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Southern Jewish Life

Jan./Feb. 2020 Volume 30 Issue 1

Southern Jewish Life P.O. Box 130052 Birmingham, AL 35213 Camellia in the historic Beth Israel cemetery, Woodville, Miss.


January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

shalom y’all It’s time for all y’all to vote. No, not in the presidential and Congressional primaries — those aren’t until early March until early April, depending on which state you are in. And of course, not the best-of-three Israeli elections, unless you have made aliyah lately (in which case, the postal service isn’t forwarding this magazine to you anyway). It is time for the American Zionist Movement’s election, which is open to all Jews in the United States, for the World Zionist Congress. The voting begins on Jan. 21 and runs through March 11. The 38th World Zionist Congress will take place in Israel in October, making decisions on how annual allocations of over $1 billion will be made to support Israel and world Jewry. The first World Zionist Congress was held in Basel, Switzerland, in 1897, sparking the Zionist movement that led to the formation of Israel in 1948. The Congress convenes every five years to discuss policy and funding, and the American Zionist Movement holds elections to select representatives to the 152 slots alloted to the United States in the 500-delegate body. As the only democratically-elected body for world Jewry, the Congress influences policy for the World Zionist Organization, the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency for Israel. There are 14 slates running for the 152 slots in the U.S. delegation. In the past, the groups aligned with the three main Jewish denominations in the U.S. — ARZA for Reform Judaism, MERCAZ for the Conservative movement and several

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January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life




January 2020 January 2020

Maccabi USA leader praises Birmingham Games I have had the honor of attending many Maccabi competitions around the world. From Israel Orthodox — America, have dominated the vote Zionistgames Organization of America coalition, to Australiagroups to South Europe and the JCCthe Maccabi around the United States count. a can controversial coalition, and Canada, I have logged many miles seeing howand sports be a vehicle“progressive” to help build Jewish In 2015, ARZA had 56 young. delegates, with MER- Hatikvah, that includes numerous delegates identity, especially in our CAZ getting 25 and Vote Torah 24, so the three who are highly critical of Israel. I felt honored to come to Birmingham for the first time and fell in love with not just the city major religious streams had 70 percent of the To vote for a slate, one must be 18 years or but the people. You have taken Southern hospitality to a new level with your kind and caring American delegation. Only 56,737 votes were older as of June 30, be a permanent U.S. resapproach to the JCC Maccabi Games. cast. ident, be Jewish, not be voting in the March Led by 1990s, the Sokol and issues Helds, of your hard-working were wonderful. They partnered to In the when Jewish plural- 2volunteers Knesset election, and affirm commitment with your outstanding staff, led by Betzy Lynch, to make the 2017 JCC Maccabi games a huge hit. ism in Israel were a major source of contention the Jerusalem Program. Ibetween want to take this opportunity as executive of Maccabi USAProgram to say thank you on behalf Israel and North America, ARZA director and The Jerusalem states “Zionism, the of everyone involved. MERCAZ made major pushes for representa- national liberation movement of the Jewish tion andjust votes, as one of the the20th few World ways Jews people, brought I had returned from Maccabiah games in Israelabout with athe U.S.establishment delegation of of outside of who Israeljoined could10,000 get theJewish attention of the State of Israel, and a Jewish, Zionover 1100, athletes fromthe 80 countries. Back in Julyviews the eyes of the entire Israeli world establishment. The 1997 in ist,This democratic andwith secure State of Israel Jewish were on Jerusalem andCongress the Maccabiah. past month 1000 athletes and to be particular, which thisthe publication in the expression common coaches from around world beingcovered in Birmingham, you becameofthethe focal point. responsibility person, was quite contentious when it came of the Jewish people for its continuity and the with Jewishthe community and the community toEveryone pluralismfrom issues, Dec. 25 session future.” at large, including a wonderful police are tothe benight. commended. These games willOne go down history asat being a seminal lastingforce, well into mayin register azm.org/elections. moment for the Jewish community as we build to the future by providing such wonderful Though the elections are more low-key There is an administrative fee of $7.50,Jewish $5 for memories. than in the 1990s, that emphasis has changed those age 25 and under. veryMargolis little for American groups, and at the Want to have a say in what happens in IsraJed recent celebration of the 75th Executive Director, Maccabi USAanniversary of el? Register and vote. Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, head of the Reform movement, spent supremacists would like to see pushed back part Charlottesville of his talk promoting the election. On into a corner and made to feel lesser. We stand Other slates are more specialized, including with and pray for the family of Heather Heyer, Editor’s to theSephardic events in Jews, Lawrence Brook, Publisher/Editor RussianNote: JewsThis nowreaction in the U.S., who was there standing up to the face of this Charlottesville, written by Jeremy Newman, hate. Master of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Theta Colony We recognize the essence of the American at Auburn University, was shared by AEPi narrative as a two-century old struggle National, which called it “very eloquent” and 2019 to rid ourselves of such corners, and allow those in praised “our brothers at AEPi Theta Colony at them the seat at the table that they so deserve. Auburn University and… the leadership they It is the struggle to fulfill the promise of the display on their campus.” Declaration of Independence, that “all men are created equal… endowed byOne their of Creator the with White supremacy has been a cancer on certain unalienable rights.” We know our work our country since its beginning, threatening is far from finished, but we know we will not its hopes, its values, and its better angels. move backwards. The events that took place in Charlottesville When men and women, fully armed, take represented the worst of this nation. Those to the streets in droves with swastikas and who marched onto the streets with tiki torches other symbols of hate, it is a reminder of how and swastikas did so to provoke violence and VALUE relevant the issues of racismBEST and anti-Semitism fear. Those who marched onto the streets did schools in the U.S. are today. It is a wake-up call to the work that so to profess an ideology that harkens back to needs to be done to ensure a better, more a bleaker, more wretched time in our history. welcoming country. But it should not come A time when men and women of many creeds, without a reflection on how far we’ve come. races, and religions were far from equal and far America was born a slavecolleges nation. Alead century from safe in our own borders. A time where that to YOU'LL FINDa MORE THAN ONwe engaged in a war into our history in part Americans lived under constant cloud of A COLLEGE GRADUATE to ensure we would not continue as one. We racism, anti-Semitism and pervasive hate. The SCHOOL events that took place in Charlottesville served found ourselves confronted by the issue of civil rights, and embarked on a mission to ensure as a reminder of how painfully relevant these the fair treatment of all peoples no matter their issues are today. skin color. Although we’ve made great strides, Auburn’s AlphaFIND Epsilon stands withOF theOPPORTUNITY. YOU’LL APiWORLD it is a mission we’re still grappling with today. Jewish community of Charlottesville, and



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with the Jewish people around the country and around the world. We also stand with the minorities who are targeted by the hate that was on display in Charlottesville. We stand with the minorities of whom these white 4 January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


America was also born anCOMMUNITY immigrantAND BUSINESS LEADERS country. bsc.edu As early as the pilgrims, many MENTOR STUDENTS groups and families found in the country the opportunity to plant stakes, chase their future, and be themselves. Few were met with open

Southern Jewish Life PUBLISHER/EDITOR Lawrence M. Brook editor@sjlmag.com ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER/ADVERTISING Lee J. Green lee@sjlmag.com V.P. SALES/MARKETING, NEW ORLEANS Jeff Pizzo jeff@sjlmag.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR Ginger Brook ginger@sjlmag.com SOCIAL/WEB Emily Baldwein connect@sjlmag.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 504/432-2561 TOLL-FREE 866/446.5894 FAX 866/392.7750 ADVERTISING Advertising inquiries to 205/870.7889 for Lee Green, lee@sjlmag.com Jeff Pizzo, jeff@sjlmag.com 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 2020. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without written permission from the publisher. Views expressed in SJL are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff. SJL makes no claims as to the Kashrut of its advertisers, and retains the right to refuse any advertisement.

Documenting this community, a community we are members of and active within, is our passion. We love what we do, and who we do it for.

agenda interesting bits & can’t miss events

On Dec. 9, the Alabama-Israel Task Force held a ceremony at the office of Governor Kay Ivey. Pictured are Robert Somerville, director of Awareness Ministry; John Buhler, AITF co-chair; Pastor Patrick Penn, advisory board of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem; Governor Ivey; Laura King, AITF co-chair and former Network chair, Jewish Federations of North America; Ben Holtzman, who served in the Israel Defense Forces; Gwen Bradley, state leadership of Daughters for Zion and Christians United for Israel. Story, page 20.

Dubrinsky-Clayton named executive director of Birmingham’s Levite JCC Samantha Dubrinsky-Clayton, who has been the interim executive director at Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center since October 2018, was named executive director, effective Jan. 1. A Birmingham native, Dubrinsky-Clayton is looking forward to leading one of the most important community institutions in Birmingham. “The LJCC has been an important cornerstone in my life and I know it provides a sense of community for so many in both our Jewish and broader Birmingham communities,” she said. “The LJCC is truly a magical place and I am honored to help shape the vision and direction of the Center.” After Betzy Lynch departed in August 2017, Richard Friedman, executive director of the Birmingham Jewish Federation, was named CEO of the LJCC in addition to his Federation position. Dubrinsky-Clayton had been director of community impact for the Federation, and in October 2018 she was named interim executive director at the LJCC. At the time, Friedman explained that he would remain as CEO of both agencies, but Dubrinsky-Clayton would be “the senior go-to person at the LJCC with the authority to make whatever decisions she feels are necessary for the well-being of the LJCC.” In a long-anticipated process, Friedman retired from both agencies on Dec. 31, and will become associate editor of the new magazine Israel InSight, which is being published by the team at Southern Jewish Life.

He also will be working for the US Israel Education Association in Birmingham. The search for a “community CEO” to succeed him at the Federation is ongoing. Until an announcement is made, Federation Director of Management Lauren Klinner will manage the Federation’s operations and staff, and Federation President Lisa Engel will be in charge of policy, board matters and strategic direction. Dubrinsky-Clayton said her goals include making the LJCC even more of a home for the many members and non-members it serves. “We raise families and individuals here at the J,” she explained. “For so many, we are the center of the community and not just a community center. We have the opportunity to really be the living room of Birmingham. And we’re going to capitalize on that opportunity.” During her time at the Federation, the Birmingham-Southern graduate pursued a Masters of Public Administration and a Masters of Business Administration through a scholarship opportunity provided by Jewish Federations of North America. January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


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agenda Birmingham Jewish community to focus on mental health this year Birmingham’s Jewish congregations will kick off the Jewish Mental Health Initiative 2020 with a Mental Health Awareness Shabbaton, starting Jan. 31. The initiative is a collaboration of every Birmingham Jewish organization and congregation, funded by the Birmingham Jewish Foundation and Collat Jewish Family Services. Lauren Schwartz, executive director of CJFS, said the initiative is to “raise awareness of mental health issues and their impact on our community, to reduce the stigma that is associated with mental illness and addiction, and to connect people to the resources they need for help.” The agency hears stories from those struggling with mental health “every day,” stating that one in five people will have a serious mental disorder at one point in his or her life. “As a Jewish community, it is our responsibility to recognize and respond,” Schwartz said. During this year, the agency will provide information and offer programs about mental health. Already, 15 clergy and community professionals participated in a fullday training in Mental Health First Aid for Youth, a program that prepares them to recognize signs and symptoms and to provide referrals to appropriate resources. Leigh Cohen Long and Katie Smith of Homewood City Schools Guidance Department provided the training. During the Shabbaton, Joy Madden will speak at the 5:45 p.m. service at Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El on Jan. 31. On Feb. 1, there will be presentations during the 9 a.m. service at Knesseth Israel and the 9:30 a.m. service at Temple Beth-El. Beit Ariel Chabad in Birmingham will present “The Thing About Normal.” The 9:30 a.m. discussion on Feb. 2 will focus on how people often struggle with questions of identity, and how the principle of inclusion is a central principle of Judaism. Through Torah-based learning and activities, the workshop will explore how to implement the ideals of inclusion in one’s life. A light breakfast will be served. Additional plans for the year include community healing services, a parent-teen program and community educational trainings. Volunteers are welcome to help in planning events.

Jaffa Institute representative visiting The Birmingham Jewish community will have the opportunity to hear from an Israeli partner that is supported through the Birmingham Jewish Federation’s Israel-World Jewry Bureau, as a representative of the Jaffa Institute will be visiting. Yechiel Marcus, Planned Giving Advisor and General Development for the institute, will speak in the Levite Jewish Community Center board room on Feb. 5 at 8 a.m. The Bureau is a Federation committee that vets overseas organizations and allocates Annual Campaign funds as well as monies granted from The Birmingham Jewish Foundation to deserving programs. The Jaffa Institute is a model of cooperation between observant and non-observant Israelis, all working together for the benefit of children growing up under the most difficult circumstances. Serving children as well as isolated elderly and Holocaust survivors in Jaffa and south Tel Aviv, the Jaffa Institute serves 4,500 individuals each year — Jewish, Christian, and Arab. Its programs include afternoon educational enrichment centers, residential facilities for children and teenagers who have been removed from their homes by the courts, a parent-child center, food distribution centers and more. 6

January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

agenda NEW YEAR, NEW HOME Antisemitism authority Deborah Lipstadt to speak at B’ham-Southern Deborah Lipstadt, one of the leading experts in Holocaust education and antisemitism, will speak at Birmingham-Southern College on March 4. Lipstadt is Dorot professor of Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta. She has published and taught about the Holocaust for close to 40 years, authoring six books and numerous articles. She is probably most widely known because of the libel lawsuit brought against her in 1996 by David Irving for having called him a Holocaust denier. Irving then was then arguably the world’s leading denier. The 10-week trial in London was an overwhelming victory for Lipstadt, with the judge finding Irving a “neo-Nazi polemicist” who “perverts” history and engages in “racist” and “anti-Semitic” discourse. A movie, “Denial,” dramatized the trial. Her most recent book is “Antisemitism: Here and Now,” the 219 National Jewish Book Award winner. In it, she explores antisemitic incidents from the 2017 white supremacist march in Charlottesville to mainstream enablers of antisemitism to a Chicago gay pride march banning a Star of David banner. She explores left-wing groups that target Jewish students on campus and white nationalist groups, giving her observations through a series of letters with an imagined college student and an imagined colleague. The event is free and open to the community, and will be at 7 p.m. at Munger Hall. Seating is limited and tickets are required, through bjf.org by Feb. 26. Those attending should be prepared to show identification, for security reasons. After the event, Lipstadt will be signing copies of “Antisemitism: Here and Now,” which can be preordered through Thank You Books. The program is sponsored by the Birmingham-Southern Jewish Education/Chair of Judaic Studies fund of the Birmingham Jewish Foundation, and co-sponsored by the Birmingham Jewish Federation with the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center serving as education partner.

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The Interdenominational Theological Center students from Tuscaloosa visited Tuscaloosa’s Temple Emanu-El for Shabbat services on Jan. 3. Congregational president Jimmy Bank and David Cook explained the significance of the Memorial Scroll Torah, which had been confiscated by the Nazis during the Holocaust and rescued after World War II.

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agenda Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El will have the official installation of Rabbi Adam Wright on Feb. 7 at the 5:45 p.m. service. Special guests for the evening will be Emanu-El Rabbi Emeritus Jonathan Miller; Rabbi David Frank, rabbi emeritus at Temple Solel in Cardiff, Calif., where Wright previously served; and Rabbi Steven Kaye. Dinner reservations are $15 for adults, $10 ages 6 to 12, family maximum of $50, and are required by Feb. 3. Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile will have its annual Tu B’Shevat Seder and tree planting on Feb. 9. Orders are being accepted for blueberry, apple, plum, citrus, fig, olive, avocado, lime, mulberry and pomegranate trees at $35 each. Beth Israel in Gulfport and Chabad of Southern Mississippi will have Havdalah and Cocktails, “Local Jews get together to eat, drink and shmooze,” Jan. 25 at 6:30 p.m. at Beth Israel.

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Pensacola’s Temple Beth-El will have a special Shabbat concerto on Jan. 24, following the 7 p.m. service. Leonid Yanovskiy, in his 20th year as concertmaster for the Pensacola Symphony Orchestra, and pianist Victoria Adamenko will perform Mozart’s Concerto in G Major no. 3. Emerald Coast Chabad in Destin has announced a new campaign to put Jewish books in every Jewish home in the area. Rabbi Shaya Tenenboim said “every Jewish home should have a basic set of Jewish holy books — a prayerbook, Psalms and Tanach.” The books will be available free from Chabad, in a campaign in memory of Avraham Shlomo ben Aharon Yitzchak Scharf, father of Tenenboim’s wife, Rochel. Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El will once again participate in the World Wide Wrap on Super Bowl Sunday, Feb. 2, promoting the use of tefillin, and presenting the congregation’s fifth graders with their own set of tefillin. Students in the Honors Holocaust Seminar at UMS-Wright have finished large project boards that will be on display at Ahavas Chesed in Mobile from Jan. 22 to Feb. 4.

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On Feb. 14, the Jewish Federation of Oxford will hold a 7 p.m. Shabbat service at the Paris-Yates Chapel on the Ole Miss campus. Rabbi Nancy Tunick of B’nai Israel in Florence will be the visiting rabbi. Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El will hold a Weekend of Music, starting with a workshop for lay leaders on Jan. 23 at 6:30 p.m., to learn how to be a service leader and create moments of meaning. On Jan. 24, there will be a wine and cheese pre-neg at 5 p.m., before the 5:45 p.m. Kabbalat Shabbat in the Round, followed by an oneg. On Jan. 25, the 9:30 a.m. service will have a musical emphasis, followed by lunch and numerous learning sessions on music and prayer. The third meal will be at 4:30 p.m., followed by Havdalah and a 6 p.m. party with dancing, singing and drinking. Birmingham’s N.E. Miles Jewish Day School will have its Little Scientists STEAM series on Jan. 26 at 10 a.m., focusing on “Sensory Silliness” and the sense of touch. Jerry Darring, co-director of the Gulf Coast Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education, will give a presentation on Holocaust survivors who made their lives along the Gulf Coast after World War II, Jan. 27 at 11 a.m. at the Fairhope Public Library. Rabbi Yosef Goldwasser from Chabad of Mobile will lead a class on Jewish teachings about the afterlife, Jan. 23 at 6:30 p.m. at the Fairhope Library. He will also teach it at Chabad in Mobile on Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. Dothan’s Temple Emanu-El annual art auction returns on Jan. 25, with a reception and preview at 6:30 p.m. and the auction starting at continued on page 24


January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

agenda Community members invited to spit New Orleans area Jewish groups holding genetic screening event on Feb. 6 The Victor Center for the Prevention of Jewish Genetic Diseases and Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans are partnering with several local Jewish organizations to bring a preconception genetic screening event to the Uptown Jewish Community Center. The Feb. 6 event will be from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and feature a panel of speakers, genetic counseling, and for those who choose, a genetic screening done through a saliva sample. While Tay-Sachs may be a well-known genetically-transmitted disease that is prevalent in the Jewish community (and among Cajuns), over 200 such diseases have now been identified, and roughly half of Jews who screen with Victor Center carry at least one of those mutations. If both parents carry a mutation for the same disease, there is a one in four chance that the child will be affected by that disease. Each parent passes on one of the two genes to the child. If both pass on the mutation, disease follows. In half of the cases, only one parent passes on the mutation, making the child a carrier. In one-fourth of cases, the child receives the clean gene from both parents and is not a carrier. Through the knowledge acquired by screening, the risk of having a child with any of these preventable genetic diseases can be avoided. Many of the diseases strike early in childhood, have no cure and lead to early death. The Victor Center, a thought leader in the prevention of genetic diseases, is partnering with local organizations to educate the public and provide screenings at a reduced rate. The Victor Center recommends that all at-risk individuals — including interfaith couples and couples getting pregnant through donor egg/ sperm — should be screened, with the Jewish partner being screened first. And one does not need to be Jewish currently to be at risk — anyone with one or more Jewish grandparent should consider screening. With a small Jewish community, many area doctors do not screen potential parents for Jewish genetic diseases, and insurance companies will not always cover the cost of screening for those diseases more prevalent in the Jewish community. “Many people are completely unaware of the risks, and doctors in this area don’t always have access to expanded panels. While Jewish genetic diseases are quite prevalent, local rabbis are often the ones informing young couples,” said Rachel Lazarus Eriksen, JFS director of clinical services. The Victor Center, JFS and their local partners are subsidizing the cost of screening, which currently tests for over 200 Jewish and pan-ethnic diseases. The first 45 registrants will pay a reduced cost of $149. Out-ofpocket fee with health insurance is up to $249 for an individual and $349 for a couple. Guest speakers will include Debbie Wasserman, National Outreach Coordinator and Genetic Counselor at The Victor Center, and Dr. Paul du Treil, OB/GYN, of Touro Infirmary. In addition to JFS and the Victor Center, Touro Infirmary, Jewish Endowment Foundation, Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and the Jewish Community Center are sponsoring the event. Gates of Prayer, Touro Synagogue, Shir Chadash, Moishe House, Chabad, Hadassah, Temple Sinai, JNOLA and National Council of Jewish Women Greater New Orleans Section are community partners. To register for the event, visit https://jfsneworleans.org/jewish-genetic-testing-event/. JScreen, a non-profit based at Emory University in Atlanta that is dedicated to eliminating Jewish genetic diseases, is planning Jewish Genetic Screening Awareness Week from Feb. 3 to 7, and the Georgia Legislature is also issuing a proclamation to that effect.



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January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

Four “success stories” of the New Orle- Rouge’s NFTY chapter during her senior year. ans-based Jewish Children’s Regional Service While in college, she co-directed the perwill be featured at the Jewish Roots of Rhythm forming arts program for Camp Dream Street and Blues gala — as the performers. at Jacobs Camp. One of the largest Jewish events in New OrSamuels graduated with a music degree from leans each year, the gala attracts the Eastman School of Music in attendees from throughout Rochester, N.Y., and is working the region, as the organization on a master’s in classical double serves seven states and holds bass performance at Boston an annual board meeting the University. She has performed morning after the gala. This at the Lincoln Center and Kenyear’s event will be on Feb. 1 at nedy Center, and is a member the Hilton New Orleans Riverof “Copper Hill,” a folk band side, starting at 6:30 p.m. that recently toured the northThe event will feature mueast and released its first album, sic from The Great American “Once Around the Sun.” Songbook, performed four She has performed in Austria JCRS educational scholarship and throughout Puerto Rico, recipients who are currently and with opera star Renee pursuing advanced degrees in Fleming at the Lincoln Center Caroline Samuels musical performance. in New York City. She has spent Basil Alter of Memphis attends the Manhat- summers studying and performing music at the tan School of Music, with JCRS college aid. A Chautauqua Institution Music School Festival native of Clinton, S.C., he started violin lessons Orchestra, and most recently with the National with his mother, and at age 16 was concertmas- Repertory Orchestra in Breckenridge, Col. ter of all three symphonic and opera orchestras They will also be accompanied by past JCRS at the Rudi E. Schidt School of Music. He has president Bruce Miller on drums. done solo recitals across the U.S., Europe and The 2020 Jewish Roots gala will honor the Asia, including a concert where he performed Beerman family, whose members proudly claim his own compositions accompanied by mem- a near 100-year history with the original 19th bers of the Memphis Symphony. century Jewish Children’s Home, which transJoshua Dolney is a trumpet player from Deer formed into JCRS when the home closed. Six Park, Tex., who has earned degrees in music Beerman siblings were Home residents in the from Texas Tech and Oklahoma City University, 1920s, while more recently, family members and is pursuing a doctorate in the musical arts at have served in leadership positions within the University of Illinois-Champaign-Urbana. JCRS, including Marc Beerman as president He has performed in numerous competitions from 2015 to 2017. as a soloist and in ensembles, and plans to be a The evening will also include a cocktail recepcollege trumpet professor and orchestral player. tion followed by a seated dinner. A silent aucJoshua Sadinsky of Fayetteville, Ark., started tion will focus on boutique shopping, restaupiano lessons at age 7. With JCRS assistance, he rants and once-in-a-lifetime vacations. attended Cornell University, where he became JCRS provides need-based college scholinterested in field recorded sound, and recent- arships, grants for Jewish summer camp exly recorded an album of locomotive sounds periences, special needs assistance and other in Berlin. He has also done field recordings in outreach programs in a seven-state region. This Olympic National Park and national forests in year, JCRS will serve or fund over 1,800 Jewish upstate New York. He is now a master’s piano children from over 200 communities. student at the California Institute of the Arts. As part of this year’s gala, a 40-inch 18-karat Caroline Samuels of Baton Rouge received as- white gold quartz necklace, valued at $3,250, sistance to attend the Henry S. Jacobs Camp for from Lee Michaels Jewelers will be raffled. Tickmany summers, and college aid from JCRS. At ets are $20, or six for $100, and one need not be Baton Rouge Magnet High School, Samuels was present to win. the driving force in the formation of the JewGala tickets are available at www.jcrs.org or ish Cultural Association to welcome and teach by calling the office at (800) 729-5277, and are peers from all backgrounds about Jewish tradi- $250, or $125 for those age 35 and younger. The tions and culture, and was president of Baton event is open to the public.

January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life



New Orleans Federation announces two new major programs Centers of Excellence will focus on multicultural affairs and interfaith families The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans announced two new landmark programs, with the establishment of new centers to promote multicultural affairs and to work with interfaith families. The Goldring Family Foundation Center for Jewish/Multi-Cultural Affairs was established on Jan. 1, with a major community launch event slated for the spring. The Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation Center for Interfaith Families will launch on July 1.

“I am very excited about the formation and launch of these two new Centers of excellence,” said Arnie Fielkow, CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. “These two initiatives are critical to forming mutually-beneficial relationships between the Jewish community and the Greater New Orleans community at large, as well as tackling one of the most important topics today facing Judaism,” working with interfaith families. “We are really the first Federation in the

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January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

country to embark on a project like this,” Fielkow said. The Center for Jewish/Multi-Cultural Affairs will bring current Federation efforts in the broader community “under one umbrella,” along with new programs focusing on four key areas — relations with the African-American and Latino communities, LGBTQ relations through the new Federation group JP NOLA, and multi-faith relations. Though part of the Federation, the center will have its own advisory board and a full-time executive director. Bradley Bain and Ina Davis are chairing the center’s board. The Goldring Family Foundation has funded the center as a three-year pilot program. “In an era of rising antisemitism, bigotry and fracture, it is incredibly important that we look to the now and to the future to broaden our sense of community,” said Bill Goldring of the Goldring Family Foundation. “This is a much needed initiative, and I am excited to see where the Center for Jewish/Multi-Cultural Affairs leads us over the next few years.” This is also part of an effort the Federation has undertaken over the past three years to be seen as more of a partner in the greater New Orleans community. Over the past two years, the Federation has expanded ties with the African-American community, with a monthly radio show on WBOK to discuss issues of mutual interest to African-Americans and Jews, a speakers’ series at three local Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and the annual youth civil rights trip to Selma and Birmingham. In December 2018, Emily Schoenbaum partnered with the Federation to establish the Alex Schoenbaum Jewish Scholarship Fund for students at St. Augustine, named for her late father, founder of the Shoney’s restaurant chain. Students discuss issues facing the Jewish and African-American communities, and last month scholarships were awarded to winners of an essay contest themed to two recent events — the need for an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor in Italy to receive police protection after campaigning against antisemitism, and the recent incident when members of 504 Queens tried to see “Harriet” in a Metairie movie theater but a ticket mixup spiraled into what was seen as an instance of racial profiling. The Federation has also partnered with the Muslim community for a Peace Weekend, held over Martin Luther King weekend, with members of the Jewish community attending Friday prayers at the mosque, and Muslims attending

community Shabbat services, this year at Temple Sinai. The communities will march under the same banner in the King parade. “All of these programs will be continuing,” Fielkow said. As part of the center’s activities, partnerships among different communities will be strengthened, Accompanied by ADL Director Aaron building a greater coalition Ahlquist, Federation CEO Arnie Fielkow to combat antisemitism addresses local media and other forms of hate. The Center for Interfaith Families will provide a centralized resource and support system for interfaith partnerships and families in Greater New Orleans. Working in collaboration with area synagogues and area Jewish organizations, the Center’s goal is to create a nurturing and inclusive opportunity for people to connect to Jewish values and traditions in a self-selected manner. “Our hope is that Jewish interfaith couples and families in New Orleans find a welcoming manner in which to explore their Jewish values and traditions,” said Sherry and Alan Leventhal, whose foundation is funding the three-year pilot program. Teri Hunter and Alex Gershanik are chairing the center, and a national search for an executive director will take place in the next couple of months. Fielkow noted that 58 percent of Jews are in an interfaith partnership or family, and that may be higher in New Orleans. It’s “a topic facing Judaism, not only in New Orleans but throughout the country.” The center will be a “resource center and a safe space for interfaith families” to navigate what can be a “difficult” topic. Fielkow said there are some outreach programs for interfaith families “but nothing centralized like what we are creating,” and the center will have an effect beyond just the Jewish community. The center will “address what it means to live Jewishly by focusing on Jewish values rather than on biblical stories or attending services.” Educational programs will focus on navigating holidays and life cycle events, there will be community programs and programs for grandparents. The Federation hopes to foster a connection to Judaism in children of interfaith families, create a community of acceptance, increase the Federation’s visibility in dealing with this issue and strengthen connections with community partners. “We are grateful to the Goldring Family Foundation and the Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation for making this work possible, and are excited to continue evolving to serve the needs of Jewish New Orleans,” Fielkow said. Joshua Force, who chairs the Federation’s board, also thanked the Goldring and Leventhal families for enabling the creation of these centers, which “will both focus on areas critical to the New Orleans Jewish community and our efforts to develop and deepen our connections to both Jews and non-Jews in our wonderfully diverse city.” As part of the Jan. 8 briefing with local media, Fielkow and Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Aaron Ahlquist also discussed the recent need for increased security measures in the Jewish community, along with the sharp rise in antisemitic incidents nationally over the last few years. Ahlquist spoke of “an increasing need for collaboration” with different groups in the New Orleans area, determining “how we can work on addressing issues affecting our society together.”

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January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


community Moving minyan to DeRidder after tornado hits congregants’ home

Temple Sinai in Lake Charles moved its Saturday minyan to Cecil’s Cajun Restaurant in DeRidder on Dec. 21, in support of longtime congregants Charlene and Tim Blevins, whose home was destroyed in the Dec. 16 tornado that caused one fatality while traveling 63 miles from DeRidder to Alexandria. Her parents’ nearby home was also destroyed. Charlene Blevins was at home with a friend when they received the tornado warning 90 seconds before it hit. Anyone wishing to assist can do so through Temple Sinai in Lake Charles.


January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

Limmud Early-Bird deadline nears The early-bird registration deadline for LimmudFest New Orleans 2020, the regional weekend of Big Tent Jewish Learning, is approaching. Author Rich Cohen and Wexner Heritage Program Director Rabba Yaffa Epstein will be among the dozens of presenters for the weekend of March 20 to 22. A full lineup and schedule will be released by early February. LimmudFest will have over 90 sessions in a variety of tracks, from text study to cultural exploration, Jewish food, social justice, art and history. Each congregation in the community participates in an environment that crosses denominational lines and levels of observance, including Reform, Conservative and Orthodox Shabbat services under one roof. There is also a children’s track. The weekend begins with services, Shabbat dinner and educational sessions at Gates of Prayer in Metairie. On Shabbat morning, there are services and additional sessions after lunch, then Havdalah and community programming in the evening. A full day of sessions will continue at the Uptown Jewish Community Center on March 22. Early Bird registrations are being taken through Jan. 31, though registration will still be available after then. Adult registration is $85 for the weekend, $60 for just Sunday. Young adult registration for the weekend is $50 and children’s registration is $18. Registration includes all meals and snacks throughout the weekend or on Sunday. There is also a LimmudFest Mensch registration of $180, which covers the true, non-subsidized cost for a participant and helps offset registration for someone who can’t afford it. Registration and more information are available at limmudnola.org.


Rabbi Yonah Schiller leaving Tulane Hillel this summer After 11 years of transforming Tulane Hillel into one of the most innovative Hillels nationally, Rabbi Yonah Schiller will be stepping down as executive director this summer. Schiller will become the chief research and development officer for the Jim Joseph Foundation, a San Francisco-based group that supports Jewish education for youth and young adults. New York Assemblyman Steve Stern, who chairs the Hillel board, said that through Schiller’s “hard work and ambitious vision, we have experienced and witnessed spectacular change, transformation and impact as an organization and community,” during which Tulane Hillel “has clearly become the gold standard for Hillels nationwide.” A Boston native, before coming to Tulane, Schiller served as a rabbi and as the assistant director of the University of Florida Hillel from, 2005 to 2008. Schiller created and serves as senior project advisor to the Organizational Design Lab, an initiative that addresses institutional stagnation by questioning organizational assumptions, applying design thinking and other strategies to deliver transformational change for Hillels on more than 20 university campuses across the United States and Canada. Schiller also serves as Special Projects Consultant at the Taylor Center for Social Innovation and Design Thinking at Tulane, and lectures as an adjunct in ecumenical spirituality, Jewish civilization and mysticism. Schiller was awarded the 2013 Mortar Board Excellence in Teaching Award for the most outstanding non-tenured professor at Tulane University and the Helen A. Mervis Jewish Community Professional Award from the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana. Schiller is also a professional abstract mixed-media artist working out of his studio in New Orleans.

In 2017, Schiller was named one of the 50 most influential, accomplished and interesting American Jews by the Forward magazine. He serves as a national consultant to many organizations focused on building scalable systems, models and initiatives for designing inclusive and high-impact Jewish community. In November, it was announced that Hillel International will honor him in May with the Edgar M. Bronfman Award, which is presented annually to a current or former Hillel professional who has served the movement with distinction and honor, and whose impact is outstanding and lasting, like the award’s namesake. During his time at Tulane Hillel, student participation has quintupled, with participation rates over 90 percent of Jewish students and over 60 percent of the entire Tulane student body. He also expanded partnerships with the university and community organizations. Schiller and his team created Tulane Jewish Leaders, which has expanded from 20 students to 413, with over 100 projects and initiatives annually. In 2011, the new Mintz Center opened as Hillel’s facility, following a $4.5 million campaign. Former board chairman Kevin Wilkins will lead the search for a new executive director. “We anticipate that this will be a position of great interest to many, as Tulane Hillel has never been stronger or more vibrant,” Stern said.


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January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


community New JLI course explores what Judaism has given to the world “Judaism’s Gifts to the World” will be explored in the latest Rohr Jewish Learning Institute course, which will be offered by Chabads in Baton Rouge, Birmingham and the New Orleans area. Rabbi Mendel Rivkin from Chabad of Louisiana said the course’s topic was selected “long before this latest rash of antisemitic incidents,” and this course “should be our response to accusations of Jewish influence and antisemitism.” The first class at the Chabads in the New Orleans area will be free, and the one Uptown on Jan. 29 is being billed as “Our Response to Antisemitism: An Evening of Jewish Pride.” The first class, “The Gift of Social Responsibility,” shows how the Torah turned around the ancient idea that poverty and suffering were an individual burden, and introduced the concept of social responsibility. “The Gift of a Guiding Purpose” explores how Abraham’s acknowledgement of there being only one God transformed how humanity views life, purpose and progress. The third class, “The Gift of Respect for Life,” takes that further with what had been a radical view, and leads to the questions of what makes us human. “The Gift of Equality and Individuality” changed the dynamic from born rulers to the concept that all are created equal, with nobody intrinsically superior or inferior. “The Gift of Work/Life Balance” marks the break from endless work to the idea of Shabbat and a time to refocus. The course ends with “The Gift of Escaping the Cycle,” the goal of breaking the world from a cycle of war and conflict, and how to share the message of justice and kindness. In Metairie, the class will be on Tuesdays starting Jan. 21 at 7:30 p.m., with a week off for Mardi Gras. The first evening class on Jan. 21 will be free and open to the community, and a dinner will be served starting at 7:15 p.m. There is no obligation to continue with the course following the first night. The course will also be offered on Tuesdays at 10:30 a.m. Registration is $70, with a 10 percent discount for returning JLI students or for couples. At Uptown, the class will start on Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m., meeting on Wednesdays. As with Metairie, the first class is free and open to the community, and a dinner will be served at 7:15 p.m. Registration for the course is $70. In Birmingham, the course will meet on Wednesdays at 7 p.m., starting Jan. 29, or Thursdays at 11:30 a.m., starting Jan. 30. Registration is $89, with a 50 percent discount on a second tuition for couples. Chabad of Baton Rouge will host the course at Richmond Inn and Suites on Mondays at 7 p.m., starting on Jan. 27. Registration is $89. To register, go to myjli.com.

Jieux, Mishagos March on Feb. 8

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January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

The two Jewish Krewes in New Orleans’ Mardi Gras celebrations will march on Feb. 8. The Krewe du Mishagos will participate in the highly-suggestive Krewe du Vieux parade, which, shall we say, has a theme based on the upcoming vote. The parade begins at 6:30 p.m. at the corner of Chartres and Marigny, going through the Marigny and French Quarter before finishing on Toulouse near Chartres. The Krewe du Jieux will march in krewedelusion’s parade, starting at 7 p.m. from the corner of Franklin and Royal, following a different path through the Marigny and French Quarter, finishing at Candlelight Lounge for the Bedlam Ball. Krewedelusion’s theme is always a secret until the parade begins. The Krewe du Jieux were holding their coronation and Running of the Jieux, handing out Jieux eggs, on Jan. 18.


“It was an exciting run”

Richard Friedman reflects on community changes during his 37 years leading the Birmingham Jewish Federation The Birmingham of the early 1980s was a very different place. Chabad had not yet established a presence in the community, what is now Collat Jewish Family Services was a small committee of the Birmingham Jewish Federation, the Jewish Community Center was large but not nearly as big as today, the newly-established Birmingham Jewish Foundation had assets of about $500,000, almost nobody had ever heard of Rosh Ha’Ayin and there was no organization like the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center. “Looking back, I marvel at all the changes that have occurred in our community over the past 37 years,” said Richard Friedman, who became executive director of the Birmingham Jewish Federation at that time, succeeding Seymour Marcus. The Federation had been housed in four rooms at what was then the Birmingham Jewish Day School, which had just finished its formative ramping-up stage of adding a grade each year until holding its first seventh-grade graduation in 1980. On Dec. 31, Friedman retired from the Federation, a few months after becoming the longest-tenured Federation director in the nation. For the last two years, he had also been executive director of the Levite Jewish Community Center In the 1970s, Friedman became involved with the Federation as a volunteer while working at the Birmingham News as a reporter and editor, during which he visited the Day School to talk about being a journalist. His volunteer involvement led him to come to work for the Federation

professionally. From the Federation’s thennew offices in a JCC expansion that was completed in 1982 on the other side of the building, a lot has changed since then. Today, the Foundation has $30 million in assets and another $31 million in expectancies. From being a committee, CJFS became a highly-active independent agency with a city-wide reputation for serving both the Jewish and general communities. Chabad grew to a major physical presence, and showing his journalistic roots, he also mentioned this publication’s establishment as The Southern Shofar in 1990. “I’m proud to say that I played a role in helping each of these entities get started and believe they all have enriched our Jewish community,” he said. A major development for the community came in the mid-1990s, as

January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life



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the Jewish community campus was expanded through a major capital campaign, adding the fitness center and new outdoor pool to what soon was renamed the Levite Jewish Community Center, along with a new building for the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School. “I also had the privilege of being involved in major events affecting Israel and world Jewry — such as the Exodus of Soviet and Ethiopian Jews; the building of a partnership between Birmingham and the Israeli city of Rosh Ha’ayin, and, sadly, emergency campaigns in response to wars in Israel.” During his tenure he has helped raise more than $125 million, mainly from Birmingham’s 6,500-member Jewish community, for Jewish needs locally and globally. In the early 1980s, under Prime Minister Menachem Begin’s Project Renewal, the community started its relationship with Rosh Ha’Ayin, then a neglected Yemenite development town near Petach Tikvah. The Kimerling family built a community center there, and Birmingham gave additional assistance. Rosh Ha’Ayin’s renowned mandolin orchestra came to Birmingham for a series of concerts, and the relationship has endured long after Project Renewal ended. Rosh Ha’Ayin and al-Karak, Jordan, became official sister cities of Birmingham and each other. There were two major rounds of fundraising to rescue and resettle Ethiopian Jews in Israel — the secretive Operation Moses in 1984 and Operation Solomon in 1991. In 1987, when Mikhail Gorbachev, the head of the Soviet Union, came to Washington to meet with President Ronald Reagan, the Jewish world held a massive Soviet Jewry demonstration, with an estimated 250,000 in attendance. Birmingham sent about 80 to the rally, and the delegation, in matching red Birmingham hooded sweatshirts, attracted national media coverage. When the Soviet Union collapsed a couple years later and Jews could freely emigrate, campaigns were held to help with the resettlement in Israel, along with a couple hundred settling in Birmingham. Around that time, the first Gulf War broke out with Iraq, which launched missiles into Israel. Again, the Federation did an emergency drive and organized solidarity trips. There would be more emergency campaigns as the Palestinians launched waves of violence and the Iranian-backed Hezbollah acted up in southern Lebanon. Today, the threat to Israel from Iran and Gaza, along with the growing global wave of antisemitism and increased security needs for local Jewish institutions are major concerns. Friedman feels he’s leaving the Federation at

community the right time for him professionally. He’ll be embarking on two new careers — serving as associate editor of Israel InSight magazine, a sister publication of Southern Jewish Life, whose primary readership will be Christian supporters of Israel. He will also be director of funding initiatives for the Birmingham-based US Israel Education Association, which brings high-level government officials to the territories for intensive fact-finding visits, and works toward on-the-ground economic collaboration between Israelis in the territories and Palestinian business leaders. Both of the new projects reflect what he said is one of the most dramatic trends he witnessed, locally and nationally, while Federation director — the emergence of strong support from the Christian Evangelical community for Israel and their befriending of the Jewish community. “This was not always the case,” he said. “It is a revolutionary transformation.” While Alabama has always had strong pro-Israel Christian voices, such as former Governor Fob James holding an Israel Independence Day event at the governor’s mansion in 1981 and his pro-Israel inaugural ceremony in 1995, the breadth of such support has grown tremendously. As an example, when there was a security campaign for community institutions following four bomb threats in 2017 — which turned out to be from a disturbed teen in Israel — a group of evangelical churches held a campaign and contributed $111,000 to the Jewish community. Friedman and the Birmingham Federation are known nationally as pioneers in involving Christian supporters of Israel in Federation activities. A major change in the landscape as Friedman leaves the Federation world is a challenge locally and for the overall Jewish community — the highly divisive public discourse now taking place. “Throughout my tenure, we were able to achieve consensus on even the most complex and challenging issues,” he explained. “However, our culture in general has entered an era of divisiveness and that has permeated our Jewish community as well.” He believes that the Internet and social media have led to this coarseness and also have been major catalysts for growing antisemitism, another concern of his. He’s also concerned about diminishing support for Israel within the American Jewish community, and too many Jews either not fully understanding or losing an appreciation for the importance of a strong Israel and its relevance to the well-being of the Jewish people. The blanket Annual Campaign that Federations traditionally do has also been affected by societal changes. Decades ago, donors would give an umbrella gift to the community and the funds were allocated among different groups and agencies, but today, donors are much more likely to give to individual causes directly. Friedman thinks that the Federation and local Jewish agencies should analyze their fundraising strategies and work together more strategically. “We are raising a lot of money overall, but I worry that our donors are becoming fatigued and factionalized as a result of competing campaigns.” In a piece for eJewishPhilanthropy last year, he urged younger colleagues to fight the “put me down for what I gave last year” routine and find new ways to fundraise, and “Remember that Federation work is not for the faint of heart. More importantly, remember it is for those full of heart.” He added that the Federation movement “is still the most effective collective consensus-based system of action that the Jewish world and, arguably, the entire philanthropic world has ever known” in addressing needs and innovating. As the Birmingham Federation puts an as-yet unannounced new CEO in place, Friedman urges the entire community to be supportive of the person the board chooses. “People were wonderful to me from the day I started until the day I finished 37 years later. I hope my successor benefits from the same kind of support.” “It was an exciting run,” he said. “I was very grateful to serve.” January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


community Ceremonies in Jerusalem, Montgomery mark Ala. declaration on embassy move

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January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

On Dec. 9, a delegation from the Alabama-Israel Task Force met with Alabama Governor Kay Ivey at her office in Montgomery to honor and celebrate the state’s historic resolution recognizing Jerusalem, and to convey gratitude from Israeli officials following a Jerusalem ceremony in November. The resolution, SJR27, was passed by the Alabama Legislature in April, affirming and celebrating the move of the United States embassy to Jerusalem, and also declar- John Buhler and Pastor George ing that Alabama does “unequiv- Sawyer at the U.S. embassy in ocally recognize Jerusalem as the Jerusalem eternal undivided capital of Israel.” With that, Alabama became the first state to use the term “eternal undivided” in reference to Jerusalem, much as through a 1943 resolution, Alabama is regarded as the first state to call for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in the land of Israel. A signing ceremony, attended by an unprecedented group of Christian and Jewish leaders from across the state, had been held on May 20 in the Old House Chamber in Montgomery, where the original 1943 resolution had been passed. The ceremony on Nov. 8 in the Chagall State Hall at the Knesset in Jerusalem was held with a group from Calvary Assembly in the Decatur area. Eeki Elner, director of the Israel Leadership Institute in Sderot, led a program where AITF co-chair John Buhler, a trustee at Calvary Assembly, presented Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein a plaque with the text of SJR27, along with an official copy, and read a letter that Ivey had sent for the occasion. In it, Ivey recalled Edelstein’s remarks when she was honored at the Alabama-Israel Leadership Gala in 2017. “Alabama remains committed to standing with Israel, and I will continue to work to keep our bond strong and look forward to future opportunities for even deeper ties, expanding cooperation, and new partnerships for the mutual benefit of our people,” she wrote. Pastor George Sawyer of Calvary Assembly presented Edelstein with an encased Alabama flag, and Buhler concluded the presentation by saying “We love you. We stand with you. And we bear witness to the truth — Jerusalem is the eternal undivided capital of Israel.” Before the Knesset ceremony, the Alabama delegation visited the embassy, taking a photo with the copy of the resolution that would soon be presented to Edelstein. At the December ceremony, Ben Holtzman of Dothan presented Ivey with an encased Israeli flag. An Alabama native, Holtzman has served in the Israel Defense Forces and lived in Israel for many years. Ivey was also presented letters from Edelstein and Consul General Lior Haiat from the Israeli Consulate in Miami. Haiat recently left to become spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem. Edelstein wrote that he “was moved” to receive a copy of the Alabama resolution, which “appreciates the profound and centuries-old connection between the Jewish people and Jerusalem.” Laura King, AITF co-chair, presented Ivey with a plaque of SJR27, and Pastor Patrick Penn of The Dwelling Place in Huntsville presented her with a small jar of dirt from along the Jordan River where Joshua led the Israelites into the Promised Land. The jar was inscribed “Joshua 1:9” as an encouragement during difficult times. Penn, who is on the advisory board of the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem and State Leadership for Christian Friends of Yad VaShem, then blessed Ivey and prayed for God’s blessings on the state of Alabama.


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Dreams of Hope documentary to air on public television nationwide Feb. 6 premiere in Birmingham for film on Violins of Hope concert held at Sixteenth Street Baptist Church A convergence of the Holocaust and the American civil rights movement will be chronicled with the debut of “Dreams of Hope,” a documentary about an historic concert at Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, available to public television stations nationwide in February, for Black History Month. The film depicts the April 11, 2018 concert at the church, featuring Violins of Hope, restored violins that had belonged to victims and survivors of the Holocaust, and now serve as symbols of resilience in the face of hate, discrimination and racism. The documentary was directed by David Macon and Dr. Henry Panion, III. The church was the site of the September 1963 Ku Klux Klan bombing that killed four African-American girls and shocked the world. The violins are a project of Amnon Weinstein, a world-renowned violin maker in Israel, who has been restoring violins from the Holocaust since 1996. He has restored more than 60, and his intent is that they bear witness to the atrocities of the Holocaust and tell stories of hope and survival with their music. That certainly occurred in April 2018, with a four-day series of concerts and educational events in Birmingham, part of a longer visit that the violins made to Nashville. Currently, the violins are in the San Francisco area for several weeks of concerts and programs. The 2018 concert featured the premiere of Panion’s “Dreams of Hope for Solo Violin and Orchestra,” which was commissioned for the concert. Panion is a noted composer and professor in the Department of Music at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Panion has won two Grammy Awards, two Dove Awards and many other national music awards, and was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1995. Weinstein was overwhelmed by the composition. “First there was John Williams’ ​‘Schindler’s List’ and now there’s Henry Panion’s ‘​Dreams of Hope,’ he said.​“It’s a masterpiece that should be heard at Carnegie Hall and all over the world. There are just no words for the brilliant gifts of music which we received that evening.” “The story of these violins and the Jewish people is of survival, hope, and triumph, one that so parallels the story of the 16th Street Baptist Church and its people,” Panion said. “Having suffered the worst fate imaginable, the church and these violins have been beautifully restored

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and are now magnificent relics for all to behold.” Alongside the Dreams of Hope Orchestra, the concert featured vocalists Valerie Smith and Lenora Goodman-Panion, dancer Kelsey Ebersold and the Miles College Choir. Violinist Caitlin Edwards returned to her hometown of Birmingham to play the Auschwitz Violin, originally built around 1850. The documentary includes concert footage and behind-the-scenes interviews chronicling the event’s preparation and reflecting on its significance. Among those interviewed are Richard Arrington, Jr., the first African-American mayor of Birmingham; Jeffrey and Gail Bayer, co-chairs of Violins of Hope Birmingham; Chris Hamlin, former pastor of Sixteenth Street Baptist; Amnon and Assi Weinstein, founders of Violins of Hope; Panion; Edwards; and Sallie Downs, who visited Weinstein in Tel Aviv and spearheaded the initiative to bring Violins of Hope to Birmingham. Alabama Public Television will air the documentary on Feb. 13 at 8 p.m., with an encore on Feb. 23 at midnight. Mississippi Public Television will air it on Feb. 17 at 9 p.m. Among stations expressing interest but without a confirmed air date at press time are Georgia Public Television, Louisiana Public Broadcasting, WYES-TV New Orleans, WSRE-TV Pensacola and the Tennessee Channel. A public premiere will be on Feb. 6 at 7 p.m. at the Alabama Theatre in Birmingham. Following the screening of “Dreams of Hope,” a panel discussion with audience participation will be moderated by Dr. Tina Reuter, director of the UAB Institute for Human Rights. The event at the Alabama Theatre is free, but registration is required through dreamsofhopebham.org.

Behind the Violins Weinstein’s parents moved to pre-state Israel from Lithuania in 1938, the only part of his family to leave Europe. After 1941, all communication from the rest of the family ceased. They later found out that all 400 family members perished at the hands of the Nazis. The night after hearing the news, Weinstein’s father had a heart attack. He survived, but never spoke about the family’s tragedy again. But for some reason, at a time when Israelis wanted nothing to do with goods from Germany, he would purchase violins from the Holocaust rather than see musical instruments destroyed. Weinstein went to Italy to learn old-world violin craftsmanship, and took over the family business when his father died in 1986. But the Holocaust continued to haunt him, and he turned away violins from the Holocaust. In 1996, as he was training his son Avshalom, “working in the workshop where his father trained him and he was training his own son,” he reflected on the Holocaust violins and was ready to confront the past. They had an apprentice from Dresden who knew almost nothing about the Holocaust. When he saw the “rare” collection of German instruments, he begged Weinstein to visit Dresden and give a lecture about the instruments. Each violin comes with a story. In many cases, the violin was the key to the owner surviving the Holocaust. In some cases, a German official would take the violinist under his wing so he could perform at parties. One violinist, who was 12 years old and whose parents were murdered, became a favorite musician of a group of Nazi soldiers. They gave him a German outfit, which he wore to his performances at an officer’s club. He would channel information that he overheard to his partisan group, which fed it to the Red Army. He soon smuggled explosives in his violin case, then one night after his performance, set them to detonate after he left. 22

January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

community A violin in the collection that the Weinsteins show is one that they aren’t going to restore. A man in Washington had purchased that violin and planned to restore it, but when he opened it, he found a large swastika and “Heil Hitler,” and a label stating the violin had been restored in 1936. He was going to destroy it, Weinstein said, but also couldn’t bear to demolish an instrument, so he Googled — and found Violins of Hope, and gave it to the Weinsteins. To learn more, visit www.violins-of-hope.com.

Pensacola gunman praised by Hamas Sheikh in Gaza In a Friday sermon on Dec. 22, Palestinian Sheikh Nael Mossran praised Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, who killed three U.S. service members and injured eight at the Pensacola Naval Station in a Dec. 6 shooting, before he was killed by local deputies. Mossran’s sermon was delivered at the Al-Huda Mosque in Rafah, in the Gaza Strip, and uploaded to his YouTube channel. Mossran said Alshamrani had felt overcome with compassion for the Islamic nation and that the last thing Alshamrani said had been that America is a nation of evil. “[People] started to paint this young man as a criminal [and] calling him evil, criminal, and backward… as if America spread flowers in every country its air force has been through,” Mossran said, adding that the United States is waging an organized crusade against Islam that can only be stopped by an organized Islam and by Jihad for the sake of Allah. He said after the shooting the world started donating to America and disapprovingly noted that some Muslims “even declared that the Florida criminal does not represent them.” His sermon was translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute TV Monitor Project, a watchdog group that monitors what jihadists say in Arabic when they are not addressing Western audiences. Alshamrani, 21, was a second lieutenant in the Saudi air force and was in a program where the U.S. military helps train foreign officers. He started training with the U.S. military in 2017 and was scheduled to finish next August. After the shooting, it was reported that he had hosted a dinner party a few days earlier where he and other students watched videos of mass shootings, and one of those other three students filmed him during the attack, while two other Saudi students watched from a nearby car. A Twitter post on an account linked to Alshamrani just a few hours before the shooting expressed that he does not hate Americans for their freedom, but for supporting and funding “crimes not only against Muslims but also humanity,” with invasions of Muslim countries and support for Israel. Online messages from groups linked to ISIS and Al-Qaeda called him a martyr, with a pro-ISIS group administrator publishing a poster of an apocalyptic scene with the comment “Florida is just the beginning,” according to MEMRI. One of those killed in the attack was Joshua Kaleb Watson of Alabama, who rushed Alshamrani when the shooting started, then after being wounded managed to exit the building and provide critical information to first responders. Watson was a champion marksman, but service members are not allowed to carry firearms on base.

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January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


community 7:15 p.m. The preview includes a wine, cheese and dessert reception, with the Thirsty Pig hosting a beer tasting table. Marlin Art will be doing the auction, and some of the proceeds benefit area charities. A second chance art sale will be on Jan. 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with bagels and coffee. Advance tickets to the auction are $10, or $12 at the door. There is no charge on Jan. 26. Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile will have a wine tasting social gathering, Feb. 1 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Red or White. The $15 cover includes four 2-ounce pours and a cheese board. Reserve by Jan. 29. Knesseth Israel in Birmingham will have a New Frontiers in Jewish Music concert, Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m. “Anderson and Feinstein: 2 Painters” opens on Jan. 24 at the Amelia Center for the Arts at Gulf Coast State College in Panama City. The exhibit includes works of Al Feinstein, and will be displayed through Feb. 21. The Mobile Area Jewish Federation’s Moroccan Cooking Class with Chef Bat Hen has been rescheduled for Feb. 4 at her home, at 7 p.m. Reservations are $35 with a maximum of 15 participants, and the address will be sent following registration at the MAJF office or website. The menu includes Eastern Salads, Hreimeh fish, traditional Moroccan couscous and chicken, and Anet’s meatball.

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Pensacola’s Temple Beth El is holding a Shabbaton of Fun on Jan. 25 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Programs will be held in five areas — Learn, Eat, Create, Laugh and Move. The day begins with bagels at 10 a.m., a Shabbat service at 10:30 a.m. and the first choice of workshops at 11:35 a.m. After a 12:35 p.m. lunch, sessions will continue all afternoon, until Havdalah at 5:20 p.m. and a by-reservation dinner at 5:35 p.m. Mobile’s Springhill Avenue Temple has been invited to participate. Hadassah Birmingham will celebrate a book launch with Zoe Fishman and her latest book, “Invisible As Air.” A native of Mobile, Fishman moved to Atlanta from New York in 2011 and has written several novels, including one, “Saving Ruth,” that was set in Alabama. The event will be Feb. 9 at 1 p.m. at the new Thank You Books on Crestwood Boulevard. There will be a book signing following the discussion, and proceeds will benefit Hadassah Hospital. Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El will have a Sharsheret Pink Shabbat on Feb. 21 at 5:45 p.m.

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Mobile’s Springhill Avenue Temple will have a Taste of Judaism Oneg on Jan. 31, where those attending the oneg after the 6 p.m. service are asked to bring a favorite Jewish dish to share. There will be a Tu B’Shevat DIY Terrariums project at Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center, Feb. 6 at 6 p.m. The seven species of Israel described in the Torah will be served. Childcare will be available. Registration is $18 by Feb. 1. Knesseth Israel in Birmingham will have a Tu B’Shevat Seder, Feb. 9 at 6 p.m. Reservations are $18 for adults, $10 for ages 12 and under, family maximum of $72. Pensacola’s Temple Beth El will have Opera Shabbat, Jan. 31 at 7 p.m., with artists in residence from the Pensacola Opera. Rabbi Joel Fleekop and Greg Watson will lead a musical service, with the artists doing a slate of arias and show tunes following services.

Daily Happy Hour in the Victorian Lounge Sunday Jazz Brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Visiting scholar Yoelit Liemsky will lead a Medical Ethics Shabbaton at Knesseth Israel in Birmingham, with a Shabbat dinner on Feb. 14 and a luncheon following Feb. 15 services.

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Seventh and eighth graders from Touro Synagogue and Temple Sinai in New Orleans, and Gates of Prayer in Metairie, will embark on a trip to Birmingham, Feb 14 to 16.

January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

So the Holidays are over. Now what?

take care of yourself an annual SJL special section

Eyes are window to body health The eyes are the figurative windows to the soul, but the actual windows to body health. “In an eye exam, we can detect the signs of diabetes, some cancers, thyroid issues, rheumatoid arthritis, high cholesterol and blood pressure along with other systemic issues and diseases,” said Brooke Kaplan, optometrist with MyEyeDr. in Mountain Brook. “An eye exam is more than visual acuity.” Detection can be achieved through pupil dilation showing vascular abnormalities in the eye. Apart from the visual health evaluation, eye exams also focus on the general health of the eyes, identifying signs of UV-related damage, cataracts, glaucoma, macular degeneration, retinal holes and detachments. Glaucoma affects more than three million Americans and is the second leading cause of vision loss in the U.S., and early detection is critical, according to Kaplan. “There are no warning signs that people can discern for themselves,” she said. “But fortunately, in an eye exam, we can detect the early signs of glaucoma. Retinal imaging can monitor even microscopic changes and can tell us the risk factor of progression of glaucoma so we can prevent progression.” Several factors could increase one’s risk for glaucoma, including age (those 60 years of age and older), genetics (family members diagnosed with glaucoma) and existing medical conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes. Genetic factors can also play a role in macular degeneration and cataracts. “For example, if your parents had cataract surgery in their 40s, 50s or even 60s, you are more likely to need cataract surgery at a younger age,” said Kaplan. She said the biggest news in lens development focuses on CooperVision getting FDA approval for a daily disposable multifocal lens that can reduce the progression of near-sidedness in children by up to 60 percent. “It’s really a breakthrough,” added Kaplan. “For adults, the multifocal lenses can correct vision issues, but for kids with moderate myopia, the lenses reduce the progression of nearsightedness and can help prevent detachment or macular degeneration later in life.” For more information on eye health, schedule an exam with Kaplan, visit myeyedr.com or call (205) 802-2020.

Making the most of your senior years!

Every year we start fresh with new resolves to improve our lives. You know the ones: lose weight, stop smoking, join a gym or exercise more, be more responsible with spending, stop drinking… and the list goes on. Addiction to alcohol isn’t just a matter of making the decision to quit. For many it has become a physical need and simply quitting by one’s self isn’t possible and can be dangerous. The physical and emotional desires are still there. Bayshore Retreat addresses the physical with 30 days of sauna therapy to cleanse the body, thereby eliminating the craving. At the same time over 30 hours of peer and master counseling combined with Life Skills coaching weekly helps address the psychological reasons. Unlike the “big box” facilities that provide a 3 to 4 day detox and 12-step program, the home-like environment at Bayshore Retreat, with only six clients at a time, gives one a better chance of beating the addiction for good. It’s about getting physically healthy and to the discovery of how the addiction happened in the first place. When we say, “no one plans on becoming an addict” we mean it. Now is a great time to get help with addiction and a healthier lifestyle. It’s the beginning of a new year and we’re here to help clients make it a better year. Instead of making resolutions that you may or may not keep; make it a New Year’s commitment to fight the Addiction Dragon, and each day can be a step to fulfilling that commitment. Bayshore Retreat is different and can make a difference.

Restoring Lives in a Home Environment We treat more than the addiction. We treat the entire person.

It’s time to make sure your prime years are your best years! At Touro, we believe that staying active and living healthy is key to your quality of life. Our Prime Years program is designed to educate and engage senior members of our community. By enrolling in our Prime Years program, you will gain access to a community of like-minded seniors who are experiencing the same milestones as you. Through monthly events, we provide health screenings and educational seminars to inform seniors of the latest in preventative healthcare and wellness. We know that your senior years come

continued on page 26 January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


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January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

One of the most difficult things to experience is the transition from being a son or daughter into the adult child. You might ask, what exactly is an “adult child?” In essence, it means “a son or daughter that has reached the age of majority.” Or, simply stated, an individual who is now in charge of making future decisions that govern the wellbeing of loved ones such as their parents, grandparents or other elderly, or disabled family members. If this describes you or a situation that you are familiar with… you are not alone. Making tough decisions in the best interest of health and safety are frightening, and cause extreme anxiety for the family. Did you know that caring for and keeping a loved one at home can truly not be in the best interest of the loved one? Lack of socialization, lack of consistency and routine, loneliness etc., can lead to additional crisis such as depression or anxiety, and can prevent loved ones from thriving. Often our good intentions and, well, guilt, keep us from making the choices that can keep the entire family healthier, happier and safer. The thought of placing a loved one into a community is difficult for many reasons, but the most prominent reason is lack of education regarding the benefits of a reputable Senior Living Community. From individuls who need simple socialization, to others who need medication management, physical assistance like bathing, dressing and toileting needs, today’s Independent, Assisted Living and Memory Care communities can easily dispel the stereotypical views of “facilities,” of yesterday! Everything from care staff, to 24-hour nursing on site, most or all meals, laundry, housekeeping and all engagement activities are included. And don’t forget the transportation provided to outings, entertainment and medical appointments, and so much more! When it’s time to have this conversation with a loved one, do your homework, seek advice, map out several choices, locations and price points. The more you know, the gentler this transition will be. When all is said and done, you will regain 100 percent quality time with those you love, and your loved ones will once again feel a sense of independence that cannot be offered at home! I am an adult child myself. Mom, in Assisted Living now, reminds me constantly that I should have encouraged her to do this sooner. After all, she gave me the very best, I want the best for her!

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continued from page 25

with ups and downs — allow Touro to help you navigate those. Whether it is heart health education, fitness routines for all ages, or tips for enrolling in your Medicare benefits, Prime Years is designed specifically for you. As a community hospital, Touro cares for patients at every stage of life. Through each stage, it’s important to be proactive in your healthcare to decrease risks for complicated illnesses. Touro provides comprehensive senior care services in one central location — your community. Touro is proud to provide resources and engaging group discussions with expert healthcare providers. Grab a friend and join members of our Prime Years Community on your journey to wellness. Prime Years membership is $10 and open to adults 55 and up. Your Prime Years membership includes free monthly events, free event parking, annual health screenings and unlimited fun. For more information, visit touro.com/primeyears.

January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


Discover Ramah Darom! Summer Camp • Family Camps • Year-Round Retreats

Summer Camp a semi-annual special section

Ramah Darom’s Tikvah Support Program keeps growing stronger



January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

Ramah Darom makes the magic of Jewish camp a reality for children of all abilities through the Tikvah Support Program, which has grown from seven campers to more than 60 in just five years. “Seeing what a difference this experience is making in the lives of these kids and their families, it’s such an incredible feeling,” said Audra Kaplan, director of Tikvah Support and Camper Care at the Ramah Darom, located in the north Georgia mountains. The Tikvah Support Program helps campers with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, Down syndrome, intellectual disabilities, communication disorders, ADHD, anxiety disorders and other disabilities, have a successful camp experience. Through individualized programming supported by highly-skilled staff and supervised by professionals in the field, campers build friendships, develop new skills, have fun and grow as members of the Ramah Darom community. “A lot of these campers have sensory challenges,” said Dr. Kaplan. “Our counselors can help them organize their schedules, so they feel less anxious and more confident. This individualized programming allows them all of these inclusivity opportunities in a nurturing environment.” She said the Tikvah Support Program recently received the Yashar Grant from the Foundation for Jewish Camp, which has made it possible for Ramah Darom to pave roads, put in ramps and electric doors and purchase a six-person golf cart. Kaplan said they regularly hear from campers and parents about what an impact the Tikvah Support Program is having. “The parents tell us their kids came home more confident and independent,” she said. “There is one example of a girl with Down Syndrome who wanted to learn to read Torah. She was beaming after she did it and she got hugs from everyone.”  At camp, all campers engage in numerous outdoor activities, Jewish learning and drama — all plays at Ramah Darom are in Hebrew. After they complete their Gesher summer, the last age group as a camper, Tikvah Supported campers now have the opportunity to return and participate in the Tikvah Vocational Program, giving campers who require extra support the opportunity to develop their vocational skills at camp. Participants, who have mastered independent living skills and demonstrate a willingness to perform demands of specific work placements, are placed in various jobs around the camp specific to their strengths. Last summer, participants worked in the daycare program, art center, sports, business office, a camp café, mailroom, kitchen and more. “TVP gives these teens and young adults opportunities to foster their growth and learn important skills,” said Kaplan. TVP staff also participate in weekly sessions led by a vocational coordinator, focusing on skills such as professionalism, managing money, self-advocacy, peer relationships and healthy living. “The best testimonial to the success of the Tikvah Support Program is that we are having former campers becoming staff in the Tikvah Vocational Program,” she said. For more information on the Tikvah Support Program and Camp Ramah Darom, go to www.ramahdarom.org/tikvah.

summer camp

Judaea to celebrate 60th season Camp Judaea in Hendersonville, N.C., celebrated many successes in 2019, its 59th season, having proudly served over 700 campers. By Dec. 15, enrollment for the summer of 2020 had already reached 645, with about 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 2019. Camp Judaea continues to update its program and facilities as it gears up to celebrate its 60th summer season. To help lead the way, Walter Synalovski, long-time camping professional and alumnus of Camp Judaea, continues as executive director, with Elana Pollack Halfaker and Lori Zeligman, both former CJ campers and veteran staff members, as CJ’s assistant directors. The three are joined by longtime Judaean and educator, Danny Tuchman, as CJ’s full-time education director. In 2019, Camp Judaea debuted the Leon Levine Arts Center (mercaz omanut) which features a woodshop, a ceramics studio, a general arts and crafts space, and a room for other programming. Campers have the opportunity to explore different media and create beautiful Judaic art in this new building. 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, zip-lining and rock-climbing, archery, music, dance, cooking and more. Enrollment for Camp Judaea is open! Interested families should visit www.campjudaea.org or call (404) 634-7883 for more information. Scholarship and tuition support opportunities are available.

Camp Barney remains the “Summer Place” 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 from throughout the Southeast, about 25 states from coast to coast, and several countries. They all consider Camp Barney their “Summer Place.” Each summer, Camp Barney creates a meaningful and exciting community that is all about adventure, exhilarating activities, strengthening one’s connection to Israel and the global Jewish community, feeling knowledgeable and comfortable in a 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 slide, multiple lakefront adventures, water skiing, stand up paddleboards, rock climbing, 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 spectacular 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 2020, campers will be excited to hang out in Jen’s Zen Den, plant fruit, vegetables, and herbs in a new garden, have fun on more pedal boards, play archery tag, go on brand-new adventure trips, enjoy new menus, and more. According to Jim Mittenthal, the director of Camp Barney for the past 27 years, “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 2020, visit www.campbarney.org or call (678) 812-3844.

s i n c e 19 8 3

Over 3,000 cars, trucks and SUV’s across New Orleans!

www.RayBrandtAuto.com January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


summer camp Space is a hot topic, and Space Camp alumni lead the discussion Space Camp is coming off another record-breaking year of attendance with many sold out summer weeks. 2020 is shaping up to be another exciting year with new additions to a time-tested program that excites children about the possibilities of space exploration while teaching them the importance of critical thinking and teamwork. One reason Space Camp is soaring is because space is a hot topic. NASA and commercial space companies are frequently making news, including the announcement last March that America’s first woman and next man would step back on the moon by 2024. Vice President Mike Pence announced that plan at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center, home of Space Camp. The setting under the Rocket Center’s National Historic Saturn V moon rocket was a fitting gesture to Huntsville, the city that made the Apollo program possible. Huntsville is also home to NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, which manages the Space Launch System rocket that will take America back to the moon and the lander that will carry the astronauts to the lunar surface. Whatever space-related thing is making news, you can bet a Space Camp graduate is involved somehow. For instance, five-time Space Camp alumna Christina Koch made headlines when

Camp Scholarships The New Orleans-based Jewish Children’s Regional Service provides need-based partial scholarships to Jewish non-profit summer camps. The amount of these scholarships varies in accordance with the circumstances of the child and family. Eligible children must be entering third through 12th grade in August, and reside in the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee or Texas. Priority deadline is Feb. 15, and applications are at jcrs.org. The Jewish Summer Camp Experience program, funded by the Goldring Family Foundation and administered by the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana, provides grants to families in Lousiana, Mississippi and Alabama and northwest Florida to help send their children to camp. To meet the criteria for funding, children must be first-time campers at a nonprofit Jewish sleepaway camp, currently in grades 1 to 9, and a resident of the aforementioned states. The $1,500 grants are not based on financial need. Both parents need not be Jewish, and synagogue affiliation is not required. The deadline for applications is March 31, and can be downloaded at www.jefno.org. 30

January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

she took part in the first all-female spacewalk in October 2019. She also just set the record for the longest duration space flight for a female. Beth Moses, another Space Camp alumna and the chief astronaut trainer at Virgin Galactic, became the first female commercial astronaut recently. Countless graduates are building the rockets to take us to space or studying distant destinations for future exploration. To prepare the next generation of explorers, Space Camp builds on those past successes while looking to the future. Curriculum for 2020 focuses on NASA’s Artemis program to take us back to the moon as well as on the latest in commercial space flight. New activities include Earth imaging and asteroid deflection, showing that while astronauts may get the spotlight, thousands of engineers, scientists and technicians are doing exciting, meaningful work. While Space Camp focuses on space exploration, its sister programs offer a range of related experiences. Aviation Challenge is a military-style program based on jet fighter pilot training that many of NASA’s earliest astronauts experienced, while Space Camp Robotics explores the engi-

neering and entrepreneurship behind rocket research and development. The newest program in the Space Camp family is U.S. Cyber Camp, which uses the same leadership and team-building concepts that have worked at Space Camp to train the next generation of experts in the growing cyber field. Some think of Space Camp as only for kids, but there are also fun, exciting programs for families and adults. Families with children as young as 7 can sign up for Family Space Camp and make lifetime memories. Adults have been attending Adult Space Camp since 1990, and current attendees range from Space Camp alums to space enthusiasts of all ages. An exciting re-introduction for 2020 is an Adult Aviation Challenge experience just in time for the release of “Top Gun: Maverick.” The original “Top Gun” movie inspired many Aviation Challenge missions. While Space Camp programs for children ages 9 to 18 take place Sunday through Friday, the adult and family programs are Friday through Sunday, just right for a perfect long weekend. To find more about all the exciting opportunities Space Camp has to offer, visit spacecamp.com.

Jacobs Camp starting next 50 years with “largest ever” enrollment Over 50 years ago, the gates opened for the first summer at Henry S. Jacobs Camp, thanks to efforts by small Jewish communities throughout the Deep South. Since 1970, Jacobs Camp has been committed to creating a Jewish community for the children in the Deep South region and a summer camp experience they will never forget! The warm and loving community found every summer at Jacobs Camp helps forge friendships that will last a lifetime. “We pride ourselves on our summer program and facilities,” says Anna Herman, Jacobs Camp’s Director, “but our community is what truly makes Jacobs Camp special and sets us apart.” Herman also said registration for 2020 is “looking like our largest ever,” with the second session mostly wait-listed, and session one filling quickly. Jacobs Camp is still actively hiring inspired young people to join the staff. For the past few summers, the camp has created new programs to enhance the recruiting process. “Our Counselor-in-Training program has been refocused to be a true leadership development program for high school seniors,” Herman said. Beyond the essential roles of cabin counselor, Jacobs Camp is looking to fill a variety of other positions that offer real-world experience. The camp has also established an internship program for additional real-world experiences. Staffers age 19 and older will have the opportunity to hold an internship in May, August, or during their upcoming winter break at area businesses,

gaining career-oriented work experiences. Information is available at jacobscamp.org/internships. Over the decades, the camp “continues to evolve our programs to meet the needs of our community,” Herman said. Camp plans to continue evolving and developing the social justice programing for older campers. “These are the kids that want to and will change the world. We want our campers to be the ones to stick up for people that don’t have anyone to stick up for them.” Popular camp activities include robotics, wacky science, archery, and gymnastics, along with other programs like sports, adventure, and visual arts. The lake continues to be a main attraction during the summer, with the blob, slide, obstacle course, water trampoline, and “rock-it.” Campers are also able to enjoy canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards while playing in the lake. During the year, Jacobs Camp also offers a family weekend for younger and interested families. Family Camp programming is best suited for 1st to 5th grade children, with special programming offered for parents as well. This year, Family Camp takes place March 13 to 15 in conjunction with NFTY Southern’s 678 Middle School Weekend. Families can visit www.jacobscamp.org/familycamp for more information. Jacobs Camp also encourages high school students who want to be more involved with Jewish events during the year to check out the regional Jewish group, NFTY Southern, at www.southern. nfty.org.

H U N T S V I L L E ,


Plan a summer adventure at Space Camp

Space Camp inspires the next generation of explorers with an impactful, fully-immersive experience in informal STEM education.

Visit us online at spacecamp.com

Programs are available for children ages 9-18, families, adults and corporate groups. Call 1-800-637-7223 to start your journey.

SpaceCampUSA January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


Education an annual special section

Tulane Chabad’s Shabbat 1000 dinner. This year’s event will be Feb. 14.

Jewish enrollment, involvement reach new heights at Alabama






THIS IS AUBURN. “This wonderful country of ours allows us to gather together, to be Jewish and be free… I’m grateful I can be Jewish and a basketball coach in the SEC.”

— Auburn Head Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl, at the 2017 JCC Maccabi Games Opening Ceremony

WE ARE COMMUNITY. Hillel, Auburn University’s Jewish student organization, was the recipient of the 2015 AU Student Involvement Award for Overcoming Adversity. diversity@auburn.edu www.auburn.edu/diversity


January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

Jewish student enrollment and involvement continue to rise at the University of Alabama. When the fall 2018 semester began, the expanded, enhanced Hillel facility opened after a million-dollar renovation project. Since then, they regularly “pack the place,” according to University of Alabama Hillel Director Lisa Besnoy. “Not only are we seeing unprecedented participation levels at events, Shabbat dinners and Sunday breakfasts, but we’re seeing more students coming every day to do everything from playing table tennis to studying together to just socializing,” she said. “This is the their space. It’s like a small Jewish Community Center on campus.” Besnoy said more than 100 students attend Shabbat dinners on a typical week, and it’s not uncommon for an event to have more than 250 attendees. It is estimated that more than 1,000 Jewish students are enrolled at the University. She said the students and Hillel officers play a major role in guiding the programming and planning the events. “It is all about what is meaningful to them. We had a very successful (fall semester) and we’re really excited about the spring semester.” The Hillel programming for the spring semester will put a primary focus on Israel. The last week of January will include an Israeli wine tasting event, an Israeli-style Shabbat and a program to learn more about the Birthright Israel trip scheduled for May 11 to 21. “This past spring we went with 40 Alabama students and the trip was such an incredibly impacting experience,” added Besnoy. “Several of them even extended their trip. That has inspired some of the programming and learning.” She added that Dan Levine, the new Aaron Aronov Chair of Judaic Studies, has also spoken to students who wanted to learn more about Israel. Levine lived in Israel and served with the Israel Defense Force. Leslie Bashuk, a senior from Macon, Ga., a marketing major who was the 2018-19 Hillel student president, has served as president of TidePAC and interned with the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Washington this past summer. She said TidePAC currently includes more than 50 Jewish and non-Jewish student members. Bashuk was also one of seven students from the University of Alabama to attend the AIPAC Policy Conference last March. “I’m so passionate about the movement and I loved seeing it in action,” said Bashuk, who was one of 50 summer interns from college campuses across the U.S. “We met with our Alabama representatives and senators in D.C. to discuss ideas for strengthening our alliance between the United States and Israel. We’re connecting to focus with a pro-Israel lens.” She said they also got to collaborate and connect with intern representatives from other campuses. “There is so much innovation going on in Israel and in our state. AIPAC and TidePAC look at ways we can open doors to partnerships and to show our support. Bashuk said TidePAC continues to grow its presence and membership. “We have Jewish students and non-Jewish students all united with the same goal. Our shared voice is stronger the more involvement we get,” said Bashuk. Current Hillel President Hayley Bardos has been on the student board since her freshman year. The senior, who will graduate with honors in May with a double major in business and public relations, starts as a consultant at a global management-consulting firm in Dallas after graduation. Bardos has spoken to students a few times at recruitment events and on visits to the University of Alabama. “I have truly made a home away from home at Alabama, and this would not have been possible without Hillel,” she said.

January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life



Setting milestones for Auburn Jewish student involvement

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The Auburn Tigers’ basketball team, led by head coach Bruce Pearl, became the first collegiate team from the state of Alabama to reach the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament last spring. Auburn’s Jewish population also continues to record some milestones. More than 100 Jewish students currently attend the University. Nora Patterson, faculty advisor for Auburn Hillel, said that the recent Chanukah party at Pearl’s home was the most-well-attended one to date. “Coach Pearl and his wife made the latkes. They are so engaged with Hillel and have been so supportive of our students.” A week earlier, at the Holiday Lighting Ceremony on Samford Lawn, Pearl and Auburn’s mascot Aubie helped light up the menorah “to help us share our traditions with the Auburn community,” said Patterson, a professor in the Media Studies Program at Auburn. The celebration included on-stage performances, kids activities, latkes and gelt. Pearl also met all the students who attended a Hillel basketball night this past November. Freshman Guard Lior Berman, who helped lead the Mountain Brook Spartans to the 6A state high school championship, has been active with Hillel. “The students have come out to support Lior,

Coach Pearl and the team,” said Patterson, whose mother is Jewish and met her father when he was doing sound editing for a film in Israel and she was living on a kibbutz. She said that Hillel coordinates several events and services with Auburn’s Beth Shalom, including a joint Passover service and some Shabbats. Former Hillel faculty advisor Ed Youngblood is the president of Beth Shalom and Patterson is on the board. Auburn Hillel President Jade Tate, a junior majoring in Industrial Design, said “we had a lot of success with our Hillel events this past semester and we are so excited to keep growing into the next semester.” Some of those planned events include a welcome back dinner at Beth Shalom; their second basketball night of the season; the first baseball night of the season; a wilderness fireside Shabbat, a community Passover Seder and a Six Flags day trip. Hillel will also partner with the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity on a Shabbat dinner this spring. At the start of the 2019-20 academic year, AEPi earned full-fledged Jewish fraternity status.

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January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

Birmingham-Southern College senior Cameron Roddy co-founded the campus Hillel two years ago to boost Jewish student life, and the number of involved members continues to climb on The Hilltop. “It is very exciting to be leading and manufacturing something that is expected to grow and develop. Jewish student life on campus was obsolete a few years ago,” said Roddy, who is from Sheffield, Ala., and in pre-med. He is majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry. There are an estimated 20 or so Jewish students at BSC. Roddy said Hillel has afforded him and other students the opportunity not just to connect with other Jewish students on campus, but also in the Birmingham community. “It even helped me land a clinical research job at UAB after I graduate,” he said. BSC Hillel plans to collaborate with UAB’s Hillel on several joint events and Shabbat dinners, and Roddy said they plan to have continuous Shabbat services and dinners throughout the semester. This past spring, they hosted their first-ever Passover Seder on campus and will host a larger one in 2020. A Purim celebration is also planned. Freshman tennis player Zachary Lewis continues to court more involvement with the Jewish community on campus. “I was honored to receive the Abroms Schol-

arship. I feel with it comes a responsibility to contribute to growing the Jewish population and involvement here,” said Lewis, who graduated from Mountain Brook High School. Founded in 2017 by philanthropists Hal and Judy Abroms in an effort to increase the Jewish student population as well as provide a more meaningful campus experience for all students, the Abroms Scholarship was also awarded to Roddy. Lewis, who is going into business management and Spanish for the Workplace, “didn’t want to go to a big school, where you are just a number. I wanted to go somewhere I could make a difference.” He attends Temple Emanu-El and has sought out the guidance of Rabbi Adam Wright on how the Temple could work with BSC to help grow Jewish student life and programming at the college. Last spring, Lewis went on an Emanu-El-led trip to visit concentration camps at Poland and Czechoslovakia. During his time at BSC, he also plans to help organize and go on a Birthright Israel trip and reach out to the admissions office about how to increase promotion of the Abroms Scholarship. The BSC Hillel activities during the fall semester included educational programs, challah baking and a dreidel tournament. “We’ve gotten


Newman School adds several new facilities

When financier and philanthropist Isidore Newman founded the Isidore Newman Manual Training School in 1903, he envisioned a superior education for the children of New Orleans and those of the Jewish Children’s Home. He wrote, “For years it has been the desire of my heart to do something for this city and State which have made me what I am. I have my reward in the school.” He hoped to provide skilled, competent, and welltrained labor to do the work that is necessary in a community. Over the past 115 years, Mr. Newman’s school has developed into one of the nation’s finest college preparatory institutions. The curriculum has evolved into an academic program which today offers a full range of choices and rewarding challenges. From an opening enrollment of 125, the student body has grown to more than 1,000 in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade. In the past several years, Newman has focused on improving its physical plant, with substantial construction projects transforming the 11.5-acre campus. A recent project is the development of Joe’s Garden, made possibly through a gift of the family of Joe Epstein, member of Newman’s class of 1948 and an avid gardener. Situated between the Oreck and Stern Buildings housing Pre-K through fifth grade classrooms, Joe’s Garden is a “learning garden” complete with a lily pond, a greenhouse and planters containing a fascinating variety of flora. The goal is to create a beautiful learning environment where students can engage with the natural world while also “getting their hands dirty” growing and experimenting with plant life. “We hope Joe’s Garden will be a beloved outdoor classroom that is a hands-on place of learning, exploration, and shared discovery,” the Epstein family said. This year, Newman opened the Eugenie and Joseph Jones Family Foundation Visual Arts Studios on the second floor of the Valmont Building, in the space occupied for decades by middle school science classrooms. The studios, with stark white walls, skylights, and distinctive dormer windows, provide an inspiring and functional environment for students of drawing, painting and print-making. Newman is mourning the loss of H. Davis Prescott, Jr., the school’s head librarian and longest-serving employee in the school’s history. Before his retirement in 2017, Prescott spent 51 years at Newman, first as a high school English teacher — where he taught the historian and biographer Walter Isaacson (’70) in his first class of students — then as middle school principal and, finally, as director of the Rebecca Grant Popp Library. He is nothing short of a Newman legend. The Rupa and Tarun Jolly Science and Technology Building is enhancing the school’s science program in its second year of operation. Over the summer, several members of the class of 2020 participated in the first-even Newman Biotechnology Summer Internship, led by life sciences instructor Randy Zell. Senior Niyati Duggal used the building’s Biotech Signature Lab to successfully replicate human kidney cells to use in future labs. The process, though common in professional labs, is rarely undertaken in high schools due to the care and precision required to prevent contamination and promote new growth.

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some interest and involvement from non-Jewish students who want to learn more about our holidays and traditions,” he said. Birmingham-Southern College President Daniel Coleman said, “At BSC, we welcome students of all religious faiths and ethnicities. We encourage the expression and practice of these different faiths in our campus community and through service to the community around us. “The students who are actively involved in our Jewish Student Association are helping to build and sustain a vibrant experience for students of Jewish faith,” added Coleman. “In 2017, BSC launched an initiative to provide a more meaningful experience for our Jewish students and we couldn’t do that without the engaged students who have made Hillel an important part of their Hilltop experience.”

Special Section articles by Lee J. Green

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January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

A multimedia theatrical experience opening Feb. 9 at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery sheds new light on the Holocaust and the story of Anne Frank, as told by those who knew her well. “And Then They Came for Me: Remembering the World of Anne Frank” will host public performances Feb. 9 and 15, as well as bringing in school groups during that week. “I love to direct plays that are catalysts for conversation and this one really resonated with me,” said “And Then They Came for Me” Director Addie Gorlin. Her father is Jewish and she grew up in Minneapolis. “It’s really like a documentary piece of theatre. It’s about storytelling and presenting a play that can connect those of different generations — from middle school students to grandparents. This play is still very relevant today,” she said. “And Then They Came for Me” combines videotaped interviews of Holocaust survivors Ed Silverberg and Eva Schloss with live actors recreating scenes from their lives during World War II, including their memories of Frank. Silverberg was Frank’s first boyfriend, mentioned in the beginning of her now-famous diary. Eva Schloss was the same age as Frank and lived in the same apartment building in Amsterdam. Her family also went into hiding the same day as the Frank family and they too were betrayed. Schloss and her mother survived the Holocaust. After the war, her mother married Frank’s father, Otto. The play also includes accounts from Schloss’s brother, Heinz. James Still wrote “And Then They Came for Me” in the early 1990s. Born years after the end of the war, he relied on books, documentaries, interviews and visits to the Frank home in Amsterdam to shed light on the lives of four teenagers experiencing the Holocaust. Gorlin met Alabama Shakespeare Festival Artistic Director Rick Dildine when he came to his alma mater Brown University to speak to Gorlin and other MFA Directing program students. “When he contacted me about directing this show, I told him how I was a middle school teacher plus I had good experience writing and directing shows for all-ages theatre,” she said. “The Diary of Anne Frank” was one of her favorite books growing up and is one of the most-read books worldwide. “And Then They Came for Me” widens the lens. “It personalizes and expands the scope,” said Gorlin. She said the video footage and images feel “rooted in the 1990s,” so they are updating some of the images and putting them on a back production screen to make it feel “more relevant and engaging to tech-savvy teenagers today.” “It’s a challenge to integrate the multimedia with the live action,” said Gorlin. “But we have some very talented young actors in the show to really bring these important stories to life.” They also brought the play more downstage than most other productions. “We want this to feel like it is a history textbook come alive — to be there in their laps,” she said. Through “And Then They Came for Me” as well as some other theatrical works she has written, directed and taught, Gorlin learned more about her Jewishness and heritage. “My family on my dad’s side came over from Russia and were New York Jews,” she said. “I have enjoyed learning more about culture, religion and history.”

community >> Rear Pew Mirror

continued from page 54

to sit idly by when you hear it, especially if that person isn’t even there to defend themselves. Thus, “thou shalt not hear false witness against thy neighbor.” The final commandment caused some controversy. It’s a well-known Talmudic axiom that for every two rabbis there are three opinions. This project reaffirmed the corollary that for every one rabbi there are two opinions. It has been centuries since the last events that can legitimately be termed a witch hunt. This is perhaps thanks to one interpretation of the true tenth commandment, “Thou shalt not coven thy neighbor’s wife.” The other interpretation’s prohibition more closely relates to Prohibition, saying “thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wine.” Even though it might be particularly tempting to do so based on the reaction some people probably had to a certain earlier sentence.



Doug Brook knows these would be different, and even farther reaching (or farther stretching), in Hebrew. But almost neither of you would’ve understood them. To read past columns, visit http://brookwrite.com/. For exclusive online content, follow facebook.com/rearpewmirror.


“Cabaret” performance to benefit BHEC

Beth Or Jewish food festival on Feb. 23


What good is sitting alone in your room? Come support the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center, at a benefit performance of “Cabaret” at the Virginia Samford Theatre on Feb. 8 at 7:30 p.m. “Cabaret,” a classic musical set in Berlin in 1929 as the Nazi party begins its rise, runs from Jan. 24 to Feb. 9 at the theatre, but the Feb. 8 performance was set aside as a benefit for BHEC. Tickets are $100, all general-admission, and must be purchased through tickets.vendini.com.

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A signature event of Montgomery’s Jewish community since it debuted in 2004, the annual Jewish Food Festival and Treasure Market at Temple Beth Or will be on Feb. 23 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. This highly popular event has drawn thousands over the years, featuring a wide range of traditional Jewish foods, most of which were made by Temple members. Among the offerings are kugel, latkes, beef brisket, cabbage rolls, corned beef sandwiches, matzah ball soup, strudel, mandel bread, rugelach, quajado (spinach pies), challah and the ever-popular praline matzah. Carnegie Deli cheesecakes are imported from New York and sold by the cake or the slice. It is also an opportunity for members of the greater Montgomery community to learn more about the Jewish community, through tours of the building and talks led by Rabbi Scott Looper. “It’s so gratifying to see the role our Festival has played in terms of interfaith relations and understanding,” said Milt Livingston. “We look forward to continuing this tradition for years to come.”

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• January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


rear pew mirror • doug brook

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January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

Since a long time ago in a galaxy not so far, far away, there’s been a long tradition of Star Wars fans debating every moment, every word and every instance of improvisational or editing genius that minimized the impact of George Lucas’s writing. Inspired by this, Jewish scholars have recently started examining the Torah more closely. They seek deeper or hidden meanings, or at least acknowledgement of Moses being a Jedi well-versed in The Force (see “Red Sea, parting of the”). Under such scrutiny, no word is safe — not even a letter. Along those lines, recent Jewish scholars have failed to deny that they tirelessly study the staggering impact just one letter can make in the meaning of critical passages in the Torah. To that end, the pre-eminent scholars busily translating the long-lost, recently-discovered Mishnah tractate Bava Gump have taken on a side hustle. After years of research which included almost several minutes of effort, they have discovered the real Ten Commandments. They determined that, through the course of time and the courts of King James, just one letter in each commandment was changed. Restoring that letter in each passage provides staggering insights into the true meaning of religion, theology and Super Bowl prognostication. For example, consider the earth-shaking voice at Sinai self-descriptively booming out, “I am The Loud, your G-d, who brought you out of the land of Egypt.” The second commandment was actually more timeless than most people think, accounting not merely for ancient idol worship but also contemporary American Idol worship, in saying, “You shall have no other bods before me.” “You shall not take the name of the Lord in pain” seems at first to indicate the most likely time when people might invoke the Almighty appellation. However, this also means to not receive the omnipotent nomenclature from anyone who is causing pain. In other words, don’t put up with anyone doing harm in the name of The Name. On the seventh day, the Big G rested. What better way to commemorate that than in the location where everyone, except for parents of small children, get the most rest? With that in mind, “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it homy.” “Donor thy father and thy mother;” that is, in their honor. Without this commandment, the synagogue library would just be called “library” and the social hall would be called “social hall.” What’s more, the unique names of Jewish Community Centers around the country would instead be based on something cryptic like their geography. “Thou shalt not murmer” is just good advice. Without it, there’s no better way to kill a conversation. Several people interpret naughtiness in “Thou shalt not omit adultery.” While there might be a lot to learn from those people about the relationship between double mitzvahs and double jeopardy, this is meant more simply to mean that one can’t leave out being an adult whenever called for in life. “Thou shalt not steam” seems like a boycott of dry cleaners, but is actually more commonly interpreted throughout this sentence as meaning that one should just not get angry. It’s one thing to say something untrue about someone else. It’s another continued on previous page

There’s a reason to examine every letter of the Torah…

January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life



January 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

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Southern Jewish Life, Deep South, January 2020  

January 2020 Deep South edition of Southern Jewish Life, the Jewish community news magazine for Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and NW Flori...

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January 2020 Deep South edition of Southern Jewish Life, the Jewish community news magazine for Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and NW Flori...

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