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Volume 23 Issue 5

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New York magazine recently had an article, “Them vs. Them,” which is cringe-worthy for the Jewish community. East Ramapo, N.Y., has a huge ultra-Orthodox population that generally wishes to be left alone by outsiders. Several years ago, they had difficulty obtaining services for their special-needs children, so to facilitate the process they began running members for the local school board. They ran as concerned taxpayers, since the overwhelming majority of their children attend private yeshivas — the district has 8,000 public school students and 19,000 enrolled in private school. Because of the Orthodox voting strength, they quickly had a majority on the board. Once they held the majority, they started slashing school budgets. The two members of the board who are not in the Orthodox bloc resigned in January, citing intimidation and a lack of information about financial matters. According to the Journal News, any hint of taxes for the schools is crushed at the ballot box, while “public school staff, academic programs and extracurricular offerings have been slashed” by the board’s majority, but reimbursements are being approved for families enrolled in yeshivas that use public special education services. There was a proposal to eliminate Kindergarten as a cost-saving measure, instead the program was reduced to a half-day. Graduation ceremonies were also eyed as “superfluous.” The New York article states that cuts in the high school are so severe, there aren’t enough classes for students to take so they can graduate. Shortly after the New York article came out, school board president Daniel Schwartz resigned after less than a year in the position. In the past, he spoke of a “crisis” of anti-Semitism in the school district, and said he and others in the Jewish community have every right to run for the board, and stated “You don’t like it? Find yourself another place to live, because this is the United States of America.” There are calls for a state takeover of the system, and investigations into the sale of two public school buildings to yeshivas at sweetheart rates. Meanwhile, the school board has become a clash of the ethnicities. The public schools are 56 percent black, 27 percent Hispanic. Also part of the backdrop is a report by the New York Jewish Week in February that many ultra-Orthodox schools in New York have received a total of $30 million in Federal funds for Internet technology, even though students do not have computer access and the communities try to suppress use of the Internet. You want to be left alone so you can preserve your version of Judaism? Fine, build your community. But in areas where you have to venture out into the larger world, there is still a responsibility to the stranger

Continued on page 35 NOLA

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May 2013


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of Christians in the Middle East. It’s not their thing. Daniel’s treatment of American-born Imam ( — The publishing house owned by the Presbyterian Church (USA), Westminster Zaid Shakir, co-founder of Zaytuna College in John Knox Press, is at it again. In 2006, WJK, California is instructive. He writes that “Imam produced “Christian Faith and the Truth Be- Zaid hopes the institution will help its students hind 9/11” by David Ray Griffin. In this book, prepare for life in modern America by integrating a centuries-old life in the twentyGriffin asserted that Bush Administration Wethe often spend time on the back roads aroundfaith the into region, looking first century… His articulation of the purpose was complicit infor thethe attacks on Sept. 11, 2001 unusual and the unique, and there is plenty of it in the South. of an Islamic education actually sounded that killed approximately 3,000 Americans. Still, it was a bit jarring when we were driving along one of the main quite a bit like what I used hear as a student The Bush Administration’s goal, just Grifroads in Gardendale, north of Birmingham, andtocame upon the at fin reported, was to justify the expansion of Westmont, a Christian liberal arts college in road that is pictured on the front cover of this issue, an American empire. One of the arguments Santa Barbara, California…” Daniel writes. Jew Hollow Road. The way Daniel describes Imam Shakir, Griffin put forth was that the WTC buildhe seems like a good candidate for interfaith ings collapsed as the result of a “controlled In this day and age, such a street name would likely beThere considered dialogue. are a few demolition” caused by high politically incorrect. Being Southerners, we knew what the termShakir problems, however. explosives that were secretly Why would the “hollow” be according a story behind to thethe Investiplanted prior to the attack. refers to, so we figured there had tohas, Presbyterian gative Project on issue. Terrorism, These and other arguments name, and sure enough, there is. That story is in this Church whitewash suggested that the attack on were roundly and thoroughly themagazine, WTC in 1993 discredited by another book It kicks off what will be a recurringand series in the “Jewswas on “unpropaganda dertaken by Zionist forces published by Popular Methe Southern Map,” where we explore the history of places around to theories? proof to their allegations chanics in 2006, “Debunking conspiracy the region that havegive been named for Jews. concerning the magnitude 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy of ‘Islamic fundamentalist’ terrorism, and as Theories Can’t Stand Up the Facts.” Many years ago, there was a reference guide that listed towns across Griffin’s book was so ludicrous that officials a pretext to intensify their anti-Islamic proAmerica that were named Jews. Two were in (neither paganda campaign in Alabama the U.S. media. ” Shakir from the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s pub-after hasthe any Jewish community). We have since others, are seems to think Israel andfound its supporters lishing corporationcurrently stated that conspiracy there “is arespurious numerous places infor Mississippi responsible the attack.and Louisiana. theory presented inand the book andsuch Shakir has also worked to undermine plubased on questionable research.” ralism the U.S., stating, “As Christians This repudiation hasn’t stopped Originally, we wereWestmingoing to limit the in series to town names, but there and Jews of this country have rejected thebedivine ster John Knox Press from selling the book are many other interesting places that we have found, so we will law and created their own secular system (which is still listed inincluding the company’s online parks, and even streets, as we are doing this month. of a catalogue), nor has it stopped the publishing rule, the legal and political system of America is sinful and constitutes rebellion against yet another irresponsible text, “The As theTruth series unfolds, we will have it open on our website, About Islam: A Christian Pastor Separates Allah. For a Muslim to join with the Jews and That way, if you are taking a road trip, Fact from Fiction” by Rev. Ben Daniel, a Christians in this system is to join them in you can stop by theseAllah. placesAllah yourself. their rebellion against explicitly PC(USA) minister in California. orders against this. ” Is this the type of stuff In this text released on March 25, 2013, Rev. the High Holy season fades heard into memory and we move into at Westmont? Daniel makes hisAs agenda clear. He Day wants to Daniel prime timeIslam. for organizational activities — especially upcoming Despite Shakir’s obviousthe contempt for secsoothe American fears about Assembly — enjoy the season ular pluralism, Daniel writes and that keep American Promoting good General interfaith relationsin isNew a Orleans who follow himis are in “good in hands” laudable goal, but DanieltoisSouthern so committed turning JewishtoLifeMuslims for the latest on what happening of Muslim America’s future. ” his agenda that he willfully ignores some ob- and are the “faceour neck of the woods. vious facts that any responsible commentator He closes the chapter that describes the imam as follows: “With the wisdom of people like would address. For example, he offers no mention of the Imam Zaid Shakir, both Islam and America mistreatment Christians and other religious will thrive.” Larry Brook Why is a PC(USA) minister lionizing an minorities endure in Muslim-majority counEditor / Publisher tries throughout the world. Daniel’s aban- imam who has promoted an irresponsible donment of his fellow Christians who are (and possibly anti-Semitic) conspiracy theory suffering in Egypt, Iraq, Nigeria, Pakistan is about the 1993 terrorist attack and who reinexcusable, but not at all a surprise given his gards secular pluralism as an affront to God? denomination’s obsessive focus on Zionism And why is the PC(USA)’s publishing house and its silence about the impact of Islamism helping him do this? Dexter Van Zile is Christian Media Analyst on human rights. The PC(USA)’s leaders and peace activists regularly condemn Israel while for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East remaining largely silent about the oppression Reporting in America (CAMERA).

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AVODAH to celebrate Partners in Justice: AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps will host its second annual Partners in Justice Jazz Brunch, honoring Bruce Waltzer and Anne Levy, on June 2 at 11 a.m. at Shir Chadash in Metairie. AVODAH integrates Judaism and social activism in the first and only Jewish service corps. It started in Brooklyn in 1998. The fourth location, New Orleans, was opened in 2008 as a response to the serious need for longer-term volunteers to stabilize and advance the city’s anti-poverty organizations, and to the New Orleans Jewish community’s need for new residents with fresh energy and a commitment to the community’s recovery. Participants, who are in their 20s, work for a year on issues of poverty at non-profit organizations. They live and study together, forming a community. Levy is a Holocaust survivor who moved to New Orleans in 1949, and shared her experiences. In 1989 she attended a Holocaust exhibit in the state capitol building, where she ran into David Duke, who is a former Klansman, Holocaust enier and white supremacist. He had been recently elected as a state legislator. Nevertheless, she confronted him and launched a grassroots campaign that ultimately ended his political career. Waltzer has been a civil rights attorney for decades, starting with the civil rights movement. He has continued to represent underserved communities and causes over the past several decades. A kosher brunch will be served. Tickets are $50, or $30 for age 30 and younger. Sponsorship levels start at $90, up to the Sower of Hope level at $5,000. Through a challenge grant from the ClaytonRoyer Family Foundation, all new and increased gifts to AVODAH New Orleans will be matched, up to $15,000. For tickets call (504) 861-1067 or visit NOLA

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Celebrating Israel with the governor: Beth Israel Rabbi Uri Topolosky and Richard Katz went to Baton Rouge for an Israel Independence Day celebration in the Governor’s Mansion that was hosted by two Christian legislators and a Christian pro-Israel group. “The majority of Governor Jindal’s 200 guests were Christian clergy,” Topolosky said, noting he saw maybe 10 Jews in the room. “This was the most unique Yom Ha’Atzmaut event I had ever celebrated.” Topolosky concluded the formal program, talking about the congregation’s rebirth after its building was flooded after Hurricane Katrina. He led the HaMotzi with Jindal and raised a glass of wine, reminiscent of the gift Malchizedek gave to Abraham to honor their friendship. “I could also feel the genuine love and support in the room that I was in,” Topolosky said. “And I wondered if we are indeed living in a time that Malchizedek envisioned, a time where we would be wise to celebrate all together, old friends and new.”

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May 2013


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JNOLA and the Arts: On April 17, nearly 30 young Jewish professionals from JNOLA gathered at the home of Alice Yelen Gitter and Dr. Kurt Gitter to learn more about the arts community in New Orleans. Alice Gitter spoke about her experience at the New Orleans Museum of Art, and Mark Samuels discussed Basin Street Records. JNOLA, the newly-merged Jewish young adult group, has its next program on May 9 at the Swizzle Stick Bar at the Loews Hotel. The Meet Up, an informal networking opportunity, is from 8 to 10 p.m. The group will then be at the Broadmoor Rolling Through Mobile Food Truck Series, May 21 from 5 to 9 p.m. at 4300 S. Broad. There will be a JNOLA table from 6 to 8 p.m. The event includes live music, alcohol, family friendly activities, and food by several food trucks.


May 2013

Southern Jewish Life

Women take lead for interdenominational Shavuot: The women will take center stage as three congregations along the Jewish corridor in Metairie get together for Shavuot. Orthodox Beth Israel, Conservative Shir Chadash and Reform Gates of Prayer will have a “joint Torah venture” on May 14, on “Authority and Leadership in the Jewish World.” Four female scholars from the three streams represented by the congregations will be on hand to led discussions. Alexis Pinsky is a third year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, Sarit Horwitz is a third year student at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and Lila Kagedan and Victoria Sutton are students at Yeshivat Maharat. At 7 p.m., Gates of Prayer will have its Confirmation service. At the same time, Beth Israel will have the afternoon service and study with Sutton. At 8 p.m., Shir Chadash will hold a minyan at Gates of Prayer, while Beth Israel has its evening service. A community dairy dinner will follow at Beth Israel at 8:30 p.m. The dinner will be followed by a panel of the visiting scholars on “Wrestling with Authority: Texts we struggle with as future female spiritual leaders.” A cheesecake buffet will follow. At 10 p.m. there will be breakout sessions with the scholars, followed by an 11 p.m. inter-denominational rabbinic panel consisting of Beth Israel Rabbi Uri Topolosky, Shir Chadash Rabbi Ethan Linden and Gates of Prayer Rabbi Robert Loewy. A gumbo buffet will follow. At 12:30 a.m., Linden and Topolosky will lead a session on “our favorite texts,” followed by Kagedan speaking on Jewish bioethics at 1:30 a..m. Sutton will lead a session on “Do you believe in magic”


Front Porch at 2:30 a.m., followed by a 3:30 a.m. session with Topolosky on “Sleeping with the Enemy: Laws of the Mossad,” over whether it is ethical for female Mossad agents to use their charms on targets in the field. Rabbi David Posternock will lead Torah Yoga at 4:30 a.m., followed by a 5:30 a.m. minyan. There will be no 9 a.m. minyan. Reservations for dinner and the opening session are $15, $25 per couple or $30 per family by May 10. Portland’s Pollin new Day School leader: On April 10, the board of Community Day School in Metairie unanimously named Sharon Pollin of Portland, Ore., as its new head of school. In January, Bob Berk announced that he was going to leave at the end of this school year and return to public education after four years leading the school. He is the husband of Rabbi Alexis Berk, who has headed Touro Synagogue since 2008. In October, he led a transition that included the school changing its name from the New Orleans Jewish Day School, in an effort to broaden its enrollment and its outreach to unaffiliated, intermarried and non-Jewish communities. Pollin has been in Portland since 1968. A Washington native, she studied for a year at the Pardes Institute and was education director of the Maimonides Jewish Day School in Portland, which has an enrollment of about 50 students. Before that, she headed the Circle of Life preschool when it became a partner agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland. In 2011 she was named interim head of school at the Jewish Community School of the Desert in Palm Desert, Calif., then returned to Maimonides in 2012. She is currently working on a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership with a concentration in Jewish Educational Leadership in a joint program between Northeastern University and Hebrew College in Boston. She also holds an MA in Educational Leadership, Supervision, and Administration from Bank Street College in New York. In a message to the parents, staff and faculty, Pollin said “I am very pleased to have been offered the position of Head of School of the Community Day School, I’m excited to join the New Orleans community, and I look forward to meeting and working together soon.” She will visit New Orleans from May 3 to 7 to spend time with the faculty and the rest of the community.

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Farewell to Topoloskys: Beth Israel in Metairie will say goodbye to Rabbi Uri Topolosky and family the weekend of May 31. Topolosky is becoming the rabbi of Beth Joshua in Aspen Hill, Md., after 6 years in New Orleans. The Maryland congregation is housed in the Melvin Berman Hebrew Academy, which he attended from grades 7 to 12. They will be in New Orleans through the end of July. The weekend will begin with a Kabbalat Shabbat program for women on May 31, led by Dahlia Topolosky at 7 p.m. The men will have a service in a different room, and the congregation will come together for a dinner after services. On June 1 there will be a special luncheon after the 9 a.m. service. On June 2 starting at 5:30 p.m. there will be a community-wide adults-only farewell party. NOLA

Southern Jewish Life

May 2013


Front Porch The New Orleans Reform congregations have announced their summer rotation. Each of the three congregations hosts joint services for the month. In June, Touro Synagogue will have services on Fridays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. Gates of Prayer will host in July, and Temple Sinai will be the site for August services. On May 10, Gates of Prayer in Metairie will host Cynthia White, volunteer services manager at Habitat for Humanity, at the 8 p.m. Shabbat service. She will speak on “Partners with God: Applying Jewish Values in Our Work.” On Shavuot, Touro Synagogue in New Orleans will have a potluck dairy dinner in the garden pavilion at 7 p.m. on May 14, followed by Torah study in the chapel until 9 p.m., and then a “Sacred Moment of Torah” in the sanctuary at 9 p.m. The Temple Sinai Brotherhood will have its annual Brotherhood Dinner, Bingo and Silent Auction on May 18 at 6 p.m. JNOLA members are also invited for the festivities at a special rate. There will be prizes from local restaurants and merchants. Non-kosher dinner includes boiled crawfish and crabs, but non-seafood dinners will also be available. On May 19, the Rahim Mosque will host the annual Festival of Abraham, which brings together the local Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Bahai communities. This year’s theme is “Hagar: Scorned Woman and Mother of Nations,” to be explored in religious, legal, social work and medical ethics perspectives. The event starts at 2:30 p.m. The next informational session for the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans Southern Journey to Israel and Petra this


May 2013

Southern Jewish Life

November will be at the home of Cathy and Morris Bart, May 23 at 7:30 p.m. The trip will include the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly and a visit to Partnership2Gether community Rosh Ha’Ayin. On May 31, Gates of Prayer in Metairie will host Rabbi Paul Jacobson of Australia, at the 8 p.m. Shabbat service. The rabbi of Emanuel Synagogue in Sydney, Jacobson will be in town to officiate at the wedding of a friend. He will speak on “A Reflection on Resilience: Jews from the Land Down Under.” According to the American-Israel Chamber of Commerce Southeast in Atlanta, a firm in New Orleans’ Partnership2Gether community is looking for business introductions in cold-chain logistics. The Rosh Ha’Ayin-based firm develops cold-chain data logging and monitoring solutions for logistics and transportation industries and for controlled industrial environments, such as food, pharmaceutical, medical, and storage. The company seeks introductions to medical and food transporters in the region for possible dealings. Gates of Prayer will honor its Building Community Engagement class on its graduation at the 8 p.m. Shabbat service on May 24. The group was created to educate and engage younger members of the congregation. Class members are Jared and Casie Davidson, Keri and Mark Pollock, Katie and Sam Dunn, Julie and Michael Green, Aaron Middleberg, Rebecca and Walker Jones and Brianne and Nate Oxenrider. Community Day School in Metairie will hold its graduation for this year’s fifth grade class on May 30 at 7 p.m. An end-of-year pool party will be held the next day.


Front Porch Kamenetz talk previews Dalai Lama visit: The Dalai Lama will be in New Orleans this month, and Temple Sinai will be part of the festivities through a talk by local author Rodger Kamenetz. On May 9 at 7 p.m., Kamenetz will speak on “What I Learned About Judaism from the Dalai Lama,” and a historic 1990 dialogue between the Dalai Lama and eight rabbis. The talk is open to the community. The author of 10 books, Kamenetz’s best-known work is “The Jew in the Lotus,” about that rabbinic journey. The international bestseller looked at Judaism in light of Buddhist thought, became a PBS documentary and is used in college religion courses. Exiled from Tibet by China in 1959, the Dalai Lama wanted to speak with the rabbis about how the Jewish people survived in exile for two millennia. Kamenetz remarked, “Somehow, he made us see Judaism more clearly and sweetly than often we ourselves see it. In our dialogue with the Dalai Lama, we saw Jewish tradition come to life.” After a 1996 meeting with the Dalai Lama, Kamenetz was part of an effort to free the Panchen Lama from China. The Panchen Lama was the youngest prisoner of conscience in the world, and his eighth birthday fell during Passover. In 1997, Kamenetz launched Seders for Tibet, which were held nation-wide and later became part of the International Campaign for Tibet. He attended a Seder in Washington in 1997 with the Dalai Lama. The New York Jewish Week referred to Kamenetz as “the Jewish community’s most prominent liaison with Buddhists.” At Louisiana State University, Kamenetz held a dual appointment as a Professor of English and Professor of Religious Studies and founded

the MFA program in creative writing and the Jewish Studies minor. He retired as LSU Distinguished Professor and Sternberg Honors Chair Professor. He now lives in New Orleans, where he devotes himself now to his work with clients who seek spiritual direction through dreams. The Dalai Lama will speak at a conference, “Resilience: Strength through Compassion and Connection” on May 16 and 17. He is also the speaker for Tulane University’s commencement, May 18 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Dalai Lama will be presented an honorary doctorate of humane letters and a second-line umbrella. He is also speaking on “Strength Through Compassion” at two public events, May 17 at the Morial Convention Center and May 18 at the University of New Orleans. Both events are sold out, but the talks will be on streaming video at area venues. His visit is sponsored by the Tulane School of Social Work. For over a decade, the school’s dean, Ronald Marks, has held a graduate social work class in northern India, working with Tibetan refugees. The visit also includes a Tibetan bazaar and a sand mandala. The mandala will be built at the Morial Center from May 14 to 17. At 4:30 p.m. on May 17, the sand will be swept up and carried by monks to the Mississippi River, where it will “carry the healing blessing to the ocean, and from there it spreads throughout the world for planetary healing.” The bazaar will be May 14 to 17 at the Morial Center, and on May 18 at the University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena. Tickets are to cover expenses, all remaining funds will be donated to charity. In all, there are about 60 events connected to the visit, and residents were urged to raise Tibetan prayer flags starting April 20.


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May 2013




Southern Jewish Life

Front Porch Stone finishing term as Conference of Presidents chairman: Professor Richard Stone, a New Orleans native, is nearing the end of his two terms as chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. On April 22, the conference’s nominating committee named Robert Sugarman, the immediate past national chairman of the AntiDefamation League, as its incoming chairman. The members will vote on the nomination this month, for the term beginning June 1. Sugarman was a partner at the Weil, Gotshal and Manges law firm in New York City for more than 30 years until his retirement in 2007. Stone became chairman on June 1, 2011. He is on the faculty of Columbia University Law School, where he has held the Wilbur Friedman Chair in Tax Law since 1991. He is also a venture capitalist. He is the chairman of NCSJ, which advocates for the Jewish communities in the 15 republics that emerged from the Soviet Union. He has served as Vice President and on the Executive Committee of the New York JCRC and currently chairs its Government Relations Commission. He was the chairman of the Institute for Public Affairs, the public policy arm of the Orthodox Union, from 1992 to 2002 and served on the board and Executive Committee of JCPA from 2005 to 2009. He also served as Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s representative from Manhattan on the board of the City University of New York from 19972000. In January, he and Rabbi Joseph Telushkin held a dialogue as the kickoff event for the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans’ centennial celebration. JCRS College Aid deadline nears: Jewish youth from the seven states of the Mid-South have until May 31 to be among the over 100 undergraduate college students who the Jewish Children’s Regional Service will fund with needs-based financial assistance for the upcoming 2013-14 academic year. Applications are available online by accessing the agency’s website: Applications received after any published deadline will be accepted if funds are still available; however, late applications to any program are not eligible for maximum awards. JCRS has been providing social services, care and funding to Jewish youth from the Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas since 1855. For the unleavened experience of a lifetime: Producer Michael Green, a national food and wine consultant who also wrote a play called “Wine Lovers” that ran in 2010 at Le Petite Theatre in New Orleans, seeks contributions to a feature-length documentary about Streit’s matzah company in New York City. “The company and the factory are rooted in history and tradition, not only in the sense that the recipe for their product is 3,000 years old,” said Green. “And while in many ways Streit’s may seem like a relic from another age, it continues to thrive. They constantly receive more orders than they can fill.” In 1925, when Aron Streit opened the factory’s doors, it sat at the heart of the nation’s largest Jewish immigrant community. Today in its fifth generation of family ownership in a rapidly gentrifying Lower East Side, it remains as the last family owned matzah factory in America. Green and director Michael Levine, who has many several documentary films to his credit, have a Kickstarter campaign to facilitate contributions. The goal they have to reach is $60,000 by May 31. More than $17,000 has been pledged as of April 25. To find out more about the project and to donate, go to http://www.kickstarter. com/projects/rivpics/streits-matzo-and-the-american-dream.

Reinforcing the Institute’s rabbinic, education programs With a 13-state area to cover, the Jackson-based Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life is bringing in reinforcements. In June, Rabbi Matthew Dreffin will return to the South, joining the Institute in the education and rabbinic services departments. He will coordinate the Institute’s nine Education Fellows, who travel each weekend to some of the over 70 congregations that use the Institute’s standardized religious school curriculum. He will also supplement the rabbinic services currently being performed by Rabbi Marshal Klavin. A Florida native, Dreffin grew up at Camp Coleman, the Reform movement’s summer camp in Georgia, where his father is plant operations manager. He attended Tulane University, earning a degree in studio arts and winning the award for most outstanding glass art student. After graduating in 2005, he had to leave for a few months because of Hurricane Katrina, then returned to New Orleans as assistant studio manager for Studio Inferno. Two years later, he went to Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in California, earning a Master’s in Hebrew Letters in 2010 and a Master’s in Jewish Education in 2011. He will be ordained in May. Among his student positions was a summer as chaplain at Princeton Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham, and an educator at the Union of Reform Judaism’s Mitzvah Corps of the South in New Orleans. He interned and served as religious school associate director at Temple Judea in Tarzana, Calif. His focus has long been on education, formal and informal, and wanting to pursue that career path led him to the Institute’s position. “I found myself highly impressed by the work being accomplished at the ISJL,” said Dreffin. “Even more impressive was the atmosphere of the staff — it truly felt like a team that worked together toward a common mission.” Last June, Dreffin married Erica Weil of Montgomery. Dreffin will arrive in time for this year’s Institute educator’s conference, where congregations using the curriculum are required to send a representative to learn about the curriculum and network with other congregations. The conference will be held June 23 to 25 at the Hilton Hotel in Jackson. Congregations using the curriculum receive regular visits from the Fellows, and congregations that do not get a visit on a particular weekend have follow-up calls with the Fellows. The Fellows serve two-year commitments with the Institute, and half of them are new each year. Institute President Macy Hart said they decided that a coordinator was needed for the Fellows in the Jackson office. Having an educator who was also a rabbi was a focus for the Institute. Hart said Klaven has been blazing a trail through the South, and “if we got a rabbi/educator, we could take a little heat off of Marshal.” He added that Klaven’s tours of the South and activity level “has surpassed any expectations we had, except for fantasy.” Roughly 40 percent of the Jewish congregations in the 13-state region do not have full-time rabbinic services, according to the Institute.

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Southern Jewish Life

May 2013


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May 2013

Southern Jewish Life

Hadassah held a tri-region conference, “The Heart of Hadassah,” on April 19 to 21 at the Dolce Atlanta Peachtree in Peachtree City. Members of the Southeastern, Southern and Southern Seaboard regions were in attendance. The event featured Hadassah National President Marci Natan, and Hadassah National Missions Chair Miki Shulman. Panel discussions included talks about heart health and the State of Israel, and a singing group from the Atlanta area entertained. Southern Region delegates were present from Birmingham, Auburn, Dothan, Montgomery, New Orleans and Baton Rouge. De’Anna Ernst was named Woman of the Year from the Baton Rouge Chapter, Carrie Pailet by New Orleans and Joyce Rothschild from Auburn.

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Trunks planned for Alabama, Louisiana Recently, the Berlin Jewish Museum encountered controversy over its exhibit, “Jew in a Box,” where Jewish volunteers sat inside a clear box and answered questions about Jews and Judaism from museum ANDREW HIGGINS DR. BETWEEN CAMP AND MAGAZINE STREETS visitors. 504.528.1944 | WWW.NATIONALWW2MUSEUM.ORG The Jackson-based Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life has taken a more conventional approach to teaching Jewish history from a box, with the Museum of the Southern Jewish ExWWII FINAL MISSION Southern Jewish Life Ad 3.8x5.indd 1 3/12/13 perience Traveling Trunk. The trunk contains reproductions of historical documents and artifacts, telling the story of Mississippi’s Jewish history. Developed for grades four through six, the contents can be modified for upper grades, and the trunk is available for schools to rent as a one or two week class resource. Another trunk has been developed for use in Texas, and Institute President Macy Hart said Alabama and Louisiana trunks are planned for the near future. Last month, the Mississippi project was selected by the Mississippi Historical Records Advisory Board for the 2013 Award for the Use of Historical Records in Grades K-12. This award, given only every other year, honors those whose work encourages and supports efforts to identify, preserve, and provide access to Mississippi’s historical records. That’s because The Maids make your home Rachel Jarman Myers, the Institute’s Museum and Special Projects healthier for you and your family. coordinator, said many history museums use trunks as an outreach program. “I was inspired to put one together for our museum as a Call now to receive a free, no-obligation estimate way to continue programming” after the main location in Utica closed. The museum is currently looking for a main location elsewhere in the 205-871-9338 Birmingham 256-534-1100 Hunstville South. 251-344-6626 Mobile 334-277-7749 Montgomery The idea of an education trunk is also being used by the Gulf Coast Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education in Mobile, with the Paul and Mary Filben Holocaust Teaching Trunk. Myers came to the Institute as an Education Fellow in 2008, traveling to communities that use the Institute’s religious school curriculum. After her two years were completed, she decided to stay on and assumed her current role. Institute Chief Operating Officer Michele Schipper, who nominated Myers for the award, said Myers “used census records, ship manifests, Referred for a reason. and business records from early turn of the century Jewish shopkeep-

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Southern Jewish Life

May 2013


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ers to create the engaging, interactive Traveling Trunk program. “Students and teachers have enjoyed this wonderful hands-on educational opportunity which contains artifacts, photographs, maps, board games and three lesson plans to teach Mississippi students about nineteenth century European immigration to the American South. It also demonstrates how these Jewish immigrants, who have always been a tiny minority of Mississippi’s population, have made an impact on their communities.” Myers said “Teachers who request the trunk are excited to expose their class to a religion and culture they often know very little about. Lessons provide a venue for students to connect with this material and relate it to their lives today.” With a grant by the Mississippi Humanities Council, the trunk has traveled to 12 schools thus far. “I’m so pleased to receive this award, especially since it acknowledges the inclusion of historical material in the Traveling Trunk,” said Myers. “One of the most special activities in the trunk uses records from the Bernheimer and Sons store in Port Gibson. Students are instructed to be the historians, critically thinking about what we can learn from documents that are over one hundred years old. For many, it is the first time they have had access to historical material. This is important because like so many ISJL programs, the materials and lessons in the trunk program are intended to lead all students and participants to understand, engage with, and appreciate the history of cultural and religious diversity in their communities.”

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On April 20, Rabbi Arnold Task officiated at a B’not Mitzvah ceremony at Gemiluth Chassodim in Alexandria — for a woman who was born just one year after the first-ever Bat Mitzvah ceremony was performed, and her granddaughter. Sylvia Goldstein, now 90, grew up in a time when Bat Mitzvah ceremonies were new and rare. She recently began studying the Torah, and when reading the Hebrew words had a “wonderful feeling.” She mentioned it to her granddaughter, Mimi Rubin Kirzner. When Kirzner, now 35, was growing up Bat Mitzvah ceremonies were still somewhat rare, so she did not have one either. They decided to have an adult celebration together. At the ceremony, Goldstein wore her father’s tallit, which is over 100 years old.

�������������� Southern Jewish Life

Not Just Black and White Civil Rights and the Jewish Community

Bearing witness In May 1963, a group of 19 rabbis arrived in Birmingham to take a stand against segregation, much to the consternation of the local Jewish community On May 7, 1963, Sylvan Laufman arrived in New York on a business trip. The atmosphere there was far different than the one back home in Birmingham. When he left, the Civil Rights marches in downtown Birmingham were reaching a crescendo and drawing the world’s attention. After a month of generally ineffective protests, Martin Luther King Jr.’s movement started the Children’s Crusade. Students would leave school and march downtown for equal rights. Commissioner of Public Safety Bull Connor was perplexed, and started arresting the students en masse. He also brought out the dogs and firehoses to try and break up the demonstrations, leading to widespread condemnation of Birmingham. Behind the scenes, white leadership and the civil rights leadership were trying to hammer out an agreement on desegregation, and on May 7, five days into the Children’s Crusade,

they were close. Then Laufman saw on the news that a group of 19 rabbis was leaving the Rabbinical Assembly convention in New York and was already en route to Birmingham to take a public stand with the black demonstrators. Laufman called Karl Friedman, chairman of the Community Relations Committee. This was not going to go over well with the Birmingham Jewish community. Spur of the moment At the convention, where about 400 Conservative rabbis were in attendance, Rabbi Harold Schulweis spoke in the morning of May 7 about honoring the actions of heroic nonJews who saved Jews during the Holocaust. With shocking pictures from Birmingham on the front page of every newspaper, it was suggested that the convention take lessons from the past and apply them to current events.

Rabbi Moshe Cahana of Houston said it was imperative to do something regarding Birmingham. How could they condemn Germans who stood by if they chose to stand by now? They contacted the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and asked if they could come “render assistance in the heroic struggle of the Negro people in Birmingham,” Rabbi Andre Ungar later wrote. The SCLC simply said “come.” The association then quickly passed the Birmingham Resolution, authorizing a group of rabbinic volunteers to go to Birmingham that very night and speak on their behalf. Nineteen rabbis, including Cahana, volunteered to go, and funds were quickly raised from those present and from the association itself. Two of the rabbis had already been jailed in the South as Freedom Riders. Ungar said they debated whether to contact the Birmingham Jewish community, “if not to

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May 2013

Southern Jewish Life

City of confrontation When the 19 rabbis arrived at the Birmingham Airport at 2 a.m. on May 8, a large SCLC delegation greeted them. The rabbis were delighted by the large reception, then only later learned the numbers were for protection in case of segregationist attacks. Also at the airport was a delegation from the Birmingham Jewish community. Friedman had contacted Rabbi Milton Grafman of Temple Emanu-El, the city’s Reform congregation, Eugene Zeidman, Alex Rittenbaum, Dora Roth and a few other leaders. There was no rabbinic representation from the city’s Conservative congregation, Temple Beth-El, because Rabbi Abraham Mesch had died suddenly in December 1962. Friedman said many of the rabbis refused to meet with the local group. He noted that the apparent leader was Rabbi Richard Rubenstein, who headed the Hillel at the University of Pittsburgh. Rubenstein “was stubborn to the extent of being offensive. He talked down to us and challenged us and indicated that they came to make a change, with or without us.” Rabbi Richard Winograd later wrote, “I had the feeling that we somehow were the Hamans and Torquemadas to southern Jews.” The delegation would later be derisively referred to in Birmingham’s Jewish community as the “19 messiahs.” A few of the rabbis agreed to what wound up being a late night meeting in Friedman’s office. There, Grafman suggested that some of the rabbis could speak at the three local congregations that Shabbat evening, and they agreed. Abe Berkowitz, who had been instrumental in changing Birmingham’s form of government and voting out Connor five weeks earlier, explained the background of the current situation and told them that “a settlement seemingly was in the making, that from all appearances the rabbis’ presence in Birmingham could accomplish nothing, could possibly muddy the waters” and could backfire because the segregationists claim integration is a Jewish Communist inspired movement. To top it off, a few days after the rabbis arrived, there was a major conference of the rabidly anti-Semitic National States Rights Party scheduled in Birmingham. Friedman recalled that “all of them thought that we were totally uninvolved, hiding, and living in fear, and none of that was true. We were deeply involved, daily, with meetings and conferences, with Martin Luther King, Bull Connor and other leadership.” But the situation was volatile. He added that half the rabbis started to see the local community’s concerns while the other half “were out setting fires.” The rabbis chose to stay at the A.G. Gaston Motel, which was a black hotel. By doing so, they could be arrested for violating the city’s Jim Crow laws, something which did not concern them. The day of the rabbis’ arrival, it seemed the negotiations were nearing an agreement, so as a gesture of good will, King called off demonstrations for the day. The rabbis had planned to demonstrate with the blacks, something the local community had strongly advised against. That afternoon the rabbis witnessed a press conference with some of the students who were arrested early in the Children’s Crusade and had already been released from jail, and that evening they went to one of the mass rallies at the 16th Street Baptist Church. Rubenstein spoke there, and Ungar wrote that “the Negroes of Birmingham… called us ‘our rabbis’.”

Late that evening, 14 of the rabbis met with the local community. According to a letter by Alex Rittenbaum, president of the Jewish Community Council, “some of the rabbis clearly indicated that their visit to Birmingham was a mistake, that they wanted to get off the hook.” In a stinging letter to the Rabbinical Assembly the next week, Temple Beth-El President Arnold Royal noted that the rabbis began to realize that “sitting in a convention assembled is one thing, and being exposed to the raw facts of life is yet another thing.” But Ungar wrote that “the Birmingham Jew was squarely on the side of reaction, of what in that great confrontation is the side of wrong against right,” and they were going to stay. As they attended rallies, yarmulkes became “prized trophies of young Negroes,” Ungar stated. A new verse of “We Shall Overcome” included the words “The rabbis are with us.” On May 9, King was arrested as the agreement was reached; he was quickly bailed out and met with the rabbis for about an hour. Late that evening, they linked arms with blacks at the airport and sang “We Shall Overcome” before boarding the planes. King announced the agreement on May 10. On May 11, the Gaston Motel — where the rabbis had stayed — was destroyed by a bomb. Celebration and backlash News of the rabbis’ visit hit newspapers all over the country, except for one place — Birmingham. The Jewish Community Council managed to keep word of the visit from the pages of the local newspapers, because “serious anti-Semitism would result from a community conclusion that Jews are leading the local integration fight.” Some were already charging that the “downtown merchants” — a code term for Jewish store owners — were the ones leading the “capitulation to the integrationist demands of the Negroes.” Elsewhere, the rabbis returned to mostly positive reactions. To be sure, there was some hate mail, but in many communities the rabbis received a hero’s welcome. For one of the rabbis, there was a great deal of backlash. Rabbi Arie Becker of Beth Sholom Synagogue in Memphis was one of the 19, and one of only two from Southern pulpits, Cahana being the other. A Holocaust survivor who lost 28 close family members to the Nazis, Becker had been in Memphis for just four years. Congregants who knew nothing of his trip until it was in the newspaper were irate and confronted him on his return, saying he was appearing to represent the congregation in what was clearly a dangerous public stance. Bricks were thrown at his house, cars would pass slowly during the night and the synagogue received bomb threats. It got so contentious that he sent his family to stay with relatives in Philadelphia for the summer. For Stephen Grafman, son of Rabbi Grafman, that proved the point of Birmingham’s Jewish community as to how volatile the situation was. The 19 rabbis could go home hundreds of miles away, Birmingham’s Jews had to stay and deal with any consequences. Further galling the Birmingham community was that Temple BethEl, the local Conservative congregation that had been target of a bombing attempt five years before, had an opening on its pulpit after Mesch’s death five months earlier. The fact that none of the 19 rabbis had expressed any interest in filling that position did not go unnoticed at the time. A few months after the 1963 visit, Rabbi Jack Bloom of Connecticut wrote that the two days he spent in Birmingham “were the most significant religious experience of my life,” and the abstract black person

Continued on page 19 Southern Jewish Life

May 2013


“Our Mockingbird” comes home to Alabama As part of the 50th anniversary commemorations of the civil rights struggles in Birmingham, the local Hadassah chapter partneredwith several local organizations to present “Our Mockingbird,” a documentary about the classic novel “To Kill A Mockingbird.” The film was screened at the Carver Theater on April 28. The date was selected because it is the 55th anniversary of a much lesser known chapter in Birmingham civil rights history — the attempted bombing of Temple Beth-El. Boston filmmaker Sandy Jaffe returned to her native Birmingham to film the documentary, which centers on a production of the stage version of “To Kill A Mockingbird” by two high schools — predominantly white, suburban Mountain Brook, and predominantly black, urban Fairfield. Mountain Brook also has the vast majority of the area’s Jewish high school students. Jaffe left Birmingham for college in Boston in the 1970s, where others immediately jumped to conclusions about her because of where she was from. She later rediscovered “To Kill A Mockingbird” as a reminder that

“there were people ‘not all like that’ on the right side of history who would work to make things better.” She filmed a Boston class that was doing a three-week project on the Harper Lee novel, then decided to visit Lee’s hometown of Monroeville, where since 1991 a local group has put on a stage version of the book. This year’s run goes through May 18. The Monroeville version, done entirely by locals, begins on the lawn outside the county courthouse, then moves inside for the courtroom scenes. The 1962 film version modeled its courtroom after the Monroe County Courthouse. The first time the Monroeville group performed outside the county was after a visit by the Israeli consul general from Atlanta in the mid-1990s. He invited them to perform at the Khan Theater in Jerusalem, where they had sold-out performances in 1996. After seeing the play in Monroeville, Jaffe researched other venues that were doing the play. “On the Dramatic Publishing website I discovered that Mountain Brook High School

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May 2013

Southern Jewish Life

was doing the play and I got in touch with Pat Yates, the drama teacher and director, who informed me about the collaboration with Fairfield. I knew that this experiment in crossing the divides of residential segregation would be something I wanted to include in my film.” She said there are three themes to the film. First, how the novel itself still resonates “in our public discourse on race, class and justice.” Second is the view of Alabama, then and now. Third is the story of two very different schools coming together in what Yates described as “an exercise in empathy.” The film also features Doug Jones, the former U.S. Attorney that prosecuted the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church bombing; broadcast journalist Katie Couric; Pulitzer Prize winners Diane McWhorter, Rick Bragg and Cynthia Tucker; Joseph Lowery, former Southern Christian Leadership Conference president; Morris Dees, co-founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center; and Mary Badham, ‘Scout,’ in the original “Mockingbird” movie. Jaffe has previewed the film in Birmingham

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before, but being in the Boston area she has been invited to show it several times there. “Of course, I was curious about how audiences in the Northeast would react versus audiences in Alabama and what they have most in common is how intrigued they are by the high school collaboration.” She hopes the film “will inspire similar collaborations like the high school production, not just in Alabama but around the country – that communities will create opportunities for students to actively experience “the other” in whatever context that might be.” She hopes the film will be at film festivals and eventually broadcast. She is also planning a shorter version for educational uses. “Mockingbird” is intertwined in Birmingham’s 1963 commemorations because though the film was released in 1962, it did not debut in Birmingham until April 1963, on the same day Martin Luther King Jr. launched the famous demonstrations. Hadassah coordinated the event with the YWCA, the Southern Literary Trail, the Birmingham Pledge, the Levite Jewish Community Center, P.E.A.C.E. Birmingham and City of Birmingham 50 Forward. The bomb that failed This screening also commemorates an earlier chapter in the city’s struggle. On April 28, 1958, a satchel was discovered in a window well leading down to the social hall on the 21st Way side of Birmingham’s Conservative synagogue. The fuse on the 54 sticks of dynamite inside the satchel stopped just short of detonation, and at the time it was said that the bomb was large enough to level a city block. Though fingerprints were obtained from the bag, the case was never officially solved or prosecuted. Sol Kimerling, whose father was president at the time, recalled a police officer standing in their living room stating that they knew who did it, but couldn’t do anything about it. The day before, the Jacksonville Jewish Center was bombed, and the Jewish Community Center in Nashville had been bombed a month before. Later that year, two men yelled at a janitor at Temple Emanu-El that they would be next. That same month was the most famous bombing of a Jewish house of worship, at The Temple in Atlanta. Jaffe said she has little memory of those days, “but do recall that even as a child I was aware of the idea that those who hated blacks also hated Jews; that there were areas of town where Jews lived and areas where Jews were not welcome.”

>> Rabbis in his mind became real. In 2009, Bloom returned to Birmingham and Selma for the first time as part of the ninth Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage. “Who would have believed how much Birmingham and Selma had changed,” he observed. A decade after the visit, Rubenstein was invited to speak at Birmingham’s Jewish Community Center as one of his books was being published. Friedman and others went to the talk, ready to give him a piece of their minds. Then Rubenstein started his talk by stating that the rabbis had made a hasty decision a decade earlier, were not aware of the complexity of the times, and he went on to apologize for their dismissal of the local community’s concerns. “I had a much more sympathetic feeling for their problems in 1973 than in 1963,” Rubenstein said recently. “They were there on the spot, they were in a tough situation. “In 1963, I felt they were not being heroic enough. In 1973, I felt that they had a point.”

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Southern Jewish Life

May 2013


Maor Shapira, David Horowitz, Becca Leifer and Chloe Valdary before the April 24 talk at Tulane.

Horowitz talk draws controversy at Tulane

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May 2013

Southern Jewish Life

Tulane University for Israel and Allies of Israel at the University of New Orleans raised the ire of several groups by inviting David Horowitz to speak at Tulane. Horowitz is founder and current president of the David Horowitz Freedom Center and edits FrontPage Magazine. He spoke on “Boston and Jerusalem: How Islamic Jihad affects us all” at the April 24 talk. Maor Shapira, a TUFI member who helped put the event together, said “The room was full with students who are interested in the conflict and want to know more. Even though the lecture was initially faced with some opposition, the fact that it went through uninterrupted shows that after all freedom of speech, thought, and exchange of opinions can be maintained at Tulane University.” At the beginning of the event, it was announced that hecklers would be removed from the room, and there weren’t any during the talk. The Louisiana Justice Institute announced Horowitz’s appearance by saying “Tulane University to host notorious white supremacist on campus,” stating that the Southern Poverty Law Center considers him “among the most prominent anti-Muslim racists in the US.” They noted a protest would be held outside his talk, with participants encouraged to wear black. Organizers of the protest, which drew about 50, said it would be “an intersectional, united front against oppression,” and after the protest they would have a discussion of the talk and “recent events on campus that have caused some students to feel threatened and oppressed by hateful speech.” One of the organizers, Hillary Donnell, is an activist in the Tulane Students for Justice in Palestine, which Horowitz said was founded by Hamas and is funded by Saudis.

On April 23, the Undergraduate Student Government approved SJP as a student organization. A day before his speech, Horowitz issued a reply “to the Tulane Hate Groups that want to shut down my speech.” He called the notion that he is a white supremacist “laughable” and noted that an oft-cited article of his, against reparations for slavery, was published in a left-wing magazine. “I said the reparations campaign was racist because the reparations would be awarded on the basis of skin color not actual servitude, and paid by everybody who wasn’t black including for example Hispanic immigrants who obviously had nothing to do with American slavery.” He also took on the charge that he is anti-Muslim, saying “What is going on here is a witch-hunt by Tulane leftists who don’t want members of the Tulane community to hear and consider what I have to say.” TUFI president Yoni Kaplan noted that just before the event he got his first piece of hate mail. A Facebook poster told Shapira they ought to be “kicked in the genitals until you decide to remove yourselves from the breathing space of rational human beings” and asked why anyone would “waste their time listening to a wealthy white Jew denounce other ethnicities and religions as inferior.” Horowitz’s talk centered on the history of the region, going back to the Ottoman Empire, the mentality of jihadists and the suppression of discussion through name-calling.








Area pro-BDS professors In April, the Association for Asian American Studies became the first U.S. academic group to vote to boycott Israel. The U.S. Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel lists close to 800 professors and other academics as supporting efforts to cut ties with Israeli educational and cultural institutions. In the SJL coverage area, signatories include: Jana Maria Giles, Department of English, University of Louisiana Monroe Michael Innis-Jimenez, American studies, University of Alabama Foad Izadi, Louisiana State University Georgette Loup, linguistics, University of New Orleans Scott Sorrell, mathematics instructor at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette


Others in neighboring states include: Nabil Bayakly, University of Memphis Michael Bentley, University of Tennessee Richard Burt, University of Florida Colin Dayan, Vanderbilt University Pankhuree Dube, Emory University Nik Heynen, University of Georgia Amira Jarmakani, Georgia State University Mohja Kahf, University of Arkansas Michael Leslie, University of Florida Fouad Moughrabi, University of Tennessee, Chattanooga Donna Murdock, University of the South David O’Connell, Georgia State University Melanie Ruefli, Georgia Perimeter College Adam Sabra, University of Georgia Seleem Sayyar, Emory University Brooke Scheuneman, University of Georgia Malini Johar Schueller, University of Florida Akinjele Umoja, Georgia State University Daniel Vitkus, Florida State University

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On April 17, the Jewish Student Association at the University of Alabama at Birmingham hosted filmmaker Ami Horowitz for a screening of his documentary, “U.N. Me.” The film exposes one of the world’s most beloved institutions as a corrupt collection of bureaucrats who are incapable of doing what the U.N. was founded to do — facilitate world peace and mitigate conflict. In the film, U.N. officials in charge of responding to terrorism admit that they don’t even have a definition of terrorism. Rampant waste and ineffective humanitarian relief efforts are also chronicled. Horowitz’s visit was organized as a response to the recent Israel Apartheid Week held by Students for Justice in Palestine. That week-long event brought in several speakers and films, and included an “apartheid wall” protesting the Israeli security fence that was built in response to suicide bombings. In response to the week, Aaron Graf sent an open letter to the UAB Multicultural Council, stating it was “deeply disturbing that the Council would support such an event,” and

Genevieve Begue, right, introduces filmmaker Ami Horowitz by doing so “you are supporting bigotry and hatred” because SJP aims for the “delegitimization of an entire nation” and eradication of the right for national self-determination of the Jewish people. The council responded that “We support many programs and groups, and while we do not support hate or intolerance to any group based on race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or religious affiliation, we do however support Students for Justice in Palestine or any program that promotes rational and logical dialogue of topics relating to social injustice, intolerance, and discrimination in an attempt to raise social consciousness and cultural competence among our students.”

McNeese Senate tables pro-Israel resolution

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A pro-Israel resolution that seemingly had been passed by the McNeese State University Student Government Association Senate was tabled indefinitely on April 3 by the association. The resolution was submitted by Adam Harris, who heads the Christians United for Israel group at McNeese State. He had recently returned from the AIPAC policy conference and made his presentation at the March 13 Senate meeting. The resolution passed, 28-21. The following week, Harris went to get a signed copy of the resolution, but Student Government Association President Davante Lewis said he would not sign it because it was improperly passed. “I did not reject any resolution,” Lewis said. “The legislation is back in the senate after parliamentary procedures were not followed correctly.” When the voice vote was too close to call in March, there was a second vote where members raised their hands. The Pro-Tempore did not record abstentions, meaning the 49 votes that were cast fell short of the 51 required for a quorum. Harris returned to the Senate on April 3 to get it passed again, but there were several present in opposition, including one who sug-

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gested that many leading academics would no longer be available to McNeese State for supporting Israel. The resolution expresses “support for the State of Israel’s right to defend Israeli sovereignty, to protect the lives and safety of the Israeli people, and to support strict enforcement of the sanctions placed by the United States Congress and by the UnitedNations on Iran, in order to maintain a nuclear free Iran.” Toward the end of the discussion, Senator Alex Reinauer, a student from the local Jewish community, said he urged a vote against the resolution because the Senate is supposed to serve as the liaison between the student body and the administration. “I’m not saying I’m opposed to anything in this bill,” he said, but debating foreign policy like this is not something the Senate should be spending its time doing. He also expressed concern that by delving beyond usual student affairs, outside groups become interested in campus politics, citing this publication’s requests to Lewis for comment about the March 13 vote. The Senate decided to table the resolution indefinitely by an overwhelming voice vote. “Now I get to write another resolution,” said Harris.

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TUFI’s Kaplan receives national Israel campus advocacy award Yonatan Kaplan, outgoing president of Tulane University for Israel, received the David Bar-Ilan Award for outstanding campus activism from the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America’s CAMERA on Campus division. Eliana Rudee of Claremont College received the Outstanding Student Leadership award, for her group’s “Less Hamas More Eliana Rudee of Claremont College and Hummus” campaign that Yonatan Kaplan of Tulane University for has been adopted nation- Israel received the 2013 David Bar Ilan Awards. ally. Khaled Abu Toameh, an Israeli-Arab journalist and lecturer, was also honored at the New York annual dinner, which was attended by hundreds of supporters from across the country. Kaplan said he was honored to accept the award on behalf of TUFI, and the CAMERA On Campus helped enable the group’s growth. “When I arrived at Tulane, the Israel presence on campus was nearly nonexistent. I started TUFI in an effort to fill that void and establish a vibrant and active pro-Israel community at Tulane.” The group grew from five to over 300 on the current listserve. With the assistance of CAMERA, he said, several notable speakers have been to Tulane, including Ishmail Khaldi, the first Bedouin vice consul of Israel, and Gil Hoffman, the Jerusalem Post’s chief political correspondent. Other programs included art solidarity events and scientific projects. He said that Tulane admissions sent him a letter recently stating that 125 incoming freshmen had indicated interest in TUFI. Addressing the dinner, Kaplan said “TUFI has succeeded in becoming that vibrant and active pro-Israel community at Tulane... You enable our mission and you have our gratitude.”

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The Algemeiner did its first-ever Jewish 100 in April, unveiling the list at its “star-studded” 40th anniversary gala in New York on April 23. The list celebrates the “top 100 people positively influencing Jewish life.” Among those featured is a non-Jew, Chloe Valdary, who started Allies of Israel at the University of New Orleans, and launched “Once And For All,” a mixed-media campaign to combat anti-Semitism. She was listed in the “Tomorrow” leaders category. Among the “Jewish 100” awardees who attended the Gala was Czech Ambassador to the United States Petr Gandalovič, representing Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas, as well as the anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Abraham Foxman, activist Arthur Schneier, and others. The Algemeiner began in New York City 40 years ago as a Yiddish newspaper, but transitioned to English and now also has a website that hosts stories from across the Jewish world.

Real Estate/Homes St. Francisville bed and breakfast with Jewish roots for sale A historic bed-and-breakfast with Jewish heritage is currently on the market in St. Francisville. The St. Francisville Inn, which has 10 guest rooms, is in the 1880 Wolf-Schlesinger House and is currently on the market for just under $900,000. It has been operated as a bed and breakfast for 30 years and is a popular destination. The home was built in 1880 in the Victorian Gothic style. The property was acquired by Morris Wolf from Julius Freyhan in 1878. M&E Wolf began in 1867 as J. Freyhan and Co., a country store operated by Julius Freyhan that was described as growing “to become principal source of supply for a dozen Louisiana parishes and Mississippi counties, selling up to a million dollars’ worth of goods and handling up to 14,000 bales of cotton in a year.” Freyhan had arrived in the area, penniless, in 1851, but became one of the wealthiest men in the South. His company, J. Freyhan and Co., was a country store that grew “to become principal source of supply for a dozen Louisiana parishes and Mississippi counties, selling up to a million dollars’ worth of goods and handling up to 14,000 bales of cotton in a year.” When Freyhan retired to New Orleans, he turned the firm over to his brothers in law, Morris and Emanuel Wolf, who renamed the company after Freyhan’s death in 1904. A 1917 25th anniversary edition of the local paper, The True Democrat, devoted nearly an entire page to the store. The town recently rededicated the long-defunct Temple Sinai building, and plans to renovate the Freyhan School, the first public school built in St. Francisville, originally funded by a bequest in Freyhan’s will. The Inn is located in the historic district. The main parlor has original ceiling medallions featuring Mardi Gras masks. The rooms are connected with wide porches around a brick courtyard with swimming pool. Upstairs is a private living area for the home’s owner. Morris sold the home in 1903 to Aaron Schlesinger. Schlesinger’s daughter sold the home in 1954 to Eloise Burnett, who converted it into three apartments. When Richard Dilet restored the home and converted it into a bed and breakfast in 1982, it had been abandoned for several years. The current owners purchased it in 1990. There is a wine parlor on site, and Morris Wolf ’s General Store. The property is being marketed by Landry Team Real Estate in St. Francisville.

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May 2013


Real Estate/Homes Adding value to homes made easy Updating kitchens, bathrooms, garages, basements and paint coats to a house can really enhance its value whether someone wants to sell or get more years of living in the place.

Kitchen, bathroom renovations popular Lenny Klein, whose has 20 years of experience in the remodeling and new construction business and who started Klein Home Builders 10 years ago, said those who renovate their kitchens and bathrooms can get anywhere from 70 to 100 percent back from what they put into the enhancements if they sell. “For a few years, most of the people we worked with wanted to expand and enhance their home to stay in it longer, especially since it was so difficult to sell their homes,” said Klein. “But in the past year or so, we’re seeing the market improve for sellers so their making these improvements as investments in an effort to get more value from their home sale.” He said that people who are staying in their homes update their kitchens mainly because they need more space. “Functionality is very important when it comes to kitchen and so is space-saving. Today we can do some incredible things to give people more storage space not just in kitchens, but any room they need it, or through added rooms,” added Klein. To add more space without building on, some customers have sought finished basements. Klein Custom Builders can custom build and paint cabinets, allowing for more space saving and enhancing aesthetics. “People are really surprised by what is possible,” he said. “No job is too large or too small, whether it is simple maintenance or a major renovation. My goal for this company is to be a one-stop shop for any home improvement or maintenance needs, while delivering the highest quality and customer service.

Jewish couple opens up door to new career with Garage Experts

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Long-time Montgomery Jewish community members Jacob and Elizabeth Dubin left the life of attorneys last fall to open up a Garage Experts franchise for Alabama. Has it been a joy and a success so far? The verdict is yes — that’s an open and shut case. “We wanted something that would allow us to help others enhance their homes and allow us more time to spend with our family,” including their 6-month-old daughter, said Jacob Dubin. “We researched the company a great deal and realized they were doing things that no one else was doing.” The California-based Garage Experts started in 2008 as an industrial coatings provider and now has franchises across the U.S. “They use industrial strength products that are the best on the market and carry lifetime warranties. They

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can beautify any concrete surface — not just garages but also things such as patios. Plus everything is manufactured in California, which has the toughest environmental safety laws in the nation. The product is 100 percent safe and has no odor,” he said. Garage Experts can employ a variety of topcoats that can clean and protect concrete flooring as well as cabinets. “It’s stain-proof, oil-damage proof, tire-mark proof and incredibly strong. You get it done once and you never have to do it again,” said Dubin. He said he has worked with a few customers who wanted to turn the garage into a living space for a family member, a playroom, a man cave or to have a nice room for storage. “We can really transform the space and add value to a home,” said Dubin, adding that Garage Experts can work jobs all across Alabama and offers free estimates.

Window, door maker rebuilds after the tornadoes in Alabama Tuscaloosa-based Remmert and Company – which provides Kolbe doors/windows, custom casework, woodwork, countertops, millwork, moulding and installation — had its production facilities and offices devastated by the April 27, 2011, tornado that struck Tuscaloosa. But as the saying goes, when one door closes another one opens up. All employees on campus emerged safely from the rubble. Deciding to see the ruin as an opportunity rather than an obstacle, they immediate began drafting plans for a state-of-the-art, expanded production facility to house production and finishing work. And not only did they recover to be bigger and better than ever, but they helped many others in the area to rebuild. “During construction of our new building, we were fortunate to have wonderful family, friends, customers and suppliers lend their hands in the clean-up effort… and we are grateful for the temporary locations that allowed us to get back up and running in an extremely short period of time,” said owner Bill Remmert, a Birmingham native and Auburn University Engineering graduate who purchased Montgomery Woodworks in 1989 and moved it to Tuscaloosa in 1995. With the new building, Remmert and Company has the ability to produce shop drawings in-house with its team of engineers. In the past two decades, the company has transformed from a local residential cabinet, specialty lumber and hardware supplier to a full-service woodwork and millwork shop serving residential and commercial markets across not just central Alabama but the Southeast. Remmert also is a regionally-exclusive provider of high-end, energy-efficient Kolbe windows and doors. Kolbe products are designed

Continued on page 27

Crowne offers up luxury living, mortgage free While the economy continues to improve and stabilize, the financial crisis of 2009 left its mark on the mortgage industry. Underwriting guidelines became more stringent and down payment requirements went up, which means more people are turning to apartment living. While it may take young professionals and young families a few more years to work their way into a house, they are quickly discovering they can find all the comforts of home in a rental property thanks to an increase in luxury apartments being developed across the country. “People are looking at apartments to avoid the risk or expense of homeownership, and then they discover that our high-end luxury rentals offer more amenities and space than they anticipated in an apartment,” said Alan Engel of Crowne Partners. “Many of them are staying longer than they expected because it offers all the comfort of a house without many of the headaches.” The local trend Engel is seeing is happening across the country. Apartment occupancy rates have increased every quarter for the last two years as people flock to apartment living, but the more meaningful statistic might be the drop in the move-out rate. At the end of 2012, the moveout rate was at 16 percent, significantly below the historical average of 20 percent. Part of the long-term appeal, Engel said, is the luxury amenities attached to high-end multi-family developments. Many of Crowne Partners’ properties, such as Crowne at Galleria Woods in Hoover, include a swimming pool and a fitness center, even concierge services, green space, and a business center with computer access. The company’s Crowne at Grandview apartment complex even offers a “Doggie Bark Park” for residents with pets. Add to that controlled access gate entry, per-

sonal garages and custom landscaping and residents are finding the sort of amenities that the average family can’t afford in a home. “Meeting the amenity desires of a high-end market has always been a goal of ours at Crowne,” Engel said. “Whether our renter is a medical resident at the University of Alabama at Birmingham looking for a temporary home during their studies or a young professional couple that’s not ready to purchase a home, we want to provide a comfortable, upscale living environment.” In some parts of the country, the demand for

luxury apartments has grown so large that companies are reporting 3 to 4 month wait times for rental units. Engel said the good news in Birmingham is that companies like his got ahead of the growing demand and apartments remain available. “We saw the increasing demand and responded quickly,” Engel said. “As we continue to renovate and grow, our focus is offering unexpected luxury in our complexes. There is no reason that an apartment can’t provide everything you want in a home and more.”

>> Adding value to meet or exceed today’s stricter building codes and standards for energy efficiency, as well as the energy requirements for green building rating systems. Its Ultra Series windows and glass pane doors allow maximum visible light to enter while blocking 86 percent of the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.

Painting a pretty picture Painting a house enhances its look and adds value to a house while also providing value with energy savings, according to Jeff Wood, who has owned and run J&W Painting in Birmingham for more than 27 years. House painting can enhance curb appeal and increase the value of one’s home, he said. It also promotes healthy indoor air quality and keeps dust and dirt to a minimum. Of course, a fresh paint job protects exterior and interior surfaces, and hides permanent marks. Southern Jewish Life

May 2013


Real Estate/Homes Issis and Sons helps consumers pick the right carpet better the carpet. Issis and Sons says that a carpet might looks beautiful on the rack but Issis and Sons knows that carpeting can set the tone for a home. The how it looks in one’s home depends a great deal on the expertise of the carpeting/flooring store, with two locations in the Birmingham area, installer. That is why Issis and Sons’ installers must go through many hours wants to make sure customers feel like they have made the right choice of schooling and testing before they are allowed to lay one roll of carpet. All carpet starts out as loop, but machine-cutting when buying. turns loop into cut pile. While pile may not factor Carpets should be selected for the traffic and lifeinto carpet performance, it is the key factor in carpet style in a home. Most people keep a carpet for more preference, according to Issis and Sons. than seven years. The industry recognizes three textures cut out of Carpet is made up of fibers, mesh backing, an atpile — plush, Saxony and frieze. Plush (or velvet) is tached cushion and latex adhesive to hold the pile both dense and uniform, providing a formal look. of twisted fibers in place. Better carpets have better Saxony is less formal, with individual strands twisted latex adhesive. Fibers may be nylon, olefin, polyester, together and heat set. acrylic or wool. Frieze is the most durable and least formal of the By far the majority of carpets sold in the United three pile styles. Frieze has a nubby texture and a States are nylon, thanks to its durability, colorfastness, characteristic curl that come from tightly twisting the stain and soil resistance as well as resilience to matting yarn before looping and cutting. and affordability. Wool carpeting is considered handBerber is a loop-pile carpet made of bulky wood, nysome and very durable. lon or olefin. Because of their pile, Berbers do not hide Nylon carpet will never wear out, it will just wear. seams like dense cut pile does. If a Berber is burned, Mid-range and high-end carpets can be expected to torn or badly stained, the entire section of the damlast 12 to 15 years. aged carpet must be replaced. Unlike cut pile, Berber Carpet quality is judged by density and pile. Dencannot be replaced. sity is the thickness and closeness of the pile yarn. Carpet prices begin at $8 per square yard, accordHigh density is considered an advantage. The very densest carpets are so packed with fiber per square inch that it is difficult ing to Issis and Sons. They advise buying the highest quality carpet one to wiggle a finger all the way down the mesh. So the denser the pile, the can afford, coupled with the highest quality padding.

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Ferguson dishes on latest in high-tech kitchens By Lee J. Green Induction cooking, intuitive touch-screen interfaces, high-tech designs and steam ovens would be considered what’s hot — both literally and figuratively — in kitchen appliances. That’s according to Ferguson Bath and Kitchen, a national distributor of kitchen, bathroom and lighting appliances and equipment, tools and safety equipment, plumbing supplies, heating and cooling equipment with 10 showrooms to serve all of the Southern Jewish Life coverage area — Birmingham, New Orleans/Metairie, Montgomery, Tuscaloosa, Auburn, Mobile, Destin, Daphne, Jackson and Pensacola. The hottest selling items this year are iPods, tablets, e-readers and smart phones. That’s what consumers want and surveys have shown that twothirds of consumers are planning to make a technology purchase in the next six months. Appliance manufacturers understand this trend and continue to incorporate more advanced technology into their products. They recognize that consumers are using touch technology and memory presets into their everyday lives, and will soon be looking for this functionality in the kitchen. In the past these types of features, if available, were only offered in high-end, premium appliances. Today they are more commonly available at the mid-range level. One of the latest trends is induction cooking. It has been popular in Europe for a while, but the demand in America has been steadily increasing. An induction cooker is faster and more energy-efficient than a traditional electric stove. It also provides the user with instant control of temperature level. Even diehard gas stove fans are slowly converting. Until recently, induction technology was mainly limited to cooktops. However, slide-in and free-standing models are now more readily available. Smart phones were among the first to introduce touch-screen technology to the masses. Now consumers can have that same functionality and convenience in the kitchen with touch-screen interfaces on dishwashers, ranges, ovens, microwaves and refrigerators. Many ovens and ranges allow for pre-setting for the Sabbath, for example. The new Jenn-Air Pro-Style Range even allows cooks to program the cooking method, time and temperature of successful recipes then recall them when repeating the recipes. Several of the models can be set remotely from a computer or smart phone. Not only are appliance manufacturers replicating the functionality of high-tech gadgets, but they are also replicating the style and design. Expect even-more streamlined looks in kitchen design, with appliances that will closely resemble the look of an iPhone or iPad. White or black floating glass accented by stainless steel trim is one example. Additionally, steam ovens are becoming increasingly more popular. Cooking with steam is a fast, easy way to seal in nutrients and flavors. Since the food only absorbs the amount of moisture needed to cook, there is less chance of overcooking or drying out. Steam ovens are not new to the market, but advanced technology has brought the manufacturing costs down, and coupled with increasing demand, the prices to consumers have reached that mid-level. Ferguson launched in 1952 with two locations and today employs 18,000 at approximately 1,300 locations across the U.S., Puerto Rico, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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Longtime Birmingham Jewish community member, RealtySouth agent and avid tennis player Bridget Sikora loves bringing in net profits for sellers and getting buyers the homes they de-serve. Sikora said things are brisk for her, and new home sales in Alabama recently posted a close to 25 percent gain. “The interest rates are still very low and sellers seem to have a greater understanding of market demand when we work them to set their prices,” she said. “The factors here in Birmingham are working very favorably for buyers and sellers.” The real estate market had been soft since 2007 and very slanted toward a buyer’s market. But savvy sellers held onto their places a bit longer and got low-interest home equity lines to enhance and renovate their places. Now they are getting more takers for their offers and with the economy improving, more buyers are getting approved. “I have had plenty of people ask me to come to their house and let them know what they could do to increase the value of their home,” she said. “Then after they have made the improvements, many have gotten their homes sold at what we/ they feel is a good price. Most buyers want a home that is finished and in good shape with some nice amenities.” Sikora, who has been with RealtySouth 10 years, said she is seeing some strong homes sales growth in Mountain Brook, Vestavia and Homewood, especially with the schools being rated so high. “We live in Mountain Brook and I am a former PTA president at Brookwood Forest Elementary School. The quality schools and communities definitely are good selling points.” Those have also been good reasons why Trussville (just northeast of Birmingham) homes sales have been strong, according to Nancy Drinkard. She and her husband, Alan, own a Remax Market Place realty office in the growing city. According to Trussville Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Diane Poole, “There is a small town feeling, but with a good selection of commercial areas so you don’t need to go far for what you need,” she said. “Our school system is one of the best in the state and we have a variety of housing options.” Neighboring Clay and Springville have also experienced new home sales growth as well as population increases. The Remax Drinkard office specializes in finding mid-to-higher-end properties in the area, but also work the seven-county Birmingham metro area and even have clients as far as Tuscaloosa. “We are seeing inventory decreasing and sales increasing, plus we’re getting our sellers increasingly better offers than they have gotten in the

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past few years. You can tell that the market is growing and people are doing well,” said Nancy Drinkard. As a result the Drinkards’ Remax office has grown significantly over the past three years since they first opened up, going from four agents then to close to 24 today. Sales in 2012 for the office were up 10 percent from 2011 and Alan Drinkard estimates that the growth is even more significant from last April to this April. “We’re seeing the developers build more and continue their developments,” said Alan Drinkard. “The banks are lending more money and with the increase in demand, developers, sellers and we are anticipating that things will only continue to improve… and demand will continue to increase.” The Drinkards advise working with experienced real estate agents who can guide clients every step of the way. Nancy Drinkard has been a real estate agent for almost 20 years and Alan Drinkard for more than 11. Even though Birmingham’s ARC Realty Group LLC just opened its doors last November, its four forming partners bring a combined 82 years of experience in the industry. Chairman Tommy Brigham, with 30 years experience, is a former CEO with RealtySouth and has seen much change in Birmingham real estate over the years. “While our industry has faced challenging economic conditions over the past five years, it’s also been a time for creativity and innovation,” said Brigham. “Home buyers have new ways to shop for a home. We’re excited to apply these strategies in the launch of ARC Realty.” Beau Bevis, Mechelle Wilder and Dale McIntyre also lead ARC. The company currently has 50 realtors with listings totaling more than $60 million. Its two offices are in Cahaba Heights and Inverness. ARC Marketing Director Barry DeLozier said when the housing market went soft for a few years starting in 2007, it coincided with the rise of new internet as well as social media technologies. It allowed both buyers and sellers to become more educated with the market, options and what they could do to work with an agent to thus obtain a competitive edge. “We’re seeing more savvy buyers and sellers today. That helps ARC professionals to speed up the sales process and get more for its clients,” said DeLozier. “Today 87 percent of homes were screened online first before potential buyers visited the homes in person.” He adds that “for most it’s the biggest purchase they will ever make, so by ARC and its clients doing their homework to provide the most knowledgeable solutions, that will help ensure that it is the best situation for everyone.”

Latter & Blum grows with New Orleans housing market By Lee J. Green New Orleans continues to experience a renaissance of growth in its real estate sales sector as people continue to move to the Crescent City. “The New Orleans real estate market did not experience the market crash and fall-out several years ago and certainly has sustained significant growth post-Katrina,” said Latter & Blum Marketing Director Stephen Waring. Founded in 1916 by New Orleans Jewish community leaders, the company is now the largest full-service real estate brokerage in the Gulf South with operations in greater New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Alexandria and Southern Mississippi. Latter & Blum handles all phases of residential, commercial, leasing, property management, appraisals, mortgage and title services. Some of the growth in 2012 and 2013 for New Orleans can be attributed to favorable rankings in various categories. The public schools received recognition for being vastly improved. New Orleans was ranked among the top U.S. cities for new job creation, for working mothers, digital media/technology leadership, and Louisiana did well on the list of friendliest states for small businesses. New Orleans also tops a list of cities where a paycheck stretches the furthest and the city has experienced the nation’s fastest per capita personal income growth since 2005.

Late last year, Latter & Blum acquired Van Eaton and Romero as well as M.A. Allen Realtors, expanding the company by more than 25 percent and ranking it as the 39th largest brokerage in the U.S. by unit sales. Waring said that with growth has also come the expansion and enhancement of the company’s websites as well as incorporation of new technologies allowing for a more informed agent as well as customer. “In March we integrated and launched our enhanced new web presence. We added some very effective new tools and features,” he said. “The goal is to provide as much education and real-time information to a customer so that he or she can make the most informed decision. For most there is no bigger purchase than the purchase of a home.” At no charge, individuals can subscribe to Latter & Blum’s Market Tracker and Property Profile Reports. These interactive e-mail reports provide specific market information on a home, community or area of interest. “It’s valuable information in real time with close to 30 data points detailing a property or an area. It generates a wealth of market and property statistics instantly.” The new Latter & Blum websites include a new look and design, detailed school and market information, multiple interactive maps of every listing, video tours and property slide shows, online mortgage applications, complete agent contact information, easy-to-navigate MLS/development listings and social media integration.



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New Orleans’ Nano architecture firm builds upon success By Lee J. Green

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Ian and Terri Dreyer continue to build upon their architecture firm’s successes since returning to New Orleans post-Katrina. The owners of Nano LLC also provide leadership in a couple of non-profit organizations with designs on improving New Orleans’ infrastructure and educating future architects. “We don’t just work this profession, we live it,” said Terri Dreyer. “Our motto is ‘detail every scale.’ No job is too big or too small and we put the same attention to detail as well as creativity into everything we do.” Nano’s portfolio in the New Orleans area includes Weinstein’s department store, Salon Diversions, Tulane’s uptown campus and Higher Ground. Terri Dreyer said she sees some strong new small business retail growth in New Orleans as well as in smaller towns such as Houma and Hammond. “Small business growth is what will pull our country out of this recession. We’re seeing a trend in new restaurants we’re designing and mixed-use retail/living spaces (as is the case with the Dreyers/Nano). We’re a small business and we love working with other small businesses. It’s about helping each other,” she said. A couple of those projects include 800 Baronne and a proposed new Fresco restaurant they are designing. Nano continues to work on some projects for the State of Louisiana’s Main Street program, which offers grants for businesses to locate in smaller towns. On the residential side, they have done several historic home renovations, with folks taking advantage of the tax credits. “People might add 500 or 1,000 square feet to their home and modernize it with the thought they will stay there longer… or increase the house’s value and ease of sale,” added Terri Dreyer. In addition to provide structure design, Nano does much interior design/office space work and even makes custom furniture. The Dreyers hope to have their own line of furniture soon. Terri and Ian met and both earned masters in architecture at the Tulane School of Architecture. They married in October 2001 and formed Nano. They worked a variety of projects, primarily in the New Orleans area, focused on commercial and residential new structure architecture, renovation and interior design. After Katrina hit they relocated to Dallas and worked for a firm whose projects included the design of public areas for new stadiums such as those for the Dallas Cowboys and Indianapolis Colts. Upon returning to New Orleans, the Dreyers reformed Nano and worked on many renovations, rebuildings and other projects. They also were instrumental in the launch of CityWorks, a local non-profit devoted to the rejuvenation and continued care of City Park. They also provide leadership and instructional roles in another nonprofit that helps further education in the areas of architectural design as well as building. Terri serves as an architecture professor at LSU, where she earned her undergraduate degree in interior design, as well as an adjunct professor for Tulane’s School of Architecture. “The designers of tomorrow will shape the future and we feel optimistic about where things are heading,” said Terri Dreyer.

Floor and Décor knows sky’s the limit on flooring options By Lee J. Green While New Orleans’ Floor and Décor carries a wide range of flooring and tile options, they gear most of their selection to what most of its customers seek. And according to its Magazine Street design gallery director Lindsay Swenson, what’s trending in the Crescent City is traditional whites along with some very classy marble. “Many people down here have homes in that traditional, classic design and that’s what fits best. In New Orleans, classic is king,” she said. “We can always add some color with the tile accents,” glass tiles are popular and can add color, Swenson adds, “but most people choose a more traditional, elegant design style for their new flooring.” She said the advancement in penetrating sealers have made marble more “user friendly” with less worry about staining and etching. The Magazine Street location, opened three years ago, is the company’s only free-standing design center — the Atlanta-based Floor and Décor has 35 locations — and they also have a warehouse/retail location in Gretna. “We deal in volume and buy di-

rect so we cut out the middle man. That allows us to offer high-quality product and service but at lower price points,” she said. Knowledgeable, friendly service is of greatest importance to Floor and Décor New Orleans. Swenson said she and all of her employees have design degrees along with special concentrations in various area of specific flooring design. With hardwood flooring, Swenson is seeing a popularity increase with reclaimed hard pine. That is solid wood pulled off of 100-year-old buildings before they are demolished and turned into flooring. “It gives age and character. Plus it is a more eco-friendly product for those who go with hardwood,” she said. Also trending is engineered hardwood, which is more resistant to moisture. That gives it more durability, especially in an area such as New Orleans considering climate and weather. Swenson advises that customers should consider factors such as retained value, durability and aesthetics when selecting their flooring. “For example, natural materials bring a higher resale value than manmade materials,” she said. “We ask questions, we listen and then we can advise them on some options that would be best for what they are trying to achieve.”

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������������ Kicking it up

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On April 21, the Uptown Jewish Community Center held its annual Kicking for Kids fundraiser, to benefit youth programs at the JCC. The winning kickball team this year (above) registered as ODB — top local team Oh Danny Balls, which competes nationally. The JNOLA team, on the cover, lost in the semifinals to “You Kick Kids, We Kick...”



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May 2013

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SJL is free to all Jewish households in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and NW Florida. Outside this area, anyone wishing to subscribe, or to send a gift, may do so for $25/year ($40/two years). To sign up free inside our area, or to purchase a subscription outside these states, email us at or mail: SJL, PO Box 130052, Birmingham AL 35213 If you prefer receiving SJL online — either instead of or in addition to the print edition — send us your email. Every issue is available online in the exact same layout as the print edition. And email = quicker. NOLA

Lusher dominates at annual Community Day School Math Contest There may have been 12 teams in attendance at Community Day School’s fifth annual Math Contest, but it was Lusher Charter School that dominated the day. The contest was held on April 24 at the Metairie school, sponsored by the Keller Family Foundation, Bruce J. Heim Foundation, and Regions Bank. The overall individual winner was a legacy. Bharat Solanky of St. Martin’s Episcopal School followed in his older sister’s footsteps in winning the title. Second place went to Joyce Zhao of Lusher, and David Zhang of Lusher placed third. In the team competition, Lusher placed first, with team members Isaac Gasior, Eli Issokson and Gus Wietfeldt. John Dibert Community School came in second place with team members Mashi Harris, Alecia Augustine and Athan Nelson.

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>> From the Editor in your midst, and the charge to be a holy nation. Whether some of the financial shenanigans are improper or merely have the appearance of impropriety should not matter. Questionable behavior like this hurts the entirety of Klal Yisrael by association and plays into the worst stereotypes. Yes, former president Schwartz. This is the United States, where we have the freedom to live a Jewish life, but with that freedom comes the responNOLA

sibility toward the greater community. What the school board is doing is hurtful to the non-Jewish population and harmful to the community at large. Coming from those who hold themselves up as pious and righteous, this type of behavior smells about as kosher as a crawfish processing plant. Larry Brook Editor/Publisher

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May 2013


Kosher-Style Recipe: Atchafalaya By Lee Green

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May 2013

New Orleans’ “only five ‘A’ restaurant” has received straight As for enhancing its dining experience with the recent edition of renowned chef Christopher Lynch. Atchafalaya Restaurant co-owner Tony Tocco said he has been friends with Lynch for many years and feels he is the perfect addition to the uptown contemporary Creole eatery, where he describes the dining room as having “rustic elegance.” “What Chris brings is the ability to see the whole picture. He brings a keen eye focused on continuity, robust flavors and he is skilled with a diverse array of cuisines. He is aces in every facet of being a chef.” Lynch has worked in the past with Anthony Bourdain and was a chef at Emeril Legasse’s flagship restaurant in New Orleans. In recent years, he’s worked as a private chef as well as a consulting chef for the popular HBO television show “Treme.” Tocco graduated with a degree in hospitality management from Tulane and went on to work at Bayona at its opening. He had helped start and manage several other restaurants and bars. Before Katrina he had moved to Asheville, N.C., for an opportunity but in 2007 wanted to return to New Orleans. He was approached by a restaurant owner who had purchased the closed-down Petrossi’s, which had been in that spot on Louisiana Avenue since the 1930s. The new place was renamed Café Atchafalaya and Tocco ran it for a couple of years before taking ownership in 2009, renaming it Atchafalaya Restaurant. It was around that time that he hired a bartender named Rachael Jaffe. The two started dating and one day, as Tony tells it, Rachael said to him “why don’t you make me your general manager,” to which he added “and wife?” The two married in 2011 and together have grown and enhanced the restaurant. While a couple of Atchafalaya’s signature dishes are obviously not kosher, such as the crab ravioli along with the shrimp and grits, they offer many exquisite dishes that are kosher-style. Those items include fried green tomatoes, frisee salad, fish of the day (in most cases), sautéed redfish and seared yellowfin tuna. “Since we took ownership we have enhanced the wine list, added much to the menu and elevated the overall standards. Plus with the addition of Christopher that takes us to another level,” said Tocco. “Consistency is the hallmark of a great restaurant. The key is to do it right every day and every time.”

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Sauteed Redfish Serves 2 Ingredients 2-8oz boneless skinless filets 3 tbl. vegetable oil Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste Approx. two handfuls of haricots verts 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes 1/2 cup oyster mushrooms 1.5 tsp. chopped fresh garlic 1.5 tsp. diced shallots 4 fingerling potatoes cut lengthwise and deep fried Lemon truffle beurre blanc Rinse and dry fish filet, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Use 2 tablespoons oil in non-stick skillet on high heat when oil starts to smoke place fish filet presentation side down and cook until edges become golden brown. Flip the filets and cut off the heat and set aside. In a separate pan add one tablespoon vegetable oil on high heat and sauté mushrooms first followed by shallots, garlic, haricots verts (blanched), potatoes (fried), and tomatoes cook until done. Finish with 1 tbs butter and salt/pepper to taste. Plate and top with beurre blanc: 2 cups white wine 1 large shallot, rough chopped Juice from 1/2 lemon 1 cup heavy cream 1/2 lb. cold unsalted butter 1 pinch salt Fresh sprig of thyme Fresh whole garlic A couple black peppercorns One bay leaf A dash of truffle oil In a medium pot combine all ingredients except cream and bring to a boil. Cut down to simmer and reduce by half. Add cream and reduce by half. Slowly mount with butter and strain. Add truffle. NOLA

Continued from page 38

not suffered mine neighbors to rejoice over me leaving. Oh Lord, my closets cried unto Thee, and Thou didst relocate me; Oh Lord, Thou broughtest up my soul from the nether-hood; to downpay in figures five, that I should not go down in a money pit. Sing praise unto the Lord, for walk-in closets won, and give thanks for this roof ’s high frame. Neighborly anger is but for a moment, no paint job lasts a lifetime; sweeping may tarry for the night, but maids cometh in the morning. Now I have said to my HOA: ‘I shall never be moved.’ Thou hadst established, Oh Lord, my property line as a stronghold – They didst hide my fence; I was affrighted. Unto Thee, Oh Lord, did I call, and unto the bank I made application: ‘What profit is left after my flood, when I had to fill that pit? Shall the rust raise past my knee? Shall it require a roto-root? Hear, Wells Fargo, be gracious unto me; Lord, be Thou my co-signer.’ Thou didst turn for me my moving into nesting; Thou didst loose my floorplan, and grid me with solar; So that my mortgage may not raise its fee, and not be delinquent; Oh, Lord, my God, I will pay property tax and lien forever. Doug Brook is a writer in Silicon Valley whose house is anchored, via a long rope, to a large rock in western Nevada… just in case. For past columns, other writings, and more, visit For exclusive online content, like

New email list for community obituaries With the cessation of the Times Picayune’s daily publication, it is now likely that members of the Jewish community will find it more difficult to learn about funerals within the community in a timely fashion. “Levayat Hamet” is the mitzvah to attend funerals. To address this problem, Southern Jewish Life Magazine, in cooperation with the Greater New Orleans Rabbinic Council and the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, has offered to provide timely notifications to those who seek it. To sign up for this mitzvah enabling service simply go to You may also send your email address to Your address will be used only for this specific purpose. NOLA

Southern Jewish Life

May 2013



The Beholder’s Eye by Doug Brook

Where you hang your kippah Through the course of Jewish history, the term “house” has meant many things. The first and second Temples were referred to as “haBayit,” which literally means “the house.” Their builders putting massive stones in place was the first known instance of people “rockin’ the house.” Of course, the first Temple was built by King Solomon and, as we read every Shavuot, the second Temple was known as “the House that Ruth built” — a phrase that has unfortunately been purloined by pinstriped pretenders from the Bronx. More recently, Lisa Edelstein There’s a Psalm starred for seven years as the ex-girlfriend and boss of the title character for everything. on Fox’s “House, M.D.” (Check local Even for moving listings.) into a new house. While Hugh Laurie’s title character would think that “House of worship” refers to him, through the last couple thousand years Jews have been building local houses of worship made of boards and foundations that they can only hope are, in the long term, stronger and more cohesive than the boards that run them. But before this devolves into extending the tangent to TV’s shortlived “House Calls,” or even worse, to the short-yet-too-long-lived “After M*A*S*H,” consider another source of biblical reference to the place where Jews traditionally hang their beanies. As almost both of you know, there are 150 Psalms in the Bible. Their authorship is commonly ascribed to King David, primarily because scholars initially misheard “father of Solomon” as “father of Psalms, man.” While that debate rages on, recent evidence has confirmed that King David was the actual author behind several of the works commonly credited to William Shakespeare. Findings include the original holiday-based play, “Eighth Night; or, Oh, You Oil,” and the play originally about the complaints of Jewish mothers-in-law, “Much Ado About Nothing.” Either way, this column guarantees that no rabbinic scholar will take the time to deny that the recently discovered Mishnah tractate Bava Gump reveals some never-before-seen Psalms. Psalm 30 is commonly known as a Psalm associated with Chanukah, as its first verse includes the phrase, “chanukat haBayit,” meaning it is for the dedication of the Temple that David was himself forbidden to build. Bava Gump reveals that there was, in fact, a follow-on Psalm intended for the dedication of an individual’s house. Fortunately, the text of that Psalm was perfectly preserved for these thousands of years, hermetically sealed in what archaeologists believe to have been an ancient mayonnaise jar. Once they recovered from the rind of the ancient mayonnaise, they provided the following translation. Psalm 30.5 A Psalm, a song to the dedication of a house, by David. 6 01. 8 8 5 . 6 0 42 • JAC O B S .U RJ CA M P S .O R G 38 HSJacobs_Ad02.indd 1

May 2013

I will extol you, Oh Lord, for they hadst raised my rent, and hadst

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May 2013 issue of Southern Jewish Life, New Orleans edition.

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