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

Volume 29 Issue 4

April/May 2019

Southern Jewish Life

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April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

shalom y’all As an alumnus of the University of Virginia, throwing shade at the University of North Carolina or Duke University is something that comes naturally (*cough* March Madness), and is generally reciprocated. Of course, it’s all in good fun. Mostly. But this time, it is distressing. From March 22 to 24, the two universities co-sponsored a “Conflict Over Gaza” conference at the UNC Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies. It was evident from the outset that the presentations would all have a common theme — everything is Israel’s fault, nothing is the Palestinians’ responsiblity, and nobody would be there to present anything to contradict that narrative. Local Jewish groups expressed alarm beforehand and are still bewildered that the conference went forward with the Duke and UNC imprimaturs. While academic conferences generally present a wide range of views on a topic, the “range” of views here were that Israel is a settler-colonialist state, a genocidal foreign entity that hunts Palestinians for sport, or the second coming of the Third Reich. There was zero mention of Hamas rockets being fired from Gaza, only complaints about an Israeli blockade that seemingly sprang up for no apparent reason. There were posters with images of youth setting fire to kites and balloons that then were floated across the border into Israel to torch the areas where they landed — but that was depicted as understandable heroic resistance. When a questioner asked about how Egypt also has a blockade of Gaza, the question was waved away as irrelevant to the conference. According to reports, there were complaints that Israel supposedly refuses to allow excess vegetables grown in Gaza to be exported so Gazans can make some money, while other speakers claimed Gazans were being starved by Israel, and that Israel calculates the number of calories for a subsistence level diet for all of Gaza and allows only that amount of food into the area. There were posters of Gaza fisherman at work, along with speakers

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MESSAGES Maccabi USA leader praises Birmingham Games charging that Israel won’t allow Gazans to fish. a question; anyone with a differing view was

There was no mention of Hamas diverting interrupted and told to get to the point before I have had the from honorhelping of attending many Maccabi competitions thedown world.asFrom Israel resources away Gazans so they their questions around were shot either irrelto Australia South America, Europe and theorJCCevant Maccabi games around the United States could buildto rockets and terror tunnels, or propaganda. and Canada, I have logged many seeing how sports a vehiclemember to help build Jewish the Hamas trying to damage the miles border crossWhencan anbe audience referenced identity, especially in our young. ing where thousands of truckloads of goods 800,000 Jews who were exiled from Arab lands come weeklytofrom — anotherfor point around 1948, some panelists said I felt in honored comeIsrael to Birmingham the first time and fell in love with not justthey the weren’t city thatthe was ignored claims that Israel is interested in fielding that kind question, while one but people. You amidst have taken Southern hospitality to a new level with your and caring trying to to ruin did answer by saying it was dehumanizing to approach theGaza JCCeconomically. Maccabi Games. Certainly, there was no examination of Palestinians to entertain that question. LedHamas by the is Sokol your hard-working wonderful. They partnered how nowand theHelds, third-wealthiest terror volunteers A Jewishwere student approached a panelist to with your outstanding staff, led by Betzy Lynch, to make the 2017 JCC Maccabi a huge hit. organization in the world, with their leaders discuss further what wouldgames happen if Israel Iworth want to take this opportunity as executive director of Maccabi USA to say thank you on behalf billions of dollars. fully opened the border. The speaker had asof everyone involved. Three weeks after the conference, Ami serted Israel doesn’t need to protect itself, that I had just returned from the 20thtaken WorldatMaccabiah games was in Israel with a U.S. delegation Horowitz released a video he had the the “siege” just to dehumanize Gazansofand over 1100, who joinedattendees 10,000 Jewish athletesthe fromuse 80 countries. Backdumping in July the eyes offor theIsrael’s entire conference, where repeated Gaza as the ground Jewish world were onabout Jerusalem the Maccabiah. This pastThe month withrefused 1000 athletes and with usual stereotypes Jews,and Israel, Jewish economy. speaker to engage coaches fromcontrol. around the world being in Birmingham, you became focal point. power and the student, whothe was told that the speaker’s The video showed one of the major pertime at the conference had ended. Everyone from the Jewish community and the community at large, including a wonderful formances, with Tamer Nafar later, thatasspeaker seen chatpolice force, are to rapper be commended. Thesejoking games willMoments go down in history being awas seminal about being anti-Semitic and performing a ting with other audience members moment for the Jewish community as we build to the future by providing such wonderfuldeemed Jewish song about being in love with a Jew. At one more friendly, and in fact hung out for several memories. point, he told the crowd “you look beautifully more hours, talking and signing books. Jed Margolis and urged them to sing along, anti-Semitic” Reitzes said this was the only time he has Executive Maccabi USA alone.” because “IDirector, cannot be anti-Semitic ever been at an academic conference where Now, it may have been shtick, but still — a speaker refused to speak with a participant. can you imagine a university shrugging off a supremacists When another was asked about wouldspeaker like to see pushed back On Charlottesville performer who tells the crowd, even in jest, into Hamas using aid to feel benefit theWe people a corner andmoney made to lesser. standof that they are looking beautifully racist? Beau- with Gaza and instead making war, the speaker mocked prayoffor the family of Heather Heyer, Editor’s Note: This reaction to the events in tifully homophobic? the audience member’s “concern” forofPalestinwho was there standing up to the face this Charlottesville, written by Jeremy Newman, Perhaps it was meant to amuse, or to be hate. ians. “Until that moment, I had never seen a preMaster the Alpha Epsilon ironic, of though Nafar said Pi toTheta sing Colony not in the senter at an academic conference make fun of recognize the essence of the American at Auburn University, was shared AEPi And anWe spirit of Rhianna, but that of MelbyGibson. audience member,” Reitzas observed. narrative as a two-century old struggle to rid National, which called it “very eloquent” and it echoes… In the early 1990s, I managed to Remember, this was an academic conferourselves of such corners, and allow those in praised “our brothers at office AEPi Theta Colony at visit the Washington of Liberty Lobby, ence. Sponsored by a couple dozen academic the seat at the table that they so deserve. Auburn University the leadership theyalso them the outfit startedand… by Willis Carto, who departments. At a couple of presumedly presIt is the struggle to fulfill the promise of the display on their campus. ” started the Holocaust-denial thinktank, the tigious universities. Declaration of Independence, that “all men are Institute for Historical Review. It is worth remembering that Israel’s blockcreated equal… endowed by their Creator with In a PBS documentary on David Duke many ade wasn’t imposed randomly — it was beWhite supremacy has been a cancer on certain unalienable rights.” We know our work years ago, Liberty Lobby was described as the cause the Gaza leadership’s sole emphasis is our country since its beginning, threatening is far from finished, but we know we will not largest organization in the U.S., on making war and diverting needed conits hopes,anti-Semitic its values, and its better angels. move backwards. andevents its conspiracy-theory newspaper, the sumer goods to military uses. The that took place in Charlottesville When men and fully armed, take Spotlight, had six-figure The border isn’twomen, there because Gazans need represented the aworst of thiscirculation. nation. Those to the streets in droves with swastikas and In the hallways, it wasn’t unusual for be protected from rampaging Israelis lookwho marched onto the streets with tiki torches other symbols of hate, it is a reminder of how co-workers to greet each other by saying ing to get rid of them, it’s because Hamas pays and swastikas did so to provoke violence and relevant the issues of racism and anti-Semitism “you’re looking very anti-Semitic today. ” Why, Gazans to go there each week and act as civilfear. Those who marched onto the streets did are It isthey a wake-up call to the work that thank you. an ideology that harkens back to ian today. cover as try to infiltrate Israel. so to profess needs to be done to ensure a better, more How is this appropriate at an academic conGaza could be the Middle East’s Riviera if a bleaker, more wretched time in our history. welcoming country. But it should not come ference? their leaders cared about something other A time when men and women of many creeds, without a reflection on how far we’ve come. Three weeks after the conference, when than maximalist demands for the destruction races, and religions were far from equal and far Horowitz video, North Caroli- of America Israel and emphasized wasinstead born a slave nation. Aimproving century from safe inreleased our own the borders. A time where na organizers him for producing the lives of Gazans. into our history we engaged in a war in part Americans lived slammed under a constant cloud of a “heavily edited” piece did not Hamas to aim for We an imto Instead, ensure we wouldcontinues not continue as one. racism, anti-Semitism and that pervasive hate.reflect The the true tone of the conference. Wiser heads possible goal, cheered on by academics who events that took place in Charlottesville served found ourselves confronted by the issue of civil quickly prevailed and the UNC chancellor said are too intelligent to realize they are only exacrights, and embarked on a mission to ensure as a reminder of how painfully relevant these he was and deeply offended” the erbating the Hamas-inflicted misery of Gazans, fair treatment of all peoples no matter their issues are“heartbroken today. that the performance took place, and the skin whencolor. all Israel wants is to live truly side by side Although we’ve made great strides, Auburn’s Alphaissued Epsilona Pi stands with the Duke leadership similar statement. and asee Gazans prosper through peace. mission we’re still grappling with today. Jewish community of Charlottesville, andan ex- it isBut Of course, it took three weeks and they didn’t want anyone to hear that at America was also born an immigrant with Jewish people around posethe video for anyone to havethe saidcountry something. North Carolina. andInaround the world. also stand theat- country. As early as the pilgrims, many The Tower, Peter We Reitzes wrotewith about minorities who are targeted by thequestion hate that and groups and families found in the country the tending the conference. During was on display in Charlottesville. We standwere opportunity to plant stakes, chase their future, answer sessions, those in agreement Few were met with open with the minorities of whom thesebefore white asking and be themselves. permitted to go on at length Lawrence Brook, Publisher/Editor 4 April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

April 2019

Southern Jewish Life PUBLISHER/EDITOR Lawrence M. Brook ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER/ADVERTISING Lee J. Green V.P. SALES/MARKETING, NEW ORLEANS Jeff Pizzo CREATIVE DIRECTOR Ginger Brook SOCIAL/WEB Emily Baldwein PHOTOGRAPHER-AT-LARGE Rabbi Barry C. Altmark CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Rivka Epstein, Louis Crawford, Tally Werthan, Stuart Derroff, Belle Freitag, Ted Gelber, E. Walter Katz, Doug Brook BIRMINGHAM OFFICE P.O. Box 130052, Birmingham, AL 35213 14 Office Park Circle #104 Birmingham, AL 35223 205/870.7889 NEW ORLEANS OFFICE 3747 West Esplanade, 3rd Floor Metairie, LA 70002 504/432-2561 TOLL-FREE 866/446.5894 FAX 866/392.7750 ADVERTISING Advertising inquiries to 205/870.7889 for Lee Green,; Jeff Pizzo,; or Annetta Dolowitz, Media kit, rates available upon request SUBSCRIPTIONS It has always been our goal to provide a large-community quality publication to all communities of the South. To that end, our commitment includes mailing to every Jewish household in the region (AL, LA, MS, NW FL), without a subscription fee. Outside the area, subscriptions are $25/year, $40/two years. Subscribe via, call 205/870.7889 or mail payment to the address above. Copyright 2019. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without written permission from the publisher. Views expressed in SJL are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff. SJL makes no claims as to the Kashrut of its advertisers, and retains the right to refuse any advertisement.

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agenda interesting bits & can’t miss events

Birmingham’s N.E. Miles Jewish Day School hosted the Middle School Alliance in late March, bringing sixth grade classes from four Jewish Day Schools to Birmingham for a week of civil rights learning. Day trips included Selma and Montgomery. The students have held video conferencing classes on Tuesdays since January. Visiting schools were Ezra Academy in New Haven, Conn.; Hillel School in Rochester, N.Y. — where former BJDS Principal Zev Silber later was head of school; Freidel Jewish Academy in Omaha, Neb.; and B’nai Shalom in Greensboro, N.C.

Shreveport, Jackson congregations select new rabbis Agudath Achim in Shreveport announced that Rabbi Sydni Adler will become their next rabbi, starting June 17, and she will be moving to Shreveport with her fiancé, Rabbi Feivel Rubinstein. Adler will succeed Cantor Neil Schwartz. She will be ordained this May at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University in Los Angeles. A native of Agoura Hills, Calif., Adler attended Reform religious school and summer camps, then entered Swarthmore College to become a concert pianist. But her plans changed as she became inspired by Judaic text study, and she became pres- Rabbi Sydni Adler ident of the Hillel. After graduating with a degree in music, she spent two years at the Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, studying Jewish law and coordinating the egalitarian minyan. Though she was becoming more traditional, her commitment to egali-

tarianism led her to the Conservative movement. She enrolled in rabbinic school in 2014 and served as Jewish programming director for B’nai B’rith Camp in Oregon. For the last three years she has been rabbinic intern at Ohr Shalom Synagogue in San Diego. Rubinstein grew up Conservative, attending Camp Ramah in California and being active in United Synagogue Youth. He attended the University of Colorado at Boulder, where he was active in AEPi, Hillel and local Jewish organizations. After graduating with a degree in music, he entered the Ziegler School, where he met Adler. For the last six years, he has been a Jewish educator in Los Angeles, and director of ritual and prayer at Ramah.

Chief Rabbi of Mississippi Jackson’s Beth Israel, home of the only full-time rabbinic pulpit in Mississippi, will have a new rabbi as of July 1, Rabbi Joseph Rosen. Rosen grew up in Rochester, Minn., where both of his parents work for the Mayo Clinic. “Their dedication to helping others led me to seek a future where I could do the same,” he said. He is finishing his studies at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, where he will be ordained next month. His undergraduate degree is from Brandeis University, with a major in psychology. April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life


agenda That and his passion for Judaism, along with his desire to help others, led him to pursue the rabbinate, and “18 days” after graduating from Brandeis, he was on his way to Jerusalem for his first year of rabbinic school. As a student rabbi, he has served at Rockdale Temple in Cincinnati; Temple Beth El in Beckley, W.Va.; Mt. Zion in Sioux Falls, S.D.; and Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, Va. Rather than enter the rabbinate as an assistant in a large congregation, he decided he wanted to serve in a Rabbi Joseph Rosen smaller community. He is also working on clinical pastoral education, to become a certified chaplain. He is also a Fellow at the Religious Action Center, and heads the chapel committee at HUC. He succeeds Rabbi Jeffrey Kurtz-Lendner, who will become the executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Des Moines.

JServe returns to Birmingham

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April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

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After a year hiatus, JServe is back in Birmingham, with three service projects for teens in grades 6 to 12 on April 28. JServe is the international day of Jewish teen service. Projects happen in 180 communities all over the world and in numerous cities across the U.S. Jewish teens from all organizations, schools and areas of town are encouraged to grab a friend and get involved. The three projects all begin at 12:30 p.m. but have different concluding times. The Friendship Circle project is open to grades 8 to 12. J-Serve teens in this project will meet at Chabad of Alabama, where they will learn and prepare to work with special needs kids and teens for the day. From Chabad they will travel to Glenwood, where J-Serve teens will play games, do crafts, and just hang out with Glenwood residents. J-Serve teens who choose Words to Action will meet at the Levite Jewish Community Center, where they will participate in an Anti-Defamation League workshop. Words to Action will help teens learn how to recognize and respond to antisemitism they may face every day at school or elsewhere. The third project, L’dor V’dor: Caring for the Elderly, will be a visit to Brookdale Senior Living, where teens will work with the resident participating in craft projects, board games, and card games. Katie Hausman, Community Youth Group coordinator, said they hope to have 60 to 70 teens participating.

“Women for Israel” program in Montgomery The Jewish Federation of Central Alabama is having a “Women for Israel” program featuring Shosh Mitzman, the Makom chief development officer and liaison to the Jewish National Fund. Makom builds groups that move into communities in northern Israel and the Negev, with a specific purpose or mission, such as improving education, renewing a declining area or bettering relations with Bedouin or the Druze. That complements JNF’s emphasis on attracting more Israelis to settle in those parts of the country, instead of the central corridor. An advocate for the development of those regions, Mitzman has worked in various capacities as a consultant in the nonprofit, development, management and academic sectors, including for Ohalo College and the Ohio State University. The program will be at Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem in Montgomery on May 7 at 6 p.m. The program is open to the community.


HaYovel plans first-ever gala HaYovel, an organization dedicated to transforming Christians’ lives through serving the land and people of Judea and Samaria, the Biblical Heartland of Israel, will have its first-ever “Israel Celebrate the Miracle” gala in Franklin, Tenn., on May 6. Now based in Missouri, HaYovel was founded by Tommy and Sherri Waller after he went to Israel in 2004 on a business trip, and saw the fulfillment of prophecy in the nation’s vineyards. The organization recruits volunteers to spend two to eight weeks in Israel, helping farmers in the territories during pruning and harvest seasons, and educating the Christian world about the need to support the Jewish community and Israel. They also produce the Joshua and Caleb Report, a series of stories about those living in the territories, and to counteract the negative media coverage of Israel, which they liken to the 10 spies that gave a negative report to Moses. Over the past 10 years, over 2100 volunteers from 19 countries have taken part in the program. The event will be at The Factory in Franklin Liberty Hall. Doors open at 5 p.m. for a cocktail reception. The banquet begins at 6 p.m., featuring Israeli wine. The program includes music, videos and presentations celebrating Israel’s 71st birthday. A fundraiser will be held at the end of the evening. Reservations are $150.

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Gil Hoffman to speak about Israel-U.S. current events Veteran Israeli journalist Gil Hoffman will be in Birmingham for a series of talks, including a community-wide presentation. Hoffman has been the chief political correspondent and analyst for The Jerusalem Post for 20 years. He teaches international communications at Israel’s College of Management, and hosts a weekly radio show on the Land of Israel Network. He has interviewed every major figure across the Israeli political spectrum, has been interviewed by top media on six continents and is a regular analyst on CNN, Al-Jazeera and other news outlets. Called “The most optimistic man in Israel” by Israel Television, Hoffman provides a behind the scenes look at the intrigue and humor in the Israeli political arena. A Chicago native, Hoffman wrote for the Miami Herald and Arizona Republic before moving to Israel. A reserve soldier in the IDF Spokesman’s Unit, he has lectured in every major English-speaking country in the world, more than half the Canadian provinces, and recently made history in Hawaii when he became the first speaker to lecture about Israel in all 50 states. His main community talk will be on May 2 at 8 p.m., “Red States, Blue States and the Jewish State: An Insider’s Look at America’s Impact on the Future of Israel and the Wider Middle East.” There will be a reception afterwards, and reservations are requested by April 29 for those staying for the reception. On May 3, he will speak at a dinner following the 6:30 p.m. Shabbat service. “Peace, Politics and Plutonium: A Maven’s Guide to the Mayhem in the Middle East” will be his topic. Dinner reservations are $18 per person, $36 for a family, and need to be made by May 1. On May 4, he will give “71 Reasons for Optimism on Israel’s Future,” at the noon Kiddush following the 9 a.m. service. The Shabbaton is part of the Israel 360 Program by the Religious Zionists of America, which is sending leading scholars to congregations around the globe to speak on topics concerning Israel on the weekend before Israel Independence Day. The event is partially sponsored by The Religious Zionists of America, Israel Bonds and The Jewish National Fund. April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life


agenda Friends of the Israel Defense Forces Southeast Region will hold its annual Night of Heroes gala, May 13 at the Crowne Plaza Ravinia in Atlanta. Gerry Sobel, FIDF regional chair and member of the national board, will be the honoree. The featured speaker will be Maj. Gen. Michael Edelstein, the Israel Defense and Armed Forces Attache to the United States. Beth Israel Congregation in Jackson was awarded a grant from the Atlanta-based Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity to examine the congregation’s sexual and diversity inclusion practices. McKenzie Wren will be in Jackson on April 25 to meet with a variety of individuals, including a congregational presentation and workshop at 5:30 p.m. Pensacola’s Temple Beth El is going camping the weekend of May 3 to 5. The community is invited to join in at the Naval Live Oaks group site for Shabbat. There will be services, programs, games, bonfires, food and fun. Cost for the weekend, including dinners and breakfasts, is $36 per family. Those not into camping are still invited for Shabbat services, the Friday night covered dish dinner and other activities.

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The Mobile Jewish Film Festival, Mystic Order of the Jazz Possessed and the Mobile Public Library are presenting a special showing of “It Must Schwing! The Blue Note Story,” April 29 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ben May Library’s Bernheim Hall. The film tells the story of two German-Jewish immigrants, Alfred Lion and Francis Wolff, who escape Nazi Berlin and establish the most iconic jazz label in history. The label launched the careers of giants like Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Thelonious Monk and Herbie Hancock. Dothan’s Temple Emanu-El will hold its annual Deli Day on May 9. The lunches include a quarter-pound corned beef sandwich on rye, pickle, chips and a large chocolate chip cookie. The lunches are $12.50 and can be ordered at through April 26. Lunches can be picked up between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., or delivery is available in the Dothan area for orders of eight or more. The annual B’nai Israel, Baton Rouge, Golf Classic will be held on May 5 at a new location, Pelican Point in Gonzales. There will be a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. The $175 registration includes cart, range balls, dinner and prizes. Huntsville’s Jewish community is uniting for its first-ever Women’s Mega Challah Bake 100, May 16 at 6:30 p.m. at the Mill Room in Lincoln Mill. Huntsville Chabad, Congregation Etz Chayim Sisterhood, Temple B’nai Sholom Sisterhood and Huntsville Hadassah will explore a central part of the Shabbat experience as they mix, knead and braid together. The Jewish Federation of Huntsville and North Alabama will provide some of the utensils with the Mega Challah Bake logo to inspire continued use by those in attendance. Reservations are $12 in advance, $18 at the door.

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April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

Emerald Coast Shabbat will be held on May 10 at 6:30 p.m. at Beth Shalom in Fort Walton Beach, as Beth El from Pensacola visits. The service will be led by Beth El Rabbi Joel Fleekop and Beth Shalom Student Rabbi Analissa Stryer, formerly of Pensacola. Starting on April 17 from 2 to 4 p.m., Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem in Montgomery is joining the First Christian Church’s Love Your Neighbor food ministry. The third Wednesday of each month will be AIEA’s day to help with the organization that distributes food to over 100 needy families. The next film in the Shreveport Jewish Film Series will be “The Boy in the Striped Pajamas,” May 1 at 6 p.m. at the Robinson Film Center. continued on page 44


Sponsor a Jewish music event in your community Governor Phil Bryant signs anti-BDS law on March 25

Mississippi now on the record against boycotts of Israel While most of the pro-Israel universe was focused on the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee Policy Conference in Washington on March 25, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant was making his own bit of history. With Israeli Consul General Lior Haiat looking on, Bryant signed a bill establishing Mississippi as the 27th state to condemn the boycott-Israel movement known as BDS. Mississippi is joining its neighbors in barring state investments in companies that participate in anti-Israel boycotts. The “Israel Support Act of 2019” prevents the state retirement system, treasury and state government entities from investing in companies that boycott Israel, and calls on the state to develop a list of such companies. Any existing investment in those companies would have to be sold within 120 days after the list is published, as of July 1, 2020. Exceptions can be made if the state deems it necessary. The bill passed the House, 92-10, on Feb. 7, then passed the Senate, 34-8, on March 6. Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant has developed close ties between Mississippi and Israel, with four trade missions in five years, an “Israel Meets Mississippi” summit in Jackson in 2015 involving numerous Israeli companies, and an international homeland security conference in Biloxi in 2018 that attracted mostly Israeli firms. Last year, Mississippi passed legislation allowing state investment funds to purchase Israel Bonds. Haiat said the bill sends “a strong message of support and friendship to Israel, and a clear message that those who want to harm Israel are NOT welcome in Mississippi.”

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JCRS college aid deadline May 31 The deadline for needs-based undergraduate college financial assistance from Jewish Children’s Regional Service is May 31. In the upcoming academic year, the New Orleans-based agency will provide assistance to over 100 Jewish students in its seven-state region. As the oldest Jewish children’s agency in the country, the JCRS has been providing social services, care and funding since 1855 to Jewish youth in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Applications are available on the agency’s website, Applications received by the deadline will receive priority funding, and those received after that date will be considered if funds are still available. While late applications to the JCRS education or camp scholarship programs are not eligible for maximum awards, applications for the special needs program are accepted throughout the year.

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April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life



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

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

Governor Bill Lee and Consul General Judith Varnai Shorer, center, with legislators and many of Nashville’s rabbis at the ceremony

“Historic Day” in Tennessee

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

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April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life


Governor Lee signs pro-Israel proclamation With Israeli Consul General Judith Varnai Shorer seated by his side, Tennessee Governor Bill Lee signed a proclamation to “honor and commend the Nation of Israel, and extend Tennessee’s friendship and esteem as we remain steadfast in our support of the Nation of Israel.” The ceremony took place in the Old Supreme Court Chambers on March 7, organized by the office of Sen. Mark Pody, who introduced a pro-Israel resolution in the state Senate. The resolution passed the Senate, 28-0, on Feb. 21, and was working its way through the House when the ceremony took place. The proclamation on March 7 was signed by Lee, Pody, speaker of the Senate Randy McNally, and Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver, who is navigating the resolution through the House. Lee said he was honored to be part of “a historical moment in Tennessee.” “It’s more than just a historical moment, It’s a spiritual moment,” he said, citing Genesis 12:3, where God tells Abraham that He will bless those who bless him, and curse those who curse him. Lee said he has first-hand knowledge from a powerful experience visiting Israel. “Not only is there a friendship” between Tennessee and Israel, “there is a bond deeper than friendship.” Shorer thanked Tennessee for “your strong, continued support of Israel.” She noted that Tennessee is “in the heart of America’s largest evangelical community,” which is strongly pro-Israel. Saying that Israel will “continue to prosper,” Shorer concluded, “please come to visit us… it is so beautiful.” Eric Stillman, executive director of the Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, expressed thanks for the event, saying “on behalf of the 23,500 members of the Jewish community of the state of Tennessee, it is an amazing occurrence today… we are very proud of the strong relationship between the state of Tennessee and the state of Israel.” In addition to Nashville, there were officials from the Jewish Federations of Memphis, Knoxville and Chattanooga in attendance. Rabbi Saul Strosberg of Congregation Sherith Israel led the singing of “Hatikvah,” Israel’s national anthem, followed by Irlene Mandrell singing the “Star Spangled Banner.” The closing prayer was given by country music legend Ricky Skaggs, a passionate supporter of Israel. “I’m really overwhelmed at the goodness of the Lord” in witnessing the event, he said, reciting verses from Psalm 93. He concluded, “May Tennessee be blessed beyond measure.”


Bruce Pearl leads Auburn to state’s first-ever Final Four Becomes fifth Jewish coach to accomplish that feat, the first since 1988 In leading the Auburn Tigers to the first men’s basketball Final Four of any university in the state, Bruce Pearl also became only the fifth Jewish head coach to reach the Final Four. Pearl, the first president of the Jewish Coaches Association, isn’t exactly quiet about it. “I’m kind of loud and I’m kind of proud,” he said the day before the April 6 Final Four game against Virginia. Since arriving in Auburn, he has been active in Jewish events as time permits, even hosting a latke party in his home each season for the Auburn Hillel. At the Final Four, Pearl said he is grateful for “the religious freedom I have to be a practicing Jew in the Christian community. I can tell you down South it is so comfortable there because we share the same God. And my Christian brothers embrace that. It’s a wonderful thing.” Noting that freedom doesn’t exist everywhere, he added “we need to make sure that we do the best job we can as a Jewish man to represent and break down stereotypes while we maintain our identity.”

He has been Auburn’s coach since 2014 and won the Southeastern Conference regular season championship in 2018. Pearl took the University of Southern Indiana to the championship of Division II in 1995. In this year’s tournament, five-seed Auburn barely made it past New Mexico State in the first round, then took down Kansas, 89-75. Auburn then knocked out one-seed North Carolina, 9780, and topped Kentucky in the Elite Eight, 7771 in overtime. With the latter three wins, Auburn defeated the three winningest programs in college basketball. In the Final Four, Auburn lost to eventual champion Virginia, 63-62, on a heartbreaker after coming back from a 10-point deficit. A controversial foul put Virginia, down by two, on the free throw line with three shots and 0.6 seconds left in the game. Charles Barkley, Auburn basketball royalty who now does television commentary, said it was a foul, but many have pointed to an uncalled possible double-dribble by Virginia just before the foul.

File photo by Rabbi Barry Altmark

Coach Bruce Pearl speaks at the opening ceremonies of the 2017 JCC Maccabi Games in Birmingham Of the five Jewish coaches to reach the Final Four, two won championships. Nat Holman won the national champion-


April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life



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ship with City College of New York in 1950, becoming the only coach in history to win both the NCAA and NIT in the same season. A victory over Kentucky in the NIT was the worst loss of Kentucky legend Adolph Rupp’s career, and the Kentucky legislature called for the capitol flag to be flown at half mast. At the time, the 12-team NIT was more prestigious than the 8-team NCAA tournament. An original Celtic, Holman organized the U.S. team for the first Maccabiah Games in Palestine in 1932, and in 1949 was the first American to coach in Israel. Larry Brown led Kansas to the title in 1988 after bringing UCLA to the Final Four in 1980. Brown, who as a player led the U.S. team to the gold medal in the 1961 Maccabiah in Israel and the U.S. Olympics team to gold in 1964, is the only coach to win an NCAA title and an NBA title, with Detroit in 2004. Harry Litwack of Temple reached the Final Four in 1956 and 1958, losing both times in the semifinals, and winning the 1969 NIT. Guy Lewis led Houston to five Final Four appearances, in 1967 and 1968, then three years in a row from 1982 to 1984 with a team known as “Phi Slama Jama.” The 1983 and 1984 teams reached the championship game. As with many of the other Jewish Final Four coaches, Pearl had a Maccabiah experience, coaching the 2009 team that included his son, Stephen, to the gold medal. Before heading to Israel, Pearl, then coach at Tennessee, brought the Maccabiah team members to Shabbat services at Heska Amuna in Knoxville, where he led the service. “To take 12 Jewish men to Israel and to come back to the U.S. as mensches was incredibly meaningful,” he said. “To wear USA on our chests and to have a Star of David in our hearts was special.” He was the keynote speaker for the 2017 JCC Maccabi Games opening ceremony in Birmingham. “Breaking down stereotypes is a huge part of my life,” he said. “To see what the Maccabi Games did to give such a positive impression of Birmingham and the South warmed my heart. There were kids and their parents coming to Birmingham for the first time and they all seemed to have so many great things to say about their time there.” On April 30, Pearl will be the keynote speaker at the State of Alabama’s Holocaust commemoration at the Capitol, which he attended last year. Each year, Pearl participates in Auburn’s “We Walk to Remember” commemoration, part of “Unto Every Person There is a Name.” At Tennessee, he took his team to the Czech Republic and Germany, including stops at the Dachau and Theresienstadt concentration camps on the itinerary. In a 2008 interview with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, he said he visits a concentration camp every time he goes to Europe, and many of his players didn’t know anything about the Holocaust. “For me as a coach and a teacher, my whole thing is to bring my team together, to accept each other’s differences, to tolerate one another, and that helps us become a great team,” he explained. After the Final Four defeat, Pearl emphasized demonstrating class and dignity. “There are lots of calls during the game, and you’re going to get some, and some you’re not going to get,” he said. He told the players “Would we have trusted God any more in victory than we would trust Him in defeat, in the sense that He carried us all the way here, all season long, and put so much blessing upon us? So this is what the plan was, and let’s handle the defeat with dignity.” Reflecting on the game, Pearl said “I’d like it to be remembered for a great game. Let’s not remember this game because of just how it ended. Let’s remember two teams that played really hard that only had 13 turnovers combined, didn’t shoot it very well because there was great defense… It was a great college basketball game.”


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Abraham Hausman-Weiss, center, with James Cook and Ford Burttram at the University of Alabama awards event.

Hausman-Weiss part of back-to-back national championship team Though Bruce Pearl’s Auburn Tigers fell in the Final Four, there is still a Jewish basketball national champion this year in the state of Alabama. Abraham Hausman-Weiss is a member of the University of Alabama Adapted Athletics wheelchair basketball team that won the national championship on March 20 in Champaign, Ill. The Alabama men’s and women’s team swept the national championships, and for the men it was a back-to-back title. Alabama defeated Wisconsin-Whitewater, 79-73, in a rematch of last year’s title game, which Alabama had won, 69-65. In the quarterfinals, Alabama beat Southwest Minnesota State, 77-65, then took out Texas-Arlington in the semi-finals, 75-59. Hausman-Weiss was born in Los Angeles, then in 1999 when he was 19 months old, his father, Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss, became director of adult Jewish outreach at Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El. Hausman-Weiss was born with a rare form of spina bifida. A student at the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School, he began swimming and doing track and field at a young age at Lakeshore Foundation in Birmingham, the largest Olympic and Paralympic training center in the country. In first grade, he won first place in numerous national track and field events, including a national record in discus. In first grade, he saw the Lakeshore wheelchair basketball team play and knew that is what he wanted to pursue. In 2011, the family moved to Houston, where he graduated from the Emery/Weiner School and was a member of the national champion TIRR Memorial Hermann Junior Hotwheels. He signed with Alabama in 2016. A junior majoring in astrophysics, Hausman-Weiss was named First Team Academic All-American. Alabama also presented him with the team’s James Cook Academic Award.

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April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

V.P. nominee, unlikely spy among Jewish honorees at WWII Museum Senator Joseph Lieberman, Marthe Cohn and Gerhard Weinberg are among the honorees at this year’s American Spirit Awards at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Lieberman and Vice President Dick Cheney will receive the American Spirit Award from the museum. The American Spirit Award is given to an individual “who best exemplifies the outstanding qualities of the American spirit, including teamwork, optimism, courage, and sacrifice, and who inspires the exploration and expression of these values through their own life and work.” Lieberman was a U.S. senator from Connecticut for 24 years, and was the vice presidential candidate on the Democrat ticket in 2000 with Sen. Al Gore. Before being elected to the Senate in 1988, he spent 10 years in the Connecticut Senate and six years as the state’s attorney general. As he concluded his Senate service, he was chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, and a senior member of the Armed Services Committee. Cheney was elected vice president in 2000, serving two terms under President George W. Bush. At age 34, President Gerald Ford appointed Cheney to lead the White House staff as the nation was reeling in the aftermath of Watergate. After Ford’s term, Cheney was elected to the U.S. House from Wyoming From top: Sen. Joe Lieberman, and served five terms, then was Secre- Gerhard Weinberg, Marthe tary of Defense under President George Cohn during her 2017 talk in Baton Rouge H.W. Bush. Weinberg will receive the American Spirit Medallion, given to individuals “who demonstrate extraordinary dedication to the principles that strengthen America’s freedom and democracy.” Weinberg is an internationally recognized authority on Nazi Germany and the origins and course of World War II. He is professor emeritus of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and author or editor of numerous books and articles on 20th-century European and world history. He is the 2009 Pritzker Military Museum and Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing, and he currently sits on the Museum’s Presidential Counselors advisory board. Born in Hanover, Germany, Weinberg fled with his parents in 1938 due to Nazi persecution, arriving in New York in 1941. He served in the U.S. Army during the occupation of Japan, then received a doctorate in history at the University of Chicago. In 1958 he discovered Hitler’s “Second Book,” a sequel to “Mein Kampf.” Also being recognized is the Honorable Everett Alvarez, Jr., the first U.S. aviator downed over Vietnam, and who was a prisoner of war from 1964 to 1973. He has written two books, has served as a senior administrator for the Peace Corps and the Department of Veterans Affairs.

community Peggy Noonan, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Wall Street Journal, is also an honoree. A speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, she has written nine books on American politics and history. Gayle Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints and Pelicans, will also receive the medallion for her philanthropic work. Cohn, who became one of the war’s most unlikely spies, will receive the Silver Service Medallion. Silver Service Medallions are presented to “veterans and those with a direct connection to World War II who have served our country with distinction and continue to lead by example.” A 4-foot-10 French Jewish girl when the war broke out, Cohn did not speak of her activities until the 1990s because she figured nobody would believe her. She enlisted in the French Army and was recruited to the intelligence forces because she spoke German — and as all men were in uniform, as a woman she would not attract suspicion. With a cover story of being a German nurse looking for a missing fiancé, she went behind enemy lines and provided crucial information about the Siegfried Line and a planned ambush in the Black Forest. In 1999, she was presented France’s highest military honor, the Medaille Militaire, and five years ago, she was given the Cross of the Order of Merit, Germany’s highest honor. She spoke at Chabad events in Baton Rouge and New Orleans in 2017. Col. Charles McGee, a command pilot from Tuskegee, will also be honored. He flew 136 missions in World War II, 100 missions in the Korean War and 173 missions in Vietnam. Also receiving the Silver Service Medallion is Col. Gail Halvorsen, who flew in the South Atlantic during World War II. He was with the Air Force for 31 years and is best known as a “candy bomber” in the Berlin Airlift, delivering essential supplies to Soviet-blockaded Berlin after World War II. A patron’s event will be held on May 22 at the Windsor Court Hotel for guests from across the country and the museum’s board. The American Spirit Awards Luncheon and Leadership Forum will be on May 23 at 10:30 a.m. at the U.S. Freedom Pavilion. The honorees will share their experiences with 51 student leaders, representing each state and the District of Columbia. The black-tie gala, with Susan Spicer as the featured chef, will be that evening at 6, also at the Freedom Pavilion. A cocktail reception will precede the event, in the Solomon Victory Complex and BB’s Stage Door Canteen. Gala tickets are $750, patron levels start at $1,000.

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Many Jewish groups involved in GiveNOLA on May 7 Several Jewish organizations in the New Orleans area will participate in this year’s GiveNOLA Day, a midnight-to-midnight online fundraising day that takes place on May 7. Now in its sixth year, almost 700 non-profits participate in GiveNOLA, and last year almost $5.6 million was raised through 49,000 donations. A Lagniappe Fund is divided among the organizations in proportion to how much they raised. The organizations with the most money raised gets a $10,000 bonus in both the large and small organization categories. Similar awards go to groups with the most individual donors. Bonuses are given through fifth place. There are also hourly Rock Around the Clock bonuses of $1,000, and any organization with a donation during that hour is eligible for the drawing. The minimum donation is $10. Last year, the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans placed first among small organizations for the fourth year in a row, with $92,416 before matching funds were added. The dividing line between large and small organizations is an operating budget of $1 million. In addition to the Federation, participating organizations include Jewish Children’s Regional Service, Jewish Community Day School, Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans, National Council of Jewish Women Greater New Orleans Section, Northshore Jewish Congregation, the Anti-Defamation League, Avodah, Beth Israel, Hadassah New Orleans, Tulane Hillel, the Jewish Community Center and Slater Torah Academy. Other institutions taking part include Isidore Newman School, Longue Vue and the Touro Infirmary Foundation. Last year, the Day School placed first in Jefferson Parish in the education category, raising $25,600 plus a $20,000 match by three donors. Instead of a GiveNOLA Fest this year, there will be a partnership with Young Leadership Council to have Get Down and GiveNOLA at the Wednesday at the Square concert series. Donors may make contributions as early as May 1 at

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April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

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Cleaning Together in Panama City On April 5, Servant’s Heart Disaster Relief from Apalachicola spent the day at Temple B’nai Israel in Panama City, which is still working on repairing damage from October’s Hurricane Michael. Rev. Frederic Smith, who heads the Apalachicola group, said the day came about from an old friend’s request. Years ago his wife played piano at the wedding of Karen and Les Stern, and Les Stern contacted him to see about doing a mitzvah for a synagogue in honor of the help First Congregation Sons of Israel in St. Augustine, where he is president, received after Hurricanes Matthew and Irma. Just a month before Michael hit the Florida panhandle, Sons of Israel reopened its sanctuary for the first time in 22 months since their hurricane. Smith said “I hoped to be able to make his Mitzvah happen, if not for the Temple, then for its members.” At the last moment, Stern’s group was unable to come, so Smith asked Christian groups working in the area, and a church from Hiram, Ga., stepped in on

their last day of a disaster relief visit. “We cut and hauled trees and debris from around the Temple,” Smith said. During a rainstorm, the volunteers went inside B’nai Israel and President Mike Starkman gave a brief introduction to Judaism and showed them the Torah. They hoped to stay for services in the evening, but continued rain soaked everyone and they called it a day early in the afternoon. Smith said his team and volunteers from B’nai Israel “had a wonderful time serving the G-d of Avram, Yitzhak and Yacov together; as He intended.”

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community Sandy Hook mother talks to NCJW about gun violence Nicole Hockley started advocacy group in memory of her son, Dylan

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The National Council of Jewish Women’s Greater New Orleans Section hosted the founder and managing director of Sandy Hook Promise, Nicole Hockley, to its general meeting on March 12 to discuss gun violence prevention. Hockley described herself as a marketing professional who became a gun violence expert, all while grieving the loss of her son, Dylan, and trying to make a difference in his honor. “I don’t want any other parent to experience this kind of loss, especially as I’ve learned how preventable it is,” Hockley told the group. “There are solutions we can use to make a difference.” After the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Hockley and Sandy Hook Promise first decided to focus on policy change. The group initially advocated for background checks, which was the most prevalent action in the gun violence prevention movement. After a major setback in 2013, however, with the failure of the Background Check Amendment, SHP changed its approach. “That was devastating, but it was also a critical learning moment for us.” Hockley said. “That’s when we started studying the causes of gun violence, other shootings and suicide and domestic violence. We decided we’ll be that organization that teaches people about gun violence, teaches people about the causes and gives them the tools to actually prevent it where they live,” Hockley said. She has helped to educate and train over 2.5 million youth, teens, and adults in all 50 states through the organization’s “Know the Signs” programs that are offered to schools and youth

Nicole Hockley shows photo of her son, Dylan and community groups at no cost. Her work has resulted in the prevention of multiple school shooting plots and gun threats, several teen suicides, as well as other violent acts throughout the country. Victoria Coy spoke about the ongoing efforts of gun violence prevention in Louisiana. An NCJW board member, Coy is a prominent violence prevention strategist, most recently serving as the End Gun Violence Campaign Manager for Amnesty International USA and is the continued on next page

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Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El held Birmingham-Southern College Hillel Shabbat on March 15


April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

community founder and director emeritus of the Louisiana Violence Reduction Coalition. Coy spoke passionately about the ongoing efforts to reform legislation, as well as change public opinion in order to prevent tragedies like Sandy Hook and the hundreds of other senseless acts with firearms that occur every year. “We are winning in states like Louisiana, Texas and Tennessee,” Coy said, “not only because we’re changing laws but because of rooms full of people like you giving up their Tuesday nights to take a stand to end gun violence.”

Emerging Leader Award

At the meeting, the Honorable Miriam Waltzer presented Maddie Fireman with NCJW’s Emerging Leadership Award, which pays tribute to a member new to the NCJW scene who shows great promise for future leadership. Fireman has been serving as NCJW’s State Policy Advocate since 2017. “She is a fearless advocate for the people of Louisiana,” Waltzer said, citing her actions on behalf of voting rights, reproductive rights, human rights and LGBTQ rights. “Maddie cares deeply about community and her work has had Birmingham’s Friendship Circle had its annual Color Run fundraiser on March 17 at the Levite far reaching effects. She was literally born to get Jewish Community Center. The Chabad-run program matches teen volunteers with peers this award.” who have special needs, helping them socialize and become more active in the community.



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The Jackson-based Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, a regional organization supporting Jewish communities across the South, hosted two of the foremost leaders of the Reform and Conservative Jewish movements, Arnold M. Eisen and Rabbi David Ellenson, for a series of discussions surrounding “Thoughts on the Jewish Future” at Congregation Beth Yeshurun and Congregation Beth Israel in Houston on March 15 and 16. Ellenson, chancellor-emeritus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the Reform movement’s seminary, was named interim president after the death of his successor, Rabbi Aaron Panken, in a plane crash last year. Since 2007, Eisen has served as the seventh chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, the Conservative movement’s seminary. Across three events, the two leaders engaged in conversations entitled “The State of Our Union: Jews and Judaism in America Today,” ”The Future of American Judaism” and “Who We Are, What We Stand For, How We Lead.” The weekend was coordinated as a way to highlight the work of ISJL, said Macy Hart, ISJL founder and president emeritus. “We serve a 13-state Southern territory, and people think of us as primarily serving the smallest of Jewish communities — but our biggest footprint is in Texas; communities like Houston, where there are tremendous local resources, but also still such a need for the Judaic support, programming and connections the ISJL provides.” In Houston, around 1,000 Jewish students take advantage of the Institute’s educational opportunities, and the Institute’s cultural programming department has also been active there. Hart added that having distinguished leaders of the Reform and Conservative movements shows “we’re trans-denominational and work with diverse Jewish partners.” The Shabbat evening program at Beth Israel, which included a seated meal, was sold out with a waiting list. The morning luncheon and evening Havdalah discussion took place at Beth Yeshurun. Over 600 attended the weekend’s events.

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ISJL President Michele Schipper, Rabbi David Ellenson, Arnold M. Eisen, Macy Hart 20

April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life


m i t z va h s w e d d i ng s f i n e stat i on e ry

Ala. Holocaust Commission condemns Rep. Brooks’ “Mein Kampf” remarks The Alabama Holocaust Commission and numerous allies stated that they “strongly condemn” the March 25 remarks by U.S. Rep. Mo Brooks of Alabama, where he quoted portions of Adolf Hitler’s “Mein Kampf ” in a speech on the U.S. House floor. Brooks was speaking about special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation on whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. He said that for two years, “socialist Democrats and their fake news media allies… have perpetrated the biggest political lie, con, scam and fraud in American history,” referring to the accusations of collusion as “a Big Lie.” Brooks has continued to use the “Big Lie” theme in subsequent television and radio appearances, and in further remarks on the House floor. In his March 25 speech, he quoted “from another Socialist who mastered ‘big lie’ propaganda to maximum, and deadly, effect,” reading a passage from “Mein Kampf ” that spoke of how the masses more easily fall victim to a big lie than a small one. He concluded, “America can either learn from history or be doomed to repeat it. When it comes to ‘Big Lie’ political propaganda in America, as the Mueller report confirms, America’s Socialists and their fake news media allies are experts and have no peers,” and Americans must reject them “or succumb to the danger that lurks, and horrific damage that results.” In “Mein Kampf,” though, Hitler uses the term “big lie” to describe a Jewish “unqualified capacity for falsehood,” saying Jews were spreading the “big lie” in wrongly blaming a top German military commander for its World War I loss. He invoked the “big lie” accusation to portray Jews as deceptive traitors to Germany, making persecution, and later extermination, of Jews a matter of national self-defense. The Alabama Holocaust Commission is a non-partisan organization that was established by the Alabama Legislature in 1999, using “public and private resources to provide Holocaust and genocide education to all Alabamians.” In its response on April 3, the commission said it does not make political statements, but objects to Brooks using “Mein Kampf ” and invoking Hitler’s name “to condemn those with whom he disagrees.” The statement pointed out the origin of the “big lie” concept, adding that Hitler continued by saying Jews “know only too well how to use a falsehood for the basest of purposes. From time immemorial, however, the Jews have known better than any others how falsehood and calumny can be exploited.” The commission said “facile comparisons” like Brooks’ remarks, “used in order to demean opponents and gain political capital, should be actively avoided. Using such rhetoric not only trivializes our past, as well as the victims of this genocide, but also cheapens our current political discourse and maintains a divisive rhetoric all too common at the present time.” The commission’s response concluded with the hope that “our political leaders, whatever their party or political persuasion, should refrain from using Hitler, the Nazis, and the tragedy of the Holocaust in an effort to strengthen their public statements. Should such a strategy become the norm, then we as a society have learned nothing from the ills of the past and open the doors to the possibilities of repetition.” The statement was coordinated by the commission’s chair, Dan Puck-

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ett of Wetumpka, who teaches at Troy University. Commission members and representatives for the Gulf Coast Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education also signed it, along with a list of rabbis, ministers and the executive director of Faith in Action Alabama. David Meola, director of Jewish and Holocaust Studies at the University of South Alabama, signed it, as did renowned Holocaust scholar Rabbi Steven Jacobs, Aaron Aronov Chair of Judaic Studies at the University of Alabama. Many others have also condemned Brooks’ remarks. The Democratic Jewish Coalition of America tweeted that it was “an egregious and deeply offensive example of anti-Semitism once again rearing its head in Congress… Where is the GOP outrage?” The Anti-Defamation League tweeted that “It’s unconscionable for a member of Congress to demonize an opposing party by claiming it’s comparable to Nazism. The vicious Nazi regime was responsible for the murder of 6 million Jews and millions more. This is dangerous and @ RepMoBrooks must apologize.” On the House floor on April 2, Brooks continued using the theme, citing “the economic history of Germany’s Socialist experiment to confirm that Socialism is the mortal enemy of Free Enterprise and that Socialism inevitably replaces freedom, liberty and economic prosperity with government dictatorship, poverty, and death.” He noted that “Socialist Democrats and their fake news media allies” objected to his March 25 remarks, “to explain what the Big Lie Propaganda Tactic is and how horrific the consequences can be for those seduced by it.” He continued, “Germany’s Socialist Party’s Big Lie killed tens of millions of people in the Holocaust and World War II, making it the most horrific and deadly Big Lie in history!” Brooks has referenced “Mein Kampf ” before. At a Madison town hall meeting in 2015, during debate on the Iran nuclear deal that was regarded as a major threat to Israel, Brooks compared Iran’s “really aggressive statements” to Nazi Germany, then asked “Don’t you wish people before World War II had read ‘Mein Kampf ’ and paid attention to it and stopped it from ever happening?”

Brooks slams commission’s statement


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After the commission released its statement, Brooks fired back, saying in an April 3 statement that the commission “refuses to learn from history” and is “condoning” the use of “Big Lie propaganda.” Brooks, in his response, insisted the “Big Lie Propaganda Tactic used by Germany’s Socialist Party… caused horrific damage and is responsible for the deaths of tens of millions of innocent people during the Holocaust and World War II. “The Germany Socialist Party’s use of the Big Lie Propaganda Tactic is history’s most infamous example of the Big Lie Propaganda Tactic’s use,” he added. “As such, its citation is entirely appropriate as a way to learn from history’s mistakes rather than repeat them.” Brooks said that “Rather than attack those who oppose the use of the Big Lie Propaganda Tactic that had such horrific consequences long ago, the Alabama Holocaust Commission should learn from history and condemn its use by Socialist Democrats in America who have claimed, without credible supporting evidence (as determined by the Mueller Report), that President Trump colluded with the Russians to steal the 2016 presidential election.” He said that accusation of collusion “struck at the very heart of our Republic” and should be condemned. He concluded, “The Alabama Holocaust Commission’s bizarre and history-ignoring letter prompts one to wonder how many of the Commission’s members joined America’s Socialist Democrats in undermining the legitimacy of the 2016 presidential election by also spreading the ‘Big Lie,’ without credible evidence, that President Trump colluded with the Russians to steal the 2016 presidential race.”

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Reenie and Leonard Aldes are reunited with Barry Silverman for the first Doo-Wop-Olis performance in many years

A legacy in film: Barry “Gary Mitchell” Silverman honored in Mobile

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The event began with the usual greeting on behalf of the Mobile Symphony Orchestra, reminding everyone about recording devices and cell phones. But laughter rang through the room, as the well-known recording was playing in the sanctuary of Springhill Avenue Temple — and the event wasn’t a concert, it was a tribute to the person who made that recording, and so many others. “The man with the golden voice,” Barry Silverman, received the Joshua Award from the Mobile Area Jewish Federation at the March 16 reception, for his years of service to the community. Silverman was honored for his role as co-founder and coordinator of the Mobile Jewish Film Festival. Co-chair Rickie Voit made the presentation, saying the festival “was really his vision,” and it continues to tough the greater Mobile and Baldwin County community. In 1979, Silverman founded Soundworks, where he writes, produces and engineers. His love of theater and music led him to the film festival world, and when the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life announced it was planning a way to bring Jewish film festivals to smaller communities that would coordinate and share logistics, Silverman was on the way to Mississippi to learn more. Voit said “it didn’t take long before Barry’s creative energy ignited every one of us,” and the Mobile Jewish Film Festival was born. “It is this passion to bring joy through his love of music, film, art and drama that continues to make a wonderful difference in the lives of so many in our community,” Voit said. As Silverman originally came to Mobile to be a radio personality, the legendary Gary Mitchell of WABB-FM, the evening eventually turned into somewhat of an industry retrospective and roast. As Mitchell, Voit said, when he showed up to a restaurant it could take him half an hour to get from the front door to his table. There were numerous jokes during the evening about him being the city’s teen heartthrob during those years, until a couple of women got up to defend… themselves. He has been heavily involved with musical programming at Springhill Avenue Temple, and works on the Holocaust remembrance and Israel Independence Day celebrations. “When we had a JCC, Barry was active through programming,” she said. He has also been active in local theater, especially the Joe Jefferson Players, where he played Pharaoh in “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” She noted that he “literally stopped the show with his April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life



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performance.” Silverman said “I didn’t know I’d be this overwhelmed” by the award. He explained that when he arrived in Mobile, he had no intention of staying. He would get some experience as a radio station program director and move on, as he did in seven previous cities over the past six years. “I wasn’t being run out of town, I was in radio, and that is how you moved up.” Two years later, he had an opportunity in a bigger market — and turned it down. “In those two years we had been here, something happened. We got involved in Mobile,” he said. Though they did not have relatives in Mobile, “we had the kind of family you’re not born into.” He tried his hand at being “the world’s worst Sunday school teacher” at Springhill Avenue, then youth group advisor and working with the music program. Then came the film festival, where he still introduces every film each year. The first festival had three films, this year there were 10 scattered across numerous venues. Each year, a Holocaust-themed film is screened for area schools, reaching about 2500 students. “It is very important to us,” he said, adding that most communities with Jewish film festivals do not have that component. The festival has an added benefit of “building bridges and bringing people together.” He said good movies “make you care, make you believe in what is possible again,” and he hopes the festival will “educate and entertain” for many more years. Jerry Darring, curator of the Alabama Gulf Coast Holocaust Library, said from his perspective through Christian-Jewish dialogue and Holocaust education, Silverman “has always impressed me as a beautiful example of Torah integrity, faithfulness to Jewish identity, respect for everyone, and dedication to tikkun olam.” Donald Berry, co-director of the Gulf Coast Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education, said he “has the demeanor to match his velvet voice — relating to others with respect and courtesy in terms of family, Temple and his many community volunteer efforts. He has helped to build the Mobile Jewish Film Festival into the prominent regional event we experienced this year.” After the ceremony, Rabbi Steven Silberman of Ahavas Chesed led a group Havdalah before the reception. Silberman noted the award is named for Joshua. While Moses was more prominent, it was Joshua who led the Israelites into the Promised Land, and “brought us to a new experience of discovery such that we were transformed. Joshua opened our eyes to a beauty we had never anticipated.” The Federation chose that name for the irregularly-presented award to show that “One does not need to be as famous as Moses to influence and uplift a community.” Later in the evening, the microphone was opened… and the evening of laughs was on. Business partner Dennis Gould set the tone by saying “we’re here to bury Barry, not to praise him.” Silverman did commercials for Jack Friedlander, and Friedlander said Silverman “may have been the first hippie in the city.” Nevertheless, Amy Friedlander said Silverman’s singing of Kol Nidre is the best she has ever heard, and she “doesn’t feel it is Yom Kippur without it.” In a letter of praise, Springhill Avenue Rabbi Emeritus Donald Kunstadt echoed that, saying Silverman does Kol Nidre “with more emotion than Neil Diamond.” Adding to the historic occasion, the band was back together as Silverman joined — by “request” — Leonard and Reenie Aldes onstage for the first performance of the legendary trio Doo-Wop-Olis in many years. The Aldes used to be music leaders for the congregation before moving to Arizona.

Melaine Tacchi learns about glassblowing at Ahavas Chesed

Heart and Glass A March 10 glassblowing expo at Mobile’s Ahavas Chesed was more than just a chance to appreciate art — it was a tribute to a life that ended far too soon. The Alexander B. Maisel Memorial Glassblowing Expo was sponsored by Maisel’s parents. He died in June 2012 at the age of 17. An avid fisherman and boater, Maisel also had a passion for art glass. About 25 people reserved a 20-minute session with glassblower Devan Cole, the founder of Hot Glass Academy in Americus, Ga. Rabbi Steven Silberman said he first met Cole at Camp Ramah three years ago, when Cole was doing a demonstration. Cole “has a wonderful style about him and he makes people feel at ease. He literally walks each person through blowing and crafting a piece of glass art.” At the expo, Cole guided participants through heating, coloring, twisting and shaping glass. Maisel’s mother, Melaine Tacchi, provided many of the refreshments that were served. Silberman said the event showed the importance of art as part of congregational and communal life.

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Influx of newcomers helps boost Pensacola’s B’nai Israel as 120th anniversary approaches toppled, and the grounds were in total disarray. As it starts celebrating its 120th anniversary, There were no funds for the upkeep of the cemB’nai Israel Synagogue in Pensacola is rebuild- etery. They learned of other similar situations ing membership with a new rabbi from Queens, where Jewish communities had dwindled or N.Y., Sam Waidenbaum. Little did we know virtually disappeared. Their odyssey led them to visit Mobile in that by interviewing him on Northwest Florida South Alabama and Pensacola in adjacent Talk Radio WEBY (1330-AM) in August 2017 Northwest Florida, which had that it would lead retired New a more benign four seasons. York financial services execuBy accident, they listened to tive with Standard Chartered this writer’s radio interview bank, Morris “Moishe” Wohl, with Waidenbaum while and group and individual driving East on I-10. They travel entrepreneur Nikki virtually turned around and Epstein, both originally from drove to B’nai Israel in PensacBrooklyn, to settle in Mobile ola on a Friday afternoon and and join the shul in Pensacola. Morris “Moishe” Wohl and were fortunate to meet and Wohl is a talented Boro Park Nikki Epstein schmooze for two hours with Brooklyn yeshiva graduate, Waidenbaum about the Jewish fluent Torah and haftorah reader, and Epstein is community in Pensacola. That clinched it. a talented group travel expert and fund raiser. They moved into a home in Mobile, which They came to Pensacola via a Southern Jewthey are in process of renovating and remodish odyssey from their Voorhees, N.J., home to eling. They became members at B’nai Israel in stop first in Bella Vista, Ark. The couple were Pensacola, where Wohl is often called upon for looking for a more sedate and tranquil life in his yeshiva-trained skills. what could be called a Goldilocks climate. They The congregation has an expanding melamed found South Florida a bit on the warm side. base that includes new members. Among them They had children scattered across the country are Dan and Karen Feirman. He is a Coast Guard in the Northeast, Mid-west and one outlier in lieutenant pilot training officer at Whiting Field Brussels. Naval Air Station. Originally from Northern They were interested in becoming part of a Virginia, he served 9 years in the Navy flying community with like-minded interests and preP3s before transferring to the USCG to fly the serving Southern Jewish life. Epstein wanted to HC-144, and now the T-6. leverage her group travel business as a tool to Karen Feirman, originally from Metairie, contribute to the well-being and continuity of currently teaches as an adjunct at the University Southern Jewish communities. of West Florida in the athletic training program. That led them first to Belle Vista, the cultural She has served as a youth director, education suburb of Bentonville, the world headquarters director and B’nai Mitzvah tutor at a variety of of Walmart, endowed by the Walton Family synagogues. with art and music. The weather in northwest Another Brooklyn native is Mitch Goldstein, Arkansas, while having four seasons, was downwho took over as vice president and CFO at right cold in the winter. While there were a Gulf Power following its acquisition by NextEra small number of Jews in Belle Vista, there was Energy. Goldstein is a graduate of both the Unilittle in the way of shared cultural and heritage versity of Pennsylvania Wharton School and experiences. That triggered their odyssey seekHarvard Graduate Business School. He and his ing Southern Jewish communities where they wife Lisa are transplants from Jupiter, Fla. could add value and contribute spiritually and He was attracted to Pensacola by two things in other ways. — a nearly four seasons climate, and hills. They visited relatives in a small Mississippi Goldstein is a world class marathoner who has town where they paid respect at a small Jewish completed events in Boston, New York, Philacemetery. It was run down, headstones were delphia, several in south Florida, Chicago, San Antonio and Berlin. That last included a wonJerry Gordon is president of B’nai Israel derful visit to the old Shul for shabbat. Synagogue in Pensacola, and producer and Dr. Stanley and Rita Mandelbaum moved co-host of the Jerusalem-based Israel News from Roanoke, Va. He joined the Sacred Heart Talk Radio “Beyond the Matrix” program and Health Neurology group, while she has a backa senior editor of The New English Review. ground as an executive with the Roanoke Jewish by Jerry Gordon

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community Federation. These and other new members were attracted by B’nai Israel’s welcoming presence, and Waidenbaum’s classes that include conversion, weekly Torah, Sunday Tefillin and Tallis minyan and Hebrew literacy. The congregation is now deep into the planning stages for the celebra-

June 30 Jewish music concert at UWF to highlight anniversary A centerpiece of the 120th anniversary celebration at Pensacola’s B’nai Israel will be a gala Jewish music concert on June 30 at the University of West Florida’s Center of Fine and Performing Arts. The 2 p.m. event will feature Pensacola native Cantor Moshe Bear, musical director of HaZamir Long Island and hazzan of Temple Gates of Prayer-Shaarei Tefillah in Flushing, N.Y. He was the first singer to perform a concert of Yiddish music at Ellis Island, and was featured in the film “100 Voices.” He will be joined by his son, tenor Nathaniel Bear. They recently performed together at the Lincoln Center. Also performing will be Cantor Amy Goldstein. The daughter of Cantor Jacob Goldstein, she performed with the Goldstein Family Singers in childhood, then pursued opera. She is cantorial soloist of Sinai Free Synagogue in Mount Vernon, N.Y. Bear and Goldstein have performed together at numerous Cantorial Assembly concerts across the country. General admission tickets are $25 and will be available through B’nai Israel. Sponsorships are also available.

tion of its 120th anniversary on the weekend of June 27 to 30, capped by a Gala Jewish Music concert (see sidebar). With a major event comes fundraising, and that is where Epstein’s entrepreneurial talents come in. She earned her entrepreneurial spurs in the super luxury cruise business by leveraging $500 and a desk at a travel agency into a multi-million business. She wants to use that experience to assist B’nai Israel and other Jewish communities in the South. It would entail sharing of revenues from travel bookings and placing them in an account to facilitate the restoration and upkeep of those forlorn Jewish cemeteries that she and Wohl encountered while visiting with relatives in Mississippi, to prevent their history and legacy from disappearing.

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community New pro-Israel PAC includes Sen. Jones in first round of endorsements As controversy and mistaken impressions swirled recently about the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the role it plays in American politics, a new group has been formed to support pro-Israel politicians. Despite its name, AIPAC is not a political action committee, does not endorse or raise funds for candidates. The newly-established bipartisan Pro-Israel America “portal for political action” and Pro-Israel America PAC, on the other hand, does just that — and one of its first endorsements is from Alabama. The PAC was established by Jonathan Missner and Jeff Mendelsohn, two former AIPAC staffers. Mendelsohn was national outreach director for AIPAC, pioneering the group’s outreach to non-Jews. Missner, founder of, joined AIPAC to oversee the regional offices, then became managing director of national affairs. “Pro-Israel America is focused on supporting the election of pro-Israel candidates,” they said. “We endorse specific candidates and have an easy-to-use online portal where our members can support pro-Israel candidates directly.” “We can’t take support for the U.S.-Israel relationship in Congress for granted,” Mendelsohn said. “The best way to strengthen the U.S.-Israel relationship is to elect pro-Israel candidates to Congress, and that requires political action from the thousands of Americans who care deeply about this issue.” “The U.S.-Israel alliance creates enormous benefits for both of our countries,” Missner added. “Pro-Israel America is launching to ensure our fellow Americans understand the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship and have a one-stop-shop for action.” In its first round of endorsements, 27 House and Senate members were named — 13 Republicans and 14 Democrats. Among the endorsements is Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, who pulled off what he called a “Chanukah miracle” in being elected as a Democrat in deep-red Alabama’s 2017 special election. His 2020 race is deemed “highly competitive,” and the PAC says Jones “is committed to advancing the U.S.-Israel relationship. He has voted to advance legislation that would impose sanctions on Syria, increase security cooperation with Israel and oppose the BDS movement.” Additional endorsements are forthcoming, among current members of Congress, and for candidates who are challenging some of the more anti-Israel members.

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Morris the Cat and Duke, the dog from the Bush’s baked beans commercials, are coming to the Bais Ariel Chabad Center in Birmingham. Well, not the animals — but their voices will be there, in the form of comedian Robert Cait, who has been referred to as “the Chosen comedian” and “George Carlin with a Kippah.” But he won’t be using Carlin’s seven words at his May 9 show, as he runs a clean show with observations about 21st century Jewish life. Cait also voices the fighting fish for “Johnny Bravo,” the security guard and Norm the Genie for “Fairly Odd Parents,” Boris Badenov for “Rocky and Bullwinkle,” Colossus on the X-Men cartoon, and several other characters. He is also an actor and screenwriter who has been seen on MTV, A&E and Comedy Central. Tickets to the 7 p.m. show are $18 in advance, $25 at the door. Refreshments will be served, and the event is underwritten by Brenda and Fred Friedman in honor of JAHM Chai Tots Preschool.


Ensuring Continuity of Service Stephen Sontheimer, Billy Henry move to Lake Lawn Metairie With apologies to Joe Walsh of The Eagles, it’s hard to leave when your name’s on the door. But that is exactly what fourth-generation funeral director Stephen Sontheimer and his longtime associate, Billy Henry, have done, leaving Metairie’s Tharp-Sontheimer to assume new roles at Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home and Cemeteries. They have served the community for almost four decades, and on April 2 Lake Lawn announced that Sontheimer is their senior consultant of funeral services, and Henry is executive funeral director. They will offer guidance and support to fami- Stephen Sontheimer lies, organize arrangements for funeral, cemetery and cremation services, and provide professional, expert advice to all patrons of the historic and well-recognized New Orleans funeral home and cemetery. Sontheimer is a fourth-generation funeral director whose family has been involved in funeral service in New Orleans continuously since 1916. He started working in the industry in 1963, the year before he graduated from the Tulane School of Business. He was the former chairman and chief Billy Henry executive officer of Security Industrial Funeral Home Corporation, and for the past 22 years has been a funeral director-consultant associated with Bultman and Tharp-Sontheimer Funeral Homes. “Serving all faiths with compassion and excellent service is a personal priority,” said Sontheimer. “The opportunity to join Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home allows me to continue this mission and to work with the team in providing unparalleled service to our families at the most beautiful and well-located facility in New Orleans.” Sontheimer is a past chapter chairman and member of the Young Presidents Organization, the president of Regional Loan Corporation, president of Jewish Family Service, an early board member at the Contemporary Arts Center and a founding member of Hospice New Orleans. Additionally, he served on the boards of the Tulane University Cancer Center, Cancer Consortium, Touro Infirmary, LCMC Health, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, Jewish Welfare Federation, Touro Synagogue, Hebrew Rest Cemetery and the Anti-Defamation League. Henry is the former general manager of Tharp-Sontheimer Funeral Home, bringing 38 years of local experience to his new role as executive funeral director at Lake Lawn. “I am honored to make this transition with my colleague of many years, Stephen Sontheimer, as we fulfill the mission of serving families who place their trust in us,” said Henry. “We are satisfied that Lake Lawn Metairie has prioritized their efforts in appointing management and funeral directors deeply-rooted within the New Orleans community.” Henry has been a national board licensed funeral director and embalmer since 1973 and is an active community role model with a passion

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community for serving the LGBTQ community of New Orleans. He is the past president and co-founder of Friday Night Before Mardi Gras, Inc., a non-profit fundraising organization providing support for LGBTQ communities. Sontheimer said there have been “a lot of changes in the world of funeral services,” and it was time to make a move for the long-term benefit of the community. After Hurricane Katrina, then-owner Alderwoods Group consolidated operations, closing the Tharp-Sontheimer-Tharp flagship location on South Claiborne Avenue, which opened in 1931, and the Mid-City location, moving operations to the Metairie location in 2006. Sontheimer said it was never his intention to be at what was originally a suburban extension of the main facility, but Metairie became the main focus. Henry said “even though we had a nice place on Causeway, that was never our flagship.” Soon after, Houston-based Service Corporation International purchased Tharp-Sontheimer, and Sontheimer said they have “been very good to us in New Orleans.” In December 2013, SCI acquired Jefferson-based Stewart Enterprises to create the largest funeral company in the country. Due to anti-trust concerns, the Federal Trade Commission required SCI to sell 70 locations in 15 states, including Tharp-Sontheimer and three other New Orleans properties. In May 2014, Houston-based Carriage Services bought the four locations. Lake Lawn was one of the flagship locations for Stewart, Sontheimer said, and it became part of the new SCI. After Tharp-Sontheimer was sold, he and Henry made the difficult decision to relocate, that to better serve the community they needed to make a move, and this was the time to do it. Henry said Lake Lawn “really provides a great venue for us to do what we wanted to do.” Sontheimer said his role is to continue to work with the Jewish community, and train others at Lake Lawn on how to properly serve the Jewish community so everything is set for the next generation. “That was my biggest concern,” he said. “I wasn’t serving my loyal families properly by staying.” They both emphasized the decades of relationships they have with families in the Jewish community, and the desire to better serve them. At Lake Lawn, Henry said, they “will be able to leave the Jewish community in good hands if something ever happens to us.” Henry also mentioned how things have changed in the Jewish community, as so many long-term rabbis have retired in recent years, and next year just about the entire local rabbinate will be relative newcomers. They want to ensure that relationships are maintained, and “we can be their extension and help them any way we can.” Lake Lawn, Sontheimer said, has served many Jewish families over the years, but there is a widespread misperception that the facility is tied exclusively to Metairie Cemetery. He and Henry emphasized that Lake Lawn serves all congregations and all cemeteries in the area. Henry said Lake Lawn is like any free-standing funeral home in that regard. Sontheimer said Lake Lawn has “the finest facility, competitive pricing, the best location and the continuity of understanding the needs of the Jewish community, long after I’m gone.” “We are so pleased to welcome these notable funeral professionals who bring a wealth of experience and have deep ties to the New Orleans community,” said Huey Campbell, New Orleans market director. “We are confident that the reputation and leadership Stephen Sontheimer and Billy Henry offer will strengthen our service and effectively lead us in our mission to best serve the needs of New Orleans families.” Though Sontheimer’s name remains on a different door, “it was very clear to me that it was time to move on.” He has a name and reputation that goes back 100 years in New Orleans, “and that’s a treasure.” 30

April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life


community Place a Flower for Hadar at the Seder table

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April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

While Seders around the world welcome Elijah every year, Birmingham’s Sidney Conn is encouraging people to make room for someone else — Hadar Cohen. This is the fourth year that Conn has made that request to friends, as this is the fourth year that Cohen will not be attending a Seder, having been killed in a 2016 terror attack. In her honor, and to represent all Israel Defense Forces soldiers and civilians who have been lost in terror attacks, Conn urges the placement of a single flower on the Seder table, “A Flower for Hadar.” Conn volunteers with Sar-El, the National Project for Volunteers in Israel. Many of the volunteers do some of the grunt work that would otherwise take time away from training and preparedness for Israeli soldiers. During his 2016 service while his wife, Elenor, was studying at Tel Aviv University, his barracks were overlooking the junction at Gush Etzion, the site of several terror attacks. Cohen grew up in Ohr Yehuda, and had been a border officer for two months. On her first day at the Damascus Gate to Jerusalem, Feb. 3, 2016, her border police team approached two Palestinians who were acting suspiciously. As one officer checked their identification, a second one pulled out a knife and stabbed Ravit, another officer, in the neck. Cohen managed to shoot the assailant, saving the life of her friend. A third terrorist, previously unnoticed and behind Cohen, opened fire with an automatic weapon, critically wounding Cohen in the head. She was rushed to Hadassah Medical Center, where she later died of her wounds. She was 19. The team was credited with stopping a major terror attack that was intended to inflict many casualties. The next day, novelist Naomi Ragen penned a tribute, saying Cohen “saved my life, and the lives of so many others who live in Jerusalem.” Though Conn did not know the Cohens, news of her death made a huge impression. At Sar-El, some soldiers were tasked with guiding the foreign volunteers. The Madrichot are “some of the finest girls you’re ever going to meet,” Conn said. Many are Lone Soldiers, who go to Israel to serve in the military despite not having any family in the country to serve as a support structure. “These kids are the brightest of the bright,” he said, and they were roughly the same age as Cohen. Returning home in 2016, Conn sent letters asking friends to have a “Flower for Hadar” on the Seder table.


He has been back to Israel several times since then. On one visit, he brought two polished stones that he had picked up at DeSoto Falls in Alabama, for his visit to the cemetery. “We can’t seem to get Hadar’s self-sacrifice out of our hearts and minds, nor are we trying to do so,” he said. During one service project near Ohr Yehuda, he met someone who knew the Cohens, and the connection was made. They are “the sweetest, nicest people,” Conn said. Because they are in their mid-40s, “they have a lot of years to be carrying this.” This year, Conn is expanding his effort. He is working to establish a foundation, also called “A Flower for Hadar,” to raise funds that will go toward scholarships for the Madrichot for their studies after their military service. He said many of them do not have families who are able to help them with their studies, so this will be a way to give back to them. He noted that Sar El has agreed to identify those who are candidates for the assistance. He is currently organizing the foundation and wants “to hit the road running” when it is launched.


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Lost Bayou Ramblers to lead more collaborative JazzFest Shabbat

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April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

While there was uncharacteristic uncertainty over the headliner of this year’s New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, there has been no such turmoil at Touro Synagogue, as the Grammy-winning Lost Bayou Ramblers will headline the 28th annual JazzFest Shabbat, with special guest Aurora Nealand. The April 26 service has become a tradition during JazzFest, attracting congregants and tourists alike, along with some of the biggest names in jazz. The Panorama Jazz Band, Cantor Kevin Margolius and the Touro Synagogue Choir will also be featured, under the direction of Terry Maddox. The 7:30 p.m. service is free and open to the community, with first-come first-served seating when the doors open at 6:45 p.m. For anyone unable to attend in person, there will be a Livestream at “Jazz Fest Shabbat has been an opportunity for us to celebrate the synagogue’s long history here in New Orleans,” Margolius said, “and to celebrate how deeply engaged our congregation is with this fantastic city.” Margolius said there will be more musical collaboration this year. The Lost Bayou Ramblers will play along with several of the traditional liturgical songs, and “Mi Chamocha” will be done to the tune of one of their songs. Nealand is a member of the Panorama Jazz Band and will be a featured soloist during the service, and will join with the Lost Bayou Ramblers for their concert. Lost Bayou Ramblers began in 1999 in the Lafayette area as brothers Andre and Louis Michot performed the roots Cajun music they learned in Les Freres Michot, the band their father and uncles formed in the 1980s. They have released nine albums, with a Grammy nomination for the 2007 “Live a la Blue Moon.” Their 2012 album, “Mammoth Waltz,” included guest artists Gordon Gano, Scarlett Johansson and Dr. John, and was named No. 2 in the “Top 21 Louisiana Albums of the 21st Century” by the Times-Picayune. That year, they also provided music for the Oscar-nominated “Beasts of the Southern Wild.” Their newest album, “Kalenda,” celebrates the history and cultural diversity of Kalenda, a Caribbean dance, Louisiana rhythm, Cajun rock and roll song and woman’s name, which crosses the black and white, and Creole-Cajun divides. It won the Best Regional Roots Music Album Grammy. Nealand grew up in California listening to Preservation Hall Jazz Band recordings, then after Oberlin College she wound up in New Orleans in 2004, performing as a vocalist and on saxophone and clarinet. She started a traditional jazz band, The Royal Roses, in 2010, and frequently appeared on “Treme.” She is seen as a leader in the revival of traditional jazz. For those who want to get the party started early, there will be a patron’s dinner and fundraiser starting at 6 p.m. Patron levels start at $175 and include VIP seating for the service. The $300 level includes the group’s Grammy-winning album “Kalenda,” the $500 level includes an

community Maddox to lead Springhill Avenue Temple concert of Reform music history

autographed JazzFest Shabbat poster, and the $1,000 level throws in two single-day passes to JazzFest. Limited edition autographed posters will also be available at the service, for $50. Mobile’s Springhill Avenue Temple has a long and celebrated history of This will also be the first Jazz Fest Shabbat in the newly-renovated main musical influence in Reform Judaism. That history will be an element of sanctuary. While there are many reasons to celebrate the community’s heritage, the congregation’s Scholar in Residence program on April 28, “Examples Margolius said “most of all, it’s Shabbat, and I can’t think of a better way of Musical Development and Influence in Reform Judaism.” The 5 p.m. concert will be directed by Terry Maddox, music director of to enjoy the day than with Jazz Fest Shabbat.” Touro Synagogue in New Orleans and the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Biloxi. He also is an adjunct professor at Spring Hill College. He will conduct a Massed Choir, comprised of members from the Mobile Vocal Arts Choral Society, the Biloxi “Gloria in Excelsis” Choral Society and the Touro Synagogue Choir. Guest artists include Tyler Smith and Betsy Uschkrat of Loyola University of New Orleans, Jacob Patrick from the University of Mobile, and Kathryn Domyan of New Orleans. They will be joined by Jessie Reeks, organist of the St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, and Santiago Zorrilla de San Martin on String Bass. The program and lecture will share examples of choral works that reflect the changes that have influenced worship and social culture. Selections will go from the Baroque period to the beginning of the Reform movement, and the influence of pop, Broadway and Jazz on Jewish musical literature. Featured selections will include Charles Davidson, Louis Lewandowski, Salamone Rossi, Debbie Friedman, Kurt Weill, Johnny Mercer and Ziggy Elman. There will be a dinner following the program. Reservations for the dinner and the performance are $10 and are requested by April 26, payment Drive Thru: Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge sold over 2300 sandwiches can be made in advance or at the door. at its annual Corned Beef Sandwich Sale, March 15 to 17.

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April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life


community Holocaust remembrances in the region

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April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

Temple Emanu-El, the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center, and two other Southern communities, Augusta and Savannah, have partnered to bring Alexandra Senfft to speak. She will be at Emanu-El on April 25 at 5:45 p.m., presenting “The Long Shadow of the Perpetrators: The Nazi in My Family.” Her book, “Silence Hurts: A German Family History” won the German Best Biography Award. In it, she details the story of her grandfather, Hanns Ludin, who was executed as a war criminal 70 years ago for his actions while serving as the Third Reich ambassador to Slovakia. Her book will also be published in Slovakia soon. Hanns Ludin signed deportation orders for Slovakian Jews, sending them to Auschwitz, while convincing the Slovakian authorities of the necessity of the deportations and providing them with diplomatic cover stories. Senfft’s uncle, Malte Ludin, produced a film about his father, “2 or 3 Things I Know About Him” in 2005, where he detailed his father’s wartime legacy and his siblings’ persistent denial about it. One of those siblings was Erika, Senfft’s mother, who was at boarding school at age 14 when she learned that her father had been executed. Hanns Ludin’s widow maintained the family story that he had been innocent, a “victim of his era,” and his crimes were dismissed and never spoken of. When Senfft, who considered her grandfather a “detestable Nazi,” would ask her mother, she would cry, make excuses and indicate this was not a topic for discussion. Erika killed herself at age 64. As she tried to discover the truth about her grandfather, Senfft lost relationships with both friends and relatives. But she also gained new and supportive friendships, such as with the visionary Israeli psychology professor and filmmaker Dan Bar-On, who died in 2008. Like Bar-On, Selfft is deeply involved with dialogue and conciliation. She believes in the words of Rabbi Albert Friedlander that, “It’s not for me to forgive and I cannot forget; but we must live together anyway.” After completing a Master’s in Middle Eastern Studies, and German and English literature, Senfft became an observer for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine, eventually becoming its spokesperson. Since 1991 she has been an independent journalist for German publications. She has also published “Strange Enemy, so far: Encounters with Palestinians and Israelis,” and “The Long Shadow of the Perpetrators: Descendants Face their Nazi Family History.” Birmingham’s community Yom HaShoah commemoration will be on May 2 at 6:30 p.m., at Temple Beth-El. It will feature “Stories Remembered and Retold: The Stories of Deceased Holocaust Survivors As Told By Their Local Descendants.” Huntsville’s Yom HaShoah presentation will be on May 1 at 6:30 p.m., at The Rock Family Worship Center. James Sedlis of Birmingham will speak about his father, Gabriel Sedlis, who was in the Vilna ghetto but avoided being sent to concentration camps as his grandfather ran the ghetto’s hospital. Because Gabriel Sedlis spoke German, he was given numerous artistic projects, such as painting portraits of German officers. He then realized his artistic talents could be used for forgery, and made documents to help Jewish families escape the ghetto. He then joined the resistance movement. Mobile’s community commemoration will be on May 1 at 7 p.m., at Ahavas Chesed.


Riva Hirsch speaks at AUM in Montgomery The State of Alabama’s annual Holocaust commemoration will be April 30 at 11 a.m. at the Old House Chamber in Montgomery, with Auburn basketball coach Bruce Pearl as the keynote speaker. There will also be a proclamation by Governor Kay Ivey, and a luncheon following. The gathering, the oldest state commemoration in the nation, is coordinated by the Alabama Holocaust Commission. Montgomery’s community interfaith memorial service will be May 5 at 3:30 p.m. at Temple Beth Or. On April 11 at 9:30 a.m., the annual commemoration at Auburn University at Montgomery was held, with talks from two Holocaust survivors, Max Herzel and Riva Hirsch of Birmingham. The annual event started in 1996 in Selma under the leadership of Sheila Guidry, then moved to Montgomery in 2001. Without her at the helm, the event was on hiatus for two years, but after the emotions of local memorials from last October’s Pittsburgh synagogue massacre, faculty members decided to revive it, with Guidry as an advisor.

The annual Baton Rouge commemoration will be held at B’nai Israel on April 28 at 4 p.m. There will be a memorial service and recognition of the 2019 Holocaust essay contest winners.

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Author Georgia Hunter will be the keynote speaker at this year’s New Orleans Yom Ha’Shoah community-wide memorial program, May 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Uptown Jewish Community Center. The annual memorial program remembers and honors local survivors while educating the public about the Holocaust and teaching the importance of tolerance. It is free and open to the community. During the program, students from the Donald R. Mintz Youth Leadership Mission of the Anti-Defamation League will be recognized, and the 14th Annual Educator of the Year award will be presented to Paul Distler, a social studies teacher at Cabrini High School, for the outstanding work he has done integrating Holocaust education into the curriculum. A dessert reception will follow the program. Hunter’s best-selling debut novel, “We Were the Lucky Ones,” is the extraordinary true story of one Jewish family separated at the start of World War II, determined to survive — and to reunite. The book is based upon her relatives’ experiences during the war. It will be available for purchase and signing after the event.

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Shreveport’s 36th annual Holocaust remembrance service will be on May 5 at 3 p.m., at the Broadmoor United Methodist Church. Beth Israel in Jackson will hold a Holocaust memorial service on May 1 at 6:30 p.m., with guest speaker Dan Puckett of Troy University. Puckett chairs the Alabama Holocaust Commission, is past president of the Southern Jewish Historical Society and is author of “In the Shadow of Hitler: Alabama Jews, the Second World War, and the Holocaust.”

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• April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life



Celebrating Israel’s 71th Birthday

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In Birmingham, the Levite Jewish Community Center will host a Yom Ha’Atzmaut Festival on May 5 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. There will be live music, food and beverages for purchase, children’s activities and inflatables, and more. The event is open to the community and is co-sponsored by many local Jewish institutions. Meanwhile, The Friedman Family Foundation’s Jewish Food and Culture Festival, which was held last May for Israel’s independence day, has been switched to the fall, and will take place at the LJCC in Birmingham on Sept. 8 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The festival will include the When Pigs Fly kosher barbecue competition. The Mobile Area Jewish Federation is coordinating “Celebrate Israel,” May 5 from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Ahavas Chesed. The festival will include children’s activities, hot dogs, a Western Wall and more. There will be a Split the Pot raffle, tickets are $5 or five for $20. Face painting will be done by Dawn Howard-McEnery, who is donating her services in memory of Terri There was an Israel booth at the Mobile Grodsky. International Festival in November The Above and Beyond Yoga Center will hold a Krav Maga self-defense demonstration at 12:30 p.m. Admission is free, and the celebration is open to the community. The Jewish Federation of Central Alabama will have IsraelFest 2019 on May 19 at the RSA Activity Center in downtown Montgomery. There will be a live band, children’s activities, Israeli merchandise, a cash bar, Israeli cuisine from Eli’s Jerusalem Grill in Birmingham and a silent auction. Tickets are $18 for adults, $7 for ages 6 to 13, and free for under 6. Pre-booking is needed as there is limited seating. Israel Independence Day will be celebrated at the Uptown Jewish Community Center in New Orleans with a live concert by Dganit Daddo, who is known for her beautiful Ladino songs and mix of traditional Jewish and contemporary Israeli music. A native of Akko, Daddo is a member of Israel’s National Theatre, Habima, and has played all over the world. She also does concerts specifically designed for those with special needs and disabilities. The May 8 program begins at 6 p.m. with a brief Yom HaZikaron ceremony, led by members of the New Orleans Jewish Clergy Council. The Yom Ha’atzmaut celebration follows at 6:30 p.m. as students from the Jewish Community Day School join Daddo onstage before the concert to sing “Hatikvah.” Israeli dishes will be provided by Dvash Catering, including shwarma, hummus, baba ganosh, Israeli salad and chicken nuggets, and there will also be birthday cake. The evening is free and open to the community. Tulane Hillel is holding its Israel Fest on April 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Bruff Quad. There will be free t-shirts to the first 150 guests, tiedye, an obstacle course, a camel, Jewish jewelry making, Dead Sea mud, opportunities to volunteer for humanitarian projects, Israeli music and food.


April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

community Israeli Tech Village debuts at Conexx gala The Atlanta-based Conexx: America Israel Business Connector will celebrate its 18th annual gala with the debut of the Israeli Tech Village. The Village will be in the atrium of the Atlanta History Center during the May 21 event. It will feature Israeli companies displaying their newest technologies in a range of areas, including financial tech, cybersecurity, smart cities and mobility, and healthcare. Guests are invited to come ahead of the program to interact with the displays while enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Conexx connects Americans and Israelis through business, boosting economic development through mutually-beneficial relationships and partnerships. In the U.S., Conexx concentrates on Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee and the Carolinas. Since its inception 25 years ago, the organization has been involved in completed transactions valued at over $1 billion. The Tom Glaser Leadership Award will be presented to Oded Shorer, director of economy and commerce at the Consulate General of Israel to the Southeast U.S.; and Jorge Fernandez, recently-retired vice president of global commerce for the Metro Atlanta Chamber. In addition, Conexx will present awards for Israeli Company of the Year, U.S. Company of the Year, Deal of the Year and Community Partner. The Tom Glaser Leadership Award recognizes the achievements of an individual who has provided inspirational and strong leadership in furthering the cause of U.S.-Israel business and economic relationships. This award is given to someone who is “an exemplary community ambassador, demonstrates a passion for Israel, is unparalleled in relationship building, has pioneered deals and reflects the mission of Conexx.” Fernandez has travelled to Israel multiple times on Conexx expeditions and to overseas conferences with the goal of furthering metro Atlanta’s reputation in Israel and to bring Israeli companies to metro Atlanta. He has met with over 100 Israeli companies and was instrumental in attracting companies to metro Atlanta such as Landa Printing, Itamar Medical and Ironscales. He also played a significant role in the establishment of the GCMI and Rambam Biomedical Digital Health Innovation Center. Shorer has pioneered match making in financial technology, cybersecurity, healthcare and logistics throughout the Southeast U.S. and was instrumental in the memorandum of understanding between Atlanta’s Hartsfield Jackson

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Ray Brandt Auto Group steers significant growth by Lee J. Green Driven by a commitment to serve its customers and treat employees like family, the Ray Brandt Auto Group has grown from one Datsun dealership in 1983 to the sixth-largest privately-owned company in New Orleans. “We care a great deal about our customers and our employees. They always come first,” said COO Todd Dempster, who has been with the company for 26 years. “We’re really an open-book company. It’s about valuing people and the importance of a relationship.” With the opening of Ray Brandt Nissan in D’Iberville, Miss., the company’s portfolio now includes 20 brands in the New Orleans area as well as south Mississippi, with lines represented including Chrysler, Dodge, Hyundai, Fiat, Infiniti, Genesis, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Porsche, Ram, Toyota, Volkswagen, Jeep, Kia and Chevrolet. Brandt’s first dealership location is now a body shop for the company. The Ray Brandt Auto Group has earned many accolades, including the J.D. Power Dealer of Excellence recently, Porsche Premier Dealer, Nissan Global Award of Excellence, Infiniti Circle of Excellence, Mercedes Best of the Best and the Toyota Presidents Award. In 2016, they were named the Louisiana Automobile Dealers Association’s Dealer of the Year. Brandt grew up in South Louisiana, attended Loyola University where he earned BBA, MBA and JD degrees. He is a lawyer and a CPA, and is the chairman of the Motor Vehicle Commission for the State of Louisiana, which regulates dealers and manufacturers in the state. He is also treasurer and chairman of the finance committee of the National World War II Museum, and was recently the 2019 King of the Mardi Gras parade in Washington. Brandt also serves on the board of directors with the University of New Orleans Foundation, Holy Cross College Advisory Board, Louisiana Auto Dealer Board and Nissan National Advisory Board. Brandt and his wife, Jessica, years ago created the Ray and Jessica Brandt Family Foundation to aid in the education of the underprivileged of the greater New Orleans area and to support many organizations that promote better education throughout the community, as well as the American Heart Association and the Race for The Cure. He also is a frequent contributor to the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. “From my very humble beginnings, I learned the importance of hard work, helping the underprivileged, and always striving to make our community a better place for all citizens to live and prosper,” he said. “My dear mother, who died from breast cancer when I was 17, is the greatest influence in my life. Everything that I strive to be is driven by her teachings.


April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life


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Breman opens Houdini exhibition by Lee J. Green For some Jewish magic, “Inescapable: The Life and Legacy of Harry Houdini” appears starting April 14 at the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta. The original exhibition explores the life and legacy of the world’s most famous magician. It features artifacts, photos and archival records showcasing the story of how Hungarian Jewish immigrant Ehrich Weiss transformed himself into an international superstar. “It gives visitors a deeper understanding of how the Houdini story fits into the saga of Jewish immigration of the late 19th century and how the technological innovations of his time enabled his rise to stardom,” said Leslie Gordon, executive director of the Breman Museum. Houdini’s family immigrated to Appleton, Wisc., and his father was a rabbi. Sections in the exhibition range from a focus on his early years as a young immigrant working odd jobs to his transformation in becoming a full-time magician, going beyond his public persona and exploring his personal life — from family to his dedication to community service. “Setting the Stage” describes the struggles of Houdini’s early life and the difficulties faced by his father, with artifacts including a Hebrew Bible that belonged to Rabbi Weiss. The “Self Liberator” section features a display of reproduction posters, photos and press clippings, along with original apparatus that Houdini used in his performances. “On the Cutting Edge” details his exploration into new technologies, and features clips from his film career, as well as a chance to listen to a rare recording of his voice. “Houdini’s Third Act: Exposing Frauds” showcases his crusade against deceptive spiritual mediums. “The Final Bow/Curtain Call” sets the record straight on the events that led to his death and explores the séances his wife conducted to contact him. Throughout the exhibition, visitors can try out some of Houdini’s magic tricks, including the world’s smallest version of Houdini’s biggest illusion — making a five-ton elephant “vanish.” Opening day activities include a magic presentation and tour by Baltimore-based curator David London, himself a magician who was inspired by Houdini. There will be a series of Magical Mondays for children, and the Houdini’s Magic Block Party family event on July 21. Rabbi Joe Prass will discuss “Magic and Monotheism” on June 12, and on May 26 there will be an interview with Holocaust survivor Werner Reich on magic in the death camps. For a calendar of programs, lectures, parties and other events tied in with the Houdini exhibition, go to The exhibit runs through Aug. 11.

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April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life


community Ramah Darom expanding footprint with property purchase Almost 25 years after land was purchased for the establishment of Ramah Darom, the Conservative movement’s summer camp, the camp is poised to take a step that would facilitate the camp’s expansion. In 1996, the defunct Tumbling Waters girls’ nature camp was purchased near Clayton, Ga., and transformed into Ramah Darom. Former owners Susan Rogers and Catherine Sales continued to live on 45 acres across Persimmon Road. Wally Levitt, the new CEO of Ramah Darom, said “our staff often spotted them coming down the driveway on their golf cart to collect the mail.” Levitt noted that “our founders always envisioned a day when Ramah Darom would operate on both sides of Persimmon Road.” When the camp property was purchased, a clause in the deed of sale gave Ramah the right of first refusal if the additional 45 acres were to become available. Through the efforts of Eric Singer, son of Ramah co-founder Sol Singer, Effie Spielman and Fred Levick, in May Ramah will take ownership of the additional acreage. Currently, the property has two large guest houses, a “heritage home” built in 1897 and a lot of undeveloped land. “Once the acquisition is complete Ramah Darom will occupy almost 200 acres in Clayton, surrounded by National Forest land,” Levitt said. A targeted fundraiser has been established to pay for the property, and an anonymous donor is matching every dollar, one-to-one. The Ramah board has formed a strategic planning committee, chaired by Vice President Elise Lipoff-Mayer, to “establish long-term objectives for the next phase of growth of Ramah Darom and as part of that process, look at opportunities to develop the new land.” Levitt added that all options are on the table. In addition to the summer camp program, Ramah Darom has a yearround kosher retreat center that hosts activities for congregations and communities, Limmud Atlanta, family gatherings and a Passover retreat.

Judaea opening large new arts center The Leon Levine Foundation has awarded $500,000 to Camp Judaea in Hendersonville, N.C., to support the building of a new Arts Center. The new center will be named the Leon Levine Arts Center and will replace the current arts space, which the camp has outgrown. “The foundation’s generous grant will enable CJ to realize its dream of building a first class dedicated Arts Center. Our arts program continues to gain popularity each year and having this amazing facility will benefit generations of campers,” said Camp Judaea Board Chair Sam Levy. When asked about the Foundation’s decision to make this gift, Tom Lawrence, executive director of TLLF, remarked: “We’re honored to partner with Camp Judaea by investing in the new Arts Center, and, ultimately, future Jewish communities. We see this Arts Center as a safe place for young people to have meaningful Jewish experiences that will shape the expression of their faith for years to come.” In 2013, Camp Judaea began the process of revitalizing the omanut (arts and crafts) program. The decision to focus on improving this program not only came from the desire to enhance the Judaics component of the camp’s mission, but also to meet the creative development needs of campers who are not receiving extensive arts education in schools due to underfunding or budget cuts. As the curriculum developed in sophistication and the numbers of campers increased, it became apparent that CJ’s current program space could no longer meet the camp’s needs. The new center will open this summer, tripling the size of the camp’s current arts space and expand program offerings. Plans include a woodshop, ceramics studio, general arts and crafts space, and a general open studio. 42

April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

community Alscan Inc. keeps up with the changes in security by Lee J. Green Much has changed in the 28 years since Alscan Inc. started providing security services primarily to businesses, especially as it pertains to automation, mobile control and monitoring, and the need for cyber security. “The biggest changes have been how information is transmitted from point A to point B; the quality of the video and the enhanced level of automation,” said Alscan Founder/Owner Ed Goldberg. “Back then it was mostly information stored on tape with much-less-detailed video images.” Goldberg, whose son Marc runs Alscan’s Atlanta office, said the whole security industry has become much more sophisticated. Analytics can be programmed in to recognize a form or shape. Access control systems have advanced as well. “You can have access and restrict access for anything you want,” he said. Mobile monitoring and control has been perhaps the greatest advancement in security the past 10 years, Goldberg said. Everything can be downloaded to a laptop or cell phone. Someone can monitor a business or home from anywhere, as well as remotely turn on and off lights, heating and air conditioning, and lock or unlock doors. “The sophisticated systems put eyes wherever you want eyes,” he said. “These conveniences of monitoring and function-control can be built into a system.” Security today is much more than protecting people and property. With computers and the internet, it involves securing intellectual property and other valuable information stored on computers and networks. “Generally, we build closed networks so we’re not taking up everyone’s broadband space. It’s protection without compromising data,” said Goldberg. Alscan primarily works with commercial businesses and organizations, but has provided integrated home security solutions to corporate and organizational leaders as well as systems for condominium and apartment developments. Goldberg said that Georgia Power and Alabama Power make up approximately 60 percent of Alscan’s business. They do provide security for the Levite Jewish Community Center in Birmingham and early this year will embark on a significant enhancement to the Center’s security systems. “Today we can offer a higher level of security and convenience to the customers. That leads to greater peace of mind,” he said.

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New JLI course discusses role of prayer What is the role of prayer and spiritual experience in Judaism? The new Rohr Jewish Learning Institute course deals with that topic, in “With All My Heart.” The Chabad course will explore prayer not as a ritual but as a contemplative tool, discuss the mystical power of prayer, the role of guided meditation in appreciating nature, transcending toward the infinite, letting go and the power of individual contemplation as shared in a communal setting. In New Orleans, the course will run on six Tuesdays from May 7 to June 11 at the Chabad Jewish Center in Metairie. Options are 10:30 a.m. to noon or 7:30 to 9 p.m. Registration is $70, including the textbook, with a 10 percent discount before April 30, or for past JLI students or couples. The first class can be sampled without charge. As of press time, details had not been announced for other communities in the region. April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life


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The movie is presented by the North Louisiana Jewish Federation, Amy Quinn and Mary Beth Muslow. It depicts a concentration camp commandant’s 8-year-old son, who befriends a Jewish boy his age through the barbed wire. The fourth annual Habitat for Humanity Interfaith Build will be May 4 to 12 in Pensacola. Temple Beth El is among the congregations providing volunteers of all skill levels and abilities. Birmingham’s Knesseth Israel is hosting conversational Hebrew classes, with an eight-week beginner’s course on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m., starting May 2, and a 10-week Level 1 course on Sundays at 4:30 p.m., starting on May 5. For the beginner’s class, no prior Hebrew knowledge is needed, and the cost is $200 plus book. For the Level 1 class, there should be some Hebrew-reading ability, and cost is $250 plus book.

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Rabbi Jordan Goldson is teaching a Beginners Hebrew class at B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge, meeting for eight Thursdays at noon, starting on May 2. Those unable to attend in person can take the course through online streaming, or view a recording of the class at a different time. Registration is $10. The next Old Fashioned Judaism at Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge is May 25 at 7:30 p.m. The event is hosted in private homes, contact the congregation for details. Laurie Berenson Maas of Baton Rouge will be the keynote speaker at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s On The Move Luncheon, May 9 at noon at the Roosevelt Hotel in New Orleans. In August 2005, just before Katrina hit, she was diagnosed with MS. In 2016, she completed her first full Ironman competition, in Canada, finishing in 16 hours, 32 minutes. Hadassah Birmingham invites the community to “Get Your Mahj On,” at a Mah Jongg event on April 30. There will be mixing, mingling, munchies and a signature Mah Jongg cocktail. Proceeds from the evening will go toward Hadassah’s diabetes research. Participants can arrange their own tables or join other tables, and there will be a beginner’s table and coaching. Reservations are $21 and must be received by April 26. The event will be at the Levite Jewish Community Center, doors open at 6 p.m., with gaming from 6:30 to 9 p.m. The Above and Beyond Yoga Center in Mobile will have a Krav Maga self-defense class, May 4 at 2 p.m. Registration is $30. Pensacola’s Temple Beth El is one of seven congregations coordinating an interfaith blood drive, April 28 from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. One location will be the corner of Palafox and Wright, while the other will be near the Basilica of St. Michael. Men’s Club Shabbat at Temple Beth Or in Montgomery will feature guest speakers Phil Ensler and Tzlil McDonald of the Jewish Federation of Central Alabama, May 3 at 6 p.m. A wine and cheese reception will precede the service, at 5:15 p.m.

Southern Jewish Life

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April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

community >> Rear Pew Mirror

even easier to believe what Moses told him happened than Moses himself did. And Moses had been there! That made it easier to believe in what Moses might be able to do. The slave parted ways with Moses, to go back to find his family. He told Moses that whatever road he goes walking down, he’ll be walking alongside of him. The old true Moses. Moses went on to a life of considerable trouble and considerable joy. And that’s how things fell out. He could have gone back to the palace of the Pharaoh’s daughter who adopted him, but he couldn’t stand it. He’d been there before. Doug Brook attempted to find a plot in this narrative, and was shot. To read past columns, visit For exclusive online content, like

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International Airport and the Israel Airports Authority. Networx will be recognized as the Israeli Company of the Year. Founded seven years ago, Networx connects home improvement contractors with customers and recently doubled its staff. The headquarters is now in the Buckhead area of Atlanta, with tech support and R&D in Israel. The U.S. Company of the Year is Change Healthcare. In 2004, Conexx introduced McKesson to an Israeli company, Medcon, a cardiac diagnostic digital image management solutions firm. That introduction resulted in a $105 million acquisition. The former Medcon now serves as the R&D arm of Change Healthcare, a leading global healthcare services and information technology company. Change Healthcare was recently awarded $5.5 million by the Israel Innovation Authority as part of an initiative to expand Israel’s digital health ecosystem. Change Healthcare will increase its presence in Israel, to expand its Israeli development centers and to collaborate with the Israeli digital health community. The Deal of the Year and Partner of the Year awards were not released before press time. Registration and networking begin at 6 p.m., and the awards program and progressional buffet dinner start at 7:15 p.m. Tickets are $155, or $1800 for a reserved table of 10.

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Casablanca in Metairie hosted cookbook author Paula Shoyer, author of “The Healthy Jewish Kitchen,” for “Not Your Bubbe’s Seder: Passover Goes Hip and Healthy,” on March 14. A portion of the proceeds from the dinner and presentation went to the Jewish Family Service Bruce Levy Memorial JFS Passover Food Basket Program. April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life


rear pew mirror • doug brook

The Adventures of Huckleberry Moses You don’t know about Moses, without you have read a book by the name of Exodus, but that ain’t no matter. The way the book winds up is this — Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt, into the desert, and to the Promised Land that he gets to see but never enter himself. Moses was born in Egypt at a time when all Jewish newborn boys were instantly put to death. Moses’ mother put him in a basket and sent him down the river before he, too, could get sent up the river. Pharaoh’s daughter found him and raised him as her own. Later on Moses grew up and did all his savioring and all that, but a lot happened in between. You might have read where Moses one day, growing up in the palace, encountered a taskmaster beating an Israelite slave. Moses stopped the taskmaster, not only from beating the slave but also from everything else. He’d killed him. Moses panicked because there could be trouble from what happened, so he and the slave ran off. They found a raft and started to journey on the river toward Cairo. They hoped to get there and set the record straight about what happened. In a stop along the way, Moses found out that he could be in real trouble for killing the taskmaster — especially for running away after it happened. What’s worse, he heard there was also speculation that Moses had disappeared because the slave killed both the taskmaster and Moses. Moses and the slave rushed to continue on the river. They accidentally drifted past Cairo and at that point just kept coasting along the huge river that ran right through the middle of the country. The river was peaceful and kept to itself, and so did its creatures. Not an animal was out of place. There was hardly even a jumping frog to be found this side of Calaveras County. They journeyed past Memphis, enjoying the grace of the land and the rhythms and beats of the country as they passed. One day, with the raft tied off and them both resting ashore, Moses wandered off and encountered a sight to behold. There, in the middle of the wilderness, was a lone bush. If weren’t unusual enough, the bush Who can retell… that was on fire. If that weren’t unusual enough, the bush stayed on fire and Oh wait, that wasn’t getting burned up. No matter song is for a how hungry the fire got, the bush was consumed. different holiday notMoses was amazed by the blaze, but that was nothing compared to what happened next. Moses heard a voice. The voice told him to take off his shoes and come closer. Moses was hesitant. If this were a trick, he didn’t want to lose his shoes. Then again, he figured it wasn’t like he’d be losing the shirt off his back, so he did it. The voice told Moses to go back and get the Israelites freed from their slavery. Moses wasn’t sure about the chances of that happening, and was even less sure that he could be the one to do it. But Moses relented and realized his current journey was near its end and a new one was going to take its place. His traveling companion had his doubts but also hoped that Moses could do what he said the plant told him to. The slave, in his way, found it continued on previous page 46

April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life

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April 2019 • Southern Jewish Life


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Southern Jewish Life, Deep South, April 2019  

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

Southern Jewish Life, Deep South, April 2019  

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

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