Southern Jewish Life
N.E. ALABAMA CHEROKEE NATION HONORS ISRAEL October 2021
Volume 31 Issue 10
Southern Jewish Life P.O. Box 130052 Birmingham, AL 35213
shalom y’all For the Squad, what the world needs is more dead Jews. And Palestinians, for that matter. Harsh, perhaps. But in their quest to remain passionately anti-Israel, they have let logic fly out the door and taken a position that would lead to putting more lives at risk and increase the possibility of war. Hardly a stance for a committed lover of peace. The story began on Sept. 21 as the U.S. House tried to pass a Continuing Resolution to authorize stopgap spending and avoid a governmental shutdown. Among the items in the resolution was $1 billion to replenish the Iron Dome supplies that were used by Israel during the May conflict with Hamas, where the terrorist group launched around 4,000 rockets from Gaza toward Israeli population centers. Members of the Squad, part of the progressive wing of the Democratic party, refused to vote for the resolution as long as the Iron Dome funding — all of which, incidentally, has to be spent in the United States — remained. To get enough votes to pass, House Democratic leadership had to pull the Iron Dome funds from the resolution. Naturally, Republicans crowed about how this demonstrates that the Democrats are descending further into becoming the anti-Israel party. But the Republicans enabled this bit of political theater, as none of them were voting for the resolution no matter what was in it, as they are trying to pin U.S. budgetary concerns entirely on the Democrats. Since no Republican votes were to be had, this enabled the Squad to make their demands, knowing that with the very slim Democratic majority in the House, their votes were crucial for passage. Two days later, when the Iron Dome funding came up on its own, it passed — 420 to 9, and two abstentions. continued on page 24
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October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
Maccabi USA leader praises Birmingham Games
I have had the honor of attending many Maccabi competitions around the world. From Israel to Australia to South America, Europe and the JCC Maccabi games around the United States and Canada, I have logged many miles seeing how sports can be a vehicle to help build Jewish ited their congregants together. Years later, Rose identity, By Hank especially Greenwaldin our young. Laser, theand rabbi’s daughter, wrote, I felt honored come to Birmingham fortold the first time fell in love with not “In justthe themidst city of Editor’s Note: to Last month, Bubba Meyer my father’s labors, there was always by his side or butstory the people. Youfrom haveEurope taken who Southern hospitality to a new level with your kind and caring the of a rabbi also became close at hand the dauntless Catholic priest. ” to the JCC Maccabifor Games. aapproach priest that was notorious his antisemitTwo teachers — leaders in their respective ic Led writings, how heHelds, eventually wound up, volunteers by theand Sokol and your hard-working were Theyunder partnered religions had wonderful. come together harrowbriefly, in New Orleans. staff, Here led is a by piece showing a to make the—2017 with your outstanding Betzy Lynch, JCC Maccabi games a huge hit. ing circumstances to do good. The differences completely different kind of experience between a I want to take this opportunity as executive director Maccabi USA to say thank you on behalf in of their divergent backgrounds were never a rabbi and a priest, in Mobile during a pandemic. of everyone involved. consideration. The author lives in New Orleans. had immiI had just returned from the 20th World Maccabiah games in Israel withRabbi a U.S.Laser delegation of “Hello, My name from He over 1100,Father. who joined 10,000 Jewish athletes from 80 countries. Back ingrated July the eyesGermany. of the entire is Abraham Laser, the had1000 met athletes and married Jewish world were” said on Jerusalem and the Maccabiah. This past month with and his man withfrom the around heavy, dark coaches the world being in Birmingham, you became the wife focal Lizetta point. in Maryland. beard. There, the young couple Everyone from the a wonderful “Hello, Rabbi. I’m Jewish Fa- community and the community at large, including had begun a family, then policeRyan force,ofareSt.toMary’s, be commended. These games will go down in historyventured as being asouth seminal ther ” in 1867 moment for the Jewish community as we build to the future by providing such wonderful replied the bristly-haired to teach the JewishJewish faith. memories. priest. Their journey ended in two men had noMobile, where Rabbi LaJedThe Margolis ticed each other Maccabi many USA ser taught Judaism and in Executive Director, times on the streets of 1868 became rabbi of one Mobile. They would nod of the firstpushed synagogues supremacists would like to see back in as if to recognize the sorOn Charlottesville the South, Sha’arai Shointo a corner and made to feel lesser. We stand row-filled purpose that mayim. with and pray for the family of Heather Heyer, Editor’s Note: This reaction they shared. Their faces to the events in Abram who was there standingFather up to the face of Joseph this Charlottesville, written byofJeremy Newman, reflected the sadness Ryan had previously hate. Master of the Alpha Epsilon PiRabbi ThetaAbraham Colony Laser and family their work. served as a chaplain in the We recognize the essence of theArmy. American at On Auburn University, this hot, humid was day,shared by AEPi Confederate He had narrative a two-century struggle rid at National, called “very eloquent” the priest which and the rabbiit approached eachand other. arrived in as Mobile during theold summer ofto 1870, ourselves corners, and allow in he praised “our brothers AEPi Thetaworn Colony Both men wore blackat and carried andattat- the heightofofsuch the epidemic. Later in those his life, them the seat at the table that they so deserve. Auburn University and… the leadership they tered Bibles. would become a household name in The South, It is the struggle to fulfill the promise of Known the display on their campus. ” in the heat-filled air. following The smell of death was the publication of his poetry. Declaration Independence, that “all men are It was 1870. The pestilence of the yellow fever as “The PoetofPriest” and later “The Poet Laurecreated equal… endowed byhappiest their Creator epidemic was everywhere. Thousands had fled ate of the Confederacy, ” his days with were White supremacy has beenoak-adorned a cancer on Ala- spent certain rights.”St. We knowChurch. our work their homes in the beautiful, asunalienable pastor of Mobile’s Mary’s our country since its beginning, is Thus, far from finished, but of wevastly knowdifferent we will not bama city to the surrounding hills.threatening these two men faiths itsTo hopes, its values, and itscomforting better angels. move backwards. continue visiting and their sick and politics, in a time of the worst circumstancThe dying eventscongregants, that took place Charlottesville and bothinmen had refused to es, When joinedmen in respect and a mutual desiretake to help and women, fully armed, represented thissent nation. Thoseaway others. Their leave Mobile.the Theworst rabbiofhad his family genuine friendship bloomed and to the streets in droves with swastikas and who marched theplague-stricken streets with tikienvirons. torches was recognized by the citizens of Mobile. while he stayedonto in the other symbols of hate, it is a reminder of how and swastikas did soformed… to provoke violence and Soon, a friendship and a commonalRabbi Laser died on Nov. 12, 1870, the last day fear. whoThey marched didvis- relevant the issues of racism and anti-Semitism ity ofThose purpose. walkedonto sidethe by streets side and are today. It is a wake-up call to the work that 7 continued on page so to profess an ideology that harkens back to needs to be done to ensure a better, more a bleaker, more wretched time in our history. A time when men and women of many creeds, welcoming country. But it should not come races, and religions were far from equal and far without a reflection on how far we’ve come.
The Martyr Rabbi and The Poet Priest
from safe in our own borders. A time where Americans lived under a constant cloud of racism, anti-Semitism and pervasive hate. The events that took place in Charlottesville served as a reminder of how painfully relevant these issues are today.
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Auburn’s Alpha Epsilon Pi stands with the Jewish community of Charlottesville, and (Closed Saturday) America was also born an immigrant with the Jewish people around the country -2010 4) 888many early asethe(50 pilgrims, and around the world. We also stand with the airi , Met SevernAs 3519 country. groups w.k and osh families found in the country the minorities who are targeted by the hate that ercajun.com ww opportunity to plant stakes, chase their future, was on display in Charlottesville. We stand and be themselves. Few were met with open with the minorities of whom these white 4 October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
January October2021 2021
Southern Jewish Life PUBLISHER/EDITOR Lawrence M. Brook email@example.com ASSOCIATE PUBLISHER/ADVERTISING Lee J. Green firstname.lastname@example.org ASSOCIATE EDITOR Richard Friedman email@example.com V.P. SALES/MARKETING, NEW ORLEANS Jeff Pizzo firstname.lastname@example.org CREATIVE DIRECTOR Ginger Brook email@example.com SOCIAL/WEB Emily Baldwein firstname.lastname@example.org PHOTOGRAPHER-AT-LARGE Rabbi Barry C. Altmark deepsouthrabbi.com CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Rivka Epstein, Louis Crawford, Tally Werthan, Stuart Derroff, Belle Freitag, Ted Gelber, E. Walter Katz, Doug Brook brookwrite.com BIRMINGHAM OFFICE P.O. Box 130052, Birmingham, AL 35213 2179 Highland Ave., Birmingham, AL 35205 205/870.7889 NEW ORLEANS OFFICE 3747 West Esplanade, 3rd Floor Metairie, LA 70002 504/249-6875 TOLL-FREE 888/613.YALL(9255) ADVERTISING Advertising inquiries to 205/870.7889 for Lee Green, email@example.com Jeff Pizzo, firstname.lastname@example.org Media kit, rates available upon request SUBSCRIPTIONS It has always been our goal to provide a large-community quality publication to all communities of the South. To that end, our commitment includes mailing to every Jewish household in the region (AL, LA, MS, NW FL), without a subscription fee. Outside the area, subscriptions are $25/year, $40/two years. Subscribe via sjlmag.com, call 205/870.7889 or mail payment to the address above. Copyright 2021. 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
Sukkot in Lafayette
Birmingham Jewish Fertility group holding kickoff event The Birmingham location of the Jewish Fertility Foundation will have its official launch party on Nov. 4 at 7 p.m., at Chabad of Alabama. The women-only reception will include wine and cheese, and desserts. Speakers will talk about the goals of the organization, along with their personal journeys with infertility. Founded in Atlanta in 2015, JFF has the goal of expanding nationally, and Birmingham is the first small Jewish community to offer its services. Other offices are in Tampa and Cincinnati. The organization’s Birmingham presence is made possible by a partnership between JFF, Collat Jewish Family Services and the Birmingham Jewish Foundation. The foundation offers confidential support groups, “relationship-based support” through Fertility Buddies, and financial assistance for seeking fertility treatments. Julie Cohen, city manager for the foundation, said she and her husband “went through many years of infertility treatments to grow our family, and I don’t want anyone to feel isolated or alone while navigating the rollercoaster of infertility.” When she was navigating the process, friends would invite her to Christian support groups, “but that did not feel comfortable for my husband or me,” and she desired a network for Jewish families. She now has a 4-year-old and twin toddlers.
Elana Frank and Lynn Goldman founded the organization in Atlanta. Goldman had attended a church-based group before deciding to start a support group at her synagogue. It is estimated that one in eight women ages 21 to 44 nationally suffers from infertility, in the Jewish community it is one in six. Attendees are requested to be fully vaccinated, and masks are required. Reserve at jewishfertilityfoundation.org/bhmkickoff.
Emanu-El to install Cantor Wittner
Though he has been in Birmingham for over a year, this month Cantor Robert Wittner will finally be officially installed as the Engel Cantorial Chair at Temple Emanu-El. As with so many events, the installation was postponed due to Covid. He will be installed at the 5:45 p.m. Shabbat service on Oct. 29. Services are available in person or by Livestream. At press time, Emanu-El services are by reservation, with 35 family pods available. Wittner arrived at Emanu-El the summer of 2020, during the height of the pandemic, following his ordination at Hebrew Union College in New York. Aside from college and his year of study in Israel, Birmingham is his first time living outside of his native New York. In college, he started studying opera, then the summer after graduating, ran into the president of his childhood congregation, who asked if he would fill in for their cantor, who was away that weekend. Though he had not been to services for a long time, he was a quick study, and the experience planted a seed that would sprout two years later as he decided to pursue the cantorate. October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
agenda Institute of Southern Jewish Life readies for Who Knows One competition The online Jewish geography game Who Knows One comes full circle with a fundraising event to benefit the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life. The Oct. 28 game will feature two rounds, one matching former ISJL Education Fellows, with the other involving current and former education partners in the region. Who Knows One was created by Micah Hart last year as a way to connect people during the pandemic. A “Chosen One” is selected for the game, after which the two teams use their network of contacts — and contacts of their contacts — to find the Chosen One and convince him or her to join the call. The game relies solely on networking, social media is not allowed. The event will be broadcast on the ISJL Facebook page and is free to watch. Donations to support favorite teams are encouraged, and donations drive the game, from unlocking a clue or an extra lifeline, to a Zoom timeout for an opponent or kicking someone off the call. There are also Superconnectors who can be used during the game. Donation levels for Superconnectors include $54 for former Fellows Rabbi
JWV hosting event with Rep. Luria In recognition of Veterans Day, the Birmingham Jewish community will have an evening with U.S. Rep. Elaine Luria, Nov. 8 at 7 p.m. on Zoom. Luria, who grew up in the Birmingham Jewish community, represents Virginia’s Second Congressional district. She serves on the House Armed Services Committee, where she is the committee’s vice chair, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, where she serves as chair of the Disability Assistance and Memorial Affairs Subcommittee, and the House Committee on Homeland Security. Of all members in the House Democratic Caucus, she served the longest on active duty, having completed 20 years of active military service with the U.S. Navy. After retiring, she was elected to Congress in 2018. The event is co-sponsored by the Birmingham Jewish Federation Jewish Community Relations Council and Post 608 of the Jewish War Veterans of America.
6 October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
Lex Rofeberg, Rabbi Andrew Terkel and Beth Kander-Dauphin; $180 for Rachel Stern and Rabbi Matt Dreffin, former and current directors of education at ISJL. The big superconnector, of course, is ISJL founder Macy Hart, who is also the father of Micah Hart, at $500. The first round matches former Fellows, with Rachel Katz and Abby Klionsky racing against Alachua Nazarenko and Mandy Farb Herlich. The second round, with a different Chosen One, has Education Partners Sheryl Eskowitz and Rabbi Bess Wohlner against Helaine Braunig and Rabbi Gideon Estes. The race begins at 7 p.m. Central.
Sam Lapidus Montclair Run returns The annual Sam Lapidus Montclair Run returns for its 45th year on Thanksgiving Day, outside Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center. About 1,500 participate in the 10-kilometer run and 1-mile fun run. A 5-kilometer run was also recently added. Last year, the run was held virtually over atwo-week period, due to Covid. The event is the largest annual fundraiser for the LJCC, and also benefits the Alabama Center for Childhood Cancer and Blood Disorders. The 5- and 10-kilometer runs begin at 8:30 a.m., with the fun run at 10 a.m. Early registration is $36, and Fun Run registration is $18. In anticipation of the run, through Nov. 20, the LJCC is offering a Couch to 5K Training Program, a plan put together by the fitness staff for those of all physical levels. There are three scheduled group runs each week, a choice of two group fitness classes per week, and weekly check-ins with fitness tips and suggestions. The program is free to LJCC members of any level, and for new members who sign a six month contract and participate in the program, the $75 joining fee will be refunded. After Nov. 20, participation in group fitness classes will require a J-Plus or J-Elite membership.
agenda Proudly Serving Jewish Communities Nationwide for over two decades JLI offers “Outsmarting Antisemitism” course Are the Jewish people doomed to dealing with antisemitism in perpetuity? The new Rohr Jewish Learning Institute series explores that question with “Outsmarting Antisemitism,” looking at the dark subject with “a sense of unabashed optimism, profound faith, and a distinctly Jewish approach.” Chabad centers in the region will be offering the four-part course starting in late October. Through illuminating source texts and captivating case studies, this course considers the sources of the ancient scourge of antisemitism, along with the appropriate strategies for overcoming it — through positivity, purpose and Jewish pride. The course includes an exploration of why antisemitism isn’t a Jewish problem, it is a problem of the haters and should not be internalized, and how antisemitism is often manifested in anti-Israel activism, and why Jews should remain optimistic and confident. In Baton Rouge, the course will be on Wednesdays from Oct. 27 to Nov. 17 at 7 p.m., in person or on Zoom. Registration is $89, with a 10 percent discount for couples or returning students. In New Orleans, Chabad Uptown will offer the course on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. from Oct. 20 to Nov. 10. Registration is $70, with a 10 percent couples discount. The Metairie Chabad will hold classes at 10:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, from Oct. 26 to Nov. 16. Registration is $70, with a 10 percent discount for couples or returning students. Bais Ariel Chabad in Birmingham offers the class on Wednesdays at 7 p.m., from Nov. 3 to 27. A Zoom option is available. Registration is $89, $135 per couple. To register, go to myjli.com.
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of the epidemic. His daughter, Rose Laser, later wrote, “When the plague added my father to its toll of victims, Father Ryan’s grief was as deep as any of the members of the Jewish congregation who had loved him during a lifetime.” Rose, who met Father Ryan years later, afterwards recalled that when “I told him I was the daughter of his old friend, his eyes filled with tears.” To the Mobile congregation and many others in Mobile, he became known as “The Martyr Rabbi.” A monument was built over his grave. He was the first rabbi to be buried in the Jewish section of Magnolia Cemetery.
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Author’s note: Rabbi Laser was my great grandfather. He became a hero during an epidemic, as have so many in America today. His friendship with Father Ryan was admired. In our times, perhaps working together toward common goals would make us stronger. E pluribus unum. October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
agenda Beth Shalom and B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge will hold “The More Things Stay the Same, The More They Change: Understanding 2021’s Version of Antisemitism,” with speaker Larry Brook, editor of Southern Jewish Life. The program will be at the Jefferson Avenue location on Oct. 24 at 3 p.m. BBYO is returning to in-person events with a Delta Region fall conference, Nov. 5 to 7 at NaCoMe Camp in Pleasantville, Tenn. The weekend is open to members in grades 9 to 12.
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Six congregations, including Beth-El and Emanu-El in Birmingham, and the Jewish Council in Gainesville, Fla., are collaborating on “From Sephard to Savannah and Beyond: Southern Jewish Cooking and Culture,” a three-part virtual series with Sara Gardner, a Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota. The sessions are from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sundays, with Sephardic Savannah on Oct. 10, Ashkenazi Delta on Oct. 17 and Jewish Soul Food on Oct. 24. Recipes are provided upon registration with participating congregations. The program is offered by the Southern Alliance for Jewish Education and is free, but SAJE suggests participants make a donation of $18 to one’s host institution. The School of Architecture and Design at Louisiana-Lafayette is hosting “Highlights: A Retrospective,” a gallery exhibition showcasing Professor Andy Loewy’s two decades of leadership, teaching and collaborative and student work within the Industrial Design Program as well as the College of the Arts. The exhibited work shows a sense of play, self-discovery and experimentation with a focus of hands-on techniques and materiality. The exhibit will be in the Dean’s Gallery, on the second floor of Fletcher Hall, through Oct. 31. Temple Beth El and Christ Episcopal Church in Pensacola will host “One Text, Two Faiths,” a weekly exploration of the Hebrew Bible, Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. from Oct. 20 to Nov. 17 at the church. There will also be a Zoom option. The sessions will be led by Rabbi Joel Fleekop and Rev. Michael Hoffman. Temple Beth Or in Montgomery is planning a joint trip to Israel with the Church of the Ascension. Led by Rabbi Scott Looper and Rev. Candice Frazer, the trip will be from Oct. 18 to 29, 2022, and visit sites of historic and religious significance to both faiths, as well as strengthen ties between the congregations. The itinerary and additional information will be announced. Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center will have its annual Pooch Plunge on Oct. 24 from 1 to 4 p.m. The event marks the end of the summer outdoor pool season, and dogs are welcome to swim in the pool. All dogs must play nice, be up to date on shots, and be spayed or neutered. Registration is $15, with proceeds benefitting the Animal League of Birmingham and the LJCC. The next Birmingham PJ Library “It’s In The Bag” event will be a Tot Shabbat morning, Oct. 30 at 11:15 a.m. at Temple Beth-El. The focus will be on tzedakah, and there will be in-person space for the first 15 families that sign up through the Federation. All PJ Library families are welcome, no Beth-El affiliation is necessary. There will be a bag for pickup for families that want to participate virtually. The program will be in the breezeway outside. Temple Beth El in Pensacola will have Shabbat Under the Stars, Oct. 15 at 6 p.m. at the home of Kricket and Rodney Rich in Gulf Breeze. The service will be followed by an al fresco covered dish dinner. Jerusalem Market, a Halal establishment that opened in Shreveport, is going to start stocking kosher items, and is consulting with Rabbi Feivel Rubinstein, who is taking suggestions from the commucontinued on page 30
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No power for a while? Chabad in Metairie emptied the freezers to feed the neighborhood through parking lot cookouts
Forget Covid plans: Ida rearranged Rosh Hashanah While Hurricane Ida did not flood out the New Orleans area after making landfall on Aug. 29, it still caused a fair amount of damage in the community. But the main issue for many was the lack of electricity for a couple of weeks after the hurricane, after feeder lines into the city were severed. Some who rode out the hurricane decided to leave afterward, because it was projected that the power would be out for three weeks. While that meant most Rosh Hashanah services would have to be conducted elsewhere, many areas started receiving power just after Rosh Hashanah, around Sept. 8 or 9, so Yom Kippur services could be held “back home.” After the hurricane passed, the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans began mobilizing to respond to the needs, working with the Jewish Federations of North America to open a national fundraising mailbox and receiving a JFNA grant to fund emergency relief. The Federation has also posted a list of resources on its website, pointing to various forms of disaster relief and other post-hurricane assistance. The Federation also held a webinar on insurance and disaster relief, with Louisiana Commissioner of Insurance Jim Donelon, and Rebecca Holmes, lead staff attorney for the Disaster Lawyering Project. Case managers from Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans have been assisting community members in accessing resources, and taking on new counseling clients. Need-based relief grants have been available for those in the New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Mississippi Coastal areas, up to $250 in the first round to reimburse expenses incurred. Additional resources may be available based on funding. Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana serves as a “safety net” for the community, said Executive Director Bobby Garon, working with Federation and JFS. “Federation takes the lead, gathering the details of loss from our institutions,” and works with the national Federation system. Garon said the first layer of relief comes from national disaster funds, and then JEF steps in as possible. New Orleans-based Jewish Children’s Regional Service also has done outreach to families with children affected by Ida through an emergency aid program.
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Immediate Aftermath Twelve hours after the hurricane left, there was a huge cookout in the parking lot at the Chabad center in Metairie. With the power out, rather than have freezers filled with items that were for planned communal High Holy Day meals spoil, they cranked October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
community up the grills, let people know to drop by, and they started feeding the neighborhood. The Chabad families started working the phones and driving around where possible, responding to whatever needs they uncovered. In one case, an elderly couple was driven to a hotel two hours away to be reunited with family members. On Sept. 3, in coordination with Chabad in Houston, the Uptown Chabad had a free gas giveaway. Another shipment of gas came via Chabad of Mobile, with help from the Mobile Area Jewish Federation and Mobile Jewish Family Services. Kosher Palate in Dallas prepared and shipped 500 sets of four meals for Rosh Hashanah, coordinated with the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, for distribution on the day leading up to the holiday. The shipment included generators that were donated by Israel’s Consulate in Houston, which serves Texas and Louisiana. Tana Valen with the Federation was among those handing out the meals the morning of Sept. 6. She commented that two surprise volunteers showed up to help and worked hard throughout the morning. When she asked the volunteers later, one of them told her “we aren’t Jewish, but we have friends who are, and we’re doing this for them.” Lindsay Friedmann, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League’s South-Central office, had planned to ride out the storm since she was 39 weeks pregnant and wanted to give birth in New Orleans. After Ida passed, she and her husband, Josh, had a little cleanup to do at their home, but as it became apparent that the power would be out for an extended period, they headed out with their two daughters. Their destination was Winter Park, Fla., where they connected with Jay Plotkin, father of her close friend Carly Plotkin — and a noted OB/GYN. They arrived in Florida on Aug. 31, and William Friedmann arrived on Sept. 4 at AdventHealth Winter Park.
Cross-Country Rosh Hashanah
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Most institutions had minor damage, but on occasion, first looks can be deceiving. At Temple Sinai, water entered the walls of the sanctuary and damaged ceilings in the foyer. Ellen Cohen, president of Temple Sinai, said “we have significant damage both inside and outside of our original Temple building.” The congregation will waterproof the sanctuary’s exterior, seal the stained glass windows and patch and paint the sanctuary’s plaster walls. The congregation was almost finished with a million-dollar replacement of its HVAC and electrical systems, and will likely need to add to its cap-
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October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
Meals from Kosher Palate in Dallas were distributed at the Goldring/ Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus just before Rosh Hashanah
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October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
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October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
ital campaign. For Temple Sinai, Rosh Hashanah services were streamed with Rabbi Daniel Sherman in Tulsa and Cantor Joel Colman at Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El. Shir Chadash in Metairie had water damage in its building and in the parsonage. With the work of a large team, the synagogue dried out the building and mitigated the water damage, enabling Yom Kippur services to be held in person and virtually. The congregation’s Rosh Hashanah services originated from many locations, with Rabbi Deborah Silver leading from Dallas, David Kaplinsky from Los Angeles and shofar blower Josh Sands in Houston. Gates of Prayer held virtual services, but for those in the area who wanted to hear a live shofar service, Philip Gaethe made the rounds after the virtual service. Gates of Prayer Rabbi Emeritus Robert Loewy led a Rosh Hashanah service at Congregation Emanu El in Houston for a couple dozen evacuees who were in the area. Rather than using the traditional Rosh Hashanah Torah reading, he did the section from Genesis where light is created over the waters, relating it to the power outage in New Orleans. For several New Orleanians, the setting in Houston was familiar, as they had held Rosh Hashanah services there in 2005 after the levees failed. Power was restored at Gates of Prayer on Sept. 8, and the Torahs that had been moved to a taller office building for safekeeping were returned to the ark on Sept. 10. For Rabbi Katie Bauman of Touro Synagogue in New Orleans, Rosh Hashanah services were also in a familiar setting. Temple Israel in Memphis, where Bauman had been an assistant rabbi and associate rabbi for 10 years before becoming senior rabbi at Touro, hosted the streaming service for Touro members. Cantor Kevin Margolius and Rabbi Todd Silverman also headed to Memphis to take part in the service, which included one of the Torahs from Touro. Bauman opened the Rosh Hashanah evening simulcast by talking about the summer of preparation due to Covid — what would be permissible in terms of in-person attendance, how to stream, local media partners for broadcasts… then “we could never have known this night would be like this. But we are grateful.” As an Orthodox congregation, Beth Israel in Metairie doesn’t stream services, but there were some in-person gatherings for Rosh Hashanah, Rabbi Yosef Goldwasser from Chabad of including a “Hits of the Mobile prepares to bring a load of gas to High Holidays” singalong New Orleans and shofar blowing that was also done virtually just before the first evening. Services at Beth Israel resumed on Sept. 10 as power was restored the previous day. A couple of upper windows were blown out at Anshe Sfard in New Orleans, but the power outages caused the cancellation of Rosh Hashanah and Shabbat services until Yom Kippur. Services were held for Rosh Hashanah at Chabad Uptown, and both indoors and outdoors at Chabad in Metairie. Northshore Jewish Congregation cancelled Rosh Hashanah and Yom
Kippur services, instead offering virtual services led by Rabbi Linda Steigman from Temple Adath Joseph in St. Joseph, Mo. Slater Torah Academy and Jewish Community Day School reopened on Sept. 13, as did both locations of the Jewish Community Center.
Disaster Response Areas outside of New Orleans, particularly toward the coast, were particularly hard hit by wind and flood damage. A team from Nechama Jewish Response to Disaster arrived in Louisiana on Sept. 9 to assess needs and join forces with the International Orthodox Christian Church in St. Charles Parish. Their first project was clearing a huge tree blocking access to a home in New Orleans, where the woman’s daughter is a New Orleans police officer. The team had to pause as Tropical Storm Nicholas passed through the area, then continued damage assessment. Wind damage took off sections of roofs, some houses were completely destroyed, while others suffered flooding leading to mold growth. Nechama continues to welcome volunteer groups as they work to help people in the region. A group from the Federation salvaged personal belongings and did demolition work on a house. A group of 18 members of the Orthodox Union’s National Conference of Synagogue Youth spent two days with Nechama, assisting three families. Nechama is coordinating groups of volunteers, and welcomes fundraising efforts to aid their work in Louisiana. This time last year, Nechama was at the other end of the state, working in the Lake Charles area following Hurricanes Laura and Delta.
Torahs rededicated after vandalism at Monroe’s B’nai Israel A Ruston woman was arrested by Monroe police after she broke into Temple B’nai Israel and vandalized the sanctuary and rabbi’s office, including removing the Torahs from the ark and scattering them around the room. The vandalism was discovered on Sept. 15, the morning leading up to Kol Nidre. Kristine Gail Woodall, 23, was charged and booked at the Ouachita Correctional Center, where she was continuing to be held on a $60,000 bond. According to the arrest record, “once inside she did go to the main sanctuary, where she did throw and scatter several religious artifacts including several Torahs and silver vases across the stage.” Rabbi Judy Caplan Ginsburgh said the incident did not appear to be antisemitic, but appears to be a mental or drug issue. At the Oct. 8 Shabbat service, where the congregation had a rededication of the scrolls, she said that she had watched video footage from the security system. “When I watched the video of her interactions with the Torah scrolls, it was like watching a child undressing a doll and being curious about what was underneath the beautiful clothing.” When Ginsburgh arrived at the building on Sept. 15, “I was shocked at what I saw,” said some brief prayers over the scrolls and wrapped them for the Yom Kippur services. She added that there were no tears in the scrolls, and nothing was taken from the building, though the arrest report noted Woodall had removed a box of light bulbs and a box of trash bags. In 2016, Woodall was among three arrested in the murder of Dylan Poche, a Northwestern State University student. As an accessory, she was charged with aggravated assault with a hammer, and criminal obstruction of justice. Gay Nell Barth, president of the congregation, said the board is taking the matter very seriously and working on ways to ensure that such an incident does not happen again.
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October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
Low-key dedication Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience does mezuzah hanging as opening celebration on hold
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The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience was originally going to hold a grand opening weekend at the beginning of October, but the Covid resurgence led to the celebration being postponed. While a celebration will eventually take place and “everyone will be welcome to come back to New Orleans and come back to see the MSJE when they feel safe doing so,” Board Chair Jay Tanenbaum said, “we can’t wait to dedicate our museum until that occurs.” Instead, on Oct. 1, a small group of board members and guests held a brief mezuzah hanging ceremony. How brief? Museum Director Kenneth Hoffman opened the event by saying “for all of you who spent many hours in the synagogue on Rosh Hashanah or Yom Kippur, good news, this is going to take less than 10 minutes.” Tanenbaum said the ceremony was “a proud and happy moment for us” after five or six years of intense planning “to create what has now become a reality.” The museum opened to visitors on May 27, detailing 300 years of Jewish history and involvement in the South. The $10 million capital campaign was launched in 2017, and in 2019 the museum’s collection was moved from Mississippi, the home of the previous MSJE, to New Orleans. The mezuzah, a blown glass piece by local artist Andrew Jackson Pollack, was affixed inside the entrance, with Hoffman starting the process with the top screw, then passing the “ceremonial screwdriver” to Tanenbaum. Also taking turns to turn the screws were vice-chairs Morris Mintz and Rusty Palmer, followed by board members Keith Katz and Deborah Lamensdorf Jacobs. The museum has a mezuzah wall where donors who give at least $1800 can send in a mezuzah of their own for display, and receive a unique glass mezuzah from Pollack. Hoffman ended the ceremony “with prayers of thanksgiving” and invoked “the blessings of God,” followed by the Shehecheyanu. On the day originally scheduled for the family celebration, the museum hosted a virtual Groove and Shmooze with Glenn Hartman, an acclaimed accordion player who is part of the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars. The museum is open daily except for Tuesdays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Jay Tanenbaum passes the “ceremonial screwdriver” to Morris Mintz 14
October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
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October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
A Louisiana legislator isn’t backing down in the face of criticism for a tweet comparing vaccine mandates to the rise of Nazi Germany. On Sept. 15, hours before the start of Yom Kippur, Rep. Danny McCormick, who has been outspoken against mask and vaccine mandates during Covid as a violation of personal freedom, posted an image of President Joe Biden with a Hitler mustache, and the caption “Zee needle in zee skin or Zee executive orderz again.” The Anti-Defamation League’s New Orleans office stated that “comparing life-saving vaccines to the architect of the Holocaust is vile.” Noting that the “ignorant and odious meme” was posted just before Yom Kippur, the ADL called on him to apologize and for the Louisiana House to hold him accountable. In a statement to Southern Jewish Life, McCormick said as context, several of his relatives served in World War II “and one gave the ultimate sacrifice… his life.” He said the meme he shared “was meant to compare Biden’s recent tyrannical actions to the portion of history when early Hitler similarly worked to erode the people’s personal liberties. Due to lack of resistance to that early attack on liberty, many lives were lost including some of my own family.” He added, “Hopefully we can all agree that personal freedom is the bedrock of American values.” This isn’t the first social media controversy for McCormick, who represents the northwestern corner of the state. On Sept. 2, 2020, he tweeted a version of “Freedom for Humanity,” a mural by a left-wing American artist that depicted bankers drawn as Jewish stereotypes sitting around a table that resembles a Monopoly board, with hunched-over naked figures propping up the board on their backs. The mural sparked a controversy in Britain, where it was painted on a London wall. Jeremy Corbyn, former head of the Labour party who was ultimately ousted partly because of rampant antisemitism in the party under his watch, had defended the mural. McCormick was criticized by the ADL and fellow Republicans for the antisemitic image, and removed it the next day. Earlier that summer, McCormick said government “needs an enemy” and those who opposed wearing a mask during the pandemic “will be soon painted as the enemy. Just as they did to Jews in Nazi Germany. Now is the time to push back before it is too late.” At the time, he said he wasn’t talking about Jews, but of demonization of people, “not that this is equal to the Holocaust.”
Essay contest for teen girls explores antisemitism experiences
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Another controversy for La. Rep. over Nazi analogy for Covid mandates
Hadassah Magazine and JGirls Magazine are holding an essay contest for teen girls. The essay is to describe a time “when antisemitism affected you and how you responded.” Possible topics include incidents at school, with a friend or relative, or in the community. The contest is open to self-identifying Jewish girls in the United States and Israel, and deadline is Nov. 5. Entries are to be between 600 and 800 words. Official rules are at hadassahmagazine.org.
community “Jew” or “Geo”? Concern expressed over Arkansas senator’s remarks
Beth-El debuts audio walking tour of Birmingham Jewish, civil rights sites
An Arkansas state senator is saying he was mis-heard by many people after remarks about Afghanistan seemed to include a slur. On Sept. 30, the Arkansas Senate was discussing a resolution to condemn the Biden administration’s mishandling of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan earlier in the month. Sen. Mark Johnson, in urging passage of the resolution, called the Taliban a “heinous regime,” then added “We like to go back 75 years and talk about how bad the Nazis were. Here in our own lifetime we have seen horrid things come out of that country.” Many watching the debate heard his next sentence as “you don’t have to be a Jew-politician to know that Afghanistan is a place with a lot of problems.” Aaron Ahlquist, Southern division policy director for the Anti-Defamation League, called that remark “perplexing” as well as “derogatory and deeply offensive,” and that Johnson should apologize for the “Jew politician” remark. When asked by the Arkansas Times, Johnson responded that “What I said was ‘geopolitician.’ The context should make that clear. I just recently heard that some misheard what I said… I’ll try to speak more clearly in the future.” Ahlquist also focused on the Nazi comparison, saying that “while the Taliban’s history is characterized by horrific human rights violations… comparisons to the Holocaust, a singular event that led to the murder of six million Jews and millions of others, is wrong and inapt.” The ADL has been pushing back on a wave of Holocaust analogies being made in public discourse, especially around Covid mandates.
On Oct. 17, the Beth El Civil Rights Experience will have a “soft launch” of a new audio tour of downtown Birmingham civil rights and Jewish sites. The tour is also supported by the Alabama Humanities Alliance, and for the launch, Temple Emanu-El is a partner so the overall Jewish community can take part in engaging with local history. The Civil Rights Experience is an effort to explore Jewish Birmingham and its role in the civil rights era. The plan is to hold programming and youth education, and have a center for research and archival material. There will also be digital engagement, such as the audio tour, and a visitor’s site at Beth-El for tour groups to visit and dialogue. A historical marker is also planned for outside Beth-El, detailing the attempted Klan bombing in 1958. For the tour, there will be timed slots every 20 minutes from 1 to 2:40 p.m. The groups will embark on the tour together, with limited slots per group in keeping with Covid protocols. The walking route is about 1.5 miles round-trip, and participants who register will receive a map, arrival information and instructions on how to access the audio tour. In March, the Experience kicked off activities with a Nosh and Learn driving tour. There will be numerous differences in the audio tour, with new stories and the different perspective of seeing places while on foot instead of while driving by. The tour is free, but donations are accepted and will go toward development of the project.
October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
community Schoen elected national chair of ZOA
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October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
An attorney with ties to Alabama was elected the national chairman of the Zionist Organization of America. David Schoen, who lives in Atlanta and has offices in Montgomery, Atlanta and New York, was elected to the position on Oct. 3. Schoen said “I will do all I can to support the extraordinary work of this most venerable and storied organization, drawing on its past accomplishments and helping to carry forward its mission as a leading advocate for Israel and the Jewish people and against growing scourge of antisemitism and irrational Israel hatred.” Morton Klein, president of ZOA, said Schoen’s “commitment to Zionism knows no bounds… his dynamism, energy, knowledge, intellect, relationships in the legal, Jewish, political and Israel worlds, and his great work ethic will help propel ZOA to new heights. Schoen co-founded the ZOA Center for Law & Justice, directed by Susan Tuchman, which defends and protects the civil rights of Jewish and pro-Israel students who are harassed or discriminated against on college campuses. He was a guest of the Israeli Foreign Ministry in connection with advocacy programs there. He also has done work to keep the Palestinian Authority from avoiding liability for the murder of Jews and Americans in terror attacks, and has uncovered much of the PA’s “pay to slay” program. Schoen represented President Donald Trump during his second impeachment trial, currently represents the Democratic Party in a pending lawsuit, and represented a socialist party candidate for president in 2020 over unconstitutional ballot access laws in Washington. He has also represented the Libertarian Party. After graduating from Boston College Law School in 1984, Schoen accepted a job at a large firm in Washington, but asked for a deferment so he could go South and pursue civil rights litigation. He was law clerk for a year for Truman Hobbs, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama, and was mentored by Frank Johnson. While clerking, he decided to become a trial lawyer, and asked the Washington firm to release him from his commitment. He opened his law office in Montgomery and started taking cases in state and federal courts. In 1995, he received the American Bar Association’s national pro bono public award, saying he had accomplished “more through his litigation than any lawyer of this era to positively change the face of public institutions in the South. Those institutions include public schools, foster care, prisons, jails, indigent defense systems, voting rights, fair housing, and more.”
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It Could Be Time To Check Your Hearing
At Ramah Darom, the goal was “Stay Positive, Test Negative”
CDC Covid study of summer camp relies on Ramah experiences The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a paper on what it takes to have a successful summer camp experience in the age of Covid — and the study was entirely about the experiences of nine Ramah camps this summer. Ramah is the summer camp arm of Conservative Judaism. Among the nine camps in the study was Ramah Darom in north Georgia, which draws most of its campers from the Southeast. The study, “Multicomponent Strategies to Prevent SARS-CoV-2 Transmission — Nine Overnight Youth Summer Camps, United States, June-August 2021,” showed the importance and effectiveness of prevention strategies to reduce or eliminate Covid transmission in overnight camps. The study concluded that “Implementation of high vaccination coverage coupled with multiple prevention strategies is critical to averting Covid-19 outbreaks in congregate settings, including overnight camps.” Most camps did not operate during 2020 because of the pandemic, Ramah included. A few camps, including Blue Star in North Carolina, did operate using multiple prevention strategies and had successful summers, while camps with “relaxed prevention strategies” that relied on one Covid test before arrival but did not engage in follow-up testing experienced outbreaks. Helping the situation in 2021 was the availability of a vaccine, though by the time its use was approved for ages 12 to 16 in mid-May, it was too late to start the process for some first-session campers, as camp would start before the three-week interval for the second shot had passed, and camps were not set up to administer the vaccine. Still, according to the study of 7,173 staff members and campers at nine Ramah camps, 99 percent of those age 17 and over were immunized as seven of the nine camps required it for all staff and campers age 17 and up, while 88 percent of those ages 12 to 16 were fully immunized before arrival. Regardless of vaccine status, each camp had “multiple prevention strategies,” and over the course of the summer, a total of nine Covid cases were found. In none of those cases was there Covid transmission to others in the camp. All Ramah camps asked campers to social distance from anyone outside their families for two weeks before camp, and at drop-off had to bring evidence of a negative Covid test from within the previous 72 hours. Campers started the summer in pods involving their own bunks, while Covid testing continued regularly. Hand-washing was emphasized, and scheduling reworked to limit encounters between pods at meals and daily
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October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
Southern Jewish Life “You Caught Me With My Checkbook Open”
The number of donations to Southern Jewish Life continues to grow. Readers in our four-state coverage region (Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, NW Florida) and beyond have made contributions this past year from $18 to $1800. Nearly 150 people have sent donations over the past 12 months. They realize the importance of sustaining and growing Southern Jewish Life, our region’s only nationally award-winning Jewish publication. One recent exchange made us feel great. We asked one of our most enthusiastic readers to please consider a gift of $180. “You caught me with my check book open!” this friend wrote back immediately. “The $180 check is written and will be put in the mail today.” And, this person added, “I am so fond of the magazine, and I stay so proud of all that you have done and continue to do. My pleasure and stay well.” This made us feel great. In addition to the warm message, it was a reflection of another reader appreciating how donor dollars, along with advertising revenue, can help us grow. As we say, “More Revenue=More Pages=More Stories.” If you’d like to join the growing number of readers who’ve become Southern Jewish Life donors, please send a check to SJL, P.O. Box 130052, Birmingham, AL 35213, or go to https://sjlmag.com/ contribute/ (Donations to Southern Jewish Life are not tax-deductible.) Your generous support will help us continue to provide quality journalism and allow us to keep mailing our magazine free to every known Jewish household in our four-state region. 20
October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
prayer sessions, and sick call was spread out by pod. Over 38,000 rapid tests were administered, with 21 positive results. Of those, 15 turned out to be false positives when PCR tests were given as a followup. As the summer continued, pods were gradually combined, eventually to include entire age groups. Three camps were able to expand to one camp-wide pod. Of the nine Covid cases, three were in vaccinated staffers and six were unvaccinated campers ages 8 to 14. One staffer case was detected during staff week, before campers arrived. The other two were from exposures during off-camp activities between sessions. While staffers leaving camp had distancing guidelines to follow, after the off-camp exposures, offcamp activities were cancelled. One full-summer camper also was exposed at an off-camp activity between sessions. Two others were asymptomatic but identified in pre-arrival screening, while three others were identified by screening during the first eight days of camp, and only one was identified as symptomatic. All those testing positive either went home or were isolated according to local health department guidance, and all potentially exposed contacts were tested. At Ramah Darom, the one positive test was in the age group called Shoafim, and toward the end of camp all members of that age group sported sweatshirts with the camp’s “Stay Positive, Test Negative” slogan and “Shoafim Quarantine 2021.” “This project highlights the amazing team members who work at all of our camps and the unbelievable thought, planning, and effort put into making the summer of 2021 an unbelievable success,” said Mark Drexler, who headed the research team and is medical chair for Ramah Wisconsin. Rabbi Mitchell Cohen, national director of the Ramah Commission, said the CDC has already contacted the Ramah team several times to provide guidance to boarding schools, based on Ramah’s successes this past summer. Ramah credits the local teams for each camp, “colleagues and partners at other Jewish camping movements,” the Foundation for Jewish Camp, the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and the American Camp Association. “We hope and pray for an end to this public health crisis and look forward to another wonderful and safe Ramah summer in 2022,” Cohen said.
Protecting against missiles from Gaza
Operation Lifeshield recently placed another bomb shelter donated by Baxley Companies in Dothan. This bell shelter is at Kibbutz Yakhini in the Shaar HaNegev region. It was placed by the entrance to the women’s mikvah, enabling women to take part in this ritual knowing that there is a safe place to run toward if a missile from Gaza is detected. Kibbutz Security Chief Ariel Zahavi affixed the dedication plaque, with Operation Lifeshield Director Shmuel Bowman.
Confronting Antisemitism in a Gorilla Suit By Bruce Pearl (JNS) — A few years ago, I attended a Major League Baseball game with my family. Near the entrance to the stadium, a man dressed in a gorilla suit held a large sign that read “F**k the Jews! They dominate the world!” The message? Jews are descendants of apes (an age-long antisemitic trope that depicts Jews as inhuman), they control the world’s economy, and they must be annihilated. As we stood in line to purchase tickets to the game, I was motionless and paralyzed. I wondered why someone would crawl inside a sweltering gorilla suit on a hot summer day to foment hatred. Hundreds of people passed by the gorilla but seemed indifferent to his message. I was born into a Jewish family, and my relatives endured this kind of vile antagonism for a long time. My protective fatherly instinct kicked in because I felt his violent message was targeting my Jewish children that stood in line with me. Here was a guy blatantly calling for another genocide of the Jews, and no one cared to interfere. I decided to interfere. With my children tugging on my shirt saying, “Daddy don’t” — out of concern for what might happen to me in a confrontation — I stepped out of the long line of fans and walked towards the gorilla. With every step I took, I sensed I was teaching my Jewish children never to be silent in the face of evil. Someone once said, “Silence is evil’s greatest ally,” and I believe they were right. I wasn’t filled with rage. That would have been too easy. I was motivated by righteous anger. There is a law in the Torah
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Pearl to headline Israel Team’s event standing with the Jewish people The Israel Team will stand against antisemitism and honor the Jewish people at an event in Montgomery on Oct. 21. The 7 p.m. program will be held at Frazer United Methodist Church and feature guest speaker Bruce Pearl, head coach of the Auburn basketball team and an outspoken advocate in the fight against antisemitism. The Jewish Federation of Central Alabama is co-sponsoring the event. Similar events were held in Mobile and Auburn in April. Rabbi Scott Kramer of Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem will speak, as will Phillip Ensler, newly-appointed executive director of the Jewish Federation of Central Alabama. Dan Puckett, a historian at Troy University who wrote “In the Shadow of Hitler: Alabama Jews, the Second World War, and the Holocaust,” will also speak. Puckett is past president of the Southern Jewish Historical Society and chairs the Alabama Holocaust Commission. Aaron David Fruh, senior pastor of Knollwood Church in Mobile, and president of Israel Team Advocates International, will also speak. He is editor of the recent book “The Casualty of Contempt: The Alarming Rise of Antisemitism and What Can Be Done to Stop It.” Additional speakers include historian Deborah Hall and civil rights advocate Wanda Howard Battle. Al Jackson, pastor of Lakeview Baptist Church, will also speak. Music will be performed by Fathers Joy Music, featuring Mark and Bridgett Moses. October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
community that forbids apathetic indifference towards a person or group oppressing others. The rabbis teach this law (Leviticus 19:6) places a binding obligation upon us not to be silent when others are being threatened or harmed. When I stood before the gorilla, something within me — a kind of deep awareness of the historical suffering of my people caused by antisemitism — rose to the surface and with tears filling my eyes, I pointed to my heart and I heard myself saying, “Juden.” Juden is the German word for Jew inscribed on the yellow Stars of David that Jews were forced to wear during the Holocaust. It was the only word I could muster. The man said nothing. Again, I pointed to my heart and said, “Juden.” This time I was shouting! Again, the gorilla said nothing. Up to that point, I doubt the man had faced any objection to his threatening rhetoric to harm Jews. As I stared past the mask into the eyes of the man, I saw cold contempt. Again I shouted “Juden” and then added, “Take off your mask so we can talk face to face, and if you want, you can throw the first punch!” Was I hoping for a brawl? Maybe. The two eyes staring back at me expressed no emotion. They were filled with a kind of gray and foreboding emptiness. I realized the man behind the mask had no conscience. At that point, almost robotically, the gorilla slowly turned his back on me. There I was, a lone Jew in a sea of indifferent onlookers, facing the hairy back of an antisemitic gorilla that held a sign demanding my family’s slaughter. I
October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
took his sign and broke it apart, holding the two halves in my hands and hoping the man would take off his mask. Instead, he walked away. In that moment, I learned two important things: An antisemite is a coward at heart who hides behind derogatory stereotypes, fabricated history, Jewish conspiracy theories, religious myths, and, in this case, an ape costume. Secondly, I learned most people would rather remain silently indifferent to antisemitism because they think it doesn’t affect them. One of the more insulting stereotypes, promoted by the person in the gorilla suit, is that the Jewish people are all rich and control the world’s monetary system. My Jewish upbringing did not match this false narrative. My paternal grandparents, Papa Jack and Nana Rose Pearlmutter, emigrated from Europe in 1909. They settled in Mattapan Boston, a thriving but poor Jewish community mainly from Poland and Russia. Papa was a plumber and an observant Orthodox Jew. I watched him tie the tefillin around his arm during his daily morning prayers. I can assure you that controlling the world’s finances was not something that crossed his mind. The poor Jewish neighborhoods of Mattapan, Mass., were dotted with dilapidated triple-decker Victorians that lined a three-mile stretch of Blue Hill Avenue. The Jews of Mattapan became known as “The Blue Hill Avenue Jews.” During Israel’s Six-Day War in 1967, I saw my Papa crying as he
community watched the evening news. He told me about Israel and how she was under attack, and that he feared for her very existence. I discovered in that moment that I, as a Jew, am somehow intricately and spiritually connected to the land of Israel. I sense that my Papa was passing down to me, his only grandson, a love for my heritage and for Israel. When I hear the violent rhetoric today about Israel’s annihilation, my thoughts go back to 1967 sitting at Papa’s feet in that little duplex in Mattapan on Greendale Road just off of Blue Hill Avenue. Whenever I travel to Israel — maybe it is the Zionism inspired in me from the Blue Hill Avenue Jews of Mattapan — I kneel down and kiss the earth. Today, Israel once again stands at the crossroads as her enemies rage against her. Sadly, within our own Congress, there are voices calling for the support of Israel’s sworn enemies while others are even calling for Israel’s destruction. The alarming rise of antisemitism — the beliefs that gave that man in the gorilla suit permission to proclaim his hatred — is contagious. In America, it’s becoming the norm for some sports figures, musicians and Hollywood celebrities to tweet antisemitic tropes. It has been reported that every 83 seconds, a new antisemitic message is posted on social media. More than half of religious hate crimes in America are against Jews. Three-fourths of Jewish students on American college campuses have witnessed anti-Israel and/or antisemitic acts on their campuses. A multitude of angry antisemites are attempting to smother the voices of the younger generation through fear and intimidation. I worry about this. Earlier this summer, U.S. Jewish engagement director Aaron Keyak tweeted out to the Jewish community, “It pains me to say this but if you fear for your life or physical safety, take off your kipah and hide your Star of David.”
Where is the moral courage in that statement? Antisemitism succeeds when Jews are forced out of the public arena. The objective is to isolate and weaken Jews, making them defenseless. Historically, once we as a people have been forced into compliance we become easy prey. This is why today we say: “Never Again!” Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl said “man is that being who invented the gas chambers of Auschwitz; however, he is also that being who entered those chambers upright with the Shema Yisrael on his lips.” Frankl was reminding us that in the darkest moments of our history, the light of our Jewish dignity has never flickered out. Before the radical Islamists beheaded Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, he said, “My father is Jewish, my mother is Jewish, I am Jewish.” Like the three Hebrew children who were intimidated to bow or be thrown into a furnace, he refused to betray his convictions and nor should we. Antisemitism is an early warning sign that hatred and bigotry are on the rise — not just toward Jews but toward everyone, which is why we must confront it together. If we in the human family do not challenge it, we become an accessory to its evil. We cannot shrink back in silence as antisemitism grows ever more vocal and violent. It’s time we choose to interfere rather than pass by the man in the gorilla suit. May we have the moral courage to stand up together, and break in half the signs that would seek to diminish and destroy us. Bruce Pearl is the head men’s basketball coach for the Auburn Tigers at Auburn University. In 2019, he led Auburn to the Final Four. He is one of five Jewish coaches in history to reach the Final Four. He also served as the head coach for the Maccabi USA men’s basketball team in the 2009 Maccabi Games in Tel Aviv, Israel, where he led the U.S. to win the gold medal.
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October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
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Rep. Rashida Tlaib railed against the bill, saying it enables “war crimes and human rights abuses and violence.” She added that the funding would be for “weapons apartheid Israel used in a crisis it manufactured when it attacked worshippers at one of the most holiest Islamic locations, the al-Aqsa Mosque, committing again numerous war crimes.” That “attack,” of course, has been thoroughly debunked, as Israeli police were responding to rioting on the Temple Mount, and coordinated Palestinian attacks on Israelis. She also completely mischaracterized the purpose of Iron Dome. Developed in partnership with the U.S., Iron Dome is a defense system. It has no offensive capabilities. Its sole purpose is to shoot down missiles that have been fired toward civilian population centers (because of the expense of Iron Dome interceptors, if an incoming missile is projected to hit an open field, the system doesn’t bother shooting it down). Because of Iron Dome and its 90-plus percent success rate, there were just 13 deaths in Israel attributed to the fighting. In Gaza, about 260 deaths were reported, the majority of which were enemy combatants. People like Tlaib also forget that Hamas missiles aren’t just aimed at Israeli Jews. Once the rockets go up, who knows where they will land — and about 700 of them actually landed in Gaza, resulting in many of the civilian deaths that were blamed on Israel. And once the rockets enter Israel, they can’t identify who is an Israeli Jew, an Israeli Arab or a foreigner. Among the death toll in Israel were a woman from India and two men from Thailand. Arab homes were shelled, the same as Jewish homes. Anti-Israel groups point to the low number of casualties in Israel versus among the Palestinians as a sign of immorality by Israel. Disproportionate, they say. Well, the Nazis lost roughly 5 million soldiers in World War II, while the U.S. and Britain each had around 400,000 military deaths. Guess that gives the Nazis the moral high ground. But, one may protest, there are so many civilians killed in Gaza by Israel, so the analogy doesn’t work. Actually, it makes the case even stronger. First, Israel takes great pains to avoid civilian casualties, so the percentage who are civilians that are tragically killed is far lower than in almost every other conflict on the planet. In places like Syria, those numbers make barely a ripple in comparison. Yet Tlaib and her cohorts wail about a non-existent Israeli “genocide” against the Palestinians, while anti-Israel groups like Human Rights Watch say it is Israel that is committing war crimes. Second, Hamas and Fatah fighters aren’t in uniform. Israel isn’t fighting a conventional army. So many who are reported to be civilian casualties by the Western media are then identified by various terrorist factions as their people — not innocents. And third, if the argument is against the targeting of civilians, the rockets fired from Gaza are specifically to kill civilians. There is no targeting of Israel’s military capabilities. Israel seeks to minimize civilian casualties — on both sides — while Hamas seeks the largest civilian death toll possible, to grab headlines and sympathy. Israel isn’t going to simply play along. It cannot be overemphasized that while Israel builds systems to protect civilians, Hamas not only targets civilians but uses their own civilians as human shields to protect their armaments. The more who get killed by Israeli airstrikes, the better it is for their propaganda. For all the talk about crowded, open-air prison of Gaza, there are a lot of open areas in the Strip. There is no true need to place rocket launchers next to apartment buildings, unless the goal is to create
community more propaganda deaths of civilians. A strong Iron Dome actually prevents deaths in Gaza. Imagine that there were no Iron Dome, and the over 1500 rockets that actually were headed toward populated areas in Israel reached their targets. The casualty count would have been much higher, as would the pressure on the Israeli government to take much stronger measures to protect its citizens and stop the barrage. Perhaps a much broader campaign of air strikes to take out the launchers. Perhaps even a ground invasion of Gaza to clean up the situation. No matter which option was chosen, the result would be a far higher death toll — on both sides. Iron Dome gives Israel the luxury of absorbing a few punches and being able to surgically and deliberately eliminate the threat. Iron Dome may not be deployed in Gaza, but it sure helps save lives of Gazans. A similar illogical effort was made by Rep. Ilhan Omar in her quest to keep Israel from being able to procure precision-guided munitions. Those munitions enable Israel to take out immediate threats without harming bystanders — such as being able to target a particular office in a building, rather than having to take out the entire building. Anyone doubting Israel’s commitment to precise targeting need only look at the assassination of Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in November 2020 while he was driving in Iran, with his wife seated next to him. A non-precision strike would mean taking out his car, also killing his wife, and possibly bodyguards in other cars around him. The Mossad used a remote control machine gun to fire 15 shots, killing him — and not even hitting anyone else. While Hamas targets Israeli civilians of all backgrounds and continues its vow to eliminate the world’s only Jewish state, Israel tries to minimize civilian casualties on both sides. The Squad’s blind hatred of Israel causes them to take positions that can only result in more death and destruction. All in the name of peace and justice, of course. They don’t like the fact that Iron Dome means Israel can protect itself and make Hamas’ weapons mostly ineffective. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was even in tears after the Iron Dome funding passed and, feeling the dynamics of a possible Senate run next year, she voted “present” instead of “no.” How tragic, Israel will be able to defend itself! Though they may not articulate it this way, their actions are clear: The Squad would rather see more dead Jews — and dead Palestinians. And that is just one of the great tragedies of the anti-Israel crowd, whose policies would only make life worse for everyone in the region, especially the Palestinians that they profess to Lawrence Brook, Publisher/Editor care so much about.
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community Louisiana-Lafayette Levy Lecture on Jewish-Christian relations Lawrence Feingold will discuss “Jewish-Christian Dialogue: ‘The Glory of Thy People Israel’,” for this year’s Flora Plonsky Levy Lecture at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The lecture will be on Oct. 25 at 7 p.m., at Angelle Hall on campus. It is free and open to the public. Feingold is a writer and an associate professor at Kenrick-Glennon Seminary in St. Louis, Mo. He is the author of several works, including the three-volume book “The Mystery of Israel and the Church, The Natural Desire to See God According to St. Thomas Aquinas and His Interpreters.” While working as a sculptor in Italy, Feingold converted from Judaism to Catholicism. He began studying at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, where he earned doctorate in sacred theology. “Dr. Feingold became a Catholic theologian and philosopher, but he still maintains a great love for his Jewish heritage and its connection to Christianity,” said Dr. Charles Richard, a professor of English who coordinates the Levy Lecture Series. The lecture will also include a 15-minute presentation and tribute to Maurice duQuesnay, who was the longest-serving faculty member until his death in June, and coordinated the lecture series for over 40 years. English Professor Charles Richard, who now coordinates the series, said duQuesnay also practiced both faiths for part of his life, converting from Catholicism to Judaism. “Maurice also maintained a great love of both faiths, so we thought having Dr. Feingold deliver this year’s lecture would be a good way to honor his memory,” he said.
October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
The annual Flora Plonsky Levy Lecture Series is hosted by the UL Lafayette English Department through a UL Lafayette Foundation endowment.
On Oct. 3, the Temple Emanu-El Tuscaloosa Sisterhood held its installation at the University of Alabama Hillel. Officers installed were Qiaoli Liang, president; Amy Ahmed, vice president; Marianne Rosenzweig, treasurer; Tracy Kellner, recording secretary; Emily Hoskins, corresponding secretary; Dawn Cook, Parliamentarian; Anna Singer, historian.
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New Alabama-made Mazda coming soon By Lee J. Green A new Mazda CX50 will be coming off the assembly lines in early 2022, and it won’t have far to go to make it to Pelham’s Med Center Mazda. The crossover SUV will be manufactured at the Mazda Toyota plant outside of Huntsville. “The new CX50 will be slightly larger and feature more aggressive styling than the current model, along with some additional technology features,” said Med Center Mazda GM Chris Martin. With 65 percent of the dealership’s sales this year, the existing CX5, which will also continue to be produced, “is already our most popular vehicle, and there has been much anticipation about the 2022 model.” Martin said Mazda continues to be an industry leader in fuel economy and resale value. The automaker’s vehicles were also named “Most Reliable” by Consumer Reports magazine. Mazda also carries the CX30, which is smaller than the CX5, and the CX9, which is larger than the CX5 with a third row of seating, along with the Mazda 3 and 6 sedans. “These vehicles are so loaded and advanced when it comes to features for safety and entertainment,” said Martin. Mazdas feature Android Auto, Apple Play, full Bluetooth and other entertainment features. On the safety side, Mazda vehicles come standard (or can be equipped with) blind-spot monitoring, 360-degree view cameras and lane-departure monitoring. Mazda also plans to make all of its vehicles four-wheel drive within the next few years. “If one wheel loses traction, in a millisecond the vehicle transfers the torque to the other three wheels,” said Martin. “That’s especially important down here since we get a good deal of rain.” Med Center Mazda celebrates its 30th year of business this year and Martin said they regularly get Gold Cup Leader recognition from Mazda for excellence in sales and service. Salesperson Rubin Lapidus said most customers come to him with some knowledge of Mazda’s exemplary reputation. “Our customers go online and see all of the positive reviews,” said Lapidus. “We are all about building relationships with our customers and finding the specific Mazda vehicle that best fits their needs.”
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October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
community >> Agenda
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nity to determine what items are needed and will be purchased by the community. The Mobile Area Jewish Federation is hosting a book signing with Mobile native Ivan Maisel, national college sports writer and author of “I Keep Trying to Catch His Eye,” Nov. 7 at 2 p.m., with details to be announced. Blue Star Camps in Hendersonville, N.C. announced it will have a 75th anniversary weekend for alumni and family camp over Memorial Day in 2022. Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile will honor veterans on Nov. 7, with a ceremony at 10 a.m. at the congregation’s cemetery. Veterans are requested to arrive at 9:45 a.m., and all congregants and families are invited. Flags will be available for placement at headstones. At 11 a.m. there will be a ceremony to bury old prayer books and flags.
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The annual Turkey Train at B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge will be on Nov. 14. This is the 13th year for the religious school’s program to benefit St. Vincent de Paul. One may contribute by Nov. 7 for the purchase of turkeys at $20 each, or deliver frozen turkeys to the drive-thru the morning of Nov. 14. Because of space, no turkeys can be accepted before then. The train will be from 11:15 a.m. to noon. Matherne’s Market downtown is providing a discount and free delivery for purchased turkeys. On Oct. 26 at 6 p.m., Temple Beth El in Pensacola will host a workshop on how to research the lives of ancestors. The Cemetery Team has been documenting the congregation’s ceremony and working to create information on all those buried there, as a large number had inadequate obituaries, or none at all. The research thus far has led to a lot of information about the congregation’s early members. The program will also be on Zoom. The next Shabbat Hilicha for Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El will be Oct. 30 at 10:30 a.m., meeting at the Frankfurt Drive entrance to Red Mountain Park for the Shabbat hike. The Pensacola Jewish Federation’s Chai Discussion Group will be on Oct. 21 at 11:45 a.m. at B’nai Israel. The topic will be “Covid vaccines: Should they be mandated?” The Mobile Area Jewish Federation has started a MAJF Mishpacha Facebook group to connect young Jewish families in the area. An in-person family event is being planned for October. Conexx, the Atlanta-based America Israel Business Connector, is a sponsor of the Nov. 17 and 18 First Global USA Business Forum, 27th Georgia Tech Global Business Forum and 12th USA India Business Summit. Sessions will include manufacturing competitiveness, the future work force, cyber security, the future of technologies in several fields, therapeutics innovation and the global mobility of talent. More information for the virtual event is available at usaindiabusinesssummit.com. High school students in grades 9 to 12 are invited to participate in the Antisemitism Symposium for Teens, sponsored by Lappin Foundation’s Teen Antisemitism Task Force and the Jewish Teen Initiative. The interactive sessions are designed to deepen teens’ knowledge of antisemitism; develop skills and build confidence to respond to antisemitism; and identify resources to support students if they experience antisemitism. The symposium will be facilitated by Noam Weissman and will be held on Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. Central on Oct. 12, 19 and 26 on Zoom. The symposium is free and all high school students are welcome to attend. Register at LappinFoundation.org.
October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
community Florida, Texas move to divest over Ben & Jerry’s anti-Israel actions Florida and Texas are among the states calling Unilever to account for its subsidiary, Ben & Jerry’s, launching an Israel boycott. On July 19, Ben & Jerry’s announced it would stop selling its products in “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” ending its relationship with its Israeli licensee when the current agreement ends in 2022. The company said it would continue to sell its products in pre-1967 Israel in a “different arrangement” that has not been described. However, most Israeli supermarket chains have locations in the territories, and Israeli law prevents local companies from boycotting Israeli communities in the territories. Anti-Israel activists hailed the decision as a victory for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement that seeks to economically isolate Israel, with an ultimate goal of removing Israel from the map. There are 34 U.S. states that have laws targeting the BDS movement. Israeli Ambassador Gilad Erdan sent letters to the governor of each of those states, urging them to act against Ben & Jerry’s. “We view this decision very severely as it is the de-facto adoption of antisemitic practices and advancement of the de-legitimization of the Jewish state and the dehumanization of the Jewish people,” he wrote. He noted that Arab nations that long boycotted Israel are now making peace with the country, and the Ben & Jerry’s decision would affect stores in the territories where “both Israelis and Palestinians work and shop.” He added, “the citizens of Israel are never the only ones who suffer from such boycotts as these significantly harm Palestinians as well.” Unilever has said that the Israel decision was of the Ben & Jerry’s board, which has a special autonomy on social justice issues dating back to its acquisition in 2000 by Unilever. After the Ben & Jerry’s announcement, Unilever CEO Alan Jope said the company “remains fully committed to our business in Israel,” which includes a new razor factory, manufacturing facilities that employ 2,000 and support for social programs. Jope reached out to numerous Jewish organizations as the controversy began, saying “We have never expressed any support for the BDS movement and have no intention of changing that position.” Anuradha Mittal, chair of the independent Ben & Jerry’s board, insisted their action is not antisemitic, but she was reportedly incensed that Unilever reiterated its commitment to Israel, when the Ben & Jerry’s board had been planning a statement that would not mention a commitment to continue doing business in Israel. She has described Israel’s creation as a “catastrophe.” The Ben & Jerry’s independent board issued a statement decrying the Unilever statement, saying it “does not reflect the position of the Independent Board, nor was it approved by the Independent Board.” In late August, there were reports that the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation issued $104,000 in grants to the Oakland Institute, an anti-Israel organization where Mittal is the only paid employee. Florida announced that Unilever has until Oct. 26 to reverse the boycott decision, or face “economic consequences” from the state. At a September Cabinet meeting, Ash Williams, executive director of the Florida State Board of Administration said there had not been “any meaningful response from Unilever, period,” and the cabinet approved the state divesting its Unilever stock if the boycott is not reversed. Florida officials held talks with Unilever on July 28 and reported that “the parent company has no current plan to prevent Ben & Jerry’s from terminating business activities in Israeli-controlled territories.” “As a matter of law and principle, the state of Florida will not tolerate discrimination against the State of Israel or the Israeli people,” said Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis. “By placing Ben & Jerry’s Fortune 500 parent com-
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community pany Unilever on our ‘List of Scrutinized Companies That Boycott Israel,’ Florida is sending a message to corporate America that we will defend our strong relationship with the Jewish state. I will not stand idly by as woke corporate ideologues seek to boycott and divest from our ally, Israel.” Currently, the state has about $139 million in Unilever, which the state would not be required to dump under the anti-BDS law, but the state would not make any additional investments in the company. Also, no state agency would be able to buy Unilever products after Oct. 26. Jimmy Patronis, CFO of the Board of Administrators, said “The second Ben & Jerry’s decided to discriminate against Israel, it affected Florida’s ability to make investments with its parent company.” In 2019, AirBNB had issued a ban on listings of Jewish-owned properties in the territories, and reversed the decision days before penalties would have begun in Florida. Mississippi has pension funds invested in Unilever, and is one of 12 states requiring divestment from companies that participate in a boycott of Israel. There has been no announcement thus far of any action in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana or Tennessee, all of which have anti-BDS laws. On Sept. 23, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced that Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever had been added to the Texas list of companies that boycott Israel. Texas has Unilever holdings of about $100 million in state pension funds, and if the company does not change course within 90 days, the state will begin divesting from Unilever. “As with any of our listing decisions, my office, in cooperation with our research providers, carefully reviewed statements and activities by both Ben & Jerry’s and Unilever before concluding that they are suitable candidates for the Texas list,” Hegar said. “Texas law is clear on this issue, and my office has long supported Israel through our Israel bond holdings as well as our lists of scrutinized companies with ties to Iran and those with ties to foreign terrorist organizations.” The Texas statute defines a boycott of Israel as “refusing to deal with, terminating business activities with, or otherwise taking any action that is intended to penalize, inflict economic harm on or limit commercial relations specifically with Israel or with a person or entity doing business in Israel or in an Israeli-controlled territory.” Arizona was the first state to dump its Unilever holdings in response to the boycott. On June 30, the state had $143 million in Unilever investments. By mid-September, that was reduced to $50 million and was expected to be zero by the end of the month. New Jersey also informed Unilever that it was subject to divestment by the state, giving the company 90 days to reverse Ben & Jerry’s decision. Unilever is headquartered in New Jersey. In addition to Ben & Jerry’s, Unilever brands include Dove, Hellman’s, Knorr, Lipton, Breyer’s, Klondike, Axe, Q-Tips, Seventh Generation, Noxzema and Tazo. Some have said the decision by Ben & Jerry’s can not be termed antisemitic, as the company’s founders are Jewish. Ben Cohen said he has always supported a two state solution, but said the Israeli government is making it harder for that to happen by supporting settlements. Jerry Greenfield said the action “is not boycotting Israel in any way” and the states are acting on “misinformation.” Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the left-wing group J Street, said rather than being antisemitic, the decision “draw(s) a principled and rational distinction between commercial transactions in the state of Israel and those in the territory it occupies.” Many in the pro-Israel community were already critical of Ben & Jerry’s after the 2018 launch of the flavor “Pecan Resist,” which honored anti-Israel activist Linda Sarsour. 30
October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
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B&A Warehouse hosts a diverse array of events By Lee J. Green A few months before the Alabama Crimson Tide kicked off its 2021 CFP Championship-defending season, the B&A Warehouse in Birmingham hosted a Bat Mitzvah with much to cheer about. This past June, Big Al and majorettes from the University of Alabama added much fanfare to the Belle Casey Bat Mitzvah. More than 200 people attended the celebration for the daughter of Matt and Emily Casey. “Everyone really had fun with that Bat Mitzvah,” said B&A Marketing Director Haley Roebuck. “The great thing about the B&A is that is an open canvas, so people can really personalize the space to fit it with their celebration.” She said they also have the Levine Bat Mitzvah coming in March 2022. The B&A team goes to great lengths with Covid safety procedures and multiple sanitation stations. “We leave it up to the event hosts to decide if the event will be a masked event or not,” said Roebuck. “The good thing is that we have such a large space that it makes it easier to be able to spread out.” They can accommodate up to 800 people. In 2021, the B&A hosted events ranging from Simchas to holiday par-
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ties to corporate lunches to fundraisers. It even was the site for a celebration of life. “We can really do anything,” said Roebuck. “We’re very versatile and accommodating.” The B&A also catered several events at Railroad Park across the street. Recently, the B&A introduced a new, larger stage, among other internal enhancements. Chef Deborah Thomas specializes in Southern cuisine, but Roebuck said they are happy to do customized menus including kosher-style and even family recipes. They also can accommodate those who keep strict kosher and need meals brought into the facility. “That’s one reason why the ‘food stations’ are so popular,” said Roebuck. “You can select what you want and go kosher-style.”
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Garrett Osburn grew up regularly going to his grandparents’ vegetable farm in a small North Florida town, and it is that love for cultivating the freshest foods that inspired him to launch Osburn Acres in 2015. Osburn Acres provides catering and private chef services, and sells its own line of jellies and spreads that are available at Piggly Wiggly stores across the Birmingham area as well as at www.osburnacres.com. Those flavors include blackberry jalapeno, pink grapefruit habanero, blueberry basil spread, pepper jelly, mint jelly and elderberry jelly. “I grew up with a natural respect and appreciation for foods and the farming process,” said Osburn, who owns the company with his wife, Rachel. “I try to source as much as I can from local vendors and farms.” Osburn also works at US Foods in Birmingham and previously served as a chef for restaurants in Colorado and Florida, as well as Ocean/26 in Birmingham. “From these experiences I gained an understanding of and appreciation for kosher,” he said. “We’re happy to work with specialty diets.” Osburn Acres has provided catering for the Markstein company’s holiday parties and other celebrations, ranging from an event for 800 people to a personal chef dinner for two. “I think what defines us is our ability to customize the menu to the event,” he said. “We are up for any challenge and do whatever it takes to make sure it’s exactly as the hosts envisioned it would be.”
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Breman Museum celebrates 25 years with a lot of Chutzpah In 25 years, the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta has collected a lot of stories about Southern Jewry, many of which involve more than a bit of chutzpah. For its anniversary, the museum has assembled a collection of Georgia and Alabama Jewish artifacts and the stories behind them for the exhibit “History with Chutzpah: Remarkable Stories of the Southern Jewish Adventure, 1733-Present.” The exhibit, which opened on Sept. 26, is curated by Jane Leavey, founding director of the museum, and Sandra Berman, who started building an archive for the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta before there was even the idea for the museum. The exhibit was supposed to start with a gala anniversary celebration on Sept. 19, but that was postponed indefinitely because of the spike in the Delta variant of Covid. In addition to rescheduling the gala, the museum will plan numerous virtual and in-person events connected to the exhibit, which is expected to be up for three years. To promote social distancing and crowd control, the museum is currently requiring advance tickets, including for members. The museum is open on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with two time slots. The first slot is for arrival between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., but visitors must depart by 1 p.m. The second slot is for 2 to 4 p.m., with similar guidelines. Museum staff will disinfect from 1 to 2 p.m. The museum is also open by appointment
1920s-era sign from Temple Beth-El in Lanett, Ala. The congregation closed in 1977.
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Wednesdays to Fridays from noon to 4 p.m. “Museums are important because without them, without archives, people can be forgotten,” Breman Executive Director Leslie Gordon said. “Jane and Sandy were insistent even before the founding of the Breman Museum that these stories be captured and treated with respect, for the insights and lessons that they would provide in the future. Now with ‘History with Chutzpah’ important chapters of our past come alive once again.” The exhibit begins with a video presentation in what looks like a private library. As Leavey explained, many modern archives began as collections of curiosities gathered by wealthy individuals in their travels. A portal in the library leads into the main exhibit area. Leavey said that while most previous exhibits centered on a cohesive theme, the only request for this exhibit was that it highlight artifacts in the archives. The items eventually fell into six sections — Courage and Conformity, Hope and Survival, Success and Loss, Patriotism and Perseverance, Benevolence and Community, and Murder and Mayhem. “It’s not a linear exhibition, each section really stands on its own,” she said. The Enfield rifle-musket used by Selma’s Jacob Rothschild when fighting for the Confederacy in Vicksburg is displayed. After the war, he was an early advocate for women’s suffrage. There is also documentation from Temple Israel in Macon, Ga., which declared in 1862 that members who were off fighting for the Confederacy were exempt from membership dues until the end of the war. Another section tells about Elliott Levitas,
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community who served five terms in Congress, returning to Georgia after being defeated in 1984. In 1999, he represented a tribal elder of the Blackfeet Nation in a class action lawsuit against the U.S. government for mismanaging Indian lands and funds, eventually procuring a $3.4 billion settlement. Another section tells the story of Huntsville’s Margaret Anne Goldsmith and her life-long relationship with her childhood caretaker, Cora Barley. Reflecting on the complexities of race in Southern society, Goldsmith regarded her as family, but the exhibit includes “Cora’s plate,” on which she ate her meals, because Black help were generally not allowed to use the family’s china. An Alabama example of chutzpah was Rabbi Benjamin Goldstein, who spoke out in defense of the Scottsboro Boys, nine Black young men falsely accused of raping two white women in 1931. His advocacy led to his departure from Montgomery’s Temple Beth Or. A poster in the exhibit advertises a “civic meeting” on the case, in Birmingham’s First Baptist Church on Graymont, with Goldstein as the event chair, and “white citizens are invited.” Another item shows the editorial in the Southern Israelite, decrying his removal from Beth Or.
October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
Leavey said one story that stuck with her was that of Eva Judith Weisz Moray, who arrived in New York as a child after World War II. The exhibit has a bag she wore around her neck, with personal documents and a plea to help reunite her with her mother. The Success and Loss section has a range of businesses, many of which succeeded and then disappeared. Items in the exhibit include the Rosenbush Victor Salve for Sores, made in Demopolis in 1900. A photo shows Felix Shevinsky peddling wares by wagon in Birmingham around 1910. In downtown Montgomery, the Steiner-Lobman building is still a landmark. The exhibit details how the company was founded in Pine Apple in 1871, moving to Montgomery in 1891. Steiner-Lobman Dry Goods was sold to an investment group in 1969. The exhibit includes a pair of “Polly-Alls,” denim overalls that were popular among civil rights activists who had little time to do laundry and needed something that could stand up to the rigors of the struggle. Also displayed is are 1950s product boxes from American Candy Company in Selma, and the philanthropic endeavors of Louis Pizitz, whose 13-store chain was headquartered in Birmingham.
Famous stories include the lynching of Leo Frank, and the story of Isidor Straus of Talbotton, Ga., whose wife, Ida, refused to stay on a lifeboat as the Titanic was sinking, preferring to go together with her husband. Straus and his brother were owners of R.H. Macy and Co. in New York. They were portrayed in the 1997 film “Titanic.” Emma Mayer is profiled. A Natchez native, she married Samuel Ullman and moved to Birmingham, where she was instrumental in founding what would become Hillman Hospital, the first in the region to serve the indigent and Black patients. Albert Steiner is also profiled. In 1919, the president of Atlanta Brewing and Ice Company died of cancer, which had already claimed his wife and son. He left $500,000 to establish the Steiner Cancer Clinic at Grady Hospital, which became a model for similar facilities nationally. Many have marveled at how such an important figure could be so little-known today, Leavey noted, saying that when they were researching his story, they spoke to a lot of people who worked at the clinic. “Nobody knew who he was.” The exhibit also contains what may be the oldest bagel in history. At 16, Sam Greenblatt
community lied about his age when he went off to fight in the Spanish-American War in 1898. His mother sent him off with a supply of homemade bagels, and when he returned a year later, one bagel remained. That bagel has been passed down for six generations. A baby bassinet in the exhibit was made by German POWs in 1944, who were being held at Camp Clinton in Mississippi. The bassinet was made from a wooden barrel for Raymond Harris, an Army Medical Corps surgeon whose son was born that year. The exhibit also deals with battles against the Klan, and bombings of The Temple in Atlanta and B’nai Israel in Gadsden. The idea for the museum and archive came from a 1983 exhibit organized by the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, “Jews and Georgians: A Meeting of Cultures, 1733-1983.” Leavey said they got items from all over the state, memorabilia from defunct congregations, businesses, family materials, photographs and ceremonial objects. Much of the material arrived in shopping bags. The exhibit was at Emory University, and afterwards “we had to give everything back because we didn’t have a historical society or archive.”
A matching grant from the National Historic Records and Publications Commission, and a seed gift by Erwin Zaban led to the formation of the Joseph and Ida Pearle Cuba Community Archives and Genealogy Center, starting with a closet at the Federation, and focusing on Atlanta. Among the first collections were the Federation’s records, and materials from Rabbi Harry Epstein, who served Ahavath Achim for over half a century. In the early 1990s, William Breman, president of Breman Steel, made a cornerstone gift toward the establishment of a Jewish museum. The Breman Jewish Heritage Museum opened in the Selig Center in time for the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta. The archive started collecting from the rest of Georgia, and “as the years went by we realized nobody was collecting in Alabama, so we started.” In 2015, the Breman acquired the Savannah Jewish Archives, solidifying itself as the repository for Jewish history in the state. As part of the exhibit, there is a reading room where guests can tell their own stories, “and we hope this exhibit will inspire people to tell us their stories and give us their stuff, to keep the archives going.”
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October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
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October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
On Sept. 25, the Northeast Alabama Cherokee held a ceremony in Guntersville to establish a relationship with Israel. The tribe presented a resolution, unanimously passed by the Tribal Council, recognizing the “sovereign Jewish Nation” of Israel, with Jerusalem as its “eternal undivided capital.” In addition, “we vow our full support in the pursuit of the peace of Jerusalem and the Nation of Israel by which ever means may be necessary.” The event, centered around a potluck lunch, included expressions of solidarity with the Jewish community and comparisons to the experiences of native tribes in North America. Chief Larry Smith began his remarks by noting that “if there is a people that can understand how the Jews feel, it’s the Cherokee,” which received an “Amen” from the audience. “We have chosen to identify with a people as a people,” he added. Seth Penn, deputy representative of the Red Wind Tribal District, said “the nation of Israel has a lot in common with the Cherokee people — they have been removed from their homeland, came back and have to fight for their homeland.” “Some historians even argue we can find our DNA roots in Israel,” Penn said. “I‘m not saying that’s true.” Smith echoed that, saying “are we the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel? Debatable.” But “there are so many of our ceremonies, so many of our celebrations that coincide with Jewish traditions and the Jewish holidays.” The first white settler in what is now Montgomery was Jewish, Abraham Mordecai. He traded with the local tribes and was so convinced of their Jewish origin that he kept addressing them in Hebrew, hoping to receive a similar response. Smith said Penn brought the idea of the resolution to him about four months ago. While he was receptive to the idea, the fact that Penn “was getting a great response from the Israeli side” made him more determined to do it. Laura King, co-founder of the Alabama-Israel Task Force and former national chair of the Jewish Federations of North America’s Network of small Jewish communities, made a presentation on behalf of the Israeli Consulate in Atlanta. King expressed “deep apologies” from Consul General Anat Sultan-Dadon for not being able to attend. “She really wanted to be here today, it was really important to her,” but the event being on Shabbat in the middle of Sukkot made it impossible. In a letter to the tribe, Sultan-Dadon wrote “Your friendship and support, beautifully expressed through this proclamation from the Cherokee Tribe of Northeast Alabama, are invaluable and greatly appreciated.” She added, “Like the Cherokee Tribe, the Jewish people have an undeniable and unbreakable bond to our native land. During centuries of dispersion, the Jewish people never severed nor forgot its bond with our historic homeland.” Smith said it is a tremendous honor to have recognition from Israel, “when we can’t even get other Cherokees to recognize us.” He added that only the State of Alabama, which declared nine tribes in a 1984 legislative act, recognizes them. He added that most people don’t realize that the tribes benefitted greatly from Martin Luther King and the civil rights battles, because the Civil Rights Act included provisions for native tribes. Before then, “you weren’t allowed to go further than eighth grade,” and in Louisiana, for example, the first Native American to graduate high school did so in 1967. “It has been a struggle, and it is still a struggle.” In comments that the Jewish community can identify with, Smith said
Laura King presents Chief Larry Smith with a letter from Consul General Anat Sultan-Dadon he often gets requests from people who want to be identified as Cherokee, and asks them “do you really know what you are asking?” One may have an identity card in their pocket, but “your name is on a roll… it hasn’t always been popular to identify with a certain people, with your name on their roll.” He noted that at one point, the U.S. did not want the Cherokee to be around, and “the ones they couldn’t kill, they were going to assimilate us.” But “we’re still here. We’re growing and we’re stronger.” Smith said while the Jews had Hitler, “we had Andrew Jackson. Hitler admitted he read Andrew Jackson’s book on how to get rid” of the native tribes. He added, “I firmly believe (Jackson) planned to kill them all, and the political atmosphere didn’t let him.” Penn said the message of “declaring our sovereignty as a tribal nation in support of another sovereign nation” is “very significant, even more so than we may realize.” John Buhler, AITF co-founder, called it “a deeply meaningful gesture… we live in a time when so many voices remain silent, but the Cherokee tribe has risen to acknowledge the truth” about Jerusalem and Israel. He said Israel and the Cherokee are both “indigenous people who have a very deep sense of a God-given responsibility to steward sacred lands.” Two years ago, Buhler was part of a 50-person trip to Israel from Alabama, and the group visited the Jordan River at the spot where Joshua brought the nation into the land. He presented Smith with a small jar of dirt from that site. As “honored guests” representing the Jewish community, King and this reporter were presented native blankets and necklaces. Citing Genesis 12:3, which was quoted on the inside of the resolution’s presentation folder, Smith said the Jews “are still God’s people. If you are an evangelical Christian or a Hasidic Jew, you have to understand God entered a covenant with Abraham, and when God enters a covenant it can’t be broken.” There’s no denying God “has his hand on the country of Israel,” as “any other country that size would have ceased to exist 60 years ago.” Pastor Patrick Penn of The Dwelling Place in Huntsville, and father of Seth Penn, noted that as a Zoom call was taking place among tribal leaders to discuss the resolution, Alabama Chief Justice Tom Parker was October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
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in Oxford at a gathering of First Nations. As chief justice, Patrick Penn said, Parker “stood up and repented to the First Nation people for the decisions that were made” in the past. Patrick Penn added that “I don’t believe there are such things as coincidences, I think things are guided by Providence,” and Parker’s declaration was related to the discussion of support for Israel the Cherokee was having at the exact same time. Adding to the web of ties with Israel, Parker’s wedding was held in Israel, and his wife, Dottie, sang “Hatikvah” at the inauguration of Alabama Governor Fob James in 1995. Seth Penn said he hopes this type of recognition spreads to other tribes, as he found almost nothing to compare with when researching online. Some Palestinian activist groups have tried to target native tribes for support, with a narrative about being displaced from their lands. In 2008, the Coushatta Tribe of Louisiana signed a friendship agreement with Israel. They participated in a trade mission to Israel in 2011, signing an agreement to become the exclusive U.S. distributor for Israeli startup Aya Natural’s products. Recently, they have become a sponsor of Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans events. The Coushatta, who were forced out of what became Georgia and Alabama, operate a casino resort in Kinder. Smith said the resolution is not the end of a process, but the beginning, and he hopes to deepen the relationship. “We are going to keep this going,” he said. “We laid the groundwork to a great friendship between these two countries.” He added, “I hope this will grow into something where we can work with members of the Jewish community who would like to be with us, celebrate with us and have a good time.”
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October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
The 5782 calendar from United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism features Barry Ivker on the cover, reading Torah at the “Praying With Our Feet” Rosh Hashanah service at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Services were not being held at Temple Beth-El in September 2020 due to Covid restrictions, so the outdoor “walking service” had several stations with different parts of the service, enabling congregants to socially distant.
Fall Dining Guide
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English Tea Room
734 E. Rutland Street Historic Downtown Covington (985) 898-3988
A New Orleans favorite since 1913, Pascal’s Manale is a melting pot of Creole and Italian styles, known for its raw oyster bar, famous BBQ shrimp and thick, juicy steaks.
The Windsor High Tea, comprising sandwiches, mini-savories, mini desserts, two chocolate dipped strawberries, two scones with house-made clotted cream, lemon curd or preserves.
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October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
Southern Jewish Life
Fall Dining Guide Baton Rouge, Birmingham
L’Auberge Baton Rouge
777 L’Auberge Ave. Baton Rouge lbatonrouge.com
Limitless flavors await at L’Auberge Baton Rouge. Choose from our four dining experiences to satisfy your cravings — Red Lotus, 18 Steak, Bon Temps Buffet, and Stadium Sports Bar and Grill.
6993 Gadsden Highway, Trussville (205) 508-3089
A wine retail shop and wine bar in the heart of Homewood, with wines from all over the world and at all price points. Wine tastings held every Friday from 5:30 to 7 p.m., and come see the new outdoor patio.
2031 Cahaba Road, Birmingham (205) 202-4760
Baked goods made the old fashioned way, with fresh stoneground organic wheat flour or organic unbleached white flour. Also specializing in bagels and challah.
With an atmosphere that evokes your grandmother’s kitchen table, Evelyn’s Southern Fare give classic home cooking an elevated twist, with everything made from scratch and sourced locally.
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Finding it hard to find the time to make healthy meals? Katie’s Plates in Birmingham, Huntsville and Nashville delivers gourmet meals, with changing menu items each week, from single to family size. 40
Homewood Classic Wine Co. 1831 28th Avenue So., Ste 110, (205) 871-9463
October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
125 20th Street So., Birmingham 7216 Eastchase Parkway, Montgomery
Enjoy an array of craft beers on tap (including many Alabama selections), specialty pies, delicious salads and more. Our signature pizzas are hand-stretched and baked directly on a stone hearth.
Mountain Brook Olive Company expands its international, local offerings By Lee J. Green A love of olive oil and a belief in the benefits of the Mediterranean Diet inspired Vickie and Richard Bailey to open a culinary emporium that brings the world to Birmingham. They opened The Happy Olive in Fairhope nine years ago and in October 2019 brought the concept to Mountain Brook. Earlier this year they rebranded the store Mountain Brook Olive Company and this month launched a new line of their own signature-blend seasonings. “We were visiting our daughter and her family years ago in Northern Italy,” said Vickie Bailey. “There was something special about the way the olives were shaken off the tree, ground that night and enjoyed the next day in the freshest flavors you can imagine. That pure, simple diet of fresh, non-processes foods changed our lives. We knew we wanted to share the Mediterranean diet and its healthy way of life with everyone.” On a visit this past September to Northern Italy, in addition to seeing their daughter, Shayna, son-in-law Paolo and the grandkids, they went to several olive orchards, farms and companies to decide on new products to sell at the Mountain Brook Olive Company. “These artisan extra virgin and infused olive oils are carefully selected by season harvest and hemisphere worldwide,” said Bailey. “This is the time that the Northern Hemisphere olive oils are coming in from Italy and Portugal. We want our olive oil to be fresh like we want our vegetables to be fresh. Infused oils make everything taste gourmet.” Italy and Birmingham also inspired the Baileys to come up with their
own hand-blended seasonings. Some of these include Orange Ginger and Hibiscus Lime Sea Salt, Mountain Brook Meatloaf Seasoning, Crestline Crustacean (for seafood) and Mountain Brook Movie buttered popcorn seasoning. In addition to the seasonings, blended balsamic vinegars and artisan olive oils, the Mountain Brook Olive Company carefully selected products to sell from other Alabama companies, including Tailgate Tradition Cheese Straws by Paige and Jimmy Dill, who was a wide receiver on the Alabama Crimson Tide team that won the 1964 national championship. “We pride ourselves on carrying some unique gourmet foods, sauces and gift items,” said Bailey. The things we carry at the Mountain Brook Olive Company really fit well together.” Some of the other food products include crackers, jams, jellies, popcorns and teas. They also carry non-food gift items including pottery, bath and body products, tableware and jewelry. “We sell gift baskets and we can also put together customized gift baskets,” she said. Richard Bailey trained with the renowned Maille mustard masters in New York City and The Happy Olive is one of only a handful of stores in the U.S. to sell mustard crafted by a certified mustard sommelier. Vickie Bailey, who was a former educator and principal, said they will announce some new charcuterie classes, and they are happy to arrange some private tasting events at the store. “I love learning, and the joy of passing that knowledge on to others,” she said.
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Classic Wine Company makes recommendations for fall By Lee J. Green A fine wine gets better with age, and that is true of the Classic Wine Company in Homewood. “We listen to our customers and want to do anything we can to reach out to them,” said owner Josh Terrell. “Together we’ve done a good job at navigating this new normal.”
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Tony Meyer opened the Homewood store in 1988 and its SoHo Square location is its third. After working for more than four years as a wine buyer for Hop City, Terrell purchased Classic Wine Company in 2017. Classic Wine Company offers a good selection of kosher-for-Passover wines and a few made in Israel. Terrell said they have 800 separate wines in the store but have access to more than 6,000 wines that they can usually get within a few days. He also said that 80 percent of the wines sold at Classic Wine Company are natural wines, where no pesticides were sprayed on the vineyards. “We have wines from around the world at all price points,” he said. “Wine is so diverse. Not only are there so many different styles and varying flavor profiles within those styles, but you have wines such as Chardonnays that can be drier or sweeter, red or white.” Classic Wine features a wine bar and patio. Its “Empress of Events” Rachel Mobley said they offer Friday night free tastings and monthly educational wine dinners called Somm School. “We would love to a host a future Somm
School fully dedicated to Israel, featuring its wines, cuisine and culture,” said Mobley, adding they welcome some help from those in the community in planning such an event. She said Classic Wine can also host celebrations at the store, including a custom-guided tasting experience led by a wine expert with Level 3 WSET credentials. The fall is a time for heartier foods and tailgating. Mobley said Classic Wine is happy to recommend some food and wine pairings to fit with the season. “A medium-bodied red wine with dried herb notes like a Chianti will always pair well with a mild chili or any tomato-based dish,” she said. “Give a Riesling a try with a buffalo chicken dip for a successful sweet and spicy pairing that proves just how much opposites attract.” For dessert, Mobley said a smooth, tawny port with nutty caramel notes really goes well with a slice of pecan pie. “Most importantly, don’t overthink your wine pairings,” she said. “Sure, wine can enhance a meal when thoughtfully served alongside certain dishes. However it’s totally fine just to grab a bottle to enjoy on its own.”
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October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
counselor’s corner a monthly feature from Collat Jewish Family Services
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Coping with Disappointment By Gail Schuster, LICSW, ACSW My client, Joan, was excited about joining her sister Nan to celebrate the wedding of Nan’s son in Washington. Joan, who lives alone, was especially looking forward to some special “sister time” after the wedding at Nan’s home nearby. But those plans were dashed by Covid-19. The wedding, ultimately, was a tiny affair, and after speaking with her doctor, Joan cancelled her trip. Joan felt emotionally crushed. Instead of enjoying special time with a beloved sibling, she remained at home, largely isolated from friends, colleagues and relatives by the pandemic. In her disappointment, Joan was not alone. Around the world, the pandemic has forced millions of people to forego long-awaited reunions, vacations and other occasions. We are experiencing, if you will, a pandemic of disappointments. When something we’re anticipating doesn’t go the way we’d hoped, disappointment is a normal response. Disappointment affects each person differently, but it is usually associated with feelings of loss or sadness. When we’re disappointed, we may try to assign blame and grow angry with ourselves or others. Some people might have trouble sleeping. Some might withdraw from friends, loved ones and enjoyable activities. If you are finding it difficult to let go of a deeply felt disappointment, here are some strategies that can help: • Talk about it. If your disappointment is interfering with your enjoyment of life, it may be useful for you to seek help processing what you are feeling. By discussing your feelings with a sympathetic friend or mental health professional, you may be able to better understand them and move on. • See the big picture. Remind yourself that the source of your disappointment is just one aspect of your life. Make a list of all the reasons in your life for feeling grateful, beginning with basic needs such as food and shelter. Step outside to enjoy the music of a songbird, or savor your first sip of coffee in the morning. Is what has happened (or not happened) a genuine tragedy? If not, try to put it in perspective. • Don’t take it personally. If your disappointment is related to the pandemic, realize that you have lots of company. • Be creative and keep trying. In the situation described above, Joan did miss her nephew’s wedding. But she and Nan now get their “sister time” regularly, through regularly scheduled cocktail hour visits on FaceTime. Another client, deeply disappointed after having to cancel a trip to meet his first grandchild, was eventually able to visit with the baby after he was vaccinated and Covid infection rates declined. He was grateful that he had waited, preserving his good health so that he could ultimately make the trip. CJFS offers individual and group therapy for people of all ages — in person, by phone or via video apps such as FaceTime and Zoom. Insurance is accepted. To learn more, contact Clinical Director Marcy Morgenbesser, firstname.lastname@example.org or (205) 879-3438.
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October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
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Asian-Style Gefilte Fish Patties Ingredients
3 green onions ¼ cup fresh cilantro 2 limes, for zest/wedges 1 (24 oz) jar gefilte fish 2 tbsp ginger spice paste 2 tablespoons garlic spice paste 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs, divided ¼ cup plus two tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, divided ½ cup canola oil ½ cup spicy mayonnaise
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Slice green onions thinly; chop cilantro coarsely. Zest limes, then cut into 16 wedges; drain gefilte fish. Combine in large bowl: onions, cilantro, gefilte fish, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, 1 cup panko, 1/4 cup sesame seeds, and lime zest. Mix well and form into 16 equal patties. Combine remaining 1/2 cup panko and sesame seeds. Dip patties into panko mixture to coat well. Heat oil in large, nonstick skillet on medium 2–3 minutes. Add patties (in batches) and cook 2–3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Serve with lime wedges and spicy mayonnaise.
Keeping kosher with Publix By Lee J. Green Publix Supermarkets continues to enhance its kosher products selection at stores across Alabama and the Florida panhandle, while also providing helpful ideas for cooking kosher. “Publix is committed to providing quality products and services to all of our customers, including customers who are interested in kosher products and recipes,” said Media Relations Manager Nicole Krauss. “We have hundreds of kosher products throughout our stores, not just during important holidays like Rosh Hashanah and Passover, but on everyday items from our produce, grocery and frozen departments.” Strauss said Publix also offers a wide array of kosher recipes on its website at www.publix.com. All Publix stores include dedicated space for kosher food products such as those from Manischewitz, Streit’s, Osem, Gold’s and Kedem. The Publix on Overton Road in Birmingham includes a 10-foot kosher products display and is the largest in the Southern Jewish Life coverage area. The launch of the GreenWise Market organic grocery concept and the opening of the Mountain Brook GreenWise in 2019 allowed Publix to enhance its organic kosher product selection. The 23,000-square-foot store in Lane Parke includes eight feet of shelf space dedicated to organic, kosher frozen foods. 44
October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
community >> Rear Pew mark their freedom from the past year as well as from slavery in Egypt. Some contend that Rosh HaPesach should be only six days in Nisan because two of Passover’s eight days now fall in Tishrei. For those who observe Passover for seven days, some say it should be only five days in Nisan for the same reason. Others say that Passover is diluted by this mixture, so we must eat matzah for 10 days — two in Tishrei and eight in Nisan. At this point, the numbers in the debate start to get complicated. Thus, while it’s not generally celebrated, known, or documented, Rosh HaPesach is quietly credited for requiring so many Jews to become accountants. Chanu b’Av uses the presents presentation of Chanukah to create eight days of gift-wrapped matchmaking with the pseudo Valentine’s Day of Tu b’Av. Shemini Ha’Atzmaut combines Shemini
continued from page 46 Atzeret and Yom Ha’Atzmaut — Israel’s Independence Day — to mark people’s independence from eating in the sukkah after eight days. However, that doesn’t excise the existence of Lag b’Sukkot, which commemorates the 33rd day of eating in the Sukkah because nobody’s bothered to take it down yet. Finally, Shavuat Torah quite logically combines the celebration of the giving of the Torah — Shavuot — with the celebration of restarting the Torah each year — Simchat Torah. Because no matter how hard the rabbis tried, sometimes their decisions just made sense. Doug Brook really isn’t trying to get rabbis to never speak to him again. Even the ones who died centuries ago. Listen to the new Rear Pew Mirror podcast at anchor.fm/rearpewmirror or on any major podcast platform. For past columns, visit http://rearpewmirror.com/. For exclusive online content, follow facebook.com/rearpewmirror.
Jewish groups participate in Together New Orleans The New Orleans Section of the National Council of Jewish Women, Touro Synagogue and the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans were part of a 500-delegate assembly of Together New Orleans, held on July 13 at the Dillard University Lawless Memorial Chapel. Together New Orleans is a broad-based coalition of congregations and community-based organizations with the ability to address a range of community issues. NCJW President Gail Pesses, Arnie Fielkow and Rabbi Katie Bauman were the participating Jewish leaders. Judge Miriam Waltzer, Sylvia Finger and Barbara Kaplinsky all had speaking roles at the Assembly. Kaplinsky said NCJW financially supports Together New Orleans because “they help us safeguard individual rights and freedoms.” The Community Needs allocation will help start up the Super Block Captains Program this Fall. Finger endorsed a partnership between Engaging New Voices and Voters, and Together New Orleans. Waltzer received a standing ovation for her address, “My Passion for Voting.” In it, Waltzer spoke of arriving in the United States in 1958 as a German immigrant, and being horrified at the segregation that she saw. Her husband, Bruce, did exclusively civil rights work as an attorney from 1961 to 1967. “Many lawyers, including Bruce, as well as students and ordinary people went to Mississippi and other Southern states to fight for the right for ALL to vote. We lived through the murders of Goodman, Chaney, Schwerner and many others,” she said.
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Professional Counseling Judge Miriam Waltzer addresses Together New Orleans On Oct. 5, 1963, shortly after she became a citizen, she was at home when 15 state troopers surrounded their house, shortly after the Waltzers had been approved to adopt a baby. The police searched the house, and when Bruce returned, arrested him for sedition. “he intent was to stop all voting efforts and integration activities and to isolate and destroy us,” she said. “The only community that supported us was the black community and a sprinkling of the Jewish community.” In the face of a possible 25-year sentence and losing their baby, they fought to the U.S. Supreme Court and won. “We are standing on the shoulders of the freedom riders, the courageous lawyers and all who sacrificed so much to get the right to vote,” she concluded. “If for nothing else, for their sake, we owe it to them to register and educate folks, advocate and vote.”
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rear pew mirror • doug brook
When holidays collide
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October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
The Hebrew month of Tishrei is packed full of High Holidays, from the first shofar blast of Rosh Hashanah through the final blasted aliyah on Simchat Torah. The rabbis realized that they wouldn’t see their families for most of a month and that people would need to go back to their jobs after these weeks of wanton worship. Since the annual wonton worship of Dec. 24 is still two months away, with only Chanukah in between, the rabbis had to act fast so they could slow down. So, for the month of Cheshvan — immediately after Tishrei — the rabbis decided to take advantage of the Bible lacking major miracles or disasters that month by keeping it free from any additional major holidays. For thousands of years, the rabbis ensured no disasters or cataclysms occurred in Cheshvan, so everyone could focus on what’s most important in their lives each fall: holiday shopping season. However, that didn’t stop everyone. In the recently discovered Talmudic tractate Bava Gump, Rav Telfone, the great communicator, ponders what would happen if holidays occurred at different times of year than they’re scheduled. Rav Telfone’s initial inspiration was that the new year is celebrated on Rosh Hashanah at the start of Tishrei, near the start of fall, despite the Torah describing the year as starting on the first of Nisan, in the spring month when Japanese automakers were originally expected to announce the new year’s models. Imagine Rosh Hashanah followed two weeks later by Passover instead of Yom Kippur. Or imagine Yom Kippur with Passover four days later. Nobody else wanted to, either. Nevertheless, Rav Telfone’s son and successor, Rav Celfone, cut the cord with tradition. He went a step further than his father by exploring what it would look like to combine holidays from opposite ends of the year. Rav Celfone’s initial inspiration was Yom Kippurim. The combination of the biggest fast day of the year — Yom Ready to Kippur, the Day of Atonement — with combine some the biggest holiday for frivolity — Purim — might seem contradictory. Or sacriof the Jewish legious. Or impossible. It is all of those holidays? Didn’t things. But Rav Celfone’s idea wasn’t his idea. The Torah itself repeatedly refers to “Yom think so. HaKippurim,” predicting the story of Esther well over a thousand years before Haman started his bakery or hat store. The first half of Yom Kippurim is the atonement piece, full of fastidious fasting. The second half is the Purim piece, full of fervent, fermented frivolity. Critics argue that it renders atonement meaningless if immediately followed by drunken celebration, but Rav Celfone contends that it lets people get doing something they’d need to atone for out of the way early, so they can spend the rest of the year being righteous dudes without needing to find a way to sin. Rosh HaPesach confuses more people than even know it exists. As mentioned, the Torah says the new year starts in Nisan — 15 days before Passover begins — yet Rosh Hashanah starts Tishrei, soon after school starts. So, Rav Celfone decided to put a new year’s holiday in both months. Thus Rosh HaPesach occurs twice. For two days in Tishrei, people celebrate what’s known as Rosh Hashanah while eating matzah. In Nisan, people celebrate Rosh HaPesach to continued on previous page
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October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life
October 2021 • Southern Jewish Life