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Southern Jewish Life

March/April 2019 Volume 29 Issue 3

Southern Jewish Life P.O. Box 130052 Birmingham, AL 35213 Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile celebrated its 175th anniversary


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March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life


shalom y’all To repeat: Criticizing Israel does not automatically make you an anti-Semite. It seems the only people who claim it does are the very ones who cross the line with an anti-Israel obsession, and who want to use that straw dog to pre-emptively discredit any pushback they get, no matter how extreme their actions become. As this issue wraps, there is continued controversy in the halls of Congress over numerous statements by Reps. Ilhan Oman and Rashida Tlaib, not long after the kerfuffle over anti-Semitism in the Women’s March leadership. Front and center in the media is a discussion of anti-Semitism, anti-Israel sentiment, and charges that those who dare to be “brave” and speak out against the Israeli behemoth are immediately crushed by Worldwide Jewish Power. At a press conference before her Birmingham event on Feb. 16 (see coverage, page 11), Angela Davis responded to a question about criticism of Israel by claiming that Israel holds itself alone among the nations as being immune to criticism. Cue the eye-roll. If criticism of Israel makes one anti-Semitic, then in the last couple of weeks, the majority of Organized American Jewry is a bunch of anti-Semites. Benjamin Netanyahu engineered an electoral agreement that brought a level of undeserved respectability to a political party descended from the outlawed Kach party. which had advocated for numerous anti-Arab measures before being kicked out of the Knesset for racism. Many on the left immediately jumped on the American Jewish establishment for being critical of the likes of Omar and Tlaib while ignoring Netanyahu’s move, but in reality it took very little time for pretty much every American Jewish group to

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March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

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opinion

MESSAGES

Maccabi USA leader praises Birmingham Games I have had the honor of attending many Maccabi competitions around the world. From Israel to Australiathe to alliance. South America, Europe and the JCC Maccabi games around the through United States condemn When attempts to break a border andAfter Canada, I have miles seeing howtosports canhearts be a vehicle help build Jewish as all, it’s kindlogged of likemany if the Republican “rip the out” oftoIsraelis are painted identity, especially our young.David Duke, or “peaceful border demonstrations,” and when leadership openlyinembraced if the leadership did the sameforwith a “genocidal massacre” numbers about 60, of I feltDemocrat honored to come to Birmingham the first time and fell in love with not just the city Louis (oh,have wait…) which overlevel 80 percent turned be terrorbut theFarrakhan people. You taken Southern hospitality to a new with your kindout andtocaring By thistologic, most of American approach the JCC Maccabi Games.Jewry, in- ist operatives, it is hard to take such things as cluding Deborah Lipstadt, who just wrote the “simple criticism” of Israeli policy. Ledabout by the current Sokol and Helds, your hard-working wonderful. They partnered book anti-Semitism, is anti-Se- volunteers Especiallywere when other countries’ militaries with your outstanding staff, led by Betzy Lynch, to make the 2017 JCC Maccabi a huge hit. mitic. complain that Israel is settinggames the bar too high I want to take thisDavis, opportunity as executive Maccabi USA to saycasualties thank youin oncombat, behalf No, Professor Israel does not claimdirector to in of minimizing civilian of beeveryone the only involved. nation immune to criticism. But it making them look bad by comparison. is Ithe very20th existence and When rounds 1 delegation million Uighur hadonly just nation returnedwhose from the World Maccabiah gamesChina in Israel with aup U.S. of legitimacy is questioned every day by you and Back putsinthem into over 1100, who joined 10,000 Jewish athletes fromMuslims 80 countries. July the eyes“reeducation of the entire and your fellow travelers, camps” thatmonth are with more1000 likeathletes concentration Jewish world were on Jerusalem and the Maccabiah. This past and Criticize Israel, sure. be honest. pro- camps, farthe more are killed coaches from around theBut world being inBe Birmingham, youwhen became focalPalestinians point. portionate. by the Syrian regime than by Israel in conflicts Everyone from the Jewish community and the community at large, including a wonderful And let’s not kid ourselves. Though many with Gaza (and most in Syria are civilians, most police force, are to be commended. These games will go down in history as being a seminal misguided idealistic students (including in Gaza are Hamas operatives), when Lebanon moment for the Jewish community as we build to the future by providing such wonderful Jewish many in the Jewish community) may think has anti-Palestinian laws far beyond anything memories. otherwise, the anti-Israel BDS movement isn’t ever dreamed up by “apartheid” Israel, one Jed Margolisprotest against Israel’s occupation must ask a simple question. a peaceful Executive Director, Maccabi of the West Bank (where 97USA percent of PalesAre you concerned with human rights, or tinians are actually ruled by the Palestinian are you just out to bash the world’s only JewAuthority), it’s about Israel’s existence in any ish nation-state? supremacists would like to see pushed back On Charlottesville territory. If it’s the former, you would be spending far into a corner and made to feel lesser. We stand Davis said as much in her remarks, that the less time on Israel. If itfamily is the of latter, well,Heyer, there’s with and pray for the Heather Editor’s Note: had This been reaction to the events in free- a term for that. Palestinians fighting for their who was there standing up to the face of this Charlottesville, written by Jeremy Newman, dom for almost a century. Israel didn’t take hate. Master of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Theta over the territories until 52 years Colony ago. What We recognize the essence of the American at Auburnwere University, was shared AEPi then? freedom they fighting forby before narrative as a two-century old struggle to rid National, which called it “very eloquent” and It certainly wasn’t to free the West Bank from ourselves of such corners, and allow those in praised “our brothers at AEPi Theta Colony at Jordanian occupation, or Gaza from Egypt. Lawrence Brook, Publisher/Editor 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 by their Creator 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 relevant the issues of racism and anti-Semitism fear. Those who marched onto the streets did 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 slave nation. A century from safe in our own borders. A time where into our history we engaged in a war in part Americans lived under a constant cloud of to ensure we would not continue as one. We racism, anti-Semitism and pervasive hate. The 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 Alpha Epsilon Pi stands with the it is a mission we’re still grappling with today. Jewish community of Charlottesville, and 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 March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

America was also born an immigrant country. As early as the pilgrims, many groups and families found in the country the opportunity to plant stakes, chase their future, and be themselves. Few were met with open

March 2019 January 2019

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 ADVERTISING SPECIALIST Annetta Dolowitz annetta@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; or Annetta Dolowitz, annetta@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 2019. 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.

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agenda interesting bits & can’t miss events

Destin’s first Torah dedicated at Emerald Coast Chabad Five years after Rabbi Shaya Tenenboim arrived in Destin to establish Chabad of the Emerald Coast, the community reached a milestone with the dedication of its own Torah. “For us, a young and relatively small community, it’s nothing I thought would happen in the near future,” he admitted. The congregation has been using two scrolls that have been loaned to the community — one an Ashkenazi scroll, and one a Sephardic scroll in an ornate case. The new scroll, which was dedicated on Feb. 10, is Sephardic. Tenenboim said “a few people from the community got together and said we want our own Torah. “Before I knew it, almost the entire amount was put together,” he said. “People were very happy and excited to be part of it.” There are two ways to get a new Torah — commission a scribe for the year-long process of writing one, or purchase one that is already written but not quite complete. They went the latter route, selecting a Torah in New York. The scribe came to Destin to complete the final few lines as part of the dedication ceremony. Members of the community took turns handing the quill to the scribe and standing by him as he did the final letters and words “on their behalf.” Guests from Panama City, Mobile, Memphis and New Orleans attended the dedication. As part of the ceremony, there was a short video of an 1842 Torah

from Kiev that was found after the Holocaust and longed for a community where it would be read and studied. Tenenboim said that while that isn’t the back story for their scroll, “the Torah is a living thing and is happy to be in a living community, where people read from it.” After the scroll was completed, it was carried under a chupah and paraded around the area. “It’s a very important milestone in the community, it brings unity,” Tenenboim said. The celebration continued on Feb. 16, when the scroll was read from for the first time at Shabbat services. Having a third scroll available is important on several weekends. On April 6, the first day of Nisan falls on Shabbat, requiring the reading of three scrolls with the customary addition of a pre-Passover reading. Similarly, if the first of the month during Chanukah falls on Shabbat, there are readings from three scrolls. Tenenboim said Destin is a popular area, and in addition to serving the Jewish community living in the area, Chabad does outreach for tourists. “People are excited to see there is a Jewish presence here,” he said. For example, a “nice group” comes each year on Passover. “The weather is great but Destin is not too packed.” When Tenenboim arrived in September 2013, Destin had the only Chabad presence between Tallahassee and New Orleans. Since then, Chabad has been established in Panama City, Pensacola, Mobile and Biloxi. March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

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March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

An internationally-known Jewish musician from California is hitting the road in a van and making his first tour of the South, and hopes to line up appearances in communities along the way. Marshall Voit is a San Diego native, the son of a Reform rabbi and cousins with the Voits in Mobile. After a weekend at the Reform movement’s Greene Family Camp in Texas, he will be in the South from around April 17 to May 11, and is available for a wide range of services, including house concerts, Shabbat services, Passover Seders, synagogue music events, jam sessions, guitar and voice lessons, and more, from Louisiana to Georgia. With a father who is a Jewish song leader, Voit has been singing his whole life, and started taking trumpet lessons at age 10. He was active in Hillel at the University of California Los Angeles, and was song leader and cantorial soloist at Wilshire Boulevard Temple. After college, he went to Melbourne, Australia, as a Union for Progressive Judaism musician in residence and Jewish Life Fellow. He worked with a dozen congregations in Australia, three in New Zealand and one in Shanghai, China, where he led a Passover Seder and presented at Limmud China. In 2013 he returned to San Diego to pursue graduate studies in ethnomusicology. He has toured the U.S. twice, done a 10-week residency in Cape Town, South Africa, and continues to do events in Australia. After Seder with family in Mobile, he will be along the Gulf Coast, with an appearance on April 28 at the Unitarian Fellowship in Fairhope. He’ll gravitate further into Alabama and Georgia, appearing at First Existentialist Congregation in Atlanta, then will be in the Florida panhandle area. He hopes to line up Shabbat appearances while in the area. In addition to his Judaic repertoire, he has an emphasis on social justice and folk-protest music. Accompanying him in the van that he is converting into a mobile home is his little dog, Jackie, “the chillest pooch in the world.” After the Deep South, they will go up the Atlantic coast through Appalachia to Toronto, and then back south and west to San Diego. More information is available at marshallvoitmusic.com.

NCJW educates about the Louisiana legislative process The National Council of Jewish Women, Greater New Orleans Section is wrapping up a three-part series on issues and advocacy education in preparation for the upcoming Louisiana Legislative Session, which runs from April 8 to June 6. The final workshop, “How to Track State Legislation,” will focus on online tools that make it easy for citizens to look up legislation, find out who writes, sponsors and votes for legislation, and even watch public hearings. This workshop will teach participants how to use the website to keep up with legislative proceedings and hold legislators accountable. Participants can join in person at the Goldring/Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus in Metairie, or join the online Webinar, March 25 at 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the entire community. Reservations can be made by contacting NCJW at ncjwgno@gmail.com.


agenda Mississippi passes anti-BDS bill Mississippi is joining its neighbors in barring state investments in companies that participate in anti-Israel boycotts. The Mississippi House passed House Bill 761, the “Israel Support Act of 2019,” 92-10, on Feb. 7. It was then amended to remove the term “sole proprietorship” from the definition of company, and passed by a 93-17 vote on Feb. 13, then transmitted to the Senate on Feb. 15. On Feb. 27 it was referred to the Senate Finance committee. On March 6, the Senate passed the bill, 34-8. The bill prevents the state retirement system, treasury and state government entities from investing in companies that boycott Israel, and calls on the state to develop a list of such companies. Any existing investment in those companies would have to be sold within 120 days after the list is published, as of July 1, 2020. Exceptions can be made if the state deems it necessary. The bill is co-sponsored by Reps. Donnie Bell, Greg Snowden, Henry Zuber, Jeffrey Smith, William Arnold, Larry Byrd, Thomas Reynolds and Patricia Willis, six Republicans and two Democrats. Speaker Pro-Tem Snowden said “it was my honor and privilege” to handle the bill on the House floor. “Mississippians are true friends of Israel, and this bill gives tangible support to the historically pro-Israel sentiment of our citizens.” Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has developed close ties between Mississippi and Israel, with four trade missions in five years, an “Israel Meets Mississippi” summit in Jackson in 2015 involving numerous Israeli companies, and an international homeland security conference in Biloxi in 2018 that attracted mostly Israeli firms. Last year, Mississippi passed legislation allowing state investment funds to purchase Israel Bonds. After the anti-boycott bill passed the House, Bryant said he was “so proud” the bill passed, and “Mississippi will stand with Israel.” Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves said “Today I was proud to stand with Israel” as the Senate sent the bill to Bryant. “God Bless Mississippi! God bless Israel!” Israeli Consul General Lior Haiat said he was “thankful for the support for Israel from all our friends in Mississippi!” According to the Clarion-Ledger, there was a brief floor debate in the House, during which Rep. Bob Evans of Monticello asked “Gentleman, is Israel a Christian nation? … Jews don’t believe in Jesus Christ, the son of God, do they?” Snowden replied that the bill has nothing to do with religion, and Israel is “one of the true democracies in the world.” Evans, a Democrat, did vote for the bill. In 2015, Tennessee was the first state to pass an anti-BDS bill, and Mississippi becomes the 27th state with an anti-BDS law. Alabama passed an anti-BDS law in 2016, and last May, Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards issued an executive order barring BDS, making Louisiana the 25th state to have such legislation. Arkansas passed an anti-BDS act in 2017, and in January the Arkansas Times lost a lawsuit challenging the act, as a Federal judge rejected the argument that commercial boycotts are a form of protected speech. The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement seeks to isolate Israel economically, academically and socially, and the movement’s founders have repeatedly stated their objective is not simply to protest Israel’s policies toward Palestinians, but the elimination of Israel as a Jewish state. In the 1970s, there was a Federal ban on participation in the Arab League’s boycott of Israel. The Council on American-Islamic Relations characterized the Mississippi bill as an “anti-free speech bill to punish criticism of Israel.”

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agenda The Jewish Federation of Jackson Shabbat will be held at Beth Israel on March 22 at 6:15 p.m. The N.E. Miles Jewish Day School in Birmingham and PJ Library will have a Little Scientist STEAM Preschool program, April 14 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. The program, which includes STEAM activities and story time, is open to the community and aimed at ages 3 to 5, accompanied by an adult. Reservations are required by April 10 to rweinberger@nemjds.org. Temple Beth El in Pensacola will have its annual Jazz Shabbat on April 5 at the 7:30 p.m. service, featuring the Klezmateers. A pre-service patron’s dinner is at 6 p.m., and reservations are $54. Bais Ariel Chabad Center in Birmingham held a 33-hour online fundraiser on Feb. 20, where contributions had a quadruple match toward an overall all-or-nothing goal of $300,000. In all, $327,811 was raised. The funds will cover 30 percent of their annual budget, enhance security for the building and go toward programming. On March 18, the Jewish Federation of Oxford will have a program in its Jewish Authors Series, welcoming Steven Weisman to discuss his book “The Chosen Wars: How Judaism Became an American Religion,” at 5:30 p.m. at Off-Square Books. Weisman is a New York Times journalist and vice president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. The discussion will be hosted by James Thomas, author of “Are Racists Crazy?” Beth Israel in Jackson will have a Shabbat honoring new members, March 15 at 5:30 p.m. with a Pre-Oneg. Music during the 6:15 p.m. Shabbat service will be provided by the Shirim Choir. All are welcome. B’nai Zion in Shreveport will hold a blood drive on April 7 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge will have its next Old Fashioned Judaism on April 6 at 7:30 p.m. Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El will have a Birmingham-Southern College Hillel Shabbat, March 15 at 5:45 p.m. Rabbi Jan Katzew, associate professor of education and Jewish thought and director of the rabbinical program at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, will give the sermon, and lead a mini Torah session at 5 p.m. On March 16 he will accompany Confirmation class families on a tour of the Legacy Museum, Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery. Author Rabbi Manis Friedman, best known for “Doesn’t Anyone Blush Anymore?” and father of Birmingham Rabbi Yossi Friedman, will give a presentation on the “Wonder of Chassidic Happiness,” April 1 at 7 p.m. at the Bais Ariel Chabad Center in Birmingham. There will be hors d’oeuvres and a book signing. Suggested donation is $18, and sponsorship is $180. Hadassah Shreveport will have its annual Shower of Dollars on March 28 from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the new home of Elizabeth and Tom Arceneaux, a historical mansion that they are restoring. Part of the décor and designs reflect Israel and Hadassah. “A Few of Her Favorite Things,” a celebration of Birmingham’s Judy Abroms, will be at the home of Mary Kimerling on April 14 from 1 to 3 p.m. A short program in her memory will be at 2 p.m. Light refreshments will be served, and there will be an opportunity to purchase some of her personal purses, scarves and other items, with proceeds to benefit the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School. Theatre LJCC at Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center is presenting “Cinderella: Yesterday and Today,” March 9 to 17, with Satcontinued on page 49 8

March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life


OFFICE OF INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY

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.”

Rabbi Katie Bauman, second from right, is joining the team at Touro Synagogue in New Orleans this summer

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

Rabbinic homecoming Born in New Orleans, Bauman becomes the new senior rabbi at Touro Synagogue When Rabbi Katie Bauman takes over as rabbi of Touro Synagogue, nobody will need to show her around New Orleans. The congregation announced on Feb. 25 that Bauman, who was born nearby at Touro Infirmary, was “joyfully, enthusiastically, and unanimously elected” to be the next senior rabbi. While her family moved to Little Rock when she was four years old and she grew up there, she routinely visited relatives in “my home away from home,” New Orleans, and always wanted to have the opportunity to live in New Orleans. Her grandparents were Morris and Ruth Berenson Forsyth. Her uncle, David, is an attorney in New Orleans, and she is also related to the Berenson and Stone families. “It’s incredible to have such an amazing professional opportunity in a city I love so much,” she said. Having been at Temple Israel in Memphis since 2009, she was not looking for a new position, but when she saw this was a possibility, it became “the one place I looked.” That echoes the sentiment of Rabbi Alexis Berk, who Bauman will be succeeding. After 11 years at Touro, Berk is heading to Temple Solel in Cardiff by the Sea. Berk said her family has always had “an extreme love” for San Diego,” and this was the only place that could attract her away from New Orleans. At age 10, Bauman started attending the Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica, until going on the National Federation of Temple Youth trip to Israel. That trip was led by Ari Goldstein, son of Touro Rabbi Emeritus David Goldstein. She then returned to Jacobs as a counselor, educator and song leader. She said Macy Hart, the camp’s longtime director, pushed her to become a song leader, and that was “very important for me.” She had many Jewish leadership opportunities in Little Rock, camp and in college, “all of which excited me about working in the Jewish community.” She earned a degree in Jewish, Islamic and Near Eastern Studies at Washington University. After college, she had an internship at Temple Israel in Memphis as an education and music specialist. Growing up in Little Rock, Memphis had been the “big Jewish community” in the area. By the end of her internship, she knew she wanted to pursue either the rabbinate or become a cantor, and decided that the rabbinate gave her a better opportunity to serve a region of the country that she is passionate about. “I want to live where my roots are, and being a rabbi gave me the best way to do that.” After taking a year to work in a non-congregational setting in Washington to confirm that working in congregations was where she belonged,

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

March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

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community she enrolled at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, and one of her student pulpits was B’nai Israel in Natchez, just down the road from Jacobs Camp. She served there monthly in 2005-06, and said “it was a wonderful year.” At HUC, she earned the Nathan Stern Prize in 2008 and Simon Lazarus Prize in 2009 for highest academic achievement. She also received a Master of Education Administration from Xavier University. After ordination in 2009, she returned to Temple Israel, first as assistant rabbi, then as associate rabbi. In Memphis, she is chair of MICAH: Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope, and a board member of the Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association. She also prompted Temple Israel’s involvement in the HIAS Welcome Campaign, Keshet Equality Guide and OUTMemphis’ welcoming congregations. Though she chose being a rabbi instead of being a cantor, she “cherishes” Jewish music and incorporates that into her rabbinate. She, her husband and three children will move to New Orleans this summer. She said that she is “so lucky to have been in Memphis, and now in New Orleans. These are the congregations that are extremely formative for me.” She used to visit Touro through the National Federation of Temple Youth, which would have regional conclaves at Touro. She also got to know Touro clergy through their visits to Jacobs Camp. More recently, she had been getting to know the congregation on an adult level, and will start off by focusing on “taking a lot of time to get to know the congregation, the people and their hopes for the community.” With her Jacobs Camp experience, she is thrilled that the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience will be reopening in New Orleans next year. The museum had been housed at the camp until 2012. Another angle of Jewish Geography is that her childhood rabbi in Little Rock, Eugene Levy, is currently serving Northshore Jewish Congregation in Mandeville monthly. Levy, who officiated Bauman’s Bat Mitzvah and Confirmation, and co-officiated her wedding, said “She’s a gem… The Temple is lucky to have her.” Bauman said Touro “is the only congregational opportunity I have ever explored.” Memphis “is an incredible place,” but “this was the one for me.”

New Kosher options for Nashville visitors The calls to Chabad of Nashville are frequent: Someone is visiting Nashville on vacation or for a conference, and needs to find kosher food. Realizing the options are limited, especially for those seeking meals with meat or chicken, Chabad of Nashville has launched Nashville Kosher Take Out. “As the phones kept on ringing, with many people seeking Glatt Kosher meals,” explained Rabbi Yitzchok Tiechtel, “we knew we needed to come up with another alternative for people to get high quality delicious Kosher takeout food, and the brainstorming began.” The service’s mission is “to provide visitors to Nashville with delicious mouth-watering kosher meals,” Tiechtel said. “Whether one is a traveler visiting Nashville, or if one calls Nashville home and desired a delicious kosher meal delivered to their home via Uber, we now have them covered.” Meals are ordered through the website, nashvillekoshertakeout.com, which lists the available options. It is requested that orders be placed at least 48 hours in advance. Delivery is available through Uber and Lyft to area hotels and other local addresses, or pickup is available at Chabad, Mondays to Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information or to speak to a NKTO representative, call Chabad at (615) 646-5750. “Nashvillekoshertakeout.com looks forward to the opportunity to serve the Nashville community with all their Kosher meal take out needs,” Tiechtel said. 10

March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life


community

After heated controversy, Angela Davis returned to Birmingham Palestine advocacy was major emphasis; Davis cited fringe groups to show Jewish support for her positions After a month and a half of controversy, Angela Davis spoke in Birmingham on Feb. 16, though in a much larger venue than originally planned. Her appearance was the culmination of a long saga of twists and turns, after the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute announced last fall she would be this year’s recipient of the Fred Shuttlesworth Award. After many in the greater community expressed concern about Davis’ views that are seen as radical on several issues, including the Middle East, the Institute announced on Jan. 4 that the event would be cancelled, leading to a backlash among those for whom Davis is a civil rights folk hero — or, as many of the activists put it, a “shero.” A multi-generational group, the Birmingham Committee for Truth and Reconciliation, was formed and invited Davis to come to Birmingham on Feb. 16, the day when the original ceremony had been planned, and address a free community event. The program was originally planned for the Lyric Theatre, but sold out almost immediate-

ly. Organizers then moved it to the 6,000-seat Boutwell Auditorium, and according to the website, it was listed as sold out a day after the tickets were made available. Though there were boasts of a full house, seating on the main floor was about two-thirds full and the fixed stands had just a few hundred seats filled, with a crowd estimated at around 2,000. After the initial controversy, the Institute reinstated the award, but Davis said she was going to defer to the local activists as to whether she should accept. The Institute was initially silent about the reasons behind their cancellation, aside from a basic statement that a “closer examination” of her public record showed “she unfortunately does not meet all of the criteria on which the award is based.” That silence led to speculation about the reasons, and though concern had been expressed from numerous segments of the community regarding numerous topics, a narrative emerged that the pressure came from the Jewish community and its allies because of Davis’ outspoken

Angela Davis at Boutwell Auditorium support of the Palestinians and extreme anti-Israel rhetoric. In one sense, Davis reinforced that narrative in her remarks, but also cautioned not to “generalize” about the Jewish community, in particular praising Jewish Voice for Peace for its

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March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

support of her and her views. Jewish Voice for Peace, a far-left anti-Israel fringe group, works with pro-Palestinian groups on efforts to boycott Israel and isolate the Jewish state. Acording to the Anti-Dafamation League, JVP says Israel’s motivations are rooted in “Jewish racial chauvinism and religious supremacism” and supporters of Israel “are fundamentally racist oppressors of non-Jews.” The event’s format was “a conversation with Angela Davis,” with Imani Perry, the Hughes Rogers Professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, sitting down with Davis to discuss her philosophies and recollections. Like Davis, Perry is a native of Birmingham. Perry said that when the Institute rescinded the award, “the people of Birmingham immediately responded” to put together an alternate event. Looking at the cheering crowd, Davis replied “I have never loved Birmingham as much as I love Birmingham tonight.” Davis said the evening “almost feels as if we are marking a new beginning.” She had been “overcome with joy” upon hearing that she was named for the Shuttlesworth award. “Reverend Shuttlesworth has always been one of my heroes, and I have always admired those, especially Odessa Woolfolk, who had the vision that led to the creation of the BCRI,” she said. Despite the controversy, “I don’t want to do anything that can damage the future of this very important institution.” However, she continued, “I was surprised to hear that later they decided to rescind the award, and then when I discovered it might have something to do with my involvement over many years in efforts to advocate for justice for Palestine, it became clear to me that this might actually be a teachable moment.” Davis said “We might seize this moment to reflect on what it means to live on this planet in the 21st century, and our responsibilities to people not just in our community, but all over the planet, and of course in occupied Palestine.” She added, “Black people especially owe a great deal to Palestinians, who have been struggling for decades and decades and refuse to give up. They are an inspiration to people who are fighting for freedom everywhere.” Later in her presentation, Davis said Palestinians were the first to offer solidarity to the uprising in Ferguson, Mo., after the shooting of Michael Brown, a black teen, by a white police officer in 2014. “Let’s not forget that.” Davis said Ferguson exposed “the militarization of the police,” and in the process “we learned that the small police force in Ferguson had been in part trained by the Israeli army… that means if we want to struggle against racism, we have to be aware of the international reverberations, international connections and intersections.” Perry noted there is a “misperception… that solidarity with the Palestinian people does not mean one is anti-Semitic or one does not also have solidarity with Jewish people,” and she mentioned a National Solidarity Shabbat held the previous evening in Davis’ honor. The Shabbat was organized by JVP chapters around the country. A graphic was circulated for the Shabbat events, “Angela, You Are Welcome at this Shabbat,” echoing signs that were displayed nationwide in the 1970s when she was on the run as an FBI Ten Most Wanted fugitive, “Angela, Sister, You Are Welcome in This House.” For use at the events, JVP also distributed “The Torah of Angela Davis,” which stated “From Alabama to the Allenby Bridge; We choose solidarity, won’t let them drive a wedge; We’re Jews for Black liberation and a free Palestine; Because we know our struggles must be intertwined.” The Allenby Bridge crosses the Jordan River near Jericho and is the main entry and exit point for Palestinians traveling from the West Bank to places outside of Israel.


community One of the Shabbat gatherings was in Birmingham, hosted by Jesse Schaffer. Schaffer told Democracy Now! that Davis is an expression of how “our historic struggles are linked, whether it’s Palestinians, it’s black folks in the South, Jewish folks—really, any struggle for justice—that they’re all linked and that we’re stronger together.” Phyllis Mark told Democracy Now! she was “heartbroken” and “angry” by the controversy, and “as a Jew, it’s a deep, deep embarrassment and shame that I feel, that we would become an oppressor,” of Palestinians, “even though we see ourselves as an oppressed people.” Margaret Weinberg added that she never equated Palestinian solidarity with anti-Semitism, and “the important part now is that there have been so many fruitful conversations that have come out of this in Birmingham amongst different groups of people, and that’s been—that seems to be a really powerful thing.” Davis said JVP “has done an incredible job, not only in this particular moment but in general, creating a very powerful movement among Jewish people.” JVP also had placed a full-page ad in the Birmingham News that Friday, saluting Davis. Recently, Davis has been one of the main faces for JVP’s “I Stand With Ihlan” campaign, as U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar from Minnesota has been widely condemned for repeatedly using anti-Semitic tropes in discussing American support for Israel. Davis said the Shabbat “made me feel really humble… I don’t really think of myself as being special,” and that a lot of work done by organizations gets projected onto individuals. “I am simply standing in for the

work that was done by vast numbers of people, thousands and millions of people.” Praise of individuals is part of the problem of a capitalist society, and the only reason people know her name is because of the activists around the world who organized on her behalf when she was on the run in the 1970s. One supporter in a JVP shirt was at the event. Rachel Rubin of Chicago said she came down “to celebrate Angela” and her support “for Palestinian rights, but also her lifelong leadership in the struggle against oppression and for human rights.” IfNotNow’s New Orleans chapter had previously announced it would attend the event, but cancelled their trip. Referring to itself as “the Jewish future and the moral leaders that the Jewish community needs right now,” IfNotNow said it was “joining in the struggle against white-nationalism and not allowing the Jewish Establishment or Christian so-called ‘allies’ to define our tradition.” At a press conference earlier in the day, Davis was asked about the award being rescinded, and she said the only explanation the Institute gave her was because of statements she had made that were part of the public record. “I was at a loss,” and “should have thought” that it had something to do with her statements on Palestine. After the decision was publicized, “I heard from people all over the world, including huge numbers of Jewish organizations,” she said. “On the one hand, I am very sorry events unfolded the way they did… but on the other hand it provided an occasion” to discuss social justice in the 21st century. Though most media reports chalked up the award’s revocation to Jew-

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March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

community ish community pressure, she said not to paint the Jewish community with a broad brush, as no community is homogeneous. “What was damaging to the history of the involvement of Jewish people in progressive struggles was the way in which events unfolded in Birmingham. It gave the impression that somehow the Jewish community in Birmingham was opposed to my receiving the prize, and that wasn’t true at all.” She added that in her entire history of working with multiracial organizations, a disproportionate number of the white people have been Jews. She is also an alumna of Brandeis University, where she gave an address the week before. “I learned about Palestine at a Jewish university,” she commented. Davis was also asked how international awareness will affect the next election and “the U.S. policy toward blind unwillingness to criticize Israel and treatment of the Palestinians.” She replied that it was part of a “much broader question” of “the indivisibility of justice.” She added, “when we create social justice agendas, we can’t create this exception where we call for justice for everyone except for Palestinians.” She was then asked about how “women of color” are now being targeted for their support of Palestine. Davis reminded the questioner that Marc Lamont Hill was also targeted. Davis said a decade ago, while there was “a vibrant movement for Palestine, against the occupation,” it “was not included on most social justice agendas. It was a marginal issue.” There was a push to get it on social justice agendas just as anti-apartheid activism was widespread against South Africa in the 1980s. She credits the rise of Students for Justice in Palestine, JVP and Jews for Racial and Economic Equality for making the issue more prominent, along with its inclusion in the Black Lives Matter agenda. Another reporter asked if one can be pro-Palestine without being critical of Israel, and critical of Israel without being anti-Semitic. Davis accused Israel of trying to position itself above criticism. “How can a nation state present itself as not subject to criticism?” she asked. “Can you name another state in the world? The equation of criticism of the policies and practices of the state of Israel with anti-Semitism is outright wrong.” She added, “It is as important to be critical of the state of Israel as it is to be critical of the United States of America, and certainly the Palestinians who have been struggling for their land and for their freedom, for so many decades, for almost a century now, certainly they deserve solidarity.” Though Israel declared independence in 1948, it did not take the West Bank until Jordan attacked from there in June 1967. At Boutwell, Davis also spoke of growing up in Birmingham, how she became an activist, and her work to dismantle the current system of incarceration and policing, which she said is structurally racist. Perry asked Davis who she considers to be “her people.” “My people are all those who are struggling for justice and freedom in the world,” she said, citing indigenous people in the U.S., refugees who have nowhere else to turn, the Palestinians, the Rohingya in Myanmar, Kurdish women who are “standing up for revolution” and women’s equality, trans activists, the LGBTQ community “and all of those who want to bring the system of capitalism to its knees.” Earlier in the day, she led a closed workshop, “Power to the People: Activism and Justice,” which was attended by over 100 local activists. The evening program concluded with Davis receiving a special artwork from the Birmingham Committee for Truth and Reconciliation, with former Mayor Richard Arrington leading the presentation, along with many of the committee’s other activists from across generations. Arrington said planning for the “powerful” evening “began with a misunderstanding or a difference of opinion that sent shockwaves throughout our community and did not represent what we stand for and believe.”


community Cancelled then reinstated: How did it happen? BCRI decision reverberated internationally, with the Jewish community caught in the middle Three weeks after announcing that it was cancelling its annual Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award dinner and rescinding the award to activist Angela Davis, on Jan. 25 the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute announced its decision to “reaffirm” her as the recipient. After almost complete silence, the Institute finally explained some of what led to the cancellation. Without a concrete explanation, national media had speculated the cancellation came from backlash after Southern Jewish Life published an article describing Davis’ extreme anti-Israel activism, and detailing other controversial aspects of her history. That article was posted online on Dec. 23, and after the award cancellation two weeks later, some national reporters contacted Southern Jewish Life, as they said that piece was the only thing online that could be found as indicating there was any controversy over the selection. When the award was first announced last fall, the Institute said, “Through her activism and scholarship over many decades, Angela Davis has been deeply involved in movements for social justice around the world. Her work as an educator – both at the university level and in the larger public sphere – has always emphasized the importance of building communities united in the struggle for economic, racial and gender justice.” Andrea Taylor, president and CEO of the Institute, said Davis, “a daughter of Birmingham, is highly regarded throughout the world as a human rights activist. In fact, the Schlesinger Library at Harvard University’s Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study acquired her personal archives in 2018, recognizing her significance in the movement for human rights, her involvement in raising issues of feminism, as well as her leadership in the campaign against mass incarceration. Her credentials in championing human rights are noteworthy.” But Davis also has a controversial past, through activism with the Black Panthers, running for vice president on the Communist party ticket, and her role in a 1970 hostage situation in a California courtroom, where a judge and three others were killed. She was accused of providing the weapons used in the attack and landed on the FBI Ten Most Wanted list, but was eventually acquitted. Davis also has been at the forefront of the boycott-Israel movement, comparing Israel to an apartheid state and defending convicted ter-

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March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

rorists, such as Rasmea Odeh, who was convicted for her role in a 1969 supermarket bombing in Jerusalem that killed two college students. In a January 2018 speech at Washington University, Davis stated that pro-Israel advocates can not stand for intersectional social justice, and all feminists should be pro-Palestine. Though Davis advocates for the abolition of the prison system, in a 2015 profile Alan Dershowitz mentioned his request to Angela Davis to help a group of Soviet prisoners while she was visiting the Soviet Union. Many of the prisoners were Jewish, and some were imprisoned for requesting to leave the Soviet Union. She refused because, as her secretary put it, “they are all Zionist fascist opponents of socialism” who were trying to undermine the government. Others in the community were critical of Davis’ embrace of totalitarian leaders in the Eastern Bloc countries under Soviet domination, particularly Erich Honecker, who ordered troops to shoot anyone trying to escape East Germany. Now a critic of Israel’s security barrier, Davis visited the Berlin Wall in 1972. As part of the Institute’s Jan. 25 statement, a chronology was issued by the board of directors, explaining why the award had been rescinded on Jan. 4. In late December, “several members of the Board began receiving messages of concern from various segments in the Birmingham community.” The messages of concern “strongly opposed Dr. Davis’ views on a variety of issues and also expressed strong opposition to the BCRI for nominating her.” According to the chronology, the board held a special meeting on Jan. 3, at which they were told about opposition to Davis receiving the award. “Many heard of this issue for the first time,” but there were also “impassioned views” from board members “who view Davis as a brave ‘shero’.” The board voted to meet again on Jan. 7, to hear “opponents and proponents,” but otherwise hold off on a decision “until dialogue was facilitated.” But another special meeting was called on Jan. 4 by the board chair, who had been out of town the previous day. At that meeting, “board members reported on discussions they had with various members of the community that expressed opposition toward giving Davis the award due to her lack of vocal opposition to violence.” The Institute’s guidelines state recipients “must embody the principles that guided the American Civil Rights Movement and have characterized the life of Fred L. Shuttlesworth,” including a philosophy of non-violence and reconciliation; courage “both moral and physical, in the face of great odds;” humility, leadership by example and “an established commitment to human-rights activities.” The board then voted 9-2 to rescind the award and cancel the Feb. 16 event “based on new input from the community.” The statement also characterizes the decision as being “made by a diverse group of board members.” The two ex-officio non-voting members were not present. While some board members wanted to keep the decision confidential until more input from the community had been heard, a majority felt a “sense of urgency” to announce the decision, which was made on social media and the Institute website. The Institute, however, gave very little public explanation for the decision, stating just that a “closer examination” of Davis’ “statements and public record” showed “she unfortunately does not meet all of the criteria on which the award is based.” In the absence of a concrete explanation, the narrative spread nationally and internationally that the event had been canceled because the Jewish community dislikes her views on the Middle East, with pro-Palestinian groups charging that the Jewish community is trying to “silence” dissenting voices. It was pointed out that some previous recipients of this award, including Harry Belafonte and Danny Glover, have also been vocal critics of Israel. Others charged that a “black institution” was being told by outsiders who they can and can not honor.


community Women’s March leader Linda Sarsour, who has been in the middle of controversies over anti-Semitism in the march’s national leadership, said the decision was “absolutely outrageous. When you allow people to tell you who of your leaders is worthy and not — you lost your dignity and integrity. When will we say enough is enough?” Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin issued an initial statement that the cancellation came “after protests from our local Jewish community and some of its allies.” Woodfin later clarified that, saying some in the local and national media “are misconstruing the crisis of leadership at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute as a clash of cultures, ethnic groups, or races” and reiterating “it is not,” and that opposition came from a range of groups and individuals. After a private letter of concern to board members from the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center was leaked to the Birmingham News, many of the national media outlets changed their narrative, saying it was BHEC’s efforts that led to the cancellation. Much of the coverage following Davis’ talk on Feb. 16 repeated that narrative. Deborah Layman, president of BHEC, said sending the letter to the Institute board was their only involvement. “We had no further part in the decision made by BCRI to cancel the event, and we were surprised at their decision.” A group of local activists blasted the decision in a news conference held outside the Institute on Jan. 7. They called for a number of changes, including the resignation of the entire Institute board of directors, a “reshuffling of the deck.” They later mentioned a planned protest outside the Birmingham Jewish Federation office, but that never materialized. The Institute’s statements and chronology do not specifically mention the Jewish community, Israel or the Palestinians. On Jan. 9, three board members — board president Mike Oatridge, vice chair Walter Body and secretary Janice Kelsey — resigned. On Jan. 11, the board started a “series of conversations” with “interested persons in the Birmingham community,” and “those conversations will continue.” On Jan. 14, the Institute issued a public apology for its “missteps in conferring, then rescinding” the award. “We acknowledge that the culmination of our decisions and actions has caused division in the community and compromised the good name of the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute on the world stage,” the statement said. “Regardless of the outcome of our vote, many have rightfully questioned our selection process, which we vow to improve. In hindsight, more time, conversation and consideration of diverse viewpoints should have informed our decision to rescind our nomination, and we were silent for too long afterward.” The Jan. 25 announcement revealed that immediately after the apology, “in keeping with its commitment to learning from its mistakes and in order to stay true to the BCRI’s founding mission,” the board voted to reaffirm Davis as the recipient. Davis was “immediately thereafter personally invited to reaccept the award.” For her part, Davis said during her Feb. 16 talk in Birmingham that she would not want to see the Institute hurt by what happened, though she was deferring to local activists as to whether she should accept the award. Andrea Taylor, CEO of the Institute, said restoring the award was the right thing to do, and told Democracy Now! that it should serve as a lesson for “having the courage and being willing to advocate on behalf of that something that should actually happen.” Reverend Thomas L. Wilder, interim BCRI Board Chair, said “at the end of the day, we stand for open and honest dialogue on issues. It is only through our ability to talk openly and honestly with one another that we can achieve true understanding and appreciation for one another’s perspectives. We look forward to continuing the Institute’s legacy as we foster dialogue and open communications, improve our Board governance and policies, and stay focused on our Vision 2020 strategic plan.” He added, “We ask everyone to partner with us to rebuild trust in the Institute and its important work.”

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Heather Johnston, Ashraf Jabari and Avi Zimmerman at the Feb. 20 forum in Jerusalem

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While efforts from Washington to bring about a political peace between Palestinians and Israel continue to be fruitless, a different answer is coming out of Alabama. The Birmingham-based U.S. Israel Education Association and the Judea Samaria Chamber of Commerce and Industry held an Israeli-Palestinian International Economic Forum at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem on Feb. 20 and 21, with Israeli and Palestinian business leaders working together to advance economic opportunities in the territories. Over 140 registered for the event, twice what was expected. About 70 Palestinian business leaders were at the event. As part of the conference, on Feb. 20, the chamber announced the Judea Samaria Regional Development Financing Initiative, to integrate economic planning and advance joint entrepreneurship between Israelis and Palestinians who live in the area. The chamber was founded by Israeli Avi Zimmerman and Palestinian Ashraf Jabari. Zimmerman, who is from Ariel, said the chamber and USIEA initiated the forum “to promote business opportunities for all residents in the region. The process we launch today begins with developing an inventory of projects in the fields of tech, industry, tourism, environment, energy and infrastructure.” A statement from the two groups noted that “Political realities on the ground, including anti-normalization policies of the Palestinian Authority and mobility restrictions from Israel’s security policy in the West Bank, have historically acted as barriers to economic progress. But through the RDFI, the Chamber and USIEA are attempting to help businesses in the West Bank break through or go around such obstacles. This achievement has started a process that is mapping out prospective partnerships and opportunities in various sectors in the West Bank.” Jabari, a Palestinian business and community leader from Hebron, said such dialogue and communication was the only way forward for Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank. “We need to break the fence between Israelis and Palestinians and to know that there’s no other way but to work together. We can’t keep going like we have over 25 years and waiting for a political settlement. We don’t have time to wait for politicians.” “The political process will continue,” said U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who addressed the Forum. “We’re hopeful we will make real progress on that in the near future, but it is never a substitute or means to delay the opportunity to provide a better future for the Jews and Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, who are entitled to the very same things that we all want for our families.” Friedman said the event shows prospects for a true peace. “Not the peace that comes from a piece of paper, but the real peace that is in the hearts and souls of everyone here.” The U.S. stands with Palestinians and Israelis in that effort, and “no


March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

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one can or should tell you what is possible. No one should limit your dreams or scuttle your aspirations.” He added, “as the children of Abraham, there is far more that unites us than divides us. We are not destined to fight. Every one of us believes in the essential dignity and holiness of U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman every human being, and and Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma it is our sacred task to bring that holiness and dignity to our everyday life.” As part of the forum, a group of Israeli mayors and Palestinian mukhtars from the territories held a meeting about the RDFI. According to Zimmerman, the forum and the closed meeting were very productive first steps in a process of long-term economic growth in the West Bank. Financial tools and models will focus on two areas, Zimmerman said. A short-term investment fund will focus on enterprise, and a long-term bond bank model will work on infrastructure investment. “This session was very important for moving forward,” said Zimmerman. “Although this is not a peace summit, I’m pleasantly surprised when discussions on joint and mutual economic growth naturally evolve into a conversation of peace. We have not often had this opportunity to hold an Israeli-Palestinian sub-sovereign meeting, and I would like to thank every Israeli mayor and Palestinian mukhtar who joined us.” The USIEA works to boost U.S. support for the joint economic endeavors, both in the grassroots and the governmental realms. As most official trips by U.S. representatives do not include the territories, USIEA has arranged visits for numerous Congressional representatives and senators beyond the Green Line, the 1949 cease-fire line from Israel’s War of Independence. The USIEA also arranged for Friedman’s first official visit into the territories, for a chamber gathering last fall. The economic forum is different because it involves “an unstoppable people’s movement,” said USIEA Executive Director Heather Johnston. “It was important for our U.S. leadership to see what can happen in the way of a new future for Israelis and Palestinians living in the West Bank. The USIEA has connected with the JSChamber, the Milken Innovation Center, the U.S. administration and the Israeli government to magnify this grassroots movement between business and the RDFI. That’s what the Forum is for today, which was designed to show the future economic outlook and potential for the West Bank.” In the absence of a political peace plan, Johnston said, they looked at what would be possible in the territories. Among the former participants on USIEA trips is Sen. James Lankford of Oklahoma, who addressed the forum. “Sometimes in the world of politics, things move exceptionally slowly,” he said, but when something big happens, “the first people who come to help are our neighbors. Eventually, the government gets there, but it’s always neighbors who help neighbors first.” Lankford has fought to include language in funding bills that would encourage business development, “that when Palestinians and Israelis work together, we help them. For the first time ever, the United States has stepped in and said, ‘Where neighbors are helping neighbors and partnering together, we should consider that a good thing’.” Zimmerman also characterized the effort as free trade “amongst neighbors,” and said there are often more challenges within the territories than with Israeli-Palestinian business ties across the Green Line.


community Jabari noted that 200,000 Palestinian workers enter Israel every day, and there is about $800 million in trade each month across the Green Line. The chamber is working to “cultivate and promote an integrated business community to ensure regional stability and substantiate long-term sustainability.” Moshe Lev-Ran, International Export Manager of Twitoplast Ltd. spoke about the value of Israelis and Palestinians working together as neighbors. Twitoplast, which manufactures supplies for the air conditioning industry, is located in the Barkan Industrial Park near Ariel, and as the park is in the territories, it is a target of the boycott-Israel movement. Last October, a Palestinian gunman killed two Israelis at a different factory in the park, an incident that was seen as an aberration in what is otherwise an oasis of cooperation. Lev-Ran noted that the atmosphere of his factory is like a big family. The plant manager is Palestinian, Lev-Ran said, and when his one-yearold daughter had cancer, the company arranged and paid for her care at the best hospital in Israel, and took care of 18 months of follow-up treatment. She is now cancer-free. On Sukkot, when the Jewish workers are off for the holiday, the Palestinian workers open and close the plant for an eight-hour shift. “We trust them fully,” Lev-Ran said. “This is the relationship between us.” Zimmerman said the forum and the chamber aren’t getting into the politics of the Middle East, though they have to work with politicians to help facilitate a better business climate. “There is no commitment or agenda here for a particular political outcome” or type of peace deal, he said, noting that the members of the all-volunteer organization “don’t even agree on where we are supposed to be going” regarding peace dis-

cussions. “It’s not even on the table,” just a focus on economic development and improving daily life. Jabari said Palestinians “need to work together with Israeli people — people need to know that these are our neighbors and we live beside them… We want to stop the bloodshed. Everything will come together if we come together with our hearts. If Palestinians and Jewish people can’t work together, we will have pain for the next 50 years.”

Jackson’s Beth Israel Bazaar on March 27 The Beth Israel Bazaar, which has become a significant part of the cultural fabric of Jackson, drawing in hundreds from across the metro area, will be on March 27. Each year, the bazaar is the best opportunity in Jackson for visitors to sample authentic Jewish food, including traditional delicatessen-style favorites like matzah ball soup and blintzes, as well as Middle Eastern fare such as tabbouleh, hummus, and more. Additionally, visitors can bid on items from local businesses and restaurants in the silent auction, find treasures in the White Elephant and used book sale, and purchase homemade frozen casseroles and desserts from the take-home booth. The 52nd annual bazaar runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The bazaar began as a project of the Sisterhood, but is now a congregation-wide effort. A portion of the proceeds from the event go toward Beth Israel’s community partners, such as Community Stewpot and Food Pantry, Dream Street, the Henry S. Jacobs Camp, Meals on Wheels and the Salvation Army. In addition to the hot food line, takeout orders can be placed by phone or fax until 1 p.m.

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Attend the Best Gala of the Season!

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community CJFS honoring Hal Abroms at annual Hands Up event On April 28, Collat Jewish Family Services will honor longtime Birmingham businessman and philanthropist Hal Abroms at its 10th annual Hands Up Together event. The event is being chaired by Ronne and Donald Hess, who worked alongside Hal and his late wife, Judy, in the Parisian department store chain and in philanthropy. “Judy and Hal led and supported so many organizations, agencies, programs and services,” said Ronne Hess. These included CJFS, as well as the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Indian Springs School, The N.E. Miles Jewish Day School, Alabama Symphony, Alys Stephens Center, the Abroms-Engel Institute for the Visual Arts, and many others. “After Judy was diagnosed with dementia, the family turned to CJFS for guidance and support. And when CJFS launched its CARES respite program in 2015, Judy was one of the first participants,” Ronne Hess added. “Judy and Hal became recipients of the care and support they had helped to provide for others for so many years. CARES became a part of their weekly routine, and Hal saw firsthand what CJFS means to so many families.” Lauren Schwartz, executive director of CJFS, said Hal Abroms has championed CJFS in many ways — not only as a generous donor but as a fund-raiser and advisor. “Long before he and Judy began using our services, they were deeply committed to our mission, to enhance quality of life and strengthen independence for individuals and families, with a primary focus on older adults, by providing exceptional support services in accordance with Jewish values,” she said. “Hal has supported this agency in so many ways — financially, certainly, but also in the sharing of his wisdom and experience,” Schwartz added. “Many of our board and staff members have been mentored by Hal in one way or another, and we’re a stronger, more effective and ultimately more compassionate agency because of it.” Since losing Judy last October, after 69 years of marriage, Hal has struggled with health issues of his own, but he has never wavered in his support for the causes that are important to him, Ronne Hess said. “Hal has been a role model for all of us throughout his life. When he has faced challenges, he has continued to exhibit his determination to move forward and make a difference in this world. We hope that Hal’s many admirers and friends will join us on April 28 to honor him, and to enjoy the Rat Pack Revue, which will be channeling the spirits of Frank, Sammy and Dean.” The event will be at 4 p.m. at the Alabama School of Fine Arts Day Theatre, with entertainment by Las Vegas’ Rat Pack Revue. A wine and cheese reception will follow. Information on tickets and sponsorships is at cjfsbham.org/donate-now/ or (205) 879-3438.

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Beth Shalom hosting annual corned beef sale Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge will have its 35th annual corned beef sandwich sale from March 17 to 19. For volunteers, there will be a sandwich making party on March 16 at 6 p.m., followed by sandwich making and selling March 17 to 19 starting at 9 a.m., with business deliveries on March 18 and 19. The sale itself will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day. The $10 lunch includes a ¼ lb. sandwich, dill pickle, chips, homemade brownie and mint. Tuna salad and egg salad sandwiches are also available. Business deliveries are available for orders of five or more.

4100 3rd Avenue South • Birmingham 205-703-9895 Tues-Thurs 11a-9p Fri-Sat 11a-10p Sun 11a-3p March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

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community

JCRS honoring Betty Kohn at Jewish Roots gala If you have fashion, you have to have stores to sell it. This year’s honoree at the Jewish Children’s Regional Service gala, “Jewish Roots of Fashion,” comes from a small town store that had a rich history. Betty Bloch Kohn has lived in New Orleans since the 1940s, but she grew up in Napoleonville, where her parents owned the Leader Store before passing it along to her. It opened along Bayou Lafourche in 1890 with the motto “Quality and Service.” Her father, Maurice Bloch, had been a manager and jumped at a chance to buy the store. “We were a department store, handling everything you could imagine,” she said, from furniture to clothes, shoes, appliances and jewelry. They were part of the nearby Donaldsonville Jewish community, attending services at Bikur Cholim, which has long since closed and become an Ace Hardware Store. She came to New Orleans to attend Newcomb in 1941, and started working at Latter & Blum. Her husband, Ira, who died in 2012, came to New Orleans in 1948 and was a textile representative, and president of the Ira Kohn Company. Though their lives and careers were in New Orleans, they commuted weekly to Napoleonville, to be in the store. She said on Saturday nights, the store would be full as sugar cane farmers and workers would come by to cash their newly-received checks. When they closed the store in 1990, Kohn said they wanted to give back to the town, so they donated the building to Nicholls State University, which sold it. The proceeds went to establishing the Betty Bloch Kohn Scholarship, the first scholarship fund for a female athlete at Nicholls. It is awarded to a full-time female athlete who maintains eligibility and a GPA of 3.25 or higher, for up to eight semesters. Throughout their lives, they both were very active in numerous causes. She has served on boards and in leadership roles at Touro Synagogue, the National Council of Jewish Women, the Jewish Community Center and the Touro Infirmary Auxiliary. She also was the Honorary Co-Chair of the Saks Key to the Cure Gala benefiting the Louisiana Cancer Research Center in 2015 and the JCRS Jewish Roots of Celebration Gala in 2016. Her husband was a 1984 recipient of the prestigious Weiss Award as well as a recipient in 2002 of the L’Chayim Award, and he served on numerous boards in the Jewish and general communities, including a term as president of Touro Synagogue. On March 15, Touro Synagogue is rededicating its newly-renovated sanctuary and honoring Kohn. Touro President Teri Hunter said she visited with Kohn last June when Kohn asked 24

March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

her what she would like to see happen at Touro. They both agreed that new seating, carpeting and refinished floors in the sanctuary would be nice, and Kohn and the Ira and Betty Kohn Foundation made it happen. In 2015, Kohn established the Betty and Ira Kohn Camp Scholarship Fund at JCRS and is dedicated to supporting Jewish identity building through the camp experience. While she did not attend summer camp, the Kohns were at the groundbreaking for the Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica, and their children and grandchildren were campers there. Kohn, who is turning 95 just before the Gala, said she is “overwhelmed” by the honor. She explained, “We just enjoyed people and being active participants in the community.” The gala will be on March 30 at the Marriott on Canal Street in New Orleans, with a cocktail hour and silent auction starting at 6:30 p.m. There will be a seated dinner and a style show presented by Dillard’s. Over two dozen Jewish merchants and store owners from the soft goods and fashion industries in the region will be highlighted in the evening’s program book. There will also be a drawing for a $5,500 sapphire and diamond bracelet from Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry at Lakeside Shopping Center. Tickets are $20, or six for $100, and one need not be present to win. Tickets for the Gala event begin at $250 per person. For ages 35 and under, tickets are $100 each. Table purchases are available as well. Reservations and raffle tickets are available by calling the JCRS office at (504) 828-6334 or online at www.jcrs.org. Proceeds go toward the programs of JCRS, which serves Jewish youth in a seven-state region, with summer camp scholarships, college tuition assistance, special needs funding and the regional PJ Library program.


community NED MARSHALL DESIGN Alabama’s oldest synagogue celebrates 175th Mobile’s Springhill Avenue Temple, the oldest Jewish congregation in Alabama, did not survive 175 years by being static, said Rabbi Howard Kosovske. In fact, Springhill Avenue Temple is a relatively recent name for the congregation that started as Sha’arei Shomayim Umaskil el Dol, Gates of Heaven and Society of Friends of the Needy. At the 175th anniversary Shabbat the weekend of Feb. 1, Kosovske spoke about how the congregation Past Springhill Avenue presidents at the Feb. 1 service evolved over time and must continue to do so, demonstrating its relevance Byrne spoke about the time he and his wife at a time when organized religion is often dis- went to Israel three years ago. “Talk about the paraged. ancient and the modern being all mixed up to“Tonight is not about marking time,” gether.” Kosovske said, “it is about what it took to keep They spent Shabbat with a family in Jerusaus alive and relevant for so very long.” lem and were particularly touched by the parHe doubts the founders considered that there ents blessing their 23-year-old child, a soldier, would one day be a 175th anniversary celebra- as part of the Shabbat ritual. “That’s when I tion. They were concerned with creating a syna- knew how powerful your faith is… and how it gogue “that would be a place that would support knits together things in your community that go and enhance the Jewishness they felt and want- back to the beginning of time.” ed to express.” He added, “I’d like to think that I, as a person He said an appropriate reflection from Pirkei of the Christian faith, am your little brother.” Avot for the occasion is “Know where you are As the Shabbat candles were lit, it was notcoming from, know where you going, and be- ed that the candelabra had been given to the fore whom you in the end you are going to have congregation by St. Francis Street Methodist to render account.” Church in the 1890s. In 1895, the church was Taking part in the service were Rev. Sterling forced to rebuild from damage that began with Boykin of Ashland Place United Methodist a Union magazine explosion in 1865, and met Church and Archbishop of Mobile Thomas at Shaarei Shomayim during the reconstruction. Rodi. The church disbanded in 1993. A certificate of recognition by the city of MoPart of the service reflected on the congregabile was presented on behalf of Mayor Sandy tion’s musical legacy. A hallway display chronStimpson, and there were letters of congratu- icled the life of congregant Joseph Bloch, who lations from the Mobile Christian-Jewish Dia- teamed with Sigmund and Jacob Schlesinger, logue, the Gulf Coast Center for Holocaust and who became influential composers of Jewish Human Rights Education, Ahavas Chesed and liturgical music, publishing settings for the Rabbi Rick Jacobs of the Union for Reform Ju- Union Prayer Book that became standards in daism. congregations around the country. Jacobs, the URJ president, noted Springhill Mobile’s Jewish community purchased a secAvenue as “one of the oldest congregations in tion of Magnolia Cemetery in 1841, and in Janthe United States” and said the congregation uary 1844, Sha’arei Shomayim was founded. In “has much to be proud of and an impressive 1846, Benjamin da Silva became the first rabbi. history to reflect upon.” After meeting in private homes, the St. EmanRep. Bradley Byrne also addressed the con- uel Street Temple, located between Church and gregation, saying it was “truly very special” to Government Streets, was dedicated in Decemattend the service. “You have made a significant ber 1846 as the first synagogue building in the contribution to our community.” One of the state. contributions, he noted, was sending him MirThat structure was quickly outgrown, reiam Fry, who is a senior legislative assistant in placed in 1853 by the Jackson Street Synagogue. his office. The Ten Commandments from that building

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community are now in the auditorium at Springhill Avenue Temple. On Dec. 11, 1856, a stove in a basement schoolroom caught fire, destroying the building. Funds for rebuilding came in not only from members but also from the Christian community in Mobile. Ground was broken at the same site in June 1857, and the new building was consecrated on May 14, 1858. In 1868, Abraham Laser became rabbi. He died in the 1870 yellow fever epidemic, and a marble marker in Magnolia Cemetery pays tribute to the “martyr rabbi.” After adopting the more modern style of liturgy after the war, the congregation joined the Reform movement in 1878. In 1901, Alfred Moses became rabbi, serving until 1940, the longest tenure of any rabbi at the congregation. There were 43 congregants who served in World War I. In 1906, ground was broken for a new building on Government Street at Warren Street. That building was used until 1952. In 1956, the Government Street building was demolished. Ahavas Chesed, Mobile’s Conservative congregation, had an option on land on Springhill Avenue, but chose not to purchase the property. A week later, Sha’arei Shomayim took an option on the same property. The Government Street building, badly in need of repair, was deconsecrated in October 1952. High Holy Day services were held at Government Street Presbyterian Church. Until the new building was ready, service would be held at the church and at Dauphin Way United Methodist Church. The current building was constructed in 1954. The first service, the Bar Mitzvah of Thomas Zivitz, was held March 25, 1955, though the building had not been approved for occupancy. In 1961, the ebony doors at the entrance to the sanctuary were dedicated in memory of Hirsch Frohlichstein and Sarah Loeb, the “first couple to be married in the first synagogue of the first congregation by the first rabbi in the State of Alabama.” A new religious school wing was dedicated in 1967. The Ben May Chapel was built in 1999. Kosovske said the challenges that the times generated over the years were characterized by the continuous need for the synagogue to remain not as it was, but to remain relevant and responsive to what each period of history put before its membership. While a long history “has contributed to who we are,” the future depends on “not being static, but about representing us as we change.” “We’re the guarantors to the future,” he said. “We’re the ones who need to ensure that 175 years from now, people won’t say ‘do you remember the congregation that lasted 175 years’,” but instead will be celebrating the 350th anniversary.


Southern Jewish Life

Spring Dining Guide Promotional Section Photo taken at Kosher Cajun, Metairie March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

27


New Orleans

Fury’s

Spring Dining Guide

724 Martin Behrman Ave., Metairie (504) 834-5646

921 Canal Street, New Orleans inside the Ritz-Carlton

The Fury family has been in the restaurant business since 1967 and at its current Metairie location since 1983. We make all of our sauces inhouse from tomato to tartar, and every meal is freshly made to order.

M bistro’s menu is an indigenous approach to the preparation of the finest meats, seafood and produce from growers in Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama.

Pete’s

Seaworthy

444 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans Inside the Intercontinental Hotel (504) 525-5566

630 Carondelet Street, New Orleans Next to the Ace Hotel (504) 930-3071

Located in the InterContinental Hotel, Pete’s offers a relaxed feel, set in classy chic décor with splashes of colorful murals and beautiful chandeliers throughout.

Ace Hotel New Orleans’ cocktail and oyster bar. Set in a Creole cottage dated 1832, Seaworthy showcases bivalves accompanied by seasonal seafare and cocktails.

English Turn

The Columns

1 Clubhouse Drive, New Orleans (504) 392-2200

English Turn Golf and Country Club offers contemporary American cuisine, such as Filet Oscar — 8 oz. filet mignon, jumbo-lump crabmeat with Béarnaise sauce. Dining is open to the public. 28

M Bistro

Southern Jewish Life

March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

3811 Saint Charles Avenue, New Orleans (504) 899-9308

The Columns offers something for everyone — the perfect place for receptions, seated meals or special occasions, versatile rooms can host up to 300. Sunday Jazz Brunch available with reservations.


Southern Jewish Life

Casablanca

New Orleans

Spring Dining Guide

3030 Severn Avenue, Metairie (504) 888-2209

Kosher Cajun

3519 Severn Avenue, Metairie (504) 888-2010

At Casablanca Restaurant, we bake challah every Friday. Plain, chocolate and raisin. Pre-order challah by 5 p.m. Thursdays. Pick up Fridays between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Kosher Cajun New York Deli & Grocery has authentic New York specialties — all Kosher certified. Enjoy classic eats like Reubens and matzah ball soup, plus kosher grocery staples too.

Josephine Estelle

English Tea Room

600 Carondelet Street Inside Ace Hotel (504) 930-3070

734 E. Rutland Street Historic Downtown Covington (985) 898-3988

With an emphasis on seasonal ingredients and homemade pastas passed down from our Maw Maws, Josephine Estelle is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and happy hour.

The Windsor High Tea, comprising sandwiches, mini-savories, mini desserts, two chocolate dipped strawberries, two scones with house-made clotted cream, lemon curd or preserves.

Acropolis

Apolline

3841 Veterans Blvd, Metairie (504) 888-9046

Combining fresh, locally sourced products, pairing them with our Mediterranean roots and seasonal heritage to bring you an eclectic yet authentic menu, has always been our mission.

4729 Magazine Street, Uptown (504) 894-8881

Apolline features contemporary French cuisine with Creole influences and locally-grown ingredients. Confit Duck Bowl: Potato hash, peppers, poached eggs, cracklin and hollandaise March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

29


Birmingham

The Bright Star

Spring Dining Guide

304 19th Street North, Bessemer (205) 426-1861

4426 4th Ave. So. (205) 643-5956

Founded in 1907 in downtown Bessemer, the Bright Star is Alabama’s oldest family owned restaurant and is a James Beard American Classic, known for Greek-style seafood and great steaks.

Loaded plantains (above) are just part of the authentic Puerto Rican cuisine at Tropicaleo. Serving authentic flavors made with local ingredients, with vegan, Paleo and gluten-free options.

Bistro V

Makarios

521 Montgomery Highway (205) 823-1505

940 20th Street So. (205) 731-7414

Located in Vestavia, Bistro V serves lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, with a menu that includes fresh seafood and local and organic meats and vegetables, much of it with a New Orleans nod.

Makarios Kabob and Grill is the jewel of Middle Eastern foods and traditional cooking. Makarios Kabob is known for its bright flavors and freshness, delicate marinades for chicken, lamb and beef kabobs.

Taj India

Lab Bar

2226 Highland Avenue (205) 939-3805

Taj India, Birmingham’s original Tandoori Grill and Curry House, will remain in its current location through next summer, serving authentic Indian dishes with a lunch buffet and extensive dinner menu. 30

Tropicaleo

Southern Jewish Life

March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

808 20th Street So. (205) 933-9009

Located in the Hilton Birmingham at UAB, the Lab Bar and Kitchen features Southern-inspired, locally-sourced dishes with Alabama-made cheeses and meats, locally grown produce and fresh Gulf seafood.


Southern Jewish Life

The Fish Market

Spring Dining Guide

612 22nd Street So. (205) 322-3330

Birmingham

3rd Avenue So. Avondale Common House 4100(205) 703-9895

A Birmingham classic, The Fish Market on Southside offers the freshest seafood around, live music and an oyster bar. Private and semi-private dining available, along with catering.

A lively Neighborhood Bar & Grill in the heart of Avondale, with Birmingham’s best patio and brunch. Avondale Common House offers fun eclectic Southern bar fare with a twist.

Red Pearl

Whistling Table

243 West Valley Ave., Homewood (205) 945-9558

3916 Clairmont Ave. (205) 407-5460

Red Pearl, inside Super Oriental Market, serves authentic Asian cuisine with a full menu at lunch and dinner every day. A special event room is available.

The brick-and-mortar Whistling Table evolved from the popular Shindigs food truck, featuring an Americana eclectic menu with a farm-to-table fabric, working with local farmers and vendors on seasonal dishes.

Blueprint on 3rd

Wintzell’s

3000 3rd Avenue So. (205) 479-3000

An industrial art deco brasserie in a former blueprint company building, Blueprint on 3rd offers a seasonally-changing menu focused on New Orleans and Low Country cuisines.

3144 Heights Village, Cahaba Heights (205) 637-0188

Wintzell’s Oytster House, the Mobile-based landmark Southern seafood establishment serving fresh Gulf seafood, now has Birmingham-area locations in Cahaba Heights, Fultondale and Leeds. March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

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community Waffles on Maple changes certification Uptown location now supervised by Rabbi Greenberg

Happy Chanukah! Expanded Dining Room — Perfect for Private Parties

Check out our Changing Seasonal Menu! Let us cater or host your simcha!

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We can even customize a menu that puts the Bistro V stamp on traditional Jewish dishes and family recipes

Open for Lunch and Dinner

Mon-Sat 11a-2p & 5-9p

521 Montgomery Hwy, Suite 113 Vestavia Hills (205) 32

March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

823-1505

Yes, Waffles on Maple in New Orleans is still certified kosher. Confusion apparently arose because the original Uptown location of Waffles on Maple has changed certification, from the Louisiana Kashrut Commission to oversight by Rabbi Gabe Greenberg of Beth Israel in Metairie. Since last August, the newer location of Waffles on Maple in Metairie has been under Greenberg’s supervision. Rotem Dahan said the change puts both locations under the same supervision and the same guidelines. Greenberg said the only change is that the Uptown location is now Cholov Stam instead of Cholov Yisrael. When it first opened five years ago, the Uptown location used exclusively Cholov Yisrael products, which are derived from milk that was milked under religiously-observant supervision. Since opening two years ago, the Metairie location has been Cholov Stam, using milk products from regular dairies. Many rabbinic authorities state that Cholov Stam is sufficient as governmental oversight means there is no danger of milk from other, non-kosher species being mixed in, but some prefer to stay with exclusively Cholov Yisrael products. As Cholov Yisrael milk is often difficult to purchase outside large Orthodox communities, Dahan said such products are much more expensive for him as regular kosher products. Rabbi Yossie Nemes of the Louisiana Kashrut Commission said there was a procedural disagreement over whether packaged items prepared at the Metairie location, a Cholov Stam location under Greenberg’s supervision, could be ordered for pickup at the Cholov Yisrael Uptown location under LKC supervision. Dahan said they decided it would not be in their best interest to continue with LKC, and on Feb. 25, a “consumer Kashrut alert” on kashrut.com stated that Waffles on Maple “has discontinued its LKC certification and is no longer under our Hasgacha.” Though Waffles on Maple had not changed its procedures after Feb. 25, it wasn’t until March 7 that it was announced that the Uptown location was under Greenberg’s supervision. Nemes said the parting between Waffles on Maple and LKC was amicable, and when he heard Greenberg would be doing the certification, he wished him and the owners of Waffles on Maple “Hatzlacha and all the best.” Dahan said the hard cheese products at Waffles on Maple are Cholov Yisrael, and soft cheese products are on the CRC kashrut agency approved list. Their kashrut procedures include having appliances turned on by an observant Jew each day, along with doing vegetable checks when needed, and a kosher supervisor is present most of the time Uptown, though dairy restaurants generally are not required to do so. They also do hafrashat challah for pizza dough, the tradition of separating a portion of the dough to be set aside and burned. Pas Yisrael products are available upon request. In addition to Waffles on Maple, kosher establishments in New Orleans include Rimon at Tulane Hillel, under the supervision of Rabbi Yonah Schiller; and Casablanca, and Kosher Cajun, under LKC supervision, along with Dvash Catering from the Metairie Jewish Community Campus kitchen, also under LKC supervision.


celebrations an annual SJL special section

Photo courtesy Raizk Design

Chupah in the courtyard at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans

Varied Venues: Where to Celebrate Royal Frenchmen in historic mansion

Elegant Ritz Carlton undergoing a “redeaux”

Located in New Orleans’ Frenchmen Street Entertainment District, the Royal Frenchmen Hotel and Bar is a unique oasis. Beautifully restored and renovated in 2017, the Creole Mansion features 16 guest rooms and suites, a stunning courtyard, beautiful event space, and Frenchmen Street’s only craft cocktail bar. Subway restaurant magnate Hugh Stiel purchased the buildings across from Washington Square Park in 2013 from Father Flanagan’s Boy’s Home, to transform the site into a unique hotel that blends into the surrounding neighborhood. The buildings were originally owned by Julien Lacroix, a noted free man of color in the mid-19th century. Several owners came and went over the decades, using the property for mixed residential and commercial purposes. Royal Frenchmen can host a simcha for up to 150 guests, with the courtyard venue nestled between the main building and the annex, private gated on-site parking, and bar and catering packages. Director Megan Sapp has been recognized by The Knot as one of the most outstanding wedding and catering coordinators. Indoor venues include the polished lobby, conference room and bar, which can be booked separately or in combination to accommodate parties of varying size. Royal Frenchmen can accommodate casual corporate lunches or cookouts, elegant baby showers, weddings, birthdays, anniversaries, and graduations. Despite being open for less than two years, the Royal Frenchmen Hotel Bar is already considered the No. 3 hotel bar in New Orleans, behind only the historic Carousel Bar in the Monteleone, and Sazerac at the Roosevelt.

The crown jewel of Canal Street, the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans is about to undergo a $40 million “redeaux,” a renovation aimed to further energize the luxurious legacy of the historic 1908 Beaux Arts Maison Blanche building. The transformation will extend to guest rooms, suites, corridors, and the renowned Ritz-Carlton Spa, while also unveiling refreshed amenities to complement to hotel’s original charm and grace. The colors and aesthetics of the new guest rooms and corridors will mirror the elegance of the recently renovated event and meeting space. With more than 35,000 square feet of meeting space, The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans is well equipped to host a celebration of nearly any size. The Ritz-Carlton is a destination for weddings and celebrations with expertise in Indian and Jewish weddings, Mardi Gras balls, bar/bat mitzvahs and family reunions. When planning a wedding, couples work side-by-side with a dedicated wedding planner to select a venue from the hotel’s indoor and outdoor spaces. The Courtyard is ideal for an intimate outdoor ceremony or a night of dancing, while the Grand Ballroom can host a seated reception for 770 guests. Additional venues include the Lafayette Ballroom, Mercier Terrace and Courtyard, and the 12th-floor Crescent View overlooking the French Quarter and the Mississippi River bend. The Ritz-Carlton offers customized culinary experiences and menus, from weddings to wine tastings, and has hosted several large Jewish weddings in recent years. March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

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simchas

Party with the Big Guy at Vulcan Park

m it z va h s w ed dings fi ne s tat io nery

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2919 Linden Avenue 205.281.8135 Follow scribblerpink on Instagram! 34

March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

Celebrations at Vulcan Park and Museum are “high above the ordinary,” and with the opening last March of the Kiwanis Centennial Plaza, the iconic Birmingham landmark can offer more space options. “Vulcan is the ‘front porch of the city’,” said Vulcan Park and Museum Marketing Director LaShana Sorrell. “The unique thing about having an event up here is that all guests can tour the museum, park and go up in the tower. Hosts can also get welcome gifts for special guests from our gift shop, The Anvil.” She said in the museum event space they could accommodate 250 people standing. They could accommodate another 500 total in the Overlook and Plaza areas. For one summer wedding at the Overlook last year, the couple loved the beach so much that they covered the outlook with beach balls, which also served as favors for the attendees. Another wedding had a heaven theme with Electra dressed in white. In April, Vulcan will host a Bar Mitzvah. Vulcan Park and Museum upgraded its lighting system last year as a part of the expansion. Vulcan is lit up every night in rotating colors. On Friday and Saturday nights at 9 p.m., they have a light show with music, and in December the pedestal was lit blue for Chanukah. Last month, a new exhibition commissioned by the Alabama Bicentennial Commission made its Birmingham debut at the museum’s Linn-Henley Gallery. “Alabama Justice: The Cases and Faces That Changed A Nation” is an interactive traveling exhibit that covers issues including civil rights, equal protection, city zoning and prayer in public schools. It runs through May 9.

The Cannery can make your dreams happen Located in the heart of Mid-City, The Cannery is New Orleans’ Premiere Wedding and Special Events venue. The Cannery is a multi-purpose venue offering 12,000 square feet of modern, unique space that can be customized for any occasion, with a flexible open floor plan that means the room never feels too large or too small. Flexible seating arrangements are offered, with a variety of furniture options included. They have hosted bridal and couples showers, sit-down dinners, Mardi Gras balls, non-profit galas, silent auctions, fashion shows, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, wedding receptions and more. The Cannery features Toulouse Gourmet Catering, which customizes every event’s menu. To set the mood, The Cannery offers LED lighting sequences, projectors, screens, a large stage and a state-of-the-art sound system. The venue also has off-street parking. The venue opened in 2012 in the space formerly used as a warehouse for the American Can Company, until it closed in 1988. After several years, Pel Hughes purchased it for their growing marketing company, then leased it to a convention service provider. They soon realized it was a perfect space for an event venue, so The Cannery was born. At The Cannery, anything you can envision for your event can come to life.


simchas Big or small, B&A can host amazing events The B&A Warehouse at Railroad Park in Birmingham upgraded to LED lighting last year and a couple of weeks after the Festival of Lights, hosted a wedding that was “their biggest, most successful production” of 2018. On Dec. 22, the B&A hosted the Peetluk-Saag wedding, attended by 250 guests. “They brought in some very classy furniture and décor. It was so elaborate it took several days to set up. The chupah was just beautiful,” said B&A Marketing Director Haley Roebuck. “Our chef (Deborah Thomas) worked with them on a special kosher-style menu and we brought in some kosher meals for a few guests.” On May 5 of last year, they hosted Abby Cohn’s Bat Mitzvah. The theme was “Rock Star” and included a red carpet, fitting décor, one food station for the adults as well as one for the kids. The B&A also has two B’nai Mitzvah already booked for 2020. Roebuck said B&A could accommodate up to 800 people in the entire building. “It’s an open canvas, so people can really personalize it to fit with their special celebration,” she said. The B&A’s cuisine is primarily Southern, but they can do special, custom menus, even including some family recipes. In April, they will do their first fully-vegan menu for a wedding.

The Intercontinental’s LaSalle Ballroom offers 21-foot ceilings, Lalique chandeliers, and floor-to-ceiling windows for panoramic views, It can seat up to 640, and numerous smaller spaces are also available. After a $26 million rejuvenation, the four-diamond Intercontinental has 484 upgraded guest rooms. A favorite of business and leisure travelers, the Intercontinental is steps away from the French Quarter, as a rooftop pool with stunning city views and fine cuisine at Trenasse Restaurant.

Ace Hotel: The Friendly Gathering Place

Ace Hotel is holding all the cards when it comes to hosting great celebrations and providing accommodations for guests. Ace Hotel Sales and Marketing Director Dawn Ledet said that they have hosted Jewish weddings, movie premieres and “special events from eight people to 1,000 people. Our space is so flexible and plentiful. It can be transformed into anything,” said Ledet. Those themes for events have ranged from a New Orleans setting complete with a swamp to a Swedish garden to one that combined both Paris, France and Paris, Texas. Recently, they also hosted a preview gathering for the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience. The hotel includes the James Beard Award-winning Josephine Estelle Restaurant and Bar as well as the Alto Rooftop Bar and Grill. said the restaurant specializes in Italian with a Southern U.S. twist Intercontinental a New Orleans experience butShe “we can customize a menu for any event. We have done kosher-style, The Intercontinental offers a true New Orleans experience for simchas vegetarian and vegan,” said Ledet. and the guests attending them. Their flexible venues overlook St. Charles The Ace Hotel offers more than 6,000 square feet of space for events. Avenue and are the perfect setting for receptions, wedding ceremonies, re- Ledet said part of the wedding package is a complimentary honeymoon hearsal dinners and other parties. suite for the bride and groom. Every detail is handled, from the tablecloths and settings to event flow, Located on 600 Carondelet Street in the Warehouse District, the 1928 art unique meal planning, décor, lighting, even custom ice carvings. deco building housed Barnett’s Furniture Store until the 1970s.

Federico’s FAMILY FLORIST

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Larry Federico, Owner/President

Kenny Thone, Co-Owner/Vice President

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The Columns’ Garden District elegance Now a 20-room hotel and event venue with the renowned Victorian Lounge and Front Gallery, The Columns was originally built as the residence of Jewish tobacco merchant Simon Hernsheim in 1883. With a prime Garden District location on St. Charles Avenue, it is the only remaining example of the large number of Italianate houses designed by Thomas Sully in the late 1880s. Hernsheim, it is estimated, employed 1500 people and was the largest private employer in the state of Louisiana in his lifetime. The home is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The Columns has over 35 years of event planning and hosting experience, able to accommodate receptions from 25 to over 300 people. Seated meals can be hosted for up to 90, and there are rooms for full-day or half-day meetings or retreats. The Columns also has daily happy hour in the Victorian Lounge, and a Sunday jazz brunch.

Overlook the 18th hole at English Turn

Coming soon…

from the team at Southern Jewish Life

A new magazine for Israel’s Christian friends

israelinsightmagazine.com 36

March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

Once reserved for the exclusive use of its members, the Clubhouse and grounds at the renowned English Turn Golf and Country Club in New Orleans are now available for private events from the public. One does not have to be a member of the club or resident of the community to host events there. The centrally-located English Turn, which has been part of the community for 30 years, is nestled on the westbank area just a few miles from the CBD and French Quarter, offering an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The facility is the perfect place for luncheons, dinners, cocktail parties, corporate events — and of course, all manner of simchas. There are many spaces for business meetings. The 40,000 square foot clubhouse includes a large ballroom with floor to ceiling windows, a glass ceiling atrium, and an impressive main dining room overlooking the 18th hole. It can hold seated dinners of up to 350 people, and wedding receptions for 500. The outdoor venue overlooks two fountains and the 18th green. In December, the Algiers Economic Development Foundation held its annual luncheon there, with Governor John Bel Edwards as the keynote speaker. In the last 28 years, English Turn has hosted over 1600 weddings, and is part of The Knot’s Hall of Fame for wedding venues.


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Production values valued at Workplay Workplay hosts simcha “party animals,” and on March 21 will host a party to benefit animals that need a home. The Birmingham music venue, recording studio and private event space has been the site for many celebrations for those in the Jewish community, including the elaborate Campusano/Schulman wedding. Workplay offers numerous event spaces, from a three-tiered, Cabaret-style theater with a 450-person capacity to an 800-capacity soundstage as well as the Canteen, which can hold 150 people. There are also more intimate spaces for smaller events, and the Workplay Bar. “We host concerts here regularly and we know how to make someone’s celebration an incredible, exciting production,” said Workplay Owner Tommy Williams. On March 21, Workplay will host the 12th annual Croonin’ for Critters. Birmingham professionals will sing on behalf of homeless animals, with proceeds benefitting the 41st-annual Do Dah Day, which is set for May 18. Hosted by Birmingham attorney Tommy Spina, Croonin’ for Critters borrows from the American Idol format. Contestants will perform a song accompanied by the Robbins-Morton Orchestra, with critiques from celebrity judges Pam Huff, Bruce Ayers and Ona Watson. The audience will vote for their favorite singers through $1 donations and can vote as many times as they wish. Jewish wrestler-turned-opera-singer Sam Tenenbaum will sing in the charity event. Special guests will include the Disco Amigos, who practice and teach a disco dancing class at the Levite Jewish Community Center.

City Park: 1300 acres of picturesque venues Looking for a large venue? City Park New Orleans is located on 1300 acres, but can accommodate a wide range of events, both large and small. City Park has an incomparable outdoor landscape, a unique selection of over a dozen historic and architecturally significant venues, and one of the largest catering operations in the Greater New Orleans area. Venues are outfitted to suit any occasion and all party sizes — intimate gatherings, luncheon groups, family reunions, corporate meetings, picture-perfect weddings, and more. The 12-acre Botanical Garden has protected indoor and outdoor environments, including the Rose Garden, Zemurray Azalea and Camellia Garden, Lily Pond, Pavilion of the Two Sisters, Conservatory, and the Garden Study Center and Lath House. The 60-foot-wide showstopper Popp Fountain recently underwent a major restoration, and is ideal for weddings and cocktail parties. The Arbor Room at the fountain is City Park’s newest event facility, with space for 350 at a seated dinner, and an outdoor terrace for additional seating. For more casual gatherings, there is City Putt, New Orleans’ only mini golf complex, or the magical Storyland. Since 1985, City Park has offered full-service catering, from formal to informal, traditional New Orleans cuisine and elegant cocktail fare.

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After Everyone Yells “Mazel Tov…” Turn the shards into a one-of-a-kind M&M Jewelers shines bright in Birmingham

wedding keepsake

M&M Jewelers continues to shine brightly as a successful woman-owned business in Birmingham for more than 25 years. Laura Robinson opened M&M Jewelers at the Colonnade in 1991. A couple of years later, she moved M&M Jewelers to its current location at Inverness Corners on Highway 280. Robinson remains the sole owner and is a graduate gemologist from the Gemology Institute of America in Santa Monica, Calif. M&M specializes in design, appraisal, watch and jewelry repairs, insurance replacements, engagement and wedding rings, exotic color stones as well as pearl jewelry. For supporters of the Alabama Crimson Tide and Auburn Tigers, they also sell team-logoed and colored jewelry. “Our goal is customer service and to keep the hometown jewelry store atmosphere,” said Robinson. “We strive to help with everything from a simple watch battery to an extravagant engagement ring purchase.”

Dreamcakes Bakery makes simchas sweet

Rosetree Glass Studio and Gallery “Blown Glass with a New Orleans Accent”

446 Vallette Street • Historic Algiers Point

A Short Ferry Ride Across the River from the Quarter BLOWN GLASS STUDIO AND GALLERY

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504-366-3602 Email info@rosetreegallery.com for more info

March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

Dreamcakes Bakery in Homewood has been a sweet dream realized for co-owner and founder Jan Potter. And for simchas celebrants, if “they can dream it, Dreamcakes can do it.” Back to when Potter was young and got her Easy Bake Oven, she dreamed of making cakes for a living. Her sister gave her $25 as a gift to take a cake decorating class 30 years ago. Potter did so well in the class, they asked her to teach it. “I started making cakes for my family. Then I worked for 10 years as a food stylist for the test kitchen at Southern Living. Co-workers and friends requested that I make cakes for them, so I did that just about every weekend,” she said. “I enjoy cooking all sorts of things, but baking and cake decorating are what I love to do the most.” She took a leap of faith and started up Dreamcakes in a small Cahaba Heights location 10 years ago. After a year, the response was so great that Dreamcakes moved to its larger, current location. One year after that, they introduced Birmingham to its first cupcake truck — the second food truck in the city, Potter said. In addition to custom cakes for any occasion and a rotating menu of cupcakes, Dreamcakes sells other sweet treats including macaroons, cookies, pound cakes, oatmeal cream pies and cannoli. They also have flourless chocolate tortes ideal for Passover, and have some gluten-free and vegan options. Potter said they have provided custom cakes for many simchas in the Jewish community, including weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and other celebrations. “Late last year we did a superhero and video games themed, five-tier cake for a Bat Mitzvah at Regions Field.” Dreamcakes can also say “batter up,” since they are the official baker for the Birmingham Barons baseball team. They also provide cakes for Brookwood Hospital — the parents of every baby born there get a birthday cake to celebrate the baby’s birthdate. Dreamcakes co-owner/CEO Dwight Potter, Jan’s husband, said the business has grown every year. They plan on opening a second location in The Villages at Ross Bridge later this spring. “We’ve been very appreciative of the community’s support and we look forward to what is coming up,” he said. “It’s fun to have a business that brings smiles to people’s faces.”


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simchas

Honeycreeper Chocolate brings craft sweets to B’ham

Si Ars Artist-Designer-Illustrator

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March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

Life and business are sweet for Courtney Pigford, who opened Honeycreeper Chocolate last August on Morris Avenue in downtown Birmingham, becoming the Magic City’s only craft chocolate shop. “I know all of the makers we carry. Craft chocolate is ethically sourced, high-quality chocolate. It tastes better; it’s better for your body and you feel good about eating it,” said Pigford, who was hooked after attending a craft chocolate festival in Seattle. “A whole world opened up for me. I did some research and realized there was no one else doing this here.” Honeycreeper Chocolate — named for the small songbird with cacao pods and bright plumage found prevalently in tropical forests — offers bean-to-bar chocolate, small-batch truffles and cocoa sauces, powders and spreads from craft chocolate makers across the United States as well as around the world. The FDA says that for a product to be called chocolate, it needs to contain at least 10 percent cacao. Craft chocolate at Honeycreeper contains 75 percent or more. “It’s just cacao and sugar, without all the preservatives and other things you get from the packaged, mass-produced, industrial, big-boxbrand chocolates,” she said. “You can really taste the different and the quality.” Pigford earned certification to be a Master Chocolate Taster and loves educating customers about craft chocolates. Honeycreeper features a “tasting wheel” that shows the range of flavor profiles. She said Honeycreeper sells bars and truffles (or “bon bons”) including dark chocolate, milk chocolate, white chocolate, mixed with cinnamon, lemon and other fruits, sea salt, peanut butter, caramel as well as a variety of other flavor complements. Honeycreeper also sells marzipan, and has a few vegan chocolate items. They sell variety boxes and are happy to do customized confections for celebrations as well as corporate gifts. “We can do bon bon dessert buffets, guest


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welcome bags and even bring in some custom flavors we might not carry in the store,” said Pigford. Customers from across the Southern Jewish Life coverage area can order all Honeycreeper products online at www.honeycreeperchocolate. com or by calling the store. Pigford and her husband Jay, who owns Architecture Works, say Honeycreeper is a labor of love. “It’s not just about selling high-quality chocolates. It’s about creating memories and making people happy,” she said. “That’s what makes me happy.”

Federico’s designs colorful events Since 1976, Federico’s Family Florist helps ensure New Orleans area simchas are in full bloom. “We do whatever we can to please everyone, and have a wide range of options in floral,” said Kenny Thone, who co-owns Federico’s with Larry Federico. “We’re happy to do custom arrangements for any special celebration. Thone said they regularly deliver flowers for and provide floral event decor at several New Orleans area congregations. Over the past 40-plus years they have done event floral work for Jewish weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and other celebrations. Federico’s also provides floral for several Mardi Gras krewes. “New Orleans is very artsy, very fun. We tend to do more colorful, festive arrangements,” said Thone. “Color schemes can vary, but big and beautiful is universal.” Thone said they have been successful all these years because they treat their customers right. Federico’s also offers special discounts to non-profits. “We pride ourselves on offering great service and giving customers their money’s worth,” he said.

Look to the Scribbler for the right invitations and favors In the world of invitations, saying the “write” thing with the “right” look and price make all the difference. The Scribbler owner Ginny Hutchinson got into the invitation industry part-time in 2004, helping out her friend Carolyn Green. In 2008, Hutchinson opened The Scribbler in Mountain Brook’s Crestline Village before relocating to Homewood in 2012. “We know these are special life events for our clients, so we want to make sure they know all of their options out there. We can customize anything,” said Hutchinson. “Our wonderful clients become our friends… and we love getting their repeat business.” While 80 percent of The Scribbler’s business is wedding-related, Hutchinson said they do plenty of Bar and Bat Mitzvah invitations. “We’re doing invitations, but also personalized favors, T-shirts and other fun items for the actual day,” she said. “Custom design is very popular.” Hutchinson said today, two-ply paper, envelope liners, embossed print and gold or silver foil have made their way more frequently into invitations. “Letter press is also a nice process. It’s comparable to engraving,” she said. The Scribbler has worked with many in the Jewish community on invitations for their special simchas. Paget Pizitz had her wedding at a farm and had a save-the-date with hay in it that read, “hay, we’re getting married.” They also did materials for the Nadler Bat Mitzvah. The Scribbler is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, but they are happy to do appointments after hours.

Built in 1883 for Jewish merchant Simon Hernsheim, reflecting his love of large worldly splendor and small simple eloquence…

the “storied”

COLUMNS HOTEL Prime Location on St. Charles Avenue in the Garden District Over 35 Years of Event Planning and Hosting Experience Office/Business Functions, Birthdays and Anniversaries, Luncheons, Weddings and Rehearsal Dinners

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

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Reserve Your Simcha Today!

March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

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simchas Weddings, Bar-Bat Mitzvahs, other simchas…

If you can dream it, we can do it Photo by Alisha Crossley Photography

Also come in the store for our famous cupcakes, brownies, cookies and other treats.

dreamcakes bakery

960 Oxmoor Rd. Homewood, AL 35209 205.871.9377 | dreamcakes-bakery.com

Travel Central New Orleans plans celebration destination trips For a couple who want to say “I do” on a Hawaiian island, Travel Central in Metairie vows that every detail of their celebration destination vacation will work out as planned. “Whether it’s a honeymoon, anniversary or a destination wedding, Hawaii remains a top travel destination,” said Travel Central owner Melinda Bourgeois. “With golden-sand beaches, cascading waterfalls, lush rainforests, rugged canyons and spectacular sunsets, Hawaii is the paradise destination that exceeds expectations.” Hawaii is known for its black cream and white sand beaches as well as immense volcanoes. For destination weddings, Bourgeois said, “the options are endless, but they share one similarity — they are no-fuss weddings.” Katie Smith, a Travel Advisor for Travel Central, said wedding packages could be as detailed as a wedding party wants, down to the photography and cakes. Honeymoon packages can include not just flight, lodging and transportation, but spa days as well as breakfast in bed. Smith said each island has a different personality. Packages can be geared toward the active and the laid-back. On the island of Hawaii, she recommends Volcano National Park, where visitors can “hike the crater and explore the Thurston lava tube or take a helicopter tour of the island to take in the red lava trail.” When visiting Maui, she suggests going to Hana for waterfalls, pineapple plantations and lavender farms. Smith recommends booking at least nine months out, if possible, for Hawaii or other destination weddings. “This is what we do every day,” she said. “We can put a special vacation together from beginning to end. We have relationships with all of our suppliers so if anything doesn’t go 100 percent as planned, we can assure our clients it will get worked out.”

Barton-Clay Jewelers specializes in customer service What started as a gem of an idea more than 30 years ago flourished into Barton-Clay Jewelers, a successful, locally-owned jewelry store in Mountain Brook that believes the most valuable thing is the customer service they offer. “Our customers know they can count on us being here for whatever they need,” said Eric McClain, who started Barton-Clay in Mountain Brook Village in 1987, with business partner Barton “Sperry” Snow. “They know they can get high-quality jewelry at affordable prices. We’re locally owned and a part of the community. That’s important to our customers and to us.” McClain said Barton-Clay does much research before bringing a line into the store to make sure it fits well with them and their customers. They also do a lot of custom and repair business. “I’ve been doing this for many years,” he said, as McClain and Snow were jewelers who gained expertise in custom and repair work before starting Barton-Clay. “But we’re always learning, reading industry publications and going to trade shows to stay on top of things.” Barton-Clay at its core will always be known as a jewelry store, but over the years they have diversified their product mix to include Montblanc Pens, ceramics, jewelry boxes, designer eyewear, Swiss Army Knives, crystal pieces and more. They carry menorahs by Olivia Riegal, which also has a line of picture frames made with precious stones, and big candles with menorah charms on the box by Lux Fragrances.

Celebrations section stories written mainly by Lee Green 42

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At Rosetree, get a unique keepsake from wedding glass stomp

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• March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

Mark Rosenbaum of Rosetree Blown Glass Studio and Gallery has a way to make the iconic Jewish wedding moment — the stomping of a glass — live on in a unique way. For over 20 years, Rosenbaum’s studio has been housed in a renovated theatre in historic Algiers Point, just across the river from the French Quarter and walking distance from the ferry. Ten years ago, a friend was looking for something unique for his wedding, so Rosenbaum suggested a special glass to stomp, but he would then take the shards and make them into “a piece they could display as a memory of their wedding.” That evolved into the current line for weddings, with a cup called a “jellybean” that can be transformed into a vase, wine glasses or an eternity ring. The jellybeans come in a range of colors, and he works one-on-one with the couple so they can see what they will be getting. While some companies take clear glasses and encase the shards in Lucite, “nobody else is doing it where they are reconstructing the pieces” inside another piece, he said. In the studio, the pieces are heated, layered into the glass and blown out as an integral part of the piece. The multicolored pieces come through, thanks to a white layer on the inside of the jellybean, preserving the vibrant colors. Couples or gift-givers can stop by the studio at 446 Vallette Street to select the jellybeans and determine what keepsake they would like to have made, to remind them of their special moment. Of course, there are many other gift-giving ideas at Rosetree. His “blown glass with a New Orleans accent” includes Mardi Gras pumpkins based on a Barataria Bayou legend, glass art based on ancient Greek “Black Figure” pottery that includes imagery of Mardi Gras parades and Mardi Gras Indians, Wisteria vases, candlesticks, stemware, oil lamps and pendant lights.

For a true one-of-a-kind keepsake, Sherri Arias captures memories at weddings and other celebrations with live event art. And at some of the events where the former Homewood art teacher has painted, her daughter Brittany Arias Sturdivant has worked her own art through Love Be Photography. After teaching art for 25 years as well as doing her own artwork on the side, Sherri Arias retired in 2013, about the time Brittany got engaged and started planning her wedding. “She and I looked into live event art and there were very few people in the region doing this,” said Arias. “Most of those doing it used acrylic or oil but I didn’t think anyone else was doing watercolor. It has a soft, romantic feel that really fits a wedding.” Arias booked her first wedding in 2015 and the business grew quickly. “I started promoting on Instagram and spreading the word with those in the wedding planning industry. This is a unique niche, but people are excited once they learn about it,” she said. The first meeting with the wedding party, or those involved in other celebrations, usually comes four to six weeks before the event to learn more about what they most want to capture. Closer to the event, Arias will take photographs and do some pre-planning. “It’s important to prepare, but the inspiration comes from being at the event itself,” said Arias. “I look for those little moments, those moments that are just so unique to the wedding or other celebration.”


community

Now retired from JEF, Saundra Levy reflects on 27 years of growth Agency to celebrate her legacy at annual event on March 28 For the first time in 27 years, there is a new face at the helm of the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana, and the agency will celebrate the leadership of Saundra Levy at its annual event this month. The event will be held on March 28 at Audubon Tea Room, with a patron party at 6:30 p.m. and dinner at 7:30 p.m. Levy retired at the end of last year and was succeeded by Bobby Garon. While the agency has grown tremendously in stature and in dollars raised, Levy repeatedly emphasized how that growth was a team effort, through the hard work of long-term staffers and a dedicated group of lay leaders and professional advisors. Levy said she knows Garon “will do a great job” in building up the agency’s resources, new funds “and continuing the work of JEF.” Levy succeeded Helen Mervis, who retired in 1991. Mervis “had done a great job, and I definitely stand on the shoulders of those who preceded me,” Levy said. Over the last 27 years, JEF assets have grown from $8 million to over $62 million, and the agency went from having 50 named funds to over 500. A New Orleans native, Levy started working for the city in 1969, soon becoming the federal programs administrator, seeking grants for projects in the city. After taking a little time off, she came back in 1975 to help formulate the ordinance that created the Historic District Landmarks Commission, then became its first director. The agency actually coordinates two commissions — New Orleans and the Central Business District, regulating and protecting “cultural, social, economic, political and architectural history.” Being director was “a wonderful opportunity for me, and I was honored

to be given that position by then-mayor Moon Landrieu.” She learned the skills of managing an organization with several staffers, and how to serve through the administrations of several mayors. “I always had wonderful staff working with me,” at the commission, she said. “It’s the same with JEF.” In 1991 she felt like it was time for a change, and she knew Mervis was retiring. Mervis had also been a city employee before joining JEF, and Levy felt JEF would be similar to her city position, as both dealt with things she cares about deeply, legacy and preservation. In this case, it would be “preservation and securing of the Jewish community and its organizations.” She certainly had a knowledge of the community, “having lived here all my life,” and had a broad-based view as a graduate of what was then called the Lemann-Stern Young Leadership group of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. When she started at JEF, “there was a lot to learn.” At the time, JEF had a staff of two and Levy knew beforehand that one of them would be departing

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community soon, but after she started, the other one had to retire for family reasons. She quickly hired two new employees, and today the agency has a staff of six. As assets grew and annual returns blossomed, JEF has been able to give more money in grants to constituent agencies and other Jewish organizations. Numerous programs began under her leadership. She is proud of JEF launching the Jewish Summer Camp Experience from the General Fund in 1999. “I was delighted that the Goldring Family Foundation wanted to take over the project and enlarge it” from just the New Orleans area to the rest of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida panhandle. The Goldring Jewish Summer Camp Experience now gives a grant of up to $1,500 for any Jewish child in that region to attend an overnight Jewish non-profit summer camp for their first summer. Around 1,400 campers have taken part in the program. “It has been an incredibly positive program, and it has been a pleasure to work with the Goldring Family Foundation,” she said. Holocaust education has also been a priority. When “Schindler’s List” came out, JEF took many students from public and parochial schools to screenings. Recently, JEF received a request from a school for 20 copies of the Diary of Anne Frank. In response, JEF “placed a collection of 20 books on the Holocaust at all private, parochial and public schools in greater New Orleans,” over 80 schools, she said. “As survivors pass away it is crucial that we educate future generations about the Holocaust.” From the time that Rabbi Edward Cohn “shared the vision” with Mayor Marc Morial, JEF was also involved in the creation of the Holocaust memorial at Woldenberg Park, which was dedicated in 2003. With its prominent location, it has been viewed by countless tourists. Levy said working with the New Americans, the local Holocaust survivors, in remembering their families on the memorial, was “a very heartbreaking and heartwarming project.” She said it was “a tremendously important project” for the whole city. She is also proud of Create a Jewish Legacy, started in 2009 as a partnership among JEF and the Jewish agencies and congregations, to safeguard the community through endowment funds that are boosted through bequests or other planned gifts. She also imported Perpetual Annual Campaign Endowments, where donors establish a gift that will endow their Federation Annual Campaign gift in perpetuity. Some such gifts are for Lions of Judah, a giving level of women who contribute at least $5,000 annually. Another major change was renaming JEF to the Jewish Endowment Fund of Louisiana, to position it as a statewide asset. It reflects that the agency holds funds for the Baton Rouge community and B’nai Israel in Monroe, as well as family foundations. She also altered the format of the annual events, going from a seated dinner — to which it has sometimes returned — and held special events. Her second year, JEF had Abba Eban as a speaker, drawing over 500 in a bid to “expand our audience.” JEF also has professional advisory events, where experts speak on financial matters, such as planned giving, educating the community on their options. To that end, the Professional Advisory Committee is “a pivotal part of the success of JEF,” she said. “There is no way we would have the success we have had without the PAC, our presidents and our boards.” The committee is a range of professionals and consultants in the community who assist donors in their philanthropic goals. She said the committee members allow JEF to offer personal service unmatched by for-profits, and “our donors tend to be our best advertisement.” Another major responsibility is to be “a responsible steward of the assets,” and Levy said she worked with “outstanding leadership” overseeing investment strategy. The JEF also touches the general community, with donors directing allocations to a wide range of non-profits, especially hospitals, universities and schools. There are also funds held at JEF for non-Jewish organizations. “We can do everything any community foundation can do,” holding funds for programs and maintaining donor advised funds, endowment funds for other agencies and charitable gift annuities for individuals. Those annuities are “an excellent way for donors to provide for the future 46

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March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

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community of the Jewish community” while receiving an immediate tax deduction and income. “That program has done extremely well,” she said. To help train the next generation of philanthropists, the Young Philanthropist Fund allows the opening of a JEF donor advised fund for minors with a gift of as little as $500. Normally, a donor advised fund requires $10,000 before distributions can be made. Of course, August 2005 was a “pivotal time” in JEF history, Levy said. After Katrina hit and the levees broke, the entire community was scattered across the region, with questions of how long it would take to be able to return, and what would be left in the community. While other local agencies wound up in Houston or elsewhere after being evacuated, JEF was able to open in Baton Rouge. Thanks to members of the Baton Rouge community, JEF had office space and housing for its staff, and with the proximity to New Orleans, she was able to work with national groups that were coming to help. Soon, Jewish Family Service also opened a Baton Rouge office. Because one of the staffers had put everything on a thumb drive just before the storm, they were up and running quickly, “locating people, holding board meetings by phone.” During the recovery, JEF disbursed $1 million to the Federation. As Levy explained, if Federation is the community’s checking account, JEF is the savings account, and “it was definitely the rainy day, and we wanted to make our assets available” to help the community keep all of the institutions functioning. Katrina also demonstrated the importance of the JEF’s General Fund. Many funds are donor advised or earmarked toward specific needs, while General Fund proceeds can be used for any need that arises. “These are the hardest dollars to raise, they are also the most important,” Levy said. “That was nowhere more evident than during Hurricane Katrina.” In recent years, the General Fund has continued to grow “through individuals who have left money to the General Fund.” Levy was also president of Temple Sinai. In that role, she was able to assist the Union for Reform Judaism’s efforts at disaster relief, helping ensure that the local congregations survived. “There was so much hard work on the part of all the Jewish professionals to make sure we came through it,” she said. Reflecting on the agency’s last 27 years, Levy said JEF’s best five years have been the last five years, and she especially praised the staff — Projects Coordinator Ellen Abrams, Donor Relations Manager Maggie Bothwell, Controller Doris Gauthier, Staff Accountant Aleshia Goodlow and Legacy Director Patti Lengsfield. She noted that they have been with the agency for a long time, with some at or approaching two decades. “They know the donors,” she added, and that is important as donors “don’t have to get used to new people every year or two.” That has made a huge difference, she said. Last year, the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Greater New Orleans chapter, honored her as Outstanding Fundraising Professional. She also spoke about the role models in her life. “So many of the past presidents and the current president have really been role models for me,” she said. “I have worked with many incredible people.” But in speaking of role models, Levy mentioned her parents, especially her mother, who “owned a business and worked at a time when not a lot of women were doing that… my mother was really my original role model.” With her passion for JEF, she is doing some consulting as needed, helping Garon with the transition. In Garon, “the board picked a great director who is equally as passionate about the Jewish community, and will have great success.” In her new chapter, she will be able to visit her daughter in California more often, but she isn’t going anywhere. Her son lives in New Orleans, and “my life is in New Orleans.” Noting that many of New Orleans’ leading philanthropists historically have come from the Jewish community, Levy said “one of the great joys is to be able to assist our donors and be able to witness the incredible generosity in what is a small segment of the overall community of New Orleans, and see the impact the giving has on the whole community.” Tickets to the annual event are $250 and are available through JEF. Patron levels start with Lilies at $1,000, up to Roses at $15,000. 48

March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life


community urday performances at 7 p.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for students to age 18. The N.E. Miles Jewish Day School in Birmingham now has a Girl Scouts troop, meeting after school once or twice a month. The group is for all ages, but mainly targeted to Kindergarten to fifth grade. The Bais Ariel Chabad Center in Birmingham and PJ Library will have a Mini Matzah Bakery for ages 0 to 5, April 7 at 10 a.m. Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El has extended the contract of Music and Youth Director Sarah Metzger for two more years, to the summer of 2021. Huntsville’s Temple B’nai Sholom will have a kosher wine tasting event, “Red, White and Bubbly,” on March 30 at 6 p.m., in anticipation of Passover. The event is also a benefit for the congregation. B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge will have Nature Shabbat on March 30 at 10 a.m., at Bluebonnet Swamp. Hadassah Shabbat for Hadassah Shreveport will be on March 29 at 8 p.m. at Agudath Achim. The joint service will be conducted by Hadassah members, Agudath Achim Cantor Neil Schwartz and B’nai Zion Rabbi Jana De Benedetti.

at 10:15 a.m., featuring Jennifer Zimmerman, Barry Crown and Jeanne Boyle discussing physical and emotional health. The free event is open to all parents and grandparents. Temple Beth El in Pensacola will have a cemetery cleanup, March 24 from 9 a.m. to noon. On March 19, there will be a Jar For Change evening at Bistro Byronz Midcity in Baton Rouge, as part of Joey Roth’s Mitzvah project. A portion of food and soft drink purchases, dine-in, to go or delivery, starting at 5 p.m. will be donated to Jar For Change. There will also be live music by Michael Roth. The 36th annual Holocaust remembrance at Jacksonville State University will be held on April 2 at a new venue, Leone Cole Auditorium. The speaker will be Eli Pinhas from Birmingham. He is the son of survivors from Thessaloniki, Greece. Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile is planning a congregational trip to Israel in March 2020, led by Rabbi Howard Kosovske. Those interested should contact the office by April 1; expressing interest does not imply a commitment to go.

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The Temple Emanu-El Quartet will lead a Sermon in Song at the 5:45 p.m. Shabbat service on March 22 at the Birmingham congregation. The performance will feature different melodies of Shalom Aleichem. The Pensacola Jewish Federation and PJ Library are hosting a PJ Havdalah on March 30 at 5:30 p.m. at the Vigodsky home in Gulf Breeze. On April 7, Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El will hold “Trading Places: A Poverty Simulation,” coordinated by Greater Birmingham Ministries. Religious school students age 13 and up from Temple Emanu-El will also participate. The three-hour simulation shows the struggles of those making their way in the world while struggling with poverty. The event is open to the entire community, and the start time was not set at press time. The Levite Jewish Community Center in Birmingham will have a St. Patrick’s Day Tennis Mixer on March 17 from 1 to 4 p.m. The tournament is a random-draw mixed doubles pairing, with seven five-game mini-sets. There will be prizes, snacks and refreshments. The Beth El Sisterhood in Pensacola will have a pediatric health forum, “Raising Resilient Children in Today’s World,” on March 31 March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

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community

Olympics softball aspirations Birmingham’s Rebecca Blitz, Ole Miss alumna Jamie Morgan named to Israeli team A Birmingham native who is one of the all-time top softball players at Indiana University and a former Ole Miss outfielder from Arizona have their eyes on reaching the Olympics in 2020 — playing for Israel. Rebecca Blitz, who starred for four years on the Indiana Hoosiers’ softball team and who helped lead the United States team to the Israel Maccabi Games gold in 2017, and Ole Miss alumna Jamie Morgan, who is now assistant softball coach at Winthrop in South Carolina, are on the Israeli team that hopes to become the first-ever Israeli team to qualify for the Olympics. All previous Israeli Olympians were in individual sports. The Israel Softball Association selected Blitz and Morgan in naming the first half of the roster. The announcement included 12 players. To play for Israel, the players are required Photo by Mike Dickbernd/IU Sports to have at least one Jewish parent or Rebecca Blitz grandparent and must travel to Israel to receive dual citizenship. The team will be coached by Stacy Iveson, who currently serves as the Director of Operations for the University of Arizona. The players will travel to Israel in May to receive their citizenship. They will return to the U.S. to train, then on July 4 they will head to the Czech Republic for the European championships. If they place in the top six, they will go to Holland for the Olympics qualifier. They would have to place in the top two in Holland to advance to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Jamie Morgan Blitz said several of the team members have never been to Israel, “so it will be fun to show them around.” “The Maccabi Games was my first time ever in Israel and I fell in love with the country right away,” said Blitz, a centerfielder who will earn her graduate degree in information systems this May. “It’s a beautiful, diverse country and such an important place to our people. It was one of the greatest experiences of my life.” Blitz returned to Israel this past December on a Birthright Israel trip. She went with her older sister, Callie, who was making her first visit to Israel. “We had even more of a chance to see the sights, since we didn’t have softball competition,” she said. “I learned so much more this time and it was so special sharing it with my sister. We stayed in six different places in 10 days.” This time, Blitz said it is exciting “to be able to go out on the field and compete again, this time being able to represent Israel and my heritage. It makes even more special as we attempt to do something Israel hasn’t done 50

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in over 50 years, which is qualify for the Olympic Games.” Morgan started her college career at Phoenix College, where she was part of the 2012 national championship team during her freshman year. They came in second the next year. “The Ole Miss coach contacted Coach Mueller at Phoenix College looking for an outfield transfer,” she said, and an assistant coach from Ole Miss went to see her play at a showcase tournament, then invited her for an official visit. “I fell in love with campus and I really enjoyed getting to know the coaching staff,” she said. “I enjoyed my time at Ole Miss, and getting to play in the SEC against the best teams in the country was definitely a dream come true.” At Ole Miss, she made 49 starts in 87 games over two years, hitting .291 with 33 runs and 16 RBI, and was 13 for 19 in steals. She mainly played right field. A high school teammate, Tamara Statman, recently told her and fellow high school teammate Leah White about the opportunity with Israel Softball, “and we both decided to get in contact with the people helping organize the Israel Softball.” They heard back from Maren Angus, who was on the 2017 U.S. Maccabiah team and had been splitting time between Tennessee and Auburn back then. Angus informed them that they had been chosen to represent Team Israel. “It will be fun to play with girls that I used to play with when I was in high school,” Morgan said. “Leah and I played together since we were eight years old, and she is still my best friend to this day.” Statman attended Arizona, and White played for Stanford. Morgan said her mother is Jewish and had her Bat Mitzvah in Israel. “We are very close to her side of the family and I enjoy learning more about Judaism from them.” She has also celebrated holidays with White’s family. Playing for Israel “is amazing opportunity to represent my family, and the schools that I’ve played for,” Morgan said. The Czech Republic and Netherlands “are both places that I’ve always wanted to travel to and it will be exciting to get to see what the differences are playing in different countries.” Blitz started playing softball in the first grade and played multiple sports growing up, including soccer, basketball and horseback riding. In the sixth grade she decided to stick to just softball and made some traveling teams. She would go on to star for the Mountain Brook High School Spartans’ softball team. During the fall of her sophomore year, Blitz played some games in Illinois and drew the attention of Indiana University. They would offer her a scholarship her senior year of high school to play for the Hoosiers. “I have really enjoyed my time at Indiana,” she said. “There is a strong Jewish presence and we were very close as a team. I welcomed the challenge of balancing athletics with academics.” Blitz finished her softball career second all-time in Indiana Hoosiers’ history with 236 hits, second in stolen bases with 89 and fourth in runs scored with 133, and sixth with a career batting average of .339. In August, Blitz will move to Chicago to do technology consulting for Eli, Ernst and Young clients. “I’ll help these Fortune 500 and Fortune 100 companies discover what technologies will work out best for them,” she said. “I’m excited about this opportunity.” Her mother, Jann, is the head of endowment for Temple Emanu-El. Blitz’s father, Russ, is the vice president of sales for an employment screening services company. “I’m grateful that my parents have always been so supportive,” she said. “And I’m certainly excited for the future.” March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

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1. Cook Pasta in salted boiling water. 2. Slice wild mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste, lightly toss in oil and roast in oven on a sheet pan for 10 minutes at 325 degrees. 3. In a saute pan, heat up the mushrooms, drain pasta and add to mushrooms. 4. Add heavy cream to pan and cook until cream begins to tighten. Then add the goat cheese and toss until smooth. 5. Season with salt and pepper 6. Garnish with freshly chopped tarragon.

Hilton Birmingham at UAB, The Lab Bar and Kitchen by Lee J. Green The University of Alabama at Birmingham has gained a reputation for innovation, technology and research excellence. The Hilton Birmingham at UAB, along with its Lab Bar and Kitchen, which held its grand opening Jan. 31, mirrors that spirit. Formerly the Double Tree by Hilton Birmingham, the UAB Education Foundation purchased the property in November 2016. The hotel’s renovations began a year ago, with a comprehensive design and refurbishment plan culminating in a top-to-bottom transformation of the hotel. “The transformation has been extraordinary,” said Hilton Birmingham at UAB General Manager Lisa Castanga. “It’s been a strategic, collaborative effort between Hilton and UAB to create this flagship Hilton property in the heart of the college campus.” The hotel features a design aesthetic that reflects UAB as well as iconic Birmingham. Hilton Birmingham at UAB offers 17,000 square feet of high-tech meeting and event space, including three ballrooms named for significant UAB students, leaders and educators — Hamilton, Skipwith and Montgomery. Etgar 36, traveling Jewish students who learn about civil rights in the continued on page 53 52

March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life


community >> Rear Pew Mirror

continued from page 54

Haman rescinds his execution order. Esther is relieved that she doesn’t have to resort to blackmail, but doesn’t know what to do about her affair. The next day, Haman’s wife confronts him about how much he’s changed lately: rescinding his genocide order, his sudden odd shift in his taste for hat design. She can tell he’s having an affair and hangs him from a tree, along with his 10 sons to ensure they don’t grow up to be like their father. She then retires in style thanks to a lucky lottery ticket. And Achashverosh and Vashti rule happily ever after. Doug Brook says that while out of chaos comes order, out of Chaos Theory comes an order sent back to the kitchen. To read past columns, visit http://brookwrite.com/. For exclusive online content, like facebook.com/ rearpewmirror.

>> Lab Bar

continued from page 52

Deep South, has already held events at the hotel. “We have weddings here quite frequently and corporate lunches as well as everything in between,” said Castanga. “We have packages for bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs. We look forward to continuing to be a resource to the community.” Southern-inspired and locally sourced, the Lab Bar and Kitchen opened its doors in December. Alabama-made cheeses and meats, locally grown produce, fresh Gulf seafood and Southern-inspired dishes will rotate through the full, seasonal menu. Alabama products on the menu include artisan goat cheese from Elkmont, Pablo’s Pickles from Huntsville and deli meats from Mr. P’s Deli in Birmingham. The Lab’s local sourcing also extends to dinnerware. Earthborn Pottery of Leeds outfitted the restaurant with custom-designed plates, bowls and other serving pieces. Kosher-style menu items include skillet cornbread, ahi poke, guacamame of edamame and guacamole, roasted beet salad, Waygu sirloin steak, fried chicken sandwich, mushroom bucatini and grilled peach tart. They can customize to make most other items kosher-style as well. The Lab’s mixologists embrace local spirits, with a cocktail menu crafted to combine Southern flavors with modern combinations. One of their signature drinks is the Blazer, a green-colored potable with dry ice that creates a “dragon’s smoke.” They also have a wide selection of wines and a rotating selection of Alabama-based craft beers. A quick-serve restaurant located next door to The Lab, The Lab Market Café serves guests on the go with seasonal, locally sourced gourmet salads, sandwiches and prepared foods, along with a full breakfast service. The Lab Bar and Kitchen Head Chef Matthew Comarato said their place on UAB’s campus inspired the name. “The collaborations of UAB have brought some of the world’s most significant medical breakthroughs. The Lab is a tip of the hat in appreciation to the institution,” said Comarto.

Huntsville Shabbat celebrates interfaith friendship Huntsville’s Temple B’nai Sholom will hold a Shabbat service and oneg to celebrate interfaith friendship with the churches in the neighborhood, and to mark 120 years of B’nai Sholom’s building downtown. The April 5 event at 7 p.m. will remember the congregations that welcomed B’nai Sholom to the area bounded by California Street, Lowe Avenue, Gallatin and Church Streets, and Pratt Avenue. Some of the churches have since relocated, but they remain connected wth each other. The “reunion” is also part of Alabama’s bicentennial celebration. March 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

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rear pew mirror • doug brook

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Not-Queen Esther Contemporary archaeological finds such as the Dead Sea Scrolls provide ancient manuscripts that sometimes reveal mildly different wording than commonly accepted canon. One example of such canon fodder was recently discovered stuck between pages of the long-lost Mishnah tractate Bava Gump. It’s a copy of the book of Esther with one minor difference in the story: Vashti is never removed as queen. Does this one minor non-event with a minor character change the story from what is commonly known? Let history and both of this column’s readers be the judge… King Achashverosh is throwing a party in Persia, to celebrate the success of its latest international export: rugs. He summons his queen, Vashti, to show her off to everyone at his party. Vashti considers declining but decides to fix her makeup and make an appearance. After all, after a week of partying, one of the king’s fool advisors could advise him that for her disobedience he should execute her or something. Vashti makes a grand entrance, and the party continues. While all of Persia prospers under their happy royal couple, Mordechai learns that Haman wants to wipe out all the Jews. Mordechai turns to his young cousin Esther and asks her to win her way with one of Persia’s ruling men so she can help prevent this tragedy. He asks her to secretly win the heart of Haman so they can then blackmail him into sparing the Jewish people. Normally he wouldn’t ask such a thing, but for the sake of their entire people he sees none of the many possible alternatives. Esther is reluctant and fasts for several days before she agrees. Esther was known for her appeal; it was said that, given the right circumstances, even the king himself would find her irresistible above all other eligible women in the land. Haman didn’t stand a chance. Behind closed doors, during evenings of “working late” at the office, out of the sight of others, Esther wins the heart and eyes of Haman. Esther soon realizes that, despite his inclination toward genocide, Haman is an actual person. After the first couple of times, she is even able to prepare and share a meal with him without first fasting for several days. One night, Esther decides on a How to get kicked change of plan. She is so nervous that her hands shake as she prepares out of religious the pastries, making them come out more triangular than round. She asks school with one Haman if he truly cares for her and column — Editor wouldn’t want anything to happen to her. Haman asks where this is going. Esther assures him that’s not what she’s asking. Haman says he does care for her and wouldn’t want anything to happen to her, but he can’t leave his wife and 10 sons. Esther assures him that she doesn’t want 10 stepsons anyway. Haman asks why not, does she care for him so little that having 10 stepsons wouldn’t be worth it. Esther says this went in a direction and tries to bring it back to her point. Esther reveals that she’s Jewish. Haman said that he wouldn’t change how he’s raising his 10 sons for her. Esther says to stop and think for a moment. Haman stops and thinks for a moment. Haman then realizes that he’s about to have Esther and her people executed, which could ruin their plans for the weekend while his wife is out of town. continued on previous page

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Profile for Southern Jewish Life

Southern Jewish Life, Deep South, March 2019  

March 2019 Deep South edition of Southern Jewish Life, the Jewish community magazine for Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and NW Florida.

Southern Jewish Life, Deep South, March 2019  

March 2019 Deep South edition of Southern Jewish Life, the Jewish community magazine for Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and NW Florida.

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