Southern Jewish Life NEW ORLEANS EDITION
SHOWING OFF THE ROSH HA’AYIN/NOLA RELATIONSHIP NEW ERA FOR NOLA’S TEMPLE SINAI CLOSING CONGREGATIONS IN ARKANSAS SUCCESS DESPITE GIVENOLA GLITCHES
June/July 2016 Volume 26 Issue 6
Southern Jewish Life 3747 West Esplanade, 3rd Floor Metairie, LA 70002 Shaya’s Zachary Engel serves up New Orleans cuisine in Rosh Ha’Ayin
2 Southern Jewish Life â€¢ June 2016
shalom y’all shalom y’all shalom y’all Look for
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Summer is when everything slows down a bit — kids are in camp, rabbis are also at camp or elsewhere, it’s vacation time, there’s very little programming in the community… And yet, we could have easily filled another 16 pages for this issue, there is that much going on and that many great stories out there. With that in mind, remember that we have a weekly email newsletter, This Week in Southern Jewish Life, which has the most comprehensive up-to-date information on what is happening in our communities, national and international news, and stories which break between print editions. If you don’t already receive it, email us at email@example.com. Many of the stories referenced in the weekly e-news are on our website, sjlmag.com, which is updated regularly. We also have a very active Twitter feed, @sjlmag, and Facebook page, both of which have items of interest in our coverage area and neighboring states. Follow our tweets and like our Facebook! We’re also working on our first edition of Chai Cotton, which will be much more than just an annual guidebook to community institutions. If you’re on the road and want to see “what’s Jewish” where you are going, this wil be where to turn. If you enjoy what you see and want more of it, please let our advertisers know — and encourage other businesses to take advantage of the opportunity to reach our community. As an independent publication that is not subsidized by any Jewish agency and does not charge for subscriptions in our coverage area, advertising is how we keep this magazine coming to mailboxes around the region, including yours. Enjoy the summer — and be ready for more great stories in the coming months! Larry Brook EDITOR/PUBLISHER
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June 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 3
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Southern Jewish Life PUBLISHER/EDITOR Lawrence M. Brook firstname.lastname@example.org ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER/ADVERTISING Lee J. Green email@example.com ADVERTISING SPECIALIST Dan Weinrib firstname.lastname@example.org CREATIVE DIRECTOR Ginger Brook email@example.com SOCIAL/WEB Eugene Walter Katz firstname.lastname@example.org
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Shining Stars come out to support Torah Academy Torah Academy held its first Chinese Auction in eight years, titled “Shining Stars”, on May 18. Over 250 people participated in the event, many of them making their contribution on the virtual Chinese Auction website, torahauction. com. “People from all over the world were able to show their solidarity with Jewish education in New Orleans, while getting the chance to win some amazing prizes,” said Rivkie Chesney, director of development at Torah Academy. Funds raised at the event support the Torah Academy Scholarship Fund. This fund was created to help give every Jewish child the opportunity for a quality general and Jewish education.
There were cocktails, sushi, a pasta bar and six varieties of made-to-order waffles catered by Waffles On Maple. Illusionist Zach Wilke from Houston entertained, and Mushka Kazen Videos produced a music video “uncovering the star” in each Torah Academy student. Students also designed items that were sold in a live auction. There were 31 different Chinese Auction prizes, with ticket prices ranging from $5 to $75. The two top prizes, two business class round-trip tickets to Europe and a Disney Vacation for four, were won by Bracha Slavaticki, who is a native of New Orleans and purchased her ticket online, and the Binkowitz family, whose children attend Torah Academy. The event, which was coordinated by the Parent’s Association, was underwritten by First NBC. “With the success of the evening, this function will, G-d willing, be the first of many future events that will take place to fundraise for, and bring awareness of, Torah Academy and Jewish education in New Orleans,” Chesney said.
PHOTOGRAPHER-AT-LARGE Rabbi Barry C. Altmark deepsouthrabbi.com CONTRIBUTING WRITER 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 504/780.5615 TOLL-FREE 866/446.5894 FAX 866/392.7750 email@example.com ADVERTISING Advertising inquiries to Lee Green, 205/870.7889 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Dan Weinrib, email@example.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 2016. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without written permission from the publisher. Views expressed in SJL are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff. SJL makes no claims as to the Kashrut of its advertisers, and retains the right to refuse any advertisement. Documenting this community, a community we are members of and active within, is our passion. We love what we do, and who we do it for.
4 Southern Jewish Life • June 2016
agenda interesting bits & can’t miss events
Students at the Jewish Community Day School in Metairie celebrated Israel Independence Day with the dedication of new playground equipment at Bart Field at the Goldring-Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus on May 12. The new playground was made possible by the Jewish Community Center, Jewish Endowment Federation of Louisiana, and the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. Wendy Goldberg, Associate Director of the Metairie JCC, performed the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The students kept a daily construction journal as installation progressed.
Matthew Reimer to succeed Rabbi Cohn at Temple Sinai A “gut reaction” by Rabbi Matthew Reimer has led to his being named the new rabbi at Temple Sinai in New Orleans, effective July 1. He succeeds Rabbi Edward Paul Cohn, who has led Louisiana’s largest Jewish congregation since 1987 and will become the emeritus rabbi. Reimer, 41, said that when he decided to apply for the position, he had never been to New Orleans, but knew it has “a great reputation, great culture.” A native of West Orange, N.J., Reimer was ordained at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 2007. He was a music major at Vassar, then spent a year in Israel after graduation, studying, traveling and working as a musician. He also has been the high school and youth program director at Park Avenue Synagogue in New York City. Before being ordained, he was rabbinic intern for two years at Temple Shaaray Tefila in New York City, focusing on outreach to Jews in their 20s and 30s. From 2008 to 2013 he was assistant rabbi and then associate rabbi at Temple B’nai Jeshurun
in Short Hills, N.J. In 2014 he became interim rabbi at Port Jewish Center in Port Washington, N.Y. Most recently, he has been rabbi of the Shul of New York, a “shul without walls” that is all-inclusive and emphasizing spiritual growth and compassion. Because his entire life has been in the New York/New Jersey area or Israel, he said that he and his wife were committed to geography playing a role in where he would apply, rather than just applying anywhere. When he saw that Temple Sinai had an opportunity, he approached her “and asked, what do you think?” After a Skype interview, he came to New Orleans for a long weekend and “really got a taste of how vibrant the city is and the community is.” He sensed that New Orleanians “are so incredibly proud of their city and so civically minded to making the city what they want it to be,” and showed “what it meant to not only live
in a place but live with a place and feel a sense of responsibility for a place.” That sense was a huge attraction. Reimer is prepared for the transition of moving to a new region and in leading a congregation that has not had a rabbinic change since 1987. One area of emphasis, he said, is “creating opportunities for young people... to really feel a sense of ownership of their Jewish journeys.” While assistant rabbi of the New Jersey congregation, in 2010 he launched a monthly musical Shabbat service in Manhattan to follow those from that community who had moved to the “big city,” especially those in their 20s and 30s who were not otherwise engaged in the community. A lot of the outreach to younger Jews “can take place outside the walls of the traditional synagogue, but the traditional synagogue can create those opportunities for them.”
June 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 5
We are open while rebuilding for you.
He also looks to build upon the social action and outreach work that Cohn has done for the last 30 years at Temple Sinai. Reimer was on the editorial committee for Behrman House’s Siddur Mah Tov, a family-friendly siddur aimed especially at ages 5 to 10, and available in Reform and Conservative editions. In 2003, he was a quarterback on the Israel National Flag Football team that came in second at the Flag en Champagne tournament in France, knocking off the U.S. team that was the world champion. The Israeli team fell to Pygargues, France, in the finals. Reimer’s wife, Leah, is an anesthesiologist and they have four young daughters. Temple Sinai held a Golden Gala honoring Cohn on May 21, at which it was announced that Reimer would be the new rabbi. The 700-family congregation’s membership officially approved the hire on May 27.
Plan B: Glitch causes GiveNOLA chaos Federation is big winner among small organizations
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Despite a technical malfunction that shut down Give Local America websites nation-wide for most of the day, GiveNOLA still was able to account for $4 million in donations to about 700 non-profits in the New Orleans area — and the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans was one of the day’s big winners. Numerous area Jewish organizations participated in the event, which was marred by the outage around 10 a.m. GiveNOLA was a day for online giving, from midnight to midnight, on May 3. Many organizations had a large buildup for the day; the Federation had several donors providing matching fund incentives and JNOLA had an evening event at Tracy’s in Irish Channel. After the website went down, the 24-hour online-only event shifted to phone-in donations and other methods. Non-profits were given a couple of extra days to bring in donations that would be credited to their totals. Michael Weil, executive director of the Federation, said Cait Gladow, the Federation’s marketing director and coordinator for GiveNOLA, “turned lemons into lemonade” by shifting strategies quickly and keeping the momentum going despite the technical issues. Because of the outage, final totals were not available until June 3. The Federation raised $96,851 from 119 donors, placing first in dollars raised among small organizations. For that feat, the Federation picked up a $10,000 bonus. The Federation came in 14th among small organizations in the number of gifts, and their dollar figure placed third among all organizations. GiveNOLA was coordinated by the Greater New Orleans Foundation. Sponsors gave funds that are proportionately matching donations, and there were several incentive awards scheduled during the day. The Jewish organization that raised the least, Northshore Jewish Congregation in Mandeville, won a $1,000 Rock Around the Clock bonus. Every hour, all non-profits that received at least one donation for at least $10 were eligible for the random drawing. Northshore raised $206 with four donations. Other Jewish community organizations were: Isidore Newman School, $11,348 on 44 donations; Jewish Endowment Foundation, $7,359 on 30 donations; Jewish Community Day School, $5,427 from 67 donations; Jewish Community Center, $4,674 from 67 donations; Jewish Children’s Regional Service, $4,033 from 50 gifts; Jewish Family Service, $3,186 from 57 gifts. Tulane Hillel brought in $2,749 on 50 gifts; AVODAH, $1,885 from 20 gifts; NCJW, $1.624 from 28 gifts; Anti-Defamation League, 30 gifts totaling $1,422. Hadassah New Orleans had 18 gifts fro $592, and Shir Chadash brought in $232 on nine gifts.
agenda Led by ADL, a new hate crimes coalition is formed in NOLA The Anti-Defamation League announced on May 9 that a broad coalition of local organizations in Louisiana that have agreed to join as coalition partners in ADL’s 50 States Against Hate initiative. ADL’s 50 States Against Hate is a nation-wide initiative involving a wide-range of national coalition partners that aims to strengthen state hate crimes laws and introduce them where they do not currently exist; provide enhanced training for law enforcement personnel on hate crimes identification, response, and reporting; improve data collection and reporting; and educate communities on effective responses to hate violence. The founding members of the New Orleans Hate Crimes Coalition ae: The Advocacy Center, Committee for a Better New Orleans, The Episcopal Church, Forum for Equality, The Human Relations Commission of the City of New Orleans, Human Rights Campaign, Jewish Community Relations Council, National Council of Jewish Women, National Organization for Women, New Orleans Bar Association, Tulane University, and the Urban League of Greater New Orleans. “This broad coalition intentionally represents a spectrum of constituents and actors,” said Allison Padilla-Goodman, regional director of the ADL in New Orleans. “The diversity of our coalition partners emphasizes the stand that New Orleanians want to take against hatred and bigotry,” adds Keith Twitchell, executive director of Committee for a Better New Orleans. According to the FBI, one hate crime occurs on average every 90 minutes in the United States. There were 5,479 hate crimes in 2014, the last year of available hate crimes data. Reporting varies tremendously state-to-state. “Louisiana actually has a pretty good Hate Crimes statute currently
that covers many categories of bias intent,” said Helena Henderson, executive director of the New Orleans Bar Association. “But our reporting is in drastic need of improvement: we only had nine hate crimes reported in Louisiana in 2014, four of which were in New Orleans. States and cities of comparable size had about 20 times that many,” added Dr. Allison Padilla-Goodman, Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League. With support of the coalition, the ADL has been training law enforcement across the region. On May 3, ADL trained almost 100 officers, including the Command staff, of NOPD. On May 4, ADL co-hosted a seminar on hate crimes with the FBI and Baton Rouge Police Department in Baton Rouge for area law enforcement and district attorneys. These trainings will continue on a regular basis, as well as ADL’s community outreach about hate crimes. Following the June 25 Shabbat service at Beth Israel in Metairie, there will be a Meal of Thanksgiving sponsored by Abby and Rabbi Gabriel Greenberg, to show appreciation to the community for the response following their house fire in April. The service starts at 9 a.m. and the lunch will be approximately 11:45 a.m. There will be an oneg honoring Rabbi Mark Glickman, who has been the interim rabbi at Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge, on June 24 following the 7 p.m. service. Glickman will be the new rabbi at Temple B’nai Tikvah in Calgary. Rabbi Natan Trief will be the new rabbi at Beth Shalom, and a Shabbat service welcoming him will be on Aug. 5 at 7 p.m.
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June 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 7
Upcoming Events Saturday, June 11 Erev Shavuot Sunday, June 12 First Day of Shavuot Monday, June 13 Second Day of Shavuot Thursday, June 16
Jewish Community Day School Babies Club, Metairie. 11 a.m. Friday, June 17
Shabbat Kumsitz. Touro Synagogue. Follows 6 p.m. service. Monday, June 20
Morris Bart Lecture Series. Michael Hecht, speaker. Uptown JCC, 11:45 a.m. Friday, June 24
Oneg honoring Rabbi Glickman. Beth Shalom, Baton Rouge. Follows 7 p.m. service. Saturday, June 25
Greenberg Family Meal of Thanksgiving. Beth Israel, Metairie. Follows 9 a.m. service. Thursday, June 30
“Captain Phillips” screening. Uptown JCC. Noon. Monday, July 4 Independence Day Sunday, July 10
Shir Chadash Nearly New Sale. Through July 18. Sunday, July 17
Rabbi David Polsky Farewell Brunch. Anshe Sfard, 11 a.m.
agenda NCJW to honor Gershaniks The National Council of Jewish Women’s New Orleans Section has selected local community activists Ana and Juan Gershanik to receive its top community-wide award, the 2016 Hannah G. Solomon Award. The Gershaniks will be honored at a luncheon on Sept. 26 at 11:30 a.m. at the Westin Canal Place. Ana Esther Gershanik is writer of the “Nuestro Pueblo” weekly column for the Times Picayune. Dr. Juan Jorge Gershanik is a physician and medical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at West Jefferson Medical Center and a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics at Tulane University School of Medicine. Both are current and past officers and members of many civic and charitable organizations at the local, statewide and national levels. This award is given annually to a volunteer community leader who exemplifies the qualities of Hannah G. Solomon, founder of NCJW. Past winners have been recognized for bringing Tulane President Emeritus Scott Cowen, long an advocate for reform in college athletics, has been appointed to the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics, an independent watchdog that works to reconnect college sports with the educational mission of American colleges and universities. Touro Synagogue will have its next Shabbat
2016 NCJW Hannah G. Solomon Award Winners Ana and Juan Gershanik about important programs and services through their leadership in a volunteer capacity, have been catalysts for social change and known for their interest, activity and stands on issues with which NCJW is in alignment. Kumsitz on June 17, a monthly gathering of communal singing and dinner after the 6 p.m. Shabbat services. Beth Israel in Metairie will have a class on The Metaphysical Science of Kosher, June 21 and 28 at 7:30 p.m., to explain some widely known but little-understood aspects of kosher law.
JEF presents annual Tzedakah honors The Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana honored several exceptional members of the New Orleans Jewish community at its Annual Event on April 17. Betty Meyers (left, with 2015 honoree Eddie Soll) received the Tzedakah Award, which is given for unselfish, meaningful service to the community. Below left, the Helen A. Mervis Jewish Community Professional Award was presented to Wendy Goldberg, associate director of the New Orleans Jewish Community Center. She is pictured with Morton Katz and JEF President Richard Cahn. The Young Family Award for Professional Excellence was presented to Jim Spiro (right), pictured with JEF Executive Director Sandy Levy. This award is given for demonstrating extraordinary concern for the needs of the New Orleans Jewish community through wise counsel. Bottom right, Alan Franco, event cochairs Andi Lestelle and Cathy Bart, and Annual Event speaker Mike Rogers, former U.S. Representative from Michigan. 8 Southern Jewish Life • June 2016
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The honors continue for Shaya, which on May 2 won the James Beard Award for Best New Restaurant in the United States. Last year, Chef Alon Shaya was named Best Chef: South at the James Beard Awards. In accepting the award, Shaya said of his immensely popular Israeli restaurant, which opened in February 2015, “Who would have thought, hummus in New Orleans?” He added, “New Orleans is the best food city in the world right now.”
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Kurtz-Lendner is new Jackson rabbi On April 17, Beth Israel in Jackson named Rabbi Jeffrey Kurtz-Lendner as the congregation’s next rabbi. He will begin on July 1. This concludes a two-year process since the departure of Rabbi Valerie Cohen. Rabbi Ted Riter was the first interim rabbi, and Rabbi Stephen Wylen has been Beth Israel’s interim rabbi this year. Wylen’s final visit for the year will be from June 10 to 25, and there will be a special oneg following the 6:15 p.m. service on June 24 in Wylen’s honor. Kurtz-Lendner spent many years just down Interstate 55, serving as executive director of Hillel at Tulane from 1994 to 2001, assistant director of the New Orleans Jewish Community Center from 2001 to 2004, and rabbi of Northshore Jewish Congregation in Mandeville from 2002 to 2007. In 2007 he became rabbi of Temple Solel in Hollywood, Fla., and spent the past year as director of Jewish learning, education and outreach at the David Posnack JCC in Davie, Fla.
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Rebekah Goldman, Lake Charles’ first “home-grown” rabbi, ordained This month, Rabbi Rebekah Goldman will become the rabbi of Farmington Valley Jewish Congregation — Emek Shalom in Simsbury, Conn. But first, she is heading back home to Lake Charles. Her father, Michael Goldman, said she is the first home-grown rabbi from Southwest Louisiana, “let alone Lake Charles’ small Jewish community.” He credits Temple Sinai in Lake Charles and the Henry S. Jacobs Camp as giving her a Jewish foundation. A graduate of Louisiana State University, Goldman was a founder of the LSU Hillel, then directed camp at the New Orleans Jewish Community Center. Goldman was scheduled to receive her ordination at Hebrew College in Newtown, Mass., on June 5. She is leading the June 10 Shabbat service in Lake Charles and will receive a presentation from the mayor. Her husband, Saul Mag, grew up in the Simsbury congregation, and his Bar Mitzvah was officiated by Goldman’s predecessor, Rabbi Howard Herman, where he has served since 1980.
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June 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 9
Last services set for Pine Bluff, McGehee Two Jewish communities in Arkansas are closing the doors for good on their synagogues this month, as final services will be held in Pine Bluff for Anshe Emeth on June 11 and for Meir Chayim in McGehee on June 17. The Pine Bluff service will be at First Presbyterian Church, where the congregation has met in the chapel since 2003. Following the 10 a.m. service there will be a luncheon at Pine Bluff Country Club. The Meir Chayim service will be at 7:15 p.m., with an oneg following. Rabbi Eugene Levy, who retired as rabbi of B’nai Israel in Little Rock in 2011, has been visiting the two congregations in recent years and will officiate the final services. Levy has been visiting Pine Bluff monthly for services for three years, except for this past High Holy Days. “I decided to be a congregant for the first time in 47 years” and visited family. Having a grandchild born on Kol Nidre night in California was also part of the decision. He has been visiting McGehee every other month to lead services. In both cases, past members, rabbis and student rabbis have been invited, and each congregation is expecting about 50 to 100 in attendance. Levy said the communities don’t have the numbers or resources to keep the congregations going. “There are no young families,” he said, relating a common story in smaller Southern communities. Many of the first generation of Jews in these towns became “the landed gentry,” ones who had stores, property and businesses, and the resources to build congregations. Within a couple of generations, the children and grandchildren were becoming professionals and moving to larger communities. By the 1960s and 1970s, Levy said, few were coming back home after college, and there weren’t new people coming in. “Forty years ago, Pine Bluff had 200 families, now they have eight.” McGehee went from 50 to three or four now. When Levy arrived in Little Rock in 1987, after the High Holidays he was urged to visit Pine Bluff. When he arrived, Rabbi Leslie Sertes, the last full-time rabbi at Anshe Emeth, was packing up his office, an odd time of year to do so. “He told me they just had the last class of the Sunday School, the last two confirmands” that May. “When that happens, if nobody is coming in… it’s just a matter of time.” The Anshe Emeth members decided last year that this would be their final year.
Pine Bluff’s Anshe Emeth sold its last building in 2003 Both congregations have been working with the Jewish Community Legacy Project, which works with smaller communities that know they will eventually need to close the doors in developing “legacy plans,” Noah Levine said. Levine said both congregations were well on their way to closing when he got involved. He urges congregations to make these decisions while there is still a “viable board” and institutional memory. His role, he said, 10 Southern Jewish Life • June 2016
Meir Chayim, McGehee is as an “honest broker” to help congregations make the best decision for their situation, and help them know they are not alone. The Jewish community in Pine Bluff dates back to the 1840s, and by 1855 there were roughly 10 Jewish families in the area, mostly merchants like Isaac Altschul. Many of the local Jews served in the Confederacy, then after the Union captured the area, Jewish families hosted Jewish soldiers from the north. After the war, Pine Bluff grew, as did the Jewish community. Anshe Emeth was established in 1866, and numerous other Jewish organizations were soon established. Many in the Jewish community became cotton planters, including Sol Franklin, who planned to resettle 200 Jews from Romania as sharecroppers. The plan was never implemented. By 1905 there were 425 Jews in Pine Bluff, which became the secondlargest Jewish community in the state. L.E. Goldsmith and Simon Bloom served as mayor, and local state legislator Sam Levine was outspoken against segregationist opposition to Supreme Court rulings. Meyer Solmson became editor of the local paper and was threatened by a local man who he had criticized in an article. Solmson wound up killing the man in self defense. He later moved to New York and became managing editor of Variety. Another well-known Pine Bluff journalist is Pulitzer Prize winner Paul Greenberg, a nationally syndicated columnist now with the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. He recently wrote a column about the final Seder at Anshe Emeth. “Some of us can still remember the little neo-Victorian temple in downtown Pine Bluff with all its nooks and crannies, wooden ceilings and floors, and the tucked-away rooms on the side where I taught at least a couple of generations of Sunday School students,” Greenberg wrote. Anshe Emeth was the first synagogue officially chartered in Arkansas, beating Little Rock’s B’nai Israel by five days. While Anshe Emeth is closing on its 150th anniversary, B’nai Israel just celebrated its 150th anniversary as the largest Jewish congregation in the state. In 1867, the first Anshe Emeth building was completed, and in 1873 the congregation joined the Reform movement. In 1902, a larger building was erected as the congregation exceeded 130 families. Newcomers from Eastern Europe established an Orthodox congregation, B’nai Israel, in 1907. When immigration was stopped in the 1920s, that sapped the smaller congregation’s strength, and as the newcomers assimilated into the community, more wound up at Anshe Emeth. At Anshe Emeth, controversy over changes made by Rabbi Leonard Rothstein, who had previously been in Alexandria, La., led to a split in 1921 as 58 members left to form Temple Israel, the community’s third congregation. Rothstein left in 1923, and Temple Israel’s rabbi left the next year. With the two smaller congregations struggling and both without rabbis, they reunited in 1925. B’nai Israel disbanded in 1950, but even with Anshe Chesed being the
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only congregation left, its numbers also started to decline. In 1961 a lot was purchased for a smaller building closer to where the members lived, and when the new building was completed there were about 85 members. In the mid-1980s, when the last full-time rabbi left, the Jewish population was 175, down from over 450 in 1960. In 2003, the Anshe Chesed building was sold to Jefferson Regional Medical Center, which turned it into a nursing school. Since then, the congregation has met at First Presbyterian Church. Levy said the service on June 11 will not be a desanctification of the building, as it is borrowed space in a church, but a desanctification of the congregation. A yahrzeit candle will be lit at the beginning of the service, the Torah will be carried through the congregation one last time, the mezuzah on the chapel taken down and the key will be presented to the minister. At the service, all of the names of members who have died from the last 148 years will be read. “We feel we need to do that,” Levy said. The Torah is being sent to a congregation in Guatemala through the World Union for Progressive Judaism. Levine said the yahrzeit plaques will be relocated to House of Israel in Hot Springs, archival documents have been sent to the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, and congregants are arranging for perpetual care of the cemetery. For most congregations that close, “that is the number one concern, that they have enough money set aside as an endowment” to keep the cemetery maintained.
McGehee closing Referred for a reason.
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In addition to McGehee, Meir Chayim served Dumas, 20 miles away. Gus Waterman was the first Jew to move to the timber town of Dumas, in 1879, and became the town’s first mayor. His son founded the University of Arkansas Law School. The Dante family established a department store, and later a garment manufacturing plant. Son-in-law B.J. Tanenbaum started the United Dollar Store, which grew to 200 stores before being sold to Dollar General. Jerry Tanenbaum has become very involved internationally in the Reform movement, including as founding chairman of the Association of Reform Zionists of America/World Union North America, and was long-time chairman of the Henry S. Jacobs Camp. McGehee got a later start, blooming as a higher-ground refuge after the great flood of 1927. Many Jews from flooded-out Arkansas City moved their stores to McGehee, while others were in the cotton business. Many Jewish merchants were seen as reviving the area after the flood by assisting farmers with obtaining supplies when banks refused to issue loans. By the 1940s, there were over 120 families in the area, Rose Ann Naron said. They had met informally in homes for years, then in St. Paul Episcopal Church, but decided it was time to start a congregation that would serve several towns. Rabbi Morris Clark from Pine Bluff had been leading services, but World War II gas rationing ended those trips. During a B’nai B’rith meeting in 1946, David Meyer proposed the formation of Beth Chayim. The name was changed soon after to honor a member of the Jewish community who had died in action in Italy during World War II, Herbert M. Abowitz, whose Hebrew name was Meir Chayim. The congregation affiliated with the Reform movement and started fundraising throughout the region for a building. Much of the lumber came from trees on members’ property, and the Gothic-style building was completed in 1947. “The sanctuary was designed to seat 150 people on red velour theater type seats,” Naron said. A Sunday School wing, recreational hall and kitchen were also in the building. The sanctuary has 10 identical stained-glass windows. A Ten Commandments tablet flanked by lions of Judah was placed over the ark, it had formerly been at Temple B’nai Sholom of Bastrop, La., which closed in 1923 and was demolished in 1939.
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The Ten Commandments on the front of the building came from the 1872 building of Temple Beth El Emeth in Camden, one of the first four congregations in Arkansas. It closed in 1927. In 2005, a Torah from Meir Chayim was loaned to Temple Or Hadash in Fort Collins, Col., where Rabbi Debra Kassoff, who had been the traveling rabbi for the Institute of Southern Jewish Life, had been visiting rabbi. The loan was arranged by Linda and Lester Pincus of Dermott, cousins of Or Hadash member Patzi Goldberg. The Meir Chayim building is now on the market, with a list price of $57,000. According to Sims Realty, the sale is pending. The June 17 service will desanctify the building. As the congregation is used to Friday night Torah readings, there will be a reading, after which the Torah will be presented to the congregants who dedicated it. Shabbat and yahrzeit candles will be lit, and the names of all deceased members will be read, just as in Pine Bluff. All of the yahrzeit lights will be turned off, and the eternal light will be removed. Levy said these will be physical acts of closure and finality. Naron said many of the Judaic items are going to the Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica and to the ISJL for a future museum. Revenue from the building’s sale will go to a scholarship fund so Arkansas children can attend Jacobs Camp “in Meir Chayim Temple’s name, so our legacy can continue,” Naron said.
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These congregations will join two others in Arkansas that have recently closed their doors. In Texarkana, Mount Sinai Congregation held its final service on May 16, 2014, then the remaining members decided in May 2015 to sell the building. They published a memory book, with “The Congregation That Helped Grow Rabbis” in the front, referring to the numerous rabbis and student rabbis that have served the congregation since the 1890s. Mount Sinai, formed around 1885, purchased a former Episcopal church building, which burned in 1892 when a neighboring grocery caught fire. A new building was dedicated in 1894, and by 1917 there were 50 member families. Mount Sinai was an off-and-on member of the Reform movement, but in the 1930s also hosted a small number of Orthodox families for a minyan on Saturday mornings, with Reform members helping them reach the required 10. During World War II the congregation hosted many Jewish soldiers from nearby bases, and the community grew after the war. A new building was dedicated in 1949, two blocks into Texas from the state line, and through the 1980s membership continued to be around 40 families. But by 2015 there were only six or seven families remaining. The congregation’s Judaica has been offered to the families who dedicated the various pieces. Phil Bishop of Curt Green and Company said the property is still on the market with a list price of $139,000 for the 6,000-square-foot building. Over the past year they have “had several ‘lookers’ and have one couple still interested in converting it to residential for their family.” El Dorado’s community started as the town experienced an oil boom in 1922. By 1927 there were 124 Jews with short-lived Orthodox and Reform congregations. The oil business went bust during the Great Depression, but the economy picked back up after World War II and Temple Beth Israel was formed with the encouragement of the Arkansas Jewish Assembly. The Beth Israel building was completed in 1955. The congregation was never large enough for a full-time rabbi, and by the 1980s there were just six Jewish families remaining. Rachel Myers, museum and special projects coordinator at the Institute of Southern Jewish Life, said the El Dorado congregation has been inactive for years but has been letting the local Mennonite community use the building. Last year, the remaining handful of El Dorado’s Jews officially deeded the building to the Mennonites and moved the remaining Judaica out, bringing it to Jackson for future use in the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience and in active congregations in the region.
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June 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 13
Jason Marsalis, Matt Lemmler and Martin Masakowski perform in Rosh Ha’Ayin
Rosh Ha’Ayin relationship shines at celebration of Partnership2Gether Rosh Ha’Ayin and its partnership with New Orleans had the opportunity to shine before the world in April, as Partnership2Gether started its 20th anniversary Israel mission with a jazz party and dinner by New Orleans chefs in Israel’s self-declared city of music. The Partnership2Gether Mega-Event began on April 4, with about 43 communities from around the world participating. Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans Executive Director Michael Weil said P2G is “the grandchild of Project Renewal,” which began in the late 1970s by Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Under Project Renewal, neglected development towns in Israel were paired with Jewish communities around the world in an effort to spark revitalization. Rosh Ha’Ayin was also paired with Birmingham under Project Renewal, the two now have a formal sister city relationship. Weil said P2G is more of a “people to people approach” in bringing Israelis together with members of Jewish communities around the world. About 600 attended the opening party, held outside the Rosh Ha’Ayin Music Conservatory. Jason Marsalis, Matt Lemmler and Martin Masakowski headlined the concert, while the chefs on the trip were Zachary Engel, chef de cuisine of Shaya, and Chris Lusk, executive chef of the soon-to-reopen Caribbean Room at the Pontchartrain Hotel. In 2014, Lemmler was one of the musicians for Music Over Sirens benefit in New Orleans for the emergency campaign for Israel during the Gaza operation. After the long flight to Israel, Engel and Lusk headed straight to Rosh Ha’Ayin, where a large tent was set up outside the Conservatory for them to prepare New Orleans and Israeli specialties. “It was kind of wild — you are dazed from the plane and you have all this food to cook, the time is flying by and you become conscious again” as the crowds come in to be fed, Engel said. The menu included New Orleans dishes, such as gumbo and jambalaya, and Israeli standards. Weil said “people didn’t want to leave, didn’t want to get on the buses.” Lis Kahn credited “our very strong and very hard-working partners in Rosh Ha’Ayin who worked very hard to make sure we had it” there. For the next three days, the mission toured partnership communities from Nahariya and Bet Shean to Ashkelon. While Kahn said they like to think of the New Orleans-Rosh Ha’Ayin partnership as the best in existence, on the mission they did see “there are many others that have great relationships and do many things.” Ana Gershanik, on her first trip to Israel in 17 years and traveling with her son, Esteban, on his first visit, said the country seemed “much more sophisticated” than 17 years earlier. She said they visited “Keshet Eilon Music Center in Kibbutz Eilon, devoted to training young violinists, and Kibbutz Ga’aton, with a fantastic Contemporary Dance Company that travels around the world; Galilee 14 Southern Jewish Life • June 2016
Medical Center with Israel’s first Underground Emergency Department; a school in Kiryat Gat where we danced and interacted with the children; the Etgarim organization for children and adults with disabilities; a community garden for Ethiopian families and Moshav Netiv Ha’asarah, 400 meters from Gaza where we pasted colorful mosaic pieces embedded with our personal prayers at the decorated wall surrounding the Moshav.” The closing event was at the Shimon Peres Center for Peace, with Peres and Natan Sharansky. While the Federation group traveled the country, the New Orleans chefs and musicians stayed in Rosh Ha’Ayin for home hospitality and did workshops and classes. The musicians also participated in the Fifth Annual Shared Sound Festival on April 5 and 6, an annual New Orleans jazz festival held in Rosh Ha’Ayin. Kahn said the festival “has been very well attended” over the years. The P2G opening ceremony “was a natural outgrowth” of it and “it worked out really well.” The musicians played at the Schneider children’s hospital cancer ward in Petach Tikvah and held sessions at Begin High School and the music conservatory in Rosh Ha’Ayin. Lemmler
referenced the universal language of music, and observed that “They seem to know a lot of the New Orleans tunes we were doing.” While the concerts were great, Lemmler said “it’s really playing with kids and for kids, and for sick children, that’s always uplifting for us.” The chefs held a cuisine workshop for young adults in Rosh Ha’Ayin, among other classes. On the evening of April 7, after the P2G mission was over, the groups reunited in Rosh Ha’Ayin and the Federation delegation also had home hospitality. Esteban Gershanik, Ana Gershanik, Natan Sharansky and The next day they had a special tour Liz Kahn at the P2G opening celebration in Rosh Ha’Ayin of Tel Aviv, including a “graffiti tour” of the southern part of the city. On April 9, the group went to Nazareth, where For Shabbat dinner on April 8, numerous a highlight was going to a field kitchen set up in Rosh Ha’Ayin families brought dishes for a huge the forest, and preparing a meal there. “We even potluck festival in the garden of the Katzir fam- made fresh pita out in the wild,” Weil said. ily, as the chefs were told to take the evening off. The next day there was a Jerusalem trip, then For Engel, observing Shabbat that way was the musicians played at Shalbul, a Tel Aviv club, a special treat. Growing up the son of a rabbi, that night. he went to services every weekend, but with his Lemmler said the chance to have home hosduties at Shaya rarely gets that experience. pitality “was a beautiful experience… our host The New Orleans musicians were joined by families were incredibly gracious and loving.” locals as the dinner went well past midnight. Engel also said the best part of the trip was
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June 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 15
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community staying in homes during their time in Rosh Ha’Ayin. The musicians were housed with families involved in local music, while he stayed with a Yemenite family and had the opportunity to experience Yemenite cuisine “organically” from people who have been doing it their entire lives. “Since I started cooking Israeli food, the Yemenite cuisine is a huge draw for me because it has been so isolated” and hasn’t made it into the Israeli mainstream. There are relatively few Yemenite restaurants, most people experience it as home cooking. He mentioned that Shaya has some Yemenite influences on its menu, and “they were so impressed that traditional Yemenite food was on the menu of our restaurant in New Orleans.” While there, he learned how to make kubana, a traditional Yemenite bread, and bought the proper pans for it. When he gets some time to perfect it, “our pastry chef and I are going to start working on it as an additional bread service” at Shaya. The family he stayed with is one of seven siblings. On Friday, he went to their mothers’ house, where she still makes a full Shabbat complement for all of her children’s homes, starting early in the morning. “Eighty years old and making food for multiple generations,” he commented. During the final four days of touring, he visited numerous markets and loaded up on authentic spices, so much that he had to borrow a suitcase to bring back “super high-quality stuff we hadn’t seen before.” The moment he got back to Shaya, “we Chris Lusk started tweaking recipes.” He also enjoyed watching Lusk discover the various Israeli flavors for the first time. “Watching him fall in love with Israel was the second most rewarding aspect” of the trip, Engel said. As the trip marked the first 20 years of P2G, it was also time to look forward to evolving the relationships. Kahn said they will work with the New Orleans young leadership group to develop the partnership, and “with that in mind we are having a lawyer exchange.” They are also looking at a start-up and entrepreneurial exchange, as the music and food aspects are “so well engrained now. Rosh Ha’Ayin people know the musicians here, they can pretty well do it.” Robert Witrock, who has been involved in the New Orleans-Rosh Ha’Ayin partnership since 2009, said he hopes to see wider participation from individuals in the New Orleans Jewish community, and greater exploration of Rosh Ha’Ayin’s Yemenite heritage. Through P2G, Witrock said, “Israeli participants over the last 20 years have really gotten to make life-long American friends and see American life uniquely, especially Jewish-American life. Israeli women have seen for their first time women going up to the bima for aliyot, some ending up in tears at the pluralistic opportunities afforded women here in America. At the same time the partnerships have given Jewish Americans to see how diverse Israeli life is.” Gershanik said the trip “was the best way to visit Israel and get acquainted with each aspect of the life there. It was a moving experience for my son’s first trip to the Holy Land.” Weil called the trip “a great mixture of the things we’re known for — food and music, with the great feeling of people to people, old friendships and new friendships.” “We play very beautiful music together. And we eat well together,” Kahn said. Reflecting on the Shabbat potluck dinner, Engel spoke of the Yemenite cuisine, the wine and Arak, the musicians jamming on the back porch with everyone who could play music or sing joining in, until all hours of the night. “There’s something very Israeli about that. It’s also very New Orleans. You feel at home in both respects.”
June 2016 â€¢ The Jewish Newsletter 17
18 The Jewish Newsletter â€¢ June 2016
From the Jewish Community Center Summer is Just Around The Corner! Don’t miss out — register today! Located at both the Uptown and Metairie campuses, the JCC Summer Day Camps have enriched the lives of children and teens for decades, providing a chance to make memories that last a lifetime as campers have fun, explore their interests, and make new friends. Tailoring programs to match the changing needs of children from toddlers to preteens, the JCC packs summer days with a variety of games and activities including sports, art, drama, music, cooking, science, Israeli culture and swimming. Campers ages 3 and up receive swim instruction from American Red Cross certified swim instructors. Older campers enjoy weekly field trips, overnights at the JCC, and day trips to Blue Bayou and the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies. A separate Sports Camp is offered to campers entering grades 3 to 5. These campers focus on sports but also swim each plans with camp fun. Older campers entering grades 6 to 8 are ofday, participate in Oneg Shabbat performances, and join the main fered a different topic each week and receive a $100 discount when camp for the day trips and overnights. registering for four or more weeks. This year’s topics include PhoCamp runs June 6 to July 29 and sessions are customizable so tography, Tennis, Adventure Trips, Archery, Stage Combat, Acting families can register for the weeks that best fit their schedules. Early for the Camera, Culinary Creations, Strength and Conditioning, Childhood, General Day Campers and Sports Campers must en- Color War, Portraits, Caricatures and Masks, and #HashtagArt. roll in a minimum of four weeks, but enrollment does not need to Early morning and afternoon care are also available for campers. be consecutive, making it easier than ever to coordinate vacation Applications and deposits are accepted online. Visit www.nojcc.org to learn more about summer at the J!
New Summer Classes make Back-To-School Learning Fun!
Hearing Israel’s Story at the JCC
Handwriting Helpers and Listening for Success will be offered this August at the Goldring-Woldenberg JCC in Metairie so that students can start the school year strong. Help your child get a jump start on the writing demands of the upcoming school year with Handwriting Helpers, which follows the Handwriting Without Tears curriculum. Offered by Kimberly Bradley, MS, LOTR, in conjunction with the New Orleans Speech and Hearing Center, Handwriting Helpers is a skill building program, as well as an enrichment program, which uses evidenced-based strategies to make writing fun, interactive and easy. If your child has difficulty following instructions in school or in home, misinterprets test instructions, has an attention disorder or struggles with phonological awareness, Listening for Success can help them find success in the classroom. Listening for Success is dedicated to enhancing academic performance through the following skills: auditory processing, phonological awareness, phonics, expressive and receptive language, as well as teaching students to be self-advocates in the classroom and to use resources. Run by the NOSHC, Listening for Success utilizes the expertise of speech-language pathologists and follows a prescribed curriculum in small group instruction.
On May 11, the JCC hosted the annual New Orleans community-wide Yom Ha’Zikaron, Israel memorial day, service led by members of the Jewish Clergy Council of New Orleans. That was followed by the community Israel Independence Day celebration, including a dessert reception and performance of “Israel Story — Live!” Using a combination of radio-style storytelling, live art, music, singing, video, and other multimedia magic, the show provided an intimate glimpse of modern Israeli life. “Israel Story” is an Israeli radio show inspired by the slice-of-life stories featured on “This American Life.”
Schedules are arranged so students can take one or both classes. Register for Half Day at the J in addition to either class and make it a mini camp! When not in class, students will participate in fun camp activities including swimming, sports, art and more! Visit www.nojcc.org for details and to register.
June 2016 • The Jewish Newsletter 19
From Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans mained friends for life. Please contact Fran Dinehart at (504) 8318475 ext. 134 if you are interested in participating in this fulfilling program.
Solutions to Senior Hunger Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans, in partnership with MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, is working to reduce barriers to enrollment in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, formerly known as “food stamps.” If you are age 50+ and would like to receive private, one-on-one assistance to better understand SNAP eligibility, enrollment assistance is now available! Solutions to Senior Hunger is a year-long initiative between MAZON and the Association of Jewish Families and Children’s Agencies The Girl Power group is a social skills group open to 8- to 12-year- with generous funding from the Walmart Foundation to alleviate old girls, who learn how to handle peer pressure, bullying and create food insecurity and improve nutrition among low-income seniors. positive friendships. Participants also develop increased self-confi- Call (504) 831-8475 to schedule a free appointment today. dence and feelings of self-worth; discover strategies to communicate feelings; make positive choices; and cope with stress and anxiety. The program will be held at the New Orleans JCC’s Uptown CamAmanda Hembree joins the staff as the new Teen Life Counts pus. The group runs Wednesdays, June 8 to July 13, from 4 to 5:30 Coordinator. She received her BA in Psychology from Georgia p.m. Fee is $240. Call (504) 831-8475 for more information. State University in Athens, Ga., and her M.S. in Counseling from Loyola University, New Orleans. She is the owner of Wells to Wellness, a private practice including counseling, coaching and employ“Bikur Chaverim” is a program which arranges home visits for ee assistance. Previously, she was an Employee Assistance Program homebound or partially-homebound seniors with a focus on creat- Counselor and an Assessment and Referral Specialists among other ing lasting relationships built upon shared interests. Visitor-volun- positions. teers for Bikur Chaverim are paired with new Friends, with whom JFS also welcomes new interns: Meghan Berger from Xavier they facilitate conversation in order to share ideas and life experi- University and Sarah Applebaum and Emily Jasper from Loyola ences. The program is designed so that both parties feel purpose University. and meaning through being together. Many paired friends have re-
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Passover Food Baskets! Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2016 Passover Food Basket Distribution. You enabled 300 people in the Greater New Orleans community to observe the Passover holiday. We could not have done this without your generous contributions, your skillful, efficient packing and your caring visits on the delivery routes.
Left: Howard and Susan Green. Above: Julie Schwartz. Right: Julie Koppman, Sophie Burka, Gary and Jenny Rich, Rachel Lazarus Eriksen, Betsy and Jeff Kaston 20 The Jewish Newsletter • June 2016
From Tulane Hillel
During May 2016, Tulane Hillel continued our Big Issue Series with a panel titled “Taking a Stand on Statues: Confederate Monuments in New Orleans.” The panelists included Quess Moore, Advocate for Take ’Em Down NOLA; Molly Mitchell, Associate Professor and Ethel & Herman L. Midlo Chair in New Orleans Studies at UNO; Rick Marksbury, Associate Professor at Tulane University; Kodi Roberts, Assistant Professor at LSU; and Pierre Mcgraw, Advocate for the Monumental Task Committee, Inc. WWL-TV investigative reporter Dave Hammer moderated the panel. The panelists had a lively discussion and the over 120 participants had an opportunity for a Q&A session with the panelists. During May, we also toasted farewell to all of our graduating students. We wish all of our graduates all the best and look forward to catching up with them when they come back to visit. Here are some snapshots from the most recent Birthright Trip to Israel. Keep an eye out for the next issue for a full trip recap!
From the Jewish Endowment Foundation Get $1,000 from the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana to open a fund! What is the Donor Advised Fund Initiative? It is an extraordinary opportunity for you to open a donor advised fund at JEF. Why extraordinary? Because you contribute a minimum of $4,000 and JEF adds $1,000. You get an extra $1,000 to grant to non-profits you care about. And you learn how easy and advantageous it is to have a donor advised fund at JEF. Here are the important points about the DAF Initiative: • Minimum of $5,000 to open a donor advised fund; • $4,000 from donor, $1,000 from JEF; • Fund must be opened by a new donor or fund-holder; • Fund-holder must be a Louisiana resident; • No fee to establish a DAF, • Annual administrative fee to JEF: 1% of the fund balance; • Select the nonprofits you want to support, • A minimum of $1,000 from your DAF must be donated to Jewish nonprofits; • Must maintain a minimum fund balance of $1,000 for two years; • Donations to your DAF are tax deductible; • Simplify your charitable giving “paperwork”; • Establish a personal relationship with JEF and support your community. Please call (504) 525-4559 or email Sandy Levy, email@example.com, or Patti Lengsfield, firstname.lastname@example.org, to have a confidential conversation about how you can take advantage of this extraordinary opportunity.
June 2016 • The Jewish Newsletter 21
From Jewish Community Day School Second Graders Receive First Siddur
Sam Shaya, Benny Dvorin,Lily Holmes, Evellen Bruchis and Demi Kilburn show off their map of Israel cake.
Yom Ha’Atzmaut at JCDS Children celebrated Yom HaAtzma’ut (Israel’s Independence Day) Vincent Dyer, Miles Holmes, Eyan Callais, Juelz Hampton, Gianna on May 12 at JCDS, and what a celebration it was! Eileen Hamilton, Harris, Rachel Naghi, and Isaac Morales proudly present their new Coordinator of Jewish Life, and Hemda Hochman, Hebrew teacher, siddurim. made the event extra special for all the students. JCDS second graders recently received their first siddur (prayer The students experienced Israel using all of their senses. A short book). As early as Pre-K, children begin learning Hebrew and continue film took them on a virtual tour of Israel’s famous sites, which gave to strengthen their skills throughout their JCDS education. This special them inspiration for the next activity, Cake Boss Israel! Collaboration ceremony gives the children a chance to show-off what they’ve learned! and communication skills took center stage as students created maps The children sang songs, recited blessings and explained their deep of Israel on their cakes. They sang songs, prepared yummy Israeli food understanding of the prayers they’ve studied. The parents decorated and all stood together to sing the Hatikvah. The celebration ended the siddurim and, while presenting them to their child, read heartfelt, with judging cakes and announcing the winner. Outcome: Too hard to hand-written letters. This portion didn’t leave many dry eyes in the decide, everyone won! Happy 68th Birthday, Israel! room. The students were very impressed with their parents’ creative, beautiful siddur designs! Casablanca Restaurant made a beautiful (and delicious) cake for the whole school to enjoy! Mazel tov students! Elliot Raisen, special Kabbalat Shabbat guest of JCDS, delighted the children with Israeli-style dancing Tiffany Cotlar and Lauren Ungar recently joined the Jewish Comlast month. Since the ‘40s, Raisen has been entertaining munity Day School administrative team. people of all ages with his creCotlar, a New Orleans native and third-generation Beth Israel memative, inspiring and vibrant ber, joined JCDS in May as the Director of Institutional Advancement. moves! Dancing, singing, and She brings over 20 years of experience in human resources, sales and challah were a wonderful way customer service, operations and development, and writing. In her to end the day and start the position, Cotlar will be responsible for supporting the development, weekend! marketing and operations of JCDS.
New Professionals Join JCDS Staff
“Working for JCDS is the most important thing I have ever done in my life,” Cotlar said. “I get to help grow a Jewish school and cultivate Jewish leaders in our community. What more could I ask for?” Her four year old, Tally, will be starting Pre-K at JCDS in the fall.
Harry Hart, Ben Shaya, Vincent Dyer, and Avery Hart practicing their entrepreneurial spirit! The Jewish Community Day School Parent Association organized a car wash and lemonade stand. The children chose which non-profit organization would receive the tzedakah from the lemonade stand proceeds. The Bright School for the Deaf was their top choice! 22 The Jewish Newsletter • June 2016
Ungar is rejoining the administrative team in her new position as Manager of Enrollment, Family and Community Relations. For the past six years, Ungar has worked in numerous positions, most recently part-time alongside the Director of Admissions, Deb Marsh. Her work in family and community relations consists of developing the Jewish Babies Club, bridging programming with synagogues and Jewish agencies, writing and developing online and social media, and building student-life programming within the school. Ungar’s 10 month old, Miri, is currently enrolled in the Young Babies Program at JCDS.
June 2016 â€¢ The Jewish Newsletter 23
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National Ride2Remember hits streets of B’ham for Holocaust awareness If you thought the parking lot of Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center looked like a motorcycle convention on May 20 — well, you were right. The Jewish Motorcyclists Alliance held its annual Ride 2 Remember in Birmingham. Each year, the umbrella group of Jewish motorcycle clubs across the nation picks a different city for the Ride, which is organized to commemorate the Holocaust, promote Holocaust education and raise money for an organization in that community to further that goal, said JMA President Betsy Ahrens. Helena Farkas, a child of Holocaust survivors, says she rides “to make sure people don’t forget.” The group, which brought about 115 riders to Birmingham for four days, donated over $18,000 to the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center. Phyllis Weinstein, founder of BHEC, was appreciative and perhaps a bit stunned by the group’s visit. Rebecca Dobrinski, executive director of BHEC, said “We’re very honored that people who don’t know us support our mission.” She invited the bikers to visit the BHEC office, and a couple dozen did that during their stay. The Ride 2 Remember went from the Embassy Suites in Homewood to the LJCC, with many of them taking a 38-mile route through residential areas of Mountain Brook, Lake Purdy and Irondale. Riders included Wandering Twos from St. Louis, Sabra Riders from Atlanta, Lost Tribe from Virginia Beach, Chai Riders from New York
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June 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 25
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26 Southern Jewish Life • June 2016
City, King David Bikers from south Florida and many others. The largest contingent came from Ontario, where members Sheldon Smaye and Steven Levitt made the proposal to have the ride in Birmingham. Smaye said he was inspired after seeing the movie “Selma,” saying “it hit home.” While he isn’t comparing the Holocaust and the Civil Rights era, he said “There are similarities… there was a group of people that was thought less of, and certain atrocities took place that we want to remember and make sure never happen again.” On May 21, the riders had options for a day trip, and one group rode to Selma and then retraced the route of the Selma to Montgomery 1965 march. “It touched all of us,” said Smaye. He also noted that Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel and other rabbis marched with King on that route. Other riders went to the Talladega National Forest or the Barber Motorsports Museum. The JMA is an umbrella group for 46 clubs with about 6,000 members. The Alliance’s mission is “to create a global environment whereby members of the Jewish faith who ride motorcycles can congregate physically and through the Internet to share and exchange ideas about matters of concern to the Jewish community, as well as issues concerning motorcycles.” In past years, rides have included the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, and Whitwell, Tenn., to visit the home of the world renowned Paper Clip Project and Museum. Last year’s ride was in Nashville.
Luxury in Australia
The “emeritus version” of Rabbi Cohn May 21 was an evening to celebrate a milestone in the life of New Orleans’ Temple Sinai — the retirement of Rabbi Edward Paul Cohn after 29 years of leading Louisiana’s largest Jewish congregation, and the upcoming debut of what his daughters called “the emeritus version” of their father. On July 1, Rabbi Matthew Reimer will become the new rabbi at Temple Sinai, and Cohn will become rabbi emeritus, remaining active in the congregation and the city. New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu dropped in during the patron’s party to present Cohn with a key to the city. “Rabbi Cohn has been a close personal friend for a long time,” Landrieu said. “Every time there has been a major issue that has threatened the city’s soul and spirit, not only was he there, he helped lead the fight,” Landrieu said. The Cohn daughters, Jennifer Kesselheim of Boston and Debra Kraar of Atlanta, said the evening fills them with “so many emotions” as they are excited for their father “to begin this new chapter in his life.” But they warned the congregation, “don’t go shopping for his new hammock quite yet. “Dad’s retirement is not really a goodbye but a time to give thanks and reflect,” they said. Former City Council member Jackie Clarkson read a proclamation from Governor John Bel Edwards “because I adore your rabbi.” Clarkson stated Cohn “led everything this city did in human relations and human rights.” Pastor Deborah Morton of Greater St. Stephen Full Gospel Baptist Church, which meets at Temple Sinai, said “we share this building because of this great man.” When the church burned in 2008 after rebuilding following the storm, Cohn told her, “you have given much to the city and the community. It is your time to receive.” She added, “It wasn’t about color, it wasn’t about religion. It was about relationships… it was God that brought us together.” Cantor Joel Colman called Cohn a “first ballot hall-of-fame rabbi” and led a recitation of Shehecheyanu. Sinai President Robert Brickman said Cohn “brought out the best in
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Mayor Mitch Landrieu makes a presentation to Rabbi Cohn
June 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 27
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us,” leading a “progressive and inclusive living of our Jewish values.” He added, “we are very heartened that you are not going away” but plan to be “an active emeritus rabbi.” Cohn said he was “overwhelmed and most deeply grateful” by the tributes. “You have made the Golden Gala golden and unforgettable… a milestone in the life of our family.” He praised Saundra Levy, who was president of the congregation during Hurricane Katrina. They evacuated together to Jackson before the storm, and Levy led the effort to hold the congregation together “through that disastrous time.” Just over a decade later, Cohn said, Levy spearheaded “this most beautiful and elegant gala in the history of our congregation.” He praised Cantor Joel Colman, “for all these years of a treasured partnership and friendship.” Cohn referenced his first address to the congregation as a candidate for the position in 1987, and spoke of his days growing up as the only Jewish family in his Baltimore suburb. He also spoke of how the evening was also a night for his wife, Andrea. She “has been my partner, a silent partner and sometimes a notso-silent partner, helping me realize my life’s greatest calling.” In her quiet way, Cohn said, she celebrated congregants’ joys and successes, and grieved the sorrows, sicknesses and disappointments with them. The evening “is not a farewell,” Cohn said. “If it were a farewell, I would be broken-hearted,” and he has no intention of just fading away. He concluded by calling on the congregation to devote itself “that the old shall be renewed and the new shall be sanctified with very great love.”
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850-231-5030 • 30Arealty.com 28 Southern Jewish Life • June 2016
At the gala, Rabbi Cohn’s grandchildren, Max Kesselheim and Ryann Kraar, led HaMotzi with their mothers, Jennifer Kesselheim of Boston and Debra Kraar of Atlanta.
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real estate/homes an annual SJL special section Construction at Bakery Village at Irish Channel
Livewell Properties draws inspiration from Roswell Weil Bakery Village at Irish Channel is company’s first project by Lee J. Green Roswell Weil lived well. The long-time beloved, involved member of the New Orleans area Jewish community was active and worked full-time as an investment broker until he passed away in March 2015 at the age of 99. His step-granddaughter-in-law, Nicole Webre, started her development company just a few days after Weil’s passing and named it Livewell Properties, LLC, as a tribute to him. “Roswell was an inspiration to us all,” said Webre. One of Livewell’s first projects is Bakery Village at Irish Channel, a luxury, custom new-construction, urban-infill residential project that Webre is developing in the historic Irish Channel neighborDr. Maureen Stein, daughter of Roswell hood of New Orleans. Weil, and Nicole Webre at an event at In 2015, she purchased the 70,000-square-foot Bakery Village on May 4 Turnbull Bakery property, which is bounded by Soraparu, First and St. Thomas Streets and takes up the majority of a city square. She got the properties rezoned to return the lots to residential. Bakery Village at Irish Channel consists of 15 lots ranging from 3,600 to 7,000 square feet with a private drive through the middle of the development to access rear yards. “I have six sets of historic plans with two houses near completion,” said Webre. “A few of the houses are modeled after popular historic homes in New Orleans.” The development is just blocks from the Garden District and the shopping areas of Magazine Street.
Fla. panhandle properties a breeze thanks to 30A Realty Much has changed in the 30-plus years that Alice Forrester has worked in Florida panhandle realty as well as in the 20-plus years since she and partner Mickey Whitaker started 30A Realty. But wasn’t hasn’t changed is the desirability of beachfront and other properties in the area, and the plethora of those owning second-homes in the area. “We were here before the other real estate companies and the first to use the 30A name,” said For-
rester, who grew up in Birmingham and graduated from Shades Valley High School. “Today real estate in this area is very healthy. Inventory is a little low but foreclosures are way down and people selling are getting good value for their homes.” She said 30A Realty’s buyers come from all across the country so they use technology to get as much real-time information to prospective buyers as well as visuals of the properties available. “Thanks to MLS and apps, there are multiple
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ways of searching for properties. We’ve also continued to update our website to provide as much updated information as possible in the most user-friendly format,” said Forrester. “That helps us and the people looking.” She said they primarily focus on a 17-mile stretch in South Walton County along 30A, but also work properties in Destin and Fort Walton. “We’re seeing more new construction and subdivisions since the demand is there but inventory is low,” said Forrester. “That’s especially true in places such as Seagrove Beach and South Walton.” She added that new homes, subdivisions and condominiums continue to be built in communities such as Rosemary Beach, Inlet Beach and Alys Beach. “These areas become even more desirable places to live considering the new high-end retail and dining options that continue to open up,” said Forrester. For more information, go to www.30Arealty.com.
Breathe easier with preventive HVAC, plumbing maintenance by Lee J. Green One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning and Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, who have been serving the Birmingham area since 1901, want to help their customers breathe easier as well as to save money on plumbing repair and water usage. In the Deep South, spring is a time for allergies and it is estimated that 50 million Americans suffer from allergies. The technicians at One Hour Heating and Air Conditioning recommend a spring checklist to help. Spring cleaning: Have one’s home dusted and cleaned frequently. Wash bed linens and clothing weekly in hot water to help kill bacteria along with dust mites. Avoid the temptation to air out the house: Opening windows and doors also brings pollen in from the outside. Change air filters: Replace the filters for the HVAC system monthly or as required by the system’s manufacturer. A clean filter helps trap dust and pollutants. It also helps the unit operate more efficiently. Get a tune-up: A national survey conducted by One Hour Heating and Air found that only about half of U.S. homeowners had their HVAC systems maintained within the past 12 months. That means families could be breathing in 365 days worth of pollen, dirt and irritants. A trained technician can clean and inspect one’s unit to make sure it is operating at peak efficiency. It could save energy and money. IAQ and Ductwork: One Hour can upgrade air filtration systems and seal leaky duct work for improved air quality. Duct cleaning can remove contaminants and the company can offer upgrades to meet new building codes. Benjamin Franklin Plumbing said as the weather gets warmer the time is right to focus on plumbing. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the average family uses about 320 gallons of water per day but that number can almost triple to 1,000 gallons per day in the warmer months. The extra water usage can put my pressure on the plumbing to perform. Here are some tips to keep in mind. Plumbing inspection: A whole-house plumbing inspection by a trusted professional can detect leaks and problems people may not be aware of. Boilers and water heaters can be hazardous if they have defects. Adjust the temperature of one’s hot water heater to 120 degrees: This can help save energy and reduce scalding. Repair leaks: The EPA estimates more than one trillion gallons of water is wasted each year in U.S. homes. The biggest culprits are leaky faucets, valves and worn toilet flappers. Upgrade plumbing: New government regulations for water heaters are in effect designed to make water heaters more energy efficient. Upgrading could help save money and the environment. 30 Southern Jewish Life • June 2016
Eight potential hiding places for mosquitoes in your yard The hot and wet weather of June doesn’t only trigger the start of summer across the South, the conditions also set in motion mosquito season, which is especially concerning this summer with reports of a relatively new mosquito-borne virus. Mosquitoes aren’t just a nuisance; they are also a health threat. Some species common in the southern United States can carry and spread Zika virus, which has affected thousands of people in Central and South America and the Caribbean, and has been contracted by dozens of Americans traveling to those areas. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has linked Zika virus to birth defects and says there currently is no vaccine to prevent the virus. The same type of mosquito that can carry Zika virus, Aedes aegypti, can also carry and spread Chikungunya virus and Dengue, while other species can transmit West Nile virus and canine heart worm. The first sign of mosquito activity is usually buzzing from the female mosquitoes and their bites. These tiny insects could be living, flying and breeding right in your yard, and you might not even know it.
Where Mosquitos Breed
Female mosquitoes can lay as many as 100 eggs at a time. They can lay eggs in just a few inches of standing water, making pinpointing breeding sites a challenge. To help homeowners, Orkin Entomologist Ron Harrison reveals eight places mosquitos like the most and explains how you can help keep them out of the yard. Gutters: If enough debris is left to collect over time, dirty gutters can clog up and create pockets of water perfect for mosquito breeding. Cleaning gutters regularly to make sure water is flowing smoothly will help keep mosquitos from breeding so close to your home. Toys: They are an often overlooked source of standing water, but toys can collect pockets of water and just a few inches is enough for a mosquito to raise a (large) family. Flower pots: Rainwater can collect in saucers under flower pots. If left to sit for days, the water becomes an excellent breeding spot for mosquitoes. Bird baths: Even though birds eat a variety of insects, standing water in bird baths can become an oasis for female mosquitos looking for a place to lay eggs. When the water in bird baths is left unchecked for days at a time, it can quickly become a mosquito hot spot. Inspect and change the water in yours weekly to avoid an infestation. Rain barrels: If water is used within a few days, it will likely not be enough time to create a mosquito problem. But if the water is left still for multiple days, be prepared to find a hotbed of hungry pests. Plants: Some plants can hold water in their “mouth” and offer mosquitos enough standing water to lay their eggs. Other shrubbery can serve as a hide-out for grown mosquitoes. That’s because, in addition to blood, mosquitoes also feed on nectar from flowers, so they often hide out in shrubbery during the day. Thinning dense shrubbery can help reduce the number of adult mosquitoes in the yard by increasing air flow through the plant. Cavities in trees: Each year, cavities in tree stumps and trunks are filled with water by rainfall or melting ice and snow. Because mosquitoes do not need much water to breed, they may choose these holes to lay eggs. While it can be difficult to remove the standing water, a licensed professional can help identify and treat these areas in the yard. Low points in the yard: Any areas that are lower than the rest of your yard may collect and hold standing water. Make note of these areas when patrolling and make sure to inspect and drain them if necessary. Take Back Your Yard What can you do? It’s important to do a weekly inspection of the entire yard to locate and eliminate any standing water and breeding places. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time; just take a walk around your property and look for the locations mentioned above. Also, it’s a good idea to encourage your neighbors to do the same so that mosquitos aren’t travelling from their yard to yours. If you’ve done everything you can to help prevent mosquitos and are still having problems, you may need a licensed professional. For more details, visit Orkin.com.
Crew Lending provides personal yet powerful financing programs by Lee J. Green With interest rates still low and qualifying numbers continuing to rise, now is a good to time for mortgages or refinancing a home. Jacob Cohen said what sets Birmingham’s Crew Lending apart from others is its quick turn-around times, e-signature options and ability to do business anywhere in the Southern Jewish Life magazine coverage area. “We’re a boutique lending house so we can offer very personalized service. But we are also a division of Goldwater Bank, which can do business in 30 states,” said Cohen, who is in the Birmingham Overton Group, a board member for the ZBT chapter at the University of Alabama and a member of Temple Emanu-El. He grew up in Birmingham and graduated from Mountain Brook High School. Cohen then graduated in banking with the University of Alabama and earned his MBA from UAB. Cohen said Crew Lending offers a streamlined mortgage approval process that usually makes for quicker, less-hassle loan closes than banks or other lending companies. “Technology has made the process more efficient and streamlined. We can do business with people outside of this area,” he said. “We can get a pre-approval completed in as quick as 30 minutes and don’t have to meet in person unless the buyers want to.” Crew Lending offers a wide variety of mortgage programs to suit all needs, including jumbo financing, first-time buyer programs, loans for veterans, construction financing, home renovation financing and more. For those who want weekly mortgage updates, text “rate” to 22828.
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Four Winds offers luxury apartments in New Orleans CBD
by Lee J. Green Jewish architect Emile Weil designed The Central Bank and Trust building in 1927. Now almost 90 years later, the historic structure blends tradition with modern amenities at the Four Winds luxury apartment living community in the heart of the New Orleans Central Business District. Located at 210 Baronne Street, the building that once housed the bank and professional offices has been restored by the Kailas Companies and renovated using many of the same materials originally used. “We aim to provide the tradition of New Orleans; the ideal location of the CBD and the modern amenities of a luxury apartment community,” said Four Winds Nola Community Manager Nicole Elia, an involved member of the New Orleans area Jewish community. Amenities include the largest residential rooftop pool and sundeck in the CBD, complemented with grills and outdoor TVs. Four Winds also includes a state-of-the-art fitness center complete with a Yoga studio and a dry sauna. The community boasts a 3D movie screening room and unlimited WiFi building-wide. The one, two and three-bedroom units and penthouses come with white-marble baths, hand-blown light fixtures, stone kitchen countertops and 90-year-old reclaimed wood floors. The Four Winds community is steps away from French Quarter restaurants, Julia Street art galleries and Magazine Street shopping. “We know people have busy lifestyles. Having an apartment community support that environment is essential to creating a low-stress lifestyle,” said Elia. “Finding the perfect fit along with proper amenities can be difficult and time consuming. We want to make it easy by offering top-of-the-line luxury geared for the finest residents.”
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June 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 31
With care, Persian rugs last a lifetime For those looking for exquisite rugs in the Birmingham area, Nilipour has it covered. Hossein Nilipour had been in the rug business with his father in their native Iran. He came to the University of Alabama at Birmingham as a fulltime student in 1970, but he missed the rug business so he started selling fine rugs again and decided to take classes at night. He graduated and his wife, Susan, joined him in the business. Their daughter, Soraya, also owns and manages the store, making it three generations in the rug business. Susan Nilipour said the Homewood store imports rugs mainly from Iran, Pakistan and India but also China, Turkey, Russia and Romania. “We’re a full-service oriental rug dealer. We buy, we trade, and we sell. We also clean, restore, repair and appraise rugs as well,” she said. Nilipour said distinguishing superior quality rugs from others centers on the knot count. “The higher the knot count, the better. The strength of Persian rugs makes them last a long time,” she said. When asked how they appraise rugs, Nilipour said it’s about craftsmanship. “I can take a rug and determine where it came from and the quality to come up with a value when they bring them in,” she said. Nilipour said they did a lot of cleaning of rugs that were severely muddied or damaged in the 2011 tornadoes that ravaged Alabama, as well as the devastation that followed Hurricane Katrina. She said rugs can last decades, even centuries — she once sold a rug that was more than 200 years old. Nilipour advises regular cleaning of the rugs to help ensure a longer life. “Clean them often. If you have animals, clean the rugs at least yearly,” she said. “Don’t wear rubber-soled shoes. They’re like car tires gripping and pulling on the wool knots. Instead wear leather shoes or go barefoot. Also, keep the rugs out of direct sunlight. It can damage rugs and make them fade. Be sure to get your windows treated and cleaned.”
Upscale apartment living at redone Retreat at Mountain Brook Technology and nature commune as one at the Birmingham area’s new upscale apartment living community, The Retreat at Mountain Brook, which offers everything from a community garden to resident coffee lounges equipped with Wi-Fi and nearby hiking trails. Located on 80 acres neighboring Mountain Brook, the community started a $7 million, 18-month renovation after it was acquired by California-based development community Heller Stone. “The intent was creating an upscale environment for residents wanting to have it all,” said Arlington Properties Regional Manager Tami Stertmeyer. “The Retreat offers a plethora of modern amenities for our residents that include a community garden, three saltwater resort-style pools, two stateof-the-art fitness centers, two resident coffee lounge areas equipped with Wi-Fi, championship-modeled tennis courts and walking trails.” Stertmeyer said that not only is The Retreat at Mountain Brook pet-friendly, but the community features a 6,500-square-foot dog park equipped with agility stations to “keep our beloved pets happy and healthy.” She said the apartments’ interior space features spacious living and dining rooms; open kitchens with stainless steel appliances; electric fireplaces, designer plank flooring; an entertaining/bar area; oversized balconies; sunrooms and terrace level apartment homes that have fenced-in yard spaces. When the community was originally built years ago it was known as the grand community of its time. Later, a gas station, convenience store and a nursery school were built on the borders of the community. Today, the community has regained its grand status, the community garden and dog park are located where the gas station and convenience store were located and the new clubhouse is located where the nursery school once operated. Stertmeyer said The Retreat and Mountain Brook team is happy to provide community and apartment tours to interested parties, and virtual tours can be taken online.
Looking for a modern kitchen? Berman Group relies on NeedCo Cabinets by Lee J. Green NeedCo Inc. Cabinets and Gil Berman continue to build upon their successes. Berman, an involved member of the Birmingham area Jewish community and owner of The Berman Group Inc. home builders, land developers and remodelers, said the central Alabama cabinet maker has been the perfect fit on several of his projects. “They provide a wide variety of cabinets; they do custom and factory cabinets well and they have experienced designers who are great to work with,” he said. NeedCo Owner David Harrison had been in the HVAC business for 25 years. He started doing woodworking as a hobby and decided to follow his passion by opening up NeedCo in 2000. The company would expand to Tuscaloosa and Homewood in the ensuing years. NeedCo General Manager Chrissy Bushnell said the goal is to be a “onestop shop. We have talented designers on staff and we focus on service plus customization.” Bushnell said today homeowners want to be more involved in the process. “They want to be more hands-on. By that I mean they want to know more about the products, process and service,” she added. As far as trends in cabinets, tile and countertops go, Bushnell said “simple, streamlined and grey colors are in right now.” She also said that today’s kitchens are more high-tech and things such as electrical chargers can be implemented into the cabinetry, making everything more space- and user-friendly. 32 Southern Jewish Life • June 2016
NeedCo also employs technology in its showrooms to show customers the 3D designs of their renderings. “We pride ourselves on our showrooms. We want designers and customers to really be able to see how a project will turn out,” said Bushnell. Berman was born for the building business. His father, Floyd Berman, was a homebuilder and land developer for many years, and Gil grew up in the business. He started developing and building in Miami then moved back to Birmingham in 1991 and formed The Berman Group. “In the 1990s, much of what I did was speculative homebuilding and land development, but starting in the 2000s we transitioned into custom homebuilding and remodeling to complement the neighborhood development projects,” said Berman. “And I agree with Chrissy’s assessment that more people today seem to want modern, simple, sleek designs versus the traditional.” Berman said that many of his customers want to stay in their current house but expand, add on or update. He referenced a job in 2015 for Nitu Caplash, modernizing a ranch-style house in the Mountain Brook area. The sleek styled cabinetry used in this project was custom built by NeedCo. Berman said he is happy to offers individuals advice on how much they should invest in a remodeling/expansion project based on the value of the house and how long they plan to remain living there, or if they want to sell the place relatively soon. “My whole philosophy is that communication and teamwork are the key to a successful relationship with every customer,” he said.
Exterior Designs makes New Orleans more beautiful by Lee J. Green New Orleans is already a beautiful place, but Beverly Katz and her Exterior Designs Inc. can add to that. On a regular basis for many years, Katz has provided maintenance and annual color and enhancements to the grounds at both New Orleans Jewish Community Centers and Touro Synagogue. Other high profile work Exterior Designs has done includes that for the Historic New Orleans Collection Museum and the Bisso Tugboat Company. “Clients who call me are aware that I do problem-solving for their property first,” said Katz. “Whatever the trend, the drainage issues, tree roots, cracked old surfaces, etc., we are sure to resolve all problems before we start the design job.” Katz said she frequently does New Orleans-style courtyards with grills; fountains and art in the garden; shade with pergolas; fire pits with low-maintenance gardens that include color that stays year-round. “The trend with my clients is to be practical… and something that fits with the style of this area. They want a space that is both beautiful and functional,” she said.
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Vinyl windows suit Louisiana well by Lee J. Green When one considers that vinyl windows insulate much better than aluminum; cost less and keep out moisture better, the answer is clear for Louisiana — America’s Best Choice Windows and More. Louisiana ABC Windows Dealer Robert Jacques said they can offer the buying power of a large national company with personalized local service from Jacques himself. “America’s Best Choice is based out of Atlanta and has 100 dealers coast to coast. This gives us the opportunity to buy our customers a better window at a lesser price,” he said. “Every time someone calls us they reach me on my cell and I work directly with them to address all of their needs.” Jacques said all double-pane windows are not made the same. Twenty years or more ago, most windows were made of aluminum. ABC windows are made from vinyl, which is a 1,000 times better insulator than aluminum. “They also keep out condensation, which can be very damaging to the window, foundation and the home,” he said. “Vinyl windows are also maintenance-free. You cannot scratch the window or paint on the pane like you can with aluminum.” Jacques added that America’s Best Choice offers upfront pricing, professional installation and a lifetime warranty.
June 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 33
GETTING OFF AT ELYSIAN FIELDS:
Obituaries from the New Orleans Times-Picayune by John Pope
While the Daily Telegraph and the New York Times have published compilations of their ‘best’ obituaries, you just know that with the eccentric personalities amongst us (or, in this case, formerly amongst us), those from the Times-Pic would likely outdo them all. Fittingly titled, the collection of well over 100 obituaries includes those for Walker Percy, Jamie Shannon, Al Copeland, Ruthie the Duck Girl, George Rodrigue — and many Jewish notables, including Edith Rosenwald Stern, Jules L. Cahn, and the incredible Liselotte Levy Weil (we spoke recently with Plater Robinson, Education Director at the Southern Institute for Education and Research at Tulane, and he is moving forward with a book about her). Though we could all find a number of entries that should have made it in, this collection is an outstanding, interesting mix. Well done.
NEW YORK’S YIDDISH THEATER: From the Bowery to Broadway by Edna Nahshon
This summer, the Museum of the City of New York is exhibiting “New York’s Yiddish Theater: From the Bowery to Broadway.” But if you can’t get there, the next best thing is the companion book by the same title. Edited by curator Edna Nahsohn, the book about “Yiddish Broadway” is a richly-illustrated approachable work about the Lower East Side’s entertainment legacy, originally for the 1.5 million first- and secondgeneration Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe but which evolved into an American phenomenon. The book starts with a description of the waves of immigration, then moves forward from the first Yiddish theater production in 1882 into an exploration of famous shows and legendary actors. Other topics include the influence of Yiddish theater on American design, and the evolution to Vaudeville and the Borscht Belt. There is also mention of recent revivals and tributes to Yiddish theater, with Louisiana native Tony Kushner’s adaptation of Sholom Aleichem’s “The Dybbuk” getting a mention. The book concludes with a description of how Tevye went from the Yiddish stage to film and became an American icon.
WHY BE JEWISH: A Testament by Edgar Bronfman
Edgar Bronfman decided to write a love letter. It was one of his last, as he passed away only a few weeks after it was completed. And the love letter took the form of this book. For decades, he lead the Seagram Company, and used his resources and those of the Samual Bronfman Foundation to start the Bronfman Fellowships, which bring young leaders from North America and Israel to collaborate, and MyJewishLearning, an online learning resource. He served as president of the World Jewish Congress and was the founding chairman of the board of governors of Hillel. And that’s just a beginning. Here, he acknowledges the doubt he’s had. In G-d, in everything. Yet he asserts Judaism is worth pursuing, worth living, worth wrapping all of one’s being in, even with those doubts. It may be by default how one identifies, but Judaism is also a choice worth embracing wholeheartedly. Scholarly and approachable, this is a book one will likely return to and reference for years to come. Perfect. Also of note, Bronfman’s beloved wife Jan Aronson grew up in New Orleans. 34 Southern Jewish Life • June 2016
My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man by William Shatner with David Fisher
While Star Trek fans will enjoy this book for obvious reasons (bonus: the inside scoop on complicated relationships they each held with Gene Roddenberry), anyone with a soft spot for the emotional highs and lows of a friendship spanning 50 years will delight. Not only a loving tribute from Shatner’s own experience, the book is peppered with others’ reminiscenses. Lessons on a life well-lived abound. The takeaway? You guessed it. LLAP.
Creating a Family in a Beautiful, Broken World by Susan Silverman
Having a family: glorious, dazzling, invigorating, sometimes crazy and exhausting (oh so exhausting)... and messy. In “Casting Lots,” Susan Silverman is the friend you ‘get’ and even when she over-shares a little, you ‘get’ that part too. Growing up in a family that wasn’t particularly religious, she surprised everyone in deciding to become a rabbi. Her father, with a certain playful relish, even exclaimed, “We didn’t even know she was Jewish!” As it turns out, Susan grows up to imbue all aspects of her life with Judaism and meaning, especially as with her husband Yosef, their family grows through birth and international adoption. While the entire book is enlightening, particularly compelling are the author’s notes on adoption topics including cost, corruption, cultural heritage and colonialism.
KOSHER BY DESIGN BRINGS IT HOME:
Picture-perfect Food Inspired by my Travels by Susie Fishbein
Susie Fishbein concludes her cookbook series with this offering of over 100 dishes brought home from around the world. There’s petit farcie (meat-stuffed vegetables) from Provence, Italian sbrisolona, spicy kim chee hangar steaks... and we’re just getting started. Even the chicken lollipops with ranch dip from a visit to Mexico is elevated. Picture-perfect it is, as each reliable dish is accompanied with a full-color image of the final product.
BOOKS FOR OLDER CHILDREN
THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS by John Boyne
The 10th anniversary edition will introduce new readers to what’s destined to become a classic in Holocaust literature for this age. Centered around the relationship of two boys, Shmuel and Bruno, who each live on a different side of the fence at “Out-With,” the story is geared toward older children, but is still a worthwhile quick read for adults. A completely heartbreaking ending. Highly recommended.
June 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 35
community Hadassah NOLA focuses on children’s wellness Children’s wellness has been a recent emphasis of Hadassah New Orleans, as exemplified through recent programs. Through the “Neat Eats: In Pursuit of Good Health” educational series, Hadassah taught students at Torah Academy and the Jewish Community Day School “they are what they eat.” The two-part joint program empowered children through a multisensory approach and educated them on the ABCs of optimal nutrition. Joy Feldman, author of “Is Your Hair Made of Donuts?” read her book on March 2 (pictured on the right), led a game of “Nutrition Jeopardy,” and made fresh carrot juice followed up with a Yum and Yuck taste test contest. In Part II, Chef Lee Sands of the Audubon Tea Room provided a different take on creating a healthy salad, complete with a fruit smoothie salad dressing. Hadassah New Orleans also launched a threepart parenting series, “Raising A Mensch,” led by Mark Sands, director of psychiatry at Mercy Family Center. Topics for the series, which was aimed at parents and grandparents of all ages, included “Raising Children Who Thrive,””Striving and Thriving with Limits” and “Raising Children
36 Southern Jewish Life • June 2016
Who Strive.” Sands drew on his 28 years of experience as a child and adolescent psychiatrist and fielded questions from how to deal with siblings who fight to how to manage children who won’t pick up their toys. The “Raising A Mensch” series is co-sponsored by Chabad of Metairie and PJ Library. Hadassah New Orleans announced they will be launching their second parenting series this fall. The second series, yet to be titled, will be six sessions focusing on pre-school and elementary school age, as well as tweens and teens. The series will also include a Biblical component drawing upon examples of parenting from the Torah.
Touro Foundation to honor Kupperman The Touro Infirmary Foundation announced that Stephen H. Kupperman will receive the 2016 Judah Touro Society Award at the Touro Infirmary Foundation Gala on Nov. 5. The JTS Award is the hospital’s highest honor and is voted on by previous JTS Award recipients. It is given annually to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the welfare of Touro Infirmary. Born and raised in New Orleans, Kupperman is a second-generation leader at Touro Infirmary, following in the footsteps of his father, Abraham Kupperman. Kupperman graduated from Duke University, Tulane University School of Law, Summa Cum Laude and is a founding partner and senior associate with the Barrasso, Usdin Kupperman Freeman & Sarver, L.L.C. He is active in the American Bar Association and is a Fellow to
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Let’s see you try to ritually slaughter one of those things.
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Due to a typo in a contract, our featured rabbinic guest was a bit more rabbitic. Lettuce begin… 2004, “Ask the Rabbit” Is it possible to eat a bacon cheeseburger pizza on Passover, without violating the dietary laws regarding Passover?
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By the year-round standards of keeping kosher, having meat toppings on a cheese pizza is not kosher, not to mention having bacon at all. However, while eating that combination is a violation of the general rules of kosher, having it on matzah does not violate any rules of keeping kosher specific to Passover itself.
2005, “Splitting hares” What’s it like growing up as a Jewish rabbit?
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Is there a Jewish belief about whether someone gets good luck from carrying a rabbit’s foot? I always have two with me, and I still have trouble getting a good parking spot. But if I had my way, the only people going around with a rabbit’s foot would be those who are walking on them.
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2006, “Reb Wallenstein’s Day” Was there a Reb Wallenstein’s Day Massacre? Definitely. On a single day, three different brides fled the chupah. Today, that’s a sitcom pilot. Back then, it was unheard of. 2011, “The Year of the Rabbi” Why should we believe the Year of the Rabbit was really first the Year of the Rabbi? In the Chinese Zodiac, the Rabbit symbolizes creativity, compassion, sensitivity, friendliness, outgoingness, belief in community and family, and conflict avoidance. Rabbits approach confrontation calmly and with consideration. If that doesn’t sound like your rabbi, form a search committee.
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Doug Brook is a writer in Silicon Valley who is a rabbid reader of the obscure, especially that which doesn’t exist. To read these or any other past columns, visit http://brookwrite.com/. For exclusive online content, like facebook.com/the.beholders.eye.
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>> Kupperman both the American Bar Foundation and Louisiana Bar Foundation and for 30 years has been an adjunct faculty member at Tulane University School of Law. During one of the most critical moments in the history of Touro Infirmary, Kupperman placed the needs of Touro’s patients and staff above his own during Hurricane Katrina and enacted a plan to evacuate the hospital at the command of the City of New Orleans. As former Governing Board Chairman, Kupperman initiated great strategic change at Touro Infirmary, including the opening of the Touro Infirmary Imaging Center and branding “Here for Life.” Understanding the importance of continuing the legacy of Touro Infirmary, Kupperman spearheaded the agreement to join Children’s Hospital and create the LCMC Health System to ensure that Touro remains for another 164 years.
June 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 37
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Later this year will mark the 20th anniversary of this column. Leading up to that momentous event, a short series of columns will revisit tidbits from over the years. This month’s column provides snippets of Jewish teachings from various lesser-known rabbinic sources.
The order Nezikin was split in three: Bava Kama, Bava Metzia and Bava Batra. These translate as “The First Gate,” “The Middle Gate,” and “The Last Gate.” The Chief Rabbi didn’t notice a fourth set of volumes, being read by the delivery guy. Later realizing the omission, the delivery guy left them at his usual dropoff: Bava Gump, “The Service Gate.” Across from East Jefferson Hospital Emergency
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1998, “Carving a Passover niche” In the renowned Mishnah tractate Bava Gump, different maxims are explored and a simple solution is finally presented. In verses known by their Latin title, the Nissan Maxima, the rabbis wrote: “We think it best to celebrate the new year in Tishrei. After all, that’s when Rosh Hashanah appears on next year’s calendar.”
THE WISDOM OF BAVA GUMP AND OTHER OBSCURE RABBINIC WORKS
2005, “Bava Who?” For years, this column scoured the earth, wind, and fire for any artifacts from the legendary “Other Bavas,” including Bava Sutra (uniquely linked to Bava Kama), Bava Ria (laws regarding life in middle Europe), Bava Ganoush (laws regarding foreign cuisine), Bava Rino (laws regarding early sitcom characters), and others.
Judaism is believed to have started with Abraham, but Bava Gump recounts a rabbinic Stone Age… 2004, “Gurb the Caveman Rabbi” Rabbi, we seek enlightenment about the recent discovery of fire. That’s easy. If you stand near enough to the fire, it will enlighten you until it burns out. But we’re prohibited from doing work on the Sabbath. Does that mean starting a fire is prohibited?
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Of course it does. Have you ever tried to light a fire? It’s a lot of work! 2005, “No stone unturned” Middle Eastern caveman Jews actually received the sacred scroll generations before it was given at Sinai? Of course we received it. And it was a lot harder for us to receive. By the time the Torah was regifted at Sinai, you had parchment. All we had was stone tablets. Boy, did that take a long time to bring down the hill. You think Moses made a mess smashing his two tablets? If he’d gotten what we were given, there’d have been an avalanche. Were any kinds of dinosaur considered kosher? We never considered that. continued on previous page
38 Southern Jewish Life • June 2016
community New Orleans NCJW elects leaders for coming year Madalyn Schenk presented with President’s Award
Officers and board members for the National Council of Jewish Women Greater New Orleans Section were elected at the closing luncheon, held May 15 at Magnolia Mansion. At the event, NCJW President Susan Kierr presented Madalyn Schenk with the President’s Award for her efforts in designing and implementing NCJW Way, a unique young leadership training and development program. The President’s Award is given at the discretion of a section president who feels that a particular person has gone over and above the call of duty and has been an invaluable asset to the organization. In addition to creating NCJW Way, Schenk administered the nomination process, the sessions, activities and follow-up of six young women’s participation over a two-year period. The Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust chose to support this program with a grant that helped the candidates travel to the NCJW Washington Institute, where the six women received national attention for their dedication to the future of NCJW. “An investment in the future and development of new leaders 2017 NCJW Officers and Board Members attending NCJW Closing Luncheon: is essential if NCJW’s decades of community service and ad- President Susan Kierr, Barbara Kaplinsky, Millie Kohn, Brenda Brasher, Jennette vocacy are to continue,” Kierr said. “Madalyn’s vision and her Ginsburg, Past President Joan Bronk, Robin Goldblum, Kathy Shepard, Rachelle passionate pursuit of a strong future for us is a priceless gift to Stein, Sarah Covert and Michelle Erenberg. tomorrow.” The featured speaker at the luncheon was Jonathan Ferrara, owner of Elected to a newly-created position of Vice President of Public Relations Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, who spoke on the topic of “Art as Social Justice.” is Barbara Kaplinsky. Ferrara is a New Orleans artist, gallery owner, community activist and Other newly-elected officers for two-year terms are Corresponding arts entrepreneur who is a leader in the movement to make New Orleans Secretary Rachelle Stein and Co-Recording Secretary Sarah Covert. a national and international arts destination. Co-Recording Secretary Patty Barnett is serving the second year of her Ferrara is passionate about his current project, “Guns in the Hands of three-year term. Completing their second year of a two-year term are NiArtists,” which seeks to establish a national dialogue about guns and gun cole Trosclair, Financial Secretary; Kathy Shepard, Treasurer; and Tricia violence. In the process of touring the country, Ferrara has worked with Kirschman, Assistant Treasurer. many leaders who care about the issue, including former congresswoman Newly-elected board members are Jody Portnoff Braunig, Jennette Gabby Giffords, Captain Mark Kelly and Walter Isaacson. Ginsburg, Simone Levine, Millie Kohn and Emilie Tenenbaum. Serving Joan Axelrod Bronk, former NCJW GNO president and one of three their second year of a two-year term are Brenda Brasher, Robin Giarrusnational NCJW presidents to come from the New Orleans NCJW, led the so, Robin Goldblum, Sharon Kirkpatrick, Rollie Rabin, Hallie Timm and installation of the new board. Eileen Wallen. Continuing for the second year of two-year terms are NCJW President Ina Weber Davis is on both the local and national boards and the execSusan Kierr and NCJW Vice Presidents Michelle Erenberg (Advocacy), utive boards of NCJW. Barbara Greenberg (Development), Sue Jernigan (Community Services), Jenny Nathan (Membership) and Katie Singleton (Administration).
Association of Fundraising Professionals to honor Pulitzer, Tolmas Trust
NCJW President Susan Kierr, Keynote Speaker and author of “Guns in the Hands of Artists” Jonathan Ferrara, Vivian Cahn, Brenda Brasher and Robin Goldblum.
The Association of Fundraising Professionals’ Greater New Orleans chapter announced its National Philanthropy Day Honorees, to be honored at the Audubon Tea Room on Nov. 10 at 11:30 a.m. Joyce Pulitzer will receive the Outstanding Philanthropist award. She is a past president of the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana, and was the first woman president at Touro Synagogue and the Anti-Defamation League’s New Orleans office. She was president of the Hermann Grima Gallier Historic Houses, has served on numerous boards and was active with Women of the Storm following Katrina. In 2011, she received the Jewish Federations of North America Endowment Achievement Award. The Outstanding Foundation award will be presented to the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust. Tolmas, a real estate developer and horse racing enthusiast, died in 2013 and left his entire estate to the trust, which has made large grants to a wide range of Jewish and community-wide non-profits over the last two years.
June 2016 • Southern Jewish Life 39
Congratulations 2016 Touro Infirmary Board Chair
The Board of Directors of the Touro Infirmary Foundation is pleased to announce
Nancy Bissinger Timm has been named Chair of the Board.
Guided by the moral and ethical principles of Judaism since 1852, Touro Infirmary is dedicated to providing compassionate healthcare of the highest quality to the people it serves.
For more about the Touro Infirmary Foundation, call (504) 897-8435 or visit www. touro.com/foundation. Touro Infirmary, 1401 Foucher Street, New Orleans, LA 70115
June 2016 New Orleans edition of Southern Jewish Life, the official news magazine of the New Orleans Jewish community.