Southern Jewish Life, Deep South Edition, March 2020

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

Volume 30 Issue 3

March 2020

Southern Jewish Life


March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

shalom y’all A breakfast to honor Israel. A three-hour panel discussion on antisemitism in today’s society. Speakers praising the U.S.-Israel relationship. A demonstration by Magen David Adom showing a real-time glimpse at Israel’s medical response center as the coronavirus response ramps up. What Jewish event was this? It wasn’t — it was the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville at the end of February. A decidedly Christian event — you could tell it wasn’t a Jewish event because nobody searched my bag and there were no metal detectors. Since it was a Christian event, many assumed I was Christian, then on learning I’m Jewish, the next question was whether I am a believer. Of course, I knew they were asking if I were “messianic,” but my stock answer was all Jews are believers — it’s just a matter of which belief in particular you are asking about. Aside from covering the Israel events, I was there to promote our new magazine, Israel InSight, which will be debuting soon. Primarily for the Christian supporter of Israel, the new magazine will fill a niche that is currently unmet, providing the real story about events in Israel, but also highlighting the many incredible and underreported stories about Christian groups in the U.S. that are helping the Jewish state, what is happening in state legislatures and college campuses, and how to better know the real nation of Israel and not just the hazy concept of the Holy Land. Part of the new magazine’s mission, though, is for the Jewish community, something that I was planning to discuss at the now-postponed LimmudFest in New Orleans this month. In the Jewish community, for the longest time when Christian support of Israel has come up, the natural reaction has been skepticism — a hidden conversionary agenda, trying to get us all over there to spark Armageddon… not to mention that much of the Christian support for Israel comes from those on the right (dare we continued on page 26

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i n s u r a n c e s March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life



January March2020 2020

Maccabi USA leader praises Birmingham Games


I have had the honor of attending many Maccabi competitions around the world. From Israel to Australia to South America, Europe and the JCC Maccabi games around the United States and Canada, I have logged many miles seeing how sports can be a vehicle to help build Jewish identity, especially in our young. One of the


I felt honored to come to Birmingham for the first time and fell in love with not just the city but the people. You have taken Southern hospitality to a new level with your kind and caring approach to the JCC Maccabi Games.


Led by the Sokol and Helds, your hard-working volunteers were wonderful. They partnered with your outstanding staff, led by Betzy Lynch, to make the 2017 JCC Maccabi games a huge hit. I want to take this opportunity as executive director of Maccabi USA to say thank you on behalf BEST VALUE of everyone involved. schools in the U.S. I had just returned from the 20th World Maccabiah games in Israel with a U.S. delegation of over 1100, who joined 10,000 Jewish athletes from 80 countries. Back in July the eyes of the entire Jewish world were on Jerusalem and the Maccabiah. This past month with 1000 athletes and coaches from around the world being in Birmingham, you became the focal point.

On Charlottesville Editor’s Note: This reaction to the events in Charlottesville, written by Jeremy Newman, Master of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Theta Colony at Auburn University, was shared by AEPi National, which called it “very eloquent” and praised “our brothers at AEPi Theta Colony at Auburn University and… the leadership they display on their campus.”




COMMUNITY AND supremacists would like to BUSINESS see pushed back LEADERS into a corner and made to feel lesser. We stand MENTOR STUDENTS with and pray for the family of Heather Heyer, who was there standing up to the face of this hate.

We recognize the essence of the American narrative as a two-century old struggle to rid ourselves of such corners, and allow those in them the seat at the table that they so deserve. It is the struggle to fulfill the promise of the Declaration of Independence, that “all men are created equal… endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights.” We know our work is far from finished, but we know we will not move backwards.


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When men and women, fully armed, take to the streets in droves with swastikas and other symbols of hate, it is a reminder of how relevant the issues of racism and anti-Semitism are today. It is a wake-up call to the work that needs to be done to ensure a better, more welcoming country. But it should not come without a reflection on how far we’ve come.

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White supremacy has been a cancer on our country since its beginning, threatening its hopes, its values, and its better angels. The events that took place in Charlottesville represented the worst of this nation. Those who marched onto the streets with tiki torches and swastikas did so to provoke violence and fear. Those who marched onto the streets did so to profess an ideology that harkens back to a bleaker, more wretched time in our history. A time when men and women of many creeds, races, and religions were far from equal and far from safe in our own borders. A time where Americans lived under a constant cloud of racism, anti-Semitism and pervasive hate. The events that took place in Charlottesville served as a reminder of how painfully relevant these issues are today.


TOP 10

police force, are to be commended. These games will go down in history as being a seminal moment for the Jewish community as we build to the future by providing suchSCHOOL wonderful Jewish memories. Jed Margolis Executive Director, Maccabi USA YOU’LL FIND A WORLD OF OPPORTUNITY.


SOCIAL/WEB Emily Baldwein

colleges that lead to YOU'LL MORE THAN Everyone fromFIND the Jewish community andA theCOLLEGE community atON large, including a wonderful

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CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Rivka Epstein, Louis Crawford, Tally Werthan, Stuart Derroff, Belle Freitag, Ted Gelber, E. Walter Katz, Doug Brook BIRMINGHAM OFFICE P.O. Box 130052, Birmingham, AL 35213 14 Office Park Circle #104 Birmingham, AL 35223 205/870.7889 NEW ORLEANS OFFICE 3747 West Esplanade, 3rd Floor Metairie, LA 70002 504/432-2561 TOLL-FREE 866/446.5894 FAX 866/392.7750 ADVERTISING Advertising inquiries to 205/870.7889 for Lee Green, Jeff Pizzo, Media kit, rates available upon request SUBSCRIPTIONS It has always been our goal to provide a large-community quality publication to all communities of the South. To that end, our commitment includes mailing to every Jewish household in the region (AL, LA, MS, NW FL), without a subscription fee. Outside the area, subscriptions are $25/year, $40/two years. Subscribe via, call 205/870.7889 or mail payment to the address above. Copyright 2020. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without written permission from the publisher. Views expressed in SJL are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff. SJL makes no claims as to the Kashrut of its advertisers, and retains the right to refuse any advertisement.

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

agenda interesting bits & can’t miss events

On March 4, Chabad of Panama City Beach held “Unmasked,” a women’s program to create masks and discuss the background of the Purim costume.

continued on page 17 March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


agenda CJFS honoring Marjorie Perlman at Hands Up Together on April 2


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March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

Since moving to Birmingham 18 years ago, Marjorie Perlman has been shaking things up as a community leader, so in honoring her at this year’s Hands Up Together event, Collat Jewish Family Services is “shaking things up this year”, said CJFS Executive Director Lauren Schwartz. Perlman “is known for her love, laughter, sense of humor and demand for excellence,” said Schwartz. “We wanted the event to reflect her personality as well as her passion for our work, so we are moving to the Theodore and making the event more social, adding to our tradition of great entertainment and moving stories of the impact of CJFS on those we serve. We cannot wait to celebrate this amazing woman!” The April 2 event at 5:30 p.m. will feature the Big Band sound of the Marlowe Shepherd Combo, along with dancing, drinks and hors d’oeuvres. Hands Up Together supports CJFS services for older adults, including transportation, counseling, respite care, resource referral, care management, a food closet, caregiver support and more. When Perlman moved to Birmingham from Charlotte in 2002, she didn’t know anyone, but the Queens, N.Y., native began to develop close friendships, and was quickly taking key leadership roles at CJFS. She moved to Birmingham to help Tacala, the nation’s leading Taco Bell franchisee, develop an in-house marketing agency. Today, she serves as the company’s chief marketing officer, and her Tacala partners are Presenting Sponsors of the April event. Perlman recalls that she hadn’t been in Birmingham for long when she began thinking of it as home — the welcome she received in the city was just that warm. And when she began learning about CJFS, she realized that it, too, was something to which she could fully commit, both as a leader and a major donor. She liked that CJFS was focused on the health and well-being of both the Jewish and general communities. “I liked that there were measurable results, and you could see the impact the agency made. And I liked that CJFS was very intentional about not duplicating services. If there was somebody doing something better, we would refer clients to them rather than trying to reinvent the wheel.” Perlman served as the agency’s board president in 2009. A decade later, when CJFS launched an endowment campaign, she was a natural to cochair it with Esther Schuster, the agency’s retired executive director. She had already created a fund in the CJFS Endowment at the Birmingham Jewish Foundation, the Marjorie Perlman Nuts and Bolts Fund, to support and sustain CJFS’ strong infrastructure. As part of the campaign she more than doubled the size of the fund, making it the second largest in the CJFS Endowment. “Raising money for infrastructure is more difficult than raising money for programming or bricks and mortar,” she explained. For CJFS, with a 15-member clinical team providing services as diverse as transportation, in-home care, professional counseling and care management, a strong infrastructure – with assets such as up-to-date technology -- is imperative. “Infrastructure isn’t sexy, but it’s important,” she added. “It’s all there so the agency can serve its core purpose – providing care and support, and a rich quality of life, for vulnerable older adults.” Tickets start at $100 and are available through the CJFS website.

agenda Capri hosts screening of “They Played for Their Lives” The Jewish Federation of Central Alabama is hosting a screening of “They Played for Their Lives,” Aril 5 at 3 p.m. at the Capri Theatre in Montgomery. “They Played for Their Lives” portrays the narratives of eight survivors of the Holocaust, showing how music saved their lives. Playing music in the ghettos and concentration camps not only fostered spiritual strength within themselves and others, but often proved a bargaining tool that spared their lives. As examples, Chaim recounts how he saved his father from beatings by teaching an SS officer to play the harmonica. Anita, who played cello in the Women’s Orchestra in Auschwitz, was spared inhumane forced labor. And little Hellmuth whistled with the band in exchange for extra food and clothing. The film also details the surprising ways their lives continued after the war, with music at the core of their memory. There is a piano performance by Alice, then 106 years old, and a reunion of two boys who had searched for each other for 66 years. Among those featured is Amnon Weinstein, an Israeli violin maker behind the Violins of Hope project that was in Birmingham in 2018, and there is menion of “Brundibar,” a children’s opera by Hans Krasa that was performed at Theresienstadt, and has been done many times in Alabama. The screening is free and open to the community.

Beth Israel Bazaar on March 25 A signature event in Jackson, the 53rd annual Beth Israel Bazaar will be held on March 25 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Many of the menu items are available in Jackson only on this one day each year. There is also a dessert booth with pies and cakes made by congregants, and a take-home frozen foods booth with main dishes, casseroles and side items. Items available a la carte or in combos include matzah ball Last year, Israeli Consul General Lior soup, brisket, carrot tzimmes, Haiat stopped by the Bazaar cabbage rolls, blintzes, noodle kugel, tabouli, hummus and chopped liver and Israeli couscous. Sandwiches include hot dogs, corned beef and reubens. The bazaar also includes a silent auction with local vendors, and this year a new twist includes vintage finds. There will also be a white elephant sale, and a raffle for a weekend at a beach home in Fort Morgan, Ala., and a $75 gift card to Amerigo’s. Proceeds from the bazaar are used to support many organizations such as Community Stewpot and Food Pantry, Dream Street, Henry S. Jacobs Camp, Meals on Wheels, and the Salvation Army. Advance orders can be faxed, emailed or placed online until 1 p.m. on March 25.

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The annual Neighbors Night interfaith service, in memory of Bette and Hank Saks, at Temple Beth El in Anniston will be on March 20 at 7:30 p.m. Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El will have a Come As You Are Shabbat on March 27 at 5:45 p.m. After the casual service there will be a fried chicken dinner. Dinner reservations are $5 for ages 6 and up. The Come As You Are Shabbat will be a recurring program on the last Friday of the month unless otherwise specified.

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Hadassah Birmingham will have a Mortar Makers Charoset Tasters event, April 1 at 6:30 p.m. at the home of Eva Wilensky. Participants are encouraged to bring their own Charoset recipes as varieties from Syria, Italy, Greece and Morocco will be among those shared. Reservations to Melina Goldfarb are requested. Hadassah Huntsville will be participating in the 7:30 p.m. Shabbat service at Etz Chayim on March 20. The Organ Historical Society and the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life present a concert of organ music at Temple B’nai Israel in Natchez, performed by organists from Grace Episcopal Church in St. Francisville and First Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. The 4 p.m. performance on March 21 will feature B’nai Israel’s original 1901 organ and celebrate the congregation’s ecumenical legacy. The concert will include classical and contemporary music. All proceeds benefit the Temple B’nai Israel Restoration and Preservation Fund. Tickets are $10 and are available online or at the door. The Pensacola Jewish Federation is hosting Jazz Shabbat, April 3 at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Beth El. The evening of jazz and spirituality features live music from the Klezmateers. The service is free and open to the community. There will be a patron dinner and concert at 6 p.m., $54 per person. Sisterhood Trivia Night at B’nai Israel in Hattiesburg will be on March 28 at 5 p.m. Admission is $18 at the door. Pizza and salads will be served, the event is BYOB and there will be a dessert auction.

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March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

On March 18 at noon, Craig Darch of Auburn will speak about his book, “L’Chaim and Lamentations,” to the L’Chaim League at Temple Beth Or in Montgomery. The weekend of March 20, Agudath Achim in Shreveport will welcome a delegation from Ohr Shalom in San Diego, where Agudath Achim Rabbi Sydni Rubinstein was an intern throughout rabbinical school. There will be a Shabbat dinner on March 20 at 6 p.m., followed by the 8 p.m. service. A bagel breakfast will be on March 21 at 9:15 a.m., followed by services at 9:45 a.m. with a d’var Torah by Ohr Shalom Rabbi Scott Meltzer. A lunch will follow. The weekend will also include learning sessions and cultural activities around Shreveport. The Southeast Chavurah will hold a Torah study on March 28 at 10:30 a.m. at the Hampton Inn in Moss Point, Miss. There will be a brief Shabbat service followed by discussion of the weekly portion. Breakfast snacks and noshes will be available at 10 a.m., and the group will go next door to Ruby Tuesday at 12:30 p.m. B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge will have its 21st annual Magical Mitzvah Day, March 29 from 9:30 a.m. to noon. Volunteers will join with religious school classes on projects, including making Passover packages for elders, making items for dog rescue groups, doing beautification projects around the building, or making packages for the Battered Women’s Shelter, St. Vincent DePaul and for members of the military. Others will prepare lunch for the other teams. continued on page 43

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LimmudFest New Orleans postponed COVID-19 concerns prompt action, date sought for March 2021

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With increasing concerns about the spread of COVID-19, “out of an abundance of caution for the health and well-being of the New Orleans community,” LimmudFest New Orleans is being postponed. Held every two years, the “big tent” of Jewish learning was scheduled for the weekend of March 20 to 22 at Gates of Prayer in Metairie and the Uptown Jewish Community Center in New Orleans. In past years, about 400 have attended the weekend, with around 90 presenters from the local community and around the country teaching sessions on a range of topics. Dana Keren, chair of LimmudFest 2020, said the committee is working on picking a date in March 2021 to reschedule. “This decision was not easy,” Keren said in a note to presenters on March 9. “LimmudFest is an important Big Tent Jewish festival of learning, community and culture in New Orleans, and we have spent the last year planning and preparing for it.” Thanking those who had worked to plan the weekend, she added, “We are deeply disappoint-

ed to not have the opportunity to come together as a community at this time.” The New Orleans festival includes all of the community’s congregations having Shabbat services of different styles under one roof, then uniting for Shabbat meals. In the previous days, numerous congregations in the region sent out guidelines about public events and interacting with each other, in an effort to prevent the spread of the virus. A death from COVID-19 was reported in Pensacola, but as of March 9 there had been no confirmed cases in Louisiana, Mississippi or Alabama. The Louisiana Department of Health announced that there have been 11 individuals tested in Louisiana; all came back negative. Also on March 9, the AT&T building in downtown Nashville, known unofficially as the Batman Building, was closing for cleaning after a confirmed case of COVID-19 by an occupant. Israel also announced that all incoming passengers, regardless of their country of origin, were being asked to self-quarantine for 14 days upon arrival, effectively shutting down tourism.

Hadassah Southern holds regional installation

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Hadassah Southern held their mid-Winter board meeting and celebration in Birmingham on Feb. 8 and 9. Dina Lipschultz of Washington was the guest lecturer and the new Southern Region Board was inducted by Past President Bonnie Boring of Knoxville. Marla Kameny of Baton Rouge was installed as president, and Susan Smolinsky, also of Baton Rouge, is organizational vice president. Hadassah Women of the Year were presented by Bettye Berlin of Memphis, and included Holly Mazer of Birmingham. Chapters represented at the meeting were Baton Rouge, Birmingham, Chattanooga, Dothan, Huntsville, Knoxville, Memphis, Montgomery, Nashville and New Orleans.

Roots run deep at JCRS Gala honoring the Beermans The Jewish Children’s Regional Service’s roots run far and wide, and that was evident in the ninth annual Jewish Roots gala, held Feb. 1 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. This year’s theme was the Jewish Roots of Rhythm and Blues, and featured the JCRS Success Story Ensemble, musicians who have been helped by the social service agency with educational scholarships. The event also honored the Beerman family, which has a close to 100 year relationship with the agency. As Marc Beerman, who was president of JCRS from 2015 to 2017 explained, “My dad and five of his siblings were brought to the children’s home from West, Texas, in 1925.” The agency began in 1855 as the Jewish Children’s Home in New Orleans, a place for Jewish orphans from a seven-state region. When the home closed Barbara Beerman, Lee Beerman Blotner and Marc Beerman receive the award from in the 1950s, the agency transformed into a social JCRS Executive Director Ned Goldberg.

Photos by Michael Maples

JCRS Success Stories perform music from the Great American Songbook. Basil Alter on violin is at the Manhattan School of Music; Joshua Dolney on trumpet is at the University of Illinois; Joshua Sadinsky on piano is at Cal Arts; and Caroline Samuels on double bass is at Boston University. Former aid recipient and past JCRS President Bruce Miller accompanied on the drums. service agency, which provides Jewish summer camp scholarships and college aid, along with special needs services to Jewish children or isolated families that are struggling, in the same seven-state region. Beerman said JCRS “has been very much a part of our family for most of my life,” and that his father used to say that becoming an orphan was the best thing that could have happened for them. “JCRS became a blessing for him.” Ned Goldberg, executive director of JCRS, said six of the eight Beerman siblings entered the home after the death of their mother in 1924, when the oldest child was “just 10 or 11.” For the next 15 years, there

March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life



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March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

was at least one Beerman sibling living at the home, and as they became adults, they were active alumni, remaining close with members of the Samuels family of Houston and the Pulitzer family, who they grew up with in the home. After World War II, the oldest sibling, Ralph, formed Beerman Precision Machine Works, building the headquarters across from the Wembley Tie Company, which was founded by fellow residents in the Pulitzer family. In 1992, he and his wife Barbara created the Beerman Special Needs Scholarship Fund at JCRS. Marc is their son. Cousin Lee Beerman Miller Blotner has also served on the JCRS board for many years. Receiving the award, a musical note Rosenthal menorah, Marc Beerman said he was honored to represent the close to 40 family members at the gala. “We can be proud as an organization of the help we give these kids,” he said. Goldberg said the Beermans are part of a JCRS legacy of families that “have not forgotten that they once needed a hand up,” and continue to support the agency’s activities. Goldberg added, “I have never met a more gracious and inclusive family than the Beermans,” saying that misfortune brought Neil Kohlman, Bruce Miller and Barbara the family closer together Kaplinsky in the 1920s, and the close relations have continued through succeeding generations. At the gala, music from The Great American Songbook was performed by the JCRS “Success Story” Ensemble comprised of current and former JCRS educational scholarship recipients who are all pursuing advanced degrees in musical performance. Basil Alter on violin is at the Manhattan School of Music; Joshua Dolney on trumpet is at the University of Illinois; Joshua Sadinsky on piano is at Cal Arts; and Caroline Samuels of Baton Rouge on double bass is at Boston University. Former aid recipient and past JCRS president Bruce Miller accompanied on the drums. The evening included a cocktail reception presented by Broussard’s, with libations donated by Sazerac Brands and Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, followed by a seated three-course dinner crafted by the Hilton chefs. The musically themed table centerpieces that included glittering trumpets and treble clefs were created by Gail Fenton Pesses and Sassy Celebrations. A silent auction focused on boutique shopping, restaurants and oncein-a-lifetime vacations rounded out the evening, and there was a raffle drawing for an 18K white gold and quartz necklace donated by Chad Berg and Lee Michaels Fine Jewelry. The event was chaired by three former JCRS presidents – Neil Kohlman, Bruce Miller and Leon Rittenberg III.

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community Arrest made in 2018 Northshore synagogue graffiti case

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A 20-year-old Jefferson Parish man with a history of Nazi-style social media posts has been arrested and charged with the September 2018 antisemitic graffiti vandalism of Northshore Jewish Congregation in Mandeville. On March 10, Caine Zander Brown was arrested at his home in Jefferson and charged with one count of criminal damage to property by graffiti and one count of hate crimes, both of which are felonies. Mandeville Police Chief Gerald Sticker said “I am elated that we apprehended this individual! I am happy for my Northshore Jewish Congregation and all of our citizens in Mandeville.” In a statement, the Anti-Defamation League, Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and the Jewish Community Relations Council welcomed the news of this arrest “and what it means for the Jewish community and the community at large.” The graffiti was discovered on Sept. 5, 2018, a week before Rosh Hashanah. The congregation is the only synagogue on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain, north of New Orleans. The spray-painted graffiti on the wall in the back of the building had two swastikas in red and black, a red cross, the phrase “synagogue of Satan” and the term 14/88. The number 88 represents “Heil Hitler,” as H is the eighth letter of the alphabet. The number 14 references a 14-word white supremacist slogan about securing a future for white children. Two local teens passing through the parking lot discovered the graffiti and alerted Northshore administrator Rebecca Slifkin. After seeing media coverage, Stephen Landeche of Absolute Pressure Washing showed up unannounced the morning of Sept. 7 to volunteer his services and clean the graffiti. On Sept. 16, the building was packed for a solidarity program as community members expressed their outrage over the graffiti. Civil rights icon Ruby Bridges spoke to the religious school students, to reassure them. In October, Metairie artist Laurie Alan Browne painted a mural over the section of wall where the graffiti had been, with religious school students adding flowers to the garden scene. According to the Mandeville Police, the arrest is the culmination of collaborative work of the Louisiana State Police Criminal Intelligence Unit and members of the FBI Joint Terrorism Taskforce, of which the Mandeville Police Department is a part of, along with other local, state and federal law enforcement partners. Brown, who was a person of interest, was being interviewed by the JTTF as part of another matter. He confirmed that he had been in Mandeville the day of the incident, and cell phone records and tower data obtained by search warrant placed him in the vicinity of the synagogue on the day the incident. A confidential source also stated that Brown had admitted to painting the graffiti. Brown has a history of social media posts espousing Nazi beliefs, including Holocaust denial and using the term “synagogue of Satan.” On his social media accounts, which are now unavailable, he posted photos of himself in Nazi headgear and making Nazi salutes. After being arrested, Brown was transported to Jefferson Parish Correctional Center where he was booked as a fugitive from St. Tammany and released to JPCC. Detectives from the Mandeville Police Department planned to transport Brown back to St Tammany on March 11 to be booked into the St. Tammany Parish Jail.

community Sticker expressed solidarity with the Jewish community, saying “I am pleased that I can finally report to them that we have the individual that we believe is responsible for this despicable attack. I am appreciative of the tenacity of our investigators and I am grateful for the cooperation of the law enforcement community that made this arrest possible.” Sticker added that “crime, especially ‘hate crime’ against any member of our community will not be tolerated and will be pursued, no matter the obstacles,” and he will “follow this case through adjudication and work with the DA’s Office to ensure this individual is held accountable.” The arrest “is a welcome development in the battle against hate,” said Aaron Ahlquist, ADL’s regional director. “It is with gratitude that we congratulate the committed team of officers and agencies for their stubborn refusal to let this go, and the closure that they have brought to the Jewish community members who still feel the impact of that graffiti. They have sent a powerful message of support to the community, and a powerful message to those who would act on hate that that they will find you.” “We are deeply appreciative that law enforcement never gave up on the pursuit of justice,” remarked Jewish Federation CEO Arnie Fielkow. “Only by standing up and confronting hate can we ever defeat bigotry.”

Coalition rallies against La. abortion law Rabbi Lexi Erdheim of Gates of Prayer in Metairie was among the speakers at a reproductive rights rally held outside the U.S. Supreme Court building on the day that the court heard arguments over new restrictions on abortion access in Louisiana. A coalition of groups including the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism and Women of Reform Judaism held the Washington rally and one in New Orleans on March 4. Ally Karpel, the WRJ-RAC reproductive health and rights campaign associate, said the Louisiana law is nearly identical to a law from her native Texas that was struck down by the Supreme Court in a 5-3 ruling on Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt three years ago, but that was before Justice Brett Kavanaugh joined the court. June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo, the case that was heard on March 4, challenges the law that requires doctors providing abortion services to have admitting privileges to a hospital within 30 miles. Major medical groups like the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists oppose these laws as medically unnecessary, but legislatures are using them as ways to restrict access to abortion. “Hospitals can refuse admitting privileges to doctors who provide abortion care for any reason, including ideological opposition, fear of backlash, or because their patients rarely ever need to be admitted,” Karpel said. She said if the law is upheld, all but one abortion clinic in Louisiana will be forced to shut down, creating “substantial logistical and financial barriers for Louisianans seeking abortion care, as many would be forced to drive long distances, fly to another state, stay overnight in hotels, take off school or work, find childcare.” Edrheim, one of four faith leaders who spoke at the Washington rally, said “many supporters of the anti-choice cause cite religious beliefs as to why they advocate against abortion,” so she shared what Judaism has taught her “about abortion and a woman’s right to choose” because “there is no single faith voice that should have a monopoly on this conversation.” She said Judaism states “a woman is a human being, and that a fetus is not until it is born,” and “the health of a woman, her physical, emotional and psychological well being, must take precedence over the fetus she carries inside her.” Lives are at stake, she said, as if abortion access is restricted, “abortions will still occur, but in conditions that put the lives of women in mortal danger.” She added, “I cannot stand idly by while the people in the building behind me, in Louisiana and across the nation attempt to legislate the religious beliefs of a few into the control of my body.”

William Shakespeare’s

THE COMEDY OF ERRORS Adapted and directed by Sean Graney April 16 – April 26, 2020


By Lauren Gunderson Directed by Rick Dildine April 23 – May 3, 2020

March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


community JTS honors Rabbi Steven Silberman Reflects on 30 years at Mobile’s Ahavas Chesed



While the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York honored 45 rabbis that have served the Conservative movement for 25 years or more, Rabbi Steven Silberman of Mobile’s Ahavas Chesed had a unique distinction — his 30 years in the rabbinate have all been at the same pulpit. The Conservative rabbinical seminary awarded the honorary doctorates at a ceremony on Jan. 26, celebrating “the achievements of these important leaders” and expressing appreciation for their contribitions to Jewish life. The rabbis receiving this distinction included congregational rabbis, Jewish communal professionals, educators, and chaplains from across the United States, as well as from Israel, Europe, South America and Asia. At the ceremony, Silberman said “I was able to see some colleagues I hadn’t seen in many years,” and it was “touching to have a blessing said over me by colleagues and friends.” But the ceremony was also a time to reflect on the past 30 years at Alabama’s oldest Conservative congregation, and look forward to the future. Born in High Point, N.C., Silberman grew up in Newington, Conn., and did his undergraduate work at the University of California at Los Angeles. When he was hired in Mobile upon ordination, he and wife Manette figured “we’d be in Mobile for an enjoyable two or three years, and then travel somewhere else,” especially with other family members elsewhere in the country. “As time passed, we realized that we were falling very much in love with the community as a whole, it was a good place to raise children, so we remained,” he said. “It’s meaningful that the congregation has opened its arms, in such a warm and supportive and loving manner, to have welcomed my family and me in such a deep and caring way, that we feel very much at home here.” While there have been many changes in the last 30 years, he views it as the current manifestation of changing times. The congregation was formed in 1894 and met for many years in homes and businesses, until the first building was erected in 1911. “Everyone lived nearby, then people began to move to different neighborhoods,” and when the next building was dedicated on Dauphin Street, “that was a dramatic adaptation as well.” The next decades brought new changes. “The world was changing in the role of women, the role of family, those were times of upheaval,” Silberman said. With changes in the Mobile Jewish community, the congregation once again relocated, dedicating its current building in 1990. Silberman commented that he was disappointed that he missed the dedication by about six months. “Now we have been here from 1990 to 2020. We’re still here, we’re



Rabbi Steven Silberman receives honorary doctorate at Jan. 26 ceremony 16

March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life



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March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


community thinking differently and acting differently but we’re also offering continuity with the tradition, not only our community’s tradition but Jewish tradition,” he said. One of the biggest issues is a lack of time. With both spouses working, “time constraints are really the greatest issues affecting participation in shul life, activity and involvement in programming.” The congregation is working to be more flexible in how it teaches and interacts with members, as “we’re competing with time constraints to offer meaningful ritual and ceremonial and worship services.” The key is to “make more of an impact with people where they are, how they are, and how we reach out to them.” There are more discussion groups, including Torah on Tap, young professionals programs and a regular Guitar Shabbat. Another tradition that has developed began five years ago when he brought a bottle of schnapps to make l’chayim in memory of his grandfather after Shabbat services. “That has grown,” he said, with several different bottles on hand, and “sometimes we have two people, sometimes we have 10” joining in. It “added a new and different flavor to Shabbat morning.” Silberman said “people are looking for and interested in meaningful connections and a depth of relationship with other individuals and also with God, but time constraints and busy schedules often don’t allow those connections that we all need.” Nevertheless, “while people are definitely much busier than they were a generation ago,” Silberman said, “we have opportunities for growth and I’m excited about the opportunities and challenges ahead.” Ahavas Chesed has seen growth with many new young families. “We’re very excited about it, and in some years ahead we will be seeing our religious school growing.” Looking back on the past 30 years, “I am grateful to the congregational leadership and its board for its ongoing support… We see ourselves as a family. There are some families here that have been here for many generations, and that is so meaningful.” He is also grateful for the support of his own family. “I could not do what I do without the ongoing support of my wonderful and loving wife, Manette. She and our children have always supported me and been patient and understanding when the duties of a shul rabbi have called me away from the home.” Those duties have often been the most meaningful parts of being at Ahavas Chesed — “sharing life moments with the people of Ahavas Chesed, of witnessing the change and the growth within each family and across generations, of offering loving support during times of crisis, of marking ordinary time and of celebrating joys… of being welcomed into the lives of wonderful people.”


March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

Photo courtesy ISJL/Natchez Democrat

Rabbi Matt Dreffin leads previous Passover Pilgrimage

Eight communities in Passover Pilgrimage The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life is hitting the road again for Passover, with the 2020 Passover Pilgrimage to eight communities in the region. Rabbi Aaron Rozovsky, ISJL director of rabbinical services, will lead most of the events. There will also be one Seder led by two ISJL Education Fellows, Paige Beame and Margo Wagner, at the Crossroads Prayer Retreat Center. Rozovsky and the Education Fellows will conduct services, lead Seders, offer educational programs, facilitate dialogue, and more. Each year, the events draw a diverse crowd and foster positive, shared community experiences. During his time on the road, Rozovsky will also conduct home visits, officiate life cycle events, and share stories of the Seder experiences, city to city. This year’s tour starts on April 3 and 4 in Natchez, with events at Temple B’nai Israel. On April 5, there will be a program at Highland Colony Baptist Church in Ridgeland, followed by a visit to Temple Emanu-El in Longview, Tex., on April 7. The first evening of Passover will be observed with Anshe Chesed in Vicksburg on April 8, followed by Shomrei Torah in Tallahassee on April 9. Beth Shalom will welcome Rozovsky for Shabbat Passover on April 10 and 11, and his journey will conclude at the Upper Cumberland Jewish Community in Crossville, Tenn. The Crossroads event will be on April 11 in Michie, Tenn.

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You do not have to go through this alone. Jerry Jeudy sported his Star of David necklace at a pre-game Walk of Champions in Tuscaloosa last season

No offense taken Bama receiver Jerry Jeudy worried Star of David necklace might offend, but receives thrilled reaction While former Alabama wide receiver Jerry Jeudy issued an apology for anyone who was offended by his wearing a Star of David necklace, the overwhelming response online has been supportive of him, along with a lot of invitations to visit Israel by players in Israel’s league of American football. During his media session at the National Football League Scouting Combine on Feb. 25, he was asked about the gold necklace he was wearing, and said he got it because “My last name’s Jeudy. People sometimes call me ‘Jew’.” He added that he isn’t Jewish. A little while later, he tweeted “Don’t mean no disrespect to the Jewish people! I’m sorry to the people who take my chain offensive!!” But judging from the Twitter reaction, those taking offense were few and far between, with a lot of people calling him a mensch, and far more people taking offense at anyone who would find Jeudy’s actions offensive. Jeudy has worn the necklace for a while, including at the Citrus Bowl in January, when Alabama thrashed Michigan. Current Alabama student Jeremy Berglass said “We take your chain as a great compliment” and invited Jeudy to Passover at the Zeta Beta Tau house, one of a slew of Passover and Shabbat invitations that were issued. Brandon Davis said “as a representative of many Jewish Alabama football fans, we welcome your support and would like to thank you for your support.” Richard Silfen, a Jewish Alabama alumnus, said he is proud of being Jewish and of Alabama, “and pleased to see you and anyone else respectfully wear the Star of David. No apology necessary.” “Bluegrass Rabbi” Shlomo Litvin, a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and co-director of Chabad at the University of Kentucky, told Jeudy “you remind me of the Jewish people. No matter how many players oppose you, you juke, jump, slip and shake, and refuse to go down. What could be more Jewish than that?” Of course, many Jewish sports fans responded with enthusiastic “one of us!” images, or had an image of an Orthodox man selecting Jeudy for the Jewish people. One said that the Jews were cutting Harvey Weinstein and picking up Jeudy. Some also pointed out that Louis Armstrong wore a Star of David necklace, as a tribute to the kindness of the Karnofsky family of New Orleans toward him when he was a child. Elvis Presley also had an affinity toward Jews, but wore his respect as a Chai necklace instead of the Star of David. One Florida Gator fan, though, in welcoming Jeudy to the tribe, said “You’re now experiencing what is referred to as Jewish guilt.”

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March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


Chateau Drugs & gifts community Tulane receives $2 million Judaic Studies gift

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On March 2, the Tulane University Department of Jewish Studies announced it received an anonymous $2 million gift to establish the Chair in Contemporary Jewish Life Endowed Fund. “We are honored to be able to endow Tulane’s Chair in Contemporary Jewish Studies,” said the donors, who are parents of a recent Tulane graduate. “It embodies Jewish and universal values so important to the humanities today in shaping and inspiring the future. “With Tulane’s interdisciplinary approach to education, it will not only make Tulane a leader in the field, but will also serve as a model for national and international collaboration,” they added. Tulane President Mike Fitts said the gift will support an important and growing area of study at Tulane for generations to come. “The donors may wish to remain anonymous, but the impact of their generosity in furthering scholarship and discovery in this ever-evolving and fascinating field will be known far and wide within the Tulane community and beyond.” Michael Cohen, Sizeler Professor of Jewish Studies and chair of the Department of Jewish Studies, agreed on the significance of the gift. “Tulane University is becoming the international leader in understanding the essential role Jews have played in American culture and society,” Cohen said. “This gift allows us to add an internationally recognized scholar to our facul-

ty, whose work will inspire students and spark open discussion about the Jews’ role in the contemporary world. Our strength in the American Jewish experience will make this Chair of Contemporary Jewry the most impactful of its kind in the nation.” Brian Edwards, dean of the School of Liberal Arts, where the Department of Jewish Studies is housed, added: “This wonderfully generous gift allows us to establish a permanent faculty position that bridges an understanding of American Jewish history to questions that matter in the 21st century. By enhancing scholarship and teaching on the diversity of the American Jewish experience, we are committed to combatting anti-Semitism through knowledge, a vision we share with these donors.” The gift will be used to support a chair at the Stuart and Suzanne Grant Center for the American Jewish Experience, established last fall with a gift from Stuart and Suzanne Grant of Wilmington, Del. The income from the gift will be used for salary and other expenses directly associated with the chair’s academic work. The chair will participate in the work of the Grant Center which, when it opens on July 1, will have a world-class faculty, dynamic and innovative programming associated with the American Jewish experience and cutting-edge research opportunities.

Young adult “Jewish summer camp” debuts in region Camp Coleman to host Trybal Gathering in May

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205/563-9037 Involved Members of Birmingham’s Jewish Community


March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

Want to go back to summer camp, but you’re too grown up? Trybal Gatherings, which runs four-day, three-night all-inclusive getaways at Jewish summer camps across the county for young Jewish adults in their 20s and 30s, announced that they have expanded their program into the Southeast, with a May 14 to 17 weekend at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Camp Coleman in Cleveland, Ga. “We are thrilled to engage young adults in the Southeast and to bring them back to a summer camp experience — some returning after years and some coming for the first time,” says Carine Warsawski, founder of Trybal Gatherings. “The Gatherings are a hit with young adults who want uninterrupted time with friends and the chance to meet new people. Whether it’s through tiedye or s’mores, now more people can find ways to connect to Jewish community.” Each camp weekend includes both classic and reimagined camp activities for adults, such as color war, silent disco, archery, kombucha brewing, campfire storytelling, and inclusive and informal Shabbat experiences. All meals, lodging and —

unlike camp for kids, an open bar — are included. “The Southeast is thrilled that Trybal Gatherings will be coming in the spring,” said Eric Robbins, president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. “We know there is tremendous excitement for this program and the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta looks forward to being a partner. I hope I can go too!” More than 500 young adults have “gone back to camp” with Trybal Gatherings in Los Angeles, the Berkshires and Wisconsin. “For this rapidly changing world, we now define Jewish camp as year-round and lifelong,” adds Jeremy J. Fingerman, CEO of the Foundation for Jewish Camp. “Trybal creates the excitement and camaraderie of Jewish camp — beyond the summer and beyond youth — in an authentic, fun and meaningful way.” The Gatherings are also open to non-Jewish partners and friends who want to explore Jewish community. For many, Trybal Gatherings is an entry point for other Jewish life experiences. Early Bird registration for young adult camps is $525 and up. Regular registration is $599 and up, at

March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


New Orleans

The Columns

Spring Dining Guide

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

921 Canal Street, New Orleans inside the Ritz-Carlton

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.

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.


Riccobono’s Peppermill

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

3524 Severn Ave. Metairie (504) 455-2266

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.

Bringing classic New Orleans dishes as well as Riccobono family Italian recipes to the city in a comfortable, casual atmosphere. Now, three generations later, that tradition continues to live on.



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. 22

M Bistro

Southern Jewish Life

March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

209 Bourbon Street, New Orleans (504) 525-2021

A French Quarter fixture since 1905. An unforgettable experience filled with world-famous creole-inspired French fare, fresh local ingredients and stellar hospitality.

Southern Jewish Life

Cafe Beignet

New Orleans

Spring Dining Guide

Four locations in the French Quarter New Orleans

Kosher Cajun

3519 Severn Avenue, Metairie (504) 888-2010

A family-oriented restaurant, Cafe Beignet takes pride in beignets, coffee and food, striving to bring the best to customers. Locations on Decatur, Royal, St. Peter and Bourbon Streets.

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.

Compere Lapin

English Tea Room

535 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans Inside the Old No. 77 Hotel and Chandlery (504) 599-2119

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

James Beard Award-winning restaurant in the heart of the Warehouse Arts District, mixing the indigenous ingredients and rich culinary heritage of New Orleans with Chef Nina Compton’s Caribbean roots.

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.

The Avenue Pub


1732 St. Charles Ave., New Orleans (504) 586-9243

New Orleans’ leading American and European Craft Beer Bar, open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 46+ draft selections and Cicerone certified staff. The New Orleans beer destination.

3030 Severn Avenue, Metairie (504) 888-2209

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. March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


New Orleans/Birmingham Spring Dining Guide


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

4729 Magazine Street, Uptown (504) 894-8881

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.

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

Galatoire’s 33 Bar & Steak


215 Bourbon St. New Orleans (504) 335-3932

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

The perfect setting in the Vieux Carre. The alluring atmosphere of Galatoire’s 33 brings to life New Orleans’ next great tradition, with the finest cocktails and traditional steakhouse fare.

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

The Bright Star

2226 Highland Avenue, Birmingham (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. 24


Southern Jewish Life

March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

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

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.

Southern Jewish Life

Nabeel’s Cafe


Spring Dining Guide

1706 Oxmoor Rd,Birmingham (205) 879-9292

Bobby Carl’s Table

2031 Cahaba Road, Birmingham (205) 202-4760

Homewood’s best Mediterranean restaurant and specialty import market, Nabeel’s is now open seven days a week, with breakfast and brunch, in addition to lunch and expanded evening hours.

Feel like family in a comfortable environment enjoying Southern comfort food with a fresh and lighter take on classic recipes. Have your special simcha at the restaurant or enjoy our off-site catering .

Homewood Bagel

The Fish Market

2907 Central Ave., Homewood (205) 769-6131

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

Handcrafted bagels made fresh each and every day. Open daily for breakfast and lunch, with bagels and cream cheese, bagel sandwiches and wraps, other baked goods and gourmet coffee.

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.

Bistro V

Pies and Pints

521 Montgomery Highway, Vestavia (205) 823-1505

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.

125 20th Street So., Birmingham 7216 Eastchase Parkway, Montgomery

Enjoy an array of craft beers on tap (including many Alabama selections), specialty pies, delicious salads and more. Our signature pizzas are hand-stretched and baked directly on a stone hearth. March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life



Azalea Bloom Out – March

“Seussical Jr.” on the Great Lawn – March 6, 6 p.m.

Camellia Classic Open Car Show – April 18, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Mother’s Day Evening Garden Concert – May 10, 5:30 p.m.

Don’t miss a bloomin’ thing this spring.

Open Daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Theodore, AL 800.247.8420 / 251.973.2217

Makarios Kabob & Grill 940 20th St South Birmingham Tel: (205) 731-7414 Fax: (205) 731-7416

Makarios Kabob & Grill at The Ranch House 2931 Columbiana Rd Vestavia Hills Tel: (205) 979-6495 Fax: (205) 979-6425


March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

continued from page 3 say… a bunch of Trump voters), while the historical Christian allies of the Jewish community on social justice issues, the mainline and liberal denominations, have become more hostile toward Israel. Certainly, at NRB, there were some whose agenda is entirely conversionary, spreading the word to everyone on the planet, us included. Some of them even prayed over me. But they generally weren’t the ones at the aforementioned forums. At those events, there was a sharp repudiation of replacement theology — the notion that because the Jews were bad 2,000 years ago (not to mention the whole rejecting Jesus thing), God said he’d had enough and transferred his covenant to the church, leaving the Jews to wander, cast off. That idea was mainstream in much of the Christian world until the middle of the 20th century — when a certain event in the heart of Christian Europe forced a reexamination of the implications of that theology and an uncomfortable look at church teachings in both the Catholic and Protestant worlds. An ever-growing number of Bible-believing Christians repudiate replacement theology. They point to Genesis 12:3, where God makes an eternal covenant with Abraham, saying God will bless those who bless his family — the Jewish people — and curse those who curse us. They emphasize the word “eternal” — to proclaim that the church took over that covenant and cast the Jews aside makes God into a liar, they state. Rather than being cast off, the Jewish people are seen as the olive tree of God’s covenant, and through a Jew who lived 2,000 years ago, Christians are blessed to have been grafted onto that tree, which continues to nourish and sustain Christians — and they are appreciative that their path to a relationship with God was given to them by the Jews. Christian Zionist groups don’t venture anywhere near proselytizing, as many of them figure that the relationship Jews have with God is our own business and they would be presumptuous to interfere. Similarly, whatever is planned for the end times is already determined — human activity neither hastens nor delays it. Instead, the ingathering of Jews to Israel from around the world is seen as evidence of prophetic truth. Of course, we have a different view of what will eventually happen, but in this arena, that’s not a topic of conversation, much less debate. Of course, this is just scratching the surface and a simplification due to the constraints of column space. There is a lot of misunderstanding of Jews toward Christian Zionists, and a lot that Christians don’t realize about the Jewish community. We hope Israel InSight will help build a bridge and be part of the rapid revolution in Christian-Jewish relations. We still have our huge theological differences, but can set that aside and work together in mutual respect. Most people have no idea that in 2015, there was a landmark declaration by a group of prominent Orthodox rabbis on the “partnership between Christians and Jews” that stated “neither of us can achieve G-d’s mission in this world alone” and, even with eyes wide open as to significant differences, “Jews and Christians will remain dedicated to the Covenant by playing an active role together in redeeming the world.” Currently, we have a campaign to raise funds that will help get the print version of Israel InSight off the ground. Be part of the incredible change that is taking place, and go to our website for the link to our campaign, As the Jewish community worries about the increase in antisemitism worldwide, it is heartening and unprecedented to see millions of Christians declare that they owe it to the Jewish community to stand up and fight alongside us. Come along for the ride, you will find it fascinating. Lawrence Brook, Publisher/Editor


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March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

Josh Terrell enjoys pouring glasses of and spilling knowledge about wine. “Ever since my father-in-law got me my first Bordeaux years ago, I have been passionate about wine,” said Terrell, owner of Classic Wine Company. “I want this to be an educational store… an immersive experience. I’ve sampled and learned about every wine we carry. I enjoy sharing that with customers.” Tony Meyer opened the Homewood store in 1988 to provide wines that larger cities had but were not available in Birmingham. After working for more than four years as a wine buyer for Hop City, Terrell purchased Classic Wine Company in 2017, which is when the store moved to its current locaton, in the former Do Di Yo’s space. Terrell added a wine bar that features 16 wines by the glass, rotating every month. Customers can enjoy a four-ounce sample of many other wines in the store thanks to a device that allows for the wine to be poured without uncorking the bottle. The Classic Wine Company also offers wine tastings every Friday and sometimes on Tuesdays. They also host monthly “Som Schools,” which are wine dinners and “opportunities to learn about the wines in a relaxed setting.” Terrell said they have 800 separate wines in the store, but have access to more than 6,000 wines that they can usually get in within a day or two. “I would say we’re French-focused, but we have wines from around the world at all price points,” he said. “Wine is so diverse. Not only are there so many different styles and varying flavor profiles within those styles, but you have wines such as chardonnays that can be drier or sweeter, red or white.” Their California chardonnays are the store’s top sellers, but Terrell has noticed a trend toward the French and Spanish wines. He added that The Classic Wine Company always has a few kosher-for-Passover wines in stock and access to several others. “We’ve seen more wine makers doing kosher wines in a widening variety of styles,” said Terrell. He also said that 80 percent of the wines sold at Classic Wine Company are natural wines, where no pesticides were sprayed on the vineyards. Just as Meyer did for many years, Terrell has focused on bringing in wines unique to Birmingham and Alabama. “We are always researching new wines and listening to our customers,” he said. “If they tell us they had a special wine when visiting another city that they haven’t been able to find here, we want to give them the opportunity to get it here.”




a semi-annual special section Photo courtesy Raizk Design

Chupah in the courtyard at the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans

Ritz-Carlton the “crown jewel of Canal Street” see

The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans hotel’s $40 million “redeux” renovation project enhances its place as the crown jewel of Canal Street, and continues as a regular venue for Jewish weddings and receptions. The “crown jewel of Canal Street” did the renovation last year to “energize the luxurious legacy of the historic Beaux Arts Maison Blanche building.” That transformation included the guest rooms, suites and corridors. The colors and aesthetics employed as a part of the “redeux” mirrors “the elegance of the recently renovated event and meeting space.” The Ritz-Carlton includes more than 35,000 square feet of meeting and celebration space. 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 Last May, the hotel was the setting for the wedding of New Orleans native Ashley Broadwater and Andrew Shidler, attended by about 170 guests. The chupah was placed in the Ritz-Carlton courtyard, a place that had numerous memories from their dating days, followed by the reception in the Grand Ballroom. The rehearsal dinner was held the night before at Galatoire’s, followed by a Second Line parade.


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The Old No 77 Hotel and Chandlery brings history and art together Art and history converge at The Old No 77 Hotel and Chandlery, a boutique hotel just three blocks from the French Quarter. Home to a rotating art gallery, Provenance Signature Amenities and Compère Lapin — rated as one of New Orleans’ top restaurants — the hotel is located in the Warehouse Arts District on Tchoupitoulas Street in a building that dates back to 1854, when it was used as a warehouse for the Port of Orleans. From the Julia Street galleries that draw art patrons to the Warehouse District, to the city’s revered museums such as the Contemporary Arts Center, Ogden Museum of Southern Art and others, The Old No. 77 Hotel and Chandlery puts travelers in the cultural heart of the Crescent City and beckons visitors to experience New Orleans through the ways of its locals. Stroll through the corridor behind the lobby and experience an extension of the latest exhibition on display at Where Y’Art. A Royal Street Gallery in the heart of the Marigny, Where Y’Art is a true community for artists and art lovers in New Orleans.

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Intercontinental a New Orleans experience The Intercontinental offers a true New Orleans experience for simchas and the guests attending them. Their flexible venues overlook St. Charles Avenue and are the perfect setting for receptions, wedding ceremonies, rehearsal dinners and other parties. Every detail is handled, from the tablecloths and settings to event flow, unique meal planning, décor, lighting, even custom ice carvings. 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. The Intercontinental was the home base for the Henry S. Jacobs Camp 50th reunion weekend last Nocember. The InterContinental Hotel is also in the prime loction for Mardi Gras parades, with more than 30 passing directly in front of the hotel during the season.


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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. It is estimated that Hernsheim 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.

The B in B&A Warehouse could stand for Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and the A could stand for amazing Jewish weddings. The event facility located across from Birmingham’s Railroad Park has hosted many celebrations for those in the Jewish community. B&A Warehouse Marketing Director Haley Roebuck said the facility can accommodate up to 800 people in the entire building. “It’s an open canvas, so people can really personalize it to fit with their celebration,” she said, adding, “We’ve really enjoyed working with our friends in the Jewish community to help make sure they have the most memorable events.” On January 25 they hosted the Bar Mitzvah reception for Reed Nelson, and on Leap Day Feb. 29, they welcomed 200 people for the Katie Haus-


man-Josh Grace wedding and reception. In August, they will host the Bat Mitzvah of Belle Casey, daughter of Matt and Emily Casey. The Hausman-Grace wedding menu featured a combination of Southern and Italian fare, including a dual carving station, a grits bar as well as pasta station. The wedding was held under the skylight. Chef Deborah Thomas specializes in Southern cuisine, but Roebuck said they are happy to do customized menus including kosher-style and even family recipes. They also can accommodate those who keep strict kosher and need meals brought The Glass Room is one of the smaller, more into the facility. “That’s one reason why casual options at B&A Warehouse the ‘food stations’ are so popular,” said Roebuck. “You can select what you want and go kosher-style.” She said the B&A Warehouse recently completed enhancements to its Glass Room, which accommodates up to 70 guests and is popular for rehearsal dinners as well as luncheons. “In 2020 we also want to continue expanding our off-site catering,” said Roebuck. “They can come here or we’re happy to come to them.”

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Workplay hosts regular concerts and spotlights its private celebrations by providing experienced, professional production values. “We host concerts here regularly and we know how to make someone’s celebration an incredible, exciting production,” said Workplay owner Tommy Williams. Their motto regarding simchas is “Workplay — where you’re the rock star.” The Birmingham music venue, recording studio and private event space has been the site for many celebrations of those in the Jewish community, including the elaborate Campusano/Schulman wedding and a couple B’nai Mitzvahs over the past two years. On March 19, Workplay will host Crooning for Critters, an American Idol-style competition that will include Sam Tenenbaum. The event is a benefit for homeless animals, with celebrity guest judges Pam Huff, Bruce Ayers and Ona Watson. 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.

Vulcan Park hosts celebrations — and women’s voting rights exhibition Vulcan Park and Museum celebrates simchas — and women’s suffrage rights. The Birmingham landmark on Red Mountain has hosted several Jewish weddings and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs, including the B’nai Mitzvah for Hattie and Adam Watson in May 2019. The Watson family had moved to Birmingham a few years ago and the theme of the B’nai Mitzvah, which included more than 100 guests, was “It’s Nice to Have You in Birmingham.” They started with a cocktail hour in the lobby, and games outside the Vulcan Center. The B’nai Mitzvah then moved to the Electra event space inside the museum for dinner and entertainment. Guests were treated to March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life



favors including Alabama-made products. “Vulcan Park and Museum was the perfect venue for us. The view was beautiful and the museum was a special way to introduce our new city to our out-of-town guests. The use of indoor and outdoor areas created inviting and interesting spaces for both the adults and the teens. The staff worked seamlessly with our vendors to create the exact party my children wanted,” said Shana Watson Vulcan Park and Museum Marketing Director LaShana Sorrell said “the unique thing about having an event up here is that all guests can tour the museum, park and go up in the (Vulcan) tower. Hosts and attendees can also get items from our gift shop, The Anvil, to commemorate their visit.” Sorrell said in the museum space they can accommodate 250 people standing, but an additional 500 people can be in the overlook and the Kiwanis Centennial Plaza for a celebration. In January, Vulcan Park and Museum opened a new exhibition commemorating the centennial anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, officially granting women the right to vote. Located in the Museum’s Linn-Henley Gallery, “Right or Privilege? Alabama Women and the Vote” takes visitors on a journey detailing the specific challenges faced by suffragists in Birmingham. Jennifer Watts, Director of Museum Programs, hopes the exhibit will shine a light on the suffrage movement as a reminder of those who fought tirelessly to expand voting rights in Alabama. “This exhibit will commemorate this milestone of democracy in our country and explore the relevance of it today,” said Watts. “It’s an opportunity for us to have a local conversation about the contributions of women not only in the past but here in the present.”

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Spare Time takes events to the next level For those seeking bowling and other entertainment games along with customized catering, Spare Time Birmingham is right up their alley. “Our corporate mantra is ‘creating memorable experiences for every guest, every visit’,” said Dewayne Gass, regional business development specialist for Spare Time Entertainment. “We don’t consider ourselves a bowling center, but an entertainment center that features bowling and specializes in hosting special celebrations.” Gass said Spare Time could host groups from seven to 700. They feature 31 bowling lanes, including a private VIP room with five lanes, a full-service bar and kitchen. The entertainment center also includes music, laser tag, arcade and interactive gaming. “We are happy to take care of every detail,” he said. “We can even provide the musical entertainment, photographer, whatever someone planning an event needs. We’ve done Bar-Bat Mitzvahs, corporate events, sports banquets, you name it.” Spare Time features its own restaurant with a menu of steaks, seafood, chicken, pizza and American classics. “We work with party planners to customize a menu that fits perfectly with the event. We can do kosher-style, gluten-free and a banquet-style menu featuring carving stations,” said Gass. “Our talented chefs can do it all.” The company has invested $7 million over the past five years into making Spare Time a “state-of-the-art entertainment center,” added Gass. He said Spare Time welcomes those planning a special celebration to take a tour. For more information, go to trussville.



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The Feb. 8 fundraiser for Mitchell’s Place, held at The Theodore

The Theodore a place of historic celebrations One of Birmingham’s newest event facilities — The Theodore in the Lakeview district — connects the past to today, and on April 2 they will host the Collat Jewish Family Services Hands Up Together event. The 1940s-themed event, to be attended by approximately 250 people, will honor Marjorie Perlman for her years of dedicated service to CJFS. On Feb. 8, one night before the Academy Awards, The Theodore hosted A Night at the Oscars fundraiser for Mitchell’s Place. The organization, founded by Jewish community members Alan and Nancy Meisler, helps children and young adults with autism. More than 350 people attended the event. The Moderne-style warehouse built in 1929 includes three warehouse bays, along with a covered porch and courtyard converted from an old railroad platform. It features exposed brick walls, barrel truss ceilings, original fire doors and steel windows. The 20,000-square-foot facility just a few blocks from Pepper Place on 2nd Ave. South was converted to Swann Chemical Company’s research laboratory in 1936, a ground-breaking chemical company launched by Theodore Swann. In addition to becoming an industrial mogul, Swann loved to entertain and would host extravagant parties at his palatial estates. Cindy and Ken Rhoden bought the building in 2017 and after an extensive historic renovation, opened The Theodore in January 2019. “It only seemed fitting that we honor his memory by reinventing his warehouse, The Theodore, as a place for modern celebrations,” said Cindy Rhoden. The Theodore can accommodate up to 650 people for standing events and 500 people for seated dinners. Those having special simchas can choose from a list of preferred caterers, with The Theodore providing the beverage and alcohol service. Isam Culver serves as general manager of The Theodore. The Alabama native spent three decades in the New York City event industry working for renowned Jewish caterer Abigail Kirsch before returning home. He and his staff are happy “to help make each client’s vision a reality.”

Special Section articles by Lee J. Green March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


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B Street Benny band a labor of love Music brought Tanya (“TJ”) and Brad Lewis together. In March 2020 they will celebrate their 20th wedding anniversary, and they love making sure Jewish weddings (and other simchas) hit the right note. “We are so happy to live a life playing music,” said TJ Lewis, who sings while her husband plays guitar and serves as musical director. “We’ve made it our career and lives. We’ve been able to balance our music with family and that is such a blessing.” They’ve shared the stage at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival with Paul Simon, Dr. John, Vanilla Ice, Irma Thomas and Bow Wow Wow, to name a few. Their music and various projects together as well as with others brought them across the U.S. for years. They started B Street Benny on Bourbon Street as a house band entertaining tourists 13 years ago. Then three-and-a-half years ago they started playing for private events on weekends, while still maintaining a four-day-a-week schedule on Bourbon Street. “We’ve had the privilege of performing for a number of Jewish wedding receptions in the past three years,” said Lewis. “Our very first Jewish reception was also our very first groom-groom wedding,” Michael Musso and Mark Erickson. “It was such an amazing and beautiful reception.” She said another memorable Jewish wedding they played for was for Jared Morganstein and Adrianne Gaudet. Adrianne is a New Orleans native who met her husband in New York. B Street Benny handled the music for the ceremony and then did their second line while they flipped the room to prepare for the reception. Lewis said her favorite Jewish celebration they played for was the wedding of Andy Weile and Tiffany Carr, an event planner in California. It was a New Orleans destination wedding. The rabbi performed the ceremony in Hebrew “so as participants we responded and sang in Hebrew as we were a part of just a beautiful celebration of joining two as one,” she said. The bride designed a formal ceremony service, but early on Lewis pulled the couple aside and recommended that they “let loose” with a more New Orleans-style party playlist. They agreed. “I told them there was a reason they came to New Orleans, so let’s bring New Orleans to this party and get your guests dancing,” she said. “We completely threw out the prewritten set list and just threw the biggest party imaginable. Everyone was on his or her feet and it was just a remarkable evening. When ‘Hava Nagila’ goes for four or five rounds, you know it’s a joyous occasion.” B Street Benny can play various types of music, from rock to funk to jazz to blues to klezmer and some traditional Jewish music. “We can do whatever they want to make sure they have the best entertainment for their special celebration,” said Lewis.

The Scribbler does invitations and much more Ginny Hutchison enjoyed acing a tennis-themed Bar Mitzvah invitation and providing some sweet, creative options for a candy-themed Bat Mitzvah. Though she estimates approximately 80 percent of their business centers on wedding invitation and related trinkets and gifts, the owner of Mountain Brook’s The Scribbler loves helping families plan invitations for B’nai Mitzvahs. Earlier this month, they did custom, candy-themed invitations for Hannah Lebensburger’s Bat Mitzvah. “We made it very colorful and fun. The ceremony invitation was a bit more formal and the reception invitation added some wow,” she said. In 2019, The Scribbler also made tennis-themed Bar Mitzvah invitations for Benjamin Cusimariu’s Bar Mitzvah. They also provided personalized cups, napkins and other trinkets. The invitation resembled a United States Tennis Association event ticket. Hutchinson opened The Scribbler 2008 in Mountain Brook’s Crestline Village before relocating to Homewood in 2012. In the spring of 2019, the Mountain Brook native moved to Cahaba Road in English Village. “We know these are special life events for our clients, so we want to make sure they know all of their options. We can customize anything,” she said. “Our wonderful clients become our friends… and we love getting their repeat business.” Hutchinson said The Scribbler is open 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, but they are happy to do appointments after hours.



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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. March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life




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Traditional and unique: Events at Galatoire’s While Friday lunch at Galatoire’s is known far and wide, and everything is great the rest of the week as well, that excellence can also be found in private parties hosted at Galatoire’s. Located in the heart of the French Quarter, Galatoire’s offers eight luxurious spaces ideal for hosting private parties for corporate, wedding, seasonal and social events. No matter the occasion, there is a space with the right ambience. All of the private dining rooms are considered to be Galatoire’s private dining spaces. The two restaurants, Galatoire’s and Galatoire’s “33” Bar & Steak, are connected and all rooms are accessible through either restaurant. The private dining rooms located at Galatoire’s “33” Bar & Steak may use the menu from either restaurant. Galatoire’s is closed on Mondays, but is available as a buyout option for private dining Groups from 10 to 170 guests can be accommodated for a seated event, 250 guests for a reception style event or even larger groups with a restaurant buyout. Menus are tailored to each group, while showcasing the Galatoire’s tradition. But there is far more than just the food — the Galatoire’s team can customize spaces and arrange unique event enhancements. Some enhancements are more traditional — satellite bars with bartenders, audio-visual, dance floors and stages. Others are more unusual — music choices include jazz trios, soloists, swing or zydeco bands. Want a Second Line parade? That can be arranged. Perhaps a fortune teller, Tarot card reader, cigar roller or Mardi Gras celebrants? Those unique elements can be arranged as well. No matter the event, the Galatoire’s team will work to make it memorable, with world-famous New Orleans cuisine and impeccable service.

Amerson Events puts new spins on event entertainment Years ago, most entertainment at simchas consisted of deejays or live music. Today, companies such as Birmingham’s Amerson Entertainment are putting a new spin on things. Owner Chris Amerson said entertaining and lighting can create everything from a nine-hole, black-light miniature golf course to 360-degree digital photo booths to video music projection. “Either we have it or we’ll find a way to get it,” he said. “We’ve provided event entertainment for our friends in the Jewish community for many years. We’re happy to make the entertainment fit the tone and theme on the celebration or corporate event.” In addition, Amerson Events recently provided entertainment and event lighting for the United Way Corporate Campaign Kick-Off, Birmingham-Southern College’s Mardi Gras and the re-

cent Bassmasters event at the Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Center. Amerson said some of the other “cool things we’ve provided” include a Dr. Who TARDIS that serves as an event entrance, interactive gaming and stand-up arcade units, and karaoke. “For the adults, we’ve done adult tricycle racing and a tiki bar where they can make snow cones” mixed with adult beverages, he said. “Digital projection is also really popular.” Amerson has more than 25 years of experience in the radio deejay and event entertainment business. He and his company have worked more than 3,000 events. “I genuinely care about each client I work with. I want them to be thrilled with our work together,” he said.

Family expertise drives Fisher and Sons jewelry The Fisher family enjoys being a part of families’ special celebrations with Fisher and Sons Jewelry— a gem in Metairie for more than 42 years. “We get to know our customers and they become our friends,” said Chloe Fisher Bares, who co-owns Fisher and Sons with her brother, Craig. “When it comes to an engagement ring, wedding ring and other jewelry for important life events, we know it’s a big decision. We’re with them every

step of the way to make sure they get something that is just perfect.” After 31 years in the jewelry industry, Thomas Fisher opened Fisher and Sons in 1977. He brought in his wife, Chloe Sr., and son Craig into the business. Their daughter, Chloe Fisher Bares joined the business in 1982, followed by her husband, Barry, in 1995. Craig’s son, Ryan, joined Fisher and Sons in 2011. That year, Thomas and Chloe Fisher turned



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over the business to their children. Ryan’s wife, Hannah, starting working with the company a year ago. “We’re all about family here,” said Fisher Bares. Ryan Fisher handles jewelry designs as well as appraisals. He works on many custom pieces for customers using CAD software and 3D printing. His father, Craig Fisher, does the benchwork on the new custom jewelry and repair work, incorporating a laser-welder. Chloe Fisher Bares goes to market a couple of times a year to pick out new and unusual pieces. “We also do a lot of custom work,” said Fisher Bares. “We love working with customers to come up with something so unique. Our slogan is ‘where the unique is commonplace’.” She said that rose gold and white gold are popular options today. Fisher and Sons has created pearl engagement rings and incorporated the fleur de lis in custom jewelry, cufflinks for weddings as well as other special celebrations. They also have done stackable, thin wedding band custom designs. “We’re also doing more custom wedding rings for customers with colored stones in them,” said Fisher Bares. The family lost Thomas Fisher earlier this year but he is with them in spirit every day at the store. “I know dad would be proud and we think about him with everything we do,” she said.

Bromberg’s has been walking down the aisle for many years As the oldest family-owned and operated retailer in the United States, Bromberg’s has certainly been there many times to ring in couples starting their lives together as husband and wife. The Birmingham retailer has been in the jewelry and wedding business for more than 184 years. Bromberg’s Marketing Director Anne Yoder said the company has registry consultants to offer assistance on setting up a registry for engaged couples and their wedding guests. “We’re happy to work with a bride and groom-to-be on their rings and on the registry,” said Yoder. “Not only do we offer the finest selection of china, crystal and giftware in the southeast, but we offer virtual gift exchanges through our gift letter program.” Couples that register with Bromberg’s benefit from savings on bridesmaids, groomsmen and hostess gifts, along with a 20 percent discount on non-diamond wedding bands. Also, when seven five-piece place settings of china, crystal or flatware are purchased, couples get the eighth setting free. According to Bromberg’s giftware buying team, brides are often looking for items that fit a casual lifestyle, such as handmade dinnerware and locally or sustainably-made items. White dinnerware remains a favorite of brides, but they’ve seen a surge in colorful reactive glazes on pottery from local crafters such as Earthborn Pottery. For jewelry, many couples are looking for classic diamond cuts, such as round brilliant and emerald cut. “We have seen an increased interest in diamond shapes such as oval and pear for engagement rings, as brides want something that isn’t just like the rings many of their friends are wearing,” said Yoder. She also said Bromberg’s customers place a big priority on ethically sourced diamonds and they are proud to offer the responsibly-sourced Forevermark Diamonds. Those go through a rigorous selection process to ensure a superior cut, polish and clarity. To bear a Forevermark inscription, a diamond must not have any characteristics that will preclude the ability to reflect or refract light.

community Mississippi Freedom Seder on April 2 The Mississippi Freedom Seder, a tradition recalling the 1969 Seder in Washington marking the first anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s death, will be held at Two Mississippi Museums in Jackson on April 2. Open to all, Mississippi Freedom Seder features the rituals, readings, songs, and ceremonial food of the Passover tradition, culminating in a shared meal. The event will begin at 6 p.m. in the Craig H. Neilsen Auditorium at the museums. The event is sponsored by the Museum of Mississippi History, the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life. “For this year’s Freedom Seder, we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote,” said Mississippi Department of Archives and History director Katie Blount. “But we are also remembering the brave men and women who continued the fight for suffrage through the civil rights era.” “We are pleased to co-host this commemoration of the Freedom Seder, and in doing so, we remember the involvement of visiting Jewish Freedom Summer volunteers in 1964 as well as members of the local Jewish community who advocated for social justice,” said Michele Schipper, Chief Executive Officer of the ISJL. Tickets are $15 each and include dinner. The program will begin at 6 p.m.

Bleich retires as player, takes on analytics After retiring as a professional baseball player, Jeremy Bleich of Metairie is now a coach. The Pittsburgh Pirates announced that Bleich will be working with pitchers and fielders on defensive positioning in the team’s analytics department. An Isidore Newman graduate, Bleich attended Stanford University and was drafted in the first round of the 2008 Major League draft by the New York Yankees. He played for several teams in the Yankees’ minor league system, then signed with Pittsburgh in 2015. Over the next few years, he played for minor league teams in several organizations, including the 2018 season with the AAA Nashville Sounds, which brought him to New Orleans to face the hometown Baby Cakes. His brief stint in the Majors came in July 2018, as he was promoted to the Oakland Athletics. He debuted the night he was called up, against the San Francisco Giants. In two appearances, he was credited with one-third of an inning, giving up two hits and two earned runs, with one strikeout. He then returned to Nash-

A Flower for Hadar Historically and traditionally, the Seder table has had three elements, Matzo, the Seder plate and a cup of wine for Eliyahu. A group of Jewish women realized that no story of the Exodus would be complete without mention of Miriam, Moses’ sister, who saved his life. In doing so, she changed the entire course of Jewish history. They proposed that a cup of clear water and an elegant explanation be included in the Seder. Miriam’s cup represents the heroism of all Jewish “women of valor.” In the same way, I would ask that all households also include a single flower on their Seder tables. It is called, “A Flower for Hadar,” in honor of heroic Border Policewoman Hadar Cohen. In the final seconds of her life she saved countless others from injury or death at the hands of a bomb-laden terrorist, at the Damascus Gate in Old Jerusalem, February 3, 2016. The tribute is in Hadar’s name, but it represents all of the IDF soldiers and civilians who have been lost to terrorism in Israel. Please join my family in making this a permanent part of your Seders and forward this request to everyone you know who celebrates Passover with a Seder service. Also, please forward this request to your synagogue bulletin and any other Jewish newsletters of which you are aware, for inclusion in their publications. I suggest that you use this poignant letter as a reading, in explanation of the inclusion of the flower on your Seder table. It was written by Jewish author Naomi Ragen as a tribute to the heroism of Hadar Cohen. Respectfully, The Conn Family Birmingham, Alabama March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life



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March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

ville in early August. In 2019, he pitched for the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings, both AAA teams, then retired after the season. In the 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifier, he pitched for Israel as it had a surprising run in the tournament. He also pitched in one game for Israel in the 2019 European Baseball Championship, keeping Italy scoreless in three innings of relief, and in September he pitched for Israel in the Africa/Europe 2020 Olympic Qualification Tournament, which Israel won, qualifying them for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo. At that tournament, he was 1-1 with an ERA of 11.57 during 4.2 innings.

Birmingham’s LJCC “Levels Up” with new tiered membership structure Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center has revamped its membership to reflect different styles of usage at the facility. The new system, which will go into effect for all current members as of March 31, has three levels — J Classic, J Plus and J Elite. Executive Director Samantha Dubrinsky said the change in membership structure “is just one example of the many ways the J is revitalizing itself to remain a dynamic home for Jewish life in Birmingham. We are improving upon our programming and community offerings so that everyone feels they have a need met by the LJCC.” Since the change was announced earlier this year, new members have been signing up at one of the three “Level Up” options. All current members have until March 31 to pick their levels, and all members will need to select one of the options. J-Classic, at $49 per month, includes the fitness center, indoor and outdoor tracks, indoor pool, tennis, gym, the Live Up community, access to free events and member discounts for programs such as camps, individual lessons and so forth. The J-Plus level, $79 per month, adds premium towel service, eligibility for the Cohn Early Childhood Learning Center, seven guest passes per year, 10 Kid’s Club and youth lounge visits per month and unlimited group fitness classes. J-Elite, at $99 per month, adds the outdoor pool, unlimited premium classes, a private training room, a reserved locker and $100 in J-Cash annually. J-Cash is coupons that can be used toward LJCC services. The base rate for each category includes one adult membership. Additional adults in the household can be added for the add-on rate of $15 for J-Elite, $10 for J-Plus and $5 for J-Classic. The cutoff is age 14, and the additional members can be added at a tier equal or below the primary member’s tier. As an example, a household with two parents, a 15-year-old and a 10-year-old that wants to be J-Elite would be $99 plus two $15 add-ons, unless the second adult and/or the 15-year-old want to be on a lower level. The 10-year-old can be added without charge. Katie Hausman, the LJCC marketing director, explained that someone who uses the LJCC for running on the treadmill and lift weights would be fine with just the J-Classic level, “and you won’t have to pay for all the amenities you do not use.” Similarly, members that have been paying individually for premium classes will find they have unlimited premium classes in J-Elite, making it a better deal than before. “In many, many cases, people are saving money,” Hausman said. Having a tiered system is not unprecedented. Before the 1993 expansion, there was a higher Health Club membership to gain access to fitness facilities. After the expansion, there were Gold memberships. Dubrinsky said “the J has prided itself on being the ‘living room’ of the Jewish community; now, we’re aiming to be the ‘kitchen table,’ which is where dynamic conversations take place and memories are made. Our membership changes are just one example of that effort.”

March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


community “Ice Front” regional debut in B’ham Birmingham Festival Theatre does show about Norwegian theatrical resistance to the Nazis Actors with the Norwegian National Theatre, forced by the Nazi German occupation to perform a “blatantly, horrendously anti-Semitic play” stage a rebellion in “The Ice Front.” Birmingham Festival Theatre hosts the regional premier of the play, written by Eric Samuelsen in 2017 and based on a true story. It opens on March 13 at 7:30 p.m. and runs Fridays through Sundays until March 29. Director Alex Ungerman knew the playwright Samuelsen, both of whom are from Salt Lake City. According to Ungerman and an article Samuelsen wrote before his passing in 2019, the playwright’s grandparents lived in Norway during the time of the occupation. Samuelsen’s great uncle even fought with the resistance, known as The Ice Front, which was a set of guidelines from the government-in-exile detailing how Norwegians were to resist under the occupation. Through stories from his family and through discussing with a friend at the National Archive who knew of Samuelsen’s interest in Norwegian national history, Samuelsen learned more about the occupation and about the Norwegian National Theatre troupe’s rebellion against the show. The troupe even went so far as to try and burn the theatre down, making it look like an accident, so they wouldn’t have to perform the show, which was entitled “The Last Scream.” They performed it badly on purpose during opening night and a German soldier shot one of the troupe members. While the story is based on fact, Samuelsen invented the individual characters, including those who were targeted by the Nazis. Troupe members in the show include a hidden Jew and a hidden homosexual, and a character linked to the Roma. In a 2017 interview, Samuelsen said “The actor characters of the National ultimately had to choose. They could protect themselves, stay safe (relatively), and acquiesce to Nazi demands. Or they could choose rebellion and civil disobedience. Their lives were at stake. The choice was never easy. But it was necessary.” For more information about “The Ice Front” and to purchase tickets, go to

Members of Montgomery’s Jewish community took part in the Martin Luther King Day march on Dexter Avenue 42

March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

community >> Agenda

continued from page 8 5 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tickets may be purchased from any member until March 26, as there will be just 300 meals served. The $12 tickThe Jewish Federation of Central Alabama will host “A Jewish Jour- et includes a corned beef sandwich on rye, potato chips, pickle, slaw ney in the White House,” with author Sarah Hurwitz, on March 31 at and a sweet treat. the Federation’s office at Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem in Montgomery. Sam Tenenbaum will be among the participants in Croonin’ for CritHurwitz was a speechwriter for President Barack and Michelle Obama, and author of “Here All Along: Finding Meaning, Spirituality and a ters, an American Idol-style singing competition to benefit homeless Deeper Connection to Life — in Judaism (After Finally Choosing to animals. The event will be on March 19 at 7 p.m. at WorkPlay in BirLook There).” There will be a wine and cheese reception at 6:15 p.m., mingham. with the fireside chat at 7 p.m., led by Tina McManama. Reservations The March session of Doubt & Discovery for Beth Israel in Jackson are $20 and each person will receive a copy of the book. will discuss “Jewish Worship from a Christian Perspective.” Guest speakTemple Emanu-El in Birmingham will have Havdalah Nights on ers are Christian liturgist Rev. Amy Finkelberg and Christian music leadApril 4 at 7 p.m., with Havdalah, dinner by Eli’s Jerusalem Grill and a er Carol Joy Sparkman. There will be a Havdalah service and desserts. screening of “Walk on Water,” a 2004 Israeli film that depicts an Israeli The discussion will be on March 21 at 6:45 p.m. at the Finkelberg home. intelligence agent whose wife commits suicide, then he is assigned Beth Israel in Gulfport will hold a Passover Seder fundraiser open to to befriend the grandchildren of a Nazi war criminal. Reservations are the greater community, March 21 at 6 p.m. Florence Gardens’ Magnolia $10 and the event is for ages 18 and up. Hall. Rabbi Hillel Norry will teach about Passover foods and symbols, Tim Lorsch will perform his one-man show, “The Suitcase,” at B’nai and how the holiday relates to Christianity. The event time and regisIsrael in Hattiesburg for the community’s Yom HaShoah event, April 18 tration information will be announced soon. Reservations are $18 for Beth Israel members and $10 for children, $25 for the general commuat 6 p.m. He performed in Dothan in January. nity before March 15 and $30 after. The 37th annual Holocaust remembrance at Jacksonville State UniThe Jewish Federation of Oxford will hold Bagels in the Park on versity will be April 2 at 7:30 p.m. at Stone Center Theater. The speaker March 29 at 10 a.m. On March 31, there will be a volunteer opportunity will be second generation survivor Ann Mollengarden, the daughter of Robert May of Birmingham, who escaped Germany through the with More than a Meal at the Stone Center from 4:15 to 6:15 p.m. Kindertransport, a British program that allowed Jewish children under Chabad of Baton Rouge is planning a pre-Passover pop-up shop 17 to enter England, as long as they could support themselves.. from Kosher Cajun in Metairie on March 22; details were not set at Tuscaloosa’s Temple Emanu-El will have its Jewish Deli Day on April press time.


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March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


Lox and Veggie Cream Cheese Matzah (Serves 6)

Ingredients: 1/4 cup capers, drained 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 small red onion, thinly sliced 1 tablespoon fresh dill, coarsely chopped 1 (8-oz.) container garden vegetable cream cheese spread 3 matzahs 3 oz. sliced smoked salmon 1 teaspoon kosher salt

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Instructions: Preheat small, nonstick skillet on medium-high 1 to 2 minutes. Drain capers, then add oil and capers to skillet; cook 1to 2 minutes, stirring often, or until the capers burst into little florets. Transfer to a small bowl and let stand to cool. Slice onion; chop dill. Spread even amounts of cream cheese onto matzahs; top evenly with remaining ingredients.

Publix Supermarkets by Lee J. Green Publix Supermarkets helps people prepare for Passover at its stores across Alabama and the Florida panhandle with an extensive kosher product selection and recipes on its website. All Publix stores include dedicated space for kosher food products, such as those from Manischewitz, Streit’s, Osem, Gold’s and Kedem. The Publix on Overton Road in Birmingham includes a 10-foot kosher products display and is the largest in the Southern Jewish Life magazine’s coverage area. The launch of the GreenWise Market organic grocery concept in 2019 and the opening of the Mountain Brook Village GreenWise last June allowed Publix to enhance its organic kosher product selection. That 23,000-square-foot-store in Lane Parke includes eight feet of space devoted to organic, kosher frozen foods. Publix Community Relations Manager Brenda Reid said “we’re focused on providing our customers the kosher, organic and specialty products they are looking for.” She said the Publix Supermarkets’ meat departments offer a variety of kosher beef provided by Alle and Aarons, along with poultry from Empire. Publix features plenty of kosher staple items such as grape juice, matzah, gefilte fish and tea biscuits as well as some kosher-for-Passover continued on page 45

community >> Rear Pew Mirror

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kick, live like a Jewish Werewolf of London with a big dish of Beef Chow Chrain. To put some punch in your Passover, please pass the Kung Paroh Chicken, while traditionalists sup on the Passover Chinese dish that rules over all others, General Matzo’s Chicken. For dessert after a Chinese Passover meal, nobody’s ever had a better fortune than a sensible portion of Afi Ko Mein. In short, anyone can try the traditional Passover tricks, like using another leftover Seder plate item to make salt water taffy. It doesn’t take a radical mind to deliver a Passover surf and turf, such as brisket and gefilte fish. However, to make a Passover Seder that’s truly different, try this year to introduce something ethnic into the menu. Too late? Already done with your Passover shopping? It’s okay, you’re not alone. You can join Cubs fans around the world who are already saying, “just wait until next year.” Doug Brook is a writer in Silicon Valley who looks forward to one year arriving at Seder in a Matzarati. To read past columns, visit For exclusive online content, like

Going Once… Twice… Sold

On Jan 25, Dothan’s Temple Emanu-El held its biggest fundraiser of the year, its annual art auction, facilitated by Marlin Art Auctions of New York. continued from page 44 >>Publix wines. They also offer “thousands of additional national branded products across the entire grocery store that contain a kosher certification symbol,” added Reid. “If there is a kosher product that is not readily available at a store but we have it at other stores, customers can order the items and in most cases we can have them in at their store within a few days,” she said. A variety of kosher-recipes can be found at, including sunshine salmon, citrus-glazed turkey breast, asparagus-almond salad, potato leek soup with avocado along with the lox and veggie cream cheese matzah recipe here.

A new magazine for Israel’s Christian friends March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life


rear pew mirror • doug brook

Matzah Matter For You Doug Brook is on assignment, so here is an encore presentation of a 2012 column enjoyed by nearly half of his readers...

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Every year at the Passover Seder, we ask the unwritten Fifth Question: How do Italian Jews eat during Passover? Every year, Uncle Heschy answers, “with their mouths,” everyone laughs, nobody knows why (since we’ve heard it 39 times), and the Seder proceeds. But this year, thanks to the Mayan prediction that this will be the Last Seder, this column reveals the real answer to the Fifth Question, before it’s too late. Of course, it’s not as simple as an entrée of spaghetti and matzah balls, because of the spaghetti. And don’t even try to argue for your usual tiramijew for dessert. Starting from the beginning of the Paschal meal, it is best to ease into the Passover diet. Thus it should begin with a variety of Antimatzo, for those who are decidedly anti-Matzah. The most popular item is a bowl of the classic Matzastrone soup, often counter-balanced with a judicious serving of Calamarror. Between courses, few people decline to recline while they sip their third Matzarita and wonder what matzah-based entrees are about to enter. In keeping with Passover’s mantra of “let all who are hungry come and eat,” there’s something for everyone, no matter their dietary philosophies or lunacies. The kids can never get enough of their Matzaroni and Cheese. On a separate Seder table — to separate the dairy from the meat — others can indulge in a favorite from Talmudic times, Meatball Matzanara. Vegetarians and people without separate Passover dishes for dairy and meat can both enjoy eating their greens with a fresh, seasonal Pasta Primamatza. Many matzah meal mavens masticate their way through a nice thick Matzacotti, while seafood mavens can enjoy a spicy Linguini de Marror. Non-kanoodlers can noodle through a noodle-less Eggplant Parmatzan or even a nice plate of Chicken Matzala. Finally, when all else fails, the Italian dish that always wins is a good, thick serving of Matzarella Marinara. When time for dessert comes, there are many better options than chocolate-covered matzah. Lovers of strawberries and cream can indulge in a traditional Matzabaglione. For people who believe that the presence of fruit is too healthy for dessert, there’s always the option of Spumatza (spumoni in a matzah cone; some assembly required). The Fifth Question asks specifically about Italian Jews and Passover, but why is this nationality different from all other nationalities? For example, while there have historically been relatively few Chinese Jews, Chinese cuisine has been a dominant presence in Jewish life since biblical times. A forced fast from Chinese food might seem like cruel and unusual punishment for a festival that celebrates freedom from oppression. Thankfully, it’s easy to spice up the Seder plate with an alternative greenery, Edamarror. In honor of that Seder plate accident a few years ago, start the meal with a hearty Egg Drop Soup before serving some Egg Fu Yung. For those hoping to avoid traditional Chinese matzah dishes, and who can tolerate mushrooms, there’s always Moo Goo Brie Pan. For a bit more

This year, try something ethnic for Passover Seder


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March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life



March 2020 • Southern Jewish Life

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