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New Owner for Max’s Deli

Jewish Home had some funny residents

Beth Or prepares for Jewish Food Festival

Southern Jewish Life

Fixing the tornado damage at Springhill Avenue Temple

February 2013 Volume 23 Issue 2

Southern Jewish Life P.O. Box 130052 Birmingham, AL 35213-0052



It’s Southern clockwork: Every few years there is measurable snow in the Deep South. Every few years, a hurricane hits somewhere along the Gulf Coast. And every few years, our Baptist neighbors make a big deal of trying to convert us. The latest manifestation came in the Jan. 24 issue of the Alabama Baptist, which had a cover story, “Sharing Jesus with Jews.” Much of the feature interviews an “Alabamian who serves as a Christian worker among the Jews,” who gives his view of how best to reach us. He speaks at length about the messianic movement, and the piece notes two Southern Baptist Messianic Fellowships, in Bessemer and Tarrant. In the article, his name was changed “for security reasons.” The piece lists Jewish populations in Alabama not only by county but by denomination. One sidebar starts, “Jews in Alabama and the rest of the United States haven’t heard the gospel enough, and that’s because sharing with them is hard,” because we don’t see the gospels as divine. That shouldn’t be any more of a surprise than the Baptist rejection of the Book of Mormon or the Koran. Haven’t heard the gospel enough? Anyone who thinks Jews in the Deep South are unfamiliar with the story of Jesus is clearly out of touch. One way to supposedly appeal to us is to point out the Jewishness of Jesus and the apostles, appealing to our sense of 6 01. 8 8 5 . 6 0 42 • JAC O B S .U RJ CA M P S .O R G mishpocha (since the Holocaust supposedly made us so distrustful of outsiders). Again, we know full well that Jesus and his early followers were Jews, but that doesn’t make him the Jewish messiah, any more than Bar Kochba, Shabbatei Zevi or Rabbi Menachem HSJacobs_Ad02.indd 1 12/12/12 8:16:05 AM Mendel Schneerson, who also claimed or were believed to be the messiah and were all Jews. In a particularly chutzpadik statement, the piece claims Jews must see belief in Jesus as acceptable in Judaism. To that end, it states groups like the messianic movement are becoming more accepted in the Jewish community — but that ignores reality. No Jewish community lists messianic groups as part of the community resources, nobody who professes belief in Jesus as divine counts toward a Jewish prayer quorum. It’s up to us, not the Christian world, to define who is a Jew and what is Judaism. With almost 2,000 years of precedent, we’ve made our view on the subject clear. How can there be Jewish atheists and not Jewish believers in Jesus, the piece wonders. Simple — an atheist is regarded as struggling over or questioning the existence of God (which is acceptable in Judaism) but has not left the Jewish people. The believer in Jesus has adopted a separate belief system that is foreign to Judaism. There is a fallacy that the only difference between Judaism and Christianity is over whether Jesus was messiah. Judaism does not allow for belief in a human being as God, or that God can be divided into parts. Jews have a direct relationship with God and are Breakfast Buffet Sundays Only 10a-1p not to separate ourselves from God by M-Th 11a-10p • F-Sa 11a-12a • Su 10a-9p putting an intermediary in between. We do not hold that people are born sinners because of Original Sin, which is a cornerstone in Christianity

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Publisher/Editor: Lawrence M. Brook, Associate Publisher/Advertising: Publisher/Editor: Lee J. Green, Lawrence M. Brook, New Orleans Bureau: Associate Publisher/Advertising: Alan Smason, Lee J. Green, Creative Director: New Orleans Bureau: Ginger Brook, Alan Smason, Cait Muldoon, Gail Naron Chalew Photographer-At-Large: Rabbi Barry C. Altmark Creative Director: Ginger Brook, Contributing Writers: Photographer-At-Large: Doug Brook Barry C. Altmark Mailing Address: Contributing Writers: P.O. Box 130052, Doug Brook AL 35213 Birmingham, Mailing Address: PTelephone: .O. Box 130052, Birmingham: (205) 870-7889 Birmingham, AL 35213 Toll Free: (866) 446-5894 FAX: (866) 392-7750 Telephone: Birmingham: (205) 870-7889 Story(866) Tips/Letters: FAX: 392-7750 Story Tips/Letters: Subscription Information: Southern Jewish Life published monthly Subscription Information: and is free by request to members of the Southern Jewish Life in published monthlyarea Jewish community our coverage and is free by request to members of the of Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi Jewish community our coverage of and NW Florida.inOutside those area areas, subscriptions are $25/year orand $40/two Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi NW years. To subscribe, (205) 870-7889 Florida. Outside those call areas, subscriptions or mail payment to the address are $25/year or $40/two years. Toabove. subscribe, call (205) 870-7889 or mail The publisher solelyabove. responsible for payment to the is address the contents of SJL. Columns and letters represent theisviews the individual The publisher solelyof responsible for writers. All articles that do and not have the contents of SJL. Columns lettersa byline onthe them areofwritten by the pubrepresent views the individual lisher. writers. All articles that do not have a Southern Jewish makes nopublisher. claims byline on them areLife written by the as to the Kashrut of its advertisers, and retains the rightLife to makes refuse no anyclaims advertiseSouthern Jewish as to ment. the Kashrut of its advertisers, and retains Advertising ratesany available on request. the right to refuse advertisement. Advertising onreserved, request. Copyright rates 2013.available All rights reprints only by permission of publisher. Copyright 2010. All rights reserved, reprints only by permission of publisher.

Philosophy: To link the Jewish communities of the Deep South, to tell you the fascinating stories of one another, and to document and preserve the news of events large and small, all a part of the rich culture of Southern Jewry. 4 � 26

February 2013 September 2010�

of why man needs Jesus to intercede on our nevolence, since they are trying to share the behalf. Good and evil both were created by ultimate truth and provide eternal salvation, God; there isn’t a cosmic battle of God versus not commit genocide. They say it is anti-Semia different, evil entity. tism not to try and reach Jews with the gospel, The article is critical of the notion that Jews and their faith requires sharing the good news. From our perspective, saying our faith, our still have a special relationship with God and very core of being, is deficient and needs to need not be saved through faith in Jesus, be replaced isn’t exactly being respectful. but that is precisely the direction where more Christians are going today. These same missionaries would have choice A decade ago, Southside Baptist Church words for any Muslim who made a similar efin Birmingham opened its doors to Temple fort toward them. time on the back roads around the region, looking Trying to reach us through redefining our Emanu-El for over a We yearoften whilespend Emanu-El’s for the unusual and the unique, and there is plenty of it in the sanctuary was being renovated. Rev. Steve faith and replacing it with a form ofSouth. ChrisStill, it was bit jarring when tianity we were one and of the main Jones caught a lot of flack fromacolleagues, thatdriving wears aalong yarmulke sprinkles roads in Gardendale, just north of Birmingham, and came upon the who were astonished he wasn’t using the opin Hebrew words is identity theft (ironically, road that is pictured on the front cover of this issue, Birmingham’s messianic congregation is holdportunity of having so many Jews in his building as a chance to spread the Gospel. ing a program on identity in April. Insert Jewtheft Hollow Road. John Hagee, who founded Christians United your punch line here). for Israel, has said it is to target It is that hubris of having theconsidered only truth, and In “fruitless” this day and age, such a street name would likely be Jews for evangelism. While he does incorrect. not go believing that everyone elsewhat mustthe accept politically Being Southerners, we knew termthat out looking to convert Jews, herefers statesto, that a figured truth, there whichhad led to persecution. “hollow” soifwe to centuries be a storyofbehind the Jew were to walk into his church and inquire Not far down the slippery slope was the raname, and sure enough, there is. That story is in this issue. about Christianity, he would certainly answer tionalization that a few hours of torture in this — which is to be expected. lifetime is worth it to convince someone away It kicks offnow whatsay willthat be a recurring seriestorment in the magazine, “Jews on Many on the Christian Right from eternal in the next life. the Southern Map,” where we explore the history of places it is up to God, not them, to “turn the heart” But even with all the bluster, onearound fact the region have named Jews. of Jews and others toward Jesus, and the best remains:that There arebeen few Jews whofor formally convert to Christianity. A far greater drain on witness is simply to set a good example. Hagee has said Many that if he were walking Jewish numbers apathy assimilation years ago, thereinwas a reference guideisthat listedand towns across into Jerusalem with an Orthodox and the nothingness. Americarabbi that were named after Jews. Two were in Alabama (neither messiah walked up thecurrently street, he knows one of community). So in a sense, stories like found this one in the Alahas any Jewish We have since others, them would have to make radical bama Baptist a blessing in Louisiana. disguise — they and athere aretheologinumerous such places in are Mississippi and cal transformation — but until then, we should remind us that we are different, they force us to pay attention to who we are and why. work together on where we agree. Originally, we were going to limit the series to town names, but there The article quotes a messianic lawyer in In that respect, thank you, Alabama Baptist, areatmany other interesting places thathappy we have weand willour be reJerusalem who bristles the criticism that but we’re withfound, who wesoare including parks, and even streets, as we are doing this month. missionizing to Jews is a spiritual Holocaust. lationship with God, just as you are happy with your relationship. I’m sure you’ll be checking One must be careful to invoke Holocaust As the unfolds, will have onyears, our website, metaphors, but the end goal is the same — series no back with we us again in a itfew though. That way, if you are taking a roadLarry trip,Brook more Jews. Of course, the missionaries are coming from what they consider extreme beyou can stop by these placesEditor/Publisher yourself.




As the High Holy Day season fades into memory and we move into prime time for organizational activities — especially the upcoming Investigate student for anti-Jewish conduct General Assemblygroup in New Orleans — enjoy the season and keep turning to Southern Jewish Life for the latest on what is happening in I was extremely disturbed to read about a terrorist organization. our neck of the woods.

This student group while on the one hand demonstration organized by Student for Justice in Palestine at the University of Alabama at hiding under the pretense of fighting for jusBirmingham, a UAB sponsored student group, tice, engages on the other hand in rabid antion Nov. 16, 2012. That demonstration took Semitism. For example, on the Facebook page LarryofBrook the event, one of the members, one Abdullah place during Israel’s operation Pillar of Defense, Editor intended to stop Hamas’ rockets from Gaza/ Publisher Ahmad, insulted a UAB Jewish student writing after more than 12,000 rockets were fired on “@so-and-so [name withheld] ... ur fathers and Israeli civilian targets. forefathers were transformed into monkeys During that demonstration, the group called and pigs! don’t worry, soon we will [sic] swipe d out “From the river to the sea Palestine will be oppressors.” Another one wrote about the same free.” The river refers to the Jordan river, and the Jewish student “I can’t wait till we stop making sea to the Mediterranean sea. Thus, this is sim- noise and start taking action!” Having been an Associate Professor at UAB ply a call, sponsored by student fees and Alabama state funds, for the destruction of Israel, Continued on page 29 a full United Nations member, by the Hamas

Southern Jewish Life

Front Porch Dubrinsky sells Max’s: Four years after he brought a classic Jewish deli to Birmingham, Steve Dubrinsky has sold Max’s Delicatessen and will step back for a while. Dubrinsky said he originally planned to have a partner, but that never materialized and the long hours every day were taking too much of a toll on him and his family. After a few weeks of transition, he planned to turn over the restaurant by early February. The new owner is Kyung Chung, owner of Bellissimo Pizza and Wings and Charley’s Grilled Subs in Brookwood Village. Dubrinsky anticipates that the sandwiches and meats will stay the same, but some of the classic Jewish items, like blintzes and knishes, will likely be eliminated because they never sold well. Though originally focused on classic deli sandwiches, Max’s also became known for its burgers, and later its fried chicken, added by popular demand after many in the Jewish community wanted it for shiva trays, a local tradition from when Browdy’s was open. Dubrinsky unwittingly made headlines in 2011 when he was quoted in a Birmingham News article, concerned about the effect of Alabama’s new immigration law on his kitchen staff, who were Mexicans in the country legally. Nationally, he became a face of the debate, and locally dealt with boycotts and expressions of support. But dealing with all the attention took a lot of his energy. Dubrinsky noted that it is “only fitting for Max’s Delicatessen to be sold to an immigrant.” Max’s has also been known for its local charitable initiatives, including Collat Jewish Family Services, the fight against brain cancer and the Canterbury United Methodist Church’s Brown Bag program. AIPAC in B’ham: On Feb. 10, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee will have a presentation on “The Rapidly Changing Middle East: Challenges and Opportunities in 2013” at Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham. The community is invited to the 4 p.m. program, which is off the record. An advance registration is required, and photo identification will be needed for admission. The program will feature Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council in Washington. An expert on regional security in the Middle East, Central Asia, and the Russian Federation, he has consulted for both the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Department of Defense, and provided assistance on foreign policy and national security issues to a range of governmental agencies and congressional offices. He has Southern Jewish Life

February 2013


Front Porch written extensively on radical Islam and Iran. Also speaking will be Jonathan Calt Harris, the senior AIPAC policy analyst on Syria and Lebanon. For the past two years he has covered Egypt and Jordan as well. Previously, he worked as a researcher and reporter for Time magazine in Jerusalem and New York, and as a managing editor at the Middle East Forum in Philadelphia. For registration information, call (770) 541-7610 or email Joshua Karsh,

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Author visiting Montgomery: Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem in Montgomery will welcome author Greg Dawson and Mike Kazzie, a.k.a. Chef Kaz, on Feb. 13. Dawson, a career journalist, is now a columnist for Orlando Magazine. “Hiding in the Spotlight: A Musical Prodigy’s Story of Survival” tells of his mother’s odyssey to escape the Holocaust. For many years she chose not to talk of her past and it was not until he was an adult that Dawson even became aware of her history. The family has been working to discover their past ever since. Sharing the story has become the family’s mission and has reconnected 85 year-old Zhanna to her roots and to her music. “Judgment Before Nuremberg: The Holocaust in the Ukraine and the First Nazi War Crimes Trial” details history of a little-known trial Dawson became aware of while traveling in Ukraine to gather documentation for his first book. Writing of this atrocity and the follow-up trial is Dawson’s attempt to avenge the suffering of his mother and aunt, and of the murders of his grandparents and 16,000 fellow Jews. Dawson’s presentation will be at 7 p.m., and is open to the community at no charge. Before the program there will be a Lebanese dinner prepared by guest chef Mike “Kaz” Kazzie. A top-tier chef, he is the son-in-law of congregation treasurer Paul Freehling. A retired major in the United States Air Force, he currently pilots Boeing 757 and 767 jets for Delta Air Lines to and from Europe, South America, and Africa. Dinner will be at 6 p.m. Reservations may be made to the synagogue office, (334) 281-7394 before Feb. 11. Cost is $10 for adults, $5 for children. New Jewish genealogy group: On Feb. 10, local genealogy author Barbara Bonfield will speak at Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center to launch a genealogy group. “Discover Your History Through Genealogy” will be at 11 a.m. and is open to the community. She also will have copies of her most recent book, “Knesseth Israel: Over 123 Years of Orthodoxy,” and her book about the “old” Knesseth Israel/Beth-El Cemetery. Bonfield became interested in genealogy from her mother. “It is incredible the wealth of resources that are available for research, especially considering the internet and computer records technology,” said Bonfield. “It was a different world when my mother starting doing this. These resources did not exist.” She has traced her father’s family primarily to Poland and her husband’s ancestry to Lithuania. Many of her mother’s family came from England and South Africa originally. “I have been on a few Jewish genealogy trips... and I have made some remarkable discoveries,” said Bonfield, including an ancestor who was a noted doctor and author that escaped the Nazis and who previously served the czars. “It is actually surprising how well some of these countries kept records of just about every person born there.” Bonfield said a great tool has been, the premier Internet site for Jewish genealogical research. “Tracing family history is as much fun as reading a good mystery,” she said. “You never know what you will discover about folks in your own family.” She has published three books on the subject detailing her journeys and providing guidance to others about getting started.


February 2013

Southern Jewish Life

Front Porch

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You Don’t Have to Spend A Fortune to Look Fantastic! Remembering Holocaust victims by name: In conjunction with Yom HaShoah on April 8, the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center is looking for churches, schools and civic organization to join them in participating in the worldwide initiative, “Unto Every Person There is a Name.” The project is coordinated by Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Authority, in consultation with the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The BHEC, with the help of community partners, will conduct a “simultaneous” reading of names of those who were murdered during the Holocaust. Last year, the first for Birmingham’s participation, 18 groups signed up and read 2,500 names. This year the goal is at least 30 organizations and 5,000 names. Anyone in the area who lost family members to the Holocaust is urged to submit their names for inclusion in the public recitation. Each participating group will receive a list of names to recite at a program or worship service during the week of April 7 to 14. To include your organization or congregation, to submit names for inclusion, or for more information, contact the BHEC office at (205) 795-4176 or

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FA M I LY Christmas dinner at a Chabad House? Well, not exactly, though it comes but once a year, has a traditional menu and is held on Dec. 25. The Bais Ariel Chabad Center in Birmingham held its Great Wall of Chinakah dinner with over 80 people in attendance for a kosher Chinese meal. When asked if this is really Jewish tradition, Rabbi Yossi Posner said yes. “What we try to teach people every day, what we try to teach Jews all the time is that there is not a separation between who you are and your Jewishness. Whatever you do, do it Jewish.” Rabbi Yossi Friedman, who came up with the name, blanches at it now. He said he thought it up one year when Chanukah overlapped with Dec. 25. “Believe me, the food, the soups, the ambiance, the friends you see and the new ones you make — they’re all much better than the name.” Outside the big windows, two woks were being used to create the dishes. The whole thing had been set up by Rabbi Levi and Mushka Weinbaum. “It’s a labor of love,” Mushka said. “But seriously, even with the best of intentions, there’s no point if they don’t feel comfortable and really enjoy themselves.” Friedman said the event is “Jewish education through experience. Most Jews today have not had any real Jewish education, and all their Jewish experiences were in a synagogue setting, in a formal setting. We believe that Judaism is your life, not just membership dues. And if that education comes in the form of Mongolian Beef or Hot N Sour soup, all the better!” The Chabad Center also hosts regular kosher events, like T.G.I.S. on the third Friday of each month, and Falafel Sunday buffets.



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February 2013


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Beth Or readies annual food festival: Over the years thousands of men, women and children have enjoyed the Temple Beth Or Jewish Food Festival in Montgomery. This year, the festival will be Feb. 24 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Special items for the festival, most of which have been handmade by Temple members, include pastries such as rugelach, strudel and mandel bread; hot plates of brisket or pastrami; matzo ball soup; potato latkes; and quajado (spinach pie). “Imported” from New York are New York cheesecakes, direct from the famous Carnegie Deli and sold by the slice or cake. There is also a Treasure Market and the congregation’s gift shop, and this year they will include children’s activities, including face painting. Rabbi Elliot Stevens leads tours and gives short presentations on Judaism. “Our festival has become an important fixture on Montgomery’s calendar,” Stevens said. “Many thousands from throughout our River Region and beyond have enjoyed good Jewish food and culture, and learned something of our Jewish heritage. “For me, I’ve appreciated the opportunity to reach out and create cross-cultural bridges throughout our community. Being able to learn from each other and meet over good food benefits us all. I look forward to continuing this tradition for years to come.” Hebrew Union Congregation in Greenville will have its Deli Lunch on March 7, and many other congregations in the region will have corned beef sandwich sales in mid-March. Alexandria’s Gemiluth Chassodim held its Jewish Food Festival on Jan. 20. LJCC Camp Fair Feb. 24: Members of Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center will be able to start signing up for summer day camps at the Camp Fair, Feb. 24 from 1 to 3 p.m. Non-members are welcome to attend the fair to get more information about the 12 weeks of summer offerings. Registration for non-members opens April 1. The LJCC has a “camp a la carte” system that enables families to sign up for one week or all 12. Camp Yofi is the traditionally-styled day camp and includes activities such as swimming, swim lessons, field trips, sports, games, art, hiking, cooking and special events. Specialty campers spend half the day with the Specialty Instructor. This summer’s specialty camps include Legos, Black Out Theatre, Chess, Learning With Animals, Magic, Icky Sticky, Bike Camp, Woodshop and Circus of the Kids Camp. The other half-day is with camp staff doing traditional camp activities just like Camp Yofi. Sport Camps are designed for improving skills and techniques in a fun environment. This year’s camps include Tennis, Basketball, Lacrosse, UAB Soccer and All Sports. These are recreational in nature and not intensely competitive. Beth Israel in Jackson will celebrate Black History Month on Feb. 15 during the 6:15 p.m. Shabbat service. Azriel Devine will speak on the history and heritage of black Jews. B’nai Israel in Monroe will have a speaker from the Jewish National Fund on March 3, time to be announced.




February 2013




Southern Jewish Life

Shreveport Hadassah will have a Centennial Celebration on March 2 at Ristorante Giuseppe, starting at 6:30 p.m. There will be a silent auction and raffle. For more information call (318) 828-2778.

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Rabbi A. David Packman was honored at Temple B’nai Israel in Monroe the weekend of Dec. 7 as he retired from being the congregation’s visiting rabbi. Packman is rabbi emeritus of Temple B’nai Israel in Oklahoma City, where he served for 28 years, retiring in 2004. At the Dec. 7 service, the congregation held its Confirmation. Pictured at a Dec. 8 dinner in his honor are B’nai Israel President Susan Marx, Rabbi Packman, and Ron and Sara Israel. Shul, church pair for Ettinger events: The weekend of Feb. 15, B’nai Israel Synagogue in Pensacola will team with the First Pentecostal Church for a series of events with retired Ambassador Yoram Ettinger. Ettinger is no stranger to the region, having served as Israel’s consul general in Houston in the 1980s, where his territory included the region from Louisiana to New Mexico. In the 1990s, Alabama Governor Fob James named him as Alabama’s trade representative in Israel. He is editor of “The Ettinger Report” and director of “The Second Initiative,” which is dedicated to generate out-of-the-box thinking on US-Israel relations, Middle East politics, the Palestinian issue, JewishArab demographics, Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. After serving in Houston, he was director of the Israel Government Press Office, then was Minister for Congressional Affairs at the Israeli embassy in Washington. The events at B’nai Israel will be part of a Shabbaton that will kick off a drive to commission the writing of a new Torah for the congregation. Following the Shabbat morning service on Feb. 16, Ettinger will speak about the demographics of Israel. That evening, he will speak on the importance of Judea and Samaria to Israel’s security. The presentation is open to the community. On Feb. 17 he will speak at a private luncheon for community leaders, discussing the implications of the recent Israeli election. That evening, he will speak at the 6 p.m. service at First Pentecostal Church. The service will be led by Pastors Brian Kinsey and Matthew Johnson. Ettinger will speak on “The Foundations of the US-Israel Covenant – Shared values from the 17th Century Pilgrims and the Founding Fathers to 2013.” The event is open to the general public and will be followed by a reception.

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February 2013

Before and after: Sometimes government takes a while to respond, but not this time. On Jan. 8, Stanley Best contacted the city of Shreveport about a historic marker outside the Rutherford House, marking the previous location for Agudath Achim. The sign had been weathered and faded to being almost unreadable. Best also contacted the local Jewish institutions to gain their support in having the sign replaced. The congregation was located there from 1939 to 1980. The building now houses the treatment, educational and recreational services for Rutherford House, a residential facility for troubled youth. Rutherford has preserved some of the congregation’s history that remains in the building. The next day, David Miles from the city’s engineering department had the 15-year-old sign removed, and within a week new signs were up. Best credited efforts from B’nai Zion Rabbi Jana de Benedetti and City Councilman Jeff Everson with getting the job done. He said everything was accomplished before he could get in touch with Agudath Achim Rabbi Foster Kawaler. The old sign facing the other direction, while worn, was in much better condition. Miles gave it to Best, who then gave it to Kawaler. Chosen Food exhibit at Breman: Hungry for knowledge about Jewish food? The Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta is opening “Chosen Food: Cuisine, Culture and American Jewish Identity” on Feb. 7. The exhibit will run through June. For Jews, as for other Americans, food is never just about consumption: food is a means to observe and to celebrate, to maintain tradition and to mark transition, to preserve memory and to produce new meaning. American Jewish food culture, in short, open up a host of conversations about the history and experience of being Jewish and American in the 21st century. “What we’ve learned while preparing for this exhibition is that the Jewish community pitches a big tent,” said Timothy Frilingos, Exhibitions Manager/Curator. “That means that your Jewish food may not be the same as my Jewish food. And that Southern Jewish foods fused with traditional Jewish foods can result in some unexpected surprises. Jewish food includes Thanksgiving turkeys, Chanukah gingerbread

houses, and Oreos-themed birthday parties right along with the matzah balls in chicken soup and falafel in pita bread.” “The Breman Museum is featuring this exhibition originally created by the Jewish Museum of Maryland because we noticed how topical food is in conversation and our collective experiences” explained Frilingos, “It seems everyone has something about Jewish food.” “Chosen Food” will explore the unexpected variety of foods that can be identified as Jewish; the ways American Jews modulate tradition in their kosher and non-kosher kitchens; what happens when a family recipe is brought to America; how identities are forged around the dinner table; the Jewish meanings of eating out, including delis and Chinese food; the important role of the caterer as “translator” of “American” into “Jewish” food; and the issues inherent in “ethical eating.” Along with the exhibition will be a series of programs and events featuring food experts and topics.

The Jewish Federation of Pensacola and University of West Florida will present “From Jewish Promised Land to Christian Holy Land: Palestine in the Age of Constantine,” on Feb. 28. The speaker is Ray Van Dam, professor of history at the University of Michigan. There will be a 5:30 p.m. reception, followed by the 6 p.m. presentation at the UWF Center for Fine and Performing Arts Music Room. On March 1 at 11:30 a.m. there will be a luncheon discussion at Temple Beth-El. Lunch can be reserved by calling (850) 449-2409.

Southern Jewish Life

Rabbi Donald Kunstadt surveys the damage at Springhill Avenue Temple the morning after a tornado went through Mobile.

Springhill Ave. Temple facing expensive tornado damage repairs At noon on Dec. 26, Rabbi Donald Kunstadt was walking around the property of Springhill Avenue Temple in mid-town Mobile, looking at the damage a tornado had caused the previous evening. The F-2 twister hit at 5 p.m., right at sunset. Had it been any other Tuesday instead of Christmas, rush-hour would have been in full swing; instead the roads and the Temple were quiet. The tornado, unusual for a city more accustomed to hurricanes, cut a swath over several blocks, damaging Mobile Infirmary and Murphy High School. The Reform Temple is on a direct line between the two. Another tornado had gone through Mobile a week earlier, causing damage on Springhill Avenue just over a mile to the west. After a thorough examination of the damage, a final figure is still pending, but the congregation’s insurance deductible is $70,000 — and everything outside the building, such as trees, fences and lights, is not covered. In a Jan. 25 letter to the congregation, Kunstadt, congregational president Nate Ginsburg and Stanley Small stated that the out-ofpocket expense for the congregation may well exceed $150,000 — and they will also have to bring the building up to current codes. A Tornado Fund has been established for donations “to this very necessary project.” The large number of tree limbs littering the yard came from the 200year-old oak trees that grace the yard. None, however, hit the building, though one tree blocked the western driveway no more than 10 feet in front of the building. Much of the copper flashing from the roof had been blown off, including a 20-foot section that had wrapped around a nearby power line like a tallis. Unike a nearby historic Episcopal church, the roof was still on the building — but it had apparently been raised off the building slightly and settled back into place, causing structural issues. In one of the main interior corridors, there was a hole in the ceiling where a beam had been propelled by the tornado “like a missile” and driven through the roof. In just about every other classroom, a window or two had been blown out, scattering glass and papers, and bringing leaves inside. Two windows in the large Kindergarten room were blown out, but throughout the building there was little evidence of water getting inside. One of the large windows in the social hall was completely dislodged, but all of the stained glass windows in the sanctuary were intact. Kunstadt said the congregation had installed plexiglass covers that can withstand 150-mile winds, though they did so with an eye toward hurricanes. The F-2 tornado had winds estimated at 110 miles per hour.

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The sanctuary and chapel were untouched. On the western side of the building, a section of exterior brick had been peeled off from the building. Outside, a wood fence between the Temple and nearby houses was blown down, but the congregation’s vegetable garden was intact, with collard greens ready for New Year’s Day. Some of the houses lost sections of their roofs, so the Temple was relatively lucky by comparison. Several air conditioning units and the boiler were destroyed, and the insurance adjuster recommended removing all furniture in the social hall and classrooms, and removing all drapes and linens. Within a few days, the congregation’s extensive and irreplaceable archives had been assembled in 125 boxes under the care of archivist Susan Thomas and sent to an archival storage facility downtown. Some Temple members were at Mobile Infirmary when the Dec. 25 storm struck that facility, as they were finishing the last shift of the annual Pinchhitters Program, where Temple members volunteer at area hospitals so non-specialized employees can have Christmas day off. After two Shabbatot away from the building — the first one at Ahavas Chesed, the second in a private home — the chapel was deemed structurally sound, so services resumed there on Jan. 11. The opening event for the Mobile Jewish Film Festival on Jan. 6, slated for the Temple, was relocated to Via Services. That was the previous location for Ahavas Chesed, before they built their current building in 1989. The Fran and Paul Brown Scholar in Residence program featuring Ron Wolfson, scheduled for Jan. 11, was cancelled, and an adult b’not mitzvah service on Jan. 18 was postponed.


February 2013

Southern Jewish Life

Little Rock legend “Maxie” Itzkowitz

Something funny about the Jewish Children’s Home JCRS Gala celebrates Jewish comedy, but Home produced some characters This year’s Jewish Children’s Regional Service Gala concentrates on comedy. While last year’s theme, jazz, included tales of many former residents of the Jewish Children’s Home who made their mark in music, there aren’t stories like that when it comes to making it big in comedy. But the home did produce its fair share of characters who were known for their humor. Humor has played an important role in dealing with stress, disappointment and adversity. Many of the children whom JCRS assists today, and the 1700 Jewish youth who lived in the former Jewish Children’s Home in New Orleans between 1855 and 1946, encountered more than their share of personal challenges, including the loss of a parent and the disintegration of their two-parent family unit. One former Jewish Children’s Home resident, Houstonian Joseph Samuels, spent the last half of his 95 years of life as editor and publisher of the Jewish Herald-Voice. Virtually no conversation with him was devoid of a variety of his clever jokes, parodies, stories, or parables, designed to make one laugh. Sometimes, in a conversation with Samuels, one even forgot what the original subject matter of their mutual conversation was all about. His primary careers, however, were insurance and publishing, and neither enterprise was built on a foundation or reputation of humor.

Taking wooden nickels

Louis Berkie (Berkowitz) lived in the Home from 1917 to 1928 with his sister Libbie, following the death of their father. Prior to their years in the Home, the siblings lived in Dallas and Galveston, and upon Berkie’s discharge from the Home, he relocated to San Antonio. In the 1940s, he opened his San Antonio magic shop and by the early 1950s, he claimed that he had the largest mail order magic tricks catalogue in the United States.

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Featured in a full-page story in the September 1992 issue of People magazine, Berkie recalled how he responded to a ad in Billboard magazine, UNCLUTTER YOUR WORLD 1950 claiming “100 wooden nickels for $1.50.” After some brief Transform Your Garage correspondence, he bought • Epoxy garage floor the business for $50. When coatings the article appeared in People, • All-wood cabinets, European Berkie was cranking out 4 mildesign hardware lion wooden nickels a year, • Lifetime Warranty on All commemorating everything Flooring and Cabinets from political campaigns to circumcision ceremonies. How• Overhead racks, wall-mounted vacuums ever, any visit to Berkie’s Elbee • Most jobs completed within a day Company would reveal that he • Active members of Montgomery Jewish community apparently not only bought out • Free 3D estimates his colleagues in the magic or wooden nickel enterprises, but ����������������������������������������������� his store was also a repository ������������������������������������� for the merchandise of other long-forsaken San Antonio souvenir shops and stores sell- Louis Berkie ing various novelties and gags, from postcards and customized business cards, 334-513-1123 or 334-316-4300 to newspapers with “do-it-yourself” headlines. Berkie sold out in 1996 at the age of 84 and died the following year. The mischievous but soft-spoken Berkie had spent over 50 years in San Antonio, teaching generations of children and adults their first magic tricks, demonstrating the “special effects” of a whoopee cushion, and greeting friends and customers alike with the old reliable “shocking-buzzer” handshake.

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February 2013

When “Maxie” Itzkowitz died in November 1989, the colorful 77-year-old pawn shop owner had become a Little Rock legend, known for five decades of “going out of business” sales and slogans. True, his shop and merchandise shuffled between a few locations over those 50 years, but Maxie always reappeared, ready for his next pawn transaction, prepared to accept some merchandise that was beyond description, and looking forward to his newest slogan or catchy business card. “Sock it to me — hock it to me,” “Put it in hock in Little Rock” or “If you’ve got the girl, I’ve got the diamond“ described his willingness to engage customers, while at the same time, he coined 50 years in variations of store liquidation themes. “I’ll be through in ‘72” was eventually replaced with “I don’t mean maybe; Maxie will be through in 1980!” Max Galinsky was born in Poland in 1912 and came to the United when he was nine months old. His father died when he was very young. His mother was living in Fort Smith, Ark., when she sent three-year-old Max to the

Southern Jewish Life

Home, where he lived for the next two years. He left the Home and returned to Arkansas in 1917, after his mother married Joseph Itzkowitz. Max grew up lean but tough. He earned the nickname, “Slapsie Maxie” as a Golden Gloves Boxing champion, and later enlisted in military service during World War II. In 1988, one year before Maxie died, the City of Little Rock purchased the property where Maxie’s last pawnshop stood, and Maxie announced a final “going out of business auction.” A local television news crew covered the event and the store quickly filled with a circus atmosphere and various bargain hunters, many of them perplexed at the true purpose and identity of the numerous business machines and unusual objects that Maxie had taken in pawn over the years. At the conclusion of the auction, someone blurted out that Maxie had previously moved his best merchandise across town to his brother’s pawnshop and would be back in business the next day. The Nov. 10, 1989 edition of USA TODAY listed 50 deaths, one from each state. Included was a Connecticut Academy Awards nominee, an Idaho state senator and an Iowa Supreme Court Chief Justice. California listed trumpeter Lu Watters, who helped revive New Orleans jazz in the 1940’s. Arkansas listed “Maxie Itzkowitz, pawn shop owner, tempted customers for decades with goingout-of-business sales.” His surviving nephew, Marvin Itzkowitz, mused to the Arkansas Gazette “He’d probably (slogan it) End of the Line in ’89!”

Not Just Black and White Civil Rights and the Jewish Community

Taking a stand after the “Segregation Forever” speech In April 1963, a group of eight Birmingham clergy — including Temple Emanu-El’s Rabbi Milton Grafman — wrote an open letter to Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., asking that planned demonstrations in Birmingham be postponed so the city’s new government could have time to deal with issues of desegregation. King’s response, the famous “Letter from Birmingham Jail,” is studied worldwide. Far less known is an earlier open letter from Grafman and the same clergy members, published just after Governor George Wallace’s Jan. 14, 1963 inaugural address, where Wallace promised “segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” Among the three additional signatories on the January statement was Rabbi Eugene Blachschleger of Temple Beth Or, Montgomery. A group of clergy gathered at the Tutwiler Hotel in Birmingham on Jan. 16 to issue “an appeal for law and order and common sense,” criticizing inflammatory remarks and recommending against defying court orders that mandated desegregation. The statement was a reworking of an October 1962 statement by the Huntsville Ministers Association. Grafman said just after it was released that it had been planned before Wallace’s remark, but Wallace’s comment made the statement “very well timed.” The statement, signed by 11 clergy members, was delivered to the two Birmingham newspapers and appeared on Jan. 17, then across the state over the next few days. It stated that “hatred and violence have no sanction,” laws must not be ignored by individual whims, court decisions must be respected, and every person’s freedom should be equally protected. Immediately, a backlash came from segregationists, many of whom couched their objection to integration on Biblical grounds. At the time, ministers who spoke about “moderation” were seen as promoting integration, and often lost their pulpits. Stephen Grafman, son of Rabbi Grafman, said at a Temple Emanu-El talk last month that a statement like the seventh point of the January letter, “That every human being is created in the image of God and is entitled to respect as a fellow human being with all basic rights, privileges, and responsibilities which belong to humanity,” was very difficult to say in the Birmingham of 1963. A few years earlier, vocal public support of the Montgomery bus boycott was a major factor in Agudath Israel parting ways with Rabbi Seymour Atlas. (In the next couple of issues, we will examine the effect of the Letter from Birmingham Jail).

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February 2013

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February 2013


Security guard may face hate crime charge in Tenn. Torah vandalism

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A 24-year-old security guard at the Doubletree Hotel in Jackson, Tenn., was arrested and charged with vandalism after damaging a Torah and other religious items on Jan. 12. Students from the Margolin Hebrew Academy in Memphis were in the hotel at the beginning of a school Shabbaton to Gatlinburg. The items had been left in one of the hotel’s conference rooms on Friday night, and the damage was discovered Saturday morning. Police were called at 8:20 a.m. Aside from the Torah, Jewish books, musical items and “several religious venerated items” had been “marked on, torn or otherwise damaged or defiled,” according to a police report, which estimated the damage at over $60,000. The damage included written phrases of “Gentiles win, Jews lose” and “Submit to Satan,” the Memphis Commercial Appeal reported. The Jackson Police Department was joined by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Tennessee Department of Homeland Security. As the investigation continued, the overnight security guard, Justin Shawn Baker, became a suspect. His employer, Maxxguard, sent a supervisor to the hotel to review security logs. The supervisor called in Baker, who was interviewed by police and taken into custody. Baker worked for Maxxguard since October without incident, and is an Iraq War veteran with several service medals. He has been suspended without pay and the state informed of the arrest so his license will be suspended. According to a police statement, the crime was “opportunistic in nature” and “specifically directed at the objects representing the Jewish faith.” The Jackson Sun reported that Baker waived his Miranda rights and admitted “knowingly and intentionally vandalizing the religious artifact... because they belonged to the Hebrew Academy and represents (sic) Judaism.” He also placed one of the desecrated prayer books outside a guest room where students were staying. Baker was arraigned yesterday in Jackson City Court, and bond was set at $100,000. At a preliminary hearing on Jan. 24, the case was sent to the grand jury, and a request for bond reduction was denied. He faces a Class B felony charge, with a possible sentence of 8 to 12 years. Federal hate crime charges may also be forthcoming. Rabbi Gil Perl, dean of the school, said they have been advised to not give interviews during the investigation. “It was an awful crime which thankfully our kids are handling very well and from which we hope they will only grow stronger,” he said. Jackson has a Jewish community of about 35, and their Congregation B’nai Israel holds weekly services. Lisa Silver, communications chair for the congregation, said the vandalism “has been difficult for us all, though it did not touch our Jewish community directly.” Rabbi Jordan Parr, who is visiting rabbi for the congregation, thanked “the good people of Jackson, the Police Department, FBI and other government agencies who have come together so quickly to apprehend this suspect and determine if this is an isolated incident. I surely hope that this is the case.” He noted that it “is especially painful that the accused is a decorated veteran of our armed forces, one who has defended our country with honor overseas.” Silver hopes the incident will prompt greater “religious consciousness” in the community and prompt learning about different faiths, though she stated that “The Jackson area has embraced its Jewish community for years and we have been blessed to not know the face of hate previously.”


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Photo by Lauren Clarice Cross

Chloe Valdary started Allies of Israel at the University of New Orleans

Making allies for Israel on campus Unlike Tulane University across town, the University of New Orleans has a tiny Jewish student population and hasn’t seen a lot of proIsrael activism. That is changing in a major way, thanks to a 19-yearold UNO student — who isn’t Jewish. New Orleans native Chloe Valdary, a sophomore majoring in International Studies, formed Allies of Israel last summer, and while the group currently has just nine members — though there are about 200 followers on Facebook — it was preparing for its first big event on Jan. 28. “Declare Your Freedom” was billed as a “pro-Israel, pro-America” event, Valdary said. Daniel Pipes, executive director of the Middle East Forum and Campus Watch, was the keynote speaker for the noon event at the UNO amphitheater. Long before the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks, Pipes was sounding the alarm about the threat of global jihadists. Jazz great Kermit Ruffins was scheduled to start the event by playing the National Anthem, and jazz pianist Stephen Roberts performed “Hatikvah.” Many other local and national figures were also on the program. Valdary said the event was to show “the importance of having a strong pro-Israel stance and also combatting anti-Semitism through innovative ways.” Valdary grew up with an awareness of Israel in a spiritual sense. Her family is among a small group of Christians who keep Biblical laws, including Shabbat, the festivals and the dietary laws. That helped give her an affinity for the Jewish people and is “part of the reason why I do what I do today.” Exposure to Middle East politics came much later. The first R-rated film she was allowed to watch was “Schindler’s List.” She read several of Leon Uris’ works, including “Exodus” as she finished high school. A graduate of the New Orleans Center for Creative Arts filmmaking program, she started working on a script about the Middle East. Meeting another filmmaker who had done a project on Israel further kindled her interest, and she began studying international relations at UNO. Last spring, “when the opportunity presented itself to do a research paper” on the Arab-Israeli conflict “I just jumped on it.” As she worked on it, she discovered the prevalence of anti-Semitism in the conflict and “it really began to terrify me.” She saw the “Orwellian” effort of those who “bow to the feet of Hitler” then turn around and compare Jews to Nazis. She started Allies of Israel to advocate for a strong Israel, but also

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Southern Jewish Life

February 2013


to fight global anti-Semitism, which is on the upswing and is at the root of the conflict. As part of this effort, Valdary has launched “Once And For All,” which aims to take the fight against anti-Semitism into popular culture. She is currently trying to raise $10,000 to launch the campaign through “film, music videos, mixed media and other artistic measures” and take it worldwide from New Orleans. “Film has the power to spark revolutions, change minds, and improve the lives of many for generations to come,” she said. The first planned video will convey “the resilience of the Jewish people in the face of violent bigotry utilized by malevolent ideologues, such as those representing Hamas, the PLO, the PA, and various other groups holding the same malicious intent.” She has a director who is interested in working on the project, and has partnered with a pro-Israel group in Britain to take it worldwide. On the Jewcer website where the fundraiser is hosted, the highest-level donation of $3,000 or more is referred to as “Hamas’s worst nightmare.” At the Jan. 28 event, a “Once And For All: The NOLA Campaign to End Anti-Semitism” poster, signed by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, punter Thomas Morestead and several others, was auctioned. The group also sells T-shirts and bracelets that remember terror victims in Israel. Valdary wears a bracelet that reads “St. Sgt. Ehud Efrati. Killed by Terrorists 10-29-07. Age 34.” She said the victims of terrorism have often gone unnoticed. General donations to the group are also welcome. Recently, the American Israel Cooperative Enterprise did a study on anti-Israel activities on campus, and listed UNO as a place with an anti-Israel student group but no corresponding pro-Israel group. Valdary said she hasn’t seen an organized opposition to Israel at UNO, but there have been individuals who have approached her or otherwise registered their opposition. Driftwood, the student newspaper at UNO, quoted a Muslim Students Association member responding to Valdary’s call for Americans to be pro-Israel with “Maybe if they support violence against innocent civilians.” Valdary has met with local rabbis and others in the Jewish community, who have become involved with the group. She noted that the African-American community has a lot in common with the Jewish community “in terms of our history” and “can advance each other’s interests if we work together.” It is important for Jews and non-Jews to stand together in a united front, she said. 20

February 2013

Southern Jewish Life

Wolfson on making the synagogue a more welcoming place Building relationships is key to congregational success, Ron Wolfson said during a tour of several Southern communities last month. During stops in New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Alexandria, Jackson, Birmingham and Pensacola, he spoke about building welcoming congregations, and did family workshops with his book, “God’s To-Do List.” His visit was coordinated by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life after Macy Hart promised to feed him grits during the trip. At Gemiluth Chassodim in Alexandria, members prepared a meal for his presentation, including a cheese grits soufflé that he marveled at in subsequent stops. “The hospitality has been extraordinary. I had high expectations and they have been surpassed,” he said. Two days after the BCS National Championship game he spoke in Birmingham, and started with “congratulations, Mazel Tov, yasher koach” on Alabama’s title, while holding up a copy of the Crimson White newspaper he picked up at lunch in Tuscaloosa. Congregationally, the Jewish community needs to “become much more welcoming and much more engaging.” In terms of outreach and relationship-building, Wolfson said Chabad is “kicking our butts in America, and I’m tired of it.” Chabad’s model is “radical hospitality,” he said. You meet a Chabad rabbi, “within 10 minutes you’re invited to his house for dinner,” then to come and study, and you’re grateful for the relationship. That’s how Chabad raises as much money as the entire Federation system each year, he said.

Ron Wolfson speaks at Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El Congregations need to reach out earlier, rather than waiting for young Jews to marry and join when the first child is ready for religious school — and drop out after the last Bar Mitzvah. And it can’t just fall on the rabbis — congregational leaders need to work on it. “A board member ought to be building a community.” He added, “it shouldn’t have to be hard to break into a synagogue” socially. When there are divisive issues, everyone needs to shift from a culture of blame to a culture of honor. “In a sacred community we treat each other with respect” even when there are passionate differences. In Pensacola he spoke at First United Methodist Church. He doesn’t speak at churches that often, but “God’s To-Do List” has been embraced by some churches. Every semester he takes his students to visit Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church to see how megachurches are so welcoming.

Southern Jewish Life

February 2013


Seniors Many with hypertension don’t even know it St. Vincentʼs offers Heart Day on Feb. 16 By Lee J. Green More than 80 percent of seniors have high blood pressure, and some may suffer from hypertension but not even know it. That is why St. Vincent’s Health System in Birmingham offers an opportunity for heart disease screening at a greatly reduced rate, Feb. 16 from 6 to 11 a.m. Those who register before the deadline can receive four heart tests for $40 (normally $350) — EKG, Lipid Profile, Blood Pressure Screening and Basic Metabolic Profile. “The screenings also offer a great opportunity to engage in dialogue with qualified medical professionals,” said Dr. Michael Bailey, an electrophysiologist/cardiac specialist for St. Vincent’s Birmingham Heart Clinic, P.C. “Many people wait until they feel symptoms or feel very poorly. It’s a good idea to get the screening, even if someone is not in one of the major risk categories or feels fine at the time.” Dr. Bailey said that in most cases, people cannot feel hypertension in the heart or tell if they have high blood pressure. “It is very hard for someone to self-diagnose,” he said. “Hypertension was the number one cause of heart failure until in recent years we learned how to treat this. We can catch this if people come in.” He recommends a heart-healthy lifestyle including a diet low in salt, low in saturated fats and a routine involving regular aerobic activity. Bailey said that those who have obesity issues have a greater occurrence of high blood pressure, which can lead to heart disease. But some cases are surprising.


February 2013

Southern Jewish Life

“I had a (senior-aged) woman come to me and she was as thin as a rail — she couldn’t have weighed more than 100 pounds. But her blood pressure was very high and there are several factors that go into that,” he said. The major risk factors for coronary disease are based on age, sex (men have a greater risk), diabetes, family history, smoking, increased cholesterol and obesity. Even if someone does not have one or multiple risk factors, Bailey recommends that males ages 45 and up as well as women ages 55 and up come in for the heart screenings. “We can come up with some lifestyle solutions that are easy to follow. The heart is a life-organ. It is always better to be proactive with something this important to your health,” he said.

Rocky Ridge’s residents travel By Lee J. Green Residents of the Rocky Ridge Retirement Community in metro Birmingham can enjoy plenty of activities, amenities and interaction with friends regularly. Then when they travel, residents can enjoy a free stay at any of the other 300 Holiday Retirement communities across the U.S. and Canada. “This one-of-a-kind travel program allows residents to experience the same lifestyle they receive at their own community at the majority of the other Holiday Retirement communities across the U.S. and Canada at no additional expense. While traveling, residents can stay in a comfortable guest suite; enjoy the chef-prepared meals at no cost, and participate in all the community activities for up to a week at a time per community,” said Rocky Ridge Community Sales Leader Sue Ann Raybon. In addition to the Hoover independent living community, Holiday also has communities in the region in New Orleans, Jackson, Mobile, Montgomery, Auburn, Pensacola and Panama City. At Rocky Ridge, there are no buy-in fees and residents can rent on a month-to-month basis. Four-legged family members are also welcome at no additional cost, she said. “We understand that family members worry about their loved ones needing occasional assistance on an immediate basis. That’s why we have two resident management teams who live in the community and are available around-the-clock,” said Raybon. “We also know the importance of good, nutritious meals so we have professionally trained chefs who prepare three delicious, perfectly balanced meals from scratch every day that residents can enjoy in our restaurant-style dining room,” she added. For those who need it, Rocky Ridge offers transportation to Riverchase Galleria and Aldridge Botanical Gardens, among other nearby places. She said they regularly offer educational lectures, exercise classes, onsite entertainment and a variety of activities. Rocky Ridge has four to eight different activities coordinated every day including arts and crafts, beanbag baseball, exercise classes as well as Wii bowling tournaments to name a few. “Our goal is to provide as many opportunities for our residents to discover a new purpose and passion that enrich their lives,” said Raybon. Exclusive to Holiday is the international, award-winning volunteer programs Seniors Serving Seniors and Seniors Serving Society. Recognized by the International Council on Active Aging, the program allows residents to help school children to read; collect food donations for those in need, and support the troops, among other initiatives. Raybon said interested potential Rocky Ridge residents are welcome to come in for a personal tour and complimentary meal. For more information, go to

Inside Woldenberg Village Woldenberg Village was started in 1962 as a “New Orleans home for the Jewish aged” and acquired by Touro Infirmary in 1998. The residents at Woldenberg enjoy everything from Chanukah parties to Passover Seders to senior exercise classes to Mardi Gras celebrations. This past December, several local choirs and dance groups came in to the New Orleans continuing care retirement community to entertain for holiday parties. They will celebrate Mardi Gras in early February with a parade and second-line happening at the community located in the City Park area. Touro and Woldenberg employees joined together this past December to donate funds to the Angel Tree Project. This helped a specific group of fellow employees who experienced catastrophic loss during Hurricane Isaac. Residents at Woldenberg Village can enjoy dining from skilled chefs, social activities, trips, classes, entertainment, cards/games and fitness while not having to worry about yard work, housekeeping, meal preparation or transportation if they so choose. At Woldenberg is The Villas, a community of 60 independent-living garden apartments for active seniors. The one and two-bedroom units are pet-friendly, featuring lofty ceilings, landscaped patios along with large, fully-furnished kitchens. The community amenities include a 24-hour emergency response system, group transportation (with trips to restaurants, the arts, museums, city-wide events, shopping), weekly housekeeping, private dining and a beauty salon. For more information on Woldenberg Village, visit www.touro. com/wv.

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February 2013




Long-term care insurance more of a necessity today By Lee J. Green

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People are living longer today, so more than ever seniors (as well as others) likely will rely on long-term care at some point in their lives. According to Milton Goldstein, who represents several long-term care insurance companies, planning ahead before the senior years should a possible need arise remains the best solution. It’s more than just a “seniors issue,” he noted, as 39 percent of people who need long-term care are actually between 18 and 64 years old. “People are living longer and the Baby Boomers are a big segment of the population that is in the senior age category,” he said. “Medicine continues to develop more cures for diseases, but still dementia and Alzheimer’s are on the rise. Long-term care insurance is protection for an aging population and their families.” Goldstein said more than 80 percent of people use long-term health care insurance to allow them to receive care at home. It can cover home health aide services, therapy, medical and non-medical services, as well as assistance with daily living. In most states, individuals from ages 18 through 84 that qualify can purchase long-term care insurance. The premiums are less the earlier one purchases it. The average age for new insurance buyers is actually 57 years old. More than 8 million Americans currently own long-term care insurance. “There is no ‘one size fits all’ plan, but we work with a policy holder to customize a plan that meets his or her specific needs,” said Goldstein. “It’s better to start earlier since you also never know when the need is going to arise. Cost for the insurance protection will be based on your age and your health when you first apply as well as what coverage options you choose.” He advises those considering a long-term care policy find out about what the costs of care are for where one lives or hopes to retire; be sure coverage includes an inflation growth option so the pool of benefits increases each year and to ask about a “shared care” option that enables couples to link their policies in order to share benefits in the event one person’s benefits are exhausted.

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February 2013

Southern Jewish Life

Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center seniors keep active with everything from bridge to Mah Jongg to senior fitness. And one of the LJCC’s fastest-growing as well as most-popular, predominantly - seniors groups — the Circle of Life Knitting Society — honored one of its own with a volunteer service excellent award last month. Roz Feigelson (seated), one of the original members of the group that started eight and a half years ago and meets every Tuesday, earned the first Joyce Rich Benjamin Memorial Award for Volunteer Service Excellence. The Circle of Life Knitting Society makes scarves for UAB Comprehensive Cancer Center patients in need each year, donating more than 200 last October.

Always There provides skilled home care services Hiring someone to look after an aging parent is possibly the most difficult task many people face in midlife. That is why choosing the right caregiver and situation for a parent is of utmost importance. At Always There In-Home Care, the company has carefully screened each of their caregivers including conducting extensive interviews, reference checks and background checks. Dee Harrell started the company 13 years ago with for one goal — to provide the highest level of care for the elderly and sick in their own homes. Always There In-Home Care, with offices in Birmingham and Huntsville, manages and trains personnel, provides caregivers and nurses to clients in their homes or facilities, as well as oversees the assessment of new clients. “We offer compassionate medical and non-medical services to seniors who suffer from a variety of health-related issues,” said Harrell. Those include: Non-medical services, such as companionship, bathing and grooming, dressing, errands, escorts for shopping and appointments, laundry, light housekeeping and meal preparation. Medical services including professional geriatric care management, pharmaceutical consultation, RN medication management and skilled nursing. Always There In-Home Care has always believed the key to serving their clients begins with a staff of dedicated, caring employees, added Harrell. Most private duty agencies offer services from light housekeeping and running errands to a 24-hour nursing care. Caregivers are carefully matched with clients according to their level of need after a comprehensive evaluation of their situation. With the growing geriatric population, private duty services will continue to grow in need. The senior population grows every year. There were more than 36 million seniors age 65 and older in the U.S. as of a few years

ago. That number is projected to jump to around 87 million by 2050. For more information on Always There In-Home care, go to

Rittenhouse focuses on Alzheimer’s By Lee J. Green Rittenhouse Senior Living in Hoover is the largest free-standing assisted-living facility in the area that focuses strictly on Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia care. When the facility opened up under another name and ownership in 1993, it became Alabama’s first free-standing assisted-living-only community in Alabama. Acquired by Rittenhouse in May 2008, the facility was significantly upgraded and resources brought in and the staff trained to best care for those residents. “All of our staff goes through extensive Dementia and Alzheimer’s care training. There is a 24-hour nursing staff on-site and the community is completely secure 24-7,” said marketing director Vicki Mullins. “We also had 600 days of respite last year. We offer from one night to one month of respite care.” Rittenhouse employs three activities directors who lead fun activities for residents based on their levels of function. Some of those activities and events include bingo, cooking, art therapy, music therapy, shopping trips, helpful informational presentations as well as shows/entertainment on-site. Mullins said Rittenhouse includes 71 apartment units. They offer free tours and lunch to those interested. For those who sign up to live in the community and mention Southern Jewish Life, the first month is currently free.

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Southern Jewish Life

February 2013


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February 2013

By Lee J. Green New York City-native musician David Friedman goes by many titles most would expect — Disney movie theme-song writer, Broadway songwriter, composer, pianist, vocalist, public speaker. But the Jewish artist who recently wrote a book on meta-physics, likes to consider himself a healer. Friedman will return to Birmingham thanks to the Red Mountain Theatre Company, Feb. 21 to 24, to perform his “Listen to my Heart” show. He performed it at Birmingham’s Collat Jewish Family Services “Hands Up Together” annual gala in May 2011. “When people ask me what I do, I say that my purpose in life is to heal people,” he said. “I like to provide an avenue with my songs to heal people and inspire people. Music is a powerful thing and it can give you so much spirituality, uplift and hope.” Friedman says he doesn’t so much write songs but more accurately “creates a circumstance in which a song can come through. My mind opens up some doors and the writing comes through. I don’t write songs, they write me.” “Listen to My Heart” was created for offBroadway 10 years ago, but it hasn’t been performed much in recent years. All the songs are Friedman’s and he performs with five singers from Tampa, where he also has a home. Born in the Bronx, his family moved to the Lower East Side when he was very young. At five, Friedman began studying guitar. Growing up, Friedman kept very involved with music. At 17 he did so well in a class on music and movement that he actually earned a teaching certificate. “My teacher told me that I should be in the orchestra pit at a Broadway show. I guess that planted the seed,” said Friedman, who earned a scholarship to the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music. He said those going into music or theatre as a professional take some big risks, including not making enough to get by. But his parents and family have always been very supportive. “My dad was an engineer, but he and my mom loved music, theatre and Broadway.

Southern Jewish Life

They have loved going backstage at a Broadway show and meeting people on a movie I have written songs for. My grandma was supportive, but she said I should be an accountant on the side,” he said with a chuckle. Friedman said his career “kind of found me” and he went from performing to writing songs off-Broadway, then on Broadway. He conducted well-known musicals including “Grease,” “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” along with “Song and Dance.” Alan Menken encouraged him to come to Hollywood. Friedman was the conductor and vocal arranger on such Disney classics as “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “Pocohontas” and “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.” He also scored several animated television shows and was the vocal arranger for Broadway’s “Beauty and the Beast.” His songs have been sung by stars such as Diana Ross, Barry Manilow, Petula Clark, Laura Branigan, Jason Alexander and Kathie Lee Gifford. As a record producer, Friedman started MIDDLER Music. He wrote for and produced all of the late, great Nancy LaMott’s jazz CDs. Most recently, Friedman has been writing musicals for Broadway. His show “Chasing Nicolette,” written with Peter Kellogg, will open on Broadway this year. He has also teamed with Kellogg on other original musicals including “Stunt Girl,” “Lincoln in Love” and “Desperate Measures” — a country and western version of Shakespeare’s “Measure for Measure.” Friedman and his partner of close to 11 years, Shawn Moninger, divide their time among houses in New York City, Connecticut and Tampa. Moninger is a Unity minister. “We feel like all paths to God can be explored. I am very proud to be Jewish. I feel we should all look for commonalities that are positive and give us hope,” he said. This is Friedman’s third visit to Birmingham. When he comes to a city, he enjoys performing, teaching youth groups and speaking to people. “I am a gay Jew speaking in the Bible Belt and I don’t even think about it. To me being gay is no different than being straight. I like to think of song and inspirational speech as things that unite us all together,” he said.

Parets living a dream with “Billy Elliot” By Lee J. Green Though the title character in “Billy Elliot the Musical” might be Scottish and Christian, 13-year-old Jewish actor Noah Parets certainly relates to Billy’s dream of becoming a professional, performing dancer. The Sharon, Mass., native takes steps toward living his dream every day while on tour with the traveling Broadway show, which comes to the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center for eight shows Feb. 5 to 10. “I saw Billy Elliot two years ago when I was in New York City for a dance competition,” said Parets. “I loved musicals and it was the first show I had seen on Broadway. I had never done a musical before, but the show really spoke to me and I knew they were looking for some actors who could dance.” He auditioned for the role in September 2011 and began rehearsals in May 2012. The “Billy Elliot” tour started July 1 and since then it has toured consistently across the United States and Canada. “I love traveling and seeing new cities. It’s exciting and a great opportunity for someone my age,” said Parets. He has a parent or guardian with him at all times, easing the homesickness. “I miss my family and hometown, but we keep in touch regularly. Last year the show was in Boston for four weeks so that was really a thrill,” as Sharon is 30 miles from Boston. This visit will be Parets’ first to Alabama. The show performed in Memphis last year, which Parets said was one his favorite cities to visit. “There is a lot to do and a lot of cool museums there,” he said. Because of all the time, responsibility and travel the role of Billy Elliot demands, four actors play the role on various nights. So Parets will play Billy two of the eight performances in Birmingham. The cast also includes three other young men and 10 other young women. “We all get along really well and our friends. Everyone in the show is like family,” he said. Based on the international hit film and featuring music by Elton John and lyrics by Lee Hall, choreography by Peter Darling and direction by Stephen Daldry, “Billy Elliot the Musical” has earned 10 Tony Awards, including Best Musical. Set in a small town, the story follows Billy as he stumbles out of the boxing ring and into a ballet class. He discovers he has a surprising talent that ultimately inspires his family and his whole community, while changing his life forever. The show started in England and its first North American performance was on Oct. 1, 2008, at Broadway’s Imperial Theatre. The Broadway production ended its successful run Jan. 8, 2012, after 1,344 performances. The average Billy stays in the role approximately 18 months. During an average week, the Billys spend six to eight hours in rehearsal and six hours in private dance classes. On top of that, they spend 15 hours a week in educational tutoring. “It was certainly challenging at first learning the choreography, acting and singing,” said Parets. “But they are such great teachers and we have done the show enough now that it feels more natural.” He said the show puts down a special floor in every theatre they visit, so it makes it easier to adjust to performing and dancing in each new city. Parets and his family are active in one of Sharon’s Reform synagogues. Because the show is so intensive and because of his regular travel schedule, Parets has had to put off his Bar Mitzvah for the time being. “That is something that is very important to me and my parents. I know I will for sure be Bar Mitzvah (after the show’s current run is complete),” he said. For now, he enjoys living a life most 13-year-olds can only dream of. “I get to do what I love, travel and meet so many nice people. This is a great life,” said Parets.

Southern Jewish Life

February 2013


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Kosher-Style Recipe: Creekside Tavern In Europe dating back centuries, taverns have been known as ideal community gathering spots. Brought to modern-day United States and accentuated by “American fare with a personal touch,” Patton Creek’s Creekside Tavern strives to please its customers with customization. The Hoover area restaurant opened last August in the spot formerly occupied by Johnny Carino’s Italian Restaurant and has developed a niche for providing a wide variety of American and Cajun staples that can be customized to a diner’s desires. “When we came up with the menu, we thought of things that we liked to eat. We wanted a place with a nice community feel that was friendly and at which people could order something exactly the way they liked it,” said co-owner Blake Sly. “We can prepare things exactly the way customers want it, even if it is different from the menu. Plus customer feedback is very important to us. Since we opened, we have added several menu items and taken some off based solely on customer feedback,” he said. Sly originally hails from Denver and has been in the restaurant business ever since working in the Mile High City as a teen dishwasher 35 years ago. “Just about my whole life has been spent in the restaurant business. I have been passionate about it and worked my way up,” he said. For 18 years, he worked his way up through management with a national chain restaurant. That brought him to the South and ultimately to Birmingham as a regional director. He said he knew for 20 years that he wanted to open up his open restaurant, but was waiting for the right opportunity and place. “I learned a lot about how to operate successful restaurants but I wanted something that I could call my own and that had my creative stamp to it,” said Sly. He originally planned to open a sports-themed restaurant in the Hoover community where he lived. But early last year when the Carino’s Patton Creek spot became available, Sly and partners came up with the Creekside Tavern concept to best fit the existing structure’s character as well as ambiance. “We evolved the décor and jazzed it up to match the place,” he said. “We wanted something in the name that indicated this was Patton Creek’s place and my wife (Margee) came up with Creekside even before we realized the street was Creekside Drive. Combined with Tavern and (what that connotes), it was a perfect fit.” Creekside Tavern’s menu items come from a combination of family recipes — Sly’s family, his wife’s family and his business partner’s family. Some of those popular kosher-style menu

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February 2013

Southern Jewish Life

4330 Creekside Avenue Birmingham • 205.402-7281

Creekside Mahi Mahi Ingredients: 1 8-9 ounce mahi fillet Pepper Garlic salt 1 lime wheel Tequila lime butter — 1 ounce per filet. Tequila Lime Butter: Take two tablespoons of melted butter and add 1/2 teaspoon of finely chopped cilantro (chop the leaves only and discard the stems), 1/8 ounce of tequila and a full squeeze of half a fresh lime. Instructions: Lightly season the mahi filet with a mixture of black pepper and garlic salt. Place in a pan on medium high or on a lightly oiled grill being careful not to use the hottest part of the grill (it will stick). Turn the fillet over after the edges turn to a pale white. If using a grill, turn the filet a quarter turn without flipping, to create the decorative diamond grill marks, then flip after a few minutes. Once the mahi is turned over, brush with the tequila lime butter being careful not to apply so much that it creates a flame on the grill. Remove from the heat when you think it is done and take the temperature of the filet using a food thermometer probe. Make sure the internal temperature of the mahi reaches at least 145 degrees (it is important to take the temperature of the thickest part of the filet to ensure mahi is thoroughly cooked). When the mahi is cooked all the way, place on a plate and again brush with the tequila lime butter. Twist the lime wheel and place on top of the mahi.

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the sumptuous outdoor feasts attract. There’s also that pesky rain, cold, and occasional neighbor’s football coming through the thinly thatched roof and landing in the hummus on the table in front of the one guest still wearing white after Labor Day outside of Atonement Day. To celebrate some holidays, the rabbis efficiently combined the suffering with the food intended to mask it. On Chanukah we celebrate how one day of oil lasted for eight days by using seven days’ worth of oil to make jellyfilled Krispy Kremes and latkes, the leftovers of which are recycled by the NHL as official pucks after the All-Star Break. All this while chocolate gelt is given to soften the blow that the kids aren’t getting real gelt, just real guilt. Purim retells a light tale of how the Jewish people barely escaped genocide thanks only to a Jewish girl grudgingly entering and winning a beauty contest. Not that they don’t deserve to, but this isn’t a long-term plan for national defense. Let’s eat! Passover recalls how the Jews were enslaved for 400 years, that their Big G knew it was coming and let it happen, and once they were finally freed they got 40 years of free desert, when they would have preferred dessert. Let’s eat! But if that doesn’t leave a bitter taste in your mouth, try the Shmurah Matzah. Doug Brook is a writer in Silicon Valley who has dubbed his avoiding bar mitzvah kiddushes and parties an act of celebratecy. For past columns, other writings, and more, visit http:// For exclusive online content, like

>> Recipe items include the Mahi Mahi, tilapia, salmon, a couple of chicken dishes, steaks seasoned by Birmingham-institution Mr. P’s brought in fresh each day, dinner salads, some soups, some sandwiches and tasty sides including mashed potatoes, French fries and asparagus. “We pride ourselves on having something for all taste buds. We have a wide variety of menu items under that American/Cajun fare umbrella that can please everyone in the family,” he said. Sly said that where Creekside Tavern really lives up to its name is as a community gathering spot for groups. “This is a great place to have everything from a business meeting to a wedding rehearsal dinner to a social group gathering to a Bar-Bat Mitzvah meal,” he said. Creekside offers a private dining room that seats up to 50 and includes a stone-hearth fireplace. It also features a more open room that can accommodate up to 25 people. The entire restaurant seats 212 people.

> > Letters Continued from page 4 for many years, I was concerned that UAB would allow such an anti-Jewish atmosphere to persevere on campus. I wrote the UAB president to call upon the administration to tackle this emerging problem. The response I received was at best bland, at worst deceitful. Dr. Susan Austin, Vice Provost for Student and Faculty Success, answered for President Marchese, to say that the matter had been reviewed and that UAB would take appropriate steps. I inquired which steps these would be, and received no response for a month. When I pressed for clarification, a second response from Dr. Austin took more pain to explain that they viewed this simply as an exchange of ‘politically charged ideas’ raising concerns, but that no violation of the Code of Non-Academic Conduct had occurred, and no steps would be undertaken. First, I don’t understand why this issue was not handled by Dr. Louis Date, Vice Provost for Diversity. This is a diversity issue if there ever was one. UAB prides itself on its emphasis on diversity. However, letting such hate groups thrive on campus will eventually make UAB unwelcoming to Jewish students. Second, I fail to see how such conduct by UAB students (including racist and threatening remarks), even online/off-campus, fails to violate the Code of Conduct. Finally, the use of student fees and state funds to sponsor a group advocating, on behalf of a terrorist organization, for the destruction of a UN member, and the likely mass murder of its inhabitants, is simply a travesty. If you care about this issue, write the UAB administration and demand real appropriate steps. Gilbert Weinstein Melbourne, Australia


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Southern Jewish Life

February 2013


The Beholder’s Eye by Doug Brook

Not What They Simcha New Winter Menu Contact us for your catering needs! Open for Lunch and Dinner Tue-Fri 11a-2p & 5-9p Sat 9a-2p & 5-9p • Sun 9a-2p

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Jewish celebrations are renowned for one thing above all else. But what’s all that food doing there in the first place? Aside from getting cold — or warm, if it’s supposed to be cold — during the sermon? Every December, Jews hear their neighbors sing about tidings of comfort and joy. Jews can almost relate, with their own year-round sightings of comfort and oy. But don’t write this off as a recent development in Jewish culture; Jewish suffering (and not just by Jewish mothers) has existed for thousands of years. The Talmud lists dozens of fast days throughout the year, of which only a handful are observed today — and most of those by only a handful of people. According to the recently-discovered Mishnah tractate Bava Gump, food is a part of all Jewish celebrations to counter all those fast days. However, Bava Gump also presents the dissenting opinion of Rabbi The fast days Telfon, the Great Communicator, were invented to who said that all those fast days counterbalance all were established by rabbinic dieticians to counter all the food at the the celebrations celebrations. involving food… But are all Jewish celebrations really so positive? Is the ubiquitous food there to mask lurking suffering of which nobody dares to speak? The Jewish lifecycle starts with a catered celebration, but no Jewish eight-day-old boy thinks that any brisket is good enough to make up for the moyel’s bris kit. For girls, the Simchat Bat — however it’s performed — gives them a name and enough pinched cheeks that collectively seem like they might be the equivalent of a bris. (They aren’t. After all, at a bris the kid is fed Manischewitz — a pain without equivalent.) Then comes the bar or bat mitzvah, where a heavily catered affair — and, increasingly often, a ludicrous party — masks what is euphemistically called the assuming of responsibility as an adult Jew. While the dignity of this longtime tradition spirals toward defeat, it’s still really a fete at the feet of our newly-teened to mark the dubious feat of losing their heretofore lifelong lack of responsibility. The Jewish wedding involves the bride, the groom, the bride, and — for the chupah — four almost aptly-named polebearers. To save space, simply think of five wedding/marriage jokes you like, and then move beyond lifecycle events to annual celebrations and the skeletons they hide. Rosh Hashanah, the subject of U2’s hit, “New Year’s Day,” is a day for apples and honey. Except you can’t use your iPhone, which should warn you of the other white canvas shoe that’s waiting to drop after 10 days of reflecting and repenting (as if the reflecting isn’t suffering enough). On Yom Kippur we wear white, which masks nothing. Sukkot commemorates the Israelites being stuck in temporary, partially covered huts for 40 years until someone finally got a Realtor license. So we mask this suffering with… meals in the sukkah. But this backfires thanks to the insects, vermin, and other in-laws that

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February 2013

Southern Jewish Life

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SJL Deep South, Feb. 2013 issue  

Feb. 2013 Deep South edition of Southern Jewish Life

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