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Southern Jewish Life MARKING THE MISSISSIPPI BOMBINGS JEWISH ROYALTY IN NEW ORLEANS CELEBRATING SUMMER CAMP LEGACIES ANNUAL SUMMER TRAVEL ISSUE

May/June 2018 Volume 28 Issue 4

Southern Jewish Life P.O. Box 130052 Birmingham, AL 35213 Beth Israel Congregation in Jackson


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Over the last few weeks, Israel celebrated its 70th birthday, and there were many programs scheduled throughout the region to try and deepen ties between Southern Jews and Israel. It is often pointed out that younger Jews don’t have the same passion for Israel as the older generations, and what can be done to bring them up to speed, so to speak. One of the motivations of Birthright was to try and deepen the connection, because visiting Israel makes it a real place, rather than the abstract place you learned about in religious school. But despite the hand-wringing about a deficit of passion, one simple explanation for the difference comes from history and the passage of time. My first realization was when I taught religious school in the early 1990s and it hit me that the students weren’t even alive when Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat signed the peace treaty — mine was a completely different perspective from the teens I was teaching. For those who remember the Six Day War in 1967 or the Yom Kippur War in 1973, it was a real question each night as to whether Israel would still be there the next morning. Who remembers that feeling? Nobody under 50 — I was four when the Yom Kippur War was fought. The Lebanon War in 1982, the Intifada, even the Scud missiles from Iraq in 1991, none of those carried the same existential threat to Israel. And what of Israel’s founding? While the roots of modern Israel go back to the 1890s, for a lot of people Israel’s necessity was driven home during the Holocaust, when the Jewish people had nowhere to go, no place of last resort. From the late 1940s, Israel’s existence had to be defended at all costs. Who remembers those days? Far fewer people. The rescue of Soviet Jewry and Ethiopian Jewry in the early 1990s? Those were dramatic and came with a surge of pride, but it didn’t feel like 1948, and many of the Soviet Jews had the option of going to the United States. And at this point, one has to be at least in their 30s

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opinion

MESSAGES

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

Brief but Spectacular: My Inaugural Trip to Israel Special to Southern Jewish Life

I felt honored to come to Birmingham for the first time and fell in love with not just the city I became a Jew choice in Southern my mid-30s, so but the people. Youbyhave taken hospitality to a new level with your kind and caring the gift of to Israel afforded to many Jewish teens approach the JCC Maccabi Games. was never an option for me. Enmeshed in a Led by the Sokol and Helds, your hard-working volunteers were wonderful. They partnered demanding career and a fulfilling family life, it with your outstanding staff, led by Betzy Lynch, to make the 2017 JCC Maccabi games a huge hit. seemed never to be the right time to visit our I want to take this opportunity as executive director of Maccabi USA to say thank you on behalf Jewish homeland… until this year. An offer of everyone involved. came that could not be ignored. I hadNational just returned from of the Jewish 20th World Maccabiah games in Israel with a U.S. delegation of The Council Women, over 1100, joined 10,000 Jewish athletes from 80 countries. Back in July the eyes of the entire along with who the Jewish Women’s Funding NetJewishand world onFund Jerusalem and the This past month with 1000 athletes and work the were Dafna of Israel, wasMaccabiah. orgacoachesa from the world being Birmingham, you became the focal point. nizing study around tour entitled “Force forinChange: Israel Through a Gender Lens. ” It was designed Everyone from the Jewish community and the community at large, including a wonderful lar moment for me took place on International to introduce American women to the smartest, police force, are to be commended. These games will go down in history as being a seminal Women’s Day, when NCJW and the DAFNA most savvy feminists one will ever meet, not moment for the Jewish community as we build to the future by providing such wonderful Jewish Fund of Israel held a symposium attended by only in Israel, but anywhere in the world. memories. As the newly-elected president of the Greater 250 Israeli feminists from all sectors. It was a Jed Margolis New Orleans Section of NCJW, whose mission day of deep listening, learning and discussion Director, Maccabi isExecutive to confront today’s most USA urgent social and around the findings of our “White Paper” on the economic challenges facing women, children current status of the women’s agenda in Israel. On a personal note, wasseedelighted that my and families, I knew this was an opportunity to supremacists would likeI to pushed back Onseized. Charlottesville vacationing was one only be My hope was to be inspired and to son intoDavid, a corner and madeintoIsrael, feel lesser. Weof stand two men registered and actively participating. return and inspire our members. with and pray for the family of Heather Heyer, Editor’s Note: This reaction to the events in him right! For seven days, we traversed the country We whoraised was there standing up to the face of this Charlottesville, written by Jeremy Newman, Going forward, NCJW will be using this from Jerusalem and Ramallah to Tel Aviv, and hate. Master of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Theta Colony from there to Lod, Haifa and the Galilee, learn- groundbreaking research to help leaders, activWe recognize the essence of the American at Auburn University, was shared by AEPi ing so much from the narratives of women lead- ists and funders of women’s organizations chart narrative asfuture a two-century old advancement struggle to rid of National, which called it “very eloquent” and a fearless toward the ing change in Israel — extraordinary visionaries ourselves of such corners, and allow those in praised “our brothers at AEPi Theta Colony at gender equality in Israel. with a passion and love for their country. them the seat at the table that they so deserve. Auburn University and… the leadership they Before my Israel experience, I never really They were local Israeli activists, women deIt is the struggle to fulfill the promise of the display on their campus.” manding pluralism and equal treatment in re- considered myself a feminist. The label has been Declaration of Independence, that “all men are ligious practice, Palestinian feminist activists distorted, radicalized. This is, however, what created equal… endowed by their Creator with within thesupremacy green linehasand Palestinian entre- I know today. Feminism is simply a belief in: White been a cancer on certain unalienable rights.” We know our work preneurs beyond Equality and gender justice; Fully addressing our country since its beginning, threatening is far from finished, but we know we will not the angels. green line. women’s needs, issues and capabilities; AdvancitsBefore hopes, its values, and its better move backwards. ing women from all communities and investing were legal The events that took place in They Charlottesville in them; and the of cooperation, mutual When men andvalues women, fully armed, take advocates and my Israel represented the worst of this nation. Those aid, networking and pluralism as best and practices to the streets in droves with swastikas N o n G o v e r n who marched onto theI streets with tiki torches experience, for advancing other symbolswomen’s of hate, itleadership. is a reminder of how mental Organizaand swastikas did so to provoke violence and These values willofbe playing in the currelevant the issues racism andout anti-Semitism tion leaders. And never really fear. Those who marched onto the streets did rent Louisiana legislative session as work NCJW and are today. It is a wake-up call to the that the list goes on… soconsidered to profess an ideology that harkens back to other coalition partners work to influence our needs to be done to ensure a better, more so many talented, a bleaker, more wretched time in our history. leaders to make ethical decisions in support of welcoming country. But it should not come articulate womA myself time when a men and women of many creeds, proposals that address issues around domestic without a reflection on how far we’ve come. en trying to lead races, and religions were far from equal and far feminist. The equal pay, minimum wage, family be the violence, America was born a slave nation. A century from safe in our own borders.change A timeand where leave, voting rights, sex education, LGBT rights change that Israel into our history we engaged in a war in part Americans lived under cloud of label has beena constant and gun violence prevention. so desperately to ensure we would not continue as one. We racism, anti-Semitism and pervasive hate. The Powered by the Jewish imperative to ensure distorted. needs if Israel events that took place in Charlottesville servedis found ourselves confronted by the issue of civil dignity for all, NCJW members will continue going to live up to rights, and embarked on a mission to ensure as a reminder of how painfully relevant these affect policy and advocate for justice. Please the principles set out in its 1948 Declaration of to the fair treatment of all peoples no matter their issues are today. us. Our voice has never been more essenIndependence, which calls for Israel to “ensure join skin color. Although we’ve made great strides, Auburn’s Alpha of Epsilon stands with the and our voices together will make a meancomplete equality socialPiand political rights tial, it is a mission we’re still grappling with today. Jewish Charlottesville, and race ingful difference here in Louisiana, in Israel and to all itscommunity inhabitants of irrespective of religion, America the wasworld. also born an immigrant with the Jewish people around the country throughout or sex.” country. As early as the pilgrims, and around the world. We also stand with the Barbara Kaplinsky, president of many NCJW, GNO, My most spectacular moment was praying at groups and families found in the country theFor minorities who are targeted by the hate that can be reached at kaplinskyb@gmail.com. the Western Wall, which was an awe-inspiring opportunity to plant stakes, chasevisit theirwww.ncfuture, was humbling on displayexperience. in Charlottesville. We stand more information about NCJW, and and be themselves. Few were met with open with the minorities whom white It was fitting thatofthe otherthese really spectacu- jwneworleans.org 4 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018

May/June2018 2018 February

Southern Jewish Life PUBLISHER/EDITOR Lawrence M. Brook editor@sjlmag.com ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER/ADVERTISING Lee J. Green lee@sjlmag.com ADVERTISING SPECIALIST Annetta Dolowitz annetta@sjlmag.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR Ginger Brook ginger@sjlmag.com SOCIAL/WEB Alexis Polack connect@sjlmag.com PHOTOGRAPHER-AT-LARGE Rabbi Barry C. Altmark deepsouthrabbi.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Rivka Epstein, Zach Aaronson, Tally Werthan, Alex Bloch, Belle Freitag, Ted Gelber, E. Walter Katz, Doug Brook brookwrite.com BIRMINGHAM OFFICE P.O. Box 130052, Birmingham, AL 35213 14 Office Park Circle #104 Birmingham, AL 35223 205/870.7889 NEW ORLEANS OFFICE 3747 West Esplanade, 3rd Floor Metairie, LA 70002 985/807.1131 TOLL-FREE 866/446.5894 FAX 866/392.7750 connect@sjlmag.com ADVERTISING Advertising inquiries to 205/870.7889 for Lee Green, lee@sjlmag.com or Annetta Dolowitz, annetta@sjlmag.com Media kit, rates available upon request SUBSCRIPTIONS It has always been our goal to provide a large-community quality publication to all communities of the South. To that end, our commitment includes mailing to every Jewish household in the region (AL, LA, MS, NW FL), without a subscription fee. Outside the area, subscriptions are $25/year, $40/two years. Subscribe via sjlmag.com, call 205/870.7889 or mail payment to the address above. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without written permission from the publisher. Views expressed in SJL are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff. SJL makes no claims as to the Kashrut of its advertisers, and retains the right to refuse any advertisement. Documenting this community, a community we are members of and active within, is our passion. We love what we do, and who we do it for.


agenda interesting bits & can’t miss events On March 1, Temple B’nai Israel in Hattiesburg held a ribbon cutting to dedicate a plaque recognizing its new listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The 72-year-old synagogue building was one of four sites in Mississippi to receive that designation this year. Edward Cohn, rabbi emeritus of Temple Sinai in New Orleans, serves as B’nai Israel’s visiting rabbi.

Stephen Slater named new senior rabbi at Birmingham’s Beth-El On June 15, Rabbi Stephen Slater will become the rabbi of Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El, the largest Conservative congregation in Alabama. Slater is in his final year of studies before ordination at Hebrew College in Boston. He has been the student rabbi at Shaaray Tefila, a Conservative congregation in Glens Falls, N.Y., and rabbinic intern at the University of Rhode Island Hillel. A Detroit native, Slater grew up in West Africa, speaking French and Hebrew fluently. His bachelor’s degree is from Hillsdale College, and he has a master’s in Jewish studies from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. While in Israel, he also studied at the Hartman Institute and the Conservative movement’s yeshiva. In 2012, after meeting Sudanese refugees in Israel, he co-founded “Right Now: Advocates for African Asylum Seekers” to express principled concern about the treatment of African refugees in Israel. He has also been a residential counselor at Brandeis University and a youth counselor at Boston Impact Group. Before beginning rabbinical school, Slater taught Jewish thought, Chumash and Beit Midrash at Milk-

en Community High School in Los Angeles and at Hebrew schools in Los Angeles and New York. He also taught Hebrew online. He and his wife, Bethany, have a two-year-old daughter, Anav. Beth-El President Jacob Halpern said Slater’s “outgoing, inspirational ability to reach all age groups was evident from the overwhelmingly positive feedback the (Rabbi Search) Committee received from the congregation. I am excited for the promising future Temple Beth-El holds.” Slater succeeds Rabbi Barry Leff, who has been serving the congregation as interim rabbi for two years. The congregation started a visioning process in January 2017, then began its rabbinic search last fall.

Bahar takes Jacksonville pulpit Rabbi Elizabeth Bahar will be the new senior rabbi at The Temple, Congregational Ahavath Chesed, in Jacksonville, Fla. The 700-family congregation is the oldest house of worship in Jacksonville and the second-oldest synagogue in Florida, behind Pensacola’s Temple Beth-El. Bahar has led Huntsville’s Temple B’nai Sholom since 2009, and has been vocal in interfaith relations in north Alabama. In 2015, Bahar received the Joanie Plous Bayer Young Leadership Award from the Birmingham Jewish Federation, the first time the award has been presented to someone outside the Birmingham community. Earlier that year, Bahar was listed in the Forward’s “33 Most Inspirational Rabbis.”

May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 5


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agenda B’ham’s Emanu-El making plans for coming year without senior rabbi With this month’s departure of Interim Rabbi Douglas Kohn and Associate Rabbi Laila Haas, Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El announced plans for the coming year without a senior rabbi. The congregation’s search committee is gearing up for the coming year’s rabbinic search season. A Worship Team has been launched, chaired by Barbara and Jack Aland, to recruit volunteers to help lead services with Cantor Jessica Roskin, who will serve as the sole clergy member at Emanu-El this year. Roles include leading Hebrew or English readings, delivering sermons, saying Kiddush or helping with Torah service logistics. Training materials are being developed for each part. Student Rabbi Leah Nussbaum will visit the congregation twice monthly starting in September. She will be in her third year at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York, and is an educator at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue. She is a graduate of Syracuse University, where she was active in Hillel, the interfaith community and the disability community. She also spent a semester at Tel Aviv University. She spent her first year of rabbinical school in Jerusalem, where she volunteered at the Hillel Project, which supports individuals who have left the ultra-Orthodox community. Before entering rabbinical school, she was a 2015-16 Education Justice Fellow at Repair The World: Philadelphia. She also staffed the summer program Jewish Teens in Action Globally. Kohn, who took over after last summer’s retirement of Rabbi Jonathan Miller, will become the interim rabbi at Temple Beth El in San Pedro, Calif. “I have appreciated the wonderful opportunity to have served our historic Temple during this year, coming to know you, and helping to offer guidance and direction to our leadership,” Kohn said in a message to the congregation. The congregation will honor Kohn at its annual meeting, June 1 at 5 p.m., preceding the Shabbat service. At the 5:40 p.m. service, Emanu-El will honor Haas as she concludes her seven years with the congregation. Emanu-El Rabbi Emeritus Jonathan Miller will lead the service, and will be accompanied by Cantor Steven Haas, The Shabbatones and John Mark McGaha, director of contemporary worship and arts at Trinity United Methodist. An oneg will follow.

Spelling champions

Tim Kelley, Michelle Bernstein and Stanley Goldstein show their trophy after winning a city spelling bee as members of the Temple B’nai Israel team in Florence on April 12. The bee, sponsored by Northwest Alabama Reading Aides, was held at First United Methodist Church.


agenda Genizah ceremony in Alexandria

On April 29, members of Gemiluth Chassodim in Alexandria held a genizah ceremony at the Jewish cemetery in Pineville, burying worn out books and ritual items.

On May 3, Dothan’s Temple Emanu-El wrapped up another successful Deli Day, as the congregation came together to make corned beef sandwich lunches. As has been the case in recent years, over 2,000 lunches were assembled and purchased.

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May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 7


agenda

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The Birmingham Holocaust Education Center announced that Joel Rotenstreich will be the honoree at this year’s L’Chaim event, which will be held on Aug. 19 at the Alys Stephens Center. Rotenstreich has worked in interfaith education for many years, leading 22 group trips to Israel, including seven interfaith missions. He spearheaded the effort to plant an Anne Frank tree at Kelly Ingram Park. For the past two years, he has chaired the BHEC annual fundraising.

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The North Louisiana Jewish Federation announced that Camp Chai will be held the weeks of July 16 to 20 and 23 to 27 at B’nai Zion in Shreveport, with Morgan Walker as camp director. On June 22 at 7:30 p.m., Temple Beth-El in Anniston will hold a Shabbat service honoring Rabbi Irving Bloom on his retirement. Bloom started his rabbinic career in Anniston as a student in 1953, and has served there part-time since 2002. Among his pulpits over the years was Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile from 1960 to 1973. Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center announced that starting May 26, the facility will open earlier on Saturdays. The new Saturday hours will be 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Rabbi Dikla Druckman and Adi Druckman of Congregation Magen Avraham in Omer, sister community to the Shreveport area, will be visiting Shreveport for a series of programs the weekend of June 15 to 17. There will be events at B’nai Zion and Agudath Achim, including talks on the current situation in Israel, and a multimedia presentation on June 17. Gemiluth Chassodim in Alexandria will have a rededication of its endowment monument and a “significant announcement,” with a Shabbat service and dinner on June 1 at 6 p.m. The next meeting of the Criminal Justice Reform Group at Beth Israel in Jackson will be on June 17 at 1 p.m. in the Beth Israel library. The Jewish Federation of Central Alabama will screen the film “Bethlehem” on June 10 at 3:30 p.m. at Temple Beth Or in Montgomery. Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center will have an “Oldies But Goodies” Nostalgic Tennis Mixer, June 3 from 1 to 4 p.m. Matches will be played as doubles or mixed doubles. Each round, players will have a new partner and new opponents. Each round is 5-game noadd scoring with a 9-point tiebreak for the fifth game. Players are to wear at least 80 percent white clothing, as still required at Wimbledon, and bring the oldest racket that they can find, with wood racquets preferred. The tournament is limited to 28 players, with prizes for winners and runners-up. Registration is $25, $20 for members. Beth Israel in Jackson will have a Volunteer Appreciation Shabbat on June 1 at 6:15 p.m. Rev. Jill Barnes Buckley, executive director of Stewpot Community Services, will be guest speaker. A cookout behind the Temple will follow the service. The next Torah On Tap for Temple Beth-El in Pensacola will be on June 5 at 5 p.m., at Union Public House. Ahavas Chesed in Mobile will have its annual champagne brunch on June 3 at 10:30 a.m. The next Together Tuesdays in Shreveport will be on June 5 and July 3. People of all faiths and backgrounds assemble under the Texas Street bridge in front of the Bon Temps Coffee Bar at 6 p.m.

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Rabbi Judy Caplan Ginsburgh will perform a family concert at the Northeast Louisiana Children’s Museum in Monroe on June 16 at 6:30 p.m. Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center will have a Round Robin Pickleball Mixer on June 10 at 1 p.m., with six rounds. Awards will be given to player(s) with the greatest number of points.


community

Freedom Trail marker chronicles Mississippi synagogue bombings Dedication part of annual Nussbaum Lecture

As part of the festivities for this year’s Rabbi Perry Nussbaum Civil Justice Lecture, a Mississippi Freedom Trail marker was dedicated at Jackson’s Beth Israel Congregation on April 13. The marker, “Bombings in the Jewish Community,” describes three Klan bombings and a fourth attempted bombing in Jackson and Meridian in 1967 and 1968. Lucy Allen, director of museums at the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, was the Nussbaum honoree and presented this year’s Civil Justice Lecture on April 13 at the Millsaps College Gertrude Ford Academic Center. There was also an awards dinner on April 12 at the Civil Rights Museum. Allen was project manager for the two major museums that opened in December — the Civil Rights Museum of Mississippi and the Museum of Mississippi History in Jackson. The Nussbaum Lecture Series is an annual event at Millsaps. In 2008, John D. Bower, renal pioneer and friend of the late rabbi, endowed the lecture series, which is dedicated to men and women who have stood against racial bigotry and religious prejudice. Nussbaum served the Jackson congregation from 1954 until his retirement in 1973. As large numbers of Jewish activists came to Mississippi with the 1961 Freedom Rides and were arrested, Nussbaum quietly made the long trek to Parchman Prison, leading services and serving as a source of information for their concerned family members. He continued his civil rights activism, helping found an interracial group of ministers to rebuild bombed churches. When the new Beth Israel building was dedicated in 1967, black and white ministers participated. A Klan cell had decided that the problems Mississippi had faced in the 1960s stemmed not from the blacks, but from the Jews, and embarked on a bombing campaign. On Sept. 18, 1967, a bomb went off at Beth Israel, heavily damaging the administrative offices. On Nov. 23, a bomb went off at Nussbaum’s home; he and his wife escaped injury. On May 28, 1968, the four-year-old Beth Israel building in Meridian was bombed, with the blast damaging the education building. Backed by the Mississippi Jewish community, the Federal Bureau of Investigation paid two Klan informants for information and set up a trap for the bombers, using the home of Meyer Davidson in Meridian as bait. Fifteen police officers were waiting when Klansman Tommy Tarrants arrived on June 30 to plant 29 sticks of dynamite. When they ordered Tarrants to stop, he fled to his car and sped off,

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May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 9


community OFFICE OF INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY

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

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

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

leading to a chase and gun battle. Tarrants was severely wounded; his accomplice, elementary school teacher Kathy Ainsworth, was dead in the car. Tarrants was convicted and sent to Parchman, but after several years had a religious conversion, leading some in the Jewish community to press for his release. In 1976, he was permitted to do a work-release program and enroll at the University of Mississippi, and in 1979 wrote “Conversion of a Klansman.” Tarrants would go on to lead an interracial church in the Washington area, then become president of the C.S. Lewis Institute. He also co-wrote “He’s My Brother” with civil rights activist John Perkins. The Mississippi Freedom Trail was started in 2011, similar to the Blues Trail of historic music sites throughout the state, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Rides. Stuart Rockoff, who has been involved in the Beth Israel marker, said Temple members raised the funds to have the marker made. One side resembles a typical historical marker, while the second side contains an applique with photos and more in-depth information on the bombings. It was hoped that the marker might be ready in time for last fall’s 50th anniversary of the Beth Israel bombing, but having it dedicated as part of the Nussbaum Lecture is appropriate, Rockoff said, because Nussbaum was central to the story. At the dedication, Beth Israel President Susan Fijman spoke about Nussbaum, while Leslie McLemore, who became active in the civil rights movement in 1960 while a student at Rust College, spoke of the event’s significance and Beth Israel’s role in bringing the black and white communities together in the late 1960s. “The bombing of the Beth Israel Congregation ushered in a level of bi-racial cooperation and understanding that had not been present in the community before 1967,” he said. McLemore, who chairs the Freedom Trail Task Force, was president of the Jackson City Council and in 2009 served briefly as interim mayor, unveiled the marker. “The leadership and people of Beth Israel Congregation provided a beacon of hope during a difficult chapter in our history,” says Visit Mississippi Director Craig Ray. “The Mississippi Freedom Trail gives visitors a way to discover these stories and explore the state.”

BaRFTY raises $2500 for Dream Street

On March 10, members of Baton Rouge Federation of Temple Youth raised over $2500 with a spaghetti dinner and Auction for Abraham at Beth Shalom. Proceeds from the event go toward Camp Dream Street, a 5-day camp for children with disabilities, held each summer at the Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica. 10 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018


“Torah”

The mysteries of Ancient Hebrew letter forms enhance the study and understanding of Torah.

New Orleans Artist Marla Jean Clinesmith paints Ancient Hebrew word pictures in bright, contemporary compositions, showing the letters’ deeper meanings

His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco and Cheryl Landrieu unveil a plaque commemorating the birthplace of Princess Alice on Royal Street in New Orleans

Art Jewelry Prints Cards

Monaco honors Jewish royalty on Royal Street

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New Orleans is known for its Mardi Gras royalty, but there is one example of actual royalty from New Orleans, and she was Jewish. On March 18, His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco was in the French Quarter to kick off the New Orleans tricentennial celebrations by dedicating a plaque at the birthplace of Marie Alice Heine, who became known as Princess Alice when she married Prince Albert of Monaco in 1889. “You can be proud, as we are in Monaco, of this child of New Orleans,” he said. Albert II is the great-great-grandson of Prince Albert, tracing his lineage through Albert’s first wife. He said Princess Alice “was a very unique personality,” adding “she was also quite a leading figure in the principality’s history, promoting its culture and lending her name to two of my great-great-grandfather’s scientific research vessels.” The home at 900 Royal Street belonged to Alice’s mother’s family, the Miltenbergers. She was born there on Feb. 10, 1857, to Michel and Amelie Miltenberger Heine. Michel, who was Jewish, had moved to New Orleans from Germany in 1837, with his older brother. Their uncle in Berlin financed a banking and commission house, A&M Heine, at Common and Carondolet. Their business was successful and in 1853 he was able to marry Amelie Miltenberger, daughter of a wealthy first-generation French-American and a Creole woman. Amelie’s grandmother had built the three interconnected homes on Royal Street for her three sons. The Heines would alternate between New Orleans and Paris, where they opened another branch of A&M Heine, becoming important figures in financing France’s war on Prussia in 1870. Napoleon III and Empress Eugenie became godparents to Alice, and when the Civil War broke out in the States, the Heines remained permanently in Europe. They were also cousins with the poet Heinrich Heine. In her book, “The Grimaldis of Monaco,” Anne Edwards said Alice “spoke many languages — all fluently and all with a melodic American Southern accent.” In 1875, she married Armand Chapelle, the 7th Duc de Ricelieu and Marquis de Jumilhac, and converted to Catholicism after being raised

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Jewish. They had a son, who became the 8th and final duke. While vacationing on the island of Madeira in the winter of 1879, Alice met Prince Albert I, who was in the process of being divorced. Regarding Madeira, he later wrote “it was there that my destiny was forever changed… I met Alice, Duchess of Richelieu, and soon thereafter we began the affectionate courtship that led to our marriage.” Albert II said “there was no question of the relationship between Alice and Albert,” and in 1880 two things happened that enabled their relationship to move forward — the duke died, leaving Alice a 22-year-old widow with two children, and the pope annulled Albert I’s marriage. Albert II noted that Prince Charles III, Albert I’s father, was not enthused by his son’s new relationship, and “imposed conditions that were tantamount to a refusal.” Charles III died in September 1889, then Albert I and Alice wed on Oct. 30, “a true marriage of love,” Albert II said. Well-acquainted with the greatest artists, intellectuals and musicians of Europe, Alice helped develop Monaco into a “cultural hotspot.” But she never understood her husband’s affinity for the sea, and though two of his research vessels were named in her honor, she did not like his being away for long periods of time. They separated in 1902 but never divorced. The separation apparently came after a confrontation at the opera, where the prince accused her of having an affair with composer Isidore de Lara — who was born Isidore Cohen to a family of British Sephardic Jews — and slapped her. Albert II noted that many discoveries came about through work on the vessels named after Princess Alice, including the identification of anaphylaxis, and meteorological work “that became a milestone of climate studies of the time.” Today, Albert II speaks out regarding climate change. Alice resettled in London, where she was a close friend of Queen Alexandra, and supported numerous young, promising artists. Never remarrying, she died in 1925 and is buried in Paris. The saga of Princess Alice as American-born royalty set a precedent, as 70 years later, actress Grace Kelly would marry Monaco’s Prince Ranier III. Cheryl Landrieu, filling in for her husband, Mayor Mitch Landrieu, said “When we heard of the personal connection through Princess Alice, we knew we needed to recognize this unique part of New Orleans history.” Landrieu added that the plaque, which was a gift of the Monegasque Consulate, “will serve as a symbol of the enduring ties between New Orleans and Monaco for many centuries to come.” Also speaking were Governor John Bel Edwards and Monaco Ambassador Maguy Maccario Doyle. Maccario Doyle had been in New Orleans in February for a week-long celebration, “Monaco Takes New Orleans.” Noting the tricentennial, Albert II said that while the pioneers of Monaco were not among the pioneers of New Orleans, “New Orleans gave a princess to the principality.”


community

Susan Hess, Krulaks to be honored at National World War II Museum Susan Hess, General Charles Krulak and his late father, Lieutenant General Victor “Brute” Krulak, will be among the honorees at the National World War II Museum’s American Spirit Awards in June, the museum’s highest honors. At the June 8 event, New Orleans’ Hess will receive the American Spirit Medallion, given to individuals “who demonstrate extraordinary dedication to the principles that strengthen America’s freedom and democracy.” Among the numerous boards Hess has served on are the Jewish Endowment Foundation, Tulane Hillel, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Longue Vue Foundation. Hess founded the Louisiana Association of Film and Video Professionals, and when the National D-Day Museum, which became the National World War II Museum, first opened, she became a trustee. Hess was creator and first chair of the museum’s Victory Ball. After Katrina, she was active with Women of the Storm and One Greater New Orleans. Among the honors she has received is the Weiss Award from the National Conference for Community and Justice. Also receiving the medallion are football legend and humanitarian Archie Manning, and Adair Margo, first lady of El Paso, Tex., and chair of the President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities during the George W. Bush administration. Silver Service Medallions are presented to “veterans and those with a direct connection to World War II who have served our country with distinction and continue to lead by example.” Charles Krulak, now living in Birmingham, served for 35 years in the U.S. Marine Corps, becoming Commandant and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. During his service in Vietnam, he escorted Israeli military legend Moshe Dayan through the forests for several days, developing a friendship. Krulak would visit Israel numerous times. After retiring, he was chairman and CEO of MBNA Europe Bank. After MBNA, he served on corporate and sports boards, then in 2011 moved to Birmingham to take over Birmingham-Southern College, which was struggling from financial difficulties. In his four years as president, he revitalized the liberal arts institution and never took a salary. He and his wife, Zandi, lived for much of the time in the school’s dorms, and distributed late-night cookies in the library during finals. Though not Jewish, Krulak works closely

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community with the Birmingham Jewish Federation and was an honorary chairman of the 2017 Jewish Community Centers Maccabi Games in Birmingham. He also serves on the U.S. Israel Educational Association board. Krulak’s father, who died in 2008, will receive the medallion posthumously. “Brute” spent 34 years in the Marine Corps. In his early years of service, he was stationed in Shanghai and observed a ramp-bowed landing boat used by the Japanese. He took photos, built a model and discussed it with boatbuilder Andrew Jackson Higgins. Brute’s notes were used to develop the Higgins Boat, the New Orleans-built transports that were crucial at the Normandy Landing of D-Day and in the Pacific. After retiring in 1968, he became pres- Above, Susan Hess. Below, ident of Copley News Service. Gen. Charles Krulak does Also receiving the medallion is Ber- the torch lighting at the nice “Bee” Falk Haydu, champion of the opening of the 2017 MaccaWomen Airforce Service Pilots from bi Games in Birmingham World War II, and in the 1970s she led the fight to get Congress to recognize the WASPs as World War II veterans. A member of the Aviation Hall of Fame, her original WASP uniform is displayed at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. The American Spirit Award is given to an individual “who best exemplifies the outstanding qualities of the American spirit, including teamwork, optimism, courage, and sacrifice, and who inspires the exploration and expression of these values through their own life and work.” This year’s honorees are Gary Sinise and Maurice Greenberg. Sinise is an actor who created the Vets Night program at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago. His connection to the military was cemented in his portrayal of Lieutenant Dan Taylor in “Forrest Gump” in 1994. In 2011, Sinise established the Gary Sinise Foundation to serve and honor “our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need” through unique experiences. Many World War II veterans are brought to New Orleans to visit the museum and receive a hero’s welcome. Greenberg, chairman and CEO of C.V. Starr and Co., retired as chairman and CEO of AIG. He is honorary vice chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, and past chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. On June 6, 2014, at the 70th Anniversary celebration of D-Day at the Statue of Liberty in New York, Greenberg was awarded the French Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur for his service during World War II. He also received of The Bronze Star Medal from the United States. A patron’s event will be held on June 7 at the Windsor Court Hotel for guests from across the country and the museum’s board. The American Spirit Awards Luncheon and Leadership Forum will be on June 8 at 10:30 a.m. at the U.S. Freedom Pavilion. The honorees will share their experiences with 51 student leaders, representing each state and the District of Columbia. The gala will be that evening at 6, also at the Freedom Pavilion. A cocktail reception will precede the event, in the Solomon Victory Complex and BB’s Stage Door Canteen. Gala tickets are $750, patron levels start at $1,000.


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Officially, the March 13 summit in Biloxi was called the International Homeland Defense and Security Summit, but in practical terms, it could have been referred to as the Israel Invitational. In addition to representatives from India, South Korea and Taiwan, there were numerous Israeli officials and 16 Israeli companies for the day-long meeting at the Mississippi Coast Convention Center. At the summit, Governor Phil Bryant announced that he will lead a trade delegation to Israel this November, his fourth such trip in five years. In fact, the Biloxi summit was inspired by his 2016 trip to Israel, Bryant said. While he had dreamed about such an event for a few years, in 2016 he was invited to speak at a homeland security summit in Israel. “If there’s anyone who knows about homeland security, it’s the Israelis,” Bryant said. At the 2016 event, “I was able to see the impact that kind of summit had,” he said. Mississippi is a strong candidate for that kind of event, he said. “We have a niche right here on the Mississippi Gulf Coast,” with Ingalls Shipbuilding — which built three Sa’ar-5 ships for Israel in the 1990s — and over 120 aerospace manufacturers and suppliers in the state. Among those is a pair of locations for Israel Aerospace Industries. SpaceX rocket engines are tested at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, so anyone looking to go to Mars “will have to go through Hancock County,” Bryant quipped. Jim McIngvale of Ingalls said the event had a “strong delegation… from the Israeli government and defense industries,” and “we will all benefit from the collaboration.” He served as emcee for the summit. While the event focused on defense and military applications, including a parking-lot exhibit of defense equipment, the commercial uses for some of the technology were also highlighted. The Mississippi Development Authority set up numerous one-on-one meetings between Israeli and Mississippi companies. At the summit, several of the Israeli companies exhibited their technology. Vumii, which has an American office in the Atlanta area, specializes in night and all-weather thermal imaging for a wide range of security applications. They also have a device that transforms Android smartphones into high-resolution thermal cameras. Israeli Consul General Lior Haiat said diplomacy is about building bridges, and “this event is one of the most solid bridges we are building

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Surrounded by Mississippi, U.S. and Israeli officials, Governor Phil Bryant addresses the media with Mississippi.” Not only is the door open, Haiat said, “there is a welcome sign.” The connections are already bearing fruit. On March 16, Beeper Communications Israel and Kopis Mobile of Flowood announced a technology partnership to advance and improve safety and awareness for first responders and military personnel.

Moshe Levinson, senior vice president for business development and special situations for Beeper Communications, said “I am extremely pleased with the welcoming atmosphere and open exchange of ideas that the Governor, the Mississippi Development Authority and SIBAT provided throughout the Summit. I am even more pleased to have entered into our agreement with Kopis, as they are exactly the kind of

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On March 27, Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed a law allowing the state to invest a maximum of $20 million in Israel Bonds. The bill takes effect on July 1. The bill authorizes “a portion” of excess state funds to be invested in bonds “issued, assumed or guaranteed by the State of Israel” provided that they have a credit rating of Governor Phil Bryant signes bill permitting the State of AAA and have a higher rate Mississippi to invest in Israel bonds. At the ceremony: Rabbi Jeff of return than U.S. bonds. Kurtz-Lendner of Beth Israel in Jackson; State Rep. Hank Zuber; House Bill 747, introduced Treasurer Lynn Fitch; State Rep. Donnie Hill; Governor Phil Bryant; by Rep. Hank Zuber of Ocean Executive Director, Israel Bonds Southeast Region Executive Springs, passed 113-2 on Jan. Director Brad Young; Israel Consul General from Miami, Lior Haiat; 31 and was sent to the Senate. State Rep. Greg Snowden; National Managing Director, Israel A similar bill, SB-2051, Bonds Corporate and Institutional Sales Larry Berman. had been introduced in It was originally hoped that the bill could be the Senate by Joey Fillingane of Sumrall. It was passed on Feb. 8 with an amendment that the signed during the week of March 12, when Israinvestment be denominated in dollars, which el Consul General Lior Haiat was in Mississippi Israel Bonds are. Another change capped the for a homeland security conference and meetings in several communities. investment at no more than $20 million. Alabama currently holds $4 million in IsraOn Feb. 28, the House passed the Senate bill, 118-2, then passed an amended version on el Bonds, while Louisiana has $25 million. In February, Arkansas made its first Israel Bonds March 1, 116-1. On March 2, it was returned to the Senate for purchase, $20 million. Also that month, Florida concurrence. The House amendments passed announced a $10 million purchase, bringing its holdings to $50 million. the Senate, 42-10, on March 15.


community partner we look for as we further commercialize our solution and deploy for U.S. law enforcement and military.” Beeper’s system offers law enforcement and first responder personnel enhanced live video capabilities and can overcome overwhelmed communication links. Their “network in a box” analyzes and profiles existing cellular networks, determining the four best available channels and bundles the channels into a high-capacity virtual private network. Beeper already has deployed their technology with police departments in Baltimore and Houston, including at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. They have an unmanned ground vehicle robot, using the cellular bonder, that can be controlled without being in the line of sight. Among the Israeli officials at the event was Brigadier General (Ret.) Mishel Ben Baruch, who was appointed director of SIBAT, the International Defense Cooperation Agency of the Israeli Ministry of Defense, in 2014. At the opening reception on March 12, held at the Beau Rivage, Ben Baruch thanked Bryant for hosting the event, “on behalf of the prime minister and the defense minister.” The keynote speaker was Admiral Paul

Zukunft, Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. In recent decades, he said, the U.S. can no longer sit back and rely on wide oceans to protect the homeland. He spoke of U.S. partnerships with other nations to jointly combat scourges, from terrorism to drug cartels. Terror groups in the Middle East are going to be “generational organizations,” destroying one “drives the hydra underground, and they are going to resurface.” Zukunft said “there is no better example of a country that finds itself in the bullseye” than Israel. “There’s a lot we can learn from them.” Rep. Steven Palazzo, who chairs the appropriations committee and serves on the homeland security committee, met with Israeli officials and attended the opening reception. The morning was spent discussing border security, by water and by land. Saar Koursh, CEO of Magal-Israeli Security Systems, spoke about serving in Lebanon 25 years ago, and said Israel’s “border doctrine is based on barriers.” He noted that Magal has secured roughly 80 percent of Israel’s borders, including a 220-kilometer stretch along the Sinai, which was completed in less than two years. Since it was completed, “the effect was immediate.” He spoke of robot monitoring and buried fi-

ber-optic sensors, and the range of border threats that include underground and above ground infiltration. Such border solutions also have to be protected against cyber threats, and have a minimum usage of infrastructure like electricity. Border technology also has to have a high detection rate, but few false alarms. Israel mandates fewer than one false alarm per kilometer per month, Koursh noted. Cyber-security was a recurring theme, with Bradley Hayes, executive director of the office of trade relations at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Agency, saying “we’re moving in the direction of ones and zeroes over guns and ammunition.” Mark Conroe, director of government sales for Airbus Helicopters, said Airbus computers receive 100,000 potential attacks each day. Zukunft referred to cyber-security as “our fifth border.” Israeli Defense Attache Major General Michael Edelstein said last year, Israel helped 40 countries in their fight against terrorism, because “many of the threats are trans-regional ones.” He noted the discovery of an explosive device on the Gaza border, then seven weeks later he continued on page 28

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When Alon Shaya began to develop his first cookbook, he ran into a problem. How do you build a conventional cookbook with “gnocchi, kugel, pita and jambalaya?” Each of those items represents a different part of the James Beard Award-winning New Orleans chef ’s life, so he decided to use food as a way to tell his story. The result is “Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel,” which was released by Knopf on March 13. The cookbook is structured in 26 biographical episodes, each with recipes tied to that phase of his life, or the memories described in the story. He also has a section devoted to numerous hints and tips for home chefs, describing certain processes, or explaining the difference between the kosher salt most people use at home and the types used in many restaurants, and why that affects a recipe. Shaya spoke about the book at the Uptown Jewish Community Center in New Orleans on March 14, interviewed onstage by Tina Antolini, who Shaya worked with in writing the book, and who founded the “Gravy” podcast for the Southern Foodways Alliance. “I was a huge fan of her work with ‘Gravy’,” Shaya said, “and she is an amazing storyteller.” Antolini said the book is filled with “really compelling personal stories that have food memories.” Born in Bat Yam, Shaya “decided to move” to the United States at age four, two years after his father moved from Israel to Philadelphia. He, his mother and sister were suddenly in this strange land, not knowing the language and not quite fitting in. A year later, they moved into a house — but he realized something was up when his father didn’t get in the car when they left the apartment. In the single-parent household, Shaya had to take on responsibilities, and cooking was an area he was happy to do. His first time cooking solo

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Tina Antolini and Alon Shaya discuss the cookbook at the Uptown Jewish Community Center on March 14


community was when he was nine and said he would use the oven to make hamantaschen after school while his mother was still at work. He related that she called every few minutes to make sure the house hadn’t burned down. When he would come home from school and open the door to find the “aroma of peppers and eggplants roasting on an open flame,” it meant his grandparents were visiting from Israel, and “things would be normal for a little bit.” He would feign illness so he could skip school and cook with his grandmother. By the time he was a teen, he was “selling drugs and stealing cars. I was definitely on the wrong side of the tracks, with people who were not good influences.” He was also a troublemaker at school, but Donna Barnett, the home economics teacher, recognized he had a passion for cooking. Despite other teachers expressing alarm that she was letting Shaya be around knives, she became his mentor, “the one adult in my life I could really communicate with.” Barnett helped find him a job at a restaurant, threatened to “kick my ass” if he was late, and helped him with the paperwork to get grants and scholarships to culinary school. “It was because of her I had a path out of this life.” Shaya discovered that food was “more than something to do for fun or do at home.” Culinary school broadened his horizons, and he won the wine award for his class. “My wine experience before culinary school was Mad Dog 20/20.” His journey would take him to Las Vegas for a while, then to New Orleans. At age 10, he would watch Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme on television. “I was very intrigued,” and their cuisine “kind of felt like another country.” His mother took him to a culinary book fair where Lagasse was doing a cooking demonstration for a crowd of about 300. Shaya was on the front row as Lagasse made shrimp beignets. “He came off the stage and handed me one, and that was the only one he gave away,” Shaya said. So when Shaya had an opportunity in 2003 to go to New Orleans, “I jumped on it, and after I came here I never wanted to leave.” The book, naturally, tells his Katrina story, “The Lost Crab Cakes of Katrina.” The storm hit on Monday and he returned that Wednesday. He wandered through what was left of the looted-out Wal-Mart on Tchoupitoulas, “grabbing red beans, rice, Tabasco… whatever I could think to taste good,” especially since there were no vegetables or meats. He set up a propane cooker in the parking lot and started serving “really bad” red beans and rice. But people were in tears from the “moment of connection,” and it reminded the young chef what food really means, rather than his previous attitude of wanting to be the one who invents something that would be the next FOR SEVENTY

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great culinary staple. Helping people through food was part of the inspiration to go to Italy and learn to become an Italian chef, as that looked like a good way to have a culinary career. “I never thought people would want to eat hummus and borekas,” he said. “I did everything I could to become Italian.” Returning to New Orleans, he and his partners opened Domenica, which immediately met with acclaim, then a more casual Pizza Domenica. In 2011, he went on a culinary exchange to Israel, coordinated by the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. The four chefs’ experiences centered on Partnership2Gether community Rosh Ha’Ayin, but included tours to markets, wineries, celebrated restaurants and an early-morning meal preparation for 300 soldiers on the Golan Heights. That trip “was a huge turning point for me as a chef, and as someone that was still searching for my identity as a chef.” It was also “was a huge moment for me, mostly because I proposed to my wife, and she said yes.” The sights and sounds brought him back to his origins. “I knew Israeli food before I knew Italian food, Southern food,” he said. “This is part of who I am. Why have I been pushing it away for so long?” He started introducing Israeli twists into the menu at Domenica — cautiously, so as not to tamper too much with their success. Before Israel took over Italy, at least in Domenica, he decided it was time to open an Israeli restaurant, though his original plan was on a smaller scale. In 2015, Shaya opened and was an immediate success, winning the 2016 James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in the country. The cookbook ends with the opening of Shaya, and the story comes full circle with his mother and father visiting the restaurant. “The book ends with Shaya but it doesn’t end my story,” Shaya said, as recent events separated Shaya the chef from Shaya the restaurant, which like the Domenica locations was part of the John Besh Restaurant Group. Last September, Shaya was fired from the three restaurants after he spoke with a Times-Picayune reporter who was working on a story about 25 former Besh Restaurant Group employees who were alleging a culture of sexual harassment. Shaya said he was fired for speaking out. In October, the story was published and Besh stepped down two days later. By then, Shaya had formed Pomegranate Hospitality and attracted much of the talent from Shaya Restaurant. “I don’t look back on what happened with much regret,” he said. “I saw it as the clouds kind of parting” and giving him the chance to have a new “clarity” of purpose. He said few people get the opportunity to step back and reflect, reexamine things, learn from mistakes and build anew. The six months gave him and the staff at Pomegranate “time to really develop the culture to build a great company that will put the team first.” On Feb. 20, Pomegranate announced two new Israeli restaurants, Saba in New Orleans and Safta in Denver, using the Hebrew terms for grandfather and grandmother. Safta will be located in Denver’s Source Hotel, which is scheduled to open in May. Zach Engel, who was chef de cuisine at Shaya Restaurant, is the culinary director of the two new restaurants. In 2017, he was named Rising Star Chef at the James Beard Awards. Saba took over the space on Magazine Street where Kenton’s was. Kenton’s closed on March 18, and the much-anticipated Saba opened at the beginning of May. Of course, part of the renovation process was building their signature wood-fired oven for making pita. “Saba is going to be our best work yet,” Shaya said. “We’ve all bought in to more than just the food, more than just the beverages. We’ve bought into a philosophy that will be a strong foundation.”


May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 21


With Alan Franco behnd him, Macy Hart reads the Tzedakah Award that was presented to the Goldring Family Foundation

Summer camp, young leadership celebrated at JEF Annual Event

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22 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018

Goldring Family Foundation, Morton Katz and Joan Brooks Cox honored “Create a Jewish Legacy,” the projected image said at the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana’s Annual Event on March 11 at the Westin Canal Place in New Orleans. “Secure a Jewish Future,” it concluded. That was certainly the theme of the day as the honorees were recognized for their roles in providing Jewish summer camping experiences and leadership training for the next generation. Andrea Lestelle, JEF president, noted that “all of our honorees have given of their time, wisdom and talent, along with their dollars.” She noted that last year, donors contributed $7.9 million to their funds, and “out of these funds, we distributed $4.5 million to 537 unique charities.” The Tzedakah Award was presented to the Goldring Family Foundation, with the presentation focusing on the family’s role in funding the Goldring Jewish Summer Camp Experience. The program was established by JEF in 1999, providing a grant to any Jewish child in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi or the Florida panhandle for their first summer at a Jewish non-profit sleepaway camp. In 2001, the Goldring Family Foundation began funding the initiative, which now provides a grant of up to $1,500, and the grants are not needs-based. Around 1400 children have benefited from the program since its inception. In a video presentation where the Goldring family’s legacy in New Orleans was compared to that of Judah Touro, the Delgadoes and Sterns, campers including Ellie Zurik, Rebecca Rubin, Charlie Cox and Emily Kupperman spoke about their summer camp experiences. Scott Cowen, president emeritus of Tulane University, also spoke about the family’s impact on Tulane. “We wouldn’t be the institution we are without the Goldring Family Foundation and Bill (Goldring)’s involvement,” he said. They “are a true cornerstone of Tulane University and the New Orleans Jewish community.” The presentation to the Goldring Family Foundation was made by the region’s most recognized Jewish camping professional, Macy Hart, who headed the Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Mississippi from 1970 until stepping down in 1999 to establish the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute


community of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson. He retired from ISJL earlier this year. Hart mentioned that Bill Goldring’s daughter, Diane, was a counselor for what is now Camp Dream Street, a SOFTY intitative that continues at Jacobs Camp, and that was how he got to know the Goldring family. Also, Hart spoke of how Alan Franco, Diane’s husband, was a Jacobs camper in the 1970s. Hart said the “embrace of Jacobs Camp by the Goldring family has been tremendous.” He also spoke of the Goldrings’ support for ISJL, when the family “decided to invest in something that was only theory.” As an example of the Institute’s effect regionally, Hart mentioned that there are 4,100 children currently served by the Institute’s education department, in 71 congregations in the 13-state region. He said the Goldrings “find a way to make their resources work for the good” and their desire to improve the community is something “we should cherish every single day.” In accepting the award for the family, Alan Franco said “I would not be here today if it were not for Jewish summer camp.” He explained that he was the only Jewish student in his class at St. Paul’s Episcopal in Mobile, and Jewish summer camp “gave us the opportunity to have a Jewish life” unlike what they experienced during the school year. Joan Brooks Cox received the Jewish Federations of North America Endowment Achievement Award. The senior financial advisor at Personal Financial Advisors, Cox has been in the financial services industry in 1984. Being involved in the community has been instilled to her from her parents “as long as I remember,” and when she moved to New Orleans “it was a way of getting to know people.” Serving on the board of Touro Synagogue “was great training ground” as she would help establish the Northshore Jewish Congregation,

Maury Herman presents Young Family Award to Morton Katz

May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 23


community

BEING ONE OF FIVE SIBLINGS, SHE STILL HOLDS THE RECORD FOR KID WHO CAN PUT A HOLE IN THEIR JEANS FASTEST. NOT EVEN CLOSE.

serving as its first president. Working with JEF has “allowed me to have much deeper conversations with my clients on estate planning.” She has worked with several Louisiana congregations on setting up endowment funds, and as her parents “felt strongly” about Henry S. Jacobs Camp, she helped them create the RoseMary and Saul Brooks Designated Fund at JEF for Jewish camp scholarships. Now, both their children work in the non-profit world. The Young Family Award for Professional Excellence was presented to Morton Katz, who was senior partner at Herman, Herman & Katz until 2011. Katz is a past president of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and the Jewish Community Center. He Saundra Levy presents the JFNA currently serves as vice Endowment award to Joan Brooks Cox president of JEF and chairs the professional advisory committee. When Katz was president of the Federation, the idea was floated to endow what had been the Lemann-Stern Leadership Development Program, which was established in 1960. Katz called the program “probably the best organization under the Federation umbrella. What could be better than training our young people to become leaders?” When he and wife Carole decided they wanted to make that a reality, he approached his brother-in-law, Stuart Phillips, to join in the effort, and that is how the program is now known as the Katz-Phillips Leadership Development Program. A major proponent of Create a Jewish Legacy, Katz said “you’re here on the Earth for a limited time. You can only take one thing with you, and that’s your reputation.”

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Rabbi Deborah Silver of Shir Chadash in Metairie has been selected to the Rabbinical Assembly’s Committee on Jewish Law and Standards. The committee sets halachic policy for rabbis in the Rabbinical Assembly and for the Conservative movement as a whole. The committee has 25 rabbis who are voting members, five non-voting lay members from the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism, and one non-voting representative from the movement’s Cantor’s Assembly. The committee discusses questions of Jewish law that are posed by rabbis or other branches of the Conservative movement. Rabbinic members of the committee research positions, which are discussed and reviewed. Positions that receive at least six members’ approval become official halachic positions of the movement, though individual rabbis are regarded as the authorities for their local communities. Julie Finger, president of Shir Chadash, said “to serve on this committee is truly of the highest honor, and we should all be extremely proud that our rabbi has been chosen to be a part of this esteemed committee.” Finger was recently appointed to the USCJ Pathways to Conversion in Conservative Judaism Advisory Board. Silver’s appointment starts in June and lasts for five years.

3/14/18 2:12 PM


community Conexx kicks off celebration of Israel at 70 at gala, B’ham Federation honored The Birmingham Jewish Federation was among the honorees at the Conexx: America Israel Business Connector Gala in Atlanta on March 22, an event “connecting you with 70 years of Israeli innovation.” Ambassador Judith Varnai Shorer, Israel’s consul general to the Southeast U.S., said the room was filled with “people, companies and partnerships that are vital to Israel.” She called Conex “our consistent and successful partner and direct link to the Atlanta and Southeast Jewish communities.” Two-way trade between Israel and the U.S. has grown tenfold in the last 30 years, “with shared economic benefit for both” and partnerships that support “thousands of jobs in both countries.” Conexx Chairman Randall Foster noted the volume of startup capital in Israel being three times that of Georgia and not too far from that of New York. While Atlanta remains the region’s hub, Foster noted several regional ventures for Conexx, including the South Carolina-Israel Collaboration; startups with the Alabama Business Alliance and the University of Alabama at Birmingham, as well as enhancing the relationships between Birmingham and sister city Rosh Ha’Ayin; the recent Israel-dominated homeland security conference in Biloxi, and how Memphis is a frequent stop for Israeli companies. “A lot of activity,” Foster said. “I’d like to see that expand.” The BJF was presented the U.S. Community Partner award, with Federation President Hilary Gewant accepting. She said “I’m proud to say that our Federation has been involved with the American-Israel Chamber, now Conexx, from its earliest days —and our support has never waned.”

Hilary Gewant speaks on behalf of the Birmingham Jewish Federation The Federation “is committed to the well-being of Israel in every sphere of its society, so it is only logical that we would play such a role” with Conexx, she said. “Doing all that we can to promote business ties between Israel and the Southeast is an important extension of this commitment.” The Deal of the Year went to “the largest acquisition in the history of Israel,” to Intel and Mobileye. Last August, Intel completed a $15.3 billion

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community acquisition of the Jerusalem-based company that is a global leader in the development of computer vision and machine learning, data analysis, localization and mapping for advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous driving. “The majority of your vehicles employ Mobileye technology,” said Gene Gurevich, director of government affairs and public policy for Mobileye. Also in the growing Southeastern automotive field, the Clemson University International Center for Automotive Research was recognized for Innovative Academic Partnership. Another major transportation partnership is with Savannah-based Gulfstream, recognized as U.S. Company of the Year. Gulfstream President Mark Burns said the company was looking to diversify its offerings in 1999, and started a partnership with Israel Aircraft Industries in 2001, “a great collaboration.” Sapiens, which develops software for the insurance industry, received the Israeli Company of the Year. Headquartered in Holon, Sapiens has an office in Cary, N.C. The Israeli Community Partner was the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce. Emcee Leah Fleming said the organization “has its finger on the pulse of Israel’s economy,” and works in a “non-profit, non-political and non-partisan” manner. It incorporates six regional chambers in Israel, promoting bi-national trade. In a video message, President Uriel Lynn said “the work of Conexx… is priceless.” The Tom Glaser Leadership Award was presented to Benny Landa, “the father of commercial digital printing,” and the Landa Group. In 2002, HP bought his digital printing company Indigo for $830 million, one of the earliest huge acquisitions of an Israeli company. Holder of over 800 patents, Landa was named by Globes magazine in 2016 as the Israeli Entre-

preneur of the Decade. The event also featured the U.S. debut of select works from “Israeli Discoveries and Developments that Influenced the World” in partnership with the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology. The collection of photographs shows the state of Israel’s achievements and the scientific, technological and human potential, which has evolved with the growth, and development of the country 70 years ago. There were also sections of “120 Years of Zionism,” a display that has been at Ben-Gurion Airport and marks milestones in the history of Zionism presented through graphic processing, illustrations, and images from archives throughout Israel highlighted in 3-D.

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Dothan’s Emanu-El holds first Kallah Project weekend During the last weekend in April, 52 members of Dothan’s Temple Emanu-El attended a congregational retreat at Bagby State Park in Fort Gaines, Georgia. The retreat was Emanu-El’s first of three retreats through a Kallah Project Grant. The national organization selects five congregations each year, partnering with them to develop Shabbat retreats and promote Jewish spiritual life and learning. B’nai Israel in Monroe, La., was also selected this year.

After attending Monroe’s weekend in late January, Kallah Project founder Rabbi Barb Moskow died suddenly, and had been scheduled to interview that following weekend for Dothan’s open pulpit. Jill Epstein will continue the project, working with the congregations on their follow-up programming and retreats. Emanu-El’s student rabbi, Caroline Sim, led activities on the theme of “The Road Ahead” throughout their weekend, along with Rabbi Seymour Rossel, who shared stories and Torah insights.

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received a call from a colleague in Iraq who encountered the same Iranian-manufactured device. “We found out, in many areas of challenges we faced, that we can learn a lot from our counterparts, and vice versa,” he said. India Defense Attache Brigadier Ravi Murugan said India also is in a “tough neighborhood,” with 800 kilometers of contested border with Pakistan and the entire border with China disputed. They have dealt with a “state-sponsored proxy war” from Pakistan, a “death by 1,000 cuts.” While India is 75 percent Hindu with about 200 million Muslims, home-grown violence is “few and far between,” and out of the 200 million Muslims, “fewer than 100” were attracted to try and fight for ISIS. “Terrorism that comes to us is state-sponsored” from elsewhere. A huge challenge to international cooperation in fighting terrorism, Murugan said, is the reluctance by the United Nations to come up with a definition of terrorism. Another topic was natural disaster response, and how climate change can affect borders and the intensity of natural disasters. In his closing remarks, Bryant said if there is an eventual terror attack in Mississippi, “we have friends throughout the world who will come to our aid.” The summit “has been a day that Mississippi will long remember,” Bryant added. “This is just the beginning,” Haiat said. “When these agreements start to bear fruit, we will be able to say this was the beginning.”

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Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson declared March 27 as Education Day in Arkansas, marking the 116th birthday of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson. Rabbi Pinchus Ciment said “his teachings emphasized the inherent goodness of mankind, the infinite potential within every individual and the profound value of even the smallest good deed,” which “inspired multitudes around and resonated globally.” The proclamation called on Arkansans, teachers and officials to “reach out to young people and work to create a better, brighter, and more hopeful future for all.” At the ceremony, left to right, were Rabbi Yosef Kramer, Lubavitch of Arkansas Director Rabbi Pinchus Ciment, Governor Asa Hutchinson, Rabbi Mendel Muchkin, Rep. Douglas House, Rep. Marcus Richmond and Martha McKenzie Hill.


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In June, Mobile is hosting a national conference of the Association of Holocaust Organizations, “The Holocaust from the Perspective of Southern Historians.” The conference, which is open only to members, is being organized by the Gulf Coast Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education, the Alabama Holocaust Commission and the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center. The association was established in 1985 to serve as an international network of organizations and individuals for the advancement of Holocaust education, remembrance and research. Member organizations hail from 25 countries and 34 states. Among the members in the region, aside from the three Alabama groups, are the Georgia Commission on the Holocaust, The Museum of History and Holocaust Education at Kennesaw State, the Weinberg Center for Holocaust Education in Atlanta, the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, the Tennessee Holocaust Commission, Middle Tennessee State University Holocaust Studies, and nine groups in Texas. Also affiliated is the Southern Institute for Education and Research at Tulane University. The conference runs from June 2 to 5 and is being chaired by Donald Berry of the Gulf Coast Center for Holocaust and Human Rights Education. There will be gatherings for museum and Holocaust center directors, college and university center directors, and a meeting for State Commissions and Councils will be chaired by Dan Puckett of the Alabama Holocaust Commission. Puckett will also present a session on “The Holocaust: A View from the Jim Crow South.” Puckett is author of “In the Shadow of Hitler: Alabama’s Jews, the Second World War, and the Holocaust.” Steven Jacobs, Aaron Aronov Chair of Judaic Studies at the University of Alabama, will present “From Barbarism and Vandalism to Genocide: The Unlikely, Untold and Little-Known Story of Raphael Lemkin,” a Jewish lawyer from Poland who coined the term “genocide” around 1943. Willa Johnson, associate professor of sociology at the University of Mississippi, will present “These Responsibilities and These Rights… Come from God: Monseignuer Saliege’s Plea to Halt Deportations in 1942 France.” She has given this presentation a few times in the state recently, as part of joint programs between the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and historically black colleges, discussing the parallels between the Nuremberg Laws and Jim Crow.


community Jeffrey Herf of the University of Maryland is presenting “Racism Without Color: The Historical Specificity of Radical Antisemitism During the Holocaust.” Kathryn Barbier of Mississippi State University will present on the OSI investigations of Nazi war criminals, and Adam Siepp of Texas A&M will speak about the last death marches from Dachau. The final session will be “Integrating the Holocaust into Histories of American Racism,” by John Cox of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. There will also be a reception and dinner on the USS Alabama.

Southern Jewish Historical Society also meeting in Mobile The Association of Holocaust Organizations isn’t the only Jewish conference being hosted in Alabama’s port city this year. The weekend of Oct. 26, Mobile will host the Southern Jewish Historical Society’s annual conference, “Southern Jews, American Citizens.” The conference will explore how Southern Jews negotiated their regional, national and ethnic identities, along with programs on contributions made by Mobile’s Jewish community. A bus tour will explore Mobile’s Jewish history, and local author Roy Hoffman will speak at a luncheon a Spring Hill College. There will also be a program with the Mobile Christian-Jewish Dialogue, one of the oldest such groups in the nation. Shabbat will be held at Springhill Avenue Temple on Oct. 26, with guest speaker Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at George Washington University and president and CEO of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia. He will speak about how growing up as a Southern Jew in Kentucky shaped the legacy of Louis Brandeis. Programs on Oct. 27 will be hosted at the University of South Alabama, with the assistance of the recently-formed Jewish and Holocaust Studies Program. Among the presentations will be a Mobile-centered musical panel on 19th-century Jewish American music, including compositions from Mobile’s Joseph Bloch and Schlesinger brothers, performed by South Alabama music professors. After the conference concludes on Oct. 28, there will be an opportunity to participate in a Digital History Workshop at the University of South Alabama. Participants will work on an online map that visualizes Mobile’s Jewish history over several decades, as a way of exploring the use of such online resources. The workshop will be led by Josh Parshall and Nora Katz from the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, and Elijah Gaddis of Auburn University. For more information on the SJHS conference, visit jewishsouth.org.

Tamen named to head USHMM region The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum announced that Robert Tanen will now serve as the director of the museum’s Southeast region. Previously, Tanen served as associate director and acting director of the region, which is headquartered in Boca Raton, Fla., and spans Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas. “It’s a privilege to serve as the museum’s director of the Southeast region, working with local and regional museum supporters who staunchly believe in our mission and global initiatives of Holocaust remembrance and education,” Tanen said. “I am especially honored to take on this role during the museum’s 25th anniversary, as we encourage both our local and global communities to ‘Never Stop Asking Why’ — an initiative intended to inspire people to reflect upon the complex questions raised by Holocaust history and society today.”

May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 31


community Hadassah Baton Rouge

Left to right: Susan Smolinsky, Elizabeth Rayner, Ellen Bander, Marla Kameny, Chapter President Marilyn Martell and Linda Weinstein Hadassah Baton Rouge held its special spring program on April 15 at Galatoire’s Bistro in Baton Rouge, honoring its life members, Chai Society and Keepers of the Gate donors. Included in the program was “The Seven Things You’ve Always Wanted to Know About Hadassah!” The chapter also honored Ellen Bander, this year’s “Woman of the Year,” for her service as past chapter president and for serving on the chapter and regional Hadassah boards.

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On Feb. 1, members of Hillel at Mississippi State University participated in NegateTheHate, a forum for breaking down stereotypes, held at Rogers Auditorium. Also participating were the Latin Student Association, African Student Association, Black Student Association and NAACP.


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cup that is shattered at the end of the wedding. When Rosenbaum was getting married 29 years ago, he was at a glass school in Seattle, and friends “I’d only known for three weeks” offered to make him a special cup to stomp. It took them four tries to make one thin enough to work. Ten years ago, a friend was looking for something unique for his wedding, so Rosenbaum suggested something similar, but he would then take the shards and make them into “a piece they could display as a memory of their wedding.” That evolved into the current line for weddings, with a cup called a “jellybean” that can be transformed into a vase, wine glasses or an eternity ring. The jellybeans come in a range of colors, and he works one-on-one with the couple so they can see what they will be getting. While some companies take clear glasses and encase the shards in Lucite, “nobody else is doing it where they are reconstructing the pieces” inside another piece, he said. In the studio, the pieces are heated, layered into the glass and blown out as an integral part of the piece. The multicolored pieces come through, thanks to a white layer on the inside of the jellybean, preserving the vibrant colors. Originally from Connecticut, Rosenbaum received his undergraduate degree at the Tyler School of Art, then received the first Master’s in glassblowing from Tulane. He received a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts and established the first privately-owned glassblowing studio in the state. When he came to New Orleans, being an artist was viewed as a valued occupation. In other areas, “usually when you tell people you’re an artist, they ask what you do for money.” He founded Rosetree in 1993 and set up a studio in Algiers Point. He had his eye on the 1940s Art Deco theatre building, which had been closed for 10 years. In 1996, he purchased the building and started renovations. When he discovered the original terrazzo stairs and lobby still intact, he changed course to make that area a gallery and viewing room. When the building was complete, he held a parade behind a forklift that was moving the glass furnace two blocks from the previous location, complete with brass band and second line. Today, Rosenbaum’s pieces are in galleries across the country, with his glass ornaments particularly popular. Couples or gift-givers can stop by the studio at 446 Vallette Street to select the jellybeans and determine what keepsake they would like to have made, to remind them of their special moment.

34 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018


May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 35


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How can one tell that the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans won over members of the Jewish community who hosting weddings and receptions there? They also were asked to host one-year anniversary parties. “We were so happy with The Ritz-Carlton Hotel New Orleans,” said New Orleans Jewish Community Center Executive Director Leslie Fischman, whose daughter, Annie, married Jon Mizrahi there last June. “They really bent over backwards to accommodate us and the spaces were perfect for everything we needed.” They started the festivities with a Shabbat dinner at the hotel. Since the groom’s family keeps kosher, the hotel was able to specially accommodate. Saturday night, Touro Synagogue hosted the rehearsal dinner, but there was an after-party at the hotel’s Davenport Lounge. Then they had a Second Line, along with some Zulu krewe members, marching through the hotel with the wedding guests. The wedding, attended by 250 people on that Sunday, was “very memorable and everything went so smoothly. We didn’t have to worry about a thing.” They also had 70 guests stay at the hotel during the weekend. The festivities concluded with a nice Monday brunch at the Ritz-Carlton. The hotel also hosted the Maggie Glaser-Jeffrey Wolfson wedding reception in October 2016, also attended by 250 people. The wedding was at Touro, and Oscar Rajo was the photographer. Menu items included Portobello mushroom, beef sliders and beignets, which took on special meaning. “Their Pomeranian, Beignet, was a big part of the weekend, so he had to be incorporated into all parts,” said Ritz-Carlton Hotel New Orleans Communications Director Annie Jones. “We did a Beignet Bubbly Cocktail for this wedding, as well as Beignet Cones with miniature beignets and photos of the dog.” She said Beignet was there with his parents for their one-year anPhoto by Oscar Rajo niversary celebration one year later Jeffrey Wolfson, Maggie Glaser and was given a VIP experience. He and Beignet even has his own Instagram page. Also coming back to the Ritz Carlton to have their one-year anniversary celebration was the couple of Lenger/Silverman. The bride owns her own luxury travel agency and hosted all of their vendors to a special dinner. For the wedding, Jones said, “the food was very extensive. It was the heaviest cocktail hour I have seen in my 13-year career with the Ritz-Carlton. We spent months prior working on this menu until it was perfect and kosher-style.” They made the challah loaves in-house and there was an extensive dessert bar. A family heirloom was incorporated into the elaborate chuppah,


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which has been part of their family for generations. Jones said the Ritz-Carlton takes great pride in making all simchas special. “We can do anything they ask of us, from special room accommodations to customizing a menu with their family recipes,” she said. “Our talented staff here always aims to please.”

Vulcan Park, Birmingham Birmingham’s Iron Man now has an enhanced, expanded park to call home and welcomes those who want to experience Birmingham and Deep South history while enjoying a stellar view high atop Red Mountain. On March 20 the ribbon was cut to signify the completion of the $6 million Kiwanis project that expanded and enhanced Vulcan Park and Museum. Vulcan Park and Museum Director of Visitor Experience Joe Saling said the project includes another entrance on the north side of the park; significant beautification and utilization of land on that side of the park; hiking trails that connect the Vulcan trail from 20th Street to Green Springs Highway, and lighting enhancement. “Starting in late June the lights at Vulcan Park and Museum can be a certain color associated with a charitable cause such as purple for prostate cancer and pink for breast cancer,” said Saling. “For the fourth of July we will light them red, white and blue. Then every night at 9 p.m. we’ll have a dancing lights show.” In addition to Thunder on the Mountain, the Independence Day celebration, Vulcan’s annual Birthday Bash will be the first Sunday in June. Inside the museum, the Southern Thunder NASCAR-themed exhibition will remain up through the end of the year. Saling said they are happy to host any simchas, large or small, at Vulcan Park and Museum. They can house 300 people indoors and as many as 1,200 outdoors. In late August 2017, they hosted the Schwebel Bar Mitzvah. The entire park was rented for the event, which was attended by 130 guests. There were games, a photo booth, cartoonist drawings and dancing in the Vulcan Museum lobby.

Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa, Birmingham Simchas are having a Renaissance at the only resort hotel in north and central Alabama — the Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa in Hoover. The hotel’s experienced event-hosting team has handled events from a small luncheon meeting to an elaborate celebration for close to 1,000 people. Those special events have also included several Jewish weddings, Bar-Bat Mitzvahs and

May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 37


simchas number could be surpassed. The resort features 259 rooms and 11 suites, including the Presidential Suite. On the campus is a renowned Robert Trent Jones Golf Course and a full-service spa.

Ace Hotel New Orleans

other celebrations. “We can offer so many options as far as space at our beautiful resort as well as room stay options,” said Meredith Martin, Renaissance Ross Bridge Golf Report and Spa catering sales manager. “Our culinary team has influences ranging from Southern to European and event hosts can customize a menu any way they want. We can even incorporate family recipes.” For the Stein-Summerville wedding in March 2015, they did the cuisine kosher-style. Approximately 300 people attended the wedding, which featured “a gorgeous, stunning chupah on the terrace.” Martin added that the resort also has advanced audio/video equipment on property that can be incorporated into the celebration. She said the grand ballroom can be split into eight different sections and the Renaissance Ross Bridge also offers five smaller rooms that can accommodate up to 50 people each. In addition, there are two boardrooms that can double as hospitality suites. The resort is also unique in that it has its own in-house musician, Jewish entertainer Matthew Devine. He is available to play at celebrations at Renaissance Ross Bridge, and he entertains in the bar every night from 9 to 11 p.m. The largest event ever hosted at Renaissance Ross Bridge was a celebration for Mercedes-Benz, attended by 950 people. But a wedding is planned this summer, in which 1,300 guests have been invited, so that

38 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018

Ace is in its name so it is no surprise that the hotel is an Ace at hosting celebrations and accommodations for guests. Ace Hotel Sales and Marketing Director Dawn Ledet said that they have hosted Jewish weddings, movie premieres and “special events from eight people to 1,000 people. Our space is so flexible and plentiful. It can be transformed into anything,” said Ledet. Those themes for events have ranged from a New Orleans setting complete with a swamp to a Swedish garden to one that combined both Paris, France and Paris, Texas. The hotel includes the James Beard Award-winning Josephine Estelle Restaurant and Bar as well as the Alto Rooftop Bar and Grill. She said the restaurant specializes in Italian with a Southern U.S. twist but “we can customize a menu for any event. We have done kosher-style, vegetarian and vegan,” said Ledet. The Ace Hotel offers more than 6,000 square feet of space for events. Ledet said part of the wedding package is a complimentary honeymoon suite for the bride and groom. Located on 600 Carondelet Street in the Warehouse District, the 1928 art deco building housed Barnett’s Furniture Store until the 1970s.

The Elms Mansion, New Orleans History meets modern elegance at The Elms Mansion on St. Charles Ave. in New Orleans. Built in 1869 for industrialist Watson Van Benthuysen, the stately manor would remain in the family until 1931. For 10 years it served as the German Consulate, then in 1951 became the residence of John Elms, and now operates as a special events venue by the third generation of the Elms family.


simchas

The mansion is situated on more than one-quarter of an acre of grounds in the Garden District. Architect Lewis Reynolds designed the house using a blend of Italianate and Greek revival. The Elms Mansion can accommodate up to several hundred guests inside and outside on the courtyard. They offer packages that include customized catering with specialties including a Pasta Station, Salmon Brulee and herb-crusted beef tenderloin.

Clubhouse on Highland, Birmingham The Clubhouse on Highland, located just a few blocks from Temple Emanu-El and Temple Beth-El, has much history and connection with the Jewish community. Built in 1910 for Molly and William Brown in fine Arts and Crafts style by W.C Weston, the architect who also designed Beth-El, it was considered at the time by many “the finest home in Birmingham.” The home was built to entertain, and the Browns did so regularly. Attending those parties were their good friends who lived nearby — the Loveman and Pizitz familes. A.B. Loveman’s Dry Goods Emporium on 2nd Ave. North in downtown Birmingham and the Louis Pizitz Dry Goods Co. are considered landmark businesses in the Jewish community and overall community. In 1947, The Alabama Federated Women’s Club purchased the home and established the Clubhouse to foster charitable organizations aimed at the betterment of Birmingham. The Clubhouse on Highland had a full renovation and restoration in 2009. Owner Bob McKenna said they have hosted several private and public events over the years for those in the Jewish community. “People can appreciate the history, and the location here is ideal,” he said. “We have been proud to serve the Jewish community.”

B&A Warehouse, Birmingham The well-trained staff at the B&A Warehouse by downtown Birmingham’s Railroad Park can accommodate and customize any celebration of up to 1,200 guests. They hosted the Mallie Altman Bat Mitzvah in May 2017 for 125 adults and 25 kids. The reception was art-themed, including a salad bar made to look like an artist’s palette; a Pollack-style buffet spread; “paint” chips and dips; a photo booth with art scenes in the background; fake art tattoos and pillow cases that attendees could draw on. B&A Warehouse Marketing/PR Director Haley Roebuck said Executive Chef Deborah

May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 39


simchas

The Elms Mansion

Thomas has experience with kosher and kosher-style. They can customize any menu, but specialize in Southern and American cuisine. “We have found that some of the food stations such as a New Orleans-style one have been very popular,” she said. “But we can do anything they can dream up. Our culinary team has very diverse experience.” In May the B&A will host a B’nai Mitzvah and then on May 6, the annual Arty Party to benefit Birmingham AIDS Outreach. In August they host the Open Hands Overflowing Hearts Gold Gala fundraiser for childhood cancer. “We love working with non-profits and incorporate a significant discount,” said Roebuck.

The Columns, New Orleans …one of the most sought-after private party venues in New Orleans

Wedding Receptions & Ceremonies Rehearsal Parties 3029 St. Charles Avenue

504.895.9200 • www.elmsmansion.com

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

Workplay, Birmingham Live Music

Tuesdays 6-9p Sunday 11a-3p

Full Bloody and Mimosa Bar at Brunch Full Bar with Beer, Liquor, Wine and Champagne

For close to two decades, Workplay has hosted many of Birmingham’s premier events in its flexible spaces, including many simchas in the Jewish community. First and foremost a music venue, with a robust concert schedule and a recording studio, Workplay offers numerous event spaces, Workplay has numerous event spaces, from a three tiered Cabaret-style theater with a 450 person capacity, to a 800 capacity soundstage, and the Canteen with a capacity of 150 people. There are also more intimate spaces for smaller events, and the Workplay Bar, with free jazz performances every Tuesday night. While Workplay can handle all sorts of events, from weddings and receptions to rehearsal dinners, birthday or holiday parties, anniversaries, fundraisers, product launches, Bar/Bat Mitzvah parties and family reunions, one of the new specialties at Workplay is the Gender Reveal party.

…and don’t forget parties! (We cater too)

4100 3rd Avenue South • Birmingham 205-703-9895 Tues-Thurs 11a-9p Fri-Sat 11a-10p Sun 11a-3p 40 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018

The Anthony Compusano/Sarah Schulman wedding at Workplay


simchas

After Everyone Yells

“Mazel Tov…”

Workplay takes care of every detail, such as decorations including the gender reveal balloon, a cake from a professional baker, light appetizers and a selection of sweets, and a professional photographer to capture the special moments. “With permission from the parents to be, the doctor provides Workplay with the big secret, that way it’s a surprise for everyone!” said Tammy Crary, events coordinator. Crary added, “we host many charity events for organizations” like the American Cancer Society, and Croonin’ For Critters, a charity event where Birmingham professionals compete in an America Idol styled talent show benefitting organization dedicated to the general welfare of animals. They also host the largest Halloween party in Birmingham, The Witches Ball, which benefits Lone Warrior, a local veterans charity.

Audubon Tea Room, New Orleans As the most prestigious event venue offered by the Audubon Nature Institute, the Audubon Tea Room is a highly-popular venue for a wide range of special occasions. It is also a popular venue for many New Orleans Jewish organizations and institutions, because it can do a completely kosher function, and the venue has seen many Bar and Bat Mitzvahs over the years. The formal indoor space for parties, social gatherings or corporate events has 45-foot ceilings, gleaming wood floors, silk drapes and a series of double doors leading to the lush Tea Room Garden, surrounded by live oaks. The ballroom and veranda can hold 500 for a function. In addition to kosher, vegetarian options are available, and parking is free.

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English Turn, New Orleans Once reserved for the exclusive use of its members, the Clubhouse and grounds at the renowned English Turn Golf and Country Club in New Orleans are now available for private events from the public. One does not have to be a member of the club or resident of the community to host events there. The centrally-located English Turn is nestled on the westbank area just a few miles from the CBD and French Quarter, offering an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city. The facility is the perfect place for luncheons, dinners, cocktail parties, corporate events — and of course, all manner of simchas. The clubhouse includes a large ballroom with floor to ceiling windows, a glass ceiling atrium, and an impressive main dining room overlooking the 18th hole. The outdoor venue overlooks two fountains and the 18th green. In the last 28 years, English Turn has hosted over 1600 weddings, and has received The Best of Weddings by The Knot from 2012 to 2017.

We have the perfect place for your event Private and semi-private dining options available

THE PIZITZ FOOD HALL 1821 2ND AVE N SUITE 176 BIRMINGHAM (205) 582-9250 FERORESTAURANT.COM

May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 41


simchas

New Orleans simchas in full bloom by Lee J. Green Federico’s Family Florist opened in 1976 then “rose” again at its current Metairie location post-Katrina. Their history includes helping to ensure New Orleans area simchas are in full bloom. “We do whatever we can to please everyone, and have a wide range of options in floral,” said Kenny Thone, who co-owns Federico’s with Larry Federico. “We’re happy to do custom arrangements for any special celebration. Thone said they regularly deliver flowers for and provide floral event decor at Temple Sinai, Gates of Prayer, Beth Israel and other New Orleans area congregations. Over the past 40-plus years they have done event floral work for Jewish weddings, Bar/Bat Mitzvahs and other celebrations. Federico’s also provides floral for several Mardi Gras krewes. “New Orleans is very artsy, very fun. We tend to do more colorful, festive arrangements,” said Thone. “Color schemes can vary, but big and beautiful is universal.” The shop originally was located in New Orleans. The post-Katrina flood inundated it with nine feet of water. “We are grateful that a good customer had a location in Metairie we could move into, and we opened back up in October of 2005,” he said. Thone said they have been successful all these years because they treat their customers right. Federico’s also offers special discounts to non-profits. “We pride ourselves on offering great service and giving customers their money’s worth,” he said.

Get away from everything, just minutes from the CBD, at historic Longue Vue

Outdoor Dining (weather permitting) Expanded Dining Room — Perfect for Private Parties

Check out our Changing Seasonal Menu! Lamb Chops • Beet Salad • Seafood • Local Organic Produce and Meats

Contact us for your catering needs! Open for Lunch and Dinner

www.bistro-v.com

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

521 Montgomery Hwy, Suite 113 Vestavia Hills (205) 42 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018

823-1505

Inspired by its humanitarian and artistic legacy, Longue Vue’s mission is “to be a leader in the advancement of innovative thought, creative expression, and life-long learning, and to engage our resources and exceptional setting to stimulate discussion and action on issues of social justice and community responsibility.” Inspired by a legacy of philanthropy, community activism, and dedication to education, part of Longue Vue’s mission is to engage its resources and exceptional setting to stimulate discussion and action on issues important to the community. Because of this, Longue Vue’s unique location and atmosphere are open to businesses and organizations as a meeting space or intimate retreat venue. Guests are able to enjoy a walk in the gardens, a beautiful and historic location, and complimentary parking, all within 10 minutes of the CBD. Any business, organization, or community group that chooses Longue Vue receives a complimentary house tour where they can learn about Longue Vue founders Edith and Edgar Stern, and their legacy. They also get to leave the property knowing that their contribution supports Longue Vue and legacy-inspired initiatives in education and community programming.


simchas

Cookies By Design has sweet party favor ideas Those looking for unique, customized edible party favors are increasingly turning to Cookies By Design to express their creativity for their special events. Jessica Thurman, owner of Cookies By Design in Metairie, said “we help our community celebrate life’s milestones” through delicious, beautiful pieces of edible art baked in-house daily. Their clients include upscale event planners and wedding planners, as well as corporations and hotels, she said. “Our clients appreciate the quality ingredients and the hand decorated craftsmanship.” Cookies by Design offers creatively-designed edible custom cookie arrangements, classic cookie gift baskets, cookie cakes and gourmet cookie bouquets and cookie trays, filled with delicious hand decorated cookies. The cookie bouquets can be customized for any occasion and can always be personalized with a name or special message. The individual party favor cookies have become very popular recently, Thurman noted. Delivery is available throughout the New Orleans metro area, and Cookies By Design also helps local schools with fundraising efforts.

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

now a uniquely New Orleans historic hotel and venue for all types of events

Amerson turning simchas into spectacles

Featuring 20 Victorian Period Hotel Guest Rooms

by Lee J. Green Amerson Events knows how to sell a celebration, with everything from music to lighting to snow and cloud effects to large inflatables, even an 18-hole miniature golf course. “If they can dream it we can do it,” said owner Chris Amerson. Some popular features at events recently have been confetti cannons, black light/neon parties, interactive gaming, photo booth with props and cloud effect for a dreamy appearance to a bride/ groom’s first dance. “We’re using a wide variety of lighting techniques to enhance the floral and décor. The lighting is an integral part to the event design and theme,” said Amerson. Over the years, Amerson Events has provided entertainment services and some event décor for many in the Jewish community. “We have things adults and kids can enjoy,” he said. Amerson Events’ work can be seen at many

Prime Location on St. Charles Avenue in the Garden District

Over 35 Years of Event Planning and Hosting Experience 3811 St. Charles Ave.

Luncheons, Office/Business Functions, Birthdays and Anniversaries, Weddings and Rehearsal Dinners

504.899.9308 www.TheColumns.com

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

New Orleans, LA 70115

This Week In Southern Jewish Life The South’s Most Comprehensive Weekly Jewish News Email To Subscribe, send an email to subscribe@sjlmag.com

May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 43


simchas ONE STOP KOSHER FOOD SHOPPING Eat In — Take Out — Catering

Sushi and Fried Chicken Friday -3pm Mon-Thu 10am-7pm • Fri & Sun 10am (Closed Saturday)

3519 Severn, Metairie (504) 888-2010 www.koshercajun.com

open community events, including the McWane After Dark series. They brought in several-foot-high dice as elements in the “Science of Luck” program recently. They also provide entertainment for the “I Do With a View” Valentine’s Day weddings at Vulcan Park and Museum. Amerson said some of their oversized props and games continue to be very popular. Those include giant inflatable red chairs, giant beer pong and the 18-hole miniature golf course, which requires an event space of a minimum of 2,000 square feet. “We have to be in front of trends and be ready so we have the supply of many things that people might want as a part of their big event,” said Amerson. “We have many years of experience and if someone wants something, we can make it happen.” He added that the Amerson Events team is happy to travel anywhere in the Southern Jewish Life magazine coverage area. “We recently did a wedding in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.,” for Hall of Fame Quarterback Dan Marino’s niece, “and we are happy to take it on the road for any event,” said Amerson.

Bonding with Israel is popular for simcha gifts For decades, Israel Bonds have been a popular gift for simchas, so Israel Bonds has made it easy. In addition to regular bonds, the agency has two categories specifically for simchas — Mazel Tov bonds and eMitzvah bonds. Both are five-year bonds, currently paying 4.21 percent with a June 2023 maturity date. Mazel Tov bonds start at $100 and go up in $10 increments, with a maximum allowable purchase of $2,500 per day to one specific holder. eMitzvah bonds start at $36 and go up in $18 increments. The most that can be purchased in one transaction per day, registered to one holder, is $90. The eMitzvah bonds are available only to United States residents and are offered exclusively online at israelbonds.com. The Southern Jewish Life coverage area is serviced by Israel Bonds through its Atlanta office. 44 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018


“Love” by Marla Jean Clinesmith

New Orleans artist enhances Hebrew words by using the ancient alphabet Years after Marla Jean Clinesmith left the studio art world to work full-time in ministry, it was ancient Hebrew that brought her back to art, combining both of her worlds. Clinesmith is the artist behind Hebrew Word Pics, a New Orleans-based company that “shares the mysteries of Ancient Hebrew to enhance the study and understanding of God’s word.” Anyone familiar with the modern Hebrew alphabet has to adjust the frame of reference — her art uses the ancient forms of the Hebrew letters, but the Hebrew Word Pics website gives plenty of explanation about each of the ancient letters, and what they connote. Clinesmith worked in museums and galleries until the mid-1990s, when she helped coordinate Promise Keepers, and is now executive director of Kingdom Building Ministries, a Biblically-based personal leadership training. Two decades ago, the Clinesmiths met Jim Woodard, who left the oil and gas industry after 25 years and started the non-denominational church, The Crossroads, in Belle Chasse in 2001. While listening to Woodard teach about ancient Hebrew, Clinesmith started seeing the letters in her mind, with numerous colors and juxtapositions. She started doing pastel drawings of numerous words from the Jewish and Christian traditions, using “God colors” in her work, and the forms of the pictographs to explore the concepts behind them. Each word that Clinesmith has made into a work of art has an explanation page, detailing how each letter contributes to the word’s meaning. “Taken in the proper context, we often find these meanings to be much richer than the simple English word we know and use today,” she said. The site, hebrewwordpics.com, contains original art, prints, greeting cards, mugs and jewelry. There is also a poster of the ancient Aleph-Bet. The jewelry includes Love, Grace and Peace in pendants, bracelets, earrings and rings. A 15 percent discount is offered to Southern Jewish Life readers using the code SJL15.

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May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 45


community

Tulane Hillel hears from Israeli high-tech entrepreneur On March 12, Tulane Hillel, in partnership with Targum Shlishi, welcomed Michael Kalantarov, a young Israeli high-tech entrepreneur, to the Uptown campus for a lecture entitled “How Israel’s High Tech Sector Is Changing Lives.” Tulane Hillel’s staff worked with students to identify Kalantarov as a speaker, explained Executive Director Rabbi Yonah Schiller. “The goal was to choose a speaker who would strongly resonate with the students. Michael Kalantarov is not only a very successful entrepreneur, but he connected with students in terms of inspiring and motivating them to follow their passions.” Born in the desert city of Arad, Israel, Kalantarov’s immigrant parents could not afford to move to Tel Aviv where business was thriving. After teaching himself computer programming, Kalantarov eventually went on to co-found Visual Estate, a successful virtual interior design company, where he currently serves as COO. Instead of moving to Tel Aviv after his success, Kalantarov kept his business in the less populated Negev Desert with a vision of forming another Silicon Valley. He is also the community relations manager of Tech7, an umbrella organization that seeks to unify, encourage collaboration, and promote the Negev tech community. “He’s not just focusing on himself and making his company grow, but he’s trying to channel all of his success back into his community,” says Omri Einav, Tulane Hillel’s Israel Fellow. “The goal of the lecture is to have Michael motivate students into pursuing their dreams and at the same time hoping that they will use the knowledge and experience they gain to improve their communities.”

NCJW advocates for women in Baton Rouge On April 11, the New Orleans Section of the National Council of Jewish Women joined six other women’s organizations from across the state in Baton Rouge to confront and demand justice, equity and equality from the Louisiana Legislature. Michelle Erenberg, NCJW vice president of public affairs, said “Lawmakers have often overlooked and outright ignored the plight of women, who represent the majority of the state’s population, by creating and passing laws that negatively affect women.” The goal was to raise awareness of women’s issues, as Louisiana is consistently ranked one of the worst places in the United States to be a woman and a mother, and especially a working mother, “but more importantly to let elected officials know that as women, we will no longer tolerate the passage of any law that affect us and our families without our direct input,” Erenberg said. 46 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018


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opinion > > Editor’s Note

Continued from page 3

to remember those historic moments. As with so much else in Jewish life, it’s a generational evolution. Those with different life experiences relate to things in different ways. To many younger Jews, Israel has never been the beleaguered nation, fighting for survival against huge, hostile neighbors. Israel is seen as the regional powerhouse; Iran as little more than a nuisance. With Zionism becoming an epithet on the international stage and among some social justice groups, many younger Jews who exercise their Judaism in that space don’t want any part of that label (as one flat-out told me after my presentation at Limmud in March). Of course, the term has been distorted away from its true meaning, which is simply the belief that the Jewish people have a right to a sovereign state in their historical homeland. That’s all — that the Jews have the same right as any other people. It’s a double standard to press for Palestinian self-determination while dismissing the Jewish right for the same. Not to mention that if anyone out there truly deserves their own state, it’s the Kurds. One rarely hears about their struggles. What is one to do with those who look at the Middle East and see an endless distorted stream of mighty Israel and the poor, oppressed Palestinian? That became even more acute during the last two months, with the Gaza border demonstrations and a level of journalistic malpractice that was shocking even for the international media’s incredibly low standards when it comes to covering Israel. If the demonstrations which had already gone on for weeks were suddenly all about the embassy move, where were the massive, violent protests in the West Bank? Looking at the coverage, what reaction does one expect of those who are raised on ideals of peace, tolerance and understanding when they see those images from Gaza? Especially when reported in such a simplistic way that ignores the real danger to Israeli lives, and the cynical manipulation of Hamas, whose leaders see their people as mere cannon fodder toward an unattainable goal? But it’s not just the situation with the Palestinians. What of American Jews who see the shenanigans of ultra-Orthodox parties who seem determined to write them off and deny the legitimacy of Reform and Conservative Judaism? What of the recent debacle involving African migrant workers in Israel? Israel isn’t perfect. Nobody has ever claimed it, regardless of how some accuse the mainstream Jewish community of not tolerating any dissent on Israel (as if!). But warts and all, Israel is still a miracle of history, with very real struggles, not the least of which is dealing with a neighbor whose leadership is completely unwilling to allow anything that will better their people’s lives, lest they lose their embittered motivation to fight what they are told is their external enemy. That corrupt Palestinian leadership is content to sacrifice their own people on a quixotic mission while stealing their people blind, rather than improving their situation. Israel cares more about the Palestinian civilians than their leaders do. Neighboring Arab states are also weary of the Palestinian leadership’s refusal to make progress. Yes, Israel has issues. Who doesn’t? Despite everything, Israel is a technical marvel, a culinary center, a land of innovation and benefit to the world. Israeli advances touch pretty much everyone, every day. We celebrate the achievement and the modern miracle that is Israel. 48 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018


summer travel

an annual SJL special section

Big Cedar Lodge

Big Cedar, Big Cypress Lodges Offer Unique Getaways World-Class Ozarks resort becoming major golf attraction and outdoor recreation area Inspired by a passion for conservation and a love for reconnecting people with the outdoors, Bass Pro Shops Founder and CEO Johnny Morris set out to create two world-class destinations — Big Cedar Lodge and Big Cypress Lodge. Located in the heartland of the United States, Big Cedar Lodge is a secluded haven of natural beauty tucked into Missouri’s Ozark Mountains, overlooking Table Rock Lake. Conveniently located within a day’s drive for over half of the U.S., and near multiple airports including Springfield Branson International Airport and Branson Airport, Big Cedar Lodge is easy to get to, yet peacefully out of the way. This world-class destination has been recognized as the No. 1 resort in the Midwest by Travel and Leisure magazine for two consecutive years and is home to multiple lodges, private cabins, magnificent restaurants, legendary golf, two full-service marinas and countless outdoor adventures. During the day, unbelievable activities include a tour through the Lost Canyon Cave and Nature Trail via electric cart, or a round of underwater-themed bowling at a 50,000-square-foot adventure center. Big Cedar is quickly becoming known as America’s next great golf destination and features three courses designed by some of the biggest names in golf: Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer, Tom Watson, Tom Fazio and Gary Player. Two additional courses will be added to the lineup, including a Coore & Crenshaw course coming later this year, as well as the 2019 unveiling of the first public course designed by Tiger Woods. The resort’s picturesque setting on the shores of Table Rock Lake allows for unending fun on the water. Two full-service marinas offer boat rentals, guided fishing and evening dinner cruises aboard a luxury yacht. Just minutes from the heart of the property there are additional attractions like a 10,000 acre nature park with horseback riding, wildlife tram tours and more. To unwind, one can relax at the 18,000-square-foot Cedar Creek Spa before heading to dinner at one of six spectacular restaurants. In the eve-

nings, settle into the rustic luxury of unique accommodations, ranging from a room in a hilltop lodge overlooking the property to a private cabin complete with a real wood-burning fireplace. More information is available at bigcedar.com. For a very different but equally unique destination, experience Big Cypress Lodge, located inside Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid in Memphis. Inside this one-of-a-kind hotel an unforgettable getaway awaits. Overnight accommodations in this rustic retreat range from vintage duck hunting cabins to treehouse suites. Many of these spectacular accommodations overlook a remarkable indoor cypress swamp. There are also amazing dining and entertainment options inside this well-known landmark. The Lookout is located at the peak of the Pyramid and can be accessed via the country’s tallest freestanding elevator. Once at the top, one can take in views of Memphis from glass balconies 300 feet in the air. On the ground level, there is food and fun at Uncle Buck’s Fish Bowl and Grill, an underwater-themed bowling alley and restaurant. After you have explored all that the Pyramid has to offer, relax with a rejuvenating treatment at the Big Cypress Spa. Visit the website at big-cypress.com to learn more.

The Memphis Pyramid is now home to the 100-room Big Cypress Lodge

May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 49


summer travel

Larger riverboat to join Steamboat Natchez Company adding new tours by Lee J. Green C

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The famous line from the movie “Jaws” — “I think we are going to need a bigger boat” — fits well with the New Orleans Steamboat Company, as by October they will welcome a large new riverboat to its fleet. Called Riverboat City of New Orleans, the larger new ship will join Steamboat Natchez. It is 189 feet long, 55 feet wide and can carry 1,000 passengers. The steamboat will have a full-service kitchen and bar. “This will greatly expand the number of people and groups for special parties on the river that we can accommodate,” said Adrienne Thomas, director of marketing for Grey Line Tours and NOSC. “We’ll have dining and event spaces on three levels so we can host three parties of up to 200 people each on one cruise.” The Riverboat City of New Orleans is a former casino boat from Rock Island, Ill., and the renovations and enhancements should be complete by Oct. 1, Thomas said. She said they also have several new tours, and tours that return in the spring and summer as temperatures warm up. Of course, the Steamboat Natchez has its thrice-daily cruises, including its dinner jazz cruise. To celebrate New Orleans’ 300th birthday, some things have been added to the French Quarter walking tour. Grey Line is the only tour company that has a tour in which participants can go inside of a historic Garden District mansion. “This is a great time of the year for some of these walking tours, especially since the gardens are in full bloom,” said Thomas. “We also have a tour that stops in City Park and allows time to explore the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden outside of the New Orleans Museum of Art. She said some of the newer, popular tours include ghost tours and “History with a Twist.” That is a walking tour of New Orleans hotels and restaurants known for their cocktails. “A lot of famous cocktails originated in New Orleans,” said Thomas. “The first cocktail is free.” She also said that in the past few months they added a tour that takes participants to two plantations and a swamp tour just outside of New Orleans. Thomas said they are still working on dates, but they plan a fun family cruise called “Princess Cruise.” Several famous Disney princesses will make an appearance on the cruise and entertain.


summer travel

“Math in Action” at Space and Rocket Center School’s out for the summer, but math is in session at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville. It’s not formulas on white boards, though — MathAlive!, the Rocket Center’s latest traveling exhibit opening May 26, provides a hands-on exploration of math in everything from fashion to robotics to sports. “MathAlive! brings an immersive, hands-on learning experience,” Joseph Vick, the Rocket Center’s museum education manager, said. “It’s an outlet to have fun — to jump around and have fun and to learn.” The 5,000-square-foot exhibit includes seven thematic areas with 40 interactive experiences that show how math is used in design, engineering, technology and science. Guests can operate a simulation of NASA’s Curiosity Rover or design a city’s infrastructure. One can learn how music combines math and sound to create a symphony. “It allows you to see math in action,” Vick said. “It’s not on paper. It’s surfing on a snow board. It’s exploring math in motion. It’s not going to a white board and writing out a problem. It’s real-life solutions where you are controlling the math problem.” “MathAlive!” is open through Sept. 3, so classroom teachers can also take advantage of the exhibit to amplify what they’re teaching, Vick said. The practical and fun applications in MathAlive! “solidify math in real life.” While keeping math skills sharp is one reason to visit the Rocket Center this summer, “Spark!Lab” is another. “Spark!Lab” allows visitors of all ages to become engineers as they work on design challenges, from cleaning up the ocean to creating a flying machine. The hands-on activities inspire students of all ages to use critical thinking skills to solve problems and realize they, too, can be an inventor. “Spark!Lab” was developed by the Smithsonian Institution’s Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation, and includes an ever-changing array of themes and activities focusing on science, technology, engineering and math. Visitors will also use art, history and creativity as they learn real-world applications for what they’re learning in the classroom. Once they’re done trying out tricks on a snowboard in “MathAlive!” or building a bridge in “Spark!Lab,” guests can grab a bag of popcorn and settle in for a movie. Options in the National Geographic Theater include “Extreme Weather” and “Saturn’s Rings,” a new film narrated by LeVar Burton. Opening May 4, “Saturn’s Rings” used a technique called multiplane photo animation and 7.5 million images to create a journey past Earth on to the Milky Way. It also recreates Apollo 17’s mission to the moon and ends by flying through Saturn’s system. The Rocket Center’s SpaceDome IMAX has other entertainment options with “Dream Big: Engineering Our World.” This film shows how engineering has changed the world, from the Great Wall of China to the world’s tallest building. “A Beautiful Planet,” also in IMAX, explores Earth from the perspective of astronauts aboard the International Space Station. Narrated by actress Jennifer Lawrence, the film also presents some of the astronauts’ daily experiences, as well as their related observations and comments. The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is open daily throughout the summer from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit rocketcenter.com.

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summer travel

steamboat For tricentennial, stay at a landmark of New Orleans history Last authentic steamboat on the Mississippi River Three cruises a day from the French Quarter Dinner Jazz Cruise, Sunday Brunch & more Calliope Concerts & Engine Room Visits Inside and outside seating

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It’s Dog Day Out

Great writers among those attracted to Hotel Monteleone over the decades by Lee J. Green

The staff at the historic Hotel Monteleone in New Orleans recommend a vacation filled with learning about New Orleans’ history in honor of the city’s 300th anniversary. Most of the recommendations are within walking distance of the French Quarter hotel. One of the recommendations is right there at the hotel, which first opened in 1886 and today is owned by the fifth-generation of the Monteleone family. In 1886, Antonio Monteleone bought the 64-room hotel on Royal and Iberville streets. The hotel has been enhanced, expanded and upgraded a few times over those 132 years, while “still retaining its old-world charm,” said Hotel Monteleone Sales and Marketing Director Kent Wasmuth. “Our location couldn’t be any better — in the heart of the French Quarter. There are many things to do in New Orleans but if you are staying at a historic hotel, I recommend learning about the history of our city when you are visiting,” said Wasmuth. The National World War II Museum and Historic New Orleans Collection are two recommendations, both not far from the hotel. Within walking distance is Woldenberg Park on the banks of the mighty Mississippi River. “It’s special to just sit in the park and watch the big ships go up and down the river,” he said. Wasmuth said the hotel offers packages that include historic attractions. The hotel itself is an historic attraction and the hotel has books that guests can read about its history. The Hotel Monteleone gained a reputation for being the place where great writers stayed, including Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, William Faulkner, Anne Rice and John Grisham. Truman Capote used to say he was born at the Monteleone. In 1999, the hotel was designated an official literary landmark by the Friends of the Library Association, one of only three hotels in the nation so designated. For those who want to unwind and dine at the Hotel Monteleone, the Carousel Bar and Lounge offers a famous 25-seat, bright-circus-clad merry-go-round, the city’s only revolving bar, overlooking Royal Street. Restaurant Criolla has gained national acclaim and will participate again in big New Orleans food and dining events in August.

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summer travel

Escape to the most romantic inn in North America Destin’s beachfront Henderson Park Inn an unforgettable experience At Henderson Park Inn, an adults-only, gulf-front boutique hotel in Destin, privacy seekers will find the ultimate sanctuary for rest, relaxation and romance. With serenity and style, the Inn boasts 36 intimate rooms, luxury amenities and gulf-front terraces. Guests enjoy complimentary beach chairs and umbrellas, bicycles, chef ’s gourmet breakfast, picnic-style boxed lunches, complimentary happy hour drinks at the “Tiki” bar, as well as wine, chocolates and roses upon arrival. Dine on property in the evening at BeachWalk Café, Destin’s only fine dining located directly on the Gulf, and offering unique dining opportunities with rose-petaled “Toes in the Sand,” and outdoor, veranda dining overlooking the sugar white sands and translucent waters of the Emerald Coast. Looking for more activities than relaxing at the beach? The Inn’s guests have access to all the amenities next door at the Inn’s sister property, The Henderson, a Salamander Beach and Spa Resort. Amenities include a full-service spa, fitness center and two beautiful pools.   While one does not need a particular reason to come to the Heart of Florida’s Emerald Coast, while staying at Henderson Park Inn, there are many concerts, fun festivals and other events in the area. The Memorial Day Summer Kickoff Concert Series at HarborWalk Village is a time for flip flops, suntans and summer! There will be live music on the Destin Harbor all weekend long and fireworks over the harbor. Bands include the John Hart Project, Flash Flood, The Journey Tribute Band. Fat Tuesday Parade Kickoff brings the beads from May 29 to Aug. 14, celebrating Fat Tues-

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day each week during the summer as HarborWalk Village transforms into “The Big Easy.” Enjoy dazzling floats, colorful costumes, street performers, and float riders tossing handfuls of beads and swag! Stay and enjoy live music on the Main Stage before the parade. The Let Freedom Ring All-American Tribute starts May 31 and celebrates Americana and the heritage of the Destin Harbor every Thursday night until Aug. 16. The all-American celebration includes a one-of-a-kind WWII vintage airshow, live on-stage entertainment, and fireworks over the Destin Harbor, followed by “Just Add Fire.” In addition to all these events, this stretch of paradise has a vibrant arts and entertainment scene as well. Ballet, symphonies, Broadway productions and touring musicians wow crowds year-round. And local visual artists draw visitors to the Emerald Coast, too. In fact, a visit to the beautifully appointed Henderson hotel just a few steps from the Henderson Park Inn includes a tour of over 465 art pieces by 13 local artists and artisans. The Inn’s concierge can help when one wants to take a break from the beach and play golf, go shopping, deep sea fishing, dolphin cruising, paddle boarding or kayaking. Visit HendersonParkInn.com or call (866) 398-4432 for more information. Southern Jewish Life readers can get an exclusive offer by texting SJLM to (850) 204-0648.

May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 53


summer travel

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Hope springs eternal at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans with its special new exhibit opening May 24 — “So Ready for Laughter: The Legacy of Bob Hope.” That night, there is a special opening reception and talk. Museum Assistant Director for Curatorial Services Kim Guide will explain the process of creating the newest exhibit for the museum. Linda Hope, daughter of Bob and Delores Hope, as well as the chair of the Bob and Dolores Hope Foundation, will join Guise to share the memories of her father. The exhibit, which will be displayed through Feb. 10, 2019, tells the story of Hope’s unique place in the history of World War II and beyond, and the contributions he made that still reverberate more than 70 years later. Using multimedia elements and captivating storytelling, including artifacts, films, photographs, and interactive displays, the exhibit highlights how Hope helped lift the human spirit during one of the darkest times in American history. When the war broke out in 1941, Hope was asked to do his show outside the studio, before a military audience. That sparked his decades-long relationship with the military, bringing entertainment and a welcome distraction for soldiers through countless conflicts. The National World War II Museum, which opened its doors in 2000, welcomed a record 706,664 visitors in 2017, including a monthly record of 100,592 guests this past March. It has welcomed 6.5 million visitors and more than 715,000 students since opening its doors. Also this past March, the museum hosted a groundbreaking event for the Bollinger Canopy of Peace, a $14 million architectural structure that will “unify the distinctive campus and become an iconic element on the New Orleans skyline.” Additional stages of the museum’s expansion plan include The Higgins Hotel and Conference Center that will feature 230 guest rooms and more than 18,000 square feet of conference space. It will support the institution’s expanding visitation and educational programs. The Hall of Democracy Pavilion will house academic and outreach programs, along with providing additional exhibit space. The Liberation Pavilion will focus on end-of-war/post-war experiences as well as the war’s meaning for citizens today.

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Rendering of the Canopy of Peace, as seen from the Westbank 54 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018


EXHIBIT OPENS MAY 26

MathAlive! is designed to inspire, spark the imagination, and reveal not only math at work but also the endless possibilities of math. Primarily designed for grades 3-8, the exhibition brings to life the real math behind what kids love most — video games, sports, fashion, music, robotics and more — and creates interactive and immersive experiences that bring to life the math at work in each, whether in design, application or use.

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May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 55


summer travel

Stay with Kaiser Realty by Wyndham Vacation Rentals on the Alabama coast by Lee J. Green Whether vacationers on Alabama’s Gulf Coast want to hang out at the Hangout Music Festival, which was started by Jewish entrepreneurs Shaul and Lilly Zislin, or enjoy a day of amusement at OWA, they can stay in vacation rental properties that can be their home away from home. “We love it when we have families come down and stay at one of our properties for the same week every year for many years,” said Kaiser Realty by Wyndham Vacation Rentals Marketing Director Emily Ailand Gonzalez. “We have places for one person up to 42 people” in a 12-bedroom rental. “It’s more like home and better than a hotel. Many places have full kitchens, some with more than one on different floors, washers and driers and plenty of other amenities,” she said. The Kaiser Realty by Wyndham Vacation Rentals team happily recommends things to do in the Gulf Shores and Orange Beach areas. Festivals and other annual events include Hangout, the Frank Brown Songwriters Festival, World Food Championships and The Interstate Mullet Toss. Sporting opportunities abound for those who want to play, including golf, tennis and watersports. Gulf Shores also hosts the NAIA women’s soccer championships and in early May hosted the NCAA Women’s Beach Volleyball National Championships. “This area is so beautiful and it’s also an ideal backdrop for a dream wedding,” said Gonzalez. “Our staff at Kaiser represents Kaiser Realty is happy to assist every step of the way with weddings and any around 500 other celebrations.” The company manages propervacation ties in Fort Morgan, Gulf Shores and properties along Orange Beach. Covering 32 miles of white sand beaches, Kaiser’s properAlabama’s coast ties range from beachfront bungalows and high-rise luxury condos to expansive vacation manors as well as lagoon-front cottages. Kaiser represents approximately 500 vacation properties. Leonard Kaiser founded Kaiser Realty, Inc. in 1980. In 2013, he sold the vacation rental business to Wyndham Vacation Rentals, the largest professional property management company in the world. Kaiser passed the torch to his younger brother, Glen, who serves as executive general manager. “We’re still a family-run business,” but the acquisition by Wyndham “allowed us to greatly expand the property resources we can offer to our customers,” said Gonzalez.

56 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018


summer travel

You’re going away, what about a vacation for your dog? by Lee J. Green While dog owners travel, they can still stay in close touch with their beloved pets at Just Happy Hounds. Meanwhile, those dogs can enjoy a vacation of their own at the Birmingham boarding, day care, training and grooming “resort.” “We treat the dogs who come to Just Happy Hounds with all the love and attention we can give,” said General Manager Sarah Mills. “We want dogs and their owners to feel like this is a second home and this is not a business, but that we’re a part of their family.” Just Happy Hounds recently installed puppy cams throughout its campus so through an app, owners can see how their furry friends are doing and even have the units give their pets treats by hitting a button. By July, they will be able to live stream the play area. “We are using technology as a way that we all get to feel like we are with our dogs and they are with us when we can’t be together,” said Mills. Dogs staying at Just Happy Hounds while their owners are on vacation, or just for doggie daycare without overnight stays, enjoy many outdoor playtime opportunities, such as swimming, walks to Railroad Park, good meals and much tender loving care from the staff. For those boarding their pets, there are even options for rooms with toddler-sized beds and television sets. “We have a ‘luxury beach house’ that is a size of a regular room in most homes,” said Mills. One might call that living the ‘suite’ life.

Two days before coming to Just Happy Hounds, dogs must pass an extensive temperament and good-fit test. They also get as much information from their owners about the environments that make their pets most comfortable. “We put them in playgroups based on their level of activity and desire for social activity,” said Mills. “We don’t just group them by size and age. We try to put them in groups in which they would be the happiest and keep the group sizes as minimal as possible.” Just Happy Hounds offers 24-hour care and is open for daycare 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday. All of the staff are trained in CPR. Veterinarian Chandler McGee is on staff, as are three vet techs and two International Association of Canine Professionals dog trainers. Just Happy Hounds offers grooming services as well as “clean, sanitize on a regular basis so it is a healthy environment for all people and their pets.” John Haley started Just Happy Hounds in March 2014. He came up with the idea after taking his beloved Winston for boarding at a veterinarian while on vacation for a week. “They did not have the resources to give a lot of individual care and attention to Winston. He was in a cage much of the time and had all of this pent-up energy when John returned,” said Mills. “He wanted to have a place where dogs could play, socialize and have a fun time while their owners are away.”

“Friendliest” Alabama Splash Adventure continues to expand attractions by Lee J. Green Amusement Today magazine named Alabama Splash Adventure one of the five friendliest amusement parks in the world. The 2018 season will bring more smiles to attendees, with five new land rides, a new eightstory-high slide, a young kids water fun area, a tavern with beer and wine for adults as well as a high-dive act six days a week. “We want to continue to offer more for everyone and make the park an even better value,” said co-owner Pat “The General” Koch, who celebrated her 86th birthday at Alabama Splash Adventure last August. “Also being voted one of the friendliest parks is very important to us,” said Koch. “We love our visitors and appreciate our team. We want to win the award again this year.”

Her son and co-owner Dan Koch said the amusement park located just west of Birmingham in Bessemer added “two hours more worth of fun things to do in the park on every visit.” The new rides include a train for young kids that goes through the park; a rock-and-tug boat land ride; the Yo-Yo tall swing and “two classics every park must have” — the Tilt-A-Whirl and the Scrambler. On the water side, Alabama Splash Adventure has added its highest water slide yet, the eight-stories-high Free Fall, which will be open by early June. For the young kids and moms, Splash Island offers an oasis. “There are many fun things the younger kids can do and have their own area,” said Dan Koch. “It is ideal for the moms as well. We will have more cabanas for them to relax in and they

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May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 57


summer travel

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know their children can have fun, safe play.” There will also be a new high-dive show for a half-hour every day, six days a week. This acrobatic and stunt-focused entertainment will be in Alabama Splash Adventure’s new pavilion. Other family-friendly entertainment is also in the planning stages. Next to the diving show pavilion will be a new tavern, serving snacks, beer and wine. Alabama Splash Adventure will also open a new dining option in the park that will feature new menu options. “Plus we’re always doing things in the off-season to enhance and beautify the park,” said Dan Koch. “We’re really excited about 2018… and my mind is already going to some of our plans beyond that over the next five years. But more on that later.”

McWane Science Center celebrates 20 years by Lee J. Green The McWane Center in Birmingham has education, fun and celebrating down to a science. This year, Birmingham’s science center celebrates 20 years and on May 13 opened a big new exhibit, literally and figuratively, called “Dinosaurs in Motion.” The exhibit features life-sized metal dinosaur sculptures with exposed mechanics that can be manipulated in an interactive learning experience. “We’re very excited about this and think it will be one of our most popular exhibits of all time,” said McWane Science Center Marketing Director Katie Baasen. “It is where art, science and technology meet.” Baasen said they are celebrating the 20th anniversary all year. On the 20th of every month, McWane will roll back admission costs to what it was in 1998, as well as on July 11, which is the official 20th anniversary date. That weekend, the McWane Center will have some special programming to celebrate, as well as a big party with cake. The first IMAX film ever shown at McWane, “Everest”, will be screening all summer, she said. In 2016, McWane welcomed its six millionth visitor. The Museum averages 350,000 guests per year from across the country and the globe. They also have more than 10,000 members. The McWane Science Center is also in the top five most visited attractions in the state of Alabama. Planning on the development of a science center museum for Birmingham began in 1991. It was to be called Red Mountain Discovery Place, and thanks to generous support from the McWane family and companies, it was renamed the McWane Science Center in 1997, just before it opened. Baasen said they greatly appreciate those who have supported the McWane Science Center over the years and especially its “founders.” That list includes several in the Jewish community, including Harold Abrams, Harry Bayer, Cathy O. Friedman, Donald Hess and Joel Rotenstreich. “Together we’re making science cool for people of all ages,” said Baasen. 58 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018


summer travel

Summer blooming with activity at Bellingrath Gardens and Home by Lee J. Green Spring and summer are blooming with activity at Bellingrath Gardens, including celebrations for mom, National Public Gardens Day, river cruises as well as activities that plant seeds of knowledge in young minds. Located in Theodore outside of Mobile, Bellingrath Gardens and Home actually began as a fishing camp on the banks of the Fowl River. Walter Bellingrath purchased the property in 1919 for use as a weekend retreat. His wife, Bessie, would come down to the property to check on him and decided the area could use some sprucing up. She was an avid gardener at their home in Mobile and selected azaleas as well as camellias for the Fowl River property, known at the time as “Belle Camp.” The couple would later hire architect George Rogers to design a plan for their growing gardens. The Bellingraths were not Jewish, but good friends and fellow Rotarians with Myron Kahn, who managed the Mobile office of Weil Brothers, a large cotton wholesaler, and grain dealer Lee Zimmern, whose grain elevator at the time was the tallest structure in Mobile. June blooms at Bellingrath with events on Wednesdays. June 6 will be the Summer Garden Walk guided tours. June 13 will be Kids Gulf Discovery Day, in which children of all ages can learn about wildlife and ecology from a variety of environmental organizations representatives. Guided cruises can also be reserved along the Fowl River. Those events are during the day, but June 20 features a nighttime viewing of the summer sky from 7 to 9 p.m., led by members of the University of South Alabama Department of Physics. Then June 27’s program will

be about Growing Cascade Mums. July Wednesday events include a look at silver serving pieces in the Bellingrath collection on July 11, and creating outdoor living spaces on July 18. Bellingrath Gardens and Home Communications Director Sally Ericson said in late May, Bellingrath begins its summer plantings, including a variety of tropical flowers, gingers and banana trees. “We have some rare flowers that are more exclusive to this area, including oak-leaf and key-lime hydrangeas,” she said. “At Bellingrath we want our visitors to experience things and see things they haven’t before.”

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community South Alabama adds Jewish, Holocaust Studies minor

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Starting this fall, students at the University of South Alabama can earn a minor in Jewish and Holocaust Studies. David Meola, who directs Jewish and Holocaust Studies at the university, said it is being introduced as a result of student demand and support from the area’s Jewish community. Meola, an assistant professor of history, holds the Fanny and Bert Meisler Endowed Professorship in Jewish Studies. The Meislers first establishing a visiting professorship in 2012. In 2015, they expanded their support by making a charitable gift to establish the endowed professorship. Their goal in supporting this program has been to expand and deepen the University’s relationship with Mobile’s Jewish community, focusing on the history, religion and culture of the Jewish people. Their hope was that their charitable giving would result in a Jewish Studies program that fosters a richer understanding of the Jewish experience among a diverse range of students at South Alabama. Meola said the new minor’s introduction is timely. “With the rise of numerous hate crimes of antisemitism in America and the world, students will study present-day conflicts and compare it to what has occurred in history,” said Meola. “We are protecting the memory and history of Jews, sharing the innovative and vibrant culture alongside the more wellknown stories of atrocities committed against the Jewish people over time and across the globe.” All students who are interested in taking the minor will be required to complete 18 hours of courses, including three mandatory core courses that are regularly offered: “Introduction to Jewish and Holocaust Studies,” “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible” and “History of the Holocaust.” “Jewish history is more than a lachrymose one beset by expulsions, violence, and death — it is also a story of many successes,” Meola said. “However, these moments are also tempered by our dedication to educating students and the community about the injustices and violent genocides of people around the world, both in the past and today.” He and his colleagues “intend on making USA a great place for students to learn about diversity and the panoply of cultures that build the tapestry of our lives.”

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60 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018

David Meola, assistant professor of history at the University of South Alabama, holds the journal “Der Jude,” created by Dr. Gabriel Riesser and published in the 1830s to advance Jewish emancipation throughout the German states.


community Generating a good deed in the Shoals

Chabad at LSU hosts Chai Shabbat On April 13, Chabad at Louisiana State University hosted its “chailight of the year,” Chai Shabbat, with about 25 Jewish students and faculty in attendance. Professor Joseph Kronick, head of the Jewish studies department, spoke about the department’s offerings. Before the dinner, students were able to make their own challah, with toppings of their choice. Chabad at LSU was established three years ago, giving students an opportunity to engage with their traditions. A chapter of Sinai Scholars was recently established, where students can take a course on Jewish perspectives and handson experiences. Those who complete the course (above) are eligible to receive a stipend from a Sinai Scholars sponsor in New York.

Traci Welch presents a generator to the Sheffield Fire Department In February, Temple B’nai Israel in Florence made a powerful donation to the Sheffield Fire Department, a portable generator. Last summer, Betty Spielberger Seigle approached Traci Welch, then-president of B’nai Israel, and said she would like to make a donation to the Temple, to be used to purchase a generator that would be available to lend to people in emergency situations, such as needing to run an oxygen machine during power outages. “Her original thought was for the Temple to have it on hand to lend out,” Welch said, “but it was quickly decided that this would require maintenance and management that we are not really equipped to handle.” Welch, who has a connection to the Sheffield Fire Department, suggested that the generator be donated for the department to use or lend out in emergency situations, and Siegle agreed. She noted that B’nai Israel started in Sheffield and the original building is still there, currently used as a church. Siegle also grew up in Sheffield. The 4400-watt generator can run on both gas and propane, and was purchased in January. Don Welch had a small plaque made to put on the generator.

May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 61


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culture New Birmingham Sidewalk cinema center slated to house Jewish Film Festival by Lee J. Green

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If all goes as scheduled, by the end of 2018 Birmingham will have its own independent cinema center and a new Jewish Film Festival will have its home. After hitting a $3 million goal in April to start construction on the Sidewalk Cinema and Film Center in The Pizitz Building downtown, the theatre is scheduled to open in November or December. Sidewalk Film Festival President Chloe Collins said they still are moving forward on a capital campaign to raise $1.9 million more to ensure they have everything they need for the opening. “This has been something we have been passionate about doing for the Magic City,” said Collins. “This puts us on par with other great film cities that have their own independent film theatres. It’s about not just entertaining but providing more opportunities to show the works of more talented filmmakers and to create an educational environment also for young, budding filmmakers.” The Sidewalk Cinema and Film Center’s 11,000-square-foot venue will house two, 100seat, state-of-the-art theatrical screening venues; educational outreach space; a lounge with a full bar and curated concessions as well as bathrooms that resemble those from “The Shining.” It will showcase the latest independent and art house films, as well as classic films, “none of which are regularly available in a theatrical setting in the Birmingham metro area. “This is a great way we can enrich the arts and cultural scene in Birmingham and develop the filmmaking community in Alabama,” said Collins. Sidewalk last year also developed a partnership to develop a Jewish Film Festival. The Cinema and Film Center will be the permanent home of the Festival. Janet Aarons and Michele Forman were instrumental in working to make this a reality, added Collins.

The Pizitz building 62 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018


community Baseball a family tradition for Barons’ manager Ryan Newman by Lee J. Green Birmingham Barons manager Ryan Newman has Judaism and baseball in his blood. The son of former major league player and coach Jeff Newman, while he was playing minor league ball, other players would come to him with coaching as well as development needs. “I love the game of baseball and I was committed to doing anything I could as a player to make it to the major leagues,” said Newman, 39, who in 2017 managed the rookie-level Arizona League White Sox. “When I came to the realization that I would not make it as a player I knew I had the attributes to be a good coach and manager.” Newman said he was “born into baseball. It was a way of life for our family.” He grew up in Danville on the East Bay in northern California. His dad finished his major league career nearby in Oakland, and then would go on to coach in the major leagues with the Baltimore Orioles. Ryan Newman attended Hebrew school in Walnut Creek and had his Bar Mitzvah there. His mother is Jewish and his father converted. “In our neighborhood we had a nice Jewish presence and I have always been proud of my heritage,” he said. “Being Jewish is special to me.” At an early age he got into baseball — first through little league, then high school then Scottsdale Community College. He was signed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as an undrafted free agent in 2002 and played for the Williamsport Crosscutters in the New York-Pennsylvania Single-A league, mostly as a second baseman. He played in the Carolina League for the Pirates before being hired as a coach for the organization in 2005. Then his managerial career began in 2008 with the Oneonta Tigers in the NY-Penn league, with the Detroit Tigers organization. Newman joined the White Sox organization in 2009 with the Bristol White Sox of the Appalachian League. Newman is back in his second stint as Barons’ manager, having come to Birmingham for the first time in 2016. “The Birmingham community and the fans are great here. They have really responded to the team and this is such a great stadium in downtown Birmingham,” he said. Newman said there “is a balance” managing and coaching in the minor leagues. “You want to do everything you can do to develop a player and those players may be promoted so your roster changes a lot during the season,” he said. “But it’s also all about the team and you want to do whatever you can to help the team win every game. When the umpire says ‘play ball’ the whole focus goes to the team and trying to win.” Newman first met his wife, Megan, while both were in middle school in northern California. She went to Arizona State, one town over from Scottsdale in Tempe. The two have been for married 12 years and have two children. The family lives in Scottsdale. Being away from home during baseball season can be difficult, Newman admits. But the family visits during the summer and they FaceTime every day. “Technology makes it easier to stay close today,” he said. “When I was growing up we just had the land line and you had to be ready for dad’s call when he was on the road.” Son William has taken quite an interest in baseball and his dad tries to catch as many games via FaceTime as possible when he can’t be there. Could there be a third-generation of baseball-playing Newmans? “My parents told me to get a good education and to follow my dreams,” said Ryan Newman. “That’s what I tell the boys. They can be who they want to do and do what they want to do. I am very proud of them.”

May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 63


community Barons’ Brad Goldberg hopes for another stint in the majors by Lee J. Green Pitcher Brad Goldberg loves Birmingham, where he is currently hurling for the Birmingham Barons, his native Cleveland and his current home city of Columbus, Ohio. But for Goldberg, who had cups of coffee in the major leagues last season with the parent club White Sox, Chicago is his kind of town. “My goal is to do whatever I can to help the team win,” said Goldberg, 28. “If I continue working at being the best that I can be I know I can make it back to the big leagues.” Goldberg grew up in Beechwood, a heavily-Jewish suburb east of Cleveland. He went through Hebrew school and had his Bar Mitzvah at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beechwood. “Beechwood has a big Jewish base and I enjoyed being in the community there,” said Goldberg. He grew up playing baseball, basketball and football through high school in Beechwood, but he was “best at baseball and it was what I loved the most.” Goldberg started his collegiate baseball career with Coastal Carolina in Myrtle Beach, S.C.,

and then would transfer to Ohio State. “Everything at Ohio State is top-of-the-line. There are a lot of Buckeye alumni who have played professional baseball. They prepare you for success. It’s in the culture,” he said. Shortly after the White Sox selected Goldberg in the 10th round of the 2013 Major League Baseball draft, he earned his degree in sociology. “To get back and get my degree was the most important decision I made,” said Goldberg, who says he hopes to parlay the degree into a coaching career when his playing days are done. Right now, Goldberg is focused on his bright future on the mound. He began the 2016 season with the Barons before being quickly promoted to the Triple-A Charlotte Knights. He started at Charlotte in 2017, and got that call that so many young baseball players dream about on June 3. “It was surreal. I had such a mixed range of emotions,” said Goldberg. “It was a dream but also I had a job to do. I needed to pitch well and show them what I could do. No matter where you play, it’s still baseball. The pitching mound is 60 feet, six inches from home plate.” Goldberg was sent back to Charlotte soon after, but was recalled July 19 and pitched a total of

12 innings for the White Sox in 11 appearances. He said it was an honor to be selected to pitch for Team Israel at the 2017 World Baseball Classic qualifier. He earned two saves. “I have not been to Israel yet but my brother went recently,” he said. “I for sure want to go one day. The manager of Team Israel gave me an open invitation to visit whenever.”

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WBHM is a listener-supported service of the University of Alabama at Birmingham • 800-444-9246 64 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018


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Chicken Mofongo 1 ½ cups chicken broth 1 tablespoon tomato sauce ½ cup diced red bell pepper, green bell peppers, and onions 1 skinless chicken breast 2 green plantains cilantro salt pepper 3 cloves of garlic Cilantro, parsley or any other garnish In a frying pan, heat up approximately a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat and add the ½ cup of vegetables. Cook on medium-low heat until they are soft. Mince or chop the garlic. Add the tomato sauce, the chicken broth, chopped cilantro and add salt and pepper to taste. While that is all in the pan, cut up the chicken breast into squares or strips. Add the chicken to the pan and let it cook. The liquid should be reduced, but not all of it. Leave some juices so the chicken doesn’t

Tropicaleo

4426 4th Ave. S., Birmingham 205/643.5956 tropicaleo.com

dry out. To make the Mofongo: In another frying pan, heat the rest of the coconut oil. Peel the plantains and cut them into 2-inch rounds. When the oil is hot, fry the plantain pieces until they are golden. Remove them from the oil and place them into some paper towels. Place the fried plantains into a medium bowl. Mash the plantains into a bowl shape. Gently remove the Mofongo from the bowl and place it on your dish. Take the chicken and a little broth and fill the Mofongo.

Tropicaleo by Lee J. Green

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66 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018

Three years ago, Gabe and Isabel Marrero came to the mainland from Puerto Rico with a dream of a better life. A year after arriving in Birmingham, their dream expanded to bring a slice of Puerto Rico to their new hometown and also encouraging others to visit their native country. Their restaurant Tropicaleo opened in its current Crestwood location in November. “Gabe had never been to the U.S. I had lived in Texas and Florida before,” said Isabel Marrero. “He was offered a job as an environmental/ chemical engineering consultant to help companies contaminate less. A friend of ours from Puerto Rico had married a Jewish woman and come to Birmingham. We thought it would be a good move for us.” So the Marreros moved with their young kids, Sofia and Lucas. Opening a Puerto Rican restaurant was not part of the plan, but after a while they found themselves missing their native cuisine. “We had some friends tell us that they wished there was a place here that they could get authentic Puerto Rican food. That planted the seed in our minds,” she said. “We had never worked in restaurants before, let alone own one. But we enjoyed eating out and our foods from

back home. The idea for Tropicaleo came out of need.” They started slowly, keeping their day jobs and doing some catering, then a pop-up shop at the Pizitz Food Hall. The Marreros and their concept won the $15,000 first place in the PNC Bank Big Pitch contest in 2016. But they knew they ultimately wanted their own location. So Tropicaleo became the “only restaurant to be crowd-funded in Alabama” when a Kickstarter campaign raised more than $15,000. “We had people contributing from here, across the country and Puerto Rico,” said Marrero. “I made a promise, every day for 30 days, to dance in a banana suit and post if people contributed. We were humbled and grateful for the pouring of support. This was a true team effort.” She said they have enjoyed educating those


culture Red Mountain Theatre announces new Birmingham campus by Lee J. Green Birmingham’s Red Mountain Theatre Company is presenting the longest-running musical revue in Broadway history, “Smokey Joe’s Café,” featuring songs written by Jewish songwriting legends Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber, May 11 to 27 at its Cabaret Theatre downtown. But RMTC “takes the stage for its biggest number yet” some time in 2019 with the creation of its new campus in the heart of the Lakeview District in Birmingham’s Southside. “Smokey Joe’s Café” features some of the greatest songs from New York-based Leiber and Stoller, including “Hound Dog,” “Love Potion #9,” “On Broadway” and “Stand by Me.” Red Mountain Theatre Company’s new campus will be on the site of a 100-year-old bread factory and previous home to ABSCO Fireplace and Patio warehouse. It will span half a city block between 27th and 28th streets on 5th Ave. South. Timetables for the start of construction and completion are still to be determined, according to RMTC Executive Director Keith Cromwell. “It has been a dream for us to consolidate our programming under one roof, allowing us to better serve our community,” said Cromwell. “I envision a campus that can also be a laboratory for the arts, where artists can flourish plus where for-profit and non-profit can come together with the sparks of creativity flying.”

> > Tropicaleo unfamiliar about Puerto Rico, the foods at Tropicaleo and the history, culture and story behind them. “It is surprising how similar our tastes are here and in Puerto Rico,” said Marrero. “We feel that educating people is a part of our job every day and it is a big part of the Tropicaleo brand. We want to represent Puerto Rico well here in Birmingham.” She said they keep the food as authentic as possible. They use local ingredients and work with area food suppliers and farmers as much as possible. Tropicaleo’s “staple” dish, which has also won some awards, is Mofongo. This dish of mashed, fried plantains is rolled into a big ball then can be topped with a choice of proteins or a vegetarian meat substitute. Marrero said the dish combines three influences — rice from Spain, plantains that originally came to Puerto Rico from India as a part of the Spice Trade, and African seasonings. “It’s a very popular dish and there are many ways to customize it. It’s very versatile,” she said. “The plantain is the vessel.” Many of the items on Tropicaleo’s menu are kosher-style and Marrero said they are happy to accommodate with custom orders for those who keep kosher-style. They also have some gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian options. In addition, Tropicaleo prides itself on being a environmental steward. They have their own recycling program and separate trash into a few different categories. Gabe is also in the Alabama Environmental Council. “It’s important for us to work together with those in the community to make where we live an even-better place,” said Isabel. Tropicaleo is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday; 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Fridays; 9 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays, closed on Tuesdays. They also cater. Marrero said they have been very pleased with the response and feel very much at home in the area. “We love the community” and have made several close friends in the Jewish community, she said, adding that she has some Jewish heritage and their family name was Sigmund before being changed when her great-grandfather came here.

May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 67


IN BIRMINGHAM’S THEATRE DISTRICT

Carrot salad 2 bay leaves 1 leek stalk 5 thyme sprigs 3 cups farro 1 cup canola oil 1/3 cup Grenache vin 1 brunoise shallot 10 baby carrots sous vide Chopped cilantro 1/2 cup sliced carrots 1 cup apple cider big 1 cup water 1/4 cup sugar 1 Tbls cumin 1/2 tbls coriander 1/2 Tbls black peppercorns 1 jalapeño 15 standard carrots 1 oz pickled ginger 1/4 cup puffed farro 12 pieces of watercress Tangerine oil

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Create bouquet de garni with leek thyme and bay. Place farro and enough water to cover then bring to a boil till very tender. Remove most of the farro and allow to cool. Once cooled place farro in a plastic bag and fill the bag one time with smoke. Allow the farro to sit in that for a couple of hours. Leave 1 cup of cooked farro in the water and over cook it. Once over cooked strain and lay flat on a sheet tray with absorption paper underneath to dry for 3-4 days. To puff farro bring a pot of oil to 400 degrees and drop farro in it, it will only take about 8-10 seconds.

Roots and Revelry by Lee J. Green

cjfsbham.org 205.879.3438 68 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018

Roots and Revelry Chef De Cuisine Scott Cohen has multi-generational roots in the Birmingham area Jewish community, along with much kosher cuisine experience. “I see kosher (and kosher style) as an opportunity to be creative,” said Cohen, whose grandmother was the first female president of a synagogue in Alabama, at Temple Emanu-El. “That is the beauty of food. The more you understand about food and tradition, the more creative you can be. Kosher is an opportunity, never a limitation.” Co-owners Brian Beshara of Dallas and Brandon Cain of Los Angeles met in 2013 when Beshara came to Birmingham to look at developing the historic Thomas Jefferson Tower in

Roots and Revelry

1623 2nd Ave. N., Birmingham Jefferson Tower 205/730.1907 roots-revelry.com

Remove from fryer and allow to crisp. Combine shallot and vinegar and macerate for 30 minutes, then combine the canola oil to make the vinegrette. Peel 10 baby carrots and place in vacuum seal bag with a sprinkle of salt and pepper and a sprig of thyme. Submerged in Emerson circulator for an hour at 181. Peel all 15 carrots, juice 6 of them and put a nice chop on the other 9. Put the chopped carrots in the juice and place on the stove. Cook slowly not to scorch the carrots. Cook until carrot juice is reduced, then add water to cover the carrots again. Repeat until the carrots are tender and the liquid is very reduced. Combine that and the pickled ginger in the

downtown. “As we got to know each other, we started talking about a new concept for the Thomas Jefferson and Birmingham,” said Beshara. “The name is meant to evoke substance and familiarity that we all associate with great food and dining experiences, while always keeping things unpretentious, fun, fresh.” Beshara, Cain and Cohen said the Roots and Revelry menu is “hyper-seasonal,” and they are always adding new specials, eclectic dishes that are not available anywhere else. “We work with as many local farmers and purveyors as possible because we believe in supporting local and this is how we maintain the freshest ingredients possible,” added Beshara, who a few years ago retired from playing professional basketball overseas, and a brief college coaching career at Tulane University and the


Continued from page 70

roof fell in on her plan, but what happened to the hair? Forget string theory. Centuries of studying strand theory are resolved! Medical specialists can’t wait to approach the proud purchaser of this mane to try a surgical hair implant with it and see whether it provides human strength of biblical proportions.

and black and ochre and peach…’ not so much.” And you have proof!

Log B’Omer Yes, Lag B’Omer gets its name from being the 33rd (l’’g in Hebrew numbering) day of the Omer. But there’s a bonfire. Therefore, there was a first bonfire. Like most Jewish celebrations, there were leftovers. Don’t lag behind your Joseph’s Coat neighbors, get this log chopped for the original Be the envy of musical theatre costumers ev- Lag B’Omer bonfire. erywhere. This is the original tunic that Jacob Operators are holding their breath. gave Joseph, and that Joseph’s brothers mangled Doug Brook is hereby the first to dub how the to fake Joseph’s untimely demise. Mets manage their imminent dynasty as The You can be the one to write to Andrew Lloyd Metric System. To read past columns, visit http:// Weber and Tim Rice, informing them, “’red and brookwrite.com/. For exclusive online content, yellow and green and brown…’ sure, but ‘scarlet like facebook.com/rearpewmirror.

Southern Jewish Life

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> > Carrot Salad vitamix and work until smooth. Season with salt. Combine apple cider vinegar with sugar and water. Bring to a boil with the cumin, coriander, black peppercorns and jalapeño. Turn the heat off and add sliced carrots and allow to cool. Take farro and chopped cilantro and toss

with most of the vinaigrette. Then marinade the sousvide carrots with remaining vinaigrette. Place farro on plate. Place sous vide carrots on top, along with the pickled carrots. Put dollops of the purée throughout that. Then sprinkle with puffed farro and place lightly dressed watercress over the top. Finish with tangerine oil.

> > Roots and Revelry University of New Orleans. He also said they give guests the opportunity to give feedback on the early stages of menu development with their rotating “bites” portion of the menu that changes daily or weekly. Beshara said their hummus is based on his great-grandfather’s recipe from Lebanon. Cohen has created some menu items inspired by his parents and grandparents as well as Jewish friends and great chefs in the community, such as Sherron Goldstein’s inspiration for R&R’s burger with a challah bun, and their pastrami with rye pasta. He said his paternal grandmother was a great cook and his grandparents on his mother’s side kept kosher. His grandfather in Birmingham would always bake challah for the Shabbat. “Growing up I was always there in the kitchen with my mother and grandmother,” said Cohen. “From an early age I became engaged in learning about my Judaism and how food is an integral part of our traditions. That inspired me to become a chef.” After a couple of years at the University of Alabama, the 20-year-old Cohen came back to Birmingham to chef at the old Arman’s on Park Lane. He then spent some time working at Frank Stitt’s Birmingham restaurants while also serving as a chef for some events at Temple Emanu-El as well as chef trainer at the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School.

“I also spent some time in Napa Valley. It was in Sonoma that I did my first event with an entire koshered kitchen. It was amazing to watch and learn,” said Cohen. “This all has not just been a part of my culinary education, but my spiritual journey.” Earlier this year, Roots and Revelry hosted a Bar Mitzvah reception with a kosher-style focus of mostly fish and dairy. The dining room and bar area seats 88 guests, and they can accommodate another 50-60 on the terrace, warmed by fire pits when it is cold. Beshara said their “ballroom and parlor area has been fully restored to match its 1920s look and feel. It can accommodate more than 500 guests for events. A few times a year we take over the entire second floor of the building and have huge parties for our friends and community.” Some current kosher-style menu items at Roots and Revelry include New York strip steak, lamb chops, roasted chicken with new potatoes, roasted beet salad, hummus and the carrot salad. Beshara said they are happy to customize any dish to make it kosher-style upon request. He said they are grateful for their customers and the positive response Roots and Revelry has received since opening. “It has been incredibly humbling to see so many of our guests understand and appreciate what we are doing at R&R,” said Beshara.

May/June 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 69


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70 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018


70 Southern Jewish Life • May/June 2018

SJL Deep South, May 2018  

May 2018 Deep South edition of Southern Jewish Life, the Jewish community news magazine for Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and NW Florida

SJL Deep South, May 2018  

May 2018 Deep South edition of Southern Jewish Life, the Jewish community news magazine for Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and NW Florida

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