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Southern Jewish Life

January 2018 Volume 28 Issue 1

Southern Jewish Life P.O. Box 130052 Birmingham, AL 35213 Shankerman’s in downtown Clarksdale. Story, page 16.


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It has been a very busy few weeks. On Dec. 6, President Donald Trump played Captain Obvious and, after 22 years of presidential foot-dragging, acknowledged officially that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. It was an open-ended declaration that did not rule out future negotiations with the Palestinians on Jerusalem’s status, nor did it specify borders — it simply stated that Jerusalem is and has been Israel’s capital, its center of government. Because Trump is the one who did it, the move was immediately seen as suspect, with the Reform movement in particular wringing its hands over the timing and many groups predicting mass violence in the Arab world — which for the most part did not materialize. Had Obama made the announcement instead of Trump, the reaction likely would have been far different, and some leaders in the American Jewish community have admitted it was a knee-jerk reaction to Trump that led to the initial disapproval by some. The change of heart probably also can chalked up to how pretty much the entire Israeli political spectrum, including the left, welcomed the Jerusalem announcement, even though it could be seen as helping Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And many Israelis looked at statements from some American Jewish groups with a reaction of “you make such a big deal about access to the Western Wall, and then you turn around and criticize recognizing Jerusalem? And you expect us to take you seriously?” It is an old saying that the Palestinians never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity. That is especially true when the international community covers for them and they never have any consequences for dragging their feet or moving the goalposts. During the Obama administration, the Palestinians insisted there would be no talks while settlements were being built. Netanyahu instituted a building freeze for over a

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Maccabi USA leader praises Birmingham Games I have had the honor of attending many Maccabi competitions around the world. From Israel year, but thetoPalestinians wereEurope no-shows end ofgames that time, when insisted to Australia South America, and— theuntil JCCthe Maccabi around the they United States they wouldn’t negotiate without another freeze. and Canada, I have logged many miles seeing how sports can be a vehicle to help build Jewish The fantasy stoked by the Palestinian leadership and their enablers in the West is a complete identity, especially in our young. disappearance of Israel, including the pre-1967 Israel of Tel Aviv and Jaffa, “from the river to the I felt honored istojust come Birmingham for the first time and fell in love with not just the city sea.” Jerusalem thetotip of the iceberg. but the people. You have taken Southern hospitality to a new level with your kind and caring The Jerusalem announcement was a signal that the train was leaving the station, and if the approach to the JCC Maccabi Games. Palestinians are going to achieve anything, a dose of reality is needed. Led by the Sokol and your hard-working volunteers were wonderful. They partnered But that isn’t likely toHelds, happen. with your outstanding staff, led by Betzy Lynch,that to make the any 2017Jewish JCC Maccabi games a huge hit. Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech recently denied historical connection to IJerusalem want to take opportunity as being executive director of Maccabi USA saysothank you oneven behalf andthis accused Jews of good at falsifying history. It to was egregious, the of everyone involved. left-wing J Street condemned the comments. IThe hadleadership just returned fromPalestinian the 20th World Maccabiah games are in Israel a U.S. delegation of the Authority and Hamas bothwith more interested in aofperover 1100, who to joined Jewish athletesinfrom 80 to countries. Back in Julyatthe of the of entire petual conflict keep10,000 their kleptocracies power, enrich themselves theeyes expense the Jewish worldfuture. were on Jerusalem and the Maccabiah. This past month with 1000 athletes and Palestinian coaches around thewas world being inas Birmingham, theand focalthere point. Whilefrom Trump’s move castigated provocativeyou andbecame extreme, was the predictable United from Nations — which actually attracted far fewer affirmative votes than Everyone thecondemnation Jewish community and the community at large, including a wonderful the Palestinians would have liked — several countries now U.S.a lead. The times police force, are to be commended. These games will goare down infollowing history asthe being seminal are changing. moment for the Jewish community as we build to the future by providing such wonderful Jewish An even more unpredictable event happened on the first night of Chanukah, when a Demomemories. crat won a statewide election in Alabama. Jed Margolis The rejection of Maccabi Roy Moore, who had been ousted as Alabama Chief Justice twice — once Executive Director, USA for refusing a court order to remove a 5,300-pound Ten Commandments monument from the judicial building, and more recently for advising counties to ignore a U.S. Supreme Court ruling supremacists would—like to seen see pushed back recognizing same-sex marriage and refuse to issue such licenses was as a Chanukah On Charlottesville into aof corner and made miracle, though it mostly came about on the strength the black vote. to feel lesser. We stand and pray for the Governor family of Heather It wasNote: an odd oftoevents thatinled to thiswith election. Alabama Robert Heyer, Bentley Editor’s This series reaction the events who was there standing up to the face of appointed the written state’s attorney Luther Strange — who was investigating him —this to the Charlottesville, by Jeremygeneral, Newman, hate.Attorney General. To Alabama voters, that open Senate seat when Sessions became U.S. Master of the Alpha EpsilonJeff Pi Theta Colony We recognize thewhen essence the American smelled awful, and Bentley was still out of office within weeks. Then theofnational Republiat Auburn University, was shared by AEPi cans wentwhich all in on Strange as eloquent” the incumbent, threatening consultants old whostruggle workedtoforrid othnarrative as a two-century National, called it “very and even er candidates, well, Alabamians don’t outsiders telling them vote for. In allow a runoff, Strange ourselves ofwho suchto corners, and those in praised “our brothers at AEPi Theta Colony at was likely the onlyand… Republican who couldn’t Moore winning. thefrom seat at the table that they so deserve. Auburn University the leadership they keepthem It isthe theonly struggle to fulfillwith the promise of the display on their campus. ” And then Moore, a hugely polarizing figure, was Republican a pulse that could Declaration of Independence, that “all men are lose to a Democrat in Alabama. created equal… endowed by their with His preaching from the bench and justification of entangling his religion with Creator government White supremacy has beentoathe cancer on community, certainwith unalienable rights.” We work certainly was not attractive Jewish a large number of know Jewishour Republiour since—itsand beginning, farDoug from Jones, finished, we know we will not canscountry in the state there arethreatening many — votingisfor thebut Democrat. its hopes, its values, and its better angels. moveabackwards. For some Republicans, the main thing was holding slim Republican majority in the Senate, The events that took place in Charlottesville expecting that if Moore were elected he would quickly ejected from thefully Senate andtake GoverWhenbemen and women, armed, represented the worst of this nation. Those nor Kay Ivey would appoint a Republican replacement. to the streets in droves with swastikas and who marched onto the streets with tiki torches other symbols of hate, it iscases a reminder of how After the allegations of preying on underage women, including two involving force, and swastikas did so to provoke violence and relevant the issues of racism and anti-Semitism came out, his supporters doubled down, castigating the women and repeatedly bearing false fear. Those who marched onto the streets did today. It is a wake-up to the work that witness, propogating every story there. As Moore hid fromcall reporters for the rest so to profess an ideology thatconspiracy harkens back to out are needs to be done to ensure a better, more of the campaign, his supporters literally screamed at local and national reporters, pointedly a bleaker, more wretched time in our history. country. But it should not come praying for their andof accusing them of awelcoming witch hunt. A time when mensalvation and women many creeds, without a reflection howTexas, far we’ve At a press conference, about 20 Moore supporters from places likeon Ohio, Newcome. York and races, and religions were far from equal and far elsewhere everyoneAhow resent people from elsewhere in to was born a slave nation.coming A century from safe inreminded our own borders. timeAlabama where votersAmerica tell them how vote, athen urged Alabama ignore thewe women’s and intotoour history engagedclaims in a war in support part Americans livedtounder constant cloud of voters Moore. anti-Semitism and pervasive hate. The to ensure we would not continue as one. We racism, Some complained that Moore was served being treated than othersbywith harassment founddifferently ourselves confronted the issue of civil events that took place in Charlottesville claims againstofthem. That is true — butthese Moore made name on being paragon of virtue, rights,hisand embarked on athe mission to ensure as a reminder how painfully relevant the defender of God’s word. He is, after all, knownthe as fair the Ten Commandments judge. treatment of all peoples no matter their issues are today. skin color. Although we’ve made great strides, While Moore is known for being anti-gay and hostile to Muslims, he has seemed more ambivAuburn’s Alpha Epsilon Pi stands with the it is a mission we’re still grappling with today. alent regarding the Jewish community. But things like the “Bernie Jewish community of Charlottesville, and Bernstein” fake people Washington robocalls, claiming George Soros America was also born an immigrant with the Jewish aroundPost the country was around behind the efforts to defeat reports from country. Asextremearly as the pilgrims, many and world. We alsohim, stand with of thedonations ists and thewho clunky is ahate Jew” and “fellowship withfamilies rabbis” found in the country the groups and minorities are “lawyer targetedwho by the that quote didn’t exactly inspire confidence. Our journey to find the opportunity to“rabplant stakes, chase their future, was on display in Charlottesville. We stand bi” inthe question is in of this issue.these white and be themselves. Few were met with open with minorities whom After an incredibly divisive 2017, let’s hope 2018 starts off calmer. 4 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018

January 2018

Southern Jewish Life PUBLISHER/EDITOR Lawrence M. Brook ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER/ADVERTISING Lee J. Green ADVERTISING SPECIALIST Annetta Dolowitz CREATIVE DIRECTOR Ginger Brook SOCIAL/WEB Emily Baldwein PHOTOGRAPHER-AT-LARGE Rabbi Barry C. Altmark CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Rivka Epstein, Louis Crawford, Tally Werthan, Stuart Derroff, Belle Freitag, Ted Gelber, E. Walter Katz, Doug Brook BIRMINGHAM OFFICE P.O. Box 130052, Birmingham, AL 35213 14 Office Park Circle #104 Birmingham, AL 35223 205/870.7889 NEW ORLEANS OFFICE 3747 West Esplanade, 3rd Floor Metairie, LA 70002 504/491-0562 TOLL-FREE 866/446.5894 FAX 866/392.7750 ADVERTISING Advertising inquiries to 205/870.7889 for Lee Green, or Annetta Dolowitz, Media kit, rates available upon request SUBSCRIPTIONS It has always been our goal to provide a large-community quality publication to all communities of the South. To that end, our commitment includes mailing to every Jewish household in the region (AL, LA, MS, NW FL), without a subscription fee. Outside the area, subscriptions are $25/year, $40/two years. Subscribe via, call 205/870.7889 or mail payment to the address above. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without written permission from the publisher. Views expressed in SJL are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff. SJL makes no claims as to the Kashrut of its advertisers, and retains the right to refuse any advertisement. Documenting this community, a community we are members of and active within, is our passion. We love what we do, and who we do it for.

agenda interesting bits & can’t miss events

An unusual early December snowfall hit parts of the South where snow is a rarity, including at Mishkan Israel in Selma

Forging Ahead: Exploring civil rights and the Jewish community King Weekend programs focus on stories from Birmingham in the 1950s and 1960s Over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, the Birmingham Jewish community will host two events to explore, in story and song, how the civil rights movement affected Birmingham, with special focus on Jewish involvement. “Forging Ahead: Civil Rights Stories and Song” will begin on Jan. 12 at 5:30 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El, with “The Context: Circa 1950s Civil Rights and the Jewish Community.” There will be an appetizer reception, a Shabbat service and presentations by community members, including author T.K. Thorne, Rabbi Douglas Kohn, Cantor Jessica Roskin, Ellen Cooper Erdreich, Sol Kimerling, Cantor Jessica Roskin, Sarah Metzger and others. In addition to writing two award-winning historical novels, Thorne is author of “Last Chance for Justice,” detailing behind-the-scenes investigations of the Sept. 15, 1963 Klan bombing of Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, which killed four girls. She will relate stories about the Jewish community from her forthcoming book, “Behind the Magic Curtain: Secrets, Spies and Unsung White Allies of Birmingham’s Civil Rights Days.” On Jan. 13, “Soul Daughter” musician Neshama Carlebach will head-

line a 6:30 p.m. event at Temple Beth-El. “From Seeds of Discord to Seeds of Change: The Attempted Bombing of Temple Beth-El and the Murder of 4 Little Girls” will feature University of Alabama at Birmingham Professor Pamela King, former Birmingham Mayor Richard Arrington, current Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin and Rabbi Barry Leff. King was the first historic preservationist for Birmingham, serving that role for 20 years. Arrington was the first African-American mayor in Birmingham’s history, first elected in 1977. The daughter of Orthodox Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, one of the most influential Jewish musicians of recent times, Carlebach began performing after her father died suddenly in 1994 with a year of shows booked. She stepped in to keep his music alive, then started to follow her own musical path. In 2013 she found a home in the Reform movement, and often performs with a gospel group, the Glory to God Singers. The program will start with Havdalah, then feature the speakers and a performance by Carlebach, followed by a dessert reception. Tickets are required for the Jan. 13 event, but are free. In April 1958, a bomb with 54 sticks of dynamite was placed outside Beth-El but failed to detonate. The bombing was never officially solved. Through the civil rights era, there were dozens of bombings at African-American homes and churches, culminating in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing. The weekend is presented by Beth-El, Emanu-El and the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center, and is open to the community.

January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 5

agenda Monroe congregation prepares for first Kallah

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B’nai Israel in Monroe is preparing for its first-ever Kallah weekend, Jan. 26 to 28 at the Wesley Center in Woodworth. About 50 have signed up for the retreat. In April, B’nai Israel was one of five congregations to receive a grant from the Kallah Project. The national organization describes a Kallah as “a relaxed gathering that celebrates Shabbat within the framework of a program containing spiritual, educational and social goals.” In addition to creative musical Shabbat services, there will be educational offerings, zip

lining, Mah Jongg, nature walks, a labyrinth, a Havdalah service with s’mores and other activities. Nick May of Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge will be the guest song leader. On Jan. 28, there will be a Tikkun Olam project to fill bags with sample-size toiletries and snacks, for donating to the homeless in Monroe. Dothan’s Temple Emanu-El was one of the other congregations selected, and will hold its Kallah the weekend of April 27 at Bagby State Park in Georgia.

Montgomery religious school named for Rabbi Stevens Montgomery’s joint religious school will be named in memory of Rabbi Elliot Stevens this month. The Jan. 28 ceremony will formalize the school as the Rabbi Elliot L. Stevens Kol Ami Religious School. Stevens, who arrived at Temple Beth Or in 2007, died on June 21 after a battle with pancreatic cancer, at age 69. Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem Rabbi Scott Kramer also arrived in Montgomery in 2007. Together, the rabbis oversaw the merger of the two congregations’ Confirmation classes, then the rest of the religious school. They also worked on other joint events between the congregations. During the summer, Beth Or President John Ives was presented a letter by Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem President Joy Blondheim, stating the congregation’s board voted unanimously to recommend the tribute. Beth Or’s board unan-

imously approved the recommendation in July. The school alternates between the congregations during the course of the year. While the school meets at Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem in January, the Jan. 28 session will be at Beth Or, with the ceremony starting at 11 a.m.

Dothan’s Emanu-El makes changes for art auction The Temple Emanu-El Sisterhood Art Auction, which has been a fixture in Dothan for many years, is changing things up this year. A new auctioneer will be in charge of the Feb. 3 event, with all-new art. The refreshments will also be updated, and there will be a wine and beer tasting that evening. Doors will open at 6 p.m. A portion of the proceeds goes to local charities.

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agenda LJCC annual meeting a look ahead While it has been an eventful year at Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center, the LJCC’s annual meeting on Jan. 18 will be a time to look ahead. In August, the LJCC hosted the JCC Maccabi Games, making Birmingham the second-smallest Jewish community to host. About 900 Jewish teens from across the U.S. and around the world competed in the weeklong event. After the Games, the LJCC embarked on an experiment with the departure of Executive Director Betzy Lynch. Richard Friedman, executive director of the Birmingham Jewish Federation, also took the reins of the LJCC, holding both positions until his anticipated retirement at the end of 2019. While the annual meeting will certainly discuss those events, it will also be a “mini town hall meeting” to discuss steps that are being taken to address a “serious, accumulated financial predicament” and achieve financial stability. There will also be an update on “Reimagine Jewish Birmingham,” an initiative to bring different groups in the Jewish community together to think “collectively and creatively” about the community’s future. There will be a reception at 5:30 p.m., followed by the program and town hall meeting at 6 p.m.

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The Birmingham Holocaust Education Center announced that Joyce Spielberger has been named interim executive director, succeeding Rebecca Dobrinski, who was executive director for two years after serving as program director. In the statement announcing the transition, the BHEC said Dobrinski’s “contribution to the growth and visibility of the BHEC during her threeyear tenure as Executive Director has been significant, and we appreciate the creative and forward-thinking leadership she brought to our organization.” Formerly a BHEC board member and officer, Spielberger was most recently was a consultant with the Birmingham Bar Volunteer Lawyers Program, and was executive director of Magic Moments for four years. She has also directed community relations and overseas programs at the Birmingham Jewish Federation. “I am thrilled to be working to further the mission of the BHEC — preserving and teaching the lessons of the Holocaust will ensure that never again, will we let hate and bigotry reign,” Spielberger said.



Day School holding Art and Soul gala Schaeffer Eye Center will present “Art and Soul: A Black and White Soiree” on Jan. 28 to support the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School. The school’s major fundraising event for the year will be at Temple Beth-El, starting at 5:30 p.m. There will be a dinner and an art auction featuring artwork created live by Vicki Denaburg and Amy Saab. There will also be a silent auction that can be accessed online at the school’s website the week leading up to the event. The gala supports the school’s cutting-edge technology such as interactive Clear Touch boards; extensive professional development, such as individual coaches for the teachers; student trips, such as a social justice tour of the state capital, and more. Tickets start at $90 and are available at the school’s website.


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January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 7

agenda Steve Rosenthal won reelection as mayor of Indianola, Miss., on Dec. 12. To win his third term, he received 1,203 votes while independent candidate Jimmy Smith received 398 votes. Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center is introducing Jiu-Jitsu classes for ages 8 and up, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4:15 p.m., starting Jan. 8. The instructor is Samuel Puccio, who has a black belt and has been training for 20 years. He moved to the U.S. from Sao Paulo in 1999. Registration is available online or at the LJCC. Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge will have Torah On Tap with Rabbi Natan Trief on Jan. 23 at 5:30 p.m. at The River Room, and the first beer is complimentary. Temple Beth Or in Montgomery announced its annual Jewish Food Festival will be held on Feb. 25 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The festival features mostly handmade items, such as rugelach, strudel and mandel bread; hot plates of beef brisket or corned beef deli sandwich plates; matzah ball soup; potato latkes; and quajado. Carnegie Deli cheesecakes are imported from New York. The congregation also holds a Treasure Market in conjunction with the food festival. The Atlanta Kashrut Commission announced that the Krispy Kreme on Highway 92 in Woodstock, Ga., is now under supervision. Jackson’s Beth Israel will host a four-part series discussing criminal justice reform, to explore the topic as it relates to Mississippi and see where the congregation can partner with others to assist. The weekly sessions start on Jan. 7 and will meet at 11 a.m. at the home of Beth Orlansky. Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem Sisterhood in Montgomery will have its Torah Fund luncheon, Jan. 7 at noon at the home of Rosi Smith. Guest speaker will be Nathan Ashner. The Mitzvah Project is for the Montgomery Backpack Food Partnership. Orders are being taken for the 2018 Mah Jongg cards in Birmingham. Standard cards are $8 and large print are $9. Make checks payable to Heidi Damsky at 3508 Mill Run Rd., Birmingham, AL 35223. Include the names, physical addresses and email addresses of the card recipients with payment. Deadline to place orders is Jan. 15. Alvin Benn, longtime reporter for the Montgomery Advertiser, will be the guest speaker at Montgomery’s L’Chaim League luncheon, Jan. 9 at 11:30 a.m. at Temple Beth Or. David Horovitz, founding editor of Times of Israel, will speak at a gathering of Jewish and Christian leaders in Baton Rouge, “Uniting to Meet Our Common Threats: The United States and Israel,” Jan. 8 at B’nai Israel, and on Jan. 9 at 6 p.m. at Tulane Hillel in New Orleans. The events are coordinated by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, and registration is required to In Baton Rouge, doors will open at 4:15 p.m. and the event will start at 5 p.m., with a reception following. The program will end in time for the college football national championship game. As with all such AIPAC community briefings, the event is off the record and closed to the press.

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The Henry S. Jacobs Camp will have a presentation during religious school at Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile on Jan. 7. In addition to other regional incentives, the congregation has an anonymous donor who contributes $1,000 for first-time campers and $500 for returning campers. Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center will have its first Pickleball round-robin mixer, Jan. 29 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the indoor gym. Pickleball is a low-impact game that combines elements of tennis, table tennis, and badminton. There will be two divisions of play: Beginner-Low Intermediate, and High-Level Intermediate-Advanced. There will be six rounds and scores will be kept individually, with games going to 11 points and the winners determined by total number of points. Registration is $25, $20 for members.

January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 9

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National Council of Jewish Women, Greater New Orleans Section records, Manuscripts Collection 667, Louisiana Research Collection, Howard-Tilton Memorial Library, Tulane University

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L’Dor V’Dor celebrates contributions of Jewish women to New Orleans

As New Orleans starts celebrating its tricentennial, Longue Vue will house an exhibit on the effect Jewish women have had on the city. “L’Dor V’Dor: From Generation to Generation, Jewish Women and their Impact on New Orleans” will open on Feb. 1 and run through April Marilyn Cox 29. These materials are not from HUD or FHA and were not approved by HUD or a government agency. Home Bank NMLS# 685994 The exhibition will focus on how Jewish women moved from their homes and religious training to help build the social infrastructure of the city from the late 1800s to the present. Through photos, oral histories, and archival records, viewers will be introduced to the inter-generational HomeBank NOLA market.indd 1 10/19/17 3:34 PM mentorship of these women. About 40 Jewish women are featured who have made contributions in OFFICE OF INCLUSION the arts, education, politics and the “public landscape.” They have worked AND DIVERSITY on issues including immigration, civil rights, women’s rights, public health, public spaces and recreation, child welfare, education, the arts and the post-Katrina rebuilding of the city Longue Vue Curator Lenora Costa said in addition to the 40 women who are highlighted, many others are mentioned, and there will be “This wonderful country of ours a section where visitors can write down others whose stories should be allows us to gather together, to be Jewish and be free… I’m grateful preserved. I can be Jewish and a basketball Costa said the photos in the exhibit generally show the women doing coach in the SEC.” the activities for which they were known, or are multi-generational pho— Auburn Head Basketball Coach tos depicting the teaching of their values to the next generation. Bruce Pearl, at the 2017 JCC Maccabi Costa has been working with NOLA4Women on several woman-reGames Opening Ceremony lated exhibits, and noted that there had been exhibits about the contributions of African-American, Hispanic and Catholic women, but there hadn’t yet been one about Jewish women. “I thought that since Edith Stern was Jewish and involved in the community, it would be an appropriate place to have an exhibit” at Longue Vue, which had been the Stern home and is now a historic museum and gardens. Stern was involved in a wide range of community activities, including a tireless effort to clean up the notoriously-bad voter rolls. The exhibit focuses on approximately 110 years, from 1895 to 2005. The title of the exhibit was inspired by community activist Sara Stone, born in 1915, who emphasized that mentoring and educating the next generation of leaders has been a constant thread in the history of Jewish women. Hillel, Auburn University’s Jewish student organization, was the recipient In addition to Costa, exhibit curators included Rosalind Hinton, Susan of the 2015 AU Student Involvement Award for Overcoming Adversity. Tucker and Bobbie Malone. The New Orleans Section of the National Council of Jewish Women, which is a sponsor of the exhibit, will have a preview on Jan. 28 at 2:30 p.m. as its January general meeting.



10 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018

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What began as a school project in rural Mississippi to collect 1.5 million pennies to symbolize the 1.5 million Jewish children murdered in the Holocaust has evolved into plans for a large memorial. “The Unknown Child” exhibit at the Desoto County Museum in Hernando, about 25 miles south of Memphis, is a taste of the planned memorial, which is slated for a four-acre site on the Circle G Ranch in Horn Lake, known as Elvis Presley’s honeymoon getaway. Diane McNeil said the exhibit is a miniature version of a full-scale permanent installation that the Unknown Child Foundation is planning. The exhibit opened in September, and will be at the museum through March 10 as a way of garnering support and raising awareness of the project. The Penny Project began with Susan Powell and Melissa Swartz, teachers at Horn Lake Middle School, who wanted to increase student awareness of the Holocaust. A Pennies Project was started in 2009 to collect 1.5 million pennies representing the 1.5 million children. The next year, Denise Turner asked if their Christian home-schooling group, Generation SC, could join in the effort, and the group has been involved in the project ever since. Peabody Place Mall in Memphis allowed the students to scoop up the pennies in the mall fountain, and relationships were developed with the Memphis-area Jewish community. The students also wrote to celebrities, politicians and athletes to reach the goal. After three years, they had amassed the 1.5 million pennies, and plans began to establish a children’s Holocaust memorial in the area. The Unknown Child Foundation was established in 2014. The foundation commissioned sculptor Rick Wienecke, an Israeli Christian, to create a piece for the project. He took his inspiration from the “Oratorio Terezin,” which was derived from the “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” book of children’s poetry from Terezin. The Unknown Child sculpture depicts a child leaning against the inside of a crematorium door, reaching to the other side to clutch a piece of ground covered with olive branches, representing Israel. Ten smaller copies of the sculpture have been made. In June 2014, the group debuted the sculpture at the Memphis Israel Festival, and presented one of the smaller versions to Jack Cohen, who hid in a Greek monastery with his family for two years, then had to flee to the forest. In March 2016, the foundation announced a partnership with the Circle G Ranch in Horn Lake, which will be the site of the memorial. The property was once a retreat for Elvis Presley, and includes his honeymoon cottage and stables. The property is being redeveloped into a tourist attraction by Davage Runnels Jr., and is expected to include a welcome center, restaurant and dynamic water feature on the property’s lake. When the plan was announced, the pairing of a children’s Holocaust me-


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community morial to an Elvis project was explained through Elvis’ Jewish connection and his devotion to children’s causes. He had a longtime relationship with the family of Memphis Rabbi Alfred Fruchter, and ancestors on his mother’s side were Jewish. When his mother died in 1958, he made sure to include a Star of David on her tombstone, and he sometimes wore a Chai necklace in concert. When “The Diary of Anne Frank” was performed in October 2016 at Desoto Family Theatre, there were presentations and videos about the project. The planned memorial pathway is in a spiral shape leading to the central building, which will house the sculpture. Metal strips symbolizing rail lines run from the perimeter to the memorial in quadrants, each relating major events in the Holocaust: The Nuremberg Laws, Kristallnacht, mass killings and the Auschwitz sorting upon arrival. The rail line for the Auschwitz segment does not reach the memorial, symbolizing the end of the line. An exit tunnel will showcase liberation and hope for the future. A memorial wall has pictures of children who died in the Holocaust, with a sole penny placed on the frame. The photos are etched on glass, almost transparent, backed by wooden pallets symbolic of the rough wood in the train cars that transported them to the camps. Surrounding the sculpture is a curved wall covered with pennies from the project. The exhibit contains about 36,000 pennies, less than 2 percent of what was collected. The walls in the museum are curved because of space, but in the actual memorial, the building will be in the shape of a Star of David with walls up to 20 feet high, covered in pennies. The second phase of the project calls for a cultural center with classrooms and space for traveling exhibits. The multi-million dollar project recently embarked on a “place-a-penny” campaign, where pennies in the memorial park walls can be dedicated in someone’s honor or memory, for $18 each. While the Desoto County exhibit will close in March, McNeil said it is portable and can be brought to other venues in the region. Peter Felsenthal and Marty Kelman were recently added to the Foundation’s board. Felsenthal is CEO of Whitmor, Inc., wholesale distributors of storage, organization and laundry accessory products, based in Southaven, Miss. Kelman, a second generation of Holocaust survivors, is chairman of Kelman-Lazarov, a financial planning and investment advisory firm in Memphis. His mother, Paula Kelman, was the first Holocaust survivor to speak to the students at Horn Lake Middle School when they began the Pennies Project.

January is Jewish Film Festival month

BHEC presents “Holocaust in Film” series The Birmingham Holocaust Education Center and Emmet O’Neal Library are presenting “The Holocaust in Film,” a four-part series of free screenings. The final film in the series, “Amnon’s Journey,” ties in with the Violins of Hope programs planned for the city in March and April. Amnon Weinstein is a master violin maker in Israel who, since 1996, has restored violins played by Jews in the Holocaust, usually as a way to try and save their lives. Several of the violins will be in Birmingham for exhibits and educational programs, and a concert with the Alabama Symphony Orchestra on April 14. The 2009 documentary will be screened on Feb. 4 at 2 p.m. The series starts on Jan. 18 at 6:30 p.m. with “Remember,” a revenge thriller involving a Holocaust survivor facing the onset of dementia, and sets off on a quest to find the former Nazi responsible for the deaths of his family members. “Line 41” will be screened on Jan. 22 at 6:30 p.m., about a survivor who starts the search for the brother he lost in the Lodz ghetto, 70 years later. On Jan. 25 at 6:30 p.m., the series continues with “Last Laugh,” a documentary that explores the ethical and historical implications of “Holocaust humor.” Comedians including Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, Carl Reiner and Gilbert Gottfried are interviewed, along with actor Robert Clary, who was in Buchenwald as a child. The screenings will be followed by discussions led by Andre Millard of the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

The Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival will run from Jan. 10 to 14 at the Manship Theatre. Tickets are $8.50 and are available through the Manship’s website. Two free tickets to opening night are offered on the film festival website,, to those who sign up for the festival email list. The Mobile Jewish Film Festival offers its most diverse lineup yet, running from Jan. 11 to 28 in six different venues. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for students and seniors, except for the free film on Jan. 11 at the Mobile Museum of Art, though reservations are necessary for that screening. Jewish Cinema Mississippi will open on Jan. 23 at the Malco Grandview Theatre in Madison, with all films at 7 p.m., except the final matinee on Jan. 28. The festival is sponsored by Beth Israel in Jackson and the Jewish Culture Organization at Millsaps College. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for students. A festival pass is $40 for adults by Jan. 16 and $20 for students.

This Year’s Films: “The Women’s Balcony,” an Israeli dramedy that was the country’s film of the year, starts with the collapse of a women’s balcony at a synagogue during a Bar Mitzvah. The overwhelmed older rabbi and a younger rabbi clash as husbands and wives are caught in between the battle lines over the role of women in the congregation. Baton Rouge: Jan. 10, Manship Theatre, 7 p.m. Mobile: Jan. 21 at Ahavas Chesed, 3 p.m. Rabbi Steven Silberman introducing, and a dessert reception following. Jackson: Jan. 27 at Malco Grandview, 7 p.m.

Cinema Israel in Montgomery The Jewish Federation of Central Alabama will present the first in its Cinema Israel series, “A Borrowed Identity,” Jan. 21 at 3:30 p.m. at Temple Beth Or in Montgomery. The 2014 film is an adaptation of two autobiographical novels by Arab-Israeli author Sayed Kashua and in some markets was released under the title “Dancing Arabs.” In the film, a gifted Palestinian teen is accepted to an elite Israeli school and tries to fit in with his peers. On Feb. 4, the series continues at 3:30 p.m. at Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem with “The Wedding Plan,” a 2016 film about an Orthodox woman who is unwed in her 30s. After her fiancé admits he does not love her, she breaks off the engagement, but keeps the wedding hall and figures God will provide a groom — hopefully before the date of her wedding. “The Women’s Balcony” will be on March 11 at Temple Beth Or, followed by “Above and Beyond” on May 6 at Beth Or, and finishing with “Bethlehem” on June 10 at Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem.

“As Seen Through These Eyes” is narrated by Maya Angelou and details a group of people who fought Hitler with the only weapons they had — charcoal, pencil stubs, shreds of paper and their memories. Mobile: Jan. 11 at the Mobile Museum of Art, 2 p.m. Museum Director Deborah Velders will introduce the film. Admission is free but reservations are necessary.

“Keep Quiet” next at NOLA JCC series

“Keep the Change” is a romantic comedy with a man who has autism and finds it difficult to accept that being different isn’t a hindrance to his budding romance. The film won best narrative feature at the Tribeca Film Festival. Baton Rouge: Jan. 11, Manship Theatre, 7:30 p.m.

The Cathy and Morris Bart Jewish Cultural Arts Series at the Uptown Jewish Community Center in New Orleans continues its films on Jan. 16 at 7 p.m. with “Keep Quiet,” a film about Hungarian politician Csanad Szegedi, who is known for his anti-Semitic, neo-Nazi positions. He then discovered that his maternal grandparents were Jewish and his grandmother was an Auschwitz survivor who then hid her Jewish background, fearing further persecution. Stunned by the revelation, Szegedi embarks on a three year journey to embrace Judaism, finding a rabbi that embraces him even when others in the community are skeptical, to put it mildly. The film has a 100 percent critics score on Rotten Tomatoes. On Feb. 22 at 7 p.m., “The 90 Minute War” mockumentary starts with breaking news — after decades of failed negotiations, Israel and the Palestinians have decided to hold a winner-take-all soccer match to decide who will remain in the Holy Land — of course, then agreements have to be made on the venue, the referee and pretty much everything else.

“Denial” is a legal drama is about the libel suit that David Irving brought against Emory Professor Deborah Lipstadt, who called Irving a Holocaust denier in her groundbreaking book on the subject. But Irving sued in British court, where libel laws are different — meaning the writer has to prove what she wrote was true, and by extension, the Holocaust was being put on trial. Baton Rouge: Jan. 13, Manship Theatre, 7:30 p.m. Lipstadt will Skype in for a discussion after the film.

January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 13


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“Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer,” has Richard Gere as the title character, Norman Oppenheimer, whose life changes dramatically for the better and the worse when the young troubled politician he befriended three years earlier becomes prime minister of Israel. Baton Rouge: Jan. 14, Manship Theatre, 3 p.m. “Sammy Davis Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me” examines Davis’ life and career from the Depression era until his death in 1990 and features interviews with Quincy Jones, Whoopi Goldberg, Billy Crystal, Norman Lear, Jerry Lewis, and Kim Novak and includes never-before-seen photographs and excerpts from performances. The screening will be preceded by music from the Rat Pack, featuring Doug Breau. Mobile: Jan. 14 at Ahavas Chesed, 3 p.m. A dessert reception follows. “1945” portrays two Orthodox Jews arriving at a village train station with boxes that say “fragrances” — but villagers fear they really came to reclaim property stolen from Jews during the war, and that many others will follow. The Hungarian film explores how non-Jewish former neighbors profited from the deportation of the Jewish community, and how a society fails. Mobile: Jan. 16 at Laidlaw Performing Arts Center at the University of South Alabama, 7 p.m. Novelist Roy Hoffman will introduce the film. Jackson: Jan. 24 at Malco Grandview, 7 p.m. “Harmonia” is a contemporary adaptation of the biblical tale of Abraham and Sarah, with beautiful harpist Sarah married to Abraham, the charismatic conductor of the Jerusalem Philharmonic. The childless couple turns to an Arab horn player, Hagar, to carry their baby, leading to a clash of cultures that is reconciled through music. Mobile: Jan. 17 at USA Laidlaw, 7 p.m. Rabbi Dana Kaplan will introduce the film. “My Hero Brother” is a documentary about Down syndrome youth who do a two-week trek through the Himalayas with their non-Down syndrome siblings. Mobile: Jan. 18 at USA Laidlaw, 7 p.m. Co-Producer Enosh Cassell of Israel will introduce the film and have remarks after. “Fanny’s Journey” has won the Audience Choice Award at 20 Jewish film festivals. In 1943, Fanny was sent with her younger sisters from their home in France to a foster home for Jewish children in Italy. When the Nazis arrive in Italy, caretakers arrange for the children to be transported to Switzerland, but the plans fall apart and the 11 children are on their own to make the perilous journey to freedom. Mobile: Jan. 23 at the University of South Alabama Performance Center, Fairhope, 7 p.m. The film will be introduced by Jerry Darring. “Riphagen: The Untouchable” is a Dutch film about the real-life manhunt for Riphagen, regarded as the Al Capone of Amsterdam and a “Dutch traitor.” He collaborated with the Nazis, befriending Jews and urging them to give him their jewelry and money for safekeeping, then betraying his victims to the Gestapo. A young policeman sees through Riphagen’s scheme and spends years trying to bring him to justice. Jackson: Jan. 23 at the Malco Grandview, 7 p.m. “An Act of Defiance” recalls a 1963 arrest of 10 black and Jewish men in South Africa

14 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018

community who were plotting sabotage against the Apartheid government. Nelson Mandela was part of the group, which was represented by Jewish lawyer Bram Fischer. The not guilty plea shifted attention to the political system’s injustice. Mobile: Jan. 24 at Bernheim Hall, 7 p.m. with David Meola introducing. “A Heartbeat Away” features an Israeli cardiologist performing lifesaving operations in Tanzania, where five children die every day from heart conditions, but only a few of the hundreds of children can receive treatment. The film focuses on a 6-year-old with little chance of surviving. The short film “Dear God” precedes, about a Western Wall security guard who cleans up messages left in the wall. After a mysterious woman leaves notes in the wall, he decides to fulfill her deepest wish. Mobile: Jan. 25 at Springhill Avenue Temple, 7 p.m. “The Testament” explores a man’s double investigation — to find secrets of his mother’s past, as she was a Holocaust survivor, and to prove the connection between an influential Austrian family and a massacre of Jews. He seeks the truth despite villagers’ denials and his mother’s silence. Jackson: Jan. 25 at Malco Grandview, 7 p.m. “On The Map” is the against-allodds story of the 1977 European Basketball Championship for Maccabi Tel Aviv, a massive lift for a nation still reeling from the 1972 massacre at the Munich Olympics, the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the traumatic 1976 hijacking of an Air France flight to Tel Aviv. Jackson: Jan. 28 at Malco Grandview, 2 p.m. “Joe’s Violin” is about how a donated musical instrument leads to an improbable friendship through music of a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor and a 12-year-old school girl in the Bronx. Mobile: Jan. 28 at Springhill Avenue Temple, 7 p.m. A performance by violinist Enen Yu and pianist Christopher Powell will follow, with a dessert reception.

La. treasurer to speak at Israel Bonds event John Schroeder, the newly-elected treasurer of Louisiana, will be the guest speaker at the upcoming Israel Bonds event in New Orleans. The Atlanta-based regional office announced that there will also be a presentation to the interim state treasurer, Ron Henson, at the Feb. 23 event. The noon luncheon will be held at the Goldring Family Foundation office in Metairie, with reservations due by Feb. 16. Invitations will be sent out shortly. Schroeder was elected treasurer in November, and will complete the term of John Kennedy, who was elected to the U.S. Senate in December 2016. In 2004, Israel made its first purchase of Israel Bonds, for $5 million, under Kennedy’s leadership. He was honored by Israel Bonds in 2014, as the state portfolio held $18 million in Israel Bonds.

JLI course focuses on communication Should you try to communicate effectively in 140 characters or less? The new Rohr Jewish Learning Institute focuses on “Communication: Its Art and Soul,” discussing how to reclaim communication in the age of the Internet, cell phones and social media. According to the course outline, “in Jewish philosophy, communication is more than just a tool: it is who we are. Humans are defined as communicative beings with a communicative soul, and aligning ourselves with this soul is our raison d’être.” The course contrasts Jewish thought with scientific discovery to unearth the essence of communication and how to utilize its powers to better individuals, relationships and all of society. Medical and mental health professionals can earn up to 15 CE units through the six-week course. In Metairie, the course will be at the Chabad Jewish Center on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. or 7:30 p.m., starting Jan. 9 but skipping Jan. 16 and Feb. 13. Tuition is $70, with textbook included, and there is a 10 percent couples or returning student discount. One may attend the first class free, with no obligation to continue. At Chabad of Mobile, the course will be offered on Tuesdays at 7:30 p.m., starting Jan. 23. Registration is $60. The Bais Ariel Chabad Center in Birmingham is also offering the course, starting Jan. 17, but specifics were not set as of press time. Registration information is at

January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 15

Floyd Shankerman is the third generation to run his family business in Clarksdale

Shankerman’s is still dressing the Delta

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16 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018

“Alexa, play Hava Nagila.” While one might be surprised to hear that at a store in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Floyd Shankerman says that’s what he generally does to greet someone Jewish who wanders into Shankerman’s. As with so many smaller towns in the region, Clarksdale once had a thriving Jewish community and numerous Jewish merchants lining downtown streets. Now, Shankerman’s is one of the last signs of the community. But he’s not planning to go anywhere anytime soon, continuing to make the 40-mile journey to downtown Clarksdale from his home in Charleston. His grandfather, Abraham Shankerman, arrived in Clarksdale in 1919. An immigrant from Lithuania, he was living in Newport, Ky., near Cincinnati, when he went to visit a cousin in Greenville, about 75 miles south of Clarksdale. “The train stopped in Clarksdale to fuel, he got off, looked around and decided he liked it,” Shankerman explained. Abraham started the Just Rite Tailor Shop, then son Phillip arrived in 1920, “bought my grandfather out and started Shankerman’s.” A “more traditional” clothing store with “basic merchandise,” Shankerman’s is known for customer service, and if there is a big event anywhere near Clarksdale, chances are the tuxedos came from Shankerman’s. “We carry good lines and prefer American-made merchandise,” he said. Cotton is still king in the Delta, so “we put a big emphasis on cotton, because it’s one of the main sources of income in the Delta.” One supplier he uses is Stately Cotton, which

was recently founded in Memphis by a young entrepreneur who goes to the farmers to get the cotton and takes it to the mills. “We sell his shirts in our store,” Shankerman said. As the store’s third generation, Shankerman joined the business in 1959, though he had been working there for several years while in high school. “It was a family business,” with his mother and three sisters also working in the store. Alexa isn’t the only music maker at Shankerman’s. Shankerman sang for many years in a local church choir, and has a few songs on YouTube, including Elvis’ “My Way” and “You Were Always On My Mind.” Music has a long tradition in the family. According to archival reports, in 1935, there was a meeting at Phillip’s home to organize a community orchestra for Clarksdale. Shankerman said the Jewish community has always been respected in Clarksdale, with a “wonderful Jewish-Christian relationship.” When the final Beth Israel building was completed in 1929, it was the largest Jewish congregation in the state. In 1938, the Mississippi Institute of Jewish and Cognate Studies was formed there, and just after World War II the Jewish community numbered around 300. Today there are perhaps 10 Jews left in the town, and Beth Israel closed in 2003, selling its building to a local ministry. As with so many Delta Jewish families, the Shankerman children are grown and scattered across the country, not looking to be in the retail business. His wife, Joan, died in October 2014. Though Shankerman’s has endured for 98 years and three generations, he says “I’ll be the caboose.”


In Search Of… Roy Moore’s “Fellowship” Rabbi Since Dec. 11, it has been the buzz of the Jewish community — who was Kayla Moore referring to at a campaign rally for her husband, Roy Moore, when she referenced having a Jewish lawyer and having “fellowship” with a rabbi? Moore, the Republican nominee in a special election for U.S. Senate in Alabama, lost the Dec. 12 vote to Democrat Doug Jones in what is being described as one of the biggest political upsets in modern history. Days earlier, Moore spoke about George Soros, a Jewish philanthropist who is a favorite target for the right because of his support for left-wing causes, saying he could not identify with the world Soros comes from and suggested that Soros is headed for hell. At the election eve rally, Kayla Moore said “Fake news would tell you that we don’t care for Jews. I tell you this all this because I’ve seen it all, so I want to set the record straight while they’re here. One of our attorneys is a Jew. We have very close friends that are Jewish and rabbis, and we also fellowship with them.” The rest of the comment aside, for most Jews, the use of “fellowship” as a verb was puzzling, though that is a common expression in some

Christian circles. Devra First, a writer for the Boston Globe, decided to call every rabbi in Alabama “to see if any of them had ever fellowshipped with the Moores.” “There aren’t a ton of rabbis in Alabama, so calling them all seemed feasible,” she explained. By nightfall on Dec. 12, she had made contact with six rabbis, none of whom had contact with the Moores, but the name Noson Leiter was most often referenced by them. Leiter, a New York rabbi who heads Torah Jews for Decency and is executive director of Help Rescue Our Children, spoke at a Nov. 16 rally in Birmingham, one of about 20 “faith and family” speakers defending Moore shortly after women accused Moore of sexual misconduct when they were teens and Moore was in his early 30s. Leiter praised Moore for his “proven track record of fighting for public policy based on Biblical values and not perversion” and railed against abortion and “homosexualist gay terrorism.” In response to the series of tweets by First, a couple of people wrote that Moore was likely referring to David Schneier, who leads Beth Hal-

lel, a “messianic” congregation in Birmingham. On Twitter, Sarah Boatwright stated that Moore was referring to her congregation, Beth Hallel, and chastised First for being “ignorant” by not contacting “all the rabbis in Alabama.” She confirmed to Southern Jewish Life that she was talking about Schneier and Eric Walker, the previous leader of Beth Hallel. Another commenter stated that the Moores regularly attend Beth Hallel’s “CommUnity Seder” on Passover. “Messianics” are those of Jewish background who have accepted Jesus but feel they are still Jews, though the entire Jewish world, from right-wing to left-wing, considers them to be Christians. No Jewish group recognizes the “messianic” movement as part of Judaism, nor are their leaders recognized as rabbis. Many evangelical churches support “messianic” congregations, which use Jewish symbols and rituals but give them a Christological meaning, as a way of converting Jews by convincing them that they aren’t really leaving Judaism behind. Many mainline Christian denominations see this as subterfuge. In the South especially, most who attend

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January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 17

community “messianic” congregations come from a Christian background and believe that they are exploring the Jewish roots of their faith, desiring to learn more about the people that Jesus came from. Southern Jewish Life contacted Beth Hallel, but Schneier was unavailable. When asked whether Schneier was whom Moore was referring to, the woman who answered the phone said “we can’t make a comment” and would not be able to help any further, then quickly hung up. While Schneier did not respond to emails asking for comment, he attended the Birmingham Jewish community’s Chanukah menorah lighting on Dec. 17 and confirmed Southern Jewish Life’s reporting in an earlier online version of this piece. Schneier’s wife, however, strenuously objected to the characterization of messianics as being outside the Jewish community. The Moore campaign never responded to requests for comment. Schneier’s blog has a post from 2014 stating that Moore would be the guest speaker at Beth Hallel’s Shavuot service. Shavuot, of course, is the holiday that celebrates the giving of the Ten Commandments, and Moore became famous in the 1990s for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments plaque he had placed in his courtroom. Moore also was listed as speaker for Shavuot this year. Beth Hallel’s Facebook page also has a photo of the Schneiers and the Moores from September 2016 in Montgomery at the conclusion of the hearing over Moore’s suspension as chief justice. As for the attorney reference, Schneier and his wife, Leslye, met in 1973 as they were in their final year of law school at George Washington University, and started out practicing law. Pretty much every Jewish attorney in the state was inundated with questions from friends across the country, but the identity of the attorney in question remains a source of speculation. Attorney Richard Jaffe, who is in Birmingham’s Jewish community, has represented the Moores’ son, Caleb, on a 2015 drug possession case, one of nine arrests for the younger Moore since 2011. Jaffe praised Jones in an profile shortly after Jones announced his candidacy, and donated to the Jones campaign. Meanwhile, Amanda Goldstein Marks, an Atlanta comedian who grew up in Birmingham, established an Alabama Jewish Lawyer satirical Twitter feed.

NOLA JCRC congratulates Jones on win The Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans issued a statement congratulating Doug Jones on becoming senator-elect for Alabama in the Dec. 12 election. The statement read, “We welcome the news that a dedicated public servant, who heroically prosecuted KKK members for the bombing of Birmingham’s 16th Street Church, has been elected to the United States Senate. May Mr. Jones’ election serve as an affirmation that this country seeks leaders who, regardless of political affiliation, seek to unite and uplift us all.”

Siroty to be installed in Alexandria Rabbi Cantor Raina Siroty will be installed as leader of Gemiluth Chassodim in Alexandria on Jan. 26 at the 6 p.m. service. A Georgia native who grew up in Los Angeles, Siroty started at Gemiluth Chassodim last July, after being ordained as a rabbi in May. In 2010, she was ordained as a cantor. In 2016, she was the High Holy Days cantor at Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge. Rabbi Cookie Olshein of Temple Israel, West Palm Beach, Fla., will officiate at the installation. “Rabbi Olshein and I studied together at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles, before I went to cantorial school, and she has been a wonderful friend since, as well as an amazing colleague,” Siroty said. “We will be celebrating Shabbat Shirah that night as well,” incorporating lots of music into the installation service. 18 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018

community JCRS to celebrate 30 years of growth under Ned Goldberg’s leadership “Jewish Roots of Cabaret” gala on Feb. 24 Thirty years ago, Ned Goldberg moved to New Orleans to take the helm at Jewish Children’s Regional Service, which assisted roughly 200 Jewish youth in a seven-state region. Today, the oldest Jewish children’s agency in the United States serves over 1700 Jewish children annually, and JCRS will celebrate Goldberg’s 30 years as executive director at this year’s Jewish Roots of Cabaret gala. Broadway actress Leslie Castay will be the featured entertainer. A multi-talented actress and singer, she has performed on the Broadway stage, screen, and in nightclubs. She has appeared on Broadway in “42nd Street,” “3Penny Opera,” “Guys and Dolls” and “Beauty and the Beast.” She was a soloist at Carnegie Hall with the New York Pops and has stared in numerous national tours, Ned Goldberg Off-Broadway and regional productions. The annual event, which has become one of the largest functions in New Orleans’ Jewish community each year, is moving to the New Orleans Marriott on Canal, on Feb. 24 A native of Cincinnati, Goldberg has spent his social work career working with youth and families, or administering programs on their behalf. Prior to moving to New Orleans to lead JCRS, he served in professional capacities with three Jewish Family Service agencies, or their spin-off projects, in Florida and Ohio. Goldberg has served in professional social work roles with the Child Welfare Division of the Cuyahoga County Welfare Department, Parmadale Children’s Village and served as a social work consultant in Florida in the 1980s. Goldberg said the greatest satisfaction from his 30 years of leading JCRS comes from seeing so many children and youth develop into mature and accomplished adults. “Every week, JCRS is contacted by current and former clients who express their gratitude to both our donors and our staff, for the professional and financial support they have received,” Goldberg explained. “The JCRS mission is to help youth to become well-adjusted, successful and self-supporting Jewish adults. Hundreds upon hundreds of young adults, from countless professions, publicly credit JCRS support as one reason for their success and their opportunities in life. I’ve Leslie Castay been so very, very lucky over these past 30 years to have witnessed the personal growth, education and careers of thousands of young people.” Since converting from a Jewish children’s home in the 1940s to a social service agency exclusively serving the Jewish community of the Midsouth, the JCRS has provided “needs-based” scholarship aid for Jewish overnight camp and undergraduate education, as well as subsidies for the care and treatment of dependent and special needs Jewish youth. In recent years, the JCRS has expanded its staff and provided “outreach” services to families that are isolated or inactive within the Jewish community. The JCRS has initiated programs that provide outreach over Jewish holidays, including Chanukah gifts for children from families that


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community are suffering from economic distress, or are victims of natural disasters. Another recent outreach program, PJ Library, is administered by JCRS and annually serves over 1,000 Jewish youth, residing across parts of six states in communities that are not otherwise served by a local agency. The agency’s footprint includes Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. Melinda Mintz and Michael Goldman are the Gala co-chairs, along with honorary co-chairs Joan and Gerald Berenson, and Shirley and Ralph Seelig. The evening will include a cocktail reception, seated dinner, and silent auction featuring once-in-a-lifetime travel opportunities. Ticket and sponsorship information is available at

JCRS accepting applications for summer camp aid Applications for need-based camp scholarship aid from Jewish Children’s Regional Service are now available online for summer 2018. Last year, the New Orleans-based social service agency provided partial scholarship funding for over 300 Jewish youth in a seven-state region to attend a non-profit Jewish sleepaway camp. Campers must be entering grades 3 to 12 in the fall of 2018, and must reside in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee or Texas. The priority consideration deadline is Feb. 15, and the application process is done entirely online at In addition to the online application, several documents need to be uploaded — a PDF of the most current Federal tax return for the parents or guardians, the most current W2s and 1099 forms and a copy of the final 2017 pay stub if the 2017 W-2 has not yet been received. Financial information is required from all legal parents and guardians, and permission must be given for JCRS to work with other local organizations that give camp scholarship assistance. Applications for siblings can be combined if all legal parents or guardians are the same. There is a different, shorter form for returning campers. A similar procedure is in place for college aid, with around 140 students receiving an average award of $2,000 each year. The college application deadline is May 31.

Farrakhan honored in Monroe Controversy has broken out in Monroe with an appearance by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, including a presentation of a key to the city by Mayor Jamie Mayo. Farrakhan, who has a long record of incendiary remarks about Jews and whites, was in town for his granddaughter’s graduation from Grambling State University, and was invited to speak to a select group of elected officials in Monroe, all of whom were black. Farrakhan was quoted as telling them not to do the same things that whites did when they were in power, because “they may be out of office but they’re watching, to see if you make a misstep so they can get good out and put evil back.” Rod Washington, spokesman for the city of Monroe, told KNOE-TV that Mayo “is keenly aware of the multi-faceted viewpoints that many people hold in relation to Minister Farrakhan. However, his brief stay in Monroe was positive.” The regional office of the Anti-Defamation League in New Orleans issued a statement that “Farrakhan has not hidden his unabashed anti-Semitism. For him to be given the key to Monroe is shameful and shows an unfortunate willingness to overlook his past incendiary comments.” The ADL recently said that in 2017 Farrakhan “has reinforced his position as one of the leading anti-Semites in the United States… he has continued to preach to his followers that Jews are satanic conspirators who represent the epitome of evil in the modern world.” 20 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018

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January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 21

Chanukah in the South

Evy Stroderd in Alexandria

Eric & Happie prepare for the Chanukah event at the Uptown JCC in New Orleans on Dec. 17

Chabad Emerald Coast’s Menorah lighting at HarborWalk Village in Destin on Dec. 14

Chanukah at B’nai Israel in Hattiesburg Some of the Infamous Latke Makers at Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile: David Rose, Howard Silverman, Steve Muhlfelder, Mike Pereira and Nate Ginsberg

Chabad of Louisiana’a Menorah Car Parade on Dec. 16

Lighting the candles at Beth Israel in Gulfport

Alvin Rosenbaum and Traci Taylor Welch at Temple B’nai Israel in Florence on Dec. 19. Temple Beth-El in Pensacola

At Temple Emanu-El, Dothan, on Dec. 15

22 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018

Chanukah at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge on Dec. 17 included a chocolate gelt drop, thanks to the Baton Rouge fire department

Above: Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant holds Chanukah ceremony at Governor’s Mansion as Rabbi Jeffrey Kurtz-Lendner lights the candles. Far left: JNOLA Light It Up Chanukah Party at Port Orleans Brewing on Dec. 16 with Samuel Cohen, Lexandra Evenstein, Malcolm Finkelstein and Hallie Timm

take care of yourself an annual SJL special section

Make Your Health a Top Priority in 2018 Five Tips for Living Well, from Touro Infirmary

As we ring in another New Year, we tend to make health resolutions, such as lose 30 pounds or give up a bad habit. But as soon as the confetti settles and the champagne is stored away, our unrealistic resolutions go by the wayside. This year, take a different approach and make a lasting commitment to take care of your overall health, both physically and mentally.

Immerse yourself in tranquility

Eat a Balanced Diet: Remember to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Maintaining a healthy diet is one of the best weapons for fighting obesity and many diseases. Vegetables and fruits of different colors provide vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals, which help to prevent heart disease, diabetes, and cancer. Fruits and vegetables are a reliable source of fiber as well. Aim for at least 2 cups of fruit and 2-½ cups of vegetables each day. Vegetables are low in calories and contain a healthy dose of fiber, vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals. A good rule of thumb is to fill half of your plate with vegetables. Choose low-fat or lean cuts of meat and poultry. Also, vary your protein by choosing more vegetable sources, such as beans, lentils, peanuts and soy.

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Schedule a check-up: Some of the most important numbers to monitor include your blood pressure, lipid profile, blood sugar and BMI. You may be feeling healthy, but there are usually no signs of pre-diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol without being tested. It’s important to have regular visits with your primary care doctor. Keeping tabs on these important health “numbers” can spot early signs of obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Get Screened: Regular cancer screenings help spot cancer early — when detected in earliest stages, cancers are most treatable. Common screenings include mammography, colonoscopy, prostate specific antigen, pap tests and human papillomavirus (HPV). Be sure to consult your healthcare provider regarding the appropriate timing and frequency of all screening tests based on your age, overall health, and medical history. Get Moving: Another key to good health! Just 30 minutes of physical daily activity can radically improve the way you look and feel, both physically and mentally. Experts agree that physical activity does not necessarily have to be vigorous. Start by taking the stairs instead of the elevator and making a 10 minute walk a part of your daily routine, and work up to your individual goals. Practice Mindfulness: Wellness is more than just exercise and eating healthy. Mental and emotional health are important aspects of our well-being that often get overlooked. Research shows that practicing mindfulness can help reduce stress. In fact, mindfulness can cause changes in your brain that may offset some of the harmful effects of stress as well as depression. In addition, mindfulness can help you better manage anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. It’s also been shown to boost well-being and improve quality of life. Taking a few minutes daily for “me” time, meditation, deep breathing or yoga can make a big difference. Touro is here to help you stay healthy all year long. To find a physician at Touro Infirmary, visit or call (504) 897-7777.

January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 23

take care of yourself Israeli self-defense in Birmingham by Lee J. Green

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Those who want to protect themselves or their family with the military self-defense system developed for the Israel Defense Forces, Shin Bet and Mossad can easily learn Krav Maga in Birmingham. Certified instructor and master Matthew Holder teaches Krav Maga at the Levite Jewish Community Center, his studio in Birmingham’s Southside or private lessons at one’s home. “When I got into Krav Maga years ago, I was intrigued right away,” said Holder. “It’s straight-forward and easy to learn. It is the best defense and the fact that it was Israeli appealed to me.” Krav Maga consists of a combination of techniques sourced from boxing, wrestling, aikido, judo, karate and realistic fight training. It is known for its focus on real-world situations and its efficiency, “so that one may walk in peace.” Krav Maga is designed so anyone can do it — any age, even those with injuries or disabilities. Imi Lichtenfeld derived Krav Maga from his street-fighting experience in Hungary. Lichtenfeld made use of his training as a boxer and wrestler as a means of defending the Jewish quarter against fascist groups in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia, in the mid-to-late 1930s. In the late 1940s, following his migration to Israel, he began to provide lessons on combat training to what would become the IDF. “He was a pioneer and a selfless person. He not only wanted to defend himself during some difficult times but to pass that on to others to let them defend themselves,” said Holder. “Sadly, we are seeing an increase today in anti-Semitism and we are seeing an increase in crime,” he said. “The need is greater to protect oneself and those they love.” Holder grew up in Arkansas and then Memphis. He found himself the victim of bullying and learned a few ways he could protect himself. He moved to Birmingham as an adult and then got involved in Krav Maga. He went through rigorous training with the International Krav Maga Federation to become a certified trainer. In addition to the benefits of protection, Holder said Krav Maga also benefits one’s cardio health. “A side benefit is that it is really good exercise and strength-training,” he said. So in this case, Take Care of Yourself takes two meanings.

take care of yourself

Schaeffer Eye Center offers insightful health tips by Lee J. Green It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul, and Schaeffer Eye Center’s Dr. Brooke Kaplan said they are also the windows to systemic health. “Living a healthy lifestyle positively affects your vision. Eating healthy, staying hydrated and most importantly, not smoking. Smoking increases the risk of several eye diseases including macular degeneration,” said Kaplan. Regular check-ups with one’s optometrist are important not just to detect eye health issues, but other health issues and diseases as well. “The most common non-ocular diagnosis I make is diabetes. One of the more common early symptoms of uncontrolled blood sugar is blurred vision,” said Kaplan. She said that though winters in the Deep South usually aren’t very cold, they still could pose some issues for the eyes. “Changing environments from cold to hot is a recipe for dry eyes, and drinking enough water is the first step to helping tear production,” said Kaplan. “Always make sure to stay hydrated.” Wearing sunglasses is important all the time when outside. “Just because it’s not hot, it doesn’t mean the sun can’t still do damage to the eyes,” she said. Too much UV exposure is harmful to the eyes. Sunglasses that block 99 to 100 percent of UVA and UVB rays should be worn all year long. Schaeffer Eye Center, which has locations around Birmingham, Montgomery and Huntsville, also recommends eating healthy for one’s entire body, including the eyes. Foods with omega-3 fatty acids, lutein, Vitamins A, C and E provide nutrition to help protect the eyes. With adults and kids using digital devices on a regular basis, Kaplan not-

ed that common symptoms from extended use include eyestrain, headaches and dry eyes. She said to follow the “20-20-20” rule. Take a 20-second break to view something 20 feet away every 20 minutes. Computer or iPad glasses prescribed by an eye doctor also protect eyes and make digital viewing more comfortable.

Teen Life Counts volunteer educators needed in NOLA

Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans is looking for volunteer educators for the Teen Life Counts program. For over 30 years, this program has relied on dozens of Volunteer Educators to teach an established suicide prevention and awareness program to students in the Greater New Orleans area. After completing initial training, TLC volunteer educators are required to teach the TLC program in at least two area schools per semester and attend approximately two additional TLC educator support meetings over the course of the year. Applicants must be at least 21 years or older, and must pass a background check. Volunteers may sign up at to complete the volunteer educator application. Program Coordinator Melissa Stewart said “because of TLC volunteer educators, this fun and impactful program has made a difference in many students’ lives.”

There’s a crescent in Touro’s logo for a reason.

We’ve cared for the Crescent City for 165 years. From Uptown to Lakeview and then some, there’s one name in healthcare that stands out above the rest. Touro specializes in a wide range of services, including emergency and acute care, cardiology, surgical services, cancer treatment, women’s services, rehabilitation, diagnostic imaging, orthopaedics, stroke care and more. No wonder so many patients choose Touro.

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January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 25

take care of yourself Named “Best Fertility Practice in Florida” and Top 5% Nationwide by

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This doctor still makes house calls, and patients can even call her from their comfort of their house to get the medical attention they need. “Health care and insurance are changing today,” said Ankrehah Johnson, who started Brownstone Family Health Care in 2012 following her residency in Birmingham. “If you are sick you can’t wait to see a doctor and get well, or have to worry about high insurance premiums. We are helping to fill in the gaps.” Johnson said she started doing concierge and telemedicine services to meet the changing needs of her patients, and to also help others who fell in the gaps. Both are relatively new to Alabama. With concierge medicine, patients don’t need to wait for a visit. They have access to Johnson and other Brownstone medical professionals “24-7.” As a part of the program, she makes up to three house calls a year and offers comprehensive labs twice per year. She also offers a telemedicine service. Patients can download an app for their phone or from their computer and talk to Johnson. “Sometimes for more minor health issues, they can tell me their symptoms and I can diagnose them, then prescribe something that might help them,” she said. Johnson said many of her concierge patients are business owners and professionals with busy work and family schedules. They also tend to be tech-savvy and like the idea of “virtual medicine.” “Time is money,” she said. “We work with many patients who have limited time and want the convenience of medical care that can work with their busy schedules.” Johnson said their focus extends beyond helping patients to return to physical wellness. “We strive to also make them feel better mentally and emotionally,” she said. “We focus on the total wellness picture.”

Jews and health by Rivka Chesney


205.877.8677 26 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018

Healthy living has been a part of Jewish tradition dating back to Mount Sinai. In the Torah it is written “v’nishmartem meod l’nafshoseichem” (Devarim 4:15) — “And you shall watch yourselves very well,” from which the Talmud extrapolates the obligation to take care of one’s physical needs, such as living a healthy lifestyle. As Maimonides writes, “Since maintaining a healthy and sound body is among the ways of God… therefore, he must avoid that which harms the body and accustom himself to that which is healthful and helps the body become stronger” (De’ot 4:1). Throughout history, the Jewish people have been protected by living a healthy and sanitary lifestyle. During the black plague, while much of Europe was overrun by disease and death, the Jewish communities were mostly spared the horror due to the traditions of washing one’s hands in the morning, as well as before eating, a practice that was instituted by King Solomon. There was also the weekly bathing, and cleaning of the home that was done in honor of Shabbat. Additionally, they buried their dead at the earliest possibility as is the Jewish custom. These traditions were so effective at insulating the Jewish communities from disease that anti-Semites started spreading libels that the Jews were poisoning the wells and therefore they were not afflicted by the disease. The famous Yiddish expression “Abi Gezunt,” as long as you’re healthy, is what Jews say when they want to wish each other well. We have special prayers in Psalms that are dedicated to praying for healing when someone is not healthy.  The 2nd Annual Community Health Festival will take place on  Jan. 21 from 3 to 5 p.m.  at Torah Academy in Metairie, celebrating and learning about a healthy lifestyle. Organizations and businesses throughout the Greater New Orleans area are partnering in this event and will have health-related activities for children and adults, such as the trivia prize wheel, cardio and strength training, carrot juicing, and chair massage The event is sponsored by Torah Academy, Macaroni Kid, Southern Jewish Life and Mardi Gras Zone.  There will be a miniature amusement park with rides such as a ferris wheel, dunk booth and knockerball. Kosher food will be sold at the event. 

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Tulane embarks on “audacious” $1.3 billion capital campaign

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On Dec. 8, Tulane University President Mike Fitts announced the start of “Only the Audacious,” the largest-ever fundraising campaign for the university, with a goal of $1.3 billion. The campaign has already raised $820 million, and is chaired by Cathy Pierson, Hunter Pierson, Phyllis Taylor and Richard Yulman. The funds will boost the university’s pioneering research; increase scholarships and financial aid to attract the best students from across the globe; recruit and retain the world’s best faculty and build a student experience that emphasizes innovation, first-hand research experiences and learning through civic engagement. “For decades, we’ve accomplished spectacular, remarkable things with only a fraction of the endowment of some of our wealthier peers,” Fitts said during the “Big Reveal” at Avron B. Fogelman Arena in the Devlin Fieldhouse. “I don’t know about you, but I’ve had enough of running a marathon from 15 yards behind.” Among the gifts already secured are $20 million from the Yulman family for building Yulman StaPhoto by Paul Morse/Tulane dium; $10 million from the Carol Walter Isaacson speaks at the Dec. Lavin Bernick Family Foundation 8 campaign luncheon in the newly and the Lavin Family Foundation opened Marshall Family Commons to support faculty needs in research, recruitment, development, in the Goldring/Woldenberg continuing education and student Business School Complex. engagement, as well as to endow one of the first three Presidential Chairs; and an anchor gift from the Goldring Family Foundation for the renovation and expansion of Tulane University’s A. B. Freeman School of Business, including construction of the $35 million Goldring/Woldenberg Business Complex. Among the speakers at the Dec. 8 campaign luncheon was Walter Isaacson, who recently returned to New Orleans to become a professor at Tulane. He has been chairman and CEO of CNN, managing editor of TIME and leader of the Aspen Institute, and is also an emeritus member of the Board of Tulane. Isaacson spoke of celebrating diversity, crossing disciplines and collaboration as a way to foster innovation and creativity. The campaign will greatly increase endowed funds dedicated to clini-

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cal and translational research that turns laboratory discoveries into cures. It will also expand opportunities to engage Tulane students in conducting such research. Campaign funds will be dedicated to increasing the number of endowed faculty positions across the university while creating more Presidential Chairs that will attract some of the world’s most intrepid faculty members in areas such as biomedicine, coastal restoration and fields not yet explored. These faculty members will embark on a pursuit of teaching and research that crosses multiple disciplines. In addition, the campaign will dedicate more money to scholarships and transform Tulane physically by supporting construction of The Commons. The campaign will also support a new Digital Technology Center focused on the humanities, social sciences and other sciences; build innovative spaces for medical students; unite services dedicated to student success and careers in Mussafer Hall and complete expansion of the A. B. Freeman School of Business’ Goldring Woldenberg Business Complex.

Birmingham-Southern expands Jewish student outreach, forms Hillel

Birmingham-Southern College has taken several big steps to expand its outreach to Jewish students this fall. The college counts about 17 Jewish Science & Technology Center Opening Fall 2018 students on campus today out of an overall student population of 1,300, but welcoming and serving them is a big priority, as is growing that number. To learn more about Newman, visit A group of engaged Jewish students came together this fall to form the beginnings of a Hillel organization. With help from BSC staff and faculty, Newman seeks to enroll qualified students regardless of race, gender, or creed. the team organized a series of seven events, including a group lunch at CresNeed-based financial aid is available. tline Bagel, a lunch at Diplomat Deli for students taking Hebrew, a challah making and cursive Hebrew demonstration, a holiday party in BSC’s Office of Religious Life, and a bagel break during the busy exam period. Rabbi LaiSouthernJewish.indd 1 7/21/17 5:01 PM la Haas from Temple Emanu-El also spoke on campus during a Common Hour event open to all students. Associate Director of Development Sarah Kate Roberts, a 2011 graduate of the college who came on board as an employee this summer, has made it her mission to give the students the resources they need to make a difference on the Hilltop. She is working in tandem with BSC Chaplain Julie Holly. The project has been a personal one for Roberts, who has Jewish grandparents. “Birmingham has a vibrant, thriving, and extremely-service oriented Jewish community, and we want BSC to be represented of that,” she said. “I am extremely proud that Birmingham-Southern has made the recruitment of Jewish students a priority.” She has also gotten assistance from the Birmingham Jewish Federation, ™ including from BSC alumna — and Roberts’ former classmate — Samantha I’m here to help life go right – Hobie Hobart, Agent Dubrinsky. The Federation helped provide seed money, along with local so you can enjoy it, while I 1311 Decatur Highway Suite A philanthropists Hal and Judy Abroms, for the Abroms Scholars Program, Fultondale, AL 35068 help protect it. Let’s talk about Bus: 205-841-7485 which awards two $5,000 scholarships to Jewish students who meet certain your life insurance options. criteria and commit to taking a leadership role in the Jewish student group. CALL ME TODAY. Dubrinsky said that the focus on students as individuals, and the willingness to pour resources into even a small student group, is part of what makes BSC special. “It might seem odd to some that a Jewish student would choose to go to a small liberal arts, Methodist-affiliated college in Birmingham,” Dubrinsky wrote in a fall issue of the Federation Update. “For me, and those Jewish students who are on Birmingham-Southern College’s campus now, it doesn’t seem odd at all.” The BSC Hillel and Federation are working to broaden efforts further this spring, adding a Jewish speaker that will be part of the college’s events celebrating its 100 Years on the Hilltop, the anniversary of the merger of Birmingham College and Southern University. That speaker is still be deState Farm Life Insurance Company (Not licensed in MA, NY or WI) termined, but the area Jewish community will be invited. Also on tap is a State Farm Life and Accident Assurance Company (Licensed in NY and WI) 1601487 Bloomington, IL special speaker for Holocaust Awareness Month in April.

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There’s a good reason why MILLSAPS COLLEGE is one of only 12 colleges or universities in the nation with a RHODES SCHOLAR in two of the last three years. “TELL YOUR FAMILY, FRIENDS, NEIGHBORS: MILLSAPS IS THE PLACE TO BE! I DO NOT THINK I COULD HAVE DONE IT AT ANY OTHER PLACE IN THE WORLD.” – Noah Barbieri, Class of 2018 Truman Scholar, Rhodes Scholar

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January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 29


Millsaps offers Judaic Studies minor

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This month, the Jewish Culture Organization at Millsaps College will co-host, along with Jackson’s Beth Israel, the 16th annual Jewish Cinema Mississippi. The Jewish Culture Organization is a student organization dedicated to celebrating Jewish culture at Millsaps, which was founded in 1890 as a Methodist institution. The privately-supported liberal arts college is consistently rated by national groups as one of the best values in higher education, and just under 1,000 students are on the 100-acre campus in the heart of Jackson. Jewish students and faculty, as well as those with a deep appreciation for Jewish culture, are brought together through the JCO’s programming, with regular Shabbat and holiday observances to special events. In 2016, Millsaps became one of just a handful of schools in the region to offer a Judaic Studies minor, as part of the religious studies department. Ties with the Jewish community also include the annual Rabbi Perry Nussbaum Lecture Series, named after the longtime Beth Israel rabbi who was known for his activism in the 1960s, during the heart of civil rights battles in the state. In 2008, Dr. John D. Bower, renal pioneer and friend of the late Nussbaum, endowed the lecture series, which is dedicated to men and women who have stood against racial bigotry and religious prejudice. Nussbaum Laureates are honored for their contributions to the civil rights movement in Mississippi and beyond, and one is selected to give the lecture the next day.

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The Jewish presence at the University of Alabama has been growing so much, relatively new facilities need to be expanded to keep up with demand. University of Alabama Hillel and Jewish Student Activities Director Lisa Besnoy said they continue to have record participation numbers in Tuscaloosa. “We’re at capacity just about every week for Shabbat dinners, Sunday brunches and other events. We are averaging more than 100 students every time,” said Besnoy. To accommodate current and future growth, they are in the midst of raising $1 million for an expansion project at Hillel that will enlarge the great room, renovate the staff area and basketball court as well as other important infrastructure enhancements. The expansion project will cost $700,000. As of the end of November, $100,000 had been raised with some matching grant dollars additionally promised. Last month, Chanukah was during finals but celebrations were hosted each night with a menorah lighting and latkes. On the first night, Hillel welcomed a very special visitor — Alabama’s favorite pachyderm mascot, Big Al. Besnoy said they will continue their enhanced focus on Israel education, inviting comedians and speakers, holding Israeli wine tastings and hosting interactive learning programs and forums. They will also organize another Birthright Israel trip in the summer of 2018. “We’re proud of our students for their involvement not just in these programs but for the greater role they play working with others to learn and help those in need,” she said. Hillel works with the Methodist student group on Habitat for Humanity projects and collecting tzedekah for the Tuscaloosa animal shelter, as well as the West Alabama Food Bank. Through Hillel Connection they are also seeking to line up senior Jewish students with prospective employers in the state when they graduate. “We are seeking partnerships that benefit our students and others,” said Besnoy. The Alabama Jewish student population is estimated to be at a record of more than 900 students.

education Isidore Newman expands ADL program, science center by Lee J. Green

Isidore Newman school in New Orleans has growth and furthering the education of bright young minds down to a science. In the spring of 2017, the school that was founded in 1903 by a great Jewish community leader, broke ground on a $16 million, 30,000-square-foot Science and Technology Center on its campus. On Nov. 10, Isidore Newman hosted a “Beam Raising” ceremony, which involved placing a steel beam — signed by the entire student body, faculty, staff and donors — into the permanent structure of the building. Construction on the Center is expected to be completed in August 2018. The three-story facility will include nine classroom laboratories and three “signature lab” spaces allowing for multidisciplinary explorations in areas such as biotechnology, genetic engineering, energy systems, robotics and design. The building will also house a brand-new Makerspace, which will provide students access to the latest technology to explore possibilities in creative design and problem-solving. Newman also continues its partnership with the Anti-Defamation League this year through the incorporation of ADL’s “A World of Difference” and “No Place for Hate” programs. Every student in Newman’s middle school will participate in the threeyear A World of Difference program, which involves workshops and follow-ups conducted by trained ADL facilitators. The progressive program builds on the previous year’s work to culminate in 8th grade and the facilitators remain with their assigned group of students for the duration of the program.

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“Beam Raising” ceremony at Isidore Newman School on Nov. 10

Individualism, Learning through Living for Indian Springs students

Since Indian Springs School opened its doors just south of Birmingham in 1952, “Learning through Living” has been a cornerstone belief, as students have an unusual level of autonomy and authority in the school community. In November, the school shortened its mission statement, expounding on the motto as demonstrating “a love of learning and creativity, a sense of integrity and moral courage, and an ethic of participatory citizenship with respect for individuality and independent thought.” While the mission hasn’t changed, the school for grades 8 to 12 has undergone tremendous changes in recent years, including the 2016 arrival of Sharon Howell to be the first female head of school, and the completion of new classroom buildings that blend into the 350-acre campus that features a 12-acre lake. The new buildings garnered a slew of awards, with Business Insider call-

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ing Springs one of “15 of the most beautiful schools around the world.” Currently, there are 315 students, including 84 boarders, with 12 states and six countries represented. Almost half of the faculty lives on campus, promoting a community atmosphere and deepening relationships. The freedoms enjoyed by students allow them to excel in a wide range of areas. In October, Springs senior Katie Wiatrak was the first teen honoree at the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham Smart Party. Among her activities was co-founding the Gender Equality Club at Springs, which is now the largest student-run club — at a school that was originally founded as boys only. In December, senior Ken Jiao won a $25,000 scholarship at the national finals of the 2017 Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology after earning top individual honors. His research project, “Retain CHD7, an Epigenetic Regulator, in the Nucleus to Combat Breast Cancer Metastasis,” is shedding light on a potential way to determine if breast cancer cells are highly invasive, and how to inhibit them from spreading throughout the body.

College Prep U helps kids and parents make the best match, find scholarships by Lee J. Green

As many high school seniors and their parents would likely admit, the admissions process and preparing for getting into just the right-fit college can be quite a tough test. That’s where College Prep U in Birmingham comes along, providing families with an expert admissions guide throughout the college search, admissions and financial aid process. Their dedicated experts help high school students identify their college goals as well as support them in the steps necessary to achieve those goals in the most cost-effective way possible. Jay Johnson, who started College Prep U in October 2017 following several years as an admissions counselor at Birmingham’s Miles College, said the program can include ACT/SAT preparation, college lists, resumes, campus visits and finding scholarships. “We know what schools are looking for and we also know how to find programs, scholarships and tuition assistance that many people looking at colleges didn’t know existed before,” said Johnson. “We’re there to help out every step of the way.” He said parents are surprised to learn that even prestigious Ivy League universities are willing to come down on tuition costs if out-of-state students need some assistance and meet the diversity criteria they are seeking. “There are many universities that actively recruit outside of their state and make it easier to afford for students,” said Johnson. Their thinking is that they want to expand their alumni student base geographically as well as bring in bright minds to programs that might not be as filled as others, he added. Johnson said one thing that surprises parents who work with College Prep U is the number of colleges and universities that care more about several factors other than ACT scores when granting merit-based scholarships. He said there are also many “specialty scholarships” many aren’t aware of. For example, former tennis great Billie Jean King offers a scholarship for diabetic student athletes to play tennis. Current Miami Dolphins Quarterback Jay Cutler offers scholarships for diabetic student athletes who play football. There are also some faith-based scholarships available to Jewish students as well as those involved in certain types of community activism. Johnson said College Prep U has also adopted a home-school organization to help those who are home-schooled and don’t get the opportunities to get assistance from high school guidance counselors or college fairs. He said College Prep U charges a registration fee and the average costs for participants are just under $90 per month, but packages can be designed based on need and budget. “I think the best way to describe it is a college concierge service,” said Johnson. “We love what we do. We get to help kids as well as their parents to achieve their goals and dreams.” 32 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018

education Camp Judaea Hendersonville, NC

Auburn continues to see Jewish enrollment growth by Lee J. Green

Auburn University’s Jewish student enrollment, participation and program numbers continue to ascend like an eagle. Auburn Hillel President Lily Rebecca Buder, a junior from San Francisco majoring in history, said Jewish student life couldn’t be better on The Plains. “The size of our Jewish community on campus is ideal to allow for deep, authentic relationships to develop and we can play an even more active role in the community, university as well as greater area,” said Buder, who came from a very large Jewish community and really feels at home at Auburn despite it being across the country. She said they had approximately a dozen new freshmen come in for 201718, and thanks also in part to the launch of AEPi fraternity, the Jewish student and participation numbers continue to be on the rise. Last month, they had a large campus menorah lighting and a latke party for the first night of Chanukah at Auburn men’s head basketball coach Bruce Pearl’s home. “He has been such a great support for us and we are so happy to have someone such as Bruce Pearl representing us,” said Buder. “The Pearls really care about all of us here.” She also credited the great support from the Office of Student Diversity and Inclusion, advisor Ed Youngblood, and Beth Shalom, the synagogue in Auburn. “We have a wonderful relationship with Auburn and with the synagogue. Several of us teach Sunday School at the synagogue and we partner with them on programs as well as holiday celebrations,” said Buder. This semester Hillel will launch an educational speakers series including Holocaust survivors, individuals from Israel and Jewish leaders making a positive impact. Several students will also participate in a Birthright Israel trip during the summer. “We also want to have more group dinners and panels,” she said. “We partner with other religious and student organizations on campus. The goal is to grow those initiatives and do things that also benefit those in need.” They also plan this spring to have biweekly Shabbat dinners and Havdalah. A spring recruitment event is also in the works. “We want to continue to create a Jewish home here and encourage more people to come to Auburn,” said Buder. “It is our hope that the vibrant Jewish student life on campus is one of the major factors in a student deciding to come here.” Alpha Epsilon Pi initiated six new brothers this past fall (below), doubling the size of the Theta colony. President Jeremy Newman said they have been able to thus expand the number of brotherhood events as well as philanthropy events. They elected two new members to their executive board and plan some spring rush events, as well as more philanthropy initiatives this spring. They also fielded their first intramural team, competing in the fraternity circuit for indoor volleyball.

Liked by generations of campers since 1961 Camp Judaea See you next summer! 404-634-7883


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January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 33

summer camp an annual SJL special section The lake at Ramah Darom

Space Camp sparks imagination of future scientists, explorers

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On July 20, 1969, America landed on the moon, a feat that would not have happened without Huntsville, Alabama. The rocket team at Huntsville’s NASA Marshall Space Flight Center designed the Saturn V rocket that launched Apollo 11 and astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins to the moon. In 1970, the U.S. Space & Rocket Center, then known as the Alabama Space & Rocket Center, opened to commemorate Alabama’s contributions to space exploration. In 1982, the Rocket Center started Space Camp to inspire the next generation to continue that same spirit of exploration. Today, Space Camp students from around the world train like astronauts on a campus that includes one of those storied Saturn V moon rockets, a full space shuttle display and other examples of some of the greatest technological achievements in human history. Space Camp students have the unparalleled experience of learning about both current and cutting-edge future initiatives in space exploration, while studying the history of these monumental achievements among one of the world’s largest collections of authentic space hardware. With simulated missions to the International Space Station, the lunar surface and to Mars, students work as teammates to solve the challenges of living and working in space. They’re also learning about NASA’s Space Launch System, the deepspace vehicle being developed at Marshall Space Flight Center and the work still being done in Huntsville to send human to space. “Everything we do is focused on inspiring young people to become Earth-independent,” Robin Soprano, Space Camp’s director of simulations, said. “As they learn how to travel off this planet, they are using the critical-thinking, problem-solving and teamwork skills that will help them be successful no matter what they chose to do in life.” “Even if they don’t go on to become astronauts, we need all kinds of career fields to support that effort, all those STEM-based careers,” Soprano said. The Rocket Center and Space Camp are looking toward July 20, 2019, the 50th anniversary of our first lunar landing. That year is also Alabama’s bicentennial, so there will be much to celebrate. An extensive plan is underway at the Rocket Center to restore its exterior rocket displays, and Space Camp will be adding more missions and experiences to help students prepare for the future of space exploration. First up is a new Mars habitat to provide a hands-on experience of living on the Red Planet. A Lunar Habitat is also in the works to illustrate how we will one day go back to the moon, this time to stay awhile. Space Camp will also be adding commercial space vehicles to its simulations to highlight how companies have entered the business of space exploration. No matter what its students do in life, Space Camp will help them look to the stars to see their future. Whether helping design the next generation of rockets, flying on them, or celebrating those who do, today’s Space Camp students will be laying the path for the next 50 years and beyond.

summer camp Camp Judaea welcomes alumnus as director, adds Tikkun program Camp Judaea in Hendersonville, N.C., celebrated many successes in 2017, its 57th season. Enrollment from its two sessions combined reached a record high of 658 boys and girls. The summer kicked off with the grand opening of a state-of-the-art dining hall, a necessary upgrade as the camp community had outgrown the previous facility. By Dec. 1, enrollment for 2018 had already reached 664 and a 90 percent retention rate of eligible campers from last summer, which is a true testament to the high quality of programs and experiences provided in 2017. Camp Judaea continues to update its program and facilities as it gears up for its 58th summer season. To help lead the way, Walter Synalovski, long-time camping professional and alumnus of Camp Judaea, returned as executive director, to lead CJ to new heights. Sydney Baranovitz of Atlanta joined the team as the assistant director. A former CJ camper and summer staff member, she is now a board-certified Occupational Therapist with a passion for working with children and young adults. Camp Judaea’s core educational programming revolves around fostering a strong connection to and love for Israel. Every summer, the camp hires a significant number of Israeli staff who live in the cabins and work in activity areas, providing campers with immersive and experiential encounters with modern Israeli culture. Camp Judaea offers a wide variety of activities, including horseback riding, swimming, sports, arts and crafts, ziplining and rock-climbing, archery, music, dance, cooking, and more. This year, Camp Judaea launched a new program called Tikkun for rising 11th graders that revolves around the value of tikkun olam, repairing the world. The teen participants will volunteer in Columbia, S.C. for five days, helping to rebuild damaged homes with the Saint Bernard Project, an orga-

nization that was founded in New Orleans after Katrina, as well as additional community service work within the Columbia, S.C. community. Community service hours are earned for this program. It is very exciting for Camp Judaea to offer this opportunity for young leaders to make a difference for others. Enrollment is still open, and there is space in select units, including Tikkun. Interested families should visit or call (404) 6347883 for more information. Scholarship and tuition support opportunities are available.

McWane offers wide range of weekly science camps

McWane Science Center summer camps in downtown Birmingham make learning an unforgettable adventure. Each one-week camp is designed to help a budding scientist discover a dinosaur, travel into outer space or explore the ocean floor. Various themes and activities allow children to experience something new each day. The flexible programs allows parents to choose as many programs as wanted, from just one week of exploration to a full summer of fun and learning. Camp offerings range from robot engineering, introductory programming, forces of nature, flight school, marine biology, paleontology, crime scene investigations, the science of science fiction, biology or the Smarty Arty Pants camp. McWane has half-day camps for pre-Kindergarten and Kindergarten, and full-day camps for grades 1 to 7. Information for 2018 camps will be available during the spring, at

Ramah Darom=Fun for Everyone!

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Tikvah Support Program

Family Camps & Retreats

Get ready for the best summer ever! Whether you stay for 4 or 8 weeks or come for a “Taste of Ramah” you will feel at home in our nurturing, inclusive, and vibrant Jewish community.

Inclusion support during our summer camp for rising 6th-12th graders with neurodevelopmental disorders such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down syndrome and Intellectual Disability.

Bring the family and experience the magic of Ramah Darom together! Our programs range from summer family camps to festive holiday retreats.

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Exceptional experiences in Jewish living and learning for youth, adults, families and communities.

January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 35

summer camp

Camp Barney Medintz, the “Summer Place”

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Camp Barney Medintz, the summer overnight camp of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, is located on 540 acres surrounding two private lakes in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains, just 70 miles north of Atlanta. Since 1963, Camp Barney has attracted more than 1,200 boys and girls each summer throughout the Southeast, drawing from about 25 states from coast to coast, and several countries. They all consider Camp Barney their “Summer Place!” Each summer, Camp Barney Jim Mittenthal said, the camp creates a meaningful and exciting community that is all about adventure, exhilarating activities, strengthening one’s connection to Israel, and our global Jewish community, feeling knowledgeable and comfortable in our natural environment, and making lifelong friendships, all under the supervision of a mature, talented, and nurturing staff. Every imaginable activity is offered at Camp Barney, including the “Hurricane” water slides, multiple lakefront adventures, water skiing, stand up paddleboards, rock climbing and several zip lines, horseback riding, tennis, mountain biking, all field and court sports, music, dance, theater, arts and crafts, film making, cooking, fencing,

scuba, and much more. Every year, Camp Barney is committed to building new additions and programming features to enhance its facility and experience for campers. In recent years, Camp Barney has built a second swimming pool with water slides, a cultural and performing arts complex, (Kosher) cooking school, film studios, martial arts center, Israeli culture center, and many new cabins for its campers. In 2018, campers will be able to try another new zip line spanning 1000 feet across one of the lakes, as well as pedal boards, knockerball, brand new adventure trips, new menus, and more. Mittenthal, who has been director for the past 25 years, said “It is so gratifying to see the power and impact of Camp Barney: campers and staff feeling accomplished because of their shared experiences in new or challenging moments, greater awareness and connection to our Jewish culture, elevated self-esteem and personal growth, and countless special and hilarious moments with friends, both during and in between summers at Camp Barney!” For more information, and to register for Summer 2018, visit, or call (678) 8123844.

Jacobs Camp: A Jewish place at a Southern pace

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The year-round team at the Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica is “counting down the days to another incredible summer, as we continue opening our camp gates even wider for families across the region,” said Camp Director Anna Herman, herself an alumna of the camp. She is joined by assistant directors Joshua Posner, a Baton Rouge native, and Pensacola’s Sarah Tucker, both of whom spent many summers as Jacobs campers. Tucker is also the regional advisor to NFTY-Southern. Jacobs Camp, the Reform Jewish summer camp in Mississippi, has been home to thousands of Jewish youth from the Deep South since 1970. “Each summer, we create a fun, loving, and meaningful community for rising 3rd through 10th graders,” Herman said. Jacobs campers get the chance to try new activities, build friendships, and grow their Jewish identity, returning home feeling more confident, independent, and deeply connected to Judaism. Throughout the years, the Jacobs Camp programs have evolved to meet the ever-changing needs of Southern Jewish communities. They have expanded specialty programs by hiring highly-trained staff to develop and teach sports, creative arts, and adventure programs. Some new programs, like robotics, wacky science, archery, and gymnastics have rapidly become camp favorites, Herman noted. The camp is continuously enhancing the waterfront with new features to the lake and pool.

A rare early December snow hit Jacobs Camp The newest water front addition, the Lake Obstacle Course, was easily the most talked about feature at camp in 2017, and there are new features to be unveiled for Summer 2018. Enrollment for Summer 2018 has surpassed previous summers, Herman said. Wait lists for some sessions have already begun, while spots in other sessions are filling up fast.

summer camp

Ramah Darom expands year-round experiences by Lee J. Green

These days, Jewish journeys and magic happen year-round for those of all ages and interests at Ramah Darom. “We want to deliver an immersive, enriching, inspiring Jewish experience for kids and adults,” said Camp Ramah Darom Director Geoff Menkowitz. “We are offering more opportunities to experience the magic of Ramah Darom all year long. It is exciting to see some of our campers, from our first few summers, coming back to Ramah for family programs with their own children.” Just over a year ago, Ramah Darom brought in Eliana Leader as director of the Kaplan Mitchell Retreat Center at Ramah Darom. Leader’s focus has been on growing year-round retreats and programming for families, children and adults. “It was exciting to join the team here, and now I have a team of my own,” said Leader. “We are thinking strategically about how we can expand our portfolio of meaningful, fun Jewish experiences 365 days a year.” Ramah Darom is establishing partnerships to grow programs such as Limmud, PJ Library’s Book it to Shabbat, and a new Shavuot Retreat with Pardes. Other successful programs that Ramah has grown and will continue include Winter Break Family Camp, Passover Retreat, and a Jewish Women’s Getaway. From Jan. 26 to 28, Ramah will host its second Farm 2 Table Tu B’Shevat. The weekend features Jewish learning, gardening, cooking and locally sourced kosher meals by Ramah’s Chef Todd Jones and visiting celebrity chef Souper Jenny. “This is a great way to learn more about helping and caring for the environment as well as sustainability,” said Leader. “Plus, the food is amazing!” A new program to be launched in 2018 is Tinker Torah. This teen program will focus on how one’s Jewishness can play into technology and innovation. Summer camp runs from June 12 to Aug. 6 this year, with four- and eight-week sessions, a 12-day “Taste of Ramah,” for young campers, and the Tikvah Support Program, designed for campers with a range of support needs, from ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down syndrome, Intellectual Disability, and Communication Disorder. Menkowitz said they are enhancing the lighting and sound in Ramah Darom’s theatre, where every summer, campers and staff put on four different productions, including Broadway shows and Disney classics, all performed in Hebrew. They will also continue updating their Ninja Warrior Course, which was very popular last summer. Menkowitz said the year-round programs complement the summer camp. “We have an incredible campus here (in the north Georgia mountains), and we want as many people as possible to experience this magical place.”

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Grant by Ron Chernow is a masterpiece on the life of the Union leader. Most especially interesting for many will be the author’s account as to what family dynamic, even today unknown to most, perhaps led him to issue “General Orders No. 11,” considered the most sweeping anti-Semitic directive in American history. Afterward, Grant purposefully and successfully endeavored to right the wrongs the Order brought forth, and even upon his death bed regretted its issuance. Exhaustively researched and extremely well written, Grant’s errors are laid bare, but we’re able to see him also as an American hero who ultimately sought right and dignity for all. Eugene M. Avrutin’s The Velizh Affair: Blood Libel in a Russian Town tells the true story of a swath of destruction wrought on the Jewish community in a small town after the body of a three-year-old boy is found, mutilated. In 1823 Russia, deep dishonesty and misunderstanding comes to a front - and how the townspeople agree to this conspiracy - as 43 are charged with a litany of crimes, including ritual murder and even forced conversion. It is a scholarly work that reads as a riveting novel. Shari Rabin’s Jews on the Frontier: Religion and Mobility in Nineteenth-Century America follows Jews leaving the port cities to which they arrived for the sometimes deeply lonely interior, that ultimately gave these opportunists a flexibility and freedom to forge their own way while still maintaining a purpose of setting up insitutions to find and maintain relationships with each other and enjoy familiar ways. Fabulous to see scholarship on so many Southerners in these pages, from those in 1850s Mobile looking for larger spaces to welcome the “strange Israelites” who had not yet fully settled in the community, to B’nai Brith lodges in small towns, and a new rabbi in Meridian, Miss., who informed his new congregation that as an experienced mohel, he would “practice the rite... wherever called upon” be it city or country. Cotton Capitalists: American Jewish Entrepreneurship in the Reconstruction Era by Michael R. Cohen of Tulane University looks at how Jewish traders used connections with other co-religionists (to great effect, especially considering the anti-Semitism in that era) to help bring the South out of Reconstruction in ways that others simply could not, due to their lack of built-in ethnic networking. From extending credit, to trade across the commercial and wholesale spectrum, to the mechanics of capitalism broadly, the author develops how Jews instituted a niche economy which not only led to a “golden era” among Southern Jews, but also helped the entire nation from the country store to, ultimately, Wall Street and the global marketplace. A must-read for anyone even vaguely interested in this period.


Richard Elliott Friedman’s The Exodus is a study to not only help satisfy those who wonder how much of the Exodus is merely “story” unfettered by facts, and how much can be supported with real evidence, but also what we can glean - all of us, Jewish and otherwise - by its teachings, and how that has so broadly shaped the world as we know it. The Rise and Fall of Adam and Eve by Stephen Greenblatt seeks to illuminate the Bible’s first main characters, though their story make up a tiny fraction of the text. The author studies how people throughout time and across religions have considered mankind’s first ancestors, and how their situation reflects on how we view our own desires and undoings to these days.



JOAN RIVERS CONFIDENTIAL by Melissa Rivers with Scott Curie

Subtitled “the unseen scrapbooks, joke cards, personal files, and photos of a very funny woman who kept everything” well, it certainly is. Assembled much like a scrapbook in snippets of quotes and insights (she credits Second City with making her a comedian, and Johnny Carson for setting her star and has heartache the rest of her life over their falling out), the reader sees via all the pieces and parts how she succeeds, fails, picks herself up, and reinvents who Joan Rivers is time and time again. For fans, this is a gold mine. For others who are simply curious about this unstoppable force, it’s a fun, loving tribute.


Who Will Lead Us? The Story of Five Hasidic Dynasties in America by Samuel C. Heilman is an incredibly intriguing insider look at historical succession among five Hasidic movements, including Bobov, Satmar and Chabad. While some changes seem preordained, others are surprisingly bitter and malicious. How these movements ebb and flow with the leanings of their charismatic leadership (or lack of) comes across as remarkable and compelling.

Hasidism: A New History by David Biale, David

Assaf, and a team of six other authors focuses on the entire history of the movement, including its near destruction and not one but two golden ages. Incredibly comprehensive, an impressive scholarly work of over 800 pages makes for a fine reference.

38 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018

Who will Change the Way You See the World compiled by Geoff Blackwell and Ruth Hobday

In this coffee table size book, a selection of women from around the world in varying social, economic, and religious backgrounds are asked five questions: What really matters to you? What brings you happiness? What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? What would you change if you could? What single word do you most identify with? Although some will be put off by the inclusion of Linda Sarsour here, consider it for the other 199. The book has a broad, beautiful message of strength and perseverance, kindness, hope, and most of all, inspiration that shines forth.


Revisiting the Axeman Nathaniel Rich’s historical crime novel “King Zeno” set in 1918 New Orleans Nathaniel Rich didn’t intend to write a novel set in New Orleans, but “King Zeno” insisted on being told. Writing the novel “became inescapable” after moving to the city in 2010, Rich said. Set in 1918, the historical crime novel features three individuals from different parts of the city, whose fates are intertwined by a series of major events in the city’s history. Rich is the son of Frank Rich, former New York Times columnist, and Gail Winston, executive editor at Harper Collins. Brother Simon wrote for “Saturday Night Live” and created the series “Man Seeking Woman.” After graduating from Yale, Rich wrote for the New York Review of Books, then moved to San Francisco and wrote “San Francisco Noir,” a 2005 work about the many film noirs that were set in the city. Martin Scorsese called it “a fascinating work of criticism disguised as a guided tour around a great city.” While writing that book, he was quietly working on his first novel, “The Mayor’s Tongue,” which was published in 2008 and is set in New York City and Italy. Rich was fiction editor of Paris Review from 2005 to 2010 and has had his short fiction published in numerous venues. He is a writer-at-large for the New York Times Magazine and writes regularly for the Atlantic and the New York Review of Books. He moved to New Orleans in 2010 as part of what he describes as the “second wave” of post-Katrina migration. He had visited New Orleans while in college and since then “I had always had a dream of living in New Orleans… I really fell in love with the city. I’d made a couple trips here and always hoped to find an excuse to live here.” Meredith Angelson, who he would later marry, was looking for a position as a public defender, and “I told her that I would move wherever she got a job,” and when it looked like they were heading to San Diego, “I had to wrap my head around that idea.” But New Orleans was also her top choice, and shortly after San Diego expressed interest, New Orleans came through, and she started working for the Orleans Public Defenders office. She is now a staff attorney at the New Orleans office of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Rich’s second novel, “Odds Against Tomorrow,” was written while he was in San Francisco and mostly done when he moved to New Orleans. Set in the New York of the “near future,” it describes a mysterious consulting firm that calculates and insures against worst-case scenarios, whether ecological, war or natural disasters — and then an actual “worst case” hits Manhattan. Hurricane Sandy hit New York right before the book was published, but long after he had finished writing it. “Readers would ask if this was my response to Sandy,” which struck on Oct. 29, 2012, but he told them it was “a strange coincidence,” as it takes him five or six years to finish a book. In his research for the book, he studied disaster scenarios and predictions from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Office of Emergency Management, and they turned out to be very accurate when Sandy hit, leading many to erroneously assume he wrote the book after Sandy.

January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 39




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40 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018

In New Orleans, though, “people took it as a novel about Katrina, disguised as New York.” He said each reader “brings his or her own context to any work of literature” and both perspectives are valid. He said the final sections of the book, set in a distant part of Brooklyn after the disaster, were rewritten “in some ways to reflect my experience of being in New Orleans some years after Katrina… where the effects of the storm are still a visceral reality.” For his third novel, Rich moved from the near future to 100 years in the past, with the book set during the year of New Orleans’ 200th anniversary, and being released as New Orleans starts celebrating its 300th anniversary. Rich became fascinated with the story of the Axeman, a serial killer who started his spree in May 1918, terrorizing the city with late-night home invasions and hacking victims in their beds. In March 1919, a letter purporting to be from the Axeman was received by the Times-Picayune, and using imagery from the Biblical plague where the first-born Egyptians were slain, he threatened to kill New Orleanians at 12:15 a.m. on a certain night, but because of his preferred musical tastes, passing over homes where a jazz band “is in full swing.” Rich said that was the moment when jazz, which the Times-Picayune had not much earlier referred to as a sinful form of music, crossed over from being looked down upon to becoming “the great American popular form.” On the appointed night, New Orleans was filled with the sounds of jazz, and there were no killings. Months later, though, a handful of further attacks commenced, ending for the final time in October 1919. The Axeman was never identified or caught. Also at the time, the Industrial Canal was being built in New Orleans, part of the “fact of life in New Orleans… grappling with a natural landscape that in many ways is inhospitable.” While he said the canal was hailed at the time as the second coming of the Panama Canal, it also “carried the seeds of doom” in hurricanes that have hit the area since then. He wanted to write about the “difficult relationship between man and nature,” and with the crime wave of the time, a flu epidemic, the emergence of jazz “from the underground,” and the conclusion of World War I, a story started to emerge. “As I read a lot of newspapers from the time and other primary sources… there were elements fitting together,” and “at some point I couldn’t not write about it.” While “King Zeno” is set 100 years in the past, authentic detail was still vital, because “so much of the city looks the same as it did then.” He added that he is living in a house built 30 years before the setting of the novel. Usually, there is “safety” in writing about times long past, but in New Orleans “a lot of the settings I’m describing are still there.” Studying the character of the city in 1918, he found it to be “instantly recognizable” as the New Orleans of today. A tremendous resource was the “incredible interviews” at the Friends of the Cabildo. Begun in 1972, the oral history project interviewed many people who were alive in the 1910s. The interviews are on tape and “very few are transcribed,” but “I was able to get a wealth of detail” about life in 1918. Rather than ask about historical events, the interviewers concentrated on “the mechanics of daily life” that added a “richness” to the narrative. The book’s launch event will be on Jan. 9 at 6 p.m. at the Garden District Book Shop. Among his upcoming appearances are Jan. 30 at 5 p.m. at Lemuria Books in Jackson, Miss., Jan. 31 at 5:30 p.m. at Turnrow Book Co. in Greenwood, and with Thacker Mountain Radio at Off Square Books in Oxford on Feb. 1 at 6 p.m. He will also be at the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival in New Orleans on March 24. Rich considers the novel “a valentine to the city. I’m excited to see how it is received,” and “to make my own small contribution to the literary tradition of the city.”



“Brisket Belt” comedy coming to Birmingham The Brisket Belt Stand-Up Comedy Tour is coming to Birmingham, featuring Amanda Goldstein Marks, David HT Rosen and Jerry Farber. The Jan. 27 event will be at the StarDome Comedy Club’s Broadway Room. The first show on the tour, at the Highland Inn and Ballroom Lounge in Atlanta on Dec. 16, sold out, and Birmingham native Marks said they expect the Birmingham event to sell out as well. They also are working to secure additional performances in other communities around the region. Marks recently opened for comedian Judy Gold at The City Winery in Atlanta. She and her sister Alison host the Sis & Tell podcast, voted “Best Podcast” for Creative Loafing’s Best of Atlanta 2017. Her television credits include Adult Swim’s live-action pilot “Stiff,” “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” “Squidbillies” and as a guest on “FishCenter Live.” She also is known for her “Mom Cam in the Minivan” videos. Rosen is a Pennsylvania native who was inspired to do comedy by his father, Al Rosen. He spent his college years in Alabama, touring with several bands, but the comedy bug bit and brought him out from behind the drums. He also does a two-man show with Jordan Stylez, “A Jew and a Black Guy.” Farber is a radio and television personality and a comedy legend in Atlanta, with decades of entertaining. He performs at comedy clubs across the country and does charitable and corporate functions. His own night club in Atlanta made international news for being the first non-smoking night club. Recent additions to the show include Pepper Brooks, a comedian and musician currently living in Birmingham, who released an EP, “Cry-

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January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 41

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community ing in Public” in 2017. Last month she introduced a musical setting for “Lech Lecha” from the book of Genesis. Also featured is Liz Brody, who when she isn’t doing comedy, is an art and Judaics specialist at the Levite Jewish Community Center and religious school teacher at Temple Beth-El, and also writes for Bham Now. For the Birmingham show, doors will open at 6:30 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Alabama Symphony has winning idea for Jan. 20 performance by Lee J. Green

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Eli Gold, the voice of the Alabama Crimson Tide football team, has announced many scores during his long, illustrious career in broadcasting. But for the first time, the scores Gold will be calling on Jan. 20 will be of a different nature at the Samford University Wright Center. He will emcee “We are the Champions,” an 8 p.m. concert presented by the Alabama Symphony Orchestra. It will be an evening dedicated to music inspired by sports. The ASO and Maestro Chris Confessore will perform music from sports movies such as “Rocky,” “The Natural,” “Rudy,” college fight songs and an orchestral setting of “Casey at the Bat.” “I am really looking forward to this program,” said Gold, a New York native. “Growing up, my parents would take me to see the New York Philharmonic featuring Leonard Bernsteinand the Metropolitan Opera,” he said. The Alabama Symphony is doing a Bernstein tribute show in May. Gold continued, “I was always mesmerized by the talented performers but never imagined being in a show since I don’t have musical talent.” The ASO approached Gold this past summer with the idea and he said it needed to be after Jan. 8, on the chance that the Crimson Tide makes it to the final of the College Football Playoff. “I was intrigued by the idea and said I was interested right away. I think this is a great way to get new audiences to appreciate the symphony,” he said. While waiting for the College Football Playoffs, Gold was spending December doing radio broadcasts for home and most away games for the newly-reestablished Birmingham Bulls of the Southern Professional Hockey League. The league has nearby teams including Southaven, Miss., Pensacola and Huntsville, but also teams as far away as Peoria, Ill., and Roanoke, Va. “I will broadcast 40 to 50 games for the Bulls. I have been long-time friends with Owner Art Clarkston and broadcast games when he owned the Birmingham Barons (baseball team) as well as the former Birmingham Bulls,” he said. “Hockey is one of my favorite sports and there is something special about being with a team of players, some of whom could go on to have careers in the National Hockey League.” Gold has also called many NHL games in his career. Gold said he travels a lot but tries to get involved in community events when he is back at his home base in Birmingham. He said he also welcomes any opportunity to speak about his sports broadcasting experiences and travels around the country to speak to University of Alabama alumni chapters. “I hope that by the time I do this show with the Alabama Symphony I can say that the Alabama Crimson Tide are once again the national champions of college football. That would be music to my ears.”

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Check our Website for updates between issues 42 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018


jewish deep south: bagels, biscuits, beignets




by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh Yotam Ottogenghi, restaurant owner and New York Times bestselling author of the beloved Jerusalem cookbook, has collaborated with pastry chef Helen Goh in this loveletter of over 120 desserts. While there aren’t photographs of every single recipe, the ones that have them look to be absolute knock-outs. What we’ve tried making, from the Peanut Sandies to the Cranberry, Oat and White Chocolate Biscuits (cookies to us), to the Pineapple, Pecan and Currant tin can cakes are beyond amazing. Some flourless recipes are going to be perfect when you’re trying to come up with something completely fab for Passover. Everyone will forget Pesach brownies when you’re whipping up Flourless Chocolate Layer Cake with Coffee, Walnuts and Rose Water. And this year’s Shavuot is going tropical with Passion Fruit Cheesecakes with Spiced Pineapple. Recommended.

SMITTEN KITCHEN EVERY DAY: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites by Deb Perelman In her second cookbook (in addition to her very popular Smitten Kitchen website), there’s plenty here that’s going to be perfect weeknight cooking or even quick party fare because it certainly is straight-forward: whitefish and pickled cucumber salad and roasted tomato picnic sandwiches and sizzling beef bulgogi tacos. But there are other things that seem contrary to the unfussy part of the message: a mini-matzo ball soup that calls for something around 25 ingredients, and a breakfast potato dish in which you have to wait an hour for the potatoes to cook before you get going with what you’re actually going to do with them. Not all the recipes are kosher-friendly, but there’s lots of fresh vegetarian inspiration to go around, a big plus.


Favorite Recipes from a Life of Adventurous Eating by Gail Simmons with Mindy Fox From Top Chef to Food & Wine and everything else wonderful, you know Gail Simmons is doing some serious, tasty eating. And here, she makes it accessible for the home kitchen. From Mishmosh, a “fully-loaded barley and matzoh ball soup seasoned with lemon and dill, a remix of the great soups I learned from the many Jewish mothers in my life” to brisket fried rice, latke reubens (oh! the latke reubens!), and za’atar chicken schnitzel, the book is loaded with recipes not especially precious but still special. And while not all the recipes are Jewish-influenced or kosher-ready (she discovered charbroiled oysters when Top Chef was filming in New Orleans, and dedicates “sour cherry mignonette” to Alon Shaya) there’s just so much here that “Bringing It Home” is absolutely worth doing just that.

Whether you fell a little short getting that certain someone the perfect present(s) at Chanukah, or you’re just out to show what a mensch you are in the new year, food subscriptions are where it’s at. Seriously, nobody is not going to like this (unless you go rogue with the kombucha-ofthe-month club, though some people... anyway...).


Rejoice: the amazing chocolate raisin babka has been re-released. Zingerman’s Jewish Bakers Club runs the gamut from toasted walnut currant and apricot rugelach (amazzzing) to olive oil cake and everything in between. A six-month subscription runs $225 and their fun packaging is an added bonus. If you require a hechsher, this will be one to pass, but otherwise, head straight to

Lake Champlain Chocolates

does have many items under kosher supervision. Their six-month Chocolate Fanatics Club includes varieties of truffles and peanut butter chocolates, and is $235 for the series.

Eli Zabar

has a new olive oil club ($325/ 6 months) and most popular, their bread of the month club ($150/year) featuring everything from brioche hamburger buns to sourdough loaves and challah. Also, be sure to look for their kosher gift baskets. January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 43


The Bright Star Restaurant

304 19th St. N Bessemer, Al 35020 205.424.9444

Our Family Serving Your Family for 109 Years

Mason Dixon Bakery

Nutella Cheesecake Crust 1-½ cups of gluten-free graham crackers, processed ½ c melted butter 1/3 c powdered sugar ½ c cocoa powder

1017 Oxmoor Rd #111, Birmingham 205/848-2100 2358 Whitesburg Dr. S, Huntsville 256/213-7545

Mix all ingredients and press into a spring-form pan. Batter 16 oz. of cream cheese 1-½ tsp vanilla extract 1 c of Nutella

1-1/3 c sugar 2 eggs

Lightly cream the cheese. Add sugar and vanilla while mixing on low. Add eggs one at a time while mixing on low. Pull out 1 cup of batter and set aside. Add the Nutella to the batter still in the mixer and fully combine. Pour the mixed batter into the spring form pan with the crust and spread evenly. Next use a small scooper and add the vanilla batter to the spring form pan in individual scoops. After scooping all of the vanilla batter, use a chopstick to swirl the vanilla with the Nutella mixture. Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Place the spring form pan into a water bath, be careful to not spill water into your pan while placing in the oven. Bake for approximately 30 to 40 minutes, until the cheesecake is set in the center. Check periodically as oven time may vary. Once finished, store in refrigerator.

Mason Dixon Bakery and Bistro by Lee J. Green Mason Dixon Bakery and Bistro, now with locations in Huntsville and Homewood, offers many tasty and fresh options for those who are gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, kosher-style or on a Paleo diet. But more than just a great restaurant for everyone to enjoy, Mason Dixon wants to be a place where community gets together, and to educate people on the health value of eating fresh, not processed, foods. “This is as much about education as it is about providing food,” said Ashley Ramirez, who co-owns Mason Dixon with her husband, Taylor. “We want people to enjoy coming here. But we’re also happy to provide continued on page 45 44 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018

Continued from page 46

Up your brunch game. And lunch. Annnnd supper.

“We’ve got to rest before we fall apart. Our matzah’s almost risen. “What a desolate place this is. “Where are you going? I’m not going that way. It’s much too rocky. This way is much easier. “What makes you think that the Promised Land’s over there? “Don’t get theological with me. “What mission? What are you talking about? I’ve had just about enough of you! “Go that way! You’ll be complaining within a day, you stiffnecked people! “And don’t let me catch you following me, begging for help, because you won’t get it. “No more adventures. I’m not going that way.” He went that way. They complained within a day. They begged for help, and they got it. There were adventures. And sand people. And rebels. And animals that talked and were understood. And millions of followers who debated the minutiae of what happened and why, for generations to come.

And don’t forget parties (we cater too).

Doug Brook is the Last Jedi. Moses was C-3PO. And The Walrus was Paul. To read past columns, visit For exclusive online content, like

Avondale Common House 4100 3rd Avenue South Birmingham 205-703-9895

> > Mason Dixon

Tues-Thurs 11a-9p Fri-Sat 11a-10p Sun 11a-3p

them with education about how much healthier it is to have as much fresh foods and to stay away from processed foods. That is something that is good for everyone, regardless of your special dietary needs.” Ramirez is celiac and needs to keep a gluten-free diet. There were few options when she and Taylor moved to Huntsville several years ago. So they did some research and decide to do it themselves. “We wanted it for us and others. It was a leap of faith but we felt like people would come if we catered to an underserved market that wanted some very tasty options while dining out,” she said. They started doing some of the gluten-free baked goods at farmers’ markets. In 2013 they opened Mason Dixon on Whitesburg Drive in Huntsville as just a bakery, then expanded it to include bistro in January 2015. Having developed a strong following at the Huntsville location, they looked to expand. “We considered Franklin, Tenn., and Birmingham,” she said. “We loved the Homewood community and this location. We felt that this would be the perfect spot,” and opened on Sept. 9. The Huntsville location seats approximately 30 people, and the Birmingham location seats approximately 45. Some of the most popular bistro items that are kosher-style include burgers, avocado chicken salad sandwiches, three-cheese grilled cheese sandwiches and a jerk chicken sandwich called The Steve Martin. On the bakery side, Ramirez said customers have raved about the Cookie Monster and Fat Elvis cupcakes, as well as the fresh-baked gluten-free breads and pastries. “Everything here is made fresh from scratch, in-house, including all the breads, sauces and seasonings,” said Ramirez. “We work with suppliers in Alabama as much as possible.” The Huntsville location is open Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. It is closed Sunday. The Homewood location is open Tuesday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. It is closed Monday. “We’ve been traveling a lot from Huntsville to Birmingham, but it’s all worth it,” she said. “We’re lucky to have a friendly, enthusiastic family of employees with us.”

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ACCESS CONTROL PERIMETER PROTECTION Atlanta Birmingham • 800-951-0051 January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 45

rear pew mirror • doug brook

Happy New Year!

For availability and rental information, Located on the historic Continental Gin campus, please visit Cahaba Brewing Co. offers a unique and memorable experience perfect for your next event. event-rentals. 4500 5th Avenue South Building C Birmingham, AL 35222 Whether you’re planning a celebration, fundraiser, business meeting or wedding reception, we think you’ll find our taproom to be the perfect venue.

A Jew(ish) Hope A long time ago, in a Middle East far, far away… Episode IV A NEW SH’MOT It is a period of slaves no more. Jewish leadership, helped out by a final plague, has won its first victory against the evil Egyptian Pharaoh. During the evening, Jewish slaves managed to steal away after the Pharaoh’s ultimate downfall, the TENTH PLAGUE, a firstborn deletion with enough power to destroy an entire nation.

Photos by Mason Fischer


Pursued by the Pharaoh’s sinister chariots, fearless Moses races home toward his future, custodian of the now-freed slaves that will be his people and restore freedom to the Middle East.... “Did you hear that? They’ve shut down the Egyptian border. We’ll be destroyed for sure. This is madness! “We’re doomed! There will be no REGARDLESS, escape for my people this time. “Yud Hay Vav Hay, where are you? YOU PROBABLY “At last, where have you been? SHOULDN’T DRINK “They’re heading in this direction. FOUR CUPS OF What are we going to do? We’ll be sent to the salt mines and pyramids, ANYTHING AT THE smashed into who knows what! MOS EISLEY CANTINA “Wait a minute, where are you going? “Hey, we’re not permitted in there. It’s restricted. We’ll be decapitated for sure. “Don’t call me a mindless philosopher, you overhyped god of Greece! Now come out so that somebody sees you. “Secret mission? What plan? What you are talking about? I’m not taking them there!” (The Egyptians close in.) “I’m going to regret this.” (They start to cross the suddenly parted Sea of Reeds.) “That’s funny, the Pharaoh doesn’t look as bad from out here. “Are you sure this path is safe? How did we get into this mess? I really don’t know how. We seem to be made to suffer. It’s our lot in life. (Lot appears, toting a wife-like pillar of salt. Lot is quickly ushered away, handed a contract for a prequel.) continued on the previous page

46 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018

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48 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018

SJL Deep South, January 2018  
SJL Deep South, January 2018  

January 2018 Deep South edition of Southern Jewish Life, the Jewish community news magazine for Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and NW Flori...