theaters in New York and Los Angeles on July 28, with a national rollout to follow. (Charles Munitz publishes the blog Boston Arts Diary.) ì THE




A New Yorker Editor Picks 7 of His Favorite Jewish Cartoons


By Gabe Friedman

Robert Mankoff/The New Yorker Collection/The Cartoon Bank)

long time to formulate his thoughts on Judaism and Jewish humor. For example, he once wrote an essay about how Jews have become the “People of the Joke,” as opposed to the “People of the Book.” "The Jews of the Bible aren't funny," he told JTA. “[Judaism] is a decent first draft of how to behave. It’s a really good try for 4,000 years

(JTA) — Bob Mankoff has been the cartoon editor at The New Yorker for 20 years. But he’s been a Jew for 72.

ago.” Mankoff mined his Jewish experience for many of the 900-plus cartoons he has published in the Alex Gregory/The New Yorker Collection/The Cartoon Bank magazine, such as one with this caption: “I’m not arguing, I’m JewThe celebrated cartoonist, who is ish.” (His most famous cartoon stepping down from his prestigious perch in May, has therefore had a

J.B. Handelsman/The New Yorker Collection/The Cartoon Bank

might be one with a man on the phone saying, “How about never — is never good for you?”) Born to parents who understood Yiddish (his mom spoke it fluently; his dad, not quite) on New York’s Lower East Side in 1944, Mankoff grew up in Queens in an age of Jewish assimilation into white American culture.

“Assimilation has a tension to it,

to maintain who you are, but to change,” he said. “That’s a great mix for comedy because humor always has a double perspective — on what appearances are and what reality actually is.” Mankoff, who has written a memoir and been the subject of an HBO documentary, doesn’t plan on slowing down after leaving The New Yorker next month. He will teach a class at Fordham, continue to lead the Cartoon Bank, which licenses New Yorker cartoons, and work on a new project called Botnik Studios — it aims to inspire better jokes through computer algorithms. ì

Happy New Year to all my Jewish friends! Thank you for your support.

Karen Carter Peterson Senator, District 5 Paid for by Karen Carter Peterson Campaign Fund

Best Wishes to all of my friends in the Jewish Community. Thank you for your continued support.

Charlie Kerner Justice of the Peace

Jefferson Parish 3rd Justice Court

Wishing You Health, Happiness and Prosperity in the Coming Year. PAT BRISTER St. Tammany Parish President





Arts & Culture



This Israeli Film About Orthodox Jews Is a Surprise Hit Overseas By Gabe Friedman (JTA) — It’s safe to call the Israeli film “The Women’s Balcony” the opposite of a Hollywood block-buster. The movie, directed by Emil Ben-Shimon, is a sensitive, sliceof-life story that focuses on the rift caused in a modern Orthodox community in Jerusalem when a Hasidic rabbi offers to fill in for the congregation’s leader, who is traumatized when his wife is hurt in an accident. When the new rabbi urges the men in the congregation to embrace a more strictly religious lifestyle, they buy in and ask their wives to dress more modestly and

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adhere more closely to the words of the Torah. But the men’s wives rebel after initially being conflicted by the changes. The production is unassuming: There is no fancy camerawork, no huge twist, no laugh-out-loud moments, no sex and no violence (although there is some yelling — it is, after all, a movie about Israelis). Yet the movie is a breakout hit in its native country and also is succeeding overseas. In Israel, it sold more tickets than any other Hebrewlanguage film last fall and into this year. In a country of some 7 million people, selling 100,000 tickets puts a film in the blockbuster category. As of March, “The Wom-en’s Balcony” had sold 400,000. The film, which has enjoyed a wide release and positive reviews in Spain, will be distributed to theaters in Turkey and across Latin America. Based on its performance in a pre-release in two small U.S. markets — it has earned a total of $275,000 in Southern California's Orange County and in South Florida — the film’s distributor, Menemsha Films, expects “The Women’s Balcony” to rake in well over $1 mil-lion in box office sales here once it is released in New York City on May 26. After New York, the film will be shown in the top 25 other markets across the country. Its success in Israel — where there's a public debate about how much influence the stringently

Ortho-dox Chief Rabbinate should have over myriad aspects of life, from marriage to public transportation — is a bit of a no-brainer. But its international success has less obvious roots. After all, even Jews could have trouble keeping up with the religious references (a minyan, or group of 10, is needed for Orthodox prayer; a mikvah is a ritual bath) and questions (is it ever acceptable to use a Shabbos goy, a gen-tile who can perform certain during Shabbat?). First-time screenwriter Shlomit Nehama told JTA that she has been astonished by the success outside Israel. “I was sure this was a very local story that no one who doesn’t understand the local culture would identify with,” she wrote in an email translated from Hebrew. "The Women's Balcony" is a religious, feminist parable — albeit a nuanced one. The story is set in motion when the women’s balcony of the synagogue — an elevated section where the women sit at services, separating them from the men — collapses during a bar mitzvah ceremony. The men of the congregation, entranced by the Hasidic rabbi’s passionate sermons, initially acquiesce to his wishes to use the money raised to fix the damage to buy a new (and presumably holier) Torah scroll. The rabbi also arranges for the building of a more separate and restrictive women’s section — an enclosed box where the bal-

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From left to right: Orna Banai, Yafit Asulin, Evelin Hagoel, Sharona Elimelech and Einat Sarouf in “The Women’s Balcony.” (Courtesy of Menemsha Films)

cony used to be. The women in the film, led by the formidable Ettie (played by Evelin Hagoel), don’t take the new rab-bi's meddling lightly. In order to get the kind of women's section they want, some threaten to leave their husbands. This isn't a paean to egalitarianism, since the women's section is not abolished. Rather the women are just fighting to keep the status quo. The story is inspired by Nehama's childhood in Jerusalem. She grew up in a similar community but left as more and more Hasidic families moved into her neighborhood. She is no longer religious -- mainly because of what she calls "religious mediators" who attempt to frighten people in the name of religion -- but respects the concept of a women's balcony. "I see the concept of a women's balcony as a very charming thing," Nehama said. "The women looking at the men from above the heads of the men. Like in the gallery of a very respected theater." Perhaps that gentle attitude toward the traditions of a religious community — rather than dogma from the right or left side — speaks to the film’s unlikely success outside of Israel's modern Orthodox com-munity. In The Jerusalem Post, movie critic Hannah Brown found the story to be a “throwback to a kinder, gen-tler time, when communities were closer.” “The clothing all seems to be contemporary, but there are no cellphones around," Brown wrote. "When there is an event to be celebrated — a bar mitzvah, a holiday or a wedding — the entire group heads out to the synagogue, located in one of Jerusalem’s older neighborhoods. There are none of those garish event halls that people tend to use these days, and the women prepare the food them-selves; no one goes into debt paying for huge catered meals.” See ISRAELI FILM on Page






Arts & Culture


6 Jewish Podcasts That Will Make You Rethink Love By Lior Zaltzman

(JTA) —Tu b’Av, a minor holiday that celebrates the wine harvest. It is considered an auspicious day for matchmaking and thus has been dubbed “The Jewish Day of Love.” Let’s face it, though: Days of love are not for everyone. Some of us may be happily alone; some recently heartbroken, broken up or widowed. Some couples may be going through a rough patch. So instead of obsessing about your relationship — or lack thereof — you can spend this Tu b’Av listening to other people’s stories about love. Even those in happy partnerships may learn a thing or two from these six Jewish podcast episodes. 1. “Death, Sex and Money” — Ellen Burstyn interviews Gloria Steinem In this episode from a podcast about — you guessed it! — death, sex and money, Gloria Steinem talks with Ellen Burstyn about living alone and deciding not to get married when she was younger. Burstyn also dishes about her three-year marriage, at age 66, to activist David Bale, and about how caring for him as he died helped her come to terms with how she could not care for her ailing mother when she was a child. The intimate conversation between the famed actress and the iconic Jewish feminist is incredibly insightful and moving, and you’ll feel as if you’re sitting in the room with these two larger-than-life women. 2. “Strangers” — The Waxing Virgin, Then and Now This episode of “Strangers” — a podcast about the amazing things that happen when strangers meet — is about Becca, a Persian Orthodox Jew. An aesthetician, she sees people’s most intimate parts on a daily basis — and she’s also a 30-yearold virgin. Lea Thau, the host of “Strangers,” interviews Becca about how she reconciles her upbringing with her desire for love and partnership and with her job. It’s a gripping and brutally honest story that’s definitely not suitable for the squeamish THE


or young children. 3. “Why Oh Why” — Deep in the Woods “Why Oh Why” is a podcast all about relationships and technology hosted by the charming Andrea Silenzi, who often features her enchanting grandma, Phyllis. In this episode, Silenzi shares an experiment she did on live radio at WFMU: She had her grandma call into her radio show and go on an “audio date” with her friend Jim Perle, who was in the studio. The two pretended they were at a fancy restaurant; Phyllis even ordered lobster. Afterward, we hear Phyllis spin an enchanting and heart wrenching tale of true love, opera and loss. 4. “This American Life” — Infidelity This episode of the iconic radio program hosted by Ira Glass is all about infidelity. Not every story in the episode is Jewish, but it features an evocative short story from the Israeli writer Etgar Keret about the aftermath of an affair called “The Man Who Knew What I Was About To Say.” It also includes a chapter from Jewish writer Dani Shapiro’s memoir, “Slow Motion,” about her own destructive affair with a married man. 5. “Israel Story” — Love Syndrome A nice Jewish girl from a Conservadox family in New York finds love in Alaska. But when the couple’s sixth child is born with Down syndrome, things become complicated. Their journey to build a home for their child takes the family from Fairbanks to the Israeli city Safed, and from casual observance to Orthodoxy. This episode of the Israeli podcast will make you reconsider so much about love, from the unconditional love mothers have for their children to the romantic lives of those with Down syndrome. This is a wonderfully spun tale that at times is unbelievable — but trust me, you will not regret taking this journey. 6. “Where Should We Begin?” Esther Perel is a rock star psychotherapist. The Belgian daughter of Holocaust survivors has a degree from Hebrew University, a viral TED talk about sex in long-term relationships and a best-selling book, “Mating in Captivity.” But what’s

Thank you for your support. I am honored to have the opportunity to serve you again as the Assessor of Orleans Parish. Please continue to visit my office at or contact me at (504) 658-1300.

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Entertainment Happy New Year... all My Jewish Friends Steve Stefancik


Tchaikovsky's Jewish Problem Hershey Felder as Pyotr Tchaikovsky in his latest show, “Our Great Tchaikovsky.” (Hershey Felder Presents) By Tom Tugend

Chairman, St. Tammany Parish Council

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LOS ANGELES (JTA) – While researching his latest one-man show, “Our Great Tchaikovsky," Hershey Felder — a playwright, actor and composer who has brought the loves, torments and soaring music of some of the world’s greatest composers to the stage — faced a moral question. Does towering talent exculpate a composer, or any artist, for a racist or anti-Semitic remark, even at a time and place where such comments were commonplace? The answer isn't simple. “This is a very complicated matter,” Felder, 49, who was raised in a Yiddish-speaking home in Canada, told JTA in a phone interview. In a letter written in 1878, Pyotr (Peter) Ilyish Tchaikovsky wrote that when his train stopped at a Rus-sian railroad station, he noticed “a mass of dirty Yids, with that poisoning of the atmosphere which ac-companies them everywhere.” “Tchaikovsky was a man of the 19th century, when the intelligentsia in Russia and other European countries was anti-Semitic almost by reflex,” said Felder, whose father survived Auschwitz. By way of analogy, Felder noted that George Gershwin, living in New York and Los Angeles, commonly referred to his 1925 one-act jazz opera “Blue Moon,” the predecessor to “Porgy and Bess,” as his “nig-ger opera.” Although considered extremely offensive now, in the 1920s and '30s — when Al Jolson regularly per-formed in blackface — such an appellation, while certainly derogatory, hadn't become what journalist Farai Chideya has called "the nuclear bomb of racial epithets," at least among most white Americans. "Porgy and Bess" premiered in New York in 1935 with an all-black cast, and is still embraced by many African-American performers. Did

Gershwin's use of the epithet mean that he was racist? Felder asked. Answering his own question, he said, "We can’t correct or apologize for history, and I don’t feel that I have to go into that aspect [of Tchaikovsky’s life] in my stage presentation.” Also, Felder added, Tchaikovsky’s putdown of “Yids” was countered by his actions. He provided a scholarship from his own pocket for the young Jewish violinist Samuli Litvinov; he maintained a deep friendship with composerconductors Anton and Nikolai Rubenstein; and he defended Felix Mendels-sohn against Richard Wagner’s anti-Semitic slurs. What Tchaikovsky feared most was that he would be outed as a homosexual, Felder said, which would have ruined him and led to likely exile in Siberia. To scotch rumors, Tchaikovsky married -- an idea that would prove disastrous. The union lasted less than three months and the ex-spouse would extort blackmail payments for a lifetime. The composer’s struggle with his homosexuality — compounded by his fear of exposure — is a central motif through Felder’s performance. While Felder uses a Russian-inflected accent while speaking as Tchaikovsky, he reverts to his own voice and accent when denouncing the discrimination and persecu-tion suffered by gay men in Russia, then as now. The same struggle also is reflected in Tchaikovsky's music, Felder said, nowhere more clearly than in his Sixth Symphony, the "Pathetique." The composer conducted its premier performance in St. Pe-tersburg in 1893, and he died suddenly nine days later at 53. Initially, his death was attributed to cholera, but a widespread belief persists that Tchaikovsky committed suicide. As for Felder, he has steadily added to his repertoire of one-man musical bio-dramas over the past 22 years. His productions have celebrated the lives and works of classical giants Ludwig van Beethoven, See TCHAIKOVSKY on Page THE






Emmys 2017: So Many Jewish Nominees

Happy New Year to My Friends and Constituents in the Jewish Community

By Josefin Dolsten (JTA) — The Television Academy announced the nominees for the coveted Primetime Emmy Awards. Here are the candidates with Jewish ancestry. The awards for TV excellence will be presented Sept. 8 on CBS.

Polly Thomas • Representative District 80

Happy New Year to my many friends and colleagues from...

Tracee Ellis Ross at the Golden Globe Awards in Beverly Hills, Calif., Jan. 8, 2017. (Charley Gallay/Getty Images for FIJI Water)

Evan Rachel Wood accepting the best actress in a drama series award for ‘Westworld’ at the Critics’ Choice Awards in Santa Monica, Calif., Dec. 11, 2016. (Christopher Polk/Getty Images for The Critics’ Choice Awards )

matriarch of an upper-middle-class African-American family in “Black-ish.” Lead Actor, Comedy Series

Judge Ethel Simms Julien Civil District Court Division N

Lead Actress, Drama Series Evan Rachel Wood is being considered for her portrayal of Dolores Jeffrey Tambor attending the Critics’ Abernathy, an android character in Choice Awards in Santa Monica, Calif., Dec. 11, 2016. (Christopher Polk/Getty the sci-fi series “Westworld” who Images for The Critics’ Choice Awards ) discovers that what she thought was her life is a lie. Jeffrey Tambor was nominated for his role as the transgender matriLead Actor, Drama Series arch of a Jewish California family in “Transparent.” Supporting Actress, Comedy Series

Taking care of each other is what

Liev Schreiber attending Hearst MagFront 2016 in New York City, Oct. 25, 2016. (Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Hearst)

In the crime-drama series “Ray Donovan,” Liev Schreiber portrays the titler character, a fixer at a powerful Los Angeles law firm. Lead Actress, Comedy Series

Pamela Adlon attending the 76th Annual Peabody Awards ceremony in New York, May 20, 2017. (by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for Peabody)

Pamela Adlon stars as a divorced actress raising three children by herself in “Better Things.” Tracee Ellis Ross plays a biracial anesthesiologist who is the THE



Vanessa Bayer attending the “Carrie Pilby” New York screening at the Landmark Sunshine Cinema, March 23, 2017. (Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images)

Vanessa Bayer earned a nomination with her work on “Saturday Night Live.”

is all about. We’re proud to serve our community with personal, compassionate care.

Judith Light attending the 2017 Fragrance Foundation Awards in New York, June 14, 2017. (Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Fragrance Foundation)

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This Kippah Could Save the Lives of Kids with Allergies By Gabe Friedman (JTA) — At 3 1/2, Peretz Apfelbaum may not completely understand it yet, but some kitchens can put his life in danger. The Brooklyn boy is allergic to

peanuts, cashews, pistachios, flax seeds, mustard seeds, coconut, peas, eggs and beef. Some of the foods give him hives, but the nuts can send Peretz into anaphylactic

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shock. The inherent risks make it impossible to test the severity of some of the allergies, meaning he could have other, unexpected reactions to some of those foods. Obviously it is an extremely distressing situation for his mom, Chanie. But the 36-year-old mother of five from Crown Heights is doing something other than worrying. Chanie Apfelbaum came up with a simple, clever idea to notify others that her son has severe allergies: an “allergy alert” kippah. The skullcap, which Apfelbaum helped design with the Brooklynbased company iKippah — an online retailer with bright designs like the one inspired by “The Very Hungry Caterpillar” — is navy blue with a red circle on the front that contains the words “Allergy Alert.” It also says “flip for info” — the underside has lines to write down the child’s allergies. “We loved Chanie’s idea immediately,” Sarale Seewald, who founded iKippah with her sister-inlaw, Dina Seewald, told JTA. “We see a great need for this kippah, and we truly believe this design will help save lives.” The company put the allergy alert skullcap on its website two weeks ago and, according to Seewald, has already sold a few hundred. Though the skullcaps are still unavailable in stores — iKippah has about 180 retailers as customers, in addition to its direct-to-consumer website — the company plans to make them available for wholesale soon based on the unexpected demand. Food allergies have increased markedly in the United States in recent years. Researchby the U.S. Centers for Disease Control has shown that food allergies in children rose by 50 percent between 1997 and 2011, possibly from overuse of antibiotics or increased hygiene, which shields children from being exposed to infectious agents during the critical immune system-forming years. Apfelbaum — a popular kosher food blogger under the moniker Busy in Brooklynwith more than 33,000 Instagram followers — has borne witness to the trend. She said

The “Allergy Alert” kippah has lines on its underside to write down a child’s allergies. (iKippah)

Peretz used to wear a bracelet noting his severe allergies, but she feared it wasn’t prominent enough for others to see. The kippah is an easy way to inform anyone serving food to an allergic child — at camp or restaurants or a parent hosting a play date — that they should be careful. Plus Peretz, who is a member of an Orthodox household, already wears a yarmulke every day.

Chanie Apfelbaum with her son Peretz (Courtesy of Apfelbaum)

Apfelbaum, a member of the Hasidic Chabad-Lubavitch movement, was worried, too, about Peretz running around from house to house in her community’s summer bungalow colony in upstate New York. She started a WhatsApp group to message other parents about her concerns, and she helped make the colony nut free. But the worries never totally disappear for the parent of a child with severe allergies, especially when he or she is very young. “I always remind him, but I can’t trust a 3-year-old to remember that he always has to ask before [he eats something] and say ‘I’m allergic,’” Apfelbaum said. “I wanted something on him so that when someone looks at him, they say, ‘I can’t just give him food from my kitchen,'” she said of her kippah’s design. “It just makes me a little more secure.” Still, it took Apfelbaum a little time to become accustomed to her son wearing the same kippah every day — she would help Peretz pick out a skullcap that coordinated with his clothes. “You get so used to [using] one that matches every outfit, and now he can only wear that,” Apfelbaum said with a laugh. “But it’s worth it.”ì THE



Southern & Jewish


How a Mississippi Farmer Got Me Thinking About Eco-Kashrut It all began with some eggs. By Leah Wittenberg

I had been keeping kosher for two years before moving to Jackson, Mississippi. My reasoning for taking on the Jewish dietary laws was that every time I ate, a seemingly mundane and human activity, I was sure to be reminded of my Judaism. However, there is debate these days about the humane or less-thanhumane treatment of animals used for kosher meat and animal products. I am finally starting to realize that the treatment of the animals is important, because it not only affects them, but us as well—physically and psychologically. This idea of knowing where our food comes from and being aware that our food choices are ecologically sound is the main concept behind what is known as eco-kashrut. I personally had never thought about eco-kashrut or how it could affect me, until recently, when I learned more about the eggs I was eating and from whence they came. It’s important to mention that I eat a lot of eggs. Every other week I buy a dozen eggs and I hard boil eight to 10 of them, and then scramble or fry or use the others in recipes. For someone right out of college with a full-time job and a lot of travel, I love that they are versatile, delicious, healthy, and of course, cheap. I always used to buy the cheapest eggs. Store brand, medium or large size, that was that. I didn’t bother with any of the organic, grain-fed, cage-free nonsense, I just wanted the cheapest eggs. I didn’t think about the quality; they tasted fine to me. I certainly didn’t think about the chickens. That is, until I met a Jewish farmer in Jackson. This farmer works on an educational farm for a boarding school in Mississippi. When he found out that I was eating these regular eggs pretty much every day, he was concerned.

I explained how I thought the “organic” and “cage free” and other special eggs I saw displayed didn’t mean anything at all. But he patiently explained the difference in the various types of eggs: The worst kind of eggs to eat are the so-called regular ones – the ones I’d been eating. Those come from “commercially farmed” chickens stacked in cages on top of each other in dark enclosures, with clipped wings and beaks, who are never taken out of their cages. Slightly better is cage-free. Although I learned that “cage free” chickens are still often raised in tight conditions with clipped beaks and wings, and little exposure to sunlight. “Free range” means that the chickens have exposure to the outdoors. Better still are certified organic free-range eggs, which ensures that the food given to the chickens is organic and that they aren’t given antibiotics, and the chickens have access to at least some outdoor space. Finally, the best type of egg is “pasture raised.” This means that the chickens are free to roam, eat an organic diet, see daylight, are not given hormones or antibiotics, have darker and richer yolks, and generally taste better. May farmer’s markets or natural groceries carry these, and it’s definitely worth asking about. I am not on this step yet, but I hope to be in the next few weeks. But I’ve gone from regular eggs to cage-free eggs, which feels like a big leap in my eco-kashrut journey. Living in Mississippi has opened my mind to the idea of eco-kashrut, and has also changed my perspective about the other food I eat aside from eggs. I participate in a weekly CSA (Community Supported Agriculture program) where I receive fresh, local vegetables every Tuesday. Having a relationship with the farmers and knowing exactly where my food comes from has become very important to me. And after living in Jackson for almost a year, my idea of “kosher” has changed. tDepending on how strictly you observe the laws of kashrut, eggs

do not necessarily have to be hechshered (certified kosher). If they come from a kosher animal such as a chicken, and you check to make sure there is no blood in the egg, then it is kosher. But is the egg really kosher if it comes from a chicken that was raised in a tiny cage, stacked on top of other chickens, with clipped wings and beaks, never having seen sunlight… is that “kosher?” Does it reflect the Jewish value of tza’ar ba’alei chayim? These are the questions I have started to ask myself recently, as I

have become aware of the ecological issues surrounding the products I eat on a daily basis. I feel that my food and eating habits are even more “kosher” now that I live in Mississippi, and even if I do not always observe the traditional kashrut laws, I’m definitely thinking Jewishly about my food choices. (Thanks to Jewish Initiatives for Animals for additional information on this piece; visit JIFA’s website to learn more about Jewish ethics and animals.) ì




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Here's Why Some of America's Top Cheese Brands Are Now Going Kosher By Ben Hartman

Best Wishes to all my friends in the Jewish Community.



It’s early morning in the Sardinian countryside and a farmer is milking his sheep while an Orthodox Jewish kosher supervisor looks on. The supervisor, known as a mashgiach, is sleeping in the farmer’s barn, and he’ll be there all week. Welcome to the world of kosher cheesemaking. The weeklong kosher cheese run in Sardinia is just one of a number of methods that artisanal kosher cheesemaker Brent Delman, owner and founder of The Cheese Guy, uses to manufacture products for kosher consumers who have developed a taste for fine Italian cheeses. “I like to partner up with the most authentic suppliers of kosher cheese and see if we can replicate it. This requires flying in Jews from mainland Italy and bringing them to Sardinia to watch the milking of the sheep,” said Delman, an Ohio native, explaining that many of the farmers he works with have never met Jews before the mashgiach shows up to inspect their operation. The incongruous sourcing partnerships are a sign not only of the complexity of kosher cheese produc-tion, but also of the growing taste among kosher consumers for artisanal cheeses and greater cheese variety. A number of mainstream cheese producers have begun large-scale kosher cheese production in re-cent years. In 2015, the Kraft subsidiary Polly-O generated excitement among consumers when it be-gan producing Orthodox Union-certified kosher string cheese, undercutting the existing kosher com-petition significantly on price. Wisconsin’s Lake Country Dairy, a subsidiary of Schuman cheese, has been making millions of pounds of kosher Italian-style Parmesan, Asiago, Romano and mascarpone for about a decade. Smaller artisanal cheesemakers, like the Seattle-based Beecher’s, are also making ko-sher versions of their flagship cheeses. Many hard cheeses use rennet, an animal byproduct, in production and therefore are not kosher. To be certified as kosher, hard cheeses not

only must use synthetic rennet, but all the equipment and ingredients must be kosher and a mashgiach has to supervise the production. Until recently, kosher Danish blue cheese and fine parmigiana were almost impossible to find; likewise for Brie and other fine soft cheeses. But with the market for kosher products growing – studies show that in addition to the burgeoning Jewish kosher market, many non-Jews prefer kosher because they associate it with increased cleanliness and healthfulness – increasing numbers of cheesemakers are getting into the kosher market. “Companies that never would have considered making kosher cheese now do because they see their competitors succeeding with it,” said Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer, a dairy expert in the O.U.’s kosher di-vision. "These major cheese companies have taken the kosher plunge and chosen the O.U. certifica-tion, as it is the most recognized kosher symbol today." Typically, rather than convert entire facilities to kosher production or keep kosher supervisors on site year-round, large companies will do a special kosher run – perhaps once a month, or in some cases for a few hours each day. During the kosher campaign, non-kosher production is shut down, all relevant equipment is cleaned and rabbinical supervisors oversee production. “Take a cheddar cheese company in Vermont, where the good cheddar comes from,” said Rabbi Abraham Juravel, the supervisor of technical services for O.U.’s kosher division. “They’re not going to pay a rabbi to stay there whenever they make cheddar cheese; it’s too expensive. They’ll make a run once or twice a year with a rabbi present, and then they can market the cheese from those days as kosher.” Lake Country Dairy produces some 26 million pounds of cheese per year, including 4 million pounds of kosher mascarpone, Parmesan, Romano, Asiago and fontina sold under the brand names Bella Rosa, See CHEESE BRANDS on Page THE




CHEESE BRANDS Continued from Page 18 Cello Riserva and Pastures of Eden. Kosher certification “symbolizes higher quality and more attention to detail in selecting the ingredi-ents,” said Jesse Norton, Lake Country Dairy’s quality assurance director, who said the company’s en-try into the kosher market a decade ago “dovetails well with our philosophy of meeting the needs of customers and doing what other groups find difficult to do.” For a large company capable of mass-producing cheeses, going kosher makes good business sense, giving the company a competitive advantage, Norton said. As more companies go kosher, consumers should see better prices, he noted. While the availability of less expensive cheese has been a boon to observant families, greater culinary sophistication in the Orthodox community is also having an effect on the dairy market, according to Gordimer. “People want more variety. Their tastes have become more sophisticated,” he said. This trend is of a piece with American consumers generally, where in recent years consumers have developed a taste for artisanal foods, locally sourced products, craft beers and other high-quality of-ferings. U.S. retail sales of natural and specialty cheeses reached $17.4 billion in 2015, an increase of 4.1 percent since 2011, according to a report by Packaged Facts. Cheese consumption is rising, too: In 2016, Americans consumed 5.35 million metric tons of cheese, a 7.6 increase from 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. For the major cheese producers like Kraft, economies of scale means that prices for kosher-certified products can be similar to nonkosher cheese. Not so for smaller companies, which typically charge a premium for kosher cheese to cover the costs of kosher production and certification. Products made with cholov yisroel – milk produced solely by Jews, reflective of a more stringent level of kosher pre-ferred by some strictly Orthodox consumers – can be two or three times as pricey as non-kosher cheese. Until about a decade ago, the kosher cheese world was like the kosher wine market 30 years ago: There were the basics, but little for the discerning connoisseur, according to Delman, The Cheese Guy. Just as fine kosher wines from THE

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Israel replaced the ubiquitous Manischewitz at kosher dinner tables, fine kosher cheeses are also now commonplace, he said. Delman’s production shows the challenges of small-scale, finecheese production. For example, to manufacture a beer cheddar he is producing in cooperation with a dairy farm in Vermont, Delman first must arrange for kosher supervisors to accompany him to the facility. They clean the lines and check that all the ingredients are kosher; only then does production start. Cheeses like Swiss and feta are made in brine, which must be kept separate from non-kosher cheeses. Because most facilities don’t have extra brine tanks, Delman has to bring his own brine and cheese molds, further driving up costs. “All of my products are smallbatch artisanal productions, so the challenge of the kosher fees automat-ically makes the product more expensive,” he said. Juravel says mass production is particularly difficult when it comes to cheese, so kosher cheese will always be something of a challenge. But it’s worth it. “Cheesemaking is an art,” Juravel said. “There’s science behind it, but it’s an art.” (This article was sponsored by and produced in partnership with the Orthodox Union, the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization, dedicated to engaging and strengthening the Jewish community, and to serving as the voice of Orthodox Judaism in North America. This article was produced by JTA’s native content team.) ì

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The Best Jewish Food at Costco on the region and some of these may not be available where you live. Smoked salmon/lox: Not only does Costco carry smoked salmon, but they carry several different varieties including their own Kirkland brand and a wild smoked salmon cream cheese spread from the comIn addition to a lifetime supply of pany La Terra Fina. Good thing paper towels, 20 pound bags of they also carry bagels! sugar, and all the discount books you could ever hope for, Costco also carries a decent selection of Jewish and kosher foods. And yet another perhaps unknown fact about the super-store is that cofounder Jeff Brotman, of blessed memory, is Jewish. We recently perused the aisles of Smoked whole white fish: You our local Costco location to scout don’t need to order whitefish for out the most awesome Jewish prod- your next brunch or brisfrom a ucts. caterer or appetizing shop–just head What we discovered is that you to Costco where they are selling an can easily cater your next Kiddush, entire smoked whitefish for less bris, or synagogue luncheon with than $20. all the quintessential Jewish foods Bagels: Selling their own brand they offer. Please note: Each loca- of bagels in plain, whole wheat, tion carries different products based everything, and cinnamon raisin,

you don’t need to schlep to the bagel store after all. Rugelach: Yup, Costco is churning out their own flaky rugelach in raspberry, chocolate, and cinnamon flavors. Joey’s Black and white cookies: Look to the cookie? Look to Costco for a box of everyone’s favorite sweet, two-toned treat. Hummus: Costco carries several different brands of hummus in many different flavors and varieties, including mini hummus containers perfect for snacking on the go. Blue Hill Bay smoked whitefish salad: Whitefish lovers–we have found your heaven, and it is a twopound container of whitefish salad. Blue Hill Bay herring in wine sauce: What’s better than a little herring and scotch? A 26 oz jar of herring. And scotch. Gabilas’s potato knishes: Fulfill your knish cravings with a large box of Gabila’s knishes. Then stop in the condiment aisle for some spicy brown mustard for dipping.

Hot dogs: Whether you want the classic Hebrew National hot dogs, Nathan’s famous hot dogs, or pigs in a blanket, Costco has got you covered. They are also carrying the hot dog buns, ketchup, and relish you will want to serve them with.

Pickles: You can buy kosher dill pickles literally by the bucket from several different brands including Eli’s Fresh and Heinz. Tnuva Israeli feta and edam cheeses: Looking for authentic Israeli cheese? Costco has got it and is selling them in double packs of course. Chickpeas: For those times when you need to make a massive amount of homemade hummus, go for the gold and buy a six-pound can. ì

“Staying true to their values”

Denis Bergeron, III and Nicole Bergeron Allison, with the All New 2018 Volvo XC90

The Bergeron Family has been in business for over 50 years, recently moving into the 3rd Generation of this local family, and when it comes to purchasing your next vehicle, values should be as important to you as the value in your pocketbook. Volvo is known for safety, quality, and care for the environment, and Bergeron Automotive is known for excellent customer service, ethics, and competitive transparent products and pricing. As any client will tell you, both Bergeron Automotive and Volvo are truly known for their values, because they both know that loyalty is a two-way street! Nicole Bergeron Allison, the Communications Director of 20 ROSH HASHANAH

Bergeron Automotive, points out that Volvo is recognized worldwide as a brand that puts safety first, but their fuel economy, performance and luxury features and options rival any luxury brand on the market today! Bergeron Automotive specializes in putting our customers first from the day you purchase or lease your Volvo and for every service appointment after. Our commitment to customer service doesn’t end when you drive off the lot. Bergeron Automotive recognizes that there are more choices than ever when it comes to choosing a luxury vehicle, but we have adapted to our clients’ needs by offering convenient service hours, online scheduling, and digital retailing capabilities. Your time is valuable, and we make certain that every client knows that we value your time, too! Simply put, we've adapted to our clients’ needs and market demands giving us experiential knowledge that rivals any dealership in the Louisiana!

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Focus Issues


More Synagogues Are Getting Rid of Their Mandatory Dues


Happy New Year... all My Jewish Friends

By Ben Sales

A view of the KAM Isaiah Israel Synagogue in 2013. (Raymond Boyd/ Getty Images)

NEW YORK (JTA) -- "Voluntary dues" may sound like an oxymoron, but the idea may soon be coming to a synagogue near you. According to a new study by the UJA-Federation of New York, the number of non-Orthodox synagogues nationwide that have eliminated fixed annual dues has more than doubled in the past two years. Instead of charging a set membership fee, these synagogues are telling congregants to pay what they want – and they're succeeding. The nearly 60 Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist synagogues that have stopped charging mandatory dues are just a minuscule percentage of the country’s 1,500 or so Conservative and Reform synagogues. But the number is more than twice the 26 synagogues that had voluntary dues as of 2015. On average, the synagogues reported increases in both membership and total revenue since they switched to the voluntary model. They join nearly 1,000 Chabad centers in North America that have always worked on the voluntary model. According to the report, the synagogues adopted the new model due to a mix of financial and values-based reasons. Synagogue members appeared increasingly reticent to pay mandatory dues following the 2008 financial crisis, and a pay-what-you-can system was more appealing to families with less spare cash. In addition, the report said mandatory dues may have alienated families who want to feel unconditionally welcomed at synagogue or who may have felt uncomfortable explaining to a board why they couldn’t pay the full fee. Engaging members with voluntary dues has caused synagogues to build relationships with congregants so they feel invested in the synagogue, as opposed to feeling obligated to pay an annual bill. The THE


model, according to the report, also drives synagogues to increase financial transparency, so members know what they’re paying for. “The existing model is no longer really aligning with the values and culture of the synagogue,” said Adina Frydman, executive director of Synergy, a division of the New York federation that advises synagogues on strategy and produced the report. “The process of asking for a [dues] adjustment becomes all about the money, as opposed to 'you are a member of this congregation and community.'” Of the 57 synagogues included in the report, more than half are Reform, while about a third are Conservative. The remainder are either Reconstructionist or unaffiliated. None are Orthodox. Most have between 100 and 500 “member units” – families or individuals who belong. While the synagogues don’t charge a fixed fee, many do indicate a “sustaining level” donation – the average amount the synagogue needs from each member unit to reach its goal. On average, the synagogues reported increases of 3.6 percent in total membership and 1.8 percent in dues. What that means is that more total money is coming in from more people but the average annual membership contribution has fallen. At the Conservative Temple Israel of Sharon, Massachusetts, in suburban Boston, which adopted the voluntary model in 2008 due to the recession, revenue and membership have remained steady. But only about 45 percent of members pay dues at or above the sustaining level – a bit above the average of 38 percent across the 57 synagogues. “The original goals of switching to this system, creating a model that was financially welcoming and sustainable for both the synagogue and our membership, continue to be met,” Benjamin Maron, Temple Israel’s executive director, wrote in one of the report’s case studies. “In other ways, however, challenges have grown over the last few years. While our membership has grown, the overall income from our voluntary dues has not.” The 57 synagogues are still less than 5 percent of the country’s Conservative and Reform synagogues, See SYNAGOGUES on Page

Julie Stokes

Representative, District 79

Happy New Year to all my friends in the Jewish Community. It is an honor to serve our citizens! Judge Rachael D. Johnson Civil District Court Division B

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Best wishes to my many friends & associates in the Jewish community as you celebrate the high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Thank you for your continued support.

Judge Kern Reese

Orleans Civil District Court, Section L

Wishing my many friends & supporters in the Jewish Community a happy New Year

Judge Joe Landry

Municipal and Traffic Court of New Orleans, Section F







Soon There Will Only Be One Judaica Store Left in Manhattan By Ben Sales NEW YORK (JTA) -- Yaakov Seltzer remembers a different world, when he would sell his customers prayer books, then hand them an invitation to his daughter’s wedding. When they would come in to Seltzer's store to order a kippah for their new grandson, then ask him to attend the bris. Or they would stop in on a Friday afternoon with nothing to buy, just to wish him a good Shabbat. But though the Upper West Side of Manhattan is still heavily Jewish, the world Seltzer longs for has disappeared. And soon, so will his store, West Side Judaica, which Seltzer plans to close sometime next year. When it shutters, after 83 years in operation, the neighborhood will be bereft of a Jewish bookstore. Only one Jewish bookstore, J. Levine Books and Judaica, will remain in all of Manhattan. “I miss the people I used to have come into the store every week,” Seltzer said. “The new generation doesn’t support us. They don’t know us personally because they use online [stores]. They don’t feel obligated.” Seltzer made the decision to close after an automatic rent increase in his lease kicked in three months ago. He said the rent, combined with declining sales due to competition from online retailers, made the business unprofitable. In the past decade, the store’s sales have been cut by more than

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half. For the first time in memory, Seltzer said, last week the store had a day with less than $1,000 in revenue -- barely enough to make the new rent of $24,000 a month He said he hasn’t taken home a salary in three months. “It’s an online world,” Seltzer said. “There’s no way I can pay $24,000 a month in rent and compete with someone online who’s selling without any of my expenses.” But while the Manhattan Jewish bookstore is now an endangered species, the peril hasn’t extended to independent bookstores as an industry. While competition from Amazon led to the closing of the Borders bookstore chain, and has imperiled Barnes and Noble, the number of American independent bookstores has only grown. Between 2009 and 2014, the number of independent bookstores in the United States grew 27 percent, according to The New York Times. Nor is Daniel Levine, the fourthgeneration owner of J. Levine’s, worried about meeting the same fate as West Side Judaica. Levine’s Midtown store has invested heavily in an online presence, including sell-ing goods as a third party on Amazon. Between 2007 and 2012, Levine saw his revenue rise 20 percent. Since then, he said, it’s grown even more. Plus, Levine’s relatives own his shop’s building -- so he said he pays half as much as Seltzer in rent. But Levine isn’t celebrating his newfound monopoly over Manhattan. He and Seltzer, separated by 50 city blocks, worked more as partners than competitors. They stayed in close touch and would send each other items when a customer asked for something that was out of stock. After speaking to me, Levine’s first call was to check in on Seltzer, whom he calls “Yanky.” “It’s a little scary to be the only Judaica store left in Manhattan,” Levine said, adding that if Amazon

takes more of a toll from the Judaica business, people "won't be able to physically see these things and touch them." Seltzer also shifted his business in an effort to stay afloat. He once sold 80 percent books and 20 percent Judaica. Now it’s 50-50. The right side of the store looks largely like a standard-issue Jewish book shop: volumes from the Orthodox publisher ArtScroll sitting regally on the shelves next to specialty volumes on medical ethics, biblical geography and how to comfort mourners; a rack of prayer shawls in the back; a stack of framed Jewish wedding contracts up front. But the left side is an emporium of novelties made for an Orthodox Jewish clientele with money to spend. There are greeting cards embossed with menorahs, birthday wishes in Hebrew or “Welcome to your new yeshiva.” There’s a line of games from Magical Mitzvah Park to Cholent, The Game! The Slow-Cooking, Fast-Moving Strategy Card Game. At the front, a mesh sports shirt with ritual fringes hangs in the window. Nearby is a lectern used by religious Jews for prayer or study. Long, twisting shofars dangle from the ceiling. But in many cases, Seltzer said, the variety doesn’t help. Customers will photograph items with their phones and then buy online. “I personally don’t think it’s ethical to take pictures, but my employees don’t want to be police,” he said. Local Jewish schools and synagogues still buy from West Side Judaica, though that business has also declined. Lisa Exler, director of Jewish studies for the nondenominational Beit Rabban Day School a couple blocks away, still buys some books from Seltzer. The school orders its prayer books and Pentateuchs directly from Koren Publishers Jerusalem, an Israeli company. But Exler turns to West Side Judaica for niche items, like collec-

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West Side Judaica, which has sold Jewish books and ritual objects in the heavily Jewish neighborhood of Manhattan’s Upper West Side for more than eight decades, expects to close at the end of the cal-endar year.

tions of Bible commentaries or the small, blue, right-to-left workbooks traditionally used in Jewish schools. “They were super friendly, always happy to show me different books,” Exler said. When she was choosing among Bible commentaries, an employee “showed me there's this version and that version, this has a better binding and lasts longer. He knows his merchandise, and took the time to make sure I was getting what the students needed.” Seltzer moved into the current location in the 1990s, when the internet wasn’t a threat. When he took over the store in 1980, 46 years after its founding, it was in a nearby location with 40 percent less space. Back then the rent was $1,100 a month -about $3,250 in 2017 dollars, still 86 percent lower than the current rent. Over the years he has hired family, employing his wife, mother, brother and brother-in-law. On Wednesday afternoon, three relatives talked in Yiddish as one wrapped a gift and another rang up one of the few customers in the store. Seltzer has considered moving about half a mile up Broadway, where he could pay $15,000 a month. But at 60, he doesn’t have the energy for another move and the costs it involves. He will begin a going out of business sale soon, and will close sometime after Hanukkah, near the end of the calendar year. And after that? Seltzer isn’t sure. If he gets an influx of revenue, he may change his mind, though Seltzer said he does not want to be “the boy who cried wolf.” More likely, he anticipates doing what most in his situation have done: Take his decades of experience and connections with publishers, and sell books and Judaica online. With the efficiency of shipping nowadays, Seltzer doesn’t even think he’ll need to keep an inventory. “You can have a big website, and you think they have everything,” he said. “They have nothing.” ì THE





'Jewish Spouses Matter,' Says a New Demographic Study. Let the Battle Begin. By Andrew Silow-Carroll

Adam and Eve depicted on a 19thcentury ketubah, a Jewish marriage contract, from the Norsa-Torrazzo Synagogue in Mantua, Italy. (DeAgostini/Getty Images)

NEW YORK (JTA) -- One of the wisest things ever said about intermarriage came from former Atlantic sports columnist Jake Simpson: "No stat could have predicted ... the wonder that was David Tyree's helmet catch in Super Bowl XLII." Granted, Simpson wasn't writing about the high rates of Jews marrying non-Jews. He was complaining that the growing emphasis on statistical analysis in sports -- sabermetrics -- was undermining the human element of the game. A statistician will tell you who is likely to catch a touchdown pass. But only ecstatic Giants fans (and heartbroken Patriots fans) could appreciate the glories of Tyree's improbable reception. Another sportswriter, Joe Pos-

nanski, described it as "the human record versus the human heart." It's not a stretch to recognize a similar argument among those who care about Jewish "continuity" and what it means to live a meaningful Jewish life. On one side, the think tanks and sociologists are churning out statistics (Hebrewmetrics?) suggesting the dire toll intermarriage is taking on the strength and vitality of Jewish life. On the other side, rabbis and others in the grassroots are demanding that Jewish leaders take into account the deeply personal stories of individual Jews and those who love them, lest they feed the alienation from Jewish institutions that the numbers crunchers complain about. According to a new analysis by the Jewish People Policy Institute, or JPPI, analyzing stats on "nonharedi" American Jews aged 25 to 54, "just 21 percent are married to Jews, while well over twice as many [50 percent] are non-married and 29 percent are intermarried." Only 15 percent of this cohort are in Jewish-Jewish marriages with Jewish children at home. The implication, once you exclude the haredi Orthodox — as well as the modern Orthodox, who often marry before age 25 — is that the non-Orthodox Jewish population is in a steep demographic decline, perhaps perilously so. As authors Steven M. Cohen and Sylvia Barack Fishman point out in an essay for JTA, this decline is not only a function of intermarriage. It's also the result of late marriage, no marriage and low birth rates.

Yet the Jewish engagement gap between the inmarried and the intermarried is "truly enormous," according to JPPI. The inmarried are more likely to feel that being Jewish is very important, to have Jewish friends, to belong to a synagogue and to raising their children "in the Jewish religion." By contrast, "non-Jewish spouses and children in the home each seem to diminish the likelihood of Jewish engagement." These kinds of analyses alarm Jewish institutions; they seek answers in institutional ways. Should more money be invested in a highly engaged "core," or spread among outreach to the "periphery"? Does the smart money go to the hip startups that are trying to attract less-engaged Jews, or to the legacy institutions that still have large (if shrinking) membership bases? Just days after the JPPI study came out on June 5, there was a much different kind of reaction to the intermarriage "challenge" coming from rabbis of at least three distinct stripes Clergy at B’nai Jeshurun, a big and influential synagogue on New York's Upper West side, announced

that they would begin officiating at the weddings of interfaith couples who commit to creating Jewish homes and raising Jewish children. Downtown, Rabbi Amichai LauLavie, who runs the innovative Lab/Shul, said he, too, would officiate at intermarriages despite his training in the Conservative movement, which bans its rabbis from doing so. And in an essay for The New York Jewish Week, Rabbi Avram Mlotek, who was ordained at the liberal Orthodox Chovevei Torah yeshiva, suggested that "it’s time we revisit our tribalistic approach toward intermarriage and our highly divisive conversion practices." Mlotek was coy about what that would mean in practice, although he did suggest that the Orthodox and Conservative movements should take a cue from the Reform's "welcoming posture towards families with non-Jewish partners." B'nai Jeshurun is not affiliated with a movement and its decision is internal; Lau-Lavie and Mlotek will have to deal with the consequences See JEWISH SPOUSES on Page


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Albert Einstein Was a Sex Magnet? 4 Surprising Facts About the Jewish Genius By Gabe Friedman

NEW YORK (JTA) — Think "Albert Einstein," and certain images or phrases likely come to mind: “genius,” “kooky,” “wild hair,” “theory of relativity,” “E = mc2” — maybe even “Zionist.” Sex and violence? Not so much. Then there's "Genius," a TV series premiering on Tuesday — National Geographic channel's first scripted show — that provides a healthy dose of both. Within the first few minutes, viewers witness the bloody murder of a Jewish politician (Einstein’s friend Walter Rathenau) in tense Weimar Germany. The action then shifts dramatically to a 50-something Einstein (played by Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush), without pants, being intimate with his assistant. The goal is immediate and obvious: To delve into the personal life -- apparently sometimes steamy -of the larger-than-life scientist. “Albert Einstein is a name and a figure everyone thinks they know, but when I began to dive into his

story, I was fascinated by how much was new to me,” Ron Howard, an executive producer of the show and director of the pilot, recently told Vanity Fair. “When you move past his scientific contributions, Albert’s life story — what his youth was like, who his friends were, who his enemies were, his tumultuous love life — is a story people don’t know.” "Genius" alternates between the scientist’s daydreamy teenage years and the early decades of the 20th century, when the accomplished scientist deals with rising anti-Semitism in his native Germany. The show's content, which deals with everything from scientific inspiration to young love to sinister Nazi rallies, is rich and compelling — it is Einstein, after all — even if the dialogue occasionally lapses into cliche. Here are some non-scientific things that viewers learn about the iconic Jewish physicist from the pilot. 1) He failed his first college entrance exam (badly).

When the teenage Einstein (portrayed by Johnny Flynn) opens the booklet for the entrance exam for his dream school, the Swiss Federal Polytechnic in Zurich, he is shocked. He coasts through the math and physics sections, but hadn't prepared for any other subjects, such as zoology and French. He fails every non-scientific section of the exam and goes to live in Aarau, Switzerland, where he would complete his secondary studies and prepare for his second try at the test. (Don't feel too sorry for young Einstein, however: He was only 16 at the time and he passed on his second attempt.) 2) His high school tutor was his first love. While living in Switzerland, Einstein lived with a teacher, Jost Winteler, and his family. From the second Einstein awkwardly meets Winteler’s daughter, Marie, it's clear they are headed toward romance. Marie becomes Albert’s tutor and, along with the rest of the

Winteler family, expands his mind, introducing him to history, literature and other topics he had previously ignored. Albert and Marie become fast friends and, soon enough, lovers. Alas, the relationship ends with tearful goodbyes when Albert leaves for college. 3) He married two times — and had several mistresses. The sex scene near the beginning of the episode was not much of an exaggeration — Einstein apparently got around in his day. The first episode introduces his two wives: Elsa, played by Emily Watson, and Mileva, whom young Albert meets at college in Zurich. But "Genius" demonstrates — along with a trove of letters uncovered in 2006 — that Einstein had multiple mistress over the course of his adult life. See EINSTEIN on Page


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HIGH HOLIDAY Continued from Page 5 replace it with more English translations, or chant our way through the Hebrew as fast as we can so we can finish the service on time. Since rabbis and ritual committees tend to decide on the content of the services, and simultaneously tend to be the most conservative when it comes to modifying prayer content, we wind up with a very Hebrew-centric service. To make matters worse, the Hebrew is often from medieval sources and differs in content from the Hebrew some may be used to from Shabbat or daily worship. This makes it even harder to follow. Finally, when we do slow down for more melodic chanting, it often is done by a cantor or other prayer TCHAIKOVSKY Continued from Page 14 Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt, as well as more contemporary (and Jewish) composers Gershwin, Irving Berlin and Leonard Bernstein. In “Our Great Tchaikovsky,” audiences get a generous sampling of the Russian master’s work, from such favorites as the “1812 Over-



leader in a tune that is so stylized that it is difficult to join. The second major challenge of our High Holidays services stems from the content of the liturgy. The key themes are repeated again and again to the point that it can be challenging to feel personal resonance the fifth time I decry my sins or proclaim God’s sovereignty. The liturgy is intentionally redundant to hammer home key themes (created at a time when liturgy was recited orally, not written down), but this redundancy raises the moral hazard of emotional boredom. Another major component of the High Holidays liturgy is the use of liturgical poetry (“piyyutim”) that were comprised by skilled poets 1,000 or more years ago. Their poetry is subtle and relies upon an

encyclopedic knowledge of biblical references and connections that are incredibly challenging for modern audiences to unpack. With these raw ingredients, it is easy to see how the final prayer product often comes out dry and flavorless. Perhaps the largest impediment to meaningful services, though, lies in the gulf between life experience and contemporary sensibilities on the one hand and traditional rabbinic theology on the other. I am sure there are some who embrace the liturgical themes of the High Holidays, especially the metaphor of God as King sitting in judgment on a heavenly throne. But for the many others who reject this outlook, how can they derive meaning from the High Holidays while reciting a liturgy predicated on this very outlook?

If we adhere to different metaphors of God and different theologies about our relationship with God, are we left with a choice between cognitive dissonance or a wholesale rejection of the liturgy we have used for hundreds of years? Conversely, if we preserve the traditional liturgy, are we doing anything more than enabling a superficial and shallow spiritual experience? Or, as I once wrote, do we intentionally seek out boredom to serve as a protective barrier during the High Holidays, so that we don’t have to get introspective? I’m not sure how to resolve these questions, but I intend to spend much of Elul trying to do so. (Rabbi Joshua Ratner is the rabbi of Congregation Kol Ami in Cheshire, Connecticut.)ì

ture,” selections from “The Nutcracker” and “Swan Lake,” to the little-known “Jurisprudence March.” Not all reviews of Felder’s presentations have been ecstatic, but the large majority have been highly laudatory — especially compared to the sharp criticism that many of Tchaikovsky’s works received in his lifetime. The current run of “Tchaikovsky”

was extended for a third week, to Aug. 13, even before the July 19 opening at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills. The show will move to the Hartford Stage in that Connecticut city, Aug. 19-27. In late September and early October, Felder will return to London for overlapping runs as Berlin and Bernstein at the Other Palace, a

theater in the West End. After that, Felder said he will select one final composer, not yet chosen, as the final entry in his lineup of one-man concert plays. He then expects to concentrate on creating his own compositions, which currently include the “Aliyah” concerto, the opera “Noah’s Ark” and a recording of love songs from the Yiddish theater. ì




ROSH HASHANAH Continued from Page 1

ISRAELI FILM Continued from Page 12

SYNAGOGUES Continued from Page 21

Los Angeles Times film critic Kenneth Turan believes that people crave cultural specificity from foreign films. “It sounds paradoxical, but it's often true that the more culturally precise a foreign language film is, the more universal its appeal becomes,” he wrote in his March review of the movie. In the end, the secret to the success of “The Women’s Balcony” may be that the filmmakers don't at-tempt to include any outside or 9. The shofar, the traditional political debates about religiosity. ram’s horn blown on Rosh Hasha- The well-crafted result — a confident, true-to-life portrait of a small nah, is, well, stinky. community in all of its complexity — is a valuable outlier in a world in which religious practice is increasingly polarized. ì In the Torah , the beginning of the year was clearly set at the beginning of the month of Nisan, in the spring. However, sometime between the Torah and the codification of the Mishnah, Rosh Hashanah became the primary new year. The reasons are unclear, although some scholars theorize that it was because neighboring peoples in the ancient Near East celebrated their new years at this time.

EINSTEIN Continued from Page 24

You have to get close to one to notice, but a common complaint is that these horns smell bad. According to online vendor The Shofar Man, all kosher shofar s have a bit of a scent because they come from a dead animal. To mitigate the odor, he suggests applying a sealant to the inside of the shofar. Believe it or not, several competing products are marketed exclusively for the purpose of removing or neutralizing shofar smells. We can’t vouch for any of them, but perhaps if they don’t work for your shofar, you could use them for your shoes, bathroom or car. Happy New Year! ì

4) J. Edgar Hoover had the FBI keep tabs on Einstein. Despite his stubborn insistence on staying in early 1930s Germany, Einstein, fearing for his safety, eventually is forced to leave. He tries to flee to the United States under the guise of a visit to Princeton University, but the American embassy gets suspicious. In a tense scene that feels particularly relevant today, an embassy employee (Vincent Kartheiser of “Mad Men”) interrogates Einstein and wife Elsa about their proposed trip. FBI chief Hoover has been watching him, the agent explains. Hoover and other agencies would continue to watch Einstein for the rest of his life -- monitoring his mail, phone calls, even his trash — in part because of his enthusiasm for socialism. ì



but Frydman believes the number will continue to grow. About 100 synagogues tuned in via livestream to a recent conference on the report. Studies suggest that millennials are less inclined to become members of old institutions. Jack Wertheimer, a history professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary, said that free Jewish programs like Birthright – the 10-day trip to Israel for young adults – get young Jews used to the idea of no- and low-cost Jewish services. “We’re living in a time when some Jews don’t want to pay anything to go to synagogue and benefit from synagogue,” Wertheimer said. “We’re living in a time today when institutions are held suspect and also seen as rather cold and distant. This whole idea of membership dues reinforces that point.” Why aren’t Orthodox synagogues adopting the model? Both Wertheimer and Frydman suggested that because Orthodox Jews view prayer as mandatory, the obligation carries over to synagogue membership. Even so, Frydman’s office is embarking on a study of young Orthodox Jewish professionals on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, who often bounce between a few synagogues rather than sticking to one and becoming a member of it. One large Orthodox organization that doesn’t charge dues, however,

is Chabad, whose centers worldwide rely entirely on voluntary donations. While that means that the emissaries who run the Hasidic movement’s outreach efforts spend a significant amount of time fundraising, Chabad spokesman Rabbi Motti Seligson said it also removes a barrier to participation in Jewish life – and forces Chabad centers to run programs people want. “This isn't a technique or a model that’s devised through a focus group,” Seligson said. “This is about what’s at the [movement's] core, which is love of Israel.” Chabad emissary couples, he added, “are not living in an ivory tower. They’re beholden to the community that they're serving. They need to actually be serving the community.” While Frydman emphasized that UJA-Federation does not endorse any one dues model, she said that the voluntary model is appealing to some synagogues because it ensures that the synagogue has an active relationship with its congregants. “They’re cultivating the relationship so that people feel a connection, enough to want to be a part of something bigger,” she said. “It’s about that the synagogue should take the time to ensure that they know all the members, that they understand what people are looking for.” ì

PODCASTS Continued from Page 13 really revolutionary — and revelatory — is her approach to therapy: Perel meets with couples in crisis for a one-time, three-hour session; each session is recorded and edited into a podcast of 30 to 50 minutes. Listening to the sessions will teach you so much about relationships and how to make them work. Perel’s podcast episodes are

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EMMYS Continued from Page 15 In “Transparent,” Judith Light plays the former wife of a Jewish transgender woman. Supporting Actor, Drama Series

Mandy Patinkin attending the Museum Of The Moving Image 30th Annual Salute honoring Warren Beatty in New York, Nov. 2, 2016. (Neilson Barnard/ Getty Images)

Guest Actor, Drama Series In the drama “Bloodline,” Ben Mendelsohn plays the black sheep brother whose return home leads to family drama.

Hank Azaria arriving at the FYC event for IFC’s “Brockmire’ and Documentary Now!” at the Saban Media Center in North Hollywood, Calif., May 31, 2017. (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

Hank Azaria portrays a corrupt former FBI agent who clashes with a Mandy Patinkin was tapped for professional fixer in “Ray Donovan.” his performance as Saul Berenson, Guest Actress, Comedy Series the Jewish Middle East Division chief and later acting director of the CIA in “Homeland.” Supporting Actress, Limited Series Or Movie

Jackie Hoffman attending the Mothers And Sons special performance benefiting The Actors Fund at the John Golden Theatre in New York, May 18, 2014. (Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)

Jackie Hoffman portrays Joan Crawford’s housekeeper in “Feud,” which centers on the rivalry between Crawford and fellow actress Bette Davis.

Carrie Fisher attending the U.S.Ireland Alliance’s Oscar Wilde Awards event at J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot in Santa Monica, Calif., Feb. 19, 2015. (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for US-Ireland Alliance)

The late Carrie Fisher was nominated for her performance in “Catastrophe” as the mother of a man expecting a child as a result of a short affair. Voice-Over

Kevin Kline speaking at the 2015 New York Film Critics Circle Awards at TAO Downtown in New York, Jan. 4, 2016. (Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images) Ben Mendelsohn attending the screening of “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” in London, Dec. 13, 2016. (Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for Disney)

Kevin Kline lent his voice to play the landlord of a hamburger shop owner in the animated sitcom “Bob’s Burgers.” ì

Happy New Year to all my Jewish friends!

JEWISH SPOUSES Continued from Page 23 within their affiliated institutions. (Chovevei Torah already issued a statement reiterating that it forbids its rabbis from performing intermarriages.) The denominational and halachic issues are intriguing for insiders, although the casual reader might be more taken with the personal stories each of the rabbis tells. In a nearly 60-page explanation of his decision, Lau-Lavie wrote of the the interfaith marriages he performed before his ordination as a Conservative rabbi, as well as the requests he continues to receive from "Jews and people of other heritages or faiths seeking a Jewish wedding, life, and community. "Each story was unique," he wrote. "I couldn’t bear saying no. The firsthand encounter with the pain of rejection and its consequences to the couple, to me, and to our community convinced me of the need for an urgent solution. It has become not just a practical issue but also one of deeply personal, ethical, and theological dimensions." Mlotek wrote of the young Jewish woman he met as a staffer on Honeymoon Israel, which takes interfaith couples on heritage trips to Israel. "Rachel" told Mlotek that her parents cut her off after she became engaged to an Arab man. “My guilt is tremendous and I understand my parents’ disappointment," she explained through tears. "Still, is there any way there might still be a space for me within Judaism? I feel as if God has brought my partner and me together.” Mlotek wrote: "A posture of radical hospitality and love will be the only way to ensure Jews remain Jewish and Jewish remains worthwhile." For the B'nai Jeshurun rabbis, the personal is theological, to borrow a phrase. Their decision came with the launch of what they are calling the Jewish Home Project, which will feature support programs, "resources for daily Jewish living, a more robust conversion program and rich Jewish education courses." If rabbis a generation ago performed intermarriages to smooth the feelings of

Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome City of Baton Rouge Parish of East Baton Rouge THE


the Jewish partner's parents, now they want to embrace the couple and do all they can to make them a part of the Jewish community. Critics of the "stat heads," as a baseball fan might put it, say that, unlike folks on the ground, they don't see the people behind the numbers. These critics say the major studies and their authors treat the intermarried as a statistical burden rather than living and breathing individuals making sometimes hard, sometimes welcome choices. That interfaith couples feel judged by the "tribalistic" mainstream, and that Jewish institutions should accept people as they are, not as they wish them to be. Besides, critics say, the statisticians are working against forces they can't resist and longing for a past that cannot be recaptured. Meanwhile, the sociologists and pollsters insist that they are deeply concerned about Jewish individuals, not just faceless Jewish "communities." They study Jewish belonging not because they are scolds, but because they believe that a vibrant Jewish community -- with strong institutions, crowded events, knowledgeable members, and complex friendship and family ties -- creates a deeply meaningful life. That the Jewish thing is not worth preserving for its own sake, but because of the difference it has made in the lives of individuals and the world. And their research, as opposed to their gut, leads them to recommendations — and yes, judgments at a time when judging is out of favor. The authors of the JPPI study take aim at their critics when they conclude, "Many regard all Jewish journeys and family configurations not only as equally valid, but as equally valuable for Jewish engagement and continuity. In contrast with such avowedly non-discriminatory and non-discriminating thinking, our study demonstrates that Jewish spouses matter, Jewish children matter, and, more generally, the configuration of Jewish families matters a great deal for current Jewish engagement and future Jewish continuity." The battle line has been drawn, and it runs right between the human record and the human heart. ì

Best Wishes to My many Friends & Associates for a Happy New Year Judge Piper Griffin Civil District Court Division I ROSH HASHANAH


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