Southern Jewish Life
TIME FOR BIRMINGHAM’S MACCABI GAMES MOMENT NEW MUSEUM OF THE SOUTHERN JEWISH EXPERIENCE REMEMBERING RABBI STEVENS PRESENTING PRINCESS SHAW July 2017
Volume 27 Issue 7
Southern Jewish Life P.O. Box 130052 Birmingham, AL 35213 Birmingham’s Adison Berger with her swimming medals from the 2016 Maccabi Games in St. Louis
In a couple of weeks, what is being called the largest event in the history of Birmingham’s Jewish community will get underway, as about 850 Jewish teens from around the country, coaches, delegation heads and relatives come to the city for the Jewish Community Centers Maccabi Games. In this issue, we have a preview of the event, which will expose a lot of people to a community they might otherwise never have visited. Perhaps it will also chip away at a perception heard all too often by people from here when they travel in other regions… “There are Jews in Alabama?” Why, yes, a very active community, along with a rich history and lots of fascinating stories to tell. A major component of this year’s Maccabi Games takes advantage of Birmingham’s prominence in the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. The athletes will have time one day to rotate among three sites in an area that was recently declared a National Monument as part of the National Park Service. The Civil Rights Institute, which opened in 1992, tells the story of Birmingham’s civil rights history. The Sixteenth Street Baptist Church was the site of a Ku Klux Klan bombing in 1963 that killed four girls before Sunday morning services. Kelly Ingram Park, across the street, is where many of the major demonstrations took place. There are two especially significant aspects for the visiting teen athletes — the Anne Frank Tree and the Children’s Crusade at Kelly Ingram Park. The tree is a horse chestnut tree, like the one Anne Frank could see from her hideaway during the Holocaust. When that tree was dying a few years ago, saplings from it were offered to sites around the world. When Birmingham was not selected, organizers of the local effort decided to get their own tree and place it in the park. The Children’s Crusade took place in May 1963, a month after major civil rights demonstrations began in the city. With the effort flagging, a decision was made to have
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opinion students demonstrate. Their parents had jobs they could have lost, and needed to protect their livelihoods, so the students took up the banner. As the crusade began, teachers would turn to the chalkboard to write for a couple of minutes, then turn around to see an empty classroom. The sheer number of students frustrated Police Commissioner Bull Connor, leading to the infamous firehoses and police dogs footage that shocked America. The students were arrested en masse, with
Right initial, wrong name I feel that I must correct you on one name. You did it before but I decided that someone in Birmingham would correct you, but they didn’t. The name of Rabbi Newfield was Morris Newfield. His son was Mayer Newfield. Morris’ wife and my grandfather were sister and brother. I enjoy your magazine very much. Babette Wampold Montgomery Editor’s response: Yes, that is correct — Rabbi Morris Newfield was the rabbi at Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El from 1895 until his death in 1940. That was a bit before my time, but I did know Mayer Newfield (and have some file photos of him at the Ullman Museum in Birmingham, Rabbi Newfield’s wife’s family, as you mentioned). Sometimes when I see Newfield, Mayer pops into my head, especially because they have the same initial. Thanks for the reminder, and we will endeavor to keep things straight!
Southern Jewish Life many in the Jewish community working behind the scenes on bail for them. Those teens’ efforts led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act. That era was traumatic for the city, and the reputation from those days cast a shadow for decades. It was also a difficult time for the local Jewish community, which was caught in the middle. For context, we have a series of articles on our website, written over the last several years as 50th anniversaries came up. “Not Just Black and White” shows the complexity of the situation. A link to the series is at the bottom of the page at sjlmag.com. Also worth looking up is one of the more unusual Jewish stories around — that of the Samuel Ullman Museum, a couple of blocks behind Temple Beth-El. The board room at the Levite JCC is named for Abe Berkowitz, part of the Sonneborn Institute that smuggled material to the Israeli army in 1948. He also was a leading figure in changing Birmingham’s government and getting rid of Bull Connor. Downtown Birmingham is undergoing a renaissance. The culinary scene is getting national attention. This isn’t the Birmingham of 50 years ago — or even five years ago. So, welcome to all the Maccabi guests. It’s nice to have you in Birmingham, spread the word, and y’all come back now, y’hear?
Southern Jewish Life receives NOLA, AJPA awards Southern Jewish Life is being recognized by the Press Club of New Orleans and the American Jewish Press Association at their respective awards ceremonies. Southern Jewish Life was named a finalist in the Excellence in Journalism Awards given by the Press Club of New Orleans. The top three in each category are announced at the annual meeting in June, and then the order of recognition is announced at the Press Club gala, July 8. “A Jewish Take on Easter’s Date,” about why the Jewish community should care about a proposal to standardize the date of Easter, is the piece being recognized. Other finalists are Sean Brennan of The Maroon for “Sanctuary Campuses: Where Do We Draw The Line” and Errol Laborde of New Orleans Magazine for “The T-P and The Advocate.” The Simon Rockower Awards are presented by the American Jewish Press Association and are the highest honor in Jewish journalism. Southern Jewish Life received second place 4 Southern Jewish Life • July 2017
in Journalistic Excellence in American Jewish History for “Tennessee man is first U.S. soldier named Righteous Among the Nations,” about Master Sergeant Roddie Edmonds, whose quick actions are credited with saving the lives of hundreds of American Jewish soldiers in a Nazi prisoner of war camp. The judge for the category commented that it was “an utterly incredible story. If not for the approval of Yad Vashem, I wouldn’t believe it, it’s too much like a movie. A riveting read, that stays with you for a long time.” First place went to The Jewish Standard of Teaneck, N.J., for “Maxwell’s Golden Hagaddah.” The Rockowers are presented at the AJPA annual conference, which is held in November in Los Angeles, in conjunction with the Jewish Federations of North America’s General Assembly. This is the second year in a row that Southern Jewish Life has been recognized by both organizations, and the magazine has now received 15 Rockowers.
PUBLISHER/EDITOR Lawrence M. Brook firstname.lastname@example.org ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER/ADVERTISING Lee J. Green email@example.com ADVERTISING SPECIALIST Annetta Dolowitz firstname.lastname@example.org CREATIVE DIRECTOR Ginger Brook email@example.com SOCIAL/WEB Eugene Walter Katz firstname.lastname@example.org PHOTOGRAPHER-AT-LARGE Rabbi Barry C. Altmark deepsouthrabbi.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Rivka Epstein, Nathan Klein, Tally Werthan, Bebe Hudson, Belle Freitag, Claire Yates, 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 205/870.7889 for Lee Green, firstname.lastname@example.org or Annetta Dolowitz, 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 2017. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without written permission from the publisher. Views expressed in SJL are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff. SJL makes no claims as to the Kashrut of its advertisers, and retains the right to refuse any advertisement. Documenting this community, a community we are members of and active within, is our passion. We love what we do, and who we do it for.
agenda interesting bits & can’t miss events
In March, delegation heads from across the country and leaders of the Jewish Community Centers Association visited Birmingham to learn about this summer’s Maccabi Games in Birmingham. They are pictured here at the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame.
Rabbi Stevens’ death “devastating” for Montgomery Rabbi Elliot Stevens, who has led Temple Beth Or in Montgomery for the last 10 years, died on June 21. He was 69 years old. In mid-March, Stevens was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer, two months after his wife, Sandy Lynn, was diagnosed with lymphoma. Stevens went on medical leave, telling the Reform congregation that “I am mindful of the many blessings I have received by serving as your rabbi — more than I ever thought would be possible.” After word of his and his wife’s conditions came out, numerous area churches joined area synagogues in placing them on their prayer lists. Beth Or President John Ives said the “devastating news… was a major shock for us all, something none of us were prepared for, emotionally or otherwise.” Rabbi Scott Kramer of Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem, Montgomery’s Conservative congregation, said the loss of Stevens “is pretty devastating for our small community.” Ives said Stevens “never slowed in his quest to bring a new and increased spirituality to our congregation,” from urging adoption of the new Reform prayer book to “his unwavering support” for the annual Jewish Food Festival. Ives also cited Stevens’ outreach to the broader community and how “he sought to make our congregation a better home for all its members.
He was admired and respected throughout the community.” Stevens was ordained at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1975. For 32 years, he worked away from the pulpit, at the Central Conference of American Rabbis in New York. He was associate executive vice president, overseeing the CCAR publications program. Stevens ran conferences and conventions throughout North America and in Israel, managed a scholarly quarterly, served as a “rabbi’s rabbi” to his colleagues, and parliamentarian. When he decided to move to the pulpit, he looked for a “hands-on” congregation instead of being part of a larger staff in a larger community. Beth Or has a membership of about 140 families. Kramer noted that he and Stevens arrived in Montgomery about a week apart, but “from opposite directions” in their careers, as Kramer had just been ordained before starting at AIEA. The two rabbis merged the congregations’ Confirmation classes, and then the entire religious schools. They also collaborated on a community interfaith Holocaust memorial service. “We would meet at Starbucks often and just enjoy each other’s company,” Kramer said. “He had a wealth of knowledge about Jewish history that was just astounding.” In Montgomery, Stevens served on the board
U.S. Air Force photo by Henry Hancock
Rabbi Elliot Stevens at the Maxwell Air Force Base Holocaust commemoration in 2015 of the Montgomery Area Food Bank, the Community Council of River Region United Way and the board of the Montgomery Chorale. He served on the advisory board of the UAB Health Center in Montgomery, and for five years chaired the selection committee for the River July 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 5
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Region Ethics in Business Award. He is past president of Interfaith Montgomery, and has taught as adjunct professor at Huntingdon College since 2008. He participated in the National Security Forum at the Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base in 2012 and is a 2013 graduate of Leadership Montgomery. A memorial service is scheduled for July 9 at 2 p.m., at Beth Or. “It will be hard not to be able to call Elliot and get advice about this or that,” Kramer said. “I will miss him even more as events come up that we used to do together.” Aside from his wife of 21 years, Stevens is survived by his daughter, Sara Zur (Yonah); son, Daniel (Amanda); daughters, Alexandra Eden and Anna Cutter (David); and six grandchildren; brothers, Rabbi Michael (Judy) and Robert, Esq. (Lynn). Rabbi Jonathan Miller, who retired from Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El last month, will lead High Holy Day services at Temple Beth Or in September. Beth Or “will at some point in the near future” start the search for Stevens’ successor, Ives said. “Today, we just wish to pause and remember all of the wonderful memories of Elliot Stevens’ all too short tenure at the Temple.”
B.R. Chabad starts after-school class Chabad of Baton Rouge is launching J.U.D.A. — Judaism Through the Arts. The after-school program will be for ages 3 to 14, Tuesdays at 4:15 p.m. The program’s philosophy is that “while Jews embrace many levels of observance in their personal lives, there should be a place for all Jews to develop a sense of community and engage in activities which will enhance their Jewish experience.” The “multi-sensory and hands-on” activities will teach through crafts, songs, workshops and drama. J.U.D.A. will include the Aleph Champ Hebrew reading program used by Chabads nationally, including Chabads in Metairie and Birmingham. Registration for the year is $400 per child, $375 per child for multiple children. The fee includes all supplies and snacks for the year. Classes will begin on Aug. 22 and run through May 8. In addition to the children’s classes, Chabad in Baton Rouge has a weekly Torah class that is entering its third year, and more adult education classes are planned for the coming year.
Rosenbush Warehouse sold in Demopolis The Demopolis Times reported that the Rosenbush Warehouse has been sold. On May 18, the city council approved a bid by Alberta resident Lucy Hicks to buy the building for $3,500, with plans to turn it into a community outreach center with an emphasis on photography. The warehouse has an iconic Coca-Cola sign that is a frequent stop for photographers. The warehouse is behind the main Rosenbush Furniture building, which had been donated to the city by Bert Rosenbush Jr., the last Jewish resident of Marengo county, in 2003, and was the oldest family-owned furniture store in the state when it closed. The main building contains the Marengo County History Museum and Archive. 6 Southern Jewish Life • July 2017
July 2017 â€¢ Southern Jewish Life 7
agenda The annual W.C. Handy Music Festival in the Florence area will once Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El will have a four-part interactive discusagain include an event at Temple B’nai Israel. Rabbi Nancy Tunick and sion group, “Grandparenting in an Interfaith World,” led by Gail SchusScott Whitehead will do a musical presentation, “A Gig at the ‘Gogue,” ter. The group will meet on four Wednesdays at 6 p.m., starting Aug. 9, at July 29 at 2 p.m. Admission is free. The festival runs from July 21 to 30 at the home of Cindy May. numerous venues in the region. Rabbi Joel Fleekop of Temple Beth-El in Pensacola will be leading an The Temple Beth-El Sisterhood in Pensacola will have an opening Israel trip, July 9 to 19, 2018, designed for first-timers and experienced meeting on Aug. 16 at 11:30 a.m. with Women of Reform Judaism South- travelers. An informational meeting will be held on Aug. 16. east President Ellen Petracco and First Vice President Cheryl RaskinBeth Shalom in Baton Rouge is having Havdalah and a Movie at 7 p.m. Hood as speakers. on July 15. More details were not available at press time.
The next Nite on the Town for Beth Shalom in Fort Walton Beach will B’nai Zion in Shreveport is changing its streaming service, so it will be on July 29 at 5:30 p.m., at Tisano’s Garlic Grill, Niceville. Reservations not resume streaming Shabbat services until July 21 at the earliest. are requested by July 26. Pensacola’s Temple Beth-El is having its annual poker night on Aug. The next Torah On Tap with Rabbi Joel Fleekop in Pensacola will be on 26. The No Limit Hold’em tournament is $100 for the first 100 pre-regisJuly 11 at 5 p.m., at Union Public House. The topic will be “Obamacare & tered participants, $110 at the door. Participants get $3,000 in chips and Trumpcare: What Is Judaism’s Answer to Healthcare.” can rebuy for $100 until 7:15 p.m. There is a one-time add-on of $5,000 The Temple Emanu-El Brotherhood in Birmingham is holding its an- from 7 to 7:15 p.m. Doors open at 4:15 p.m., play begins at 5 p.m. Renual Jay Gotlieb Birmingham Barons Game, July 22 at Regions Field. freshments are free, there will be a cash bar. Non-monetary prizes will go First pitch is 6:30 p.m. Advance reservations are required. Cost is $10 per to the top nine players. person for Brotherhood members and their families, or $17 per person for non-members. Price includes a ticket and $10 in Barons Bucks.
8 Southern Jewish Life • July 2017
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Siroty in Alexandria as Gemiluth Chassodim’s new rabbi — and cantor While many smaller Jewish communities aren’t able to support both a rabbi and a cantor, Alexandria’s Gemiluth Chassodim is getting both — in one individual. Rabbi Raina Siroty was ordained as a cantor before going back to school to become a rabbi as well. She begins at the central Louisiana congregation this month. Though raised in Los Angeles, Siroty was actually born in Georgia, where her father was working for the Allman Brothers band. One of her earliest memories is leading the blessings over challah and grape juice at Sunday School at age four. While she enjoyed Sunday School, after two years she would have to drop out as her then-single mother could not afford dues. “For years to come, I would watch my friends who had the privilege of attending religious school, hoping one day to join them,” she said. She studied voice at Indiana University, and one Shabbat before her first High Holy Days there, she decided to walk into Hillel. “I felt at home and formed many long-lasting relationships that night as I spent the most wonderful evening, in prayer and song in celebration of Shabbat.” The spark had been re-kindled. “Hillel was transformative in showing me the real tenets of Judaism, and being surrounded by people celebrating Shabbat,” she said. But she didn’t know Hebrew. That summer, she learned the language and then “secretly” had her Bat Mitzvah during a cousin’s Bar Mitzvah. “It was then I first dreamed of becoming a member of the clergy.” A Birthright trip made that desire even stronger, and she began to research her three-times-great-uncle, Hazzan Gershon Sirota, known as the “Jewish Caruso” and one of the leading cantors in Europe’s “golden age” of hazzanut. He died at age 69 in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. “It was through learning about his life that my passion for singing, my love of Judaism and God, and a legacy to honor and continue the life’s work of Gershon Sirota had all come together,” she said. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree in voice performance with highest honors from the University of California in Santa Barbara, then enrolled in the cantorial program at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, becoming ordained in 2010. From 2010 to 2012 she served as cantor of Shomer Emunim in Toledo, Ohio. When the rabbi was away, she was the sole clergy, and during one such time the child of a congregant died. She noted it was “a tragic and
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Rabbi Raina Siroty, right, with Rabbi Karen Fox and Rabbi Sally Preisand at Siroty’s ordination on May 14.
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difficult time for the most seasoned professional,” and she felt inadequately trained to handle it. “I realized I wanted to be able to help the Jewish community in all areas — in pastoral care, being able to help them with all life cycle events, and really be a more well-rounded clergy person,” she said, so in 2012 she headed back to HUC to become a rabbi, and was ordained in May. “With the role of clergy forever evolving to fill the needs of our congregations in today’s financial climate, there are so many smaller congregations who could barely afford a rabbi, let alone a rabbi and a cantor,” she said. “My goal is to serve a congregation and preserve Judaism at this fundamental level. I can do this best as a Rabbi and a Cantor.” While attending rabbinical school, Siroty interned as a chaplain at Cedars Sinai Medical Center, served Temple Kol Tikvah in Woodland Hills, Calif. as a rabbinic intern and as an auxiliary cantor at Temple Isaiah in Los Angeles. She served as cantor last year for the High Holy Days at Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge. “I’d never been to Louisiana and really felt the people and the community were really kind and nice, and extremely knowledgeable,” she said. It was “really a beautiful service, and the congregation was very participatory.” She said the participation was “exciting to see, that they take ownership and interest in their Jewish identity.” That level of participation is often missing in congregations, she added. Also furthering her Southern journey was a class she took with Gary Zola, executive director of the American Jewish Archives, when he was on sabbatical at the College of Charleston. The course, on Southern Jewish history, fascinated Siroty, from the influence Southern Jews had on their communities to the number of multi-generational families that have remained in their communities. “I look forward to being with all the generations,” she said, and “being able to make a positive impact on the Jewish community in Alexandria and the city as well.”
Rescheduled “Behind Enemy Lines” announced The talk by 97-year-old Marthe Cohn, “Behind Enemy Lines: The True Story of a French Jewish Spy in Nazi Germany” in Baton Rouge, which was postponed on May 10, has been rescheduled for Sept. 13 at 7 p.m. at Lod Cook Alumni Center. During World War II, Cohn posed as a Christian nurse looking for a missing fiance, while she was really spying on the Germans for the Allies. The evening is presented by Chabad of Baton Rouge, and tickets are available on the Chabad website.
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Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signs Jerusalem proclamation at ceremony in Montgomery
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Southern state governments mark the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification
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In recognition of the 50th anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem during the Six Day War, a national program of solidarity was held on June 7 involving state governments across the United States. As part of the festivities, “50 Years, 50 States, 2 Capitals” was streamed from the U.S. Congress and the Knesset, with events organized in every state. In Louisiana, several lawmakers gathered at the State Capitol in Baton Rouge for a ceremony and viewing of the simulcast. Just before the ceremony, a resolution of solidarity with Israel and marking the anniversary of Jerusalem was read by Rep. Valarie Hodges on the House floor and Senator Rick Ward III in the Senate. The simulcast included video remarks from five U.S. governors, including Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, Phil Bryant of Mississippi and Rick Scott of Florida. A ceremony was also held in Montgomery as Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a proclamation, surrounded by representatives of the Christian and Jewish communities. The simulcast featured remarks by Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer and U.S. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan in Washington, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Speaker of the Knesset Yuli Edelstein in Jerusalem. In Baton Rouge, the event was coordinated with the Israeli Consulate in Houston. Political Affairs Officer Nadine Boakye was present for the ceremony. Ward said reading the resolution on the floor of the Senate was “one of the most humbling things I’ve done.” Sen. Rick Ward III reads the Jerusalem The Louisiana resolution resolution on the floor of the Louisiana was “to commend the state Senate on June 7 of Israel, commemorate the 50th anniversary of the reunification of the city of Jerusalem, and designate June 7, 2017 as Jerusalem Day” in Louisiana. Both versions referred to Gen. 12:3, the divine promise to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel.
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12 Southern Jewish Life • July 2017
The House resolution noted that “the Christian religion owes its beginnings to the Jewish religion, because the founder of Christianity is the prominent Jewish Rabbi Jesus Christ.” At the commemoration following the readings, Rabbi Jordan Goldson of B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge called the reunification of Jerusalem “one of the most momentous events in Jewish history,” and said that there is no other place on the planet where a people has a “longer, stronger and deeper connection to the land” than the Jewish connection to Jerusalem and Israel. He reacted to the Washing- Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant ton Post’s coverage of the an- gives video tribute to Jerusalem as niversary under the headline part of national simulcast of “Occupied: Year 50” with Netanyahu’s quote, “50 years ago we didn’t occupy Jerusalem. We liberated it.” Commissioner Jay Dardenne, one of only four Jewish Senators in Louisiana history, noted how the anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification was the day after D-Day, which was June 6. That day, Americans began to “put an end to the greatest nightmare in world history.” He said the proximity “of those two days should not be lost on us.” Hodges spoke of how the roots of Christianity are in Israel and the Jewish people, and also emphasized how Israel is at the forefront of equality for women. She added that “I would like to see Louisiana do a lot more trade with Israel… and we need to work on this.” Rev. Gene Mills from the Louisiana Family Forum said the Christian community prays for the peace of Jerusalem, and said he believes the current administration will affirm Jerusalem as Israel’s capital “in the near future.” The Alabama ceremony included John Buhler and Laura King, representatives from the Alabama-Israel Task Force. King is past president of the Jewish Federation of Huntsville and North Alabama, and past national chair of the Jewish Federations of North America Network of small communities. Tzlil McDonald represented the Jewish Federation of Central Alabama. Pastor Bob Somerville of Huntsville and Pastor Lyndon Allen, regional director of Christians United For Israel, also attended, as did Jahan Berns on behalf of the Birmingham Jewish Federation. Ivey was presented with a thank-you poster of Jerusalem’s city seal, signed by students at the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School in Birmingham. The Alabama proclamation noted how the state was the first to call for the establishment of a Jewish homeland, in 1943. It declared June 7 as the “50th Anniversary of the Reunification of Jerusalem Day” in Alabama. In his message, Bryant noted that he has been to Israel three times, having led trade missions from Mississippi each of the last three years. He saw “the care and concern of the people of Jerusalem, and how they reach out to all who visit.” Bryant concluded, “Let’s make sure it is another 50 years, another 100, another 1000 years that Jerusalem stands as a beacon of hope to all the world.” Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson also was on the video, stating that “Jerusalem remains the eternal capital of the Jewish people” and signed a 50th anniversary proclamation. Hutchinson traveled to Israel in late June.
Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience planning rebirth in New Orleans The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, which closed its location on the campus of Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica six years ago, is closer to having a new home. On July 28, Rusty Palmer, vice chair of the museum task force, will speak at Temple Sinai in New Orleans about plans for the new museum, which will be locatThe former Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in Utica ed in New Orleans. The service is being billed as a way to “be fine arts center. Jay Tanenbaum, who chaired among the first to hear details” about the new ISJL for seven years and now is in charge of the location, and to give input about the museum. museum task force, said they agreed, and the The museum evolved from necessity. Shortly museum had never been that successful because after Jacobs Camp opened, Anshe Chesed in of its location so far off the beaten path, in a Vicksburg was downsizing into a new building, camp facility where access was difficult. The museum was “put into mothballs” until and offered its old ark to the camp before the a new location could be secured, Tanenbaum old building was demolished. Other artifacts from congregations in the re- said. After a few years of exploration, New Orgion that were closing or downsizing soon fol- leans emerged as the leading candidate, and the lowed, and in the 1980s, Camp Director Macy task force has met with a wide range of civic and Hart started working on a place to house all Jewish community leaders. They have also met with possible donors, and of the Judaica, leading to the formation of the “the reception we’ve received has been very famuseum. The Vicksburg ark and pulpit items from vorable.” Though plans are progressing, such items as other congregations were housed in the central room, which became the camp’s space for Shab- a location, capital campaign goal and timetable have yet to be worked out. Much more inforbat services. In 1989, the museum started working with mation will be forthcoming in the next couple photographer Bill Aron on a series of road trips of months, Tanenbaum said, but being invited to document the Jewish South, first in Missis- to speak at Sinai to the three Reform congregasippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and west Tennessee. tions in one setting was an opportunity not to Alabama and South Carolina were added in pass up. For design and storytelling, the museum is later phases. Aron’s “Shalom Y’all: Images of Jewish Life in consulting with Patrick Gallagher of Gallagher the American South” became a large part of the and Associates in Washington. Among his premuseum’s displays, and also became a traveling vious projects are the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, the College Football exhibition. “Alsace to America: Discovering a Southern Hall of Fame in Atlanta, the National Museum Jewish Heritage” opened in Jackson in 1998, of American Jewish History in Philadelphia, then became part of MSJE’s main exhibition. A and the Grammy Museum in Cleveland, Miss. Gallagher grew up Catholic in Chicago but version is now at Temple B’nai Israel in Natchez, converted to Judaism 30 years ago. That story which is a satellite location for the museum. In 2000, the museum gave birth to a larger flavored his work with The Museum of the Jeworganization, the Goldring/Woldenberg Insti- ish People at Beit Hatfutsot in Tel Aviv. The new museum will maintain an affiliation tute of Southern Jewish Life. Hart soon left as camp director to lead the new organization in with ISJL, but will be a separate entity. “We’re really excited about this,” Tanenbaum Jackson, and the museum became part of the said, noting that New Orleans has 10 million institute. Around 2010, camp leadership met with the tourists annually. The July 28 service will be at 6:15 p.m. ISJL to see about having the building for a camp
July 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 13
Princess Shaw on one of her visits to Israel since being hit by a “Kutiman storm”
A New Orleans-Israel Musical Mashup
“Presenting Princess Shaw” airing on PBS stations this month
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A documentary about an unusual musical connection between New Orleans and Israel will have its U.S. television debut this month on Public Television’s POV documentary series. For years, Samantha Montgomery has worked in a New Orleans retirement facility, performing as Princess Shaw whenever she is given the opportunity to sing. A YouTube channel is her main creative outlet, where she posts new songs and musings about life. “Presenting Princess Shaw” is the story of how Ophir Kutiel, an Israeli musician known as Kutiman, found one of her videos and turned it into an Internet sensation, making her famous before she even knew about it. Directed by noted Israeli filmmaker Ido Haar, the film debuted in May 2016 and won Best Documentary at the Israeli Academy Awards last fall. Kutiman is a musical prodigy living on a kibbutz in southern Israel. In 2009, he debuted “Thru You,” where he finds audio and video clips online and treats each as an instrument in a larger, cohesive work. Haar said he has known Kutiman for many years, and Liran Atzmor suggested that Haar do a documentary about the first “Thru You” video mashup project. “When I saw it I was really amazed but it was too late,” he said. “Thru You” has received over 11 million hits. When Kutiman started the next project, “Thru You Too,” involving Montgomery, “I started to play with the idea of making a documentary about musicians and singers from all over the world that discover they are part of this project,” Haar said He got in touch with Montgomery through Facebook. Montgomery said when she got the message “I was depressed and down” and figured it wouldn’t hurt to respond. “You can’t go no further” down, she figured.
Haar flew to New Orleans to meet her in a hotel lobby, which she found “emotional — someone thought I was important enough to come all the way from Israel to meet me.” “Almost right away we felt comfortable with each other,” Haar said. Montgomery said Haar was genuine, so she was going to be open and genuine with him, including mention of her struggles with a history of physical and sexual abuse as a child, by a boyfriend of her mother. At first, Haar’s project was to include several of the musicians, but after filming in London and Washington, he returned to New Orleans and felt that Montgomery would be the story. Over a nine-month period, Haar visited New Orleans several times, filming her disappointing audition for “The Voice,” following her to Atlanta, visiting the facility where she works. Meanwhile, Kutiman was in Israel, taking Montgomery’s “Give It Up” a capella video, which had a few dozen views by then, and using it as the base of a video jigsaw puzzle, with sound samples and video clips of musicians from around the world. By now, the mashup video has received over 3 million views. A Chicago native, Montgomery said she “didn’t want to be the kind of person to stay where I’m from.” She moved to Indianapolis with her mother and younger brother to escape gang violence, after her brother had been targeted to join a gang. She spent two years in San Diego, then went back to Indiana where she shattered an ankle and had to learn how to walk all over again. In 2005, she went with a girlfriend to New Orleans for a couple of weeks, then a month later returned for good. “I’ve been here ever since,” she said. “I love it. This is my city.” Arriving for good just after Katrina, “there was still devastation. There weren’t any street
signs, not many stores were open,” she observed, “but you could still feel the resilience in the air.” Even when in Chicago she was a songwriter, “but I didn’t have the confidence in myself ” and was very shy. In church, she would sing but hide behind people. It wasn’t until she got to New Orleans that she found herself, and with her bright red hair and there-are-no-strangers outgoing personality she is hard to overlook. In 2012, she got braces because she had long been self-conscious about her teeth. Then, while singing in the shower one day, she tested her voice, then suddenly hit some notes she did not realize she had inside. Her new voice was “comfortable,” and she started her YouTube channel. At 3 or 4 in the morning, she would wake up and record songs, including the one that caught Kutiman’s attention. Montgomery and Haar were in Atlanta the day Kutiman uploaded his version of “Give It Up.” Haar wanted to capture genuine surprise when Montgomery discovered that her song not only had been reworked, but was going viral. It took a lot of effort to get that shot. Montgomery explained that she had been having trouble with her phone. Shortly after someone messaged her that they loved her voice, she got a notification that Kutiman had remade her song, but she didn’t think much of it because “a lot of people would remake my songs.” She tried to view it, but her phone wouldn’t load it. “Every time she took out her cell phone I’m there with the camera,” Haar said. He explained it away, that he needed atmosphere footage. “Like a fisherman, I was sitting there silently, waiting. It was a big gamble.” Finally the third notification spoke of a coming “Kutiman storm,” that her song was going viral. “Are you serious?” she thought, then viewed it. “It was so beautiful,” and she had wanted someone to do something with the song. Haar recalled, “I was so moved, and it was also a relief for me that I managed to catch this moment.” But Montgomery still did not make the connection between Haar and Kutiman. “He sent me a clipping from the New York Times” about Kutiman’s project, “and I still didn’t put it together” that Haar had known this was coming. It also was a while before she realized the scope of the project. At first she thought the film about YouTubers was just going to be on YouTube. She never considered it would be a full-length documentary in theaters. After the video took off, the next step was for Montgomery to visit Israel, meet Kutiman and perform to packed houses. For the first time, she needed a passport. She also had to overcome skeptics at home. “People said they’re going to cut your head off, or sell you to the sex trade,” she said. During her first visit to Israel, she found that Kutiman “is hilarious” and a genuine person, she said. “All we do is laugh.” “He’s not big-headed,” she added. “He wears normal stuff, hangs out. They all are, and that’s why I love them so much.” The friends she has made in Tel Aviv “are like family to me. I trust them with my life.” “I love Israel. It’s my second home,” she said. And it is one she visits often, having gone six times since odyssey began. Don’t be surprised to see her on Allenby Street in Tel Aviv, marveling at the outdoor culture and going into too many shoe shops. One difference she sensed is that “In the states, you feel more of a racial thing. In Israel, I don’t. Everyone is just there having a good time.” Twice, she also went to Jerusalem. “I don’t even know what to say,” she observed. “You can’t explain the beauty on film or video. You have to see it.” In October 2016, she and Kutiman performed at the Tamar Festival by the Dead Sea. She “just sat” on the tour bus, enjoying it and being
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July 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 15
BSC is proud to co-host the
2017 JCC Maccabi Games and welcome athletes to compete on campus.
“there in the moment.” After endless landscapes of rock, there was a huge stadium. “It was so awesome to get on that stage. You could feel the energy.” But crowd size doesn’t matter, she said, as long as there is energy. “I’ve had shows with five people and it’s the energy of 5,000.” One scene in the film shows her performing to an audience of four in a New Orleans club. “I didn’t care. I was there to sing.” She saw the film for the first time at the premiere in Toronto, sitting next to Haar. “It was hard to look” at the parts about her childhood, she said. “I don’t like to relive stuff like that,” and has seen the film just twice. Haar said Montgomery was okay with including those moments in the film. He said Montgomery and her mother “have this courage to confront the past and are managing to heal their connection by talking about it.” “It’s what happened to me,” she said. At the end of the film’s premiere, “everyone stood up and started clapping,” much to her relief and amazement. “Presenting Princess Shaw” has been in numerous film festivals, including the Houston Jewish Film Festival, limited theatrical release and on numerous national television stations, from NHK World TV in Japan to the Canadian Broadcasting Company. She has also been interviewed on numerous shows, including in Chicago, and on a parody of “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” on Israeli television. Last fall, Netflix purchased streaming rights to the documentary, and it is also available on DVD. It won Best Documentary at the Ophir Awards, referred to as Israel’s Academy Awards, and was nominated for a 2017 Critics Choice Award for best music documentary. In otherwise positive reviews, Haar has been slammed by some film critics for keeping Montgomery in the dark about the true nature of the
Photo courtesy Magnolia Pictures
Kutiman 16 Southern Jewish Life • July 2017
Where and When to View: Alabama Public Television July 19, midnight, 3 a.m.; July 24, 2 a.m. WSRE-TV, Pensacola July 19, 3 a.m.; July 23, 11:30 p.m.; July 24, 2 a.m. WYES-TV, New Orleans July 17, 9 p.m.; July 19, 3 a.m.; July 20, 10 p.m.; July 24, 2 a.m. Louisiana Public Broadcasting July 18, 10 p.m.; July 19, 3 a.m.; July 24, 2 a.m. Mississippi Public Broadcasting July 19, 3 a.m.; July 23, 11 p.m.; July 24, 2 a.m. film. She shrugs it off, saying it was best that she did not know what Kutiman was doing behind the scenes. “It wouldn’t have been genuine” if she knew. “In this lifetime, why not look for the positive,” she asks. To the critics, she says “if I’m not upset about it, why are you?” After the film came out, “a lot of people say I inspired them,” Montgomery said. “They have no idea how much they inspire me also.” She recently acquired a manager and now has a promotional video. “All I want to do is get on the stage and sing, drink bourbon.” She also is more aware of the “cutthroat” nature of the music business, having helped others online only to find that they have taken her musical hooks and abused her kindness. “That’s my blood, sweat and tears,” she said. “It came from my soul,” and she is more cautious about sharing. She and Kutiman collaborated on a forthcoming album, doing 13 songs in three studio days during a 10-day visit to Israel. The first single, “Stay Here,” was released in March 2016 and has almost 225,000 views on YouTube. While some have called the film a modern-day Cinderella story, the happily ever after part is still in the works. Music doesn’t pay the bills, so Montgomery still has her day job, though at a different facility than when the filming was done. But she is patient. “I live in reality,” she explained. “Everything doesn’t work out the way we dream,” so she says she needs to rely on her current job. She reflected that sense of reality in a lengthy piece on Israel’s Channel 2, when she was asked if she wants the Hollywood ending of being a superstar. “I don’t live in Hollywood,” she said. “I live in New Orleans.” She has done a number of performances around the world to publicize the film but is still looking for opportunities in New Orleans. On July 9, she is performing in New Orleans at the Peace in the Streets festival. No matter how things turn out, she said “I’m blessed by it all.”
community Bess Rich honored for government transparency On April 29, Mobile Councilwoman Bess Rich received the Transparency in Government Award from the League of Women Voters of Alabama. Rich was selected from a group of nominees that included past and present state officials and a journalist. Individual citizens, public officials and league members made the nominations, and the LWVAL board made the final decision. “The league believes that transparency is an important mechanism that promotes both government accountability and public trust in the decisions reached by governmental officials,” said LWVAL President Anne Permaloff. “It is not enough to announce decisions. The public wants to know how and why the decision was reached and who participated in the process.” This is the second time the biennial award has been presented. It was part of a Transparency in Government celebration held at Mobile’s Saenger Theatre in conjunction with the League’s state convention. Rich was nominated by a constituent, who wrote she “has represented District 6 of the City of Mobile for 14 years in a manner in which I want to be represented… with full disclosure to the people she represents of the thought process behind her decisions and a consistent energy for being in possession of ALL of the facts behind all decisions she is asked to make.” She has a weekly e-news in which she covers and explains city council decisions, insists that council meetings be televised, and holds regular community meetings. In addition to the city council, Rich has also served on the Mobile Area Water and Sewer System board, and is a member of Ahavas Chesed.
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Bess Rich, left, was honored by the Alabama League of Women Voters
July 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 17
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Chef Daniel Esses plans to open Rimon in August
Chef Daniel Esses goes kosher with Rimon at Tulane Hillel Next month, New Orleans will welcome an addition to the kosher restaurant scene, with a “kosher farm to table” concept by Chef Daniel Esses of Three Muses. Rimon will open at the Tulane University Hillel, open to students and the general public. Esses plans to be open for lunch in early August, then full time when the students return. The goal is to be open year-round and be available to cater events in the community. He said Rimon would be the same concept as his non-kosher restaurants, “but doing it kosher,” farm-to-table, homemade and locally sourced as much as possible. Being kosher forces him to do a lot of the products in-house, such as breads, condiments, pickles. Being on campus means he has to make it reasonable, “kosher farm to table at an affordable rate.” A handful of students are on a kosher meal plan. Any student can use Wavebuck$ at Rimon, and for Shabbat dinner, any student can use a meal plan. Before the semester ended, he met with groups of students and was told that speed is very important. Rimon will have a lot of grab-and-go, with staple items such as sandwiches and salads. “This way, you don’t have to wait in line, you can grab it and head to class.” This will also benefit workers at businesses in the area. The menu is still being developed and will change frequently. “You’ll see things come in and out,” he said. Items under consideration include Korean chicken wings, a dairy-free Caesar salad with creamy garlic miso dressing, a turkey BLT with beef bacon, couscous plates with skewers of beef, chicken, tofu or tuna, rice bowls and noodle bowls. He is also planning an Israeli salad bar and “build your own plate” options. There is a lamb meatball “I’ve been doing for years” that he will bring to Rimon, without the cheese, but with a tomato chutney. He also has a matzah ball soup “that will cure any sickness.” “I didn’t grow up here so I can’t tap into my boudin culture,” but in the last few years he has been at the Bourbon, Boudin and Beer event, doing a riff on Jewdin, using corned beef, chicken liver, rye bread and matzah balls instead of the pork and rice base. Some years he has fried it into Jewdin balls. There will also be homemade pastas, as he has run Esses Pasta since 2009. In October 2015, Esses was brought on board at the Jack & Jake’s Public Market, which was rebranded the Dryades Public Market. During that time, he said, Kevin Wilkins was mentoring him. Wilkins was also
community president of Tulane Hillel’s board, and when the Hillel’s Kitchen space was becoming available earlier this year, he spoke with Esses about his future plans. Esses met with Rabbi Yonah Schiller, Tulane Hillel executive director, and “it seemed like a good fit.” He added, “I was kosher for a long time, so I’m coming full circle.” Schiller said “There’s a beautiful alignment between his vision for food and our vision for Hillel.” Esses said as a child, he helped his mother in the kitchen for the holidays, making chopped liver, matzah ball soup. She would tell him stories about his grandmother, who made everything from scratch with local produce in the Bronx. He recalled “blackberry bushes everywhere.” In college, he “wasn’t living a healthy life” and decided to change, starting with making each meal himself, “eating healthy, being vegetarian.” He thought about becoming a nutritionist, since his father is a doctor, “but I wasn’t into the sciences, so that wasn’t going to happen.” He has both Sephardic and Ashkenazic heritage, “the best of both worlds.” His father is from Aleppo, and Esses said “Jews from Aleppo are amazing cooks” because Aleppo “was an amazing food city” with a wide range of spices and influences. He moved to Arizona and started cooking at a health spa, then at a vegetarian restaurant in Seattle. Cooking in France was “fun and challenging.” After working at Buddakan NYC in New York, he came to New Orleans, starting at Peristyle and then working at Restaurant August. He was sous-chef at Café Degas, opening chef at The Bank Café and executive chef of the Marigny Brasserie. In 2010 he was part of a trio to open Three Muses, where he was executive chef. In 2016 they opened a second location on Maple Street, but closed it on May 31. Esses is impressed by the Tulane Hillel facility. “It’s unique how nice this Hillel House is and how much they care.” He and Schiller chose the name Rimon because of its symbolism in Judaism. The pomegranate is seen as symbolic of knowledge, and the Hillel has a pomegranate tree by the front entrance. There is also a tradition that pomegranates have 613 seeds, symbolic of the 613 commandments in the Torah. Esses said they did not want to have a name that was specific to New Orleans or to him. “I wanted something that could be universal to all Hillels around the country” if they decide to try and replicate this elsewhere. “Other universities see this as a very successful Hillel and want to emulate it.”
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Delegations to the JCC Maccabi Games in Birmingham: Team Alabama Atlanta Baltimore Boca Raton Team Carolina (Charlotte) Cleveland Dallas Denver Greater Washington Houston Israel JCC on the Hudson (Tarrytown, N.Y.) Las Vegas Los Angeles — Westside Louisville Memphis Minnesota Nashville New Orleans Omaha Team Florida (Orlando, Tampa, Jacksonville) Philadelphia Phoenix San Diego San Jose Southern New Jersey (Katz JCC) St. Louis Tucson
Sports in the Games: Basketball Baseball Soccer Flag Football Volleyball Swimming Tennis Track and Field Golf Dance Star Reporter
20 Southern Jewish Life • July 2017
Let the Games Begin “Biggest event in Birmingham Jewish community history” set to start With less than a month to go, the year-and-ahalf preparation for the 2017 Maccabi Games in Birmingham has accelerated toward the finish line. About 900 Jewish teens from across the United States and around the world will come to Birmingham to participate in the games, which are being held in Alabama for the first time. The JCC Maccabi Games is part of the Jewish Community Centers Association, and three communities across North America host the games each summer. Thousands of Jewish teens from ages 13 to 16 participate each year in an Olympic-style sporting event. It is regarded as the second-largest organized sports program for Jewish teens in the world, and Birmingham is the second-smallest Jewish community to host the games since they were founded in Memphis in 1982. In addition to Birmingham, the 2017 Maccabi Games will be held the following week in the Albany, N.Y. area and at the Alper JCC in Miami. Games Co-Chair Layne Held said “This is an event for the entire Jewish community, to showcase our community, our people and the city.” Birmingham’s selection was announced at the Levite Jewish Community Center’s annual meeting in January 2016. Then-President Alyssa Nadler said “This is a game-changer for Birmingham, for our JCC and for our Jewish community” by putting the Birmingham Jewish community on the international stage. Betzy Lynch, who became executive director of the LJCC in 2012, had chaired the 30th anniversary Maccabi Games in Memphis that year. LJCC President Allison Berman said it is
hard to believe that the time since Birmingham found out it would be hosting the Games has gone so quickly. She said Held and Co-Chair Bruce Sokol “have logged hundreds, if not thousands, of volunteer hours this past year. Without their time and dedication, we surely would not have been able to fully fund our games ahead of schedule and create the amazing volunteer and professional team, which is working tirelessly to make it happen.” Held and Sokol have led a team of about 50 committee heads and volunteer organizers, with honorary co-chairs Mike Slive and General Charles Krulak. Dan Tourtellotte, who led the LJCC’s first Maccabi delegation in 1988, is the Games Supervisor. Figuring that the Games will benefit the community at large, Held and Sokol approached Birmingham’s corporate community to sponsor the Games, and received tremendous support. Held said over 70 companies around Birmingham and in nearby communities have stepped up. The city of Birmingham is a title sponsor, and major grants came from the Mayer Electric Foundation and the Birmingham Jewish Foundation. With coaches, support staff and family members, as many as 3,000 visitors are expected for the Games.
maccabi games The Games will include an opening ceremony at Bartow Arena at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and a closing ceremony on Aug. 3. Because of security concerns, an exact schedule is not being released to the public. Competition will take place at numerous venues across the city, including Birmingham-Southern College, the CrossPlex, Altamont School and UAB. The LJCC will be the hub for lunch, Maccabi Central and Hangtime. The Crossplex is a relatively new world-class facility that has a six lane oval hydraulic track and eight 60-meter lanes for sprint and hurdle events. The facility also features a 50-meter indoor Olympic swimming pool. The hydraulic track features a Mondotrack surface and is one of only four in the United States and one of six world-wide. This is likely the first time a Maccabi Games has been able to hold track and field indoors. A plan to use Rickwood Field, the oldest professional baseball park in the nation, fell through as the historic park was closed earlier this year for emergency repairs. Athletes will circulate via a Maccabi transit system among the venues and two “hubs.” The schedule also includes a “block party” at the McWane Science Center and the newly-opened Pizitz Food Hall downtown. The traditional Day of Service will provide an opportunity to explore Birmingham’s civil rights history. The athletes will be divided into three groups and rotate among the Civil Rights Institute, Kelly Ingram Park and the 16th Street Baptist Church. The service project is assembling school supplies that all of the delegations are bringing (see page 23). Berman urged community members to take part by volunteering. “Don’t miss out on sharing amazing Southern hospitality with the world. We need you all!” Lynch said there is an effort to put a Birmingham stamp on every aspect of the games. For example, all of the chips will be Golden Flake, the cookies will be from Bud’s Best, both of which are headquartered in Birmingham. “We’re showcasing the great things about our city,” Held said. The JCC Maccabi Games is co-sponsored by the JCC Association of North America, Maccabi World Union, Maccabi Canada, and Maccabi USA/Sport for Israel.
Security a high priority for Maccabi Games One can’t just show up without prior arrangements
Want to be see the 2017 Maccabi Games in Birmingham? It isn’t as simple as showing up to a competition. Maccabi Games Co-Chair Bruce Sokol said they would love to have everyone participate in the “big party,” but because of security reasons, everyone who is involved with the games in any way must be credentialed and have it with them at all times. Those attending the opening ceremony at Bartow Arena, for example, must either be credentialed or have a ticket that has been picked up in advance at the LJCC. Likewise, anyone who wants to attend the closing ceremony on Aug. 3 needs to make arrangements through the LJCC. The easiest way to be part of the Games is to volunteer or be a host family. All volunteers and host families must register with the national JCC Maccabi database, which is accessible through the Maccabi Birmingham website, jccmaccabibham.org. These procedures have been in place for years and are not a response to the rash of bomb hoaxes earlier this year, which saw over half of the country’s JCCs receiving threats in several waves of calls. Birmingham’s LJCC received four such calls over two months, before an 18-year-old in Israel was arrested. Security for the games is being coordinated with several local agencies.
July 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 21
Sister cities to bolster Team Alabama While organizers of the Maccabi Games in Birmingham strive to provide a Birmingham touch to various aspects of the games, the home team will also have an international flavor. Almost two dozen athletes from Birmingham’s sister cities in Israel and Ukraine will participate in Team Alabama during the games. Nine will be from Rosh Ha’Ayin, Birmingham’s long-time sister city in Isra- Dancers from Rosh Ha’Ayin prepare to join Team Alabama el, and 12 will be from Vinnytsia, Ukraine. the experience will mean to them. Organizer Sheri Krell said they are fundraisBirmingham’s Jewish community established ing to help the groups come to Birmingham a relationship with Rosh Ha’Ayin through Proj“to enrich the Maccabi experience.” A page has ect Renewal in 1982. The Kimerling Center, been set up at gofundme.com/MaccabiSister- built by Birmingham’s Kimerling family, beCity. The Birmingham Jewish Federation and came a hub for the development town of 14,000. Birmingham Sister City Commission are also Rosh Ha’Ayin, named for being the source supporting the effort. of the Yarkon River, was established in 1949, The delegations will arrive three days before mainly to house Yemenite Jews who started the games, and stay an additional three days af- walking to Israel after Israel declared its indeter. A slate of events so the athletes can see Bir- pendence. The new state sent planes to pick mingham sites is still in the works, but Krell said them up through Operation Magic Carpet, and “we would love local families to join us for the the town’s logo includes the Biblical verse about weekend” and volunteer to help with the visitors. returning to the land “on eagles’ wings.” The Rosh Ha’Ayin delegation will include four The famed Rosh Ha’Ayin Mandolin Girls dancers and five basketball players. Hannah Orchestra performed in Birmingham several Halpern has been working to support dancers times, and in 1982 Rosh Ha’Ayin presented Birfrom Rosh Ha’Ayin and they will compete to- mingham with a Yemenite Torah that is housed gether on Team Alabama. at the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School. Halpern has been dancing since age two, and While most Project Renewal relationships her Bat Mitzvah project in 2015 was raising funds ran their course, the relationship between Birfor students in the Shubeliyot dance program at mingham and Rosh Ha’Ayin endures. In the the Shabazi Community Center in a low-income 1990s, a building boom tripled the city’s size section of Rosh Ha’Ayin. She visited and danced with neighborhoods for immigrants from the with them on a trip to Israel earlier this year. former Soviet Union and retired Israeli military. The five Rosh Ha’Ayin basketball players will A technology park was established, and in 2010 stay in the homes of Birmingham boys team an oil field began production nearby. members, and they will be on the same team in Rosh Ha’Ayin is now a bedroom community the tournament. for Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, with train service to For one of the Rosh Ha’Ayin chaperones, Efrat Tel Aviv and Beersheva. Herman, it is a first-ever visit to Birmingham In 2005, Rosh Ha’Ayin became an official sisafter years of working on the sister city relation- ter city for Birmingham, in a three-way signing ship in the mayor’s office. ceremony with al-Karak in Jordan. In a highly For most of the Ukrainian athletes, this will symbolic and historic event, the ceremony was be the first time outside their country. Krell held at Birmingham’s Civil Rights Institute. said Rabbi Yossi Friedman arranged two days Today, Rosh Ha’Ayin has about 43,000 resfor them in New York before they arrive in Bir- idents, and regards itself as Israel’s music city. mingham. It is also a Partnership2Gether community with Six of the Ukrainian athletes will be on the New Orleans, with active music and culinary girls’ volleyball team with Birmingham, and six exchanges. boys will be on Alabama’s soccer team. They will Founded in 1363, Vinnytsia became a sister also have three adult chaperones. Dima Antsele- city to Birmingham in 2003. Located 160 miles vich made a video, available on the fundraising southwest of Kiev, Vinnytsia is the administrapage, where some of the athletes talk about what tive center of its district and has a population of 22 Southern Jewish Life • July 2017
maccabi games about 375,000. A Jewish presence in Vinnytsia dates back to 1532. By 1900, there were almost 12,000 Jews, and they lived in a section named Jerusalimka. In 1926, there were almost 22,000 Jews out of 58,000 residents. As part of the Soviet secret police’s Great Purge in 1937, there was a mass execution in Vinnytsia. In 1941, German troops occupied the area, and in 1943 the mass graves from the purge were discovered. Hitler located his easternmost headquarters nearby, and the city’s Jewish community became virtually extinct through three massacres. An iconic photo taken in 1942, discovered in a German soldier’s photo album in 1944, was titled “The Last Jew of Vinnytsia,” though a handful had escaped and joined the resistance. After the war, Vinnytsia became an industrial city, with 19,500 Jews in 1959. Over the last two decades, much of the community emigrated to Israel, the United States and Europe. In 2011, Limmud FSU chose Vinnytsia for its educational weekend, a response to the 70th anniversary of the Nazi takeover of the area. Ukraine’s current prime minister, Volodymyr Groysman, is Jewish and was previously mayor of Vinnytsia.
School supplies drive for JCC Cares Every year, delegates to the JCC Maccabi Games do a community service project, JCC Cares. This year, Birmingham city schools will be the beneficiaries. Each delegation is collecting school supplies, and there is an ongoing drive at the Levite Jewish Community Center in Birmingham, with an Amazon wish list online. The athletes will be sorting and boxing the supplies, which will be distributed to schools in the Birmingham system where there is a need, so students who can not afford supplies will have them, and teachers will not have to supplement out of their own pockets. Supplies can be donated at the LJCC until July 29.
Volunteers, host families still needed As the Maccabi Games near, there is a push to fill all of the volunteer slots to help the Games run well. Spencer Lynch, Maccabi Games Director, said in late June that a majority of the 1,200 volunteer spots had been filled, but “there is still a need.” Volunteering can be anything from “scorekeeping at a basketball game to shuttling kids from the hub, to helping serve lunch, to helping with water, ice and beverages,” Lynch said. To volunteer, one has to be at least 17 years old for daytime events, 21 for evening events. One need not be Jewish to volunteer, and one
can sign up for multiple slots. The other need is home hospitality for athletes. Part of the Games’ requirements for hosting is that all visiting athletes be housed in a Jewish household in the host community. The goal was to sign up 300 households. As of late June, households with over 800 beds were signed up, but there was still a need for about 50 more beds. Games Co-Chair Layne Held, himself a former Maccabi athlete, said being a volunteer or a host family is a chance to “be the face” of Birmingham to visitors.
July 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 23
maccabi games Maccabi will honor Jewish ‘Bama football legend All-American Leroy Monsky was captain of 1937 team
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As part of the Birmingham Maccabi Games flag football competition, a Jewish Alabama football legend will be honored. Montgomery native Leroy Gerald Monsky played for the Alabama Crimson Tide from 1935 to 1937, earning recognition as a consensus All-American guard in 1937. In 1979, he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. Monsky was voted to Alabama’s All-time Team and was considered one of the best linemen in the country in the mid-1930s. In 1936, he was consensus All-SEC as Alabama finished the season ranked No. 4 with a record of 8-0-1. In 1937, Monsky was team captain as the Crimson Tide won the SEC and finished the regular season 9-00, losing the 1938 Rose Bowl to California, 13-0. Alabama outscored its foes 225-33 that season, with highlight wins over Tennessee (14-7), Tulane (9-6) and Vanderbilt (9-7). Grantland Rice, the legendary sports writer, said Monsky, “amazingly fast for his size and power, was outstanding on both offense and defense.... His fighting courage was the deciding factor in most of these games.” Alabama finished fourth in the national rankings in 1937, and Monsky also won the Jacobs Trophy for best blocker. Coaches Frank Thomas and Hank Crisp spoke of Monsky as the “smartest and best guard we ever coached,” and he was also known for his sportsmanship. Monsky had started at Tulane before transferring to Alabama, and was a member of Zeta Beta Tau. After his playing days, Monsky lived in Birmingham, where the family was very active in the Jewish community. The Maccabi flag football games are being underwritten by the Maurine and Leroy Monsky Fund of the Birmingham Jewish Foundation. The fund, started by the Monskys’ children and grandchildren, was established to bring
together Jewish young people through sports. The fund has underwritten a JCC Basketball tournament in Birmingham and has underwritten Maccabi participation for Birmingham and Savannah teens, as some family members have lived in Savannah for many years. Sally Friedman, executive director of the Birmingham Jewish Foundation, said the Birmingham Maccabi Games “are a perfect use of this money, and are a wonderful way to honor Leroy’s athletic and Jewish legacy.” At the ceremony, long-time Monsky friend Miller Gorrie will speak. Monsky’s daughter, Merry Monsky Bodziner, said Gorrie, a passionate Auburn fan, nevertheless “loved my dad and always said he could always trust Leroy Monsky, one of the few Alabama fans he dealt with in business a long time ago.”
And don’t forget the Jewish bandleader… When Alabama faced California in the 1938 Rose Bowl, Leroy Monsky wasn’t the only Jewish leader on the field for the Crimson Tide. A drum major, New Jersey native Irving Berlin Kahn was a bandleader for the Million Dollar Band, and he was known for twirling two sharp sabers. Kahn came from a musical family — he was the nephew of songwriter Irving Berlin, and was named for him. In 1936, when Alabama football announcer Melvin Israel auditioned for an announcer position with CBS in New York, he was staying at Kahn’s house in New Jersey. Israel was stunned to receive an offer, and was on the road to becoming the legendary Voice of the Yankees, Mel Allen. After graduating in 1939, Kahn pioneered radio advertising for movies, then co-founded TelePrompTer, the company that developed the teleprompter. He later became a pioneer in cable television. 24 Southern Jewish Life • July 2017
maccabi games Olympic-style opening ceremony will be at Bartow Arena Every major athletic competition needs a big opening ceremony, and the JCC Maccabi Games in Birmingham are no different. As many as 5,000 are expected to attend the July 30 ceremony at Bartow Arena, on the campus of the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The opening ceremonies are being chaired by Anna Slive Harwood and Alison Berman. There will be an Olympics-style procession of the teams into the arena. The 10-foot cauldron for the torch lighting is being forged at historic Sloss Furnace, and after the games will be displayed at the LJCC. There will also be a ceremony in remembrance of the 11 Israeli athletes killed by terrorists in the 1972 Olympic Games. One of them, David Berger, attended Tulane University in New Orleans. Organizers are tight-lipped about the special guests who will be at the opening ceremonies. It was announced that renowned Cantor Alberto Mizrahi, one of the world’s leading interpreters of Jewish music, will perform, joined onstage by Cantor Jessica Roskin of Temple Emanu-El. Mizrahi will be at the July 28 Shabbat service at Emanu-El, starting at 5:40 p.m. The oneg that night is sponsored by the Slive Harwood and Berman families in honor of the opening ceremonies. It was also previously announced that Auburn Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl and Olympic Gold Medalist Jennifer Chandler-Stevenson would be among the speakers at the opening ceremony. Robert Levin, the voice of the University of Alabama Million Dollar Band, will emcee. There will also be a tribute to the 11 Israeli athletes who were murdered at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. One of the athletes, David Berger, was a graduate of Tulane. Chandler-Stevenson, who competed as a child at the LJCC, medaled
At the 2012 Maccabi Games in Memphis, Oshrat Romano Kandell brought in the torch. She is the daughter of Yosef Romano, one of the Israeli Olympic athletes killed in the 1972 Munich Olympics in diving at the 1976 Olympics, the first summer games after the 1972 terror attack. There is also a Junior Maccabi group for those ages 7 to 11 to participate in the opening ceremonies. JCC members will receive an invitation to pick up tickets to the opening ceremony, which will be held at Bartow Arena on July 30. Additional tickets may be coordinated through the LJCC office.
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July 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 25
maccabi games Maccabi organizers discuss different personal paths to the Games
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The two volunteer co-chairs for the JCC Maccabi Games in Birmingham come at the event from very different perspectives. Layne Held, First Vice President at ServisFirst Bank, said the Maccabi Games are very important to him. “I’ve been fortunate to be both a player and coach” in the games, playing twice, in Memphis and Atlanta. “I still have good friends from those games,” including coaches for this year’s Atlanta team, he said. After coaching the 2011 Birmingham delegation in Israel, he wanted to see Birmingham host the games, and started talking with Dan Tourtellotte about the possibility. Tourtellotte, director of operations and development at the Levite Jewish Community Center, is now supervisor for the 2017 Games. When the LJCC was looking for an executive director in 2012, Held said the only thing he noticed on Betzy Lynch’s resume was that she had run the games before, “and she immediately received my vote.” Lynch ran the 2012 Games in Memphis, the Maccabi 30th anniversary, and felt Birmingham had the potential to host. After she was hired, Held told her that when she thought Birmingham was ready to take the plunge, to call him. Lynch “knew we needed to challenge ourselves,” Held said. “She knew we could do it.” Co-chair Bruce Sokol didn’t have that Maccabi background, as the games did not exist when he was growing up. “There was no such thing as Maccabi, or I would have loved to be involved.” When the opportunity came to co-chair, he knew it would be a daunting task, but “I have a deep-seeded, long-time love for the JCC… when I heard about the Maccabi Games coming to Birmingham, I felt that it would be beneficial to the greater Birmingham community and especially the Jewish community,” he said. Sokol says this is probably the biggest event in the history of Birmingham’s Jewish community, and an opportunity to shine on a national level. Held said he has been part of the Maccabi movement for 15 years ago. “Once you participate, it is ingrained in you.”
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Honorary co-chairs for the Maccabi Games are Mike Slive and General Charles Krulak, and like the volunteer chairs, their backgrounds are quite different. Both will address the athletes at the opening ceremony. A Utica, N.Y., native, Slive was the first commissioner of the Great Midwest Conference, then was the first commissioner of Conference USA, which was headquartered in Birmingham. In 2002, he moved a few blocks to become the commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, a post he held until 2015. After retiring, he has stayed in Birmingham. In 2006 and 2007 Slive headed the Bowl Championship Series, then was instrumental in creating the college football playoff, Dr. Pepper pitchman Larry Culpepper notwithstanding. During his time in the SEC, the conference won an unprecedented seven straight football national championships, launched the SEC Network and was active behind the scenes to facilitate the hiring the first minority football coach in conference history.
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maccabi games When he retired in 2015, he was seen by many as the most powerful man in college football. Krulak has spent his life with a very different kind of power, rising through the military ranks to become the 31st Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, and a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Bill Clinton. After retiring from the military, he became chief administrative officer of MBNA America, then chief executive officer of MBNA in Europe. In 2011, he moved to Birmingham to become president of Birmingham-Southern College, which had been reeling from financial problems. He and his wife, Zandi, moved into a dorm and spent a lot of time with the students, becoming known for carting treats through the library late at night during exam times. After righting the ship at Birmingham-Southern, he retired in 2015. Krulak has a “major volunteer role” with the Birmingham Jewish Federation, though he is not Jewish. He often speaks out on behalf of Israel, referencing his days in the military. Krulak assisted legendary Israeli General Moshe Dayan on a 1966 visit to Vietnam, where Krulak was commanding general of the Pacific Fleet Marine Force. Dayan tagged along with Krulak’s company for several days. The next year, Dayan would go on to lead Israel to the stunning Six Day War victory. Krulak said he is honored to be part of the games. “The JCC Maccabi Games are a huge plus for Birmingham in general and the Jewish community in particular,” he said. “The gathering of these young athletes and their parents will add to the spirit of inclusiveness that our City is famous for embracing.” For Slive, being part of the Maccabi Games “brings together two very important parts of my life — Judaism and athletic competition. Slive said the athletes will “experience the thrill of competition and create memories that will last a lifetime.” Krulak said he views the games as having “great value in bringing together young men and women in a spirit of sportsmanship and camaraderie.”
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Team Alabama draws from state, world With the Games in Birmingham, there has been a push to have as many local teens as possible take part as part of the home team. As the Levite Jewish Community Center is the only JCC in the state, teens from across Alabama are joining Birmingham on Team Alabama. Two athletes from Jackson, Miss., are also part of the home team. Additional athletes are coming from Birmingham’s sister cities in Ukraine and Israel (see page 22).
July 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 27
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The Jackson-based Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life is once again listed in Slingshot: A Resource Guide to Jewish Innovation. Published annually since 2005, Slingshot highlights innovative organizations in American Jewish life “with particular resonance among the next generation.” The guide is distributed to 7,500 funders, foundation professionals, federation executives, and not-for-profit leaders annually, in addition to tens of thousands of online downloads. This year, for the first time, organizations were asked to apply based on where they are in their life cycle: start-up, mezzanine or legacy. Applications and evaluations were tailored to life cycle, giving organizations a greater context to share their work within an ever-expanding ecosystem. “The whole ISJL team is proud to be included in the Guide, and honored to be in such inspiring company,” said Macy Hart, the ISJL’s founder and president. Stefanie Rhodes, executive director of Slingshot, which publishes the Guide each year, said “Slingshot’s work is to help Jews find, fund and connect to meaningful, exciting experiences in Jewish life. After 12 years, the book remains relevant in a changing world because we continue to highlight organizations doing exceptional work, serving as the trailblazers for what is possible, meeting the community’s evolving needs and inspiring all of us.” Sarah Rueven, Slingshot board chair, said “It is clear that innovation is a critical component of today’s Jewish community and embracing organizational life cycles will be important for all of us as we seek to support and sustain Jewish innovation. Slingshot is highlighting the work of organizations that strengthen Jewish life by rising to the challenges of the day and making our community more relevant to our generation.” Listed organizations were selected from among hundreds of finalists and reviewed by nearly 100 professionals with expertise in grant-making and Jewish communal life. Slingshot noted ISJL’s innovation amd its long-term commitment to ongoing programming and service. Organizations included in this year’s Guide were evaluated on their innovative approach, the impact they have in their work, the leadership they have in their sector, and their effectiveness at achieving results. Selected organizations are eligible for grants from the Slingshot Fund, a peer-giving network of young donors with an eye for identifying, highlighting and advancing causes that resonate the most with the next generation of philanthropists. Furthermore, the Guide is a frequently used resource for donors seeking to support organizations transforming the world in novel and interesting ways. Other organizations with regional ties in the 50 include Moishe House, which has a location in New Orleans, Jewish Kids Groups in Atlanta, and Challah for Hunger.
Regional Day School conference in Metairie Torah Academy in Metairie is hosting the Consortium of Jewish Day Schools Gulf Coast Regional Conference on Aug. 8. Established in 2002, the consortium works with Orthodox Jewish day schools across North America. Eli Shapiro, director of the Digital Citizenship Project and CoJDS, and Rabbi Hillel Adler, national director of marketing and recruitment for CoJDs, are among the featured speakers. Also presenting are Temima Feldman, principal of Torah Academy for Girls in Far Rockaway; Becky Udman, preschool director at Torah Day Schools in Dallas; and Chaya Shapiro, Kindergarten teacher at Torah Academy for Girls in Far Rockaway. There is an early childhood track, and a teachers and administrators track. The conference is free, with registration at cojds.com.
women’s health an annual SJL special section
Hadassah Hospital in the forefront of melanoma treatment The Hadassah Center for Melanoma and Cancer Immunotherapy has an active and diverse program for the treatment of melanoma and other cancers. In addition to standard therapies, the Center offers several unique treatment options aimed at strengthening the patient’s immune response against a tumor. This approach is termed Immunotherapy. Metastatic melanoma is typically fatal, but Hadassah Hospital Professor Michal Lotem, head of Hadassah’s Melanoma and Cancer Immunotherapy Center and a world-renowned, cutting-edge physician/scientist, is trailblazing new treatments that are being watched around the globe. Lotem explained that they “developed a way of genetically engineering the few thousand immune system cells from a metastasized tumor into trillions.” And she is not stopping there. She is working to transform immune cells into even more powerful cancer killers so more patients can be saved from this deadly disease. Stewart Greenberg celebrated his five-year anniversary to the day of first meeting Lotem. Diagnosed with stage four melanoma, he had been told by prestigious medical institutions in the United States that there was nothing more they could do for him, but Lotem was much more optimistic. She saved his life with a personalized melanoma vaccine. “Michal is our angel,” he said. “She is very modest, but the truth is that she is at the forefront of worldwide melanoma research.” Speaking about another patient with advanced metastatic melanoma, Lotem explained that “conventional treatment had failed, so we put him into an experimental protocol developed at Hadassah. Instead of aiming at his cancer, we targeted his immune system, boosting it to respond more aggressively to the disease.” Lotem said “the immune system can defeat cancer, but it rarely enters the fight because cancer creeps under its radar. Malignant cells derive from normal cells. The immune system doesn’t identify them as harmful, leaving them to reproduce and destroy their host.” Lotem believes this approach — known broadly as immunotherapy and the focus of much cancer research worldwide — will become the main platform for treating melanoma as well as other types of cancer. “It’s easier on the patient, its side effects vastly more manageable than the hair loss, mouth ulcers, fatigue, vomiting and more caused by chemotherapy and radiation,” she said. “Better yet, not only does the response of patients suggest it may be more effective than anything in the current arsenal, but the quality of their response is far better, too.” “It was bashert (fated) that I should meet Dr. Michal Lotem,” Greenberg said. “Thank you, Hadassah.” Hadassah Birmingham will host a tennis fundraiser at Pine Tree Country Club this fall to raise money and awareness for melanoma research at Hadassah.
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Through acupuncture and chiropractic care, Birmingham Chiropractor Dr. Beth Scherer helps women to get back on track. Dr. Scherer, who moved her Back On Track practice last summer to English Village in Mountain Brook, said that chiropractic and acupuncture has proven effective with symptoms ranging from migraine headaches to pregnancy issues. “We’ve had great success with treating migraines. The patients say that acupuncture has been successful for them when other treatments have failed,” said Dr. Scherer, who is currently the Sisterhood president at Knesseth Israel Congregation and has been active with the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School and Hadassah. Scherer has been a practicing chiropractor for 26 years. Originally from Long Island, N.Y., she earned her undergraduate degree from Emory University in Atlanta and her Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life University in Marietta, Ga. She was licensed to practice acupuncture approximately five years ago. How does acupuncture work? According to traditional Chinese medicine, the body has lanes of energy, called chi, which run through it. It is believed that if there is something not healing in the body, then there is a blocking of that energy. By placing needles in the body, it helps to unlock that energy, which in turn helps the body to heal. “My focus in acupuncture is to try to relieve the pain and inflammation in the body while supporting the yin and yang organs in order to optimize the body’s ability to heal,” said Scherer. Most people think that placing needles in the body is painful, but the opposite is true. The needles are very thin and the experience is relaxing and pain free.” She said that acupuncture helps a wide range of symptoms, ranging from allergies to helping with sleep. For women, it has also proven effective as part of an IVF regimen to increase the chances for success. Chiropractic care is also beneficial for a wide variety of issues. For instance, the Webster Technique has proven very effective in helping to turn a breech baby as long as the mom is under 26 weeks pregnant. “It is a very gentle technique to both the mother and baby”, added Scherer. The Pro-Adjuster is one of the main chiropractic techniques that she uses in her office. This instrument adjusts the spine by using vibration and percussion. Unlike the force of the manual adjustment, which she also does, the Pro-Adjuster can adjust the spine without the “popping or cracking,” which allows the muscles to relax into the adjustment. Many patients remark that getting adjusted with the Pro-Adjuster allows the adjustment to last over a longer period of time. Another benefit of the Pro-Adjuster is that there is no contraindication, so anyone can be adjusted with it. It is perfect for patients who just had surgery, the elderly, pregnant women and the babies. For those who prefer the manual adjustment, that is offered as well. Scherer enjoys the diversity of her treatments at Back On Track. “It is our goal to look at each case individually and work with the patient as a team to determine the combination of treatments that enable the patient to get on the road to better health. I am proud that there is a long track record of success for both chiropractic and acupuncture. We work with children, and the oldest adult we adjusted was 100 years old. It can work for anyone.”
The Uptown Jewish Community Center in New Orleans will have a healthy eating conversation, led by Touro Infirmary Dietician Julie Fortenberry. The discussion will focus on making the best choices when there are so many food options available. The discussion will be on Aug. 17 at noon. Participants may bring their own lunch; desserts and coffee will be served. Reservations are requested by Aug. 14. There is no charge for members and non-members.
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It’s a team effort with Women’s Fund of B’ham by Lee J. Green The team approach has worked for The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham in its goal to create positive change for women and their children through collaboration, grantmaking, advocacy and innovative programs. On June 22, the non-profit organization launched Collaboration Institute 3.0. It is a curriculum designed to “align Birmingham’s social services and workforce initiatives to disrupt the cycle of generational poverty.” There will be three teams selected, comprised of community colleges or technical learning providers, child care service providers and job training professionals to develop a “2 Gen Family Hub” providing a comprehensive set of family services. “We want to collaborate and combine resources to best address the issues of poverty among single mothers and their children,” said Mary Page Wilson-Lyons, director of strategic initiatives for The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham. “Single women with children are the most likely population to experience poverty and the cycle often continues with their children.” She said the median annual income for single mothers is $21,885, and two out of three minimum wage jobs in Alabama are filled by women. Higher wage jobs usually require greater college or technical skills education. “Why do many single mothers not finish school or technical programs that would allow them to advance their salary?” asked Wilson-Lyons. “The biggest problem is lack of quality, affordable, convenient child care programs.” The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham, along with some of its partners, is seeking solutions for women. One of those solutions has been Jefferson State Community College offering courses in Head Start child care programs, in many cases just a few doors down from where their children are learning. “We’re taking a two-generational approach to education as the best way to stop the cycle of poverty,” she said. “The best way to increase future economic prosperity of greater Birmingham is to invest into a child’s early education.” The Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham was founded in 1996 by Lin Carleen, herself a single mother who wanted to help others to achieve economic security. At first the organization was a component of the Community Foundation, then branched off in 2011 to become its own 501(c)3. Wilson-Lyons said they continue to seek support through contributors as well as active volunteers providing needed services with their partners. For more information go to www. womensfundbirmingham.org.
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July 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 31
women’s health Dr.Beth Scherer,DC Rediscover… Chiropractor Acupuncturist
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The goal of the newly formed Women’s Sports Medicine clinic at the Tulane Institute of Sport Medicine is to provide active women with not just injury treatment but prevention. Dr. Mary Mulcahey was recruited from Philadelphia to start the program earlier this spring. “Our overarching goal is to provide comprehensive care — not just treating injuries, but prevention and looking at all aspects of sports health, fitness as well as training,” she said. “Women are at risk for injuries and conditions that may be overlooked in a traditional sports medicine setting. They also respond and heal differently than men, and they have different concerns when they are injured,” she said. It is perhaps more widely known that female athletes in some sports, especially gymnastics and running, are at risk for the “female athlete triad”: disordered eating, irregular menses (loss of periods) and decreased bone density. “Our team knows the signs and how to prevent or treat these symptoms,” said Mulcahey. Likely less known is that women are anywhere from two to eight times more at risk for ACL tears of the knee than men playing the same sports. That is due to both non-modifiable risk factors, such as knee geometry and hormones, and modifiable biomechanical and neuromuscular risk factors. In the biological category, the ACL is smaller in women than men and more susceptible to injury. Hormonal factors and changes throughout the menstrual cycle can also play a role in the higher likelihood of ACL tears in women. The modifiable risk factors include the fact that female athletes tend to land more commonly in a “knock-kneed position,” especially in sports such as basketball and volleyball. The quadriceps muscles are stronger than the hamstring muscles in women. The quads pull the tibia toward the front, which puts more stress on the ACL, increasing the likelihood of tear. “Through training and learned behavior these are things that can be corrected, thus lessening the risk for serious injury,” said Mulcahey. She said stress fractures are also much more common in female athletes than male athletes because of a combination of factors — exercise impact, biomechanics, hormonal and nutrition-related factors. Also more common with active women are patellofemoral pain syndrome, ankle sprains and osteoarthritis. “In addition to injury prevention or perhaps in combination with it, strength and conditioning is also critical to decrease the risk of injuries. Some specific categories of exercises that are included in injury prevention programs are plyometrics, balance, strengthening the core and proximal control.” When should young female athletes start with some of these risk-prevention protocols? Mulcahey said waiting until age 16 to 18 years old is too late. Girls should start these exercises in middle school, before they hit puberty and have the associated growth spurt. “I also recommend incorporating cross-training. I encourage my patients not to focus only on their primary sport, but to incorporate other low-impact cardiovascular exercises (such as stationary bike, elliptical machine, swimming) into their training to allow their body to rest. That’s better on the body and will promote better performance,” she said. Mulcahey added that the Tulane Institute of Sports Medicine, along with its other Tulane medical partners, is focusing on the entire spectrum of active female health, including orthopaedic care, physical therapy, nutrition, sports psychology, OBGYN and female gastrointestinal care. “We want to offer a comprehensive approach to wellness that in our case focuses specifically on the active woman,” she said.
Online therapy adds convenience, provides care to isolated areas
Valerie Thompson also advises on having the difficult discussion with your kids about sex trafficking You’ve been known as an advocate for victims of sex trafficking. Let’s start with that. An advocate and therapist. My role was as counselor to a particular agency for women who had been rescued from human trafficking. Tajuan McCarty is the founder of the Wellhouse, which rescues, houses and works with victims of sex trafficking specifically. She had started with $33 and a wing and a prayer. She’s amazing. She really has turned her story of her experience into a positive force. I started volunteering. They had one house that could house eight women and they’ve grown into a campus with 63 acres and three or four different houses. It’s been amazing what they’ve been able to accomplish. And as they grew, I grew with them. It’s been some of the most fulfilling work I’ve done in my career. What do you think most people would be most surprised to hear about sex trafficking? Just how common it is. And that is happening here. And by here, I don’t mean just Alabama or Birmingham — I mean Mountain Brook. Homewood. Inverness. Hoover. Not just ‘those places’ over there. It’s happening everywhere. And 40 percent of the U.S. problem in sex trafficking is in the Southeast. I-20 is known as the sex trafficking superhighway. What circumstances generally would put a person most at risk to get caught up in this? It does happen where people are snatched up off the street. That happens. Most often it’s a grooming process where a guy will approach —
and the average age of entry is 12 to 14. Minors can’t choose. They can’t consent. They are groomed into this life and then trapped into this life. It begins with a boyfriend-girlfriend scenario and the thing is that at that age, you have needs. Does she have a difficult relationship with her parents as so many teenagers do? He buys her gifts. Lavishes money on her, and gives her attention. Gives her all the things she needs. And then places obstacles in her other relationships, gets her to travel with him so he can get her identifi- Photo courtesy Kerry Lee Gorelick, kerryleeportraits.com cation and isolate her. It doesn’t happen just ‘boom,’ it happens over a process. If you’re a parent of a pre-teen or teenager, what could you do to help prevent that? This happens to good families, right? Right. You should have open communication with your children so that they want to tell you what is going on. Spending time with your kids.
Join Touro’s Family Birthing Center for a FREE Open House Brunch
Enjoy brunch, sip mimosas (or mocktails), mingle with our women’s health providers, and tour our birthing center! Saturday, July 22 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. Touro Infirmary Family Birthing Center Mingle with OB/GYNs, midwives, doulas, and lactation consultants. Tour our birthing center, learn more about preconception health, and enter to win exciting raffle prizes including a spa gift card, barre classes and more! Registration is required. Please RSVP online at www.touro.com/events or by calling (504) 897-8500.
July 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 33
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Having an honest-to-G-d quality relationship. And having conversations about this, about their bodies and about sex. Not making it this taboo, terrible thing. Without scaring them, let them know there are people who would take advantage, and what that looks like. What love looks like as opposed to manipulation. Those are hard communications to have. Let’s talk about your work at Talkspace.com. What attracted you to that model of online therapy, rather than an in-person clinical setting? To be completely honest, convenience. Not having to have an office, overhead, I’ve been able to do it from home. I have flexibility. I had my reservations, because it’s new. The vast majority of my career, I’ve done trauma work. And the thought of doing that work digitally, virtually, confused me. But I was willing to give it a try. And I think also I was excited about it because Talkspace’s mission is to make it more accessible, less stigma, more affordable. Just in terms of accessibility, rural areas that don’t have any services, or have one therapist that if you’re seeing, everyone knows you’re seeing. And the time it takes. If I live in a busy city, and to get to a 50-minute appointment you have to leave 30 minutes early so by the time you get back, that’s two hours of your day. That’s a lot of time and a lot of people won’t invest the time because they have other pressing demands, so they don’t invest in themselves what they need to. In terms of how the world is moving, this is how people communicate. I don’t think and I don’t hope that face-to-face therapy gets replaced. There are just some people who need that. And for me, there’s some work I can’t do that way. I do a lot less trauma work now. I personally don’t care to do trauma work that way. For me, there’s no substitute for being present for someone when you’re doing that work. So I’m not saying it can’t be done, but my practice has shifted more to relational work. Life work, balance work. Besides individual therapy, the platform is also offering couples therapy, therapy specifically geared for people with social media dependency, and therapy whereby businesses offer the opportunity to their employees. What kinds of therapy are you doing right now? I’m only doing individual therapy. And how are you matched with a client? There’s a consulting therapist, so they get things started. And there’s an algorithm, so we put in our theoretical orientation, what kinds of therapy we do, and the client gets three choices matching what they’re presenting. At any time, they can switch therapists. What does the interaction look like? The client and the therapist are matched to a virtual ‘room’ that only they have access to. And the client has 24/7 access to it. So that’s one of the benefits of this type of therapy. A lot of people have found that if you’re in therapy, something happens and you tell yourself you have to remember to tell the therapist that next week. So with this type of therapy, 3 in the morning, you’re like “oh I have to tell Valerie,” so they log in, write it out, and there it is. Isn’t one of the big plusses for people going to Talkspace that they can be anonymous? For sure. They can be Frank from Kansas for all I know. If that’s how you want to present yourself to me, yeah. Not always, but to a large extent, I think people open up quicker, because they don’t have to look me in the eye. From my personal experience, people sometimes don’t say things because they don’t want to disappoint their therapist. That happens to all of us. It’s like how people will clean their home before the maid comes over. Right. They don’t have to look me in the eye and I don’t see their body language. And that’s another big thing. I don’t see their body language, but I’ve learned to be more sensitive to their language.
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It was just barely the summer of 1965. The World’s Fair was coming to New York City and my best friend’s older sister was taking her and a friend of her choosing. My invitation to join them was rescinded shortly after learning of my recent diagnosis of Juvenile Diabetes, now known as Type 1. She wasn’t comfortable being responsible for all that might be involved in managing a newly-diagnosed 13-year-old insulin-dependent diabetic requiring daily injections and a regimented dietary schedule. She was right, of course. It was the first of many moments that made me think about my life as a “sick” person. I didn’t want my diabetes to get in the way of living my life or to be a burden on anyone else. I didn’t want to be a DIABETIC. I was determined to find a way to adapt diabetes to my life, rather than define my life around the demands of this disease. I needed to be in charge of my life and my diabetes. Not so easy for a 13 year-old. There were many people who wanted to assert their authority over my body and life; parents, doctors, even “strangers.” My parents were understandably grief-stricken and fearful. The first time I went to an outof-town B’nai B’rith Youth Organization convention, my parents made me stay with an elderly couple they knew. They were anxious about me staying with strangers who didn’t know about my “sickness.” I made friends at that convention and I never again allowed my parents’ fear to steer my I DIDN’T WANT path. I shared my diabetic condition (not so MY DIABETES easy to do at that age) with overly confident TO GET IN THE reassurance. “I was fine and could manage it all on my own…” and I did. WAY OF LIVING As I ascended the BBYO leadership ladder and became the president of my region, I MY LIFE travelled extensively, staying with a myriad of friends. I learned how to get over the awkward first moment of sharing my “sick” status with strangers. I attended my first 4-week overnight BBYO Leadership Training Institute and International Convention and managed to negotiate with the camp kitchen staff to refrigerate my insulin. I made the daily early morning trek to retrieve it and find a private place to take my shot, lest someone should walk in on me and think I was some kind of heroin addict. I was already well-practiced in carrying snacks with me in case meals should be late or activities unexpectedly strenuous and subsequently, experience a low blood sugar episode. I was prepared to take care of myself, without missing a beat, without slowing anyone else down. Treatment in those early years was crude and fairly basic… shots,
Barry A. Ripps, MD Board Certified in Reproductive Endocrinology & Infertility
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July 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 35
diet and very inaccurate, sloppy urine testing. There were no refined insulins or painless insulin pens, let alone 5-second finger-prick blood sugar testing devices or insulin pumps. I did the best I could… took my shots, stayed away from sugar, tested my urine less than prescribed and always carried snacks… continually striving for a balance between living and managing. There is no cure for diabetes and managing it could easily consume every waking and sleeping moment. To find a balance, I had to ignore much of the medical messaging; from extreme caution, fear and “blame-the-victim” to feeble attempts to develop a relationship (“So, do you play a musical instrument?” “No.” You asked
me that 3 months ago. Just do the blood test and let’s get this over with!), while at the same time, seeking out and taking advantage of each new medical development. No one ever asked me what it was like for me to live with diabetes, to have a disease with a life sentence, a prematurely abbreviated life sentence; no holidays, no days off. There was no shortage of commentary from related strangers who always knew some diabetic or other who had lost a toe or a leg, was blind, was on dialysis or died of heart disease due to diabetic related complications. I listened. I heard all the messaging. I filtered out what was not helpful. I chose life, at a very young age!
I focused my energy on living… fully! What do I want to do? How can I make a difference? What do I have to do to normalize my life while respecting and honoring the demands of this disease? I loved entertaining friends and made a point of always baking sweet desserts, but not eating them. My message was clear, “You don’t have to protect or make any accommodations for me. I am responsible for myself.” I found ways to travel cross country/cross continent, to party with zest and to be the hardest working employee in every job I ever had. I was going to be the most alive and healthiest “sick” person you ever met! I recently celebrated my 52nd anniversary (January 6, 1965) of living my life my way with insulin dependent diabetes. I am grateful… for every day… for every advance in research… for every newly developed “torture” device that promises better control and demands even more of my attention… for every ache and pain that reminds me that I have reached the age where aches and pains are to be expected, the age that I was not expected to reach. I am blessed to be the parent of a beautiful 29-year old daughter who would not be here had I listened to the doctors who didn’t think it was possible or wouldn’t allow their wives to become pregnant under those circumstances. I am grateful for my loving husband of 33 years who I have kept blissfully ignorant of the moment to moment technical details of managing my diabetes because I am, thank G-d, still able to do it all myself! I wouldn’t choose diabetes for myself or anyone I care about, but I am immensely grateful for the gift it has thrust upon me… the appreciation of each day, the value of every experience, the determination to live every moment fully! Esther Schuster is a retired social worker and former executive director of Collat Jewish Family Services in Birmingham.
Diabetes drug may help prevent breast cancer recurrence Researchers at Hadassah have found that a drug used for treating type-2 diabetes can prevent or delay recurrence of some types of breast cancers. A study of 8,000 patients worldwide showed that metformin, which is known by the brand name Glucophage, reduces the risk of repeated HER-2 positive cancers. Those grow faster and are more likely to spread and recur than HER-2 negative cancers. When insulin is given to HER2-positive patients, the treatment doubles their risk of cancer recurrence, so he recommends metformin and avoiding insulin as much as possible for patients with diabetes. The study findings are highlighted in the May 2017 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology. 36 Southern Jewish Life • July 2017
New LIFE fertility offers answers to important questions by Dr. Barry Ripps How much does age affect fertility? Prior to the availability of reliable contraception and the ability to plan, this was not a common concern. Society has changed, delaying the average age of conception by a decade. Since humans have been reproducing for a really long time, there is already much known about how quickly conception will occur. We know without doubt that as a woman’s age increases, the time it takes to conceive also increases. A couple with “normal” fertility will have an average rate of conception of about 15 percent per month. In other words, 15 out of 100 couples trying for one month will achieve pregnancy. We are talking here about an “average” among couples with “normal” fertility. Looking only at 20 year olds, they would conceive faster. Women after 35 years of age conceive more slowly than the average. Although the percentage will change over time, this same information suggests that 85 percent of normal couples should be pregnant at the end of 1 year. If the couple has not conceived in 1 year, it is much less likely to happen in months 13-24. This is why the definition of infertility is unsuccessful pregnancy within 1 year.
creasing to 9 percent. For women who have predictable menstrual cycles, it is possible to know almost to the day. Fortunately, human reproduction doesn’t usually require any precision when intercourse is frequent. How do I know when I’m ovulating? There are many ways to assess ovulation and factors such as temperature, mucus, libido, pain, mood, that women can track and observe. But none are reliable more than half the time, and temperature only rises after ovulation. Monitoring these are as accurate as flipping a coin. If a woman’s menstrual cycles arrive monthly, but vary in length, the best solution is the over-the-counter ovulation testing strips. These reliably predict the release of an egg within 2 days (see fertile window above). A positive test that is wrong happens less than 10 percent of the time. Studies suggest that if intercourse is frequent enough, these urine tests do not speed up conception. Again, nature knows best.
Is there a right and wrong way to…you know, trying? When science is unable to offer a clear answer, we are free to imagine without limits. Armed with a bit of intuition and good-intention, there are many recommendations circulating. There is no evidence that any method, position, time of day, temperature, lighting, planetary or conWhen is the best time to try to conceive? stellation alignment, or cosmic forces will affect the chance of concepMany women speak about a “fertile window,” meaning the time within tion. When couples learn this, it is usually accompanied by sighs of relief. the menstrual month when it is possible to conceive. This concept is well Even use of personal lubricants has not been shown to affect conception. understood, now that studies have shown a chance of conception up to 7 days prior to a woman’s ovulation, but this chance is low, only 3 percent. Can chances be affected by my diet, activities, or stress? The chance is highest in the 2 to 3 days immediately before ovulation, inThis is a common and potentially serious issue, but one that is difficult
July 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 37
to clarify. A simple rule is moderation for everything, particularly those that we can control. What is known is very clear. Smoking tobacco or exposure to tobacco smoke delays a woman’s conception, and over time brings on menopause sooner. It is also associated with a greater chance of miscarriage and pregnancies in places outside of the uterus. Whether tobacco use affects sperm and male fertility is a bit more inconclusive. Alcohol should not be ingested during pregnancy, but its effect on conception remains unknown. In one study, moderate levels (a glass of wine per day) were associated with quicker conception. Caffeine, in excessive doses (500 mg/day, 5 or more cups), has been associated with delays in conception. And during pregnancy, consumption at 2 to 3 cups per day were thought to increase miscarriage. For both men and women, increased body weight (Body Mass Index, BMI) are associated with delays in conception. Low body weight in women also decreases fertility. It seems to make sense that when health is precarious the woman’s body attempts to protect her from the demands of pregnancy. Fortunately, most studies show that even moderate efforts to change diet, exercise and reverse weight gain have significant improvements in conception. Barry A. Ripps, MD is a reproductive endocrinologist and infertility specialist who has practiced on the Gulf Coast since 1994. Ripps completed undergraduate education at Vanderbilt University and medical school at University of Alabama School of Medicine. ObGyn Residency and Reproductive Endocrinology/Infertility Fellowship were competed at the University of Tennessee-Memphis. He and his associate, Meaghan Delaney, provide care in offices located in Mobile and Dothan, Ala. and in Pensacola, Panama City and Tallahassee, Fla., and Biloxi, Miss.
Touro introduces Hidden Scar breast cancer surgery Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery, an advanced treatment expanding option for women undergoing breast surgery, is now available at Touro in New Orleans. John Colfry, a breast surgical oncologist with Touro’s Crescent City Physicians, is one of the first surgeons in the New Orleans area to be a certified Hidden Scar surgeon. Each year, approximately 405,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer that requires surgery. Many women are unaware of all the surgical options available, including minimally invasive approaches that can help restore their self-image and allow them to begin healing emotionally. Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery is an advanced approach to breast cancer surgery that hides incision scars, minimizing the daily emotional reminder of a breast cancer diagnosis. “Whether a patient is having a lumpectomy or a nipple-sparing mastectomy, Hidden Scar surgery allows for optimal cosmetic results,” said Colfry. “With this more sophisticated approach to breast cancer surgery, a woman can have more self-confidence after having battled breast cancer.” Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery allows Colfry to remove the cancerous tissue through a single incision made in an inconspicuous area, preserving the natural shape of the breast while reducing visible scarring. “My diagnosis of breast cancer resulted in my choice of bilateral mastectomy,” explained patient Carol Sharp. “The excellent cosmetic result and minimal scar accomplished by my skilled surgeon, Dr. Colfry, exceeded even my own expectations.” Patients who undergo this approach are at no higher risk for recurrence than patients who undergo any other type of technique. Hidden Scar Breast Cancer Surgery may be appropriate for a wide range of breast cancer patients undergoing nipple-sparing mastectomy or breast-conserving (lumpectomy) procedures. For more information on breast cancer surgery at Touro, visit touro. com/cancer. 38 Southern Jewish Life • July 2017
women’s health State of the Art Medical Imaging for Women, by Women
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by Lee J. Green Vacations by the beach can be relaxing and therapeutic. It is that idea, accompanied with a healthy, holistic environment, that has allowed Bayshore Retreat in Destin to help many women (and men) with their addictions. Judy Butler, who lives in Birmingham much of the time, leads Bayshore with her son, Jeff. They started the unique facility, which only takes no more than six clients at a time, more than six and a half years ago. “While only 30 percent of our clients are women, most of them are over the age of 40 (one even celebrated her 70th birthday at Bayshore) and struggling with alcohol addiction,” said Butler. “We provide them with a nurturing environment that helps to boost their self-esteem and provide coping mechanisms. They can develop or further their hobbies and interests. It is so much more than most of what’s out there, which are the typical 12-step programs.” Butler said most have never been to rehab before. Their children are grown or in their late teens, driving and going their own directions. “They may feel they have lost a purpose and don’t feel as needed anymore. They may have given up a career in business for family and things have changed to much with technology that they don’t see themselves returning to work. They feel somewhat lost and without an identity,” she said. Butler said some of the female clients have tried to treat their issues with doctors who gave them medications. When one medication ceased to work they gave them another and it became an unhealthy cycle. “Unlike the large big box facilities, clients are able to relax and get one-on-one attention,” she said. “They’re able to focus on themselves, reflect and talk to doctors or counselors about their particular feelings or pain. They’re able to think clearly about the future and where they want their life to be in the future.” Some of the holistic healing activities at Bayshore include yoga, massage, dry sauna therapy, exercises, social opportunities, meals cooked by expert chefs, art (led by Butler herself), crafts and more. They also offer counseling, acupuncture and hypnotherapy from local providers. Butler said most addiction issues are more complex, so customized treatment is important. Alcoholism may be triggered by situations and behavior that can be altered. Warning signs of alcohol addiction include drinking in the morning or early in the day, unexplained bruises and short-term memory loss or blackouts. She said clients choose Bayshore Retreat because it is different from other addiction treatment facilities. “They love the home environment, the neighborhood setting, the peaceful waterfront location and all the amenities we offer.”
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women’s health Dr. Kahn addresses updated pelvic floor disorder treatments by Lee J. Green Margie A. Kahn, section head of Tulane Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery, said the Systematic Review Group of the Society of Gynecologic Surgeons recently suggested, based on moderate grade B evidence, that the uterus be preserved when not contraindicated, for most pelvic organ prolapse repairs. The recommendations are preliminary and not yet approved by the society. “Women have strong feelings on whether they want to keep their uteri or have them removed, and it’s all about working with them for what’s best for their specific situation,” said Kahn. “Traditionally the uterus has been removed as a part of prolapse surgery to gain easier access to the
supportive ligaments in the pelvis, but lately that dogma has been questioned.” Some women seek hysterectomies for health reasons and/or because they don’t want to have any more children. Other women want to keep that option open and keep their uteri if there is not a significant health risk associated with it. “Some feel the uterus plays a role in heightening the sexual response, but there are no randomized studies supporting that,” said Kahn. “A hysterectomy with ovarian or Fallopian tube removal could greatly reduce the chances of ovarian cancer, but the lifetime risk is low in women without the BRCA mutation,” less than 2 percent. The Tulane University Health Science Center Departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology/
Urology can address all pelvic floor disorders, including urinary incontinence, accidental bowel leakage as well as pelvic organ prolapse. They offer a multidisciplinary approach comprising behavioral interventions, physical therapy, simple office procedures and more complex, minimally invasive surgery in the operating room. Kahn will be on a medical mission to Nicaragua this month, as she has done the past few years. Last year she spoke to Gates of Prayer Sisterhood, and when available is more than happy to provide free educational talks to groups and institutions in the New Orleans area Jewish community.
UAB Vein Clinic makes great strides for healthy legs by Lee J. Green Dr. Marc Passman and the UAB Vein Clinic continue to advance the treatment of venous disease – from the uncomfortable and unsightly to life-threatening illnesses. “We want to do what’s best for our patients. We can cover the whole gamut,” said Dr. Passman, a member of the Birmingham area Jewish community. “It is also a focus of ours to educate our patients on how they can be as proactive as possible with their own wellness care.” The most common venous issues for women are varicose and spider veins. There can also be occurrences of pelvic vein congestion along with clot risks associated with hormonal therapy, pregnancy, and other risk factors.For spider and varicose veins, nonoperative treatment comes from compression, medication and lifestyle measures. The UAB Vein Clinic also employs minimally invasive treatments such as endovenous ablation, injection treatments, and Veinwave, which uses heat to treat surface veins. Passman said the clinic has great experience treating deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolisms. Risk factors for those venous diseases include prolonged sitting, bed rest or travel, advanced age, hypertension, smoking, complex surgery, lower body trauma, obesity, congestive heart failure, hormonal changes or therapy and family history. “Venous clot issues can be a danger and need to be treated right away. They could be life-threatening if they go to the lungs,” said Passman. “Those who are traveling, are hospitalized or have an injury are in a high risk category.” The UAB Vein Program, which combines outpatient care at the UAB Vein Clinic with more intensive treatment available at UAB Hospital at Highlands, is “the only program of its kind in the state, designed to take care of a wide range of venous problems that were previously underserved in this region,” added Passman. “We know women lead busy lives and they can’t be slowed down by venous health issues or leg pain,” he said. “We’re here to help them return to wellness as soon as possible.”
40 Southern Jewish Life • July 2017
women’s health Birmingham AIDS Outreach expands vision to continue helping community Acceptance center, wellness center and legal services among newer offerings by Lee J. Green “We create a community that can create advocacy and family.” That is the continuing goal of Birmingham AIDS Outreach, according to its executive director Karen Musgrove, MEd, LPC. While HIV and AIDS still have widespread effects, BAO strives to serve as so much more than a support group, she said. They provide multiple resources to help those in need and continue to expand their reach. “This affects so many people directly and indirectly. The needs are diverse, from medicine to support to legal advice to social connections,” said Musgrove. After she graduated from Montevallo University, Musgrove worked for Parisian. Donald Hess was the CEO and Musgrove said he and the company were very supportive of those who worked there and had HIV. “He let sick employees retain their healthcare and take the time off they needed to battle the disease,” she said, calling him “amazing.” “A few of my friends passed away in the early 1990s as a result of AIDS,” she said. “I loved being at Parisian but wanted to do something to directly help.” So Musgrove went to graduate school with a focus on counseling with an agency concentration. For a few years she worked in leadership roles with other non-profits in Birmingham and volunteered to help coordinate the entertainment for the AIDS Walk for BAO. When the BAO executive director position came up in 2003 and the organization was struggling, Musgrove knew it was her calling. “When I started we had seven employees and only offered a handful of services. Now we have 40 employees here at BAO and many volunteers. We can do so much more today for so many more people in need,” she said. BAO provides some medications to those who cannot afford them, free STD/HIV testing, social/support opportunities, transportation and even free legal services. “In July, we also offer free tele-legal services for those in the Black Belt,” said Musgrove. “The free legal advice can be for anything from wills to medical/insurance-related legal issues to name-changing services for those who are transgender.” She said while BAO Bingo, the only legalized form of gambling in Alabama, is perhaps one of the most known events or services they offer, people are surprised at just how much BAO does in the community. “Four years ago we expanded our vision and we changed our mission statement. We established the Magic City Acceptance Center, an
LGBTQ Youth and Wellness Center” targeting those in their teens and 20s. More than 200 attended the most recent Queer Prom, said Musgrove. “Also we’re reaching out to those who are over 45 and don’t have kids or a family support group.” She said they are grateful for the research work done by the 1917 Clinic at UAB, led by Dr. Michael Saag. “Their research and discoveries are the base
for what we do. We are proud to be a partner with them,” said Musgrove. She also said BAO has received great support from the Birmingham area Jewish community but they are seeking more, and would love to see enhanced participation from the synagogues as well as the LJCC in the Magic City AIDS Walk, which will be on Sept. 24. “We are stronger as a community united together,” said Musgrove.
July 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 41
women’s health McWane Center CEO also its biggest fan by Lee J. Green
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There’s not a science to balancing family with a successful career in non-profit management, but McWane Science Center President and CEO Amy Templeton has concocted a pretty effective formula. “I moved back to Birmingham in 1999 and my son Ryan was three at the time. Having always been a working mother, finding places such as McWane are so important. The McWane Science Center provides a quality educational experience for kids. It’s enriching and fun. They love to come here every day,” said Templeton. She became a member and a regular supporter. In 2012 she was happy in her position as COO at the Birmingham Museum of Art when McWane called on her, saying they were looking for a new president/CEO. “I love this place so much and I really felt like I could make a difference at the next level,” she said. “I wasn’t job hunting when this opportunity came up. I have a passion for non-profits for places that can provide both kids and adults with great experiences,” said Templeton. Her father was a professor at Birmingham-Southern College, where Templeton earned her bachelor’s degree in political science and sociology. She would go on to earn a law degree at Vanderbilt University. She then served as Director of Planned Giving for Vanderbilt University for 14 years before joining the Birmingham Museum of Art. Templeton also has a strong track record of involvement in the community and helped out in Pratt City after the town west of Birmingham
was devastated by the 2011 tornadoes. “My father taught at Birmingham-Southern and my mother still lives there. It’s close to Pratt City so I saw the devastation close up and I wanted to help,” she said. “There is a lot we all can do to help others. It is about bringing people and communities together.” At the McWane Science Center, Templeton said the new Itty Bitty Magic City early childhood learning area has some wonderfully positive response. The McWane summer camps are in full swing through July and the summer traveling exhibition is “Design Zone.” Templeton said this exhibit seeks to make math exciting and applicable by showing how it is pertinent in roller coaster design, music production and the creation of skate parks. “Through the end of the year our IMAX film is ‘Dream Big.’ I think it is the best film we have had here. It focuses on engineering and building in difficult areas such as earthquake-ridden areas. It is about engineering, but I teared up,” she said. Last year the McWane Science Center in downtown Birmingham welcomed close to 400,000 visitors, with approximately 150,000 of those coming from Jefferson County. Visitors came from every Alabama county and each state in the region. “We’re a regional science center. We have people that come down from the north on their way to the beaches and they visit us on the way down as well as on the way back,” she said. “People come from all over to enjoy an exciting, hands-on educational experience.”
Real estate about real connections for Gunnells by Lee J. Green RealtySouth’s Kelli Gunnells believes real estate is also about real people, real connections and really helping to facilitate a positive transition in the lives of her clients. “My clients are the best part of what I do. Being able to assist my clients in their life is very rewarding,” said Gunnells, who recently formed the four-person Kelli Gunnells Group, which brings more than 100 years of combined real estate experience. Kelli Gunnells Group team members include Realtors Chris Wood, Judy Williams and Howard Hovater. Gunnells has more than 20 years of experience herself, earning her real estate license in 1996. She is the top producer in her office and in the top 1 percent in MLS out of more than
More Southern 42 Southern Jewish Life • July 2017
3,600 agents. Last July, the Birmingham Association of Realtors named her Realtor of the Year, and last year she served as president of the Greater Alabama MLS and the Birmingham Association of Realtors Board of Directors. But Gunnells takes even more pride in her family. She said it’s a delicate balance with career and family. “In this career, you work on weekends, after normal work hours and times when your clients are free. It can be demanding but family is always most important,” she said. When asked if she has advice for other success female entrepreneurs, Gunnells said, “have a structured plan and have goals. Prioritize and be intentional about being your very best every day.”
Life online at www.sjlmag.com
community Parshall returns to ISJL as new historian Josh Parshall is joining the Jackson-based Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life as director of the organization’s history department. Parshall is already quite familiar with the ISJL and Southern Jewish history. He was the oral historian at ISJL from 2009 to 2013, working with former ISJL historian Stuart Rockoff. After four years traveling the South and collecting stories of the Southern Jewish experience, Parshall enrolled at the University of North Carolina in 2013 to pursue a Ph.D. from the newly-formed graduate program in American Studies. His wife, Alli Goldman Parshall, is a former ISJL Education Fellow. Parshall’s recently completed doctoral dissertation, “Yiddish Politics in Southern States: The Southern District of the Arbeter Ring, 1908-1949,” shapes a history of the Arbeter Ring / Workmen’s Circle in Southern cities during the first half of the 20th century. This research explores how a subset of East European Jewish immigrants in the South established a regional network of Arbeter Ring, a national fraternal organization that promoted secular Yiddish culture and socialist politics and that is most often associated with the urban North. In cities such as Atlanta, Nashville, Birmingham and Waco, Arbeter Ring members built new homes for themselves in unfamiliar environments by supporting one another through mutual aid, organizing secular Yiddish cultural events and pursuing left-wing politics. Southern Arbeter Ring history both calls attention to the diversity of Jewish experiences outside the American Northeast and demonstrates once again that Jews in the South maintained strong connections to a broad range of global Jewish movements. Parshall’s research has been published in the journal Southern Jewish
History and presented at the annual meetings of the Southern Jewish Historical Society, the American Studies Association and the Association for Jewish Studies. In his new role as ISJL historian, he will enhance the online Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish communities, prepare lectures to be presented across the region, gather additional histories for the collection, and work with individuals and organizations across the South to preserve and explore the Southern Jewish experience.
Thousands served at Dothan Deli Day
Dothan’s Temple Emanu-El sold out of lunches at its annual Deli Day on May 4. The team of volunteers made 2,099 sandwiches. Next year’s event will be on May 3.
July 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 43
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Growing up in Birmingham with a father who was a successful restaurant owner and in a family passionate about food, Heather Guarino said she never had any doubt what she wanted to do with her life. “My dad is my superhero. I learned how to make everything from scratch starting when I was young thanks to him,” said Guarino. “Restaurants, cooking and Birmingham have always been a part of my life.” Her father, Sam, opened Sneaky Pete’s in Homewood back in 1978 and also had a few other successful restaurant ventures in the Birmingham area. Guarino graduated from Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College, in 2008 and immediately started looking for a location to open continued on the next page
44 Southern Jewish Life • July 2017
Continued from page 46
One last entry, though it’s not a person. Early in Deuteronomy, Moses designates cities of refuge to offer sanctuary to those who inadvertently commit certain crimes against their fellow folks. These cities weren’t an individual, like everyone mentioned already, but they might still beg the question… So, where are they all now? While lifespans early in the Torah went up to 969 years, the average lifespan grew much shorter through the centuries until the recent, ironically short-lived advent of affordable healthcare. So, anyone from the Torah or Haftarahs has long ago shuffled off this mortal coil, much like the Mets’ chances for a run at the World Series. But where are they now? Judaism acknowledges the existence of the afterlife. However, nobody has successfully returned from there with any reconnaissance information, so the exact nature of it is unknown. In other words, it’s like figuring out dating. Doug Brook believes the afterlife is replete with Mets championships, four-day work weeks, and nations of people who are actually polite and get along no matter how wrong they are. To read past columns, visit http://brookwrite.com/. For exclusive online content, like facebook.com/rearpewmirror.
> > Pop’s
her own restaurant. She found an ideal location in Five Points, just a block or so away from Temples Emanu-El and Beth-El, and opened Pop’s Neighborhood Grill, to honor her dad, in 2010. “I wanted the restaurant to be like my dad did it — burgers, fried chicken, hot dogs; nothing fancy, just good comfort food in a comfortable, friendly place,” she said. Sam helps his daughter out, especially on catering and delivery runs. Most of the items on the menu at Pop’s are Guarino family recipes, including the two here. They have delivered to employees and events at the two synagogues nearby. They can customize jut about anything on their restaurant or catering menu to be kosher-style. “Since everything we do is fresh, we’re happy to so anything that anyone wants,” she said. Some of the menu items include black bean burgers, all-beef kosher hot dogs, spicy slaw, French fries and salads. Pop’s Neighborhood Grill is open Monday through Friday from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. They also are available for events during evening and weekends. “I love coming in every day and I love what I do,” said Guarino. “It’s not just about making food, it’s about making friends.”
July 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 45
rear pew mirror • doug brook
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When listening to a Torah reading or Haftarah, one question inevitably arises: What’s for lunch? In all seriousness, before that question comes to mind there’s an earlier, equally inevitable question during the Torah reading: What are they talking about? Somewhere amid all that, perhaps in the sermon, a few names become clearer. Names from the Torah or Haftarah reading, or perhaps other names from Jewish or Israeli history. When those names don’t rhyme with “Moses,” they usually beg the question: Who? Finally, during the longest, most interminable part of the service — announcements — the most significant question of the day at last traverses between brain cells: Where are they now? For parents, this question is usually about their children. But this column pretends that they’re wondering about the people mentioned in the Torah or Haftarah readings. This year’s “Where are they now” feature explores this question regarding several oft-forgotten souls from the oft-forgotten past whose tales are told starting in the dog days of spring. Korach: This member of the elite, the tribe of Levi, arises in the book of Numbers to try a power grab. How? To deflect attention from his ambitions, he accuses the current leader Moses of his own power grab. The still-reliable way to stir up a nation: when lacking solutions to actual problems, fabricate problems and claim to be the solution without offering any. Korach lost the popular vote, and therefore WHEN IT didn’t achieve power. Perhaps, if he had brought COMES TO in help from a foreign power… Balaam: Late in Numbers, the King of Moab, THE TORAH, Balak, hires the foreign prophet Balaam to curse THERE ARE the Israelites. On his way, Balaam’s donkey stops short when it sees an angel its master can’t, and NO SMALL the donkey is given the ability to speak, to explain ROLES… itself. In other words, Balak didn’t like the Israelites but didn’t want to create a Moab Scene, so he hired a prophet who ended up talking out of his donkey. Pinchas: Even later in Numbers, Pinchas discovers an Israelite leader and Midianite woman “breaking in” the tabernacle. He impales them, and is rewarded for it. In other words, Pinchas teaches that sometimes you just have to put a stake in the ground. Jezebel: In the book of Kings, Jezebel was the wife of the king of Israel, Ahab. She influences the king to worship Baal, persecutes the prophets, and fabricates evidence to execute people who don’t do as she wishes. She was ahead of her time, living centuries before TV or book deals. Tzelafchad: Near the end of Numbers, he died. He did nothing prior that was deemed worthy of recording, except that he had five daughters, no sons, and some property rights. His five daughters became mildly more famous because they dared to ask about inheriting their father’s property rights because there were no sons. They got them. In other words, equal rights started several thousand years ago, as evidenced by how far they’ve come since. To give them equal time, too, the daughters’ names were Mahlah, Noa, Hoglah, Milcah, and Tirzah. continued on the previous page
46 Southern Jewish Life • July 2017
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48 Southern Jewish Life â€¢ July 2017