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Southern Jewish Life ANNUAL SPORTS ISSUE




September 2018 Volume 28 Issue 8

Southern Jewish Life 3747 West Esplanade, 3rd Floor Metairie, LA 70002

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Recently, there was an article about an “anti-Semitism problem” in science fiction, with group stereotypes frequently being used for alien races. A main example is the Ferengi of “Star Trek,” a mercenary group with large noses and ears. The article pointed out that some have it worse, such as the “minstrel show” of Jar Jar Binks in “Star Wars: Episode 1.” I shared the piece with numerous science fiction friends from college — a group that is almost entirely non-Jewish. Some pointed out how the Ferengi and other characters echo other literary types from myths written well before any Jewish presence in those areas. Over the years, there have been pieces by Jewish authors expressing discomfort over the Ferengi, as we are somewhat finely tuned to pick up on such things. But what of the vast majority of the audience, who are not so “woke,” as it were? Discussing the character types may be educational, but often in unintended ways. While we may think most people are aware of the “big nose” money-grubbing stereotype foisted at Jews through the centuries, there are plenty of people who have never heard of such a connection. But now that they know there is that stereotype… does it remain on some subconscious level and color their views? It is a difficult line to draw, where portrayals or phrases are viewed through the lens of race or minority status, as to whether that was intentional. Back in 1992, when Spencer Bachus ran for Congress in Alabama, he was criticized for his “He’s One of Us” slogan, a common political tagline when running against an incumbent who is being portrayed as tainted by being in Washington for so long and losing touch with the folks back home. But some in the Jewish community objected — after all, Bachus was running against Ben Erdreich, a Jewish incumbent. There was a suspicion that this was a subtle way to point out Erdreich was not a Christian. Last month, Florida gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis spoke about Florida’s suc-

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> > From the EditorMESSAGES Maccabi USA leader praises Birmingham Games I haveand hadurged the honor of not attending many Maccabi competitions around thepolitics world. From Israel cesses voters to “monkey this The polarization of our has resulted to Australia to South America, Europe and the JCC Maccabi games around the United States up” by embracing socialist policies espoused in a much quicker leap to judgment, and a lack and Canada, I have logged many miles seeing howofsports can be ato vehicle help buildon Jewish by his opponent. willingness viewtosomeone the opidentity, especially in something our young. up is a com- posite side as having any decent opinions or Now, monkeying

I felt honored come tointent. Birmingham for the first timeThat’s and fell with the city“Age mon phrase thattohas no ill But DeSantis’ intent. notinalove result of not thejust so-called but the people. You have taken Southern hospitality a new it level kind and opponent is African-American, so DeSantis im- of to Trump,” haswith beenyour brewing for acaring couple of approach theaccused JCC Maccabi Games. mediatelytowas of using a “dog whistle” decades, and the current pro- and anti-Trump to Led sendbysome kind of coded message to voters divide is butwere a symptom. the Sokol and Helds, your hard-working volunteers wonderful. They partnered who presumably respond to racist appeals. As we enter Year, games we need to ask with your outstanding staff, led by Betzy Lynch, to make the 2017this JCCNew Maccabi a huge hit.if Just ask Howard Cosell how that phrase can be we are part of the problem or part of the soluI want to take this opportunity as executive director of Maccabi USA to say thank you on behalf interpreted. tion. Are we quick to excuse egregious acts of everyone involved. Several years ago, a Jewish student in Penn- on “our side” and believe the worst about the I had just fromthe the coals 20th World Maccabiah withgive a U.S. sylvania wasreturned raked over for yelling othergames side?inOrIsrael do we thedelegation benefit ofofthe over joined 10,000 80 countries. Back in July eyes of the entire to a 1100, noisy who group outside hisJewish dorm athletes to keepfrom it doubt, while reserving thethe right to change that Jewish world were on Jerusalem and the Maccabiah. This past month with 1000 athletes down, likening their commotion to “water buf- assessment if more evidence comesand out, and coaches the worldwere beinga in Birmingham, the focal point. falos.” Asfrom the around noisy students group of applyyou thebecame standards evenly? African-American women, he was condemned We are taught that we are created in the Everyone from the Jewish community and the community at large, including aallwonderful for being racist, though at the time he could divine image and thus worthy of dignity and police force, are to be commended. These games will go down in history as being a seminal not see who was being noisy, andashewehad noto the respect. thatwonderful includes the “demoment for the Jewish community build futureFor byDemocrats, providing such Jewish idea that was viewed as a racist term — nor plorables.” For Republicans, that includes the memories. did most people who saw the news coverage. heathen Socialists. JedInMargolis such instances, does one give the benefit While the national Executive Director, Maccabi of the doubt, or should oneUSA assume the “dog mood may be one whistle” is being blown? of polarization, let’s supremacists More frequently, the answer to that ques- endeavor notwould to belike to see pushed back On Charlottesville into aofcorner and made to feel lesser. We stand tion is whether the person in question is on part the problem withcoming and prayyear. for the family of Heather Heyer, your side of the or thetoother. this Editor’s Note: Thisaisle reaction the events in who was there standing up to the face of this Charlottesville, written by Jeremy Newman, hate. Master of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Theta Colony

Sukkot events in the area

at Temple Auburn Sinai University, wasOrleans shared by in New willAEPi have SukNational, which called “veryateloquent” and rekot programming eachitnight 6 p.m., with praised “ourprovided. brothers at AEPi at freshments Sept. 23Theta will beColony Sisterhood Auburn University the leadership they by Night. Sept. 24 willand… be LGBTQ Night, hosted Maddieon Fireman. On Sept. display their campus. ” 25, Matt and Jeri Ann Glodiwski will host Young Family Night, and Rabbi Matthew Reimer hosts on Sept. 26. On White hasGold beenfamilies a cancerhost on Fun Sept. 27, supremacy the Dodd and Under the Sukkah. our country since its beginning, threatening in New Orleans will have its Touro hopes, Synagogue its values, and its better angels. Brown Bag that Lunch in place the Sukkah with the clergy, The events took in Charlottesville at noon eachthe day. Rabbi Silverman will be represented worst of Todd this nation. Those on Sept. 25, followed by Rabbi Alexis Berk on who marched onto the streets with tiki torches Sept.swastikas 26 and Cantor Margolius on Sept. and did soKevin to provoke violence and27. On Sept. 26who at 5:30 p.m., Touro willstreets have its secfear. Those marched onto the did ond annual Ushpizin Fest, with pizza, drinks, stoso to profess an ideology that harkens back to ries and singing. Shabbat Sukkot will be Vintage a bleaker, more wretched time in our history. Wines Harvest Moon on Sept. 28, with dinA timeand when men and women of many creeds, ner in the courtyard following the 6 p.m. service; races, and religions were far from equal and far bring wine to share. Simchat Torah in the Park from safe in our own borders. A time where will be Sept. 30 at Danneel Park, with a “Bring Americans lived under a constant clouddancing of Your Own Brunch” picnic at 9:30 a.m., racism, pervasive with theanti-Semitism Panorama Jazzand Band at 10:15hate. a.m.,The the events thatoftook place at in 10:45 Charlottesville served unrolling the Torah a.m., and fun and as a reminder of how painfully relevant these games afterward. issues today. Bethare Israel in Metairie will have a community sukkah decorating forPi kids and adults, with Auburn’s Alpha party Epsilon stands with the a pizza community dinner, Sept.of 20Charlottesville, at 5:15 p.m. On Sept. Jewish and 25 at 6 p.m., Men’speople Event will be Burgers, Beer and with thethe Jewish around the country Blackjack in the Sukkah. There is a $10 suggested and around the world. We also stand with the donation. On Sept. Sisterhood minorities who are 26, targeted by thewill hatehave thatSippin’ in the Sukkah, with dinner and Judaica craftwas on display in Charlottesville. We stand ing, at 6:30 p.m. The dinner will be free to Siswith the minorities of whom these white terhood members, $5 for non-members, plus the 4 Southern Jewish Life • September 2018

We recognize the essence of thefor American to-be-determined cost of materials crafting. A narrative as Shabbat a two-century struggle towill rid be community dinner old in the sukkah ourselves of following such corners, and p.m. allowservice. those in on Sept. 28, the 6:30 Resthem the are seat$18 at the they so$9deserve. ervations fortable adultthat members, for chilIt is the fulfill the promise of the dren, $25struggle and $18torespectively for non-members. Reservations areIndependence, needed for each program. Declaration of that “all men are (For Shir Chadash in Metairie, page 50). created equal… endowed by theirsee Creator with Gatesunalienable of Prayer inrights. Metairie have a “bring certain ” Wewill know our work your dinner in know the sukkah Sept. is far own” from picnic finished, but we we willonnot 23 at 5:30 p.m. On Sept 24 at 7 p.m., the Brothermove backwards. hood will have Sake, Sushi and (baby)Sitting, an Whenincluding men andMonday women,Night fully armed, evening Football.take Sisterto thewill streets droves with swastikas hood hostinSalsa in the Sukkah, withand dancing otherfood, symbols is a reminder of how and Sept.of27hate, at 7itp.m. Simchat Torah and relevant the issues racism and Consecration will beofon Sept. 30 atanti-Semitism 6:30 p.m., with today. It is and a wake-up to the work that aare pizza dinner the Newcall Breed Brass Band. needs to beHouse done New to ensure a better, more Moishe Orleans will have Shabbat welcoming country. But it should in the Sukkah, Sept. 28 starting at 7not p.m.come Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge will be busy on without a reflection on how far we’ve come. Sept. 23, with Brotherhood sukkah building at 9 America was born a slave nation. A century a.m., Jewish Journeys sukkah decorating at 4:30 into history we engaged warand in part p.m.,our a dairy potluck dinner atin5ap.m. Sukkot to ensureatwe would not continue as one. We services 6 p.m. found thehave issuea of civil B’naiourselves Israel in confronted Baton Rougebywill sukkah rights, and embarked on a mission to ensure building with the Men’s Club on Sept. 23 at 8 a.m., the fair treatment of cookout all peoples no matter their followed by a family at 11:45 a.m. Shabskinservices color. Although we’ve made greatwill strides, bat and dinner in the sukkah be on it is a28 mission we’re grappling withTorah today. Sept. at 6 p.m., andstill a family Simchat and Consecration service will be on Sept. 30 at 11 a.m. America was also born an immigrant Chabad Baton Rouge will have Pizza in a country. Asofearly as the pilgrims, many Hut on Sept. 27 at 4 p.m. Safari in the Sukkah groups and families found in the country thewill be Sept. 30 at 11 a.m., with a waffle and smoothopportunity to plant stakes, chase their future, ie bar, an exotic zoo exhibition and shaking the and be themselves. Few were met with open lulav.

September 2018 January 2018

Southern Jewish Life PUBLISHER/EDITOR Lawrence M. Brook ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER/ADVERTISING Lee J. Green V.P. SALES/MARKETING, NEW ORLEANS Jeff Pizzo ADVERTISING SPECIALIST Annetta Dolowitz CREATIVE DIRECTOR Ginger Brook SOCIAL/WEB Emily Baldwein PHOTOGRAPHER-AT-LARGE Rabbi Barry C. Altmark CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Rivka Epstein, Louis Crawford, Tally Werthan, Stuart Derroff, Belle Freitag, Ted Gelber, E. Walter Katz, 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 504/432-2561 TOLL-FREE 866/446.5894 FAX 866/392.7750 ADVERTISING Advertising inquiries to 205/870.7889 for Lee Green,; Jeff Pizzo,; 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 2018. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without written permission from the publisher. Views expressed in SJL are those of the respective contributors and are not necessarily shared by the magazine or its staff. SJL makes no claims as to the Kashrut of its advertisers, and retains the right to refuse any advertisement.

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agenda interesting bits & can’t miss events The Family Welcome Program on the first day of school at Jewish Community Day School in Metairie on Aug. 8 had a rabbinic guitar ensemble, with Rabbi Deborah Silver of Shir Chadash, Rabbi Gabe Greenberg of Beth Israel, Head of School Sharon Pollin, and new Day School parent Rabbi David Gerber of Gates of Prayer.

Torah Academy to be renamed for Joseph and Rosina Slater after major gift Torah Academy in Metairie made a huge step forward in its Burn the Mortgage Campaign with the announcement of a $1.8 million gift that will result in the renaming of the school. On Sept. 13, the school will become the Joseph and Rosina Slater Torah Academy, to reflect the gift from Rosina Slater. Rivkie Chesney, director of Hebrew Studies and Admissions, said Slater, 93, has no children, but “all the children at Torah Academy are going to be her children.” Personally, her family has become close with Slater, who participated in the upsherin of their son, Menachem. He calls her “Auntie Rosie,” she said. The Burn the Mortgage Campaign began in the spring of 2017 with a goal of $3.5 million by the end of 2019. In 2014, Torah Academy moved into a 15,000 square foot facility, with most of the construction being funded by a grant received from FEMA. The facility replaced Torah Academy’s old facility on West Esplanade Avenue, which had been badly damaged by flooding after Katrina. While 96 percent of the construction cost was covered by FEMA, the school had to borrow to

cover the cost of acquiring the land, and re-establishing the school and its contents after the storm. After the storm, many families moved away and never returned. When the school moved into the current building, there were 27 students in Pre-K to 8th grade. Now, enrollment is around 70. The donation shows continuity for Jewish education in New Orleans, Chesney said, giving the community a “thriving, vibrant traditional Jewish school for the children of the community.” The school’s presence is important for the community at large, and not just because the school accepts students from all segments of the community. “Families have moved to New Orleans because they knew there was a thriving Jewish day school for their kids.” Chesney said the Slater gift is a foundation to help the school expand, and “we’re hoping this gift will lead to other significant gifts.” The dedication will start at 5:30 p.m. There will be sushi, hors d’oeuvres and a meat carving station, and a children’s menu. The Panorama Jazz Band will perform on the Kaufmann Patio, and The Magic YoYo will be in

Rosina Slater takes part in the upsherin ceremony for Menachem Chesney the Shapiro Multi-Purpose Room. Students will also perform an original song by Nechama Kaufmann. September 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 5

agenda Federation work continuing “without interruption” as Fielkow battles disorder While Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans CEO Arnie Fielkow will be battling a “rather significant health challenge” in the coming months, he said the Federation’s activities will “continue without interruption.” In an Aug. 23 message to the community, Fielkow said he has been diagnosed with “a relatively rare blood/heart disorder.” This week, he started treatments at Vanderbilt in Nashville, and it is anticipated that after a month in Tennessee he will continue treatment in New Orleans for several months. A second phase of treatment will likely occur next year, he added, and said “I believe the disease can be put into remission.” “I have been in constant contact with Federation leadership since this disease came to light, and I want to thank leadership and my great staff for their help and support,” he said. He is working remotely during the Nashville treatments, with the Federation staff taking a larger day-to-day role. Federation Chief Operating Officer Sherri Tarr served as interim executive director last year between the departure of Michael Weil and the arrival of Fielkow. In an Aug. 19 message, Fielkow reflected on his first year heading the Federation, with the highest Annual Campaign fundraising since the storm and a 300 percent increase in external revenue. The Annual Campaign increased by $100,000, to $2.7 million. The Federation’s Campaign Celebration, originally scheduled for October at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, has been postponed to next spring. Fielkow also cited “new and enhanced programming and initiatives involving social justice, multifaith, Jewish-African American relationships, Jewish education, Israel education and advocacy, and much more” toward the goal of “re-branding Federation to make it a more relevant, up-to-date fund-raising organization, serving all members of the Jewish community with programs of interest.”

Reimer offering Intro to Judaism class Rabbi Matthew Reimer will lead an Introduction to Judaism class at Temple Sinai in New Orleans, starting Sept. 23 at 9:30 a.m. The free informal classes, which last 75 minutes, are open to anyone interested in exploring Judaism — interfaith couples, those considering conversion, and Jews who are looking for a refresher into the faith of their birth. The classes will present the fundamentals of Jewish belief, thought and practice from a Reform perspective. Topics include Jewish theology, prayer, holiday observances and life cycle rituals. There will be no tests or homework. Those looking to register should call the Temple Sinai office.

Yaillen stepping down at Shir Chadash In December, Bruce Yaillen will step down as executive director of Shir Chadash in Metairie. In a message to the congregation, Yaillen said “I have reached a point in my life when I must step back and concentrate on the well-being of my family and myself,” and Shir Chadash needs someone who can devote more time and attention to the congregation. “My hope is that you find someone who, like me, sees this as a dream job,” he said. In thanking Yaillen, Julie Finger, president of the congregation, said Yaillen “is one of the most well-intentioned, kind and thoughtful people I know, and his love for our shul knows no bounds.” The resignation is effective on Dec. 23, and Executive Vice President Ken Klein is leading the search for a successor. 6 Southern Jewish Life • September 2018

agenda Day School growing at both ends After being forced to downsize in the immediate aftermath of Katrina, the Jewish Community Day School in Metairie welcomed an expanded age range for the 2018-19 session. The entire fifth grade from last year enrolled in the school’s new sixth grade program this year. The school now also has a Young Baby program for infants and a full-day Early Childhood program for ages 2 to 4. “This is the first sixth grade class since the storm, and our entire community could not be more pleased,” said Immediate Past President Michael Wasserman. “We are especially delighted as this was a fully parent-driven initiative.” Head of School Sharon Pollin said they were “thrilled, but honestly, not surprised” that the entire fifth grade from last year returned. Pollin said families are so enthusiastic about the education students receive at JCDS, they never want it to end. Teaching this year’s fifth and sixth graders is Eliza Kase, an alumna of the Delet program of Brandeis University, a selective course that trains Jewish general studies teachers to teach in North American Jewish Day Schools. Kase is also supporting her Middle School students as “No Place for Hate” leaders through the introduction of the renowned anti-bias curriculum of the Anti-Defamation League. Carole Neff, the current school president, is excited that the JCDS experience will now be open to families with children through 6th grade. “The New Orleans education landscape is so much different now than when Dick and I were raising our children. It is a tremendous benefit to parents to be able to enroll their children in one outstanding school that will take them from babyhood all the way through early adolescence, and I couldn’t be happier that this important milestone is happening on my watch.” The Day School, which now has over 60 students, also credits the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and Gates of Prayer for helping the expansion happen. Pollin said the Young Baby Program and pre-Kindergarten through sixth grade are accepting students as space allows for this year, and reservations are being accepted for Early Childhood and pre-K to sixth grade for 2019-2020. Temple Sinai in New Orleans will once again have its High Holy Day services on the radio, for those unable to attend in person. The Ferber Family of Houma Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana, has been underwriting radio broadcasts of Erev Rosh Hashanah and Kol Nidre services since 1998. Sinai, Touro Synagogue and Gates of Prayer also livestream their services over the Internet. The Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival is sponsoring screenings of “Love, Gilda,” a “sneak peek” at the 2019 festival, which will run from Jan. 16 to 20. The documentary uses recently-discovered audiotapes, interviews with friends, home movies and diary entries written by modern comediennes to explore the life of Gilda Radner. She died of ovarian cancer in 1989 at the age of 42. The film will be screened at the Manship Theatre on Sept. 25 at 7 p.m., and Sept. 30 at 4 p.m. Tickets are $6.50. JNOLA and Moishe House New Orleans, along with several other community young professional groups, are hosting a Voter Registration Party, Sept. 25 at 7 p.m. at Twelve Mile Limit. The program celebrates National Voter Registration Day, and there will be a discussion about the Unanimous Jury Amendment that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot. Krewe du Jieux, the satirical Jewish Krewe, will have a Rosh Kippur Apology Party on Sept. 14 from 7 to 10 p.m., upstairs at Mimi’s in the Marigny. It will be an opportunity to “give yourself a break from the

September 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 7

agenda guilt for the night and make amends with friends.” Apples and honey will be served. The New Orleans Jewish Community Center, Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans and Temple Sinai are co-sponsoring a Parents Circle, which will meet monthly at the Uptown JCC. Rabbi Matthew Reimer of Temple Sinai and Rachel Lazarus Eriksen of JFS will lead the group, which will share parenting experiences, discuss universal Jewish values and learn about Jewish holidays and customs. Parents of all faiths in all family types are welcome. The group is free to parents of preschool age children in the community. Sessions will be Sept. 17, Oct. 15, Nov. 5 and Dec. 3 at 9:15 a.m. New Orleans’ Ben Katz Post 580 of the Jewish War Veterans of America is offering free memberships for 2018 and 2019, and a free JWV service cap to any Jewish American on active duty or any Jewish veteran of the U.S. armed forces, who has never been a member of the Post. Dues are never required from active duty personnel. Jewish veterans of allied countries, such as Israel, Britain and Canada, who are now residing in the United States, also qualify for this offer. To learn more, email Judge Sol Gothard, Post Commander, at Rabbi Alexis Berk will lead News and the Jews, studying the news through a Jewish lens. Drinks will be provided, brown bag lunches are welcome. Sessions will be Oct. 4 and 18 at noon. Daniel Feld will give the guest drash at Beth Israel in Metairie during the 9 a.m. service on Sept. 15. He grew up in a Chassidic family in Berkeley, studied in yeshivot in Israel, then learned Chinese medicine and acupuncture in San Francisco. He teaches acupuncture at the Jerusalem Reidman College of Integrated Medicine and runs a clinic, Acupuncture Israel. His

8 Southern Jewish Life • September 2018

talk on “The Yom Kippur Trip” will be at approximately 10:30 a.m. It’s “take 2” for the Moishe House New Orleans Pie Bakeoff. The pie-making competition will take place on Sept. 16 at 6 p.m., at the Moishe House. Any pie or “pie-adjacent material” is welcome, but the pies need to arrive fully-formed as the oven will be available only for last-minute heating. Judges are also needed. JNOLA will have a post-Yom Kippur Break-Fast, Sept. 19 at 7:30 p.m., at the Rusty Nail. JewCCY, the New Orleans Reform high school group, will have Third Thursday Coffee and Conversation, at a different location each month. The first meeting will be Sept. 20 at the Starbucks on Freret Street, at 3:15 p.m. Gates of Prayer in Metairie will host its annual blood drive, Sept. 16 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Uptown Jewish Community Center’s preschool was recognized in Gambit’s Best of New Orleans readers’ poll, tying for first place in Best Nursery/Preschool, and placing second in Best Summer Camp. Musician Nick May is leaving Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge to become the Judaics Specialist at a Jewish Community Center Early Childhood program in northern Virginia. Rabbi Jordan Goldson will lead two B’nai Academy classes at B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge, Wednesdays starting Oct. 3. At 6 p.m., Beginners Hebrew will meet for 10 sessions. Registration is $36 for members, $72 for non-members. At 7 p.m., “Making Prayer Real” will explore Jewish prayer. Each session stands alone. Registration is $54 for members and $108 for non-members.

community SJHS exploring Mobile Jewish history The Southern Jewish Historical Society will hold its annual convention in Alabama’s oldest Jewish community, in Mobile the weekend of Oct. 26. The conference’s theme will be “Southern Jews, American Citizens,” with an emphasis on local stories. The conference will focus on how Jews living in the American South “negotiated their intersecting regional, national and ethnic identities, and how they responded to the demands and expectations imposed by regional, national and ethnic institutions, movements, values and goals.” The conference will begin on Oct. 26 with a bus tour of Mobile’s Jewish sites at 9 a.m. The first panel at Spring Hill College at 11 a.m. will include Marlene Trestman, who is writing a history of the Jewish Children’s Home in New Orleans. Her presentation will be “The Ties that Bind: The Vital Relationship Between New Orleans’ Jewish Orphans’ Home and Alabama’s Jewish Communities.” Rosalind Hinton, oral historian at Tulane’s Newcomb College Institute, will present “L’dor, v’dor, From Generation to Generation: Jewish Women and Their Impact on New Orleans.” The lunch speaker will be novelist and Mobilian Roy Hoffman, who has written extensively about the Southern Jewish community, including novels “Almost Family” and “Chicken Dreaming Corn.” During the afternoon, Josh Parshall, historian at the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson, will present “Radical, Jewish and American: Southern Arbeter Ring Members as Ambivalent Citizens.” The board of the Mobile Christian-Jewish Dialogue will give a presentation at 3:45 p.m. The Dialogue has been meeting regularly since the early 1970s. Shabbat services will be held at 5:45 p.m. at Springhill Avenue Temple, the oldest Jewish congregation in Alabama. A dinner will follow, with keynote speaker Jeffrey Rosen of the George Washington University Law School, “Louis Brandeis as a Southern Jew.” Tony Waldrop, president of the University of South Alabama, will also give remarks as the new Jewish and Holocaust Studies program at South Alabama is dedicated. Oct. 27 sessions will be at the University of South Alabama, starting at 9:30 a.m. The 10:45 a.m. panel will be “A Chosen Calling: Three Mensches of Mobile.” Susan Thomas, archivist at Springhill Avenue Temple, will present “Captain Leon Schwarz: Citizen Soldier, Civic Leader, and Consummate Patriot in Turn-of-the-Century Mobile.” Dana Evan Kaplan, who until this summer was rabbi at Springhill Avenue Temple, presents “Rabbi Alfred G. Moses of Mobile, Alabama and the Development of Jewish Science in the Early Twentieth Century.” Steve Krause, will speak about “Mobile, Alabama – in the Land of the Almost Possible: Notes from a 1966 Interview with Rabbi P. Irving Bloom.” The interview is part of a book, “To Stand Aside or Stand Alone: Southern Reform Rabbis and the Civil Rights Movement.” There are 13 interviews with Reform rabbis in the region that were conducted in 1966 with the understanding that they would not be published for at least 25 years. The 1:45 p.m. panel on “Jewish Soldiers and the American South, At Home and Abroad” includes a presentation centered on Jacob Rader Marcus, who became one of the preeminent historians of the American Jewish experience. Before shipping off to France in World War I, he spent time at Camp Sheridan in Alabama, and this presentation will explore how his experiences there informed his perspectives. Jessica Cooperman of Muhlenberg College will do the presentation. At 4 p.m. there will be a “cultural encounter” with Judah Cohen of Indiana University Bloomington, and musical presentations by Laura Moore

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on piano and tenor Thomas Rowell, from the University of South Alabama. A session to meet authors follows at 5:30 p.m. The musical presentations will center on the compositions of Joseph Bloch, and Sigmund and Jacob Schlesinger, who lived in Mobile in the 19th century. Bloch opened the first music store in Mobile and was one of the state’s first music teachers, while Sigmund Schlesinger was organist and choir leader at Springhill Avenue, then known as Sha’arai Shomayim, for 49 years. Many congregations around the country used his compositions. On Oct. 28, sessions will be in the Admiral Hotel, with a membership meeting at 8:45 a.m. and a panel on “Patriotism and Human Rights in World War II,” including Tulane’s Marilyn Grace Miller discussing “Jewish Internees in the American South, 1942-1946,” about the detention of “enemy alien” Jewish refugees from Latin America and what happened to them after their internment at Camp Algiers in Louisiana. Registration is $155 for members through Sept. 28, $191 for non-members. Group reservations at the Admiral Hotel are $119 per night. Mobilians who want to attend the Shabbat dinner can make a reservation for $40, but those attending the conference and invited guests have preference for the limited space. Conference information is available at

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• 10 Southern Jewish Life • September 2018

Two Israeli films were nominated for the 39th annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards, and one of them has a strong New Orleans connection. The nominations were announced on July 26 by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. The awards will be presented in New York on Oct. 1. “Presenting Princess Shaw,” a film by Ido Haar, was nominated in the Outstanding Arts and Culture Documentary category, as part of the POV series on PBS. The film, which debuted in May 2016, aired on PBS in July 2017. Shaw is New Orleans’ Samantha Montgomery, who works in a retirement facility but uploads her music to a YouTube channel. The film shows how Israeli musician Ophir Kutiel, known as Kutiman, remixes one of Montgomery’s videos, unbeknownst to her, as part of his “Thru You” project. He uploaded it on Sept. 12, 2014, and the film includes the moment when Montgomery discovers that remixed video, and that it has gone instantly viral. After the video exploded, Montgomery traveled to Israel, performing to packed houses, while still struggling to make a name for herself in New Orleans. Montgomery said she is “really excited about this nomination,” and “I’m blessed beyond imagination.” Her long-awaited EP will be dropping soon, “after 22 years,” and she hopes the nomination draws more attention to her music. “Everything happens when it is supposed to happen,” she said. “I still work my job, I still live my life.” She is also working to put together another tour of Israel. Also nominated in that category were “The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble” on HBO, “Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold” on Netflix, “Life, Animated” on A&E, and “My Love, Don’t Cross That River” on PBS. “Forever Pure,” a documentary about the Beitar Jerusalem soccer team, was nominated in the Outstanding Politics and Government Documentary category. It explores the racist outrage of some of the club’s fans when two Muslim players were signed in 2012. It won three awards at the Jerusalem Film Festival in 2016 before being screened at dozens of international film festivals. It was purchased by Netflix last year, but was nominated as part of the “Independent Lens” series on PBS.


Who’s Who

Among rabbis in the region for the High Holy Days While the High Holy Days are often a time to bask in the comfortable and familiar, in an unusually high number of cases, congregants will need a scorecard to tell who the players are. Some congregations have new full-time rabbis, such as Rabbi Stephen Slater at Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El, Rabbi David Gerber at Gates of Prayer in Metairie, Rabbi Eric Berk at Temple B’nai Sholom in Huntsville and Rabbi Scott Looper at Temple Beth Or in Montgomery. Anniston’s Temple Beth-El welcomed Rabbi Lauren Cohn of Atlanta as their new visiting rabbi, and Cantor Kevin Margolius started at Touro Synagogue in New Orleans this summer. Many other congregations are gearing up for rabbinic searches, with a need to bring in someone for the holidays. At Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El, Rabbi Daniel Roberts will lead High Holy Day services, with Emanu-El Cantor Jessica Roskin. Roberts was chaplain in the U.S. Navy before becoming rabbi at Temple Emanu El in University Heights, Ohio, where he served from 1972 to 2002 and is now rabbi emeritus. Roberts was crowned Cleveland’s Funniest Rabbi in 2011 and 2015, in a competition that benefits the Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage. The largest synagogue in Alabama, Emanu-El also announced that it is not having two services on the morning of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. A traditional service will be at 10:30 a.m., and there will be a new Family Service at 9 a.m. instead of Junior Congregation. In previous years, there were two traditional services, at 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. Last year, Emanu-El had an interim rabbi. This year, Roskin is coordinating congregants to fill in as the congregation searches for its new rabbi. Cantorial soloist Janet Pape will be the veteran this year at Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile. This is her second year in that role for the congregation, and she will be working with Music Director Christopher Powell and Charmein Moser. Guo-Sheng Huang, professor of cello at the University of Mobile, will be the cellist for Kol Nidre. The visiting rabbi at Springhill Avenue will be Rabbi Howard Kosovske, who started his rabbinic career serving the U.S. military in Germany, then took pulpits in Massachusetts, South Carolina and Pennsylvania. Kosovske is one of only two members of his Hebrew Union College class still serving as a pulpit rabbi. The other is Rabbi Gordon Geller, who served Springhill Avenue from 1984 to

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1987. He will lead Shabbat services on Sept. 7 and stay in Mobile through Yom Kippur. In the New Orleans area, the Northshore Jewish Congregation in Mandeville welcomes a Southshore veteran, Rabbi Alexis Pinsky, for the High Holy Days. An Atlanta native, Pinsky graduated from Tulane before attending Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. After ordination, she was assistant rabbi at Gates of Prayer in Metairie, and last year was associate rabbi and musical liturgical clergy in residence at Touro Synagogue in New Orleans. This coming year, Rabbi Eugene Levy of Little Rock will be Northshore’s visiting rabbi once a month. Levy was rabbi of B’nai Israel in Little Rock from 1987 to 2011, and is regarded as Bill Clinton’s rabbi. In 2016, he officiated the closing of two Arkansas congregations, in Pine Bluff and McGehee. B’nai Israel in Panama City will be led by Rabbi Marla Joy Subeck Spanjer, who has 20 years of experience as a full-time congregational rabbi. She was Rabbi of Temple Emanuel in Winston-Salem, N.C.; Congregation Kol Ami in Chicago and Congregation Achduth Vesholom in Fort Wayne, Ind. She has also been on faculty for eight summers at URJ camps, and has created her own children’s machzor for High Holy Day services. Daniel Sternlicht, a member of B’nai Israel, will serve as cantor. Services are open to members and non-members. Hazzan G. Michael Horwitz, staff chaplain at the University of Alabama at Birmingham medical center, will lead High Holy Day services for Beth Israel in Gulfport. A St. Louis native, Horwitz has been at UAB since 2013, and has served congregations, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, summer camps, colleges and various agencies.

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The Rabbi Gerber era begins at Metairie’s Gates of Prayer

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During this year’s High Holy Days at Gates of Prayer in Metairie, for the first time in decades it won’t be Rabbi Robert Loewy on the bimah leading the service. Two months ago, Rabbi David Gerber succeeded Loewy, who retired after serving the Reform congregation since 1984. Gerber isn’t planning major changes anytime soon. “The fact I’m here and not Rabbi Loewy is enough change.” Liturgically, he and Gates of Prayer have a lot in common, and “the prayer style here feels very comfortable to me.” Since arriving this summer, Gerber has done “a lot of get-to-know-you events” with congregants and the community, many of them outside the synagogue. He came to Metairie from Beth Or, a 1,050-family congregation in Maple Glen, Pa., just outside of Philadelphia, where he had been assistant rabbi and associate rabbi since 2012. The Saint Louis native was named Loewy’s successor last October, very early in the year for a rabbinic search. “It was nice to have it settled early, to know where I was going to be, to start the process of house hunting and not feel rushed,” he said. But “it was a long goodbye in Philadelphia, which was very difficult.” Gerber visited Gates of Prayer in October and January, then arrived for good earlier this summer. With the summer service rotation among the Southshore Reform congregations, Gates of Prayer did not host a Shabbat until Aug. 3. Gerber led Shabbat at the Jewish Community Center day camp in Metairie and visited the congregation’s campers at the Henry S. Jacobs Camp. Loewy was “extremely helpful with the transition,” sending him notes and advice starting last fall. He noted that Loewy “is beloved here,” and it “makes a big difference” that Loewy was able to leave when he felt it was right for him. “He and I have gotten along very well.” Gerber was attracted to the congregation in part because Gates of Prayer has “a long history of long-term rabbis.” The consistency is “something you look for.” He and his wife Lauren were looking for “a community that has heart and character, civic pride” and a place “we’d really like to raise our kids, and New Orleans appealed to us.” Gates of Prayer has a long history, with its 170th anniversary coming up in 2020. With many intergenerational families, “I want to hear the histories, hear the stories,” he said. Youth outreach will be an area of emphasis for Gerber. In Philadelphia, the congregation had a post-Bar/Bat Mitzvah retention rate of just 20 to 25 percent, and he was tasked to change that. “By the time I left we were up in the 90s.” He developed a program that would have spoken to him at age 13, because “I quit after my Bar Mitzvah and never went back.” He asked, “what would get me to study” at that age, and said keeping Jewish teens engaged is “a universal problem.” His return to being active in the community came at Indiana University, which has a large Jewish student population, but “a bigger group of people who had never met a Jew” and who had questions. Though he hadn’t been to a synagogue in years, he never ate bacon. “People would ask me why, and I didn’t have the answers.” So he went to his first rabbinic authority, the search engine Ask Jeeves, which explained that the laws of Kashrut were in the Tanach. The next question? What’s a Tanach. He picked one up at Barnes and Noble, “and it immediately clicked.” He set out to study Torah and teach, and started a Torah study group in the Indiana Greek community.


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September 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 13

He told a faculty advisor that he wanted to become a rabbi, and the advisor said with his background, he’d never be a rabbi. When he called Hebrew Union College, he was also told it isn’t just what you know, it’s your history. Instead of summer camp, Jewish youth group and Judaic studies, his was a history of non-involvement. “Anyone can wake up and decide they want to be a rabbi,” Gerber said. “Not everyone can wake up and get into rabbinical school.” He took Judaics classes as much as he could until he graduated from Indiana, then took a job in finance. After working each day from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., he would teach Hebrew School, take graduate-level Judaics classes at Washington University in the evening and meet late with a Hebrew tutor. Soon, HUC was calling him, and after “a long journey” he started rabbinic school in 2007. He still had a lot of catching up to do — “if you don’t go to Jewish camp, where do you hear Birkat?” Rabbi Jonathan Miller, who recently retired after 27 years at Birmingham’s Temple EmanuEl, was Gerber’s CCAR mentor. Miller’s son, Aaron, who is rabbi at Washington Hebrew Congregation, was Gerber’s student mentor. In 2009 Gerber was assistant director at Camp Sabra in Missouri, and had student positions

14 Southern Jewish Life • September 2018

in Kokomo, Ind., Cincinnati and St. Louis. At HUC, he was president of the senior class, and president of the Rabbinical Student Association. He was also student representative for the HUC New Way Forward strategic planning initiative. One new program that has already been implemented since his arrival in Metairie is Take Out Judaism, because “not everything the synagogue does has to be in the synagogue.” In an “Amazon Prime world where people expect it in their home in two days,” Take Out Judaism offers a dozen classes that members can schedule in their home, then invite friends and family for a learning session. “All our staff is available for takeout,” Gerber said. Topics include the supernatural in Judaism, Jewish cooking, science fiction through a Jewish lens, Jewish music, current events, raising a Jewish teen, Torah to Go and “The Rabbi Football Challenge,” a Jewish-themed football watching party. He wants to see more interaction between the preschool community and the synagogue community, working to “de-silo” the community. It is commonly said that in the Jewish community, to attract a crowd, “if you feed them, they will come.” Gerber said today’s reality is that if you want young Jews to attend, “you say ‘free babysitting’.”

Rabbi Gerber at Jacobs Camp For example, during the Sushi and Sake in the Sukkah later this month, they will offer children’s programming at the same time. When it was announced in Philadelphia that Gerber would be moving to New Orleans, a lot of congregants asked if he would remain an Eagles fan. He said he came to Philadelphia with the goal of bringing the Eagles a title, “and then my work here will be done.” His main passion, though, is St. Louis Cardinals baseball. His installation at Gates of Prayer will be the weekend of Nov. 17 — because that weekend, the Eagles are playing the Saints in the Superdome, and “a lot of people from Philadelphia will be coming down.” He acknowledged that Eagles fans have a reputation, but has words of reassurance. “They’re nice,” he said. “They’re loud…”


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For many of Rabbi Stephen Slater’s classmates at Hebrew College in Boston, Alabama seems like a far-flung locale. But the new rabbi at Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El has a different point of reference, having grown up in the West African nation of Ivory Coast. Slater and his wife Bethany arrived in Birmingham in mid-June, with their daughter, Anav. Two weeks later, they had a son, Emet, and held the bris at Beth-El on July 4. Since arriving, the Slaters have been very visible in the community, attending a wide range of events. As he completed rabbinical school at Hebrew College this past spring, he said there was “a big proclivity to the northeast” in his peer group as they looked for positions, while he advised them to “go as far away from New York City as you can.” He said it has always “baffled me” that “we are still so close to Ellis Island.” Since neither of them were originally from the northeast, they didn’t have a view that the region is better than the rest of the country. “Alabama is very different from the northeast, and I was very happy with it,” he said. They had been to Alabama twice — once to visit Bethany’s best friend from college, who was in Huntsville, and once when she was working on her Ph.D. and went to an interfaith dialogue event at Ahavas Chesed in Mobile, where she led services. When he took the position in Birmingham after a February interview weekend, “I got some of the most rude questions,” including one asking him if he took the job because he was “desperate.” He was attracted to Birmingham by a “truly Conservative synagogue” with a twice-daily minyan “in a space where the dominant culture is quite religious.” He added that the Jewish community tends to be “as religious as their neighbors, wherever they are.” With a degree in philosophy, Slater enjoys a good, deep conversation, and sees the synagogue as a space where people with a wide range of views can come and discuss. Judaism “is not a specific brand of politics,” and he doesn’t see a rabbi’s role as that of a political leader. “It’s a beautiful thing that our congregation is purple. That’s what I want more of,” rather than seeing worship spaces divided by politics or race. Religious institutions “should create an institutional frame for high quality discussions,” he said. “We can handle, in all religious spaces, having different political traditions.” He added that the “saddest” trend is that each side is increasingly convinced that the other side is trying to destroy the country. He emphasizes Jewish outreach with spiritual development and mentoring, volunteer engagement and music. While Slater’s family is from Michigan, he was raised in West Africa, as his grandfather and father were medical missionaries in Ivory Coast. At some point, his family had moved from Arkansas to the Detroit area, where they established Slater Construction, building homes for workers in Pontiac. His grandfather was raised in the Baptist church on stories of missionaries, and he soon felt the desire to become a doctor and serve in that capacity. Slater’s grandmother was a nurse, so after his grandfather became a doctor, they went to Congo with Slater’s father, who was two weeks old at the time. When war broke out in Congo in 1960 to overthrow colonial rule, his grandfather noted that different Christian groups were fighting with each other in taking sides, even stoning the cars of other groups. Slater recently found his grandfather’s journal from those days. A rebel

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Rabbi Stephen Slater with wife Bethany and daughter Anav

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group had placed him under house arrest, then the last entry in the journal was “they don’t want me writing any more.” Eventually the Slaters were rescued by Nigerian troops and the Blue Helmets of the United Nations. The family reunited in Belgium, then they found a hospital in Ivory Coast, which was “a much more stable country” until its 2001 coup. “The whole time I was growing up there,” Slater said, “it felt like a progressive, emerging country.” He attended American-style missionary boarding school and “played a lot of soccer. I was no good at it,” he said, but “it really was the only game in town” and he ended up captain of the varsity team. At the age of 17, he had a crisis of faith. “I didn’t know the things I was taught were true.” He had always been “a very devout Christian” so “when this happened, everyone was very surprised.” He asked to come home so he could sort things out, and over the next couple of months “raided their library” of higher-level theological writings. “I never really found things that felt satisfying to the problems.” Two main problems he had was reconciling Jesus as divine yet a finite human figure, and the emphasis on prophecy to “prove” Christianity when “prophecies could pick out any number of people in history.” To help him study scripture, he tried to learn Hebrew but “couldn’t really do it on my own” in Ivory Coast. He headed off to college, studying for the first year in Canada, at an intensive program on the intellectual history of the West. “There’s a huge cultural gap between Western society and Asian society” in the understanding of knowledge, he said. He then attended Hillsdale College, continuing to study philosophy and asking questions that were “unpopular with many professors.” Pretty much the only person who would listen and discuss with him was a classmate named Bethany. As his exploration progressed, “I had a pretty good idea that I couldn’t be a Christian again, without any authenticity.” He wasn’t interested in Catholicism or liberal branches of

community Christianity either. When he was growing up, Judaism “was deeply prized, respected, a carrier of the divine word,” and he doesn’t remember ever hearing any anti-Jewish comments. “There was a deep respect.” There was, however, still a lot of replacement theology in sermons, but without anti-Semitic tropes. Replacement theology, which has fallen into disfavor in much of the Christian world, taught that because the Jews were sinful and broke the covenant, God bestowed the covenant to the church. Slater felt that narrative was “unworthy of God,” as God “is faithful,” as stated constantly in the Psalms. He would argue the issue with his Christian classmates, and again, Bethany was the only one in his philosophy group who would listen. They graduated and set out to discover a “living tradition that we could respect and trust.” They spent their first year of marriage in Britain, as Bethany did a Jewish studies program at Oxford. After that, Slater wanted to work on a Master’s in Jewish studies in Israel — and finally learn Hebrew. While there, they moved out of the dorm and into a neighborhood, which gave them a more authentic experience. He wanted to attend a stipended Hartman program for Hebrew University students. “I was probably the only non-Jewish person” in the program, and he is “really thankful they opened up the program for me.” The classes were all in Hebrew, and he “got to know what Israelis are worrying about.” While in Israel, Slater started working with Sudanese refugees in 2007, and in 2012 he co-founded Right Now: Advocates for African Asylum Seekers, to speak out about the treatment of African refugees in Israel. Bethany managed non-profits in Jerusalem, working with the marginalized and underprivileged, and served as a tour guide. Bethany wanted to learn in a yeshiva setting, but most yeshivas couldn’t fathom why a non-Jew wanted to study Torah. She wound up studying at the Conservative movement’s yeshiva in Jerusalem.

When they got to Israel they intended to convert to Judaism, but “there wasn’t a good way to do it.” In their fourth year, the Conservative yeshiva helped them explore the possibilities. Bethany also spent a year at Yeshiva Hadar, the only full-time, genderegalitarian yeshiva in North America, under the direction of Rabbi Ethan Tucker. They wound up converting with Tucker, as they wanted to “go as close to Orthodox as possible” for their conversion, while maintaining egalitarianism. All three rabbis who were on their beit din have Orthodox ordination. After they converted, they had a Jewish wedding in Israel “with all our friends at the Conservative yeshiva.” Completing the programs in Israel, they moved back to the U.S. where Bethany enrolled in the Ziegler School, but decided the rabbinate wasn’t for her, as she was more interested in just the Torah study. Slater was teaching in schools and working for a company that did literacy intervention, and it came time to decide whether they were going to be academics or pursue the rabbinate. He applied to doctorate and rabbinic programs, but the decision about his future remained in his hands as he was accepted into both. Bethany “really wanted to do a comparative theology program” at Boston College, which “helped me make the decision for Hebrew College in Boston.” While in school, Slater was spiritual leader at Congregation Shaaray Tefila in Glens Falls, N.Y., and rabbinic intern at University of Rhode Island Hillel in Kingstown, R.I. Slater said he is focused on facilitating renewal at Beth-El, which had an interim rabbi for the last two years. He hopes to accomplish that through building relationships, creating opportunities for Jewish learning and practice, and “fostering a culture of hospitality” to help the congregation “pursue a vision that is bigger than ourselves.”

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September 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 17

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18 Southern Jewish Life • September 2018

ADL to honor Steve Gleason, Warner Thomas Torch of Liberty dinner on Dec. 5

The South-Central Region of the Anti-Defamation League announced that Warner Thomas and Steve Gleason are this year’s A.I. Botnick Torch of Liberty Award winners. “This year’s award recipients were chosen because they have changed the way in which we think about health, ability and well-being, and they have shown a commitment to breaking down barriers that people face every day in accessing health care,” said ADL Regional Director Aaron Ahlquist. The South-Central region covers Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas. Ahlquist said Thomas “is a visionary leader who has guided Ochsner Health System to prioritize innovation, inclusivity and diversity, and a holistic approach to patient health. Steve Gleason, through Team Gleason, has fundamentally changed perceptions around ability and neuromuscular disorders, while inspiring countless others to change their understanding of perseverance and possibility. The award recipients actively seek to make a positive and lasting impact for individuals and communities facing adversity, and work to overcome those challenges, and they represent the best of ADL’s mission to seek justice and fair treatment for all.” Thomas has led Ochsner Health System’s effort to build lasting and meaningful engagement focused on communal health access and emotional and physical well-being throughout the region. Since 1998, he has led Ochsner’s vision and growth, first as president and chief operating officer, and since 2012 as president and CEO. Ochsner is the only Louisiana hospital recognized by U.S. News and World Report as a “Best Hospital” across three specialty categories. Ochsner and ADL began partnering in 2017 to establish best practices in embracing diversity and inclusion throughout all facets of the health system’s work. This partnership helps clinicians, staff, residents, medical students and caregivers to embrace social-emotional health as a key component to quality healthcare. “As a pediatrician at Ochsner Hospital for Children and an ADL board member, I am very excited about our ground-breaking partnership work addressing the ‘whole child’ and the recognition that social-emotional health is of equal importance to a child’s physical health,” said Daniel Bronfin, ADL South-Central board member, and general pediatrician and medical director of the Ochsner Craniofacial Program. “In this first year of our partnership, we have focused on teaching effective engagement of children and adolescents in important conversations about bullying and identity.” Gleason is a beloved member of the Who

Dat Nation, having played with the New Orleans Saints from 2000 to 2008. He will always be remembered for his blocked punt against the Atlanta Falcons on the night the Louisiana Superdome reopened for the first time after Hurricane Katrina. Gleason was diagnosed in January 2011 with ALS. Since that time, he has personified strength and hope, helping to educate people about ALS and inspiring those like him who have been diagnosed Steve Gleason (top) with ALS or oth- and Warner Thomas er neuromuscular diseases. By sharing his personal journey, he demonstrates that people can not only live but thrive after an ALS diagnosis. Steve and his wife, Michel, formed Team Gleason to help accomplish these goals and create a global conversation about ALS to ultimately find solutions and end the disease. When Steve was first diagnosed, he famously said there will be “No White Flags,” which has become the mantra of Team Gleason. “The positive impact Warner and Steve have had — and will continue to have — on people in this region and beyond results not just from passion and hard work but also from a refusal to accept the status quo,” said Ann Thompson, ADL South-Central board chair. “They push to improve upon and increase access to quality healthcare, not letting obstacles get in their way. Their success is rooted in leading by example and addressing challenges in a collaborative way. They embody ADL’s goal of seeking fair treatment for all, and we are honored to recognize them as recipients of the Torch of Liberty award.” The awards will be presented at the annual A.I. Botnick Torch of Liberty Award Dinner at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans on Dec. 5. Warner Thomas’ dinner chairs are Bill Oliver and David Gaines, and Steve Gleason’s dinner chairs are Phyllis Taylor and Zach Strief. Tickets are available at or by contacting the local ADL office at or (504) 780-5602.


Fighting for equal recognition and funding Rosh Ha’Ayin’s Reform congregation sues city over foot-dragging Bavat Ayin, the Reform congregation in Rosh Ha’Ayin, is continuing its legal battle against the municipality in an attempt to secure a permanent home. Rosh Ha’Ayin is Birmingham’s sister city in Israel and the Partnership2Gether community for New Orleans, and Bavat Ayin has ties throughout the region. On July 8, a hearing was held in Lod, where a judge ruled that the city had 30 days to reconsider Bavat Ayin’s application, and scheduled a Sept. 12 hearing, ordering the mayor to attend. Bavat Ayin Rabbi Ayala Shashoua-Miron described the “struggle” for a permanent home as a 12-year ordeal of “petitions, meetings, ongoing correspondence” and attempts to negotiate with the municipality through the administrations of three different mayors. Founded in 2004, the congregation meets in a community center, filling their allocated room to overflowing. In Israel, there is very little private property, with the government allocating land and building synagogues. Until recently, the state did not recognize or fund non-Orthodox movements. In early 2017, Bavat Ayin applied to the Ministry of Religious Affairs for funding that is allocated to non-Orthodox synagogues, and was approved. The allocation of 300,000 shekels was to go to the city government in Rosh Ha’Ayin, for the building of a facility for Bavat Ayin. Miron said “The entire year of 2017 passed without the city council being able to vote on accepting this allocation and give us the permission to build,” and whenever the issue was brought up, “there was an upheaval with accusations and screaming and the meeting would be dissolved.” Before the first vote in early July, Orthodox and Haredi rabbis in Rosh Ha’Ayin held an “emergency” meeting with Mayor Shalom BenMoshe to express their opposition. At the end of 2017, the allocation expired, leading the Israel Religious Action Center to start legal action on the congregation’s behalf. Around that time, Miron said they learned that due to dramatic growth in Rosh Ha’Ayin, the Ministry of Housing was planning to build 10 synagogues in the new neighborhoods, and Bavat Ayin applied for one of the 10. “It made perfect sense that with over 120 Orthodox houses of prayer in a city of 50,000 there would be one liberal option,” she said. The city denied the Bavat Ayin request, “with the false reason that we are not serving the residents of the neighborhood,” Miron said. Plans already in motion will increase the size of Rosh Ha’Ayin from its current population of

44,500 to over 100,000 within the next decade. Rosh Ha’Ayin began as a Yemenite development town, with a population of about 14,000 in the 1980s, almost entirely traditional Yemenite families. By 1990, a wave of building began that tripled the size of Rosh Ha’Ayin, with developments for retired military families, immigrants from the former Soviet Union, and as a bedroom community to Tel Aviv. In February, Bavat Ayin filed a legal petition, leading to the July 8 hearing. Judge Menachem Finkelstein ordered the city’s Allocations Committee to respond within 30 days. Miron said the judge “explicitly blamed the municipality” for delaying the process “and deliberately preventing us from having a place of our own.” Bavat Ayin isn’t alone — in May, Kehilat Yonatan in Hod Hasharon, north of Tel Aviv, filed suit against their municipality for years of “excessive red tape.” The Reform congregation has been working on building their own facility for 15 years. On Aug. 26, the court ruled in favor of the congregation and ordered the municipality to end the delays that have prevented the congregation from building on land that had been allocated to it in 2013. In 2005, one of the New Orleans congregations started a fundraiser for High Holy Day prayerbooks for Bavat Ayin — then Katrina hit. Despite the unfathomable effect the levee breach had on the community, the congregation insisted on finishing the project, sending $660 to Bavat Ayin. In Feb. 2006, Miron visited Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El to establish contacts, and she wound up heading home with a Torah. When Jasper’s Temple Emanu-El closed in 2005, the merger included the Jasper Torah being placed in the ark in Birmingham, so Emanu-El had an extra Torah. Emanu-El Rabbi Jonathan Miller had been working with the World Union for Progressive Judaism to find a new home for the surplus Torah, but Miron’s visit was an opportunity to further ties between the communities. In 1983, at the beginning of Birmingham’s relationship with Rosh Ha’Ayin, the mayor of Rosh Ha’Ayin presented a Yemenite Torah to the Birmingham Jewish community. That Torah is housed at the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School. B’nai Israel in Little Rock has also been partnered with Bavat Ayin, since a September 2016 group visited Israel, led by B’nai Israel Rabbi Barry Block. Trips organized by ARZA, the Reform Zionist group, include Shabbat services at a Reform congregation, and they “were very

September 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 19

community fortunate to be paired with Bavat Ayin,” and signed up for a matching program, Block said. B’nai Israel had a video link with Miron for a Chanukah program, and last year the Arkansas congregation sponsored a community-wide Selichot program in Rosh Ha’Ayin, hosted by Bavat Ayin. Block has visited Rosh Ha’Ayin twice since then, most recently this summer, when by coincidence a young man was called up to the Torah before leaving for a session at the Union for Reform Judaism’s Greene Family Camp in Texas.

Do you have fashionable roots? JCRS seeks family stories for 2019 event

Shanah Tovah It is an honor to serve our citizens

Next March, the New Orleans-based Jewish Children’s Regional Service continues its Jewish Roots series with a Jewish Roots of Fashion gala. Many Jewish immigrants to the United States from the 1800s to the end of the 20th century opened small stores selling fabric, clothing and jewelry, sometimes growing into large businesses, factories and fashion empires. The Jewish Roots of Fashion gala on March 30 at the New Orleans Marriott will celebrate those stories, especially those with Southern ties. The social service agency is looking for families that have stories to tell about current or former clothing, shoe or jewelry stores, or the fashion industry in general. The stories, photos, logos and advertisements will be compiled into the gala’s program book. Ad space in the book and sponsorship opportunities are also available. JCRS serves Jewish children in a seven-state region, with scholarships for overnight camp and college, and special needs funding. The agency began as the Jewish Children’s Home. Development Director Mark Rubin noted that many of the kids who grew up at the Home “went on to open stores, create brands, and peddle fabrics, clothing, jewelry, and other textiles.” He added, “the Pulitzers started Wembley Ties, which became the largest tie manufacturing company in the world. Rogers Perlis created Perlis, which continues today, and these are just the stories out of New Orleans. There are more from Mississippi, Tennessee, and across the South.” Loel Weil Samuel and Sue Singer are co-chairing the gala, which will honor Betty Kohn for her support of the agency. The event will feature a style show presented by Dillard’s, a cocktail reception, seated dinner and silent auction. To share family stories, contact Rubin at or (504) 8286334.

WRJ holding district gathering in NOLA Judge Rachael D. Johnson Orleans Civil District Court Division B

20 Southern Jewish Life • September 2018

Women of Reform Judaism’s Southwest District is hosting its 6th biennial convention from Nov. 1 to 4 at the Doubletree by Hilton in New Orleans. The convention is a gathering of women from nine states in the Southwest District to discuss pressing challenges facing the Jewish community in the 21st Century and advance women’s leadership. The district comprises Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas and western Tennessee. The District Biennial is open for registration through Oct. 10. The keynote speaker is Madi Hoesten, WRJ vice president of affiliate services and an active member of Kol Tikvah Sisterhood in Parkland, Fla. Victoria “Tory” May, cantorial soloist for Gates of Prayer in Metairie, Louisiana since 1987, will serve as the spiritual and song leader for the convention. Other speakers include Kenneth Hoffman, executive director of the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience in New Orleans, Gates of Prayer Rabbi Emeritus Bob Loewy and Women of Reform Judaism President Susan Bass.

Hillel Connections participants take time out to volunteer at Oasis Gardens

Y’all stay around First summer of Hillel Connections provides local internships for Jewish ‘Bama students If the first summer is any indication, a lot of Jewish students at the University of Alabama will want to spend next summer in Birmingham. Seven students took part in the inaugural Hillel Connections program, coordinated by the Bloom Hillel at Alabama, taking summer internships in Birmingham, learning about life beyond college, making connections with the local Jewish community and experiencing the city as a whole. Two of the seven will continue working in Birmingham this year, and five have been offered employment during Winter Break or next summer. Lisa Raymon Besnoy, director of the Bloom Hillel, said the internship program “has gotten off to a great start, and I am thankful for the work of Mike Honan and Roxanne Travelute, who spearheaded the vision with the support of a local Birmingham committee.” Travelute said the program was set up to give students “valuable experience in their field of study, and at the same time they are making Jewish connections, and learning how to live as a young professional in Birmingham.” It is also seen as a way to get Jewish students at Alabama, most of whom are from outside the state, to consider staying in Alabama after graduation. The program was underwritten in part by the Birmingham Jewish Foundation and the Rabbi Milton Grafman Endowment Fund at Temple Emanu-El. At a July 27 Shabbat service at Emanu-El, the interns expressed their appreciation to those who made the experience possible. Housed in a dorm at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, they lived on the edge of the resurgent downtown area and had “a great place to watch the fireworks” on Independence Day, Jake Kaplan noted. The students also participated in projects around the general community, including helping at Oasis Gardens in Ensley. The project, started by Hank Layman, sets up raised planting beds for vegetable gardens in what is otherwise a “food desert.” The beds are built above ground because of soil contamination in the area near defunct industrial plants. “It was good to get to work with your hands for a bit,” Kaplan said. All of the participants this summer have been active in Hillel, where they first learned about the program. Eric Weintraub said “the seven of us have bonded, worked together and accomplished some great things.” An accounting major, he spent the summer working at Kassouf and Co. As a Birmingham native, the program “reassured me about the city in many ways,” adding “Birmingham is an ideal city for almost anyone.” He called the program “a great jump start for my last two years of college and beyond.” Jackie Kamin of Memphis worked at Collat Jewish Family Services, learning about “the amazing work they do as a non-profit organization.”

September 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 21


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22 Southern Jewish Life • September 2018


She worked with the CARES program and led two Shabbat services at a retirement facility, among other tasks, and learned about what it means to be a mensch. One of her main tasks was doing in-home surveys of clients in the CJFS Personal Care service. During the program “I have received nothing but kindness and warmth at every turn” in Birmingham, she said. An international studies major, Kaplan, who grew up in Anniston, split his time between Morgan Stanley and being a development intern for the Hillel Connections program at the Birmingham Jewish Foundation. He will continue part-time with Morgan Stanley during the school year. Rebecca Denson of Mobile, who graduated in May with a degree in biology, did the Connections program after returning from Birthright. She had an internship at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, doing cystic fibrosis research at the UAB Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. She did not know much about Birmingham, but during the summer she “realized many of the amazing opportunities the Birmingham Jewish community and the city of Birmingham have to offer.” She will be staying this year, taking a gap year and continuing her research at UAB. Parker Jacobs of Chicago, who also did Birthright just before the summer, found “an amazing working and learning environment” at ServisFirst Bank. He called it “the best experience possible during my first glimpse of the real world.” Hannah Wickham, a medical anthropology major from Edwardsville, Ill., said she “was not really expecting much” from Birmingham. “I have truly found Birmingham to be a unique city brimming with opportunity.” She also did research at the UAB Department of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine. Benjamin Honan worked in the Hillel Connections offices of Drs. Koslin and Kahn in Hoover, Alabaster and Jasper, gainaims to keep ing “immensely valuable work expeJewish students rience,” as the only jobs he has held were Sunday School teacher, in Alabama after before camp counselor and tutor. Though Honan is a Birmingham they graduate native, this was the first time since elementary school that he had spent a summer in the city, and he and the other participants were able to “explore Birmingham in a way we hadn’t done before.” Travelute said the interns all gave the program the highest marks in being valuable for their professional development, and for being welcomed by the Jewish community. “The students were asked whether the Hillel Connections experience gave them a favorable impression of Birmingham and the Jewish community as a place they’d like to live,” Travelute said, and all gave the question a “5” on a 1-to-5 scale. Besnoy said they are planning for next summer, “working to expand the internship opportunities for students, create host families to welcome new students, and bridge the gap between UA students and the short commute to Birmingham.” Travelute said they are already looking for potential employers for next summer. “Students plan for next summer over winter break, so an updated employer list must be added to the website as soon as possible,” she said. In the future, the program may expand to other parts of the state. Potential employers can register at Registering does not commit to a position or guarantee a summer intern placement, but “registering as a potential employer will entice student response, attracting the best and brightest to the Magic City,” she said.


Frank Siegal of Morgan Stanley said they have employed several interns in the past few years. “To find an intern who is intelligent and a quick learner is an arduous task for us and it can take months to find the right person,” he said. “The Hillel Connections internship program provided a screening process and brought us an intern who is bright, personable and a very fast learner.” They enjoyed having Kaplan “as a member of our team and look forward to utilizing the Hillel Connections internship program again in the future.” In addition to the summer internships, Hillel Connections is working to welcome the large number of new Jewish students entering Alabama this fall. As many as 89 percent of Jewish students in the incoming freshman class are from out of state, and Hillel Connections wants to match them “with a local ‘family friend,’ to be a resource for local information, and possibly inviting them for dinner in Birmingham or Tuscaloosa once or twice a semester.” Travelute added, “this personal relationship will help the students feel connected with our Birmingham Jewish community and could evolve into helping them find mentoring, internship and/or long-term employment opportunities.” Families can register at Kaplan said the students noticed how involved members of the Jewish community are. “Everybody seems to be doing something,” he said, adding that it shows how many opportunities there are to be an active member of the community. As the program evolves, Weintraub said “We have built a foundation” as the first participants. Kaplan said “I’m excited for the kids who do this next year.”

THIS IS AUBURN. “This wonderful country of ours allows us to gather together, to be Jewish and be free… I’m grateful I can be Jewish and a basketball coach in the SEC.”

— Auburn Head Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl, at the 2017 JCC Maccabi Games Opening Ceremony

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

Arkansas Jewish Federation director stepping down next summer Marianne Tettlebaum led organization for six years

How a scrawny, shy Jewish kid from Birmingham with an operatic voice became a wrestling star…

After six years, Marianne Tettlebaum is stepping down as executive director of the Jewish Federation of Arkansas, effective June 30, or earlier if a successor is named. Federation President Silvana Berlinski made the announcement to the community on Aug. 24. “We are grateful for her contributions to improving the lives of Jewish people living in Arkansas,” Berlinski said. “The Board of Directors and I can’t thank Marianne enough for all she has done for JFAR and we wish her the best on her new endeavors.” Among the achievements from the last six years cited in the announcement were obtaining a grant from the Harold Grinspoon Life and Legacy Program to help the Federation and Arkansas congregations develop planned giving programs; establishing the Caregiving and Aging Program and hiring a social worker, and partnering with Jewish National Fund to build an Arkansas-funded emergency station at the rescue center in Sapir, a bomb shelter at the Red Mountain Therapeutic Riding Center in Israel, and organizing a community mission to Israel. She also enhanced communication among the Jewish communities throughout the state, and strengthened the Federation grant allocation process. The Federation also coordinates a large Jewish Food and Culture Festival in Little Rock every year. The next festival will be April 14. In her letter to the board, Tettlebaum said “Serving and working with you all and the Arkansas Jewish community has been a deeply humbling and immensely fulfilling experience.” She added her confidence that “with its current strong ;eadership, its excellent staff, its devoted base of volunteers and its generous community support, that the Jewish Federation of Arkansas will continue successfully long into the future to fulfill its mission of strengthening, supporting and sustaining the Jewish community in Arkansas.”

“The Unmasked Tenor”

by Sam “The Great Kaiser” Tenenbaum Jr. with TJ Beitelman

Now Available at Select Bookstores and

September 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 23

community Historic Torah reading in Hattiesburg Michael Segal aims to chant in all 50 states On Oct. 6, there is added incentive to hear the Torah reading at B’nai Israel in Hattiesburg. That Shabbat, Michael Segal of Teaneck, N.J. will add Mississippi as the 35th state where he has read Torah, in his effort to read Torah in all 50 states. Segal calls this a “personal quest” that started a few years ago. He has read in many locations around the world, including Israel, Denmark, Mexico, the Czech Republic and Germany. He had set a goal of reading the entire Torah by the age of 30, which he successfully accomplished. “Upon completing that I needed a new quest,” he said. There are 54 weekly Torah portions. With 50 states in the U.S. plus four overseas territories making 54, he set a goal about four years ago to read in all 50 states. Generally, he prefers to read in Orthodox synagogues because he does not use a microphone on Shabbat, and requests that there be no press coverage during Shabbat. He also reads only if there is a traditional minyan of 10 men over Bar Mitzvah age. Because of that, some states have been more of a challenge to schedule. In North Dakota and South Dakota, “I did not have very many options for pulling 10 Jews together,” but he succeeded in both states. In South Dakota, he drove a Torah three hours each way from Omaha, and a friend who had traveled from four hours away “walked 4.5 miles in January in South Dakota with an 8 year old son to help make minyan.” His most recent state was Utah, reading in Salt Lake City on Aug. 25. Alabama was his 25th state, as he read at Knesseth Israel in Birmingham in March 2016, though they had to wait for a minyan that morning. In January, he read in Nashville, making Tennessee his 33rd state. He has not read in Louisiana yet. Segal explained that while he travels extensively for his job, his pace has slowed as “I’ve now accomplished a lot of the geographically easier states.” B’nai Israel is looking to make Segal’s visit a community event and celebration — and to make sure there is a minyan.

Alon Shaya talk starts B’nai Israel 160th anniversary in Baton Rouge Baton Rouge’s B’nai Israel kicks off its 160th anniversary celebration with “A Taste of Southern Jewish Hospitality with Chef Alon Shaya.” Shaya, a James Beard Award-winning chef, opened Saba, an Israeli restaurant, in New Orleans earlier this year. A companion restaurant, Safta, opened in Denver last month. There are two options for the Sept. 30 program. Discussion and Dessert will include a talk about his cookbook, “Shaya: An Odyssey of Food, My Journey Back to Israel,” with a question and answer session, a dessert reception and book signing. It starts at 7 p.m., and tickets are $30. Cocktails and Conversation includes the 7 p.m. program, but starts at 5 p.m. with a tasting of recipes from the cookbook, and signature cocktail and wine pairings. The $75 ticket also includes reserved seating at the 7 p.m. program. Cookbooks will be available for $30, instead of the $35 retail. On Oct. 21 from noon to 3 p.m., “Bubbe’s Kitchen and Zayde’s Bar: A Jewish Food Festival” will serve nosh-sized samples of traditional Jewish foods, from congregants’ family recipes. There will also be an egg-cream soda bar. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for children under age 12. Tickets for the September and October events were made available to the general community starting Sept. 3, and can be obtained at The events culminate in the 160th birthday party, held during Chanukah on Dec. 7. The Shabbat service will be followed by a celebratory oneg, birthday cake and music from the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars. No tickets will be needed for the Dec. 7 event. 24 Southern Jewish Life • September 2018


An Official Publication of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans



September 2018 | Tishrei 5779

The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana (JEF) will hold the 105th Annual Meeting on Tuesday October 30 from 6:00 - 7:00 p.m. at the Uptown Jewish Community Center in the Auditorium. The Federation will have its annual election, and Federation and Jewish Endowment Foundation leadership will each present a status report to members. The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans would also like to extend its gratitude to those whose terms end in 2018: Mark Mintz, Alvin Samuels, Karen Sher, Shea Soll, Sylvan Steinberg, and Gary Zoller. Bradley Bain will be recognized with the Herbert and Margot Garon Young Leadership Award. As the recipient of this award, Bradley will attend the 2018 Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly in Israel in October. The meeting is open to all members of the Jewish Federation. A member of the Federation is defined as a donor to the 2018 Annual Campaign and who is a member of a Jewish household. All members are eligible to vote. Please turn to page 2 to see the nomination slates for both the Federation and JEF.

Shana Tovah, New Orleans! The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans wishes you a sweet and beautiful 5779.

September 2018 • The Jewish Newsletter 25

NOMINATING COMMITTEE REPORTS OF THE JEWISH FEDERATION OF GREATER NEW ORLEANS & THE JEWISH ENDOWMENT FOUNDATION OF LOUISIANA In accordance with Article VI Section 5 of its bylaws, which requires the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans to present these names to the community at least 45 days in advance of the annual meeting, here is the slate of nominated Officers and Board Members for the coming year. Additionally, members of the Federation Board of Trustees, including the Board Chair Designate, may also be nominated by a petition containing the signatures of at least 50 members of the Jewish Federation. These nominations, along with the supporting petition, must be submitted in writing to the Board of Trustees Secretary, Dana Shepard, at least 30 days before the Annual Meeting. Board Chair Designate Joshua Force 2018-2020 Board Members Gail Chalew • Peter Seltzer • Jackie Stern • Joanna Sternberg • Ben Swig

Respectfully submitted, Eddie Soll, Chair Bradley Bain, Mike Dodd, Michele Gelman, Julie Green, Dana Shepard, Kathy Shepard and Shea Soll Nominating Committee

JEWISH ENDOWMENT FOUNDATION OF LOUISIANA 2018 Nominating Committee Report To be elected to a two-year term ending in 2020: Robin M. Giarrusso • John L. Haspel • Howard Hirsch • Harry P. Lowenburg • Sidney (Copey) Pulitzer Jr. • Mark S. Stein To be re-elected to a two-year term ending in 2020: Robert B. Brickman • Susan Hess • Jill Israel • Keith Katz • Julie Wise Oreck • Dana Shepard • Rose S. Sher • James M. Spiro The following members are serving terms which will expire in 2019: Cathy K. Bart • Jack C. Benjamin Jr. • Allan Bissinger • Jay Corenswet • Alan Franco Deena Y. Gerber • Maury A. Herman • Morton H. Katz • Lawrence M. Lehmann Michael L. Stern • Beverly Wainer • Marilyn Pailet Zackin The following members have been appointed to serve as representatives of constituent agencies: Benay Bernstein – Jewish Family Service • Ina Davis – Tulane Hillel Mara Baumgarten Force – Jewish Community Center • William D. Norman Jr. – Jewish Community Day School The Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana elects its own officers. The following individuals have been nominated to serve for a period of two years expiring in 2020 or until their successors are duly elected and qualified: Lawrence M. Lehmann – President • Allan Bissinger – Vice President • Robert B. Brickman – Vice President Morton H. Katz – Vice President • James M. Spiro – Treasurer • Michael L. Stern – Assistant Treasurer Rose S. Sher – Secretary • Dana Shepard – Assistant Secretary Andrea S. Lestelle will serve as Immediate Past President

Respectfully submitted, The Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana Nominating Committee Joyce S. Pulitzer, Chair 26 The Jewish Newsletter • September 2018

September 2018 • The Jewish Newsletter 27

THE LATEST NEWS FROM NEXT GEN JEWISH NEW ORLEANS JNOLA wrapped up the summer by thanking its Chai Society members – those who have give an individual gift of $180 to the Jewish Federation’s 2018 Annual Campaign - with an evening at M.S. Rau Antiques on August 23. The event began with hors d’oeuvres and wine, followed by a private tour of the 25,000 square foot gallery overflowing with incredible antiques from beloved names including Tiffany & Co., Paul Revere and Fabergé. Chai Society members also had the unique experience of a special viewing of Rau’s unparalleled selection of original paintings and sculptures, including works by legendary artists such as Brueghel, Monet, and Rockwell. It’s 5779! JNOLA recently celebrated the new year with its annual Rosh Hashanah New Year’s Toast on September 5, where attendees were asked to contribute to Second Harvest Food Bank. Up next? JNOLA is holding a Break-the-Fast to mark the end of Yom Kippur with delicious food and drinks on Wednesday, September 19 from 7:30 – 9:30 p.m. at The Rusty Nail (1100 Constance St., New Orleans). On September 25, JNOLA is collaborating with 504ward, Hispanic Young Professionals of Louisiana, United Way Young Leaders, Moishe House, and the Urban League of Louisiana - Greater New Orleans Chapter for a voter registration party and drive on Tuesday, September 25 - which happens to be National Voter Registration Day! The event will be held at 7:00 p.m. at Twelve Mile Limit (500 S Telemachus St., New Orleans).

Questions about JNOLA? Please contact Tana Velen at JNOLA is part of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, consisting of young Jewish adults between the ages of 21 – 45. This program hosts a wide variety of events, centering on community connection, professional networking, social action, and Jewish life in New Orleans. JNOLA is proudly sponsored by the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust. 28 The Jewish Newsletter • September 2018

Jewish Endowment Foundation Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana Receives Its Largest Legacy Gift It is a dream come true for a nonprofit to find out that it is the recipient of a very generous legacy gift. JEF is extremely fortunate and honored to receive its largest gift in its 51-year history, from the late Sam Burd.

each other. Sam wanted to make sure that Abbe was well taken care of and created the two trusts to ensure that Abbe would always have the financial resources she needed. After her lifetime, he wanted the remaining assets to go to JEF as he knew that JEF would use the remainder to secure the future of our Jewish community.

In 1992, Sam Burd wanted to do something that would give his daughter Abbe Burd the income she needed for her lifetime and also help secure the future of our Jewish community. To do this, he created two charitable remainder trusts: one in his name and one in the name of his daughter Abbe,.and named JEF as the sole beneficiary of both trusts.

In 1992, JEF honored Sam and Abbe at its Annual Event to thank them profusely for naming JEF as the beneficiary of the principal of the trust. The proceeds from the two trusts will add over $2 million to JEF’s assets.

JEF President Andrea Lestelle said “As a result of Mr. Burd’s tremendous generosity and the love he had for this Jewish community, we will benefit for many years to come. JEF is enormously appreciative for the confidence and trust Mr. Burd placed in our foundation. Legacy gifts are essential to the future of our community.”

Sam died at the end of 1992, and Abbe passed away this year. Rabbi Robert Loewy of Congregation Gates of Prayer said “Abbe Burd was a special human being. She delighted in life and found happiness in the simple things. JEF opened the door of the Jewish community to her, as she continued to develop her Jewish connections.”

Joel Mendler, a past president of JEF, was Sam JEF Executive Director Sandy Levy remembers Burd’s attorney and assisted Sam with his estate Sam and Abbe Burd fondly: “Thanks to her father, planning. Joel said that it was a collaborative effort with Sam’s insur- Abbe was able to have a wonderful life. She and her father have left a ance agent and friend, Lee Brown. Charles Levy, another friend of lasting legacy that will provide for future generations that they will not Sam’s, was appointed the trustee of the two trusts. know. They embody the Talmudic saying, ‘As my ancestors planted for Sam Burd was born in New York in 1912 to Joseph and Fanny Burd- me before I was born, so do I plant for those who will come after me.’ man. His father had emigrated from Russia and his mother was from The memory of the Burd family will always be a blessing.” Austria. Sam married Edith Agress in 1936 and they decided to make New Orleans their home. Sam opened a company called American Bearing and Supply in 1965 and became a successful businessman in New Orleans.

OPPORTUNITY FOR PROFESSIONAL ADVISORS JEF Invites You to a Continuing Education Program

Abbe was Sam and Edith’s only child. Edith passed away when Abbe was quite young. Sam and his daughter Abbe were very devoted to

Thursday, October 18, 8-10 a.m.

The Burd Trusts: Professional Teamwork Approach

Advising Donors and Charities After the Tax Cut and Jobs Act of 2017

Touro Synagogue Auditorium

The creation of the Sam Burd and Abbe Burd Charitable Remainder Trusts is a shining example of true collaboration between professionals.

With Nationally Acclaimed Speaker Edward Jay Beckwith Partner, BakerHostetler, Washington, DC

In 1992, Joel Mendler, JEF past president and member of JEF’s Professional Advisory Committee, worked with Sam Burd’s professional advisors — Charles Levy, his CPA; Lee Brown, his insurance agent; and Leopold Stahl, the Burd family attorney — to fulfill Sam’s goal of providing for his daughter, Abbe, for her lifetime and to charities after his death. Mendler and Brown recommended that he leave his estate ultimately to the Jewish community through an unrestricted bequest to JEF by using a charitable trust. Burd and his team of professional advisors agreed on this solution.

Edward Jay Beckwith is nationally recognized for his skill and commitment as counsel to high-net-worth families and charities across the country. He serves as the national leader of BakerHostetler’s tax-exempt organizations and charitable giving practice. For his entire professional career, Ed has lectured throughout the United States and has written extensively, including articles and speeches for the American Law Institute and the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC). He frequently chairs continuing education programs for private wealth professionals and has been an adjunct tax professor at the Georgetown University Law Center for 29 years, where he currently teaches and coordinates a graduate-level certificate program in Advanced Estate and Charitable Planning.

Approval is pending for 2 CPE credits and 2 CLE credits (including specialization credits in Estate Planning and Administration, and Tax Law).

The charitable trust which was created not only solved the goals of Burd with respect to his daughter and ultimate charities, but also saved considerable federal estate taxes. Joel Mendler states, “These wonderful gifts could not have been obtained without the splendid cooperation of Lee Brown, Leopold Stahl, and Charles Levy. This is a classic example of professionals working as a team and being aware of opportunities for charitable giving by their clients to JEF.”

To register, go to There is no fee for this program. For more information, please contact Patti Lengsfield at (504) 524-4559 or

September 2018 • The Jewish Newsletter 29

Jewish Community Center Save The Date

for Center Celebration Center Celebration 2018 promises a sweet and saucy night at the J! Held Oct. 20 at the Uptown JCC, this fun poolside party features live music by Kermit Ruffins and The Barbeque Swingers and kosher barbeque by Kansas City grill master Adam Glass. Invitations will be mailed early September and sponsorship opportunities for this exciting evening are still available. Contact Leslie Fischman at (504) 897-0143 or for additional details.

The Notorious Ruth Bader Ginsburg U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has become a cultural icon, and yet the story of her journey to the highest court has remained relatively unknown, until now. “RBG” offers a look inside her extraordinary life and career. Come see this powerful documentary at a free screening on Sept. 26 at 7 p.m. at the Uptown JCC, and learn about her lifetime working for equality for all. This event is open to the community. Light hors d’oeuvres and tasty treats will be served.

Hillel partners with Top Box

Martin Fletcher Shares Newest Book Respected news correspondent and author Martin Fletcher will kick off this year’s Cathy and Morris Bart Jewish Cultural Arts Series on October 3 at the Uptown JCC. The former head of NBC TV’s Tel Aviv Bureau, Fletcher will speak about his new novel, “Promised Land.” A sweeping saga of two brothers and the woman they love, a devastating love triangle set against the tumultuous founding of the State of Israel, “Promised Land” is at once the gripping tale of a struggling family and an epic about a struggling nation. Beginning at 7 p.m., this event is free and open to the community. A book signing and Q & A session will follow the talk.

Share and Learn at the Parents Circle Parents of preschool age children are invited to attend the Parents Circle. Beginning September 17, the group will meet at 9:15 a.m. one Monday each month at the Uptown JCC. At the Parents Circle, over coffee, in a casual and supportive environment, parents come together to share parenting experiences, discuss universal Jewish values, and learn about Jewish holidays and other customs. Parents of all faiths in all family constellations are welcome. No prior knowledge is needed. This group is led by Rabbi Matthew Reimer of Temple Sinai and Rachel Lazarus Eriksen, LCSW, of Jewish Family Service, in collaboration with the New Orleans JCC and with support from the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust. To participate in this free community group, RSVP to

Tulane Hillel Shares Best Practices

Tulane Hillel is excited to announce our new partnership with Top Over the summer, Tulane Hillel welcomed the Organizational DeBox Foods. Top Box Foods is a nonprofit organization started by two sign Lab’s annual conference to the Goldie and Morris Mintz Center Tulane graduates, and we are so excited to be able to help support their for Jewish Life. This year’s conference welcomed 16 Hillels from across amazing mission of making high quality produce available to everyone. the U.S. and Canada, to New Orleans. Over five days, ODL particThe Top Box- Tulane Hillel Buyers Club is an easy way for Tulane ipants discussed best practices for creating innovative and relevant and Loyola students, staff, and NOLA community members to have Jewish communities on college campuses. access to high-quality produce. It allows the Uptown community to Originally, ODL was created as a result of the fast and dramatic have access to these affordable fruits and vegetables while supporting growth experienced at Tulane Hillel. Employing a Design Thinking apdeliveries of produce to underserved areas of New Orleans. proach to Jewish organizational and community building, Tulane Hillel It’s simple, visit, select your plan, some as low as developed a replicable thought model that has been successfully shared $5 a week, and your produce will be delivered to Tulane Hillel every and used with a cohort of eight Hillels from across North America. Monday, starting on Sept. 10, and be available for pick up between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.! By offering inexpensive fresh produce delivered right to the heart of our community we hope to help serve students, as well as community members, who may not feel as though produce is accessible to them currently. Join our Buyers Club today, and we’ll see you on Mondays! 30 The Jewish Newsletter • September 2018

As a result of the extremely positive feedback and midterm results of our 2016-2018 pilot cohort, the supporters of ODL have funded a second cohort of eight additional Hillels for the project. In partnership with Tulane Hillel and Hillel U, the second cohort launched in the spring of 2018. To learn more about Tulane Hillel and the Organizational Design Lab, like and follow us on Facebook at:

Jewish Family Service September is National Suicide Prevention Month

Social Workers, Counselors, Mental Health Professionals:

Upcoming Continuing Education Workshops at Jewish Family Service

All month, mental health advocates, prevention organizations, survivors, allies and community members unite to promote suicide prevention awareness. There is help if you or a loved one is experiencing depression or suicidal thoughts. Jewish Family Service offers mental health counseling in a safe and comfortable atmosphere, available to individuals, couples and families.

Continuous Learning within Clinical Supervision

Oct. 19, 8:45 a.m. to noon. Presented by Joy Couvillion, LCSWBACS. Approved for 3 Supervision hours by LCA and LABSWE.

Suicide Prevention and Intervention

Nov. 9, 8:45 a.m. to noon. Presented by Genevieve Durkin, LCSW-BACS. Approved for 3 General hours by LCA and 3 Clinical hours by LABSWE*. *Approval pending

In addition, JFS offers Teen Life Counts suicide prevention curriculum free to schools, parents and faculty. Over 3,000 students and adult gatekeepers participated in workshops throughout the greater New Orleans metropolitan area during the 2017-2018 school year.

Understanding, Predicting, and Changing Behavior: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy to Shape Your Practice

If suicide warnings are observed, seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or calling local VIA Link Crisis Support by dialing 211 for a referral.

Dec. 7, 8:45 a.m. to 4 p.m., one-hour lunch break. Presented by Stephen Phillippi, Jr., LCSW. Approved for 6 Diagnosis hours by LCA and 6 Clinical hours by LABSWE.

Your Support Saves Lives Lindsey had recently taken part in the JFS Teen Life Counts program. Through this training, she learned how to spot the warning signs of suicidal ideation and depression, as well as how to reach out to a friend you are concerned about. When her close friend Grace distanced herself

Lindsey’s Story socially, emotionally, and withdrew herself from

their normal activities, Lindsey reached out to her. She discovered that Grace was seriously considering suicide and had prescription drugs from a relative’s medicine cabinet in her possession. Lindsey reacted calmly and quickly, by calling both her Mom and Grace’s. She stayed until the adults arrived and helped Grace communicate how she felt to the adults. Grace’s mom was able to get her immediate professional help.

Because of you, Jewish Family Service is able to provide high quality, professional guidance at affordable rates to vulnerable community members and offer the Teen Life Counts program for free to students like Lindsey & Grace. Your support of the annual Friends of JFS campaign impacts their lives and so many other people for the better, and allows JFS to offer our services on a sliding-fee scale based on household income. We cannot do it without YOUR help. Please make your caring contribution today. Visit our website to learn more and to donate! JFS now accepts MEDICARE, along with Aetna, United Healthcare, Blue Cross and Blue Shield, Blue Connect, Gilsbar, and Tricare insurance policies for Counseling Services. Counseling for individuals, couples, families and groups is a core community service of JFS. Licensed behavioral health professionals provide guidance and support on how to cope with interpersonal and family problems. Appointments are available at counseling centers in Metairie and the Northshore. Fees are assessed on a sliding-fee scale based on household income. To make an appointment, call: Metairie (504) 831-8475 or Northshore (985) 253-1619.

Pricing varies. All events located at: 3300 W. Esplanade Ave. S., Suite 603, Metairie. For more information, call (504) 831-8475, or visit the Workshops and Continuing Education page on the JFS website: workshops-continuing-education/

Fall Community Groups JFS runs therapeutic, support and social skills groups periodically to meet the needs of the community. Register now by emailing the contacts below or call (504) 831-8475. Visit the JFS Groups page for more info:

Queer Identity and Relationships within a Cultural Context: Support Group for LGBTQ+

Sept. 26 to Oct. 31, Wednesdays, 4:30 to 6 p.m. This psycho-educational support group will center around shared experiences and help participants develop healthy coping skills. $40 for all six weeks (includes initial assessment). Contact Ida Ansell by phone, (504) 8318475 ext. 177, or by email

Making Meaning of Loss: A Therapeutic Group for those Experiencing Grief

Sept. 26 to Oct. 31, Wednesdays, 4:30 to 6 p.m. Participants will learn coping skills, receive supportive group counseling, and explore the process of making meaning of loss. $40 for all six weeks (includes initial assessment). Contact Katie Godshall, LCSW-BACS, by phone (504) 831-8475 ext. 169, or by email


Oct. 9 to Nov. 13, Tuesdays, 4:30 to 6 p.m. Girl Power is a 7-week therapeutic group that promotes improved self-esteem, social skills, confidence and stress reduction within girls ages 8-14. $100 for all seven weeks (includes initial assessment). Contact Katherine Cantwell by phone, (504) 831-8475 ext. 180, or email

Caregiver Support Group

Oct. 11 to Nov. 15, Thursdays, 4:30 to 6 p.m. A group for family, friends and caregivers to support, learn and help each other take care of loved ones. $40 for all six weeks (includes initial assessment). Contact Harter March by phone, (504) 831-8475 ext. 175, or by email

September 2018 •The Jewish Newsletter 31

Jewish Community Day School Knock. Knock. JCDS Board President Delights in Board Boomerang Who’s come to call? Jewish Community Day School welcomes Carole Neff as Board An invitation to the Butterfly Ball! of Trustees President. Carole was formally installed in May follow-

ing her highly successful appointment as Chair of the Development Committee. “I am following in the footsteps of several outstanding leaders who have paved the way for the school’s continued excellence and strength.” Nominating Committee Chair, Lis Kahn, is especially excited for Carole’s 2-year term. “Carole Neff has amazing community Jewish Community Day School is a-flutter with anticipation for the leadership experience, a brilliant mind, and a heart that is devoted to Butterfly Ball in support of our 2018-2019 Annual Campaign. Inspired the school. We could not ask for more.” by Jane Yolen’s beloved children’s counting rhyme, this year’s Gala This year’s Nominating Committee also brought back several will fete our numerous blessings, most especially our beloved Head of friends to the JCDS Board of Trustees. Naomi Samuels is a JCDS School, Dr. Sharon Pollin. alumna daughter of our founding inspiration, Patti Arnold Samuels, Don your dainty party slippers, ribbons and laces Your clean suit and your happy faces In the Butterfly Garden, come raise a glass As we look to our future and honor our past

Just six years ago our honoree arrived in New Orleans, rolled up her sleeves and went to work. And she hasn’t stopped yet. Blooming enrollment, grade expansion at both ends of the program, phenomenal fundraising, thoughtful strategic planning, a passionate board, and stellar faculty have created the amazing JCDS we celebrate today.

Co-chairs Susan (JCDS Board Vice President) and Howard Green, with dear friends Fran and Jonny Lake, are delighted to welcome guests into the Magical Butterfly Garden at 3747 W. Esplanade Avenue in Metairie on Nov. 18 at 5:30 p.m. “An Invitation to the Butterfly Ball is a story I’ve loved since my daughter was a child. The butterfly is beautiful and complex, just like this year’s honoree. Butterflies promote change, growth, and accomplish great things. Dr. Pollin’s deep commitment to education, Judaism, and leadership have transformed JCDS forever. Her work will affect this community, and far beyond, for generations to come. We are so thankful for our butterfly,” states Green.

z’l. Naomi received her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the College of Charleston and is back in New Orleans as the Convention Sales Coordinator for New Orleans and Co. We couldn’t be more proud to welcome Naomi back to JCDS! Liz Schwenk Yager is the proud mother of three JCDS alumni and served on the Board of Trustees during the school’s early years. In her professional life, Liz is the Development Director of the Jefferson Council on Aging, a position that is as important to her as her return role with JCDS. “I love the yin and yang of these two special organizations, one that ensures children receive the best possible beginning in life, and the other that is committed to the dignity and independence of our elders.” Karen Weissbecker Remer is mom to two JCDS alumni and a past president of the JCDS board. A highly-regarded geneticist, Karen is also proud to be cousin to our current board president, Carole Neff! Karen is delighted to be back on the Board of Trustees during this time of excitement and growth. “It is such a thrill for me to know that the school has come so far. I am delighted to be a member of the board at this time.” Heidi Vizelberg, former parent, teacher AND board member is delighted to be back at JCDS. “Patti Samuels was so dear to me and I am thankful and proud to serve on the board of the school she inspired!” We are looking forward to an amazing year with our dynamite team!

Put Us On Your Calendar!

Got Shofar??? During the month of Elul, each morning the shofar calls us to Wake Up! We prepare for the coming High Holidays by thinking about the past year, the year to come, and how we can be our best selves. Students bring their shofars to school for daily shofar blowing and adults are always welcome to join us to share their shofar chops! 32 The Jewish Newsletter • September 2018

Sept. 27 Family Sukkot Dinner, 6 p.m. Oct. 9 Open House, 6 p.m. Childcare is available Complimentary Pizza Dinner at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 18 Butterfly Ball, 5:30 p.m. (JCDS Gala Supporting our Annual Campaign) Nov. 26-29 Scholastic Book Fair Dec. 7 Chanukah Extravaganza/ Grandparent and Special Friends Day, 8:30 a.m. For more calendar events visit

Interested in a Hebrew Reading Crash Course? Dr. Pollin has you covered! Join JCDS and community friends for a FREE five-session course. To sign up or for more information contact

sports an annual SJL special section

With a little help from their friends

American-style football works to make it in Israel, league seeks partnerships in the U.S. Outside the United States, the term “football” is what Americans refer to as “soccer.” While soccer is big in Israel, American-style football is steadily growing, but Israel’s version continues to need help from its nation of origin. “Football is a good fit for Israelis,” said Betzalel Friedman, commissioner of the Kraft Family Israel Football League, explaining that American football is physical, tactical and strategic. Friedman toured the United States earlier this year, visiting several communities, including Birmingham, to make connections for the league. Americans in Israel started a flag football league in 1989, followed by a women’s league, which won the silver medal in this past year’s Europe championships. In 2005, a group of Israelis started to play tackle football, playing without pads or a league. The tackle league was officially founded in 2007, with four teams. Last year there were seven adult teams and 11 high school teams. In 2015, Israel fielded a national tackle football team for the first time. The first game was held in Spain, and Israel won. Friedman said a new high school team, the Rishon LeZion Rockets, will start this year,

and in 2019-20 they will add the Petach Tikvah Knights, and a yet-to-be-named team in Karmiel. Friedman explained that the league is pay-toplay, not paying players to play. When it started, someone who made the team would then be told to acquire pads and a helmet and then come back to join the team. Those items aren’t plentiful in Israel. “You can’t exactly go into Dick’s Sporting Goods and buy helmets and shoulder pads.” Through donations of new and used equipment from the United States, Friedman hopes the league gets to where the players don’t have to buy their own equipment. Friedman said there are many families and institutions in the U.S. that have been “instrumental” in keeping the league going. Recent donations include game jerseys from a high school in Missouri, helmets and shoulder pads from Maryville College in Tennessee, pants from Abilene Christian in Texas, and thigh pads from Dordt, a Christian college in Iowa. The Grace Christian Academy Rams in Knoxville sent home and away jerseys to the Haifa Rams. If one of the Israeli teams seems to resemble

the guys from Rocky Top, there is a reason for that. When the University of Tennessee changed its equipment contract from Adidas to Nike, all of a sudden the school had a lot of equipment they could not use. “They had to get rid of everything with the Adidas logo,” including home and away uniforms, about 150 new pairs of cleats and 500 pairs of new gloves. Ramat Hasharon was forming a team that was to be called the Lightning, with grey and green as the colors, but when all of the Tennessee equipment became available, they changed their colors to grey and orange, and became the Thunder, because of the big orange T on the helmets. That also makes it easier for the team to get additional materials. Rather than special ordering with a custom logo, they just order stuff from Tennessee’s website. Most of the donated equipment is funneled to Israel through Harvest of Israel in Morristown, Tenn. While it’s great to get the equipment, not all of it can be used immediately. Friedman still has about 50 pairs of cleats, because they are size 16 and up — and “we don’t have players that size.” One thing they can’t accept is used footwear, September 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 33



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because Customs won’t allow it into Israel. High schools in the U.S. have to recertify their helmets every couple of years, a requirement that isn’t present in Israel, so “schools tend to go through equipment faster now.” The biggest supporter of Israeli football is New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft. “As a Colts fan who grew up in Indianapolis,” Friedman said, “that is very hard on me.” In 1998, Kraft was visiting Israel, and a hotel concierge, who played in the young league, recognized him. He asked Kraft if he knew that football was being played in Israel, albeit on crowded, rocky fields. Kraft soon met with Steve Leibowitz, who was commissioner at the time, then in 1999 Kraft donated $200,000 toward the Kraft Stadium in Jerusalem, which was the first football field in the nation. The stadium was improved in 2005. While many games are played there, other games around the country are played on soccer fields when available. Friedman noted that Kraft started his involvement with Israeli football in 1999, and the Patriots, which had been mediocre for some time, won the Super Bowl in 2001 for the first time, and then twice more in the next three years. “They’ve done okay since then,” he added. Friedman said the women’s league was “Myra Kraft’s baby.” She died in 2011. Many big names have played football in Israel, though not necessarily big football names. Ron Dermer, Israel’s ambassador to the United States, quarterbacked the national flag football team in the World Cup three times. Friedman’s family moved to Israel when he was 10. When Friedman finished his army service, he saw a flyer for the expansion Judean Rebels in what was the league’s third season. The next season, because of his organizational skills, they asked him to coach the team, and “we actually won the championship,” defeating the Tel Aviv/Jaffa Sabres, 32-30, in Israel Bowl IV. He said it was all because of the players. “I made one good call that year.” After three years running the team, he was asked to run the league, so he left the high-tech world. Coach Eric Cohu, who was then in Huntsville and has advised the league for a decade, mentored Friedman as commissioner, and Israeli coaches came to Huntsville to be on his staff at Madison Academy, deepening their knowledge of the game. That is one of the three “E”s that Friedman said are needed by the league — education. Football knowledge in Israel is nowhere close to the level in the U.S., so the league is trying to set up coaching relationships with Americans. In June, 25 Israeli high school players traveled to Knoxville for an intensive two weeks of training camp at Christian Academy in Knoxville. Among those in attendance was Brandy Gibson of Birmingham, who does public relations for several NFL players, as well as for Friedman and Dan Phillips, U.S. coordinator for the Friends of the IFL. Gibson works with the sports marketing program at Samford University, and facilitated a marketing consulting project for the IFL by students in the program. The other required “E”s are equipment and economics. To participate in European competitions, Israel has more of a challenge. Friedman said if a tournament is in Italy, Switzerland can take a bus and spend one night in a hotel. Travel is more lengthy, involved and expensive from Israel. To help promote football in Israel, Kraft has organized several trips of current and former NFL players. A February 2017 delegation included New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, who was baptized in the Jordan River during the trip. The trip originally was supposed to include 11 players, but after Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett dropped out over whether he

September 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 35


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would be seen as endorsing Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians, five others cancelled. When Jordan was criticized on Twitter for doing PR for Israel by going on the trip, he responded “I’m going on a trip for the spiritual and historical layout of a country I’ve always wanted to go to. I’m learning more.” In April 2017, Saints Israeli high school student Peer Dor quarterback Drew Brees with New England Patriots Owner visited Jerusalem on a low- Robert Kraft during the June 2017 Hall of Famers trip to Israel. In addition to key, private trip. In June 2017, 18 NFL football, Dor served as translator during Hall of Famers joined Kraft the Israeli teams’ training camp in for the dedication of the Knoxville, Tenn., this summer. new Kraft Family Sports Campus in Jerusalem. The gold-jacketed delegation included Joe Montana, Roger Staubach, Jim Brown, Mean Joe Greene and Eric Dickerson. Friedman called Staubach a “mensch,” saying he has been supportive of Holocaust education groups. While “all sports are pretty good” at bringing people together, Friedman said, “none can better than football.” The Judean Rebels have three Palestinian brothers on the team. Ramat Hasharon, a “ritzy area” has 10 players from a youth village, including three Muslim players, all of whom start on the offensive line. The offensive rookie of the year was an immigrant from the former Soviet Union, the offensive player of the year was Ethiopian and the MVP was an American who immigrated from Chicago and is a veteran of one of the IDF’s elite units. Another player is a former Division III college football player who left Dartmouth when he became observant and would no longer play on Saturdays. He became a Breslov chassid, and joined the Israeli league at age 36. Another player, Friedman said, is a Christian from Texas who is pursuing a Master’s degree in Jerusalem. Peace, Friedman said, “is going to come from the neighbors and the people who play football together and shop together.”

Delta Jewish Open tees off early this year The 31st annual Jay Mosow Memorial Delta Jewish Open golf tournament is early this year — typically held in November, this year’s event is Oct. 6 and 7. Because the benefit for the Henry S. Jacobs Camp and the Institute of Southern Jewish Life also serves as a reunion for Jews from the Mississippi Delta area, one need not be a golfer to participate. There will be a steak dinner with open bar on Oct. 6 at Hebrew Union Congregation in Greenville. Social hour will start at 6:30 p.m., and the dinner starts at 7:45 p.m. The evening includes drawings, prizes and the formation of teams. The four-player scramble tournament will be on Oct. 7 at Greenville Country Club, with a 9 a.m. shofar start. Cash prizes go to the top three teams, and a hole in one on the 14th hole has a $10,000 prize. Lunch is available afterward. Registration is $120 for golfing individuals, $195 for a “golfer with golf date,” $135 for “golfer with non-golfing date.” Non-golfing couples are $75, non-golfing individuals are $40. Tee box sponsorships are available at $100. For tournament information, contact Barry Piltz, (662) 332-3322. 36 Southern Jewish Life • September 2018

sports Will the national championship game be an SEC invitational again? by Lee J. Green For the first time in the College Football Playoff era, two teams from the same conference played in the national championship game, with SEC rivals Georgia and Alabama squaring off. The teams went into overtime tied at 20. The Bulldogs went ahead 23-20 with a field goal on their first overtime possession. Then on a miracle 2nd and 26, the Crimson Tide’s true-freshmen connection provided the walkoff fireworks and gave Alabama its fifth national championship in nine years under Saban. The Tide has Could also made the four-team College Mississippi Football Playoff in State be the all four years of playoff ’s exissurprise team the tence. this year? Moving ahead to this season, a few teams could challenge Alabama and Georgia for both SEC and national supremacy. One of those teams is the Mississippi State Bulldogs, which went 9-4 last year. They return eight starters on defense, including all-SEC de-

fensive tackle Jeffrey Simmons, and nine starters on offense, including school-record-breaking quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. The Bulldogs lost head coach Dan Mullen to the SEC rival Florida Gators, who visit Starkville on Sept. 29. But Mississippi State Athletics Director John Cohen has faith in their new head coach Joe Moorhead, the former offensive coordinator at Penn State and head coach at Fordham University. “Joe is a great offensive mind, but more importantly, he is a great manager of young men. Our fan base has really embraced Joe and he has embraced them,” said Cohen. “We were looking for someone with a strong offensive background and head coaching experience as well as someone who could really connect with recruits. Joe checks all the boxes.” Mississippi State named Cohen as its 17th director of athletics in November 2016. The former MSU head baseball coach and two-time SEC Coach of the Year has overseen the hiring of three coaches, while nine teams have advanced to the postseason since Cohen took over the helm. Seven teams earned top-25 rankings, with baseball, women’s basketball and women’s cross

Photo courtesy Mississippi State Athletics

Athletics Director John Cohen country finishing in the top 16. “I credit some great mentors, including (current Kentucky Athletics Director) Mitch Barnhardt, (former Mississippi State and current Florida Athletics Director) Scott Stricklin, (Alabama Athletics Director) Greg Byrne, (former Florida Athletics Director) Jeremy Foley and (former South Carolina Baseball Coach and current Athletics Director) Ray Tanner with helping me to understand the demands of an athletic director,” said Cohen. “First and foremost, you have to support your student athletes

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38 Southern Jewish Life • September 2018

to help them be as successful as they can be.” In today’s climate, NCAA compliance is always at the forefront of an AD’s duties as well as generating more support to improve program success as well as facilities. “I feel it is a big part of my job to positively promote our university and athletics department conference-wide and nationally,” said Cohen. “We want to create a welcoming, diverse environment all the time here at Mississippi State.” Diversity is very important to Cohen. “It’s on our mission statement. We’re the most diverse institution in terms of race in the SEC,” he said. Cohen and his wife, Nell, were instrumental in helping SEC Predicted Order of Finish MSU to get its first Hillel. There are a handful of Jewish coaches Media attending SEC Media Days in different sports at the uni- in Atlanta this past July were asked to vote on the predicted versity, he said. “We are very proud to be order of finish, along with the SEC Jewish and Mississippi State champion. Here are the results. has been very supportive of us SEC East SEC West as well as our Jewish students, 1: Georgia Alabama professors, coaches, employ- 2: S. Carolina Auburn ees,” he said. 3: Florida Miss. State Cohen said the Jewish 4: Missouri Texas A&M community at MSU and in 5: Kentucky LSU Starkville has grown since he 6: Tennessee Ole Miss was in school. The Mississippi 7: Vanderbilt Arkansas State Hillel was started in 2009, and the Cohens host the Hillel SEC Championship: for dinner at least once every Alabama defeats Georgia semester. He originally wanted to be a quarterback for the University of Alabama football team, but wound up pursuing baseball, starting at Birmingham-Southern in 1986. He then made his way to Starkville, and was key to the Bulldogs’ 1989 SEC championship and 1990 College World Series teams, setting many records at Mississippi State, including his 148 wins. He graduated from MSU with a degree in English, and spent a couple of years in the Minnesota Twins’ farm system. He went to the University of Missouri to earn a master’s degree in sports management and coach as a hitting instructor. He then became head coach for the first time at Northwestern State in Natchitoches, La., winning two conference titles. After serving as hitting coach at Florida, Cohen became the head coach for the Kentucky Wildcats baseball team in 2004, winning a “worst to first” conference championship in 2006. Turning down a 10-year contract at Kentucky, he was named head coach at his alma mater in 2009, succeeding the legendary Ron Polk, who had been his coach. In 2016, the baseball team won the conference regular season championship for the first time since his playing days in 1989, and he became one of only six active coaches to reach the College World Series as player and coach for the same college. Coincidentally, both he and Nelle are both Tuscaloosa natives, having met in their early teens. His father, Harry, taught law at Alabama for 38 years. “We were raised there and still have a lot of family in Tuscaloosa. We are involved with the synagogue there and the synagogue in Columbus, Miss.,” he said. In 2013, Daniel Snyder, director of development for the Mississippi State Hillel, called Nelle Cohen “our single greatest supporter and we wouldn’t be here without her.” Being Jewish in a smaller city in the Deep South has only been a positive for the Cohens. “Everyone has been nice. Some people have asked us questions about Judaism and we are happy to share our beliefs, traditions with them,” he said.


Shared passion: African-American hoops players at home in Israel

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David A. Goldstein, a sports executive and journalist in Toronto, Canada, said he “grew up a basketball fanatic who visited Israel every year, and yet I’d never put the two together.” That changed over a decade ago when he was visiting his grandparents in Jerusalem. It was when Anthony Parker, who previously had played in Israel, was playing for Toronto in the NBA and his grandparents’ friends couldn’t stop talking about him — and they were incredibly well-informed. He knew basketball was big in Israel, but “I never understood the scope, the depth, the emotional parts of it,” and the connection that Israelis had with African-American players in the Israeli basketball leagues. He started to research that passion “with a blank slate,” curious as to what he would uncover. He figured the story would be a few NBA players who went to Israel for a brief time, enjoyed their experiences and then headed back home. “When I dug further, that’s when I started to see the depths of the phenomenon.” He saw stories of players who stayed in Israel after their playing days, and “their depth of commitment to the country,” in many cases even serving in the Israeli military. Even for those who don’t stay, “Israel is a part of them, they are advocates and ambassadors, years after they came back to the U.S.” He chronicles their stories in “Alley-Oop to Aliyah: African American Hoopsters in the Holy Land.” He said the book is “their perspective, my best effort at describing how they view the country,” and it is “a completely different perspective” from “people with no discernable history with Judaism or Israel.” Goldstein spoke to a “variety of players” from different levels of Israeli basketball, so he would not get “10 versions of similar experiences.” He spoke to NBA veterans who played for Maccabi Tel Aviv, and Division II players that “scratched, clawed their way.” A lot of them had some trepidation in going to Israel, and family members expressing concern. “They weren’t expecting much, didn’t know much about the country.” Some players expected it would be like going back in time, he added. “And then, wow. The word ‘wow’ came up over and over again.” Unlike many European countries, everyone speaks English, and since Israel has a great relationship with the U.S. “being an American is something to be proud of,” unlike in much of Europe. With so many cultures in Israel, it wasn’t difficult for the players to feel at home. “You can go into a nightclub and hear American hip-hop” or whatever kind of foods they are used to. Still, being in Israel does mean having to be constantly aware. Goldstein relates the story of Donald Royal from New Orleans, who arrived in Israel in 1990. While shopping with a friend, it didn’t faze him when an elderly Arab woman put her shopping bag on the floor in the food court. But as she shouted “Allahu akbar,” his friend grabbed his arm and told him to run. He heard the explosion behind him. When the Gulf War broke out in 1991, he was given permission to stay in Switzerland and meet the team for games on the road — because of the war, all of the Israel team’s international games had to take place outside Israel. But within two weeks, he was so concerned that he ignored family pleas and headed back to Israel. Many other African American players could have left, but they decided to stay and show they were “in this together.” Many of the prominent players have Southern roots, which can be a problem in adjusting to life in Israel. While there is great hospitality and warmth one-on-one in Israel, “people are very upfront, can be very abrasive or rude,” and that comes as culture shock to those of a Southern mindset. Goldstein said Fred Campbell, who has ties to Florida and Georgia

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but remained in Israel, said he had to learn the “Israeli mentality,” and now he is able “to switch back and forth” between Southerner and Israeli. One of the more prominent basketball families is the Dawsons. Joe Dawson is from Tuscaloosa and played at Southern Mississippi. He went to Israel in 1987 and played for 14 years. He now lives in Rehovot, and his two sons both play in Israeli leagues. Goldstein said Shawn Dawson “is widely considered the most likely Israeli to next make the jump to the NBA.” In 2016, Shawn Dawson signed with the New Orleans Pelicans, appearing in three preseason games before being waived. Joe Dawson, who has a laid-back Southern personality, said it took him a while before he understood that the abrasiveness of Israelis was because of the pressures they are under. Stanley Brundy, a DePaul graduate, was born in New Orleans. After one year in the NBA, he went overseas, arriving in Israel in 1999. He eventually became a citizen of Israel and still lives there with his wife and children. Cory Carr, from Fordyce, Ark., has played in Israel since 2000, married an Israeli and became a citizen in 2009. One of the earliest players to go to Israel was Aulcie Perry. A New Jersey native, he attended Bethune-Cookman in Florida. In 1976, a scout for Maccabi Tel Aviv saw him in Harlem, and they signed him. Perry led them to an historic season, then Maccabi Tel Aviv headed to the EuroLeague competition, where they had never done well despite all their success in Israel. Usually mired at the bottom of the standings in pool play, Maccabi Tel Aviv found success at the 1977 tournament. They needed a victory over CSKA Moscow to make the champions round — a game where the Soviet Union refused to host and would not play in Israel because diplomatic relations had been broken off in 1967. The game was played in Belgium, with all of Israel glued to their televisions. When you are in a country that is routinely vilified on the international stage, “success in sports on an international level is a rallying point, whether you are a sports fan or not,” Goldstein said. The Israeli team won by 12, setting off a huge celebration in Israel. That only intensified after Israel beat the Italian team for the championship. For a country still trying to get over the Yom Kippur War and the massacre of Olympic athletes at the 1972 Munich Games, the victory “was a defining moment in the history of the country.” Tal Brody, one of the team’s biggest stars, famously said that Israel was on the map, and would remain there, “not just in sports, but in everything.” After 1977, the New Orleans Jazz was among

the NBA teams interested in Perry, but he wasn’t interested in leaving Israel, which he called his “adopted home” in a 1978 Ebony interview. He added that though he was the only black player on the team, he had never experienced racial discrimination in Israel. Eventually, he converted to Judaism. After Perry, many more African American players followed. The influx led to rules changes. Early on, only one non-Israeli could be on a team. In New York, “basketball rabbis” sprang up to do quick conversions, so players could make Aliyah and become citizens, not counting against the foreign quota. There were also “arranged marriages.” In all, about 40 players went those routes. Before long, the rules were changed to prevent that. The practice also cast a shadow on several players who converted “legitimately” and remain Jewish long after their playing days. Even Perry, who keeps kosher, faces some doubters among Jews, as well as a lack of acceptance by some of his Southern Baptist relatives. In researching the book, Goldstein did not expect he would learn so much about conversion, the Law of Return and non-basketball religious aspects. There is also a running debate about having foreign players in the league — do they crowd out native Israelis who do not have a chance to develop their skills to a higher level? Goldstein found in many cases, having African American players has caused Israelis to step up their effort. The Americans often found a low level of off-season commitment to training and conditioning among Israeli players, who were mostly waiting to be told what to do. The book is so overwhelmingly positive, some readers have been skeptical. “I’ve been asked if the Israeli government commissioned the book, or if I got paid by the Israeli government,” Goldstein said. “I had no objective, no plan,” he added. “I was curious. I dug, and this is the phenomenon. I didn’t create it. I didn’t spin it.” He didn’t shy away from negatives, and wrote about some players who did not have a perfect experience. But overall, the experience of African-American players in Israel is “a rare thing you can be unapologetically proud of.” Even the little things are noticed. Former Florida Gator Alex Tyus tweeted about losing his wallet in Israel in 2012. It was found, with all contents intact. He commented that if he had lost it in the U.S., it would have been “gone forever.” When Tyree Rice signed with Maccabi Tel Aviv in 2013, he got a text from another veteran of Israeli basketball — “Congratulations, you’re going to heaven.” That season, Maccabi Tel Aviv won its sixth European title, and he was named the EuroLeague Final Four MVP.


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The Sklar family recalls the glory days of the Birmingham Stallions, which Jerry Sklar, center, led as team president

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As the “traditional” football season gets underway, another spring league, the Alliance of American Football, is preparing for a February 2019 debut, with Birmingham, Atlanta and Memphis among the eight teams in the new league. While Birmingham has been a cornerstone location in numerous upstart leagues, arguably the most successful was the Birmingham Stallions of the United States Football League, and Jerry Sklar was right in the middle of it. Team owner Marvin Warner tapped Sklar to be president of the Stallions. He “twisted my arm, and I had a lot of fun with it,” Sklar said. Sklar grew up in the Mississippi Delta, where his father, William, served as mayor of the tiny town of Louise for three terms, retiring in the early 1970s. Sklar graduated from the University of Alabama in 1958 with a degree in accounting, and “I wasn’t going back to Louise,” he said. Instead, he pursued a retail career, eventually becoming president of Loveman’s, a department store chain with six stores in Alabama. In 1979, New York-based City Stores, the parent company of Loveman’s, filed for bankruptcy, and in April of 1980, the Loveman’s stores were closed. City Stores announced that Sklar would become president of their 12 Maison Blanche stores in Louisiana, and Sklar moved to the headquarters building on Canal Street. That building is now the Ritz Carlton. In 1951, City Stores had acquired New Orleans’ Maison Blanche, which was opened in 1897 by Isidore Newman. Sklar’s role during the 3 years he spent in New Orleans was to put Maison Blanche in the best posture possible for a sale. In January 1982, the sale was consummated with the Goudchaux’s department store chain. When the sale went through, Sklar had an opportunity to stay but after almost 25 years in the retail business, it was time to take a break. The very next month, David Dixon, who is credited with creating the idea of the Superdome and establishing the New Orleans Saints, had started working on a new spring professional league. In May, the formation of the United States Football League was announced, with Birmingham as one of the initial 12 franchises. Warner, a Birmingham native living in Cincinnati, and former ambassador to Switzerland, was announced as the owner of the new Birmingham Stallions team. Warner was also a graduate of Alabama, where he had been a member of Kappa Nu, which eventually merged with Zeta Beta Tau. Before the USFL, the World Football League had a franchise in Birmingham, the Americans in 1974 and the Vulcans in 1975, which closed when the league collapsed in the middle of the second season. The Americans won the only WFL World Bowl, and the Vulcans were declared

league champions because they had the best record when the league folded. Among the significant group of minority owners of the Stallions were some very recognizable names, such as Aaron Aronov, Fred Berman, Harold Blach Jr., Mayer Mitchell, Bernard Rapoport and Harold Ripps. Warner had initially hired Jim Gould as president and general manager when the franchise was announced, but by July 1982, there was friction in the organization and Gould left the team. Sklar said Warner was “desperate” for a successor, and at a party hosted by Blach, asked him “who had a good reputation in the Birmingham business community,” and Black suggested Sklar. Just a few months removed from Maison Blanche, Sklar “was in Florida with my family. I wanted to relax for a while.” But Warner called. “Boy, he was persuasive,” Sklar recalled. Warner told him to fly to Cincinnati that night, even insisting that Sklar promise to get on the plane right away. When he arrived at Warner’s horse farm, Sklar was told he would be flying to Denver to represent the Stallions as president. “We’ve got a lot to talk about before I do something like that,” Sklar responded. Sklar signed on, and said Warner “let me run the franchise, and that was something I thoroughly enjoyed.

One of the first tasks was securing a head coach. After interviewing a number of candidates, Sklar reeled in Rollie Dotsch, the offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers by making a trip to the team’s training camp in Latrobe, Pa. “You couldn’t get a better pro head coach at that time than someone who was working for Chuck Knoll and the Pittsburgh Steelers” of Super Bowl fame, Sklar said. The USFL made its first big splash when Georgia Heisman Trophy winning running back Herschel Walker signed with the New Jersey Generals just before the first season started. On March 7, 1983, the Stallions kicked off against the Michigan Panthers at Legion Field, before a crowd of just over 30,000. The first season would prove somewhat mediocre on the field, with the team finishing with a 9-9 record. After the season ended, Sklar got his next coup — signing Joe Cribbs away from the Buffalo Bills. He was the first big-name NFL player to jump to the Stallions. Since Cribbs was an Auburn alumnus, the Stallions had territorial rights, which Sklar insisted on exercising. Cribbs’ agent at the time was Jerry Argovitz, who would later become an owner the Houston Gamblers, an expansion franchise that would be quarterbacked by Jim Kelly.

The Stallions also signed quarterback Cliff Stoudt, who was the backup for the Steelers, before the second season began. The league expanded to 18 teams for the second season, and the Boston Breakers moved to New Orleans, giving the Stallions a local rivalry, in addition to the expansion Memphis Showboats. The 1984 season opened with a home game against the New Jersey Generals. Sklar said Walker called him about 10 days before the game, and offered to visit Birmingham in the days leading up to the game, to promote it. Of course, that didn’t happen, “but Herschel was a great guy to make the offer.” That game did draw the largest crowd in Stallions history, 62,500, which was slightly larger than the biggest crowd for the local WFL franchises. With Stoudt and Cribbs, the Stallions rolled to a 14-4 record and a first-round playoff win against the Tampa Bay Bandits, coached by Steve Spurrier. They lost in the semi-finals to the eventual champion Philadelphia Stars, coached by Jim Mora. Sklar was recognized by the league as USFL Executive of the Year. In that off-season, Sklar also recognized the talent of a wide receiver from Mississippi Valley State University, taking Jerry Rice with the first

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overall pick of the USFL 1985 draft. The San Francisco 49ers would later draft him with the 16th pick in the NFL draft, and he went to the NFL, where he became one of the most heralded players in football history. At the start of the 1985 season, things were looking good for the Stallions. Through a wave of mergers and consolidations, the league fielded 14 teams in its third season, and the New Orleans Breakers moved to Portland. Also, at the urging of the New Jersey Generals owner, a brash young real estate executive named Donald Trump, the league had voted to take on the NFL directly with a fall schedule, starting in 1986. The USFL filed an anti-trust suit, alleging the NFL conspired to have a monopoly on players, stadiums and television contracts. But as the season started, Sklar learned that Warner would no longer be able to participate in the ownership of the team, due to Warner being in the middle of a savings and loan crisis in Ohio with his Home State Savings Bank. Now, the Stallions had new financial challenges. While the league planned its 1986 move as the 1985 season continued, Sklar negotiated with the city of Birmingham, and because of the heartfelt following that the team had achieved, the city approved a $1 million incentives package to support the team in its third season. Sklar also wound up representing the team in league owners’ meetings. After the season, the anti-trust suit against the NFL moved forward, with the idea that the anticipated damages would finance better talent for the eight teams that were still on board. Another idea was that the USFL would force a merger with the NFL, vastly increasing the value of the USFL franchises. Those plans came to a halt in July 1986, when the jury ruled against the NFL. Sklar was playing golf at the Pine Tree Country Club when the decision came down. “I was positive we were going to win the case, which we did,” he said. But when the damages were announced — $1, which was subject to tripling in an anti-trust case — “I thought it was some sort of a bad joke.” With a whopping $3 in damages and no television contract, the USFL postponed the 1986 season, then with a lengthy appeals process ahead, in January 1987 they cancelled the 1987 season. When the appeal was rejected in early 1988, the league was finished. As for the $3 in damages, Sklar has the check in a picture frame. “I was very proud of all that we accomplished,” Sklar said. “We built the beginning of a great franchise. It had all the makings — if the league had made it.” The Stallions “were very competitive for the three years we played.” As the league wound down, Dotsch said the Stallions were one of the few franchises that stuck to the original plan of fiscal responsibility, and had the smallest losses of the franchises. In 1985, Trump signed Heisman Trophy winner Doug Flutie to what was then the largest contract in pro football, and insisted the other teams’ owners would help pay for it. The Los Angeles Express signed Steve Young to a four-year, $40 million contract, which in those days was seen as over the top. To soften the effect, it was structured to be paid over 40 years. Sklar said after the league folded, Dotsch could have had the Atlanta Falcons job, but he was hired in 1987 as running backs coach for the Minnesota Vikings. As training camp started, Dotsch was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and died seven months later. Sklar said they talked twice a week while he battled the cancer. While running the Stallions was “the most fun three years of my life,” Sklar decided to “get on with my life’s work” and went into financial services industry in 1987, and had a long career with helping to open the Smith Barney office in Birmingham. That office later merged with Morgan Stanley. Looking back on the Stallions years, he said “we worked hard, did it right, and it was enjoyable.”

sports Rehab Reality... By Judy and Julie Butler

Maccabi delegations bring home many medals The Maccabi Games delegations from Birmingham and New Orleans may have been small this year, but they brought back a lot of medals as souvenirs. The JCC Maccabi Games were held in Orange County, Calif., at the Merage Jewish Community Center from Aug. 5 to 10. Last year Birmingham was one of three venues for the Games, while this year there was only one venue for the 2,000 teen participants from across the U.S. and around the world. Next year, Atlanta is one of the host sites, along with Detroit. Birmingham’s Elijah Frankel, who competed in the 15-16 age division in The joint Birmingham flag football team track, brought home an armful of medals. He started off the week by winning the vid, 6-1. New Orleans’ Madeline Canter competed in 1500-meter run with a time of 4:43.5, 26 seconds ahead of the second-place finisher, and in the U16 Competitive tennis division, going 1-3 the 800-meter run he won gold with a 16-sec- in her matches. Birmingham’s Adison Berger earned silver ond margin. He also won the 3,000-meter run, and bronze medals in swimming, with the silver but times were not posted. In the Sprint Medley relay, he and teammates medal coming from the 200-meter mixed relay. Daniel Goldfarb and Zach Hagedorn of Birfrom Denver and Greater Washington won handily, with a time of 4:38.8, 44 seconds ahead mingham were part of the bronze-winning flag football team that included Denver, Omaha of the second place team. In the mixed ages 4x400-meter relay, he won and Kansas City. They started the competition bronze as part of a team with runners from by defeating Atlanta/Carolina, 41-20, then lost Denver, Carolina and Great Britain. In the a close one to Dallas, 26-24. Houston defeated 4x100-meter relay, his team won gold, with rep- the combined team, 34-27, as did South Jersey, resentatives of East Bay, Greater Washington 34-21. But when it came time for the playoffs, Birand Portland. He won silver in the 4x800-meter relay, with teammates from Greater Washing- mingham’s team got revenge on South Jersey, 39-0, then beat Houston in the bronze medal ton and Orange County. Last year in Birmingham, Caroline Koppel game, 40-20. Logan Katz, representing New Orleans in a of New Orleans was placed in the Competitive division in 15-16 joint 14-under boys basketball team with Las girls’ tennis, and Vegas, Phoenix and SPR, brought home bronze, the New Orleans along with a Midot sportsmanship medal. The mixed New Orleans team lost to Hudson, delegation head, J. Morgan, said she 58-30, then to Fort Lauderdale Blue, 62-45, and would have likely Houston, 48-32. Toronto also beat the team, 68played for gold in 29. On Aug. 8, the New Orleans joint team picked the Recreational up a victory over Orange County Orange, 44division. A year later in 30, then lost the next day to Boston, Carolina Orange County, and Central Florida, 55-45. They defeated Vanshe did exactly couver, 63-27. Eli Jaffe and Ethan Katz represented New Orthat, and won leans in a joint team with Dallas and Houston gold. She started with in Boys 16U soccer. While they won silver last an 8-2 victory over year in Birmingham, this year their joint team Paulina Lebow- did not medal, opening with a 9-1 loss to Los itz, then defeated Angeles West. They defeated a Boston, Chicago, Caroline Koppel won gold Anna Wohlberg, Kings Bay and Springfield team, 3-1, then tied Israel, 1-1. 8-0; Kendall Ogin, 8-3; and Bailey Allen, 8-0. After a victory over Great Britain, 4-2, the In a rematch, she beat Lebowitz, 8-1, then defeated Eve Wasvary, 6-2. In the gold medal 15th-seeded team entered the playoff, losing to match, she beat previously-undefeated Noa Da- eventual gold medalist Los Angeles Valley, 6-0.

Here’s A Testimonial We Had To Share We don’t make up testimonials and many times we don’t share them, no matter how good they are. But this is one that had to be shared. This young man went to many rehabs over the years, so his experience and perspective is something you should know if you or someone you love is struggling with addiction. “The staff at Bayshore Retreat is the most friendly and caring people I have ever met at a treatment facility. I have been to five previous treatment centers and none of the others ever catered to my needs the way Bayshore has. “I have had problems with ADHD and never had the time to go get tested. They scheduled me an appointment with a psychologist and took me to get tested within a day. “There was also a time when I needed dental work done. They scheduled an appointment and took me back and forth to the facility. I have not been to one place that would have done that for me. “At previous treatment centers I had to mold into their program, but at Bayshore they mold to us, the clients. The time I spent at Bayshore was one of the top life experiences I have ever had. Thank you Bayshore for showing me a new and better way of living.” When we say that we take the “Fear Out of Rehab,” this is what we mean. Most places treat everyone the same, as if they are the same. The addiction might be the only thing they really have in common, this why they need individual attention to beat it.

September 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 45


Acura enhances new mid-sized SUV by Lee J. Green Some of today’s SUVs offer luxury and space with fuel economy numbers comparable to sedans of a few years ago. And Acura is leading the way. The company recently came out with its new 2019 Acura RDX, a 5-passenger, mid-sized SUV. It comes with enhanced features, plenty of cargo space and close to 30 miles per gallon on the highway. The new RDX “is a game-changer,” said King Acura General Manager Reed Lyles. “The fuel efficiency of SUVs today is where sedans used to be a few years ago. It is accomplished through direct-injection engines and lightweight materials.” Acura also offers a seven-passenger SUV with its MDX. The new RDX includes touchpad interface, a panoramic sunroof, and enhanced safety features including lane keeping assist, blind-spot indicators and sensors that can automatically brake to avoid a collision. Lyles said the MDX and RDX are the top two

46 Southern Jewish Life • September 2018

automotive an annual SJL special section sellers at King Acura, which has been serving the Birmingham area ever since Acura hit the market in 1986. But he said that sales are more balanced than at other Acura dealerships, with the TLX sedan also being a popular choice. That sedan’s fuel economy is at least the high 30s in miles per gallon on the highway. “As the SUVs have improved in fuel economy, so too have the sedans,” added Lyles. In addition to some of the top-rated SUVs

and sedans in their class, King Acura has a limited number of NSX high-end sports cars on a custom order basis. Other things to look out for in 2019 include Acura “getting real. If it looks like wood, it’s real wood. If it looks like metal (chrome for example), it’s real metal. Acura is all about using the real materials and offering that more luxurious feel.” For more information, go to www.kingacura. com.


Dreams come true at the new Cadillac of Birmingham by Lee J. Green There is much “cars” for celebration at Cadillac of Birmingham, including a new name, ownership and management, exciting new vehicle models and features, and renewed focus on “making people’s dreams come true.” “We’re not in the car business, we’re in the people business,” said Cadillac of Birmingham Brand and Marketing Manager Dutch Miller. “Life is filled with enough drama. We want coming in to the dealership to be a fun experience for customers and a great environment for our employees to work in. For those who have dreamed of owning a Cadillac, we’re making people’s dreams come true.” Last fall, new owner Mike Dominicone and general manager Paul Maza started steering the dealership in a new direction. Dominicone started working in the automotive business at age 14 for his father’s dealership, Classic Cadillac in the Atlanta area. He worked his way to the top and opened other dealerships in Atlanta, North Carolina, and now Cadillac of Birmingham.

Maza originally is from Manhattan. He started at about the same age as Dominicone, mowing lawns and washing cars at auto dealerships, working his way up during more than 30 years in the business. He gained a reputation for taking dealerships that weren’t reaching their full potential and making them successful. Maza and his wife moved to Birmingham from Marietta, where they were involved in the Jewish community. Their children attended Camp Coleman when they were younger. “We just built a house here and feel very at home in the Birmingham area,” said Maza. “We look forward to getting involved in the community; the Jewish community in particular.” Miller said Cadillac continues to come out with new models and updates to existing models that can please a wide variety of customers. “Cadillac continues to appeal to the Baby Boomers, but this is so much more than just your father’s Cadillac. The company has diversified its appeal to additionally embrace a younger generation that may have some different aspirations regarding their vehicles,” he said. Cadillac will debut six new models in the next

six to eight years, according to Miller. Coming out later this fall will be the sportier SUV crossover XT4. The vehicle is a bit smaller than the XT5 crossover but with much luxury, a smooth ride, enhanced fuel economy and a price point of approximately $10,000 less. Popular selling luxury cars and SUVs at Crest of Cadillac also include the XTS, CTS and CT6 luxury sedans, as well as the “granddaddy of them all,” the Escalade. “Twenty years ago, Cadillac invented the luxury SUV with the Escalade, which is still the most iconic and sought-after SUV in the world,” said Miller. Cadillac also continues to be on the forefront of technology. The automaker was among the first to have back-up cameras and 365-degree overhead views. They also spearheaded electric vehicles years ago. Today, one of those innovative technologies is Magnetic Ride Control. Ferrous particles in the oil change the viscosity of the liquid. The sensors read the road conditions and how someone drives a thousand times per second. The vehicle automatically, regularly adjusts the suspension

September 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 47


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to offer the “most ideal ride possible.” Miller also said most of their models will have a hybrid version in the next few years. Cadillac of Birmingham sells a limited number of custom CTS-V and ATS-V high-end sports cars. Cadillac is the only American automaker to be in and have won — for the past four years running — the Supercar Division of the Paretti World Challenge, reigning over competitors including Lamborghini, Bentley, Ferrari and Bugatti. In addition to offering a large selection of new Cadillacs, Cadillac of Birmingham also has an ever-expanding fleet of certified pre-owned vehicles from a wide variety of manufacturers. They also boast a top-rated, experienced service team at its dealership on Highway 31 in Hoover, just north of the Riverchase Galleria. “We all take a lot of pride in what we do every day and we enjoy making people happy,” said Miller. “We want people to come in and have fun, take a test drive. It’s about enjoying the ride.”

Third-generation Cayenne coming to Porsche of New Orleans

While Porsche of New Orleans currently has a wide range of exciting new and certified pre-owned Porsches at the Metairie dealership, two upcoming models are adding to the buzz, enhancing the Passion, Pride and Performance the dealership is known for. In the next couple of months, the lineup will have additional spice with the arrival of the third-generation Porsche Cayenne. The popular SUV, described as a “sports car for five,” has a sleeker design, more cargo room and more power. It comes with all-wheel drive and an eight-speed transmission, and optional InnoDrive, semi-autonomous driving. There are also turbo and hybrid options. In addition to the new Cayenne, deposits are also being accepted for Porsche’s first electric car, the Taycan. The Taycan, which translates as “lively young horse” in Turkish, is expected to be available at the end of 2019. The name was announced during Porsche’s 70th anniversary, which was celebrated at the dealership in June. General Manager Ryan DeToro said the “fully electric” Taycan is designed to be competitive with Tesla, and starts around $85,000. It will be built on its own platform, and include 800-volt fast chargers that can complete a cycle in 15 minutes, giving 250 miles of range. The early versions have hit 60 miles per hour in 3.5 seconds. Porsche of New Orleans has the largest Porsche inventory between Houston and Atlanta. The dealership opened in 2010 as part of the Ray Brandt Automotive Group and is located at the foot of the Causeway in Metairie. The Brandt family has been in the automotive industry for over 30 years and is committed to providing a car buying experience unlike any other. Porsche of New Orleans was also named a 2018 Premier Dealer, the highest honor awarded by Porsche, recognizing the 25 top Porsche dealers in the United States “who routinely exceed the expectations of their Porsche customers.” The dealership is also involved with many local non-profits. They are once again the title sponsor for next April’s Leukemia Cup Regatta, which benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and last year raised almost $450,000.


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Bergeron a New Orleans tradition for more than half a century


Monday-Friday 11am-9pm Saturday 4:30-9pm

by Lee J. Green New Orleans’ Bergeron Automotive has been driven to provide the best in customer satisfaction for more than 50 years. The Metairie dealership sells Volvo, Ram, Dodge, Chrysler and Jeep, as well as commercial vehicles for several of the lines. “We have been in business for more than 50 years because we uphold ethics and values above all other business considerations,” said owner Denis Bergeron. “Simply put, we’ve adapted to our customer’s needs and market demands, giving us experiential knowledge that rivals any dealership in the U.S.” Bergeron said they have used technology as a way to provide a more personal buying experience to their customers, and their customers use the Internet to become even more knowledgeable about their car buying options. New for 2019 is the Volvo XC40 — the automaker’s first compact SUV. It’s the smallest SUV Volvo has designed, with the best fuel economy. The XC40’s advanced features, technologies and innovative capabilities in- Volvo 2019 XC40 clude safety systems that bolster Volvo’s legendary reputation; built-in infotainment systems and a range of luxury cabin amenities to support driver and passenger comfort. CleanZone air filtration keeps the cabin free from the effects of pollution outdoors, with memory functions for the driver’s seat to record ideal posturing. Boasting a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine, the Volvo XC40 produces 248 horsepower and its eight-speed Geartronic automatic transmission, along with start/stop technology, improves fuel economy. For vehicle safety, the Volvo XC40 gives alerts of an impending forward collision before applying intervention braking where necessary. Additional safety aids include driver alert control, hill start assist, blind-spot detection, lane departure avoidance and run-off-road mitigation. For those just needing minor service and check-ups for their Bergeron vehicle, the dealership offers its Express Lane Service Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Bergeron also offers commercial vehicle sales with a wide variety of workhorse Ram trucks, Chrysler sedans or Jeep brand SUVs. They have many years of sales experience working with businesses on commercial vehicles.


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JLI courses approved for Baton Rouge Chabad of Baton Rouge has been approved for affiliation with the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute. Rabbi Peretz Kazen said he has completed the requisite training “to be an authorized instructor for the largest Jewish adult education program in the world.” Courses usually run six weeks and are taught simultaneously at 400 locations around the world. Birmingham, Mobile and New Orleans have been offering JLI courses. The first course to be offered in Baton Rouge will be “Wrestling With Faith,” starting Oct. 23. Next year, “Crime and Consequences” and “With All My Heart,” about the world of prayer, will be offered. JLI courses “are intellectually rigorous, yet highly accessible to beginners in Jewish studies,” Kazen said.

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September 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 49

community Rosh Hashanah, Jonah and the sukkah Saturday, November 17th

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50 Southern Jewish Life • September 2018

Shir Chadash in Metairie will have a sukkah dinner following the 6:15 p.m. Shabbat service on Sept. 28, with special not-really-a-“guest” Rabbi Anne Brener. Brener is professor of Ritual and Human Development at the Academy for Jewish Religion in California. Her father, the late Michael Brener, first built the Shir Chadash sukkah. The Shir Chadash sukkah was recently expanded, and at the dinner, Brener will dedicate the plaque naming it the Brener Family Sukkah. Reservations for dinner are $18 for adults, $15 for children, by Sept. 21. In 1971, after Rabbi Brener’s mother and sister died, her father accepted an offer from the rabbi to read the Book of Jonah at Yom Kippur that year. In gratitude, he built the sukkah — which represents a fragile, temporary structure, but one to house celebrations — and continued to chant Jonah every year until he died in 1995. In a 2006 article, Brener recalled that “He and Jonah became so closely linked that the year after he died, only the rabbi would step up to the bimah on Yom Kippur afternoon to fill his shoes.” In 2005, Brener was a fourth-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles when Hurricane Katrina hit. She volunteered with the Red Cross, stationed in Montgomery and then Gulfport. She was supposed to go to Baton Rouge, but was sent to New York because of Hurricane Rita. While there, she contacted Rabbi Ted Lichtenfeld, who was the rabbi at Shir Chadash, asking what she could do for the community. As he was staying in Houston to lead Rosh Hashanah services for members who had taken refuge there, he asked if she could lead services in Metairie. In the 2006 recollection, she said arriving in New Orleans was like “returning from exile” as she fled the city after the events of 1971. It was the day before Rosh Hashanah that year when her mother killed herself. Over 100 attended on the evening of Rosh Hashanah in 2005 as she led what was the first Jewish service in the community since the levee breach five weeks earlier. She noted that when she arrived at Shir Chadash, a dove led her to her father’s sukkah, which had “not a splinter taken by the storm.” After the 9 a.m. service on Sept. 29, she will lead a class using materials from her book, “Mourning and Mitzvah.” She will also deliver a sermon before Yizkor at the 9:15 a.m. Shemini Atzeret service on Oct. 1.



Touro commissioning a new Torah scroll

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In January, Touro Synagogue placed its “mystery Torah,” which turned out to be over 200 years ago, in a display case in its historical display. This month, the congregation is starting on the process of writing a new Torah scroll. Chris Kornman, who is chairing the Torah project, said the congregation’s existing Torahs haven’t undergone regular maintenance and are in “various states of disrepair.” Also, many of the scrolls are “large and a bit unwieldy” for a lot of congregants to carry. The board decided to pursue a new Torah, which would be somewhat smaller and easier to carry, and would serve as the regular scroll for use during services. Kornman said the Good family made a “very generous donation to fund what we call our Torah project,” getting a new scroll and examining the current scrolls to assess their condition. The donation “opened the doors for us to investigate in earnest.” They did not want to just go and purchase a Torah, but launch a project with added meaning and involvement for the congregation. “This is a huge deal,” Kornman said. “We wanted it to be something the entire congregation would be involved with.” For Touro, that meant being completely inclusive, involving women and non-Jews who are connected to Touro, and that “led us down the path of getting a soferet,” a female scribe, who would not be as restrictive, since most scribes are Orthodox men. Linda Coppleson has been designing and writing custom ketubot for over 30 years, along with other artwork to commemorate life cycle events. That background enhanced her transition to becoming a scribe. For 25 years, she taught Tanach, rabbinics and Jewish history at a Solomon Schechter school in New Jersey. She began studying to become a soferet STaM in 2003 when Eric Ray agreed to teach her. Ray “not only agreed to teach a woman, but… also gave me the confidence to embark on this endeavor,” Coppleman said. “With him, I learned the basics of sofrut; forming the letters, studying the texts of the sofer, cutting the quill, learning recipes for ink and about the different kinds of parchment.” She was part of the first Torah that was commissioned entirely for female scribes. In the Women’s Torah Project, which began in 2008, she wrote 20 of the 62 four-column pages for the scroll, which is now in Seattle. She was finishing her fourth Torah earlier this year. She said being a scribe is different than being a calligrapher. “Calligraphy may give me pleasure,

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September 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 51

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community but sofrut gives me pleasure and inner awareness.” A dedication celebration for the Torah project will be held on Shabbat Shuvah, with Coppleson making several presentations. The dedication will be on Sept. 16 at 10 a.m. as Coppleson writes the first letters at the beginning of the Torah. During the 6 p.m. service on Sept. 14, she will discuss the art of Torah writing and the sacred calling, explaining the process, time frame and regulations. On Sept. 15, she will lead a presentation on the state of Touro’s current scrolls, where they came from, who wrote them and what their conditions are. The program will be at 1 p.m., and babysitting is available for ages 6 and under with advance reservations. Over the coming year, Coppleson will be in New Orleans approximately four times for programs. Members will be able to have “scribing sessions” with Coppleson, holding her hand as

she writes a letter or word. Families or groups can do a chain of hands. Every Touro member is encouraged to participate in a scribing session — women, men, children, seniors, non-Jewish members. No Hebrew knowledge is needed. “Anyone who is a Touro member can dedicate a portion of the Torah and write with her, hold her hand while she is scribing,” Kornman said. “It’s a rare opportunity for a congregation. For most people is will be a once in a lifetime event.” Coppleson has already begun sections of the scroll, but saved the first section for the September events. The entire process will take 12 to 16 months. Dedication opportunities are available, starting with letters at $18 and words at $30. Significant stories start at $900 and go to the receiving of the Torah at Sinai, at $7,200. The project is underwritten in memory of Julian Good, past president of Touro.

Susan Hess is NCJW’s Hannah Solomon honoree (504) 866-0276

52 Southern Jewish Life • September 2018

Susan Hess will be the recipient of the Hannah G. Solomon Award from the Greater New Orleans Section of the National Council of Jewish Women. The award is given annually to a volunteer community leader who exemplifies the qualities of Hannah G. Solomon, founder of NCJW. Recipients are individuals who have brought about important programs and services through their leadership in a volunteer capacity, been a catalyst for social change, and are known for their interest, activity and stands on issues with which NCJW is in sympathy. The annual luncheon will be on Oct. 15 at the New Orleans Marriott, with a cash bar reception at 11:30 a.m., and the luncheon at noon. Reservations are $65 and are due by Oct. 5. A New York native, Hess moved to New Orleans in 1965 to attend the University of New Orleans, completing the undergraduate degree she had begun at Columbia University. In 1993 she returned to UNO to take course work towards a master’s degree in business administration. Subsequently, she was one of the original members of the University of New Orleans Foundation, serving as president in 1989 and 1990. Hess was president of the Louisiana Nature and Science Center when it opened, and was active on the board for 10 years. She founded the Louisiana Association of Film and Video Professionals and was appointed by the governor to serve on the Louisiana Film Commission. Hess was one of the original board members of the National D-day Museum, now the National World War II Museum, and the creator and first chair of their Victory Ball. As co-chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans Annual Campaign, she, together with two

of her mentors, Joan Berenson and Jane Buchsbaum, spearheaded the local effort for Operation Moses, enabling the emigration of thousands of Ethiopian Jews to Israel. After Hurricane Katrina, she joined other women of the community to form Women of the Storm, to help restore and reimagine New Orleans. Having joined the City Park Commission two years prior, and therefore keenly aware of the tremendous devastation wreaked by the storm, Hess helped oversee the park’s restoration and still speaks proudly of the 300-year-old oak trees thriving there. In 2014, Hess became president of the City Park board. She has also served as chair of the SPCA board and president of the SPCA Foundation. She was instrumental in the development of their business model, and in aiding in the relocation of animals after Hurricane Katrina. Most recently, Hess has served as an officer or board member for NCJW, Jewish Endowment Foundation, Tulane Hillel, Temple Sinai, the Trust for the Public Land, National Urban League, Girl Scouts of America and the Longue Vue Foundation. Hess has been a member of NCJW since she moved to New Orleans in 1965, and credits the organization with underpinning her viewpoint and helping her discover the kind of work she wanted to do. She said, “NCJW has enriched my life. Everything I chose to do was consistent with the values of NCJW.”

continued from page 54

cials in Gaza were concerned that if the Land of Israel were to simply pick up and move away they’d have to put in a lot of extra work to update their underground tunnels. Airlines worry about the changes in flight paths such a move would require. Iranian sources continued to deny they have nuclear weapons aimed at Israel, while complaining that this move would necessitate retargeting them. Most significantly, skeptics question whether the move will make any difference. After all, the same people and historic sites will be present after the move. Or is there a plan for that, too? At this time, it’s unclear where the Land of Israel will end up, much like the Jewish people whose residency goes back thousands of years and yet have wandered much of the world all the while. While the long term is unclear, it’s apparent that initially the Land of Israel is planning to take a nice Mediterranean cruise. Doug Brook has moved mountains in this column for over 20 years, but never like this. To read past columns, visit For exclusive online content, like

Coalition seeks to turn out the vote

The National Council of Jewish Women, Greater New Orleans Section and the League of Women Voters have organized a voter registration, education and turnout coalition, “Engaging New Voices and Voters.” The effort will initially be focused around National Voter Registration Week, which is scheduled for Sept. 24 to 28. More than 20 nonpartisan organizations, including many Jewish groups, gathered at the Marseilles Condominiums on July 25 to coordinate efforts, with the goal of bringing out the vote for the midterm elections. These organizations include American Association of University Women, Avodah, C’est La Vote, Hadassah New Orleans, Indivisibles, JNOLA, League of Women Voters, New Orleans Coalition, National Organization of Women, “New Orleans Women, Living Our Values Everyday,” Touro Synagogue and the Urban League. Miriam Waltzer and Sylvia Finger, NCJW Voter Mobilization cochairs, have been actively recruiting, training and placing volunteer voter registrants at numerous sites throughout the greater New Orleans Area. Since they began their drive early this year, they have succeeded at registering more than 1,000 new voters. Contact Sylvia Finger or call (504) 456-1398 to participate.

JCRS hosts Chanukah wrapping party Jewish Children’s Regional Service will have its annual Gift Wrap-A-Thon on Oct. 7 at the Goldring-Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus in Metairie. Volunteers will wrap thousands of gifts for the Oscar J. Tolmas Hanukkah Gift Program, which go to children in need in Jewish communities of the JCRS seven-state region. Muffins, snacks, pizza and refreshments will be served all day. There will be door prizes, awards for the best wrappers, community service hours for students and child care is available with prior request. The wrapping will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

September 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 53

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JERUSALEM, ISRAEL — An earthshaking announcement has ensured that the Middle East will never look the same again. After years, nay millennia, of intercultural conflict causing countless casualties and anathematic alliteration, the Land of Israel has decided: “no more.” Not the State of Israel. Not the Palestinians. Not the Christians, Muslims, or Jews. Not the egalitarians, non-egalitarians, or Rotarians. The land itself. After looking up helplessly at scores of nations fighting over their long-unsettled scores, the actual soil that comprises the Holy Land came to a consensus that it wants out. If a Middle East conflict continues, it will be without the dirt that’s always lurked underfoot. Except for certain biblical instances where the land opened up and swallowed people, for centuries the land has been constrained to simply lying there and watching. The mountains and valleys, the deserts and beaches, had to silently observe with no say about what happened on its own turf. No say, that is, until the idea of simply leaving recently started as an underground movement. The exact logistics of this Brexodus haven’t yet been revealed. Early indications were that it would coincide with Passover, the commemoration of the Israelites’ famed pre-enactment of the exodus from Egypt in Cecil B. DeMille’s epic film, “The Ten Commandments.” This was reportedly ruled out, however, partially because of the peak of tourists for Passover as well as for Easter. More to the point, aligning with one or two religions’ holidays might seem biased toward that particular people, and that sort of thing is how this mess keeps getting stirred up in the first place. “One day we’re going to wake up and the entire land of Israel will be floating somewhere in the eastern Mediterranean,” said one source who was not authorized to speak on behalf of the ground he was standing on. “Hamas has always wanted to drive Israel into the sea,” said another source. “Maybe they just needed to be more specific.” This recent groundswell begs several questions. For example, exactly what borders will define the land that breaks away? The 1948 U.N. partition borders? The borders after the 1967 War? The current borders? What about Gaza, the West Bank, the Sinai peninsula, or even the Golan Heights? All requests for clarification from the newly formed Department for Departing from the Middle East were stonewalled. SICK OF THE Equally uncertain at this time is what FIGHTING, THE continent will become home to the Holy after this continental divide. The LAND OF ISRAEL Land current uncertainty will likely result DECIDES IT HAS in less confusion than today. After all, depending on who one asks, Israel is in HAD ENOUGH Europe, Asia, or Africa. Of theological interest are the geographic implications on religious practice. For example, depending on where the Land of Israel lands, will Jews still face east when they pray? Environmentalists are concerned about various ramifications of this move. Tidal shifts and altered weather patterns notwithstanding, what happens to the Dead Sea? Will all that salt spill into the sea? Scientists have no definitive answers yet, though numerous theories have been floated. Reactions to the news have been mixed throughout the region. Unofficontinued on the previous page

September 2018 • Southern Jewish Life 55


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SJL New Orleans, September 2018  

September 2018 New Orleans edition of Southern Jewish Life, the official news magazine of the Greater New Orleans Jewish community

SJL New Orleans, September 2018  

September 2018 New Orleans edition of Southern Jewish Life, the official news magazine of the Greater New Orleans Jewish community