Southern Jewish Life, New Orleans, December 2022

Page 24

December 2022 Volume 32 Issue 12 Southern Jewish Life P.O. Box 130052 Birmingham, AL 35213 INSIDE: Southern Jewish Life 3747 West Esplanade Ave. 3rd Floor Metairie, LA 70002 NEW ORLEANS EDITION Southern Jewish Life
Temple Sinai sanctuary, New Orleans. Photo by Cliff Kern

After some heavy topics in this space over the last few months (which were mainly, but not universally, well received — and yes, I do expect some disagreement and welcome feedback), as the new secular year approaches, we’re just going to kick back and relax a little.

We have a lot going on for 2023. Our list of stories to do is quite long, with a lot of very interesting pieces. We have a new initiative with the Birmingham Times that you will be seeing more about shortly.

We will also be enhancing our online presence, from updates to the website to increased activity on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. We plan to start a Throwback Thursday of photos from our 32-year archive.

We’re also revamping our This Week in Southern Jewish Life, the way to stay informed between issues. If you are not receiving our emails, please sign up today as we will have even more information coming via our email list in the coming year. Send your email address to to sign up.

Also, by receiving the weekly email, you can see when we wrap an issue of the magazine and read it online, well before the printer and post office do their parts.

Another exciting event in the coming year will be the American Jewish Press Association’s annual convention, which will be held in New Orleans in July. We will be co-hosting with Alan Smason (the current AJPA president) and his Crescent City Jewish News, as New Orleans’ two Jewish news outlets.

In an age when printing and postage have become ridiculous, and other communities’ publications are disappearing, we thank those of you who have helped support Southern Jewish Life. If you enjoy our publication, please consider supporting us through contributions, advertising and letting current advertisers know you appreciate their support.

We look forward to informing and entertaining you in the coming secular year!

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Maccabi USA leader praises Birmingham Games

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

Jewish community would feel loss of Birmingham-Southern

The potential closure of Birmingham-Southern College this spring would be a special loss for the Jewish community.

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

encourage promising Jewish students to come to BSC, and our soccer team has had scholar-athletes from Israel often.



BSC was the first venue in the city to offer meeting space for the integrated National Conference of Christians and Jews in the 1950s, according to the late Mayer Newfield.

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

The first higher education institution in Alabama to have a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, BSC has a small but very active Jewish student group, and in my 30 years on the faculty I can count at least six Jewish faculty members with whom I’ve worked — a lot for a total faculty of about 100 in a church-related college in the Deep South.

I think many in the Jewish community think of BSC as a “church school” in a part of town they don’t know, but I’m pretty sure it’s the only college/university in Birmingham to have an alumna as a recently ordained rabbi from Hebrew Union College, who spoke at the spring Baccalaureate service.

I had just returned from the 20th World Maccabiah games in Israel with a U.S. delegation of over 1100, who joined 10,000 Jewish athletes from 80 countries. Back in July the eyes of the entire Jewish world were on Jerusalem and the Maccabiah. This past month with 1000 athletes and coaches from around the world being in Birmingham, you became the focal point.

Everyone from the Jewish community and the community at large, including a wonderful police force, are to be commended. These games will go down in history as being a seminal moment for the Jewish community as we build to the future by providing such wonderful Jewish memories.

Every year the Hillel and the office of Religious Life sponsor a sukkah for the full week of the festival, a Pesach seder, a Purim celebration, and the Jewish supporters get an annual High Holiday card from the school.

Harold Abroms maintains a scholarship to

On Charlottesville

I know of no more pro-Jewish campus in the city than BSC, and I urge you to contact the Governor and/or state legislators to approve the essential grant proposal.

Seigel is the Joseph Hugh Thomas Professor of Music at Birmingham–Southern College, and former music director at Temple Emanu-El

The Rorschach Crossword Puzzle



SOCIAL/WEB Emily Baldwein

PHOTOGRAPHER- AT-LARGE Rabbi Barr y C. Altmark

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

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

I have to admit, in the 48 minutes it took me to solve Sunday’s New York Times Crossword Puzzle, I didn’t notice its shape. I also have to admit that I don’t know if 48 minutes is good or bad for a solve time. Please don’t judge me… unless it’s a good time.

Thanks to Twitter, I quickly became aware that the puzzle was shaped like a swastika. It also happened to be the first night of Chanukah. What a way to start the holiday — a holiday that commemorates the enduring survival of the Jewish faith.

I try to live by the Pirke Avot dictum that we should judge every person to the side of merit. The creator of the puzzle said it was designed to look like a whirlpool. I don’t know this puzzle creator or the first thing about his or her motivations. So Judaism teaches us to judge on the side of merit or give the benefit of the doubt. Fine by me.

I did, however, notice the New York Times Editorial Board’s opinion on the impending demise of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. That one I did not miss.

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

I have been following Israel’s elections closely. There have been five democratic elections over the past couple of years (note that this is more democratic elections than many states in the Middle East have had in their existence). If you have attended services at Gates of Prayer, you know that I speak in detail about each of these

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

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

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


There was reason to celebrate in the prior election because, for the first time, an Arab party was part of the governing majority. I missed the NYT Editorial Board’s opinion on that one.

The most recent election put Benjamin Netanyahu (Bibi) back in power in the Knesset. Not only that, his coalition has some extreme voices that include racism, homophobia, and nationalism, and I’ll talk more about that in a moment.

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

I’ll confess that I hoped Netanyahu’s time as Israel’s Prime Minister was over. As part of the Reform Movement, the values of the opposing party are more aligned with our congregation. But I understand why Israel has kept Bibi in power longer than any prime minister in her history.

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

In a sermon before the second or third election I spoke to our community about what life was like in Israel before Bibi. The Second Intifada left the country on edge for years. It wasn’t safe to ride a bus or eat at a cafe. Suicide bombings and bus bombings were a common occurrence. It was a way of life to leave your house and not be certain you’d return home.

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

Bibi brought the country a sense of security and comfort, and he helped create a thriving economy. When members of my congregation go to visit a synagogue in Israel, they are surprised to see less security than we have here in New Orleans. These are very real effects of Netanyahu’s leadership.

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

continued on page 45

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4 December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life
Southern Jewish Life January 2021
December 2022
Rabbi David Gerber Rabbi David Gerber is senior rabbi at Congregation Gates of Prayer in Metairie.


interesting bits & can’t miss events

Nov. 19,

Tulane researcher examining poverty in Jewish community

Special to Southern Jewish Life

A first-of-its-kind research study, led by Tulane University’s Ilana Horwitz, PhD, in partnership with Rosov Consulting, will gather data on economic insecurity among American Jews as part of a broader effort to address Jewish poverty.

The study, supported by the Jewish Funders Network through a grant from The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, will focus exclusively on the experiences of U.S. Jews facing poverty and economic insecurity. It builds on the work and commitment of the National Affinity Group on Jewish Poverty, a group of funders, service providers, and other stakeholders dedicated to fighting poverty in the American Jewish community.

“Collecting quantitative and qualitative data paints a fuller picture of the lived experiences of the Jewish poor and allows us to share that picture widely across the Jewish communal ecosystem,” said Horwitz. “The data and feedback from survey participants and human service professionals will provide important information that sheds light on the challenges and

successes within the community to help enact positive change.”

Horwitz holds the Fields-Rayant Chair in Contemporary Jewish Life at the Grant Center for the American Jewish Experience. Trained in both qualitative and quantitative research methods, she is a sociologist who examines how gender, ethnicity, race, social class and religious upbringing shape people’s lives. “God, Grades, and Graduation: Religion’s Surprising Impact on Academic Success,” her book published earlier this year, examines how a religious upbringing shapes the academic lives of teens.

Rosov Consulting helps foundations, philanthropists, federations, and grantee organizations in the Jewish communal sector make well-informed decisions through professional research, evaluation, and consulting services.

The project will consist of several components and include multiple methods of data collection and analysis, including a survey of 1,000 U.S. Jews who are experiencing or who have previously experienced economic insecurity, as well as in-depth interviews with about 100 sur-

vey respondents and professionals who work in Jewish human service organizations.

Survey and interview questions will focus on the causes and precipitating events of partici-

December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life 5
On Gates of Prayer in Metairie had a Community Campfire Havdalah, which had to be moved indoors due to weather. The event was also co-sponsored by Jewish Community Day School, PJ Library and Jewish Children’s Regional Service. Photo by Avery White Ilana Horwitz


Performing Arts

pants’ economic vulnerability; consequences of the economic insecurity, especially for their involvement in the Jewish community; experiences with interventions intended to address economic distress, both within and outside the Jewish community; challenges participants face in moving beyond economic insecurity; and feedback on successful journeys out of poverty.

The study will be completed by December 2023 and results will be made available to the public through the Berman Jewish DataBank and other platforms.

The legacy of “The Lonely Child” Jan. 25 program at Tulane

explores Yiddish lullaby

The Grant Center for the American Jewish Experience will present a multimodal program on “The Lonely Child,” Jan. 25 at 6 p.m. at Tulane’s Rogers Chapel, featuring clips from a documentary film in progress that tells the story of a little-known Yiddish lullaby that was written in the Vilna Ghetto during the Holocaust.

The event will include producer and director Marc Smolowitz, writer and producer Alix Wall, and a performance by the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars. Golan Moskowitz will moderate the discussion.

Wall is the daughter the girl in the song, “Dos Elnte Kind” in its original Yiddish, and has gone on a global quest to find those who are keeping the song alive.

The song was written by Shmerke Kaczerginski, a poet in Vilna who wrote over 230 songs and was part of the Yiddish cultural scene. He and Wall’s grandmother, Rachela Pupko-Krinsky, were selected by the Nazis to go through Jewish objects for their “Museum of an Extinct Race.” They saved Yiddish manuscripts by hiding them under floorboards and smuggling them back to the ghetto.

As they worked, he was inspired to write a song about Pupko-Krinsky’s hidden daughter in 1943. After the war, she married another man and rarely mentioned the song. The daughter, Sorele, had been hidden by a non-Jewish family; her father had been murdered by the Germans in 1941.

Wall, a contributing editor at j. the Jewish News of Northern California, felt that the song should be shared, and when a friend, Felicia Sloin, offered to sing at her mother’s memorial, Wall suggested that song. Fifteen years later, Sloin sent Wall a video of students at a Jewish Day School in Massachusetts singing the song, changing Wall’s view of her family story.

She began to research others who performed the song, and found many unique versions, prompting the documentary. The film will also explore the role of women who were in the Holocaust resistance.

The event is free and open to the community.

GatesFest offering premium pods

When GatesFest returns on April 2 at Gates of Prayer in Metairie, the music festival will once again have pods — but not because of Covid.

Instead, the Krewe of GatesFest pods will be a “luxury viewing experience” offering shade and premium views. Each pod includes a 10-foot by 10-foot tent with a fan and stocked cooler, 10 VIP tickets, a custom Nan Parati sign, a pod attendant to take and deliver drink orders, a VIP parking space and access to the VIP tent and upgraded restrooms.

The GatesFest Composer level also includes the sponsor name being displayed on a main stage banner, the festival schedule and website, and two on-site parking passes.

The Krewe package is $2,500, and the Composer level is $5,000. Both levels also include a Pod Party on April 1, a catered event with a private performance and the opportunity to personalize the pod for the next day.

The day-long festival lineup will be released soon.

General admission tickets are $25. VIP tickets are $180 and include a VIP tent with complimentary light refreshments and an open bar, and access to upgraded restrooms. Tickets are on sale at

6 December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life
Tickets & Information at SATURDAY, JANUARY 14, 2023
All Proceeds Benefit JPAS Theatre Kids! & Community Outreach Programs
VIP PATRON PARTY: Jazz Lounge with Anais St. John DINNER ENTERTAINMENT: Broadway Show Tunes with Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra AFTER DINNER DANCING: Disco Party in the JPAC Lobby!
at the Jefferson Performing Arts Center hosted by Jefferson Performing Arts Society A Party for

“Banana Man” author, Rabbi Brener join LimmudFest Nola lineup

Registration for LimmudFest New Orleans will open on Jan. 15. The regional weekend festival of Jewish learning, arts, culture and spirituality will be held the weekend of March 17, with over 70 sessions by local, regional and national presenters, with several subject tracks.

Rich Cohen and Rabbi Anne Brener have been announced as speakers for the weekend.

Cohen is the author of 13 books, co-creator of the HBO series “Vinyl,” and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone. H will discuss his book “The Fish That Ate the Whale,” about Samuel Zemurray, a controversial figure who developed the banana industry in the United States and whose company controlled Central American countries, leading to the coining of the term “banana republic.”

“Sam the Banana Man” immigrated to the United States in 1891, winding up in Selma. Traveling to Mobile in 1895, he started his banana business, then moved to New Orleans in 1905, starting the Cuyamel Fruit Company. He was active in supporting the Zionist movement, and donated what is now the president’s mansion at Tulane.

Brener is a New Orleans native who is a faculty member of the Academy for Jewish Religion in Los Angeles and a founding faculty member of Yedidyas Morei Derekh— Jewish Spiritual Direction Training Program. She is a psychotherapist, spiritual director, and author of “Mourning and Mitzvah: Walking the Mourner’s Path.”

At LimmudFest, she will lead a Shabbat morning service, a Jewish meditation workshop, and a session on Jewish responses to grief and loss.

Shabbat events will be at Gates of Prayer in Metairie, where services are held in Reform, Conservative and Orthodox traditions under the same roof, after which all meals are enjoyed together. The events on March 19 will be at the Uptown Jewish Community Center.

Incentive grants for Summer Camp 2023

The Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana is once again administering Jewish sleepaway camp grant programs for the summer of 2023.

The Goldring Jewish Summer Camp Experience, funded by the Goldring Family Foundation, offers grants of up to $1,500 to help families send first-time campers to nonprofit Jewish sleepaway camps. Sponsored by the Goldring Family Foundation since 2001, this program has distributed grants enabling more than 1,700 children to attend Jewish summer camp for their first summer.

Children in grades one through nine who reside in Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, and the Florida Panhandle are eligible to apply.

The RoseMary and Saul Brooks Fund for Jewish Youth Engagement assists children from small towns within Louisiana that are distanced from a Jewish community to attend Jewish sleepaway camp. The fund provides grants of minimally $550 per camper for up to 10 Jewish children.

Applications for both programs are now being accepted, with a deadline of March 1. Families will receive award notifications by mid-April.

More details on eligibility requirements for both programs are available by clicking the “Youth & Camping” tab on the JEF website, jefno. org/youth-camping.

JCRS Camp Aid Available

The Jewish Children’s Regional Service in New Orleans is offering two forms of need-based summer camp financial assistance for the summer of 2023. Priority deadline for applications is Feb. 15.

There is a “short form” with a pre-determined award amount of $250. There is also a longer application with a need-based award to be deter-

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mined by the award committee. The short form was introduced a couple years ago.

Because Jewish sleepaway summer camp is seen as transformative for Jewish youth, the agency wants to make it possible for campers to attend. Last year, the agency provided partial scholarship funding to 418 children for attendance at non-profit camps.

The program is open to all Jewish youth in Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. Campers must be entering grade 3 to 12 next fall. Programs in Israel are not included.

Applications are done online at

The social service agency was established as the Jewish Children’s Home in 1855, transitioning to its current form in 1946. In addition to camp aid, the agency provides college aid, aid for families with special need children, isolated families, and occasional disaster relief. The agency also administers PJ Library in the region, which offers free Judaic books to children every month.

This year’s major fundraising, the Jewish Roots gala, will be the Jewish Roots of Summer Camp, March 11 at the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans.

Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans will offer a support group for the adolescent LGBTQ+ community. This group will provide a safe, confidential, and supportive space for adolescents who identify as LGBTQ+, or who are questioning their identity, to explore the impact of sexual orientation and gender identification on their lives. Participants will learn coping and communication skills to assist identity development and improve resiliency. The group is open to teens ages 14 to 17. It will meet on Thursdays from 4 to 6 p.m., Feb. 2 to March 23.

Tulane Chabad had a one-day online fundraising campaign that raised $220,000 with a group of donors matching gifts 3-to-1. The amount raised is approximately one-third of the annual budget.

Gates of Prayer in Metairie announced it will have a weekend to celebrate Tory May, “Gifting Us With Her Magic,” Feb. 3 and 4. She retired in June 2020 after 32 years as cantorial soloist at the congregation, but a sendoff was made impossible by the pandemic.

Beth Israel in Metairie will have a PJ Library Pajama Party on Jan. 7, starting at 6:15 p.m., free and open to all families. There will be a musical Havdalah, milk and cookies, and a “Shema” pillowcase craft.

A month after Hadassah New Orleans President Briann Shear officiated her first live program after the pandemic was pervasive during her term, the chapter will have a live and in person election and installation of her successor and the new chapter board. The event will be on Jan. 15 at 11 a.m. at the home of Ilana Reisin.

Touro Synagogue will have its annual gala, A Night in the Catskills, on Feb. 5. Reservations are already being accepted. Dance Instructors are $175, those under 30 can attend as a Tennis Pro for $125. Patron levels start at $300, while Underwriters are $2,500 per couple for Activities Director and $5,000 for Founder.

Shir Chadash in Metairie will have a Young Adults of Shir Chadash Happy Hour, Jan. 5 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Le Bon Temps Roule.

Moishe House New Orleans will host a Shabbat dinner on Jan. 20 at 6:30 p.m., at the Moishe House. On Jan. 30, they will have a community gathering to make winter necessity bags for the homeless. At the 7 p.m. event, they will also accept donations of lightly used winter gear.

The New Orleans Jewish Community Center’s annual Harriet W Kugler Memorial Mah Jongg-A-Thon will be on Jan. 22 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Uptown JCC. The three-round tournament, with catered lunch, was already full as of early December.

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New Orleans Federation honors “public servant” Fielkow on retirement

“We must keep meeting like this,” said Touro Rabbi Katie Bauman, in opening the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans’ 2022 annual celebration, a nod to the continuing return to normal after Covid.

The Dec. 7 event was to celebrate the tenure of Arnie Fielkow as Federation CEO, as he is retiring at the end of the year (see sidebar, page 13). Robert French, his successor, attended the event.

In her invocation, Bauman quoted Ben Zoma in Pirkei Avot, where it is written “Who is wise? The one who learns from everyone. Who is strong? The one who disciplines himself. Who is rich? The one who rejoices in his portion. Who is honored? The one who honors all creation.” She then discussed how Fielkow models each of those, calling him “a gracious individual, seeing the best in people.”

During his presentation as part of the awards ceremony, Bobby Garon said Fielkow likely had another venture up his sleeve, and “we all know he is not done applying his unique, brilliant leadership skills and vision quite yet.”

Board chair Brian Katz spoke of Fielkow’s commitment to kehilla, to community. “Not only have you brought it to the Jewish community, and engaged the entire Jewish community, you have done it to the greater New Orleans community, which is truly amazing and one of the greatest accomplishments you’ve had over the last five years.”

He presented Fielkow with an artwork with verses from Psalms and Proverbs, which was selected “because the Packers gift shop was closed.”

Video Tribute

A video tribute was screened and is also available online.

William Goldring, chairman of the Sazerac Company, said Fielkow “is the true definition of a public servant,” having played numerous roles in the community, in the Jewish community and city-wide. “He’s just touched so many lives.”

U.S. Rep. Troy Carter from Louisiana’s second House district addressed his “dear, dear friend,” saying it is hard to put his name and “retirement” in the same sentence, but easy to use words like “humanitarian,” “philanthropic leader” or “sports enthusiast.” “You have been one incredible leader,” he said.

Carter said he knows this is really “not a retirement, but a passing of the next chapter,” and he wants to be part of every upcoming chapter “because you’re that kind of leader.”

Aaron Ahlquist, director of policy for the ADL Southern division, said “your leadership has enriched and supported not just the Jewish community, but all of New Orleans,” and that Fielkow was a committed partner for the ADL, “fundamentally committed to ensuring the safety of the

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Jewish community.”

Jefferson Parish President Cynthia Lee-Sheng praised Fielkow for “helping what is the most diverse parish in the state.”

Joshua Force, Federation board chair from 2019 to 2021, noted the challenging times Fielkow had to deal with, from “hurricanes, a worldwide pandemic, and maybe the most challenging of all, Zoom meetings.” He spoke of the increasing priority of community security, and the establishment of the two centers, for Jewish-multicultural affairs, and for interfaith families.

Fielkow “broadened the reach of Jewish Federation in both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities here in New Orleans,” Force said.

Goldring also commented on the centers, as the Goldring Family Foundation helped establish the Center for Jewish-Multicultural Affairs. He said when Fielkow approached him, “It was kind of tough to put all the pieces together… but Arnie had a plan to do it and made it happen, and it has been very effective over the past few years.”

In the video, he told Fielkow, “You’ve been a real mensch in the city of New Orleans. Everybody loves you, and we really hate to see you give up this position, because you created something that wasn’t there before.”

Additional tributes were from Willian Hines, New Orleans corporate managing partner for Jones Walker, who has worked with Fielkow for over 20 years in various capacities; Joseph Giarrusso, who represents District A on the New Orleans City Council; and David Saginaw, Jewish philanthropic consultant.

“I am so humbled and so appreciative,” Fielkow responded after the video.

He started by recognizing the evening’s honorees. “Thank you each for all that you do.”

At his sendoff 11 years ago at the Jewish Community Center, when he moved to Chicago to become the CEO of the NBA Retired Players Association, “I knew that night that at some point we would return to the city we love, and thanks to Federation, you made that happen.”

He noted that his first year back included a “frightening and shocking” diagnosis of amyloidosis, a rare and incurable disease that leads to buildups of abnormal proteins in organs. “With Federation support,” the Fielkows traveled to specialists around the country, winding up at Vanderbilt for treatment.

He adapted a tradition by Rabbi David Goldstein at Touro Synagogue, who does an open letter to a public figure each year on the High Holy Days, by offering such a letter to his successor, welcoming him to “the most wonderful city and community in the world.

“You will soon be moving to a community with more friendliness, passion, warmth and resiliency than any I’ve ever encountered,” Fielkow continued. “A community which had the strength to overcome Hurricane Katrina 17 years ago, get back on her feet and ultimately, come back

10 December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life
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Left: Bobby Garon presents the Young Leadership Award to Julie Green. Right: Brian Katz recognizes Annual Campaign chairs Nancy and Steve Timm.

stronger than ever.”

Given his sports career, the call he received 22 years ago inviting him to a position with the Saints “could have come from any city in America, but thank God it came from New Orleans.”

His biggest bit of advice for French — “Buy as much black and gold apparel as you can, and always recite two words: ‘Who Dat!’.”

He told French about the spirit of New Orleanians, during and after Katrina, working through Covid and more recent hurricanes, opening synagogues to congregations needing a home, “gladly raised money to help rebuild, cooked over 30,000 meals for health care workers, and each and every day volunteer to help others in need. This is who we are.”

After talking about watching the Jewish community’s post-Katrina rebuilding efforts from his vantage point on the City Council, he said “I am happy to report that the New Orleans area’s Jewish population exceeds 12,000, 20 percent higher than at the time of Katrina.”

He thanked the Federation staff for their talent and dedication, “making me look good this past five and a half years. I love each of you.”

He told French that “we all look forward to your new leadership and all the great things you will be bringing to the table at Federation. I very much hope I left you with a solid foundation.”

Fielkow referenced the recent strategic plan and thanked those who helped reshape Federation, looked forward to celebrating Israel’s 75th anniversary as part of the Federation’s continued commitment to Israel, and the priority of community security.

He also prayed for an end to the war in Ukraine and urged community members to attend the community-wide Chanukah events, which would include elements about supporting Ukraine.

He concluded by saying that leading Federation “has truly been the honor of my life.”

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Arnie Fielkow addresses the Annual Celebration

Annual Awards

The evening also included presentations of the Federation’s annual recognitions.

Nancy Timm presented the Roger and Allan Bissinger Memorial Award to Julie Wise Oreck.

Timm noted that Oreck travels to Israel more each year than most people do in their whole lives. She is a past Federation president and annual campaign co-chair, has served on many local boards, and is an alumna of the National Young Leadership Cabinet and board member of the Jewish Federations of North America, Jewish Agency for Israel and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee.

“She is a woman with a mission, and I believe my father and my brother would agree she has in fact made a true difference in the world,” Timm said.

In her brief acceptance, Oreck cited the legacy of Roger and Allan Bissinger, saying “I can’t tell you how much of an honor it is to receive this award” that is named in their memory.

Lisa Romano of the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust presented the Oscar J. Tolmas L’Dor V’Dor Award to Shellye Farber. “This award celebrates the unsung heroes of the Greater New Orleans Jewish community who quietly and consistently aid in repairing the world around them,” Romano said.

“Every Super Sunday, you’ll find Shellye setting up her adding machines,” she said. She is also a long-time volunteer for WYES’ membership drive, and a past president of the New Orleans Section of the National Council of Jewish Women.

Farber has served on many Federation committees, including chairing the PR and allocations committees, and served several terms on the board.

Romano said her service is what the award embodies, “volunteers who give of themselves without expectation of recognition. We’re thrilled to recognize her.”

The custom award was created by Lee Michaels Fine Jewelers.

Farber said she was “surprised and so honored” when she found out about the award. “I’ve always said, if there were a gene for volunteerism, I don’t ever remember a time when my parents weren’t giving of themselves to a non-profit that was dear to them. That gene has been passed on to me.”

Bobby Garon presented the Herbert and Margot Garon Young Leadership Award to Julie Green. He noted the passage of time, as exemplified by how the child of one of his peers is now receiving this award.

“Julie eyewitnessed early her parents’ commitment to our Jewish community and beyond,” he said. Her grandfather, who relocated from town to town, would arrive in a new place, turn on the lights at the new home, enroll the kids in school “and go to the local shul to volunteer,” Garon said. “I love that story.”

After graduating from Emory, Garon said, Green returned to New Orleans. She became co-chair of JNOLA, then participated in Katz-Phillips Young Leadership, and was recently asked to be an advisor to the program. “That’s the best gig Federation can offer,” he said.

During her time leading JNOLA, she established bylaws for the group, solidifying its position at Federation. She is now financial secretary at Gates of Prayer.

Nancy and Steve Timm were recognized for their efforts in leading the annual campaign, which raised $2.64 million from 1,154 households, a 4 percent card-for-card increase. Melinda Mintz and Marc Behar will lead the 2023 campaign.

12 December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life community

Broadening Federation’s Reach Throughout New Orleans

Arnie Fielkow says his retirement as CEO of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans is “bittersweet” as “I have truly grown to love the work I do and the people I am privileged to work with.

“At the same time,” he said, “my retirement allows me one last potential venture which I am excited about and looking forward to in 2023.”

He will be succeeded by Robert French, executive director of Jewish El Paso and The Jewish Community Foundation of El Paso, at the end of the year.

Fielkow returned to New Orleans in the summer of 2017 to take the helm at the Federation, an opportunity that “brought me back to the city that I love.”

Fielkow originally moved to the city in 2000 “because I was able to get an opportunity with the Saints, and we immediately fell in love with the city of New Orleans.”

He was executive vice president of the Saints, parting ways with the team after Katrina. He was then elected to the city council in 2006 and re-elected in 2010. In 2011, he became executive director of the National Basketball Retired Players Association in Chicago.

“We missed New Orleans from the moment we left,” Fielkow said. “We were always keeping an eye on how I could get back to the community.”

The Federation opening “gave me the chance to get back here and raise our daughters here.”

He was always aware that Federation was a significant organization in the community, but felt it wasn’t well known outside the Jewish commu-

nity. After Katrina, “I looked at the Federation and the incredible work it was doing bringing people back to the community.”

Nevertheless, the greater New Orleans community didn’t see the Federation “at the same level as other faith-based organizations,” like Catholic Charities, United Way and so forth.

When he met with the search committee, he said he wanted “to broaden our role so the rest of the New Orleans community knows the good work of the Jewish Federation.”

He says it is important “for us to be part of the fabric of the community at large,” and noted that the Jewish Community Centers serve many nonJews, as does Jewish Community Day School, and “it’s amazing” hearing how many non-Jews utilize the Tulane Hillel and its programs.

The Federation also works closely with elected officials on issues affecting Israel, Judaism or Jewish values. That came to a test early in his tenure in January 2018, as the New Orleans City Council passed what seemed to be an innocuous human rights resolution that anti-Israel groups, who had presented the resolution, immediately publicized as a Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions bill against Israel, though that was not in the resolution’s language. They celebrated what they called the first BDS bill by a major city in the United States, confounding the council members who had no idea that was the motivation.

Within two weeks, “we were able to get that pro-BDS resolution rescinded by a unanimous decision at the city council,” Fielkow said. The episode then led to Governor John Bel Edwards issuing an order against

December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life 13 community
Fielkow reflects on tenure as CEO

BDS, followed by the Legislature passing an anti-BDS law.

Another priority was broadening Federation’s appeal within the Jewish community. Two years before Katrina, Fielkow was on the Federation board, and he remembered that in the community of 10,000, while there was a high synagogue affiliation rate, just a small segment of the community engaged with Federation.

He figured “we have to give a reason why a member of the Jewish community would want to make a donation to the Annual Campaign, other than guilt.”

His mantra was “not everything Federation does will be of interest to you, but something Federation does definitely will be of interest to you.”

Over the last few years, the Federation has done a lot more programming, from Israel to politics, from a range of perspectives, and expanded relations and joint programming with the African-American, Latino and LGBTQ communities.

“When we see what is happening in the world today with antisemitism, hate… it is more important than ever that we have alliances with other minority groups, so we can advocate against hate in all its forms.”

The community itself has been growing, with a current estimate of 12,000.

Another priority has been expanding partnerships with the corporate community, rather than relying entirely on the Annual Campaign. The Federation has gone from about $50,000 per year to $400,000 per year in corporate sponsorships, and all programs are self-funded.

He acknowledged that the Annual Campaign has been flat for many years, partly because of the economy, but also because “people want to give in a different way,” meaning more direct giving and less of an umbrella gift approach.

Nationally, people give to annual campaigns, endowments and supplemental “passion giving” for particular purposes. That last type is becoming a major component of giving, and is reflected in the two Centers the Federation began recently — the Goldring Center for Jewish-Multicultural Affairs and the Leventhal Center for Interfaith Families, where a donor had a passion for seeing a particular need met.

Fielkow said the two Centers, with “incredible lay leadership and two superior executive directors,” are “a source of tremendous pride” and were established by people who “wanted Federation to grow in those areas.”

The Goldring Center is already producing deeper ties with other communities in New Orleans, Fielkow said, and in a decade, “we will look back at the Leventhal Center and say that is one the most important things Federation ever did.”

Intermarriage can be seen as “a major problem or an opportunity,” Fielkow said. “I believe in the latter,” as “we can’t turn a blind eye to it.” The Center helps interfaith couples learn what is available in the Jewish world, locally and nationally, to help them make their own decisions.

Multicultural partnerships include a speaker series with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and a regular “Cross-Cultural Conversations” show on WBOK-AM.

This past summer’s trade mission to Israel will pay huge dividends, both in the business and research ties that are developing from the trip, and from the relationships forged between the Federation and institutions throughout the state.

While Fielkow’s six years included the challenge of a two-year pandemic and the major disruption of Hurricane Ida last year, he also had a serious health issue to overcome one year into his position. He was diagnosed with a rare, non-curable disease, and after “a brilliant diagnosis” he spent a few months out of town, being treated.

“That was very hard, to try and do the job from afar and battle the medical challenges,” he said. Nevertheless, now “it’s under control, my health is good” and he feels as he did when he returned to New Orleans.

Now, Ukraine is both a professional and personal priority for Fielkow,

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as the Federation movement nationally raises emergency funds for the Jewish community there, and Fielkow works to assist the sisters of Yana and Svetlana, their two adopted daughters from Ukraine.

When the war ends, “rebuilding the Jewish community of Ukraine will be a significant challenge,” taking “a lot of time, a lot of sweat equity and a lot of money,” and he hopes to be part of that effort.

Covid “was a challenge for everybody,” but one silver lining was being able to virtually connect with “many more people that we may not have reached.” But now, “it’s awfully important to get back to in-person work.”

The Federation was able to help the community in many ways during Covid, including thousands of free kosher meals to health care workers who would otherwise be too tired to think of meals when getting off their long shifts. Fielkow said that initiative “was tremendously appreciated,” and also helped the three kosher caterers in town during an otherwise slow period.

On a personal level, his Federation role “brought me back to my Jewish roots.” He explained, “I grew up in a small community in Wisconsin” with 100 Jewish families. He had observant grandparents, was active as a youth with five years at Camp Ramah and family observance of holidays.

“During my professional career in sports, I lost some of that because of travel, the day to day work,” he said. His position at Federation “brought me back to observance, synagogue life, my pro-Israel stances and so much more.” Partly due to the pandemic, he said he has not missed a Friday night in two and a half years. He also reads the weekly portion each week, and hopes to continue that.

The Next Chapter

While Fielkow is retiring from the Federation, there is an acknowledgement that there are still chapters to come.

While working in the sports world is “fun,” he felt his six years on the City Council was “gratifying,” especially because it was right after Katrina and “we were literally rebuilding a city.”

Saying that politics “gets in your blood,” he is “exploring a potential run for office in 2023,” and will decide after the first of the year. An open seat will be available in the Legislature, and he has his eye on running for it. If elected, he would be the only Jewish member of the body.

Fielkow said leading the Federation “has been an absolute joy… and I am going to miss it.”

He said the Federation staff is “the best of the best, and I could not have been given a better group of people.”

The Federation is “a historic organization that does incredibly good work in the Jewish community, and hopefully under my tenure, much more to the community at large.”

He hopes that French “will not only put his own stamp on Federation, but sustain the growth from the last five-plus years.”

WWII Museum offers teacher course on propaganda

The National World War II Museum in New Orleans is offering a free online winter course for teachers, “The Power of Propaganda,” from Jan. 17 to May 2.

The five-module course will focus on teaching media literacy through the analysis of World War II propaganda. Throughout the war, the Allied and Axis Powers created propaganda to solidify support for the war effort and distributed this propaganda through many different mediums, including posters, radio broadcasts, newspaper articles, and movies. Incorporating propaganda in the classroom, then, requires educators to not only teach the historical context of propaganda, but to teach the skills to critically analyze different forms of media.

Enrollment is open through Jan. 24 on the museum’s website.

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Temple Sinai embarks on campaign to restore historic stained glass windows

Ellen Cohen, great-granddaughter of Rabbi Max Heller, recently met with Nicholas Frei, great-grandson of Emil Frei, in the sanctuary of Temple Sinai in New Orleans. They were doing more than reminiscing about the relationship between their families as Emil Frei had designed the stained glass windows for the building, the construction of which Heller had pushed for at the congregation’s 50th anniversary celebration in 1922.

They were also starting a new collaboration, looking around the 1928 sanctuary at the windows and the water damage on the walls, a result of wind-driven rain leaking in from when Hurricane Ida came through in August 2021.

The congregation is now embarking on a capital campaign to fund restoration of the windows, as well as waterproofing and protective polymer coatings to protect against wind and vandalism.

They expect that work will begin after the first of the year; because of the heat during much of the year, work will be done only during the winter.

After close to a century, the windows “have really worn well,” Cohen, who is the congregation’s president, said. She added the frames were made from cypress wood, “the best wood to use in Louisiana.” But as with anything that old, “creaks and aches begin to appear,” and work must be done to ensure the windows’ future.

“Our stained-glass windows have been the most beautiful component of our sanctuary, Cohen said.

The congregation partnered with Frei and Associates from St. Louis because “besides us, no one loves our widows as much as they do,” Cohen said. The firm also did the windows at St. Stephen Catholic Church, St. Joseph Catholic Church and Loyola in New Orleans, St. Ignatius in Mobile, the Basilica of St. Michael the Archangel in Pensacola and St. Michaels in Biloxi.

It wasn’t that long ago that scaffolding filled the sanctuary at Temple Sinai as the building was repainted. While it is disappointing to have to go back and redo things, there was one advantage to the timing — when damage assessments were being made, there was no question about what damage was new and what could have been attributed to pre-existing wear and tear, because it was a clean slate when Ida hit.

The congregation was also recently cleared by FEMA to begin the repair process, and qualified for FEMA-406 mitigation efforts to prevent future damage.

Executive Director Jennifer Daley noted that the Sinai sanctuary is a community space, holding concerts for local organizations, the induction ceremony for new firefighters and large public lectures.

It also occasionally hosts churches in need of a space to gather. Trinity Episcopal Church will hold its Christmas Eve services there on Dec. 24. The church was damaged in Hurricane Ida, and while it has been able to hold services in its chapel and fellowship hall, they wanted a larger space so the entire congregation could come together for Christmas.

Water damage next to one of the menorah windows in the Temple Sinai sanctuary

The window restoration and Ida repairs will exceed $500,000, and a capital campaign is underway.

Sponsorship levels range from $500 to $5,000. Naming rights are available for the four menorah windows, the St. Charles Avenue balcony windows, the side balcony windows and the pastel windows in the side staircases.

community 18 December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life
Water damage from Hurricane Ida affected sanctuary

Touro Synagogue “Lifting the Sky” with campaign for needed projects

In 2027, Touro Synagogue in New Orleans will become the first Jewish congregation outside the original 13 colonies to be able to celebrate a bicentennial.

To help ensure the congregation’s future, a $4.5 million Lifting the Sky campaign is underway to accomplish numerous needed projects at Touro’s historic 1908 building.

Rabbi Katie Bauman said the campaign will address “critical infrastructure projects that must be done.”

The 21,000 square feet of flat roofs have been repaired numerous times and need replacement. They are over 30 years old, and due to condition and moisture trapping, are anticipated to be able to last no more than a couple years.

The HVAC system, especially the humidity control, needs replacement, as many components are over 40 years old, and the system is much less efficient than current standards. Other energy efficiency improvement plans include solar panels and tankless water heaters.

“These old buildings are not particularly energy efficient,” Bauman said.

Additional items include more office space, and gender-neutral family bathrooms on the main floor. Brick and mortar replacement will also take place, and a generator will be installed for critical infrastructure, like security.

Another major priority is installing an elevator, which will improve access to the top two floors, meaning some functions that have been only on the ground floor due to accessibility will be able to move upstairs.

That will also open up more office space, as Touro has “a growing staff for a growing congregation,” Bauman said.

“We’ve grown significantly in the last few years,” Bauman said. “We’re beginning to see the need to accommodate for a larger size of congregation than we have been.” The congregation has added over 50 families in the last three years, and they are now over 650 families, which would make Touro the largest congregation in the SJL coverage area. The religious school has also grown by 27 percent.

There is also an increase in the number of b’nai mitzvah, and in a few years there may be more b’nai mitzvah than weekends.

The Touro building on St. Charles Avenue was designed by Emile Weil, using Byzantine and Moorish elements to reflect the congregation’s Sephardic history. The building was completed in 1909. The religious school building was added in 1928, and the modern multi-purpose building was added in 1963. The Norman Synagogue House was completed in 1989, and in 2019 the sanctuary was renovated in honor of Betty Kohn’s 95th birthday.

The public campaign kicked off with a Sukkot celebration on Oct. 9. President Gary Silbert said “We are well on the path to meet our campaign objective… Suffice to say that we will need everyone’s help to reach our ambitious goal.” At that point, $2.9 million had been raised.

The effort was kick-started with a 2020 grant from the National Fund for Sacred Places, a program of Partners for Sacred Places in collabora-

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tion with the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Touro received a $126,000 matching grant and is one of only two synagogues ever selected for the matching program toward capital projects. To secure the grant, they had to raise a match of $252,000.

Gianfranco Grande, Partners for Sacred Places’ executive vice president, said the grant program was created for churches, “but we make exceptions when a story is so great, as in the case with Touro.”

He added, “I was impressed by their community engagement. I talked to my colleagues, and we allowed them to make the application. It’s a very important place. They do a very important job.”

In addition to the congregation itself, the Touro building has housed four newly-created charter schools in the past four years. While that has aided the bottom line, it also adds to the wear and tear on the building. Bauman said making their space available also aligns with the mission of being engaged with the greater community.

In addition to incubating charter schools, Touro does refugee resettlement programming, and has a garden to grow vegetables for the Broadmoor Food Pantry.

With the upcoming renovations, they don’t have a current tenant, but after the renovations, if there isn’t a charter school, “we’ll be open to other types of entities that need space.”

They anticipate getting underway during the second half of 2023, partly because of uncertain lead times for components they will need.

The campaign is being chaired by four past presidents — Ruth and Larry Kullman, and Susan and Lou Good.

Bauman said that while the congregation will generate most of the funds, they hope to attract support from the overall Jewish community locally and around the region “because of our history and national significance.”

She added, “The needs are critical, so we hope people will step up.”

“Banana Man” author, Rabbi Brener join LimmudFest

Nola lineup

Registration for LimmudFest New Orleans will open on Jan. 15. The regional weekend festival of Jewish learning, arts, culture and spirituality will be held the weekend of March 17, with over 70 sessions by local, regional and national presenters, with several subject tracks.

Rich Cohen and Rabbi Anne Brener have been announced as speakers for the weekend.

Cohen is the author of 13 books, co-creator of the HBO series “Vinyl,” and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone. H will discuss his book “The Fish That Ate the Whale,” about Samuel Zemurray, a controversial figure who developed the banana industry in the United States and whose company controlled Central American countries, leading to the coining of the term “banana republic.”

“Sam the Banana Man” immigrated to the United States in 1891, winding up in Selma. Traveling to Mobile in 1895, he started his banana business, then moved to New Orleans in 1905, starting the Cuyamel Fruit Company. He was active in supporting the Zionist movement, and donated what is now the president’s mansion at Tulane.

Brener is a New Orleans native who is a faculty member of the Academy for Jewish Religion in Los Angeles and a founding faculty member of Yedidyas Morei Derekh— Jewish Spiritual Direction Training Program. She is a psychotherapist, spiritual director, and author of “Mourning and Mitzvah: Walking the Mourner’s Path.”

At LimmudFest, she will lead a Shabbat morning service, a Jewish meditation workshop, and a session on Jewish responses to grief and loss.

Shabbat events will be at Gates of Prayer in Metairie, where services are held in Reform, Conservative and Orthodox traditions under the same roof, after which all meals are enjoyed together. The events on March 19 will be at the Uptown Jewish Community Center.

community 20 December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life

Trip shows HBCU presidents possibilities in Israel connections

Six distinguished presidents of Historically Black Colleges and Universities visited Israel recently, including two from Alabama. It’s not surprising that two of the six were from Alabama since the state has the highest number of HBCUs in the nation — 14.

The trip was hosted by AJC Project Interchange, an educational initiative of the American Jewish Committee, as part of a partnership with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which supports students and programs at HBCUs. Two representatives of the fund were also on the trip. This trip, fueled by the power of connecting two historically oppressed minority groups, aimed to further deepen the African American and Israeli relationship.

“To learn the full story of Israel, it’s vital to see it in action. There really is no substitute for first-hand experience,” explained AJC Project Interchange Director Nisha Abkarian. “Israel is on the cutting edge of so many fields, from agriculture to cyber, and there is a great potential, through this new partnership, for HBCUs to forge important connections with their Israeli counterparts.”

One of the Alabama HBCU presidents, Dr. Charlotte Morris of Tuskegee University, summed up her trip in one word: “Wow!” Both Morris and Dr. Daniel Wims, president of Alabama A&M University in Huntsville, returned home full of ideas.

“It was a capacity-building trip,” Morris explained in a recent Zoom interview. “It gave me an opportunity to explore collaborations between some of the things we are doing here at Tuskegee and institutions in Israel.” Israel’s work in three areas especially impressed her. “Israel has super expertise in advanced technology, agriculture and the sciences. I wanted to make sure we explored these areas.”

Last year, Tuskegee University received a $5 million grant from Google. According to Tuskegee, the grant is “designed to help expand pathways and opportunities for increased diverse representation in the STEM industry.” During the trip, Morris had the chance to visit with representatives of the Google office in Israel.

When asked what, in particular, affected her as an African American, the HBCU president spoke about the visit the group made to an Israeli military base. There, they observed a program that trains young Ethiopian Israelis to be pilots.

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ica to further their education at HBCUs,” said Morris. It could be a great fit for Tuskegee, she said, because of her university’s historic affiliation with the famous World War II era Tuskegee Airmen. “I tried to entice one young lady in particular who told me that she never imagined she’d be able to fly a plane.”

morial to the victims of the Holocaust, made an impact. Wims noted that HBCUs provided teaching opportunities for Jewish professors fleeing Nazi Germany when other American academic institutions refused.

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Being in Israel also affected the Tuskegee president as a Christian. “I am a Bible scholar. I don’t know any other way to describe seeing places I had studied in the Bible other than ‘wow’.”

Eye Opening

Alabama A&M president Wims also had a memorable experience.

“Anytime you can study abroad it expands your perspective and allows you to think about your priorities.” Wims said via Zoom. “I am an agricultural professional. I looked at the landscape and lack of arable land. Seeing the water process in Israel is very refreshing. We worry about water in America. Our engineering, agronomy and natural sciences students need to see what’s going on in Israel.”

Learning about Israel’s security needs and its focus on defense made an impression on Wims as an African American. “The Israelis talked about always being under attack. Go to our inner cities and it’s the same conversation. People are on alert. The psychology and language are exactly the same: concern over security, visceral fear and constantly being on alert.”

The group’s visit to Yad Vashem, Israel’s me-

Tying his reflections together, Wims said he was grateful for the trip. “There is world history there and social and human dynamics that I would love for people to see, along with the physical and geographical challenges and how Israel deals with them.”

Other HBCU presidents on the trip included Makola Mjasiri Abdullah, Virginia State University; Paul Anthony Jones, Fort Valley State University; Larry Robinson, Florida A&M University, and Kent Joseph Smith, Jr., Langston University. The trip took place this past summer.

Langston University is in Oklahoma. Writing in The Oklahoman, Smith reflected on the importance of the trip in an article he wrote headlined, “How do we help students become more well-rounded? Israel could hold the key.”

In his piece, this Oklahoma HBCU president captured the essence of the trip: “How do we help our students become more well-rounded for the future? How do we teach them about other world views and cultures? Israel could hold the key… Partnering with Israeli agricultural and technological schools will help us continue to be innovative on a global scale.”

(Keila Lawrence is a recent graduate of Birmingham-area HBCU, Miles College. She has been at the forefront of educating future African American leaders about Israel.)

Linden joins Shalom Hartman Institute

for good in the 21st century.”

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According to JTA, he will be supporting Hartman’s educational programs throughout the year in a “vital internal coordination and consultative role,” according to a Hartman spokesperson.

The institute has over 1,000 programs annually, with five interrelated centers in Israel and North America seeking to “strengthen Jewish peoplehood, identity, and pluralism; to enhance the Jewish and democratic character of Israel; and to ensure that Judaism is a compelling force

In 2016, Linden left Metairie and became director of Camp Ramah in the Berkshires. He was placed on leave in May after a lawsuit was filed by a former camper who stated that Linden and camp authorities “acted with deliberate indifference” after a sexual assault by a fellow camper. The suit was settled this fall, and Linden officially resigned in October.

An institute spokesperson told JTA that “we maintain rigorous processes for screening and evaluating prospective employees for competence and character in our commitment to the excellence of our work.”

22 December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life
Charlotte Morris and Daniel Wims Rabbi Ethan Linden, formerly of Shir Chadash in Metairie, has become the director of educational operations and design for the Shalom Hartman Institute.

Around The Agencies

Jewish Family Service

December 2022 • The Jewish Newsletter 23

Jewish Endowment Foundation

Tax-wise Tools for Year-end Giving

As we approach the end of 2022, the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana is here to remind you about the charitable tools available to help you make thoughtful, generous, and tax-wise gifts:

Gift Appreciated Assets — Charitable donations of certain appreciated property are more valuable than ever, providing not only a deduction to the donor but also the potential to avoid the higher capital gains tax.

“Bunching” — “Bunching” multiple years’ charitable donations to open or add to a Donor Advised Fund or make any donations may help you reach a total of itemized deductions that is greater than the standard deduction for a single tax year.

Consider a Charitable IRA Distribution — A Qualified Charitable Distribution of up to $100,000 can be withdrawn beginning at age 70-½ from your IRA. And when you turn 72, your Required Minimum Distribution up to $100,000 may be dispersed tax-free directly to one or more nonprofits. Please note that this distribution cannot be made to a Donor Advised Fund but can be made to a Designated Fund or directly to a charity.

Make your Gift Go Further — Help JEF kick off Today, Tomorrow, Together: United for Our Future, a community-wide $5 million campaign to establish and build endowment funds for Federation and its four constituent agencies. With a 2:1 match, for every $2 you give, $1 will be matched.

We truly appreciate the opportunity to assist you with your giving now and throughout the year. If we can be of assistance to you and your advisors, please do not hesitate to call us at (504) 524-4559 to

Tulane Hillel

On Nov. 30, Tulane Hillel welcomed our newest class of campus leaders — “Cohort Aleph” — with a celebratory Welcome Banquet hosted at the Mintz Center. After several fall semesters filled with Covid and hurricane evacuations, our staff and students were thrilled to be able to recruit new students to our nationally-recognized leadership cohort, Tulane Jewish Leaders, unencumbered. Through TJL, students are matched with a staff mentor who will work with them throughout their college career to develop passion projects and produce events based on their interests.

The Banquet serves as a fun and exciting way for TJL program members to meet each other, develop new friendships, and brainstorm initiatives together. This year, to honor and celebrate the 40 members of Cohort Aleph, dinner was catered by Rimon in addition to a mocktail station run by a veteran member of the TJL team, Eliza Faigin.

After dinner, Assistant Director Gary Brandt led the room in a series of brainstorming activities, giving the members of Cohort Aleph a sense of how to program at Tulane Hillel. To close the night, each TJLer met with their newly assigned staff mentor, setting the tone for a meaningful and growth-filled year!

Outgoing JEF Board President Morton Katz

schedule a confidential conversation at any time.

This article should not be considered tax advice and we encourage you to consult with your tax advisor to receive optimal tax advantages and guidance.

JEF wishes you and your family a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2023!

Curious about how to best support our programs, created by students for students? Please reach out to Development Director Shelley Freed at

24 December 2022 • The Jewish Newsletter
Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana Annual Event Sunday, March 5, 2023 7 p.m. Dinner; 6:30 p.m. Patron Reception
Tea Room We will be honoring: Tzedakah Award Melinda and Morris Mintz
JFNA Endowment Achievement Award Carole Neff Helen A. Mervis Community Professional Award Leslie Fischman

Jewish Community Day School

Special Surprise at the TEP Center

Ms. Eliza’s fifth and sixth graders took a meaningful field trip to the TEP Center in the Lower 9th Ward on St. Claude Avenue. The class is currently studying the Civil Rights Movement in Social Studies, which includes students learning about school integration. This field trip allowed students to visit McDonogh #19, one of the two schools that were the first to be integrated in New Orleans on Nov. 4, 1960.

Spreading Holiday Cheer to Seniors at Sunrise

On Dec. 9, JCDS students from prekindergarten through sixth grade marched in a procession across West Esplanade (with crossing guards, of course) to Sunrise Senior Living community. There, they wowed the residents with a sneak peak of the Chanukah songs they’ve been working on for this year’s Chanukah Extravaganza. Each class took a turn sharing a gleeful tune before the whole school stood (and danced) together for the closing number. The audience was wowed, the kids were overjoyed, and a grand time was had by all.

Mapping the Community

In 2020, The Leona Tate Foundation for Change broke ground on converting the abandoned school building into an interpretive center, office space for community organizations, and apartments for seniors. While the full exhibit is still being built out off-site, students received a guided tour of all of the spaces in the building where history took place.

The students’ campus tour included some detailed facts about the school experience of Leona Tate, Gail Etienne, and Tessie Prevost, the three six-year-old black girls who integrated the campus 62 years ago. The students marveled at a small space under the main staircase where the girls would have to eat lunch. This was also the only place the girls had to play during recess, as school officials sought to protect them from protesters around the school.

The fifth and sixth graders watched a short film featuring Tate, Etienne, and Prevost, which included original footage and photographs of their story. After the film, a woman walked through a door next to the screen… it was Leona Tate! The students were astonished to see such a brave, impactful woman in person. Students asked thoughtful questions and told Ms. Leona what kind of things they do to stand up to racism. In addition to the building of affordable housing for seniors, when the interpretive center exhibits are complete, it will also be the home of the first Civil Rights museum in New Orleans. Students can’t wait to go back when the museum is ready, but, for now, everyone was just humbled by their experience at the building and connecting with Ms. Leona Tate.

Life Cycle Events in Jewish Studies

This month, JCDS third and fourth graders welcomed Mia-Beth and Isaac into the world! Fifth and sixth graders did a marvelous job creating their own Brit Milah and baby-naming ceremonies. Students learned about the origins of their child’s names (Isaac was named after his great-grandfather who fought in WWI, and Mia-Beth was named after two beloved relatives).

JCDS Pre-k and kindergarten students created 3-D models of their favorite spots in the community. Their impressive models included destinations like Audubon Zoo, snowball stands, Target, Sky Zone, and Aquarium of the Americas. Children excitedly presented their favorite places to visit around their community. This project was part of their mapping unit in which students study the world they live in and the ways maps help in their own communities as well as on a larger scale. Their unit also included creating maps of familiar spaces like their classroom, their bedroom, their favorite playgrounds, and their neighborhoods.

Children even got to snack on chickpeas — an ancient Jewish tradition that is meant to symbolize the circle of life. It was a great

opportunity to share Jewish learning across grades and represents the kind of communal ties that makes JCDS such a special place. Next up for fifth and sixth grade is having a Bar and Bat Mitzvah for Isaac and Mia-Beth! Kids grow up so fast (especially when they are fictional)!

December 2022 • The Jewish Newsletter 25

Jewish Community Center

Celebrate YOU in the New Year

Join the JCC and let us help put the focus on YOU! Experience the difference certified trainers, top-of-the-line equipment, and a supportive environment can make in achieving fitness and wellness goals. Plus, when you become a member in January, you pay no initiation fee and no January dues. The sooner you join, the more you save!

The New Orleans JCC offers state-ofthe-art fitness equipment for both cardio and strength training, studios for personal training and reformer Pilates, as well as indoor and outdoor pools for year-round swim lessons, lap swimming and aqua fitness classes. Uptown’s spa amenities include saunas and steam rooms, and the Metairie facility features an indoor track, allowing members to walk or jog in any weather. Between the two locations, members enjoy more than 75 free group exercise classes each week, including an array of specialty classes. From boot camps, indoor cycling and TRX, to Zumba, barre, yoga and mat Pilates, high intensity interval training (HIIT) to chair exercise, there are classes for all levels and abilities.

This offer ends Jan. 31, 2023. Stop by today for a tour, or contact Alison (Uptown, 504-897-0143) or Katelyn (Metairie, 504-887-5158) to learn more about this joining special and all of the ways the JCC can support you in the year ahead.

Join Team NOLA in the JCC Maccabi Games

Be part of Team NOLA, the New Orleans JCC’s delegation at the JCC Maccabi Games, the largest Jewish youth event in the world! This summer brings twice the fun, as the Games are being held in Israel and Fort Lauderdale, Florida. A three-week immersive experience running July 5-26, the Games in Israel provides teens ages 14-16 with opportunity to compete, connect, and explore. Experiencing Israel through the lens of sport, they will also participate in cultural events and tour Israel’s most culturally, religiously, and historically significant sites.

Open to ages 12-16, the Fort Lauderdale Maccabi Games & Access will be held August 6-11. At both locations, teens participate in athletic activities and then come together for social events, community service and mixture of fun activities. Athletes can compete in either individual or group sports. Options include baseball, basketball, dance, flag football, ice hockey,

soccer, swimming and volleyball. In Fort Lauderdale, lacrosse, star reporter and table tennis will also be offered.

Participating in the JCC Maccabi Games is an opportunity of a lifetime. Teens not only build new connections with local peers, they also create new friendships with other Jewish youth.

To register or to learn more about the New Orleans delegation, please visit or contact Uptown Sports Director Neal Alsop at

Spring 2023 Jewish Cultural Arts Series

A celebration of Jewish authors, music and films, the Cathy and Morris Bart Jewish Cultural Arts Series returns to the JCC this January with an outstanding and diverse lineup. Details are available at

January 12

“The Levys of Monticello” tells the little-known story of the Levy family, which owned and carefully preserved Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello residence, saving it from ruin.

February 9

A musical journey that becomes something more, “The Jews and the Blues” follows documentary filmmaker, musician and talk show host Drew Stone to Israel to explore how the blues ties into the incredible mix of cultures found there.

March 9

In “Where Life Begins,” a romantic drama about family, faith and freedom, an ultra-Orthodox French family makes its annual trip to a farm in the south of Italy to carry out a sacred mission: harvesting citrons.

April 27

A fascinating documentary, “Code Name Ayalon” shares the untold story of 45 young Jewish men and women who worked in a secret, underground bullet factory during World War II, playing a critical role in the statehood of Israel.

May 9

Come cook with Shannon Sarna, the “Queen of Challah” and editor of “The Nosher,” a popular food blog. She will share recipes from her new cookbook, “Modern Jewish Comfort Food: 100 Fresh Recipes for Classic Dishes from Kugel to Kreplach.”

26 December 2022 • The Jewish Newsletter

Baton Rouge, Mobile Jewish Film Festivals in January

Mobile festival is back in person

As the Mobile Jewish Film Festival returns to in-person programming, there will be one event that isn’t a film.

A live performance of “Anne and Emmett” will be on Jan. 12 at 7:30 p.m. at Joe Jefferson Playhouse. The performance is a gift from the festival, and a limited number of tickets will be available through the festival website, on a first come, first served basis.

The one-act play is an imaginary conversation between Anne Frank and Emmett Till, both of whom were victims of intolerance and hate. They meet in a place called Memory, where they learn about each other and their traumatic pasts — Frank being murdered in a concentration camp after being in hiding from the Nazis, and Till being murdered after being accused of whistling at a white woman in Mississippi in 1955.

The play is produced by the Mississippi State University Theater Department, which hosted the show in November 2020, along with William Carey University in Hattiesburg. In November, the show was performed in Birmingham, including two school performances the day after the public performance.

The festival opens on Jan. 8 at 2 p.m. at Springhill Avenue Temple, with “Farewell Mr. Haffman” (see sidebar). A dessert reception will follow.

On Jan. 10 at 7 p.m., also at Springhill Avenue Temple, “Why the Jews?” explores Jewish achievement. The 2018 Canadian documentary asks the touchy question of why Jews over-achieve in so many places, and what the consequences have been, both positive and negative.

Baton Rouge festival at the Manship Theatre

The Baton Rouge Jewish Film Festival returns to the Manship Theatre for its 17th season, highlighting the diversity of the Jewish experience through film.

The festival opens on Jan. 11 with “Karaoke” at 7 p.m., an Israeli film about a married middle class couple in their 60s, dealing with empty-nest boredom. They are then drawn to their new neighbor, a charismatic bachelor who holds karaoke nights in his apartment, who reawakens their sleepy relationship, but also become dependent on their new friend.

Grand winner of the Israeli Academy Awards and winner of three major awards at the Israeli Documentary Awards, “Speer Goes to Hollywood” presents the enigma of Albert Speer: the highest-ranking Nazi in Nuremberg who, despite his crimes, was spared the death sentence. Instead, he served 20 years in prison, becoming a free man in 1966.

Based on months of audio cassettes recorded by screenwriter Andrew Birkin, the film features Speer’s callous attempt to whitewash his past in a feature film. The rare archival materials selected to illustrate his account offer a chance to look beyond his words and ponder whether this eloquent but ultimately self-serving narcissist was recording history — or recording his story.

The film will be screened on Jan. 12 at 7 p.m.

Two films also in the Mobile festival (see sidebar) will conclude the Baton Rouge festival, with “The Man in the Basement” on Jan. 14 at 7:30 p.m., and “Farewell, Mr. Haffman” on Jan. 15 at 3 p.m.

There is a VIP Movie Club for the festival, which includes early bird access to seats, two free tickets to opening night, $2 off the other screenings, and drink and snack coupons.

Season passes are also available through the theatre. More information is at

community December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life 27

For example, 22 percent of Nobel Prize winners, 33 percent of Oscar-winning directors and 40 percent of world chess champions have been Jews, despite there being just 15 million Jews in the entire world.

Adaptability has been a secret to survival, but that very success often attracts resentment.

The director, John Curtin, was raised Catholic but had a Jewish father.

The festival continues with “The Man in the Basement” (see sidebar) on Jan. 17 at the University of South Alabama in Fairhope, and Jan. 24 on the Mobile USA campus. Both screenings are at 7 p.m.

“Bad Nazi. Good Nazi.” will screen at the Mobile Museum of Art on Jan. 19 at 3 p.m. It is the story of Wilm Hosenfeld, immortalized as the Nazi who saved The Pianist’s life in Roman Polanski’s film. The film cen-

Two films being screened at both festivals

The Baton Rouge and Mobile Jewish Film Festivals have two films in common this year.

“Farewell Mr. Haffman” opens the Mobile festival, Jan. 8 at 2 p.m. at Springhill Avenue Temple, and closes the Baton Rouge festival, Jan. 15 at 3 p.m. It was also screened as part of Sidewalk’s Jewish Film Week in Birmingham in November.

Based on a multi Moliere Award-winning play, the French film is set in occupied Paris in 1941. When a decree is issued for Jewish residents to come forward and identify themselves, jeweler Joseph Haffman is concerned and arranges for his family to flee, and lets his employee take over the store for the interim. But when his escape plan falls through, he is forced to seek his assistant’s protection, moving in with his assistant and assistant’s wife, leading to a Faustian bargain, with his presence in the basement proving to be growingly hazardous.

Another French film, “The Man in the Basement,” will be in Baton Rouge on Jan. 14 at 7:30 p.m. In Mobile, it will screen twice — Jan. 17 at 7 p.m. at the South Alabama Fairhope campus, and on Jan. 24 at 7 p.m. at the South Alabama campus in Mobile. Author Roy Hoffman will be the guest speaker.

The psychological thriller is about a real estate transaction gone awry — a Jewish couple in Paris sells the unused basement in their building to a nondescript former history teacher, who seems normal. But they soon realize he is an antisemitic conspiracy theorist, and they struggle to rescind the sale. Complicating matters, he insinuates himself with the couple’s naïve teen daughter, turning their world upside down.

community 28 December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life
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ters on a controversy in Thalau, Germany, over whether to erect a statue honoring him.

He was a devout Nazi in the 1930s while principal of Thalau Elementary School. But a look at his diaries shows how his views changed completely as he saw the atrocities being committed by the SS and Gestapo, especially on infants and children. It turns out that pianist Wladyslaw Szpilman is one of 60 people he ultimately saved, before he was captured, tortured and executed in a Soviet prison camp.

The film is an exploration of how narrative films shape personal legacies.

David Meola, professor in the USA history department, will speak following the film.

“The Narrow Bridge” will be on Jan. 25 at 7 p.m. at the Mobile campus of USA. It tells the story of four people who lost a child or parent in conflict, and now belong to Israeli Palestinian Bereaved Families, working to end violence and battling against political and family opposition.

“Rose,” on Jan. 26 at 7 p.m. at USA in Mobile, is a family matriarch who is suddenly widowed at age 78. She rejects social pressure to “act her age” and decides it is never too late to seek happiness. A dessert reception will follow the film.

The final film, “Exodus 91,” is the Reita Franco memorial film. It will be at Ahavas Chesed on Jan. 29 at 2 p.m. The docu-narrative film is the story of Asher Naim, an Israeli diplomat of north African origin, who is sent to Ethiopia to negotiate the escape of 15,000 Ethiopian Jews from famine and civil war.

He works with colleagues who were themselves smuggled out of Ethiopia a few years earlier. They begin to question if the operation is serious or a publicity stunt in the face of charges that “Zionism is racism.” As the rebels close in on the capital, Naim’s faith is put to the test as he navigates bureaucracy and politics.

Tickets for the festival go on sale on Dec. 18 through the Mobile Area Jewish Federation website, Festival passes are $55, individual movies are $9.

Sponsorship levels start at $100 with two complimentary tickets. The $500 level has eight complimentary tickets and first access to two tickets to “Anne and Emmett.” Levels progress to the $2500 Executive Producer level, with 21 complimentary tickets and first access to eight tickets to “Anne and Emmett.”

There will also be a virtual option for all of the films.

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Happy Chanukah

Anniston’s Beth El holding final Shabbat service

Will be open only for High Holidays

When Anniston’s Temple Beth El convenes for Shabbat on Jan. 27, it will be for the last time — at least on Shabbat.

Citing dwindling numbers, the congregation’s board decided to stop monthly Shabbat services — many of which have been cancelled due to illnesses or other factors, even after Covid — and open only for the High Holy Days each year.

The Beth El building, dedicated in 1892, is the oldest synagogue building in the state that is still used as a synagogue. The congregation was formed in 1888.

Rabbi Irving Bloom served the congregation as visiting rabbi until he retired in 2018. He died in January 2020. Bloom had been a student rabbi in Anniston in the 1950s, and also served Gadsden’s Beth Israel after his retirement from Temple Israel in Dayton, Ohio, in 1997.

As the numbers dwindled in Gadsden, an attempt was made to have more joint events with Anniston, but the Gadsden congregation closed in 2011.

The menorah on the building was a gift of Anniston’s non-Jewish community in 1974, to honor Alfred Caro, a Holocaust survivor who made the town his home, and opened the Annistonian, a hugely popular restaurant that was at the center of local life for decades, and hosted Beth El for break-the-fast every Yom Kippur.

Beth El is currently served by a visiting rabbi, Lauren Cohn of Atlanta.

The congregation was known for its Neighbors Night, where members invited non-Jewish friends to learn about Judaism.

The service on Jan. 27 will be at 7 p.m.

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Chabad Jewish Center in Metairie and PJ Library partnered with Whole Foods Market to offer a pre-Chanukah Latke Cooking event on Dec. 5. Over 75 chldren and their parents participated, learning how to peel and grate potatoes. While waiting for volunteers to fry the latkes, the children made pasta menorahs and edible dreidels out of marshmallows.

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Pointers for Charitable Gifts of All Sizes

This is the perfect time of year to take inventory of your charitable giving for the current year and the year ahead. Whether your charitable intent is relatively small or large, advance planning can help maximize your tax benefits.

Giving Techniques, Regardless of Size:

Bunching. “Bunching” is a technique to help utilize income tax deductions instead of wasting them. To use the income tax deduction associated with making a charitable gift, a taxpayer must itemize deductions instead of taking the standard deduction. For 2022, the standard deduction is $12,950 for single filers and $29,500 for joint filers. Bunching involves saving your charitable contributions for several years and then making your donation at the most opportune time so that you can itemize your deductions that year.

Qualified Charitable Distributions. If your wealth is concentrated in a traditional IRA, qualified charitable distributions are an ideal way to make gifts and manage your taxable income. If you are 70-½, consider making gifts directly from your traditional IRA to your charitable beneficiary. This technique has notable benefits: the QCD can satisfy your required minimum distribution for the year, and the distribution is excluded from your taxable income. QCDs are limited to $100,000 per year.

Appreciated Securities. Donating appreciated securities may save more tax than donating cash. A cash gift of $10,000 will produce an income tax deduction of $10,000. However, a gift of appreciated stock worth $10,000 will produce not only a $10,000 deduction, but also eliminate the capital gains tax (0%, 15%, or 20%) imposed on the appreciation of the stock upon sale. Note that deductions for a cash gift are limited to 60% of adjusted gross income each year; deductions for donations of appreciated property are limited to 30% of AGI.

Giving Techniques for Moderate to Larger Gifts:

Donor Advised Fund. If you want to make a gift but are undecided about the ultimate charitable beneficiaries, a donor advised fund provides flexibility. A DAF is an investment account held by a sponsoring organization. A donor contributes to the account and receives an income tax deduction for the value of the contribution. The sponsoring organization owns and invests the funds, which grow income-tax free, and distributes to charities as the donor advises. Currently, there are no laws requiring annual distributions from a DAF, but sponsoring organizations often have policies addressing it. Entry-level donations range from $5,000 to

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Hancock Whitney named among “America’s Best Banks 2022” by


Hancock Whitney—one of America’s strongest and safest banks— has been named to Forbes’ list of America’s Best Banks 2022. Forbes’ 13th annual America’s Best Banks list looks at growth, credit quality and profitability to rank the 100 largest publicly traded banks. Hancock Whitney is honored to be on this list— proving strength and stability for more than 120 years.

The men and women who founded our bank expected their successors to carry on the Honor and Integrity, Strength and Stability, Commitment to Service, Teamwork and Personal Responsibility they set forth for the cornerstone of the company. Well more than a century later, those core values still guide how we do business. Collectively, those principles also support our legacy as a steward for protecting our environment, advocating equitable opportunities for all people and sustaining transparency and accountability throughout our organization.

Guided by a promise to help our clients and communities grow and thrive, in 2021 Hancock Whitney invested more than $5 million in community contributions, $525 million in community development and $743 million in small business loans to help sustain local economies during the pandemic and in the wake of recent storms.

We are here to provide the tools and support our clients need during every step of their financial journey, and this recognition from Forbes reinforces to our current clients and community members that Hancock Whitney has the capabilities and track record to provide ongoing financial success.

When you work with Hancock Whitney, you get the confidence of knowing you’re working with one of America’s Best Banks. We look forward to helping you achieve your dreams, whatever they may be.

Find us at or at your New Orleans area Hancock Whitney financial center.

December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life 33 financial
Ever wonder what it takes to be named one of Forbes’ Best Banks?
Hancock Whitney Bank, Member FDIC.

Birmingham, AL Location 2501 20th Place South, Suite 350 Birmingham, AL 35223 205-414-2151

Hilary Weiss Realtor (205) 876-3052 cell


Charitable Trusts. Charitable trusts may be useful when you anticipate a taxable event, whether during life or at death, and want to retain an economic benefit from the donated property, whether for yourself or for others. The donor receives tax deduction benefits for the trust interest donated to charity. Generally, these trusts come in two categories, charitable remainder trusts and charitable lead trusts. Charitable remainder trusts and grantor charitable lead trusts help plan for too much taxable income in a reporting year. Charitable remainder trusts and non-grantor charitable lead trusts help reduce estate taxes at death.

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Private Foundation. A private foundation allows you to retain control over distributions and develop a formal process for making grants. Additionally, it brings your family into the philanthropic process. You form a nonprofit corporation, donate to it, and then make distributions. Unlike a DAF, a PF must distribute at least 5% of the value of its assets each year. A PF is truly a family business, and a number of business-related formalities must be followed.

As you consider charitable gifts for this year and the next, consult your advisors to determine whether one of these techniques might magnify the benefits of giving for you.

Sarah S. Johnston is a Trusts, Estates and Wealth Preservation attorney at Dentons Sirote PC in Birmingham. No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.


When Jefferson Financial Federal Credit Union was first chartered in 1966, operating from a second-floor office space above a local florist shop, its primary function was to serve the employees of the Jefferson Parish School System. Five decades later, the years are marked with breakthroughs and advancement that have further solidified Jefferson Financial’s role as an institution that exists to serve and advance the community.

The member-owned, not-for-profit credit union is now comprised of more than 50,000 members across six Louisiana parishes, making it the third-largest credit union in the region. With 14 branches located in Louisiana and over 150 employees, Jefferson Financial FCU is focused on members’ financial success.

“The financial industry has been consolidating for over 30 years, but Jefferson Financial continues to be a significant, growth-oriented company dedicated to serving our members and educating others about the benefits of credit union membership,” said CEO Mark Rosa.

New Orleans, LA Location 1250 Poydras Street, Suite 2400 New Orleans, LA 70113 504-569-2403

Boca Raton, FL Location

5355 Town Center Road, Suite 600 Boca Raton, FL 33486 561-338-8015

Members will find many of the same services offered by traditional banks, like online and mobile banking, personal and mortgage loans, vehicle loans, payroll deduction, and more, with notable benefits and assets that help to elevate Jefferson Financial’s membership value.

“One of the top perks of belonging to a credit union is that you have the opportunity to earn higher yields on savings and borrow money at lower financing rates,” Rosa explains.

Jefferson Financial’s mission is supplemented by community action to give back to current and future members. They remain active in their support of several local non-profits, local governments and Chambers of Commerce, contributing resources and skills to ensure continued growth and prosperity for the communities they serve.

Jefferson Financial FCU’s top priority is serving their members, as the members are the owners. “We strive to the best of our abilities to ensure members’ financial service needs are met to put and keep them on the path to their own financial success,” Rosa said. “Our primary goal is to provide members with a secure, sound financial institution.”

34 December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life financial
Pictured from left to right: Alan Weintraub, Financial Advisor, First Vice President-Investments, Bari Bridges, CFP®, Financial Advisor, Steven Wetzel, Financial Consultant, Linda Hodges, Senior Registered Client Associate, Jonathan Schlackman, Branch Manager, Senior Vice President-Investments, Alan Brockhaus, CFP®, ChFC®, Assistant Vice President, Branch Liaison, Joshua Zamat, Financial Advisor, First Vice President-Investments
Investment and Insurance Products: NOT FDIC Insured / NO Bank Guarantee / MAY Lose Value Wells Fargo Advisors is a trade name used by Wells Fargo Clearing Services, LLC, Member SIPC, a registered broker-dealer and non-bank affiliate of Wells Fargo & Company CAR-0521-03268
Whether it is selling your current home or finding a new one, let me help you make the right decision.
Jefferson Financial’s mission continues to be serving its

chanukah giftguid


Gus Mayer

225 Summit Blvd., #700 Birmingham 205/870.3300


Your favorite shayna punim gets the cover on personalized cards. Cost varies according to quantity ordered.

The Baobab Candle Collection, luxury scented candles and home fragrances, has a unique collection that takes you into an olfactory universe, paying tribute to the imprint of the world’s cultures.

Rudman’s Gifts 741 Veterans Memorial Blvd Metairie 504/833.1286

to provide

NOLA Gifts & Decor

5101 West Esplanade Ave. Metairie 3001 Ormond Blvd. Destrehan 504/407.3532

At this locally-owned boutique, there is a wide range of New Orleans-inspired home décor, gifts and accessories, as well as Jolie Home Paints. Along with year-round items, there are plenty of seasonal options, including Chanukah merchandise, such as these Chanukah socks. There is also plenty of LSU, Tulane and Saints items for giftgiving, and New Orleans-themed masks, including many local schools. Orders can be placed online for shipping.

M & M Jewelers

440 Inverness Corners Birmingham 205/991-0593

M&M specializes in custom jewelry and offers sweet ideas for Chanukah gifts from its Stuller collection. That includes Star of David, Torah scroll and Chai necklaces in white gold or rose gold as well as Star of David charms.

Owner Laura Robinson, who started the store 31 years ago, said some of the items may not be in store, but can be ordered and come in usually within a week. She also said emerald-cut diamonds are also very popular, special gifts.

visitors from around the world with a unique and inviting shopping

Let’s Get This Party Started e
SJLNov2014.indd 59 print 504.837.5444 info@ Scott
Rudman’s is a gift, stationery, invitation and greeting card shop with Judaica and unique gifts, and they are especially proud to offer locallly designed and produced Louisiana products. Individualized service is a specialty with wording and design assistance on any time of personal or business correspondence, and their partnership with industry leaders guarantees a top-notch finished product. Customer service they’re famous for, plus free gift wrapping and at-cost UPS shipping them
Traditions ENDURE

chanukah gifts

Chateau Drugs and Gifts

3544 West Esplanade Avenue Metairie 504/889.2300

Chateau Drugs and Gifts has been a pharmacy since 1977, but it also has a diverse selection of gifts, including art and handmade pottery, Judaica, clothes (mostly sweaters, robes, pajamas), lamps, purses, small luggage, kids’ costumes, New Orleansthemed gifts from Jax Frey as well as Purple Pumpkin, Beatrice Ball, toys, bath and body products, wine charms, as well as much more.

She recommends “The Essential Kabbalah, The Heart of Jewish Mysticism” by Daniel C. Matt. It is a “selection of essential teachings from the immense trove of Kabbalah.”

Gates Gifts

4000 West Esplanade Avenue Metairie

The only remaining congregational gift shop in the New Orleans area has been recently renovated with expanded new merchandise, and is stocked for Chanukah, from Judaica to games and gifts for all occasions.

Earthborn Pottery

7575 Parkway Drive Leeds, Ala 205/702.7055

Earthborn Studios provides artistic pottery plates, bowls and related functional artwork to restaurants around the world. Their clients range from the Bellagio Resort and Casino in Las Vegas to Alabama Power.

36 December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life EXPERIENCE THE MAGIC NOVEMBER 25, 2022 - JANUARY 4, 2023 CLOSED DECEMBER 25, 2022 & JANUARY 1, 2023 BELLINGRATH.ORG | (251) 973-2217 RESIDENTIAL CONSTRUCTION EXPERT STEPHEN FLEISHMANN 504-913-3030 Stephen Fleishmann, owner of Titan Construction, has more than 25 years of construction experience and
years of experience in legal consulting. He is a highly skilled expert witness in the area of value and causation of construction defects and deficiencies. u Construction Damage / Defect assessments u Cost estimation, which may include replacement or reproduction cost estimates u Narrative presentations and reports with inspection findings and conclusions u Code Interpretation u Expert witness testimony for depositions, mediations and settlement conferences, and arbitrations and trials u Expert opinion on residential construction, design/construction defects, building envelope evaluation, and means and methods assessment u Pre-case evaluations u Site inspections u Litigation support u Case analysis Licensed in Alabama, Florida and Louisiana
more than 15
Ritual + Shelter 2900 18th St So Homewood 205/388.8793 Owner Jennifer Dorman said the Homewood store continues to grow its selection of candles, books, scents and decorative items.

chanukah gifts

Dorothy McDaniel’s Flower Market

3300 3rd Avenue So. Birmingham 205/871.0092

Crestline Pharmacy

60 Church St Birmingham 205/871.0317

Crestline Pharmacy has significantly expanded its Chanukah gifts selection and moved everything to inside of the Crestline Village store.

This includes decorative menorahs, art, towels, Chanukah-themed porcelain gingerbread houses, lights, wine bottle holders and cards.

Dorothy McDaniel Flower Market celebrates its 41st year of providing floral arrangements, gifts and event floral to the community.

“We’ve been proud to serve the Jewish community,” said McDaniel. “We do most of the flowers at Temple Emanu-El and we’ve done many weddings, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.”

The store was expanded when they moved to the Lakeview area eight years ago. McDaniel recommends custom arrangements for Chanukah or other celebrations.

They also have a selection of Judaica-themed Chanukah towels, candles and menorahs.

Image Arts

213 Country Club Park Birmingham 205/870.0178

Photographic and video memories can be some of the most special. Crestline Village’s Image Arts converts old photos and movies to DVD or MP4 format.

Owner Hank Spencer, who started the franchise in May 2002, said he has done photos for Chanukah cards and Image Arts also specializes in custom framing. Some of the acrylic frames in the store are also popular gifts.

December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life 37

Chanukah has gone Crypto, with the introduction of Manischewitz Crypto Gelt. Typical cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, are completely digital and have no physical form. Manischewitz Crypto Gelt is made from milk chocolate, in packaging that mirrors the most well-known logos of popular cryptocurrency.

Wrapped in gold foil, Manischewitz Crypto Gelt can be easily identified by their resemblance to real gold coins, with a stylized “M” and vertical strokes from the dollar sign incorporated above and below. Crypto Gelt is sold in a package of 36 bags, and also in individual bags with four coins per bag. And the only way these have a meltdown is if you keep them in your pocket for too long.

Southern Coin and Collectibles unearths rare treasures

Ethan Thomason considers Hoover’s Southern Coin and Collectibles — to coin a phrase — “a museum of treasures that can be purchased.”

Some of its rare acquisitions dinosaur fossils and the world’s largest collection of $20 bills uncovered from the first, unsolved airline hijacking in 1971.

“We’re fascinated by history and connections to historical events,” said Thomason. “These aren’t just collectibles, these are stories. It’s like history in your hands.”

Southern Coin and Collectibles sells Israeli commemorative coins, including ones focusing on the Six Day War. They also have Chanukah-themed coins and a rare find — a 1943 aluminum coin that circulated in the Jewish Ghetto of Lodz, Poland.

“We also have a set of authentic ancient coins (some from Biblical days) that comes with stories about the coins,” said Thomason.

They also have coins from and newspaper clippings about Bonnie and Clyde. But their “most rare” connection to an historical crime are the D.B Cooper bills.

Pre-state coin from 1934

In 1971, Cooper (a pseudonym, since his actual name wasn’t known) hijacked a Northwest Orient Airlines flight on its way to Seattle, Wash.

He demanded $200,000 in $20 bills and a parachute. Cooper parachuted out of the plane after receiving his money and letting the hostages go. He was never found.

In 1980, a family camping by the Columbia River in Washington found a satchel with fragments of 70 to 75 $20 bills, most just pieces of the bills.

Southern Coins and Collectibles acquired 30 of the bills still known to be in circulation. The complete estimated value of their collection is $250,000, but they are selling the collection in individual pieces. One signed by FBI Agent Max Jarrell, who worked on the case, is valued at $25,000.

Thomason said he acquired his love of collecting from his father, who started Homewood’s Doug’s Coins and Jewelry in 1984.

Southern Coin and Collectibles also sells sports cards as well as signed memorabilia. Thomason added that they also buy and sell gold, keeping up with market trends to offer customers the most up-to-date information. “We’re passionate collectors too. We love finding unique items and it’s most rewarding when we can help parent instill a love of collectibles in their kids.”

Southern Coin and Collectibles

1564-A Montgomery Hwy. Birmingham 205/822.4900

38 December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life chanukah gifts

McWane Science Center

200 19th Street No. Birmingham 205/714.8300

The McWane Science Center is on track this holiday season with gift ideas. Last month they opened their annual Trains exhibition, which includes 4,000-square-feet of model trains, a riding train and a zipline.

Marketing Director Miranda Springer said they have model train sets and other related gifts in their gift shop.

“The shop has a lot of books that can introduce kids to trains, space, science and engineering,” said Springer. “There are also science experiment kits and science-related toys/games you likely won’t find in toy stores.”

She said that people can shop in the gift shop, even if they don’t purchase tickets, but added that “memberships make for great gifts that keep on giving.”

Mon Ami

Kosher Cajun

3519 Severn Avenue Metairie 504/888-2010

40 Church Street, Crestline Birmingham 205/848.7800

Mon Ami is French for “my friend” and the Crestline Village store has become the place to get kids’ clothes sizes 4 to 18, as well as Chanukah gifts.

They have holiday-themed puzzles by White Mountain, watches by Watchitude, winter pants by Iscream, Alabama and Auburn Blue Tooth, shirts as well as hair brushes.

Have lunch and get your Chanukah shopping done — in addition to the extensive grocery selections, Kosher Cajun has its Chanukah shop open with a wide range of gifts and decor.

40 December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life
chanukah gifts
Visit or call 504-897-0535 to learn more. Experience Poydras Home Reimagined in 2022 Priority Registration Open Now

Judy Barrasso was presented the National Council of Jewish Women, Greater New Orleans Section’s Hannah G. Solomon Award at an Oct. 24 luncheon at the Audubon Tea Room.

The Section’s top award is presented annually to a community leader who exemplifies the qualities of Solomon, founder of the National Council of Jewish Women. Recipients selected are known for their interest, activity and stands on issues with which NCJW is in sympathy. They have proven to bring about important community programs and services through their leadership in a volunteer capacity and each has been a catalyst for social change.

In opening the luncheon, Rabbi Katie Bauman of Touro Synagogue spoke of how Solomon rebuked the assumption of the role of women in her time. Similarly, Barrasso was among the first group of women to attend law school.

NCJW President Gail Pesses said “Like the founder, Barrasso is a trailblazer and staunch advocate for women’s rights and civil rights in our State, and leader in the community to promote social change.

“Barrasso has risen to the top of her profession, founding Barrasso, Usdin Kupperman, Freeman & Sarver, where she has been consistently ranked at the top of the legal profession in the State of Louisiana as well as nationally, as a past president of the New Orleans Bar Association, and an inductee into Tulane Law School’s Hall of Fame in 2018,” Pesses said.

Event Chair Sara Lewis, childhood friend Cathy Glaser and past award recipient Madalyn Schenck all helped to present Barrasso with the award.

Letters from Governor John Bel Edwards and Congressman Troy Carter were read, lauding Barrasso’s work for the state, and a proclamation on

behalf of the New Orleans City Council was presented by Councilmember Joseph I. Giarrusso III.

Barrasso was acknowledged for volunteering her legal skills tirelessly for civil rights and women’s rights. On the board of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights, she worked to protect access to elections nationwide, ensuring that absentee ballots were respected and early voting sites were available. Barrasso also served as co-counsel in the federal redistricting effort for congressional seats. This included fighting to obtain fair dis-

December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life 41 community
CHARLIE PARKER’S YARDBIRD The Ranney and Emel Songu Mize Chamber Opera Series At the New Orleans Jazz Market January 20, 2023 at 7:30 PM January 21, 2023 at 7:30 PM January 22 at 2:30 PM NCJW honors Barrasso at Hannah Solomon lunch Judy
family: Harris Golden, Brent Barriere,
Ashley Barriere and
Daniel Schnyder
Judy Barrasso,
Daniel Meyer

Wishing you a Happy Chanukah

communitytricts that adequately represent minority communities and writing a pro bono amicus brief opposing gerrymandering and supporting equal representation.

She also has volunteered her legal expertise to support efforts to maintain abortion rights. In June Medical Services, LLC v. Russo, the Supreme Court case in which the court ruled that a Louisiana state law placing hospital-admission requirements on abortion clinics doctors was unconstitutional, Barrasso fought to obtain attorneys’ fees on behalf of the plaintiffs. Currently, Barrasso and her firm submitted an amicus brief in the ongoing abortion litigation in Louisiana and she is working to obtain supporting evidence and affidavits from physicians and providers, who are already struggling to be able to provide medical services that their patients desperately need.

Barrasso said she shares the award “that I am so honored to receive with all of these ‘unlikely heroes,’ the folks who refuse to be silenced during these challenging times, who risk losing their jobs, or their customers or even their lives, to have their voices heard and to keep trying to fight for justice.”

She took that phrase from the 1981 book “Unlikely Heroes” by Jack Bass, a profile of judges during the Civil Rights era who gave up prosperous lives, popularity, and friends to see that the constitutional rights of all citizens were protected.

She added, “I encourage lawyers and those with privilege to use their power to defend legal principles at a time of mounting peril to our democracy.”

When asked to single out an achievement for which she was most proud, she said it was her firm’s Pro-Bono/Public Service Award from the New Orleans chapter of the Federal Bar Association, instead of an individual award she received, as the public service award was the result of the work of younger lawyers that she mentors.

The award itself is inscribed with a quote from Solomon, “We must add our voices to those who cry out that there is a standard below which we will not allow human beings to live… In a democracy all are responsible.”

Recent honorees include Ina Weber Davis, Madelaine Landrieu, Susan Hess, Kim Sport, Ana and Dr. Juan Gershanik, Julie Schwam Harris, Marjorie and Dr. Scott Cowen, Ruth Kullman, Mary Keller Zervigon, and Joan Berenson.

42 December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life
Left: Kathy Shepard, Dana Shepard. Right: Susan Hess, Loel Weil Samuel, and Sue Singer
The Latest News…
Judge Robin Giarrusso, Judy Barrasso, Sara Lewis and Gail Fenton Pesses

Three from region make J100 list

For its 50th anniversary gala, the news site The Algemeiner released its ninth J100 list of the “top 100 individuals who have positively influenced Jewish life this past year,” though one need not be Jewish to make the list.

In this year’s list, there were three from this region — Auburn Basketball Coach Bruce Pearl, NBA legend and Auburn alumnus Charles Barkley, and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

In releasing the list, the Algemeiner stated that there was a particular emphasis “on those standing at the forefront of assisting Ukraine’s Jewish community.” While Pearl made headlines for leading the Auburn basketball team on a groundbreaking trip to Israel in August, it was his comments on Ukraine that the newspaper highlighted.

In a March interview, near Purim, Pearl noted that his Hebrew name is Mordecai, and spoke of the survival of the Jews of Persia in that ancient story. Responding to a call by a fellow coach for donations to Ukraine for every three-point basket, Pearl invoked the memory of the Holocaust and the call for “Never Again” in saying “I’m all in. Help the Ukrainian people.”

In the same interview, he also mentioned the existential threat to the Jewish people from modern-day Persia, through Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon.

Barkley was honored for his comments on the controversy involving Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving, who promoted an antisemitic film on his social media.

“You gonna insult me, you have the right, but I have the right to say, ‘You can’t take my $40 million and insult my religion’,” Barkley declared, as he criticized the league for not suspending Irving. “I think the NBA, they made a mistake. We’ve suspended people and fined people who have made homophobic slurs. And that was the right thing to do.”

The first black baby to be born at a segregated, all-white hospital in Leeds, near Birmingham, Barkley did not know Jews when he was growing up, but has become an outspoken defender of the community. In 2021, his daughter married a Jewish man, and the “Round Mound of Rebound” was greatly concerned about the ability of those in attendance to pick him up in a chair during the dancing. He said, “I need all Jewish people on deck, brother. Cause I can only get so skinny by Saturday, man.”

DeSantis easily won re-election as Florida governor in November, with the Republican attracting a substantial amount of Jewish support

December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life 43 community Seats on Sale Wed., Jan. 4th V i e w a l l w i n e p a i r i n g m e n u s a t w y e s . o r g / e v e n t s O u r g e n e r o u s s p o n s o r s : AJ'S PRODUCE Celebrating 30 Years! J a n . 1 8 F e b . 5 M a r c h 2 M a r c h 3 M a r c h 2 1 J u n e 6 J u n e 2 1 J u l y 1 4
Algemeiner honors those positively affecting Jewish life

in the state.

As The Algemeiner stated, “a fervent advocate of closer ties between the US and Israel, DeSantis has promised to be “the most pro-Israel governor in America,” pushing trade and commercial opportunities and vigorously opposing efforts to subject Israel to an economic boycott.

He is also seeking Jewish support for his crusade against “woke” ideology and critical race theory, telling the June 2022 Tikvah Fund Jewish Leadership Conference that “we are not going to teach kids to hate our country.”

Barry Manilow and Bruce Sussman were also listed for their work on “Harmony,” a new musical about the Comedian Harmonists, a renowned musical act in Germany in the 1920s who are virtually unknown today, because they consisted of three Jews and three non-Jews, and the Nazi regime destroyed the group and tried to erase it from history. The Broadway-bound musical was performed at the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene earlier this year.

One of the preliminary runs of “Harmony” was in Atlanta in 2013.

Atlanta native Alfred Uhry, who is known for his plays and screenplays about the Southern Jewish experience, is also listed. His 1998 musical “Parade,” the story of Leo Frank, is undergoing a revival this year.

Among his best-known works are “Driving Miss Daisy” and “Last Night of Ballyhoo.”

Cantorial weekend starts anniversary for Panama City’s B’nai Israel

B’nai Israel in Panama City will host Cantor Howard Shalowitz the weekend of Jan. 13 to kick off the congregation’s 20th anniversary celebration of its current location.

December 2020 • Southern Jewish Life 17

Shalowitz is an adjunct professor of Jewish music at Webster University, a guest lecturer on Jewish music at the University of Miami, and an instructor at Washington University’s Lifelong Learning Institute.

Since the age of 18, he has been a High Holy Days cantor for several congregations, including nine years at the prestigious Sutton Place Synagogue in New York City. As chairman of the Cantors Assembly’s Ambassador Program Committee, he has led services and lectured on Jewish music throughout North America.

He wrote, narrated and produced four television programs for the Jewish holidays: “The Sound of the Shofar,” “The Light of the Menorah,” “The Cup of Elijah” and “The Scroll of Esther,” which have aired on St. Louis television for over 20 years.

The Bay Jewish Community was formed in 1992, becoming B’nai Israel in 1994. In 2000, they received a donation of two acres of land, and the current building was dedicated in 2003.

44 December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life community chanukah

indulging in the deep-fried delicacy Crispy Beef Chow Meinorah.

The patriarch of the Maccabees was Mattathias or, in the original Klingon, Matityahu. While he didn’t last very long into the revolt, his legacy is honored with, not one, but three dishes on the special night’s menu.

The first is Matityahunan Beef. For vegetarians, there’s the alternative Matityahu Goo Gai Pan. The menu also lists Matityahu Shu Pork, but it’s always crossed out to symbolize the shooing away of the unkosher food.

To cap off the meal are the final fried confection, Fortune Sufganiyot. These jelly-filled Chinese doughnuts are a popular treat, and the fortune inside always gives the same 100% accurate prognostication: “your fingers will remain sticky for two days after you read this.”

Doug Brook tries to finish his December 24 leftovers before the egg foo yung becomes egg foo old. For nearly several more laughs, listen to the (STILL!) FIVE-star rated Rear Pew Mirror podcast at or on any major podcast platform. For past columns, visit

Over the years, Netanyahu has come to rely more and more on a far-right-wing coalition that now includes some truly terrible people. But when stabbing attacks, rockets and gun battles are on the rise, it makes sense why people trust Bibi.

The NYT Editorial Board failed to make mention of these considerations, and it also included a few things that deserve a rabbinic, Zionist response.

First, they point out that they have always been a strong supporter of Israel and provided a linked article to prove it. I kid you not; the title of the article they linked is “Israel Digs a Grave for the Two-State Solution.” With strong supporters like these, who needs enemies?

Second, they reiterate what they said in the linked article. They imply that Israel’s government is the barrier that stands in the way of a Two-State Solution. Israel said YES to two states in 1948. They said YES to two states at Camp David. They said YES to two states in Oslo. They unilaterally withdrew from Gaza in 2005. They said yes long before Bibi, during Bibi’s tenure, and will continue to say yes long after Bibi is gone. There are barriers to the Two-State Solution, but they are not in Israel.

Finally, the NYT Editorial Board condemns the fact that Netanyahu’s government has among them a handful of racists, homophobes, and nationalists. I condemn that too. And I also recognize that it is no different than the two major political parties in America. And I doubt any government in the world could pass the purity test they put on Israel. It is a double standard that plays into the demonization of the State of Israel.  So no… I didn’t notice the crossword puzzle’s shape on Sunday. But I noticed the biased headline of the NYT Editorial Board. Over the years, I have noticed the media’s constant effort to diminish, disparage and vilify the lone democracy in the Middle East, and the only Jewish state in the world. While the outrage over the swastika is understandable, our outrage about how our homeland is treated should be much greater.

What do you think?

Agree? Disagree?

Send your letters to or mail to P.O. Box 130052 Birmingham, AL 35213

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December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life 45 community continued
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Rear Pew
>> Crossword continued from page 4





Year of the Latke

It’s a common question: What day does Chanukah start this year?

Answer: The 25th of Kislev. The same as every year. Yet it seems earlier every year that the stores start playing their seasonal Jewish music — holiday music largely written by Jewish songwriters.

In some years, like this one, the eight days of Chanukah partially overlap with the 12 days of secular Chanukah. This means that all the annual Chanukah sales are conveniently well-timed for those who observe the secular day as well.

When this overlap lands right, the annual Chinese food seder — which is celebrated on different evenings every year, but always on December 24th on the secular calendar — additionally becomes a Chanukah meal.

Naturally, because it’s Jewish and it’s food, there are traditions. There are special Chinese recipes to eat on this night. There are also stories to tell on this semi-rare occasion about how Chinese food semi-relates to the story of Chanukah itself.





For example, people commonly know the Sunday School story about Chanukah and the menorah in the Temple. There was only one day’s worth of oil but the oil miraculously lasted for eight days, which was necessary because there were eight days of presents to give. But there’s another, relatively obscure yet appetizing anecdote.

The Talmud teaches that when one eats Chinese food, one tends to become hungry again an hour later. Before the final battle when they retook the Temple, the Maccabees were rushed and had Chinese takeout. They should have been hungry after just one hour, but as the fighting wore on, they weren’t hungry for eight hours which was enough time for them to win this culminating clash.

Sunday School stories make it sound like the Maccabee family came out of their revolting conflict smelling like roses; at least, after a shower and change of togas. But several of the five Maccabee brothers — including Judah, by the way — didn’t survive to the end of the conflict.

Eliezer was famously killed in battle when he saw a high-ranking leader riding an elephant. To kill the leader, he ran under the elephant and stabbed it, which had the unfortunate side effect of the elephant collapsing onto Eliezer. This is why on Chanukah people eat latkes: to symbolize Eliezer’s heroic act which resulted in him being pancaked.

Speaking of latkes, they are central to one of the main dishes when Chanukah and December 24 collide. On all other nights, noodles in Chinese food are egg noodles. But on this night, potato noodles are used instead to produce Latke Lo Mein. One can enjoy Latke Lo Mein with soy sauce or applesauce, but hopefully not both together.

Of course, such a special meal should begin with soup. In commemoration of the Maccabean war, and in recognition of the final surviving Maccabee brother (who took over leadership during the revolt when Judah died), it’s traditional to indulge in Wor Yonatan Soup.

One of the main symbols of Chanukah is a nine-candle contraption (Chanukiah) commonly misnamed for its seven-candle cousin, which was the actual accessory in the Temple. A main symbol deserves a tie-in with a main dish, and the Temple’s menorah was lit with oil, which means

46 December 2022 • Southern Jewish Life Michele Karno Varon & Jeff Varon, Owners Mobility City of Greater New Orleans 3501 Severn Ave., Suite 3B/C, Metairie, LA 70002 (504) 584-8780 We help people maintain their independence and improve their quality of life. Need Repair? We Come To You! Wheelchairs Mobility Scooters Power Chairs Rollators & Walkers Lift Out Recliners Hospital Beds We Repair, Rent & Sell: rear pew mirror • doug brook
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Fusing Chanukah and Chinese food never went this far…

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