Southern Jewish Life NEW ORLEANS EDITION
Volume 28 Issue 6
Southern Jewish Life 3747 West Esplanade, 3rd Floor Metairie, LA 70002
2 Southern Jewish Life â€¢ July 2018
shalom y’all shalom y’all shalom y’all It is one of the best-known moral tenets in Judaism — one should not rejoice at the downfall of one’s enemy. Each year at Passover, the most widely observed holiday in Judaism, part of the Seder is the spilling of a symbol of joy — wine — to acknowledge what Egypt had to go through for the Israelites to gain their freedom. Remember, this was after 400 years of slavery and inhumane edicts by Pharoah, and yet we are commanded to feel some sorrow for the Egyptians. As we are told, when the angels celebrated the Israelites’ crossing of the Red Sea and the Egyptians’ inability to follow, God rebuked the angels, asking how they could sing while Her children were drowning in the sea. If anti-Israel activists on the extreme left are to be believed, though, the Jewish com-munity feels no pain at the deaths of Gazans over the last couple of months, and the activists set out to do something about it, using one of the most important prayers in Judaism — the Mourner’s Kaddish. Yes, the same Kaddish recited by even the most secular and uninvolved of Jews when close relatives die, was used by these groups to mourn Hamas members who are sworn to kill Jews. On April 4, in a demonstration outside the Union for Reform Judaism in New York, a group from IfNotNow — the same group that wants Jewish summer camps to teach about the “evils of occupation” — said the Kaddish for Hamas members. A week later, members of the same organization forced their way into the office of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, demanding the Federation condemn Israel’s actions in Gaza, and again reciting the Kaddish while naming Gazans killed that week. The most notorious event came on May 16, two days after the May 14 clashes that left 62 Gazans dead. About 50 British Jews gathered outside Parliament to condemn Israel, culminating in the reciting of the names of Gazans who were killed, followed by
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Larry Brook EDITOR/PUBLISHER
July 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 3
Maccabi USA leader praises Birmingham Games I have had the honor of attending many Maccabi competitions aroundin theitsworld. Israel Kaddish. services as a weapon battleFrom for power toThe Australia to South America, Europe and the JCC Maccabi games around the United States demonstrators received a harsh re- against Hamas. And both groups foment the and Canada, I havemagnified logged many miles seeing sportsofcan be a vehicle help build Jewish sponse in person, many times overhowthreat violence that to has kept checkpoints identity, in our young. on socialespecially media, with many bemoaning that and Israeli security measures in place. British wastotearing itself apart. one reliedwith on the mainI feltJewry honored come to Birmingham for the firstAlso, timeunless and fell in love not horrible just the city If the Israel had mistakenly bombed a civilian stream media Gaza, it became but people. You have taken Southern hospitality to a new levelcoverage with your of kind and caring target in to Gaza and Maccabi killed non-combatants, widely known pretty quickly that almost all of approach the JCC Games. that’s one thing. Few would object to memori- those killed on May 14, and going back severLed by the Sokol and Helds, your hard-working volunteers were wonderful. They partnered alizing innocents. (Of course, Hamas is notori- al weeks to the start of the “March of Return,” with your outstanding staff, led by Betzy Lynch, to make the 2017 JCC Maccabi games a huge hit. ous for using civilian facilities like schools and as the “demonstrations” were called, weren’t I want to take this opportunity as executive director of Maccabi USA to say thank you on behalf hospitals as cover for military bases, but that’s random civilians, but Hamas operatives, emof everyone involved. another column). bedded in the civilian crowd that Hamas had I had just 20th World Maccabiah games inpaid Israeltowith a U.S. While the returned Kaddish from was the what attracted at- bused in and storm thedelegation border. of over 1100, whogatherings joined 10,000 Jewishto athletes from 80 countries. Back inare Julypeople the eyeswho of thewould entire tention, these weren’t mourn These operatives Jewish world thefor Maccabiah. This monthkilling with 1000 athletes Gazans, they were wereon toJerusalem castigate and Israel de- have nopast problem every singleand one of coaches itself, from or around world being in Birmingham, became the focal point. fending as thethe demonstrators called it, thoseyou British or IfNotNow demonstrators, and committing “outrageous acts of violence,” and these idealists in their advanced form of moEveryone from the Jewish community and the community at large, including a wonderful to criticize the mainstream Jewish community rality explain that away. police force, are to be commended. These games will go down in history as being a seminal for insufficient of as Israel’s ac- to the One of the British organizers acknowledged moment for the condemnation Jewish community we build future by providing such wonderful Jewish tions. that some of the Hamas members might have memories. The Kaddish wasn’t for Gazans to hear, it wanted to kill him, but he told JTA “their politiJed Margolis was for the rest of the unenlightened Jew- cal opinions are not the issue.” Executive Director, Maccabi ish USA community, When a Palestinian is killed while perpewhich for some trating an act of terrorism, it is typical to see Saying reason has the asupremacists news reportwould of thelike proud mother, to see pusheddelighted back Kaddish to On Charlottesville odd notion that that son has become a martyr. that into her a corner and made to feel lesser. With We stand Israel has a right type of reaction, does oneofreally think that with and pray for the family Heather Heyer, mourn those Editor’s Note: This reaction to the events in to do something she be touched have whowould was there standingand up to the warm face offuzzies this Charlottesville, written Newman, who want to by Jeremy about 30,000 that a group of Jews did the Jewish memorial hate. Master of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Theta Colony people trying to prayer in his memory? Jews andwas shared We recognize the essence of the American at kill Auburn University, by AEPi break through Of course, the Kaddish never mentions narrative as a two-century old struggle to rid National, which called it “very eloquent” and destroy Israel? a border fence death or mourning. Instead, it is a declaration ourselves of such corners, and allow those in praised “our brothers at AEPi Theta Colony at near numerous of enduring faith in God during an individuthem the seat at the table that they so deserve. Auburn University and… the leadership they Israeli communities and follow instructions to al’s time of deepest grief and despair. It also It is the struggle to fulfill the promise of the display on their campus.” “rip (Israeli) hearts out.” mentions the establishment of God’s kingdom Declaration of Independence, that “all men are The implication is that anyone acknowledg- “speedily” with the entire House of Israel. How created equal… endowed by their Creator with ingWhite Israel’ssupremacy right to self-defense noton being does one even utter those words over somehas been aand cancer certain unalienable rights.” We know our work sufficiently outraged perfectly happy seeing one who wants to see Israel completely deour country since itsisbeginning, threatening is far from finished, but we know we will not dead Palestinians. couldangels. be further stroyed and the death of Jews, as the Hamas its hopes, its values,Nothing and its better move backwards. from the truth, and itplace is a in blood libel against charter calls for? The events that took Charlottesville When men and women, take the Jewish community. The Kaddish ends withfully twoarmed, lines praying represented the worst of this nation. Those to the streets in droves with swastikas and When Palestinians are killed, are Israelis for peace “for us and all of Israel.” Organizers who marched onto the streets with tiki torches other hate, demonstration it is a reminder of how passing out candy streets? Never, yet of the symbols May 16 of British referred and swastikas did sointothe provoke violence and relevant the issues of racism and anti-Semitism that is routine in Palestinian towns when Israeto the end of the Kaddish as “a plea for unifear. Those who marched onto the streets did are today. It is a wake-up call to the work that lis are murdered. versal peace,” which is not, of course, how the so to profess an ideology that harkens back to needs to be done to ensure a better, more Are Israeli parks, public squares, soccer Kaddish has always been, nor is it the desire a bleaker, more wretched time in our history. welcoming teams afterand those who kill Palestinians? Hamas. country. But it should not come A timenamed when men women of many creeds, of without a reflection how far come. Of course not, but it is just another day in the Some groups haveonadded thewe’ve phrase “for all races, and religions were far from equal and far life for the Palestinian Authority, which pays a who dwell on Earth” in addition to, or in some America was born a slave nation. A century from safe in our own borders. A time where generous stipend to those who attack Israelis. cases in replacement of, “Israel” in the into our history we engaged in a war in partfinal Americans lived under a constant cloud of Yes, there is outrage among supporters Is- sentence Kaddish. Admittedly, lot of to ensure of we the would not continue as one.a We racism, anti-Semitism and pervasive hate. of The rael at what is happening in Gaza. But the out- groups who haveconfronted made thatbychange aren’t on found ourselves the issue of civil events that took place in Charlottesville served rage is directed at the Palestinian leadership the fringe and use the phrase as benign unirights, and embarked on a mission to ensure as a reminder of how painfully relevant these that from and abuses the Palestinian versalism. the fair treatment of all peoples no matter their issuessteals are today. people in their fruitless quest to get rid of Isra- skin Mourning Hamas? we’ve made great strides, color. Although Auburn’s Alpha Epsilon Pi stands with the el, the Hamas leadership that steals cement for Itit isisa mission good to bestill grappling with today. Jewish community of Charlottesville, andterror open minded, we’re rebuilding homes and instead rebuilds but to America was also born an immigrant with thethat Jewish people around the country tunnels, refuses assistance from Israel and quote an old saying, country. As early as the pilgrims, many and around the world. We also stand with the damages its own infrastructure; and a Pales- “not so open that groups and fall families minorities who are targeted the hate tinian Authority that uses by funding forthat basic your brains out.”found in the country the opportunity to plant stakes, chase their future, was on display in Charlottesville. We stand and be themselves. Few were met with open with the minorities of whom these white 4 Southern Jewish Life • July 2018
July 20182018 February
Southern Jewish Life 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 Alexis Polack firstname.lastname@example.org PHOTOGRAPHER-AT-LARGE Rabbi Barry C. Altmark deepsouthrabbi.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Rivka Epstein, Zach Aaronson, Tally Werthan, Alex Bloch, Belle Freitag, Ted Gelber, E. Walter Katz, Doug Brook brookwrite.com BIRMINGHAM OFFICE P.O. Box 130052, Birmingham, AL 35213 14 Office Park Circle #104 Birmingham, AL 35223 205/870.7889 NEW ORLEANS OFFICE 3747 West Esplanade, 3rd Floor Metairie, LA 70002 985/807.1131 TOLL-FREE 866/446.5894 FAX 866/392.7750 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 2018. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without written permission from the publisher. Views expressed in SJL are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff. SJL makes no claims as to the Kashrut of its advertisers, and retains the right to refuse any advertisement. Documenting this community, a community we are members of and active within, is our passion. We love what we do, and who we do it for.
agenda interesting bits & can’t miss events
The calm before the storm: Volunteers put the finishing touches on the Nearly New Sale at Shir Chadash in Metairie before the popular annual sale begins
Stillman leaves New Orleans to become director of Nashville Federation Eric Stillman, former executive director of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, has become the new executive director of the Jewish Federation and Jewish Foundation of Nashville and Middle Tennessee, effective July 1. The Nashville Federation’s board unanimously adopted the search committee’s recommendation at its May meeting. He succeeds Mark Freedman, who retired on June 30. Nashville Federation President Lisa Perlen said Stillman “meets all of the essential characteristics sought for our next Executive Director. He is an engaging visionary with organization savvy and a sense of and connection to the broader North American and international Jewish world. “He brings extensive experience from the world of Jewish philanthropy, and specifically Federation, to the job. Eric is an excellent fit for where we are now and where we will be going as the Nashville and Middle Tennessee Jewish community continues to grow.” Stillman told the Jewish Observer, Nashville’s community paper, that the size of Nashville’s community appealed to him, as well as being in the South. “Working and living in New Orleans, I’ve grown to really appreciate and understand how Southern Jewry is special and the sense of community is genuinely inclusive in the South.” Stillman originally arrived in New Orleans in January 2000, after four years as associate executive director and campaign director for the Jewish Federation of Rhode Island. In August 2005, the community was evacuated because of Hurricane Katrina and the levee breach, leading the Federation to open branch of-
fices in Houston and Baton Rouge until services and facilities could be restored in New Orleans. The Federation also coordinated the distribution of funds from national relief efforts. In May 2006, Stillman became president and CEO of the Jewish Federation of Broward County, where he served until April of 2015. He then returned to New Orleans, becoming director of development in neuroscience for Ochsner Clinic Foundation. He was also vice president of programs for the Association of Fundraising Professionals in New Orleans. A farewell Shabbat was held for him on June 23 at Beth Israel in Metairie. Nashville and New Orleans are both part of the Intermediate Federations group. Currently, the Jewish community in New Orleans numbers around 11,000, up from 9,500 before the storm. A 2015 study counted 8,000 Jews in the Nashville area, in 4,700 households, with 17 percent having moved to the Nashville area since 2009. There are 3,000 non-Jews in the 4,700 households, and an intermarriage rate of 56 percent, higher than the national average of 44 percent. Vanderbilt University also has about 1,000 Jewish students.
July 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 5
agenda Belgium’s Righteous Rescuers
In Baton Rouge talk, Jan Maes explores heroism Historian Jan Maes will visit Baton Rouge for a presentation on those who tried to rescue Jews from the Holocaust in Belgium. “Rescue in Belgium: Life and Death Choices for Jews and Their Rescuers During the Holocaust” will be on July 17 at 7 p.m., at The Red Shoes. The event is presented by Chabad of Baton Rouge. Maes will discuss the roles of bystanders, victims and perpetrators involved in an informal network of Protestants who tried to rescue Jews from 1942 to 1944 around Antwerp and Louvain. He originally did the research while pursuing a master’s degree in religious sciences at the Catholic University of Louvain in 2006. While the Belgian state cooperated with the Nazis in deporting Jews, in 2013 Yad Vashem reported that Belgium had 1,612 Righteous Among the Nations, non-Jews who saved Jewish lives in the Holocaust, the third-highest number in Western Europe, behind only France and Holland. Of Belgium’s 66,000 Jews, 28,902 were murdered by the Nazis, and in 2012 Belgium finally officially admitted complicity. Among the stories Maes uncovered is that of Madeleine Cornet, who hired three housemaids in 1942, not wanting to ask them about their ethnicity. The three women were Jews who had escaped the deportations being organized by Nazi collaborator Leon Degrelle — Cornet’s brother. Tickets are $20 after July 4, and can be purchased at chabadbr.com. Sponsorships start at $180.
letters to the editor The retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy bodes ill for the future of many issues the National Council of Jewish Women cares deeply about and that affect all Americans and others living in our country. From reproductive rights to civil rights, from immigration to civil liberties and to many other matters of urgent concern, we have reason to be alarmed about what kind of justice President Trump will nominate. With the elimination of the filibuster, a tool for moderation, we worry how that nominee will be judged by the Senate. The odds are great that the next nominee will resemble Neil Gorsuch in ideology. Regardless, we will not back down in our efforts to educate the public about what is at stake when a Supreme Court seat is open, as well as when federal judges are nominated at every level to lifetime seats. We will not back down in our efforts let our senators know how we regard any nominee. We will not give up pointing out how much voting in November matters to the direction of our judicial branch. We will continue fighting to preserve rights we have won over the past decades. And, we will not stop until we save our federal courts from ideological extremists’ intent on favoring the wealthy and corporations over everyday Americans. Ina Weber Davis New Orleans NCJW Washington Operations Office Maddie Fireman New Orleans NCJW State Policy Advocate
On The Cover: As part of the “Violins of Hope” programs
in Birmingham in April, over 40 students in Birmingham city high schools did an art project as part of attending Holocaust education programs. They used found objects, with industrial pallets as the main material, in the style of noted artist Thornton Dial, to create a visual story. The works are on display at the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center. 6 Southern Jewish Life • July 2018
agenda “Names Not Numbers” features local survivors On Aug. 5, the Chabad Center in Metairie will screen “Names Not Numbers: A Movie in the Making,” a project of Margolin Hebrew Academy in Memphis. Seniors at the school were involved in the year-long process last year. The project teaches students about journalism, how to conduct interviews and do filming, culminating in a documentary about local Holocaust survivors. Among the interviewed survivors in the Memphis film are sisters Anne Levy and Lila Millen of New Orleans. The Better Together Names Not Numbers project is an interactive multi-media Holocaust initiative created by educator Tova Fish-Rosenberg of Yeshiva University. Over 150 such films have been completed, including at the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School in Birmingham. The films have all been sent to the archives at Hebrew University’s National and University Library, and are archived at Yad Vashem and Yeshiva University. The Metairie screening is tentatively scheduled for 11 a.m. As Gates of Prayer in Metairie hosts the joint summer Reform services in the New Orleans area in August, the Aug. 3 service will be the first opportunity for the community to welcome Rabbi David Gerber. The 8 p.m. service will be followed by a special oneg. Rabbi David Gerber will be the speaker for the Aug. 2 “Lunch and Learn with the Rabbi,” noon at the Uptown Jewish Community Center. A light lunch will be served, with reservations due by July 30. Cost is $3 for members, $5 for non-members. Beth Israel in Metairie will honor the Posternock family on the 10th anniversary of their move to New Orleans, when Rabbi David Posternock became executive director of Beth Israel. The celebratory Kiddush lunch will be on July 21 following the 9 a.m. service. Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge will have a Shabbat celebration and dinner honoring Dottie Smith, who is retiring after three decades of service as director of the Alfred G. Rayner Learning Center, which serves children from infants to preschool. The service will be on Aug. 3 at 6 p.m. Nancy Boudreaux, the Training Program Manager for Louisiana’s Office of Financial Institutions, the state agency that regulates securities and investigates complaints of securities fraud in Louisiana, will present “Red Flags of Investment Scams for Seniors,” Aug.
July 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 7
9 at noon at the Uptown Jewish Community Center. Bring a lunch, dessert and coffee will be served. Reservations are due by Aug. 6, and there is no charge for members or non-members. She will also do a presentation at the Goldring/Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus in Metairie on Aug. 20 at 12:30 p.m. Temple Sinai in New Orleans will have a Musical Havdalah for families with young children, ages 0 to 5, July 21 from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. This event is free and open to the community. All young children, their caregivers and older siblings are welcome. Pizza and salad will be provided, and reservations are requested by July 13. Moishe House in New Orleans will hold a screening of the documentary “In Search of Israeli Cuisine,” July 17 at 7 p.m. A conversation on the effect food has on Israeli culture will follow. PJ Library will have PJ at the Pool on July 26 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Goldring/Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus in Metairie, and Aug. 5 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Uptown Jewish Community Center. There will be swimming, poolside activities and popsicles for kids of any age. The events are free and open to members and non-members of the JCC, but families attending the events must be subscribers to PJ Library or PJ Our Way. To sign up for the free PJ Library Judaica books, contact Jennette Ginsburg at Jewish Children’s Regional Service, pj. firstname.lastname@example.org. On July 19, Riley Ruth will speak about “Ladakh: Then and Now,” her recent visit to that area, at noon at the Uptown Jewish Community Center. Ladakh is in northern India, in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, on a Himalayan plateau. Her mother, Rachel Ruth, visited the region 22 years ago. A light lunch will be served, reservations are due by July 16. Cost is $5 for members, $7 for non-members. Moishe House in New Orleans will hold their first-ever pie bake-off, July 21 at 1 p.m. Judges are also being recruited. The Uptown Jewish Community Center will screen “A United Kingdom,” July 26 at noon. The film portrays a 1947 romance between African prince Seretse Khama and London office worker Ruth Williams, with their interracial relationship sparking an international crisis. Movie snacks will be served, and there is no charge for members or non-members. Rabbi Robert Loewy, rabbi emeritus of Gates of Prayer in Metairie, will lead Shabbat services at Temple Shalom in Lafayette on July 20. There will be a dairy dinner at 6:30 p.m., followed by the service at 7:30 p.m., during which the Barber family will be welcomed to the community. Rabbi Mendel Ceitlin will lead a Hebrew Reading Crash Course at the Chabad Center in Metairie. The five-week course is designed to help participants be able to read prayers in Hebrew before the High Holy Days. The course is on Mondays at 7:30 p.m., starting July 30. Registration is $60, which includes the textbook. Beth Israel in Metairie continues its summer speaker series during the 9 a.m. Shabbat services. On July 14, Gail Naron Chalew will speak about Journeys, at approximately 10:45 a.m. She is founding chair of LimmudFest New Orleans, and has written extensively about the New Orleans Jewish community’s experiences during and after Katrina. Chabad of Baton Rouge is holding its annual scholarship raffle, selling $50 tickets to a raffle with a grand prize of $10,000. The proceeds go toward scholarships for JUDA, Jewish Learning Institute, holiday programs and more, so nobody is turned away from programs due to financial difficulties. Tickets may be purchased at Chabadbr.com/raffle, and the drawing will be July 18. 8 Southern Jewish Life • July 2018
Photo by Matt Tarr
Rabbi Robert and Lynn Loewy
Gates of Prayer honors Loewys for over a generation of service to congregation, community After 34 years on the pulpit of Gates of Prayer in Metairie, there are plenty of stories about Rabbi Robert Loewy. Many of those “shared experiences” were related at a gala weekend on May 11 and 12, celebrating Loewy’s retirement from the pulpit and “promotion” to rabbi emeritus. His many accomplishments over those years were recounted, and recurring themes throughout the weekend included the importance of Jewish summer camp, and Loewy’s efforts following the levee breach after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The weekend was themed “Shalom Rav,” after the prayer that is sung in the evening service. While the prayer’s translation is “a great peace,” it can also mean “Shalom, rabbi.” As a theme, “It’s a lot better than ‘out with the old, in with the new’,” Loewy commented. Loewy recalled how his childhood at summer camp was where he first heard the now-common tune for “Shalom Rav.” Rabbi Howard Laibson was guest speaker for the Shabbat evening service on May 11. Loewy met Laibson during the summer of 1967, when Laibson was president of the Southern California Federation of Temple Youth, and Loewy was president of the Long Island Federation of Temple Youth. In 1981, Loewy was associate rabbi at Congregation Emanu-El in Houston, and Laibson was the newly ordained rabbi coming there to be the assistant rabbi. “A fast friendship has been made ever since,” Loewy said. Laibson said when the Southern California boy arrived in Houston, he was “completely out of my element and had no idea what I was doing.” Loewy took him under his wings and showed him the ropes “He mentored me. He mentored me really well, and thoroughly,” and through that experience Laibson said he “truly became a rabbi.” Loewy later commented that while he learned Judaism at the seminary, it was also at Emanu-El where he learned how to be a rabbi. The two moved on at the same time, with Laibson heading to New Mexico and Loewy arriving in Metairie during the summer of 1984. It was mentioned that Loewy did a filmed tribute for Laibson’s 60th birthday, which was a fundraising gala for his congregation. Loewy was in a tuxedo and bow tie, but then the camera panned down to show him in shorts and flip-flops. During the service, Gates of Prayer President David Dulitz recounted
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July 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 9
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10 Southern Jewish Life • July 2018
community Loewy’s accomplishments. “Who would have thought a nice Jewish boy from Long Island would wind up not only being a rabbi in the South, but would remain in the South, New Orleans in particular, for the next 34 years,” he mused. “They made New Orleans not a stop, but made it their home.” He said Loewy focused on education for all ages, and was a strong proponent for a citywide youth group instead of smaller, individual chapters at each Reform congregation. “The process was challenging… but eventually a stronger Photo by Chip Mann program emerged.” A picnic was held in Rabbi Loewy’s honor on Shabbat Loewy encouraged outreach to unaffiliated young adults afternoon, May 12 outside the walls of the synagogue and strongly promoted the benefits of noting that “we have made the West Esplanade Jewish summer camp. corridor a model of respect and cooperation Dulitz also spoke of Loewy’s actions follow- among Reform, Conservative, Orthodox and ing Hurricane Katrina. “It was during this time Chabad congregations, a model for the entire that Rabbi Loewy shone brightest” as a “con- country.” stant, steadying and reassuring presence.” On Shabbat morning, a parade of Loewy’s He had the “foresight and empathy” to help former B’nai Mitzvah and Confirmands led the Beth Israel, New Orleans’ Orthodox congre- service, with Rabbi Judith Lazarus Siegal, who gation, whose facility was completely flooded grew up at Gates of Prayer, giving the d’var Toand rendered unusable. Beth Israel moved into rah. space at Gates of Prayer, remaining there until The morning was “all about you,” Loewy told their new building next door was completed in the crowd. 2012. The night before, Loewy related that because Dulitz also credited Loewy with helping se- he had been asked, he counted that he’d done cure the long-term financial future of the con- 430 baby namings and brisses, 172 weddings, gregation, including urging the creation of a 607 funerals, 80 conversions, with a little over rabbinic endowment fund. “Today, the fund has 400 B’nai Mitzvah and Confirmation students. grown to well over $1 million,” Dulitz said. The next morning, he added to the total as Loewy also promoted the capital campaign to there was a baby naming during the Shabbat expand the building in the late 1990s. Among service. the improvements was an expansion of the lobWhile the numbers are interesting, he said, by, and Dulitz announced that the lobby is being “It’s what they represent that is most important. named in Loewy’s honor. Hundreds of personal connections.” “The lobby serves as the gateway to the sancIn introducing Siegal, Loewy said how meantuary, the spiritual center of the synagogue,” he ingful it was to watch her grow “from Bat Mitzsaid. vah to colleague.” Loewy has been a passionate advocate for Siegal, who heads Temple Judea in Coral GaReform Judaism, and said Gates of Prayer is a bles, Fla., spoke of the week’s portion, saying stronger congregation because of its connec- in this world, reward and punishment are not tion to the movement. For evidence, he said, always dependent on one’s actions. one need only look at December 2005, when Because one is never sure if he or she will be he addressed the 5,000 delegates at the Reform rewarded or punished for actions, one has the biennial, talking about how the movement was opportunity to choose and “do the right thing besustaining the New Orleans community in its cause it is right, not for any reward or advantage.” time of need after the storm. Siegal commented, “What a perfect parsha “As your rabbi, it was the most challenging to read and teach on this Shabbat as we honor time I have faced, and perhaps the most fulfill- our rabbi, who has led his life and taught all of ing,” he said. us to lead our lives with the strong moral ethics “A synagogue is not an island, but an integral taught in the Torah.” part of a larger Jewish community,” Loewy said, She concluded with the top 10 things Loewy
community “has taught us,” citing his influence on countless people at Gates of Prayer, Jacobs Camp, the greater community and the Reform movement as a whole. Siegal and Laibson then invited Loewy and his family onto the bimah to bless them with the priestly benediction. The Shabbat service concluded with Debbie Friedman’s “Lechi Lach,” which Loewy said was related to his Bar Mitzvah portion, “Lech Lecha.” He also said Friedman was at Gates of Prayer in 1985, for his installation. After the service, there was a congregational picnic at Lafreniere Park. At the “Under the Jerusalem Stars” gala that evening, Rabbi David Widzer, Loewy’s sonin-law, led Havdalah with his children, Judah and Elisheva. Widzer serves Temple Beth El of Northern Valley in Closter, N.J. Widzer tied the three blessings of Havdalah to aspects of Loewy’s time as rabbi, urging those in attendance to “share something special” with a neighbor before each blessing was sung. The service marking the conclusion of Shabbat is “the service of separation,” he said, adding that this Havdalah would “mark the beginning of this separation of (Loewy’s) time between being rabbi and rabbi emeritus, recognizing what has been holy about our interactions with him, and what has been special about him and his role in our lives.” Judah spoke of how wine brings sweetness to Havdalah, and asked attendees to talk about how Loewy “brought sweet blessings” to them. Elisheva spoke of the variety of spices, saying “we have all had a variety of different experiences with Rabbi Loewy.” With the candle, Widzer said, “we weave together all of the many blessings and all of the varied experiences that we have shared with Rabbi Loewy… Our world is brighter for the work that he has done and the relationships he has made.” Despite the transition “to being just another Jew in the pews,” Widzer said, just as the feeling of Shabbat lingers into the week, “so too will the blessings and experiences that you have shared with Rabbi Loewy remain with you. He will always be your rabbi, and you and he will always carry the holiness you shared together.” Rabbi David Goldstein, rabbi emeritus of Touro Synagogue in New Orleans, returned from New York early to attend the event. “I would have traveled from Mars to be here for you,” he told Loewy. Goldstein commented, “it really is unusual for two rabbis living in the same community to have not one iota of rivalry or competitiveness, but only mutual respect and trust, admiration. Bob has always been a reflection of the highest Jewish standard we all aspire to.” He referred to Loewy as a “mensch” and a “rabbi’s rabbi.”
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12 Southern Jewish Life • July 2018
community The Loewy children, Mica, Sara, David and Karen, said it is a family tradition to do Top Ten lists for special occasions, so they did the Top Ten perks of growing up as rabbi’s kids at Gates of Prayer, adding the perks of growing up as the rabbi’s wife’s kids. David Loewy cited camp, saying that because congregational rabbis visit camp every summer, “we were able to go to camp before we could walk, before we were aware we were at camp.” His father’s time at Eisner Camp “was one of the main reasons he became a rabbi in the first place,” David Loewy commented, adding that 34 summers at Jacobs amounts to “a lot of fried chicken dinners.” Lynn Loewy spoke of the Rabbi Loewy behind the scenes, affirming that he is the same at home as he is at Gates of Prayer. “He is cheerful 98 percent of the time.” She said Shabbat is his favorite holiday, and also described his joy at celebrating all of the festivals. Though a rabbi is always on call, “In all of our years together I have never heard Bob complain about being asked to leave the house at any hour to comfort congregants. This is his calling, and I fear he will miss this the most.” After Hurricane Katrina and their evacuation to Houston, she said he immediately returned to Metairie to tend to the needs of the synagogue and lived upstairs in their flooded home. She concluded, “I consider myself the most fortunate woman in the world. I just hope I feel that way six months from now.” Anna Herman, director of Jacobs Camp, first got to know Loewy when she was a camper, and went to camp with two of the Loewy children. “To meet Rabbi Loewy is a joy that can’t be described,” she said. Coming from the small community of Dothan, “I really felt like Rabbi Loewy was my rabbi. I felt that I had an honorary membership at Gates of Prayer.” Citing Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s teaching about the importance of the personality of a teacher, she spoke of “the thousands of lives he touched” at Jacobs Camp. She concluded, “This is not goodbye, this is a celebration of all Rabbi Loewy has done for our community.” Past presidents Lee Plotkin and Dan Silverman then took the stage for what Plotkin called “a little roasting, a little toasting, a little reflection,” having “seen first-hand (Loewy’s) incredible devotion to our congregation and our community.” After talking about travel adventures and devotion to the New Orleans Saints, Silverman said Loewy needed to publish his 5,823 sermons in an anthology. Plotkin thanked him for “the amazing, wonderful occasions we have shared,” and said “the work we did together after Hurricane Katrina is when we truly bonded.” Silverman said Loewy has been involved with four generations of his family, through “numerous happy and some very difficult times.” “When we needed him, Bob was there,” he said. “He’ll still be around as our rabbi emeritus, and more importantly, as our trusted friend.” Cantorial Soloist Tory May, who was hired at Gates of Prayer in 1987, called Loewy “my mentor, my teacher, sometimes my parent, my work husband… my dear friend.” She performed “How Do We Say Goodbye to Rabbi Loewy” a takeoff on “How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria” from “The Sound of Music,” then called for dancing, as the Panorama Jazz Band played. At the gala’s conclusion, the congregation presented him with a musical piece written in his honor by Judaic composer Julie Silver, performed by May. What’s next for Loewy? Travel, certainly, but he will also continue his national and community projects. And for the High Holy Days this year, he will be leading services — aboard the Queen Elizabeth.
From Boston to Mound Bayou Jo Ivester describes experiences as the only Jewish family in all-black Mississippi town in the 1960s In early 1967, Boston pediatrician Leon Kruger asked his family where in the U.S. they would like to live. After they all chimed in, they learned the game was his way of letting them know that he was closing his practice and they would be moving to Mississippi. More specifically, Mound Bayou, in the Mississippi Delta, in one of the poorest counties in the country. Mound Bayou is an all-black town where they would be one of only two white families, and the only Jews. Thus began an odyssey that daughter Jo Ivester, who was 10 years old at the time, recently chronicled in her book “The Outskirts of Hope.” She recently spoke at the new Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson and at Beth Israel in Metairie. The book is told through the eyes of Ivester’s mother, Aura, and she used her mother’s diaries extensively in writing the book, which is a window on how slow the progress in society was despite the civil rights movement’s legal victories. In moving to Mississippi, she said, “my father became a footsoldier in the war on poverty.” Not that it came as a surprise. “His parents were Jewish socialists in Boston,” and in the 1930s it was routine for socialist politicians visiting the area to stay with them. “What he picked up was taking care of people who needed help,” she said. When he was in his 40s, he pursued a degree in public health, and a class speaker one day was recruiting volunteers for a clinic in Boston that was opening up to help the underserved. When Kruger volunteered, the doctor in charge, who had volunteered in Mississippi in 1964 to take care of those working for voting rights, told Kruger what he really needed was someone to work at a clinic they were opening in Mound Bayou. He immediately volunteered, then headed home to tell his family. The clinic, Delta Health Center, is still in Mound Bayou, and is the
Photo by Maya Willis
At the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum, Jo Ivester meets Hezekiah Watkins, who at age 13 was mistaken for a Freedom Rider in 1961 and was sent to Parchman Prison. An ardent civil rights worker, he was arrested over 100 times during the 1960s, and in 1962 shared a jail cell with Martin Luther King in Jackson.
July 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 13
community largest employer in the town. Kruger headed to Mississippi in April 1967, while Ivester and her siblings finished the school year in Boston. Before the move, Ivester’s mother traveled to Mississippi to see the town. She arrived in Memphis, where she and her husband set off from with another couple from the clinic. For the drive to Mound Bayou, she figured the men would be in the front seat so they could talk about the clinic and the wives could get to know each other while sitting in the back seat, but the other man — who was black — insisted on her sitting up front. After she repeatedly stated the chivalrous move wasn’t necessary, he finally told her that as a black man in the front seat with whites, they could all be in danger. Though it was 1967, the Klan was still very active, and there was a sense in the region that if a black person voted or went against decades-old societal norms, “you were taking risks.” Mound Bayou, though, was a “safe haven” with the Klan not bothering the town, unlike other towns where there were both whites and blacks, with their neighborhoods divided by the railroad. In Mound Bayou, the Krugers moved into a trailer, as the housing stock in the town was very basic. Ivester was entering the fifth grade. Her father warned her that the experience would be very different from Boston — “it’s going to be like you’re not in school. And he was right. I knew more math than my teacher did, at 10 years old.” Her mother decided to become an English teacher, which she would continue doing for 25 years. The students accepted her, because they could sense that “she cared, from day one.” During her talk, Ivester described a moral quandary shortly after she arrived, when she saw some boys playing football. Wanting to get to know other kids in the area, she asked if she could play, which turned out to be a loaded question. On the one hand, blacks in the region were conditioned that when a white person asked for something, you put your head down and just do it. On the other hand, physical contact of any kind between the races was taboo, to the extent that on a sidewalk, if a white person approached, a black person had to immediately step into the street to avoid the possibility that they would rub shoulders, even by accident. One of Aura’s students was stabbed in a nearby town for not getting off the sidewalk quickly enough. The boys decided to let her play, but agreed among themselves that they would tackle her so hard, she would never want to play with them again. They didn’t know she regularly played football in Boston. The first play, she was given the ball, and even those on her own team started tackling her — but she bounced up, ready to go again. One of the boys commented that she could really play, and that’s when she knew she had been accepted by her peers. Though the Krugers did not hide that they were Jewish, they made a conscious decision not to be part of the nearest Jewish community, about 12 miles to the south in Cleveland. “Many in Mound Bayou weren’t comfortable with the Jewish community,” she said. While they may not have known anyone Jewish, they felt they knew about Jews, and the Krugers did not want anything to complicate the work that the clinic was doing. Nevertheless, when they heard that Beth Israel in Jackson had been bombed by the Klan in September, 1967, Kruger drove his family to Jackson so they could see what happened, and Rabbi Perry Nussbaum, whose home would be bombed that November, showed them around. She said relations between Jews and African-Americans in the region
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were a “two-edged sword.” While Jews were visibly active in the civil rights movement, Jews were also merchants in towns throughout the area. In general, white stores were discriminatory, with blacks being restricted to certain hours, not being allowed to try on clothes, or having to wait as white customers were served first. Jewish storekeepers were generally more lenient and would address African-Americans as “Mr.” and “Mrs.,” a courtesy rarely seen. “They felt they were the good guys, but the African-Americans didn’t always see it that way,” Ivester said. She added that the extension of credit, seen by storeowners as a way of helping out, was also an issue, because one doesn’t necessarily like a person they owe money to. She added, “in many cases the Jewish shopkeepers were hanging on by their fingertips and they were targets of the KKK as well.” Ivester’s mother decided to teach Shakespeare’s “Merchant of Venice” in the high school, from the perspective of “the tragedy of Shylock.” She started by asking the students what they knew about Jews — and many of the responses were highly negative. Nevertheless, she wrote them on the board. Finally, she asked the students if they had forgotten that she is Jewish — and they immediately protested that they weren’t talking about her. “Yes, you were,” she replied, and despite their pleas, refused to erase the board until the students had “earned” it after a long discussion on prejudice, centered around the quote “if you prick us, do we not bleed” and applying it to different groups. She eventually set up a “pipeline” of students from Mound Bayou to attend Brandeis and Tufts, which endured long after the family left Mississippi. On April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, two hours up the road in Memphis. “It felt personal,” she said. Everyone in Mound Bayou was grieving as if “they lost a family member,” and there had been plans in the works for King to speak in Mound Bayou. Friends from across the country called to urge the Krugers to leave Mound Bayou immediately, citing riots that were breaking out all over the country. Instead, they set off on their normal daily routine. When Ivester arrived at school, classmates were hugging and crying, and she was immediately embraced as well. “We were not met with hostility. We were part of the community’s grieving.” Just by being in Mound Bayou, the Krugers were pulled into the civil rights movement, Ivester said. But they were eventually forced to leave Mound Bayou. Mrs. Kruger ordered a wide range of books for the school, many dealing
with black history and pride, books that would never be purchased by a Mississippi school system in those days. When the packages arrived, she was instructed not to open them. Many parents were concerned that by reading the books, the teens would start to rebel against the social norms of the area, and if through increased self-pride they refused to defer to whites while in other towns, they could get killed. A huge controversy erupted, and there was a lengthy public forum to discuss the issue, with the promise that there would be a follow-up the next week. That follow-up meeting never came, as four teens assaulted Ivester, who was 11 at the time. A local priest advised them to keep the assault quiet and leave, that the assault was likely related to the book controversy — and that if the Klan learned that four black students had assaulted a white girl, they would burn down the town. While the Krugers did not want to leave, they soon saw that the safety of Mound Bayou was at stake, so they planned to pack up the next day. That evening, about a dozen of Mrs. Kruger‘s students came by to say goodbye and express appreciation for what she had taught them. When they were done, they mentioned it was time to let the next group in — much to the Krugers’ astonishment, their yard was filled with students, who came inside in groups of 10 to 15 well into the night. The Krugers headed to Miami, where there had been riots, as they “wanted to go where the trouble was.” Then they headed to Los Angeles, where Mrs. Kruger taught at South Central. Despite the assault — which, while doing interviews for the book, Ivester learned was a prank gone horribly wrong and not a political statement — “when I talk about Mound Bayou, I have such incredibly warm feelings about the town and its people.” She goes around speaking to groups about her experiences because “Fifty years later, we are still dealing with many of the same problems,” and “in sharing our personal stories, we are able to raise awareness.” She is working on a new book, “Once a Girl, Always a Boy” inspired by her transgender son. Her Jackson talk was part of a three-day conference, “Reclaiming Our Humanity: Lessons of the Holocaust for Today,” sponsored by the New York-based Olga Lengyel Institute for Holocaust Studies and Human Rights. Her talk in Metairie was coordinated by the Anti-Defamation League’s regional office in New Orleans, and co-sponsored by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, the Greater New Orleans Section of the National Council of Jewish Women and Hadassah New Orleans.
Many Opioid Addictions Can Begin With Doctors and Dentists
This begs the question of who can you trust if not your medical professionals. When we say, “no one plans on becoming an addict,” this proves it. Sadly for most, it begins with a trip to the dentist for a toothache or the doctor for minor surgery or an injury and they are quick to prescribe Oxycontin or Loratab when a simple Ibuprofen would do. So what is the answer to this crisis? There can be many answers. Lawmakers are working on possible opioid tax bills throughout the country. The pharmaceutical industry argues that this will only be passed on to the consumer. Well, hello, isn’t everything passed on to the consumer? On the other hand, big pharma is giving billions to states for drugs funded by Medicaid, not to mention the millions, make that billions, that are given to doctors, hospitals and anyone who will prescribe their ‘wonder drug.’ Does anyone ever question the effects of the misuse or long term use of this drug might cause? There is an effort to cross-reference patient information to prevent drug shopping. Today most doctors and dentists, etc., will require a patient visit before writing a prescription, however the patient may or may not have it filled, which leaves it available to a family member or friend who might desire it. Whether it’s putting vodka in a water bottle or filling someone else’s prescription, the addicted brain will find a way. Opioid addiction can be beaten with education, counseling, getting and maintaining a healthy body and lifestyle… these are all things that we do at Bayshore Retreat.
July 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 15
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16 Southern Jewish Life • July 2018
Draining but fulfilling: Staffing Dream Street by Jake Davidson It is 7 a.m., and I am completely drained to the point that my first thought is coffee, but each time I turn over the edge of my top bunk to look at my camper below, he is sitting right up and ready to go. I then have to change a diaper, dress him, and help him brush his teeth. I pack my bag with his necessities for the day before I can even address myself. While he is flying out the door in arm crutches and the biggest smile on his face, I am just trying to manage my bed head and get my act together before some girl sees me. This winter, I applied to volunteer my time during the last week of May at Dream Street, a summer camp for children with disabilities. Since 1975, Dream Street has been held at the Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica. I had been going to Jacobs Camp as a camper for nine years, so I had always known about Dream Street. The staff converts the HSJ campus as their own for the week. Last year, a few of my friends from camp had participated as Dream Street counselors, and all of them had encouraged me to come the next year. I happily agreed to sign up. I was accepted in March and felt honored that a committee believed my 17-year-old self would be a good fit to be a counselor to a child with Spina Bifida. Orientation took two days, going over everything from Ace procedures and enema procedures, to changing a diaper correctly. While some of the children could do some things themselves, there were also some children that were completely dependent, so each one of the staff members needed to be ready for anything. The second day, we received our own camper’s application, detailing each camper’s limitations. Could they shower on their own? Can they feed themselves? Can they move from place to place easily? On my first day, I learned that “my kid” loves to fish. Every time we had the choice to kayak, cook, or even experiment with mad science, my kid always chose fishing, rain or shine. One day down by the lake, he could not get anything to bite. Cast after cast, worm after worm with no payout in any shape or form, he eventually snagged a dead tree limb. After a while, I realized that he needed a fish soon because this day was not getting any shorter. I got the attention of one of Dream Street’s occupational therapists there and explained the issue. The OT told my camper that he was going to put on a magic worm that was sure to catch a fish. While I distracted my camper, the OT took a live fish from the bucket and put my camp-
er’s hook through it. We pointed out some cool geese in the water while we tossed the “magic worm” into the lake. Once my camper’s attention returned to his line, he had “caught” a fish. He was bragging to everyone about how he caught his fish. I was just happy that he was happy. I had been told by some of the more experienced counselors that my camper was probably the best type of kid to have for a first-time counselor. Though my little guy had Spina Bifida, he was semi-dependent as he was able to get around in his arm crutches without my help and did not need me to help push him in his wheelchair, except on hills. He could pull up his pants, get his shirt on and brush his teeth. He was very vocal and could feed himself. He was a bit picky with food, but a PB&J always put a smile on his face, and he chowed down. He was a great camper, and I gained a lot of understanding and responsibility from my time at Dream Street. While I helped him, he helped me learn much about myself as a person as well. For five days straight, I was consumed with a continuous morning routine. I had been told that this week would be the most mentally, physically and emotionally draining experience. Believe me, it lived up to the hype. The first two days were restless, but I could easily keep up with my energetic child. By day three, however, the mere six hours of sleep and an often times 18-hour day began to take its toll. Of course, I was completely engaged with my child all the time, but the second that I put him to bed, the wear down would hit me like a freight train. It was all worth it, though. The smile that he had every morning and throughout the day was worth every drop of coffee I consumed. Dream Street has been the most fulfilling experience of my young life, and I welcome the challenge of participating again. Jake Davidson is a rising senior at Lamar School in Meridian.
July 2018 â€¢ Southern Jewish Life 17
health/wellness an annual SJL special section
Tulane Bariatric Center earns accreditation by Lee J. Green The recently-accredited Tulane Bariatric Center wants to show patients the “weigh” to a healthy lifestyle through not just effective, safe bariatric surgery but education on nutrition, exercise, genetics and food science. “In addition to educating our community at large about the benefits of bariatric surgery, it is also my dream to create a healthy version of my grandmother’s noodle kugel,” said Shauna Levy, who recently moved to New Orleans from the Houston Jewish community and will soon become director of the Tulane Bariatric Center. “Losing weight and keeping it off is not easy, but we want to be there for patients every step of the way to help them help themselves,” said Levy. “Obesity isn’t due to a lack of self-control. It is a disease. The most proven and durable therapy for obesity is bariatric surgery. We are a comprehensive care center. It’s so much more than surgery and recovery. It’s a whole team of medical professionals dedicated to setting up patients for success.” That team involves dieticians, nurses, surgeons, educators, psychologists, cardiologists and pulmonologists working together. Current Tulane Bariatrics Center Director Christopher DuCoin said they started seeing patients in 2015. The new accreditation comes from the American Society of Metabolic and Bariatric Surgery. “They did some extensive processes before granting us accreditation. We’re the first ones in downtown New Orleans to earn this,” said DuCoin. “It is a strong validation of the work we are doing. It also means that insurance will cover bariatric surgery here for all who qualify.” So how do patients qualify for bariatric surgery? Levy and DuCoin said it could vary from individual to individual but those with a Body Mass Index of 35 to 39.9 with an associated obesity-related condition, also known as a comorbid condition, like hypertension, high cholesterol, sleep apnea or diabetes could be a candidate. Those with a BMI over 40 don’t necessarily need to have a comorbid condition. Anyone with a BMI under 35 should inquire about bariatric surgery. “We have a Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator on our website (www. tulanehealthcare.com/service/weight-loss-surgery) that can help us as one tool in the process to determine if bariatric surgery is the best option for someone,” said Levy. DuCoin said that both he and Levy have been conducting surgeries for a decade, and bariatric surgery has greatly advanced in the past 15 to 20 years. “We’ve gone from big incisions to small incisions. It’s laparoscopy… and it is safer than having your gall bladder removed. Usually patients can
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leave the hospital the next day following surgery with minimal recovery times,” he said. “The risks of obesity far outweigh the risks of surgery,” added Levy. Once a patient qualifies for surgery at the Tulane Bariatric Center, they work with the professional team there for six months of pre-operative education, sessions and evaluations. Then after the surgery, they work with patients to help them keep the weight off. “What you eat and getting exercise is so important in weight loss and maintenance,” said Levy. DuCoin advises a minimum of 20 minutes of activity a day, and Levy adds that people need to drink 64 ounces of water daily. But it’s not easy since much of weight is “out of our control,” said Levy. “Seventy percent is genetic and only 30 percent is diet and exercise. It’s fighting a genetic battle. We should not blame ourselves or ever feel ashamed. There are positive solutions.” She said that most patients are aware that weight loss and successful bariatric surgery help those who suffer from diabetes, sleep apnea as well as elevated blood pressure and cholesterol levels. However, many are surprised to learn how weight loss can contribute to lessening one’s chances for developing certain cancers — close to onethird of all cancers. “Fat cells cause inflammation and make the cells more susceptible to cancer,” said Levy. “We already know, for example, that Ashkenazi Jews have a higher propensity for developing breast cancer due to the BRAC gene. Excess fat cells also could cause a woman’s body to produce excess estrogen, thus also increasing the risk for breast and some other cancers.” Levy and DuCoin both are professors in the Tulane School of Medicine. “We love educating future medical professionals and in our practice we love educating patients on healthy living,” said Levy. Adds DuCoin, “the beauty of bariatric surgery is that you can fall back in love with the person you look at in the mirror as well as live a longer, healthier life.”
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Every summer we get at least one or two phone calls a week from people who are going on vacation and have to find a place for their Methadone treatment. Seriously? The same can be said for Suboxone. Both of these forms of “treatment” are costly and are just another dependency. In fact, they’re called “replacement therapy,” which is appropriately named since patients are replacing heroin and other opioids with these. We’ve had many clients who have used these forms of treatment and finally realized the trap they were in with them. Likewise most, if not all, said that they reached a point where they couldn’t afford the “treatment” any longer so they went back to using heroin. Now with the government’s attention on the opioid addiction these centers will flourish, and probably with government (our) money. If you or someone you know in this trap or heading toward it, there is a better answer. It’s not a short-term medical detox or the big box rehabs where patients go from one 12-step meeting to another. It’s Bayshore Retreat, where we sweat the toxins out, replenish the nutrients the body has lost and work with clients through quality counseling to restore confidence and self-esteem. Clients bring their cell phone and laptop and are able to stay in touch with family and work. We allow this because many times it helps us identify some of the stress factors the clients endure and address it with them. There is a better way to beat addiction, and we have it. Bayshore Retreat’s small home environment is different and it makes a difference.
Think of eye health when using computers and electronics by Lee J. Green Schaeffer Eye Center and Dr. Brooke Kaplan want to help patients obtain 20/20 vision, but 20-20-20 is also very important. “These days, many of us are on the computer and our electronics devices much of the day,” said Kaplan, daughter of Schaeffer Eye Center founder Jack Schaeffer. “We recommend the 20-20-20 rule. After every 20 minutes you are on the computer, look away 20 feet for 20 seconds. That will help prevent digital eye strain.” Symptoms of digital eye strain include headaches, shoulder/neck pain, dry/irritated eyes, blurred vision and light sensitivity. It’s summertime in the Deep South and Kaplan recommends proper eye protection from the sun’s harmful UV rays. “We work with patients to make sure they can get not just sunglasses they like the look of, but ones that offer them the UV protection they need,” she said. “A lot of people will be at the beach, lake and pool this summer. It is important to remember that light refracts off of water differently and that can be a concern for eyes that are not properly protected.” For those contact lens-wearers enjoying summer activity, Schaeffer Eye Center recommends daily disposables. Longer-wear lenses can pop out, dry out and get infected. They also can recommend cleaning solutions that help prevent infections. Before everyone knows it, back-to-school time will arrive and the focus increases on the importance of eye exams for kids. “Good vision means more than seeing 20/20. A child might see 20/20 but still have some vision problems,” said Kaplan. “Even if a child doesn’t seem to be having symptoms of vision issues or already isn’t wearing con-
tacts or eyeglasses, we recommend at least an annual eye exam.” Kaplan added that a child might have vision issues but is not able to communicate it. “We’ve seen some cases diagnosed as ADHD, when the root of it is a vision problem. They can’t see well so they get frustrated, bored and can’t keep up,” she said. Eye exams for adults and kids can also find symptoms for diseases that are not diseases of the eye. “That’s why we dilate patients in an exam. We are not just looking for vision issues, but we can detect symptoms of diabetes, high blood pressure, thyroid disease and even some cancers,” she said. Kaplan takes pride in being an involved member of the community, with three kids at the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School. “This is an amazing community for us and our family,” she said.
Best of both worlds: How chiropractic and acupuncture complement Chiropractic and acupuncture… while those practices may seem like two different worlds, Cherie Johnson of Chiropractic Acupuncture Health Center in the Greystone area of Birmingham said the two work synonymously. “Many acupuncture points run along the spine,” she said. “When we adjust, we stimulate those points.” Because of that correlation, she recommends having an adjustment first, followed by acupuncture. Citing a professor that said “acupuncture is the glue to an adjustment,” Johnson said “if a patient has a disc issue, we will typically treat with chiropractic and then follow with acupuncture to help reduce swelling and inflammation.” She noted some patients are not helped by chiropractic
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because of the amount of inflammation in the body, “therefore we may switch to acupuncture to help with the pain, inflammation, swelling and nerve discomfort.” Good candidates for acupuncture, a “drug free option,” include those with migrane headaches, back or neck pain, sciatica, arthritis, disc issues, rotator cuff injuries, insomnia, depression, anxiety, infertility, hormone issues and digestive issues. Johnson’s practice is more than chiropractic and acupuncture — nutritional counseling and supplements are emphasized. In studying acupuncture, “one of the first things we were taught is to treat the whole body, and that includes nutritionally,” she said. “We do know the necessary supplements to support this system. It speeds up the healing and repair time when we combine the two.” Similar situations are addressed through chiropractic. “Many musculoskeletal issue can be resolved with simple supplementation,” she said. “Our job is to listen to the patient and lead them in the right direction to support their body with the necessary foods for healing.” Johnson also explained the difference between Dry Needling and acupuncture. “Dry Needling is done by most physical therapists,” she said. Dry Needling is focused more on loosening up bound or tight muscle tissue through placing a needle in the muscle tissue that is tight and then moving the needle up and down to loosen the tight tissue. “Kind of like having a knot in a piece of yarn and using your needle to unwind or loosen the knot,” she said. Acupuncture “is dealing with different meridian/energy points to balance the body and help bring energy to or away from the biological systems of the body,” she said. “Acupuncture works more with energy/Chi, which in turn can affect muscles, nerves, inflammation, organs, joints. Our treatments last 15 minutes.”
Beyond the surface at Escape Day Spa by Lee J. Green Every day, Escape Day Spa in Homewood strives to be more than a day spa, according to owner Carrie Holley. They focus on a holistic approach to a total healthy lifestyle for their clients. “We love not just providing wellness services and all-natural products to help people feel good, but also letting them know why we do it and education about the things that have helped us live healthy lifestyles,” said Holley. Escape plans to launch some healthy lifestyle educational classes, demonstrations and open houses soon. “We want to take that hands-on approach to wellness,” she added. Holley said they make all their salt scrubs and muds in-house. Those are 100 percent natural/organic and hypo-allergenic, as are the essential oils and massage creams. Some, if pertinent, are vegan and some are gluten-free. “Our skin is so absorbent and there are a lot of things in our environment that can damage it,” she said. “It’s not just about what we put into our bodies that is so important, but also what we put on our bodies.” Escape Day Spa’s experienced massage therapists, including Holley, take continuing education at least once every two years as a part of maintaining their licenses. “I have been doing massage therapy for 18 years and there are a lot of new things out there just in the past few years,” she said. “Everyone knows how relaxing a massage is and how it can help sore muscles to heal. But many people don’t realize how much it benefits our circulation. It gets toxins out of the body and can clear up allergies; get rid of headaches as well as improve metabolism,” said Holley. Escape Day Spa also does pedicures. Holley said those, along with the facials and massages, have health benefits that extend beyond just feeling or looking good. “We are all about going beyond the surface,” she said. 36 Southern Jewish Life • July 2018
health/wellness Ned Marshall Design
Tips to Beat the Summer Heat from Touro Infirmary When the days get hotter, it’s important to prevent sunburns and other mishaps, such as heat exhaustion or stroke. Summer provides plenty of opportunities for fun in the sun. However, children, teens and the elderly have a tough time adjusting to extreme heat. They produce more heat with activity than adults and sweat less. Therefore, it’s important for everyone to stay vigilant during these scorching summer months. Here are a few tips on how to stay cool!
When the temperature rises, getting enough fluids is important, whether you’re playing sports or out and about in the sun. Water is essential for maintaining blood circulation throughout your body. Other sources of water include fruits and vegetables. Also, sports drinks with electrolytes are useful for people doing high intensity, vigorous exercise in the sun. You should always drink water before, during and after exercise to stay safely hydrated. A good rule of thumb is to drink at least eight 8-ounce servings of water daily. In a hot and humid climate like New Orleans, people tend to sweat more, which requires additional intake of fluid. You should drink enough fluids to avoid feeling excess thirst and produce 1.5 liters (6.3 cups) or more of colorless (light-yellow) urine a day. It’s also best to avoid drinks containing caffeine, which acts as a diuretic and causes you to lose more fluids.
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Understand the Warning Signs of Heat-Related Illnesses
Heat-related illnesses require immediate medical attention. The warning signs include Practice Sun Safety Sun safety is extremely important in protect- fever, lack of sweating, muscle cramps, confuing us against skin cancer. Here are a few ways sion, dizziness, headache, nausea, vomiting, rapid heartbeat and fainting. If a person is exto prevent sun-related skin problems: periencing these symptoms, you should call 911 • Apply sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or immediately. A heat stroke is the most severe greater at least 30 minutes before sun form of heat illnesses and can cause permanent exposure, and then at least every 2 hours damage or death. thereafter, more often if you are sweating Here are a few things you can do while waitor swimming ing for help to arrive: • Select cosmetic products that offer UV protection • Get the person to a shaded area • Wear sunglasses with total UV protection • Remove clothing and gently apply cool • Wear wide-brimmed hats, along with water to the skin followed by fanning to loose-fitting long-sleeved shirts and pants stimulate sweating • Avoid direct sun exposure as much as • Apply ice packs to the groin and armpits possible during peak UV radiation hours, • Have the person lie down in a cool area which are between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. with their feet slightly elevated • Perform skin self-exams regularly to become familiar with existing growths and For additional health and wellness tips, or to to notice any changes or new growths find a healthcare provider in your neighborhood, • Avoid tanning beds visit www.touro.com today.
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health/wellness Hearing and Speech Milestones
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From the moment a baby is born, he or she is learning. That’s why it’s important for parents to be aware of and watch for important developmental milestones from birth the age 3. Jill Smith, the director of the Hearing and Speech Center at Children’s of Alabama, said engaging in simple activities like talking to your baby while changing a diaper actually helps them learn to communicate. Smith said even the routine task of feeding your baby lays a foundation for speech. “Those same muscles they are using to suck on the bottle are the same muscles they will use when learning to talk,” Smith said. Crying is a form of communication for several months of a baby’s development. Babies cry to let parents know when they need something or when they are overwhelmed or tired. They can also engage in two-way “conversations,” exchanging smiles and cooing with mom or dad. During this important developmental stage, Smith recommends parents consistently talk to their child. This may include reading to them, engaging in “conversations” with them and pointing out objects or animals when at the park or around the home. “You can be saying, ‘Oh! There’s a bird,’ or ‘Look at our friend, the dog,’ and even though they may just be laying back in their stroller, they’re taking it all in, listening and learning,” Smith said. Babies should begin reaching basic speech and hearing milestones as they grow:
3 Months Old Smiling (responding to parent) Cooing, babbling with parent 6 Months Old Should understand “No” Recognizes his or her name Recognizes when a parent is in the room 1 Year Old Should be speaking basic words like “No,” “Dada” and “Mama” 18 Months Old Should be able to speak 30-50 words
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2 Years Old Should be able to string words together like “I don’t want,” “My ball,” and “Go outside” Should have a vocabulary of 200-300 words Children communicate at different rates, just as they mature physically at different rates, but Smith said if a child is not using any words by 18 months old, parents should consult a pediatrician and request a speech evaluation. Early speech and language skills are associated with success in reading, writing and social skills later in life. By engaging in “baby talk” with your baby, you help build a foundation for his or her future.
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At 95, Clarksdale native Sam Baker publishes children’s book Sam Baker of Scottsdale, Ariz. made his book debut in April, penning a story that was inspired from his childhood in Clarksdale, Miss. “It’s been fun writing” the book, “The Silly Adventures of Petunia and Herman the Worm,” he said. The 95-year-old author then added, “I’ve got two more in the works.” Petunia is a 6-year-old girl, while Herman is a caterpillar with a human-looking face, arms and hands, and the ability to speak. Naturally, Petunia and Herman become friends. The Herman stories began when his children were young and they were living in Florida. His work with the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey required him to “go downrange” two weeks out of every month. Stationed at Cape Canaveral, Baker was in charge of being sure that all the tracking devices for missile launches were tied to the grid. When he was away, his wife would read stories to the children at bed time, but when he came back to town, they wanted him to come up with an original story. He created Herman and tied him to the space program, having him go into space with the astronauts. The son of a cotton farmer, Baker recalled they had a lot of cucumber plants and dill plants. He would watch the large caterpillars that were attracted to the plants, and when they neared the pupa phase, he would put the caterpillars in a shoebox and “watch them come out as beautiful swallowtail butterflies.” He used that memory to create Herman. His family lived two blocks down from Beth Israel in Clarksdale, which in the 1930s was the largest Jewish congregation in Mississippi; it closed in 2003. In the 1930s, there were over 60 children in the religious school, and the local Orthodox and Reform communities shared space. “I would walk there Friday nights, when I wasn’t in the band at ballgames,” Baker said. Emma, who is in the book, was the cook his family had when he was growing up. “My mother had a store and worked all day,” he said. “The depression wiped it out.” During the depression, his father had to renegotiate to keep their home. In 1930, Baker got a paper route at age 8, making $1.50 per week. “I gave it to my mother. It was a big help.” He later worked for Mr. Bloom, “who had a bread route.” He offered to take a year off from school to make money, but his mother told him “they can take your money, but they can’t take your education.” He wound up getting a job at the Mississippi State stadium for 25 cents an hour. “I was in school when the war started, and I volunteered for the Marine Corps four months after Pearl Harbor,” he said. Since he needed a birth certificate, he went to Jackson to get one — and that’s when he discovered he had a different name. They did not have a record of Samuel Baker, but they did have a Leonard Samuel Baker. They asked him if Samuel was his middle name, and he said “I don’t have a middle name.”
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Since he was born on Shabbat, his parents waited to fill out the birth certificate. Unbeknownst to them, a nurse wrote down “Leonard” as a placeholder, and it stayed on the official document. On the book, he goes by Sam Baker. A further complication was that he was listed as being born on Aug. 16 instead of Aug. 26 — the latter of which was a Saturday that year. When he was told they had him listed as being born on Aug. 16, he exclaimed “That was Charles Levine’s birthday!” Looking back on it, “I don’t know how that thing got so messed up.” When he brought the paperwork back to the Marines, the sergeant said “Son, you want to join the Marines Corps and you don’t know your own name?” After time at Paris Island, Camp Lejeune and Camp Pendleton, he went to Pearl Harbor for his first platoon — which turned out to be a brig platoon, prisoners who were given the option to enlist. “They were the sorriest-looking troops, and this was my first platoon,” he said. He served in the South Pacific, including Guadalcanal, then headed to Okinawa. After the war, he was in New Orleans and Pensacola for a brief time, and joined the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey. As part of that work, in 1951 he got to fly over the North Pole. “At that time, only about 400 people had flown over the pole, so it was a big occasion,” he said. He retired in 1978, then worked for Teledyne and Brookhaven National Laboratories on a fusion project. After that, he was the world’s first GPS salesman. The units weighed 45 pounds and took 6 hours to get a position, but he calls GPS “probably one of the greatest inventions.” When Baker got his first computer, son Michael urged him to write down the Herman stories. He eventually decided to publish the stories, and daughter Sally, a publicist, helped him find illustrator Ann Hess and a publisher. He said the book teaches children things they need to know — to wear their seatbelts, be courteous to people and “laugh and enjoy life, and still be good.” Approaching his 96th birthday, Baker spends 45 minutes a day in the gym and is active on the resident advisory council at his development. His sister just celebrated her 99th birthday at the Jewish Home in Memphis, and he plans to visit her soon. While in the area, “I’ll drive to Clarksdale and visit the place.” Walking through the Jewish cemetery there “is like memory lane… it’s sad to go back, nobody is there… all my friends are gone now.”
Exploring Jewish India by Rabbi Judy Caplan Ginsburgh In April 2014, I was privileged to serve as rabbi on a cruise ship that sailed from Dubai to Singapore, with stops in Mumbai, Goa and Mangalore, India; and Sri Lanka. It was truly a trip of a lifetime. I was so exhilarated by the few days I spent in Mumbai that when I returned home, I immediately started thinking of ways I could get back to see more of India. I found a trip that was billed as a Jewish Cultural Trip of India, so I signed up. Not only would I get to learn about the Jewish side of India, but I would get to return to a place that I found incredibly spiritual and exciting. I talked my sisterin-law, Alice, who is from Chicago, into going with me. On February 5, we flew to Mumbai to begin a 16-day tour of India. The flight was very long, 22 hours, and included a transfer in Istanbul, Turkey. We arrived in Mumbai at 5 a.m. and were met by a driver who took us to the Taj Mahal Palace and Tower Hotel. This was a five-star trip, and every day was jam-packed with things to see, do and experience. During the course of the trip, we visited seven different cities; four UNESCO World Heritage sites — Elephanta Island, the Astrological Observatory in Jaipur, the Kutab Minaret and the Taj Mahal — and 12 synagogues. We rode on 12 different modes of transportation, including an elephant in Jaipur and a rickshaw through traffic in Delhi. A nationally-known recording artist, Rabbi Judy Caplan-Ginsburgh lives in Alexandria and serves B’nai Israel in Monroe part-time. She is available for presentations about her India trip. For information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
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July 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 41
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We began our trip in Mumbai, visiting the Sassoon Dock, begun by a Jewish merchant, David Sassoon who came to Mumbai from Baghdad in 1832. At one time, there were over 40,000 Jews in India. Today, there are fewer than 4,500 and many communities do not have enough people to make a minyan. All of the Jews in India were Orthodox, and when Israel became a state in 1948, most of the Jews made aliyah to Israel. Jews were always able to worship freely in India and they were also very well respected. Most of those who moved felt they could be more religious in a place where there were more Jews. There were two main types of Jews who originally came to India, and all were Sephardic. The Baghdadi Jews came from Iraq, Turkey, Yemen, Persia. Like David Sassoon, most of them came to India as merchants in the trading business. The other Jews who lived in India were the Bene Israel Jews. Legend has it that a group of Jews escaping religious persecution in Palestine over 2,000 years ago were shipwrecked off the coast of India, south of Mumbai. Seven couples survived and began the Bene Israel community in India. The Shema was one of the prayers they remembered from their tradition and it was recited at all occasions. So, the Shema is prominent in all of their synagogues. We visited the site where, according to legend, the shipwreck occurred, and visited a Jewish cemetery with a monument dedicated to their memory. The first of many synagogues we visited was the Magen David Synagogue, built in 1861 by David Sassoon. There is a Jewish school, the Jacob Sassoon School, next door to the synagogue. The enrollment is now 90 percent Muslim. The synagogue and the school are painted a beautiful light blue color. Shoes are removed before entering all synagogues in India. As is common in all synagogues in India, the ark is at the far end with a bimah in the middle. There is also a second bimah upstairs where the women sit behind a mechitza. The Torah and Haftarah are always read from the balcony bimah. In all of the synagogues we visited, we saw many light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. These were often assigned to families and they would light lights in them to commemorate a family Yahrzeit. We spent five days in Mumbai and the surrounding areas. We took a ferry to Elephanta Island, a 7th-century Hindu Temple dedicated to the god Shiva, which was carved out of a cave. We visited Alibaug, where we were treated to an amazing Israeli meal by Chef Moshe, who owns a cooking school and restaurant there. We visited the Chabad House to remember the victims of the 2008 terrorist attack and we visited Gandhi’s House. We attended Shabbat services at Knesseth Eliyahu Synagogue and enjoyed a traditional Indian Shabbat meal hosted by a relative of David Sassoon and other members of the synagogue. Our next stop was Cochin, called the “Miami of India” because of its tropical climate, palm trees and beaches on the Arabian Sea. We saw the Chinese fishing nets and walked through Jew Town, the area where the Jews lived. Today, fewer than 25 Jews remain in Cochin. We visited four synagogues in Cochin, including the 450-year-old Paradesi Synagogue and the Kadavum Bagam Synagogue, which is maintained by a private citizen and is entered by walking through his business, a tropical fish and plant store. The Jews were very well respected in Cochin and very much liked by the Maharaja. In fact, he donated land to the Jews to build a synagogue right next to his palace and Temple. This was the Paradesi Synagogue in Mattancherry. The ark is a dramatic red and gold, and the floors are blue and white tiles which were imported from China in 1762. While in Cochin, we had lunch at a restaurant overlooking the Arabian Sea and attended a Kathatali dance performance, an ancient form of storytelling through dance and movement performed by men who study 6 years to learn the craft. Then we ate an Indian meal served on a plantain leaf.
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Our next stop was Jaipur, the “Pink City.” Most of the buildings are made of pink sandstone. In 1876, when Prince Albert visited India, the ruling Maharaja of Jaipur ordered that all buildings be painted pink, the color of hospitality, and in 1877 a rule was actually passed that all buildings in the city had to be this color. Here we rode elephants to the top of the Amber Fort, which guarded the Palace of the Maharaja. we saw the City Palace and the Jantar Mantar Observatory. We then visited a carpet and textile factory where we saw craftsmen making carpets and hand blocking fabric. After lunch, we went to the textile area, where we were able to shop for custom-made clothing. We each had a personal shopper who helped us make selections of fabric. We would tell them what we wanted made and someone would take our measurements. The items we ordered were delivered to our hotel by 9 p.m. and everything fit perfectly. That evening, we enjoyed a traditional Indian dinner served under the stars while we watched a traditional dance performance. We did not see any synagogues in Jaipur. Our next stop was Calcutta. In 2001, the name was changed to Kolkata. Kolkata is the capital of the Indian state of West Bengal. Most of what we saw in Calcutta looked like every scene you have ever witnessed of India in a movie or on TV — crowded, impoverished and dirty. The first place we visited, however, was sparkling clean and gorgeous. It was the Jain Temple, also called the Jewel Box of Calcutta. The Jains are an offshoot of Hinduism. The Jain Temple is surrounded by beautifully manicured gardens and the Temple itself is all mosaics made with semi-precious stones and Belgian glass. Inside there are pillars of gold and crystal chandeliers. We visited three synagogues in Kolkata and held Shabbat services in two of them. Friday
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evening Kabbalat Shabbat was held in the Beth El Synagogue, followed by a traditional Baghdadi meal cooked by members of the Jewish community. On Shabbat morning, I was honored to lead part of the Shacharit services at Maghen David Synagogue, which was built in 1884. Behind the ark door of this synagogue is actually a room where originally there were 75 Torah scrolls — one for each family. Now, there are only two scrolls. The Torah scrolls are contained in silver canisters and are read upright instead of laying them down as we do. That evening, we were hosted for dinner in the home of Calcutta native and cookbook author Flo Silliman and her daughter, Yael. She is 88 years old and sharp as a tack. Her home was lovely and large and she served a scrumptious meal of fried fish, stuffed tomatoes, coleslaw, aloo gobi (potato and cauliflower) and aloo makalah (fried whole potato) with rice pudding for dessert. We had a wonderful visit as we learned about her life in Calcutta. From Kolkata, we flew to Delhi, the capital of India and the second most populous city in the world. Although Delhi is said to have the most toxic air in the world, it was a beautiful and clean city with lots of government buildings, parks and gardens. We visited the Kutab Minaret, a 13th century Muslim monument, and Judah Hyam Synagogue, the only liberal synagogue in India. The caretaker is Ezekiel Isaac, a retired Jewish lawyer who felt a calling to take care of the synagogue full-time and speak to non-Jewish audiences about Judaism. The next day in Delhi, we road in a rickshaw, an open surrey driven by a man on a bicycle, through Delhi traffic — probably the scariest thing I did in India. We stopped at the tomb of Sarmad, a Persian mystic, poet and saint who was born a Jew. We also visited Gandhi’s tomb at Raj Ghat on the site where he was cremated. After lunch, we visited the Sikh Temple. This Temple has a community kitchen where over 20,000 people are fed each day. We ended the day with a visit to the Khan Market, where we were able to purchase fabric and jewelry. The next day, we drove about 4 hours to Agra, passing high-rise communities in the suburbs of Delhi, then brick factories and wheat and mustard seed fields along the way. Of course, the highlight of any trip to India is seeing the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal was built by the emperor Shah Jahan in the 17th century as a memorial to his wife, who died in childbirth at the age of 38, having their 14th child. It took 22 years to build and is built entirely of marble. There are four gates that surround the Taj and block it from view until you pass through the gate. Then you see this magnificent structure before you that seems to be floating on air. The next day, we visited the Red Fort in Agra, a massive structure that protected the Palace of the Maharaja. It is also the place where Shah Jahan was imprisoned by his own son. After Shah Jahan built the Taj Mahal, he announced that he was going to build another Taj, a black Taj, across the river from the white Taj. His intention was to build the black Taj as his own tomb. When his son found out about this, he had him arrested so that he would not spend all of his inheritance. The Shah’s quarters at the Red Fort looked out on his beloved Taj in the distance, and this is where he remained until he died. We also visited Kalakriti, a marble factory where we saw how they make the marble-inlayed tables Agra is famous for. All the work is done by hand, and is a family business. There are about 360 families who belong to a cooperative where the craft is passed down from father to son. Each family has their own designs. It was fascinating to watch and to see the beautiful showroom of marble inlay products. There is so much spirituality in India and I was so at peace there. Everyone is basically happy and satisfied with their lot. It is a beautiful culture, steeped in history, and a visit is truly life-changing.
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N Yud’s legend has long fallen into the realm of legend. Rav N Yud’s nemesis was poverty and strife. Unfortunately for his legacy, and possible book sales or film rights, that’s less intriguing than actually battling an evil Sheriff or some guy from Gisborne. And don’t even start about Maid Marian. However, some of Rav N Yud’s legacy continues. For instance, his most recognizable feature has been immortalized by a contemporaneous, more secular and thus better known outlaw’s feathered hat. Much later, a certain Yankee doodle dandy was just copying Rav N Yud who’d centuries earlier stuck a feather in his cap and called it macaroony. Doug Brook is the writer of “The Hood of Sherwood,” premiering in July in Northern California. To read past columns, visit http://brookwrite.com/. For exclusive online content, like facebook.com/rearpewmirror.
NCJW funds three additional groups The Greater New Orleans Section of the National Council of Jewish Women is adding three programs to its list of funded community services, bringing the total to 16. The NCJW Community Needs Committee recommended the allocations to the full NCJW board, which voted unanimously to provide $2,500 to the Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights; $1,000 to the Louisiana Judicial Bypass Project/Lift Louisiana and $2,000 to Sisterhearts/S.H.E.R.O. All funds will come from the NCJW Myer Israel Fund. Additionally, NCJW decided to hold a clothing donation drive for Sisterhearts. Louisiana Center for Children’s Rights is a non-profit law office that defends the right of every child in Louisiana’s juvenile justice system to fairness, dignity and opportunity. Volunteers are sought to help LCCR with its Small Favors Project that helps kids get school uniforms, books and state documents; helps evicted families move on very short notice; helps parents be there for their children on the eve of surgery; helped a recently-released man who was sentenced to juvenile life without parole get resettled on the outside; and helped two clients move directly from prison to college. The purpose of the small favors project is to ensure that no small costs stand between children and opportunities to develop and thrive. Susan Kierr is the NCJW chair for LCCR. Louisiana Judicial Bypass Project provides free legal representation in court for any minor seeking judicial bypass for an abortion where their parents have not given consent for the abortion. Non-lawyer volunteers provide research and do client intake. Volunteer lawyers are trained to provide services to minors in court. This project is run by Lift Louisiana, an organization dedicated to lifting the voices and experiences of Louisiana’s women to improve health outcomes and wellbeing. The Section’s chair, Michele Goldfarb, is looking for new volunteers. SisterHearts Exit ReEntry Organization is a prison re-entry program for women, run by Sisterhearts thrift store. To date more than 70 participants have benefitted from services offered through the S.H.E.R.O. program. SisterHearts is the only organization in the state predominantly owned, operated and developed by, with and for female returning citizens. Ex-offenders learn work therapy, communication and social skills through SisterHearts Thrift Store. S.H.E.R.O. has been nationally recognized for a proven track record of successful transition. Simone Levine is serving as NCJW chair to S.H.E.R.O. NCJW allocated $40,150 on community services for 2017-18 — $10,150 from Unrestricted Funds, and about $37,000 from Restricted Funds. The NCJW Community Service Committee is chaired by Simone Levine. Committee members are Ina Davis, Sue Jernigan, Lis Kahn, Susan Kierr, Tricia Kirschman, Barbara Kaplinsky, Gail Pesses, Laura Shapiro, Dana Shepard and Kathy Shepard.
July 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 45
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helpserviceco.com 46 Southern Jewish Life • July 2018
rear pew mirror • doug brook
Long before Super Sunday asked for its first dollar, another iconic Jewish entity benevolently lived by the credo of “take from the rich and give to the poor.” Over one thousand years ago, a renegade traversed the left side of the roads throughout the Lower East Midlands of England. He helped the poor through selfless deeds of kindness, and helped enrich the rich by reapportioning their riches to the masses. While he was innocent of any crime, guilt was involved. This was none other than the soon-to-be legendary Rav N Yud. Throughout the shires of several counties, people knew if Rav N Yud had been there because he’d leave behind a purse with a few pounds in it, and a few pounds of brisket and gefilte fish. Rav N Yud’s real name was Rav Nachum. Of course, in those days, many notable rabbis were known by a pronounceable acronym of their names. For example, in the 12th Century, Maimonides (aka Rambam) was Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon. RaMBaM. But this was England, and there were a long line of Rav Nachums. So, following English tradition, this scholar was known as Rav Nachum the Tenth. In Hebrew’s letter/numbering scheme, ten is a Yud. Hence, Rav Nachum the Tenth was known as Rav N Yud. He was a little-known piece in the longstanding Jewish tradition of helping the poor. This ethic has existed throughout Jewish history, all the way back to the beginning of the Torah when Eve gave an apple to Adam, who didn’t have any money to buy groceries. Those who would see Rav N Yud pass through caught little more than a glimpse of a figure riding off into the cloudset. (Middle England. No sun.) But they knew it was Rav N Yud because of the feather sticking out of his shtreimel. Most people today associate the origin of shtreimels with Eastern Europe, and some believe they were inspired by the Tatars. Nobody knows where he got his, but Rav N Yud was obviously new to them. The aforementioned feather had fallen into his shtreimel one day, and he didn’t notice it for six months until someone asked him about it. (Shtreimels are big.) His answer inspired similar reactions from generations of leading Judaic minds: “What feather?” The someone was among Rav N Yud’s followers, one of his merry minyan. Best known among them was Rav N’s hulking, muscular sidekick Yonatan Katan. Sometimes known by the littler name YoKatan, he is best rememSO WHY bered because of his descendants who genHAVEN’T THEY erations later migrated to the new world. his legend became so revered that MADE A MOVIE There part of eastern Mexico bears his name: the YoKatan Peninsula. ABOUT Of course, Rav N’s merry minyan was RAV N YUD? more than a one-man band. After all, every minyan of minions has music. Providing that service, three times a day plus festivals, was Rav N Yud’s minstrel, who handled all cantorial responsibilities for the group. Through song and poetry, he helped everyone to be not merely religious but to greet the Big G in their daily lives. Appropriately, his name was Ahlan Ad-El (literally, “hello to the Big G”). With these and many other colorful characters involved, why don’t more people today know of Rav N Yud’s exploits? While the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds are bestsellers at synagogue gift shops worldwide, the South London Talmud never attracted the same following. Thus, Rav continued on the previous page
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NCJW presents rare President’s Awards Miriam Waltzer and Sylvia Finger were recognized by the New Orleans Section of the National Council of Jewish Women with the President’s Award. The award is rarely presented, and is given only when such recognition is warranted. The award recognizes individuals who go over and above the call of duty and are considered an invaluable asset to the organization. Since 1981, there have been 13 recipients. Waltzer and Finger mobilized a robust voter registration effort which has reached out to new citizens at weekly Naturalization Ceremonies, high school and college students, Jewish, Catholic, Muslim and Latino religious leaders, the League of Women Voters, the Registrar of Voters and many more individuals and groups. Through this effort, more than 500 new voters have been registered thus far. According to NCJW President Barbara Kaplinsky, Waltzer and Finger have been “relentless” in recruiting numerous voter registration volunteers and signing up new voters morning, noon and night, weekdays and weekends. “For their incredible work on something so critically important to our democracy, I recognize them with the NCJW President’s Award,” Kaplinsky said. Waltzer, as NCJW advocacy chair, has also organized meetings to keep the group’s issue activists engaged. She also testified before the legislature on HB265, a bill that would allow people on parole and probation to regain their voting rights sooner. It has passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support, and was signed by Governor John Bel Edwards on May 31. It goes into effect next March.
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July 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 47
July 2018 New Orleans edition of Southern Jewish Life, the official Jewish news magazine of the Greater New Orleans Jewish community.
Published on Jul 6, 2018
July 2018 New Orleans edition of Southern Jewish Life, the official Jewish news magazine of the Greater New Orleans Jewish community.