Southern Jewish Life NEW ORLEANS EDITION
January 2018 Volume 28 Issue 1
Southern Jewish Life 3747 West Esplanade, 3rd Floor Metairie, LA 70002 At Touro Synagogue in New Orleans. Story, page 42.
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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 continued on page 4
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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 honoredistojust 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 that by the Sokol and your hard-working volunteers were wonderful. They partnered But isn’t likely to Helds, happen. with your outstanding staff, led by Betzy Lynch,that to make theany 2017Jewish JCC Maccabi games a huge hit. Mahmoud Abbas gave a speech recently denied historical connection to I want to take opportunity asbeing executive director of Maccabi USA to saysothank you oneven behalf Jerusalem andthis accused Jews of good at falsifying history. It was egregious, the of everyone involved. left-wing J Street condemned the comments. I hadleadership just returned fromPalestinian the 20th World Maccabiah games are in Israel a U.S. delegation The of the Authority and Hamas bothwith more interested in aofperover 1100, whoto joined Jewish athletes 80 to countries. Back in Julyatthe of the of entire petual conflict keep10,000 their kleptocracies infrom power, enrich themselves theeyes expense the Jewish world were on Jerusalem and the Maccabiah. This past month with 1000 athletes and Palestinian future. coaches around thewas world being inas Birmingham, theand focal point. While from Trump’s move castigated provocativeyou andbecame extreme, there 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 —These several countries nowinfollowing U.S.alead. The times police force, are to be commended. games will goare down 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 Roy Moore, who had been ousted as Alabama Chief Justice twice — once Executive Director, Maccabi 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 see pushed back recognizing same-sex marriage and refuse to issue such licenses —like wastoseen as a Chanukah On Charlottesville into aofcorner 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 Heyer, It wasNote: an odd of to events that in led to thiswith election. Alabama Robert Bentley Editor’s Thisseries 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. open seat when Jeff became U.S. Attorney General. To Alabama voters, that MasterSenate of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Sessions Theta Colony smelled awful, and Bentley was still out of office within weeks. Then theofnational RepubliWe recognize thewhen essence the American at Auburn University, was shared by AEPi cans wentwhich all in on Strange as the incumbent, threatening consultants who workedto forrid othas a two-century old struggle National, called it “very eloquent” and evennarrative er candidates, well, Alabamians don’t outsiders themofwho vote for. In aallow runoff, Strange ourselves suchtocorners, and those in praised “our brothers at AEPi Theta Colony at telling was likely the only and… Republican who couldn’t Moore thefrom seat winning. at the table that they so deserve. Auburn University the leadership they keepthem It is theonly struggle to fulfillwith the apromise of the display on their campus. ” And then Moore, a hugely polarizing figure, was the Republican 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 been cancer on community, certainwith unalienable rights.” We know our work certainly was not attractive toathe Jewish a large number of Jewish Republiour country since beginning, farDoug from Jones, finished, we know we will not cans in the state —its and 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 bemen ejected from thefully Senate andtake GoverWhen 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 are today. It is a wake-up to the work that witness, propogating every story As Moore hid fromcall reporters for the rest so to profess an ideology thatconspiracy harkens back to out there. 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 and of 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 resent people from elsewhere in to was born a slave nation.coming A century from safe inreminded our own everyone borders. Ahow timeAlabama where votersAmerica tell them how vote, athen urgedcloud Alabama ignore thewe women’s and intotoour history engagedclaims in a war insupport part Americans livedtounder constant of voters Moore. to ensure we would not continue as one. We racism, anti-Semitism and pervasive hate. The Somethat complained Moore was being than othersbywith harassment founddifferently ourselves confronted the issue of civil events took place that in Charlottesville served treated claims againstofthem. is true — butthese Moore made hisand name on being paragon of virtue, rights, embarked on the a mission to ensure as a reminder how That painfully relevant the defender of God’s word. He is, after all, knownthe as the Commandments judge. fair Ten treatment of all peoples no matter their issues are today. skin color. Although we’ve made great While Moore is known for being anti-gay and hostile to Muslims, he has seemed morestrides, 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 Georgewas Soros America also born an immigrant with the Jewish aroundPost the country was efforts to defeat him, reports from country. Asextremearly as the pilgrims, many and behind around the world. We also stand with of thedonations ists and thewho clunky is ahate Jew”that and “fellowship rabbis” found in the country the groups with and families minorities are “lawyer targetedwho by the 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” in the question is in this issue.these white and be themselves. Few were met with open with minorities of whom After an incredibly divisive 2017, let’s hope 2018 starts off calmer. 4 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018
Southern Jewish Life PUBLISHER/EDITOR Lawrence M. Brook email@example.com ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER/ADVERTISING Lee J. Green firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING SPECIALIST Annetta Dolowitz email@example.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR Ginger Brook firstname.lastname@example.org SOCIAL/WEB Emily Baldwein email@example.com PHOTOGRAPHER-AT-LARGE Rabbi Barry C. Altmark deepsouthrabbi.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Rivka Epstein, Louis Crawford, Tally Werthan, Stuart Derroff, Belle Freitag, Ted Gelber, E. Walter Katz, Doug Brook brookwrite.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org ADVERTISING Advertising inquiries to 205/870.7889 for Lee Green, email@example.com or Annetta Dolowitz, firstname.lastname@example.org 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 sjlmag.com, 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.
interesting bits & can’t miss events
Gates of Prayer plans weekend to welcome Rabbi Gerber Retirement events for Rabbi Loewy announced Rabbi David Gerber, who will succeed Rabbi Robert Loewy at Gates of Prayer in Metairie this summer, will be in New Orleans the weekend of Jan. 26 so congregants and the community can meet him. Meanwhile, the congregation announced Loewy will be honored the weekend of May 11. Loewy has served Gates of Prayer since 1984. Gerber’s selection was announced on Oct. 17, and he will take over on July 1. He will participate in Shabbat services at 8 p.m. on Jan. 26 and 10:30 a.m. on Jan. 27, and meet with the religious school on Jan. 28. A Saint Louis native, Gerber attended Indiana University and then became a financial advisor, while taking classes to bolster his experiences before entering rabbinical school in 2007. Since 2012, he has been associate rabbi of Beth Or, a 1,050-family congregation in Maple Glen, Pa., just outside of Philadelphia. Loewy’s retirement weekend will start with Shabbat services on May 11, featuring Kol Simcha, the congregation’s choir. Lowey will also lead services on May 12. Following the service, there will be a celebratory picnic at Lafreniere Park, with a cookout luncheon. The gala celebration, “Under the Jerusalem Stars,” will be May 12 at 7 p.m., with Havdalah and dinner, and music by the Panorama Jazz Band. Gala tickets will be $126, or seven times Chai. Submissions for a tribute book, the weekend’s only fundraising component, are being accepted through March 16.
Colman wins national URJ photo contest Cantor Joel Colman of Temple Sinai in New Orleans won first and second place in the national 2017 Union for Reform Judaism Biennial photo contest. First place went to his shot of the religious school on the Temple steps under the “Sanctuary for All” banner, and second place was for his image of a Torah in the sanctuary (top). He won a digital camera and the winning photo was made into a hallway banner at the convention, which took place in Boston in December.
January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 5
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JCDS students honored in Louisiana Writes Two students at Jewish Community Day School in Metairie were recognized in the Louisiana Writes! Youth Writing Contest. Open to students from Kindergarten to 12th grade, over 900 entries were submitted across the state. In the 3rd-4th Grade Poetry division, 4th grader Sam Shaya and 3rd grader Isaac Morales took first and second prizes, respectively. Liz Amoss, their teacher, said “The process of cultivating great writers has to do with helping students open themselves to both the beauty of language and their own imaginations and creativity… and editing!” Shaya’s poem was entitled “Infinitillion,” and Morales wrote “The Mississippi Legend.” They were presented their prizes at the Louisiana Book Festival in late October in Baton Rouge. The contest is managed and judged by volunteer teachers from the National Writing Project, including Ava Leavell Haymon, poet laureate of Louisiana.
“Chosen comedian” Cait at Chabad “The Chosen Comedian,” Robert Cait, brings his “Kosher Clean” comedy to the Btesh Family Chabad House in Uptown New Orleans for a Jan. 11 event at 7 p.m. His topical humor has earned him the title of “George Carlin with a kippah,” except his act is clean enough for his grandmother to watch, and isn’t the Jewish comedy of the past. He has appeared on A&E’s “Evening at the Improv,” “The Just For Laughs Comedy Festival,” the “Howard Stern Show” and “Dennis Miller Live,” and opened for Miller in Las Vegas. Cait has appeared in the Oscar-winning “A Long Way Home” and the animated “Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron.” He also was lead actor on Comedy Central’s “Married Life,” and was nominated for the Cable Ace Award’s Best Comedy Mini-Series. His voice is also featured as Boris Badenov for DreamWorks’ “Bullwinkle,” Norm the Genie for Nickelodeon’s “Fairly Odd Parents” and Colossus from “X-Men.” He is also the voice of Duke, the scheming dog on the Bush’s Baked Beans commercials, and Morris the Cat for 9 Lives cat food. Suggested donation is $10, with patrons starting at $50 and sponsors at $180.
JFS seeks Passover drive volunteers Each year, Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans tries to reach as many individuals and families as possible through its Passover Food Basket Distribution program. Volunteers are needed to prepare, organize and deliver Passover food and ritual objects to hundreds of members of the local Jewish community. Many of the recipients are elderly or people with disabilities, and this is the only contact some have with other members of the Jewish community all year long. This year’s distribution will be on March 25, and is co-chaired by Aviva Bowman and Betsy Threefoot Kaston. Anyone who knows of someone in need, or wishes to volunteer or contribute, should contact the agency at (504) 831-8475 or visit jfsneworleans.org. 6 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018
agenda Camp emphasis for JEF annual event awards The Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana’s Annual Event will focus on Jewish camping, especially the Goldring Jewish Summer Camp Experience Incentive Grant Program. The March 11 event will honor the Goldring and Franco families and the Goldring Family Foundation with the Tzedakah Award, the highest honor given by JEF. The summer camp incentive program, which awards grants to children to attend Jewish nonprofit sleepaway camp for the first time, has helped to send 1,368 children to camp since its inception in 1999 and has been funded by the Goldring Family Foundation since 2001. The JEF will also present Morton Katz with the Young Family Award for Professional Excellence, and Joan Brooks Cox will receive the Jewish Federations of North America Endowment Achievement Award. “We are looking forward to a very special event,” said JEF president Andi Lestelle. “We are thrilled to be honoring the Goldrings and the Francos who, as a family and as individuals, have given so much to our community. And Morton Katz and Joan Cox, who are both consummate professionals and dedicated lay leaders, are most deserving of these honors.” Event chair Dana Shepard urges the community to attend “as we honor these esteemed members of our Jewish community and present a most engaging program.” Jewish Community Day School in Metairie will hold a STEAM Sunday on Jan. 7 from 11:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., with Mad Scientist ice cream, engineering activities and sensory play. PJ Library will also be there. Lunch, snacks and beverages will be available for purchase. Advance reservations are requested. Temple Sinai in New Orleans will have a joint Shabbat service with Greater St. Stephen Church on Jan. 19 at Temple Sinai, starting at 6:15 p.m. Music will be provided by the Temple Sinai and Greater St. Stephen choirs. Temple Sinai in New Orleans will volunteer at Second Harvest Food Bank on Jan. 15 from noon to 3:30 p.m., helping sort and box food. Volunteers may be age nine or older, and should wear closed-toe shoes. 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. Michael Hecht, president and chief executive officer of Greater New Orleans, Inc., will be the featured guest for Shabbat dinner at Metairie’s Beth Israel on Jan. 19, following the
January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 7
agenda 6 p.m. service. Greater New Orleans is the economic development organization for the area, and Hecht will discuss growth in New Orleans and what it could mean for the Jewish community. Dinner reservations are required, and are $18 for adult members, $9 for children, or $25 and $18, respectively, for non-members. To honor the legacy of Deb Cotton, Avodah will have a panel on mass incarceration, Jan. 30 at 7 p.m. at the home of Pamela and Rob Steeg. Speakers will be from the Innocence Project of New Orleans, Promise of Justice Initiative and Court Watch NOLA. To reserve, contact Dani Levine at email@example.com or (504) 861-1068. The New Orleans Synagogue Softball League is looking for new players. Anyone who wants to play on Sunday mornings from late February thru June should email co-commissioner Josh Danzig at firstname.lastname@example.org. The league is open to men and women over the age of 14, and players must be Jewish or married to a Jew. It is an overhand slow-pitch league that is fairly competitive though welcoming of all skill sets. Synagogue membership is not required, though there is a nominal fee to help cover costs. Gates of Prayer in Metairie will have a Mah Jongg Fun Day, Jan. 7 from 1 to 4 p.m., for established groups, learners and “pick up” games. Snacks and beverages will be provided. There will be a 50/50 raffle. Reservations are $15 for just Mah Jongg, or $35 for Sisterhood members and $40 for guests who are also making reservations for the Jan. 20 Coach Bag Bingo. The next Continuing Education Workshop at Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans for social workers, counselors and mental health professionals will be on Jan. 26 at 8:45 a.m. “Cultural Competence in Counseling and Supervision” will be led by Cirecie Olatunji, and is approved for three Supervision hours in LCA and LABSWE. The session will be at the JFS office in Metairie. Ronna Burger, professor in Tulane University’s Department of Philosophy and Deptartment of Jewish Studies, will lead three in-depth classes on the women of the Tanach, part of the Uptown Scholar Series at the Jewish Community Center. The sessions will be on Thursdays at 7:30 pm. All are welcome and materials will be provided. The first session on Jan. 11 will discuss the women of Genesis, with a particular focus on Eve and Rebekah; the second on Jan. 18 will be about Ruth, the final session on Jan. 25 will be about Esther. “Sully,” the true story of Chesley Sullenberger, an American pilot who became a hero after landing his damaged plane on the Hudson River in order to save the flight’s passengers and crew, will be the Movies in Metairie offering on Jan. 29 at 12:30 p.m. at the Goldring-Woldenberg JCC. The film is free and open to the community.
Federation recruiting volunteers for March 4 Super Sunday
The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans is planning for its annual Super Sunday, part of the 2018 Annual Campaign. This year’s theme is to make the community’s dreams a reality. Super Sunday is the annual phonathon to benefit the campaign, reaching out to members of the Jewish community to raise the dollars which support the local agencies and organizations. It will be held on March 4 at the Goldring-Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus in Metairie, from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Volunteers are needed for shifts of at least two hours that day, or clerical follow-up shifts on March 6 and 7. To volunteer, visit jewishnola.com/ supersunday. Super Sunday is chaired by Sarah Schatzmann, Hal Shepard, Kathy Shepard and Max Zwain. Julie Schwartz and David Radlauer are the overall campaign chairs. 8 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018
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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 Home24Bank.com 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. email@example.com The New Orleans Section of the National Council of Jewish Women, www.auburn.edu/diversity which is a sponsor of the exhibit, will have a preview on Jan. 28 at 2:30 p.m. as its January general meeting.
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Exhibit gives preview of planned Unknown Child Holocaust memorial
Betsy Goldin Becker, Owner
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, brjff.org, 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 myjli.com.
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 al.com 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.org.
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 jcrs.org. 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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We Are The Champions January 20, 2018 at 8pm
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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 touro.com/findadoc 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 www.jfsneworleans.org/volunteer-with-tlc/ 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.
We are New Orleans’ hospital. Find out more at touro.com.
January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 25
take care of yourself Named “Best Fertility Practice in Florida” and Top 5% Nationwide by FindTheBest.com
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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 www.newmanschool.org/visitnewman 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. email@example.com 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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28 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018
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
After he completes his education, Noah ultimately wants to return to Mississippi and drive progress in his home state. WORLD CLASS. HERE AT HOME. | MILLSAPS COLLEGE MILLSAPS.EDU
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.
Growing Jewish enrollment at Alabama requires expanding facilities by Lee J. Green
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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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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! www.campjudaea.org 404-634-7883 firstname.lastname@example.org
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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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email@example.com • (205) 879-4773 ext 4001 Check our concert calendar at workplay.com JAN. 13: The Cheesebrokers JAN. 27: Yacht Rock Revue 34 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018
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 www.campjudaea.org 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 mcwane.org.
Ramah Darom=Fun for Everyone!
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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.
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Exceptional experiences in Jewish living and learning for youth, adults, families and communities.
January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 35
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 campbarney.org, 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.
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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January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 37
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.”
January 2018 â€¢ Southern Jewish Life 41
Celebrating 190 years: Touro Congregation dedicating history museum In conjunction with the 190th anniversary of Touro Synagogue — which was founded as Shangarai-Chasset, Gates of Mercy, the New Orleans congregation is officially opening the Museum of the History of Touro Synagogue. Touro is the oldest chartered congregation outside the original 13 colonies and the sixth oldest chartered congregation in the country. The Jan. 19 opening, as part of the 6 p.m. Shabbat service, will also mark the 164th yahrzeit of Judah Touro, the congregation’s benefactor. The event will include a program about
Touro’s life. Touro Synagogue was an amalgamation of the older Gates of Mercy, and Dispersed of Judah, founded in 1846. Touro gave Dispersed of Judah their first building, at the corner of Bourbon and Canal. Plans have been in progress for the museum, which is located near the chapel, for over a year. The collection includes a ledger from 1833, listing marriages, births and deaths. There are
renderings of the progression of the current building’s dome as it was being built for its 1909 dedication, and yearbooks from the large Sunday School population of the 1950s and 1960s. Other documents explain economic problems post-Civil War, identification records of families who made New Orleans their permanent home so many generations ago, recognitions of boards and clergy, and numerous other historical pieces. One item in the collection is a fork that was given by Touro to Rezin Shepherd shortly before Touro’s death. They had fought together in the War of 1812, and when Touro was wounded and thought to be dead, Shepherd tended to him and saved his life.
Gates of Prayer exploring race issues In January, Metairie’s Gates of Prayer is presenting a 5-part series, “Exploring Racial Equality: Roots, Reactions and Responsibilities” to examine the issues of racial equity and ultimately to build bridges across racial lines. The series is open to anyone in the New Orleans community. On Jan. 10, Brian Turner, a psychology professor at Xavier University and graduate of Isidore Newman School, and Robert Gilpin, a history professor at Tulane University, will present “History of Race in America” at 7:30 p.m. “Recognizing Implicit Bias,” a 2-hour interactive presentation with activities and discussions, will be led by Troi Bechet of Center for Restorative Approaches on Jan. 17 at 7:30 p.m. Public Defender Rella Zapletal, Gates of Prayer Social Action Chair, will moderate a panel of experts on “Criminal Justice Inequities,” Jan. 24 at 7:30 p.m. A field trip to the Whitney Plantation in Wallace, La., will be on Jan. 28 at 9:30 a.m. Through museum exhibits, memorial artwork and restored buildings and hundreds of first-person slave narratives, visitors to Whitney gain a perspective on the lives of Louisiana’s enslaved people. The group will meet at Gates of Prayer at 9:30 a.m. and carpool to the plantation. On Feb. 1, Gates of Prayer has invited members of New Hope Baptist Church in Kenner to for a dinner and discussion on improving racial relations in the community. 42 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018
jewish deep south: bagels, biscuits, beignets
MONTHLY FOOD SUBSCRIPTIONS FOR A DELISH 2018
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.
BRINGING IT HOME:
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 zingermans.com
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. lakechamplainchocolates.com
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. elizabar.com January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 43
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community Mitzvah Makers to parade on Jan. 21 The B’nai B’rith Mardi Gras Mitzvah Makers will have their 39th annual Hospital Parade on Jan. 21, bringing the festivities of Mardi Gras to patients who are there for long-term care and rehabilitation, and likely will not be able to experience Mardi Gras parades. The parade begins at 10 a.m., with participants gathering at the Prytania Street entrance to Touro Infirmary at 9:30 a.m. Musicians are encouraged to bring their instruments, and costumes are encouraged. There are a few costumes available for those who do not have one. Beads and plush stuffed animals are encouraged for throws. Chairman Hilton Title said the parade will also visit Curahealth Hospital and Home Life in the Gardens.
Jewish Krewes march on Jan. 27 (504) 866-0276
The two Jewish-themed Krewes will once again take to the streets in their early Mardi Gras season parades on Jan. 27. Krewe du Mishigas is a subkrewe in the Krewe du Vieux parade, which will roll from the Marigny at 6:30 p.m., going through the French Quarter to the Central Business District. The Krewe du Jieux, which was formed in 1996 as the first Jewish krewe, is an innerkrewe of the krewedelusion parade, which also starts in the Marigny following the Krewe du Vieux parade, and makes its way through the French Quarter. Krewedelusion will have its post-parade ball, the TrySinTennial Bedlam Ball, at the Ace Hotel, starting around 10 p.m. Both parades are heavy on satire and adult themes.
Touro hosting program on Leonard Bernstein On Jan. 12, Touro Synagogue in New Orleans will present “Bernstein on Broadway and Beyond,” part of the Jewish Composer Lecture Series. The event is part of a world-wide celebration of Bernstein’s 100th birthday, which officially began on Aug. 25, 2017, for his 99th birthday, and continues to Aug. 25, 2019. Bernstein was the long-time music director of the New York Philharmonic, and composed pieces for symphony, theater, ballet, film, chorus, opera, chamber music and the piano. His best-known musical is “West Side Story.” George Dansker will present a program that includes a lecture about Bernstein and a concert of his works, also featuring Sarah Jane McMahon and Jesse Reeks. The program will follow the 6 p.m. Shabbat service and is open to the community. 44 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018
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“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. Doug Brook is the Last Jedi. Moses was C-3PO. And The Walrus was Paul. To read past columns, visit http://brookwrite.com/. For exclusive online content, like facebook.com/rearpewmirror.
JFS announces three community groups
Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans announced three upcoming community groups. Jan. 25 will be the first session for the Support Group for Mothers of School Age Children with Down Syndrome. Group attendees will learn about self-care as the caretaker, obtain support from peers, and receive education and tools for potential social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties. The group will meet for six weeks at noon at the JFS office in Metairie. Registration is $40, including the sessions and an initial assessment. Two groups start on Feb. 21, each meeting for six weeks. A Northshore group for Girl Power will meet at 4:30 p.m. at the JFS Northshore office. A self-esteem and social skills group, Girl power helps foster positive feelings of self-worth in girls ages 8-13. Activities are designed to give participants increased self-confidence, skills to deal with stress and anxiety, build positive friendships, communicate feelings, handle peer pressure and bullying, and make positive choices. Registration is $240, including an initial individual session. The Bereavement Support Group will meet at the JFS Metairie office at 4:30 p.m. Facilitated by a licensed clinician, this group will provide support, and is for anyone experiencing grief. Participants will learn mindfulness skills, acquire tools to incorporate grief into daily routines and process the meaning of their loss. This opportunity is available to anyone over the age of 25 that has experienced a loss. Registration is $40, including an initial assessment.
Times of Israel founder speaks at AIPAC events in Baton Rouge, NOLA 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
January 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 45
rear pew mirror • doug brook
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. 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....
Fixed Right or It’s Free!
helpserviceco.com 46 Southern Jewish Life • January 2018
“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 escape for my people this time. “Yud Hay Vav Hay, where are you? “At last, where have you been? REGARDLESS, “They’re heading in this direction. What are we going to do? We’ll be YOU PROBABLY sent to the salt mines and pyramids, SHOULDN’T DRINK smashed into who knows what! FOUR CUPS OF “Wait a minute, where are you going? ANYTHING AT THE “Hey, we’re not permitted in MOS EISLEY CANTINA 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.) “We’ve got to rest before we fall apart. Our matzah’s almost risen. “What a desolate place this is. continued on the previous page
January 2018 â€¢ Southern Jewish Life 55
56 Southern Jewish Life â€¢ January 2018
Published on Dec 27, 2017
Published on Dec 27, 2017
January 2018 New Orleans edition of Southern Jewish Life, the official news magazine of the Greater New Orleans Jewish community.