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Southern Jewish Life

September 2017 Volume 27 Issue 9

Southern Jewish Life P.O. Box 130052 Birmingham, AL 35213 The stadium in Netanya, Israel, is lit in the colors of the Texas flag, in solidarity after Harvey. Photo courtesy Netanya Municipality and Netanya Foundation

As we finish this issue of Southern Jewish Life, Texas is in the early stages of what anyone who remembers the levee failure in 2005 or last year’s floods in Baton Rouge knows will be a long recovery process. If there is any silver lining in the devastation that Harvey brought, it’s that it re-set — hopefully for more than a day or two — the narrative of who we are as a nation. It has been a difficult month. As an alumnus of the University of Virginia, it was especially painful to see a group of white supremacists and neo-Nazis tromping through Mr. Jefferson’s hallowed Grounds, then rallying a couple of miles away in downtown Charlottesville the next day. Ever since, the narrative has been how polarized our nation is over what is seen as widening racial fault lines. But that is not where most people live. Most people live in the figurative Texas, if not the actual one. Most people live in a society where if there is a tragedy, a catastrophe, it doesn’t matter who you are or where you came from. Your neighbors are on the way to help. They’re not checking ethnicities, religious backgrounds, gender preference. When the Cajun Navy reaches your street, does it matter if they voted for Clinton or Trump? Texas has reminded us that most people have learned lessons from the 1960s. While there is certainly a lot of work remaining, the idea that America is teeming with wide swaths of racists and anti-Semites simply does not resonate. When there are hate incidents, condemnation of the acts and demonstrations of solidarity are immediate and widespread. As we enter this new year, let us ask ourselves why a few hundred cranks carrying tiki torches have been allowed to send our 300 million person nation into such a panic, and why we have allowed them to set the national dialogue. We need to be celebrating the countless helpers who are rallying to the aid of fellow Americans, and starve the tiny band of haters from the publicity oxygen they crave. We need the media to reflect a little perspective: What is happening in Texas is the real America, not the haters who invaded our Charlottesville.

shalom y’all shalom y’all y’all shalom

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letters to the editor Maccabi USA leader praises Birmingham Games I have had the honor of attending many Maccabi competitions around the world. From Israel to Australia to South America, Europe and the JCC Maccabi games around the United States and Canada, I have logged many miles seeing how sports can be a vehicle to help build Jewish identity, especially in our young. 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. 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. 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. Jed Margolis Executive Director, Maccabi USA Philadelphia, Pa.

Do not be afraid to demonstrate decency I am 73 years old; a lifelong resident of New Orleans and a product of our public schools. I am proudly Jewish and my family’s activities both in our community and nationally have bridged all races and religions without regard to color, ethnicity and sexual preference. I have been silent but distressed about recent events, but with the advent of Charlottesville and the president’s remarks, I am alarmed. So I wrote the following to my eight grandchildren, ages 13 through 23. My Dear Grandchildren, We are living in an era that I thought you all would never experience, and unfortunately, it’s here again in all its full-blown Trumpian disgust. His contempt for women, gays, Muslims, Jews, immigrants and African Americans is spread-

ing like an unchecked bacteria. His mouth is a reflection of a twisted mind bereft of any sense of decency. The only way to inoculate from this disease is to stand tall and proud. Unfortunately, the burden is falling to your generation in a way none of us could have predicted, even though his pre-election stances were obvious clues. Be proud, stand tall and do not be afraid to voice the strong principles of fairness and decency instilled in each of you. I love you all very much and I am saddened that you are witnesses to a president who announces to the world and to each of us that he is a bigot and completely without moral compass. Maury Herman New Orleans

September June 2017 2017

Southern Jewish Life PUBLISHER/EDITOR Lawrence M. Brook ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER/ADVERTISING Lee J. Green ADVERTISING SPECIALIST Annetta Dolowitz CREATIVE DIRECTOR Ginger Brook SOCIAL/WEB Eugene Walter Katz PHOTOGRAPHER-AT-LARGE Rabbi Barry C. Altmark CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Rivka Epstein, Nathan Klein, Tally Werthan, Bebe Hudson, Belle Freitag, Claire Yates, Doug Brook BIRMINGHAM OFFICE P.O. Box 130052, Birmingham, AL 35213 14 Office Park Circle #104 Birmingham, AL 35223 205/870.7889 NEW ORLEANS OFFICE 3747 West Esplanade, 3rd Floor Metairie, LA 70002 504/780.5615 TOLL-FREE 866/446.5894 FAX 866/392.7750 ADVERTISING Advertising inquiries to 205/870.7889 for Lee Green, or Annetta Dolowitz, Media kit, rates available upon request SUBSCRIPTIONS It has always been our goal to provide a large-community quality publication to all communities of the South. To that end, our commitment includes mailing to every Jewish household in the region (AL, LA, MS, NW FL), without a subscription fee. Outside the area, subscriptions are $25/year, $40/two years. Subscribe via, call 205/870.7889 or mail payment to the address above. Copyright 2017. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without written permission from the publisher. Views expressed in SJL are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff. SJL makes no claims as to the Kashrut of its advertisers, and retains the right to refuse any advertisement. Documenting this community, a community we are members of and active within, is our passion. We love what we do, and who we do it for.

4 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017


interesting bits & can’t miss events

Athletes from Vinnytsia, Ukraine, taking part in the JCC Maccabi Games in Birmingham, had Shabbat dinner at the Rykovs on Aug. 4. Full story, page 28.

“Violins of Hope” events begin in Birmingham

Alabama Symphony concert among events for restored instruments that had been in concentration camps Half a century ago, a Holocaust survivor brought Amnon Weinstein a violin to restore, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it. The violin had been played in the concentration camps, and when he opened the case, ashes fell out. Weinstein’s father, a violin maker from Lithuania, had moved to Israel and opened a violin shop. But over 400 other family members were murdered by the Nazis. For many in the camps, the violin was a way to stay alive. As death transports arrived, musicians played orchestral music to give the arrivals a sense of security — before they were killed. Being in the orchestra was a ticket to survival, at least for a while. In 1996, after several similar requests over the years, Weinstein decided he was ready to restore violins that had been in the death camps, and it became his mission. Now, he has restored more than 60 “Violins of Hope,” and some of them will be displayed in Birmingham next April, centered around an Alabama Symphony Orchestra concert with the violins. The concert will be on April 14 at 8 p.m. at the Alys Stephens Center, conducted by Carlos Izcaray. The violins will be displayed from April 10 to

15, and there will be educational programs, lectures and exhibits in conjunction with the visit. Some of the violins have a Star of David on the back. Others have names and dates inscribed inside. Each one has a story. The Birmingham project begins with a Sept. 17 talk by musicologist and author James Grymes, author of “Violins of Hope: Instruments of Hope and Liberation in Mankind’s Darkest Hour,” which won the 2014 National Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category. The 2 p.m. program is at Temple Emanu-El, with a book signing after the program. The free event is sponsored by the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center, Violins of Hope-Birmingham and the University of Alabama at Birmingham Institute for Human Rights. Grymes is a professor at the University of North Carolina in Charlotte. The first United States appearance of the violins was a two-week visit in Charlotte in 2012. In 2015, the violins were brought to Cleveland for a series of programs. Sallie Downs of Birmingham saw a televised concert of the violins from Cleveland. Last year,

she met with Weinstein in Israel to convince him to bring the violins to Birmingham. The Birmingham concert will also kick off a new interfaith human rights fund started by Gail and Jeffrey Bayer. The violins will be in Nashville for three concerts with the Nashville Symphony, conducted by Giancario Guerrero, March 22 to 24. The program will include music from John Williams’ score of “Schindler’s List.” After the concerts, the violins will be displayed in Nashville through the end of May, with additional programs throughout that time. The violins have been only a few other places, including south Florida, Berlin, Rome and Venice. September 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 5


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Continuing a tradition dating back to the beginning of the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School in Birmingham 45 years ago, Phyllis Weinstein, one of the school’s founders, brought doughnuts for the students to enjoy during the first day of school on Aug. 9, for a sweet year of learning.

The historic stained glass windows at the former Beth Israel in Gadsden are now much more visible from the outside. The old, yellowed plexiglass protecting the windows was replaced this summer by Nolen Glass workers in July, funded by a grant from Etowah County Community Development. The building now houses the Etowah Youth Orchestra, a Gadsden Cultural Arts Foundation project. The building was erected in 1922. In 1960, a firebomb was thrown through one of the windows during the dedication of the Zemurray addition and two members were wounded by the teen perpetrator. The congregation closed in 2010 and the building was donated to the city. 6 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017


Three years ago, Teresa Clark of Rogers, Ark., didn’t know what a sukkah was. Now, she has an inventive solution to easily hang fruit in the sukkah, and keep them there throughout the holiday. After experimenting with her husband’s fishing lures, she invented a reusable metal hook for hanging fruit, for pomanders she made. Shortly after that, her sister was in charge of a Sukkot display for a World Experience Day at the local school, and she discovered the role fruit plays in decorating a sukkah. “I realized that my pomander hooks could benefit not just me but a lot of people,” she said. Her fruit and pomander hanger is now available in a handful of New York area Judaica stores, and online at clarkridgecompany. com. A package of eight hooks is $2.99 plus shipping. With just a handful of members remaining and April’s death of lay leader Steve Grossman, Selma’s Mishkan Israel will have a small High Holy Days gathering on Rosh Hashanah evening and a memorial service on Yom Kippur afternoon. Members will then decide what they want to do for other services, such as attend Temple Beth Or in Montgomery. What if you just want to hear the shofar? B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge has set up Dial A Shofar. Just call the congregation at (225) 343-0111 and dial extension 202. Hazzan G. Michael Horwitz, staff chaplain at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, will lead High Holy Day services at Fort Campbell, Ky. He also led services there in 2015. Knesseth Israel in Birmingham will host a Night of Vocal Music in preparation for Rosh Hashanah, Sept. 9 at 8 p.m. There will be a wine and cheese tasting starting at 6:45 p.m. The evening features Rabbi Moshe Rube and Cantor Richard Shavei Tzion. Reservations are $18 in advance, $25 the day of, and ages 12 and under are free. Dates for the 12th annual Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival were announced. The festival will run from Jan. 10 to 14 at the Manship Theatre. Pensacola will welcome its new Shaliach from Israel, Avishay Yanay, on Sept. 17 at 5 p.m., with a covered dish dinner at the home of Cindy and Terry Gross. The Beth-El Sisterhood will have a program on Sept. 13 at 11:30 a.m. with Cindy Gross, president of the Pensacola Jewish Federation, discussing the Israel emissary program. David Goldblatt, assistant professor of piano and music history at Alcorn State University and service leader at Temple B’nai Israel in Natchez, announced he has resigned from Alcorn State and is moving to the Hattiesburg area to teach at Jones County Community College in Ellisville. Maury Shevin, an attorney at Sirote and Permutt in Birmingham, was reappointed to the Alabama Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights. State committees produce reports and recommendations concerning statewide or local civil rights issues, including justice, voting, discrimination, housing and education. The commission is an independent, bipartisan agency charged with advising the president

September 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 7





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The Interfaith Federation of Greater Baton Rouge is working with the Women’s Council of Greater Baton Rouge on the Women’s Week celebration. On Oct. 6, B’nai Israel will host a Sukkot event, starting at 4 p.m. Events with St. Francis and the Islamic Center will be on Oct. 7. Religious school parents and Jewish Young Adults of Shreveport are invited to toast the New Year at Twisted Root on Sept. 14 at 5:30 p.m. The first drink is complimentary and there will be apples and honey served. Babysitting with a pizza dinner will be available at B’nai Zion with previous reservations. The Florence-Lauderdale Public Library and Temple B’nai Israel are hosting an afternoon with mystery writer Debra Goldstein of Birmingham, Sept. 17 at 2 p.m. Goldstein fuses her Jewish background and her experience as a judge in crafting her mystery novels. The most recent, about a team of Mah Jongg players, is “Should Have Played Poker.” Her debut, “Maze in Blue,” won a 2012 Independent Book Publisher award and was reissued in 2014 by Harlequin Worldwide Mysteries. Long night: Pensacola’s Temple Beth-El held its annual poker fundraiser on Aug. 26 — but it didn’t end until 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 27. About 50 were still on hand when Jenny Roney defeated Dean Baird to become the first female champion. The tournament netted the congregation over $13,000. The Mobile Trialogue will have an interfaith symposium on Sept. 14, “Holy Days and Holidays in Judaism and Islam,” with Rabbi Dana Kaplan of Springhill Avenue Temple and Imam Ron Ali. The event will be at 6:30 p.m. in the Gautrelet Room in the Lucey Administration Building of Spring Hill College. It is free and open to the community. Refreshments will adhere to the faiths’ dietary restrictions. At the annual Alpha Epsilon Pi convention held in Las Vegas in August, Tulane’s AEPi Tau Upsilon colony received the Lion’s Legacy in Official Philanthropy Award, which is the $1,000 to $4,999 category.

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On Nov. 29, Eliana Levy will host a holiday party for residents of St. James Place in Baton Rouge, part of her major service project for an International Baccalaureate diploma. New or gently used picture frames are needed for the project and can be donated in the bin at Beth Shalom by Nov. 26. Roy Goldfinger will play the role of Sidney Bruhl in the Prattville Way Off Broadway Theatre’s presentation of “Deathtrap,” Sept. 7 to 24, near Montgomery. B’nai Zion in Shreveport will have its annual blood drive on Oct. 8 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with a goal of 25 pints.

Organizers of the annual Jay Mosow Memorial Delta Jewish Open golf tournament announced that this year’s event will be held Nov. 4 and 5. The benefit for the Henry S. Jacobs Camp and Hebrew Union Congregation also serves as a reunion for Jews from the Mississippi Delta area. There will be a steak dinner on Nov. 4 at Hebrew Union Congregation in Greenville, and the four-player scramble tournament will be on Nov. 5.

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September 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 9

back on campus

Tulane Hillel had over 600 attend the welcome back barbecue and block party on Aug. 30

Auburn Hillel had its annual welcome back bagel brunch at Beth Shalom on Aug. 27

Mississippi State Hillel was hosted by B’nai Israel in Columbus for a welcome back lunch on Aug. 27

Chabad at Tulane had its welcome back barbecue on Aug. 29

Chabad at LSU had its welcome back barbecue on Aug. 27

University of Alabama Hillel had its welcome back party on Aug. 27

10 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017

Members of B’nai Israel in Florence staff a table with information about the congregation, at the University of North Alabama’s Big Deal

Harvey floods Texas communities


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WE ARE COMMUNITY. Hillel, Auburn University’s Jewish student organization, was the recipient of the 2015 AU Student Involvement Award for Overcoming Adversity.

Rabbi Scott Hausman-Weiss of Sh’ma Koleinu in Houston is brought out of his neighborhood by boat

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While Jewish communities worldwide express concern about the flooding in Texas, for the New Orleans Jewish community, it’s personal. Seeing footage of flooded streets and people being rescued from rooftops by boat and helicopter brings back memories of 2005, when the levees broke and flooded New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, scattering the entire community for months. Rabbi Robert Loewy of Gates of Prayer in Metairie recalled that “in 2005 Houston was our primary refuge,” and “it is our turn to help.” On Aug. 30, representatives from the Greater New Orleans Jewish

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community agencies, organizations and synagogues met at the Goldring-Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus in Metairie to launch a Hurricane Harvey Relief task force, convened by new Jewish Federation CEO Arnie Fielkow. The Federation is serving as the clearinghouse to make sure all of the partners’ efforts are easily accessible. A webpage on the Federation’s site has been set up detailing the New Orleans response to the unprecedented flooding in Texas. After Katrina in 2005, the New Orleans Federation set up shop at Houston’s Jewish Federation for several months, coordinating the recovery until they could move back into their offices. The New Orleans Federation is partnering with the Jewish Federations of North America on fundraising efforts. After Katrina, JFNA’s efforts brought $29 million in aid to the Gulf Coast, with outreach to both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities. The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans made an initial donation of $50,000 to relief efforts for Houston. The New Orleans Federation’s web page has listings of what to donate, with drop off points at both Jewish Community Centers, Torah Academy and, for gift cards only, Jewish Family Service. The Jewish Community Day School and Torah Academy in Metairie are welcoming Texas students tuition-free for the rest of the school year. The Day School already has a Kindergarten student from Texas enrolled. The task force is also signing up “buddies” to serve as counselor/advisors, collecting volunteer information to help gut/muck houses, and collaborating with Second Harvest Food Bank’s efforts to get supplies into shelters through Texas and Louisiana. Chabad in New Orleans has been in contact with Chabad in Houston and numerous individual families.

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With as much as 50 inches of rain falling in a few days, effects from the widespread flooding in Texas will be felt for years, As damage assessments are still being made, at least 1,000 homes in the Jewish community are affected. Three congregations, the Jewish Community Center, a seniors facility and the community kollel had the worst damage. For many in the heavily-Jewish Meyerland area, this was the third flood since Memorial Day 2015. Other areas escaped damage. For example, Kenny and Ziggy’s Deli was able to keep serving throughout the storm. The Jewish Federation of Greater Houston is reportedly planning a $30 million drive for renovations at community institutions. Meanwhile, communities in the region have been responding with


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donation drives, with most communities emphasizing the Jewish Federations of North America fundraiser. Volunteers are already flocking to the area. NECHAMA: Jewish Response to Disaster is on the ground in Texas, and expects to be there for at least six months. Last year, NECHAMA spent several months in Baton Rouge, following the flooding there. Chabad at LSU organized a group of volunteers, while others from New Orleans have traveled to Houston as well. Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge was organizing a Sept. 10 relief visit to Beaumont. In Birmingham, the Levite Jewish Community Center and Temple Beth-El were collection points for goods that were sent to the JCC in Houston. Day Star Construction donated a supply of buckets, bleach and other items to help clean out houses, and there was a large supply of air Alexis Marah Marshall and Emily Ritchart mattresses that had been were part of a Chabad at LSU volunteer collected for the Maccabi effort in Houston. Chabad at Rice Games. University hosted a dinner for about 150 The truck arrived in volunteers from numerous universities. Houston on Sept. 2. Birmingham native Rene Shapiro said she was at the Houston JCC when it arrived and “it warmed my heart to get a truck from Birmingham!” Edye Mayers, president of Temple Shalom in Lafayette, said her daughter, Marcy, was flooded for the third time in three years — but had “only” 12 inches of water while many fellow Sh’ma Koleinu congregants had water up to the roof.

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Israel trip deepens collaboration for New Orleans emergency response experts If the December 2013 New Orleans/Israel Partnership on Emergency Response and Medicine event in New Orleans demonstrated that New Orleans and Israel could learn from each other about emergency preparedness, last month’s visit to Israel by 10 doctors, nurses, administrators and paramedics from the New Orleans area continued the collaboration. The trip was launched by Ben Swig, who already demonstrated that the spirit of innovation in Israel can be adapted in New Orleans. “I knew there was an opportunity for New Orleans and the emergency management community to learn from Israel,” the co-founder of Ready Responders said, so he approached Jeff Elder, director of New Orleans Emergency Medical Services. “I asked him if there was an opportunity to learn more,” so they assembled the trip, facilitated by the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. The trip focused on expertise in dealing with catastrophic events, from natural disasters to terrorist attacks. Swig is already adapting emergency response practices from Israel. In March, he and co-founder Justin Dangel won the Big Idea competition at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. In a visit to Israel, Dangel saw a system that dramatically cut emergency response time. When someone calls for an ambulance, trained first responders in closer proximity are alerted through an app and arrive on scene before an ambulance can get there. Ready Responders estimates the startup will save 200 to 300 lives per year, and after its rollout in New Orleans, can be replicated in other parts of the country. Before the trip, they asked participants what they wanted to learn, and what gaps they perceived in the city’s capabilities. “The Jewish Agency was able to help bridge those gaps” through setting up connections, Swig said.

14 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017

community Elder said the trip was a “tremendous opportunity for New Orleans EMS and city medical leaders to learn about mass casualty incidents and emergency preparedness.” The trip was organized under the framework of Partnership2Gether, the Jewish Agency program that has paired New Orleans with Rosh Ha’Ayin. Other partnership efforts have brought New Orleans chefs and musicians to Rosh Ha’Ayin. Participants included Dr. James Aiken of LSUHSC; Dr. Ryan Bird, Ronnie Landry and Eileen Smith of Touro Infirmary; Captain Adam Brickeen, Dr. Jeff Elder and Cedric Palmisano of New Orleans EMS; Michael Guillot of East Jefferson General Hospital; Benjamin Swig of Ready Responders and Dr. Christopher Voigt of Ochsner. After arriving in Israel, there was a welcome reception in Rosh Ha’Ayin. The first full day was spent at Sheba Medical Center, learning about Israel’s medical system, and visiting the Medical Simulation Center and the underground emergency room. The next day focused on Magen David Adom, Israel’s emergency medical service. Led by Guy Caspi, Mass Casualty Incident chief instructor and director of the HAZMAT exercises and operational training department, delegates learned about MDA’s organizational concept and resources, as well as MCI preparedness, Israeli’s coordinated dispatch system, national blood services and the MDA national mobile command center. Caspi was a participant in the Israeli delegation that visited New Orleans in 2013. Most delegates spent another day at MDA regional stations throughout the country, doing ambulance ride-alongs. Elder, Voigt and Aiken spent the day shadowing the emergency department at Sheba. That evening, they had dinner at the home of Nachman Ash, former Israeli Surgeon General, then had a talk from Arnon Afek, deputy director general of the Israel Ministry of Health. Both were participants in the 2013 trip. The group also spent a day in Haifa at Carmel Hospital, observing a mass casualty incident drill, then unwinding with a tour of the city. There were also opportunities to tour different areas of Israel. The group also found something from home — an old MRI trailer with the logo of the Louisiana State University health care services division on it, “just hiding out in Tel Aviv like nobody would notice,” Elder said. Going forward, Swig sees more opportunities for innovation, discussions and exchanges between New Orleans and Israel. “Israel is a very entrepreneurial, innovative country, and New Orleans has a blossoming startup community” with a willingness to be innovative, Swig said. New Orleans can be “a laboratory for positive change,” he added.

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16 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017

Viewing the eclipse through a Jewish lens Just a week and a half after Ramah Darom, the Conservative movement’s summer camp in north Georgia, finished its summer session, many campers and their families made their way back. The camp was in the path of totality for the Great American Eclipse on Aug. 21, so a year ago, the camp started planning a weekend that would culminate in the eclipse. Rabun County was the only place in Georgia that was on the path of totality, and it was estimated that tens of thousands would crowd the Clayton area to view the event, one that had not occurred in the United States since 1979. Those at Ramah Darom were oblivious to the crowds — at least, until trying to get home later that day. Over 100 showed up on Aug. 18 for a “solar Shabbaton,” with more arriving on Aug.

20 for camp-style activities and discussions, and others making the day trip on Aug. 21. Also enjoying the camp facilities were 200 students from Emory University’s Goizueta Business School, which held a team-building retreat over two days, ending in an eclipse viewing. A group from the Atlanta Jewish Academy also spent the day at Ramah Darom. The Atlanta-based duo Sunmoon Pie provided music for much of the weekend. Michael Levine, formerly of Birmingham, remarked that they were the most appropriate choice, as their logo is “an eclipse with a Chai.” Emily Kaiman, Ramah Darom’s program coordinator, said the idea was to have a weekend of exploring science and Jewish thought. “There’s a lot of overlap that we don’t often talk about.” Learning sessions included ancient interpretations of the significance of eclipses, whether one is supposed to create a blessing for an eclipse, views of eclipses in different faith traditions, and exploring the solar system through Midrash. There were also sessions on the physics of eclipses and what to expect during an eclipse. Kaiman said “a solar eclipse could be a spiritual event, and we wanted to bolster that excitement and enhance the event.” Craft sessions included making galaxy challah covers, ultraviolet bead bracelets, solar cupcakes and solar challah. Archery, yoga and nature walks were also part of the weekend. The actual viewing was on the softball field, with a barbecue that included eclipse cookies. There were telescopes set up and eclipse glasses distributed. Morris Cohen, an electrical engineering professor at Georgia Tech, led some of the scientific sessions. As the partial eclipse began, he and a team of students assembled a weather balloon and attached a cooler filled with scientific equipment and a 360-degree camera, launching it 100,000 feet into the atmosphere to gather Inside the box thinking: Barry Ripps of Pensacola data. The probe was designed to land “somewhere within 10 miles” afterward. shows another way the eclipse can be viewed

community Though it had been a wet summer, the weekend was mostly clear. Some clouds began to thicken mid-day, but when totality began at 2:37 p.m., there was a break in the clouds, enabling a view of the total eclipse. After a shehecheyanu and viewing the two and one-half minutes of totality in silence, cheers broke out as the sun peeked out from the other side, then it was time to pack up and fight traffic. The eclipse was also an educational moment at schools in the region. Jewish Community Day School in Metairie had informational sessions on the eclipse, then the students went out to Bart Field to put on their glasses and view the phenomenon. Teachers at Metairie’s Torah Academy did hands-on projects and taught about “astronomy and the workings of G-d’s beautiful universe,” then students watched the big screen in the library, viewing footage from the eclipse nationwide. At Birmingham’s N.E. Miles Jewish Day School, the first STEAM experience of the year centered on the eclipse. Third and fourth graders wrote mythology-style stories about natural phenomena, the fifth grade created props to teach about eclipses, and the seventh and eighth graders produced video presentations. Just before viewing the eclipse, they learned about Rosh Chodesh — as total eclipses are always on the New Moon. They learned about the lunar calendar and used Oreos to view the stages of the moon. The next total eclipse in the U.S. will go from Texas to Maine in April 2024.

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Students at the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School learn the mechanics of eclipses

September 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 17


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The Hilltop Arboretum at Louisiana State University reverberated with sounds of celebration on Aug. 20 as Chabad of Baton Rouge dedicated a Torah. The scroll, written before World War II in Eastern Europe, was purchased in New York for Chabad by Tere Vives of New Orleans. Rabbi Peretz Kazen from Chabad of Baton Rouge said the donation was inspired by events in her life, and she felt it would be “a great next step” for Chabad of Baton Rouge, which was established two years ago. “To be able to have a Torah used the way it should be is truly an honor for us and our community,” Kazen said. “G-d willing we will use it for many Shabbat and Yom Tov services as well as simchas in the community.” The scroll was checked and repaired, including a pass through a scanner where specialized software read the text. New handles were also fashioned for the scroll. During World War II, the scroll was hidden, and then wound up in Israel, where it was placed in storage. It eventually made its way to the United States. A song by Abie Rotenberg, “The Place Where I Belong,” was used as the setting for a video presentation, detailing the setting of where the scroll came from. At the ceremony, local woodworker Leo Kukuy lifted the scroll and Cary Mack dressed it in a deep red cover. Kukuy created the ark that will house the Torah.

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• 18 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017

Tere Vives kisses the Torah as Leo Kukuy holds the scroll at the Chabad of Baton Rouge dedication ceremony on Aug. 20


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“As good a Games as you get” For athletes, coaches, host families and volunteers, Birmingham’s Maccabi Games were one to remember As the sun began to set on Aug. 3, Layne Held, co-chair of the JCC Maccabi Games in Birmingham, stood on the outdoor track at the Levite Jewish Community Center, holding a water bottle and watching hundreds of athletes enjoying dinner and the closing ceremonies of the 2017 Games. Taking it all in, he finally said “look around. This is what it is all about… I’m kind of speechless.” And why not? Birmingham had just pulled off a successful Maccabi Games, the second-smallest Jewish community to ever attempt it. According to many long-time Maccabi coaches and delegation heads, “successful” barely begins to encapsulate the experience. About 900 athletes from across the United States, Israel and Ukraine attended the games, which began with an opening ceremony on July 30 at Bartow Arena. Competitions in 10 sports

took place from July 31 to Aug. 3 at venues across the city. Robert Kiewe, who has overseen two Maccabi Games at the Katz JCC in Cherry Hill, N.J. and has “been to more than my share of games,” said Birmingham “launched this out of the ballpark.” “This is as good a games as you get,” said Alan Goldberg, senior vice president of operations for the Jewish Community Centers Association, which coordinates the JCC Maccabi Games nationally. “These are among the best games I’ve seen, and I’ve been around,” he said. Steven Weisbrot from JCC On the Hudson in New York, who said this was his 25th Maccabi Games, said “this is a great set of Games,” and was “extremely well organized.” For Ethan Roseman of San Diego, this was the first Games on the adult side, rather than as an athlete. “It’s great seeing how the entire city came together” to put on the games, and give

the athletes a chance to experience a place they otherwise might not have visited. Richard Frankoff of Las Vegas, who has been going to Maccabi Games for 20 years, said the Birmingham games had “the right tone, the right message, the right experience for the kids.” Jed Margolis, executive director of Maccabi USA, said he just returned to the U.S. after being at the World Maccabiah Games in Israel with the 1,100 U.S. athletes that were part of an event with 10,000 Jewish athletes representing 80 countries. Two weeks earlier, Margolis said, all eyes were on Jerusalem. As the Maccabi Games began, he said “all eyes are on Birmingham.” In his eyes, the Birmingham games were “a huge hit.” There was universal praise for the community’s “Southern hospitality,” with many saying it wasn’t a surprise. Kiewe said the facilities were “terrific,” the McWane Center was a great choice for the Aug. 2 street party and he was amazed that organizers were able to get the city to close 19th Street for the evening. Rave reviews came in for the organizers and the volunteers, and how well-run the games were. At the closing ceremony, Held looked around at all of the athletes, host families and volunteers, and said “this could not happen without everybody here. That’s what makes this so special.” Roseman echoed that, saying “to put on this, it takes a whole community. An event like this doesn’t happen just because a few people get behind it.” He said the week “shows the commitment and passion of this community.” Aside from the opening ceremony’s MatisyaTeam Alabama volleyball, including six teens from Vinnytsia, Ukraine

20 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017

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hu controversy, where the singer pushed three teens who were onstage, including shoving the daughter of Rabbi Barry Leff off the stage into the crowd, Goldberg said “I didn’t hear issues with anything.” Maccabi fever even extended to areas one might not have imagined, and it was noticed. Many mentioned how the police officers providing heavy security for the Games were actively participating while maintaining their professionalism. At the street party, one of the officers tried his hand at juggling. Others took part in pin trading, and when a Houston athlete missed the bus to a venue, he was given a ride in one of the police cars. Kiewe said it was “the most engaged security detail, and they seemed like they enjoyed doing it.” At the closing ceremony, as the athletes made their way through the parking lot, they were thanking the officers. Goldberg said a “unique and different” highlight was having the civil rights focus on Aug. 1 for JCC Cares Day. The teens divided into three groups and rotated among the Civil Rights Institute, Kelly Ingram Park and the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. Weisbrot said the speakers were eloquent and the experience was “unbelievable.” Reflecting on the week, co-chair Bruce Sokol reflected, “I loved every second of it.” At the opening reception Sokol took credit for arranging the incredible weather, but Roseman said the San Diego delegation had brought their weather to Birmingham for the week. The only hitch in an otherwise wet summer was a downpour at Birmingham-Southern that delayed soccer finals on Aug. 3, and a shower at the LJCC that hit moments later, just before the closing ceremony. River Bend, a band comprised of students from Mountain Brook High School, started off the evening’s entertainment, while the athletes dined on grilled chicken and rode several carnival rides that were set up on the soccer field. There was also a “silent disco” and henna tattoos. The evening closed with fireworks and the passing of the torch to Orange Beach, Calif., site of the 2018 JCC Maccabi Games. Betzy Lynch, executive director of the LJCC, presented miniatures of the Maccabi cauldron to the co-chairs, and told the crowd “we hope you loved Birmingham.” The Monday after the Games concluded was Lynch’s final day at the LJCC, as she becomes the new CEO of the San Diego JCC. Roseman said that when people found out he was part of the San Diego delegation, they expressed an assumption that San Diego will be hosting the Games soon. He responded, “after doing these Games, I think she’ll want to take a break for a couple of years.”

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September 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 21

At Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, bombing survivor Caroline McKinstry spoke about the similarities between Nuremberg and Jim Crow laws

Learning about Tisha B’Av in a church Maccabi JCC Cares Day an exploration of civil rights and consequences of baseless hate

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Every year, athletes attending the JCC Maccabi Games do a “JCC Cares” social action project in the host city. Naturally, Birmingham decided to do it a bit different. For the first time, the Games were held during a week that included Tisha B’Av. The day commemorates the destruction of the two ancient Temples in Jerusalem, and a wide range of calamities befalling the Jewish people are attributed to that day. It is observed as a day of fasting and mourning. Because tradition says that the Second Temple was destroyed because of baseless hatred within the Jewish people, the athletes were exposed to lessons about baseless hatred through the history of Birmingham’s civil rights struggles of the 1960s. The teens were divided into numerous groups and rotated among the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and Kelly Ingram Park, “a place of revolution and reconciliation.” Maccabi Games Co-Chair Bruce Sokol explained, “I was 19 and in Birmingham on the day of the Sixteenth Street church bombing and I wanted our young visitors to leave with a history of the Civil Rights struggles and its huge impact on all citizens in Birmingham.” In the park, Joel Rotenstreich sat under a canopy next to the Anne Frank tree, which was modeled after the tree outside the window of the warehouse where Frank and her family were hiding during the Holocaust. Rotenstreich headed the effort to have the tree planted at the park, which contains numerous sculptures marking events that happened there during the 1963 demonstrations. At the church, the teens heard from Carolyn McKinstry, who was in the church on Sept. 15, 1963, when a Klan bomb went off just before services, killing four girls who were her friends. McKinstry told the teens that terrorism didn’t start with Sept. 11, “for us it was a way of life” in the 1950s and 1960s as the Klan used violence and intimidation to deter civil rights activists. She described how every so often, there would be a boom in the distance, and it would not take long for the phone to ring with the news of whose house had been bombed. She also read excerpts from the Nuremberg Laws, which imposed restrictions on Jews in Nazi Germany, then compared them to parts of the Birmingham code during Jim Crow. She noted that Germany had sent a delegation to study Jim Crow laws and patterned Nuremberg Laws on them. “Remembering is a moral statement,” she said. “Remembering allows us to see what justice really looks like.” She charged the athletes with being vigilant as individuals when they

maccabi games see hatred, and asked “what will you do with this memory” of being in the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. David Ackerman, director of the Jewish Community Centers Association’s Mandel Center for Jewish Education, spoke after McKinstry, tying the 1963 bombing to the lessons of Tisha B’Av — that the ancient Temple was destroyed by hatred without cause among the people, and because people hid behind the law to do the minimum instead of doing more than expected. “Unfortunately, all you have to do is open a newspaper to recognize that the things that led to the destruction of the Temple and that led to the bombing of this church are still alive today,” Ackerman said. Ackerman said Tisha B’Av is observed as “something that happened to us,” to “feel the past” in order to “understand what to do in the present.” He noted that “hatred without cause” was seen by the ancient rabbis as equivalent to violating all of the laws in the Torah. Also as part of JCC Cares day, the athletes packaged school supplies that had been collected locally and by the various delegations, for donation to Birmingham city schools. Ackerman said the philosophy behind JCC Cares is that the teens are learning what it means to be part of a team, which is really about learning to be part of a community. Alan Goldberg, senior vice president of operations for JCCA, said the day was “an opportunity for participants to enhance their experiences by taking part of a day out of their competition schedule to learn about Jewish values, by experiencing them first hand.” And in the case of Birmingham, it was “a lesson in not just Jewish, but human values” and “shared history.”

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September 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 23

More than the medals

Sportsmanship, lessons of Jewish values give special moments to Games

While the JCC Maccabi Games are a sports competition on the surface, the experience goes much deeper. “You win a medal, that’s great,” said Bruce Sokol, who co-chaired the Birmingham games. “But it’s much bigger than that, and they’ll realize it later.” In addition to the gold, silver and bronze medals, there were also Midot medals, given to those who exhibit exceptional sportsmanship during the games. Hilton Berger wandered the Crossplex with a supply of Midot medals, waiting for opportunities to present them. One of the medals went to David Eydelzon of Dallas, one of the faster swimmers on the Dallas Ben from Team Carolina, pictured in front with the blue team. He was left off the relay team and was dissleeves, had one of the memorable moments of the appointed, but Berger said he shook it off “and Birmingham Maccabi Games. supported his team.” Gregg Buchholz, coach of the Dallas team, said Eydel- overwhelmed.” She added, “truly, this is what the zon earned the Midot medal, “being one of the fastest games are about… I can’t even express what this swimmers at the meet and helping out one of the slower moment means to our family.” The connection between the two teams deepones.” “The sportsmanship that goes on at the pool is ened on the way home as the Las Vegas team’s mind-blowing,” Robin Berger said. “The kids are so flights were delayed in Denver, so many of the Denver athletes invited their Las Vegas countersupportive of each other.” Some of the games’ sportsmanship moments were parts to their homes for the night. During one of the basketball games, Team Boca widely shared on social media and even made it to newsRaton was determined to make sure everyone was casts in their respective hometowns. able to score — including Alex Gabriel Hafter, a member of the Las Marshall, who took to the court Vegas team, had one of the games’ viral with a green cast on his right foot. moments as video of his brief appearThree days before leaving for Birance on the basketball court became a mingham, Marshall found out he social media sensation. had a fracture and would be unBorn with Treacher Collins synable to compete. drome, Hafter has a soft bone strucComing out of a timeout, Marture in his face and, after 15 surgershall made his way under the basies, is unable to play contact sports ket, received a long pass and made because of injury concerns, but practices with the team and attends every an uncontested layup as both teams headed to that end of the court. Adam Marshall said it “shows the game. Down by 12 in the fourth quarter, Las Vegas true definition of class and sportsmanship by evcoach Adam Greenburg subbed to let Hafter in eryone involved in the games.” Another moment that was widely shared came the game, having arranged with Denver’s coach to not have any player touch him. Hafter was in the closing moments of another basketball loosely guarded as he brought the ball up the game, involving the joint Tucson, Carolina, Cencourt, then stopped behind the three-point line tral Florida and San Jose team. In the final minute, Ben, a Carolina team members with vision issues, and pulled up to shoot. was subbed in. He missed a long three-pointer, but Nothing but net. As the moment sank in, players from both whoever got the rebound — from either team — continued to feed him the ball, until he hit the shot teams celebrated. His mother, Jackie Hafter, said Gabriel was as the final buzzer went off. Alan Goldberg, senior vice president of opera“overwhelmed with the support that he got from the opposing team, but even more amaz- tions for the Jewish Community Centers Associing, is the other athletes have come up to him ation, said after the ball made it through the net, “they were charging on the court like he had just commenting on a great shot.” She and her husband have watched the video won the championship.” Goldberg also mentioned a story that took place “so many times, and each time I am emotionally

You win a medal, that’s great… but it’s much bigger than that

24 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017

maccabi games


at the Civil Rights Institute during the JCC Cares day. One delegation had an athlete who was born in Haiti and adopted at birth. “He was having a particularly difficult time in the Civil Rights Institute, so other athletes from his community went through it with him,” he said. A docent took note of the situation and spent half an hour talking with him about what it is like to be different. The Maccabi Games guidelines for host cities dictate that the athletes are in home hospitality situations rather than a hotel or dorm. Sokol said he hosted four 13-year-old girls — two from Dallas and two from Cherry Hill. They went out for a late dinner following the opening ceremonies, where the pairs weren’t interacting much. The next morning, after hearing voices upstairs until very late, the girls came down for breakfast declaring the four were best friends. “That’s what it’s all about,” Sokol said. He added that the Dallas girls told him that Birmingham is the friendliest place, and for him hearing something like that “is the reason for doing this.” Sometimes, connections are made through Jewish geography. Blake Myers of Houston was one of eight boys staying with Mindy and Gary Cohen. Over the course of conversation, they discovered that Myers’ mother, Lisa, was next door neighbors with Gary Cohen in Cherry Hill, N.J.

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September 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 25

The Birmingham 16U basketball team took the bronze medal

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26 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017

As the home team, Team Alabama had 75 athletes, including some from other communities around the state. New Orleans brought a delegation of four athletes to the games, and both delegations brought home some hardware. In the blue 16U division of boys’ basketball, Birmingham earned the bronze medal, defeating Denver, 73-55, after dropping a thriller in the semifinal to eventual silver medalist Cleveland White, 57-55. Birmingham had opened with a win over Cleveland White, 66-57, then lost to Hudson, 57-35. Birmingham then beat Baltimore White, 67-48; lost to Tucson/San Jose/Central Florida/ Carolina, 69-56; and beat San Diego/Minnesota/Los Angeles, 63-37. Birmingham was winless in girls’ basketball, falling to Atlanta in the opener, 48-10; Denver/ Memphis/Phoenix, 30-6; Dallas/Houston 379; and Israel, 47-23. In the knockout round, Birmingham was bounced by the joint Denver team, 31-5. In boys’ basketball 14U, Birmingham opened with a win over Louisville, 54-29, then lost to Los Angeles Westside, 48-24. Birmingham dropped its remaining three games, to Baltimore/Phoenix/Memphis, 53-21; Atlanta, 57-22; and Carolina/Central Florida/San Jose, 42-33. In boys’ soccer 16U, Eli Jaffe and Ethan Katz of New Orleans were teamed with delegations from Dallas, Las Vegas and Tucson, and won the silver medal. Jaffe broke his arm in one of the early soccer matches and was sidelined for the rest of the tournament. In the opening game, they were blanked by Denver/Phoenix/Carolina/St. Louis/Minnesota, 4-0, the team that would also defeat in the gold medal match, 2-1. The joint New Orleans team beat South Jersey, 1-0; San Diego, 4-0; and Birmingham 8-1. Birmingham opened with a loss to Houston, 10-2; to the Denver/Phoenix/Carolina/St. Lou-

is/Minnesota, 8-1; to South Jersey, 8-1; and to the joint New Orleans team. In girls’ soccer, the joint St. Louis, Phoenix and New Orleans team, with New Orleans’ Gia Entrekin, beat San Diego/Birmingham/Memphis 5-1 to open the tournament. The home team would go winless, losing to Dallas, 5-1; tying Greater Washington/Denver/Las Vegas 2-2; losing to Atlanta 8-0 and losing to Dallas 7-0. The joint New Orleans team lost to Washington/Denver/Las Vegas, 7-3 and 3-0; Atlanta, 1-0; and Chicago/Cleveland/Boca/San Jose, 5-2. The soccer matches were held at Birmingham-Southern College on Preston Goldfarb Field, named for the now-retired longtime Birmingham-Southern soccer coach who earlier in July led the U.S. national soccer team to their second consecutive gold medal at the World Maccabiah Games in Israel.

Ethan Katz and Eli Jaffe of New Orleans were part of a multi-city soccer team that won silver

maccabi games Birmingham was matched with Central Florida and Memphis in flag football, but would go winless, losing to Atlanta, 49-10; Phoenix, 4714; Dallas, 47-6; Denver, 33-26; and again to silver medalist Phoenix 41-6. Dallas took the gold. In volleyball, Birmingham lost to Dallas, Houston, Phoenix, Dallas/Greater Washington, and Minnesota/Phoenix/Tucson. In tennis, New Orleans’ Caroline Koppel signed up in the U16 recreational division, but was placed in the competitive division. Despite that, “she played great,” delegation head J. Morgan said, and would have likely played for gold in the recreational division. She lost in the bronze medal match after beating Dara Grocer, 8-6, Lindy Feintuch, 8-0 and Hayley Rosenberg, 8-1. She lost to Victoria Epshetyon, 8-0. Five Birmingham athletes competed in tennis. In 16U girls, Selma Fereres beat Sydney Siegel, 8-4, Gali Leytman, 8-0, Claire Strimling, 8- and Rachel Nimtz, 8-0. In 16U, Abe Lebowitz lost to Eli Cowan, 8-6, defeated Micah Zimmerman, 8-0, and Cole Garza, 8-3, and lost to Jacob Kagnof, 8-0. Zachary Lewis defeated Adam Slowsky, 8-0, Josh Kamisky, 9-7, Avi Shai Moses, 8-2, and David Saland, 8-4. In 14U recreational, Noah Hagedorn lost to Darren Rosing, 8-0, Joshua Dubler, 8-0, Adam Arkin, 8-0, and Evan Elster, 8-0. In 14U competitive, David Mazur lost to Steven Keller, 8-0, Jordan Elster, 8-0, beat Jack Entes, 8-4, and lost to Eli Hirshberg, 8-0. In swimming, Birmingham’s Micah Levine placed ninth in 13-14 50-yard free, fourth in 200-yard and 100-yard breaststroke, fifth in 50-yard breaststroke, sixth in 100-yard back, seventh in 50-yard back, eighth in 50-yard fly. Adison Berger received four medals in the 200- and 400-yard free and IM relays, earning a gold, a silver and two bronze. Individually, she was sixth in 15-16 50-yard and 100-yard free, sixth in 200-yard free, fifth in 100-yard back, fifth in 50-yard back. Birmingham and New Orleans did not compete in baseball. Results in dance, golf and track were unavailable.


It wasn’t typical-August-in-Birmingham hot, but it was still pretty warm

September 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 27

Sister city teens round out the home team Rosh Ha’Ayin,Vinnytsia athletes have “unforgettable” experience

Anyone from other parts of the country who are unfamiliar with how folks talk in the South were probably perplexed when they heard some members of Team Alabama. In addition to dozens of teens from Birmingham and other communities in the state, the home team included delegations from Birmingham’s sister cities in Israel and Ukraine, coordinated by Sheri Krell with the Birmingham The Birmingham/Rosh Ha’Ayin dancers took bronze in Israeli dance Sister Cities Commission. Birmingham’s Jewish community established a relationship with Rosh Games, then started raising funds to help make that possible. Four dancers were selected to make the trip and join Halpern, Talia Ha’Ayin through Project Renewal in 1982, and the sister city relationship was formalized in 2005. Vinnytsia became Birmingham’s sister city in Fleisig and Maya Cutter from Costa Rica on Birmingham’s dance team. They won a bronze medal in Israeli dance. Ukraine in 2003. Maureen Halpern said Hannah’s experience over the last two years “has Rosh Ha’Ayin’s delegation included five basketball players and four dancers, while Vinnytsia brought six soccer players and six volleyball been life changing for her.” Julia Korsun said the Ukraine teens have been sharing their “unforplayers. After returning to Rosh Ha’Ayin following the games, the basketball gettable” experience with family and friends. “Each game and each new participants got together to discuss the experience. Monica Levy, chap- acquaintance brought them only positive emotions and joy,” she said. They waved a large Ukraine flag and a Vinnytsia flag at the opening erone for the delegation, said it was impossible to keep track of who said what, because the moment one of them said something, everyone else ceremony as they filed into the area reserved for Team Alabama, and the Ukraine anthem was played over the sound system. chimed in, agreeing. Korsun said the teens never expressed any sense of being homesick, “It was really fun playing for Birmingham and representing them,” one said. “It made the sister city connection feel very strong.” But while saying “our home is Alabama.” Having so many Ukraine players on the Birmingham soccer team was they expressed pride at marching under the Birmingham banner at the opening ceremony, they were especially proud to hear Hatikvah, Israel’s something unexpected for another Team Alabama member from outside the state. national anthem, sung at Bartow Arena. Jake Davidson of Meridian signed up for the games after his mother While Rosh Ha’Ayin’s Yemenite cuisine is always a highlight for visitors from America, the Rosh Ha’Ayin teens raved about the food at the games. told him about them. While some communities have teams that practice They also liked the chance to practice their English, meet teens from all over together regularly, he met his teammates as the games began. “I had no the U.S., and discover the similarities between Israeli and American teens. time to form any relationships in the first game, but after the first game For Hannah Halpern, having four members of Rosh Ha’Ayin’s Shubeli- we all sat down and began to slowly communicate,” he said, though there yot Dance Troupe stay at her home, along with their dance instructor, was was a large language barrier. He said Birmingham’s Ilan Goldfarb helped them coordinate plays, the culmination of a dream. A lifelong dancer, her Bat Mitzvah project had been to raise money for the troupe, which she presented during a though that didn’t keep the home team from going winless in the tourvisit to Israel. She urged them to come to Birmingham for the Maccabi nament. Davidson’s perspective changed when he realized that for the Ukrainians, this was less about wins and losses and more about the opportunity to visit America and experience the Maccabi Games with Jews from around the world. He said he is thankful that he does not have to deal with issues the Ukraine teens face in their country. The day after the games ended, the sister city teens went to Birmingham City Hall for a meeting with Mayor William Bell. During their stay, Krell also coordinated visits to Splash Adventure, Railroad Park, Sloss Furnace, the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center, The Summit and several noted restaurants. The delegations expressed thanks to the organizers and their host families. “This was an experience of a lifetime,” Levy said. The athletes “made many new friends and the impact of this trip will be long lasting.” Korson said “all of us had an unforgettable experience and memories which we will take through all our life, and we’ll always be thankful to all the people who have given us such a great opportunity.” Twelve athletes visited from Vinnytsia, Ukraine 28 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017

Merry Monsky Bodziner talks about her father’s legacy on and off the field

Remembering a Bama football legend With the Maccabi Games flag football competition going on in the background on the Levite Jewish Community Center’s soccer field, a ceremony was held by the tennis courts on July 31 to honor an Alabama Jewish football legend. Montgomery native Leroy Gerald Monsky played for the University of Alabama Crimson Tide from 1935 to 1937, earning recognition as a consensus All-American guard in 1937. In 1979, he was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame. LJCC Executive Director Betzy Lynch said it was a great to be able to celebrate “someone with such a rich history in sports and Jewish life” at the Maccabi Games. A fund at the Birmingham Jewish Foundation, established by the Monsky family to promote bringing young Jews together through sports, underwrote the flag football competition at the games. Richard Friedman opened the event by recounting how his father from New Jersey attended Alabama in the late 1930s, and told him stories of “the legend of Leroy Monsky.” Monsky was voted to Alabama’s All-time Team and was considered one of the best linemen in the country in the mid-1930s. In 1936, he was consensus All-SEC as Alabama finished the season ranked No. 4 with a record of 8-0-1. In 1937, Monsky was team captain as the Crimson Tide won the SEC and finished the regular season 9-0-0, losing the 1938 Rose Bowl to California, 13-0. Miller Gorrie, founder of the Brasfield and Gorrie construction firm, said Monsky was one of the best friends he ever had, having met in 1968 when Gorrie was a struggling young contractor. “I always felt he put us first and sometimes thought he had more interest in us than we had in ourselves.” Monsky was passionate about Alabama football, so he and his wife would go to Italy every year when Alabama would play Tennessee. “Leroy was afraid he might have a heart attack if he watched or listened to the game.” When Monsky was inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, it was right after a cerebral hemhorrage left him unable to walk. Gorrie, an Auburn fan, spoke about how he and Ralph Aland helped him attend the ceremony, and “we lost a great man when Leroy passed.” Monsky’s daughter, Merry Monsky Bodziner of Savannah, spoke about how sportsmanship was the most important thing for Monsky. “Daddy was very humble about the accolades he received,” she said, “and would probably be very embarrassed today.” She said her parents felt strongly about giving back to the Jewish community, and starting the fund at the Foundation was a way to do that “even though none of us live here now.” Bodziner added that Friedman had broached the subject of the fund to her mother when she came to speak at an event in Birmingham many years ago. It was two days after her mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The fund has underwritten a JCC basketball tournament in Birmingham and has underwritten Maccabi participation for Birmingham and Savannah teens.

September 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 29

Photos by Rabbi Barry Altmark

Surrounded by family and an interfaith assortment of clergy, Rabbi Jonathan Miller receives the priestly benediction on Aug. 25.

Emanu-El celebrates the legacy of Rabbi Jonathan Miller At the end of the community Shabbat service honoring Rabbi Jonathan Miller on Aug. 25, he stood in front of the open ark as Rabbi Laila Haas and Cantor Jessica Roskin recited the priestly benediction over him. About 20 family members and clergy of numerous denominations also surrounded him, reaching out toward him. It was a moment reflective not just of his 27 years leading Alabama’s largest Jewish congregation, but also his activism in Birmingham’s interfaith community. Joe Bluestein referred to Miller as an After 27 years as “ambassador of Temple Emanu-El and rabbi, “I am now the Jewish people of Birmingham to the faith community of Birmingham and blessed to be the state of Alabama.” Miller retired from Emanu-El at the just your friend” end of June. Ordained in 1982, Miller came to Birmingham from the Stephen S. Wise Temple in Los Angeles in January 1991. He also had served at Temple Shalom in Auckland, New Zealand. Rabbi Aaron Miller of Washington Hebrew Congregation, who arrived in Birmingham at a young age when his father took over the Emanu-El pulpit, spoke of his father’s legacy, both in Birmingham and in his own rabbinate. One bit of advice he recalled from his father when pursuing 30 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017

the rabbinate himself was to “drop the rabbi voice… and just connect as a person.” He referred to the rabbinate as a calling, saying “when you are a rabbi, God has you on speed dial.” Aaron Miller’s role in the evening was a closely-held secret. Haas said “it is not an easy task to keep secrets in the Jewish community.” She noted that eight years earlier, in her final year of rabbinical school as they were preparing their resumes and portfolios, classmate Aaron Miller asked if she had considered Birmingham. “I said, where?’ she admitted. Aaron Miller told her “You really should think about Birmingham… you and my dad would make the best team.” “And the rest, they say, is history,” she said. Reverend A.B. Sutton of Living Stones Temple referred to Miller as “an advocate for peace.” When Sutton broke away from his previous pulpit, Miller invited him and hundreds of the church’s members who went with him to use Emanu-El as their home until they were able to secure their own building. As part of the service, the Living Stones Temple Choir did a few very well-received selections. Rep. Jim Carns presented Miller with a resolution of the Alabama House of Representatives, commending him on “a distinguished record

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of professional achievement.” Haas announced the official start of the Rabbi Jonathan Miller Enduring Legacy Fund in the Grafman Endowment Fund, which will provide funds toward the senior rabbinic position. Haas said over 200 congregants had contributed, “as well as friends and colleagues throughout the community,” raising $975,000 “to date.” A touch-screen monitor Rabbi Jonathan Miller and Rev. AB was installed outside the Sutton sanctuary to display stories and memories about Miller’s tenure, and they were also being collected in book form. Haas also presented him with a menorah she found in Israel, and said that when Miller lights it in his home, “may you always remember your light for justice, your light for blessing, your light of community… the light that shines so bright and has illuminated the hearts and spirits of us, your children.” Miller commented how great it was to see Roskin back on the pulpit, having started back that week, two months after she suffered a minor stroke. Miller said he does not “relish being the center of attention,” as “no person is successful when he or she shines the spotlight on themselves. We are called to be our best selves when we deflect the light towards other people or causes greater than ourselves.” It is common at events like this to make comparisons of Moses leading the people to the edge of the promised land, which he said is “a cliché for every religious leader who gives up the mantle of leadership.” Instead, he wanted to speak of Moses’ humility and modesty, which “makes us less involved with ourselves and more involved with the cries and needs of others. “We can use a bit more of that on the world stage these days, don’t you think?” he asked. He said “I am humbled by the fact that over the decades so many of you believed in me and turned to me and brought me into your lives and looked to me for guidance and comfort and direction and supported me and my family.” Miller said the secret of his rabbinate “is that I became less great in my own eyes and more humble as I grew older.” He charged the congregation to “take me with you on all of your journeys. And I will take you with me on mine. Be humble so you might become great — great in faith, great in wisdom, great in kindness, and great in love.” After 27 years of being the rabbi, “I am now blessed to be just your friend.” As part of the weekend, there was a Grafman Legacy Luncheon to “roast and toast” Miller. He also spoke on Aug. 27 at Southside Baptist Church, with Rev. Stephen Jones. In 2001, Emanu-El made a leap of faith and walked to the church, where the congregation would worship for 14 months while Emanu-El underwent extensive renovations. Though Miller is now rabbi emeritus and living mainly in the Washington area, he will still be around a bit in the coming months. Miller is the High Holy Days rabbi for Temple Beth Or in Montgomery, after the death of Beth Or Rabbi Elliot Stevens in June. Miller will also be the Israel Bonds honoree at this year’s joint awards ceremony of the Birmingham Jewish Federation, Birmingham Jewish Foundation and Israel Bonds. The Oct. 29 event will be — naturally — at Temple Emanu-El.


Moving from declarations of Israel support to expanding business ties Israeli Consul General Lior Haiat knows that there is a long-standing close relationship between Alabama and Israel, through a long series of resolutions by the state government over the years. Now, he says, it is time to deepen the ties beyond “the declaration level.” Last month, Haiat and his team, who are based in Miami, made a second visit to Alabama since the Miami consulate took over Alabama and Mississippi from the Atlanta consulate following a reshuffling of territories after the Philadelphia consulate was closed last year. Since taking over the two states last year after serving Florida and Puerto Rico, Haiat has been learning about the Southern Jewish experience. Every Friday, he said, his daughters sing Schlock Rock’s “Minyan Man” song, about finding a minyan in the back of a store in downtown Mobile, though the video was filmed in Birmingham. On June 7, there was a national simulcast of a joint Washington-Jerusalem ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of Jerusalem’s reunification. Governors Phil Bryant of Mississippi and Rick Scott of Florida were part of the video presentation, talking about their relationships with Israel, and Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a proclamation from the state legislature. When meeting with other consuls general earlier in the planning process, Haiat said “they were amazed at how easy it was to get the governors to participate” in this area. “I told them the elected officials in general are so pro-Israel as part of their agenda. It’s a natural thing here. “It shows that I got the best post in the U.S.,

the most pro-Israel post.” Now, “we are looking for ways to take this support into terms that will connect Israel and Alabama, Mississippi even closer.” That includes economic ties and trade ties in certain sectors where Israel and the states have expertise. “This is a win-win,” Haiat said, and would develop jobs in Israel and in Alabama. Haiat met with Bill Canary, chair of the Alabama Business Council. Canary visited Israel a few months ago with a U.S. Chamber of Commerce delegation and “can’t stop talking about his visit.” Haiat discussed issues such as trade and cyber security with Reps. Bradley Byrne and Gary Palmer, and met with staffers at the office of Senator Richard Shelby. He also met with Ivey while in Montgomery. He also visited with officials of Auburn University in Montgomery, discussing academic cooperation and exchange programs. Mississippi’s Bryant has been on three economic development missions to Israel in the last three years, and the first Israel Meets Mississippi event was held in Jackson in April 2015. Next February, another Israel Meets Mississippi event is planned, where business leaders from Israel will visit Jackson to establish ties. Haiat said he hopes some of the visiting executives will also be able to visit Alabama. “There is a huge potential,” especially in homeland security and cyber-security, as well as Israeli startups in the automotive industry. Cyber-security and automotive are linked, Haiat said, because cars with computer systems

Consul General Lior Haiat met with Alabama Governor Kay Ivey that allow networking are vulnerable to hackers. “If they hack your phone, the worst thing is they can see your photos. If they hack your car…” A student of the civil rights movement, Haiat said “we had an amazing visit to Selma,” where he met with Mayor Darrio Melton. “We’re hoping to take him to Israel on a mayors’ conference,” he said, and also try to rekindle the cooperation between the Jewish and African-American communities. “In some places we have lost the connection between the two.” While having dinner with members of the Montgomery Jewish community the night before, they told him about the synagogue in Selma “and the few folks who are still there.” After meeting with the mayor, they went to see Selma’s Mishkan Israel.

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Deborah Layman makes a presentation to Cathy Friedman

“A beacon of light”

Cathy Friedman honored by B’ham Holocaust Center In a community where many notables have done tributes to honorees at events, Cathy Friedman’s tribute at the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center’s L’Chaim gala drew an opening salute from one of the biggest names in Jewish culture — Tevye. The cast of Red Mountain Theatre Company’s recent production of “Fiddler on the Roof ” started the Aug. 20 event with a fiddler on the balcony, and Tevye walking through the audience. After his signature line of “A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no?” he paused, looked down and said “Hello, Cathy.” “Tradition” was adapted to “our little village of Birmingham,” with mentions of traditions like 280 traffic and football. Tevye then sat down with Lazar Wolf for a drink, and Wolf asked Tevye about this woman who always visits his butcher shop. Tevye is surprised Wolf doesn’t know it is Friedman, because “she’s a champion for human rights, and her dedication to the BHEC is beyond measure.” But, he cautions, she wouldn’t be interested in Wolf because she is “married 47 years to Paul the paper man.” Saying “The world would be a much better place if we could all follow in the footsteps of Cathy Friedman,” Tevye then launched into a rendition of “L’Chaim, to Cathy, to life.” The gala, held before a full house at the Alys Stephens Center, was part concert, part tribute. In addition to the “Fiddler” segment, there were performances by Abijah Cunningham, Amy Johnson and Kristen Sharp, and a finale with the Steel City Men’s Chorus. Deborah Layman, the BHEC vice president of programming, emceed the night. She called Friedman, who is known for her social justice activism in Birmingham, “a beacon of light in dark times.” BHEC President Karen Allen said Friedman has “brought the BHEC to new heights.” A video tribute featured interviews with BHEC founder Phyllis Weinstein, Birmingham Mayor William Bell, Yolanda Sullivan of the YWCA, RMTC executive director Keith Cromwell, Rabbi Jonathan Miller, Odessa Woolfolk and many others. Michael Saag opened the video by doing a tribute in rap. After giving thanks, Friedman noted she had “a very serious speech.” With Charlottesville in mind, Friedman spoke of how in Europe “individuals, organizations and government made choices to legalize discrimination, prejudice, hatred and ultimately mass murder with the intention to rid the world of the Jewish people. We are taught never again, and that we must remember when the world lost its conscience.” To do that, she said, groups like the BHEC are important, to keep telling the stories so all the voices are still heard.

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community In detailing the center’s activities, there was a video presentation about the “Better Together Names Not Numbers” project, where 10 students from the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School took part last year in a national effort to teach students how to interview, and filmed interviews with Holocaust survivors and children of survivors. The resulting documentary was screened to a packed house at the Homewood Library at the end of the school year. Layman focused on teacher training, reporting that over 1200 teachers across the state have been trained since 2014 in BHEC seminars. There are also scholarships funded by Brenda and Fred Friedman to enable teachers to attend national and international intensive educational experiences. “To date over 100 teachers have been trained,” Layman said, and several from Alabama have been recognized nationally as leaders in their field. Rebecca Dobrinsky, BHEC executive director, said in the last year, BHEC had expanded partnerships in the community, from lectures to a film series, and programs with the Alabama Symphony and RMTC. A new fellowship was funded in honor of Ruth Siegler’s 90th birthday, and the first recipient recently received a Master’s at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and will pursue a Ph.D. at Mississippi State. “We are able to do this through supporters like you,” Dobrinsky added. Carole Pizitz and Joel Rotenstreich, co-chairs of the event, said the event received 442 contributions totaling over $321,000.

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The joint religious school between Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem and Temple Beth Or in Montgomery is being renamed the Rabbi Elliot Stevens Kol Ami Religion School. Stevens, rabbi at Beth Or, died in June after a battle with pancreatic cancer. A decade ago, he and Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem Rabbi Scott Kramer began the joint religious school program, which meets for half of the year at each congregation. At the Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem annual meeting in June, the congregation proposed the tribute, and the Beth Or board unanimously agreed. Plaques will be placed at the entrance to each school, and a dedication ceremony will be announced for later this year.

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Jack Ingram Motors was the first dealership in the Southeast to sell Mercedes-Benz, and earlier this year the Montgomery dealership received the Mercedes-Benz Best of the Best Award for 2016. The award is presented to the top dealers who show excellent performance throughout the year in the areas of sales, service, parts, management, leadership and customer experience. “What I find most rewarding is serving my customers in a manner that I would like to be treated. It is gratifying to see many repeat customers; provide good jobs to long-term employees I consider family, and working daily to serve the residents of our community,” said Ray Ingram, owner of Jack Ingram Motors auto group. The new C-Class and E-Class Mercedes-Benz sedans are the leading sellers in the Montgomery market. Marketing Director Whitney Cadwell said some of the new models in other lines Jack Ingram Motors is selling include the new, seven-passenger Volkswagen Atlas, the re-designed Audi Q5 and the all-new Volvo XC60. “SUVs are in high-demand right now and these three do not disappoint,” said Cadwell.

September 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 39


Lapidus driven to satisfy Mazda customers by Lee J. Green Ruben Lapidus is driven to sell fine Mazda vehicles at the Birmingham area Med Center Mazda because he has “always been in the customer relations industry.” “I treat clients like I want to be treated — fair, honest, upfront,” said Lapidus. “Mazda offers a premium vehicle at a moderate price and I enjoy working with people to help them find the Mazda that best fits their lifestyle.” Lapidus said with any Mazda model “you can’t go wrong,” since all six vehicles in its line-up have been rated by at least some magazines as tops in their class. For 2017, all the Mazda vehicles have been redesigned and enhanced with added comfort, safety and entertainment features, some standard, some with packages. His best-seller is the CX5 SUV crossover. For 2017, there is more cargo space and it is available with a power liftgate. The CX5 can get up to 31 miles per gallon on the highway. Lapidus said the Mazda Miata sports car is now the Mazda RX5 and has enhanced performance and features. Also in the Mazda family are the CX7 and CX9 SUVs as well as the Mazda 3 and 6 sedans. Speaking of family, Lapidus is a Birmingham native. He and his two sons, 24-year-old Jacob and 22-year-old Jack, were involved in AZA. Jacob works for CAA in Nashville and Jack is finishing at Auburn. Lapidus, who is a member of Temple Beth-El, grew up in the family business — Standard Distributors. He also owned his own business, Images, before going into sales and joining the Mazda family a few years ago. “Birmingham is my home and I am proud to be in the Jewish community,” he said.

Green Garage in Birmingham expands by Lee J. Green

G R OW I N G F E R T I L E M I N D S and organic veggies

Day & Boarding School | Grades 8-12 •

40 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017

Birmingham’s Green Garage put their expansion efforts into overdrive earlier this year. They doubled the Southside repair shop’s square footage downtown and added expertise in repairing domestic vehicles, to add to the European and Asian vehicles they previously had worked on. All of this is cars for celebration. “We were fortunate to be in a position where we needed more space and when the building next door become available we know it was the perfect opportunity not just to expand the space but to expand what we were doing with repair,” said Green Garage Co-owner Chris Palmer. He and his wife, the daughter of Ron Levitt, started the shop a few years ago. The recent expansion and addition of skilled, trained repair experts have allowed them to capture more business. Green Garage is so named because they use environmentally friendly processes whenever possible. They are ASC Master Certified Technicians and together bring many years of experience working on all types of vehicles. “When we do repair we always use the manufacturer’s parts on a car,” said Palmer. “If you look at it like a pie, a pie is tasty because you use the right ingredients. We employ the best skills and materials on everything we do.” Palmer said vehicles today on the whole are more fuel-efficient, but it is more maintenance intensive to keep them running at their most efficient. “People today know what is capable with their vehicles. They look on the Internet and do their homework. Vehicles are more efficient and lasting longer,” he said. “It just takes some tender loving care to make sure they can maintain.”


Area mayors join ADL anti-hate effort Several area mayors are part of a new Anti-Defamation League initiative to fight extremism and bigotry, and promote justice and equality. Formed in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, Va., the ADL partnered with the United States Conference of Mayors to develop a 10-point Mayors’ Compact to Combat Hate, Extremism and Bigotry. More than 200 mayors in 45 states have pledged to implement the plan. The USCM is the official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. Under the Compact, mayors commit to vigorously speak out against all acts of hate; punish bias-motivated violence to the fullest extent of the law; encourage more anti-bias and anti-hate education in schools and police forces, using ADL experts and resources for both; encourage community activities that celebrate their population’s cultural and ethnic diversity; and ensure civil rights laws are aggressively enforced and hate crimes laws are as strong as possible. “We must come together and step up our efforts to combat hate in our cities,” said Allison Padilla-Goodman, Atlanta Regional Director for ADL. “Mayors have always been strong supporters of civil rights and we could not be more grateful for the support and leadership these mayors have demonstrated and hope more will commit to this effort in the coming days.” There were 11 signatories in the Atlanta region, which includes Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Five mayors in Padilla-Goodman’s former region, which includes Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi, also signed. Mitch Landrieu of New Orleans signed as president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, along with USCM Vice President Steve Benjamin of Columbia, S.C. Also signing were Mayors William Bell, Birmingham; Sandy Stimpson, Mobile; Lioneld Jordan, Fayetteville, Ark.; Mark Stodola, Little Rock; Ashton Hayward, Pensacola; Sharon Weston Broome, Baton Rouge; Errick Simmons, Greenville, Miss.; Kasim Reed, Atlanta; Hardie Davis Jr., Augusta; Michael Bodker, Johns Creek, Ga.; John Tecklenburg, Charleston; Joseph McElveen Jr., Sumter, S.C.; Kim McMillan, Clarksville, Tenn.; Madeline Anne Rogero, Knoxville; Jim Strickland, Memphis; Megan Barry, Nashville.

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334-277-5700 September 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 41

As simple as soap Mission to India shows ways to make purposeful connections by Joshua Rubenstein Special to Southern Jewish Life

I hadn’t given much thought to soap until I learned about Sundara. Something that may seem so trivial is having an enormous impact on the livelihood of India’s most disadvantaged and has inspired me to make a difference at home as well. Sundara, an Indian nonprofit, has produced a recipe that starts with soap and hopes to end the cycle of poverty in India’s slums. By employing in-need women to recycle scraps of hotel soap, which usually go into landfills, Sundara allows children the chance to go to school — children who would otherwise forgo their education to sustain their family’s income by working as sewer cleaners and rag pickers. These soap products are then given out during educational hygiene lessons, perpetuating the importance of solving problems at their root. I was able to meet with these impressive working women of Sundara while co-chairing the Jewish Federations of North America’s National Young Leadership Cabinet study mission to India. The NYL Cabinet mission, with 110 participants, was the largest ever, as well as the first Jewish Federations mission to India, a country that has strong military ties and trading partnerships with Israel, and is home to the Bene Israel, one of the world’s oldest Jewish communities. Sundara partners with the Gabriel Project Mumbai, which receives support from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, a Federation-funded partner. The interconnection between this low-tech program and its environment amazed me most and truly got me thinking about the ingredients necessary to bring about positive change. Over the course of my eight-day journey in India, learning from a culture so different than my own, I realized the most important ingredient: purposeful connection. Jacob Sztokman, GPM’s founder, taught us about the challenges of extreme urban scarcity and showed us the efforts of his organization to tend to the educational, health and nutritional needs of children. We volunteered with GPM participants as they spent their morning teaching in the slums and preparing nutritious meals for children to take to school. In this country of both extreme poverty and great wealth, it surprised me how little it costs to feed a child: just 19 cents per day. Also inspiring were the members of the Jewish community whose connection to their faith has endured for over 2,000 years while, at many times, cut off from the Joshua Rubenstein is a member of the Board of Directors of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and is beginning his sixth year in the National Young Leadership Cabinet. He cochaired the 2017 NYL Mission to India in February. 42 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017

rest of the world’s Jewry. The Bene Israel have both successfully assimilated and retained their culture in a country where Jews are vastly outnumbered. Like Sundara, these Jews are able to make purposeful connections between their community and the landscape around them. The places we visited saw Jews getting along, living together, conducting business, and helping others with varying backgrounds. I even learned how the Jewish community doesn’t eat beef to show respect for their neighbors, and about the various festivals where Jews invite their non-Jewish friends to celebrate together. For centuries, this minority community had been held together by just four Jewish traditions: Shabbat, Sh’ma, kashrut and b’rit milah. With the help of the JDC, they now have programs like the Jewish Youth Pioneers, which trains young Jewish leaders to deepen these traditions through community engagement. Indian Jewry is stronger for those efforts, whether its members continue to live in Mumbai and Delhi or move to Jerusalem and Beersheba following Aliyah under the auspices of the Jewish Agency for Israel. We had the opportunity to spend significant time with the JYP members, learning about their communal dynamics and the challenges that they face. It was fascinating how our cohorts were able to relate to one another so easily. I soon realized that my fellow Cabinet members were feeling similar senses of connection. When we came together with the Bene Israel Jews for Shabbat, we overflowed Delhi’s Synagogue, Judah Hyam Hall, with people spilling into chairs in the synagogue’s courtyard. During services we heard their stories and shared in singing Hebrew songs both in our melodies and in theirs. Saying the Sh’ma together, we internalized its power to connect all Jews; whether in Hebrew, Yiddish or another local tongue, the Sh’ma and other basic prayers transcend language to bring people and their faith together. Since I’ve been home, I’ve been reminded of the different circumstances of our global people. The struggles of the Indian Jewish community are unique as they are ones of isolation and of responsibility to their neighbors. Collectively, as a Jewish people, we have survived through many challenges and triumphs over thousands and thousands of years. It is incumbent upon each of us to learn from each other so that we continue to grow, to endure, and to make purposeful connections; when we do so, we have the power to strengthen our identity and better the world around us. I hope to better the world around me through my new connection to soap. As a hotel owner in New Orleans, I found and engaged a U.S. organization, similar to Sundara, to repurpose partially-used soap and other discarded hygiene products to give them another life. After all, it is important to remember that you don’t have to travel all the way to New Delhi to foster purposeful connections; one can start with a bar of soap at home.

sports an annual SJL special section At the Maccabi Games in Birmingham

Max Fried moves to the Majors

Mississippi pitcher called up to the Atlanta Braves by Lee J. Green Max Fried, a 23-year-old lefthanded Jewish pitcher from southern California, was just adjusting to his first time being in the Deep South when he was called up by the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 5. Fried had spent the season with the Double-A Southern League’s Mississippi Braves in Pearl, outside of Jackson, when he received the news he was climbing two rungs of the ladder to the big leagues to help Atlanta with long relief. “It certainly had been a dream of mine for a long time to make it to the major leagues. I was nervous at first but it has been fun every day,” said Fried, when interviewed before a Braves/Reds game on Aug. 19. “My teammates have helped me to adjust and the everyone has been very supportive.” His parents flew across the country to catch his major league debut. In his first two appearances, he worked three innings and did not allow a run, and had two strikeouts. On Aug. 23, he was sent down to Triple-A Gwinnett, in suburban Atlanta, but was called back up to the big leagues when rosters expanded on Sept. 1. In all, he pitched 6-2/3 innings in four appearances, allowing four runs on seven hits, six walks and four strikeouts in his first stint with the Braves. On Aug. 24, in his Gwinnett debut, he returned to his usual role as a starter, pitching four shutout innings with one hit, two walks and six

Photo by Pouya Dianat/Atlanta Braves



goes anywhere digital editions at ISSUU.COM/SJLMAG

strikeouts. His Mississippi record this year was 2-11 with a 5.92 ERA in 19 starts. Fried grew up in Encino and his family was involved with a synagogue there. His grandparents were very involved in leadership roles with the Jewish Home of the Aging. At 4 years old, he started playing tee ball and grew up loving baseball. “My parents and my older brother also played sports so it was definitely something we shared,” he said. In 2009, he went to the Maccabiah Games in Israel. He starred at Harvard-Westlake High School in North Hollywood, wearing Sandy Koufax’s No. 32, and started getting notice from some scouts. In 2012, the San Diego Padres drafted Fried in the first round, seventh overall, and sent him to Single-A in Indiana. Fried progressed but then a couple years later he injured his arm and had to have Tommy John surgery. “It’s a really big surgery and a very long, strenuous rehab. It took about a year and a half for me to feel like I was back to being myself,” he said. He was traded from the Padres to the Braves in a package that brought ace closer Craig Kimbrell from Huntsville to San Diego in 2016. Fried said he grew up a Dodgers fan, but now the Braves are his team. When asked about his Judaism, he said he wears it proudly on his sleeve. “I am proud to be Jewish. I have been asked by some people and teammates about my religion, beliefs and holidays. In some cases I have been the first Jewish person they met,” he said. “But it has been all positive and I am really excited to be in Atlanta.”

Metairie’s Bleich gets Pitcher of the Week honors Metairie native Jeremy Bleich, who pitched for Israel in the World Baseball Classic in March, was named Pitcher of the Week by Jewish Baseball News. That week, he pitched three scoreless innings in two appearances for the Triple-A Oklahoma City Dodgers, with just one hit and four strikeouts. After the recognition, though, he had two straight losses, giving up two runs each in appearances against New Orleans and Round Rock. After starting the season with Arizona, he was signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers and assigned to Oklahoma City. He spent a month at Double-A Tulsa before being called up to the Triple-A club. Bleich finished the season with a 5-3 record and three saves at Oklahoma City, with an ERA of 3.77. In 31 appearances, he pitched 50.1 innings, gave up 18 earned runs on 45 hits with 43 strikeouts and nine walks. 44 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017

sports Bloom feels South Carolina is blossoming Former SEC associate commissioner and director of communications Charles Bloom, who was a member of Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El when he worked for the conference in the Magic City, has for the past few years been associate athletic director at his alma mater, South Carolina. “We’re very happy here and my wife’s family is from South Carolina. This is where we first met,” said Bloom, whose daughter will be attending medical school at Tulane in the fall. “But we do miss all the friends that we made in Birmingham. It certainly is a great Jewish community there.” His Gamecocks football team enters the 2017 season with second-year coach Will Muschamp, who was the former head coach at the University of Florida as well as an assistant at Auburn and under Nick Saban at LSU. Bloom and Athletic Director Ray Tanner were instrumental in choosing and signing Muschamp, and Bloom feels good about where the team is heading. “They improved by three games last year and we’ve got a lot of returning starters. We’re excited to see what we can do in a very competitive, strong SEC,” he said. Of course, more important than football wins is academic achievement by Gamecock athletes, and providing them with opportunities to get a degree then succeed in their chosen professions. “We have the ‘Gamecock Student Athlete Promise.’ We were the first SEC school to guarantee multi-year scholarships and we do anything we can to ensure our athletes have every opportunity to excel in the classroom,” he said. Bloom, who graduated in Journalism/PR at South Carolina, also has worked with ESPN to recruit South Carolina students for internships and other opportunities with the SEC Network. Gamecock roundball also achieved much success in 2016-17. Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams made it to their respective Final Fours and the Lady Gamecocks won the Women’s National Championship. “Both coach Dawn Staley and Frank Martin do a lot to fuel the passion in South Carolina basketball on a campus and a community level,” said Bloom. “We’re proud of their successes and the positive attention it has brought to South Carolina athletics.” As for the Columbia Jewish community, Bloom said it is smaller than Birmingham but they enjoy it and remain involved as much as possible.

Fall 2017 Municipal Parochial and Special Elections in Louisiana October 14 Municipal Parochial and Special Primary Election November 18 General Election

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Sept. 30 through Oct. 7 (except Sunday) from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Find out more election information at

2017 SEC Football Preview by Lee J. Green

Best Wishes for a joyous, prosperous, and healthy New Year

SEC West

The Alabama Crimson Tide 1: Alabama Crimson Tide came within two seconds of rolling 2: Auburn Tigers through the 2016 college football 3: LSU Tigers season undefeated and with its sec4: Arkansas Razorbacks ond-straight College Football Play5: Texas A&M Aggies off national championship. 6: Mississippi State Bulldogs But with Clemson’s come-from7: Ole Miss Rebels behind win, Alabama was denied its fifth national championship in SEC East eight years. 1: Georgia Bulldogs The Crimson Tide enter the 2017 2: Florida Gators season predicted by most to be No. 3: Tennessee Volunteers 1 and return the SEC Player of the 4: South Carolina Gamecocks Year, now-sophomore quarterback 5: Kentucky Wildcats Jalen Hurts. Combined with nu6: Vanderbilt Commodores merous offensive weapons such as 7: Missouri Tigers running back Bo Scarbrough and wide receiver Calvin Ridley, the Tide were picked by voting SEC Media Days members as the favorite to win the SEC West and the SEC Championship. Above is the predicted order of finish for all the teams in the SEC.

from the Board and Staff of the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana CREATE A JEWISH LEGACY • SECURE A JEWISH FUTURE

September 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 45


Thibodeaux isn’t exactly known as fertile ground to find people looking to move to Israel, and Mike Wagenheim didn’t seem like someone who was likely to take that step. A Philadelphia native, Wagenheim had been in Louisiana for a decade, broadcasting sports for the University of New Orleans and Nicholls State. Two years ago, he got off a plane in Israel, a place he had never even visited, wearing a hat that said “Living the Dream,” which Nefesh B’Nefesh, an organization that helps Americans move to Israel, gave to all of the new immigrants on that flight. Though he initially thought the hat was “the cheesiest thing,” he could not have predicted Just before umpiring the World Maccabiah Games baseball gold medal match, Mike how true it would be just two years later. Wagenheim graduated from West Virgin- Wagenheim (right) interviews U.S. Ambassador David Friedman for i24 News. ia University, where he was sports director at WWVU-FM. He did play-by-play for baseball but somehow they hired him, and “it was a won- so he stayed at Nicholls and started looking for and soccer, then was director of broadcasting derful four years.” He did men’s and women’s other overseas opportunities. Wagenheim doesn’t remember the exact for the Southwest Michigan Devil Rays in Battle basketball, baseball and volleyball, and in 2008 Creek. He also spent four months touring as the won the inaugural Sun Belt Conference Broad- words he used in a Google search — he figures it was something like “easy place for an American public address announcer for the Harlem Am- caster of the Year Award. Still, the program struggled, and his posi- to move” — and he came upon an unfamiliar bassadors. After a year as assistant director of broadcast- tion was eventually eliminated. He wound up term: Aliyah. Wagenheim grew up in a Reform household ing for the Inland Empire 66ers in San Berna- at Nicholls State, “which was an even better dino, Calif., Wagenheim decided he missed the experience.” More than any game he called, he that was “holy three days a year.” He went to religious school, and after his Bar Mitzvah he visited the Hillel a couple of times while in college, “and that was it.” He hadn’t made any effort to identify Jewishly Former Nicholls State sportscaster charts new course in Israel while in New Orleans, let alone Thibodeaux, but “for whatever reason I got hooked on the concollege athletics atmosphere, so he started look- remembers the hospitality and opportunity he cept of Israel,” though he had never been there. “The more I researched, I knew I had to do it.” ing to see what positions were open. After Hur- had there. He soon became executive producer and lead He had to do the paperwork at the closest ricane Katrina and the levee failure, the devastation on the University of New Orleans campus on-air talent for Nicholls’ Colonel Sports Net- Jewish Agency/Nefesh B’Nefesh office, which was Miami, a trip that was impossible due to his and drastically lower enrollment “almost killed work. Eventually, he had the sense that something Nicholls State schedule. Instead, when Nicholls the athletic department.” To save scarce resources, they looked to bring in his life “was lacking,” but he couldn’t pinpoint had a basketball game at UCLA, he was allowed in someone as a contract worker “until they what it was. He soon realized that he had done to do his paperwork at the Los Angeles office. “The process was smooth,” he said. could get back on their feet.” Wagenheim said what he wanted — do Division I sports, “and I He needed a letter of reference from someone he had never called a basketball game before, got to do it for 12 years.” But now it was time to do something more with his life. in the Jewish community, so he turned to Arnie He tried to join the diplomatic corps, passed Fielkow, who had been president of the New the first level but did not have enough inter- Orleans City Council. national experience to get through the second Fielkow said he got to know Wagenheim as level of screening. To remedy that, he was urged they battled a decision by the UNO leadership to apply for the Peace Corps, and was granted a to downgrade their athletic program from Diviposition in Ukraine. sion I to Division III. “About two months before I was supposed to After a year, Wagenheim boarded a Nefesh go, Vladimir Putin invaded Crimea” in 2014, B’Nefesh flight and arrived in Israel, not knowand the Peace Corps withdrew all personnel ing anyone, without any family or a job. from Ukraine. “There was really nothing else He soon was introduced to an Orthodox couthey were offering” that resonated with him, ple that “became my adopted family, and they

From Thibodeaux to Tel Aviv

46 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017


still are.” He admits his concept of Orthodox Jews was the stereotype of rigidity, very serious and obsessed with rules. He went to their congregation and “it’s just the complete opposite.” Nobody judged him over his lack of knowledge and he was inundated with Shabbat dinner invitations. “That welcoming attitude really turned me on to Judaism.” He now studies Torah an hour a day, and “it has helped my life in so many ways.” Shortly after his arrival, he met and started dating Hila, a native Israeli who helped him adapt to his new country and the vastly different ways of doing things. Seven months later, they were married, and they now have a 1-year-old daughter. A bigger challenge than making Aliyah was proving to the rabbinate that he is Jewish so he could have a religious wedding in Israel, a more stringent process than just moving to Israel. “As I was really embracing Judaism and Torah, I wanted a halachic wedding,” he said. But the rabbinate kept telling him his documents were insufficient. They were finally approved just two days before the wedding. “I’m glad we did” and didn’t just go to Cyprus for a civil ceremony. After five months in the ulpan, he met the owner of a startup, Israel News Talk Radio. Though he didn’t know how to pronounce half of the cities in Israel, he got a position as morning anchor. Almost a year later, a position became available at i24 News, which has been expanding its emphasis on doing Israeli news for a North American audience. Wagenheim is now the diplomatic correspondent. A year and a half off the plane, he found himself reporting 10 feet from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, married and with a baby girl, “and a career I didn’t think was possible.” “How quickly things came together out of nothing” can happen only in a place like Israel, he figures. That was also true in the sports arena, where in roughly the same time frame, he found himself working one of the most prestigious sporting events in the country, and representing Israel on an international stage. Shortly after his arrival, he started coaching in the preseason for a youth baseball league near the ulpan, but was told that when the regular season came, they had plenty of coaches. He was asked if he could umpire, as those were scarce. “I was a recreational umpire in college 15 years ago,” he said, and they told him it was good enough. On July 14, he umpired the gold medal game in World Maccabiah baseball, where the United States team took the gold. U.S. Ambassador David Friedman attended the game, so Wagenheim got an on-camera interview with him, while dressed in his umpiring uniform. A week later, he was off to Serbia as the Israeli national baseball team competed in the European Baseball Championship qualifiers. While he credits part of his advancement in Israel to the faith he has in himself, through applying his Torah study to everyday life, he is realizing that it’s even more from having faith in God. Many who make aliyah end up leaving, he said, because you can’t be the same person you were in America. “If you’re willing to adapt and find your place, there are a million opportunities… it’s easy to come here and reinvent yourself.” He is planning a speaking tour in the northeast later this year, and is hoping to bring a female Knesset member to speak at Nicholls State’s Louisiana Center for Women in Government and Business, because the center rarely focuses on the international scene, and “in Israel, women rule a lot of the government.” While he will enjoy visiting, “it’s going to be tough turning down the crawfish po-boys” since he is now kosher. But given all of the changes in his life, “alligator is a small sacrifice.”

If you’re willing to adapt… there are a million opportunities









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Anshe Sfard in New Orleans was informed that their application to be placed on the National Register of Historic Places was approved. Rabbi Yochanan Rivkin said the news was “exciting,” because “it gives us the opportunity to apply for several funding options that will help us preserve our history, improve our facility and make our Shul even more warm and welcoming than it already is.” Anshe Sfard was formed in the late 1800s by Lithuanian Chassidim, purchasing a small building in 1900 on South Rampart. The current building was dedicated in 1925, and was designed by Emile Weil. Anshe Sfard is the sole congregation that remained in what used to be an Orthodox neighborhood, and as the closest synagogue to downtown and the convention district, often attracts out-of-towners.

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Michael Tepper of Baton Rouge, Rabbi Judy Caplan Ginsburgh of Alexandria and Cantor Neal Schwartz of Shreveport went to the NewCAJE8 conference in the San Francisco area in early August. Based in Massachusetts, NewCAJE is a pluralistic organization that reimagines Jewish education for the 21st century and holds an annual conference.


Events in Charlottesville a wake-up call 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.” 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 CharlotAmerica has tesville served as a reminder of how worked hard painfully relevant to reject the these issues are today. ideology Auburn’s Alpha of white Epsilon Pi stands supremacy, and with the Jewish of can do it again community 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 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. 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. 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. 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 arms, but those who persevered would find acceptance, and community. Take the story of my family, for example. At the turn of the 20th century, my ancestors escaped violent pogroms in modern-day Slovakia to come to America. They were fortunate enough to leave the old world decades before Hitler’s grip took over, taking that chance away from many others. They made the new world their home, found work, and were allowed to contribute to society. My family’s story is not uncommon. In fact, there are numerous stories just like it, and newer ones every day. Stories that speak of diverse families overcoming persecution, violence, and hate to prosper in a welcoming world. It is these types of stories that enrich the distinction of the American dream. It is these stories that show what America can be and should be. Whether it is someone escaping anti-Semitism, fighting pervasive racism, or overcoming abundant hate, the United States should be their safe haven. The white supremacists and the Nazis who marched through Charlottesville seek to end this side of America. They do not realize it is all of America. They hope to return to a world not just where their voice is heard, but where it’s the only voice presented. That is unacceptable. America has worked to reject this ideology before, and can do it again. As we look to the start of a new semester at Auburn, we should remember to reach out and connect with all of our fellow students, to cherish what unites us and reject those who seek to separate us. We should champion political debate without falling to archaic ideologies. We should live by our creed, remembering our hopes, our values, and our better angels. AEPi supports the Auburn Family and stands with threatened communities across the country.

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community High Holy Days set tone for new Avodah residents Social justice in a Jewish context is main emphasis As a new group of Avodah residents begins a program year in New Orleans, Dani Levine ties the beginning of their service with the themes of the High Holy Days. The 10 residents arrive at the Avodah house toward the end of August, living communally while supplementing the staff at non-profits in the New Orleans area. Every year, Levine, director of Avodah in New Orleans does a program either right before Rosh Hashanah or during the Ten Days of Awe, tying the beginning of their service to the time of reflection surrounding the Jewish New Year. It’s all part of highlighting social action work in a Jewish context, she explained, “focusing on Jewish tradition, social justice tradition and where

their place is” in working toward social justice. Themes of self-reflection are highlighted, as well as the communal nature of confession — that the transgressions are recited as “we” rather than “I.” “Not everyone is guilty, but we are a community” that is “not living in the ideal we could live in,” Levine said. Levine also uses the theme of the Yom Kippur Haftorah, where God states that the desired fast is about social action, taking care of the vulnerable, rather than the physical fast of not eating. The goal of Avodah “is to build leaders and members of the Jewish community who are committed to social justice, to creating the world that they want,” Levine said.

Arkansas passes anti-BDS bill, allows Israel Bonds purchases Ambassador Ron Dermer attends ceremonial signing

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On August 14, Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson signed bills allowing the state to invest in Israel bonds, and prohibiting state and local governments from contracting with or investing in companies that boycott Israel. Atlanta Development Corporation for Israel/Israel Bonds Executive Director Brad Young, and advisory council chairman Art Katz were present for the bill signing, which took place with Israel’s AmPhoto by Randall Lee bassador to the US, Ron Dermer. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson shaking Ambassador The ambassador also welcomed Arkansas State Treasurer Dennis Ron Dermer’s hand as Treasurer Dennis Milligan (left) and Milligan at a reception hosted by members of the Arkansas Legislature look on local Jewish leadership. portfolio since taking office in 2011, said, after In signing the bills, Hutchinson said, “Those making an historic $61 million Israel bond inare two very strong messages that one, we ought vestment in April, “This purchase was consistent to be open to invest in Israel as need be, and with our strategy of making sound investments we should not have any restrictions on those that prioritize Ohioans’ hard-earned dollars.” investments.” When Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion The legislation was the latest in a series of bills proposed the concept of Israel Bonds in 1950, passed by state and local municipalities permit- it seemed implausible that one day the fledgling ting investment in Israel bonds. Arkansas would nation would attract investments from outside become the 27th state to make an investment in the Jewish community, let alone large-scale inIsrael Bonds, joining Georgia, which currently vestors. holds $10 million. Milligan indicated that ArToday, Israel is seen as having one of the kansas would like to allocate 1 percent of the world’s strongest, most resilient economies. state’s total portfolio to Israel Bonds, which During the global recession, Israel’s economy could potentially mean a $30 million purchase. was among the first to emerge from the finanUnder former Treasurer John Kennedy, who cial crisis. is now in the U.S. Senate, Louisiana invested $18 On August 4, Standard & Poor’s revised its million in Israel Bonds. Alabama passed legis- outlook for Israel from ‘stable’ to ‘positive,’ statlation in 2004 allowing Israel Bonds purchases. ing “Israel’s fiscal performance has exceeded Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, who has added our expectations, reflecting the strength of the over $219 million in Israel bonds to the state’s underlying economy.”

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The Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders is committed to finding a cure for Rollins and the more than 1,500 children who come to us for care each year. As a founding member of the Children’s Oncology Group,* Children’s of Alabama and UAB combine research and innovative therapies to help save the lives of children down the street and around the world. Although the cancer cure rate has risen from 50 to 84 percent and strokes in patients with sickle cell disease have decreased by 90 percent, we are actively working toward a CURE for children like Rollins.

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September 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 51


Bubba, can you get to the bottom of this? What’s the deal with the swastikas in the floor tiles at Ernst Café in New Orleans? Was that just a cool design a thousand years ago when the place was built, or was the original owner a nut?


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Hey, friend. You’re not the first one to wonder this. In fact, every so often I get asked about the design on the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham, or even what’s going on with that vegetarian barbecue sauce on the shelves at some Asian supermarkets.

Turns out, the swastika is an symbol going back thousands of years, to illustrate everything from a bird in flight to being a centerpiece in peaceful religious rituals.

I should clear that up: people That building at Ernst don’t just come up to me to talk Café dates back to the about barbecue sauces. I mean, early 1850s and at ans if they did, we could talk about le r one time housed C. O w e in N how good barbecue doesn’t need nst Café r Schneider and A.R. E t a n ig floor des sauce to begin with. Ever been to Wise Grocers. When the building Lockhart? Everybody from your was sold to the three Ernst brothers in 1902, Bubbe in Biloxi to Aaron Franklin in Austin the thinking is that among the improvements, knows that a good brisket stands alone. the floor was laid with this design as a token of ‘good luck.’ This was of course decades before Well, let me walk that back a little. Some the symbol was twisted into one of hate. In of the best Shabbos dinners of my life have been punctuated with briskets kissed with the fact, Ernst Café gets asked about it so often, they even mention it on their website so as to goodness of a packet or two of Lipton onion dispel any ideas otherwise. soup mix in the pot. And I once dated a girl from Georgia who swore that her family’s version, bathed in Coca-Cola, was the best. But neither of those are barbecue sauce.

And nobody wants a side of hate with their Ernster, dressed, and extra napkins, please. So enjoy your lunch without any angst at Ernst.

Anyway, what were we talking about? Oh yeah. That can of AGV brand barbecue sauce with the swastika on the label (no joke, Google it).

As for the symbols dating back to 1931 on the east entrance at the Jefferson County Courthouse: same. Actually they mirror each other so on one side they’re the reverse swastika, and on the other, wellllll. In any case, they were likely put there to represent values like fairness and equality.

Some good-natured people can get their challah in a twist about this kind of thing, and while it can be weird to be sitting at Ernst Café and look down to a a bunch of those weird geometric shapes all over the floor, there’s a really easy answer: wrong swastika. The ones in the tile at Ernst are actually ‘reverse’ or ‘counter-clockwise’ swastikas. The top legs are pointed in the opposite direction of the ones from the WWII era. 52 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017

AGV barbecue sauce is in the same boat. Except I’m thinking they probably mean for the symbol to represent “great quality barbecue sauce if you seriously messed up and actually need barbecue sauce.” Have a question for Bubba? Send it to

culture art • books • apps • music • television • film • theatre

Jerry Siegel’s new book of photographs, “Black Belt Color,” has been published by Georgia Museum of Art, University of Georgia. Interview and more images, this section.


The Jewish Calendar 2018 Images of important Judaica from the collection of the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam


Residents of the Hebrew Orphans’ Home on an outing to Loew’s Theater in Five Points, circa 1920. Photograph property of the Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History at The Breman Museum.

Jewish Art Calendar by Mickie

A variety of cheerful illustrations by Israeli-American artist and calligrapher Mickie Caspi

THE LEGACY OF THE JEWISH ORPHAN’S HOME: Educating the Jewish South Since 1876

Coloring Your Jewish Year Hebrew Illuminations

at the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, Atlanta

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Through January 2018, the Breman tells the story of the Jewish Educational Loan Fund, the oldest non-profit in the state of Georgia. Established by influential businessman Simon Wolf and his friends in 1876 as Atlanta orphan’s asylum, a place that would care for the growing child immigrant population, it has since evolved into an agency for adoption and placement services, and today exists as an organization providing $11 million in interest-free loans to more than 4,000 students for their higher education.

Jewish Calendar 2017-18 With stunning images from Engagement Calendar the Jewish Museum New York, this engagement calendar features spacious two-page spreads for each week 365 Things to Love about Being Jewish Starting with January, this day-to-day calendar is a fun mishmash of Yiddish dictionary, Who’s Who, trivia, holidays and more. Have a desk? Get this

Children on a playground merry-go-round on the grounds of the Hebrew Orphans' Home, circa 1910. Photograph property of the Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History at The Breman Museum

September 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 53

Tucker’s Grocery, Selma, Alabama, 1994. Jerry Siegel, Black Belt Color.

Jerry Siegel’s “Black Belt Color” Lunch Meat, 99¢, Selma, Alabama, 2011.

J&R’s, Deer Heads, Perry County, 2002.

Menorah, Selma, Alabama, 2007.

54 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017

Siegel was born in Selma in 1958. He became interested in photography while taking a night class at the University of South Alabama, and spent a lot of time at a Selma art gallery owned by his uncle, who was also named Jerry Siegel. He became a commercial photographer in Atlanta, then started doing art photography. A portrait photographer, after buying a Fuji Panorama film camera around 2002, he started documenting scenes around Selma. He decided “to shoot some places that were iconic to me, or about Selma,” especially because he noticed some buildings from his youth were disappearing. “I shot the Temple. I shot the old YMCA. Uncle Jerry’s. His house, my house… places that were important to me.” He then started the Ten Jews Left project, doing portraits of the last members of Selma’s small Jewish community. It’s now about five Jews left, he commented. One of Siegel’s photographs depicts an electric Chanukah menorah in front of an air conditioner in what used to be the rabbi’s office at Mishkan Israel. After shooting primarily in Selma and Marion, he added a few more areas in the Black Belt, so named for the rich soil in that region. He would add to the project on each visit, so the images in the book are from between 2002 and 2015. Even though the book is out, “I don’t see this project “Being home ending right now.” The Georgia Museum of Art published the book through is about as the University of Georgia Press. Siegel noted that Museum passionate as Director William U. Eiland is from Sprott, just up the road from Selma, a town best known for William Christenberry’s you get.” photograph of the Sprott Store. Eiland said “These photographs speak of deep attachment, of reasoned critique, of the vagaries of memory.” Siegel noted, “I do better work when it’s a project I’m connected to and feel more passionate about. Being home is about as passionate as you get.”

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My Jewish Year: 18 Holidays, One Wondering Jew is anything but just another rote “this is how we do the chagim.” Not leading an especially observant lifestyle, author Abigail Pogrebin seeks meaning between the how and the spiritual why among the different streams of Judaism and what the take-aways can be in her own modern life. Feeling Jewish by Devorah Baum is subtitled “A Book for Just About Anyone” and that’s apt as this anything-but-a-beach-read investigates Jewish guilt, envy, paranoia...and those are just the chapter titles. Using pop culture references as well as more academic sources, the author seeks to find what “feeling Jewish” is for not only those who self-identify, but those who don’t and yet more commonly see these attributes in themselves. In My Adventures with G-d, character actor (and Texas native) Stephen Tobolowsky fills pages with delightful anecdotes and those connections to a higher power, from how a looney deal he gets himself into connects to the Adam and Eve story of human lust for fear and excitement to gratefulness and finding the holy when on a laundry errand. The title of Putting G-d Second: How to Save Religion from Itself by Rabbi Donniel Hartman is going to turn some people off, but it shouldn’t. What does G-d want for our human family, and how have we faltered while ostensibly doing what we think is commanded of us? How does religion give us power to do more and better for all, transcending the pervasive us vs. them attitude? What notions need to be set aside so we actually become closer to G-d? Rabbi Hartman sees that we do G-d’s work by doing G-d’s work first, in the ways that we can contemporarily understand how to be more compassionate, more sensitive, ultimately more loving. JEWISH TREASURES OF THE CARIBBEAN: The Legacy of Judaism in the New World Gorgeous. Wyatt Gallery photographs the synagogues and cemeteries of the largely Sephardic communities in the islands and Suriname, some of the oldest Jewish communities in the Western Hemisphere. Beyond the architecture, there are many items of interest, including that four of the five historic synagogues, including the 1732 Mickve Israel-Emanuel, still feature sand-covered floors. A lovely gift or addition to one’s own library.

REFERENCE SERIES OF TEARS AND LAUGHTER — Conclusion of Tractates Makkot & Yoma Composed of two stories of the Talmud on events after the destruction of the second Holy Temple, this book, translated by Rabbi Eli Block, shares the Rebbe’s deep insights, pulling together how seemingly disparate situations are relative, and further, how their lessons apply to our own lives. Publisher Kehot intends for this to be the beginning of a series. COVENANT & CONVERSATION: A Weekly Reading of the Jewish Bible Here, the Maggid imprint offers for the first time a book of Rabbi Jonathan Sacks’ always smart, thoughtful essays on the weekly parshiot of Numbers. This is the fourth in the Covenant & Conversation series.

BOOKS FOR CHILDREN • Yaffa and Fatima: Shalom, Salaam adapted by Fawzia Gilani-William, illustrated by Chiara Fedele (preK-3): is a beautiful folktale of what best friends do for each other in trying times. • The Knish War on Rivington Street by Joanne Oppenheim, illustrated by Jon Davis (preK-3): Benny’s family opens a knishery and another opens across the street. The competition heats up. How will the Knish War end? Deliciously. • Elisha Davidson and the Shamir by M.R. Attar (older elementary readers): In part three of the Elisha Davidson trilogy, Elisha is taken on a series of adventures based on ancient manuscripts of Jewish tradition. 56 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017

TEACHER: Two Years in the Mississippi Delta by Michael Copperman

Michael Copperman, describing himself as a “Japanese-Hawaiian Russo-Polish Jew” finds himself deep in the Mississippi Delta after graduating from Stanford and being accepted into Teach for America. With a full heart and a scrappy attitude, the author sets out to make his new setting fresh and fit for learning, but the mechanics of classroom management become a problem early on. Beyond what might have been the breaking point for anyone else, he finds himself giving in, and is surprised at how his positive attributes can become breached by unceasing contempt. He reaches the point at which he writes children up knowing full-well that they’re going to be paddled. He tosses a boy into a hallway, yells in class, even tears one boy’s shirt. In other ways he’s guilty without even trying, such as when his unanswered calls to report good performance result in a child getting beaten when the parent sees his number on the caller ID. He’s doing his best as a teacher - some kids rise not only to grade level but sometimes many levels beyond that. Children are given praise they’re likely starved for and sometimes are able to see the little geniuses they are inside. It’s palpable how much interest and well-being Copperman wishes for his kids. But he’s also heaped with frustration of being disrespected and of the circumstances (micro and macro) these kids are in. The towering unfairness of it all. While the experience isn’t especially positive, the author writes honestly. We’re interested to hear how the children turn out, and how he turns out too. At the end of his exhausting two year term, he leaves for other opportunities and the reader can’t help but be keen to hear what he takes from it, now that he’s had years to reflect.

CJFS helps “cyber-seniors” develop online proficiency The first time Letty Marcus attended a Collat Jewish Family Services Cyber-Seniors class, in 2016, her volunteer teenage tutor focused on the basics: helping Marcus communicate with friends and family through text messaging, email and social media. When Marcus signed up to take Cyber-Seniors again last month, she had a more ambitious agenda: “I wanted to learn to sell things through eBay,” she said. While de-cluttering her home, she’d wondered if her old collectibles had any value. With the help of her Cyber-Seniors tutor, a UAB Honors College freshman, Marcus was able to list her vintage Avon dolls and novelty tumblers on eBay. With its individualized, one-on-one approach, CJFS Cyber-Seniors enables older adults to learn about the specific apps and device functions that will be most useful to them. “Y’all keep having these wonderful classes, and I’ll keep coming,” Marcus said. Cyber-Seniors also provides a meaningful inter-generational experience for all involved. “I’ve never really worked with senior citizens before, and this is probably the best time I’ve ever had volunteering,” said Hanh Huynh, a freshman in the UAB Honors college who served as a Cyber-Seniors mentor for Carole Epstein. “I’ve never talked to somebody this much while volunteering, I’ve never been able to learn so much about someone or help them this much.” Epstein enlisted Huynh’s help in downloading books onto her tablet, interacting with loved ones on Facebook and deleting apps she never uses. “I loved every minute of it. Hanh was great,” Epstein said. The primary focus of Birmingham-based CJFS is enhancing quality of life and strengthening independence for older adults. CJFS Social Worker Catherine Findley spearheaded the program in 2016 after viewing a documentary about a similar program in Toronto. “More and more, my clients were asking for help in using their phones, tablets and computers,” Findley said. “I realized that at every socio-economic level, seniors wanted to use these devices to stay connected with loved ones.” Jennifer Nemet, volunteer and outreach coordinator for CJFS, noted that the older adults in Cyber-Seniors often mention that their grandchildren tried, unsuccessfully, to teach them to use their devices. She added, “When seniors engage with teens and young adults who are not relatives, it seems to be easier for everyone to focus on the task at hand, which is learning and practicing a new skill.” Because the August sessions were so popular, CJFS is offering three Cyber-Seniors sessions this fall, taught in two locations by students from UAB or Samford University. The classes are free, but registrations is required, and it is important that attendees commit to attend all meetings of the Cyber-Seniors session for which they register. Session I is on Wednesdays at 11 a.m. to noon at the Levite Jewish Community Center, Sept. 6 to 27 and Oct. 18. Session II is Tuesdays from 1 to 2:30 p.m. at the Friedman Center on Overton Road, from Sept. 19 to Oct. 24 except Oct. 10, and on Nov. 7 and 14. The third session is Wednesdays at 11 a.m. to noon at the LJCC from Oct. 25 to Nov. 29, except Nov. 22.

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September 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 57



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community Tulane ranks high on list of best campuses for Jewish students According to the Forward’s first-ever college guide, Tulane ranks No. 6 nationally in a comparison of the best colleges for Jewish students. Two Forward staffers developed the formula to rank the schools, using almost 50 variables. The Forward site lists information about every ranked school, including academics, cost and other factors. The listings include scores on academics, Jewish life and Israel, such as Birthright trips, study abroad opportunities and the prevalence of BDS activitism on campus. Emory University placed first, while Vanderbilt University placed fifth. Tulane’s undergraduate Jewish student population is 2,250 out of a total enrollment of 6,662. Other ranked universities in the region included Duke (16), Rice (50), Texas (80), Florida (81), Florida State (93) Texas Christian (104), Georgia Tech (110), Georgia (129), Alabama (141), Southern Methodist (143), Houston (144), Tennessee (158), South Carolina (162), Texas A&M (164), Clemson (165) and Auburn (166).

Miles holding symposium on Holocaust and Jim Crow


Event held with U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

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58 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017

Miles College in Birmingham will have a campus symposium, “Toward Healing and Reconciliation: Lessons from the Holocaust and the Jim Crow South,” in conjunction with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, on Sept. 27. Scholars, students and the public will explore the lessons that can be drawn from the study of the systems of targeted oppression and racial violence in Nazi Germany and the Jim Crow South within their specific historical contexts. Special attention will be given to the ways in which religious institutions either challenged or justified the racial discrimination in their respective societies. The event starts at 11 a.m. in Brown Hall Auditorium with a welcome and lecture on religion and the Holocaust. Lunch will be available for purchase in the dining hall starting at noon. At 2 p.m., there will be a campus dialogue on the day’s theme, in Pearson Hall Auditorium. After the 5 p.m. dinner, which will be available for purchase in the dining hall, there will be a 6 p.m. information session on educational opportunities for students and faculty at the Holocaust Museum. All events are free and open to the community.


jewish deep south: bagels, biscuits, beignets From Jack’s Wife Freda: Cooking from New York’s West Village. Image: Mikey Pozarik




Cooking from New York’s West Village by Maya and Dean Jankelowitz So much love — nothing but love for Jack’s Wife Freda. Sure, that’s a curious name for a restaurant, but apparently Freda was just that kind of unforgettable balaboosta grandmother. This cookbook is the product of a mix of Jewish flavors from family all over. Let’s start with breakfast. Eggs Benny with fuchsia beet hollandaise and latkes as the base. Duck bacon. Green (tomatillos!) shakshuka. And for the rest of the day: grain bowl, peri peri chicken wings, veggie curry with apple-raisin chutney, malva pudding and yogurt panna cotta with rose syrup. There are day drinks like avocado and kale shake, and mint lemonade, and later drinks like a ‘Bootsy Collins’ with vodka and Lillet, plus a ‘Pink Guzzler’ involving watermelon juice and tequila. Thank you for remembering the beverages. Can’t come up with a single recipe here to pass on (though not every recipe is kosher, most could be so with a slight variation). Tons of great pics and winning, easy-to-follow recipes. Definitely recommended.

MOLLY ON THE RANGE: Recipes and Stories from an Unlikely Life on a Farm by Molly Yeh Challah waffles. Cardamom orange kubaneh. Spinach and feta rugelach. Yes to all that. Molly’s heritage is Jewish and Chinese, and she’s lived in Chicago and New York and (now) on a farm in Minnesota, so all these great flavors inform her recipes. Take schnitzel bao with sriracha mayo and sesame pickles, for one. It’s not a kosher cookbook — page 99 is ‘smoky bacon mac and cheese’ after all — but there’s so much in between, the good vibes behind the Funfetti cake recipe in the back will likely make up for it alone. If you know Molly already from her website, this is basically her mynameisyeh. com in book form. Beautiful photographs, functional recipes that tread the line between easy and complex, and cute stories (though occasionally a little offcolor) make it a fun pick.

Milk & Honey Distillery put the first hundred bottles of the only single malt whisky ever produced in Israel, aged for 30 months in a new American oak cask, in an online auction last month. Bottle #001 sold for £2,400.

WHISKEY FROM TENNESSEE TO ISRAEL As Ha’aretz put it, “Attempts to Import Jack Daniels to Israel Forces Rabbinate to Admit Game Is Rigged.” Paneco, an importer who wishes to compete with the current supplier, submits that as all Jack Daniels is made at the same facility in Lynchburg and has already been found to be kosher, there should be no kashrut issue in their sale of the product. OK, however, said they would certify only those bottles imported by the current, official Israeli importer.

COMING SOON: EVERYTHING BAGEL DOUGHNUTS East coast bakeries are squabbling as to who introduced the world to a doughnut loaded with ‘everything’ on top and cream cheese in the middle. Out for a couple of years now, they’re white-hot on InstaGram though haven’t yet reached peak cronut. Bring them Southward.

MITZVAH SHEETCAKING Three Brothers in Houston is selling a cake with an American flag and “sheetcaking” on it for $60, with half of the proceeds going to the Holocaust Museum Houston. The three brothers who founded the bakery were Holocaust survivors. They do ship. September 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 59

hours but love what we do every day… and that’s mainly because of the great people we get to be around. There is a special vibe here.” Weddings He grew up in Starkville and would help his grandparents out on their Birthdays farm in Sturgis. “That was how and where we got food. It’s a way of life. Bar/Bat Ever since I was young I had thought about one day owning Mitzvahs a farm-to-table restaurant in the Deep South.” Corporate Events After graduating from Mississippi State University he would move to Birmingham to attend the Culinard School of Birmingham. Ellen would also Reunions graduate from Culinard a few years later but they would not meet until they School Dances both worked at Ocean/26 restaurants in downtown Birmingham. Ellen said Ocean/26 owner George Reis “taught us how Parties to be great Private managers and all the aspects of running a restaurant. It’s about creating an Event Production inviting environment for everyone. If you take care of your employees they will take care of your customers.” Open Houses She and William dated for several years and married in 2013. He took • Custom • Digital a job asDJ executive chef atLighting Iron City and Ellen wasProjection with Olexa’s Café and Catering well as GM/restaurant for Sky Castle. Photoas Booth • Karaokeopener • Snow and Fog Machines Part of William’s job was cooking for some of the bands and entertainers coming to the Iron City concert venue. “I got to meet and cook for everyone from B.B. King to Rob Zombie,” he said. “I did get a few unique requests but for the most part it was similar to what we would do for other folks.” The Wooden Goat restaurant at 41st Street and 3rd Ave. South in Avondale closed last October. An investor wanting to buy the property approached William in January. The couple discussed the opportunity to work together and own their own restaurant. They agreed in February and Avondale Common House opened its doors this past May. “This happened quickly, but this is something we have preparing for several years,” said Ellen Rogers. “We live in this area and loved the location. We knew we could really make it a special place so we said yes.” Everything at Avondale Common House is fresh and made-to-order. Specialties include salmon, slow-braised beef cheeks, Alabama-grown (205) 508-0525 • veggie plate, chargrilled Coulotte steak, Buffalo Cauliflower Po’boy, fried green tomatoes and desserts including Apple Pie Nachos. But they are happy to customize to do a dish kosher-style, as well as cater. William Rogers described the cuisine, saying “from the food to the environment, we want people to feel like they are at home. We have options to please everyone and meet special dietary requests. I was always told, ‘cook for the people, don’t just cook for yourself ’.” Ellen Rogers said they have a large selection of local and regional craft beer, wines and have gained a reputation for their original, creative cocktails, many featuring Avondale Distillery spirits. Most are named for bands, songs or albums including Cucumber Meloncamp, Blue Indian, Raspberry Gin Fizz and Spring Street Smash. Avondale Common House seats 60 people inside and 60 people outside on its covered patio, which is cooled in the summer, heated in the winter. It is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. They serve Sunday brunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and are closed Sunday evenings and Mondays. The Rogers said they put in a lot of time and are at the restaurant much of the time it is open. But they love it and get to spend quality time together. “William and I know what the other is thinking. We’re always on the same page and we have fun while we are working,” said Ellen.

Made-fresh-daily Mexican food with a Laid back, fun atmosphere CANTINA PEPPER PLACE 2901 2nd Ave S, #110 B’ham 205.323.6980 M-Th 11a-9p Fri 11a-10p & Sat 11a-9p

60 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017

Avondale Common House 4100 3rd Ave S Birmingham 205/703-9895

Grilled Salmon with BBQ Maple Glaze, Purple Mashed Potatoes and Grilled Asparagus with Roasted Red Peppers Recipe yields 4

4 5-6 oz. fresh salmon fillets, oil, salt & pepper Get the grill or pan hot. Oil and season the salmon fillets and grill or pan sear to desired temp — probably 3 minutes on each side depending on the thickness or density of your fillets. 2 lbs. peeled purple sweet potatoes 1/2 c. heavy cream

1/4 c. butter Salt & pepper

Boil potatoes until fork tender, then mash with cream and butter until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

20-25 spears of asparagus 2 whole red bell peppers 1 lemon, cut in half

1/4 c. oil Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 400o. Lightly oil the red bell peppers and roast them for 10 mins. Remove from oven and place them in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap or foil, or place them in a ziplock bag to cool. Once cool, remove the outer layer of skin from the pepper and slice up in thin slices while discarding the seeds and center pulp during the process. Set aside. Now lightly oil and season the asparagus spears. Place on the grill or bake in the oven for 5 to 7 minutes and remove from the hot pan or grill. Squeeze the lemon juice on them and toss with a little salt and pepper to taste. Combine the asparagus and peppers together.

1/8 c. Worcestershire sauce 1/8 c. apple cider vinegar 1 c. ketchup 1/3 c. yellow mustard

1/2 c. maple syrup 1/8 c. blackening seasoning 1 tsp. cayenne pepper 1/2 c. light brown sugar

Combine all ingredients in a small pot. Apply heat and simmer for 10 minutes, then cool. Plating — place one scoop of the purple mashed potatoes in the center of the plate. Add 4 or 5 spears of asparagus with some roasted red pepper strips and place one grilled or pan seared salmon fillet on top, then drizzle the BBQ maple glaze as desired.


Avondale Common House by Lee J. Green Green

fitting that that Avondale Avondale Common Common House House has has the the word word house house in inititsince since It is fitting restaurant’s married married couple couple owners owners Ellen Ellen and andWilliam WilliamRogers Rogersconsider consider the restaurant’s customers and employees employees aa part part of oftheir theirfamily. family. “We spend more more time time with with our our restaurant restaurant family family than thanour ouractual actualfamily, family,”” said William Rogers. Rogers. “The “The restaurant restaurant world world can can be be fast-paced fast-paced with with long long

Continued from page 62

> > Rear Pew Mirror Atonement We have sinned against you by putting that ram’s horn image in people’s heads. I didn’t do that one this year. Well, there’s always next year. The front row is reserved for the righteous and the pure of heart. We have sinned against you by sometimes sitting closer than the back row. That guy two rows over needs to atone for his atonal singing. Really. His singing makes that ram’s horn image seem not so bad. I did so many things not even listed here. Does that make them okay? I’m sorry I did that one. Still, it was fun… Okay, students, repeat after me: “We have sinned against you in our Hebrew reading by Shinning instead of Sinning.”

> > Avondale hours but love what we do every day… and that’s mainly because of the great people we get to be around. There is a special vibe here.” He grew up in Starkville and would help his grandparents out on their farm in Sturgis. “That was how and where we got food. It’s a way of life. Ever since I was young I had thought about one day owning a farm-to-table restaurant in the Deep South.” After graduating from Mississippi State University he would move to Birmingham to attend the Culinard School of Birmingham. Ellen would also graduate from Culinard a few years later but they would not meet until they both worked at Ocean/26 restaurants in downtown Birmingham. Ellen said Ocean/26 owner George Reis “taught us how to be great managers and all the aspects of running a restaurant. It’s about creating an inviting environment for everyone. If you take care of your employees they will take care of your customers.” She and William dated for several years and married in 2013. He took a job as executive chef at Iron City and Ellen was with Olexa’s Café and Catering as well as GM/restaurant opener for Sky Castle. Part of William’s job was cooking for some of the bands and entertainers coming to the Iron City concert venue. “I got to meet and cook for everyone from B.B. King to Rob Zombie,” he said. “I did get a few unique requests but for the most part it was similar to what we would do for other folks.” The Wooden Goat restaurant at 41st Street and 3rd Ave. South in Avondale closed last October. An investor wanting to buy the property approached William in January. The couple discussed the opportunity to work together and own their own restaurant. They agreed in February and Avondale Common House opened its

Nothing in particular, because it gets to that point

Three days of holding this book puts the “sore” in Machzor. Serpent and repent are similar words. It’s after Labor Day. Why are we wearing white? Why did they name those flies after these fringes on the tallis? Someday I’m going to make a retro 1970s boothsploitation film, “I’m Gonna Git You Sukkah.” How many of these will I remember, since I can’t write them down until I’m out of here? Doug Brook is on his annual quest to do something that requires atoning, before it’s too late. To read past columns, visit For exclusive online content, like rearpewmirror.

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doors this past May. “This happened quickly, but this is something we have preparing for several years,” said Ellen Rogers. “We live in this area and loved the location. We knew we could really make it a special place so we said yes.” Everything at Avondale Common House is fresh and made-to-order. Specialties include salmon, slow-braised beef cheeks, Alabama-grown veggie plate, chargrilled Coulotte steak, Buffalo Cauliflower Po’boy, fried green tomatoes and desserts including Apple Pie Nachos. But they are happy to customize to do a dish kosher-style, as well as cater. William Rogers described the cuisine, saying “from the food to the environment, we want people to feel like they are at home. We have options to please everyone and meet special dietary requests. I was always told, ‘cook for the people, don’t just cook for yourself ’.” Ellen Rogers said they have a large selection of local and regional craft beer, wines and have gained a reputation for their original, creative cocktails, many featuring Avondale Distillery spirits. Most are named for bands, songs or albums including Cucumber Meloncamp, Blue Indian, Raspberry Gin Fizz and Spring Street Smash. Avondale Common House seats 60 people inside and 60 people outside on its covered patio, which is cooled in the summer, heated in the winter. It is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday-Saturday. They serve Sunday brunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and are closed Sunday evenings and Mondays. The Rogers said they put in a lot of time and are at the restaurant much of the time it is open. But they love it and get to spend quality time together. “William and I know what the other is thinking. We’re always on the same page and we have fun while we are working,” said Ellen.


Supporting Independence, Enriching Quality of Life For Older Adults 205.879.3438 September 2017 • Southern Jewish Life 61

rear pew mirror • doug brook

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High Holy Gaze Throughout the year, most people at synagogue share one common thought: Why can’t services be longer? The rabbis of old, endowed with as much clairvoyant perception as they lacked in sarcasm perception, provided the High Holy Day services. High Holy Day services give people a chance to reflect. A very big chance — though not enough of one, as the state of society indicates. Perhaps people would reflect more if they weren’t vampires. Or, if they interspersed their deeper thoughts with random musings such as…

The Book of Jonah

Does owning half of a quarterhorse give you an eighth of a horse? If so, is half of this Haftarah a quarter of the Torah? What if Jonah had a fish allergy? Whales are mammals. The original text says “big fish.” The movie “Big Fish” didn’t even have a character named Jonah. I’m too confused. Or dehydrated. Yeah. Look around. Most of these people have no idea there’s more to the story than fish food. If I tell students to write an essay regurgitating all they know about Jonah, will they get it? Maybe Ahab was seeking revenge for Jonah. Maybe I should have read “Moby Dick” when I was supposed to. Or “The Catcher in the Rye.” Or “The Great Gatsby.” How did I graduate? How did I end up with two degrees in English? SOME RANDOM Or “As You Like It.” Or “King Lear.” Or “Maccers.” How did I end up running a THOUGHTS Shakespeare company?

THAT OCCUR High Holy Day cuisine WHEN YOU ARE Apples and honey. The perfect finger SUPPOSED TO BE food when wearing nice clothes for services. ATONING… Whoever came up with the word “fast”

to describe not eating or drinking was an idiot. He might have thought he was funny or ironic. He wasn’t. Break fast for dinner? I always go to work after breakfast. I can hold out another 12 hours.


If I have to stand the whole time, why does the name have “kneel” in it? I see three stars. More, even. They’re spinning all around me. Sure. I can wait until after rehearsal tonight to eat something.


We have office spaces available to rent — so you can WORK all day and PLAY at night • (205) 879-4773 ext 4001 Check our concert calendar at 62 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017

I’d like to hire a ram’s horn to drive me around. That guy’s Sh’varim didn’t make me shiver. Dodge Ram trucks should have a Jewish option, where the Ram’s horn sounds like a Shofar. Nope. That was only eight short ones. I want a truer T’ruah. Start over. Did Morse steal his Code from the Shofar blasts? Did Robert Morse know Morse Code? If they ever make me run High Holy Day Youth Service again, we’re playing a game of T’ruah False. Wow. We need to sit shiva for that guy’s Sh’varim. Okay, so who figured out that if you blow through a ram’s horn in just the right way that it makes a sound. Really. What course of events led to discovering that? continued on the previous page

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64 Southern Jewish Life • September 2017

SJL Deep South, September 2017  

September 2017 Deep South edition of Southern Jewish Life, the Jewish community news magazine for Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and the Fl...

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