Southern Jewish Life, Deep South, Aug/Sept 2023

Page 46

Southern Jewish Life

August/Sept. 2023

Volume 33 Issue 7

Jewish Life
P.O. Box 130052 Birmingham, AL 35213
2 August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life

Long-time readers have heard that when this publication began over three decades ago, the idea was that it should not devolve into page after page of “they hate us, and there are fewer of us for them to hate.”

And yes, we endeavor to be a celebration of the vibrant Jewish life found in our Southern communities.

But in the last few years, it has been a challenge. We all know that antisemitism has risen nationally, and our region is not immune. The type of story that was an occasional oddity has now become all too frequent.

We’d reported on the occasional swastika or antisemitic slur. But bricks thrown through synagogue windows? And a shooting outside a Jewish school?

And that’s just in this month’s issue.

Now, the Memphis shooting was not an antisemitic act, as it was perpetrated by a member of the Jewish community who had serious issues. That also shows how we must not have a knee-jerk reaction when there is an incident, but wait until facts are known.

When you see a headline about a shooting at a Jewish school, it is only natural to figure there has to be antisemitism at work. We saw immediate reactions flood the Internet, with advocacy groups making assumptions. We can’t do that — credibility is incredibly important when it comes to fighting antisemitism.

While our antennae are finely tuned to the possibility, not everything is antisemitic. I remember warning the mainstream media about that when there was the rash of bomb threats against JCCs in 2017. As it turned out, it wasn’t “Trump’s America” or anti-Zionists-not-antisemites — it was a disturbed teen in Israel, of all places.

Likewise, the lit propane tank at Temple Beth-El in Birmingham last year was assumed to be an antisemitic attack, but police interviews with the suspect

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August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 3 shalom y’all To subscribe, email SJL Online: Southern Jewish Life is an independent Jewish periodical. Articles and columns do not necessarily reflect the views of any Jewish institutions, agencies or congregations in our region.
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Maccabi USA leader praises Birmingham Games

Southern Jewish Life

showed no evidence of antisemitic intent — he was just a known arsonist.

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

them, and kept things from escalating. They knew what law enforcement needed and had them on speed dial. The preparation worked.


Lawrence M. Brook

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

However, many recent incidents have definitely been antisemitic. Eight incidents in Pensacola? Unheard of. And yet, here we are, with four troubled teens from apparently upscale backgrounds arrested.

The antisemitic Patriot Front has spray-painted numerous abandoned buildings in our area. The Goyim Defense League continues to throw their flyers on front lawns. Antisemites are bold enough to picket synagogues in Georgia. And our Jewish institutions have security measures far beyond what we had even five years ago.

While Pensacola’s Jewish community does not have a full-time security director, the familiarity between the Jewish institutions and local law enforcement helped in making the arrests. Communities around the region have made similar efforts to work with local law enforcement, just in case.

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

It is a travesty that our institutions and organizations have to bunker up in the face of these threats, but that is life in 2023. We have a security tax for being able to worship or gather freely.


Lee J. Green


Jeff Pizzo


SOCIAL/WEB Emily Baldwein

It seems wild that Jewish communities like Birmingham and New Orleans would need to have a full-time security coordinator, but we do.

I had just returned from the 20th World Maccabiah games in Israel with a U.S. delegation of over 1100, who joined 10,000 Jewish athletes from 80 countries. Back in July the eyes of the entire Jewish world were on Jerusalem and the Maccabiah. This past month with 1000 athletes and coaches from around the world being in Birmingham, you became the focal point. Everyone from the Jewish community and the community at large, including a wonderful police force, are to be commended. These games will go down in history as being a seminal moment for the Jewish community as we build to the future by providing such wonderful Jewish memories.

The collaboration among those coordinators, local Jewish institutions and law enforcement on every level has been highlighted in recent incidents.

We need our non-Jewish neighbors to say it is enough, this hatred can not continue. We need to remain vigilant. And recent events have demonstrated the value of advance planning, and shown that we need to thank our security coordinators and law enforcement officials.



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

On Charlottesville

That collaboration in Memphis kept the school situation there from being tragic. The school had security procedures, followed

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

supremacists would like to see pushed back into a corner and made to feel lesser. We stand with and pray for the family of Heather Heyer, who was there standing up to the face of this hate.

The Beauty and Importance of Jewish Summer Camp

I have long been a fan of Jewish summer camp, having attended Camp Ramah in Wisconsin, for five summers during my teenage years. Ramah Wisconsin, the oldest camp in the global Ramah system, each summer provided me with 8 weeks of lifetime friends, fun sports, newly-found experiences (such as drama, where I still don’t understand how one of the tallest kids in camp was cast as a Munchkin in the Hebrew-spoken “Wizard of Oz”), and most importantly a deep love for Judaism and the State of Israel.


P.O. Box 130052, Birmingham, AL 35213 2179 Highland Ave., Birmingham, AL 35205 205/870.7889


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

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Jeff Pizzo,

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

Growing up in a relatively small Wisconsin town, most of my Jewish religious life came from my grandparents and parents who instilled in me a life-long passion for my Jewish faith; but it was my Ramah experience each summer which cemented it!

Fast forward 50 years, my wife Susan and I had the tremendous opportunity to relive my Ramah childhood when we welcomed seven Ukrainian youth to the United States in early July. These youth, who are spending a month at Camp Ramah Sports Academy in northern California, arrived in the U.S. as part of a partnership between Maccabi USA (where I serve as a national vice president and co-chair the Ukraine Committee) and the National Ramah organization. For the seven youth, summer camp in the U.S. provides them with a much-needed respite from the horrific war continuing in their country.

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

Susan and I recently spent Shabbat with the Ukrainian youth at the California Ramah camp

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

and it reinforced why Jewish summer camp is more important than ever. During the course of 24 hours, we welcomed the Shabbat Bride in our all-whites, enthusiastically sang and danced with the campers, spent Shabbat morning and afternoon praying, studying and recreating, ordered our meals in Hebrew, and capped it off with a memorable candlelight Havdallah service on the Pacific Ocean beach, once again singing and dancing as Shavuah Tov (“A good new week”) began. And all of the activities delivered in front of a large Israeli flag, reinforcing our love for the Jewish state (despite the political debate Israelis are currently experiencing — and perhaps best exemplifying why Israel is truly a liberal democracy in which we should all take pride).

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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

Jewish summer camp, both in our region and nationally, deserves to be supported, given its absolute beauty and importance. At a time when we rightfully worry about the connections between Judaism and Israel and our youth, including my own children, there is no better opportunity to create and strengthen this appreciation and love than by parents sending their children to the wonderful Jewish summer camps we have in our area! It is certainly one of the best investments any of us can make in ensuring our Jewish love and pride continues L’dor V’dor: from Generation to Generation!

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

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

Arnie D. Fielkow is past CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans.

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

Copyright 2023. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without written permission from the publisher. Views expressed in SJL are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff. SJL makes no claims as to the Kashrut of its advertisers, and retains the right to refuse any advertisement.

Documenting this community, a community we are members of and active within, is our passion. We love what we do, and who we do it for.

4 August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life commentary
January 2021
August/Sept. 2023

interesting bits & can’t miss events

Beyond the headlines: Understanding Trans and Gender-Diverse Identities


at Levite JCC, co-hosted by SJL,

features Morissa Ladinsky, as legal battles continue

Understanding trans and gender-diverse identities has become complex, with more families encountering the world of gender fluidity. This isn’t made any easier by state lawmakers throughout the region who seek to ban the care these individuals need.

Southern Jewish Life and the Levite Jewish Community Center will cohost “Fighting for their Lives: Understanding Trans and Gender-Diverse Identities,” with Morissa Ladinsky, on Sept. 10 at 4 p.m.

Ladinsky is professor of pediatrics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and co-leader of a UAB team that provides gender-affirming care to transgender youth and teens, and support to their families.

Affected families often are perplexed and even frightened as they strive to navigate unfamiliar terrain. Meanwhile, suicide rates among transitioning teens remain alarmingly high.

During the program, Ladinsky will explain gender transitioning, give an update on the pending Alabama law that would criminalize doctors providing gender-related medical care to those under age 19 who are seeking to transition to a new gender, and reflect on her work and advocacy from a Jewish perspective.

The Alabama law was passed in April 2022, but a U.S. District Court blocked it within weeks. On Aug. 20, the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the block, allowing the state to enforce the new law. A trial is set for next April.

While several states have passed laws restricting gender-affirming care for minors, Alabama’s law included criminal penalties of up to 10 years in prison. Ladinsky is a plaintiff in the suit against the Alabama law.

“As a doctor who has treated hundreds of transgender adolescents, I know firsthand the challenges these young people and their families face and the benefits these treatments provide to youth who need them. This

is safe, effective, and established medical care. There is no valid reason to ban this care,” Ladinsky said in a statement following the Aug. 20 decision.

The program will be moderated by Southern Jewish Life Associate Editor Richard Friedman. In July, Friedman was honored by the American Jewish Press Association for a story he wrote about Ladinsky last year.

On the Cover

Fort Walton Beach congregation holds community celebration

Four decades after gathering to establish a Jewish congregation in Fort Walton Beach, several of Beth Shalom’s initial members took part in a ribbon cutting marking 38 years of service to the community.

On July 19, congregants were joined by local officials and the Ambassadors of the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce. The mayors of Fort Walton Beach, Shalimar and Cinco Bayou also took part.

“We were not just celebrating for ourselves but also for the community at large” Beth Shalom Vice President Gerald Gross said, adding that it was an opportunity for people in the general community to come in and “better understand their Jewish friends.”

As Judge Erwin Fleet cut the ribbon outside the building, he was joined by fellow charter members Cheryl Elul, Jo Fleet, Linda and Art Lester, and Marsha and David Kaplan.

August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 5
At Beth Shalom in Fort Walton Beach, Gerald Gross shows the congregation’s Holocaust Torah to guests at a July 19 ceremony marking 38 years since Beth Shalom was established. This scroll was originally from Ledec and was written in 1800.

A survivor of Auschwitz who travels the country speaking about resilience, tolerance and forgiveness will be in Louisiana next month.

Esther Basch, known as “The Honey Girl of Auschwitz,” says that while she can’t forget what happened to her, she can forgive, because holding a grudge only damages herself.

Basch will speak at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center in Metairie on Sept. 11 at 7 p.m., through Chabad in Metairie.

She will also speak at the BREC Jefferson Highway Park ballroom on Sept. 12 at 6 p.m., through Chabad of Baton Rouge.

Basch was an only child, the daughter of a rabbi in Czechoslovakia, though the town where she grew up was in Hungary when her mother was born — and is now Vinograd, Ukraine.

In 1944, the Germans arrived and forced her family to move to a small area, a Jewish ghetto, where they were starved. Six weeks later, she was forced onto a cattle car to Auschwitz, arriving there on her 16th birthday. By the time she arrived, half of the people in her cattle car were already dead from the five-day journey.

She was selected in one direction, her parents in another — and she never saw them again. She crossed paths with Josef Mengele a few times but was never selected for his medical experiments, instead she was forced to work at an ammunition factory.

In April 1945, she was part of a death march to the Salzwedel concentration camp, where she was liberated by American soldiers three days after arrival.

She received the nickname “honey girl” during liberation. In a nearby town she was offered some honey, but the sudden rush of sugar after a year of starvation was a shock to her system, putting her in the hospital.

She was sent to Prague and Budapest, with the goal being to go to Palestine, led by a 21-year-old named Joe. But they wound up in a displaced persons camp in Germany for six months, where she and Joe married. They eventually went to France to board a ship to Palestine, but were caught in the British blockade and detained in Cyprus.

In late 1946 they were admitted to Palestine, and Joe fought in the War of Independence. They soon moved to Canada, then Brooklyn, having four children.

In 2007, daughter Rachel tracked down Max Lieber, one of Basch’s liberators, who traveled to Phoenix from New Mexico for a reunion. That reunion inspired her to tell her story.

A documentary, “Honey Girl: A Journey of Forgiveness” Is in the works.

In addition to her Louisiana appearances, she was scheduled to speak on Aug. 21 at Chabad in Atlanta, and at the FoCAL Center in Cumming, Ga., on Aug. 23.

In Metairie, tickets are $15 through Sept. 6, higher after. Preferred seating is $32, and student tickets have been subsidized to $5. VIP sponsors are $180 for one person, $250 for a couple, and includes preferred seating and a 6 p.m. meet and greet.

Tickets for Baton Rouge are $20 before Aug. 20, $28 after. Student tickets are $15. Preferred seating is $35. VIP sponsorships are $180, which includes two tickets and a 5 p.m. meet and greet with Basch.

6 August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life agenda
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JCRS says time to think about Chanukah

It may still be summer, but the application deadline is approaching for the Jewish Children’s Regional Service Oscar J. Tolmas Chanukah Gift Program.

The program distributes packages throughout a seven-state region of Chanukah gifts to Jewish children whose families may be facing financial challenges or exceptional circumstances, with over 200 children served each year. Each gift package contains at least eight age and interest specific gifts, one for each night. The program also sends gifts to Jewish special needs adults and institutionalized adults.

Applications are available at through Sept. 15. Families must live in the JCRS service region of Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee or Texas, and have at least one Jewish parent. The guideline is a family annual adjusted gross income of under $75,000, or other extraordinary circumstances.

The wrap-a-thon, where volunteers spend the day wrapping well over 1,000 gifts, is scheduled for Oct. 15 at Gates of Prayer in Metairie.

MSJE holds program on Leo Frank

After 110 years, the Leo Frank case still resonates.

The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience will host a program on the lynching of a Jewish Southerner, Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. The free talk, with author Steve Oney, will be in person, with a livestream option available.

Oney is author of “And the Dead Shall Rise: The Murder of Mary Phagan and the Lynching of Leo Frank,” and will discuss why the story was important in 1913, and why it is still being discussed today.

In 1913, 13-year-old Mary Phagan was found brutally murdered in the basement of the Atlanta pencil factory where she worked. The factory manager, a college-educated Jew named Leo Frank, was arrested, tried, and convicted in a trial that seized national headlines. When the governor commuted his death sentence, Frank was kidnapped and lynched by a group of prominent local citizens.

Fallout from the trial and the lynching was one of the factors leading to the establishment of the Anti-Defamation League.

Alabama AEPi honored

At the Alpha Epsilon Pi 110th international convention, held Aug. 9 to 13 in New Orleans, the University of Alabama’s chapter received the Outstanding Chapter Progress award.

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August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 7 agenda
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Birmingham’s Collat Jewish Family Services will offer a Grief Support Group, for 10 Wednesdays from Sept. 6 to Nov. 8, noon at the Levite Jewish Community Center. Registration is required, and new members are admitted through the third session. The group is offered in partnership with Community Grief Support.


Alabama is one of three states who currently have an ovarian cancer car tag. The Drive Out Ovarian Cancer car tag raises money for research in hopes that one day, doctors will discover an early detection test for ovarian cancer, so that women will be tested for this insidious disease at their annual checkups just like cervical and breast cancers.

The mission of the Norma Livingston Ovarian Cancer Foundation (NLOCF) is to raise funds for ovarian cancer research and to increase awareness about the risks, symptoms and treatments of this disease.

The net proceeds of the $50.00 are distributed to the NLOCF to be used for ovarian cancer research at the UAB hospital. The Norma Livingston Ovarian Cancer Foundation is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization. Your $50 contribution is tax-deductible.


The Alabama Holocaust Education Center will have its annual L’Chaim gala on Sept. 21 at 6:30 p.m. at Red Mountain Theatre. Honorees will be Emmett and Catherine McLean. The program will be “We Are Here: Songs from the Holocaust,” straight from Carnegie Hall. The concert honors Jewish musicians who perished in the ghettos and concentration camps during the Holocaust. They created heartfelt ballads and spirited satire, never knowing if their songs would be heard. Tickets are $75, sponsorships are available.

The next Shabbat Halicha hike for Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El will be on Sept. 9 at 10 a.m., meeting at the Frankfurt Drive entrance of Red Mountain Park.

There will be a Henry S. Jacobs Camp Family Reunion at Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham on Sept. 10 at noon, for campers, staff, alumni and families. Prospective families are also welcome.

Earlier this year, Temple Beth El in Anniston stopped having monthly Shabbat evening services, announcing that the congregation would meet only for the High Holy Days. They will have Rosh Hashanah services at 7 p.m. on Sept. 15 with an oneg following, and 10 a.m. on Sept. 16. For Yom Kippur, Kol Nidre will be at 7 p.m. on Sept. 24. Services on Sept. 25 will be 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., with Yizkor and the concluding service at 5 p.m. There will not be a communal break-thefast. Rabbi Lauren Cohn will lead services.

The next Bubbie’s STEM Kitchen for preschoolers ages 2 to 5 and their parents will be on Sept. 10 at 10 a.m. at the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School in Birmingham. There will be a Rosh Hashanah theme. The series explores cooking and science through a Jewish lens, with music and stories. It is coordinated by PJ Library and the Day School, with volunteers from Hadassah Birmingham.

You Belong in Birmingham is offering a $118 stipend to four participants who will commit to hosting a Shabbat dinner for a minimum of six people, including themselves. The dates for the holiday-themed Shabbats are Sept. 22 for High Holidays, Dec. 15 for Chanukah, March 22 for Purim and April 26 for Passover. Guidelines are on the Birmingham Jewish Federation website.

The Birmingham Jewish Foundation will have a retirement party for Carol Rogers, who is retiring after 22 years as executive assistant. The party will be at the Levite Jewish Community Center on Sept. 12 at 4:30 p.m.

The next Honor Our Parents Shabbat at the Levite Jewish Community Center in Birmingham will be on Sept. 1 at 11 a.m., led by Rabbi Steven Henkin of Temple Beth El. Reservations are required.

Favorite Treatments for Fall

Bais Ariel Chabad in Birmingham will have its first Falafel Sunday of the season, Sept. 3 from noon to 2 p.m.

While the Jewish Federation of Oxford is holding High Holy Days services at the Paris-Yates Chapel at Ole Miss, Rosh Hashanah morning may move to a different venue. With a home football game kicking off at 6:30 p.m., parking and access to the chapel, with the legendary tailgating, may be an issue. The situation will be updated closer to the holiday.

Birmingham BBYO will have its fall kickoff on Sept. 10 at 1 p.m. at

8 August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life continued on page 25 agenda
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Four teens arrested after rash of antisemitic vandalism in Pensacola

After a two-week antisemitic vandalism spree that hit eight sites in Pensacola, including two Jewish institutions, four teens have been arrested by Pensacola police.

The arrests were announced during the afternoon of Aug. 4. Seventeen-year-old Waylon Fowler, 15-year-old Wyatt Fowler, 16-year-old Nicholas Ferry, and 18-year-old Kessler Ferry have been charged with numerous crimes in connection with the eight incidents. The Ferrys are brothers, it is unclear at press time if the Fowlers are related.

Most of the incidents were antisemitic graffiti, but there was also the July 17 incident where a swastika-laden brick was thrown through the kitchen window of Chabad of Pensacola, and the July 28 attack on Temple Beth El, as two bricks were thrown through a bathroom window.

Rabbi Mendel Danow of Chabad of Pensacola said that Police Chief Eric Randall reached out to him to let him know about the arrests. “We are very grateful to the law enforcement for working so hard on this case and G-D willing bring these hate crimes to an end,” he said.

This past week, the community’s rabbis met with Mayor D.C. Reeves to discuss the rash of hate crimes.

After the arrest, Reeves said “Awesome investigative work by our men and women at Pensacola Police Department that clearly delivers an important message: if you conduct cowardly acts of hate in this city in an attempt to hurt or intimidate, we will find you and bring you to justice.”

“The extra hard work of investigators and many others in the Pensacola Police Department paid off today,” Pensacola Police Chief Eric Randall said. “We hope that these arrests can bring comfort and closure not only to those in our Jewish community, but to all citizens of this great city.”

In solving the case, Pensacola Police Officer Mike Wood said “we’ve had help from various sources.”

Though three of the four suspects are under the age of 18, all are being charged as adults. Waylon Fowler is charged with seven counts of felony criminal mischief, enhanced to a hate crime; one count of misdemeanor criminal mischief; one count of felony trespassing in a construction zone.

Wyatt Fowler is charged with seven counts of felony criminal mischief, enhanced to a hate crime; one count of misdemeanor criminal mischief; one count of felony trespassing in a construction zone.

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Courtesy Escambia County Jail Kessler Ferry The Pensacola Liberation Center was vandalized on Aug. 3.

Nicholas Ferry is charged with four counts of felony criminal mischief, enhanced to hate crimes; one count of felony trespassing in a construction zone.

Kessler Ferry faces one count of felony criminal mischief, enhanced to a hate crime.

The parents of the Ferry brothers are family law attorneys in Pensacola.

A week after a brick with antisemitic messages scrawled on it was hurled through a kitchen window at Chabad of Pensacola, two bricks with similar messages were discovered in a bathroom at Pensacola’s Temple Beth El on July 28.

Two window panes were broken where the bricks had apparently been thrown. It is not known when the attack took place, as that bathroom is a lesser-used space in the building.

The congregation issued a statement, saying they are working with law enforcement to ensure safety.

“Temple Beth El appreciates the support and concern of the greater Pensacola community,” the statement said. “We are committed to working with our neighbors of all faiths and backgrounds to build an ever more tolerant and welcoming community.”

That afternoon, the congregation had a tour of “The Bias Inside Us,” an exhibit at the Pensacola Mess Hall that details the science and history of bias, followed by a Shabbat service and covered dish dinner.

Beth El Rabbi Joel Fleekop said the exhibit was “intended to help us recognize some unseen biases, to strive to be ever more just and fair people. That is what we must continue to do.”

At the Shabbat evening service, Fleekop used the theme of Shabbat Nachamu, the Shabbat of comfort that follows the commemoration of the tragedies of Tisha B’Av. “We are in need of comfort, but we are also able to find that comfort, to find comfort by being here together in community, by knowing that we are here for one another, that we stand determined.”

He also said that comfort can be found in the concern of neighbors. As he was entering the sanctuary before services, he got a text of

10 August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life community
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Brick thrown into Chabad of Pensacola

solidarity from Father Joseph Callipare. “The words of Father Joe are not alone, there are others from across our faith communities and other backgrounds that have reached out.”

Fleekop also said there is comfort in working toward the future. As his phone was blowing up with texts and messages during the afternoon, he set it aside for a b’nai mitzvah lesson for Isaac and Lillian Haims, who will have their celebration next weekend. “The urgency to respond to an act of hate had to be set aside to focus on the future, to focus on young people who are preparing to affirm their commitment to Judaism.”

He said that the physical damage to the building will be repaired quickly. “What matters most is that this not deter us in our commitment to our Jewish community and our Jewish values,” and in being a welcoming congregation.

Beth El, which is Reform, is the oldest Jewish congregation in Florida, and is about a mile from Chabad. The building had an extensive renovation in 2016.

In less than two hours, one article on Yahoo News about the incident had over 140 comments, a large proportion of them antisemitic.

Danow said the brick from the July 17 attack on Chabad would be used in a prominent place in their new facility, plans for which have now been accelerated. The campaign to fund the new building includes the opportunity to “buy a brick” for $54.

About 100 community members attended a “Light Up Pensacola” Shabbat of Light at Chabad on July 21.

In addition to the Beth El and Chabad attacks, there were swastikas and white power messages were painted on East Hill Animal Hospital, about halfway between Chabad and Beth El. Similar graffiti was found at the old Amtrak station.

There was also antisemitic graffiti at the end of a dead-end street by the I-110 off ramp near Gregory Street. On July 30, antisemitic graffiti was found on a building on South Palafox.

On Aug. 2, members of the Al-Islam Dawah Center found antisemitic graffiti on the door to their facility.

Numerous swastikas were also painted on the Pensacola Liberation Center on Aug. 3.

The center posted that “this disgusting, fascist vandalism campaign is an assault on all Jewish, Black, Latino, Asian, and LGBTQ people. It is an assault on all working class people of Pensacola. We will not be intimidated and we will not allow these fascists and nazis to continue their harassment campaign in our community.”

The PLC held a Night Our for Safety and Liberation on Aug. 4, to clean up the graffiti.

On March 4, the PSL’s International Women’s Day event was targeted by teens holding a Confederate flag and doing Nazi salutes. According to the PSL, “They repeatedly shouted racist and antisemitic slurs while attempting to physically intimidate attendees and unsuccessfully attempted to force their way onto our microphone. While carrying the Florida state flag they shouted “white power” while doing the Nazi salute. All but one wore a face mask in a cowardly attempt to conceal their identities.”

There has been speculation that the masked teens are the same ones who did this recent vandalism spree, but that has not been confirmed.

There was also a report in the Pensacola News Journal of an antisemitic incident at the Pensacola Navy Lodge on Aug. 3, but no details were available.

According to Pensacola Police, additional arrests are possible.

Just before Shabbat following the arrests, Danow told WEAR-TV that there would be an extra L’Chaim on Shabbat, “for the prosperity and the peace in the Jewish community and entire Pensacola community.

“How is it that we have four teens in Pensacola where this is their pasttime? They find this as entertainment when they’re hurting so many people.”

August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 11 community
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Former student charged in shooting outside Memphis Jewish school

Bowman shot by police after incident, father had been killed by police 20 years ago

On Aug. 2, the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation filed several charges against Joel Alejandro Bowman, 33, who had tried to enter the Margolin Hebrew Academy-Feinstone Yeshiva of the South in Memphis on July 31, but after being refused entry, fired shots outside the building and was wounded in a confrontation with police an hour later.

Bowman, a former student and member of the local Jewish community, was charged with one count each of Carrying Weapons on School Property, Reckless Endangerment, Criminal Attempted Second-Degree Murder, Possessing a Firearm During the Commission or Attempt to Commit a Dangerous Felony, and Assault Against a First Responder.

Bowman was taken to Regional One Hospital in critical condition, and was still in the ICU as of Aug. 8. According to court records, bond was set at $750,000 on Aug. 4 after a video arraignment. A court date was set for Aug. 10, then continued to Aug. 24 as Bowman was still in the hospital. Mitchell Wood is listed as lead attorney.

Judge Karen Massey of the Shelby County Criminial Court scheduled a mental evaluation of Bowman for Sept. 11.

Classes for the year were not to begin at Margolin until Aug. 17, but staff and contractors were at the school when Bowman arrived. According to the Memphis Police Department, a call was received at 12:20 p.m. that a man with a handgun was outside the school.

According to a court affidavit, after Bowman could not get past the school’s security measures, he spoke with a contractor from A to Z Construction Services in the parking lot, then fired two shots at him, but did not hit him. He fired another shot while heading to his truck, and a fourth shot as he was leaving the parking lot before police arrived.

He drove a maroon Ram pickup truck with California plates, and the school was able to provide a photo of Bowman and information about the truck. Other schools in the area did lockdowns as police looked for the vehicle.

Soon, there was a sighting in Bartlett, and officers located the suspect. They did a traffic stop at 1:40 p.m., during which the suspect exited the vehicle with his gun reportedly pointed at one of the officers. That officer fired his duty weapon, critically injuring Bowman in the chest.

Local authorities praised the security procedures in place at the school, saying they prevented a larger tragedy and led to Bowman being apprehended quickly.

“That school had a great safety process and procedure in place, and avoided anyone being harmed or injured” Memphis Assistant Police Chief Don Crowe said.

Michael Masters, national director of Secure Communities Network,

12 August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life
Caught on security footage: Joel Bowman attempts to enter Margolin Hebrew Academy.
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which consults with Jewish communities across the country on security issues, said the outcome in Memphis “was not luck or an accident, but because of hard work between key partners,” including the Memphis Jewish Community Partnership, Memphis Police, Margolin and SCN.

Masters had stated that Bowman’s targeting of the school was personal in nature.

Members of the community who know Bowman said he has been dealing with mental illness for many years, and it has been an issue in his family, including an incident 20 years ago where Memphis Police killed his father.

WREG-TV quoted Brittney Eshelman-Worch, who also attended the school. “Genuinely to the core, I don’t think he would ever intentionally hurt someone,” she said. “He has struggled with mental health for a number of years.”

Echoes of 20 years ago

According to court filings, on May 14, 2003, Susan Bowman called 911 to report that her husband, Anthony, was “acting erratically and appeared to be emotionally distraught,” had left home and that he was taking medication for bipolar disorder.

When Anthony Bowman, his wife and police returned to the home, Anthony Bowman threatened to kill himself and held a gun to his head, then ran outside with the gun pointed to his head, at which point the police shot him multiple times, killing him. He was 44.

In a 2004 suit against the city, Susan Bowman stated that Anthony Bowman was not a threat to anyone else, and that she and their son, Joel, were “within the ‘zone of danger’ when Dr. Bowman was killed” and saw everything.

A Facebook post on Joel Bowman’s page just before noon on July 31 read “Gots time on my hands, ‘Home’ Court Visit.”

Six days earlier, he posted “Every night for the last 20 years I’ve gone to sleep & been confronted with “The Memory” of my Fathers death. It’s not a “Memory”, it’s a Damn 4K UHD “Fully immersive” experience.”

He also recently posted about how his grandfather had committed suicide, making his grandmother “bed-bound with sorrow” until she died of cancer, and how his grandfather’s actions “killed my father” and tried to get him as well.

Bowman had been living in Stanton, about 40 miles northeast of the school, and runs Dancyville Farms. He had posted on July 24 that he soon would be offering produce, fruit, fresh cut flowers and honey, and referenced a “before” drone video of the property he posted on YouTube five years ago.

On July 29 he posted a photo of his father’s grave and wrote about a “therapy breakthrough.” That same day, he also posted about a visit to a gun store near his farm, saying he had contacted the Sheriff’s office about a confrontation with someone in a Ram truck. He had already owned a gun prior to that visit.

The Jewish Federations of North America said they are “relieved that Margolin Academy’s ‘great safety procedure and process’ helped keep it safe during this terrifying attempted shooting. We are grateful to law enforcement, Secure Communities Network and the Jewish Community Partnership of Memphis for their quick response.”

They added that it is also a “stark example” of the importance of the Nonprofit Security Grant Program, and of #LiveSecure, which ensures every Jewish community has a security initiative to train schools, synagogues and community centers on how to stay safe.

Toni Williams, Superintendent of Memphis-Shelby County Schools, said “The entire MSCS family wraps its arms around the Margolin Hebrew Academy family. Your alertness amidst the unimaginable was heroic. We stand united in combating gun violence and keeping our students and staff safe.”

August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 13 community

The power of summer camp — and Southern Jewish communities

When the lights went out at Jacobs Camp for an extended time, the massive impromptu road trip began

One of the unheralded qualities necessary in Southern Jewish communities is the ability to pivot — but Jewish interconnectedness around the region often makes it easier.

That was evident for the Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Mississippi, which in the past has dealt with challenges including Covid, and been a place of refuge for those evacuating from the paths of hurricanes. This June, it was the camp that wound up needing a place of refuge, with a full complement of first session campers.

A major thunderstorm hit the Utica area early in the morning on June 16. While there was no significant damage to the camp, the power was knocked out.

Camp Director Anna Herman said they planned for the outage by renting emergency lights, held a Glow Stick party at breakfast and served pizza for Shabbat dinner. Aside from that, they tried to have a normal camp Friday, despite the heat and the lack of electricity.

As it became apparent that the damage to the electrical infrastructure in the area was extensive, plans began to move everyone to Jackson for Saturday if the power was still out. Jackson itself was dealing with widespread outages, including at Beth Israel, which wound up being out for almost a week. Beth Israel Rabbi Joseph Rosen, though, was spending the week at Jacobs Camp.

Abram Orlansky, a camper parent and Camp Committee member, volunteers as an indoor soccer coach at the Jackson YMCA. He contacted the YMCA director, and on Saturday the camp had arranged for several buses,

and the Flowood and Reservoir YMCA locations welcomed the campers with air-conditioned space, as well as plenty of floor space for sleeping bags. With assistance from the local Jewish community, “our staff magically re-created the camp Shabbat experience for our campers with a variety of Shabboptionals and a special sno-cone treat,” Herman said, and the

14 August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life community
Henry S. Jacobs Camp Director Anna Herman helps campers board the buses on the last-minute HSJ Magical Mystery Tour

campers also enjoyed skating and bowling excursions.

But the power wasn’t coming on in Utica any time soon, and the camp leadership knew they needed to find a place with beds and showers.

Isaac Nuell, Union for Reform Judaism associate director for strategic initiatives, and Melissa Frey, managing director of URJ Camps and Immersives, researched options, finding that the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Baton Rouge had enough space for the entire camp.

Linda Posner of Baton Rouge, immediate past Camp Committee chair, said “much of the city was in Omaha for the College World Series, but our bench is deep, and we knew we could do whatever needed to be done.”

With the power still out on Sunday morning, the next stage of the “HSJ Magical Mystery Tour” was launched, and buses headed to camp for a quick re-packing of overnight bags before departing for Baton Rouge.

“Moving 380 people on the fly, along with an entire camp’s worth of art supplies, sports equipment, snacks, toothbrushes and loveys, plus our full medical team, was no small task, but we were not working alone,” Herman said.

As the campers headed south, Nuell in North Carolina and Frey in Indiana coordinated room assignments for the night. Posner noted that each double room needed an additional single bed for a counselor, and while the hotel had some rollaway beds, there weren’t close to enough.

The Posners, who had been out of town, headed back to Baton Rouge, with Frey ordering every air mattress from every Target store in a path from Alabama to Louisiana. Camp Committee Chair Gary Lazarus sent the Posners directions to each store along the way. “Between stops, we made phone calls to secure meals, snacks, security and a medical team,” she said.

When they arrived with the air mattresses, a group of volunteers had already assembled to inflate and place the mattresses in the various rooms.

Rabbi Sarah Smiley, in her first full summer with the Unified Jewish Congregation of Baton Rouge, was supposed to have traveled to Utica that day to receive her introduction to the camp as a week-long faculty member. Instead, “Jacobs Camp came to me in Baton Rouge.”

When the buses pulled up to the hotel, the ballroom had been transformed into a camp dining hall, with a big “Welcome Home Jacobs Camp” banner. A hot dinner had been hastily arranged by the Kantrow Altons, camp parents who own Bistro Byronz, which had been closed that day. Security was arranged by a camper parent who is a police detective and got colleagues to show up despite it being Father’s Day. A medical team of camp nurses and doctors also joined in.

“When the leadership decided to bring the entire camp to Baton Rouge, I witnessed beauty,” Smiley said. “Not only the leadership team and staff of Jacobs Camp, but many members of the Jewish community of Baton Rouge stepped up.”

As room keys were handed out during the late afternoon, word came that the power was back on, but Nadav Herman and his team that had stayed behind needed time to get everything restored so the campers could return the next day.

Posner said there was “an epic slumber party on two floors of the Baton Rouge Crowne Plaza” and fun at a local arcade the next morning.

“Our campers could not have handled the transition to the hotel in Baton Rouge more beautifully,” Herman said. She reminded the campers that they were representing the camp, and “the hotel staff told us over and over again what a great group we have, and it was no surprise at all.”

Posner observed that the hotel had probably never experienced 360 voices singing Birkat Hamazon, as they did after breakfast on June 19. “For those of us fortunate enough to witness it, the sound was familiar,

August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 15 community

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but the closing words landed with a different kind of gratitude.”

Later that day, everyone headed back to Morrison Road in Utica. “Passing through the Jacobs Camp gates has never felt so sweet as it did on Monday when we brought our campers back home,” Herman said.

Posner said that though the task was “immense,” it seemed “normal.”

“Everyone did what needed to be done — often before they were even asked — because this is what real communities do,” Posner said. “In this part of the country, where our Jewish communities are small, we are also integral parts of our larger, secular communities,” and those relationships made everything possible. “Our amazing Jewish communities in Jackson and Baton Rouge said hineini with more enthusiasm than we could have asked for… they took care of us.”

They were also assisted by the national URJ staff. In addition to Nuell and Frey working remotely, Debby Shriber, executive director of the URJ Northeast Camps, was on the ground for the adventure.

To help with the unexpected costs, the camp posted an online fundraiser at and has raised about $9600 toward a $20,000 goal as of press time.

Herman said those days were “nothing short of extraordinary, thanks to our entire community. There is nothing our camp family can’t do together, and I am so grateful.”

ISJL names new development director

The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life announced that Olivia Renata Zale is their new director of development.

Joining the team in August, Zale is already familiar with the ISJL’s work. She is the current vice chair of the M.B. and Edna Zale Foundation, based in Dallas. The Zale Foundation has supported the ISJL for a number of years.

Zale also has many strong ties to the South: her family’s roots are in Dallas, and her parents lived in Lafayette for several years.

“I have long admired the incredible work of the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life and am thrilled to be joining the organization as its director of development,” Zale said. “I am excited to immerse myself in the community and work alongside our supporters to grow the ISJL and further the mission to support, connect, and celebrate Jewish life in the South.”

Zale joins a well-established ISJL team, along with several new ISJL staff members hired over the summer, including Rabbi Salem Pearce, ISJL Director of Spirituality, and two program associates, Ana Berman and Rebecca Rich. The Institute serves a 13-state Southern region.

USIEA holding event in Mobile

The U.S.-Israel Education Association, based in Birmingham, will have a community event in Mobile on Sept. 5 at 5:30 p.m. at the RSA Battle House Tower. Speakers will include founder Heather Johnston, U.S. Rep. Jerry Carl, and Auburn Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl, who is a member of USIEA’s board.

Founded in 2011, the organization brings senior members of Congress to Israel, including beyond the Green Line, to see Israel’s security situation. The first such trips included a visit by high-level Congressional representatives to the then-classified Iron Dome installations that were being developed, prompting those representatives to greatly boost U.S. support.

There are also efforts to promote business ties between Israelis in the territories and Palestinian entrepreneurs.

USIEA is an outgrowth of JH Israel, a national leadership center in Ariel, in the heart of the territories, which is also Mobile’s sister city in Israel. The Johnstons assisted in developing the center two decades ago.

16 August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life community
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Hoover library to host “Stories of Exile” series Programs are part of national Yiddish Book Center initiative

Hoover Public Library, just south of Birmingham, kicks off four months of activities connected to the Yiddish Book Center’s Stories of Exile program.

The library is one of 29 in the country to receive the grant for a reading and discussion program to engage teens and adults in thinking about experiences of displacement, migration, and diaspora.

Other reading groups in the region include Madison County Public Library System in Canton, Miss., and the Forsyth County Public Library’s Sharon Forks Branch in Cumming, Ga. Facilitators from each library attended a workshop at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts to orient them to Yiddish literature in translation.

Using Yiddish literature as a portal, the program will feature works in translation that explore narratives which grapple with questions of homelands, journeys, identity and belonging. Reading groups compare these works written in Yiddish in the early and mid-20th century to works by contemporary writers from all across the globe.

The Hoover program will discuss three works originally written in Yiddish, and one Alabama-centric young adult novel-in-verse. There will also be a series of programs focusing on themes of displacement and diaspora.

There will be an opening reception on Sept. 5 at 6 p.m., with Rabbi Yossi Friedman from Bais Ariel Chabad in Birmingham discussing the Yiddish language and its history. Olena Vyshyvanyuk will speak about her family’s experience as Ukrainian refugees. She now works as a case manager for Inspirtus. Books for the upcoming Book Club discussions will be available at the opening event. The books are also available through the Hoopla digital app, which is free to Hoover library cardholders.

The book club starts with “On the Landing” by Yenta Mash, Sept. 28 at 6:30 p.m. Ellen Cassedy will present “Women in Exile: What Yenta Mash Can Tell Us.”

On Oct. 26 at 6:30 p.m., “In the Land of the Postscript” by Chava Rosenfarb will be featured, with a discussion of her short stories led by Goldie Morgentaler.

“The Glatstein Chronicles” by Jacob Glatstein will be discussed on Nov. 30 at 6:30 p.m. The Yiddish Book Center’s Yankev Glatshteyn will present.

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August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 17 community
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will be presented on Dec. 19 at 6 p.m., with Alabama author Irene Latham and Atlanta-based actor and author Charles Waters. The book club will discuss the work on Dec. 21 at 6:30 p.m.

The Beyond Words Book Club will also discuss “American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummins, Nov. 2 at 10 a.m.



On Oct. 12 at 6 p.m., there will be an interactive performance about the struggles of refugees moving across the world, “The Empathy Project.” The performance is presented in conjunction with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute and their hosting of Little Amal, a 12-foot puppet of a 10-year-old Syrian refugee, currently traveling the country. There will be a live performance of the puppet and local youth dancers at City Walk on Oct. 11.

On Oct. 17 at 6 p.m., there will be a “Writing Memoirs of Exile” workshop led by Miriam Calleja Shaw, formerly of Malta. Registration is required for the workshop.

Professor Janek Wasserman of the University of Alabama will present “European Exile Throughout History” on Nov. 21 at 6 p.m.

The film club will present “Sun Come Up” and “That Which Once Was” on Sept. 17 at 1:30 p.m. “Deli Man,” a documentary about Jewish delis focusing on Ziggy Gruber of Kenny and Ziggy’s in Houston, will be screened on Oct. 15 at 1:30 p.m.

“The Staging Post: The Refugee Education Revolution” will be screened on Nov. 19 at 1:30 p.m., and the film club series will conclude with Netflix’s “Descendent” on Dec. 17 at 1:30 p.m.

The Now Showing group will present “The Visitor” on Sept. 18, “Belfast” on Nov. 20, and “Encanto on Dec. 18. All screenings are at 2 and 6 p.m.

Collat JFS offers new approach for dealing with childhood anxiety

Collat Jewish Family Services in Birmingham is adding SPACE to its offerings. Also introduced last month by JFS in Greater New Orleans, Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions is a parent-based treatment program for children and adolescents with anxiety, OCD and related problems.

SPACE was developed by Eli Lebowitz at the Yale Child Study Center and has been tested and found to be efficacious in randomized controlled clinical trials. At CJFS, SPACE will be led by Amy Neiman, who recently trained with Lebowitz.

There will be informational Zoom sessions with Neiman on Sept. 6 at 8:30 a.m. or 5 p.m. A maximum of six families can enroll in the 8 session group, which starts on Sept. 27.

18 August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life community To learn if CARES is right for your loved one, email or call 205.960.3411 Collat Jewish Family Services 205.879.3438
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Ariel educators visit New Orleans to learn how to improve teaching

A team of educators from Ariel visited New Orleans for the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching Summer Institute, held June 22 and 23 at the Hilton Riverside. The delegation was part of an effort to “kickstart a strategic process aimed at improving teaching” in the Israeli town located in the heart of Samaria.

Ariel is Mobile’s sister city in Israel, and the focus of activities for the Birmingham-based JH Israel, which spearheaded the development of a national leadership center in Ariel. Also through JH Israel, Ariel is a hub for the Judea-Samaria Chamber of Commerce, which facilitates joint ventures between Israeli and Palestinian entrepreneurs.

Ariel’s participation came through support from Lowell Milken, founder of NIET and a longtime contributor to American Friends of Ariel. Through his support, Ariel has secured a total value of over $1 million over four years, American Friends of Ariel stated.

The Summer Institute brought together about 600 educators from around the United States for learning opportunities from NIET specialists and collaboration time with peers. The institute focused on three key areas: unleashing teacher leadership, robust instructional practices and creating positive environments.

Among the participating districts were Iberia, Lafayette, Caddo, Baton Rouge and Jefferson.

The Ariel educators said they are “proud to be part of NIET’s mission, which impacts more than 300,000 educators and 3 million students nationwide, ranging from Phoenix to rural Tennessee (and now Ariel).”

Nefesh Mountain to perform at new Montgomery Whitewater park

The Jewish Bluegrass group Nefesh Mountain, which was scheduled to perform for the Birmingham Jewish Federation’s Annual Campaign kickoff in August, will return to Alabama for a free concert in Montgomery.

As part of the new Montgomery Whitewater Park’s Thursday Get Down Concert Series, Nefesh Mountain will perform from 6 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 28.

Located near downtown Montgomery, the newly-opened park has an Olympic-standard recirculating whitewater channel, a competition channel and creek channel, flatwater kayaking and stand-up paddleboards, along with a wide expanse of green space.

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Ariel delegation at the NIET conference in New Orleans


On Aug. 8, the Israeli Navy received the first of two landing crafts built at Bollinger Shipyards in Pascagoula.

The ceremony dedicating the INS Nachshon was led by the Commanding Officer of Haifa Naval Base, Rear Adm. Tal Politis, and senior officials in the procurement delegation of the Ministry of Defense.

Rabbi Steve Silberman of Ahavas Chesed in Mobile attended the ceremony, along with his wife, Manette. Silberman said there were brief remarks, then the American flag was raised as the Star Spangled Banner played. The American flag was then lowered, replaced by the Israeli flag as Hatikvah was played.

“Jewish, Israeli, American and maritime history were changed at a shipyard in Pascagoula,” Silberman remarked. “A high-tech vessel designed and constructed in accordance with Israeli specifications by American engineers and American workers, financially underwritten by American foreign assistance for Israel, showcases cooperation, friendship and a shared goal of Israel’s safety and wellbeing.”

The project began four years ago, and was financed through U.S. military aid to Israel, almost all of which must be spent in the United States. The Nachshon is about 95 meters long, 20 meters wide and weighs about 2,500 tons. It will set sail for Israel in a few months and will be operational in 2024.

According to the Israel Defense Forces, the team of the landing craft consists of dozens of naval combat soldiers, with a quarter of them being female. The commanding officer has the rank of Lieutenant Commander.

The IDF stated that the crafts “will act as a central pillar in adapting the Israeli Navy to the modern and multi-arena battlefield. Among other things, the landing crafts will serve as a logistical axis for transporting equipment as well as the soldiers in near and far areas.”

Politis said the craft’s completion “marks a significant milestone in adapting the Navy to the modern battlefield.”

The Israeli Navy used landing craft from the beginning in 1948, but the last of their crafts was decommissioned in 1993 when it was determined that there was no need for newer models. In recent years, the Navy sought to restore that capability.

Vice Admiral David Saar Salama, commander in chief of the Israeli Navy, told the first crew of the Nachshon that they “have a great privilege today, writing a chapter in the history of the Israeli Navy.” He referenced the craft’s name, as a midrash says that the Red Sea did not part when Moses waved his staff over it, but only after Nachshon wandered into the sea up to his head. “You are the pioneers of the way, the first to jump into the water and carve a new path in the heart of the seas,” Salama said.

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Built in Mississippi, sailing for Israel Navy receives landing craft constructed in Pascagoula Rear Adm. Tal Politis, Haifa Naval Base commander, speaks at the ceremony

“We’ll Meet Again” goes on tour

Musical based on Holocaust survivor Henry Stern’s life gets boost from Coach Bruce Pearl

“We’ll Meet Again,” a musical based on the life of a Holocaust survivor in Alabama, is going on tour.

The show, about Opelika’s Henry Stern, debuted in Savannah, Ga., in August 2022, then moved to Stern’s adopted community, where he was known as “Mr. Opelika.”

Performances will be throughout Alabama and parts of Georgia in the coming month.

Playwright Jim Harris was friends with Stern long before he knew Stern’s story. “When I heard the backstory I was amazed,” Harris told this publication last year. The Barter Theatre in Virginia, the longest-running professional Equity theater in the country, had a program on “Shaping of America,” for original musicals on the development of the United States.

Harris wanted to do a story on World War II, and asked Stern for permission to adapt his story. The musical was supposed to debut in September 2020 at the Barter Theatre, but Covid cancelled the run.

Harris approached the Historic Savannah Theatre for a January 2022 debut, as the Savannah theatre had produced his “Civil War Voices” show in 2013. The continuing pandemic delayed the show to August.

Vocal arrangements and orchestrations were created by Mark Hayes, who is an award-winning concert pianist, composer, arranger, and conductor of international renown, who had worked with Harris on “Civil War Voices.”

Barter Theatre’s Richard Rose was slated to direct the musical before he retired, and after the Virginia performance was canceled, he was so committed to the show that he agreed to direct it in Savannah, and is continuing in that role.

Among those in attendance at the Opelika performance was Auburn Men’s Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl and his wife, Brandy. They knew that the show was about the Holocaust and patriotism, but not much more. They were so moved, they vowed that the Opelika performance would not be the end of the story, and are supporting the current tour.

“We were treated to something we really weren’t expecting,” Pearl said. “We were filled with great pride and happiness about the greatest country in the world that we love so dearly.”

He added, “we want as many middle and high school students as possible to experience this production, so that others can laugh and cry and be moved and inspired by the music, the story, and the dancing — just

August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 21 community
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like Brandy and I were.”

Pearl says the musical tells the story in a “sweet, historically accurate, interesting way,” and shows how the United States “stepped up” in the face of evil.

Pearl said Stern’s story has echoes of his own family’s story. “My grandfather was able to escape to the United States when he was 11 years old, bringing his three younger siblings to this country. But not all of his family made it, and many died in the Holocaust. This musical was for me another reminder of how grateful I am, to live in Alabama and be a basketball coach in Alabama.”

The main part of the story, Pearl said, is that Stern’s family survived and lived on, “as has mine.”

He added that for those who see the show, “this production will make them proud to be an American, because this country rescued this family, and many others.”

The musical features 1930s and 1940s era music, including many of the most popular songs and the swing dances of World War II, with such classics as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “I’ll Be Seeing You,” and “Juke Box Saturday Night,” while also incorporating several Jewish and Hebrew songs.

“Our hope in creating this show is to capture the essence of what America has meant to the world in our best moments,” said Harris.

Stern’s journey

In 1935, Stern’s great uncle and aunt, Julius and Amelia Hagedorn, traveled from Opelika to visit their relatives in Westheim, Germany. Alarmed at the increasing persecution of Jews and sensing that there was trouble ahead, they tried to convince the Sterns to move to Opelika.

“They didn’t think they needed to leave, they considered themselves Germans,” Harris said. An uncle had died fighting for Germany in World War I, and they thought that legacy would protect them.

Hagedorn “had an amazingly clear view of what was happening,” and Harris says he has an old news clipping of a speech Hagedorn gave to the Rotary Club about the dangers of Nazi Germany. “I don’t think it is fair to say he predicted the Holocaust… but he knew things were going to get terrible.”

The Sterns were finally convinced, but the move was not immediate — with restrictions on what Jews could take with them, Stern’s father spent the next two years converting property and valuables to cash. The family left Germany in June 1937 on the last ship that was permitted to take Jewish refugees out of Germany. At the time, Henry Stern was six years old.

When they arrived in Opelika, it was to a hero’s welcome. The mayor issued a proclamation welcoming them to the city, and beloved kindergarten teacher Louise Tollison had studied German before they arrived, so she could better teach English to the Stern children.

After high school, Stern went to Auburn University, served in the U.S. Navy and returned to Opelika, working in retail and real estate development. He was director of the Opelika Chamber of Commerce for 11 years, was a passionate historian of Opelika and received numerous civic awards.

He also spoke extensively about the Holocaust, especially to student groups. Stern died in 2014.

In 2007, Anna Carlson, an 11th grade student at Opelika High School, wrote a paper about Stern for her history class. Stern had grown up next to her grandmother, and she knew about how Stern had fruitlessly searched for family members after the Holocaust, then finally found a first cousin in Durham, N.C., in 2004.

That paper made its way to Harris, sparking his interest in the story. Performances will be on Aug. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Opelika Performing Arts Center, with a student matinee at 10 a.m.; on Aug. 30 and 31 at the Gogue Performing Arts Center in Auburn, with matinee performances

22 August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life

for area schools. The tour continues on Sept. 6 at 7 p.m. and a Sept. 7 student matinee at the Princess Theatre in Decatur, and on Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. at the University of North Alabama’s Norton Auditorium.

There will be a public performance at Mountain Brook High School on Sept. 10 at 3 p.m., and a student performance on Sept. 11. The tour continues on Sept. 14 at 7:30 p.m. at the Classic Center Theatre in Athens, Ga., with a student matinee earlier in the day. A Sept. 17 performance will be at the Troup Fine Arts Center in LaGrange, Ga. On Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. there will be a public performance at the Enterprise Performing Arts Center, with a student matinee the morning of Sept. 20. On Sept. 21 there will be a morning student matinee and a 7 p.m. public performance at the Coastal Alabama Community College’s Patterson Auditorium in Brewton. The show will be in Mobile at the Davidson High School Center for the Arts on Sept. 22 and 23, schedule to be announced, and on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Montgomery Performing Arts Center.

There will be a “From Page to Stage” program with Harris and Rose on Aug. 22 at the Southside Center for the Arts in Opelika at 6 p.m., with a reception at 5:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the community.

Weiss, Tishby headline Future of Hope program

Gates of Prayer in Metairie will hold two book discussions in preparation for its “A Future of Hope” program on Nov. 14.

Bari Weiss and Noa Tishby will participate in the November chat, moderated by Ted Deutsch. Weiss is author of “How to Fight Anti-Semitism,” which Rabbi David Gerber will discuss on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. Weiss is a founder of The Free Press and host of the Honestly podcast. She was a columnist at the New York Times, resigning in 2020 after harassment at work, as her pieces often strayed from the mindset of many of the writers and editors. In 2021, she won the Daniel Pearl Award for Courage and Integrity in Journalism.

Tishby wrote “Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth.” An actress, producer and activist, she was Israel’s Special Envoy against Antisemitism and Delegitimization. She sold “In Treatment” to HBO, the first Israeli show to become an American series. Gerber will discuss her book on Nov. 5 at 7 p.m. Both discussions are in person and online.

Deutsch represented Florida’s 22nd district in Congress from 2010 to 2022. He is now CEO of the American Jewish Committee.

The “Future of Hope” chat will be on Nov. 14 at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available online.

August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 23 community

CJFS celebrates Personal Care Program’s 20th anniversary

For 20 years, through an interfaith partnership, Birmingham’s Collat Jewish Family Services has been providing personal care services for older adults.

That partnership and the Personal Care Program were celebrated at the CJFS Hands Up Together event in May, at The Farrell in Homewood.

Personal Care team members from CJFS visit clients for 1 to 4 hours each week providing bathing assistance, meal preparation, laundry service, and/or light housekeeping for an average fee around $4 per hour. These regular, friendly check-ins provide much-needed socialization, in addition to helping clients manage tasks that they could not handle alone.

LaBrena Friend, CJFS Personal Care Program Manager, said the program “provides assistance to clients who could not otherwise afford this type of care.”

She explained, “personal care allows our clients to continue living independently in their homes, in their communities, and improving the quality of their lives.”

Twenty years ago, the Lucille Beeson Trust of Canterbury United Methodist Church provided

startup funding that enabled CJFS to begin providing personal care services.

From an initial 10 clients, the program has grown to serve as many as 150 clients each year.

Esther Schuster served as the agency’s executive director when the Personal Care program was founded. “The idea for the personal care program came from the Jewish Family Services staff,” she recalled. “They were working with older people who wanted to continue living independently in their homes or apartments, but who needed just a little bit of help to make that possible — maybe help with bathing or tasks in the home that were difficult for them.”

The agency tried to find an existing program for those services, “but they all required at least a four-hour minimum per visit. These particular clients didn’t need that much help, and they couldn’t afford it.”

Anne Warren, who was co-chair of the May event, was the founding chair of the Beeson Trust at that time. “The funds that Canterbury received after the death of Lucille Beeson were designated to be used to benefit the needy elderly in Jefferson County,” she recalled. In 2003, “CJFS came to talk to us about starting the Personal Care program. We agreed that it was hugely needed and that it would make a difference in older people’s lives, allowing them to live in their own homes or apartments independently for longer. For many years, the Beeson Trust has funded this program at its maximum level.”

Over the past 20 years, that support has exceeded $1.5 million, she announced at the gala.

She noted that Canterbury and the Jewish community “have had a long-lasting relationship,” including a dialogue group between Canterbury and Temple Emanu-El.

In 2011, she was asked to be on the CJFS board, “the first gentile invited to do that, and what an honor it was to me.”

Most clients in the program reside in subsidized senior housing communities, such as

Episcopal Place. Tim Blanton, executive director of Episcopal Place, said if not for the Personal Care program, many of his residents would be unable to continue living in their apartments. These residents cannot do all of the housekeeping that is required of residents in federally subsidized housing, he said. “They can’t afford to have someone do it, and they don’t have family and friends that can help.” Many of them also live very isolated lives, he added. “A lot of times the personal care attendant is the only person they may see.

Friend noted that as the Covid pandemic began, “our personal care staff remained engaged with our clients… and they were the first team members to interact with our clients during the height of Covid.”

She introduced the Personal Care team, Angela Gaines, Jasmine Gilchrist, Vickie Jackson, Shadell Lewis, Keundra Simpson and Tasha Womack. “They have a combined 90 year health care experience,” she said. “They are the eyes and ears of CJFS, they are committed professionals. Their passion and their hearts are what makes this program so successful.

24 August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life
CJFS Executive Director Lauren Schwartz introduces the Personal Care Team Hands Up Together co-chair Anne Warren Elvis took part in the festivities

Topgolf. The program is for grades 8 to 12, and reservations are $20.

Helene Sinnreich, professor and chair of the Judaic Studies Program at the University of Tennessee and former Oxford/University Jewish community member, will give a talk on her new book, “The Atrocity of Hunger: Starvation in the Warsaw, Lodz and Krakow Ghettos during World War II,” on Sept. 7 at 5:30 p.m. at 208 Bryant Hall at Ole Miss in Oxford, presented by the Department of Philosophy and Religion.

Temple Beth-El in Birmingham will have a musical Selichot service on Sept. 9 at 7:30 p.m., followed by holiday-themed short films, discussion and snacks.

B’nai Sholom in Huntsville will have Selichot on Sept. 9 at 7 p.m., followed by an Oneg and learning session at 8 p.m.

The Unified Jewish Congregation of Baton Rouge will hold Selichot on Sept. 9 at 7 p.m.

Agudath Achim in Shreveport will have Selichot on Sept. 9 at 8 p.m.

Beth Israel in Jackson will have a potluck dinner on Sept. 9 at 7 p.m., followed by the Selichot service at 8 p.m.

Bais Ariel Chabad in Birmingham will have a women’s Rosh Hashanah Challah Bake, Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. Reservations are $18.

Chabad of Huntsville will have Shofar in the Park, Sept. 17 at 6:30 p.m. at Big Spring Park, near the gazebo. Tashlich at the spring will follow.

Chabad of Panama City Beach will have a CKids Rosh Hashanah

Street Fair, Sept. 10 at 11 a.m., with challah baking, pomegranate salsa making, and designing Rosh Hashanah cards. Registration is required, Hebrew School students are automatically registered.

Chabad of Panama City Beach will have a Rosh Hashanah community celebration, Sept. 27 at 11 a.m., with lunch at 12:30 p.m. Registration starts on Aug. 10.

Jackson’s Steakhouse in Pensacola will continue its tradition of Rosh Hashanah dinners, on Sept. 15, starting at 5 p.m. The Rosh Hashanah menu starts with local challah, red and golden delicious apples with orange blossom honey; then a first course of Yukon gold potato latkes, apricot preserves, sour cream and fresh chives; followed by house spice-rubbed and pecan wood smoked brisket with onion marmalade, Mom’s kugel, rainbow carrots, toasted almonds and roasted Brussels sprouts halves.

NFTY planning regional in New Orleans

The National Federation of Temple Youth’s Southern region is planning a conclave in New Orleans the weekend of Nov. 3 to 5.

The conclave, co-hosted by Touro Synagogue, Temple Sinai and Gates of Prayer, is a weekend-long experience during which Jewish teens will gather from Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana. NFTY is the high school group for the Reform movement. Participants will learn and pray together, perform community service and acts of Tikkun Olam, and enjoy hangout time and chances to make new friends. Registration information will be available in September.

August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 25 community
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Sidewalk’s 25th festival spotlights several Jewish-interest films

The spotlight shines on the silver anniversary edition of the Sidewalk Film Festival, Aug. 21 to 27, with the works of several Jewish filmmakers featured.

Southern Jewish Life magazine is sponsoring “You Hurt My Feelings” from acclaimed Jewish director Nicole Holofcener, Aug. 27 at 10:30 a.m. at the Alabama Theatre.

This dramedy stars Julia-Louis-Dreyfus, who plays a Jewish novelist in New York named Beth. Her long-standing marriage is suddenly upended when she overhears her husband give his honest reaction about her latest book.


Israel native Elan Golod’s first feature documentary, “Nathan-ism,” focuses on the four years he spent with a Jewish artist in his 90s, Nathan Hilu. The film is sponsored by Marjorie Perlman and the Sidewalk Jewish Film Festival, which will be in November.

At the end of World War II, Hilu, an 18-year-old Jewish U.S. Army private from New York, was assigned to guard the top Nazi war criminals.

He documented those memories for the next 70 years with brutish lines and annotated pastel sketches. Golod proposes a documentary portrait of the aging artist, but what begins as a peek at a unique witness to history grows into an absorbing study of the function of art as both archive and invention.

“It was fascinating to hear his stories about interacting with the prisoners and some of his observances that no one else knew about,” said Golod. “An 18-year-old Jew having interactions with top-ranking Nazi war criminals.”

The 39-year-old filmmaker is from a suburb of Tel Aviv. He served in the IDF for three years and at the age of 22, Golod entered the New York University film program.

He spent most of his time as a freelance film editor, but he wanted to make a documentary. While searching for ideas, he read an article about Hilu’s art show in New York City about 10 years ago.

Golod met Hilu in 2015 and they would spend parts of four years together, until Hilu’s death at age 93 in 2019. “He had this childlike innocence and playfulness about him,” he said. “And in his drawings, Nathan would make colorful Crayola drawings about very serious subjects.”

“Nathan-ism” premiered this past April at a film festival in Toronto. It then played in a festival in Golod’s native Tel Aviv before premiering in the U.S. at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.

“Recently we were invited to screen the film in the Nuremberg courtroom, early next year,” said Golod. “It’s important that these stories continue to be told… and we’ve been very pleased with the response the film has gotten.”

“Nathan-Ism” will be at Sidewalk Cinema B on Aug. 26 at 2:35 p.m.

Finding Lucinda

Avery Hellman, a non-binary Jewish bluegrass artist who performs as ISMAY, finds their musical identity and original voice from their musical inspirations in the feature documentary “Finding Lucinda.”

Jewish writer/director Joel Fendelman, who lives in Asheville and whose cousin Barry Dreayer is an involved member of the Birmingham Jewish community, said Hellman contacted him in 2019 about doing a short film about Hellman’s inspiration, Lucinda Williams.

“It started small and turned into something bigger as we dived into it,” said Fendelman. “It became much more than a film about musical artists

26 August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life
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and finding inspiration. It’s about the journey of life and discovery… about finding your true voice.”

“I love music and I’m learning to play piano,” he added. “I think many of us can relate to the struggle and journey of creating art and how we express ourselves.”

Hellman’s grandfather, Warren, played in a band called The Wronglers and founded the famous Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in San Francisco. He was also prominently involved in the Bay Area Jewish community.

Warren passed away in 2011 when Avery turned 19. But to honor his inspiration, they and their father started a Lucinda Williams cover band called the Lake Charltons, named for Williams’ hometown of Lake Charles.

Hellman started performing solo as ISMAY in 2015 and released their first album, “Songs of Sonoma Mountain,” in 2020.

“I’m shy but through songwriting I found my identity and my voice,” said Avery Hellman. “We take from our inspirations then seek to tell our own story.”

They said they were inspired by their father, grandfather, Williams and the great Jewish poet/musical artist Leonard Cohen.

“Lucinda let the songwriting and storytelling lead everything,” said Hellman. “She really didn’t find success until her late 30s and early 40s. And Leonard Cohen was a profound poet, who didn’t find music until later in his life. I think your journey can inform your music. It’s about the struggle, overcoming and real life.”

They said that Leonard Cohen and their family inspired them to express how Judaism influences their music. They recently moved to the South Lake Tahoe area and has begun singing and performing with Temple Bat Yam.

Hellman said they love the south and learning more about the birthplaces of the Southern blues, bluegrass and country. During the filming of “Finding Lucinda,” they travelled to Austin, Louisiana, Mississippi and Nashville.

Their sister-in-law used to live in Birmingham, and Hellman is looking forward to visiting for the Festival. They will also play a set of music at 4:05 p.m. on Aug. 27 at Sidewalk Theatre A, and the movie will screen at 9 p.m. at the Kress Building Ballroom.

Last Flight Home

Jewish filmmaker Ondi Timoner had made many movies in her 31 years in the industry, but none as personal as the tribute to her father — “Last Flight Home.”

In the 1970s, Eli Timoner founded Air Florida, the fastest-growing airline in the world. He loved his family and was a “man we could all emulate,” she said.

But when the family found out in 2020 that

August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 27 This Week In Southern Jewish Life The South’s Most Comprehensive Weekly Jewish News Email To Subscribe, send an email to

he only had a few more months to live, Ondi wanted to do a film with him and about him that they could have once he was gone.

“I wanted the film to be therapy for me and something others could relate to whether they knew my dad or not,” she said. “It was a most transformative experience. Making “Last Flight Home” was such a difficult but important experience.”

The film has been described as “one of the most enlightening… and beautiful meditations on morality in the history of cinema.”

Timoner said her sister Rachel is a rabbi in Brooklyn and she brought Jewish rituals to her father’s bedside. “There is such wisdom and beauty in the rituals she shared. It has always been important to our family, but it became even more important to my father as he approached the end… and it helped us to find console in our grief.”

Timoner also has two other films in the Sidewalk Film Festival. Her latest is “The New Americans: Gaming a Revolution.” It’s a visceral, meme-driven journey into the intersection of finance, media and extremism that encapsulate the effect technology and the internet have had on modern-day America.

Sidewalk is also bringing back Timoner’s first “breakthrough film.” The documentary “Dig” (2004) examines 10 bands about to get signed to record deals and the at-times hilarious, at-times deranged rivalry between The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jones Massacre.

“Last Flight Home” will be at First Light Church on Aug. 26 at 2:45 p.m. “Dig” will screen at 5:20 p.m. in the Kress Building Ballroom on Aug. 26. “The New Americans” will be on Aug. 27 at 12:50 p.m. at the Alabama Theatre.


“Antisemite” examines Jewish identity internally and what it means. The short narrative film is written by Etan Marciano.

In the movie, college senior Seth meets an Orthodox Jew named Isaac on the streets. The man asks Seth if he was Jewish. Seth’s parents rejected Judaism, so he didn’t know much about his religion and what it meant to him. Isaac takes him into his synagogue and the young man comes to understand before becoming the victim of a tragic act.

“I wanted to do something that we can relate to not just as Jews, but others who are living their beliefs while also examining the horrors of antisemitism, racism and prejudice,” said Marciano.

Director Michelle Bossy is Catholic from a Mexican-American family and could relate to Seth’s journey.

Marciano grew up in Brooklyn (his dad is from Israel and his mom is from New York) and he now lives in Los Angeles. Marciano lived in Tel Aviv for a “life-changing year in which I learned Hebrew… a lot about myself and it compelled me to become a screenwriter.”

“I grew up Conservative and my father grew up Orthodox. I went to a Jewish Day School growing up and it has always been a big part of my life,” he said. “I think many of us on some level continually explore our Jewish identity and what it means to us. It’s a reminder to be proud and celebrate your Judaism.”

Marciano’s wife is African-American and was raised Baptist in Texas. She converted and they are raising their 14-month-old son Jewish.

“Antisemite” has been screened in several locations across the U.S., Israel, Germany and Africa. Marciano said the next step is to develop it into a full-length film.

“I know we have more story to tell. It has opened some important conversations and the feedback we have gotten have helped to shape where we want to go next with this passion project,” he said.

“Antisemite” will screen as part of the Saturday Narrative Shorts on Aug. 26 at 12:40 p.m. at the BJCC Theatre.

Sidewalk Film Festival has been named as “one of the top 10 film festivals in the nation.” For more information and to purchase tickets, go to

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Putting it all together

Internship culminates in “life-changing” trip to Israel

Amazing and life-changing.

Those are the words that describe my recent trip to Israel. I traveled there in July as part of a Philos Black delegation made up of young Black leaders who wanted to learn more about the country, their own Christianity, and the history and national aspirations of the Jewish people.

For nearly two weeks, I was completely immersed in the culture and lives of Israelis and the place they call home. It is a beautiful country. It was an absolute privilege to have this experience and to journey through such a sacred and special place — a holy land that has impacted on so many people in so many ways, including impacting on me and on my Christian identity.

The trip was the culmination of a joint journalism internship I did earlier this year as a Miles College student, interning simultaneously with Southern Jewish Life/Israel InSight magazines and the Birmingham Times through a pioneering partnership between the publications and Miles College, an HBCU in Fairfield. My focus was on writing stories of interest to both the Black and Jewish communities.

My internship included spending a semester immersing myself in the culture of Birmingham’s Jewish community. That experience gave me a new sense of appreciation for the country of Israel and a lot of context for what I would experience on my trip.

Finally, after months of looking forward to my trip, the day of departure arrived. I bid my family farewell, promising to bring back stories and experiences that would enrich their lives too. Stepping off the plane in Israel, I felt a rush of emotions. The air was different, carrying a unique blend of history, spirituality and modernity.

Throughout the journey, my fellow participants and I were immersed in a whirlwind of experiences. We visited ancient churches and holy sites, tracing the footsteps of Jesus. With every passing day, I felt a deeper connection to my faith, realizing that my heritage was intricately woven into

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Kiara Dunlap (right), with Ashager Araro, whose family came to Israel from Ethiopia.
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the fabric of the land I walked on.

Visiting these holy sites gave me a much richer and deeper understanding of my own faith. The power of experiencing sacred places that I had read about in the Bible affected me deeply and will stay with me for a long time. Yet, the trip wasn’t just about spirituality.

Philos Black had carefully curated meetings with local activists, scholars and government officials. I learned about the complex geopolitical dynamics of the region and gained a nuanced perspective on the challenges facing the Israeli government. These conversations were often thought-provoking and challenged me to think critically about the world around me.

One particularly impactful meeting was with a Palestinian man who was able to share his story of growing up in Palestine. He explained his side of the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and shared his perspective on the current political conflict between the two populations. Hearing him gave me a sense of compassion for people on both sides and an even deeper understanding of a land that holds so much identity, purpose and aspirations for both communities.

Living in the U.S. it is easy to be removed from the conflict and the stories. But being there — and hearing from the people who live there day to day, gave me a far deeper understanding of the difficulties of the situation.

Our group also visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s memorial to the Holocaust. I’d always known about the Holocaust because I grew up in California where Holocaust education is part of the school curriculum. However, the intensity and scope of Yad Vashem forced me to think about the Holocaust more deeply, heightening my appreciation of the similarities between aspects of the Black and Jewish historical experiences.

As the trip neared its end, I found myself changed. I had not only

grown spiritually but also intellectually and emotionally. The experiences I had accumulated, the people I had met, and the knowledge I had gained were treasures that I believe I will carry with me for my lifetime.

Since returning home, I’ve tried to become a beacon of inspiration in my own community. I have shared my experiences with my family, friends and fellow church members, creating in them a newfound interest in exploring their Christian roots. I have become an advocate for open dialogue and conversations about the complex political and religious issues I encountered.

I believe that my journey with Philos Black transformed me into a leader with a global perspective. My heart, once filled with curiosity, now brims with compassion and understanding. I want to continue to learn, grow and contribute to my community and other communities. I know that I will be driven by my unyielding faith and the new lessons I learned in the ancient land of Israel.

(Next month: Encountering Israel’s Ethiopian Jewish community).

Dr. Beerman grew up in Metairie, attended Metairie Park Country Day School, graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and then earned her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from LSU School of Dentistry.

She is a member of Spear Study Club and the American Dental Association, Louisiana Dental Association, and New Orleans Dental Association. She has her Botulinum Toxin Certification from the American Academy of Facial Esthetics. She is on the Jewish Family Services Board and the Tribe Board at Congregation Gates of Prayer.

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The Philos Black delegation poses at Martin Luther King Street

Birmingham, New Orleans teens compete in JCC Maccabi Games in Israel

For the second time ever, the Jewish Community Center Maccabi Games were held in Israel.

Birmingham sent eight teens to the Games, and New Orleans had a delegation of four athletes at the games in Haifa, which took place July 9 to 13.

The Birmingham delegation consisted of flag football players Ben Davis, Eli Brook, Micah Goldis, Jonah Kipp, and Bobby Rutkoff; soccer players Miles McMillan, Ari Altmann and Dylan Bor, and staff members Katie Hausman Grace and Cody Bass.

The New Orleans team included flag football player Noah Dunn, baseball player Ethan Dulitz, and soccer players Alyse Dulitz and Lili Arjmand. New Orleans JCC Sports Director Neal Alsop was the flag football coach.

The JCC Maccabi Games are for teens and are usually held at JCCs in the United States. Next summer’s games will be in Houston and Detroit. They are not connected to the World Maccabiah Games, an adult Olympic-style gathering that takes place in Israel every four years.

After the Maccabi competitions were over, the delegations, consisting of some 700 athletes, spent two weeks touring Israel.

The 17U girls soccer team, coached by Cody Bass of the Levite JCC in Birmingham, brought home a silver medal. The Green team consisted of athletes from New Orleans, Central New Jersey, Houston Maccabi, Phoenix, Shames JCC on the Hudson, Long Beach and Palisades.

August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 31
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The Birmingham delegation to the JCC Maccabi Games New Orleans delegation at the opening ceremony

The Green team placed first in the preliminary stage, going 3-0-1, with a 10-0 win over Ashdod, 8-3 over JTeam and 10-3 over Purple. The only draw was 4-4 against Blue, which was Bay Area and Tucson. Purple consisted of Greater Washington, Los Angeles Westside, Los Angeles Valley, Montreal and Orange County.

In the tournament rounds, Green advanced with a 7-3 win over JTeam, but lost the gold medal match to Blue, 6-1.

In 17U boys baseball, the Green team consisted of New Orleans, Cleveland, Greater Washington, Philadelphia and Vancouver. The team was seeded second in the five-team tournament after going 3-1 in the round-robin part of the tournament, as did Los Angeles West, which was seeded first due to tiebreakers, and Israel, which was seeded third.

In the playoff, the Green team lost to eventual gold medal winner Israel, 8-2, and then was shelled by the Blue team of Central New Jersey, Los Angeles Westside, Long Beach, Orange County and San Diego, 16-2, in the bronze medal game. The Blue team had gone 1-3 in the preliminary rounds.

In 17U boys soccer, Birmingham was the Green team with Shames on the Hudson and Los Angeles West. In the eight team field, Green placed last, losing all four matches, with the closest being a 7-6 loss to the Purple team of JTeam and Atlanta. They were eliminated in the playoff by eventual bronze winner Bay Area, 7-1.

The Birmingham and New Orleans U17 flag football athletes fared the same in their tournament, going 0-4 as the Purple team in the preliminary and being seeded fifth out of five teams, falling to the Blue team in the playoff, 46-12. Both Israeli national teams, which faced each other for the gold, scored shutouts against Purple.

The Purple team also included Cleveland and Toronto. The blue team was The Center, J Team, Long Beach, Alberta and Miami Beach.

32 August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life community SJL goes anywhere digital editions at ISSUU.COM/SJLMAG
Silver medals for the U17 girls soccer team


an annual SJL special section

September is ovarian cancer awareness month

When celebrating the High Holy Days in September, perhaps incorporate some teal into your wardrobe.

The Norma Livingston Ovarian Cancer Foundation hosts Together in Teal on Sept. 10 at Aldridge Gardens, one of several events and observances for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

Together in Teal will feature music, food, crafts and vendor tables, and a highlight will be a butterfly release to “symbolize ovarian cancer survivors as well as those who we’ve lost.” This will coincide with “very moving” presentations from ovarian cancer researchers and physicians.

“We want to celebrate the brave women and their families while raising awareness about the disease,” said Norma Livingston Ovarian Cancer Foundation Executive Director Ashley Thompson. “Unfortunately, a simple and reliable screening method is not currently available for ovarian cancer. Our goal is to increase understanding of the signs and symptoms of the disease and educate women on the importance of preventative care.”

Thompson said Together in Teal launched last year and is one of several big programs and initiatives for the Foundation. They also host the Mother’s Walk 5K the Saturday before Mother’s Day.

“Through the sale of our statewide Driving Out Ovarian Cancer car tag, the NLOCF has raised more than $1.6 million to fund local research through the Division of Gynecology/Oncology at UAB,” she said.

Most of the funds raised from the special events go directly to ovarian cancer patients and to increasing awareness.

In the Foundation’s Just A Need program, ovarian cancer patients receiving chemotherapy are gifted a set of cold mittens and socks in a specially designed cooler to wear during infusions. These cold packs help reduce the side effects of neuropathy.

“Patients and their families can reach out to Just A Need for emotional support, gas money for transportation, medical bill assistance and meals,” said Thompson.

According to NLOCF Board Member Meagan Farmer, who is a genetic counselor and senior marketing manager for Ambry Genetics, one in 40 Ashkenazi Jewish women has a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, which is 10 times greater than the general population.

Mutations in BRCA genes raise a person’s risk for getting ovarian,

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breast and uterine cancers. That is why Ashkenazi Jewish women are at higher risk at a younger age. If one’s mother or father has a BRCA gene mutation, that woman has a 50 percent chance of having the same gene mutation.

“We all have BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. They are tumor suppressor genes,” said Farmer, who worked at UAB in the Cancer Genetic Counseling Program from 2012 to 2022. Certain hereditary mutations in those genes keep them from working properly.

Women with BRCA1 gene mutations have a 39 to 58 percent risk of getting cancer during their lifetime, while BRCA2 mutations pose a somewhat lower risk.

She said 5 to 10 percent of cancers have a hereditary cause. That risk is up to 20 percent for people with epithelial ovarian cancer. Anyone with a personal or family history meets national guideline criteria for genetic testing.

“If anyone has a family history, I recommend they see a genetic counselor and do genetic testing,” she said. “It’s especially important with ovarian cancer, since there is really not a screening that can be done… and sometimes they are silent.”

Lori Livingston founded the nonprofit Norma Livingston Ovarian Cancer Foundation in Birmingham in January 2004 to honor her mother.

Norma Livingston was a healthy, active 65-year-old woman in the Jewish community who was rarely sick and very proactive about her health.

She went to the internist complaining of weight gain, abdominal discomfort and a chronic cough. When the diagnosis was finally made, Norma had stage four ovarian cancer. She endured nine hours of surgery and countless rounds of chemotherapy. Sadly, she lost her fight just more than a year later.

“We want women and their families to know there is support and we’re going to continue the fight for the cure,” said Thompson.

Total Skin offers new skin wellness treatments, locations

Total Skin and Beauty Dermatology helps its patients with anti-aging solutions and proactive skin wellness education.

Dr. Melanie Appell said she recommends new fillers including Defyne and Refyne “that move with the face to give a natural appearance.”

She said Contour helps to volumize areas that diminish with aging, and the use of a cannula makes volumizing areas very natural as well.

Appell also recommended some newer, minimally invasive skin treatments for women. COV2 is an at-home treatment that improves the external appearance of the vagina as well as the internal aspect of sexual enjoyment.

“It’s a no-downtime product that is used in the privacy of one’s own home. The cost is relatively low and it’s non-invasive,” she added.

The skin pen and BBL are also minimally invasive products that improve facial appearance, dark spots and redness.

Dr. Jimmy Krell said that in this region, skin cancers on the shins of women are more common.

“This is most definitely from women wearing skirts and dresses, being outside during much of the year in the South, with so many months of warm weather,” said Krell. He recommended looking out for any spot that bleeds regularly for several weeks, and non-healing sores.

Total Skin and Dermatology offers four clinics — in Birmingham, Trussville, Gardendale and Bessemer. They will be moving their Birmingham location from the Ash Place building in Southside to the Woodward Building on 1st Avenue North.

“Our goal is to help reach as many people as we can while being in convenient locations for our patients,” said Appell.

34 August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life health/wellness
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Overcoming the city of excess? NOLA Detox breaks the mold in treating addiction

When it comes to sober living, New Orleans is generally not the first place that springs to mind. NOLA Detox not only thinks it is possible, but New Orleans is an integral component to the experience of overcoming addiction.

Dan Forman and Chris Copeland started NOLA Detox almost two years ago, with the idea of innovating how treatment is done. Forman comes from a health care background and Copeland has long roots in New Orleans hospitality — and both are in long-term recovery from addiction.

Forman said “for years, if you wanted quality addiction treatment care and you live in New Orleans, you had to leave New Orleans to get it.”

They set out to “bring quality treatment to New Orleans unlike what the city has ever had, by utilizing what makes New Orleans so special,” including the food and music.

They have partnered with LSU Heath to provide addiction psychiatry services, with a very low patient to counselor ratio. They offer the “full continuum” from detox to residential extended living to outpatient services. “And it’s all here in New Orleans,” Forman added.

Copeland said people often feel that when they have to stop after drinking a lot or doing drugs, their life is over and they aren’t going to have any fun. “That’s not the case… you can have fun with a community, you can still listen to good music, eat good food, enjoy festivals,” he said. Through group outings, “we show them in a short period of time how much fun they can have.”

He added, “you can enjoy everything New Orleans has to offer, without drinking or drugs.”

As an example, in April they had a NOLA Recovery Lounge, a sober safe space at Gates of Prayer’s GatesFest music festival in Metairie.

At NOLA Detox, “the hospitality factor” is emphasized. By treating people well, it “allows us to engage them in treatment,” Daniels said.

Copeland’s father started Popeye’s, his uncle started Tastee Donuts and there are Copeland’s restaurants around the area. He takes his hotel and restaurant industry and his family’s philosophy of “always taking care of guests, what to do to make them feel special” and applies it to addiction recovery.

Their facility has hotel-quality queen beds, which Copeland said is “unheard of.” Rather than a cafeteria with a couple options, the residents can design their meals from six choices “as if they were in a five-star hotel.” Rooms have a 40-inch television with basic cable, while Copeland said “most treatment centers don’t have a TV in the whole facility.”

Copeland noted that patients who are detoxing often have sugar cravings, especially at night. They have an Otis Spunkmeyer oven for fresh cookies, along with cold milk before bed.

Another emphasis on individualized attention is how they answer the phone whenever someone calls for help, instead of relying on voicemails or emails. “Even if a person calling is not coming in for treatment, our goal is to leave them in a better place than when they called us,” Forman said, and give them a change to “embrace the thought that life can be better.”

They try to remove all obstacles to seeking treatment, including financial barriers. They accept most insurance as well.

He said addiction is a highly-treatable illness. “We do it well, but it does

August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 35 health/wellness

require a commitment of time on behalf of the patient.”

They noted that during the pandemic, New Orleans had the highest increase in usage of Narcan in the country. That drug is used to revive people who have overdosed on opioids. “We became the center of the opioid epidemic nationally,” Forman said, giving them a sense of urgency to open their doors.

They also felt it was a way to give back after their own recoveries, based on their own experiences. And since they both have deep roots in the city, “we definitely want to help our neighbors here,” Copeland said.

They have already attracted patients from across the country who are “very attracted to getting sober in New Orleans,” Forman said.

Fighting addiction is also fighting homelessness and crime, Copeland said. “People do some really bad things, but it isn’t who they are, because they are chasing their addiction and feel like they are going to die. Once they get sober, they give back to the community.”

It is also a matter of repairing the world with each person they help, Forman said. He reminds that one person overcoming addiction affects countless other people — relatives, friends. “That’s our way of giving back to the world.”

Applause Dancewear in step with dancers, molding female entrepreneurs

Katie Wade Faught grew up dancing and learning about successful entrepreneurship from her parents.

The owner of Applause Dancewear in Homewood said her employees are always in step with what dancers are looking for.

“We’re all dancers and we’ve all been on the other side of the counter,” said Faught. “We want every dancer who comes in here to feel good and pretty. We can accommodate all shapes, sizes and ages. Our focus is always on inclusivity.”

Faught’s parents started Applause in 1981 and she started helping out in the store when she was seven. “We’re on our third and fourth generation of customers here,” she said. “That’s what makes it so rewarding — to see customers come in and then pass on their love of dance to their kids and grandkids.”

She said running a successful dancewear business involves having good people on the team. Erica Thomason has been Applause’s manager for 16 years and they hire many high school as well as college-aged dancers.

“We know they are attuned to the needs of dancers and they can gain some valuable experience in customer service, responsibility and management,” said Faught.

“Some of the best advice I can give to other small business owners is to find great employees who you can mentor and who you trust with your business,” she said. “Take the time to build those relationships and teach them to be strong, empowered women.”

Faught said they have grown the business over the years and customized their inventory to meet customer needs.

She said they can customize a “Back-to-School” package for customers and have recently received a large new selection of dance bags.

They are the largest dancewear provider in the state of Alabama, with an extensive inventory of shoes, tights and leotards by leading companies in the industry.

“We’re always keeping up with what’s new and asking our customers what they are looking for,” she said. “We’ve been doing this for 42 years and have develop some great relationships with (the suppliers). If it’s not in the store, we can definitely find it for them.”

36 August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life health/wellness
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Paul Barron to be honored by Touro Foundation’s Judah Touro Society

The Touro Infirmary Foundation in New Orleans announced that Paul Barron will be the recipient of the 2023 Judah Touro Society Award.

The Judah Touro Society Award has been given each year for the past 33 years to a member of the Touro family who has demonstrated outstanding leadership and support of the hospital. Honorees are nominated by the members of the Judah Touro Society and selected by past recipients of the award.

Named for the 19th century philanthropist and founder of Touro Infirmary, the Judah Touro Society is composed of benefactors whose generosity and dedication to the values and mission of Touro Infirmary place them among the hospital’s strongest and most committed supporters. Members commit to annual giving programs at $1,500 or above.

Barron has been a dedicated supporter of Touro for the last 40 years.  He was appointed to the Touro Governing Board in 1988. He served as secretary from 1994 to 1996, vice chairman in 1996 and 1997, and chairman from 1997 to 2000. Under his leadership, Touro purchased Woldenberg Village and undertook a $30 million renovation to add the assisted living facility and nursing home to the facilities’ campus.

Other achievements during Barron’s tenure included adding an 8th floor to the hospital’s patient tower, implementing a corporate compliance program, refinancing its 1993 bonds and issuing $52 million in new bonds. Today he is spearheading the formation of an aphasia support group at Touro to provide valuable resources to patients who have experienced stroke and traumatic brain injuries.

The award will be presented at the Judah Touro Society Dinner on Nov. 2, at 6 p.m. at the Audubon Tea Room. Individual tickets are $200 and are available online.

38 August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life health/wellness
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Home-town practice

Margot Beerman opens Magnolia Modern Dentistry in heart of Metairie

Dr. Margot Beerman is a New Orleans native, now practicing at Magnolia Modern Dentistry, located in the heart of Metairie, close to all of the synagogues, the Jewish Community Campus and Torah Academy.

Beerman is a member of Gates of Prayer Synagogue, and graduated from Metairie Park Country Day School. She went on to study finance at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and then completed her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree at Louisiana State University School of Dentistry.

Her senior year of high school included an opportunity to do a twoweek externship. She was interested in becoming a physician, but her childhood dentist asked her to do the externship with him. “I’m glad he did, because I really fell in love with dentistry during that externship,” she told SJL.

That experience showed her that dentistry was her path because of the joy it can bring to patients. “I’ve always been good with my hands and artistic,” she said, and dentistry is “a great work-life balance, a great profession that more women are going into.”

After graduating, she did not want to go the “corporate route” inside a large practice, so after gaining experience at various dental offices, she opened Magnolia Modern Dentistry in June 2023.

Beerman emphasizes “making the connection” with patients. She shared, “people are often very stressed about the dentist, so I want to connect with them and spend time getting to know each patient to make them feel comfortable and welcome.”

In addition to general dentistry, she does Botox work for TMJ and aesthetics, and offers same-day crowns. She runs a family office, so she particularly enjoys seeing children and families. The office is “modern but comfortable,” with all the latest technology.

Being located convenient to Jewish institutions in the area was important to Beerman, as she and her family remain very involved in the community. She serves on the board of Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans and on the Tribe board at Gates of Prayer. She regularly hosts Shabbat gatherings with many guests. “We love connecting the young adults,” she said, and “Tribe has really given us an avenue to do that, and we’re growing.”

Her family has also been very active with the Jewish Children’s Regional Service. Her father “believed in their mission, because we wouldn’t be where we are without them.”

Six Beerman siblings were Jewish Children’s Home residents in the 1920s, while more recently, family members have served in leadership positions within JCRS, including Marc Beerman as president from 2015 to 2017. The Beerman family was honored at the 2020 JCRS Roots of Rhythm and Blues Gala.

August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 39 health/wellness
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When you arrive for a tour, you will be greeted by our friendly staff and residents. You will notice our walking paths, putting green and refreshing outside areas for you, your family and friends to enjoy. Once you move in, you are free to come and go in the community as you wish, and visitors are always welcome! Including your 4-legged friends.

Our community is your local source for overcoming challenges that older adults face as well as providing an environment where friendships can cultivate and flourish.

Reach out to us today and learn how we can help connect your interests with those of like-age friends.

Director: “Golda” film timely, given current events

“Golda” director Guy Nattiv said the movie that digs deeper about Israel’s first and only female prime minister, Golda Meir, is very relevant to what his native country is facing today.

Nattiv won the 2019 Academy Award for Best Live Action Short with “Skin,” which came out in 2018 and was proceeded by a feature-length film of the same name. “Golda” premiered at the Jerusalem Film Festival on July 14.

For the last seven months, there have been weekly demonstrations against the current government in Israel. “I went and demonstrated with my father recently,” said Nattiv. “I miss leaders such as Golda who take responsibility; are humble and take care of the people versus taking care of themselves. As it was during the Yom Kippur War, this is a pivotal time for our country. In a way, we are fighting for the future of our country.”

“Golda,” which stars Helen Mirren as Golda Meir and Liev Schreiber as Henry Kissinger, releases on Aug. 25. It will screen at a few theaters in the region.

Nattiv said he wanted to show a side of Meir that many likely not have seen before. Centering on events surrounding the Yom Kippur War in 1973, the film portrays Meir being unprepared for aggression from neighboring Arab countries, then overseeing a military response that transformed from fumbling to triumphant. It eventually led to Israeli-Egyptian peace in 1979, five years after Meir left office.

“There is so much we don’t know about what she went through during the war and the significant hurdles she faced,” he said. “We want people to come into this movie not thinking they are watching a classic bio-pic or a ‘propaganda’ piece. ‘Golda’ paints a real picture of the war and how difficult it was for her.”

Nattiv said Mirren “is one of the best actresses of our time and really reminded me of Golda. She plays Golda with much depth, strength and humility.”

Mirren is not Jewish, but during a press conference before the screening at the Jerusalem Film Festival, researchers with MyHeritage presented Mirren with evidence linking her to Meir.

The connection is distant, stretching back through Mirren’s paternal Russian ancestry. The genealogy also links Mirren with two Israeli presidents — Chaim and Ezer Weizman.

She told JTA that the connection is “miraculous. It just goes to show that we are all one family, actually. In times of divisiveness and strife as I know Israel is in right now… it would be a very good thing to remember that fact.”

Mirren’s connection to Israel dates back to

40 August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life continued on page 43
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New Orleans JWV holds installation

On July 9, the Ben Katz Post 580 of the Jewish War Veterans of the U.S.A. held its installation at Kosher Cajun in Metairie. Ron Sivernell of Dallas, department commander for the JWV Department of Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana and Oklahoma, officiated.

Carol Berman continued in her role as post commander.

Other officers are Elliott Bain, senior vice commander; Ed Young, junior vice commander; Nathan Lew, Judge Advocate; Joel Picker, quartermaster; Judy Newman, adjutant; Gerald Newman, chief of staff; Rabbi David Posternock, chaplain; Jack Gross, NMI representative; Louis Trachtman, surgeon; Hilton Title, color sergeant; Leon Pesses, officer of the day; Jack Gross, patriotic instructor/NMI. Lew Shuman is outgoing adjutant.

In addition to the installation, there was a discussion of D-Day, a round of Judge Sol Jeopardy, and discussion about a Nov. 7 program that JWV will hold at Temple Sinai. The event will feature author Marlene Trestman as part of the Judge Sol and Jackie Gothard JWV Women’s Speaker Series. Trestman’s new book is “Most Fortunate Unfortunates: The Jewish Orphans Home of New Orleans,” scheduled to be released in October.

Sivernell said that “many people say JWV is the best kept secret. Actually, it’s the worst secret to keep.”

Established in 1896, “we were the first veterans service organization, and we have been doing it continuously.”

The organization “provides services to every veteran. We don’t just provide services to Jewish veterans.”

Current Jewish soldiers receive free membership until one year after leaving the military. Active members are honorably discharged Jewish

U.S. veterans who served during a war or conflict. Associate members served during a time without war or conflict, or served for an allied military during war and later became a U.S. citizen.

Patrons are family members of veterans, community leaders, veterans of other faiths or anyone else who supports the mission and values of JWV.

Current posts in the region include New Orleans, Birmingham, Huntsville and the Pensacola area.

August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 41 community
Department Commander Ron Sivernell installs Post Commander Carol Berman and other officers on July 9

November opening for WWII Museum’s Liberation Pavilion

The National WWII Museum will open the highly anticipated Liberation Pavilion, its final permanent exhibit hall, and officially dedicate the Col. Battle Barksdale Parade Ground, an outdoor gathering space in the heart of the New Orleans campus, on Nov. 3 — in time for the last surviving members of the World War II generation to experience what has been built in their honor.

One emphasis of the new pavilion will be bearing witness to the Holocaust. The pavilion will also explore the end of World War II, the postwar years and how the war continues to affect the world today. The three-story pavilion, made possible through the support of private donors and the State of Louisiana, houses two floors of exhibit space featuring first-person accounts, iconic imagery, powerful artifacts and immersive environments, as well as a thirdfloor theater offering audiences a brand-new cinematic experience.

The November celebration will mark the completion of the $400 million Road to Victory Capital Campaign that has propelled the extraordinary growth of the Museum’s campus from one exhibit hall to seven pavilions over the past two decades. The public announcement of this historic milestone capped off the Museum’s June 6 commemorations of the 79th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, and the 23rd anniversary of the Museum’s grand opening.

“The National WWII Museum has the incredible responsibility and privilege of telling one of the most important stories in human history. Liberation Pavilion will be a powerful addition to the Museum experience, providing visitors with a deeper understanding of the cost of our victory and the war’s enduring impacts,”

said Stephen J. Watson, museum president and CEO. “This milestone moment will be a celebration of the Museum’s unbelievable growth but also a special opportunity to pay tribute to the men and women who helped secure victory in World War II and reflect on our own role in carrying on their legacies.”

The Pavilion’s first floor galleries, “Finding Hope in a World Destroyed,” will honor the sacrifices of the WWII generation and explore the immense cost of war with exhibits on the Holocaust, Anne Frank, faith in wartime, and the Monuments Men and Women. The first floor will also include a panoramic theater with personal testimonies from Holocaust survivors and the U.S. forces who liberated them, as well as an interfaith chapel to provide a quiet space for contemplation.

The second floor of Liberation, the Goldring Family Foundation and Woldenberg Foundation “Forces of Freedom at Home and Abroad (1945–Present),” will explore the war’s impact in the postwar period and its lasting legacies today. Exhibits will examine the rebuilding efforts of a world destroyed, the war crimes trials, the emergence of the U.S. as a world “superpower,” movements for social change and civil rights, new technological innovations and the war’s impact on foreign policy. An interactive gallery will provide a reflective space for visitors to voice their thoughts on the war’s legacy and what it means today.

On the third floor, the Priddy Family Foundation Freedom Theater will offer audiences a multimedia experience focused on what was at stake during World War II and the meaning of Allied victory. The production, being developed by The Hettema Group, will highlight how freedom and democracy

were nearly extinguished from the world in the 1930s and 1940s while also portraying how America helped to defend and promote freedom and human rights after World War II. At a pivotal moment in the show, the theater audience platform itself will rotate.

Adjacent to Liberation Pavilion, the 24,000-square-foot Col. Battle Barksdale Parade Ground is an impressive outdoor space at the heart of the Museum’s campus. Its dedication comes almost two decades after the first major donation to the Road to Victory Capital Campaign by Donna and Jim Barksdale, then a Museum trustee, who earmarked the funds for a future parade ground in honor of his uncle Colonel Battle Barksdale, an Army officer in World War II.

The beginnings of the Museum date back to 1990, when University of New Orleans professors Stephen Ambrose, PhD, and Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, PhD, discussed plans for a modest D-Day museum.

“We have achieved something beyond what Stephen Ambrose and I could have imagined when we set out to create The National D-Day Museum,” said Mueller, Museum president and CEO emeritus. “Steve often spoke of his dream for the Museum to serve as a ‘love song to democracy,’ a dream that has come true over the past 20 years. Now, we can more fully thank the WWII generation and show the world what their fight for freedom means today.”

The Nov. 3 grand opening will be part of the Museum’s weeklong “D-Day to Liberation: Road to Victory Celebration,” which will include a series of private and public events to honor the WWII generation and thank the many supporters who made the campus expansion possible. During this weeklong celebration, The National WWII Museum will also host Medal of Honor Recipients and their families in New Orleans for the 2023 Congressional Medal of Honor Society Convention, presented by the Stephen G. and Regina Oswald Foundation.

42 August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life
Artist rendering of Holocaust liberation exhibit National World War II Museum Liberation Pavilion

Jewish Broadcasting Service expands programming, reach in region

Jewish Broadcasting Service Acting CEO Darah Golub remembers back in 2005, when her father, Rabbi Mark S. Golub, said American television needed a Jewish channel.

Today, JBS is a non-profit Jewish television network, supported by donations from viewers and foundations, and is available in more than 70 million households worldwide and in the U.S. on Spectrum, Direct TV, Comcast, Hotwire, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV and many other TV providers. Viewers include already committed Jews, those on the periphery and people new to the Jewish community.

Spectrum, by Sept. 1, will bring JBS to their

lineups in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, NW Florida and North and South Carolina in their southern service areas.

JBS programming covers the panorama of Jewish life. Features include daily news direct from Israel and the JBS News Desk, roundtables and interviews about the current political climate with leading figures (“Eye on Israel”), High Holy Days and weekly Shabbat services, programming for children, the award-winning Israeli drama series “Srugim,” and Jewish and Israeli films. Also featured are Hebrew lessons and Talmud study and profiles on Jewish film directors, authors and musicians. As Golub says, “there is something for everyone, including sports.”

Golub said as they grow the network they hope to highlight regional stories, including those from the Southern Jewish Life magazine coverage area.

JBS Chief Marketing Officer David Brugnone, who has been with the network since the beginning, said they continue to look at opportunities for growing content and getting into more households through the emerging streaming platforms.

“Many of our viewers really like traditional

TV. And we are definitely embracing the new streaming media and looking at more programming that is of interest to our younger Jewish viewers… as well as how they consume media,” said Brugnone.

Adds Golub, “it’s a balance. We want to honor and continue that tradition while at the same time focusing on the future.”

continued from page 40 >> Golda

1967, when she traveled with a Jewish boyfriend to work for a month on a kibbutz in the north part of the country.

Nattiv said he and “Golda” screenwriter Nicholas Martin did much research to get a full picture of Meir. They spoke with her bodyguard, press secretary and her family about the prime minister who served Israel from 1969 to 74.

“We learned a lot about Golda as a leader, but much more so, as a person,” he said. “That’s what the heart of this movie is all about.”

Nattiv lives in Los Angeles with his wife and producing partner, Jaime Ray Newman, and their two daughters. He and Newman run New Native Pictures, which is focused on developing risk-taking, original and socially relevant content for the screen.

August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 43 culture What’s Your TRADITION?
JBS series “In the Spotlight” with host Abigail Pogrebin


a monthly feature from Collat Jewish Family Services

Establishing Healthy Boundaries

These days it is common to hear people talking about setting boundaries — at work, with their extended families, and in other personal relationships. Healthy boundaries are an important part of mental health and wellness, and they can be challenging to understand and even more challenging to establish.

The concept of boundaries refers to our sense of self in relation to the world and the people around us. In the very literal sense, it means where I end and you begin. The more we have a sense of ourselves versus others, the healthier we tend to operate in our relationships. Maintaining our boundaries is vital to maintaining a healthy sense of self and our mental health.

Physical boundaries are usually the easiest to understand because they are concrete, having to do with the sense of personal space between ourselves and others. Think of the level of touching that is appropriate with different people in your life. For example, holding your spouse’s hand is perfectly fine, but holding your boss’ hand is crossing a boundary.

Another facet of boundaries has to do with values, beliefs, opinions and needs. Each person has differences, and we each have the right to express our wishes, desires and needs. When we have healthy boundaries, we recognize and understand our own beliefs and opinions and we know that those of other people may different than our own. Have you ever wished you had been able to give your input or to say how you felt about a situation? When you begin to understand that your opinion is valuable and is as important as that of the other person, that’s an indication that your sense of self may be growing, When you express a need or an opinion, you are setting a healthy boundary.

Emotional boundaries have to do with how we understand our feelings and differentiate them from the feelings of others. We need to recognize that others may feel differently than we do, even about the same situation, event or circumstance. We also need to acknowledge that different feelings are valid—both ours and others’—and that we are responsible for how we feel, not others. Our boundaries help us determine how we want to be treated. We are maintaining good boundaries when we speak up when someone crosses a line.

Being able to say no to a request of our time, money, energy or effort when we do not want to do something or cannot agree is also an example of maintaining a good boundary. I have always felt that the Southern values of friendliness and politeness often get confused with keeping our sense of self when we need to say “no.” Because we don’t want to be rude, we agree to things we do not want to do, then feel resentful of the person who asked, and perhaps also feel angry at ourselves for agreeing.

Maintaining our own boundaries — and respecting the boundaries of others — are both essential. Establishing and maintaining appropriate boundaries can help us prioritize the family, work and other personal obligations that truly are our top priorities for how we spend our energy and time. However, someone else’s priorities may be completely different.

As you begin to set boundaries for yourself, it is important to realize others may not initially understand your new approach. In setting boundaries, it is important not to go too far too fast or build walls between yourself and others. Allow opportunity for discussion and help others understand what you are trying to achieve. Getting the right balance

44 August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life continued on page 45 counselor’s corner
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The kingdom of Judah was populated by people descended from worshippers of the Golden Calf, and The South is populated by people who worship Golden Flake. Shofar blasts throughout the kingdom of Judah would signal days of pious worship based on the moon, and the South worships Moon Pies.

The most important commonality between The South and the southern kingdom of Judah: Even in the Old City of Jerusalem, right on David Street in the Shuk, there’s an Alabama Store. Roll Tide.

Doug Brook realizes that, with the magazine’s expanded coverage area, his column is going south now more than ever. For more, listen to the FIVEstar rated Rear Pew Mirror podcast at show/rearpewmirror or any major podcast platform. For past columns, visit

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can be tricky, and initially you may feel uncomfortable and guilty with boundary setting. But over the long term, establishing and maintaining healthy boundaries can reduce stress and resentment and help you to have better relationships overall. Having clear boundaries in relationships allows people to care for themselves psychologically, which is not selfish, but an essential aspect of well-being.

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

Members of the New Orleans Section of the National Council of Jewish Women did a special tour of “Yet She is Advancing: New Orleans women and the right to vote, 1878-1970” and “American Democracy: A Great Leap of Faith” at the Historic New Orleans Collection on Aug. 6.

August/Sept. 2023 • Southern Jewish Life 45 This Week In Southern Jewish Life The South’s Most Comprehensive Weekly Jewish News Email To Subscribe, send an email to community

The Southern Kingdom

In the world today, there is a country that’s an all-too-rare beacon of democracy shining bright amid the world around it. Particularly in recent years, as seen daily in the news, this country struggles with the world’s perception of it while it endures internal trials the likes of which have been seldom seen in its history.

It began as a single, unified nation. After nearly a hundred years, the country literally split into two — the north versus the south — and was arguably never the same again. One of the most divisive events in its history was an instance of violent dissent regarding succession in its leadership.

Of course, this is about Israel. Three thousand years ago, the united kingdom of Israel was initially ruled by kings Saul, David and Solomon. Not at the same time, of course. After the death of Solomon, the last of these three kings, the inheritance of the throne was highly contested.

Solomon had successfully inherited the throne from David. However, at the end of Solomon’s reign, 10 of the tribes rebelled against his son, Rehoboam, resulting in them splitting off into the northern Kingdom of Israel. Solomon had left behind controversial edicts that his son ultimately paid for by having his kingdom permanently split.

This left just the tribe of Judah to become the Kingdom of… Judah. They were soon joined in their southern realm by the tribe of Benjamin, and some of the non-territorial priestly tribe of Levi.

The capital of Judah was Jerusalem, which had been the final capital of the unified kingdom of Israel though there were three other capitals prior — much like the eventual capital of the United States, Washington. (Listen to all the googling that people are doing.)

It’s true, Jerusalem wasn’t the original capital. It would need to have existed from the beginning and, as the name indicates, the City of David was built by… David.

The two kingdoms were separated by the Mazon-Dibon Line. They contentiously coexisted for about 200 years until the north was defeated by Assyria. The 10 tribes of the fallen northern kingdom are commonly called the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel.

Most of Western, European Judaism is regarded as descended from Judah, though various populaces around the world claim descent from some of those “lost” tribes.

Some scholars say that the Southern kingdom wasn’t especially developed and fortified until after the kingdoms split. Nonetheless, the Kingdom of Judah is where many events made famous in Sunday School classes occurred, including the destruction of the Temple, the Egyptian pharaoh Shishak taking the Ark of the Covenant to the city of Tanis and placing it in the Well of Souls, and the tragic lox shortage of 623 B.C.E.

One difference between the Southern kingdom of Judah and the southern United States is the variety of locales each encompasses. The kingdom of Judah didn’t extend as far as Cairo, Memphis, Lebanon, Ashkalon, Dothan, or Shiloh. But the American South encompasses Cairo (Georgia), Memphis (duh), Lebanon (Tennessee), Ascalon (Georgia), Dothan (Alabama), or Shiloh (Georgia).

Hebron is a rare city which is found in both the kingdom of Judah and The South (Kentucky), though they don’t share the same zip code. And while it might seem like there’d be other parallels, Montgomery isn’t counterparted even by a Mount Gemorrah, there are many rocks in the Middle East but none named Little Rock, and Hilton Head lacks a parallel Rosh Hilton.

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