Southern Jewish Life, New Orleans, May 2023

Page 18

Southern Jewish
33 Issue 5 Southern Jewish Life P.O. Box 130052 Birmingham, AL 35213 Southern Jewish Life 3747 West Esplanade Ave. 3rd Floor Metairie, LA 70002 NEW ORLEANS EDITION
Life May/June

In today’s new climate, it’s nice to be able to work on a good story every now and then. This issue has a rare one — the establishment of a new congregation in our region. Longtime readers know that we have covered far more congregation closings than openings as small communities in isolated areas dwindle. New congregations, aside from a couple of short-lived breakaways, have been quite few.

In this issue, we visit the new Sea Shul in Seaside, a group of families that decided it was time to get together as a community and see just how many Jewish folks are in the area. We also explore how Seaside itself is part of Southern Jewish history, with roots in Birmingham and the Pizitz department store.

The Florida panhandle has been a growing area for the Jewish community. As we mention in the article, outside of Pensacola, pretty much every community is relatively recent. Over the past decade or so, Chabads have been added up and down the coast, and in Mobile. At this moment, Pensacola and Panama City Beach’s Chabads are working on new buildings, and at press time Mobile’s Chabad, which recently completed a mikvah, also announced it is in the process of acquiring a new building.

A recent Wall Street Journal piece wrote about retirees and snowbirds being priced out of South Florida and flocking to Baldwin County, Ala., across the bay from Mobile.

The New Orleans Jewish community continues its post-Katrina growth. Baton Rouge’s newly-unified congregation is in he midst of a massive renovation for its permanent facility. Birmingham continues its growth with the University of Alabama at Birmingham as a main draw. And Huntsville is seeing massive growth, with the hopes that some of that will include Jewish newcomers.

Southern Jewish Life is an independent Jewish periodical. Articles and columns do not necessarily reflect the views of any Jewish institutions, agencies or congregations in our region.

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Maccabi USA leader praises Birmingham Games

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

Southern Jewish Life

Yes, there are numerous small, historic communities that are dwindling or on their last handful of Jewish residents. But a look at Southern Jewish history shows that has always been the case — back in the first half of the 20th century there were communities that disappeared. Even further back — Claiborne, Ala., was gone by the late 1870s.

Newcomers arrive, others leave. But all make their mark on the region, and remain part of the story.

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

We’ll continue to tell that story, whichever form it takes.


Lawrence M. Brook


Lee J. Green


As with all of Jewish history, Southern Jewish history continues to change and evolve.

Led by the Sokol and Helds, your hard-working volunteers were wonderful. They partnered with your outstanding staff, led by Betzy Lynch, to make the 2017 JCC Maccabi games a huge hit. I want to take this opportunity as executive director of Maccabi USA to say thank you on behalf of everyone involved.

Jeff Pizzo

I had just returned from the 20th World Maccabiah games in Israel with a U.S. delegation of over 1100, who joined 10,000 Jewish athletes from 80 countries. Back in July the eyes of the entire Jewish world were on Jerusalem and the Maccabiah. This past month with 1000 athletes and coaches from around the world being in Birmingham, you became the focal point.


SOCIAL/WEB Emily Baldwein

Everyone from the Jewish community and the community at large, including a wonderful police force, are to be commended. These games will go down in history as being a seminal moment for the Jewish community as we build to the future by providing such wonderful Jewish memories.

On Charlottesville

Recently, I and thousands of others from North America and across the globe were woven into the fabric and experience of Israel. For 2023’s General Assembly of the Jewish Federation of North America didn’t take place solely in the halls of Tel Aviv’s Expo Center. It was purposefully scheduled over what is affectionately called the “Yoms” (Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’Atzma-ut) to commemorate Israel’s Memorial Day and to celebrate Israel’s 75 years of Independence.

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

After our opening ceremonies, plenaries and breakout sessions at the conference hall (the brief shouting match in the Rothman session did not overshadow the conference hall sessions nor dominate the conference, in spite of media attempts to portray it as such) we then ventured out among the people and across the country; the young, the seniors, the olim chadashim (new immigrants), the bereaved, the protestors, the supporters and most everyone and everything in between at high schools, homes, absorption centers and the like.

PHOTOGRAPHER- AT-LARGE Rabbi Barr y C. Altmark


Rivka Epstein, Louis Crawford, Tally Werthan, Stuart Derroff, Belle Freitag, Ted Gelber, E. Walter Katz, Doug Brook


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We sang, we wept, we laughed, we learned, we talked, we danced, we celebrated and we came back with some key takeaways.

We certainly didn’t shy away from the subject of judicial reform and the Law of Return, but these subjects can’t be allowed to be the sum total of how we approach and think about Israel at 75. Israel is a work in progress and is a place of challenges. However, democracy is alive and well in Israel and there is so much more taking place there than what we see in the news.

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

We are 100 percent part of her story, completely intertwined with her story, and share her accomplishments and sorrows. We know that diversity brings value and that it can be very hard to be a Jew — but that it’s a great honor, too.

Auburn’s Alpha Epsilon Pi stands with the Jewish community of Charlottesville, and with the Jewish people around the country and around the world. We also stand with the minorities who are targeted by the hate that was on display in Charlottesville. We stand with the minorities of whom these white

What do you think?

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

We learned that as leaders in our communities we must continue to educate and to learn about what’s happening there, but we care deeply too about Sinat Chinam — baseless hatred. We care deeply about the unity of the Jewish people.

Advertising inquiries to 205/870.7889 for Lee Green, Jeff Pizzo,

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

The few days we spent there were an emotional roller coaster. To witness Israel on Yom HaZikaron and Yom Ha’Atzma-ut is unparalleled and, in spite of my countless visits there, something I have experienced just twice in my life, but something I strongly recommend.

I return concerned, yet beaming with pride at Israel and her accomplishments against overwhelming uncertainties. The road ahead is bumpy, the future somewhat foggy. But I have faith in our people’s resilience and determination. In the words of JFNA Chair Julie Platt, “Nothing is ever black and white, but it looks so great in blue and white.”

It has always been our goal to provide a large-community quality publication to all communities of the South. To that end, our commitment includes mailing to every Jewish household in the region (AL, LA, MS, NW FL), without a subscription fee

Outside the area, subscriptions are $25/year, $40/two years. Subscribe via, call 205/870.7889 or mail payment to the address above.

Happy 75th, Israel. Here’s to the next 75 and beyond.

America was born a slave nation. A century into our history we engaged in a war in part to ensure we would not continue as one. We found ourselves confronted by the issue of civil rights, and embarked on a mission to ensure the fair treatment of all peoples no matter their skin color. Although we’ve made great strides, it is a mission we’re still grappling with today.

America was also born an immigrant country. As early as the pilgrims, many groups and families found in the country the opportunity to plant stakes, chase their future, and be themselves. Few were met with open

Copyright 2022. 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.

4 May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life
January 2021
May/June 2023 commentary
Robert French is CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans.
Nothing is ever Black and White, but it looks so great in Blue and White
Send your letters to, or mail to P.O. Box 130052, Birmingham, AL 35213
Robert French visits with Partnership2Gether representatives in sister community Rosh Ha’Ayin

interesting bits & can’t miss events agenda

On May 17, members of the New Orleans Section of the National Council of Jewish Women went to Baton Rouge as part of their involvement in the Women on Wednesday program, which focuses on reproductive justice. They were advocating during the legislative session, along with 10,000 Women Louisiana and Lift Louisiana. The focus of advocacy for Women on Wednesday on May 17 was religious freedom. Touro Synagogue and Hadassah New Orleans also took part in advocacy, including Touro hosting a Reproductive Havdalah on May 13.

Some Jewish organizations see big gains at this year’s GiveNOLA Day

For the second year in a row, GiveNOLA Day was down slightly from the previous year, with some Jewish institutions seeing increases and some seeing decreases.

Overall, the 24-hour online fundraiser coordinated by the Greater New Orleans Foundation raised $7.779 million through 54,561 donations to 951 organizations on May 2, according to preliminary numbers. Last year’s event raised $7.91 million through 57,700 donations to 947 organizations. There were 15 organizations in the Jewish community that participated.

The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans continued its run of coming in third overall, with $210,427 from 209 donors. Last year the Federation had just under $258,000 in donations from 239 donors. Last year, though, the Federation was unable to hold its annual Super Sunday because of the waning days of the pandemic, so GiveNOLA Day became the only major public giving opportunity in 2022.

This year, the Federation held Super Sunday on Feb. 5, raising $220,581 from 284 donors. “Even after the large number of donations we received on the 2023 Super Sunday, we still had huge participation” in GiveNOLA, said Sherri Tarr, Federation COO, who is in charge of the 2023 Annual Campaign. Additionally, seven volunteers did a “clean up phoneathon” on GiveNOLA Day, raising $40,000 from 58 donors.

Tarr said the Federation is well on its way

toward a goal of $2.6 million for this year’s campaign, and “the Federation is immensely grateful to our New Orleans Jewish community for their generosity and support.”

As the third-place Large organization, the Federation earned a $2,500 bonus. The Ogden Museum of Southern Art reclaimed its usual top spot from Louise McGehee School, with the museum seeing a hefty increase to $368,411, outpacing the school’s $343,218.

Team Gleason and Son of a Saint were fourth and fifth, and Isidore Newman School dropped from fifth to sixth, with $161,517 from 104 donors, down about $10,000 from the previous year. There were only eight organizations that hit six figures, down from last year’s 12.

The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience continued its climb, rising from 43rd to 37th with $33,112 from 109 donors, about a $2,000 increase.

Jewish Community Day School almost doubled its take, going from $13,492 to $26,044, placing 58th, with 107 donors. They had the second highest total among educational institutions in Jefferson Parish. The Anti-Defamation League was 70th with $21,490 from 72 donors, a slight decrease from last year.

Jewish Children’s Regional Service rose to 187th with $9,453 from 72 donors, up $2,000 from last year. Avodah had a significant increase, to $9,228 from 25 donors and 192nd

place, up from $5,519 from 27 donors last year.

Tulane Hillel’s donations fell by half, to $5,024 and 300th place, but the national Hillel Giving Week with its own website and matching funds was taking place at the same time.

National Council of Jewish Women had $4,844 from 42 donors for 321st place, down a little from last year. Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans also slipped, to 324th with $4,429 from 49 donors, down from $5,729 from 65 donors last year. The agency will have a 75th anniversary gala in June.

The New Orleans Jewish Community Center was next at 325th, with $4,403 from 63 donors.

Hadassah New Orleans rose from $731 to $1,174, placing 605th with 19 donors.

Gates of Prayer in Metairie raised $961, Shir Chadash raised $785, Temple Sinai took in $751 and Slater Torah Academy raised $517. Northshore Jewish Congregation in Mandeville and Beth Israel Menorah Academy did not participate.

All organizations will also receive a bonus from the Lagniappe Fund, where funds from the day’s sponsors are allocated to the participating organizations based on how much they raised.

There were also Rock Around The Clock bonuses in all three organization size categories, with all groups that had a donation in that particular hour eligible for a $500 prize, selected at random. For the third year in a row, none of the Jewish organizations received one.

May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 5

First-ever Alabama Jewish Culture and History Symposium planned

Registration is now open for the first-ever Alabama Jewish Culture and History Symposium, to be held on July 25 at Temple Beth Or in Montgomery.

Coordinated by the Alabama Folklife Association, the symposium is designed to connect communities, researchers and ideas to promote collaboration and exchange, with the ultimate

goal of strengthening the documentation and preservation of Jewish life in Alabama. It will include community and research project sharing, archives training, artifact documentation, live music, oral history and art exhibits, a Jewish book table, and open time for conversation.

The symposium will open at 9:30 a.m., with a community roundtable to share projects documenting Jewish life in Alabama. At 11:15 a.m., there will be a session on archiving — what to collect, where to collect it and how to preserve it, and what unexpected items are most likely to be valuable for future researchers.

After a kosher lunch, there will be a session at 1 p.m. for researchers to share discoveries and opportunities for partnerships and funding. After a musical performance by Dahlia Road from Auburn, there will be a session on next steps and takeaways from the symposium. The event is scheduled to end at 3:30 p.m.

There will also be oral history and art exhibits, book tables by the Jewish presses at the Universities of Alabama and Georgia, and a chance to document artifacts with the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life. Registration is $5 and is available at AJCHS.

6 May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life agenda

Jewish Family Service to celebrate 75 years of service in New Orleans

Seventy-five years ago, when the Jewish Children’s Home in New Orleans closed its doors, a new social service agency, Jewish Family Service, began.

Now the Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans, the agency is celebrating its Platinum Jubilee anniversary with a brunch gala, “Decades of Service for the Decades Ahead: 75 Years of Jewish Family Service,” at The Ritz-Carlton on June 25 at 11:30 a.m.

The nonprofit agency was founded to help World War II refugees resettle in the United States. Today, the agency offers a variety of services, regardless of religion, such as affordable counseling, holistic case management, emergency financial assistance, youth refugee resettlement, adoption home studies, older adult services, free youth suicide prevention education, and services for survivors of human trafficking.

“Truly, our mission has not changed since 1948. We have only expanded our efforts,” said Debbie Pesses, JFS board president. “Our 75th anniversary gala is an opportunity for our community to honor the immense impact we have made in the lives of New Orleanians. All the work we have done is only possible because of community support. JFS is for and by the community.”

“We are a safety net not only for the Jewish community but for all vulnerable populations in our area,” said JFS Executive Director Roselle Ungar. “We are committed to helping stabilize lives, especially after crises such as Hurricanes Katrina, Laura, and Ida and the Covid-19 pandemic.” JFS often collaborates with other social service agencies and Jewish organizations, such as its progenitor, the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans.

Pesses and Ungar anticipate the gala to be not just a fundraiser, but a reunion uniting generations of civic-minded community members. “We’re looking forward, looking for new leaders,” said Pesses. “This anniversary is about remembering how we got here, honoring what we’ve accomplished, and building for the future.”

The gala will support JFS programs and services. Individual tickets are $175, with patron levels starting at $250, up to one $25,000 presenting sponsor opportunity. More information is at

Republican governors mark Jewish Heritage Month

Every Republican governor in the country — 26 of them — signed a statement marking Jewish American Heritage Month, which is May.

“As public servants and governors, we support and recognize May as Jewish American Heritage Month — and call for observance to celebrate the historical, economic and cultural impact of the Jewish-American people who have strengthened our communities and emboldened our nation throughout history,” they wrote

They added that they are proud the United States was the first to recognize Israel and noted the “unbreakable bond” between the two nations, “based upon shared values, ultimately leading to prosperous economic, educational and cultural partnerships.”

“We stand with our constituencies who oppose antisemitism, and we affirm the significance of Jewish-American contributions throughout U.S. history,” they added.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds and Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee reportedly led the drafting and signing of the statement. Both have articulated their support for Jews and Israel publicly on social media in the past.

The statement includes the signatures of Alabama Governor Kay Ivey, Arkansas Governor Sarah Sanders, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves and Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards is a Democrat.

May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 7 agenda

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The joint Reform Summer Shabbat Schedule has been announced, with the New Orleans-area congregations combining for services. June services will be at Gates of Prayer in Metairie at 6:15 p.m., with Torah study at 9:15 a.m. and Shabbat morning at 10:30 a.m. July will be at Temple Sinai, with a 6 p.m. oneg and 6:30 p.m. service. Torah study will be at 9:15 a.m., with services at 10:30 a.m. August will be at Touro Synagogue, at 6 p.m. with dinner following, and Shabbat morning at 10 a.m.

The Greater New Orleans Section of the National Council of Jewish Women will have “Spring Into Action,” its annual installation and closing general meeting, June 11 at 11:30 a.m. at the Windsor Court. Gail Chalew will be installed as president, and Sara Lewis will receive the Emerging Leader Award.

This fall, Gates of Prayer is adjusting its Shabbat service schedule, following input from a congregational survey. Most Shabbat evening services will be at 6:15 p.m., with the oneg following. The first Friday of the month will be a 7 p.m. service with a family/intergenerational theme. Other weeks will have different options for children. Services had been at 8 p.m.

Numerous Jewish organizations in New Orleans will be marching in the New Orleans Pride Parade on June 10 at 5 p.m., with the groups combining for a full-size float. There is unlimited room for marchers, and registration is required. Joining JP NOLA will be Gates of Prayer, Shir Chadash, Temple Sinai, Touro Synagogue, the Jewish Community Center and Tulane Hillel.

Shir Chadash in Metairie will have Havdalah in Harmony, 8:15 p.m. on June 10, featuring Buchbinder, Rubin and Bergeman’s Music at the Center of the River. Havdalah will be followed by the concert in the sukkah garden. Light refreshments will be served.

There will be a Hadassah New Orleans Shabbat, June 16 at 6:15 p.m. at Gates of Prayer in Metairie.

Pride Shabbat will be held on June 9 at the 6:15 p.m. service at Gates of Prayer, Metairie. As part of the joint Reform service schedule, Touro and Temple Sinai will also be involved. The Kol Ahava, “Voice of Love” choir will be featured, comprised of participants from across the local Jewish community.

The next JNEXT Financial Wellness session will be on financial planning for LGBTQ couples, June 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the Uptown Jewish Community Center in New Orleans. The year-lomg series is hosted by JNEXT and Todd Glazer of Magnolia Wealth Strategies.

The next speaker in the Morris Bart Sr. Lecture Series at the Uptown Jewish Community Center in New Orleans will be David Favret, president of the New Orleans Metropolitan Association of Realtors. He will lead a conversation about the shifting landscape of New Orleans residential real estate. He will also discuss the forces influencing the market and the value of Realtors to the community. The talk will be on June 12 at 11:45 a.m. Lunch reservations must be made by June 8. There is no charge for members, $10 for non-members.

On the cover: On April 25, the National World War II Museum was lit blue and white for Israel’s 75th birthday. The State Capitol in Baton Rouge, and Children’s Hospital and Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans were also sporting blue and white lights. This was part of a national effort to have noted buildings mark Israel’s birthday.

8 May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life agenda
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They started Sea Shul down in Seaside

The 30-A corridor of planned beachside communities in Walton County has long been a popular destination for visitors from Jewish communities throughout the South. Now, a new congregation is being formed in Seaside to welcome visitors and serve the year-round and seasonal residents.

Sea Shul has been holding monthly programs as it continues to organize into a congregation.

Michelle Hayes Uhlfelder, interim director of Sea Shul, said the idea to start a synagogue has been discussed for years, “it just now has the right people at the right time.”

Since Walton County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the country, “we want to make sure we have an inclusive Jewish community available.”

For visitors, “we’re wanting to provide an opportunity for people who are visiting our area to have a second Jewish home, tap into services, have the ability to participate,” she added.

Along with the overall growth, the area’s Jewish population continues to increase as the panhandle becomes more popular.

As the son of Seaside founder Robert Davis, Micah Davis said he grew up as one of a handful of Jews in the area. In fact, when he was 11, the family moved to San Francisco and started managing Seaside remotely, partly to give him a Jewish education and a Bar Mitzvah.

Robert Davis noted that when his son was growing up during the town’s development, “the Steins and the Davises were the only Jews for miles.”

Micah Davis said “it did feel lonely at times,” and a lot of people were unfamiliar with Jews. When his being Jewish came up, “they don’t know what to do with that, what it means.”

Now back in Seaside, “We had this chapel space and I’d been wanting the experience of knowing more about Judaism,” he said. A close friend in Los Angeles would talk about her rabbi’s “learned and philosophical” speeches, and he wanted that kind of experience, but “it’s not easy to obtain here unless you drive 40 minutes, an

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Joel Axler tells the Purim story at the Seaside Chapel on March 3 Sea Shul started with a series of potluck dinners

hour or longer in the summer.”

He and Uhlfelder started talking about organizing the Jewish community, and “it was her energy, enthusiasm and focus” that jump-started the process, he said.

Uhlfelder has been in Seaside for 15 years, and said when people move to the area, they are used to having their shul be within walking distance, or relatively close. In Seaside, one had to travel close to an hour to Panama City or the Fort Walton area.

Aside from Pensacola, most organized Jewish life in the panhandle is relatively recent. Beth Shalom in Fort Walton Beach was established in 1985. B’nai Israel in Panama City was formed in 1992, then Achdut Israel in 2004. Beth Israel launched as an Orthodox congregation in Destin in 2006, then became Chabad of the Emerald Coast in 2013. Chabads have since been established in Panama City Beach and Pensacola in 2018.

For the past year and a half, the Chabad in Destin has been hosting occasional gatherings along 30-A as well.

Last summer, Micah Davis and Uhlfelder started reaching out to others to see if there was interest in establishing a congregation, and organized a potluck dinner in July at Uhlfelder’s house. The initial email said to forward the invitation “to everyone you know,” Uhlfelder said. “We started to find people, and we were shocked at how many people were here.” About 50 attended the first gathering.

People started making connections, whether by age group or part of town, and the process began.

While Uhlfelder was working at Sundog Books last year, a woman noticed her Star of David necklace, and Uhlfelder told her that they were working on establishing a congregation. The woman remarked that her husband is a rabbi, and they were in town on vacation.

Rabbi Jonathan Crane from Atlanta “gave so kindly of his time” in advising them on how to establish a congregation, Uhlfelder said. He is the Scholar of Bioethics and Jewish Thought at the Emory University Center for Ethics.

In October, there was a second gathering at Micah Davis’ home, where

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community 10 May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life
Sea Shul’s organizing committee (right to left): Bill Askinazi, Micah Davis, Pete Goldman, Suzin Arce, Ilisa Eichenbaum, Ortal ShayaMontoya, Lori Askinazi, Michelle Hayes Uhlfelder. Not Pictured: Louise and Joel Axler, Alan Eichenbaum
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even more people showed up, and still more at a Chanukah celebration in December.

Starting in October, a founding committee was formed to develop a vision for the Jewish community of Seaside. Uhlfelder said they had one advantage immediately — places to meet, through the use of different buildings in Seaside, such as the chapel and assembly hall. “We just had to find everyone to put it together.”

They officially incorporated with the state in January, by which point about 30 families were involved. The name Sea Shul was chosen because “It was playful, it was fun, and it was also inclusive, and caught our area, Seaside, 30-A, the beach vibe… Simple, yet you could identify it if you were Jewish,” Uhlfelder explained.

They wanted to start holding services in addition to the dinners, so on March 3, the Shabbat evening before Purim, they held a brief Purim service in the chapel, then went to the assembly hall for dinner.

The big “coming out party” was their Passover Seder, which reached capacity at 70, including a large number of children. Crane, who coinci-

Seaside’s roots in Jewish Birmingham

While Seaside has been developed over the past 40 years, its history goes back to the 1940s in Birmingham’s Jewish community.

In 1946, Joseph Smolian purchased 80 acres of beachfront property by Seagrove Beach on the Florida panhandle for $8,000. Smolian was married to Bertha Pizitz, daughter of Louis Pizitz, who founded the Pizitz department store in 1899. In 1922, Smolian bought a share in the company, and served as secretary and vice president of the company. Smolian planned to turn the property into a summer retreat for Pizitz employees, but Louis Pizitz wasn’t enamored with the idea. The Smolians would walk along the property every summer while vacationing at Seagrove Beach, though most people were skeptical about whether the property would amount to anything.

The Smolians were active in local philanthropy, supporting psychiatric medicine at the Medical College of Alabama, which later became the University of Alabama at Birmingham. In 1959, they donated funds to construct the Smolian Psychiatric Center, and later donated their home for a faculty club, then the Smolian International House, which later moved and the new location was demolished in 2018 for a new dorm complex.

In the 1970s, Smolian’s grandson, Robert Davis, became an award-winning builder and developer in Miami. In 1978, Davis inherited the 80 acres from his grandfather, and started thinking of the small-town cottage model for the place where he went during family vacations in his childhood. The “New Urbanism” idea was to have a neighborhood where most everything one needed would be within walking distance.

He and his wife-to-be, Daryl, traveled the region for architectural inspiration, and visited small towns in Europe, developing a uniform style for the community.

In 1982, two houses were constructed — a sales office, and their residence, which doubled as a model home. They also established a Saturday open-air market.

It took some selling and some time, but the master plan was developed for the town, and now there are over 300 cottages, with a mix of seasonal and year-round residents. The town received even more attention when it was the setting for the film, “The Truman Show.”

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community May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 11
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dentally had already planned a vacation to the area, was tapped to lead the Seder, which was catered by Kosher Cajun in Metairie.

At the Seder, the congregation’s logo was unveiled — a Star of David formed by six fish, in a nod to the beach.

Robert Davis said that Uhlfelder and his son deserve a lot of credit for reaching out to other families and getting everyone together for dinners, “and eventually for services in the Seaside Chapel, and a spectacular Seder, presided over by a dynamic young rabbi. I am proud of them and amazed at their accomplishment.”

Aside from short-lived breakaway congregations, and the establishment of Chabad centers, the most recent other new congregations in the region were Beth Shalom in Auburn in 1989 and Northshore Jewish Congregation in Mandeville in 1996. The Jewish Federation of Oxford was established in December 2015.

The organizing committee is consulting with rabbis on how to continue to grow the congregation and “launch us into the next phase,” Micah Davis said.

He said over the past year, every time it felt like they hit a roadblock and needed an extra push, “we found it… there’s a natural, unstoppable evolution and force that feels like this is meant to be.”

Sea Shul is now organizing a Mitzvah Day and working out details on membership for residents, part-timers and frequent visitors. They are also working out how to have regular services, likely relying on visiting rabbis and local talent, and what style of services would be the best fit. There are also the nuts and bolts of developing bylaws and a mission statement.

The congregation has also set up a Facebook page and an email list for those who are interested in their activities, and a website is being developed. Since Passover, there was a Mother’s Day potluck, and a Shavuot service planned.

“Everyone is excited about how to get involved,” Uhlfelder said.

Davis said Sea Shul is a place for community members to “get together with people where there is an unspoken understanding, history and culture. For people living in cities, they take that for granted.” Also, the congregation’s presence will help educate the general community about Judaism.

Uhlfelder said Sea Shul would not have been possible without the support of the Davises, and the numerous community members “that are driven to make it happen and are willing to give their time and resources.”

community 12 May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life
The Latest News…

Mississippi loses state’s last Holocust survivor

Ilse Goldberg, considered to be Mississippi’s last Holocaust survivor, died on April 4 in Greenwood.

Born in Reichenbach, Germany, she moved to Breslau at age nine. Soon after, Nazi restrictions on Jews were introduced in the region. In November 1938, the Nazis came to their home and took everything. The next morning, she awoke to Kristallnacht.

The day after Kristallnacht, her father was arrested and spent five weeks at Buchenwald. He was released because he had his discharge papers with him from when he fought for Germany in World War I. Still, he had to check in with the Gestapo every day.

The family was able to secure passage to Shanghai, where they were in a refugee camp. Roughly 20,000 European Jews escaped to Shanghai until Japan, which occupied the region in 1941, closed the area to further immigration and increased restrictions on the Jewish Ghetto. Goldberg enrolled in the American School, then after she graduated was hired by the American Joint Distribution Committee to teach homeless and underprivileged children.

In 1947, they were able to immigrate to the United States, thanks to a cousin in Memphis that they had never met. She started working for a film distributor, then met Greenwood native Ervin Goldberg. She moved to Greenwood in 1950 when they were married, becoming an integral part of Goldberg’s, a shoe store founded in 1921 by Morris Goldberg.

She is survived by her son, Michael Goldberg and his wife Gail M. Goldberg, and her son, Jerome Goldberg and his wife Jane Goldberg; and grandchildren, Dr. Richard Goldberg and his wife Rachel, Scott Goldberg and his wife Annie, Eric Goldberg and his wife Cassidy, and Erin Goldberg Bryant and her husband Baylor. She is also survived by 5 great-grandchildren, Walker, Jack, Madison, Emory, and Pierce Goldberg.

Services were held on April 10 at Ahavath Rayim in Greenwood, officiated by Rabbi Micah Greenstein, with a special blessing by Brother Jim Phillips.

Gilbert Metz, the state’s last survivor of the concentration camps, died in 2007 in Jackson.

community May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 13
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The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in New Orleans was awarded the 2022 Museum Exhibition of the Year Award by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. The presentation was made at the LEH’s Bright Lights Award Gala on May 11 at Turner’s Hall in New Orleans.

Day at Jacobs Camp for interfaith families

The Sherry and Alan Leventhal Center for Interfaith Families at the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans is partnering with Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica for an Interfaith Families Experience, a day at camp on July 15. The excursion is for families with children ages 4 to 12 who are interested in future summers at camp.

The day will include time in the camp pool, tours and lunch in the dining hall. There is limited space, and the group will leave the Metairie JCC at 7:45 a.m., returning at 6 p.m.

Registration is at

El Al increasing Fla. flights

More than 100,000 people flew El Al’s Miami to Tel Aviv route in 2022, which highlighted a need for more flights in Florida, stated the airline. This spring, El Al will increase its weekly flights from Miami International Airport to Ben-Gurion International Airport from five to six.

In September, El Al plans to debut direct flights from Fort Lauderdale to Israel, at first seasonally around the High Holidays (in midand late September) and Sukkot (late September into October). By the spring of 2024, El Al intends to have daily service to Israel from the Fort Lauderdale airport.

Mayor of Broward County Lamar Fisher stated that the new El Al service “will help to boost business, tourism and trade opportunities between the Middle East and Broward County.”

14 May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life community
Full Service Breakfast, Lunch and High Tea

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Jewish Endowment Foundation

Empower Your Giving With a Donor Advised Fund at JEF

With our combination of knowledge, expertise, and service, the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana can help you increase your philanthropic impact. Right now, there is no better vehicle for most individuals and families than a Donor Advised Fund.

Why do so many people turn to JEF to distribute their charitable gifts through a DAF? Because it’s one of the smartest ways to enhance your charitable giving.

The idea behind the DAF is simple: By opening one with JEF, you gain an easy, accessible tool for making charitable donations — without the administrative headaches. You decide where to direct your charitable dollars, and we take care of the rest, providing you with one centralized location for recording your gifts and tax deductions. Not surprisingly, DAFs are the fastest-growing planned giving tool, with more than one million created last year.

You can fund a DAF with a variety of assets such as cash, appreciated stock, and real estate, and you can recommend grants to a nearly unlimited number of qualified nonprofits, Jewish or secular, on your own schedule. You may also select investment options to potentially grow your fund (based on your fund balance).

Giving through a DAF also connects you to something bigger: a group of people banding together to advance the common good.

Key Benefits of a Donor Advised Fund:

• With an initial contribution of at least $5,000 in cash, appreciated securities, or real estate, you’ll receive an immediate fair market value charitable tax deduction.

• You can recommend unlimited grants (minimum $100) from your DAF, 24/7, through our secure online portal, review your fund’s balance and giving history, and add to your fund anytime with a credit card.

• JEF’s annual Administrative Cost Reimbursement fee is based on your DAF’s assets; a portion of these fees funds JEF’s grants programs which increase the impact your dollars make within the community.

• With a DAF, you can carry out your charitable giving more simply and cost-effectively than a private family

foundation and without any annual minimal distributions or administrative headaches.

We are proud to work alongside multiple generations of families who turn to us for guidance about putting their values into action and leaving vibrant legacies. If we can be of assistance to you and your advisors, please do not hesitate to call us at (504) 524-4559 to schedule a confidential conversation at any time.

This article should not be considered tax advice and we encourage you to consult with your tax advisor to receive optimal tax advantages and guidance.

May/June 2023 • The Jewish Newsletter 15

Jewish Community Day School

The Yoms

Moon Fest

Like the U.S. Postal Service, “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night” would keep our Green Preschoolers from having the time of their lives at our third annual Moon Fest. Our friends made giant bubbles with Bubble Lady Serena, played at moon-themed sensory bins, space-walked with Coach Terrance, got their faces painted, ate snowballs, and more, all while serenaded by a live performance by the Grammy-nominated Cameron Dupuy and the Cajun Troubadours (who are old friends of Ms. Avery’s husband, noted guitarist Ben Greenberg). Moon Fest is not just a fantastical festival, but a seamless representation of everything that makes our preschool special.

In the months leading up to Moon Fest, the children explored outer space through art, books, songs, light and shadow play, science, and class discussions during morning meetings. All of this learning culminated in our annual schoolwide magical event, Moon Fest. Head of Green Preschool Avery Loss created this springtime festival — with a Jewish holiday twist — celebrating Rosh Chodesh, the monthly marking of the birth of a new moon. Moon Fest is a joyful way to celebrate the final stage of our school year while highlighting the importance of Reggio-inspired childhood education and our shared Jewish culture.

This year, Loss brought new inspiration to enrich Moon Fest 2023 from a recent visit to Reggio Emilia. Last spring, Loss completed her MA in Innovative Early Childhood Education from the University of Colorado-Denver in partnership with Boulder Journey School. The culminating experience of that degree was a trip to visit the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy that have inspired a student discovery-centered approach to early childhood education across the globe.

JCDS honored both sadness and great joy in Israel’s history by observing Yom HaZikaron, Israel’s Memorial Day; and Yom Ha’atzmaut, Israel’s Independence Day. Some of our third through sixth graders headed to the Uptown JCC to sing the “Hatikvah” following a ceremony honoring those who have fallen during the wars and acts of terrorism since the birth of the State of Israel. After the program, students enjoyed a wonderful Israeli feast along with music and dancing.

To celebrate Yom Ha’atzmaut this year,

we put Israel Independence Day on the map — literally! After a slideshow of Dr. Philipson’s summer trip to Israel, students turned sheet cakes into amazing maps of the country. Using fondant, sprinkles, food coloring, and a lot of imagination, kids made the skyscrapers of Tel Aviv, the soaring heights of Mt. Hermon, and the salty shores of the Dead Sea. Students then presented their final works by highlighting cities and locations on their maps including Tel Aviv, Eilat, Beer Sheva, Hayam Hatichon, and Kineret. PreK and Kindergarten also made cakes featuring an Israeli flag and the dove of peace out of marshmallows. The day culminated with a tasty Israeli lunch and dancing on Bart Field.

First/Second Grade Siddur Ceremony

I still remember my first siddur. I went to a Jewish Day School similar to JCDS. The siddur was a thick book with a solid navy cover and HUGE letters (the Shiloh siddur for those who are curious). There was no English, no custom decorations, and no choice involved.

It’s not a good sign when the most you remember about a siddur is its size. Here at JCDS I think we do a much better job making a child’s first siddur an event to remember. Parents get to choose the siddur that is most meaningful to their family and decorate it to make it special. They present it by hand to their child, showing how having a personal relationship with God is a gift that one generation gives to another. And to top it all off, we have cookies, cupcakes, and coffee afterward!

It has been a true treat being involved in our Kabbalat Siddurim ceremony. I’ve seen our first and second graders grow considerably and am so impressed with their mastery of our service and their creative custom-made siddurim. I trust that when they think back to their very first siddur, our students will have meaningful and warm memories to cherish for the rest of their lives. I know I will!

16 May/June 2023 • The Jewish Newsletter

Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans celebrates our 75th anniversary this year!

Since 1948, JFS has provided holistic care, comfort, and assistance to our community. From refugee resettlement to adoption services, mental health services to emergency assistance, JFS has worked with our community to help individuals and families enhance and strengthen their lives. We hope you will join us to celebrate all that our community has accomplished, and the lives we have positively impacted, over the last 75 years.

For our Platinum Jubilee, we’re hosting a brunch gala on Sunday, June 25 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom of The Ritz-Carlton. Tickets for Decades of Service for the Decades Ahead: 75 Years of Jewish Family Service start at $175. The patron level starts at $250. For more information, visit

Jewish Family Service

Upcoming EMDR Basic Training (In Person!) with Carol Miles, MSW, LCSW

Participants will learn the underlying Adaptive Information Processing theory of EMDR Therapy and other theoretical, brain functioning, and research issues. They will learn to assess the appropriateness of using EMDR Therapy with patients and how to conceptualize a case from an EMDR Therapy and trauma viewpoint. They will learn to integrate EMDR Therapy into a comprehensive treatment plan, utilizing all eight phases of the EMDR Therapy treatment method. This includes applying the target sequencing plan, and the three stage standard protocol. Participants will learn to identify, select, and develop appropriate target issues for use with an EMDR Therapy protocol. They will develop the safeguards, learn soothing and grounding techniques and techniques to teach patients to tolerate and modulate affect and will learn applications of EMDR Therapy to various patient problems.

Between the first and second parts of the course, and in order to continue to the second part, each participant will participate in a total of 4 hours of consultation. After the second parts of the course, and in order to receive EMDRIAs certificate of completion of Basic Training, each participant will participate in a total of 6 hours of consultation to complete the required total of 10 hours of consultation for Basic Training.

This is a two-part in-person CEU.

June 28-30 and July 26-28, 2023 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

LSU School of Public Health 2020 Gravier St. New Orleans, LA 70112

Parts 1 and 2, as well as 10 hours of group consultation, are included in the registration cost

42 Clinical hours LABSWE, LCA, & APA

May/June 2023 • The Jewish Newsletter 17

Jewish Community Center

Check out what camp families are saying about the Metairie JCC Summer Camp!

“My kids loved absolutely everything about JCC camp. The programming is top-notch, including drama, art, and science. The swim program is excellent and they have both become so comfortable in the water. Best of all, the JCC does a fantastic job of hiring caring, fun staff who facilitate wonderful and safe experiences for the kids. My children looked forward to attending every single day, and I always trusted that they were in great hands. Thanks for everything! See you next summer!”

Summer Fun Starts at the J!

Register Today for Summer Camp at the Metairie JCC

Summer is around the corner, and that means it is almost time for JCC Summer Camp. If you are still looking for an awesome summer camp, the Goldring-Woldenberg JCC in Metairie has spaces available all eight weeks, June 5 to July 28, for children ages 3 to grade 5, and limited spots the last three weeks for campers entering sixth grade.

At the J, campers have endless opportunities to explore their interests, discover new ones, and develop meaningful friendships. JCC camps offer an action-packed summer filled with a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities, including pool time and American Red Cross certified swim instruction.

Applications and all payments are accepted online. Visit for additional details and the registration link. To learn more about what makes the Metairie camp so special, or to check on availability for specific weeks, contact Camp Director Sasha Somers at

2023 Program Highlights

Swim Skills Program: This program was designed to help campers at all swim levels improve their swimming ability and grow confidence in the water. Our American Red Cross certified Water Safety Instructors support and encourage campers while making learning to swim fun and exciting!

Specialties: Our camp specialists deliver engaging programming every day. Campers get a chance to experience all different types of activities throughout the camp week, including art, music, science, athletics, drama, and creation station.

Themed Weeks and Dress Up Days: Campers and staff show off their creativity with weekly costume dress up days. Last year’s highlights were our Wild West, Mad Scientist, Summer Safari, and favorite costume days!

Color War (Maccabiah): Campers bring out their competitive side in our weeklong color wars. Teams battle it out in a series of challenges — art, sports, music, games, you name it! — to be crowned Maccabiah Color War Champion. We look forward to sharing the summer with you and your family. Visit for more information and to register!

“My daughter loved JCC summer camp. This was her first year and we didn’t know what to expect. She came home every day with a new story about bounce houses and clowns and acrobats and robotic toothbrushes and getting to perform on stage. We were continuously impressed by how excited she was after camp every day. We can’t wait for next year!”

— Damian T. Parent of a Chaverim camper

“The JCC Summer Camp is the best camp in Metairie. I will be sending my kids every year! The counselors and staff are knowledgeable, kind, and fun people for kids to be around. Amazing communication and daily pictures for the parents round it off to make it 100% the most quality summer camp in the city.”

“We love JCC camp so much! My son goes every single week, and he loves playing with his friends and counselors and doing all the amazing activities. As parents, we love knowing that he is being truly loved and well-cared for by all the counselors and staff. We will definitely be back next year!”

“Our son loves JCC camp and is already talking about next summer. You can feel the happiness, positivity and excitement every single morning we walk up to the gym.”

18 May/June 2023 • The Jewish Newsletter
— Dana G. Parent of Maccabee and Zion campers — Melissa H. Parent of a Sabra camper — Rachel P. Parent of a Maccabee camper — Stacy S. Parent of a Sabra camper

Portrait Identity Project

During this year’s reception, over 100 students, faculty, and community members ate delicious food catered by Rimon, listened to live music, and viewed the portraits of 26 Jewish Tulanians paired with their respective personal statements. Photographs were printed on metal, inviting the viewer to see themselves in each student and reflect on their own Jewish journeys.

Julia Mattis, Director of Special Projects, shared that, “it felt surreal to see this project come together and to see students interact with both their own stories and those of their peers. Walking around and overhearing the conversations sparked by this project was truly inspiring. My biggest takeaway was the sense community I felt. It was undeniable.” Julia, who conducted and curated all photography and interviews, has since brought PIP to other communities nationwide, including Ithaca College and the University of California, Berkeley.

The Portrait Identity Project has been both a representation and source of Jewish pride, giving students the opportunity to explore their past and future identities.

For more information on the Portrait Identity Project, please visit

May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 19 Tulane Hillel
This April, Tulane Hillel hosted the second annual Portrait Identity Project gallery reception at the Goldie and Morris Mintz Center for Jewish Life. PIP serves as a photographic and narrative exploration of Jewish young adults and how their identities do or do not intersect.

Jewish Community Day School honors Madilyn and Alvin (z”l) Samuels

The passion and support for Jewish education shown by Alvin and Madilyn Samuels goes back far beyond the founding of the Jewish Community Day School nearly 30 years ago. Having grown up in small towns with few, if any, Jewish residents, they knew the importance of exposing their children — and grandchildren — to all things Jewish, from holidays and Shabbat to Torah and Israel.

So when a committee was formed in the early 1990s to study the feasibility of a community Jewish day school in New Orleans, they were among the first to hop on board, both with their time and with their money.

“It took a lot of courage to be the pioneers,” said Madilyn Samuels, referring to the first families who committed to sending their children to what then had been known as the New Orleans Jewish Day School. “But it paid off in so many ways. I give credit to the wonderful leadership, the devoted faculty, and the parents.”

Samuels was speaking at the annual JCDS annual fundraiser, where she and her late husband Alvin were being honored for their ardent support of the school, which opened in 1996 with kindergarten and eventually grew to eighth grade, though Hurricane Katrina forced the school to eliminate middle school.

“It’s bittersweet without Alvin,” who died on Dec. 30, Madilyn said. “But he knew this honor was happening, and I know he is here in spirit.”

She gave a shout-out to the pioneer families who helped make the school a reality and to her late daughter-in-law Patti Arnold Samuels, who was one of the Day School’s proudest and most vocal cheerleaders. Patti’s portrait graces the school’s lobby, and her name is on the outside of the building. “With Patti’s enthusiasm, how could we not be involved,” Madilyn said.

Three of Madilyn and Alvin’s grandchildren — Geoffrey, Eric and Naomi — attended the school. Their father Mark was among several speakers who paid tribute to his parents.

“The Day School has been a very important part of our lives,” Mark said. “I’m proud of the generosity of my parents. They step up for causes they believe in.”

Like last year, the setting for this year’s jazz brunch was the New Orleans Culinary and Hospitality Institute, also known as NOCHI. More than 160 guests attended the brunch, a number that includes some of the Samuels family’s closest friends and family members along with community supporters and Day School families.

As part of the celebration, NOCHI prepared a wonderful selection of brunch delicacies while guests listened to jazz tunes by Greg Hicks and Friends. The sunny terraces, large gathering of friends, great music, and delicious food made for a beautiful tribute to the Samuels family.

Other speakers included Susan Green, chair of the JCDS Board; Brad Philipson, head of School; Greg Samuels, Madilyn and Alvin’s middle son; and granddaughter Naomi Samuels.

Naomi reminisced about her years as a Day School student and how proud her Namma and Nampa were of everything she and her brothers learned.

“They were always very excited to hear what we were learning about, and of the enthusiasm about Jewish education we came home from school with.

“One particular event that was made possible because of my experience was surprising my grandfather by reading Torah for his birthday when I was only 10 years old,” Naomi continued. “I know that made Nampa proud, and

20 May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life

it was physical proof of the benefit gained from Namma and Nampa’s generosity to the Jewish Day School and the greater Jewish faith as a whole.”

Philipson expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the Samuels, saying that their support for the school has never wavered. If anything, it has grown stronger.

“Their support helped us go from temporary buildings to a magnificent shared campus,” he said. “They saw the school go from a struggle to get enough students to open, to a thriving 85-student K-8 school before Katrina.

“They stood by the school as it contracted in the years after the storm down to fewer than 30 students, and they were with us when we sprouted anew, with Green Preschool feeding a fresh crop of students into our Pre-K class each year.”

Philipson said the school’s current enrollment is 105 students, with 10 percent growth projected for the next school year. About 17 percent of the students are not Jewish, and 33 percent come from interfaith families. “There is simply no one singular way to be a Jewish Day School student,” Philipson said, and “we value all of our families” and the wide range of backgrounds they hold.

“The mitzvot of Madilyn and Alvin Samuels, as well as the mitzvot of all of you here today, have taken Jewish education in New Orleans to unprecedented heights, and we are only going higher,” said Philipson. “The mitzvot performed by all of the students at JCDS every day and the mitzvot they will go on to perform will perpetuate the health and growth of our Jewish community for generations to come.”

May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 21 OVER 25 YEARS ExtErior DEsigns, inc. BY BEVERLY KATZ, Landscape Designer Problem Yards Our Specialty Landscape & Courtyard Plans Construction & Maintenance CALL (504) 866-0276 or VISIT #1 Middle Eastern Restaurant in New Orleans Fried Kibby • Vegetarian Dishes Vegan Options Available Chicken Shawarma • Variety of Kabobs Hummus • Falafel • And More

summer travel

an annual SJL special section

Beau Rivage a winning vacation getaway on the Gulf

Beau Rivage Resort & Casino offers access to the best blues (Gulf-water fishing) and greens (its Fallen Oak golf course) to go with its Las Vegas-style gaming and entertainment.

“We’re happy to help guests and groups plan a weekend stay tailored to their interests,” said Beau Rivage Vice President of Hospitality Murat Akan. “There is much to do at the resort and across the Biloxi area — everything from an active day of fishing or golfing to relaxing at the spa.”

For golfers, the resort offers exclusive access to the Tom Fazio-designed Fallen Oak course, nestled on the edge of the De Soto National Forest. Golf Digest rates Fallen Oak as Mississippi’s top course and Golfweek ranks it number two in its national ranking of Best Casino Courses.

The Coast is considered a sportsman’s paradise, with more than 200 species of fish up for grabs in the Gulf of Mexico, with several fishing charters available.

For those who prefer “indoor gaming,” Beau Rivage offers world-class gaming and entertainment. The newly upgraded BetMGM Book Bar and Grill features 100 HDTVs showing sports action. It’s located on the resort’s 85,000-square-foot gaming floor that’s home to more than 1,400 slot machines, 80 table games and 15 poker tables.

Akan said MGM Resorts International invested $100 million into the resort over the past couple of years, including $55 million in a major remodel of the resort’s 1,740 guest rooms and suites.

“We’ve added a lot of smart technologies to the room and enhanced the amenities,” he said. The focus on the aesthetic at the resort includes a “Gulf Coast feel with elements of Las Vegas.”

Director of Communications Mary Cracchiolo said in-house dining options at Beau Rivage include 12 restaurants and four bars/lounges where live entertainment is performed nightly.

Its newest “elevated dining experience” is Salt and Ivy. ARIA Las Vegas’ popular dining hot spot comes to south Mississippi with an enhanced menu of Coastal-inspired dishes, a classic New Orleans cocktail menu and themed dinner nights.

Cracchiolo said headline acts perform in the 1,550-seat Beau Rivage Theatre, with the world-famous Jabbawockeez taking the stage in July. The AAA Four-Diamond resort also boasts a tropical pool, retail promenade and the region’s only Topgolf Swing Suite.

For those who want to end a day of play with a relaxing spa treatment, the resort offers The Spa at Beau Rivage. The Spa includes 14 massage rooms; five facial treatment rooms and a state-of-the-art fitness facility.

The Spa, ranked number nine on Spas of America’s 2022 Top 100 U.S.

May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 23 RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION EXPERT STEPHEN FLEISHMANN 504-913-3030 Stephen Fleishmann, owner of Titan Construction, has more than 25 years of construction experience and more than 15 years of experience in legal consulting. He is a highly skilled expert witness in the area of value and causation of construction defects and deficiencies. u Construction Damage / Defect assessments u Cost estimation, which may include replacement or reproduction cost estimates u Narrative presentations and reports with inspection findings and conclusions u Code Interpretation u Expert witness testimony for depositions, mediations and settlement conferences, and arbitrations and trials u Expert opinion on residential construction, design/construction defects, building envelope evaluation, and means and methods assessment u Pre-case evaluations u Site inspections u Litigation support u Case analysis Licensed in Alabama, Florida and Louisiana
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Akan said for those traveling to the area, they also recommend a visit to the John C. Stennis NASA Space Center and charter boat trips to the barrier islands. Visitors can also enjoy a Biloxi Shrimping Trip, Ship Island Excursions, Walter Anderson Museum of Art, the Mardi Gras Museum, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Maritime and Seafood Industry Museum, and Historic Biloxi Tour Train.

“We have all the amenities, services and gaming of a top-flight Las Vegas resort, but we have a couple of things Las Vegas doesn’t offer — beautiful beaches and 300 years of history,” he said.

Visit history at Vulcan Park and Museum

Visiting Vulcan Park and Museum offers a sense of traveling back in time while honoring progress in the Magic City.

The world’s largest cast iron statue celebrates his 119th birthday on June 4. To celebrate, Vulcan Park and Museum is holding its biggest Birthday Bash ever atop Red Mountain.

The party — from noon until 4 p.m. — will feature performances by Clog Wild Cloggers, special demonstrations, a Game Zone, food trucks, drink, moonwalks, face painting as well as visits from Miss Alabama, Spiderman and of course the Iron Man himself.

Admission to the event is $10 for adults and $6 for children ages 5 to 12, free for children four and under. It includes all activities and access to Vulcan Museum, Vulcan’s observation tower and the new Linn-Henley Gallery exhibit, “Birmingham’s Middle Eastern Community: Celebrating Life and Liturgy.”

Then one month later, Alabama’s largest fireworks celebration will light up the skies with Thunder on the Mountain.

This summer, Vulcan Park and Museum is participating in the Blue Star Museums Initiative, providing free admission to currently-serving U.S. military personnel and their families through Labor Day.

For those who want to discover Birmingham, Vulcan hosts monthly historical walking tours, with a complete schedule at

24 May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life summer travel
The Tom Fazio-designed Fallen Oaks golf course, exclusively for Beau Rivage guests

The Israel Scouts Friendship Caravan will be in the region this month. The Caravan is a traveling group of 10 Tzofim (Israeli Scouts) who travel across the U.S. every summer, sharing their lives through song, dance and story as they bring their unique blend of entertainment to children and adults of all ages. The Friends of Israel Scouts choose members of the Caravan based on their maturity, fluency in English and their talent in performing arts. They will be in Mobile on June 22, details to be announced. The Caravan will then go to New Orleans to participate in a preschool dinner at Gates of Prayer in Metairie at 5 p.m. on June 23, then the 6:15 p.m. Shabbat service. They will also be at the June 24 Shabbat service at 10:30 a.m.

Cassidy introduces bill to fight anti-Israel boycott movement

U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and four Republican colleagues introduced the Combating BDS Act of 2023. The legislation would help state and local governments stand up to the anti-Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, which seeks to delegitimize the Jewish state of Israel by inflicting economic damage.

“BDS is rooted in antisemitism and hatred of Israel,” said Cassidy. “In a time of increasing attacks against the Jewish people, we need to help state and local governments stand up to those who wish to wipe Israel from the map.”

“The BDS movement is the single most destructive campaign of economic warfare against the Jewish state of Israel. Amid a rising tide of anti-Semitism, we must stand in firm solidarity with our closest democratic ally in the Middle East. This bill, which previously passed the Senate, would mark an important step toward bringing an end to the movement’s discriminatory efforts,” said Rubio.

The bill would increase protections for state and local governments in the U.S. that divest from, prohibit investment in, or otherwise restrict contracting with firms that knowingly engage in commerce-related or investment-related BDS activity attacking Israel, as well as persons doing business in Israel or Israeli-controlled territories.

BDS organizers insist their overall goal is the dismantling of Israel as a state.

Cassidy and Rubio were joined by U.S. Senators Mike Braun (R-IN), Rick Scott (R-FL), Bill Hagerty (R-TN) and Steve Daines (R-MT) as original cosponsors.

May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 25 community


3519 Severn, Metairie • (504) 888-2010


Deciding to Leave a Job… And Then What?


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‘Denise’, who is in her 40s, had worked with the same company for more than a decade. She had always considered herself fortunate to work in a supportive professional environment, where she was well compensated and performed work that had a positive impact on others. She had believed it highly likely she would remain with the same organization for her entire career.

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But lately, the office culture, and even its focus, had begun to change. The parts of her job she had found most meaningful, and most valuable, were no longer a priority. In the wake of recent personnel changes, she no longer felt a personal and professional bond with colleagues.

‘Denise’ pursued counseling at CJFS because she wanted to process these changes and consider how she should move forward. Could she leave the company she had put so much into for so long? Should she attempt to find a new job in her field? Or even pursue a major career change?

We hear a lot about the way the pandemic has changed the work environment. For some greater flexibility and remote work are a great fit for their lifestyle. For others, the lack of structure and disconnection from colleagues lowers productivity and creativity and impacts morale.

For ‘Denise’, the very philosophy that had grounded her to her organization was shifting. Through counseling, she ultimately concluded that her job no longer fulfilled her needs.

She had always felt great loyalty to her colleagues and the organization where she worked. But in counseling, I helped her see that loyalty does not always mean staying. She was not, as she feared, “letting her co-workers down.” After all, she was still doing a great job. Her role at work had always been a central part of her identity. It is not “disloyal” to set boundaries and recognize when our own needs are not being met. Through counseling ‘Denise’ realized that she had a responsibility to herself as well as to her employer.

For most people, deciding whether to leave a job that isn’t “perfect” requires thoughtfulness and introspection. After all, what in life is perfect? We need to weigh job security, or financial security, against personal satisfaction.

As she began to assess her options, we explored the various scenarios she might encounter in a job search:

Was she willing to move for a new position in her field?

Could she take a cut in salary?

If she could not find a job within her field that felt meaningful and met her other needs, what other career directions might be options?

In counseling, I worked with ‘Denise’ to develop the tools to explore these issues and found clarity regarding what was most important to her. She felt empowered to put her own needs over the expectations of her colleagues, friends and loved ones.

She ultimately decided that her top priority was working for an organization within her field whose purpose and values matched her own — even if it meant she had to move to find it!

Counseling from CJFS is confidential, and it is often covered by insurance. To learn more, visit, email or call (205) 879-3438.

26 May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life
Advisor, First Vice President-Investments Birmingham, AL Location 2501 20th Place South, Suite 350 Birmingham, AL 35223 205-414-2151 Investment and Insurance Products: NOT FDIC Insured / NO Bank Guarantee / MAY Lose Value Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company CAR-0521-03268 New Orleans, LA Location 1250 Poydras Street, Suite 2400 New Orleans, LA 70113 504-569-2403 Boca Raton, FL Location 5355 Town Center Road, Suite 600 Boca Raton, FL 33486 561-338-8015 counselor’s corner
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Have what she’s having, at deli exhibit in Houston

A notable exhibit might make the viewer hungry for more. This one more likely will just make viewers hungry.

The popular exhibit “I’ll Have What She’s Having: The Jewish Deli” is on display at the Holocaust Museum Houston.

Organized by the Skirball Cultural Center, the exhibit explores how American Jews imported traditions, adapted culture and built community through the experience of food.

In addition to showing how Jewish deli forged an entirely new, quintessentially American cuisine by combining Central and Eastern European dishes with ingredients abundantly available in the United States, the exhibition traces the larger arc of the Jewish experience in the United States during the 20th century. Neon signs, menus, advertisements, fixtures, historical footage, film and television clips and artifacts illuminate how delicatessens evolved from specialty stores catering to immigrant populations into the beloved national institutions they are today.

They are also, in many cases, vanishing. In the 1930s, when delis served as community meeting places, there were over 1500 delis in New York City. Now there are about 20, and the delis of today have had to adapt to changing times — and often, a largely non-Jewish clientele.

The exhibit opened in Houston on May 5 and will be displayed through Aug. 13. It originally was on display at Skirball last summer, then went to the New York Historical Society. After finishing in Houston, it will be at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center from Oct. 22 to next April.

Skirball curators Cate Thurston and Laura Mart, and food and immigration historian Lara Rabinovitch, started researching the exhibit in

2018 at Langer’s Deli in Los Angeles. In February 2019, they traveled to New York City for further research… and sampling at some of the oldest delis in the country. Additional stops included Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Chicago.

Ziggy Gruber, owner of Houston’s famous Kenny & Ziggy’s New York Delicatessen, hopes visitors will then be inspired to nosh at his establishment. He contributed many items for the exhibit, including the original Kenny & Ziggy’s neon sign and menu.

The museum is open Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., staying open until 8 p.m. Thursdays; and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m.

May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 27 What’s Your TRADITION?
Photo by Robert Wedemeyer/Skirball
summer travel
The Deli exhibit at the Skirball

Pulling together for Lag B’Omer

Slater Torah Academy, JCDS hold joint celebration

It was as if there was a divine decree that the annual Lag B’Omer Field Day with Slater Torah Academy and Jewish Community Day School in Metairie would go on as planned. While storms threatened the rest of the city, the weather remained clear all morning and into the early afternoon.

Students in team colors headed to Girard Playground, where they were divided into multi-age teams with representatives from both schools. They engaged in games that tested their strength, agility and sportsmanship while helping them build new friendships. The students also ate lunch with their teams when the games had ended. The Field Day is supported by Richard and Vivian Cahn.

Culture History

28 May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life WE DELIVER IN ABOUT AN HOUR! EXPERIENCE our learn about our VISITNATCHEZ @ FOLLOW US
temple, built in 1905, houses the oldest Jewish congregation in Mississippi. Its stained glass windows and ark of Italian marble make this synagogue one of the loveliest and most historic in the region.”
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continued from page 30

Once again Abraham spoke to the LORD, “Suppose forty are found there?”

He answered, “On account of the forty, I will restrict it.”

Then Abraham said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak further. Suppose thirty are found there?”

He replied, “If I find thirty there, I will restrict it.”

And Abraham said, “Now that I have ventured to speak to the Lord, suppose twenty are found there?”

He answered, “On account of the twenty, I will restrict it.”

Finally, Abraham said, “May the Lord not be angry, but let me speak once more. Suppose ten are found there?”

And He answered, “On account of the ten, I will restrict it.”

But He saw only one, Abraham’s nephew Lot. And Abraham, amid his grief, and despite any thoughts or prayers, would live every day wondering when his own number might be up.

Doug Brook contends that the impressive recoil when firing an Uzi is outweighed by the horrific recoil of a bystander shot with one. Self-evident. For more satirical satire, listen to the (STILL!) FIVE-star rated Rear Pew Mirror podcast at or on any major podcast platform. For past columns, visit

ISJL Virtual Vacations rebranding Podcasts now available on major platforms

For the past three years, the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life has produced Virtual Vacations as a way to provide programming in the days of Covid. The series of podcasts is continuing, but with a new name.

Southern & Jewish is now available for download on major podcast platforms, as well as on the ISJL website.

The newest podcast, debuting on June 6, is “In Conversation: Lowen on Making Music in the Jewish South.” Lowen, born Emily Kopp, is a producer songwriter, and artist who grew up in south Florida as a Jewish daughter of a Colombian immigrant.

In college, Lowen opened for artists like Brandi Carlile, Marc Cohn, and Matchbox 20, while also also touring regionally and releasing music independently. She packed up the tour van to backpack around the world in 2016 with her now-wife, a trip that offered her a profound shift in perspective. She began creating music under the name Lowen, a nod to her mother’s maiden name and Jewish German ancestors, then made her debut with 2019’s “Only In My Dreams” EP, and the hit single “Just F—ing Let Me Love You.”

The podcast includes a discussion on her creative process, the ways Jewishness is reflected in her music, and her transition to life in Nashville.

Chabad Baton Rouge establishes library

Chabad of Baton Rouge and Louisiana State University received a grant to start a reading and lending library for the community.

As part of the grant, Chabad is receiving about 250 books from leading publishers, for adults and children, and a list of titles is available on the Chabad website. There is also a “wish list” of titles for donation, along with other sponsorship opportunities.

“This is a wonderful addition for the Jewish students at LSU and everyone we serve,” said Rabbi Peretz Kazen.

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A Well-Regulated Mishnah

In the beginning, the Big G empowered humans with the ability to control their destiny. Possible side effects include controlling not just their own, but each other’s destinies as well.

Soon after this divine empowerment for all four members of humankind, Cain killed Abel. In doing so, Cain wiped out 25 percent of the population in one attack. Further, Cain controlling his own destiny in this manner took away Abel’s control of his own destiny.

Perhaps it was Abel’s destiny for Cain to determine Abel’s destiny for him. But that would mean Abel never had control of his own destiny. Unless control of one’s own destiny requires being at all times (somehow) prepared to not be killed. Just in case.

Regardless, this murderous moment was a unique anomaly of human behavior. Many such unique anomalies continued through the generations, until “don’t kill” made number six on the first Top Ten list to be accessed via tablet from the cloud.

That’s all the Commandment says. Don’t kill. No elaboration. No disclaimer. No qualification. Just say no.

There’s an Amendment, from a slightly less divine yet just-as-formalistically-written source, that says “the right to bear arms shall not be infringed.”

(Some contend the world would be a better place if just two vowels were switched, so that the right to bare arms shall not be infringed. In the words of Tevye, “may the Lord smite me with it, and may I never recover!”)

That’s not all the Amendment says. “The right to bear arms shall not be infringed.” But it’s preceded with “A well-regulated militia, necessary for the security of a free state…” Elaboration. Disclaimer. Qualification.

It’s all in the same, single sentence. This truth is self-evident. So, the arms are to relate to a well-regulated militia. And the arms are to be part of the security of a free state.

Who controls your destiny?

The opposite of it would be an absence of regulation, and the enabling of a threat to security. In synagogues. In malls. In schools. In more places than fit this space’s 700-word limit. And counting…

Fortunately, of necessity to the security of a free state, the recently-discovered ancient book of Donteronomy presents a pivotal, somewhat recognizable dialogue.

Abraham stepped forward before the LORD and said, “Will You really sweep away the righteous for the wicked?

“What if there are fifty righteous killed at once in the city? Will You really sweep it away and not spare the place’s future despite the fifty righteous ones who died there?

“Far be it from You to do such a thing — to let die the righteous by the wicked, just so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Will not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?”

So the LORD replied, “If I find fifty righteous killed within an act of violence, on their account I will spare the whole place by restricting the tools involved, for none should wield such a power over life and death that approaches Mine own.”

Then Abraham answered, “Now that I have ventured to speak to the Lord — though I am but dust and ashes — suppose the fifty righteous killed lack five. Will You restrict the arsenal for the lack of five?”

He replied, “If I find forty-five there, I will restrict it.”

continued on previous page

30 May/June 2023 • Southern Jewish Life rear pew mirror • doug brook

Israel & Technion Partners In Innovation

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