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Southern Jewish Life

LOOKING BACK AT LIMMUD BBYO NEW ORLEANS REUNION ZBT ALABAMA INAUGURAL HALL OF FAME ISJL’S PASSOVER PILGRIMAGE 25 YEARS OF JAZZFEST SHABBAT April 2016

Volume 26 Issue 4

Southern Jewish Life P.O. Box 130052 Birmingham, AL 35213 Moses parting the Red Sea, a new sculpture by Andrew Brott of New Orleans, at Temple Beth-El, Pensacola


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In the last few weeks, nola.com and New Orleans magazine had articles on the effort to standardize the date of Easter. Most years, Easter falls during Passover, but on occasion — like this year — they are a month apart. Easter is very early while Passover is very late. For New Orleans (and Mobile), the date of Easter is particularly important because counting backwards, it sets the date for Mardi Gras and the whole parade season, which this year ended very early, meaning a very short window to get your fill of king cake and tourist dollars. Standardizing the date of Easter — most proposals mention the Sunday following the second Saturday of April — would make the season more predictable and ensure a decent length to parade season. There’s also the issue of different Christian groups observing Easter on different dates already, a theological conundrum that many leaders, including Pope Francis, want to correct. Imagine if different factions of Judaism observed Yom Kippur on different days. Naturally, the date of Easter is a topic about which a Jewish publication should not have anything to say. Right? Historically, the Jewish world has tried to lay low during Easter, because of the narratives surrounding the crucifixion. Forget the December dilemma, over the centuries Easter was when it was most hazardous to be a Jew in a Christian society. However, the date of Easter is tied to the Jewish experience, and standardizing it would reverberate historically. Unlike Christmas, Easter is tied to the lunar calendar, not the solar calendar, and the lunar calendar is how Jewish holidays are determined. Those of us in the Jewish world are used to our holidays shifting around over the secular calendar; for Christians, Easter and the observances tied to it are the only experience with the lunar calendar system. The events surrounding the crucifixion are said to have taken place at the start of Passcontinued on page 4

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March 2016 April 2016

commentary over. In fact, many churches hold modified Passover Seders in the belief that the Last Supper was a Seder, though a careful reading of the gospel accounts has clues that would rule that out. The resurrection that Christians celebrate is said to have been discovered on Sunday following the beginning of Passover, so that is when the early Christians celebrated Easter. But they had one problem — relying on the Jewish calendar. Because 12 lunar months are 10 or 11 days fewer than a solar year of 12 months, a formula was devised by the ancient rabbis to add a leap month in 7 out of every 19 years. That way, the spring festival of Passover stayed in the spring; the harvest festival of Sukkot remained in the fall. Centuries later, Islam would adopt the lunar calendar, but without the leap month. Their holidays are not seasonal, so it does not matter to them that their holidays shift through the seasons, getting earlier each year according to the solar calendar. Passover’s timing each year was declared from Jerusalem. To schedule Easter, the early church had to know when Passover would be, so they had to go to the Jews — you know, the people who rejected the whole resurrection and salvation thing. Fed up with having to go to the Jews to find out when their Christian holy day would be, at the Council of Nicea in 325 C.E. a rule was adopted placing Easter on the Sunday following the first full moon after the Spring Equinox, which was decreed to be March 21. That way, they didn’t have to check with us any more. This year, the Jewish calendar has a leap month, moving Passover to late April, one of the latest dates it can start. But since Purim — which is on a full moon — happened on March 24, the first Sunday after that was

March 27, so Easter was early this year. Further complicating things, with the precision of modern astronomy, sometimes the equinox moves to March 20. In 2038, that is the case, and there is a full moon on March 21. But since Christianity officially fixed the date of the equinox as March 21, Easter won’t be observed until after the full moon in April. In 2038, Passover starts on April 19, Easter will be April 25. Why should the Jewish community care when Easter is? In the grand scheme of things, it matters little to us, just as Christians aren’t affected by when Muslims observe Ramadan. But in this era, when there are good relations between Christians and Jews — something which has been relatively rare over the last 2000 years, the date of Easter is a reminder to Christians of our common origins. Today, a great number of Christians, especially in our region, learn about Judaism to better understand their own faith and where it came from. Hebrew roots explorations are common, and the determination of Easter is a demonstration of Christianity’s Jewish roots. To establish a fixed Easter based on the solar calendar would sever that link. On some level, it would put a historical distance between our faiths at a time when so many are exploring what we share. If different Christian groups can unite under a common Easter date for the first time in centuries, more power to them. If the proposals, some of which have been around for a century, never come to fruition, that’s their choice as well. This is not our battle. Nevertheless, in a move toward convenience there would be something historic lost, and it should at least be taken into consideration.

Larry Brook EDITOR/PUBLISHER

Set a place at Seder for victims of terror Every year at Pesach, we place a cup of wine on the table for Eliyahu and a cup of water on the table for Miriam. This year, still reeling from the losses of our brave soldiers, policemen and just ordinary people to terrorists, my family has decided to have an empty place setting at our Seder table in honor and memory of Hadar Cohen, heroic IDF soldier. It will be dedicated to Hadar but it will represent many. My plan was to photograph her place at our table and send the picture to her parents to let them know that they aren’t alone in their grief. Then I thought that it would be nice if we had families all over the world paying tribute to Hadar and our fallen. 4 Southern Jewish Life • April 2016

EDITOR@SJLMAG.COM

I don’t know why the loss of Hadar has affected us so greatly. Maybe it’s because we just finished a tour with Sar-El, living on an IDF base with many girls who are her. Maybe it’s because we just saw 1000 beautiful and bright Hadar Cohens on the streets of Tel Aviv. In any case, if you are inclined to do so, please plan to set your Seder table as we will ours. If your table isn’t large enough to accommodate an empty place, a flower in a vase, a glass of wine or a candle would also honor her memory. Please pass this on. It will make your celebration of Passover even more meaningful. The Conn family Birmingham

Southernshalom Jewish Life y’a PUBLISHER/EDITOR Lawrence M. Brook editor@sjlmag.com ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER/ADVERTISING Lee J. Green lee@sjlmag.com ADVERTISING SPECIALIST Dan Weinrib dan@sjlmag.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR Ginger Brook ginger@sjlmag.com SOCIAL/WEB Eugene Walter Katz eugene@sjlmag.com Cover Image: Courtesy Haspel

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ADVERTISING Advertising inquiries to Lee Green, 205/870.7889 or lee@sjlmag.com or Dan Weinrib, /sjlmag dan@sjlmag.com @sjlmag /southern /s jewish Media kit, rates available upon request life SUBSCRIPTIONS It has always been our goal to provide a large-community quality publication to all communities of the South. To that end, our commitment includes mailing to every Jewish household in the region (AL, LA, MS, NW FL), without a subscription fee. Outside the area, subscriptions are $25/year, $40/two years. Subscribe via sjlmag.com, call 205/870.7889 or mail payment to the address above. Copyright 2016. 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

It was a bipartisan evening as Tulane Israel Public Affairs Committee had a leadership dinner for over 100 students, featuring Louisiana Congressional representatives. Democrat Cedric Richmond and Republican John Fleming shared the stage on Feb. 17 at Yulman Stadium, speaking about the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Statewide Alabama effort provides Purim packages for Israeli soldiers A statewide effort in Alabama to purchase Mishloach Manot packages for Israeli soldiers exceeded expectations, and the packages were delivered in time to bring Purim joy to the soldiers. The Alabama Tzedakah Project, coordinated by Montgomery Shlicha Dana Korem and Mobile Shaliach Arad Lerner, aimed to raise money to purchase 100 packages for Battalion 12 of the Golani Brigade, in honor of Jordan Ross, a Lone Soldier from Daphne who is serving in that battalion. Lone Soldiers are those serving in the Israeli military who do not have any family living in Israel.

Korem reported that funds were raised to send packages to over 300 soldiers through Connections Israel, an organization that helps soldiers, especially Lone Soldiers, throughout the year. The project began at the Kol Ami Religious School in Montgomery, the joint school of Temple Beth Or and Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem, and they asked other communities in the state to join the effort. Korem said “I’m amazed of the deep connection of the Jewish people in Alabama with Israel. The responses I get are heartwarming, and I never thought so many people and communities would help us.”

Birmingham Federation launches matching campaign The Birmingham Jewish Federation launched an initiative to attract first-time and increased gifts to the Annual Campaign this month, with the March to Passover. A grant from the Birmingham Jewish Foundation will match those dollars on a one-to-one basis. Since it began in mid-March, the effort attracted $11,000 in increases or new gifts from 40 families or individuals. The effort is modeled after a 2010 initiative, March Matchness, which played on the month’s basketball tournament. That year, almost 250 families increased or made first-time gifts. The March to Passover will continue until the beginning of Passover on April 22. The Annual Campaign, which raised $2.4 million in 2014, helps fund local Jewish agencies, regional Jewish organizations and needs in Israel and across the Jewish world.

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April 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 5


agenda Pensacola Opera performing Holocaust work at Beth-El From March 31 to April 3, the Pensacola Opera performed “Out of Darkness,” a three-chapter work bearing musical witness to those who were caught up in the Holocaust — but there is still one more chance to see it. Temple Beth-El in Pensacola will host a free performance on April 17. There will be a wine and cheese reception at 6:30 p.m. and the performance at 7:30 p.m. The work, commissioned by Music of Remembrance and first performed at MOR Holocaust Remembrance Concerts in Seattle, is by composer Jake Heggie and librettist Gene Scheer. “Another Sunrise” tells the story of Krystyna Zywulska who, after being captured as a member of the Polish resistance, created poems and songs in Auschwitz that circulated secretly and became anthems of defiance among her fellow prisoners. “Farewell, Auschwitz” adapts Krystyna’s lyrics, with their exhortations to preserve a sense of humanity in a place defined by inhuman behavior. The song cycle “For a Look or a Touch” illuminates Nazi persecution of homosexuals, informing historical realities through an intensely intimate story of memory and loss.

Vulcan presenting “Slippery Slope” In conjunction with the ongoing exhibition of “Darkness Into Life,” which chronicles the lives of Holocaust survivors who then made a new life in Alabama, Vulcan Park and Museum will host a performance of “A Slippery Slope: The Consequences of Hate.” The musical includes original poetry and scores by Deborah Layman, vice president of the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center, and Alan Goldspiel, chair of University of Montevallo’s Department of Music. The performance by The Seasoned Performers will include readings from personal testimonies of Holocaust survivors. Joining Dr. Alan Goldspiel on guitar are violinist Marilyn Pipkin and featured vocalist Gabriel Tajeu. The performance is a combination of the traditional Klezmar melodies from Eastern European Jewish culture and African-American spirituals. The music and readings together are used to parallel the struggles of Alabama’s Holocaust survivors and the Civil Rights Movement. The performance will be on April 21 at 5:30 p.m., doors open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $8 for Vulcan members and $10 for non-members.

CUFI holding Israel advocacy training Christians United for Israel will have its second annual Eastern Regional Forum, an all-day learning event at The Church at Chapelhill in Douglasville, Ga., west of Atlanta, on April 21. Speakers include Pastor Dave Divine, CUFI Georgia state director and pastor of the Church at Chapelhill; Pastor Jay Bailey of Solid Rock Church, CUFI Region 6 director; CUFI Outreach Coordinator Kasim Hafeez; CUFI national Diversity Outreach Coordinator Dumisani Washington; CUFI Eastern Regional Coordinator Pastor Victor Styrsky; and CUFI Watchman Project Director Erick Stakelbeck. Topics include “Radicalized Islamic Terrorism and How It Threatens the U.S,” “My Journey from Anti-Semite to Zionist,” “Destroying the Myths of the Israeli/Palestinian Conflict,” “Anti-Semitism and the Battle Against Israel on College Campuses” and how churches can stand with Israel. Pre-registration is required and is $10. Registration is on the cufi.org website.

6 Southern Jewish Life • April 2016


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A new take on Matanot L’Evyonim: Students at Birmingham’s N.E. Miles Jewish Day School took part in the Purim mitzvah of providing gifts to the needy while doing the mitzvah of listening to the Megillah. Each student brought at least one unopened box of pasta and decorated a wrap that went around the box, then used them as noisemakers to drown out Haman. After the reading, the boxes were collected and donated to the Collat Jewish Family Services food pantry.

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There are Jewish food festivals, and then there is the Arkansas Jewish Food and Cultural Festival. The Jewish Federation of Arkansas is preparing for over 15,000 visitors to the April 10 event, held at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free. This year’s festival is about much more than the food. There will be an opportunity to take part in Project 613, an educational and outreach effort of Congregation Etz Chaim of Bentonville. The congregation is restoring a 200-year-old Torah that was taken by the Nazis during the Holocaust and warehoused in Prague. The congregation has been holding educational and letter writing fundraising events, and the scroll and scribe will be at the festival. The festival will include traditional Jewish foods: corned beef sandwiches, kosher hot dogs, cabbage rolls, blintzes, kugel and more, as well as homemade Jewish treats including rugelach, babka, challah, and chocolate-covered matzah. Israeli dishes, such as falafel, hummus, and Israeli salad, will also be available. Visitors are invited to bring a bag of non-perishable food items to donate to the Arkansas Foodbank. The festival will also feature booths on Jewish and Israeli culture. At the ever-popular Ask-the-Rabbi booth, visitors can learn about Judaism itself, from Jewish holidays to life-cycle customs. At a replica of the Western Wall, visitors can leave a note of prayer, just as people do at the actual wall in Jerusalem. Judaica, jewelry, and other gift items created by local Jewish artists will be on display and for sale. Inflatables and other activities will be available for kids. Entertainment throughout the day will include contemporary and traditional Jewish music by local and regional musicians. The Jewish Food and Cultural Festival brings together the Jewish communities from throughout the state of Arkansas who take pride in sharing their traditions with others. “It is incredible how our Jewish community volunteers come together to make the Festival happen,” explained Marianne Tettlebaum, JFAR Executive Director. “We are so excited to share and celebrate our food and culture with the broader community.” Proceeds from the festival go to benefit the Federation’s work in the

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agenda community, which includes allocations to Jewish and non-Jewish charitable organizations, financial assistance to Jews in need, scholarships and other resources for Jewish children and families, and funds to support charitable work in Israel. Tzedakah Boxes will be located throughout the stadium for people to deposit tickets they purchased but did not use; proceeds from the boxes will be divided among local charities that the Federation supports. War Memorial Stadium has ample free parking, indoor concourse locations for food booths and shopping, and the opportunity for kids to run around on the football field.

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Pardes Preschool, the new preschool at Temple B’nai Sholom in Huntsville, is now enrolling for this fall. School starts on Aug. 10, and will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. for toddlers ages 18 to 30 months, and preschool on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for ages 2-1/2 to 4-1/2. Dothan’s Temple Emanu-El will have its annual Deli Day on May 4. The $12 lunches include a ¼-lb. corned beef sandwich on Atlanta Bread Company rye, a kosher dill pickle, bag of potato chips and a huge chocolate chip cookie. Ticket sales continue for the Israel trip raffle at Knesseth Israel in Birmingham. The winner will receive a trip for two to Israel on either a Jewish-oriented or Christian-oriented tour, or $5,000 cash. Tickets are $100 and a maximum of 500 will be sold. At press time, 270 had been sold. The drawing will be on May 12. On April 17 at 4 p.m. B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge will host a talk by Rabbi Mark Glickman, interim rabbi of Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge. He will discuss his new book, “Stolen Words: The Nazi Plunder of Jewish Books,” the little-known story of how the Nazis collected and warehoused a vast number of Jewish books once they determined that book burnings were ineffective and drew negative attention. Beth Israel in Jackson will have its 4-person scramble golf tournament on April 30 at Deerfield Country Club, with lunch at 11:30 a.m. and a shofar start at 1 p.m. Despite flooding in the area, the B’nai Israel Men’s Club in Monroe had a successful kosher hot dog sale on March 15, selling over 600 lunches. Once again, Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper will be purchasing the community’s chametz during Passover. There will be a ceremony to sign the agreement at Temple Beth-El on April 22 at 10 a.m. Those selling chametz are asked to include a donation that will go to the Birmingham Police Athletic Team, which offers sports programs to children at risk. B’nai Zion in Shreveport will have an Evening at Camp Fun on May 5, a benefit for congregational youth activities and Henry S. Jacobs Camp scholarships. The next of Judaism’s Great Debates at Jackson’s Beth Israel will be on April 12 at 7 p.m. Rabbi Stephen Wylen will lead a discussion of “The Vilna Gaon vs the Baal Shem Tov — Law and Tradition vs. Spiritual Ecstasy.” The May 3 session will be “Spinoza vs. The Amsterdam Rabbis: Reason or Revelation?” Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El will have a Passover family dinner following the 5:45 p.m. Shabbat service on April 29. A Passover meat dinner will be served. Reservations are $18 for adults and $10 for ages 5 to 13. Reservations are due by April 26. Rabbi Jake Czuper, a children’s entertainer and Judaics teacher at Atlanta Jewish Academy, is the new director of education for Camp Darom in northeastern Alabama. A project of Baron Hirsch in Memphis, Camp Darom is a Modern Orthodox overnight camp.

8 Southern Jewish Life • April 2016


agenda Tal Zilber concert in Alexandria Israeli-born pianist Tal Zilber will be in concert at Gemiluth Chassodim in Alexandria on April 17 as a tribute to Ruth Anne Bindursky. The free concert at 3 p.m. is part of the Temple concert series sponsored by the Fuhrer-Bindursky Fund, and will be the first since Bindursky’s death on Dec. 29, 2014. Together with her brother and sister, she established the fund in 1988. Ruth Anne Bindursky and Tal Zilber Rabbi Judy Caplan Ginsburgh said it was her vision to “establish a vehicle to share Jewish heritage and music — music written by Jewish composers, performed by Jewish artists or which has Jewish roots — with the community.” Live classical music, especially on piano, was a passion of hers, and Zilber was one of her favorite performers in the history of the concert series. “It is fitting that he return for this concert memorializing her, along with her parents and her husband,” Ginsburgh said. Bindursky was a past president of the Temple Sisterhood and Alexandria Hadassah, along with serving on numerous community boards. She also founded the Bindursky Family Humanitarian Award. Zilber holds a M.M from Rice University, a Performance Diploma from Indiana University, and a B.M. from the Rubin Israeli Music Academy. He is currently completing a doctorate in contemporary improvisation at the New England Conservatory in Boston. He has a varied career of performing classical, jazz and pop as well as composing, arranging and improvising. He has received the Andre Watts Scholarship, the America-Israel Culture Foundation Scholarship, the Lillian H. Duncan Prize and the Marian Fox Martel scholarship. A few years ago he competed in the Louisiana International Piano Competition. His April 17 concert will include classical and jazz selections, performed on a state-of-the-art Yamaha digital grand piano. A reception will follow the concert.

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Michelle Erenberg of the National Council of Jewish Women Greater New Orleans Section received the National NCJW’s Outstanding Advocate Award for Social Change at the Washington Institute on March 13. Erenberg, NCJW GNO vice president of education and NCJW State Policy Advocate, serves as a founding member of the Legislative Agenda for Women. The coalition advocates for progressive policies to improve outcomes for women and children in Louisiana, including equal pay and fair wages, Medicaid expansion, sexual health education for young people in public schools and preventing violence against women.

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agenda Entebbe veteran to speak in Baton Rouge This summer is the 40th anniversary of Israel’s daring Raid on Entebbe, and one of those who took part will be speaking in Baton Rouge next month. Chabad of Baton Rouge will host an event with Sasson “Sassy” Reuven, who was in the Israel Defense Force’s elite Red Beret paratrooper unit. The event will be on May 22 at Red Shoes. Advance tickets are $18, $25 at the door. Sponsorships are available for $180. Reuven participated in numerous covert operations while in the IDF. On June 27, 1976, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the German Revolutionary Cell hijacked an Air France plane with 248 passengers en route to Paris from Tel Aviv, Israel. The hijackers rerouted the plane to Entebbe, Uganda, where the local government and dictator Idi Amin supported the terrorists. While many of the non-Jewish hostages were released, more than 100 Israeli and Jewish passengers were separated. The non-Jewish pilot, Captain Bacos, and his crew, chose to stay behind with the hostages. The hijackers threatened to kill the hostages if their demands to release 58 detained terrorists were not met. On July 3, as the United States prepared to celebrate its bicentennial, Reuven and the rest of his unit flew through the night in hostile territory from Israel to Entebbe, Uganda to free the hostages. Reuven was among the first soldiers to jump out of the Hercules C130 transport aircraft on July 4 as it slowly taxied on the Entebbe airport runway. At the event, he will speak about preparing for the mission and how Israel was able to successfully rescue 102 of the 106 the hostages. The only IDF fatality was commander Yonatan Netanyahu, brother of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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10 Southern Jewish Life • April 2016


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NECHAMA: A Jewish Response to Disaster has deployed to the Shreveport area following extensive flooding from record rains in midMarch. A slow-moving storm dumped over two feet of rain in some areas, with widespread flooding in at least 26 Louisiana parishes. Additional flooding has affected Texas and Mississippi. By March 18, several parishes had requested assistance from NECHAMA, and on 21 the deployment began “at least initially” in Bossier and Caddo parishes. At the height of the flooding, 25,000 were under mandatory evacuation orders. NECHAMA is leading volunteer teams in mucking and gutting out flooded homes, removing flood-damaged possessions, tearing out walls, carpets and floors. A call has gone out for volunteers to help with the relief effort, and for donations to help support the projects. On March 25 an Americorps team arrived and was settling in at NECHAMA’s base of operations. The organization is still coordinating volunteers in Texas a year after floods hit part of the state. Based in Minnesota, NECHAMA began with a group of friends who went to Des Moines to volunteer after flooding in 1993. The group has been in the region many times, from Hurricane Katrina to the 2011 tornado outbreak in Alabama and Mississippi. B’nai Zion in Shreveport had several members report flooding. B’nai Israel in Monroe reported a leak in its roof from the 24 inches of rain, affecting the archive room but losses will be “at a minimum” thanks to quick work of interns.

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For tomorrow and today New Orleans AZA and BBG alumni reunite to boost BBYO in area When the idea of having a reunion for the New Orleans chapters of Aleph Zadik Aleph and B’nai B’rith Girls of BBYO was first discussed, Cathy Bart said the original plan was to have about 50 people at their home. The enthusiastic response was demonstrated by the over 300 who shoehorned into Southport Music Hall on Feb. 27, part of an entire weekend of “Where Y’at” reunion activities. “We have proven that BBYO is still in all of us,” she said. Sister BBGs from Susan Frank, Ahavah, Crescent City, Shoshanim and Robert Gervis BBG chapters joined Brother Alephs from Freed-Goldberg, Rodfay Shalom, Ralph Katz and Harry Laufer AZA, along with more recent members of Big Easy BBYO. They swapped stories, went through old scrapbooks and memorabilia, and danced as a surprise Second Line came in during the evening. Special BBYO-themed umbrellas and handkerchiefs with the reunion logo added to the atmosphere. In all, alumni from 20 states and France were in attendance. Bart said the weekend’s purpose was to share the joy “of old friends and reconnect with each other, and do something to help BBYO in New Orleans so a whole new generation could experience what we enjoyed.” Susan and Barry Koretzky of Birmingham were among those in attendance. They credit their 42-year marriage to BBYO, having met at regional convention in Biloxi in 1965, when she was a 14-year-old from Birmingham and he was a 15-year-old New Orleanian. Development Director Jayme David greeted the crowd on behalf of BBYO’s international

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office. She admitted “it’s not often I’m speaking at events where alcohol is involved.” Michael Laufer expressed gratitude to the weekend’s organizers, “to those who came before us” and established the chapters, and everyone who attended the weekend. He commented that “the experiences we had were critically important to our formative years.” At the party, he announced that $6,000 had been raised for New Orleans BBYO, and that Cathy and Morris Bart had issued a $10,000 matching challenge. As of mid-March, the group was within $600 of the goal. The weekend began with a full house at Gates of Prayer in Metairie for Shabbat evening services, as current members of Big Easy BBYO, teen coordinator Garrett Moore and alumnus Scott Bresler led services, along with music therapist Laurie Oppenheim Dawes, who assembled a BBYO songbook for the service. There was a memorial to alumni who have passed away, then following the service there Facing page: Joy Pulitzer, Abbie Fuksman and Gary Pulitzer. Below, left to right: Karen Sherman Dattel, Myra Ungar, Devvie Rodos Harris, Harriet Strug Goodman. Karen Gordon Green, Abbe Fuksman, Steve Loeb, Neil Kohlman. Melanie Serpas Blitz, Fran Cohen Godchaux, Mark Zimmerman, Shira Schwam Baird, Bonnie Blackman, Gary Gansar.

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was an oneg sponsored by B’nai B’rith. At the evening’s conclusion, one of the most-beloved memories was revisited as a Friendship Circle was held, with selections from an original songbook from decades past. The weekend concluded with breakfast at New Orleans Coffee and Beignet Co. in Metairie on Feb. 28. The weekend “showed us that the friendships we made in BBYO truly created indelible bonds and memories,” Bresler said. “But we need to ensure that the New Orleans Jewish youth of today will have the experiences that we still treasure.” Alumni who did not make it to the event can still register for the New Orleans BBYO alumni directory at nolabbyoreunion2016.com. Below: The Pinstripe Jazz Band does a second line. Ruth Sherman, Tammy Weiss Rubinsky, Donna Freedman, Becky Karno Ziegler and Judy Liederman.

14 Southern Jewish Life • April 2016


community

Vandy student Taylor Force, a Texas native, killed in Jaffa terror attack Texas native Taylor Force, a student at the Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management in Nashville, was killed in a Palestinian terror attack in Jaffa on March 8. He was 28. The attack was one of three high-profile attacks perpetrated on the day when U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Israel. During this attack, Biden was meeting at the Peres Peace Center, 15 minutes away by foot, and his wife and grandchildren were having lunch on the Tel Aviv beach not far from the attack. Force was on an Owen school trip to Israel. According to a university statement, all other students, faculty and staff on the trip were safe, and the university is arranging for their return. The 29 Vanderbilt students and four faculty members were in Israel “to learn about global entrepreneurship through meetings with start-up companies in one of the most active international cities for start-ups.” A 2009 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy, Force was a field artillery officer at Fort Hood from 2009 to 2014, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Originally from Lubbock, Texas, he was a first-year MBA student at Vanderbilt. Force’s wife was severely injured in the attack. At least 10 were injured by Qalqiliya resident Bashar Massalha in three locations over 20 minutes, according to media reports. After stabbing his victims, Massalha was shot by police after a chase from the Jaffa port to the Tel Aviv beach promenade. Among the injured were a Russian tourist, a pregnant woman, an Arab Israeli and a Palestinian man who was in Israel illegally. Four of the injured were stabbed near the Dolphinarium, the site of a 2001 Hamas suicide bombing that killed 25. During the attack, Massalha approached Yishay Montgomery, who was playing guitar on the beach. Montgomery bashed the terrorist with his guitar, causing him to flee. By coincidence, the Jerusalem Post reported that Montgomery’s father and grandparents are also from Lubbock. Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas Zeppos said Force “embarked on this trip to expand his understanding of global entrepreneurship

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community and also to share his insights and knowledge with start-ups in Israel. He exemplified the spirit of discovery, learning and service that is the hallmark of our wonderful Owen community. This horrific act of violence has robbed our Vanderbilt family of a young hopeful life and all of the bright promise that he held for bettering our greater world.” Vanderbilt held a memorial on March 18 at Benton Chapel, at which Zeppos announced a new scholarship in Force’s memory. The scholarship will be awarded to a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, the Naval Academy or the Air Force Academy. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu noted that a Palestinian terrorist had murdered an American citizen. “On behalf of the people of Israel, I send my condolences to Taylor’s family and friends. May his memory be a blessing.” Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said “I am horrified and saddened by the senseless attack that took the life of American student Taylor Force and wounded others. This is a tragic loss for his family, friends and the Vanderbilt community, and we send our sincere condolences to all of them in their time of grief. I join other officials from the U.S. in condemning this terrorist act that can never be justified or tolerated.” The Jewish Federation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee also expressed condolences. “We are saddened beyond all measure at this wanton act of violence that has taken the life of such a fine young man. Vanderbilt University and the State of Israel are an integral part of our Jewish Federation and the Nashville Jewish community.” Students Supporting Israel expressed “our deepest condolences to the Vanderbilt community and Taylor’s family,” adding, “Please do not let terror win, keep on visiting the Start-up Nation, to witness with your own eyes the magic that is called Israel.” Conversely, Hamas celebrated the attacks and “the martyrs that have ascended through these operations, and confirms that their pure blood will, God willing, be the fuel for escalating the intifada.” Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas was chided by Biden for not condemning the attack. Abbas eventually expressed regret at Force’s death but did not condemn the attack.

New ADL head visits New Orleans

Jonathan Greenblatt, the new national director of the AntiDefamation League, made his first visit to New Orleans in March for two addresses. He gave a keynote address on March 17 at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. On March 16, he spoke on “Anti-Semitism and Justice for All: Because the Work is Not Yet Done,” at the home of Leann and Ted Moses. Greenblatt became director of ADL last summer after Abe Foxman retired. Foxman had led ADL since 1987. 16 Southern Jewish Life • April 2016


We are open while rebuilding for you.

Havdalah at Gates of Prayer on March 19

Weekend of learning, community at Limmud New Orleans On the weekend of March 18, Gates of Prayer and the Lavin-Bernick Center at Tulane were buzzing with Jewish learning. Limmud New Orleans 2016 drew about 425 for a slate of 90 educational presentations, up substantially from the 275 who attended in 2014. The volunteer-run “festival of Big Tent Jewish learning” attracted attendees and presenters from throughout the region. This was the fourth Limmud in New Orleans. Limmud, which began in England in 1980, is a worldwide grassroots movement that has days or weekends of learning in 80 communities in 40 countries. There are 11 communities in the U.S. that hold Limmud, with New Orleans being the smallest by far, and the organizers have worked to make it a regional attraction. Atlanta holds its Limmud at Ramah Darom in September. Five New Orleanians attended the 2009 Limmud in New York as part of a Federation-sponsored exploratory visit to see if Limmud could be done in New Orleans. The 2010 and 2012 events were one day, then organizers explored taking it to an entire weekend for 2014. Ann Zivitz Kientz, who was on the 2009 trip and co-chaired this year’s Limmud New Orleans with Lynne Wasserman, said they met with the Rabbinical Council several times to develop a community agreement that would allow for a community-wide Shabbat experience, with individual congregations not holding their own services that weekend and everyone being under one roof. Shabbat programming was held at Gates of Prayer, with Reform, Conservative and Orthodox services held in different parts of the building simultaneously. Shabbat meals were held communally, and learning sessions that did not require electronics or writing were held Shabbat afternoon. The presentations were in 10 topic groups, including arts and culture, contemporary Jewish life and identity, family, history, Israel, social justice, Southern Jewish life, spirituality, text and thought, and food. After Havdalah, there was a Spoken Word performance, “I Am Jewish,” by Andrew Lustig, and a screening of Above and Beyond,” the story of the

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community origins of Israel’s Air Force. On March 20, sessions started at 9 a.m. There were six time slots during which approximately nine presentations went on simultaneously. There were also offerings for children and teens. Wasserman considered the weekend “an astounding success,” especially with the large growth in attendance. The support of the Rabbinic Council was important, she said, adding that 10 local rabbis presented at Limmud, and those who did not were still supportive. She also noted financial support from several individuals, the Federation and Jewish Endowment Foundation, enabling them to keep registration fees “reasonable.” Eli Ovits, chief executive of Limmud International, said it “was a true honor to participate and witness a wonderful and diverse community of learning.” He praised the New Orleans volunteers as “truly inspiring,” and said “the communal harmony and leadership is an example to others across America.” Kientz noted, “This kind of teamwork across the Jewish spectrum of movements is a wonderful example of how our New Orleans community works together for the benefit of us all.” Matt Rosenthal and Aleeza Adelman will co-chair Limmud 2018.

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From top: Temple Sinai Rabbi Edward Paul Cohn speaks about his rabbinate, interviewed by Sandy Levy. Author Joel Hoffman after his presentation on “Will the Real Bible Stand Up?” Rabbi Dana Kaplan, interim rabbi at Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile, speaks about Reform Judaism. Mitzvah maven Danny Siegel gives a presentation to teens on simple mitzvah projects with profound effects. More photos on the SJL Facebook page. Pictured here with the Chief Executive of Limmud International Eli Ovits of London are members of the New Orleans Limmudfest Steering Committee. Left to right: Bob Simon, Gail Chalew, Co-Chairs Ann Kientz and Lynne Wasserman, Judy Roth, Eli Ovits, Margery Brown, Barbara Kaplinsky and Jack Gross.


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Happy Passover

to my friends and supporters in the Jewish community Judge Sidney H. Cates, IV Orleans Civil Court Division C

AIPAC delegates from Louisiana visit Sen. David Vitter’s office

Southern delegates a strong presence at AIPAC Alabama’s Christian support of Israel was highlighted at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference last month in Washington. The conference attracted 18,000 delegates and four of the five remaining presidential candidates. During the morning session on Photo by Andrea Morton Penn March 21, incoming AIPAC President Lillian Pinkus recognized John Buhler Above, Christian supporters of Israel from north of Huntsville, one of the participants in the Alabama visit Rep. Mo Brooks. Below, others in first AIPAC Educational Foundation trips the Alabama delegation visit Rep. Terri Sewell. to Israel for the Christian community. She noted how Buhler founded two pro-Israel statewide groups in Alabama and “built strong friendships with key legislators and he forged deeper ties with the Alabama Jewish community.” Through those relationships, a coalition facilitated the unanimous adoption of a measure in the Alabama Legislature condemning the boycott-Israel movement and reaffirming the state’s support for Israel. “This is what happens when we work together,” Pinkus said. “We need more leaders like John Buhler.” Buhler said he appreciates “AIPAC daring to reach out in that way 10 years ago, and it has were quoted by the Forward regarding Donald been a privilege to work along side all of our Trump’s then-upcoming speech. The students Alabama Delegation from across the state, and from the historically black university said they also to build upon the incredibly strong founda- weren’t Trump supporters but would reserve judgment until they actually heard his address. tion of those who came before us.” Six young members of Birmingham’s Jewish A large Christian delegation from north Alabama attended the conference. Arlene Bridges community attended AIPAC as Mitnick FelSamuels, who was hired in 2007 as AIPAC’s first lows, as part of the 30-member Birmingham regional outreach director to work with Chris- delegation. A delegation of 17 students from Tulane Unitian groups in the Southeast, said the Alabama delegation is “our very first AIPAC Christian versity went to the conference, where Tulane Israel Public Affairs Committee President Becca delegation, going strong since 2007.” Two delegates from Alabama State Univer- Sawyer was recognized as an AIPAC Advocate sity, Jaylan Matthews and Alexandria Green, of the Year.

20 Southern Jewish Life • April 2016


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First Hall of Fame class inducted by Lee J. Green As it is customary at the end of the Passover Seder to say “next year in Jerusalem,” at the University of Alabama ZBT Psi Chapter Centennial Celebration Hall of Fame Induction reception a common refrain was “see you in the next 100 years.” Distinguished alumni including Mel Allen, Harold Blach, Fred Sington, Karl Friedman and several others were inducted into the Hall of Fame during the March 5 reception attended by over 200 people at the Hotel Capstone in Tuscaloosa. The honors were presented as part of a centennial celebration for the Psi chapter of ZBT at Alabama, held March 4 to 6. The weekend was coordinated by Vikki and Ken Grodner with a team of volunteers. About 375 were registered for the weekend, which started with a reception at the Paul W. Bryant Museum. Members of the Alabama cheerleading squad and football player Michael Nyswander showed up for the reception. Hillel hosted a memorial service for ZBT, Kappa Nu and Phi Ep brothers the next morning, followed by a founders and leadership luncheon and presentation on the campus master plan. During the luncheon, a historical marker was unveiled for ZBT. Vikki Grodner said they had worked with the Alabama Historical Association on the plaque, which recognizes the university’s first Jewish fraternity. Jerald Labovitz of Montgomery, a member of the Psi Chapter board of trustees and the steering committee for the weekend, did the unveiling. Ron Levitt, a ZBT Alabama alumnus and attorney for Sirote and Permutt in Birmingham, emceed the induction ceremony that evening. Laurence Bolotin, executive director of ZBT National, made a special 100th anniversary proclamation and bestowed an honorary membership to University of Alabama System Chancellor Robert Witt. Witt was instrumental in facilitating a large increase in Jewish student enrollment as well as enhancements in Jewish student life as president of the University of Alabama. That included heightened efforts in recruiting Jewish students regionally and nationally, along with spurring the move to campus for Temple Emanu-El and the new Hillel building next door. In addition to those new buildings, ZBT had a major renovation of its house, with a dedication weekend in 2013.

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community The Jewish student population at Alabama is now close to 900 and ZBT’s membership has swelled to 100. Prior to Witt, it had dropped to 15 members. “I am honored to receive this award,” said Witt. “Making sure the University of Alabama is a diverse campus and seeking out some of the best and brightest have always been of utmost importance to me.” Witt helped lead several recruiting programs in Atlanta and other areas. Currently, half of the ZBT freshman class is from the Atlanta area. Of the 37,000 students currently enrolled, including 7,200 freshmen, twothirds are from out of state. He said he knows current University of Alabama President Stuart Bell will continue that trend of growing the Jewish student numbers and outof-state student numbers. Bell said “the University has a remarkable way of forming a family away from home. ZBT mirrors that by providing a family for its members. That is what we want to foster for Jewish students and all students at the University of Alabama.” The inaugural ZBT Alabama Psi Chapter Hall of Fame members were then inducted. The class included 11 distinguished alumni, both living and deceased. Mel Allen was best known as the play-by-play announcer for the New York Yankees and long after his death is still referred to as the “Voice of the Yankees.” Not bad for a University of Alabama graduate and law school graduate from a small town in Alabama. Allen also called some New York Giants football games and host- Larry Allen accepts the Hall of ed “This Week in Baseball.” Accept- Fame honor for his late brother, ing his award was his 95-year-old Mel Allen brother Larry Allen. David Aresty was vice president of distribution at Alfred Dunner, Inc., a New York women’s apparel manufacturer. During his life he and his family supported numerous charitable endeavors. But in Tuscaloosa, perhaps what he will best be remembered for was his facilitating a gift of more than $1 million in new women’s apparel following the devastating 2011 tornadoes for the “Dressing Up Tuscaloosa” relief aid event. At the 2013 rededication of the ZBT house at Alabama, he received the ZBT International Man of the Year honor. Montgomery’s Aaron Aronov founded Aronov Realty, one of the oldest real estate development and management firms in the United States and the largest privately held, full-service real estate company in the Southeast. Few have shown greater commitment to ZBT at Alabama than Harold Blach, Jr. Now a trustee emeritus, Blach has served Psi Chapter longer than any other member on the Board of Trustees, Robert Witt becomes an honorary which he joined after his graduamember of ZBT tion in 1955 and served as president for a number of years. He served as president of Blach’s Department Store from 1959 through 1988. Fred Friedman has been very involved in Jewish community philan22 Southern Jewish Life • April 2016


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thropy over the years. He and his wife Brenda are the title sponsors of the Levite Jewish Community Center’s annual Food Festival and his support led to the creation of the Friedman Center for Jewish Life at Birmingham’s Knesseth Israel synagogue. Karl Friedman, referred to as “Uncle Bub” by all who fondly know him, has become Birmingham’s collective community conscience over the years. In addition to being a long-time successful lawyer and founding member of the law firm known today as Sirote and Permutt, Friedman was very active in the civil rights movement. He was often at the forefront pushing for change and equal rights. Considered an icon in the business disciplines of marketing and retail, Morris Mayer was a longtime professor at the University of Alabama as well as faculty advisor for Psi Chapter for more than 40 years. Over the years, he also served on more than 100 public committees. James Rotenstreich started working in his father’s retail furniture business, Jefferson Home Furniture, as a teenager. After a stint in the U.S. Army and graduation from the University of Alabama, he returned to the family business, rising to the position of president. To this day he still is very active on the ZBT Psi Chapter Board of Trustees. Fred Sington was a prominent tackle for the Alabama Crimson Tide football teams under Coach Wallace Wade, including the 1930 national championship team. Sington would go on to play professional baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Washington Senators. Following his sports career, he founded Fred Sington Sporting Goods, which was years later acquired by Hibbett’s Sporting Goods. Sington also served as an SEC official for 25 years. He leveraged his success as a businessman into active civic life. For all of his community efforts he was named “Birmingham Man of the Year” in 1960. Leonard Weil was a Birmingham business executive and volunteer leader. He began working in his father’s business, Mayer Electric Supply, as a teen and he returned to work there full time upon his graduation from the University of Alabama. He ultimately rose to the position of president at Mayer and was involved in numerous civic activities. Much of the recent influx of Jewish students from metro Atlanta to the University can be attributed to Bruce Weinstein. Working with Witt, he started an initiative to get Jewish high school students in Atlanta to consider Alabama. Weinstein also currently serves as National President of the ZBT Foundation, where he raises awareness and money for programs and scholarships. For 40 years he has worked with the financial service firm AXA Equitable. As part of the weekend, the fraternities that merged into ZBT were also acknowledged. In 1959, Phi Alpha merged into Phi Sigma Delta, and in 1961 Kappa Nu merged into Phi Epsilon Pi. In 1969-70, Phi Sigma Delta and Phi Epsilon Pi merged into ZBT.

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ISJL rabbis to reach 16 communities during Passover With Passover coming up, it is time for the rabbis at the Goldring/ Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life to hit the road for the sixth annual Passover Pilgrimage. Rabbi Jeremy Simons, Director of Rabbinic Services, and Rabbi Matthew Dreffin, Associate Director of Education, will visit numerous smaller communities in eight states during Passover. This year, ISJL has developed a reading, “A Seder Supplement from the South,” which was shared in their recent CIRCA newsletter. The reading, which will be done at all of the Passover Pilgrimage events, speaks about strangers seeking peace and equality. “No longer do we conduct our seders in darkened rooms, alone and afraid… From Seminole to Statesville and from Paducah to Pensacola, we celebrate our tradition and we share it with our neighbors.” At the 16 communities on the itinerary, Simons and Dreffin will each conduct services, lead Passover seders, offer educational programs, facilitate dialogue, and more. Each year, the events draw a diverse crowd and foster shared community experiences. During their time on the road, the rabbis will also conduct home visits and share stories of the seder experiences, city to city. The journey began on March 22 with Simons leading a Seder at Episcopal Church of the Nativity in Greenwood. On April 22 he will visit Anshe Chesed in Vicksburg, then Roseph Sholom in Rome, Ga., on April 23; Shalom b’Harim in Dahlonega, Ga., and Camp Coleman on April 24; Upper Cumberland Jewish Community in Crossville, Tenn., on April 25; B’nai Israel in Jackson, Tenn., on April 26; Am Shalom in Bowling Green, Ky., on April 28. He will finish at Temple Israel in Paducah, Ky., on April 29 and 30. Dreffin will start on April 22 with visits to Mishkan Israel in Selma and Beth Shalom in Auburn. On April 23 he will visit Shomrei Torah in Tallahassee, then B’nai Israel in Panama City on April 24. On April 25, Dreffin will lead a program at St. Philips Episcopal Church in Jackson, then head to Arkansas to visit United Hebrew Congregation in Fort Smith on April 26 and Temple Shalom of Northwest Arkansas in Fayetteville on April 27. He will continue to B’nai Israel in Monroe on April 27 and finish at B’nai Israel in Natchez on April 29 and 30.

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community Shreveport’s Jewish film festival starts April 10 The North Louisiana Jewish Film Festival, hosted by the North Louisiana Jewish Federation, will feature four films and a set of five shorts, screened numerous times from April 10 to 14 at the Robinson Film Center in Shreveport. An opening reception will be held at 6 p.m. on April 10, followed by “Rosenwald.” The Aviva Kempner film is the story of Julius Rosenwald, who never finished high school but rose to become the president of Sears. Influenced by the writings of educator Booker T. Washington, this Jewish philanthropist joined forces with African-American communities in the Jim Crow South to build over 5,300 black schools during the early part of the 20th century. Rosenwald put up seed money to build these schools using standardized designs, as long as the local community took an active role, whether through fundraising or participating in the building process. With desegregation in the 1960s, most of the buildings fell into disuse. Only a handful remain in Louisiana. “Dough” is the story of a widowed Jewish baker in London whose bakery is past its prime and of no interest to his sons. He hires a Muslim teen from Darfur, who sells marijuana on the side. One day some of it accidentally finds its way into the challah dough, leading to a new appreciation for the bakery. Based on the bestselling Holocaust novel by Israeli author Uri Orlev, “Run Boy Run” is the true story of Israel Friedman, who was nicknamed Srulik, the son of a baker in Poland. In 1942, when he was eight years old, he was smuggled out of the Warsaw Ghetto and finds himself with a group of Jewish orphans who forage at farms in the countryside. A family of Polish partisans takes him in, but they figure he has a better chance of surviving as a Catholic. After being forced to flee again, he went from town to town, working as a farmhand and still passing as a Catholic. In 1948, a Jewish agency tracked him down, and after initial denials he re-assumed his identity. He moved to Israel and made up for the education he never got as a child, becoming a math teacher. “The Gatekeepers” is a groundbreaking and controversial film, with the first interviews of Shin Bet members. The film has interviews with six former heads of the Israeli intelligence agency charged with defending the nation against terrorists. The series of shorts includes “Bamidbar,” a desert trip for a woman and her estranged father before she leaves for the Israeli army; “Ellis,” a Robert De Niro portrayal of one immigrant to Ellis Island; “Hannah’s Holy Communion,”

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community about a 7-year-old girl in Dublin looking forward to her first Communion — but she’s Jewish; “Of Many,” detailing the relationship between an Orthodox rabbi and an imam who are university chaplains in New York City; and “The Train,” the transformation of a self-absorbed young man who meets a Holocaust survivor. “Rosenwald” screens on April 10 at 7:30 p.m., April 11 at 5:30 p.m. and April 13 at 3:25 p.m. “Run Boy Run” will be on April 11 at 7:35 p.m., April 12 at 3:10 p.m. and April 13 at 5:30 p.m. “Dough” will be on April 11 at 3:30 p.m., April 13 at 7:50 p.m. and April 14 at 3:30 p.m. “The Gatekeepers” will screen on April 10 at 1:20 p.m., April 12 at 7:30 p.m. and April 14 at 5:30 p.m. The shorts program will be on April 10 at 3:30 p.m., April 12 at 5:30 p.m. and April 14 at 7:45 p.m. Tickets are $7.50 for shows before 6 p.m., $9.50 for evening screenings. There is a $2 discount for Robinson Film Center members. A festival pass is $36 and includes an opening reception ticket and one ticket to each film.

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Amy Jill-Levine, a self-described “Yankee Jewish feminist who teaches in a predominantly Christian divinity school in the buckle of the Bible Belt,” will be the featured speaker at an interfaith scholar in residence weekend in Huntsville. Levine is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences in Nashville. Her books include “The Misunderstood Jew: The Church and the Scandal of the Jewish Jesus” and “The Meaning of the Bible: What The Jewish Scriptures and the Christian Old Testament Can Teach Us.” She will be in Huntsville as the guest of Temple B’nai Sholom, Church of the Nativity (Episcopal), First Presbyterian Church and Trinity United Methodist Church the weekend of April 15. All of her talks are open to the community at no charge. On April 15 at 5:30 p.m. there will be a dinner at The Cooper House of Central Presbyterian Church. Reservations, which are $20 per person, are required. After the dinner there will be a Shabbat service at Temple B’nai Sholom, during which Levine will address the general theme of how Jews and Christians use and read scripture differently. An oneg will follow. The April 16 lectures will be at Church of the Nativity. There will be morning sessions at 9:30 a.m. for “Jesus in his Jewish Context: Piety, Practice, Prayer and Politics” and 11 a.m., “The Bible and Sexuality.” At 1:30 p.m. she will address “How Jews and Christians Speak about the Middle East Differently.” There will be a lunch served between sessions, reservations are $12. On April 17, Levine will deliver sermons at First Presbyterian Church at 8 a.m., “Finding the Pearl of Great Price” and 11 a.m., “Dangers on the Road to Jericho: The Good Samaritan in his Time and Ours.” She will lead Sunday School at Church of the Nativity at 10 a.m., speaking on “How to Hear a Parable: The Laborers in the Vineyard.” Dinner or lunch reservations may be made by contacting one of the host organizations.


community Cancer is no game, but a fundraising game night helps further research On March 17, Clara Lapidus and her friends presented a check to the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders at Children’s of Alabama for cancer research in a ceremony at the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School in Birmingham. The check for $5510 represented the proceeds from an all-night Game-A-Thon she organized as her Bat Mitzvah project. “Childhood Cancer is No Game” was held from 7 p.m. on Feb. 13 to 7 a.m. on Feb. 14 at the Day School. Rabbi Yossi Friedman started off the evening by doing Havdalah for the students. The roughly 20 participants asked sponsors to pledge an amount for each hour they played board games during the night. The Lapidus family is a long-time supporter of the cancer center at Children’s. Clara’s older brother, Sam, was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma at age 9 in 2003. He died in November 2008, just shy of his 15th birthday. The Montclair Run, held every Thanksgiving at the Levite Jewish Community Center, was renamed in his memory in 2008, and proceeds from that also go to Children’s. Her Bat Mitzvah was at Temple Beth-El on March 12. At the March 17 presentation she read her d’var Torah from the previous weekend.

April 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 27


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Changing Mississippi: Three to be honored at Rabbi Nussbaum Awards dinner Three Mississippians — two who have been active in the Civil Rights movement since the 1960s, and one who has made a more recent impact — will be recognized at Millsaps College’s Rabbi Perry Nussbaum Civil Justice Awards Dinner. The Nussbaum dinner and lecture series honors the former rabbi of Jackson’s Beth Israel Congregation, who was active in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s and was the target of Klan bombings at Beth Israel and at his home. Each year individuals are recognized for their selfless contributions to the civil rights movement in Mississippi and beyond. Two years ago, the award and lecture series was expanded to honor more contemporary work around civil and social justice issues. The April 14 dinner will honor Madeline Iles, Constance Slaughter-Harvey and Hollis Watkins. The event will be at the King Edward Hotel ballroom, with a social hour at 6 p.m. and dinner at 7 p.m. On April 15, Iles will deliver this year’s Nussbaum Lecture, “Change from Within: Bringing Balance and Truth to the Historic Natchez Tableaux” at noon in the Gertrude Ford Academic Center at Millsaps. The lecture is open to the public. Iles, a senior at Millsaps, was one of the two queens at the Historic Natchez Tableaux in 2015. The Tableaux, part of the Natchez Spring Pilgrimage since the 1930s, was a show that depicted a “fairy tale” view of Natchez before the Civil War. While blacks had once taken part, during the awakening of the civil rights era of the 1960s, they abandoned the show that they felt glorified slavery, leaving the cast all-white. Iles had taken a Mississippi history class at Millsaps in her sophomore year, causing her to examine what she could do to help and what her role was in the state’s civil rights atmosphere. She was able to secure internships with Rev. Ed King, who was involved in Jackson’s movement in the 1960s, and with Clarion-Ledger reporter Jerry Mitchell, whose reporting on civil rights led to the reopening of the case that resulted in Byron De La Beckwith being convicted for the murder of Medgar Evers. In 2009, local best-selling novelist Greg Iles, father of Madeline Iles, had urged Natchez leaders to make changes that would make Tableaux more accurate historically. As a child, he had carried the Confederate flag in the show, not realizing the truth about that era. After being seriously injured in a 2011 car accident, he wrote the acclaimed “Natchez Burning,” a novel about of white supremacist violence in the 1960s, set in Natchez. When Madeline was asked to be one of the two queens, she sought changes that her father had urged, and the garden club, facing dwindling crowds in recent years, was receptive to the idea of including the black experience in the show. In a Founders Day speech at Millsaps last year, she said the show was “one of the most politically incorrect spectacles to survive into the 21st century.” In the weeks leading up to the 2015 performances, Greg Iles tossed many old scenes, redid several others to show the reality of slavery and wrote a new ending that dealt with the reality of Southern defeat in the war. They also faced the challenge of recruiting skeptical local blacks to fill roles in the reworked show. During all of this, she worked on a Millsaps honors project that will result in a documentary film about the historic change. Constance Slaughter-Harvey was the first African-American judge in Mississippi, and was the first African-American and woman elected president of the National Association of Election Directors. She founded

28 Southern Jewish Life • April 2016


community “Rosenwald” screening at Burritt, where replica will be built

the East Mississippi Legal Services and was vice chair of the Mississippi Supreme Court Gender Fairness Task Force. She began her career with the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law and then established her private law practice in Forest. In 1984, she became Assistant Secretary of State for Elections and Public Lands with Secretary of State, Dick Molpus. In 1998, the University of Mississippi’s Black Law Student Association was named in her honor. Tougaloo College inducted her into its alumni Hall of Fame in 2000 and named her its Alumnae of the Year two years later. In 1999, Thomas and Ann Colbert honored her with the establishment of the Constance Slaughter-Harvey Endowed Chair in Political Science/Pre-Law at Tougaloo. Hollis Watkins was the first Mississippi student to become involved in 1961 in the Mississippi Voting Rights Project of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee. Born near Summit, he attended Tougaloo and became involved in voter registration efforts in McComb. He was involved in the fist sit-in there, and was jailed for over a month. CBS News gave him hidden equipment to record efforts to register voters, the footage was aired at the time and recently released on DVD. He was active in Freedom Summer and the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party at the 1964 Democrat convention. A founder of the Civil Rights Veterans of Mississippi, he is co-founder of Southern Echo, which builds intergenerational grass-roots community organizations for African-Americans. The awards and lecture series are underwritten by John Bower, a close friend of Nussbaum’s.

There will be a special screening of “Rosenwald,” a documentary about philanthropist Julius Rosenwald, at a place that is building a Rosenwald-style school. The April 24 screening at the Burritt Museum’s Baron Bluff in Huntsville is being sponsored by Margaret Anne Goldsmith. A special invitation to the 2 p.m. screening has been issued to North Alabama alumni of the Rosenwald Schools. Later this year, the Burritt Museum is slated to break ground on the Burritt Community School, a replica Rosenwald school, which will be a field trip destination for fourth graders to learn about one-room schoolhouses and education in the early 20th century. The Aviva Kempner film is the story of Julius Rosenwald, who never finished high school but rose to become the president of Sears. Influenced by the writings of educator Booker T. Washington, this Jewish philanthropist joined forces with African-American communities in the Jim Crow South to build over 5,300 black schools during the early part of the 20th century. Rosenwald put up seed money to build these schools using standardized designs, as long as the local community took an active role, whether through fundraising or participating in the building process. With desegregation in the 1960s, most of the buildings fell into disuse. Of the 405 Rosenwald schools built in Alabama, perhaps a dozen remain standing. Burritt on the Mountain is an educational park that includes a historic park with restored 19th-century buildings, a museum, nature trails, a barnyard and event space.

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community Chattanooga 5k “glow event” benefits coexistence project in Israel The Jewish Federation of Chattanooga is holding a five-kilometer Night Run Chattanooga on April 16 to support coexistence among Christians, Jews and Muslims through soccer. The “glow event” night run and one-mile walk on the Riverwalk will begin at 9:30 p.m. at the Manker Pattern Tennis Club. Glow-in-the-dark items will be available to all participants as part of the registration fee, and awards will be given to runners with the best times in four categories. Patterned after an Israeli event to assist local charities, Night Run Chattanooga receives significant support from First Tennessee and the Jewish Federation of Greater Chattanooga as well as other local companies and individuals. Proceeds from the event will help bring Christian, Jewish and Muslim children together through soccer programs designed to encourage empowerment, strengthen confidence and develop friendship. Internationally, the program will support the non-profit organization Mifalot in Israel. Mifalot is a social and educational organization that uses sports as a platform for social change. The organization focuses on tolerance, mutual understanding, recognition and acceptance in the community as well as self-actualization of one’s individual potential. In Chattanooga, proceeds will assist Operation Get Active. In collaboration with the Chattanooga Football Club Foundation, OGA is a health Hannah Berke, one of two race initiative that uses the game winners in 2015, and Michael Dzik, of soccer to encourage youth Chattanooga Jewish Federation to live active and healthy lifeExecutive Director styles. This program aims to inspire and educate youth across Chattanooga about the importance of health, fitness, and nutrition. OGA officially launched in March at several Hamilton County public schools, City of Chattanooga recreational centers and private community centers. Over 300 participated in the 2015 run. All ages are welcome, and those who do not want to run or walk are welcome to volunteer. An after party for those 21 years old and older will take place immediately following the event at Big River Grill. Those participants wearing a Night Run T-shirt will receive free appetizers and select beverages as long as they have an ID. For registration or sponsorship information, go to nighrunchattanooga5k.org.

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30 Southern Jewish Life • April 2016


B’ham teens take on J-Serve projects On March 20, teens in Birmingham’s Jewish community participated in J-Serve for the first time. J-Serve, the Jewish piece of an annual day of service for youth throughout the world, is a day on which Jewish teens join their counterparts in other faith communities, other cities and other countries in giving of their time to serve the communities in which they live. Community Youth Coordinator Katie Hausman said the day’s goal is to “celebrate the spirit of Tikkun Olam and tzedakah.” A “surprising” 70 teens took part in three projects, each of which had two teen leaders. One group painted parts of the building at the A.G. Gaston Boys and Girls Club, another group made Hamantaschen and held a Purim party at Greenbriar Assisted Living. A third group went to Glenwood, a residential home for children with autism and other special needs. J-Serve was launched in 2005,while the National Day of Service has been taking place since 1988. Last year, over 11,000 students took part in J-Serve projects in 90 communities in 16 countries. J-Serve 2016 is in partnership with Repair The World, Youth Service America and BBYO, and is underwritten by the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation and the Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Awards Committee.

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Shreveport’s Red River Radio presenting several Passover shows

Red River Radio in the Shreveport area will air a series of Passover-related broadcasts this month. “Why This Night” with Rabbi Ismar Schorsch will air on April 17 at 6 p.m. “The Passover Story with the Western Winds” will air on April 20 at 7 p.m., followed by “Passover Dreams” on April 21 at 7 p.m. “A Musical Feast for Passover with Itzhak Perlman” will be on April 25 at 1 p.m. “Passover — A Time To Cross Over” will be on April 26 at 2 p.m., and “The Four Cups: A Celebration of Passover” will be on April 27 at 2 p.m.

April 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 31


community LJCC institutes member referral rewards Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center has launched a member referral rewards program. Members can use referral materials on the JCC website, bhamjcc.org/ visit, for images to put on social media, postcards to mail or website links. Bring a friend in for a chance to win a 65” Samsung television. If a referred friend joins, the referring member receives a $25 gift card after the friend has been a member for a month. At six months, an additional $50 gift card will be awarded, and if the friend is still a member at one year, another $100 gift card is awarded. If a member refers more than one new member, rewards are issued for each new member.

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The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life has opened registration to this year’s Education Conference, which will be June 26 to 28 at the Hilton Hotel in Jackson. The conference is for any soon-to-be or current religious school teacher, including those who have attended past ISJL conferences. Rabbis, congregation presidents, teaching aides, parents and other supporters of the religious school are also encouraged to attend. This is the 14th year for the ISJL standardized curriculum. There is no registration fee, as the conference is part of the curriculum program, but a $50 donation to offset conference costs is suggested. Early bird registration for the hotel and meals is April 15, after which the rates go up.

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By thinking outside the box, Bungo Box makes moves more friendly on the environment and the wallet. Ronit and Eyal Ron own the Birmingham area Bungo Box franchise, which is one of 21 locations in the United States and Canada. “We want to change the way people think about moving,” said Eyal Ron, who also runs the Eyal Ron Allstate agency on Montclair Road near the Levite Jewish Community Center. “This is friendlier on the environment (than cardboard packing boxes), much more convenient, and it could cut moving costs by up to 50 percent for local moves.” For those making local moves, Bungo Box delivers, then picks back up after the move, re-usable, 100 percent recyclable plastic containers along with dollies that can handle up to 600 pounds. “With cardboard boxes there is a lot of waste and time spent to seal/ secure the boxes with tape. Plus, there are some weight and balance issues that can make them more difficult to pack and more likely to have issues with breakage in transport,” said Eyal Ron. Bungo Box handles Birmingham area moves. According to statistics, 20 percent of the population moves each year and 80 percent of those moves are within five miles. Customers can go on Bungo Box’s Birmingham website to put in some information about the move. The site calculates the estimated number of boxes needed. If it turns out more boxes are needed, the order can be updated and more boxes are delivered, usually within 24 hours. Ron said they hope to expand to other markets in north and central Alabama. They have already done some big jobs including moves for Smith’s Variety Store and Southern Progress.


JCRS celebrates Jewish chefs while honoring Trestman, Tolmas Trust It isn’t a Jewish celebration without food, so a main feature of this year’s Jewish Children’s Regional Service gala, “The Jewish Roots of Celebration,” was local Jewish chefs. The event, which honored author Marlene Trestman and the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust, attracted over 450 to the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans on March 5. The gala was part of the JCRS’ annual weekend, which included a board meeting the next morning and a talk by Trestman about her new book, “Fair Labor Lawyer,” a groundbreaking biography of legendary attorney Bessie Margolin, who grew up in the Jewish Children’s Home. Trestman, who saw Margolin as a friend and mentor, had also received assistance from JCRS, which succeeded the home, after her parents died when she was young. Leon Rittenberg III makes presentation The gala began with a to Vincent Giardina and Lisa Romano cocktail reception and silent

Chefs Daniel Esses, David Slater and Zachary Engel auction as the Panorama Jazz Band played in the lobby. Hors d’Oeuvres were prepared by Chef Nathanial Zimet of Boucherie Restaurant. They included duck “pot roast” ragu, whitefish spread on bagel crisps, mushroom kugel and latkes with charred vegetables. Zimet was unable to attend because he was getting married the next day. In the ballroom, the rest of the dishes were served family-style by table. Chef Alon Shaya, a James Beard Award winner with Domenica and Shaya, prepared tahini hummus and pita, brussel sprouts, beets, labneh, lutenitsa and tabouleh. As Shaya was out of town, his chef de cuisine, Zachary Engel, took charge in the kitchen. Entrees came from Chef David Slater of Emeril’s and Chef Daniel Esses of Three Muses — Shabazi chicken with Lebanese rice, kasha varnishkes with beef brisket and carrot tsimmes. The double chocolate bread pudding for dessert wasn’t from a Jewish chef, but from the New Orleans institution Commander’s Palace. Eric Damidot, executive chef of the Hyatt Regency, oversaw the evening. The program booklet from the evening provided brief biographies and a couple of recipes from the four featured Jewish chefs. The program began with introducing Esses, Slater and Engel, with Es-

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ses giving brief remarks. Ellis Hart of Jackson was recognized as the oldest living alumnus of the Jewish Children’s Home, at age 99. Leon Rittenberg III, past president of JCRS, made the presentation to the Tolmas Trust’s Vincent Giardina and Lisa Romano. A short video about Tolmas’ life was shown. “The whole community is benefiting from his generosity,” Rittenberg said. “The Trust has the opportunity to do so much for our community for generaSusan, Reva, Ellis and Macy Hart tions.” Romano commented that she remembers Tolmas talking about JCRS. “He simply said ‘it’s a great organization’,” she recalled. In April 2015, the Tolmas Trust underwrote the JCRS Chanukah gift program, which provides gifts to Jewish children in need in the agency’s seven-state region. The program, which just completed its 18th year, serves over 200 Jewish minors and 30 adult residents of state institutions. The Trust also established named funds for the JCRS Special Needs and Education programs. JCRS Executive Director Ned Goldberg introduced Trestman. A former recipient of JCRS assistance, Trestman is a former Special Assistant to the Maryland Attorney General, where she started her career as a public lawyer in 1982. Trestman is now working on a book about the history of the home and JCRS. She called the honor “an embarrassment of riches.” She recalled that her father died when she was 8 years old, and her mother died when she was 11. “My brother and I were orphans and became wards of the state.” But she considered herself fortunate that they were supported “by a dedicated community of social service agencies and committed individuals.” Even before her mother died, “JCRS reached out to our family.” Through JCRS assistance she was able to attend Camp Barney Medintz, which she called “therapeutic” by remedying “the toll a distressed family situation could influct on a child.” She considers camp a lesson on “how to be a mensch in a month.” She was also able to attend the Isidore Newman School, sending her on the path to her legal career. She noted the JCRS supporters were “role models of social service and philanthropy.” She recognized Sara Stone, who recently turned 100 and has been involved with the agency for decades. Despite Stone’s busy schedule of leadership roles throughout the community, “she always found time to show her personal interest in my well-being,” Trestman said. In 2015, JCRS served over 1500 Jewish youth from 200 communities in its seven-state region. Over 900 receive monthly books through PJ Library. There were 314 students who received need-based scholarship assistance to Jewish overnight summer camps, and 128 undergraduates who received college aid. The special needs and case management department assisted 93 Jewish youth, including 50 who received funding for special care.


simchas community PJ Library launches program for ages 9-11 New Orleans among pilot communities For 10 years, PJ Library has sent Jewish books to children up to age 8 across the country every month. Now, PJ Our Way is being launched for those ages 9 to 11. The older students’ initiative was launched in 10 communities nationwide in 2014. Another 24 communities were just added to the pilot program, including New Orleans, administered by Jewish Children’s Regional Service. In the Southern Jewish Life coverage area, only those in the New Orleans area are currently eligible for PJ Our Way, with one exception. PJ Our Way also has a few summer camps under the pilot project, so those attending Ramah Darom or the Henry S. Jacobs Camp and participate in the program there will be eligible year-round, even if they do not live in a pilot community. It is expected that the program will be rolled out nationally before long. Participants in PJ Our Way will go online at the beginning of each month to select one of four titles that have been reviewed by a panel of educators, parents and students. Each title will have a synopsis, author biography, ratings, reviews and video trailers created by other PJ Our Way members. “We’ve thought a great deal about how to engage older readers by giving them more say in what they read and then giving them creative platforms to talk to their peers about the books,” said PJ Our Way Director Catriella Freedman. Members can also take on-line polls and quizzes, post their own reviews and videos, participate in monthly interviews and challenges, and comment on blog posts. In this way, they are able to interact with their same-aged peers throughout North America who have read the same Jewish-themed books. There is also a Parents Blog, where parents are invited to read about each book and find suggestions for family conversations. “We believe these stories and their values help shape young people in their understanding of being Jewish, and it’s our hope that PJ Our Way will ultimately build a strong community of young Jewish people,” said Harold Grinspoon, Founder of PJ Library and PJ Our Way. As part of the New Orleans implementation, JCRS plans social programming for members, including book clubs, themed social gatherings and holiday-specific functions. To sign up for PJ Our Way, visit pjourway.org.

April 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 35


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Washington Institute, the National Council of Jewish Women’s triennial policy conference, has a well-deserved reputation for attracting intelligent, passionate women leaders from across the country for a weekend of inspiration and education that culminates in direct legislative advocacy on Capitol Hill. NCJW Greater New Orleans Section sent a delegation of 13 enthusiastic participants: Section President Susan Kierr; NCJW National Board Director Ina Davis; State Policy Advocate Michelle Erenberg; Section Board Members Sefira Fialkoff, Jennette Ginsburg, Jenny Nathan and Rollie Rabin; and the six participants in the NCJW Way Fellowship, sponsored by the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust: Arianna Baseman, Shayna Blum, Fran Dinehart, Maddie Fireman, Dana Keren, and Nora Udell. The Louisiana delegation stood out amid nearly 400 advocates from 28 states. On March 13, Michelle Erenberg received the Outstanding Advocate for Social Change Award, a prestigious national honor. Ina Davis addressed the participants at Monday’s Issue Briefing Breakfast, providing valuable advice for effective Capitol Hill visits. I personally helped organize a networking session on March 13 for the 45-and-under crew that brought together women from all over the country for a fun night of networking at a local Washington bar. Our first-time participants jumped into the fast-paced and rigorous lineup of plenaries, workshops, and meals with enthusiasm and commitment to the important issues that we would bring to our legislators. NCJW Washington Institute always attracts high-level thinkers and engaging speakers, and 2016 was no exception. The conference opened with a fascinating plenary featuring NPR’s Mara Liasson and Washington Post’s Janelle Woods and moderated by Jane Eisner, editor-in-chief of the Forward, providing insight into the 2016 elections. Wade Henderson, the director of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, spoke about the importance of maintaining a fully functional Supreme Court, emphasizing that President Obama is in office until January 21, 2017 and has the authority and obligation to appoint a Supreme Court Justice because, “he is not three-fifths of a president.” The closing dinner honored Roberta Kaplan and Edith Windsor, the attorney and plaintiff who won the battle for legalized same-sex marriage at the U.S. Supreme Court. In a deeply moving conclusion to the celebration of love and equality, NCJW Minnesota leaders and partners Cindy Amberger and Lynn Hvittsen shared their own story and emphasized the tremendous human


April 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 37


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impact of this case and the movement for equal rights for LGBTQ Americans. Kaplan will speak in New Orleans, at Temple Sinai, on April 14. On March 15, we woke up extremely early and boarded buses to Capitol Hill. There, we participated in a collective action to draw attention to the importance of one of NCJW’s key issues: Promoting the importance of the federal judiciary and the timely confirmation of judicial nominees who are faithful to core constitutional values. Twenty-four hours before President Obama nominated Merrick Garland to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, 400 progressive Jewish women marched in a single-file line, each carrying a copy of the U.S. Constitution and a letter urging the Senate to do its job and provide prompt hearings and an up-or-down vote to address this critical vacancy. NCJW National President Debbie Hoffman and CEO Nancy Kaufman proudly delivered boxes of Constitutions to Senator Charles Grassley, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Later that day, in our final delegation meeting, Ina Davis asked Senator David Vitter to put aside partisan politics and do his job. Unfortunately, he disagreed with our interpretation of Article 2, Section 2, Clause 2 of the U.S. Constitution. The 400 members of NCJW visited over 125 members of Congress to address three additional issues as well: Voting Rights Advancement Act: For decades, NCJW advocates have fought for the expansion of voting rights, advocating for women’s suffrage and the historic Voting Rights Act of 1965. Runaway and Homeless Youth and Trafficking Prevention Act: NCJW endorses and resolves to work for laws, policies, programs and services that protect every child from abuse, neglect, exploitation, bullying, and violence as well as the recognition, prevention, and elimination of all forms of human trafficking. Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance (EACH Woman) Act: NCJW believes every woman, regardless of her income, insurance, or other factors, should have comprehensive insurance coverage for the full range of her reproductive health care needs, including abortion, so she can make personal decisions about her body, health, and future per her own religious belief and circumstances. In addition to the surprise visit with Senator Vitter, our delegation also met with Congressman Cedric Richmond, and staff from the offices of Senator Bill Cassidy, Congressman Ralph Abraham, Congressman Charles Boustany, and Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who we later met in person on our flight back to New Orleans. Each of the women in our delegation had the opportunity to play a role in at least one meeting, whether it was presenting an issue, taking notes for reporting back, or following up with a thank-you note. Everyone spoke beautifully, articulately, and from the heart. While most of our congressmen are on the opposite sides of nearly every issue we presented, every meeting was conducted cordially and professionally on all sides. We enjoyed connecting with the legislative staffers over the PJ’s coffee and Zapps potato chips in their offices, and in some cases shared personal stories related to their own family members back in Louisiana. The theme of Washington Institute was “Elections 2016: What’s at Stake for Women,” and the alarming divisiveness of the current political climate ran through the weekend as an undercurrent. However, by the conclusion of our long day on the Hill, I felt more hopeful that a return to civility is possible. In 2016, simply sitting across the table from those with whom we disagree seemed quite monumental. I am grateful for the opportunity to have experienced such an inspiring conference in the company of so many strong, vibrant NCJW New Orleans leaders. We return home inspired and empowered to continue to advocate for our values of social justice and equality for all.


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by Lee J. Green This year’s Miss Alabama could be a freshman from Pittsburgh with a Jewish grandfather. A few weeks ago, Page Weinstein bested the competition to win the title of Miss University of Alabama. In June she will be one of 47 young women competing in Birmingham for the title of Miss Alabama. The winner of Miss Alabama represents the state in the Miss America Pageant. “I did not grow up in the South and I am freshman so I knew the odds were against me,” said Weinstein. “But I practiced really hard and studied the University. I was just honored for the chance to be in the competition, but of course winning is just such a thrill.” The contestants first had a 10-minute private interview session with the judges. Then they competed in the talent portion of the contest followed by the swimsuit competition and evening wear along with some questions to answer. For the talent portion, Weinstein did baton twirling as is a member of the Crimsonettes. “I love to dance and I love being part of the Crimsonettes. I am glad I got to represent them,” she said. By winning Miss University of Alabama, Weinstein earned a full tuition scholarship for a year. She currently has a double major in Dance and Exercise Sports Science. “I am considering either becoming a chiropractor or opening open my own dance studio or perhaps even trying to be a dancer on Broadway,” she said. “I am at a great place to get a good education and my studies are very important to me.” So what brought a Pennsylvania girl down south? Weinstein won the title of Miss Pennsylvania Outstanding Teen and a partial scholarship to a choice of a few schools, including the University of Alabama. “I wanted to go down south to be in warm weather and to a place that had a good Division I football program,” she said. Weinstein said her parents aren’t Jewish but her grandfather, who passed away recently, was Jewish and also lived in Pittsburgh. She said they celebrated Chanukah, Passover and the High Holy Days with her grandfather.

April 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 39


Pensacola’s Beth-El finishes expansion and renovation On March 18, Pensacola’s Temple Beth-El celebrated the rededication and expansion of its 1931 Art Deco building. The renovation had been discussed for a few years, but two years ago issues with the kitchen could not be ignored, and the congregation was on an upswing under Rabbi Joel Fleekop, so the project moved forward. The $3 million project connected the 1960 religious school building with the main building, with a new main entrance and lobbies connecting the buildings on both levels. Previously, one had to go outside to get from one building to the other. Spearheading the project were Matt Dannheisser and Rodney Rich, both of whom come from families that were involved in the congregation’s founding. BethEl is the oldest Jewish congregation in Florida, established in 1876. The congregation’s first location downtown, now denoted by a historical marker, burned in 1895 and again in 1929, prompting the construc-

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40 Southern Jewish Life • April 2016

tion of the current building. The building was originally designed by Emile Weil Architects and constructed by Wessell Construction. Greenhut Construction was in charge of the renovation. Bill Greenhut is also a descendant of Beth-El founders. The unfinished outdoor area underneath the classrooms was walled in and now provides new offices for a receptionist, the rabbi and educational director, and a board room. The previous offices by the sanctuary are slated to be a children’s room and bridal room. Upstairs in the educational building, the classrooms were redone with new windows, drapes and white boards. A new youth lounge was also created, and a modern, expanded playground is now outside, next to a landscaped parking lot. The school has 52 students, including a Kindergarten class of 12. The congregation currently has about 175 member units. The new atrium between the buildings includes a dramatic curved


community staircase and a much-needed elevator to assist members who previously could not access the sanctuary. At the second floor landing, there is a large glass sculpture of Moses parting the Red Sea, by New Orleans artist Andy Brott. A new entrance to the sanctuary was cut into the wall from the upper atrium, providing three entry points. At the end of the atrium closes to Palafox, there is now a Susan Bear Leath memorial meditation garden with outdoor seating and a fountain. While the sanctuary was updated, there was an effort to keep the integrity of the existing décor. The bimah’s front was expanded and lowered, removing a couple of rows of pews. The remaining pews were angled slightly and spread out. A new yarmulke holder at the front of the sanctuary and tallit rack in the back entry were made using the ends of the surplus pews. The hardwood floors were refurbished and new larger wall sconces were made to echo and enhance the existing lighting. A new sound system was installed. Modern waterproofing has sealed the outer walls of the sanctuary, taking care of leaks. The Max L. Bear Auditorium was also redone, with the permanent stage removed to allow more flexibility. There was a clergy open house on March 30, and a community open house on April 3. During the sanctuary renovations, the congregation held services at First United Methodist Church, and a

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At 25, Touro’s JazzFest Shabbat an essential part of the experience Now in its 25th year, JazzFest Shabbat packs the sanctuary at New Orleans’ Touro Synagogue and has become a traditional part of a major New Orleans cultural event. This year, the tradition has a twist, as the calendar dictated that JazzFest Shabbat will be on the second Shabbat of the twoweekend event, instead of the usual first Shabbat. The first Shabbat is the first night of Passover, so the Seder takes priority. “We want to make sure everyone knows it’s on the second weekend,” said Touro Cantor David Mintz, adding that “there are many out-of-town JazzFest regulars who make JazzFest Shabbat part of their trip.” Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen will headline JazzFest Shabbat 2015 this year’s service, on April 29. On Feb. 15, Cleary’s “GoGo Juice” guest artists,” Mintz said. won the Grammy for best regional roots music album of the year. The first year, the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars were featured. Also appearing will be the Panorama Jazz Band and Touro Synagogue Ben Schenck, a founding member of that group, is now clarinetist and Choir, with Music Director Terry Maddox. JazzFest Shabbat began in 1991 with Cantor Steve Dubov. The idea was bandleader of the Panorama Jazz Band, which continues to take part in to invite guest musicians to participate in Shabbat services. “It evolved the service. “We’re so grateful for that partnership,” Mintz said. The band into something so special for the Touro community and for New Orleans,” also plays at Touro’s Simchat Torah celebration. Headliners in recent years include Irma Thomas, Kermit Ruffins, Mintz said. “It’s a regular Shabbat service,” Mintz said, “but it’s so much more Marcia Ball, John Boutte, Joe Krown, Walter Wolfman Washington and than that,” with tunes for the liturgy representing a wide range of styles, Russell Batiste Jr. Last year, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band headlined. While Mintz is a relative newcomer to the tradition, currently finishing including jazz, blues, R&B, Cajun, Zydeco and funk, resulting in a his second year as cantor at Touro, he said one of the greatest JazzFest uniquely New Orleans spiritual experience. “Each year the excitement seems to increase as we bring in these great Shabbat memories that congregants continue to speak about is the 2010

42 Southern Jewish Life • April 2016


community service when Allen Toussaint was the guest artist. Paul Shaffer, who was David Letterman’s band leader on “The Late Show,” happened to be in attendance. Mintz said Toussaint and Shaffer knew each other, so Toussaint called Shaffer up to perform with him. They closed the evening with a version of “Adon Olam” to the tune of “When The Saints Go Marching In,” which can be viewed on YouTube. Toussaint’s influence is also part of this year’s event, as he did the horn arrangements for several of the songs on Cleary’s “GoGo Juice,” and in 2012 Cleary did an album of Toussaint’s songs, “Occapella.” Mintz has added a tradition of original music composed for the service, commissioning New York composer Toby Singer. A former High Holy Days music coordinator for Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim in Charleston, Singer arranged several pieces for JazzFest Shabbat last year and is doing a new setting of “Hashkiveinu” for Mintz and Cleary. Mintz was thrilled to have this year’s headliner win a Grammy just weeks before the event. “To have them recognized on a national stage in the same year we celebrate our 25th anniversary, it is so special.” Cleary was raised in a musical family in rural Britain, and in his teens became a fan of funk. Three of his favorite songs were either written or produced by Toussaint, and his attraction to New Orleans was furthered after an uncle visited the city and brought two suitcases of local singles back to England in the early 1970s. The moment he could leave school, Cleary traveled to New Orleans, and upon arrival went right to the Maple Leaf, getting a job as a painter at the club while hanging out with Roosevelt Sykes and James Booker. One night when Booker was a no-show, the club’s owner told Cleary to take the stage for an impromptu debut performance. As time went on, he decided to stay in New Orleans rather than return to England, landing gigs with many New Orleans legends. He toured internationally with Taj Mahal, John Scofield, Dr. John and Bonnie Raitt. He left Raitt’s band in 2009 to devote himself to his own music and his New Orleans sound. “GoGo Juice” is his eighth album. The JazzFest Shabbat service begins at 7:30 p.m., and as with all Shabbat services, is open to the public at no charge. Doors open at 6:45 p.m., and seats fill quickly. The evening begins with a 25th anniversary celebration and fundraiser at 6 p.m. There will be an exclusive performance by Jon Cleary and the Absolute Monster Gentlemen, a patron dinner and VIP seating for the service. Patron levels are $150 to $1,000, with a $50 category for children accompanying an adult patron. For those unable to attend, the service will be streamed online, live from the main sanctuary. “It’s pretty exciting, what has happened here over the last 25 years,” Mintz said.

Jon Cleary

April 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 43


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May 5, 2013 was a very special day as JazzFest became “Jewfest” when New Orleans JazzFest Marketing/PR Director Matthew Goldman and his bride Elise got married — then had a reception with several thousand of their closest friends. The couple had the wedding in the Louisiana Folk Village at JazzFest late that afternoon, then a Second Line led them to the Lagniappe Stage where the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars serenaded everyone. Band leader Glenn Hartman, a long-time friend of Goldman’s, officiated this special brand of Jewish wedding that featured the traditional vows and the breaking of the glass, but in a style that was all New Orleans JazzFest. “Elise and I talked about this,” Goldman said. “We knew there could be nothing more perfect, more us, than having the wedding and reception at JazzFest. Of course we had close family and friends but everyone was welcome to be a part of the festivities. I had several people I had never met before offer me congratulations, including a couple from California who even sent us a wedding gift afterward.” Goldman has been with the 46-year-old New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival for almost 25 years. JazzFest 2016 runs seven days over two weekends, April 22 to May 1, featuring acts including Steely Dan, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stevie Wonder, Beck, Trombone Shorty, Michael McDonald, Pearl Jam and many more. In 2015, 460,000 fans attended during the two weekends. For complete schedules and more information, go to www.noJazzFest.com. Goldman said he met Elise through mutual friends and the couple has a 7-year-old daughter, Olive. Elise teaches art and education to kids. Matthew Goldman is originally from Cherry Hill, N.J., but graduated from Tulane University, where he met Hartman. “It was 1992 and I was doing marketing, PR and organizing for the Olympic Track and Field trials in New Orleans at Tad Gormley Stadium. I met someone who told me about an opening in the marketing department with JazzFest,” he said. “I went in the 1980s as a fan every year and I thought how can you have a job cooler than this?”

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Knesseth Israel Congregation in Birmingham is holding a $100/ticket raffle to win a deluxe trip for two and customized tour of Israel, or $5000 cash.

Purchase tickets today at kicong.org or 205/969.5913 A raffle ticket costs $100. Winner will be announced May 12, 2016 at a cocktail reception that evening. The winner does not have to be present in order to win. Tour must be taken by December 31, 2018. Any expenses incurred over $8000 will be the responsibility of the winner. Knesseth Israel is not held responsible for any federal or state taxes incurred.

44 Southern Jewish Life • April 2016

Photo by Charley Varley

Sharing a simcha with several thousand close friends: Elise and Matthew Goldman’s 2013 wedding at JazzFest


community Over the years, Goldman said the crowds have increased some and several of the acts change from year to year, “but as the festival has evolved it really has stayed consistent with its tradition and how it was dating back to the first year” in 1970. “Plus, several of the people I work with regularly on my job have been with JazzFest as long as I have if not longer, so that’s nice.” One of those bands that have been there since 1992 has been the New Orleans Klezmer AllStars. Hartman was a piano player in a Masters of Music program at Tulane. One of the classes he taught while in graduate school was Folk Music of the World. He met Ben Schenk and Jonathan Freilich, who played some with local legend Kermit Ruffins. “We’re unique in that we started as a live klezmer band playing at bars, coffee shops and parties, not just playing Jewish community centers,” said Hartman, who is originally from Long Beach, Calif., and now lives in San Francisco. “We learned more tunes and started writing some of our own klezmer songs.” In the 1990s, the New Orleans Klezmer AllStars released their first album of all-original klezmer tunes. “We were first in it for the fun and the energy but we became accidental ambassadors for Jewish music,” said the 47-year-old Hartman. The New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars’ first gig outside of New Orleans was opening up for the Neville Brothers in San Francisco. Before long they were opening up for Cake and Blues Traveler on their national tours; playing South by Southwest in Austin; playing the Hollywood Bowl; and a concert for 700,000 people on July 4 in a special American Roots festival at the Mall of America in Washington. They also played City Stages in Birmingham. They also have gone international, opening for Dr. John in London, England. They also performed in Canada. Freilich and Hartman played as the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars Duo in Germany, Austria and Spain. Hartman said they would love to have the entire band tour Israel. “That would really be a dream,” he said. While playing a gig at Tipitina’s in New Orleans on Hartman’s 25th birthday, he met his wife Liz, who is a doctor. The Hartmans have two children — 13-year-old Riley and 11-year-old Jameson. This year, the New Orleans Klezmer AllStars will play at JazzFest on April 30, 4:15 p.m. at the Jazz and Heritage Stage. “We’re just so happy we’ve been able to make a living out of doing something that we enjoy so much and that makes other people happy,” said Hartman. “Klezmer music is celebratory music.”

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April 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 45


Natchez enjoys Evening of Jewish Music There was a full house at B’nai Israel in Natchez on Feb. 26 for “Music at the Temple: An Evening of Jewish Music.” David Goldblatt, professor of music at Alcorn State who serves as B’nai Israel’s cantor, led a program that went through the centuries of Jewish music, speaking about how melodies were often adapted from the local musical styles. Teri Tillman opened the evening with a history of Mississippi’s oldest Jewish congregation, starting with the arrival of the Monsanto family in 1785. The current B’nai Israel building was dedicated in 1905, and Tillman said the congregation reached its peak in 1906 with 141 families. A boll weevil invasion in 1908 and a series of floods devastated the town’s economy, and within a couple of decades the Jewish community had shrunk significantly. The congregation had a full-time rabbi until 1976, and in 1991 signed an agreement with what is now the Institute of Southern Jewish Life to keep the building open as a museum once it no longer can function as a synagogue. Goldblatt started the evening demonstrating the traditional Torah chanting, then explored Johann Kuhnau’s 18th-century “The Battle Between David and Goliath” Biblical Sonata No. 1. He explained several 19th and 20th century styles, then added “Do You Weep, Do You Cry” by Jerry Krouse, a B’nai Israel member who has written hundreds of songs. In addition to singing, Goldblatt played violin, keyboard and the B’nai Israel organ. Byron Johnson also performed. The evening’s rousing sendoff was Joshua Nelson’ setting of “Adon Olam.” Nelson is a contemporary musician who is known for his “kosher Gospel” settings, and his piece was performed with Alvin Shelby and the Holy Family Catholic Church Choir (above). The event was part of this year’s Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration. “Natchez at 300: A River Runs By It” was sponsored by Copiah-Lincoln Community College and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. The 27th annual conference was being held in conjunction with the tricentennial of Natchez, which has events all year. As part of the tricentennial, the annual Southern Jewish Historical Society conference will be held in Natchez from Nov. 4 to 6. “Jews in the Southern Hinterland” will explore the experience of Jews living in the smaller cities and rural areas of the South. A call for papers has gone out, with suggestions including the creation and development of Jewish communities in hinterland areas, Jews’ economic role and connection to regional and national trading networks, Jewish religiosity and religious practices in context of the small-town South, cultural assimilation to southern mores, including notions of race and civil rights, and the impact of recent demographic changes on small southern Jewish communities. 46 Southern Jewish Life • April 2016


culture Mah Jongg and an Alabama murder mystery in Debra Goldstein’s latest work After her debut mystery novel, “Maze in Blue” received national attention, Birmingham’s Debra Goldstein is set to release her newest mystery, “Should Have Played Poker.” Goldstein was an administrative law judge and litigator, but her passion has always been writing. That led her to walk away from the bench and pursue her passion. “Should Have Played Poker” introduces Carrie Martin and her fellow sleuths, the Sunshine Village retirement home Mah Jongg players, as they work to uncover the mystery behind her mother’s murder in Wahoo, Ala. Carrie’s life as a young corporate lawyer who is balancing her job and visiting her father at the retirement home is upset when her mother unexpectedly returns 26 years after abandoning her family. Her mother leaves her with a sealed envelope and the confession that she once considered killing Carrie’s father. Before Carrie opens the envelope, she finds her mother murdered and the woman who helped raise her seriously injured. Instructed to leave the detective work to the police, Carrie and the ladies in the retirement home’s Mah Jongg circle attempt to unravel past secrets in Wahoo, putting Carrie in danger and at odds with a former lover —the detective assigned to her mother’s case. With her first book, Goldstein became involved with Murder in the Magic City. A group then did Murder on the Menu in Wetumpka, a town near Montgomery that she had never been to, but “fell in love with.” She decided to “borrow a lot of it” and it became Wahoo, the setting for

“Should Have Played Poker.” Born in New Jersey, she then moved to Jackson, Mich., “an old fashioned, safe small town.” She noted that she has lived “in big cities and little towns, and it just felt good to write about a small town.” Her mother played Mah Jongg, so she was exposed to it while growing up. “The mpthers would play Mah Jongg by the pool at the club on weekends” while the men played cards. After retiring from the bench, she would sub in different games. Now she has a regular game. One of her short stories, “Legal Magic,” dealt with four “pink-haired Mah Jongg ladies who had raised their children together and would up in the same retirement community together.” While she liked the characters, she did not know where to use them again. In this book, she said, they were the perfect comic foil for the protagonist. With “Should Have Played Poker” “I want to give people an escape,” she said. The book “provides readers fun while exploring characters from different generations and the concept that truth and integrity aren’t always exactly what we were taught.” The book debuts on April 20, and there will be a book signing on May 3 at 5 p.m. at Little Professor in Birmingham. The royalties from book sales at Little Professor and elsewhere through May 30 will be donated to the YWCA of Central Alabama’s domestic violence program and Collat Jewish Family Service’s CARES dementia

April 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 47


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culture respite program. For those who purchase the book on Amazon, forward her the email confirmation so it can go toward the donations. Goldstein started college as a journalism major, and after graduating from Michigan she went to New York to get into the publishing field and get onto “Jeopardy.” After accomplishing both, she then went to law school at Emory, became a lawyer and “started writing very legal, very boring things.” On the side she would write comedy sketches, leading friends to urge her to keep writing. She went to the Alabama Writers Conclave and wrote group skits for her Leadership Birmingham class, leading someone she respected to tell her “you can really write.” Judy Todd invited her to spend a weekend at her condo so she could write uninterrupted. The result was 85 pages of “Maze in Blue.” Goldstein admitted that only five of those 85 pages made it into the finished book. The book was set at the University of Michigan in the 1970s and was released in 2011. “Maze in Blue” received a 2012 Independent Book Publisher Award, and in 2014 was reissued as a selection of Harlequin Worldwide Mysteries. She went to writing seminars and became involved with mystery writers’ organizations, such as Sisters in Crime, where she is a national board member. “Mystery writers are very warm and engaging folks, and I decided this is what I want to do,” she said. “Once I got into it, I had so much fun but I was trying to keep the two careers separate.” Finally, she took the plunge and retired from the bench. “I decided writing between midnight and 4 a.m. wasn’t going to be effective in the long term,” she said. Between “Maze in Blue” and this book, she has published 18 short stories, not all of them mysteries. “It’s been diverse, and that’s the fun part. I’ve never wanted to be pigeonholed.”

Israeli water tech for a thirsty world Author Seth Siegel to speak in Louisiana Israel has not only made the desert bloom, it has developed technologies to ensure a water supply for a modern society in a desert in the midst of a historic drought. Seth Siegel, best-selling author of “Let There Be Water: Israel’s Solution for a Water-Starved World” will speak at B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge on April 13 at 6:30 p.m. The event is being sponsored by the Baton Rouge Area Foundation, the Water Institute of the Gulf, the Jewish Federation of Greater Baton Rouge and Hans and Donna Sternberg. He will also speak on April 12 at the Tulane Institute on Water Resources Law and Policy in New Orleans, at 5:30 p.m. A successful serial entrepreneur in New York, Siegel is co-founder of several companies, including Beanstalk, the world’s leading trademark brand extension company. He has written on water and policy issues in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and leading European and Asian publications. His book, which was published in September 2015, came about through hundreds of interviews with world leaders. With a water crisis happening somewhere in the world on any given day, he writes about Israel’s example in water innovation and what other countries can learn from the Israeli experience. “By boldly thinking about water, Israel has transformed the normally change-averse, water-greedy world of agriculture with innovations like drip irrigation, creation of smart seeds for drought-friendly plants, and careful reuse of highly treated waste-water. Israel has also played a leading role in the emerging desalination revolution,” he said. Israel is exporting its water technology, demonstrating how countries can build economies while improving the world. Currently, Israel is advising California on its chronic water issues. 48 Southern Jewish Life • April 2016


culture FA M I LY

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Flashdance’s York brings the 1980s back by Lee J. Green Roxy York, who plays dance instructor Ms. Wilde in “Flashdance” the musical, has show business and business success in her blood. The 24-year-old York, who is from Suffolk County, Long Island, will make her first visit to the Magic City April 15 to 16 as “Flashdance” steps up on the Birmingham Jefferson Convention Complex stage as the latest Theater League Broadway in Birmingham production. “If you love the movie, you will be ecstatic to the see the musical. If you have never seen the movie you will love it since it has such a great story and there is at least one character in there that I think someone can relate to,” said York. “Plus as a female actress I think it is important to note that there are very strong female characters in this who drive the show along.” Several of the beloved songs in the film version of “Flashdance” appear in the musical, along with some new songs in the 1980s style. “When you do something that is based on a book or a movie you want it to come across as based on the original but not a copy of it,” she said. York’s father and grandfather are Jewish. Her grandfather was a standup comic from Long Island who changed his name from Abramowitz to York at the advice of those who were trying to help him make it big. Growing up, Roxy York celebrated both the Jewish holidays and the Christian holidays. “My family encouraged me to be very inclusive and to embrace what felt important to me,” she said. “It’s sad that they told my grandpa he had to change his last name but I am very proud of him and my heritage. How many people can say they were born with a stage name. It is an honor to follow in his path.” In high school, York took advantage of all the arts participation opportunities afforded to her. She was in every musical at her school and was the president of her high school drama club. She also participated in all-state singing and dancing competitions. York would go on to become a proud graduate of the Boston Conservatory. “I knew I wanted to go to a university at which I would be singing, dancing and acting all day, every day,” she said. “I have been blessed to have had these opportunities to learn and to grow.” Her character in “Flashdance” runs the Shipley Dance Academy that the lead Alex is trying to get into, though Alex comes from a blue-collar family in Pittsburgh. “Ms. Wild is tough on Alex but only because she is so passionate about her art form and she cares about people honoring classical dance,” said York. Prior to joining the national touring production of “Flashdance” in early March, York toured with a production of the Disney classic “Beauty and the Beast.” She also played Golda in a Vermont regional theatre production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” “I was young for the role but I really felt an understanding for and connection to the character,” said York. Speaking of “Fiddler,” after retiring, her grandfather opened up a delicatessen on Lexington Avenue in Manhattan, where Zero Mostel was a regular.

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culture Her father grew up working at the deli and would go on to launch a successful catering company. “My father and my grandfather are very smart businessmen and they worked hard to achieve their success. That is how I look at my career. I am the CEO of Roxy York, Inc.,” she said. Thus far that company and the “Flashdance” company she is in have achieved significant success.

Flashdance’s Jewish composer puts pop into musical Robbie Roth’s talent also ran in the family. The Toronto-native Jewish composer, who along with collaborator Robert Cary wrote the new songs for the stage version of “Flashdance,” grew up with a songwriting mother. “My mom wrote songs and we played piano in the house all the time growing up,” said Roth, 44. “They were always playing The Beatles and I gained a great appreciation for their music as well as 1980s music when I was growing up.” Roth was not formally trained in piano by his mom or anyone else, but he learned to play songs by ear. Then his junior year of high school, he formed a rock and roll band. “We were involved in the Jewish community in Toronto,” he said. “I got Bar Mitzvahed and went to Sunday school.” While in college, Roth majored in history but wrote music. He finished one year of law school but was having success with making music and the band cut its first record. “It was a tough decision but I deferred after one year of law school and took a chance at making a living in music,” he said. “I started writing for other people, television shows and movies in Canada at first, then the States. I found that writing for movies, television and theatre gave me the opportunity to express a broader narrative than three-minute pop songs.” Roth wrote theme songs for a TV show called “Cupid” and a movie

called “Stardom.” He wrote comedy songs for one of the finalists on the television show “The Last Comic Standing.” He then collaborated with Gavin Creel, who was in a few Broadway shows. Roth instantly fell in love with writing music for the theatre. “It represented the perfect nexus of all the things I was interested in,” he said. “I started getting these opportunities writing for musicals that wanted someone who grew up not on theatre writing but pop writing. It’s about writing a story with hooks, phrases and music that stay in peoples’ minds.” When he got the opportunity to compose the music for “Flashdance” the musical, the challenge was to come up with fresh new music that fit with the show and the existing songs from the movie. “I am a music nerd so I deconstructed those songs from the movie, that I loved by the way, to figure out for myself why they are so catchy and infectious,” he said. “It’s important that we are telling Alex’s story and honoring the original. ‘Flashdance’ was very iconic from a music, dance, visual aesthetic and fashion standpoint.” Unlike York, Roth said he will not be able to make it to Birmingham for the shows but he hopes his future projects give him the opportunity for a Canadian Jew to get some kudzu and knishes experiences. “I really have heard some wonderful things about the South and the Jewish communities there,” he said. “I hope to visit someday.”

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If the approaching Passover Seder brings up memories of sweet Manischewitz wine, Mark Mussafer thinks it is time to broaden the Seder table. The vice president of sales at United Johnson Brothers in Alabama, Mussafer says there are numerous quality Israeli wines available in the South. “Some of the wines over there are exceptional quality,” he said, and they are kosher for Passover. In the near future, they plan to bring in even more Israeli wines. Currently, there are over 300 boutique wineries in Israel as the wine industry continues to grow there. “A lot of people don’t know” about “the diversity and quality” of Israeli wines. At the Birmingham community Tu B’Shevat Seder held at the Levite Jewish Community Center in January, Mussafer brought samples of several Israeli wines. Many Israeli wines are available at Publix and Winn-Dixie, he said. Piggly Wiggly in Birmingham and Western Supermarket in Mountain Brook also have Israeli wines available. Even those in smaller communities across the state can get the wines. “They can go to their local store; any store (in Alabama) that has a wine license can order it from us.” Of course, changing the family Seder traditions is often an uphill battle. “These wines were not available” until recently, he said, so many people “aren’t comfortable with them at the Seder because they’ve never had them.” But many in younger generations want better wines for Passover. “There’s nowhere that says you have to have a sweet kosher wine from New York,” Mussafer said. Some of the Israeli wineries are familiar for their traditional varieties, but have recently begun making small quantities of quality wines from their finest vineyards. One example is Carmel, which has an Appelation series Cabernet Sauvignon, which matures for 12 months in French oak barrels. Founded in 1990, Barkan receives grapes from vineyards in the best growing regions of Israel. The Barkan Classic line includes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Montefiore has a Red blend of Malbec, Sirah and Petite Sirah from the Judean hills. The priciest bottle they carry is the Flam Syrah Reserve, which retails for around $60. The boutique winery was established in 1998 after the owners toured the Tuscany region and wanted to replicate such wineries in Israel. The Wine Advocate said the Flam is “elegant in the mid-palate, it avoids much sharpness around the edges from tannins or acidity and it should drink great,” giving it a rating of 88 points. From outside Israel, United Johnson Brothers also distributes the Italian Barteneura Brachetto and Moscato, Rashi semi-sweet Claret and a range of Baron Herzog from California.

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Kosher Cajun 3519 Severn Ave Metairie 504/888.2010 koshercajun.com

Kosher Cajun Jambalaya olive oil 1 bunch celery, chopped 1 #10 can tomato sauce 2 lbs kosher beef Polish sausage 2 lbs kosher boneless skinless chicken, cut into small pieces 2 lbs onions, diced 1 lb bell pepper, diced ½ lb garlic, chopped 1 bunch green onions, chopped ¼ cup parsley flakes salt and pepper Cajun seasoning 4 lbs cooked white rice

KOSHER RECIPE

Kosher Cajun by Lee J. Green

As they do every year, Kosher Cajun in Metairie hosted a big party on Mardi Gras day. Then the next day, they kicked the Pesach prep into high gear. For 28 years, Kosher Cajun has been offering the kosher communities not just in New Orleans but across the Southeast region and the country with a wide variety of kosher foods, beverages and supplies, especially some Cajun/Creole staples made kosher. “I was born and raised in this community. It is a labor of love to be able to serve the community with some of the freshest, tastiest kosher meals and products,” said owner and founder Joel Brown. “I get a good feeling every day. I don’t see this as just a job. It feels great to do a service for the community and at the same time provide for my family.” So after pareve king cakes, kosher jambalaya, BBQ kosher shrimp and Brown being asked to ride in the Orpheus parade for Mardi Gras, it was on to Passover planning mode. This year, Kosher Cajun has greatly enhanced its kosher-for-Passover wine selection and Seder meal packages. They also will feature a new line of kosher-for-Passover desserts and cakes. For a full list of offerings, go to www.koshercajun.com. “We’re always expanding the grocery store, café and Judaica shop,” which features kiddush cups, mezuzahs, Seder plates and some local specialties. “We do a lot of research and with 52 Southern Jewish Life • April 2016

Grill kosher Polish sausage and cut into small pieces. Sauté the onions, bell pepper, celery, garlic in olive oil until tender. Add the chicken. Cook until the chicken starts to brown. Add the tomato sauce along with the parsley flakes. Add Cajun seasoning. Pepper and salt to taste. Cook on low for about 30 minutes – stir as needed to prevent sticking. Taste sauce and add more salt, pepper, Cajun seasoning if needed. Add rice. Stir, making sure that the rice is coated. Enjoy.

our customers test out new products we are considering carrying at Kosher Cajun,” said Brown. They also recently added some new kosher pizzas and a new line of kosher sushi. In 2000, Kosher Cajun expanded with a big, new kitchen and larger dining area. Before, it offered just a grocery store and sliced deli meats. “People wanted us offer dine-in, carry-out and catering service to fulfill a need they had. That really drove our growth mode,” he said. Then in late August 2005, when the levees failed, the Brown family evacuated to Memphis. Brown’s home and Kosher Cajun were flooded and had no power. They lost a great deal of supply and their lives were turned upside down. “I knew as soon as we could get could get back and open up it is what we had to do. My family stayed in Memphis for a year but after three months we had Kosher Cajun back open,” he said. “I had so many people say, ‘we cannot move back to town until you re-open.’ It was a challenge to grab our own bootstraps and get moving. It made us stronger as a community because we all went through it together.” The 48-year-old Brown said growing up in New Orleans his family kept kosher, but it wasn’t easy. “I remember many times piling into the station wagon and heading to Mobile just to get something simple such as white bread,” he said. “As I got into my teens, opening up a kosher grocery and restaurant was something that I thought about more often.” Brown said of course the Jewish communities have always been very supportive, but he said more than half of their business comes from


Continued from page 54

Weddings Birthdays Bar/Bat Mitzvahs Corporate Events Reunions School Dances Private Parties Event Production Open Houses DJ • Custom Lighting • Digital Projection Photo Booth • Karaoke • Snow and Fog Machines

At this meal, we are forced to eat bitter herbs that have more kick than Herb Tarlek’s socks after four episodes of “WKRP in Cincinnati.” 2011, “The Passover Satyr Play” In his ancient play, “Never Enough For Us (The Passover Satyr Play),” playwright Chad Gadiah combines all the best traditions of the satyr play form and of the time-honored Passover Seder and the biblical story from which it is derived. 2012, “Matzah Matter For You” Every year at the Passover Seder, we ask the unwritten Fifth Question: How do Italian Jews eat during Passover? 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. 2013, “Purover II: The Search for More” While Moses was in the desert hanging out at Burning Bush, Mordechai told Moses about Haman’s plot. Moses went to King Pharaoh and said, “let my people go.” He tried this several times with numerous plagues and no success, so Mordechai called in Esther instead. She married King Pharaoh, made him a couple of feasts, and then said, “let my people live.” 2014, “Haggis Sameach” Every year, Jews around the world stare at the charoset on their seder tables and think, “well, at least it isn’t haggis.” Haggis is, of course, the infamous interloper of Scottish cuisine that for centuries Jewish mothers have used to encourage their children to keep kosher. Doug Brook is a writer in Silicon Valley who, as evidenced by this column, recycles — but doesn’t bicycle. To read these or any other past columns, visit http://brookwrite.com/. For exclusive online content, like facebook.com/the. beholders.eye.  

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outside of the Jewish community — whether it is Muslims who keep halal, or vegetarians, vegans and those who keep gluten-free. Of course as many people know, staples of New Orleans cuisine such as sausage jambalaya, shrimp po’ boys and crawfish aren’t kosher. “We want to most especially represent the flavor of New Orleans so we did a lot of research to find the best kosher substitutes for these traditional dishes,” said Brown. “It’s about finding kosher foods that best replicate shrimp, crab and sausage, spiced just right in the Cajun/Creole way,” he said. “One of our most popular things is kosher BBQ shrimp.” People can come into Kosher Cajun or they will ship across the region. For some large orders to communities within driving distances, Brown himself will load up a truck and bring it personally. “We feel like we are the kosher welcome center here in New Orleans,” he said.

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April 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 53


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Passing over past Passovers

Later this year will mark the 20th anniversary of this column. Leading up to that momentous event, the next few columns will revisit timely tidbits from over the years.   1997, “The Crumbiest Holiday of the Year” To learn why Passover is a crumby holiday, look no further than between the pages of a well-used Haggadah.

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1998, “Carving a Passover Niche” The Torah states clearly (if the scribe had good handwriting) that the year begins in Nissan, a mere 15 days before Passover starts. This excerpt, referred to in rabbinic circles as the Nissan Stanza, contains many rules about this time of year. So, why do we celebrate the new year in Tishrei instead of the classic Nissan? And why in January, for that matter? This issue is still being studied today by rabbinic scholars at the acclaimed Parisian university and department store, the Nissan Centre. 1999, “March Madness” The never before seen, real reasons that each part of the Passover Seder exists: Karpas –  We eat something green. Why? To remind us that by the time the Seder is over, spring might finally PASSOVER IS THE arrive. (Though, at some Seders conducted by bachelors, this is also done to get rid of TIME TO RETELL any remaining food found in the back of the THE STORY… OF refrigerator while cleaning for Passover.)

PAST PASSOVER COLUMNS

2005, “ManiSchoveThiz” And now we have Passover, the holiday on which we’re commanded to drink so we can’t tell the difference between traditional kosher wine and jelly, which are both made from the same grapes. 2007, “The Seder Code” “This is the Pascal Limb which reminds us of Blaise Pascal, the French mathematician and scientist for whom a computer language and his children were named.” Consider some of the number of numbers swirling around through the seder: 2: Times our forefathers washed their hands before remembering to say a blessing, then came up with some symbolic reason to justify it. 4: PETA violations recounted in Chad Gadya. 2009, “Post-Traumatic Seder Disorder” Bedikat Matzah must be done after sundown at the end of the eighth day of Passover. It should be done as soon as possible, but only after indulging pizza and beer which symbolizes our liberation from nearly 400 half-hours of slavery to ritual product placement sponsored by Manischewitz, Streit’s, and others.

Upcoming Shows:

4/7 The Mowgli’s with Boyfriend, Julia Nunes and The Rebel Light 4/9 Cahaba Blues Band 4/10 Cash’d Out 4/15 Drake White & The Big Fire

54 Southern Jewish Life • April 2016

4/29 Delbert McClinton w/Jackson Capps 4/30 Kiefer Southerland 5/1 Hayseed Dixie 5/12 ZOSO — The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience

2010, “Seder Masochism” At all other meals, we can get our carbs from any of several sources, or avoid carbs entirely. At this meal, we are forced to ingest carbs reconstituted from last year’s J. Crew dress shirt inserts. At all other meals, we can use whatever spices we want, or none at all. continued on previous page


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SJL Deep South, April 2016  

April 2016 Deep South edition of Southern Jewish Life, the Jewish news magazine for Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and NW Florida

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