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An Eventful Trip

Getting Prepared for Anything

Allan Sherman’s Alabama Connection?

Southern Jewish Life New Orleans Edition

Hadassah Says Bra-Veaux

Photo by Greg Roques

Chanukah 2013 Volume 23 Issue 11

Southern Jewish Life P.O. Box 130052 Birmingham, AL 35213-0052



It’s only fitting that the People of the Book would have a Jewish book month. Sponsored by the Jewish Book Council, it is designated as the month leading up to Chanukah. Every year New Orleans has several events, and book discussion groups abound in numerous other communities. There are a lot of books with a Southern Jewish connection that have recently been publisher. Many of them are in this issue, and some are surprising (Allan Sherman had a Southern connection?). Despite this being the largest issue we have done since changing to the magazine format, there is still a stack of books we did not get to; you will read about them in the next few issues. Even with the added space this month, we could have easily filled another 8, perhaps 16 pages. There’s always a large number of stories out there, so running out of material isn’t an issue. Of course, to get more pages it takes more support through advertising. As you shop this holiday season, let our advertisers know you appreciate them — and if you have a business that should be in here or know of one, let us know. Because we send to the entire community and do not charge for subscriptions, the magazine is solely based on advertising. Naturally, a lot happens between issues, and in our monthly format we really don’t do much coverage of national or international issues, unless they have a particular resonance in our region (such as the mayor’s election in Rosh Ha’Ayin). That’s where “This Week in Southern Jewish Life” comes in. Our weekly email has a range of local stories and reminders of events, a comprehensive rundown of national and international Jewish news — some serious, some whimsical — and opinion pieces. If you do not receive the emails, you can subscribe by emailing, or go to our website, sjlmag. com, to sign up. You can also find the books mentioned in this issue on our Southern Jewish Bookshelf, also on We have listings for numerous books about the Jewish South, some mainstream and some obscure. In this issue, there are pieces about the non-Jewish community and Israel, such as the JH Israel project that came from Birmingham, and the intense involvement of Bill Hines, this year’s Rex of Carnival, in both the New Orleans Israel Partnership on Emergency Response and Medicine, and showcasing Israel at New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. Enjoy this issue, then it will soon be time to enjoy your turkey and latkes in this year’s holiday collision. Meanwhile, we’ll be working on the next issue, which will begin our 24th year of serving the South’s Jewish communities. Larry Brook Editor/Publisher NOLA


DATE: Monday, December 9, 2013 TIME: 7:00 P.M. PLACE: New Orleans Jewish Community Center/Metairie 3747 West Esplanade Avenue (504) 887-5158


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November 2013


Associate Publisher/Advertising: Lee J. Green, New Orleans Bureau: Alan Smason, Cait Muldoon, Gail Naron Chalew Creative Director: Ginger Brook, Publisher/Editor: Lawrence M. Brook, Photographer-At-Large: Barry C. Associate Altmark Publisher/Advertising: Lee J. Green, Contributing Writers:

Creative Director: Ginger Brook, Doug Brook Mailing Address: Rabbi Barry C. P.O. BoxPhotographer-At-Large: 130052, Altmark Birmingham, AL 35213 Contributing Writers: Doug Brook Telephone: Mailing Birmingham: (205)Address: 870-7889 P.O. Box 130052, Birmingham, AL 35213 FAX: (866) 392-7750 Telephone: Story Tips/Letters: Birmingham: (205) 870-7889 Toll Free: (866) 446-5894 Subscription FAX:Information: (866) 392-7750 Southern Jewish Life published monthly Story Tips/Letters: and is free by request to members of the Jewish community in ourInformation: coverage area of Subscription Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and NW monthly Southern Jewish Life published Florida. and Outside those subscriptions is free byareas, request to members of the are $25/year or community $40/two years. To coverage area of Jewish in our subscribe, call (205)Louisiana, 870-7889Mississippi or mail Alabama, and NW Outside those areas, subscriptions paymentFlorida. to the address above. are $25/year or $40/two years. To The publisher is solely responsible for subscribe, call (205) 870-7889 or mail the contents of SJL.toColumns and letters payment the address above. represent the views of the individual writers. All articles that do not have a The publisher is solely responsible for contents of SJL. Columns and letters byline onthe them are written by the publisher. represent the views of the individual writers. SouthernAll Jewish Life that makes claims articles dono not haveasa to byline on the Kashrut of are its advertisers, them written byand theretains publisher. the right Southern to refuse any advertisement. Jewish Life makes no claims as to the Kashrut of its advertisers, and retains Community Day School held its successful fall fundraiser, “Music of the Night,” Advertising request. therates rightavailable to refuseonany advertisement. on Oct. 20 at Shir Chadash. The night began with a 25-item raffle-auction with gifts Copyright 2010. All rights reserved, Advertising rates available on request. donated from area friends and businesses. Chef Trent Rapps and Andy Adelman served up reprints only by permission of publisher. an Italian style dinner. Table tops were decorated with “Phantom of the Opera” inspired Copyright 2013. All rights reserved, reprints centerpiece designed by school friend Karen Davidson. The musical trio Bon Operatit!, only by permission of publisher.

In September, the Jewish Children’s Regional Service held a gift wrap party to prepare Chanukah gifts for at least 165 Jewish youth and state hospital residents. Each recipient gets a gift for each night, and with Chanukah coming early, the shipping is starting early also.

Philosophy: led by Community Day School Music Director Lauren Gisclair, performed selections from light opera and from Broadway’s “Phantom of the Opera.” Hugo Kahn led the live auction Philosophy: To link the Jewish To link the Jewish communities of the communities of theto Deep South, tell you the for several items, and wife Lis Kahn interrupted to note that an anonymous donor Deep was South, tell you the to fascinating fascinating stories matching all final bids. Proceeds benefit the school’s Student Scholarship program stories and of one another, andoftoone another, and to document and preserve the news and exploration of opportunities in science and technology-based curriculum. document and preserve the news of events large and small, all a part of the

events large and small, all a part of Above left, Barbara Kaplinsky, Lis Kahn, Sandra Burstein and Madilyn Samuels. Above rich culture of Southern Jewry. right, Head of School Sharon Pollin and Elliot Raisen. Below left, Rabbi Yonah Schiller theofrich culture of Southern Jewry. Tulane Hillel, Joseph Hart, and Cathy Bart. Below right, musical trio Bon Operatit! — Mary Akin, CDS Music Director Lauren Gisclair, and Jesse Nolan.


September 2010�

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Front Porch Zimmerman to speak at Sinai: Rabbi Sheldon Zimmerman, past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis and Hebrew Union College- Jewish Institute of Religion, will be the Rabbi Murray Blackman Memorial Scholar in Residence at Temple Sinai this month. His first talk, at the 6:15 p.m. Shabbat service on Nov. 23, will be on “Coffee or Kindness? The Search for Social Texture in Our Lives.” On Nov. 24, he will discuss “The Most Important Verse in the Torah” at 10:15 a.m. At 6:15 p.m., he will discuss “The Two Happiest Days in Judaism” in a Taste of Talmud discussion at the home of Joan and Julian Feibelman. The weekend concludes with Zimmerman speaking with the religious school students on Nov. 25 at 9 a.m. He will present “Law or Love: What Are We All About?”


Zimmerman is currently rabbi of the Jewish Center of the Hamptons. He has also been the senior rabbi of Central Synagogue in New York City and Temple Emanu-El in Dallas. A Toronto native, Zimmerman was ordained from HUC’s New York Campus in 1970 and is the 11th generation of rabbis in his family. He worked as executive vice president of the popular Birthright Israel program, and in 2003, United Jewish Communities hired Zimmerman as Vice President of Jewish Renaissance and Renewal. Rockoff moves to Humanities Council: Stuart Rockoff, who has been in charge of the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life’s history department for the last 11 years, has become the new executive director of the Mississippi Humanities Council. “It’s a fantastic opportunity with a wonderful organization,” he said. “While I will miss the ISJL, my new office will only be five minutes away from my old one.” He becomes the organization’s third executive director in 41 years. While at ISJL he worked with the council on numerous projects.

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Front Porch Maccabeats for Chanukah: On Nov. 24, the Jewish Community Center’s annual community Chanukah celebration will feature the Maccabeats, which formed in 2007 as Yeshiva University’s student a capella group. They became an Internet sensation and have performed all over the world. Their YouTube videos, which have over 10 million views, include “Candlelight,” “Purim Song,” “Brave,” “Shine,” and most recently, “Cups (D’ror Yikra).” The 2 p.m. event is at the Uptown JCC and is open to the community.

From Oklahoma pastor to rabbi: Two decades ago, Rev. James Parisi probably would not have dreamed that he would be speaking at Chabad Centers around the world. A Brooklyn native, Parisi became an evangelical pastor in California, then in southern Oklahoma. While there he embarked on a journey into the Hebrew Bible, encouraging his congregants to observe some of the rituals found in what Christians refer to as the Old Testament. As he and his wife began their spiritual journey, they started lighting Shabbat candles. By coincidence — or perhaps not — it turned out that a dinner guest that evening was Jewish. He continued trying to reconcile discrepancies he saw between the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, but found it impossible. During one Sunday message he quoted a verse from Isaiah that went against the commonly-understood Christian concept that God is good and evil comes from Satan. But Isaiah’s verse, where God states he is the creator of all, good and evil, was heresy in his church. After a decade, he closed his church and moved to Denver. In 1998, he stood before a beit din and became a Jew. They made aliyah, not talking about their background until many years later. Today the former pastor travels the world sharing his story and promoting the greatness within Judaism. In 2010 he became a rabbi, teaching Judaism with the rhetorical flair and passion of evangelical preachers. He will speak on “A Pastor’s Journey to Judaism” at Chabad Uptown on Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.

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Camp Barney plans New Orleans event: Camp Barney Medintz, the summer resident camp of the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta, announced that their annual new musical slide production and dessert reception for New Orleans will be on Dec. 9 at the Goldring/Woldenberg Jewish Community Center in Metairie, starting at 9 p.m. Jim Mittenthal, Camp Director, will meet with new and returning families, answer questions pertaining to the 2014 summer camp season, and provide applications for registration. An increasing number of children from New Orleans are attending Camp Barney each year. Camp Barney Medintz is located in the North Georgia Blue Ridge mountains on over 500 wooded acres surrounding two lakes just 75 miles northeast of Atlanta. For more information about Camp Barney programs, Family Camps, staff opportunities, or other CBM adventures, call the camp office in Atlanta at (770) 395-2554 or New Orleans parent representatives Lisa and Brian Katz at (504) 301-1196.

On Oct. 23, JNOLA held its first annual Dine-A-Round. The next event for the young adults and newcomers group is a JNOLA Meet Up at Byblos Mediterranean Cuisine, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. A light nosh will be provided. “Three Rabbis Walk Into A Bar Part II� was scheduled for Nov. 6 at the Bridge Lounge. NOLA

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November 2013


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Community Day School in Metairie is collecting canned goods from Oct. 28 to Nov. 27 so they can build a “Can-orah.” The Chanukah menorah, consisting entirely of canned goods, will be given to Second Harvest Food Bank after the drive. A collection bin is in the Day School lobby. Children are tech-savvy at a very early age. But given what lurks on the Internet, how should one handle computer use? Community Day School in Metairie is hosting a “Surfing and Screens: Safe and Healthy Computer Use” symposium for parents on Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. The panel includes FBI Special Agent Traci Smith, pediatrician Michael Wasserman and Day School Internet Technology Director Debbie Schlackman. This event is free and open to the community. John Menszer will speak at the conclusion of Shabbat morning services at Anshe Sfard on Nov. 30. The service begins at 9:15 a.m. Menszer is a native of New Orleans and through his interest in photography became involved with a project to record the experience of Holocaust survivors in New Orleans. The project is accessible online at With the emphasis on standardized tests in school, what do the tests really demonstrate and what do the results mean? Shir Chadash Sisterhood will host a panel on Nov. 18 at 7 p.m. to discuss the issue. Topics include preschool and kindergarten testing, gifted and talented, ADHD, SATs, ACTs and Autistic Spectrum Disorders. The panel includes Mollie Alarcon and Mindy Rothstein, and is moderated by Mark Sands. The program is open to the community. PJ Library, Community Day School and the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization are holding a family Havdalah program on Nov. 16 at 6:15 p.m. at the school in Metairie. Families with children under 10 are invited, and children can come in their pajamas. There will be a sing-a-long, Havdalah crafts, read-alouds and a party.


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Shir Chadash Sisterhood in Metairie will hold its annual Torah Fund brunch on Nov. 10 at 11 a.m. at the home of Shelley Katz. The brunch will feature music by David Kaplinsky. Torah Fund provides scholarships to students attending the Jewish Theological Seminary. The 26th annual Uptown Interfaith Thanksgiving service will be held at St. Charles Presbyterian Church on State Street, Nov. 26 at 7 p.m. On Nov. 12 at noon, the JewCCY youth group will have a challenge flag football game against the community Brotherhoods. Families may bring picnics, JewCCY will be selling desserts. The game will be at the Uptown JCC field. The next 92nd Street Y broadcast at Temple Sinai will be on Nov. 19 at 7 p.m. Ha’Aretz senior correspondent Ari Shavit and New Yorker editor David Remnick will discuss Shavit’s new book, “My Promised Land: The Tragedy and Triumph of Israel.” The next program in the Morris Bart Sr. Lecture Series at the Uptown JCC will be “Seeking the Well Being of the City: Transforming New Orleans in the Wake of Katrina.” Psychologist and theologian Michael Cowan, professor at Loyola, will be the presenter. Katrina brought New Orleans an opening for deep, constructive social change which few American cities have ever been granted. As one of the leaders of the ongoing post-Katrina effort to reform public institutions, Cowan will discuss progress made, remaining challenges, and the likely impacts of reform on the future of the city. The Nov. 11 program will be at 11:45 a.m. Lunch will be served for those who reserved by Nov. 4. There is no charge for members, $10 for non-members. NOLA

Front Porch LSU, Texas A&M Tailgate: Before the showdown between LSU and Texas A&M on Nov. 23, the LSU Hillel will be hosting a pre-game lunch so students from LSU and Texas A&M can meet and mingle. The lunch is being sponsored by Houstonians Paul Katz, and Ziggy Gruber of Kenny and Ziggy’s Deli. To RSVP or for more information, email Kickoff for the game had not been announced as of press time, and the event will start three hours before kickoff. Chabads start JLI medical dilemmas course: The Rohr Jewish Learning Institute will present “Life in the Balance: Jewish Perspectives on Everyday Medical Dilemmas,” a new sixsession Fall 2013 course that will begin during the week of November 5. Rabbi Yossie Nemes will conduct the six course sessions at 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays at Chabad Jewish Center, Metairie and Thursdays at the JCC Uptown. There will be no classes Thanksgiving week. In Birmingham, the classes will be at Chabad of Alabama starting Nov. 6 on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., or Thursdays at 10 a.m. “Nowadays, at some point or another, everyone faces an extremely difficult medical decision.” said Rabbi Zalman Abraham of JLI “Our objective with this course is to acquaint the public with fascinating Jewish perspectives on some of the most cutting-edge dilemmas in medical ethics.” In Life in the Balance, participants will ponder ethical questions about a range of topics from end of life issues to preventive measures and respect due the body after death. Questions include: Prolonging life at the expense of immense suffering? Should we legalize compensation for organs to save the lives of those on the transplant list? And where do we draw the line between keen vigilance to safeguard one’s health and pointless panic? The course will also explore ethical ramifications of fascinating new technologies such as digital autopsies, and uterine transplants. “These important issues are critical to so many people’s lives yet they are rarely discussed nowadays.” said Rabbi Nemes. “This is a unique opportunity that will benefit the wider community, and we invite everyone to attend.” Like all JLI programs, “Life in the Balance” is open to all and designed to appeal to people at all levels including those without any prior experience or background in Jewish learning. The course is accredited to offer AMA PRA Category 1 CME credits for medical professionals, 9 LSMCLE credits for Louisiana attorneys, and AGD PACE credits for dentists. Registration for both communities is available at

From our family to yours, Camp Judaea wishes you a Happy Hannukah!

For more information about Camp Judaea, please visit us at

For a complete listing of Chanukah events in the region, go to Also, sign up for our weekly e-news, This Week in Southern Jewish Life, by emailing Southern Jewish Life

November 2013


Front Porch JEF informs about IRA charitable rollover: There is currently a provision that allows taxpayers age 70 years and six months or older to make a direct contribution of up to $100,000 to a qualifying charity from an IRA — but the IRA Charitable Rollover expires at the end of 2013. The contribution would not be included in the taxpayer’s income, but it also would not be deductible — it would be tax neutral. Amounts paid directly to the charity from an IRA can be counted toward the IRA minimum distribution requirement. The Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana suggested two ways to take advantage of this rollover, but donors should contact their own professional advisors before making a decision. One would be a direct contribution to a qualifying charity. The IRA administrator can transfer funds directly to the charity of choice, whether the JEF General Fund, to pay a Federation annual campaign pledge, or to other community organizations. The other is to establish an endowment fund. One way is to make a gift that establishes or adds to a fund, such as Lion of Judah Endowment or Perpetual Annual Campaign Endowment. A donor can also take a lump sum and set up a fund that will pay out to charitable organizations annually, or over a certain number of years. An example is a donor establishing a $60,000 fund that would send $5,000 each to Federation, a synagogue and United Way each year for four years. The donor pays no tax on the $60,000, makes an IRA distribution that counts toward the minimum requirement, and funds three favored charities for four years. The distribution can also be used to set up a designated fund to endow a gift to a particular charity in perpetuity. Rollover gifts may not be used to establish gift annuities or charitable

remainder trusts or be contributed to donor advised funds, supporting foundations or private foundations. They must be made directly to a qualifying charity. For more information on the IRA Charitable Rollover opportunity, contact Sandy Levy at JEF, (504) 524-4559 or Mayor Sinai defeated in Rosh Ha’Ayin election: In one of the highest voter turnouts in the country, Rosh Ha’Ayin residents ousted Mayor Moshe Sinai in his bid for a third term, electing Shalom Ben Moshe by a 53-47 margin. Almost 21,000 votes were cast in the city of almost 40,000 residents. In the council elections, Sinai’s faction earned four seats to Ben Moshe’s three. Meretz, Shas and Enoch Oz had two seats each, with Jewish Home and Raziel Ahrak each gaining one seat. Israel’s municipal elections were held on Oct. 23. For Ben Moshe, the election builds on a family legacy. Sixty years ago, his father was the first elected mayor of Rosh Ha’Ayin. Sinai thanked the residents of Rosh Ha’Ayin for their support over the last 15 years, “five in the opposition and another 10 years as mayor.” He noted the positive changes in education, culture and infrastructure. The past 10 years were “an exciting time, fraught with challenges.” He wished Ben Moshe well as mayor, and “I’d love to help him, for the good of the city.” A few days after the election, Sinai said he would continue on with the council. “The election is the will of the voter. Every political party in Rosh Ha’Ayin will work to help the city grow to the best of its ability.” Rosh Ha’Ayin is Birmingham’s sister city in Israel, and the Partnership2Gether community for New Orleans.

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Camp Dream Street Mississippi has been named one of 18 leading Jewish organizations committed to fostering inclusion of people with disabilities in one of two new supplements to the Slingshot Guide. Dream Street is a five-day, four-night camping program for children with physical disabilities. The camp is held on the grounds of the Henry S. Jacobs Camp in Utica, and is sponsored by the National Federation of Temple Youth’s Southern Region, with the staffing done on a volunteer basis by NFTY members. Dream Street was founded in 1975 with the mission that all children, regardless of their abilities, must be offered the chance to have fun, to make new friends, to achieve, to be accepted for who and what they are, and to learn from the challenges of group life. Each summer there are 60 campers, generally with diagnoses including cerebral palsy, spina bifida, limb deficiencies, spinal cord injury, communicative disorders and other developmental disabilities. The Slingshot Guide, now in its ninth year, was created by a team of young funders as a guidebook to help funders of all ages diversify their giving portfolios to include the most innovative and effective organizations, programs and projects in North America. The main guide lists 50 finalists each year. Some organizations that have been included for numerous years have been designated Standard Bearers, there are 17 such groups. The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson is a Standard Bearer, as is Moishe House, which has a branch in New Orleans. AVODAH: The Jewish Service Corps, which also has a New Orleans location, was listed as a finalist. In recent years, ISJL has started partnering with other Slingshot groups on projects. Being listed in the Guide is often a critical step for selected organizations to attain much needed additional funding and to expand the reach of their work. This year, Slingshot came out with two new supplements, each with 18 organizations. In addition to the disabilities supplement, there is one for groups positively affecting the lives of women and girls. Selected from among hundreds of finalists reviewed by 83 professionals with expertise in grant-making and Jewish communal life, the Guide notes that Dream Street Mississippi “uses creative methods in its approach to offering physical activities for campers who have physical challenges, while providing a high-impact, hands-on program for Jewish teen volunteers. Dream Street is unique in that it is volunteer led and cost-free to participants.” Organizations included in this year’s disability and inclusion supplement were evaluated on their innovative approach, the impact they have in their work, the leadership they have in their sector, and their effectiveness at achieving results. “Dream Street Mississippi is proud to be among the 18 organizations included in this brand new supplement for meeting those standards,” said Scott Levy, Dream Street Mississippi Chairman. “The organizations included in Slingshot’s disability and inclusion supplement are helping to break down barriers and build opportunity for engagement for those with special needs — both within and beyond the Jewish community — as never before.” Also recognized was the Camp Ramah Tikvah Network, an incubator for young Jewish professionals who are motivated and trained to work in the Jewish disabilities community. Some come from the Camp Yofi program at Ramah Darom in Georgia. Camp Yofi is a five-day camp program for Jewish families with children who are on the autism spectrum.

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Conference brings Israeli expertise on emergency response to NOLA A delegation of emergency response professionals from Israel will join with colleagues in New Orleans next month for the first New Orleans/Israel Partnership on Emergency Response and Medicine. NIPERM is aimed at enhancing the ability of New Orleans responders and medical providers to crisis situations. While many of the sessions will be only for registered professionals, there will be two public programs. As of press time, there are 32 experts on the agenda, nine of whom are Israeli. In general, the mornings from Dec. 2 to 5 will be filled with workshops and panels, with site visits in the afternoons. Sponsored and coordinated by the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and the Jones Walker law firm, the week has drawn participation and sponsorship by Acadian Ambulance Service, Children’s Hospital, the LSU Health Sciences Center, Ochsner Health System, Touro Infirmary and Tulane University. Federation Executive Director Michael Weil said that when he arrived in New Orleans in 2007, he learned of the Partnership2Gether project with Rosh Ha’Ayin, and felt that for the partnership to be meaningful it needed to go in both directions, benefiting both communities. “One of the sectors most impacted by Katrina in New Orleans was the health sector and I thought that here was a field with potential synergy between Israel and New Orleans,” he said. But after talking with law enforcement and medical professionals “it became apparent that there was a real concern of how New Orleans as major tourist destination might respond to a mass casualty crisis through terrorist activity.” After the terrorist bombing of the Boston Marathon in April, the idea was pushed to the front burner. Spearheading the program for Jones Walker is Managing Partner Bill Hines, who served as Rex, king of Carnival, this year. His firm had always been involved in the greater community, but after Katrina “things have gone up exponentially.” A Catholic, Hines attended Isidore Newman School instead of a Catholic school, so he was immersed into Jewish New Orleans. When he was growing up, “some of the most prominent leaders in the New Orleans community were prominent leaders in the Jewish community” and their children were his classmates. Starting in the 1980s, New Orleans experienced a “brain drain” across the board. “We lost a lot of the leaders of the Jewish community, which affected all aspects of New Orleans.” Many of his Jewish classmates wound up in places like Boston, New York and Chicago. On occasion he would have conversations with some of them about what it would take to bring them back to New Orleans, and before Katrina that was “a pipe dream.” But since the storm there has been a lot of affection and nostalgia about New Orleans, along with a sense of revitalization. Part of that has been the Federation’s post-Katrina push to attract newcomers and build the Jewish community. With Hines’ involvement in renewing the city, he felt “something more formalized” with the Federation was called for, so he had a meeting with Weil. They came up with ideas for several long-term projects, starting with involving New Orleans’ Idea Village, which Hines chairs. Since Katrina, Hines said, it has become “a national standard of entrepreneurship,” peaking each year with New Orleans Entrepreneur Week. Next March, some 5,000 business leaders, entrepreneurs, Fortune 500 representatives and students are expected to attend the showcase event. Hines wanted to emphasize Jewish entrepreneurism and revitalize


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November 2013

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the Jewish business community. This past year, there was a session at Entrepreneur Week on Israel in conjunction with the Federation and other local Jewish business leaders. That session received a lot of attention, impressing Vonage founder Jeff Pulver, who attended the program. This year, there will be an effort to greatly expand the Israel component, emphasizing the medical and high tech fields. Hines noted that the key to these projects is repetition, because “one-shot deals don’t accomplish anything.” Another idea that came out of the meeting was something dealing with emergency response, and Hines said “during our discussions we had the bombing of the Boston Marathon.” Weil noted that while New Orleans has experience and skill in dealing with natural disasters, “it does not when it comes to terrorist incidents and other such emergencies. Israel unfortunately has had to develop best practices and skills accrued though dealing with terrorism and frequent wars on its borders.” This is especially important in a place like New Orleans, which routinely hosts Super Bowls, Final Fours and college football national championship games in addition to the usual large-crowd Mardi Gras, JazzFest, Sugar Bowl and countless large conventions. After the Boston bombing, there was a lot of media coverage with doctors praising the training they had received from Israel on how to deal with such situations. That preparation likely saved lives, it was reported. Weil said the triage system at Massachusetts General Hopsital in the bombing aftermath “was based on a training provided by professor Avi Rivkind of Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.” Rivkind is one of the presenters at NIPERM. Weil added that “the first mobile hospital set up in Haiti after their disaster was an Israel Defense Forces field hospital.” Topics that will be addressed at the conference include crisis management, operational readiness, hospital evacuation, pandemics, terrorism response, hazmat/neighborhood containment and more. Mental health, law enforcement and homeland security professionals will be among the experts presenting. Two of the Israelis are residents of Rosh Ha’Ayin, furthering ties between the communities. There have already been some New Orleans efforts to capitalize on Israeli expertise. Early this year, the heads of Tulane’s School of Social Work and the Tulane Traumatology Institute visited Tel Aviv to study how Israelis deal with traumatic stress. Traumatology Institute Director Charles Figley, who will be one of the presenters next month, said the Israelis’ “motivation to talk with us was high because they knew we got it, and they know that the world can benefit from their knowledge.” The community is invited to two public events. On Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. there will be a presentation on “Ethical Dilemmas in Disaster,” at the Brent House on Ochsner’s main campus. On Dec. 4 at 7 p.m., “Lessons Learned from Disaster” will be at the Lavin-Bernick Center for University Life at Tulane. In addition to New Orleans, officials from surrounding parishes have been invited to the conference. Registration is available online at After the event is evaluated, organizers plan to discuss whether to have the conference every other year or every 18 months. There is also some discussion of expanding it regionally — especially given the strong medical community in Birmingham. For the first conference, the focus is on the New Orleans area. Weil said “it is with great expectations that we look forward to this event and we hope that it will lead to further joint projects and cooperation.”

JH Israel event shows Southern Christian support for Jewish state current situation in the Middle East. The Oct. 9 event at The Club in Birmingham drew about 500 in support of the local group’s efforts in Ariel. While the gathering was mostly non-Jewish, there was a larger representation from the Jewish community, through the efforts of Joel Rotenstreich and from an increased awareness of JH Israel in the community. JH Israel is an outgrowth of JH Ranch, a California Christian-based outdoor leadership development center run by Heather and Bruce Johnston of Birmingham. Birmingham Mayor William Bell presents key to the city In 2010, the organization opened to Ambassador Yoram Ettinger the Ariel National Leadership Development Center, working with the city of whelmed by a visit to the absorption center Ariel and the Israel Ministry of Education to for Jews from the former Soviet Union, havdevelop a leadership development curriculum ing just read verses in Jeremiah that spoke of for Israeli youth. such a wave. Heather Johnston met Ariel Mayor Ron They got involved “in practical ways,” fundNachman in Jerusalem in 1997, leading to a ing a radio station, computers for the schools. Founder Heather Johnston talks with Joel friendship and support for the city, located in Many Ariel teens started going on a cultural Rotenstreich, who she referred to as her the heart of the West Bank. exchange program to JH Ranch. bridge between the Jewish and Christian During her first visit to Ariel, she was overSoon, JH Ranch teens went to Ariel “where communities At the second annual JH Israel and U.S.-Israel Education Association Foundation dinner, founder Heather Johnston said “we have so much to celebrate.” Ambassador Yoram Ettinger, the dinner’s speaker, spoke about the organization’s efforts on behalf of Israel, and gave an update on the Three Unforgettable Concerts that Celebrate Jewish Contribution To Music

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November 2013

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they got to experience Shabbat, Chanukah and see the roots of their faith.” In 2006, the Johnstons suggested building a similar facility for Israeli youth in Ariel, which Nachman thought was a bad idea. A few months later he visited their program in California, “climbed on ropes courses for a week” and in July — “on 7/7/07,” she noted, they signed an agreement to build the center in Ariel. On 8/8/08 representatives from the Ministry of Education visited the California ranch to sign an agreement to develop the curriculum, and on 9/9/09 permits to build were issued, despite a freeze on all new construction in the territories. Christa Lidikay of JH Israel said the curriculum “reflects on leadership and the Biblical and cultural heritage of leaders in the Tanach.” This year, they expect about 25,000 to go through the center, from school groups to Israel Defense Forces groups to governmental delegations. The center is also “a reason for people to travel into Samaria and see it.” Seeing the city in the heart of what is called the West Bank was also a motivation for the establishment of the educational association. Nachman told the Johnstons that in all his years since founding the city, only one congressman had ever visited what is referred to as the capital of Samaria. Back in the states, Heather Johnston met with Rep. Eric Cantor, who coordinates AIPAC educational trips to Israel for new congressional representatives, and suggested that her group would create “a complement” to the AIPAC trips. These would be for veteran lawmakers, especially those heading committees that affect Israel, and would be for just a handful at a time. The first trip took place in 2009. Johnston said many of them had been to Israel numerous times but had never gone into the territories. The latest trip is slated for Nov. 1 to 10 with seven representatives. A representative from a previous trip was so impressed with a site visit to the Iron Dome defense system that upon his return he spearheaded the drive to triple funding for it. On those trips, Ettinger said, Johnston has formed unique itineraries, pairing the representatives with industries found in their districts, or having to do with committees they serve on. For example, Ettinger said Alabama Rep. Robert Aderholt’s visit emphasized IsraeliAlabama cooperation on agriculture and defense, including an Iron Dome site visit. Rep. John Fleming of Louisiana was on the fall 2011 trip. Ettinger noted the AIPAC visits “focus on

political and defense meetings — which are very important.” The AIEA trips expose the visitors to Judea and Samaria, “which is extremely important irrespective of the world-view of the visitor” in terms of whether Israel should give over the territories to the Palestinians. “You may be a person preferring total Israeli withdrawal (from the territories), but you should know what it is that you want Israel to concede.” He said the representatives “come back with an extra comprehension of the complexities of the area,” and the visit “shatters a very dangerous myth about the nature of Jewish settlers” who are often portrayed negatively but are “ordinary people.” While the Ariel center is open, most of the visits are for one-day courses. The current emphasis is on building cabins on the property, so multi-day experiences can be accommodated. The infrastructure for the cabins and a dining area are also part of the plans. Twila Frederick, who is involved in development for JH Israel, said “we’ve come a long way but we have a long way to go” to fulfill Nachman’s vision. When Nachman visited the California ranch he wanted the one in Ariel to look the same — including tall trees that aren’t currently around Ariel. In fact, because of the small size of trees there, the poles for the ropes course had to be imported. Nachman died last year and is buried on the center’s property. Heather Johnston gave a eulogy at his funeral. JH Ranch also sends its ropes course experts to Israel on “Joshua Teams,” to live there for months at a time and train people on proper techniques for those courses. “We’re not here to get a name for ourselves,” Johnston said. “We are here to serve.” Ettinger said Israeli awareness of Christian support in the U.S., as exemplified by these projects, is growing. “Increasingly, Israelis realize it’s not only the Jewish community in the U.S., it’s Americans as a whole, led by the evangelical Christians who do it based on religion, ideology and real comprehension of the nature of the threat to the U.S. and Israel, and the joint interests between Israel and the U.S.,” he said. And that grass-roots relationship does not depend on who the president is, because presidents “zig and zag,” he said. Every Sukkot there are massive Christian gatherings, especially in Jerusaelm. And when terrorism ramped up over the last two decades, when groups were cancelling trips to Israel it was the Christian supporters who came anyway. In 2001, at the height of the Second Intifada, Ettinger got a call from former Alabama First Lady Bobbie James. When he asked her how things are in Mobile, she said she was in Jerusalem. She and a friend were there for two weeks, visiting hotels and restaurants to boost the ailing tourism industry. When the former governor called her and told her to come home, she told him to stop watching the news and come to Israel, Ettinger said. Ettinger was Israel’s consul general in Houston in the 1980s before heading the Government Press Office. Following that he was Minister for Congressional Affairs at the Israeli embassy in Washington and continues as a lecturer and consultant. In 1997, Governor Fob James named him Alabama’s trade representative in Israel. While visiting the state for the JH events, he also traveled to Huntsville, where there are numerous U.S.-Israel joint projects. The Arrow and Iron Dome missile defense projects “have been major examples of mutually-beneficial U.S.-Israel collaboration, which has enhanced national security of both countries, as well as expanded employment, research and development, exports.”

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He called Israel the “battle-tested laboratory of technologies “ for the U.S. defense industry. The projects are 30 to 40 percent funded by the U.S., but Ettinger said “the return on investment is going to be extremely high as far as the U.S. is concerned” as some of these systems are sold to countries around the world. Ettinger explained the strategic geographic importance of Ariel by noting the evening’s program at The Club atop Red Mountain. “From here you see Birmingham. From there, you see Tel Aviv.” Were it not for the Green Line, the pre-1967 border, Ariel would be a Tel Aviv suburb, he said. Ariel is located half-way between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. The nearest sizeable Israeli city inside the Green Line is Rosh Ha’Ayin. Ariel also has a sister city relationship with Mobile, and representatives from Mobile were at the dinner.

Springhill Avenue Temple continues recovery from December tornado


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Last Dec. 25, a rare tornado struck the heart of Mobile, damaging Springhill Avenue Temple. On Oct. 27, the religious school students participated in the rededication of the historical marker in front of the building. The marker, which was placed in the 1970s, fell victim to some of the oak trees that were toppled by the tornado. Accompanied by Principal Sam Small and Springhill Avenue President Alan Goldberg, the students said a prayer for the congregation and listened to a short history before helping to install the refurbished marker. In addition to many of the trees on the property, the building itself suffered some damage. The sanctuary and Torahs escaped damage, as did the stained-glass windows, which had been protected in anticipation of hurricanes. Some broken plate glass windows were replaced, and most brickwork in the religious school has been replaced, except around windows that are on order. Permanent repairs to the roof, which was lifted off the building by a couple of inches, are still pending. Springhill Avenue Temple, founded as Congregation Sha’arai Shomayim Umaskil El Dol in 1844, is the oldest Jewish congregation in Alabama. The current location was built in 1955.

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November 2013

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Legacy of 1964 Groups hope to involve Jews in voting rights advocacy On Oct. 22, The Andrew Goodman Foundation and Bend the Arc: A Jewish Partnership for Justice announced a two-year partnership to galvanize Jewish participation in a national, multi-racial, interfaith and intergenerational coalition to protect voting rights and promote civic engagement. Goodman and fellow civil rights workers James Chaney and Michael Schwerner were killed on June 21, 1964 by Ku Klux Klansmen in Neshoba County, Miss. The three were working on Freedom Summer, a push to register black voters in the South, and had traveled to the county to investigate the burning of Mount Zion Church in Longdale, east of Philadelphia. Schwerner and Chaney had spoken there weeks before to encourage setting up a Freedom School. “Andrew Goodman’s legacy is inspiring to all Americans, including American Jews,” said Alan van Capelle, CEO of Bend the Arc. “Bend the Arc is excited to work closely with The Andrew Goodman Foundation over the next two years to reanimate the values that drove Andrew Goodman, Mickey Schwerner, and James Chaney — two Jews and an African American Christian — along with thousands of Americans to work across lines of race and faith in the Civil Rights Movement.” “Bend the Arc is a leader in the Jewish community on economic and social justice, the same issues that Andrew Goodman cared deeply about,” said Sylvia Goodman, Executive Director of The Andrew Goodman Foundation. “The Andrew Goodman Foundation is excited to partner with Bend the Arc not only to advocate for voting rights legislation in Washington, D.C., but also to inspire a new generation with the message that ordinary people can make extraordinary social impact.” The partnership between Bend the Arc and The Andrew Goodman Foundation seeks to build on the legacy of African-Americans, women, Jews and others working together for this purpose. The two-year partnership coincides with the 50th anniversaries of the 1964 Freedom Summer and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Harnessing the legacy of those anniversaries, Bend the Arc and The Andrew Goodman Foundation will collaborate on national efforts to restore the Voting Rights Act. Bend The Arc was formerly known as Jewish Funds for Justice, which took an active advocacy role along the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina.

Storming the barricades Lou Shornickʼs Honor Flight becomes media sensation during government shutdown In recent years there have been dozens of Honor Flights from across the country, bringing World War II veterans to Washington to view the National World War II Memorial. The one that Jackson’s Lou Shornick was on last month got a lot more media coverage than most others. On Oct. 1 a group of over 90 veterans and roughly 60 caregivercompanions took off from Gulfport, knowing that the U.S. government had gone into shutdown mode a few hours earlier. When they arrived at the memorial, the central spot on their agenda, there were barricades and police line blocking off access to what is usually an open-air site. A request to allow the veterans to visit the memorial had been made to the White House, but it was denied. “At first we sat on the bus,” Shornick said, then the group got off to

JWV Veteran’s Day events The Jules Lazard Post 580 in New Orleans will have a Veterans Day Shabbat service at Beth Israel on Nov. 9 at 9 a.m. Guest speaker will be Henrik Pontoppidan, an attorney and restoration volunteer at the National World War II Museum. He will speak about “The History and Restoration of the PT 305,” which was manufactured in New Orleans in 1943 and saw action in the Mediterranean. After the war, the ship was sold and modified to become an oyster boat in the Chesapeake Bay. There will be a Kiddush lunch after services, and all veterans and active duty personnel are requested to come in uniform or in their JWV caps. Birmingham’s JWV post will host a Veteran’s Day Shabbat at Temple Beth-El on Nov. 9 at 9:30 a.m. Guest speaker will be Martin Schnier, chief of staff at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center. Members of Post 608 will be participating in the service, and there will be a luncheon afterwards. Huntsville’s JWV Flank Keyserling Post 111 is gathering at Etz Chayim on Nov. 10 at 8:30 a.m. to place flags and JWV markers on graves in Huntsville, dating from the Civil War to the present day. They will also participate in the Huntsville parade on Nov. 11 at 11 a.m.




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Ellis Hart was on April flight On April 23, Ellis Hart of the Jackson area was the oldest participant on Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight V. That flight took about 80 World War II veterans from Mississippi to Washington for the day, to see the National World War II Memorial and several other sites. With escorts and organizers, the complete delegation included about 200 people. The first stop was the memorial, where U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker and U.S. Reps. Steven Palazzo and Alan Nunnelee met the veterans. They had a ceremony at the Mississippi monument, then toured the monument and had lunch there. Family members living in the Washington area joined Hart for the picnic. The final event in Washington was witnessing the Changing of the Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers, at Arlington National Cemetery. Hart was one of four veterans to participate in a wreath-laying ceremony with the Sentinels of the Tomb.

During the war, Hart was stationed in the Philippines, where he oversaw a team of 156 who worked as cryptographers and in the control tower. After being drafted, he headed from New Orleans to Fort Livingston, La., where he found out about a new air base being established closer to home — Keesler, in Biloxi. He volunteered to go there, graduated from officer’s training and was then stationed in Greenville. In January 1943 he went on a blind date with a woman from Winona. They married a few months later, just before he shipped out. This year, Reva and Ellis Hart celebrated 70 years together. The veterans had “mail call” on the way back to Gulfport, where they received letters of tribute from friends, relatives and Mississippi schoolchildren. At the Gulfport airport, thousands gathered to welcome the veterans back, and each veteran was announced and had the opportunity to make his way through the crowd.

look over the fence. As is typical, Congressional representatives were on hand to greet the veterans. “One of them had a pair of scissors,” Shornick noted, and because the lead guard was a former Marine, “he wasn’t going to stop us from going in.” U.S. Rep. Steve Palazzo of Mississippi invoked the line of being “better to ask forgiveness than to ask permission.” A bagpipe player was the first one in, leading the veterans to the Mississippi section, where they laid a wreath. As they left, an Honor Flight from Iowa arrived, one of 10 scheduled for the week. “The next day, they had more guards there,” Shornick said. “They really don’t want us to be there. They want to inflict the most harm, to try to get the Republicans to see it their way.” Democrats said the barriers were necessary to protect memorials that were not being patrolled. Photos and video of the encounter quickly hit the Internet, and Shornick said they knew while they were still in Washington that their visit was plastered all over the news. They also went to Arlington Cemetery, witnessing the changing of the guard and a wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

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Some additional sites were added to the trip as the schedule was affected by the shutdown. But for Shornick, the highlight of the trip was returning to the airport in Gulfport, where a crowd was waiting. He said the whole length of the terminal was filled with people, five deep on each side. “I’ve never had anything like that before,” he said. One at a time, the veterans made their way into the terminal where they were surrounded by wellwishers giving a “rock star” treatment of handshakes, hugs and kisses, with each of them being treated “like we were the only one there.” At the end of the terminal was a procession under crossed swords. On the way back, they also had a “mail call,” with notes from wellwishers and students. “Most got one package but I got two, containing more than 200 well-written stories for me,” he said. A Connecticut native, Shornick worked with civilians at Wright Air Force Base in Ohio as an aeronautical engineer working on a new material that had never been used before — silicone. In 1944 he applied to the Navy and started in communications. He switched to aviation, became an officer and worked as a rocket scientist at the Bureau of Aeronautics in Washington. In 1950 he took over a woodworking plant in Canton, Miss., then moved to the Magnolia State in 1953. After 13 years, his plant was acquired by Shelby Williams Industries. When that firm was acquired seven years later, he decided not to be “a small fish in a big pond” and retired at age 55. That was 40 years ago. He has devoted himself to travel and pursuing his life-long passion of photography. He also remains active at Beth Israel in Jackson, where he was president in the mid-1960s when the current building was erected. During the flight, he was accompanied by 17-year-old Sarah Jenne, who was one of four Gulf Coast students selected to be on the flight following an essay contest. When they met, he was the one to pull out an iPhone and ask her to friend him on Facebook. Aside from the original meeting, she visited him in Jackson and is “anxious” to come visit again. This was her first trip to Washington. Shornick noted that when they returned, he got to meet her whole family at the airport.



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The Highland Diagnostics building, right, is slated to be replaced by a 15-floor apartment complex that would dwarf Temple Beth-El, left.

Next door neighborhood Large apartment complex planned for property adjoining Beth-El A 15-story, $40 million apartment project is proposed for next door to Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El. The upscale development is being planned by Harbert Realty Services on the lot where the former Highland Diagnostic Center building is located. The building is better known to old-timers as the former Britling’s Cafeteria property. The Birmingham Design Review Committee approved the proposal on Oct. 16 with minor adjustments. The tower itself would have over 220 apartments and ground-floor retail space, a rooftop deck and pool and a fitness center. The large surface parking lot across the back alley would be used for a six-story parking deck with over 500 spaces, and six floors of additional apartments along the perimeter, including fronting 14th Avenue. There would be a flyover walkway from the parking lot to the main tower, going over the alley. There is another alley from Highland Avenue to that parking lot, running between the lower Beth-El lot and the diagnostic building. In all, the property would have about 310 apartments. Harbert will try to obtain variances from the city to construct the project, which they expect to begin next March and finish by summer 2015. A delegation from Beth-El has been attending the design committee, planning commission and Five Points Merchants Association meetings. While the complex would provide a huge residential option easily within walking distance of the Conservative congregation, it would also exacerbate the congregation’s parking issues. Though the congregation has never owned the Britling’s parking lot, it has long been used as overflow parking, especially on the High Holy Days. The lot has also been the home of Beth-El’s annual When Pigs Fly Kosher Barbecue contest. Without the Britling’s lot, Beth-El has 24 parking spaces in the lower lot on Highland Avenue and about 14 spaces in a narrow lot across the alley fronting 21st Way. That property was purchased by Beth-El about three decades ago. The next property, the yellow house further up 21st Way, is also owned by the congregation. There is also some street parking on one side of 21st Way. Beth-El has formed an ad-hoc committee to monitor the process, especially as it relates to traffic patterns and parking. Plans call for the apartments to be upscale, aimed at young professionals and University of Alabama at Birmingham instructors.

First newcomer announced for Trinity Hospital property Now that the move of Birmingham’s Trinity Medical Center from its Montclair Road campus to Highway 280 has been approved, there has been concern about what would become of the large property just down the road from the Levite Jewish Community Center, and what Trinity’s loss would mean to the neighborhood’s overall character. On Oct. 23, Momentum Telecom announced that an incentives package was approved by the city of Birmingham to help them move their headquarters from Shelby County to the 880 Building on the Trinity campus. Founded in 2001, Momentum offers residential and business voice over IP communications services to both direct subscribers and the wholesale market. Since 2011, Momentum has experienced significant business services growth and rapidly expanded its retail sales channel. The company plans to increase its Birmingham-based workforce by 30 percent over the next four years, further supporting the move into the city. Momentum plans to be in their new offices by mid-December. There will be about 60 employees initially, with an eye toward future growth. Momentum is the first company announcing plans to move to the Trinity campus, the hospital expects to relocate in 2016. “We have made a strong commitment to the neighborhoods in the Trinity Medical Center area to help bring high-technology, innovative firms to the campus as Trinity vacates the Montclair Road site over the next two years,” said Birmingham Mayor William Bell. “Momentum Telecom is a perfect example of the type of company we will continue to recruit to the campus.” Momentum President and CEO Bill Fox said the proximity to Birmingham’s growing downtown was attractive to the company as its sales force expands. “The innovators in the banking, medical and manufacturing industries already located in the downtown region of Birmingham will now have access to a high-tech communications provider that can support their forward-thinking initiatives and power their business communications,” he said. Further bolstering the area was last year’s opening of Tapestry Park, a 223-unit upscale apartment complex on the old John Carroll property across from Trinity. Sold in August for $32 million, the development is over 90 percent occupied. The LJCC, which was built in 1957, has a 70-acre campus that also includes the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School and the Birmingham Jewish Federation and Foundation offices.

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On Oct. 23, Texas A&M announced plans to build a campus in Nazareth, the first United States university to open a branch campus in Israel. The Texas A&M Peace University would offer advanced degrees and emphasize attracting Jewish, Muslim and ChrisJohn Sharp gives thumbs up as Shai Piron and tian students and facTexas Governor Rick Perry hold the signed ulty in what is Israel’s agreement in front of Israeli President Shimon largest Arab city. Peres. The announcement was made during a ceremony between Texas Governor Rick Perry and Israeli President Shimon Peres at Peres’ home. “Texas A&M and Israel make a good fit, as communities built upon the values of family, commitment and tradition. That’s reflected in the goals we’ve established for this university,” Gov. Perry said. “We want to see the Nazareth branch as a means to preserve peace and build understanding between cultures.” Peres hopes the campus will promote higher education and peace, and help narrow the gaps in higher education between Israeli Arabs and Jews. Israel’s Education Minister Shai Piron said it was a day to celebrate. “Our joy is even greater, knowing that we are establishing a campus of peace located in the city of Nazareth, in the Galilee. The founding of such a renowned institution in an Arab city in the State of Israel sends an important message to Israeli society and the Arab public in Israel. I am certain that this splendid institution will have the power to enhance the vision of peace and equality, and the founding of this institution is a giant step in that direction.” John Sharp, chancellor of the Texas A&M University System, said the idea started with Perry. He told the Times of Israel that he and Perry are both “huge supporters” of Israel. “We didn’t know exactly what the vision would be, but it became clearer when we started dealing with Shai Piron and Shimon Peres, who wanted it to be not just a university, but a peace university, and that’s how it morphed into the agreement that we have now.” The university will raise about $70 million from private donors to build the campus, and the opening is anticipated in fall 2015. The fundraising has to be completed before construction begins; last year the Texas A&M system raised $760 million overall. The Knesset will also have to approve the arrangement, as branch campuses of foreign institutions have previously not been permitted in Israel. This is the second Middle East campus for Texas A&M. An engineering school in Doha, Qatar, has 550 students from 30 countries. The Nazareth campus will include the takeover of the financiallytroubled Nazareth Academic Institute, which was formed three years ago. Pastor John Hagee, founder of Christians United for Israel, made the connection between the university and Israeli officials at Sharp’s request. Hagee has a church in San Antonio.

Jewish Book Month

A new novel from National Jewish Book Award finalist

Mary Glickman

“Five Days at Memorial” featured at New Orleans Jewish Book Festival This year’s early Chanukah is pushing the Uptown Jewish Community Center’s annual celebration into the annual Jewish Book Festival this month. The festival kicks off on Nov. 18 at noon with the Booklover’s Luncheon, featuring Austin Ratner and his most recent book, “In the Land of the Living.” The featured artist event hits closer to home with Sheri Fink’s Hurricane Katrina work, “Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm Ravaged Hospital.” She will speak on Nov. 20 at 7 p.m. The week concludes with a community Chanukah concert featuring the Maccabeats, an a capella group based out of Yeshiva University, on Nov. 24 at 2 p.m. The Jewish Book Festival also features a bookstore offering a selection of children and young adult books, JCC Book Club selections and gifts, all provided by Octavia Books, which donates 20 percent of sales to the JCC in support of cultural programming. The bookstore is open from 9 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m. weekdays except Friday afternoon, and during both author events. Ratner’s semi-autobiographical book is about a Jewish family in Cleveland, Ohio, and how a series of premature deaths affect their relationships across generations. Ratner’s father died in Cleveland of lymphoma when Ratner was almost three years old, and a few years later his mother married real estate developer James Ratner. He set out in his father’s footsteps, graduating from medical school, but decided it was time to find his own way, moved to New York and became a fiction writer — though his first work that sold was a medical school textbook. His novel “The Jump Artist,” based on the life of photographer Philippe Halsman, won the 2011 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, which came with an award of $100,000. Halsman was imprisoned in Austria by an anti-Semitic kangaroo court following the accidental death of his father, then released and exiled to Paris as World War II looms. Tickets for the Nov. 18 event are $30 for the luncheon and presentation, or $10 for just the presentation. The luncheon is catered by Chef

Rommel Hernandez, and groups may reserve tables on a first come, first served basis. Ratner will be available to sign his books after the event. “Five Days at Memorial” is the culmination of six years of reporting and over 500 interviews. It is an expansion of her Pulitzer Prize-winning report in the New York Times Magazine in 2009. Since 1926, Memorial had been a shelter each time a storm hit the New Orleans area, with many in the surrounding community seeking refuge as the area was below sea level. When Katrina hit, there were roughly 2,000 in the building, of whom 244 were actual patients. After the levees broke, the hospital was surrounded by the flood, without electricity or basic services such as sanitation. The book chronicles the efforts of doctors and nurses to preserve life during the chaos — and to decide who likely would not make it during an evacuation or because of limited resources and deteriorating conditions. At least 20 patients died after being injected with a morphine mix. The second half of the book chronicles the post-storm investigation into those five days, raising the ethical and legal questions about allocation of resources in a crisis, and explores the issues of rationing, justice, end-of-life and liability in today’s health care system. In 2006, the doctor and two nurses responsible for the injections were arrested in the deaths of four patients, but a grand jury refused to indict them. Fink has reported extensively on emergency situations around the world and has experience with delivering aid. She did first-hand reporting from Haiti after the 2010 earthquake and in New York following Hurricane Sandy. Her first book, “War Hospital: A True Story of Surgery and Survival,” about the genocide in Srebrenica, Bosnia-Herzegovina, was a finalist for the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for First Nonfiction and was awarded the 2004 American Medical Writers Association Special Book Award. Tickets for the event are $5 and may be purchased at the JCC.

examines the price of love and the interventions of fate “A powerful tale of love, hatred, violence, hope, and regeneration.” —Sonia Taitz, author of The Watchmaker’s Daughter

Southern Jewish Life

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In 2009, Chattanooga native Melanie Young took an unexpected detour from her wine and food marketing business into what she called “Cancer Land.” She emerged with a reworking of many aspects of her life, and a new book aimed at helping women navigate breast cancer. She spoke at Touro Synagogue and at FestiGals in New Orleans last month about her just-released book, “Getting Things Off My Chest: A Survivor’s Guide to Staying Fearless and Fabulous in the Face of Breast Cancer.” “Breast cancer is the trip no one wants to take, but it is a road well traveled with one in eight women diagnosed,” she said. “Like so many women, when I was diagnosed I felt lost.” After being diagnosed, she had a double mastectomy with reconstruction, months of chemotherapy, and removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes. She did not know what to expect and did not understand the medical terms. “I just knew on this trip I wanted to get out alive, keep my quality of life intact and not make a return visit!” During the long path, she kept running her business because “I needed to work and it was therapeutic to keep my mind focused despite chemo-brain.” She started a blog, “Getting Things Off My Chest,” to give those who are diagnosed an understanding of what to expect, how to deal with physical and psychological issues, and how to balance obligations while fighting the battle. For the book, she interviewed dozens of breast cancer survivors and experts from the medical side. The range of topics covered include financial and insurance, selecting a surgeon, reconstruction options, nutrition, emotional well-being and peer support. “While my book is filled with survivor tips and expert insights and touches of humor for women facing early stage breast cancer, the takeaways I learned and apply to my life now to eat smarter, reduce stress and live healthier apply to all women,” she noted. She can also talk about genetic testing — she tested positive for BRCA2, an indicator of higher risk for breast cancer, after which she opted for the preventative removal of her ovaries and fallopian tubes. “Do whatever it takes to make sure you have no further long term health risks. Discuss your options with your medical professional and your family. Then, follow your gut.” Young, now living in New York, is a graduate of Sophie Newcomb College at Tulane. Her company, The Connected Table, advises food and wine companies on building their brands. For more than a decade she developed and ran some of nation’s most influential food and beverage industry programs including The James Beard Foundation Awards and New York Restaurant Week. She is past president of Les Dames d’Escoffier New York, a philanthropic organization of accomplished women in food, fine beverage and hospitality which provides scholarships and mentoring for women. Her father, Melvin Young, wrote four books about Jews serving in the Civil War, and her mother, known as “The Purple Lady” is a noted writer and community volunteer, and recipient of Tennessee Woman of the Year.

Mary Glickman’s novels embrace complexity of the Jewish South “Marching to Zion,” the latest novel by Mary Glickman, came about after a reader’s observation. The reader told her that in her first two novels, “Home in the Morning” and “One More River,” she had “constructed a narrative of the Southern Jewish Experience as it intersects with the African American Experience over the course of the 20th century.” The new novel, she said, fills a gap in the narrative line. It will be released on Nov. 12. “Home in the Morning” is set in the South of the 1960s, with four main characters — Jackson Sassaport, a Jewish lawyer who is a Mississippi native; his Boston-born wife, Stella; his black boyhood sweetheart, Katherine Marie; and her husband, Li’l Bokay, who was also Sassaport’s first friend. He attempts to balance competing desires, working his way through the civil rights movement while trying not to stand out in the segregated South, his Southern ways versus his Yankee wife’s perspectives, and his black friends. But one night in 1960 forces him to confront all of his obligations. All of the characters are fictional constructs, with one exception — Rabbi Perry Nussbaum, the controversial rabbi of Beth Israel in Jackson, whose home was bombed by the Klan in 1967 because of his civil rights activities. Last year, “One More River” continued exploring the themes, with the story of Mickey Moe Levy — Sassaport’s cousin — who has to prove his worth to the disapproving parents of his girlfriend, Laura Anne Needleman, in 1962. His father, Bernard Levy, had been a mysterious figure in Guilford, Miss., before his death during World War II. He embarks on an odyssey in the backwoods of Mississippi and Tennessee, exploring his father’s murky past against the backdrop of the Great Flood of 1927, which she said was “in some ways as transformative of the South as the Civil Rights Era.” Last year, the book was selected for the “One Book One Community” initiative in Chicago, where one book is selected during Jewish Book Month for the entire Chicago Jewish community to read and explore together. “Marching to Zion” is set in St. Louis in the 1920s and 1930s, where Mags Preacher, a black girl, wants to become a beautician. She meets Magnus Bailey, a black man who is in love with Minerva, the adopted daughter of the Jewish owner of the funeral home where they both work. Aurora Mae Stanton from “One More River” reappears in this novel. Glickman, who grew up Catholic in Boston, “fell in love at first sight” while visiting the South 30 years ago. “I loved the natural beauty of the South, its architecture, its culture of civility,” she said. She and her hus-



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November 2013

Southern Jewish Life

Jewish Book Month band lived in Charleston, S.C. for a year in the late 1980s, somewhat by accident. They were on a sabbatical in Spain when the dollar tanked. “We realized we could stay in Spain for another six months before running out of money or we could try living in South Carolina for a year. I hated leaving Spain, but from day one in South Carolina I knew we’d made the right choice,” she said. She got a job mucking stalls at an equestrian center “and made some of the best friends of my life.” They returned to Boston after the sabbatical ended, but she kept returning South and in 2008 made the move permanent. As a child in a strict Irish-Polish Catholic family, she was attracted to Jewish texts instead of Christian ones. “The good sisters who taught me would say that faith was a gift and by the time I was an adolescent I realized I had not been given the gift.” She explored many beliefs but kept coming back to Judaism. She converted when her husband proposed, though she had been wanting to do so for several years before then. The great Jewish writers and Ashkenazic liturgical melodies stirred her soul, which she said was looking to find its way home to the Jewish world. Glickman said her books are a way to address the “disconnect” between Southern and Northern attitudes about the South. “I’ve found that most Northerners view the South as a Hollywood stereotype, which is a denial of the complex layers and variety of Southern experience.” Having been in Charleston where she found “an ease of relations between the races… in a way I didn’t find up North,” she was upset when a Boston Globe op-ed appeared years ago denigrating the approach to race at a Charleston museum. Given Boston’s checkered history, “it rankled to be lectured” that way. A huge percentage of Northerners who came South during the civil rights era were Jews, whose aim was “to travel South, perhaps be arrested, perhaps beaten, even killed but once their protests were complete, they went en mass back to the safety of the North. Meanwhile, they’d stirred up enmity against Southern Jews who until that time were getting along pretty well.” She felt a good way to illustrate the tension in her first novel was to have a Southern Jewish man married to a Northern Jewish woman. Then, “you can’t write about the South without writing about race.” It turns out that her African-American characters were “some of the novel’s most beloved by readers.” She also realized that “the African American experience and the Jewish experience naturally resonate along the issues of slavery, of liberation, and in the sufferance of brutal racist acts,” and wanted to further investigate that in her newest book. In working on the novels, she has absorbed many books about the Jewish community of the era, and taken advantage of the Jewish Heritage Collection at the College of Charleston. Two years ago, Glickman was a featured author during the People of the Book festival at the New Orleans Jewish Community Center. She praised Debbie Pesses, saying “In this culture of visual media, it’s rare to find someone as devoted to the printed word as Debbie is, and of course, she’s the very model of Southern hospitality.” She returned to New Orleans the next spring for LimmudFest and explored “the differences between the distinct graces of New Orleans and those of Charleston.” Now, Glickman considers herself a “100 percent reconstructed Yankee. “You don’t get to be truly Southern just by living here,” she said. “To be honest, that may be one of the reasons I love it so.

Southern Jewish Life

November 2013


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New Orleans restaurateur Shane Finkelstein, owner of Nacho Mama’s, has published a novel, “Finding Gordon Lipschitz,” which is the first publication by NOLA Books. Formerly a publisher of INsite Magazine in Atlanta, Finkelstein has written for Where Y’At and the New Orleans Levee. A Long Island native, Finkelstein has opened five restaurants since coming to New Orleans shortly after 2000. The novel is an adult “coming of age” story about one man’s desperate search for his long lost friend and high school valedictorian. After traveling from New Orleans to New York for his 25-year high school reunion, Harris Greenberg realizes that his once promising life has turned into a depressing failure. When he discovers that Gordon Lipschitz hasn’t been seen since graduation, Harris embarks on a desperate mission to find him. Enlisting the help of old friends, Gordon Lipschitz is found in the most unlikely place, a shell of his former self. A review in SPIN magazine called it a “wild, white-knuckle tale that crashes Long Island Jewish dysfunction into post-Katrina New Orleans chaos.” The book was released on Oct. 21 with a signing at Octavia Books.

Chanukah Storytime On Nov. 24 at 11 a.m., there will be a PJ Library Chanukah program at the Barnes and Noble in Pensacola. PJ Library is a national program that sends free Judaic books to children ages 6 months to 7 years every month. In Pensacola, the Pensacola Jewish Federation administers the program. In Birmingham, it is coordinated by the Birmingham Jewish Federation and Birmingham Jewish Foundation. In the rest of the region, the Jewish Children’s Regional Service in New Orleans administers the program. In Birmingham, Barnes and Noble at the Summit will have an N.E. Miles Jewish Day School Kids Club event, “Chanukah and the Missing Menorah,” Nov. 24 at 10:30 a.m. There is also a Chanukah Storytime on Nov. 27 at 11 a.m., with “How Do Dinosaurs Say Happy Chanukah?” 32

November 2013

Southern Jewish Life

Hello Fadduh?

Comic genius Allan Shermanʼs unhappy ties to Birmingham Allan Sherman hit it big with a series of comedy albums in the early 1960s with the titles “My son the...” and his most enduring hit was the camp song “Hello Muddah Hello Fadduh.” Odd, then, that Sherman had a difficult and complicated relationship with his parents, rebelling against their assimilationist ways to become a pioneer of overtly-Jewish comedy, before falling prey to some of his family’s ghosts. Part of his story includes a Birmingham connection, where his father, Percy Coplon, was a rather unusual character. All of this is chronicled in “Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman,” a biography that was recently written by Mark Cohen. Cohen said it is generally forgotten just how large of a star Sherman was in 1962. He grew up with Sherman’s records in his house, and “I always liked his stuff.” About 15 years ago, Cohen came across Sherman’s autobiography in a bookstore, and thought it was an “amazing story.” About a decade ago, he was thinking about Sherman’s “role in American Jewish culture as being one of the earliest people to create a gigantic hit, gain enormous fame and success, with Jewish humor.” There were plenty of Jews in Hollywood, “but they didn’t perform as Jews,” he said. There was the immigrant mentality of becoming an American. “Ethnic groups, Jews in particular, were not keen on calling a great deal of attention to themselves” as having a separate identity. This was before Woody Allen, “Fiddler on the Roof ” and Mel Brooks — and Jon Stewart was born just after Sherman’s first album was released. Cohen found that even in the 1960s, people were asking how an album like “My Son The Folk Singer” could be such a sensation at the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis and other tumultuous events, “with such ethnic Jewish accented songs.” In 2003 Cohen contacted Warner Brothers to further his research. At the time, they were planning to release “My Son, the Box” and asked him to write the liner notes. He later did an article for an academic journal, then realized that the 50th anniversary of “Hello Muddah” was approaching in 2013. He kicked it into high gear to finish the book, which was released in May. Coplon came to the U.S. from Russia as a young child. His family wound up in Birmingham, in the automotive business. From a young age he raced cars at the Fairgrounds, and was involved in a spectacular wreck in October 1913 when his car went through the fence and he was knocked unconscious. Coplon said years later that two hours after being declared dead “I

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November 2013 Southern Jewish Life

got up from an undertaking parlor in Birmingham and walked out,” but the Age-Herald from the time stated that after being treated in the infirmary he was up and about before the race ended. He was drafted into World War I and became an instructor at a training camp at the University of Alabama, then established an automotive company in Birmingham. It soon failed. In 1922 he moved to Chicago to be with his brother Abraham, who was a dentist — and into raw foods and nudism, among other unusual things. Abraham Coplon would have been at home in 1960s Berkeley, Cohen noted. In 1923, Coplon married Rose Sherman. Cohen noted that neither of them “had any attachment at all to Jewish life,” and Rose insisted that Coplon alter his last name to Copelon, making it seem less Jewish. Cohen noted that Coplon “didn’t have as strong an aversion to the Jewish background as (Rose) did. He didn’t have at- Percy Copelon’s gravestone tachment to it but didn’t seek to actively in Birmingham deny it.” Allan came along in 1924, growing up in Chicago until age 6. Due to family instability, he was moved around among Chicago, Los Angeles and New York, but in doing so “got exposed to the entire American Jewish scene” in big communities. His parents divorced in 1932 when Allan was seven years old, and Coplon returned to Birmingham. Allan saw his parents running from their identity, but “no matter how much dislocation he experienced, one thing was consistent — he found himself living with Jewish people.” And that was one of the few things in his life that he could count on. A year with his immigrant grandparents in his mid-teens solidified that identity. When he returned to his mother in California, she had married for a third time, and Allan had to take the last name Segal. As a high school senior, Allan took on his mother’s maiden name, “embracing all the things she was running away from,” Cohen said. He found comfort in Jewish things, while she felt embarrassment. Further complicating identity was his father, whose name was either Percy or Perry, Coplon or Copelon, depending on when it was or who was asking. For the record, his footstone at the Old Knesseth Israel/Beth-El Cemetery in Birmingham reads simply “Percy Copelon 1900-1949.” Allan went to the University of Illinois, writing satirical pieces under the name Allan Sherman. In 1942, his mother sent him to Birmingham to see his father — and to try and get money out of him. He arrived to find that his father, like his mother, had married again, also to someone not Jewish, and they had just adopted an eight-month-old girl. Nevertheless, Cohen quotes other relatives as saying Allan was welcomed “with open arms” by the rest of the family. He was given new clothes from Loveman’s, a tuxedo and a car. His father said he would help him with college expenses if he would go back to the family name, and when he returned to Illinois his columns had the byline of Allan Copelon. Briefly. Allan sent the columns to his father, but never heard from him. “My own father doesn’t care whether I live or die,” he later wrote, and reverted to Sherman. In 1949, he would find out about his father’s death in the newspaper. His pregnant wife was sitting on a bench in New York when she saw the article, and immediately called him. When he called his mother, she had just assumed he already knew. In August 1949, the 357-pound Percy Coplon embarked on a 100day fast to shed 100 pounds, with his brother’s guidance. It was said

that in the summer he would eat a dozen cantaloupes for breakfast, so to keep him from the temptation of food he would be in a shack at the top of a 30-foot flagpole the entire time, near his house in Tarrant. He planned to drink two gallons of water per day as his sole nourishment. Coplon was known as “five-by-five” for being five feet tall and five feet around. On the 92nd day, he came down and said he would finish the fast on the ground because of dizzy spells and failing eyesight. Though he was examined by a doctor and was said to be fine, a few hours later he collapsed in the bathroom and hit his head, and died less than an hour later. He was 53, and he had lost 102 pounds. Rabbi Abraham J. Mesch officiated his funeral, and despite his weight loss he reportedly required “the biggest casket made.” Sherman went on to be a television writer. He created “I’ve Got a Secret” with Howard Merrill in 1952, but was fired from the show in 1958. In 1961, he was hired to rescue a game show, “You’re In The Picture,” which had one of the most atrocious debuts in television history, but before Sherman could do anything, host Jackie Gleason opened the second — and final — episode with an apology to the viewing public and cancelled the show himself. All those years, he kept writing song parodies, taking classic American tunes and throwing them into a Jewish world. In October 1962 “My Son, the Folk Singer” was released, and everyone expected it would sell in places like New York and Los Angeles — where Jews live — and nowhere else. But when it started selling big in Atlanta — which in the early 1960s had a Jewish population of just 14,500 and was years away from becoming a hub of Jewish life — everyone was taken by surprise. Within two months it had sold one million copies and was one of the fastestselling albums to date. It was soon followed by “My Son, The Celebrity,” and the smash hit “My Son, The Nut,” which featured “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh,” which reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts. Cohen calls the album “a children’s record for children and adults.” But his fame was short-lived, by 1968 his newer albums weren’t selling well and he was dropped from his label. He wrote “The Fig Leaves Are Falling,” which ran for only four nights on Broadway. He had issues with gambling and drinking, and like his father, with his weight. On Nov. 20, 1973, he had a heart attack in his apartment and died just short of his 49th birthday. In recent years, Sherman’s place in music history and Jewish history have been strengthened. The box set included the previously-rare parody of “My Fair Lady,” and with the “Mad Men” craze in recent years, all eight of his albums were re-released in 2010.

Most books featured in this section can be purchased online through the Southern Jewish Bookshelf at

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To show how far Louis Schmier has come, his newly-published history of Valdosta’s Jewish community, “Chant of Ages: Cry of Cotton” opens with an anecdote about him encountering travelers from Michigan who are flabbergasted that there are Jews in south Georgia... “down here, among them, alone.” He toys with the visitors, giving them fanciful details about the exotic Southern Jew, but he can identify with the attitude — it was one he held when he left New York in 1963 to pursue a Ph.D. as quickly as possible in the hostile territory of North Carolina. So fearful was he that when he crossed the state line into Virginia, he locked his car door. Through a series of circumstances — mostly a lousy job market in academia — he then found himself in Valdosta for as temporary a time as possible, because he had vowed never to set foot into Georgia (or Alabama, Mississippi and South Carolina). Yet he wound up staying, and the story of his conversion from reluctant Yankee outsider to a Southern Jewish history enthusiast frames the book. He was volunteered to give a talk about the history of Valdosta’s Jewish community in 1976, knowing nothing about the subject and still considering himself an outsider. He was going to rely on a history that had been written years before, stating that there were unconfirmable rumors of Jews there before 1900, but the community really started around then, and the Valdosta Hebrew Congregation began in 1908. After a cursory glance at the material, he was set. But his wife prodded him to dig a little, which he reluctantly did. Until he found original documentation about Jews in Valdosta in 1868 — the Ehrlich and Kaul families. He was hooked, and became a passionate advocate of Southern Jewish history, which had been mostly looked down upon as irrelevant or a pointless sideshow to the real action in places like New York. The book is written as a merger of “the formal historian with the folklorist,” to weave a narrative about the lives of Valdosta’s first Jews. Schmier said that in reading the first Valdosta Jews’ “extraordinary transformation into becoming “Jewish-Georgians,” you will see a more humane Georgia, a more culturally diverse Georgia, a kinder Georgia, a more receptive Georgia, a more hospitable Georgia, and a Georgia gentler than is usually supposed.” The history begins with the reestablishment of the railroad in May 1866, connecting Valdosta with the outside world. Soon, Abraham Ehrlich and Benjamin Kaul decided to leave Savannah and set up a branch of their family’s store in south Georgia. Thomasville was the first destination, but Abraham’s uncle told him of anti-Semitism in Thomasville at the beginning of the war — and that not only was he treated well in Valdosta, he was one of many who sent family members to take refuge there during the shelling of Savannah. In Valdosta, the arrival of Jews was seen as a positive sign for the town’s long-term viability. And the story unfolds from there. Since 1967, Schmier has taught at Valdosta State as a professor of history. The book is available through his website,, and a Kindle edition is now available on

Southern Jewish Life

November 2013


Jewish Book Month Years in the mall inspired Maury Levine’s debut novel What seemed like a perfectly good hiding place subsequently draws all kinds of unwanted attention. Threatening to uncover Beauregard’s secret are (among others) a disgruntled mall tenant, the inquisitive mall manager, revenue-seeking architects, a power hungry secretary and two pizza-cooking members of the Mafia. Levine, who works during the day at an educational call center and has performed as a drummer in almost 200 Birminghamarea musicals over the years, came up with the idea for the book four to five years ago. “I always enjoyed creative writing and I have always loved reading funny, fast-paced books,” he said. “My inspirations are comedy-mystery authors such as Donald Westlake, Carl Hiaasen and humorists such as Dave Barry.” “When my favorite author Westlake passed

By Lee J. Green The now-demolished Eastwood Mall in Birmingham inspired Maury Levine’s first novel, “Shopping Bagged,” which comes out later this month. The name of the comedy-mystery fictional yarn mirrors his quest to get the book published. He spent much effort shopping the book and bagged the perfect-fit publisher in Blake Rose Writing out of Texas. “Shopping Bagged” will be available on Amazon on Nov. 28 and a book-signing is planned for Dec. 17 at Little Professor in Birmingham. Other retail outlets and signings are in the works. “The publisher said it was just up their alley. They like to publish in the fiction comedymystery category and when they told me they wanted to publish the book, it was such an incredible feeling. I will always remember this first book,” said Levine, 43. “Shopping Bagged” centers on developer Beauregard Henry, who has a secret buried under the fountain at his South Square Mall.

away, I thought to myself that I would want to write a book in this style. Then a thought popped into my head — ‘wouldn’t it be funny to write about a (fictitious) body buried under a mall food court.’ That’s how my mind works sometimes,” said Levine. For many years his dad, Herc Levine, worked in marketing and public relations for healthcare companies in Eastwood Mall. The mall, which was the first enclosed mall in the Deep South, closed in 2004 and has since been replaced with an outdoor retail center anchored by a Wal-Mart Supercenter. “What made the old mall so unique is that you had so many mall-walkers along with interesting characters of all ages and backgrounds. I thought it would be the perfect setting for a comedy with some intrigue,” said Levine. He said mixing the comedy and mystery/

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November 2013

Southern Jewish Life

crime genres presented some challenges. “The story is of a farcical nature but you have to make it believable enough and the characters relatable enough so people will suspend their disbelief,” added Levine. Over the course of a year, he wrote the book. Finding time in his busy schedule was a challenge as well, but “Shopping Bagged” proved to be a labor of love. Between his day job, performing in shows at night and devoting time to wife Holly, twin daughters Marie and Sophie, and step-daughter Rian, “I had to make time. Thoughts would pop into my head at random times and I would make sure to jot them down right away. I would outline a few chapters ahead of time and hash things out when I could,” he said. Writing was the fun part. Getting published was the work, Levine said. He tried with literary agents and submitting summaries directly to publishers. After several rejections, Blake Rose Writing said they liked the summary and to send them the book. In August, they said they wanted to publish “Shopping Bagged.” “I am beyond excited and grateful,” he said. “It will be surreal and amazing to hold the book in my hands,” said Levine.

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A Fair and Square history of Blach’s In early 2012, the now-deceased Tom West, former chairman of the BirminghamJefferson County Historical Society, brought Harold Blach Jr. to the Birmingham History Center, where Blach was “really impressed.” Noting a book written by former Secretary of State Jim Bennett on historic Birmingham, Blach wondered if Bennett might be interested in doing a book on the department store he had headed from 1959 to 1988. The result was “Blach’s Fair and Square: The Store, The Family, Their Story.” The book was unveiled last month in a standing-room-only event at the Emmet O’Neal Library. The book was free with a donation to the History Center. Bennett said Blachs pioneered many areas of retail, from the one-price philosophy that eliminated haggling to the advertising

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of department store goods in newspapers, which was the backbone of newspaper income for decades. The family had a store in Indiana starting in 1856 that sent flatboats laden with merchandise down the river to New Orleans, but the stock was often bought up in Natchez — by the Ullmans. Blach’s opened in Birmingham in 1885. The doors closed in 1988 due to more casual fashion trends. “Our type of business declined tremendously, and it was extremely difficult to make the decision to close,” Blach said. The book includes a great deal of Southern Jewish retail history, and the family’s involvement with Temple Emanu-El. Blach had 750 copies printed and is distributing them himself. He can be contacted at

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November 2013


Photo by Barry Altmark

Jimmy and Carol Filler, Ginger and Jerry Held, Fred and Brenda Friedman and Lauren and Drew Weil at the Birmingham community event

Israel Bonds held regional award events

Federation, Foundation presentations at Birmingham evening The Birmingham Jewish community came together for a joint awards celebration of the Birmingham Jewish Federation, Foundation and Israel Bonds. The Oct. 22 event was held at Temple Emanu-El and featured an address by Linda Hurwitz, national campaign chair for the Jewish Federations of North America. Israel Bonds honored Brenda and Fred Friedman with the Star of David Award. Bonds chairman Jimmy Filler said the Friedmans “are among the kindest and gentlest of people — who do amazing and generous things in their own quiet way.” Filler, the Federation’s immediate past president, was honored with the Susan Goldberg Distinguished Volunteer Award. Melba Epsman said “Jimmy is always there, day in and day out, leading our community.” He is the only four-year Federation president, and also leads the Next 100 Years campaign. Filler spoke of his long relationship with the Epsmans, and how Melba’s late husband Lige gave Filler a pocket watch he had been given for his Bar Mitzvah in 1925 — a gift from Jacob and Ida Filler, Jimmy Filler’s grandparents. He plans to present the watch to his grandson on his Bar Mitzvah — in 2025, 100 years after Epsman’s ceremony. Though Harold Ripps was not on the program as an honoree, Filler paid tribute to him, though he “likes to stay out of the limelight.” Filler said Ripps has made a commitment to the Next 100 Years campaign that will make sure “the Jewish people of Birmingham, through his foundation, will be left an annual endowment which will be the biggest in our history.” Amanda Sokol presented the Joanie Plous Bayer Young Leadership Award to “big brother” Drew Weil. Weil, a Montgomery native, 40

November 2013

Southern Jewish Life

said the Birmingham community has embraced him and “I can never be anything but appreciative and feel a desire to continue to support it so that it will be here for all those people who, in the future, decide to make Birmingham their home.” Lisa Engel presented the N.E. Miles Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of the Foundation to Ginger and Jerry Held. Ginger Held said “we wanted our commitment to the Birmingham Jewish community to extend beyond our lifetime and to perpetuate our ideals.” In New Orleans, Israeli Consul General Ido Aharoni made a presentation to Louisiana State Treasurer John Kennedy for arranging the state’s investment in Israel Bonds. The Oct. 10 event was held at Beth Israel in Metairie. Louisiana is one of many states that purchase Israel Bonds, and in the last decade the state has purchased $36 million in bonds — $10 million last year alone. After the first purchase, in 2004, Kennedy said “Israel is the only democracy in the Mid-

Louisiana Treasurer John Kennedy receives award from Ambassador Ido Aharoni

dle East. It is America’s only true friend in the Middle East, and it is one of our staunchest allies. I am pleased that we could take this first step in forging a meaningful, economic relationship between Israel and Louisiana.” Aharoni, who serves in the New York consulate, spoke about Israel’s technical innovations and Israel Bonds’ importance to the country’s infrastructure.

SEC Basketball shoots for another title By Lee J. Green Though Southeastern Conference football and its seven straight national championships garners the lion’s share of the attention, SEC Commissioner Mike Slive is quick to point out that SEC basketball has won three national titles in eight years. Plus, many prognosticators pick the 201112 national champion Kentucky Wildcats to take the trophy this season. “Our reputation as a top national basketball conference, in addition to many other sports as well as academics, continues to gain greater positive notice on the national spotlight,” said Slive. Slive spoke at Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El on Yom Kippur this year, explaining why he was there at services instead of at the much-hyped Alabama-Texas A&M game going on that afternoon in College Station. Slive said that since the conference went to the one-division format in basketball last year, the SEC has put itself in a better position to get more teams in the NCAA Tournament at the end of the season. SEC standings as projected by the SEC Media: 1 – Kentucky Wildcats 2 – Florida Gators 3 – Tennessee Volunteers 4 – LSU Tigers 5 – Missouri Tigers 6 – Alabama Crimson Tide 7 – Ole Miss Rebels 8 – Arkansas Razorbacks 9 – Texas A&M Aggies 10 – Vanderbilt Commodores 11 – Georgia Bulldogs 12 – South Carolina Gamecocks 13 – Mississippi State Bulldogs 14 – Auburn Tigers

First Team All-SEC:

Trevor Relaford, Guard, Alabama Julius Randle, Forward, Kentucky Johnny O’Bryant III, Forward, LSU Marshall Henderson, Guard, Ole Miss Jordan McRae, Guard, Tennessee Southern Jewish Life

November 2013


Birmingham-Southern names soccer field for Coach Goldfarb On Oct. 5, Birmingham-Southern College honored Soccer Coach Preston Goldfarb by officially naming the field at the BSC Soccer Park in his honor. Preston Goldfarb Field was dedicated in a ceremony before a match against Rhodes. The honor marks Goldfarb’s 31 years of service to the college as the founding coach for the soccer program. Since starting the team in 1983, he has compiled a record of 337236-49. From 1983 to 2001, Birmingham-Southern competed in the NAIA, winning 10 conference titles, making two national semifinals appearances and playing for the national championship in 1996. The athletic program went to Division I in 2002, and he led Birmingham-Southern to consecutive Big South Conference titles in 2004 and 2005. In 2007, the program went to Division III, and this season achieved its first Top-25 ranking following a 6-0 start. At press time, the squad was 9-4-1 with three matches to go in the regular season. This summer, Goldfarb led the U.S. national team at the World Maccabi Games in Israel, bringing home the U.S. soccer team’s firstever gold medal. In 2009, he was head coach of the U.S. Juniors soccer team. Held every four years, the Maccabi Games is the third-largest Olympics-style event in the world. In 30 seasons, Goldfarb has coached 30 All-Americans, 41 Academic All-Americans, and 11 soccer student-athletes who were members of Phi Beta Kappa. As Goldfarb and his family were escorted onto the field accompanied by Birmingham-Southern President Gen. Charles Krulak and Athletics Director Joe Dean Jr., the announcer stated that Goldfarb “built the Birmingham-Southern program from scratch, raising the money to build the current field, buying balls and soccer goals with his own money and building a program which today is nationally respected.” In 1995, Goldfarb was a driving force behind the city of Birmingham hosting Olympic Soccer for the 1996 Atlanta Summer Games; and in 2000, he was inducted into the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame. Goldfarb has been named Conference Coach of the Year five times, including the 2005 Big South Conference Coach of the Year. “To have been honored in this way for doing something you love, will forever remain in my heart,” Goldfarb said. His son, Sean, played for Birmingham-Southern’s soccer team, and daughter Aly was 2010 Birmingham-Southern Athlete of the Year. In 2011 she was selected to Israel’s national track and field team.


November 2013

Southern Jewish Life

Weiss Goldring outfits U.S. President’s Cup team Golf ’s biennial President’s Cup, which the United States team won in October, had a Southern Jewish presence. The tournament, held in Columbus, Ohio, matched the best American players against an international team. The American team’s pants came from Weiss Goldring in Alexandria, La., as did the opening ceremony suits and closing ceremony coats. In the 1990s, store president Ted Silver fitted pants for Fred Couples before a tournament. Couples was captain of the U.S. team this year, and the captain gets to choose the team’s outfits. Team members Jay Haas and Steve Stricker have also shopped at Weiss Goldring before. Couples told the Columbus Dispatch that golfers are used to the clothing they select, but for this tournament they have to wear what is provided for the team. “We try to get stuff they like to wear... they want to feel comfortable and look good.” Ted Silver gave Couples a range of options in March, then he had to travel across the country to measure over 30 American golfers who would be in the running for the team’s 12 slots. The top 10 are selected on a points system and the captain has two additional picks. Each golfer’s pants had to be customized to their preferences — size of pocket, where gloves and yardage books are kept. The shirts were provided by Ashworth, which has sponsored Couples since 1987. Founded in 1899, Weiss and Goldring was listed as one of the 100 best men’s stores by Esquire magazine.

Haifa team plays Grizzlies


���������� ������� ����������� On Oct. 13, the Memphis Grizzlies hosted Israeli champion Maccabi Haifa for a preseason exhibition game. In a ceremony celebrating the U.S.-Israel relationship through sport, Memphis Grizzlies representatives Pace Cooper and Andy Groveman honored Consul General of Israel to the Southeast United States Opher Aviran with a personalized Grizzlies jersey. The game opened with the singing of both the U.S. and Israeli national anthems by members of the Memphis Jewish community. Prior to the start of the game, Maccabi Haifa and Memphis Grizzlies players traded team memorabilia. Memphis won, 116-70.

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November 2013


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Lesley Silver of Vicksburg has been named a 2014 recipient of the Mississippi Arts Commission’s Governor’s Arts Award, in the Arts in Community category. The awards are presented annually to outstanding writers, artists, performers, craftsmen and educators who have made significant and lasting contributions through their work as well as to corporations or organizations on the basis of their dedication to arts advancement in the state. Previous winners include B.B. King, James “Super Chikan” Johnson, Mary Katharine Loyacono McCravey, the late Little Milton (Campbell), Dr. David Blackburn, the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education, USA International Ballet Competition, William Eggleston, Bo Diddley and Charles Burnett. The presentation will be on Feb. 20 at the Belhaven University Center for the Arts. The daughter of artist Klara Koock, Silver moved from Birmingham to Vicksburg in 1964 and opened the Attic Gallery in 1971. The gallery specializes in local and regional art, outsider art and fine crafts. The gallery has hosted works by hundreds of Mississippi artists over the years, bringing some to national prominence. Noted wood craftsman Fletcher Cox, who nominated her, wrote that the gallery is “is a living record of Mississippi’s ascendancy in the arts” and she is “a nourishing patron of every artist who needs support, affirmation and the opportunity to sell their work.”

Toby Klein wins major Bluff Park award

Hoover artist Toby Klein won the top prize at this year’s Bluff Park Art Show on Oct. 5. Klein has exhibited at the show for several years, and won the Bluff Park Art Association Permanent Collection Purchase Award for her piece “Crossing Time and Space.” The association has the option to buy the piece for the permanent collection, and the award comes with a $3500 prize. The piece is a three-dimensional collage of hand-dyed and painted paper. Some of her works touch on Judaic themes, and are available at the Temple Beth-El gift shop in Birmingham and at the Newbill Collection by the Sea in Seaside, Fla. For the 50th annual event near Birmingham, artist Dean Mitchell was guest judge. 44

November 2013

Southern Jewish Life

Chanukah Gift Guide Aunt Sally’s sends out a taste of New Orleans By Lee J. Green Pralines are a New Orleans tradition and at Aunt Sally’s Pralines they have been honoring that tradition for 80 years. But since there is “New” in New Orleans, the “new” at Aunt Sally’s comes in the form of a new retail location and headquarters at 750 St. Charles Ave. near Lee Circle, opened Aug 1. “To us it’s very important to keep with tradition and what has made Aunt Sally’s so great for so many years. But it’s also about responding to some new things that customers want today. You keep your core and you add to it,” said Claire Stewart, who with her husband is an involved member of the New Orleans Jewish community. She originally hails from Australia. Stewart said the new building was re-gentrified and made warm with bright colors. It has allowed Aunt Sally’s to up its production and retail capabilities, while also having more space to host some special events. The other location is on Decatur Street next to Café du Monde in the French Quarter. Starting in late November, Aunt Sally’s will begin offering free tours of its new location on St. Charles Ave. Visitors can learn about the rich history of Aunt Sally’s and the praline; witness pralines being made as well as enjoy some free samples. Call 1-800-642-7257 to reserve. Pierre and Diane Bagur opened their first store in the French Quarter in the early 1930s. The developed their own recipe for “original Creole” pralines. Local ingredients were used — Louisiana pure cane sugar, pecans — and mixed over gas in a copper pot. That still holds true today. “These are still the original recipes from the family and we keep very high standards for the pralines. We use as many local ingredients as possible,” said Stewart. “Aunt Sally’s Pralines are kosher certified” (dairy, cholov stam). A few years ago, Aunt Sally’s came up with a variety of new pralines, starting with the creamy praline that has a longer shelf life. A caramel chewy praline was also recently introduced and they also sell a triple chocolate Creole praline. The creamy praline (more like fudge) flavors include original, Bananas Foster, Café au Lait and Triple Chocolate. Lite Original pralines are also available. Most recently launched is a new “Sugar and Spice” praline as a partnership with the Louisiana-legend Tabasco Sauce in them. “It’s a different spin on pralines. The spiciness hits

you late. It’s not too spicy, but just enough kick,” said Stewart. “The praline is right up there with gumbo, jambalaya and beignets among foods synonymous with New Orleans. When new flavors are added, the company wants them to also fit well with the flavors and tastes of New Orleans/Louisiana,” she added. Aunt Sally’s offers special gift baskets for all Simchas — weddings, Bar-Bat Mitzvahs or gifts for Chanukah. They sell books, t-shirts and other local products at the stores and online at

Aunt Sally’s Louisiana Pecan Pepper Jelly and Cream Cheese Appetizer 1 Package Cream Cheese, room temperature 1/2 cup Plain Yogurt 1/2 teaspoon curry powder (can substitute paprika if preferred) 1/4 cup chopped Louisiana pecans 1 cup Aunt Sally’s Louisiana Pecan Pepper Jelly In a medium sized bowl, combine softened cream cheese, yogurt, and curry powder (or paprika) until mixture is thoroughly blended and creamy. Place a large sheet of plastic wrap on counter. Spoon mixed cream cheese mixture onto middle of plastic wrap. Fold the plastic wrap around cream cheese mixture, forming a thick log with your hands, making the log slightly smaller than the plate you plan to serve it on. Place wrapped cream cheese in refrigerator until ready to serve. Right before serving, remove cream cheese log from refrigerator. Place cream cheese log on tray. Spoon Aunt Sally’s Louisiana Pecan Pepper Jelly over cream cheese log. Serve with your favorite crackers and a spreading knife.



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November 2013


Chanukah Gift Guide Sabra Style makes it easy to buy Israeli goods for Chanukah By Lee J. Green

Call us about group specials for bridal parties


November 2013

Southern Jewish Life

Since starting Sabra Style LLC in May, a couple of months after her “very impacting” trip to Israel, Sabra Joines has made great strides with her company, which is focused not only on selling Israeli-made gifts but also “sharing compelling stories behind Israeli products… and encouraging everyone to support Israel’s economy.” The Mobile resident is not Jewish, but said she has some Jewish ancestry and identifies very strongly with Judaism as well as all things Israel. “During my trip to Israel (in) March I met some amazing people. Israelis have such enthusiasm for life and I’m eternally grateful for the support and encouragement I have received from the relationships built over the years,” said Joines. “I believe our connections will prove to be one of mobilization and will tap into an energy we didn’t know existed.” After 23 years of working in visual merchandising, marketing and interior decorating, she launched Sabra Style at an event that celebrated the historic Temple Sinai in St. Francisville on May 14. “We want to showcase hand-selected Israeli products rich in symbolism and integrity, revealing the hidden potential and creativity of a people with resilient character,” said Joines. “We are now focused on attending a variety of locations beginning in the Southeast U.S., where we sell Israeli products directly to consumers under a beautifully designed Mediterranean tent.” Sabra Style participates in once-per-month Friday Night Artwalks in Fairhope. On the regional level, she had success in Birmingham as a vendor at the Levite Jewish Community Center’s Friedman Family Jewish Food Festival on Oct. 27 and exhibiting at a Buy Israel event in Orlando. She has plans to visit Atlanta, Columbia, S.C., Hendersonville, Tenn., and Destin soon. Sabra Style will also exhibit at the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in February 2014 at Nashville’s Opryland Hotel. The Israeli-made products she sells range from textiles and crafts to jewelry and art. She is open to ideas of new products to promote and sell for artists and crafters. “There are so many passionate lovers of Israel who want to help Israel in practical ways, yet so few know how. Sabra Style is designed to inspire people, to captivate them, so they will want to become part of the process of Israel being a light onto the nations,” said Joines. She said her bond with Israel isn’t just on a political or economic level, “it’s spiritual. As Ruth said to Naomi in the Hebrew Scriptures, so we in the heart of the Bible Belt say to Israel, ‘where you go, we will go. Your people will be our people and your God our God’.” For more information about Sabra Style and to buy Israeli products, call Joines at (251) 367-1333 or find Sabra Style on Facebook.

Move over, elf… Mensch on a Bench has arrived Last year, Erin and Neal Hoffman of Cincinnati were in Macy’s during the holiday season with Jacob, their four-year-old son, explaining to him why “Elf on a Shelf ” wasn’t coming home with them even though many of his friends had them. Instead, they took the idea home, and after a successful Kickstarter campaign, they created a Jewish alternative — the Mensch on a Bench. Though the concept of an elf watching children and reporting back to Santa Claus goes back several decades, the elf took off as a Christmas tradition after a 2005 children’s book and 2011 CBS animated special. Neal Hoffman took his years of experience working for toymaker Hasbro and developed the Mensch, a 12-inch plush figure, accompanied by a hardcover book explaining his story. Moshe the Mensch was in the Temple after the Maccabees kicked out the Greeks and started the process of rededication. Everyone knows the story about the one day’s worth of oil that lasted eight days, but at the time there was a practical question. What if the oil went out while everyone was sleeping? Moshe volunteered to sit on the bench and watch the light. Every night, he took on additional concerns and created many of today’s Chanukah traditions, including dreidel and latkes. “The goal of the Mensch is to serve as a center point for young Jewish families to inspire them to honor age-old traditions, while also enjoying the opportunity to add new ones,” Neal Hoffman said. “We also want to teach kids what it is to be a true Mensch and teach them to strive to make a positive difference in the world around them,” he said. The Kickstarter raised over $20,000 from 321 backers to enable an initial run of 500 sets, which can be ordered at themenschonabench. com for $36. The book is also available by itself. The book includes eight rules for the mensch, designed to put more “funukkah into Hanukkah,” Erin Hoffman said. One idea is to have the Mensch hold the shamash for the next night — and if the children are good, he lets go if it easily. If not, it’s more of a challenge. Southern Jewish Life

November 2013


Chanukah Gift Guide FA M I LY



The North Face B’ham covers the South By Lee J. Green

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For those who seek outdoor gear, fleeces, jackets and accessories, The North Face Birmingham has it covered. The store opened in the summer of 2012 at The Summit. General Manager Scott Carver said that the store aims to serve the needs of customers in the Deep South. “We know the temperatures don’t get as cold in the South as some other parts of the country. This market is ideal for hikers, runners and active outdoors folks. We sell jackets and fleeces that are among the fastest-drying on the market,” said Carver. “A lot of our products are pretty groundbreaking.” Some of The North Face jackets and vests feature “Flash Dry” technology that dries 800 times faster than most fabrics. Seams protect from chafing. Those with “Thermo Ball” technology enhance the warmth, mimicking the feel of large amounts of goose down. The North Face active wear and gear also includes a variety of fleeces, running gear, backpacks and sunglasses. “We enjoy educating customers on the options that are out there. For them it is about function and (aesthetics). We have something that can fit their lifestyles,” added Carver.

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November 2013

Southern Jewish Life

Those who buy hand-crafted art, accessories and housewares at Sojourns in downtown Birmingham will know that not only will they get high-quality, limited-quantity items, but that a portion of their purchase will go toward getting fair compensation for artisans and crafters in 56 countries, mostly emerging or developing nations. Sojourns is the area’s only Fair Trade store. Owner Melissa Kendrick explained, “this lets customers get some exquisite items that are hand-made and know these people are getting the fair return they deserve. At some of these ‘sweat shops’ in third-world countries, an employee might only make wages equal to four percent of the product. But with Fair Trade, it is closer to 40 percent.” The store just celebrated its eighth anniversary. While not straying from its primary focus, Sojourns plans to continue to expand in a few new directions. “We’re tending toward some higher-end merchandise such as wine glasses, decanters, hand-crafted, fine bed sheets and Duvet covers,” she said. Sojourns today also carries more art, wearable and functional home items made from recyclable materials such as decorative bowls made of bicycle chains (pictured here) and purses made from old candy wrappers. Then there is the “store within the store” — Beautifully Birmingham. Sojourns sells art, pottery and photography made by Birmingham artists and primarily with Birmingham themes. “We have a line of candles made from Alabama soybeans, and several different neighborhoods (such as Mountain Brook, Forest Park, Vestavia, Crestwood) will get their own candle with a scent that has a significant, relevant tie-in with that neighborhood,” said Kendrick. Though Israel is not considered an “emerging/developing” nation, Sojourns does carry a few items from some artisans and crafters in the West Bank.

Brick Oven Pizza NOLA Deli Wood-Fired Grill Photo by José L. Garcia

At the JEF awards dinner: Back row (left to right): Rabbi Yonah Schiller, Alan Franco, Richard Cahn, Marie Cahn, James Cahn, Larry Lehmann and JEF president Carol Wise. Front row: Vivian Cahn, JEF Executive Director Sandy Levy, Loren Galler Rabinowitz and event chair Melinda Mintz

Cahn family, Schiller, Lehmann and Franco honored by Jewish Endowment Foundation On Oct. 6, the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana honored several community members for their service to the Jewish and general communities. Video presentations were made for the honorees. The Cahn family was honored with the Tzedakah Award for their multi-generational involvement. Adele Cahn, Richard and Vivian Cahn, and Jimmy and Marie Cahn were recognized, though Adele Cahn could not attend the event. Adele Cahn has underwritten the “Catch a Cab” program since its inception. Richard and Vivian Cahn have had a Donor Advised Fund at JEF for many years. Richard Cahn is currently a vice president of JEF, and Vivian Cahn has been a Federation Campaign co-chair. Jimmy and Marie Cahn have been long-time supporters of the Jewish Children’s Regional Service. Larry Lehmann, chair of the JEF legal committee, received the Young Family Award for Professional Excellence. An accredited estate planner and board-certified specialist in both estate planning and administration, as well as taxation, he is the third generation in his family to practice law with a concentration in wealth transition and charitable giving strategies. His father, Rene, is a past recipient of this award and made the presentation to his son. This was turnabout, because when Rene Lehmann received the award, Larry Lehmann presented it. Lehmann has served as president of JCRS and New Orleans Hillel, and he has chaired the JEF Professional Advisors Committee. NOLA

The Young Family Award is given to an attorney, accountant, financial planner, investment advisor, insurance professional, banker or other consultant for outstanding professional service. The JFNA Endowment Achievement Award was presented to Alan Franco, immediate past president of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, in recognition of his creative and outstanding leadership in support of JEF’s endowment program. He urged those in attendance to also establish a Jewish legacy for the community. Rabbi Yonah Schiller was honored with the Helen A. Mervis Jewish Community Professional Award. As the executive director of Tulane Hillel, Schiller completed a successful $4.3 million capital campaign and oversaw the completion of the new state-of-the-art Mintz Center for Jewish Life at Tulane. Under his leadership, Hillel has doubled its operations budget and quadrupled student participation. The center has a kosher “Hillel’s Kitchen” and classrooms that are used for regular classes at Tulane. The keynote address, “Surviving, Thriving and Making a Difference,” was delivered by Loren Rabinowitz, who is currently a student at Columbia Medical School. She is the granddaughter of the late Henry and Eva Galler of New Orleans, daughter of Nina and Burton Rabinowitz, and was Miss Massachusetts in 2010. Inspired by her grandparents’ story of survival during the Holocaust, she regularly speaks to groups about the Holocaust.

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Southern Jewish Life

November 2013


Zurik gets national watchdog award

The Foundry

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Lee Zurik of WVUETV in New Orleans received the Gannett Foundation’s 2013 Award for Innovation in Watchdog Journalism on Oct. 14. The recognition was given at the Radio Television Digital News Association’s Edward R. Murrow Awards dinner in New York. The award came with a $5,000 prize. Zurik and his team won for “Playing With Fire,” a series investigating the board that oversees pensions for retired New Orleans firefighters, and their handling of financial affairs. The series resulted in ethics charges, changes in state law and changes in the board. The reports included web pages where viewers could follow Zurik’s investigation, featuring key documents and explanations of their significance, web-only stories, raw unedited interview footage and Zurik’s notes. The judges noted that the series “is an outstanding example of the principles set forth by the Gannett Foundation Prize: Groundbreaking community watchdog journalism that makes a difference.” They added that “if you’re a public official and you think Louisiana is a good place to engage in questionable business, you’d better not do it around Lee Zurik. Zurik credited colleagues Tom Wright, Wes Cook, E.Q. Vance, Donny Pearce, Greg Phillips and Mike Schaefer. The award adds to his collection of national recognitions, including the George Foster Peabody Award, the Alfred I. duPont Award, an Emmy Award, two Society of Professional Journalists awards, an Investigative Reporters and Editors Medal and three national Edward R. Murrow Awards for his work at WVUE. A record number of entries were submitted. Global News in Canada won the award for overall excellence in network television.

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November 2013

Southern Jewish Life


Pollin ready for challenge of building up Community Day School Metairie’s Community Day School “has gone through a lot of challenges,” but new Head of School Sharon Pollin said “there’s a tremendous sense of optimism that surrounds the school.” In July, she arrived in New Orleans from Portland, Ore., to take over the school. The school was already in transition, having changed its name from the New Orleans Jewish Day School a year ago in an effort to broaden its appeal to the unaffiliated, intermarried and non-Jewish communities. Before the storm, the school went through eighth grade, holding its first and only eighth grade graduation in 2005. After Katrina, the school was dormant for a year and then reopened only through fifth grade, though due to demographic quirks there are no fifth graders this year. Similarly, Birmingham’s N.E. Miles Jewish Day School goes through eighth grade but does not have any eight graders this year. Now in the midst of the transition, enrollment is down to 29. Then, as the school year began, JTA ran an article that in the headline insinuated the school was crumbling. Obviously, that assessment did not go over well in the Crescent City. “The community does want a Jewish day school in New Orleans,” Pollin said. A demographic study is already underway to help the school’s leadership move toward the future. She said the school “offers an excellent, unique, wonderful product that isn’t replicated anywhere else in the city,” with “high aca-


demic quality surrounded by Jewish values and traditions.” Pollin has been working to reach out to the broader community and reconnect with the preschoolers “that potentially feed our Kindergarten.” As with most schools, growth happens from the lowest grades and funnels upward over a period of years. She visits the Gates of Prayer preschool every week, “which is a joy for me because I really enjoy Early Childhood.” She would like to see preschool return to the Metairie JCC instead of being only at the Uptown campus, but says it’s a community decision on whether or not there is enough interest to sustain JCC preschools in two locations. She also does a Shmooze with Sharon every Friday morning in the lobby. “It’s a nice group of parents who come and participate, talk about the school, how the kids are doing.” Will Community Day School add grades again? Pollin said elementary school “really ends at sixth grade.” To have a middle school program “you need to have a different set of resources than what you have for elementary school.” Currently, the first and second grades are combined, as are the third and fourth. While there are certainly financial reasons for that, Pollin said “educationally it is a very sound

and appropriate model.” With that structure, the same teachers have students for two years and can better assess their development over a longer period of time. There are also learning benefits from collaboration. A Washington native, Pollin moved to Portland in 1968. She was education director of the Maimonides Jewish Day School in Portland. Before that, she headed the Circle of Life preschool when it became a partner agency of the Jewish Federation of Greater Portland. In 2011 she was named interim head of school at the Jewish Community School of the Desert in Palm Desert, Calif., then returned to Maimonides in 2012. Having her youngest child graduate from high school “allowed me the opportunity to do something away from home.” She was attracted to New Orleans by “the warmth of the people, the hospitality of the community and the challenge faced by the school.”

Southern Jewish Life

November 2013


Above photos by Greg Roques. Below photo by Rachael Kansas.

On Oct. 12, New Orleans Hadassah held Bra-Veaux in conjunction with Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Dozens of art bras, many of which were created by members at an August workshop, were available for sale. Local professional artists also made art bras and other breast-themed pieces for the event, such as the Louis Colmenares piece above. The artwork was auctioned off. Proceeds from the event benefit research at Hadassah Hospital. Above right, Julie Schwartz and the night’s emcee, actor Rob Steinberg. Middle, Marisa Kahn, Julie Schwartz and Carole Neff.


November 2013

Southern Jewish Life


Continued from page 54

to give up a bunch of gelt, will they now get a chance at splitting the wishbone for the chance to get their bounty back? But back to the main thrust of most Jewish celebrations: the food. Until this year’s calendaric collision, Hanukkah was heretofore unsullied by the questionable Cajun culinary conundrum known as Turducken. What’s worse, Hanukkah’s latkes might inspire too many Jews to complement these fried potato pucks with a deep fried turkey. Worst of all: cranberry-jelly doughnuts. Last, and certainly least, the first night of Hanukkah falling on Erev Yom Turkey makes Thanksnukah a sad harbinger of seven more nights of presents that will be real turkeys. After all, while most Christmas sales start in July or August these days, the good sales don’t hit until well after Thanksnukah will have come, gone, and conquered via turkey-induced tryptophan tippling. Like it wasn’t already difficult enough to get people to show up for Shabbat Yom Turkey services, the one time each year we recite the special Hallel prayer, Tarnegol Hodu LaHashem Ki Tov. So now, with the remaining column-inches, let us away to Anatevka, a dear little village that… Doug Brook is playing Tevye in November and December in Silicon Valley, and had the good fortune to meet both Topol and Theodore Bikel earlier this year. Whether they’ll admit it or not. For past columns, other writings, and more, visit For exclusive online content, like beholders.eye.

Email list for NOLA community obituaries With the cessation of the Times Picayune’s daily publication, it is more difficult to learn about funerals within the Jewish community in a timely fashion. “Levayat Hamet” is the mitzvah to attend funerals. To address this problem, Southern Jewish Life Magazine, in cooperation with the Greater New Orleans Rabbinic Council and the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, provides timely notifications to those who seek them. To sign up for this mitzvah enabling service simply go to http://eepurl. com/pt765. You may also send your email address to Your address will be used only for this specific purpose, though you can also indicate if you want to receive our weekly e-news, This Week in Southern Jewish Life. NOLA

Southern Jewish Life

November 2013


The Beholder’s Eye by Doug Brook

A Trip to Thanksnutevka

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As a child of the 1980s, the first time I saw the film “Fiddler on the Roof ” I had the same awestruck reaction as many of my Jewish peers: “Hey, that’s Dr. Zarkov from Flash Gordon!” Suddenly, to a generation raised on Star Wars and Star Trek, or — as my mother put it — Star Garbage, Judaism was just a little more cool. But before regaling you with tales of Tevye, Sholem Aleichem, or fiddlers on hot tin roofs, first a brief explanation why this column is contradicting the popular demand from nearly a couple of you, by declining to provide the ultimate comedic take on Thanksnukah. Why decline? Too many reasons. First of all, half of the free world has already written about Thanksnukah, or at least invested time in trying to determine how to spell it. And that’s the first problem: There’s widespread disagreement about what You want a to even call it, let alone how to spell it. Thanksgivukkah It makes spelling Hanukkah seem as column? Like easy as drinking Manischewitz. A simple stroll around the Inter- there haven’t been net clearly shows two things. One, 40-zillion of them there are many supplements available to enlarge or reduce whatever you already? might want enlarged or reduced. And you know you can trust them because their makers were too focused and efficient to get bogged down in things like the FDA approval process. Two, the Internet clearly shows that there’s Thanksgivukkah, Thanksgivenukkah, Thanksnukah, Thanksnukkah, and many others that will make the Spellchecker crawl out of my Mac in disgust. Of course, Thanksnukah is so obviously the best choice, that this column will spare both of you readers from any wasting of words to further justify this obviousnessitude. Those wasted words would have delayed reading about the other reasons to avoid covering Thanksnukah, such as how millions of Jews will be disappointed when they realize that this portmanteau will eliminate one late-year food holiday from 2013. Hanukkah itself is already a holiday of Thanksgiving. The combination of them makes all the more glaring the general lack of awareness of this actual meaning of Hanukkah, thus putting off scholars from their latkes even more than making them from sweet potatoes will. Further, modern society being what it is — with these kids these days and their rock-n-roll — it can’t afford any concatenation or reduction of celebrations of gratitude. The world needs all it can get. Speaking of concatenation, someone in this great nation will eventually recall that the official animal of Thanksgiving is the turkey, and the animal of choice for Hanukkah is the elephant. No attempt at combining them ends well. Imagine religious school teachers describing the Maccabeean battlefields filled with turkephants. If Cole Porter were alive to see this, he’d have to write of the pilgrims, “’stead of landing on Plymouth Rock, a turkephant would land on them.” And what of the dreidel? After someone hits Shin and is supposed

Continued on previous page 54

November 2013

Southern Jewish Life


Southern Jewish Life

November 2013


SJL New Orleans, November 2013  

November 2013 New Orleans edition of Southern Jewish Life, the news magazine for Louisiana's Jewish community

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