Monday, April 7, 2014

Patton’s grandson, giving life and remembrance highlight Holocaust programs
SJLMAGMonday, April 07, 2014

With Holocaust Remembrance Day falling on April 28, many communities will have commemorations this month with a wide range of topics and speakers.

Alexandria’s Holocaust commemoration will feature the grandson of General George Patton, Pat Waters.

Waters served in Vietnam with the Navy for five years, then established Waters Investments, a real estate business in Louisiana. He now lives in South Carolina.

Michael Tudor, an Alexandria attorney who started the process leading up to last year’s dedication of a Holocaust memorial in Alexandria (left), said Patton was in Alexandria during the Louisiana Maneuvers, along with Dwight Eisenhower and Omar Bradley.

The Maneuvers were training sessions for the U.S. military, testing a wide range of tactics that ultimately enabled the country to defeat Nazi Germany.

Tudor said the three leaders often stayed and played cards in the Mirror Room of the Hotel Bentley, three blocks from the new memorial. The hotel is currently being restored.

There are two historical markers at the monument, one of which describes Alexandria’s role in the war. A new Anne Frank marker is scheduled to arrive before this year’s commemoration.

The April 28 event will start at the monument at 6 p.m. After the opening service, there will be a two-block procession to Emmanuel Baptist Church for the bulk of the program, including Waters’ talk.

As the procession passes the Cathedral for the Northern Diocese of Louisiana, the cathedral’s bells will ring.

A reception will follow the program at Emmanuel.

Also in Alexandria, the Museum of Art is showing “Theo Tobiasse: Textural Emergence” as part of the Days of Remembrance. The exhibit opened March 7 and runs through May 24.

As a teenager in Paris, he and his family were forced into hiding during the city’s Nazi occupation from 1942 to 1944. He spent most of his time reading and drawing.

After the war, armed with a portfolio of drawings, he began his artistic career as a graphic designer and painted at night. By 1969 he was able to devote all of his time to painting. The works in this exhibition are Carborundums, Aquatints and Lithographs from the 1980s.

Tobiasse, who died in 2012, put his innermost feelings into almost all his works and his little “secret,” entrusted only to his paintings: a personal message which he wrote in Yiddish and then glued onto the canvas before painting or collaging over it. No one will ever know the message without destroying the painting itself.


In Shreveport, this year’s Holocaust commemoration is tied with an effort to give life.

B’nai Zion is holding a blood drive on April 27 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., with a goal of 25 units, along with cheek-swabbing people for the Bone Marrow Registry.

The twin drives are in memory of Zach Guillot of Seattle, who died from an aggressive form of childhood leukemia in February at age 9. His grandparents, Linda and George Guillot, used to live in Shreveport, and his father, Jeff, grew up at B’nai Zion.

The drive is aimed at “giving new life through blood transfusions on a day that we mourn the loss of 11 million.”

That afternoon at 4, the 31st annual Northwest Louisiana interfaith Holocaust remembrance will be at the Christian Center on Idema Street in Shreveport. There will be a candle lighting ceremony and reading of the winning entry in the high school writing competition.


Ars Nova in Huntsville is producing “The Voices of Terezin” at Weatherly Heights Bapist Church on April 11 at 7:30 p.m. and April 12 at 2 p.m. Tickets are $10.

The performance features Tony Kushner’s English translation of the Hans Krasa children’s opera “Brundibar,” which was performed 55 times by children in the Terezin concentration camp.

Also featured will be Charles Davidson’s “I Never Saw Another Butterfly” song cycle for soprano, based on the book of drawings and poems from the children of Terezin. Christie Weber will be the featured performer, accompanied by an ensemble from the Huntsville Community Children’s Chorus and Ars Nova singers.

Ela Stein Weisberger, a survivor of Terezin now living in New York, will provide a pre-show discussion of her Terezin experiences. She was 11 when she was sent to the camp in 1942 and was liberated in 1945. While at the camp, she played the pivotal role of the cat in “Brundibar.”

Weisberger will also speak at Huntsville's Temple B'nai Sholom on April 9 at 7 p.m.


Rabbi Elliot Stevens of Montgomery’s Temple Beth Or will be the keynote speaker at the State of Alabama Holocaust Commemoration, April 29 at 11 a.m. at the Old House Chamber. A proclamation from Governor Robert Bentley will be presented.

A lunch follows the state commemoration. Reservations are required for the lunch, which is $10, and can be made through the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center.

Philip Bialowitz, one of only eight living survivors of the Sobibor extermination camp, will be the keynote speaker at New Orleans’ community-wide Holocaust Memorial Program on April 27 at 7 p.m. at the Uptown Jewish Community Center.

The memorial program remembers and honors local survivors while educating the public about the horrors of the Nazi regime and teaching the importance of tolerance. The evening is free and open to the public.

Bialowitz participated in the largest successful prisoner revolt of the Holocaust. He will share his experiences at Sobibór and discuss the continued importance of mutual respect among people of different beliefs.

During the program, the ninth Annual Educator of the Year award will be presented to Tony Behan, a religion and theology teacher at De La Salle High School in New Orleans. This award recognizes local teachers who do an outstanding job integrating Holocaust education into their curriculum.

High school delegates selected for the Anti-Defamation League Donald R. Mintz Youth Leadership Mission to Washington will also be recognized.

A Holocaust remembrance will also be held at Gates of Prayer in Metairie on April 27 at 11 a.m.

In Birmingham, educational programming began in March with an annual Brown Bag Lunch series at the Birmingham Public Library, featuring sessions on the Holocaust each week.

In April, the Levite Jewish Community Center is doing “27 Days of Understanding and Tolerance” leading up to Holocaust Memorial Day, in conjunction with the Birmingham Jewish Federation’s Jewish Community Relations Coalition.

Visitors to the LJCC will be asked to participate in an activity centering on understanding and tolerance.

Toward the end of the 27 days there will be a viewing of the new JCC Holocaust memorial garden, and on April 27 the program concludes with the 2 p.m. screening of “No Place on Earth.” The documentary talks about Esther Stermer of Ukraine, who in October 1942 leads her family to hide from the Nazis. They spent about a year and a half living underground, in two caves.

B’nai Israel in Monroe will also screen “No Place on Earth” at its remembrance on April 27 at 2 p.m.

Birmingham’s community program will be April 23 at 7 p.m., at Samford University’s Brock Recital Hall. Concert pianist and Grammy nominee Mona Golabek will present “The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” based on her book “The Children of Willesden Lane.”

Her mother was sent from Vienna on the Kindertransport in 1938, arriving at a home for refugee children on Willesden Lane in London. About 10,000 children — three-quarters of them Jewish — were saved through the Kindertransport.

“I was so overwhelmed by the love my grandmother showed in sending her daughter away, losing her forever to save her, that I vowed to share this story with the world,” Golabek said.

The evening will also include a candle lighting ceremony.

Golabek will have two additional performances. On April 22 at 10 a.m. she will perform for schools that are taking part in the community read of her book, and on April 24 at 1 p.m. she will perform for Samford University music students and other invited music students.

The Birmingham Holocaust Education Center also announced that a set of the exhibit “Darkness Into Life” about Holocaust survivors in Alabama will be permanently housed at the Friedman Center at Knesseth Israel in Birmingham.

On April 8, the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center, Anti-Defamation League and University of West Alabama hold an educators workshop at the Livingston campus.

Auburn University Montgomery
holds its annual Holocaust Education Program on April 9 from 9:30 a.m. to noon, at the AUM athletic complex. Holocaust survivors Max Herzel and Max Steinmetz will speak.

The Jewish Federation of Huntsville and North Alabama will hold its commemoration, “America in the Shadow of the Holocaust” on May 4 at the Huntsville Museum of Art, starting at 2 p.m.

Guest speaker will be Leslie Kahn, granddaughter of Holocaust survivors who were rescued by a relative in Huntsville, Lawrence Goldsmith. Frustrated by the State Department during his efforts, Goldsmith went through other channels, including Senator John Sparkman, to get the family out of Europe.

On April 17 at noon, Dan Puckett, author of “In the Shadow of Hitler: Alabama’s Jews, the Second World War and the Holocaust,” will speak on “The Resettlement of Jewish Refugees in Alabama 1938-1941” at the Alabama Archives in Montgomery.

Jackson’s
Holocaust remembrance program will be April 26 at Beth Israel, featuring University of North Carolina at Charlotte Professor James Grymes, who is interim chair of the department of music, and Marta Szlubowska, concert mistress for the Mississippi Symphony.

Grymes is author of “Violins of Hope,” about the power of music even during the horrors of the Holocaust. According to a profile of the book, “for some musicians, the instrument was a liberator; for others, it was a savior that spared their lives. For many, the violin provided comfort in mankind’s darkest hour, and, in at least one case, helped avenge murdered family members.”

The book talks about Israeli violin maker Amnon Weinstein, who is working to bring these instruments back to life as a tribute to those who were lost in the Holocaust, including 400 of his relatives.

Also in Jackson, the Oscar-nominated film "The Lady in No. 6" will be screened at Beth Israel in cooperation with Jewish Cinema Mississippi. It tells the story of Alice Herz-Sommer, who was the oldest living Holocaust survivor at age 110. She died one week before this year's Oscars ceremony. A pizza lunch will be served at noon on April 27, the film will begin at 12:30 p.m.

Baton Rouge’s commemoration will be on April 27 at 4 p.m., at Beth Shalom, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Baton Rouge and the Advocate Educational Services Department.

Holocaust survivor Manny Klepper of Lafayette will speak, and there will be recognition of essay contest winners.

Klepper was almost seven years old during Kristallnacht. A group of young men invaded their home in Trier, trashing the place. Afterward, a group of nuns from the convent next door came by to see what the noise was, and spent the entire night helping clean the house.

Klepper’s father was in the resistance. It took until 1940 for family members in the United States to go through the bureaucracy to get the rest of the family out of Europe, which at that point could be done only via Russia to Korea and Japan. He arrived in the United States in late 1940.

Mobile’s community Holocaust commemoration is done in conjunction with the Christian-Jewish Dialogue. This year’s event will be at Springhill Avenue Temple on April 27 at 7 p.m.

The event will feature artwork, poems and essays by Mobile County students, and a special recognition to Agnes Tennenbaum, a Holocaust survivor who moved from Arizona to Mobile in 2006.

Also in Mobile, the exhibit “Helene Berr, A Stolen Life” about “the French Anne Frank” continues at Spring Hill College through Aug. 10.

Montgomery’s interfaith Holocaust memorial service will be on April 27 at 3 p.m. Temple Beth Or will host. There will be readings and presentations by numerous clergy, and Turia Stark Williams will sing.

In Auburn, a Holocaust remembrance is scheduled for April 27 at Beth Shalom, starting at 3 p.m.

Dothan’s Temple Emanu-El will hold its Holocaust remembrance at the April 25 Shabbat service.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Passover in the Deep South
SJLMAGWednesday, April 02, 2014

Those selling their chametz through Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El can be confident in its security during the holiday. On April 14, Birmingham Police Chief A.C. Roper will buy the chametz in a 9 a.m. ceremony.

Those selling the chametz are asked to contribute to the Rabbi’s Discretionary Fund, with the contribution then being made to the Birmingham Police Athletic Teams, which offer sports programs to at-risk youth.

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Beth Israel in Metairie is one of 20 congregations in the country to be selected for the National Jewish Outreach Program’s Passover Across America initiative. The congregation is reaching out to the entire Jewish community to offer a “traditional, kosher, yet accessible to all” second night Seder on April 15. The member-run evening is open to all, regardless of observance level. Services will begin at 7 p.m., with the Seder starting at 8 p.m. Reservations are requested by April 8. Cost is $26 for adult members, $36 for non-members. Children are $15 for members, $20 for non-members, and children under 4 are free. A significant portion of the Seder’s cost is being deferred by the NJOP grant.

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Southern Passover Pilgrimage

Two rabbis from the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life will continue “a Southern Jewish Tradition” by embarking on a Passover Pilgrimage through the region.

Rabbis Marshal Klaven and Matthew Dreffin will conduct services, lead Seders, offer educational programs and facilitate dialogue. Each year, the events draw a diverse crowd and foster positive, shared community experiences.

This year, the week-long tour expands to seven states.

Klaven will start on April 11 and 12 at B’nai Israel in Natchez for Shabbat and pre-Passover programming. On April 13 he will do a pre-Passover community Seder at Meir Chayim in McGehee, Ark.

For the first Seder on April 14 he will be at B’nai Israel in Panama City, then second night on April 15 at B’nai Israel, Albany, Ga. On April 16, he will lead a “third night” Seder at Beth Shalom in Auburn.

On April 17 he will lead a community social and adult educational program at Mishkan Israel in Selma, then complete the tour at Temple Shalom in Lafayette for Shabbat on April 18 and 19.

Dreffin will start with a first-night Seder on April 14 at Anshe Chesed in Vicksburg, then will journey to the Upper Cumberland Jewish Community in Crossville, Tenn., for a third-night Seder on April 16.

On April 17 he will be at Rodeph Shalom in Rome, Ga., then spend Shabbat on April 18 and 19 at B’nai Israel in Fayetteville, Ga.

Dreffin’s journey concludes in Dahlonega with an event on April 19 at Shalom B’Harim, then on April 20 at the Georgia Mountains Unitarian Universalist Church.

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Seder in the South:

Auburn’s Beth Shalom and Auburn Hillel will have a Seder with Rabbi Marshal Klaven on April 16 ay 6 p.m. Reservations are due by April 11, cost is $18 for adults, $8 for children.

Knesseth Israel in Birmingham will have a second night Seder on April 15 at 7:30 p.m. Reservations for adults are $36, $18 for those under 21. There is a limit of 40 seats.

Chabad of Alabama
will have a Seder on April 14. Services will be at 7 p.m., followed by the Seder at 7:30 p.m. Cost is $36 for adults, $18 for children under 12.

Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El will have a first night Seder with Rabbi Laila Haas, April 14 from 6 to 9 p.m. Traditional foods will be served and participants are asked to bring a bottle of wine or grape juice. Child care is provided for a portion of the Seder for ages 15 months to 5 years. Seder reservations are $25, $10 for children 12 and under, and are due by April 7.

The annual Emanu-El Sisterhood Women’s Seder is April 6 at 5 p.m. There will also be a Candy Seder on April 13 at 10 a.m. for Kindergarten through 6th grade.

Dothan’s Temple Emanu-El will have its Seder on April 14 at 6 p.m. Reservations are $28 for adults, $14 for children, and are due on April 7.

Temple B’nai Sholom in Huntsville will have its community Seder at Cooper House, behind the Temple, on April 15 from 5 to 9 p.m. Seder will be observed with music and meditation, and the Haggadah on the big screen. Reservations are $30 before April 7 and $35 after. Children 12 and under are free with a paying adult. No reservations are available after noon on April 14.

Ahavas Chesed in Mobile will have its Seder on April 14 at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $40 for members and $45 for non-members, children under 13 are free. Reservations are due on April 7.

Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile will have its Seder on April 14 at 6 p.m. Reservations are $35 for members, $40 for non-members, and $20 for those under age 13. Reservations are due by April 9.

Temple Beth Or in Montgomery will hold its Seder on April 15 at 6 p.m., using the Reform movement’s “Open Door” Haggadah. Reservations are $25 for adults, $10 ages 6 to 12, free for 5 and under. Reservations are due on April 8.

Temple Emanu-El in Tuscaloosa
will have a first night Seder on April 14 at 5 p.m. Reservations are $25 for adults, $10 for ages 12 and under, and are due on April 9. A vegetarian option will be available.

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Beth Shalom in Fort Walton Beach
will have its Seder on April 15 at 6 p.m., at the Eglin Air Force Base Bayview Club. Cost is $39.50 for member adults, $14 ages 3 to 10 with a family maximum of $95, $60 for single-parent households. Non-member reservations are $52.50 for adults, $18.50 for ages 3 to 10. Confidential financial arrangements can be made for those who need. With reservations, which are due by April 8, information is needed for base security. All those attending who do not have a military ID must provide their names and dates of birth, and those age 16 and over need to provide the number for a photo ID, such as a driver’s license or school ID. The photo ID is required when passing through the gate.

B’nai Israel in Panama City
will have its Seder on April 14. Reservations are due by April 5.

Temple Beth-El in Pensacola will have its Seder on April 14 at 6 p.m. Babysitting is available. Reservations are $25 for member adults, $30 for non-members if space is available. Military and college students, and children ages 5 to 12 are $16.50. Children 4 and under are free. Reservations are due on April 4.

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Mississippi State Hillel and Temple B’nai Israel in Columbus will have their Seder on April 14 at 6:30 p.m. Reservations are requested by April 4. Cost is $36 per person, $12 for full-time students and children under 10. The students will meet at the Shell near the U.S. 82 on-ramp at 5:45 p.m. to caravan.

B’nai Israel in Hattiesburg will have a community Seder on April 14 at 6 p.m.

Jackson’s Beth Israel will have a second night Seder on April 15 at 6 p.m. Reservations are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Children ages 5 to 10 are $7, under 5 are free. Reservations are requested by April 11. There is a vegetarian option.

The Oxford Jewish community, which generally draws over 50 for their Seder, will have this year’s observance at the Unitarian Universalist Church on April 14.

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Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge will have its Seder on April 15 at 7 p.m. Reservations are $20 for members, $15 for students 13 and over and Hillel students, and children 6 to 12 are $7. Children 5 and under are free. The maximum charge for parents with two or more children is $55. Reservations are due on April 8.

B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge will have its Seder on April 15 at 5:30 p.m. Members and guests are $35, non-members are $45, children under 16 are $15. Reservations are due by April 7.

Temple Shalom in Lafayette will have its Seder on April 15 at 6 p.m., at Oakbourne Country Club. Cost is $38 for adult members and $20 for ages 12 and under, $45 for non-member adults and $26 for children. Reservations are due by April 7.

Temple Sinai in Lake Charles will have its congregational Seder on April 14 at 6:30 p.m.

Northshore Jewish Congregation in Mandeville will have its Seder on April 15. Reservations are $18 for adults, $9 for children.

Northshore will also have an interfaith gathering to prepare for an interfaith Seder. The April 10 event at 7 p.m. will include parishoners from Our Lady of the Lake and from Mary Queen of Peace. They will be preparing the charoset for our Interfaith Seder as well as the roasted eggs for the Seder plates. Rabbi Nimon will talk with the group in the sanctuary, while pointing out the features of the room typical of all Jewish sanctuaries. The Interfaith Seder will be on April 13 at 4 p.m., at Mary Queen of Peace. Reservations are due by April 7.

Rabbi Barbara Metzinger will visit Monroe’s Temple B’nai Israel for the Seder on April 14 at 6:30 p.m. Reservations are $25 for adults, $12.50 for children 13 and under, and are due on April 9.

Shir Chadash in Metairie will have its All-Star Musical Second Seder on April 15 at 6:30 p.m. The New Orleans all-star band will feature Ben Schenk of the Panorama Jazz Band on clarinet, Marc Stone on guitar, Rene Coman of the Iguanas on bass, Joe Krown on piano, with vocals by Meryl Zimmerman. The Seder is sold out.

Anshe Sfard in New Orleans
will have a Passover service on April 14 at 7:30 p.m., followed by a Seder at 7:45 p.m. Reservations are free for those under the age of 36. For others, cost is $12 for members, $25 for non-members, with need-based accommodations available.
Chabad Jewish Center, Metairie, will have a home-style Seder on April 14 at 7:15 p.m. Reservations before April 3 are $33 for adults, $22 for children ages 4 to 15. Starting April 4, cost is $10 additional per person. For those who need, confidential financial arrangements can be made, so all can attend. Home hospitality is available for second night.

Gates of Prayer in Metairie
will hold its Second Night Seder on April 15 at 6 p.m., catered in part by Fox Trot Catering. Reservations are $25 for adults, $10 ages 4 to 12, and under 4 are free. Adult reservations are $30 after the April 4 deadline.

Temple Sinai in New Orleans
will have its congregational Seder on April 15 at 6 p.m. Reservations are $30 for adults, $10 for ages 12 and under. Non-members are $35 for adults, $12 for children, and college students are $5. Reservations are due by April 8.

Touro Synagogue in New Orleans
will have its second night Seder, “an evening of story, song and celebration” with Rabbi Alexis Berk and Cantor Jamie Marx, April 15 at 6:30 p.m. Cost is $30 for member adults and college students, $13 for children 12 and under. Non-members are $40, and reservations are due by April 8. Reserve here.

Tulane Hillel
will have Seder at 7:15 p.m. on April 14 and April 15, catered by Hillel’s Kitchen. Reservations are available here.

B’nai Zion in Shreveport
will have its Seder on April 14 at 6:30 p.m. Early bird reservations by April 7 are $40 for members, $50 for non-members, $18 for students age 13 and above, $15 for ages 5 to 12, $18 for non-member students ages 5 and above. Those under 5 are free. Rates are higher until the April 9 deadline, contact B’nai Zion for details.


Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Jewish, Christian supporters of Israel in Alabama unite for new effort
SJLMAGTuesday, April 01, 2014

John Buhler speaks about the 1943 Alabama resolution with a copy of the original in the background


A devoted group launched the Alabama-Israel Task Force on March 25 with a statewide event in Huntsville that centered on Alabama’s long legacy of support for the Jewish state.

A 1943 joint resolution of the Alabama Legislature calling for the establishment of a Jewish homeland was a common theme that wove through the evening, which drew about 250 to the Von Braun Civic Center Concert Hall.

John Buhler of Mission Huntsville, co-chair of AITF, said “something very significant happened 70 years ago, and we want to take a moment to pause” because “moments of remembrance can inspire.”

The evening was about using the recollection of 1943 as a springboard to rededication and new alliances between Alabama and Israel, and among different pro-Israel communities in the state.

Rev. Jim Bevis, president of CSR Ministries in Florence, said the evening was “not a religious event, but rooted in faith” as “two communities of faith coming together as lovers of God and the Jewish people.”

Rabbi Laibel Berkowitz from Chabad of North Alabama gave an invocation in Hebrew and English, then Pastor Emilio Sanchez of Calvary Assembly gave his in Hebrew, English and Spanish.

Alabama Lieutenant Governor Kay Ivey represented the state at the event, as presiding officer of the Senate, where the 1943 joint resolution originated.

Ivey referenced the Purim theme, which was part of the evening, by referring to how Esther was told “if you remain silent at this time, you and your father’s family will surely perish” and she was put in her position for just a time as was upon them.

Ivey noted 1943 was when “the height of World War II was raging and Jews were being persecuted. At such a time as this, Alabama leaders took their position and used it to stand solidly for Israel.” And that support has continued, she added.

“Today we gather to remember our past, to celebrate the present and to shape our future, for continued strong relationship with Israel for generations to come.”

Commemorative plaques with the resolution’s text were presented to several individuals. Earlier in the month, Alabama delegates to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington presented those plaques to the entire state Congressional delegation.

Ivey received a plaque, as did Spencer Collier, state director of homeland security. Israeli Consul General Opher Aviran of the Atlanta consulate was slated to receive one but was unable to attend because Israel’s foreign ministry is on strike.

Then, there were two special presentations to those who have a long history of support for Israel in Alabama. In the Jewish community, Mobilians Arlene Mitchell and her late husband, Mayer, were recognized. Jimmy Grodnick accompanied Mrs. Mitchell onstage.

Buhler thanked the Mitchells for “preparing and leading the way” so others like him could build “on a foundation that you and others have laid.”

Buhler had heard of the Mitchells’ work, including Mayer Mitchell’s terms as president of AIPAC. He recalled being in the AIPAC building in Washington and “finding out that the ones whose names were on the building are from Alabama.”

In the Christian community, Alabama Supreme Court Justice Tom Parker and his wife, Dottie James Parker, were recognized. Mrs. Parker sang “Hatikvah” at the 1995 inauguration of Governor Fob James, and during James’ first term she was supervisor of the Governor’s Mansion when they had a celebration for Israel’s 33rd birthday in 1981.

Buhler recounted how Mrs. Parker’s mother, Miriam James, wrote to President Harry Truman in 1948, giving him numerous Biblical reasons and verses for the United States to recognize Israel. Truman wrote her back, agreeing and thanking her.

He added, “Tom and Dottie were actually married in Israel, during the Biblical Feast of Tabernacles.”

Daniel Odrezin of the Birmingham Jewish Federation shared the stage with Union Hill Primitive Baptist Church Pastor Oscar Montgomery, co-founder of the Greater Huntsville Interdenominational Ministerial Fellowship, to read a Public Declaration of Reaffirmation based on the 1943 resolution.

The reaffirmation is also available online for people to sign.

Adding to the unique Alabama-Israel flavor was the screening of a video of “Sweet Home Jerusalem” by Rabbi Lazer Brody of Emunah Outreach, a takeoff on the Lynyrd Skynyrd hit.

Numerous greetings were read from those who could not attend.

Because of Congressional business, Rep. Mo Brooks was unable to attend in person, and ethics rules forbade him from doing a video greeting because it is within six months of a primary election. In a message that was read during the event, he spoke as a “strong advocate of America’s alliance with Israel” and referred to his 2011 visit to Israel.

Messages also came from former Israeli Ambassador Danny Ayalon, Minister of Homeland Protecton Gilad Erdan, Knesset Member and former Shin Bet Deputy Director Yisrael Hason and Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom.

Buhler said “we do not want to be passive” in the relationship, and “we believe that a stronger and expanding Alabama-Israel relationship would be both deeply meaningful and beneficial.”

With so many in the international community lined up against Israel, Buhler said, “It is needful for the friends of Israel to stand strong, for she is not alone.”

The first initiative for AITF is support of the Israel Leadership Institute in Sderot. Founder Eeki Elner was on hand for the evening, which he said was his fifth trip to Alabama in 14 months.

He said that in the last 14 months, his message to Israelis has been not to go to the usual places like New York, Los Angeles or Miami, but to “the real America, where the heart of America lies, here in Alabama.”

Donations from the evening are going toward an Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response Center at ILI, which will train emerging young leaders in Israel in emergency and disaster response. In a later stage, Alabama young leaders will be invited to train and share workshops with their Israeli colleagues.

Elner said the project will build “new bridges for more cooperation.”

Pastor Bob Somerville of Awareness Ministry said in his 45 years of pro-Israel activity, he found ILI to be a unique opportunity, and noted how it is based on Torah-centric standards. “America in general and Alabama in particular could use a similar institute to get us back in our country to the faith of our founding fathers.”

Laura King, past president of the Jewish Federation of Huntsville and North Alabama, said Sderot is “the most dangerous and challenging location in Israel today,” located one mile from the border with Gaza, and subjected to thousands of rockets fired from Gaza by the Palestinians over recent years.

One such rocket struck Elner’s house.

Richard Brooks, president of JFHNA, thanked the crowd on behalf of the Jewish community, and Rabbi Nancy Tunick of B’nai Israel in Florence sang a version of “Shalom Rav.”

She noted the difficulty of her position on the program — following a performance of “Shalom Israel” by the Perfect Praise Early Childhood choir as three young boys held the flags of Israel, the U.S. and Alabama.

Rabbi Steve Silberman of Ahavas Chesed in Mobile closed the evening by referencing the week’s Torah reading, the dedication of the mishkan, the “dwelling place.” In the exhaustive detail about the construction, the Hebrew term “l’chaber,” to join, was used repeatedly. The word “chaver” means friendship, and from the joining of hands comes friendship.

“There are no greater building blocks for God’s holy place than friends extending hands to one another in friendship,” and that act of joining together ensures the holy presence.

Monday, March 31, 2014

North Louisiana Jewish Film Festival opens April 6
SJLMAGMonday, March 31, 2014

The North Louisiana Jewish Film Festival has announced its slate of films for April 6 to 10. Screenings will be at the Robinson Film Center in Shreveport, with each film being shown twice.

The festival will open with special guest Jason Chaet, director of “Putzel,” the festival’s first film. A reception will follow the 6 p.m. screening on April 6. It will also be screened on April 10 at 7:15 p.m.

Putzel is a 30-something Jewish man working in his uncle’s lox store in the Upper West Side of Manhattan, an area that is his entire universe. His dream is to inherit the store his grandfather started when his uncle retires to Florida. But the uncle becomes involved with an unstable woman, putting his goal in jeopardy.

“Follow Me: The Yoni Netanyahu Story” documents the story of the only Israeli casualty during Operation Entebbe, a hostage-rescue mission carried out at Entebbe Airport in Uganda on July 4, 1976, after members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the German Revolutionary Cells hijacked an Air France plane with 248 passengers aboard. The brother of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Yoni was commander of an elite Israeli army commando unit. It will screen on April 7 at 5:15 p.m. and April 9 at 7:15 p.m.

“Defamation” is Israeli director Yoav Shamir’s provocative and sometimes irreverent look at the question, “what is anti-Semitism today?” It will be shown on April 8 at 7:15 p.m. and April 9 at 5:15 p.m.

“Hava Nagila: The Movie” is a documentary about a Jewish musical staple that has transcended its origins and become a worldwide hit. Bob Dylan, Elvis and Harry Belafonte are among the artists who have performed it. The film follows the infectious party song on its fascinating journey from the shtetls of Eastern Europe to the cul-de‐sacs of America. It will be shown on April 6 at 3:30 p.m. and April 8 at 5:15 p.m.

“The Other Son” is the moving and provocative tale of two young men — one Israeli, the other Palestinian — who discover they were accidentally switched at birth, and the complex repercussions facing them and their respective families. Showtimes will be April 7 at 7 p.m. and April 10 at 5:15 p.m.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Jewish Children's Regional Service goes Broadway at gala
SJLMAGFriday, March 28, 2014

For the third Jewish Roots annual gala, the Jewish Children’s Regional Service moved to a larger venue, the National World War II Museum Freedom Pavilion, for its March 22 “Jewish Roots of Broadway” celebration. Just like the previous two years, they filled the room.

A crowd of 460 attended the evening, which also honored the Scharff and Tolmas families for their years of service to JCRS and the community.

After a season of unpredictable winter weather, the skies and temperature were perfect for the outdoor reception. Once indoors, supporters of the regional children’s agency went through buffet lines before the formal program.

Both families have New Orleans roots but currently reside elsewhere and have ties to more communities, so there was a large out-of-town contingent in attendance.

Bruce Katz, meteorologist at WVUE-TV, was emcee of the evening, and started by paying tribute to an organization that was “vital” for his family. He and his three brothers, New Orleans natives, received college aid from JCRS.

The agency, which provides need-based scholarships to those attending non-profit Jewish overnight camps and to Jewish college students in a seven-state region “was absolutely there for our family,” he noted.

Leon Rittenberg III, president of JCRS, and JCRS Executive Director Ned Goldberg presented Gary Rosenthal-designed awards to the Scharff and Tolmas families.

Goldberg said both families had “multi-generational involvement” with JCRS, with children of both families serving as JCRS presidents in the last 17 years.

He recalled that when he first moved to New Orleans to take over the agency in 1998, “one of the first families I recall meeting was the Scharff family.”

Goldberg added, “once you become a friend of the Scharffs, you are a friend for life.”

Lee Scharff thanked JCRS, along with friends and family who traveled from “as far away as Charlotte and (Washington) in the east, San Francisco and Kenner in the west.”

Goldberg commented that one of individuals who was most excited about the Tolmas family being honored was Harry Mayronne, the evening’s pianist and musical director. Mayronne “was one of the many thousands of New Orleanians who grew up under the care of Hyman Tolmas.”

Jeanie Tolmas represented her family in accepting the award.

Dan and Florence Scharff have Southern family roots going back 160 years. He grew up in New Orleans, while she is originally from Montgomery. They met at Tulane, and after being married in Montgomery moved to New Orleans, where they lived until they lost their home in the storm.

Since Katrina they have made their home in Baton Rouge.

Also honored were son and daughter-in-law Lee and Susan Scharff, who met at the University of Alabama. He was president of JCRS from 1997 to 1999, and is past president of the Brotherhood at Temple Sinai and Gates of Prayer.

New Orleans native Hyman “Doc” Tolmas was already a physician when he met Connie Cohen of Dallas, who was at Newcomb. He practiced medicine for 55 years and was president of Anshe Sfard, while she became active in volunteer work.
Daughter Jeanie graduated from Tulane Medical School, becoming a local “Top Doctor.” She served as JCRS president from 2003 to 2005.

Son Alan founded Texas Financial Forensics in Dallas, while his wife Gina, a Tulsa native, established an interior design firm. After the storm, the rest of the family moved to Dallas. They have established four scholarship funds at JCRS.

Two others involved in the “Musical Night from Gershwin to Godspell” had JCRS ties. Professional drummer Bruce Miller is the immediate past president of JCRS who is also a past JCRS recipient. The concert narrator, Hank Greenberg, is past president of the New Orleans Concert Band, which performed at the 2012 “Jewish Roots of Jazz” gala. All four of his grandparents were raised at the Jewish Children’s Home, which became the JCRS when the home closed.

Vocalists were Chris Wecklein, Darcy Malone and Amy Alvarez. They were also joined by Dr. Sick and Mark Brooks. Playwright Jon Broder wrote the narration and worked with Mayronne on the music selection.

In the program notes, Goldberg wrote that for many Jews who went on to fame in the world of Broadway, Jewish summer camp was the first opportunity to take part in theater.

Last year, JCRS served 1500 children and families in 178 communities in Louisiana, Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

TribeFest takes to the streets of New Orleans
SJLMAGTuesday, March 25, 2014

On March 16, the Elysian Brass Band led a second-line procession of about 1,300 Jewish young adults from across the country through the streets of New Orleans, from the Sheraton Hotel to the Steamboat Natchez for a late-night party featuring the Soul Doctors.

Just your typical, only-in-New Orleans experience.

The third incarnation of TribeFest brought Jewish leaders aged 22 to 45 together for three days of learning and discussions of how to increase involvement in the Jewish community.

The re-imagining of the Jewish Federations of North America’s former young leadership biennial, TribeFest was primarily held at the Sheraton New Orleans. The first two TribeFests were held in 2011 and 2012, in Las Vegas.

In pushing for the third TribeFest to be held in New Orleans, Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans Executive Director Michael Weil had experiences like that parade in mind — along with the opportunity for those in attendance to get out into the city and make a difference through social action projects.

The March 16 to 18 event included seminars, discussions, social activities, best-practices learning and was a way for the host city to showcase the wonder that is New Orleans.

“This is such a great opportunity to engage current and future Jewish leaders. You are around your peers, learning and having a great time,” said Elliot Corenblum, who is involved in the Baltimore Jewish community but is originally from Birmingham.

Though Corenblum had been to New Orleans before, several mentioned that it was their first time visiting the city. For Anna Bern, who was in just her first days as executive director of the Jewish Federation of Central Alabama, it was a first-time visit to New Orleans.

She said “the most valuable resource is the people you can get to know” at such an event, and the opportunity to network with so many young Jewish professionals was incredible.

TribeFest co-chair David Kline of Austin said “TribeFest is the pinnacle for outreach and engagement to young Jews that want to get involved with the Jewish community. It’s a jumping-off point for young leaders to get active and to grow in the Jewish community locally, nationally and internationally.”

A delegation from Los Angeles came in early March 15 Saturday to enjoy the Irish Channel Saint Patrick’s Parade in Uptown then a pre-TribeFest Black and White Purim Ball at the Sheraton that night.

Those who arrived even earlier were treated to a meal of kosher gumbo after Shabbat evening services at Anshe Sfard on March 14.

TribeFest kicked off on March 16 with “The Big Show,” which in other venues might be referred to as the opening plenary. Guest speakers included “Rugrats” and “Smurfs” writer David Weiss, “Book of Mormon” actor Ben Platt and actor Josh Malina of “The West Wing” and “Sports Night.”

"Survivor" winner and Grassroot Soccer co-founder Ethan Zohn also spoke at the opening.

Ruth Kullman, who advises non-profits, and Louisiana Commission on Human Rights Chairwoman Tamara Jacobson greeted the crowd on behalf of New Orleans.

Local co-chairs Hallie Timm and Sam Cohen, and JNOLA chairs Ashley Merlin and Austin Marks were recognized for their efforts in making the event possible. JNOLA is the Jewish young adult umbrella group in New Orleans, and their members were also invited to the March 16 party at the Steamboat Natchez.

Greg Liberman of JDate, encouraged TribeFest participants to take control of their Jewish life. “Each generation needs to find contemporary relevance in our ancient legacy,” he said. JDate, along with Pfizer, co-sponsored TribeFest.

National Young Leadership co-chairs Alison Lebovitz of Chattanooga, a Birmingham native, and Robb Lippitt of Detroit were also involved in the planning.

At the opening, they echoed Liberman’s sentiments when reminding TribeFest participants, “you are not part of the next generation. Your time is now.”

After the Big Show, there were numerous “mashups,” similar to breakout sessions. The sessions were on a wide range of topics, in the tracks of justice and inclusion, faith and culture, Jewish life, innovation, leadership development and “hot topics.”

One of the March 16 sessions focused on ideas for being a model of Jewish community involvement and how young leaders can encourage more participation from the “millennials.”

Leading the discussion were community leaders from Los Angeles, Detroit and Boston. But questions were asked and ideas were given by those from smaller Jewish communities such as Lexington, Ky., and Santa Barbara, Calif.

“If you want to push for change you have to be the change your community needs,” said Jay Sanderson, director of the Los Angeles Jewish Federation. “If you want to engage today, you need to do it in a different way.”

According to a few that spoke, today’s younger adults still want to contribute to fundraising efforts, become affiliated with a synagogue and be a part of or lead events in their Jewish communities. But today’s generation of younger adults engage in different ways than previous generations and seek new opportunities to participate.

“It is important to be on the pulse of what interests those of our generation,” said Miryam Rosenzweig, a Jewish community leader in Detroit. “Especially here, we’ve been hit by the economy and donations have gone down. But our involvement from younger adults is increasing and that is what will continue to lead this progression forward.”

On March 17, TribeFest delegates split into several groups and did social service projects throughout New Orleans, then held another afternoon of sessions and discussions.
InterfaithFamily and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society co-led a session on how the Jewish community can be more welcoming and inclusive.

Many organizations beyond the Federation used TribeFest as an outreach opportunity. The Einstein Victor Center for the Prevention of Jewish Genetic Diseases set up a genetic screening station.

Groups like Camp Ramah, United Synagogue Youth and the historically Jewish fraternities of Sigma Alpha Mu, Zeta Beta Tau and Alpha Epsilon Pi had alumni events the evening of March 17. The Schusterman Family Foundation, Avodah and Moishe House also had receptions.

Malkie Schwartz, director of community engagement for the Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson, led a session on “Unpacking the Jewish Privilege Backpack,” highlighting disparities in Jewish life and how positive Jewish experiences can be made possible for more people.

Emma Samuels of Boston, who co-chaired TribeFest, said she feels “so blessed and honored to have had the opportunity to help bring together almost 1,300 young adult Jews to New Orleans.”

“TribeFest participants came from 85 different communities, and with diverse backgrounds. They were engaged in deep conversations and committed to wanting to make a difference,” said JFNA CEO Jerry Silverman. “I am excited to see how these young leaders will engage in Jewish life and in their Federations in the years to come.”

While there were many serious discussions and weighty topics at TribeFest, enabling everyone to have fun was a main priority. As a Los Angeles couple remarked, “This is our first time in New Orleans and we get to be in a parade! This city is like none other. What a great place.”

Monday, March 24, 2014

Cellist Lelchuk making quick adjustment to life in New Orleans
SJLMAGMonday, March 24, 2014

For New Hampshire native Daniel Lelchuk, becoming a newcomer to New Orleans’ Jewish community came suddenly.

On Sept. 23 he interviewed with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, and by the end of October he was already in town as the new assistant principal cello.

Coming from northern New England, he said, “practically everything is different — from the weather to the food to the demographics.”

Lelchuk went to Indiana University and has spent a lot of time in Europe and the Middle East, but “had no experience with this part of the country.”

His first couple of months have been “a real exciting time, both musically and professionally, and in terms of my personal curiosity about Louisiana, this region and New Orleans.”

After being hired, “I was put on the schedule immediately and was able to build my time around it” to explore the city and get to know the Jewish community.

He has attended a couple of JNOLA events, but he has a challenge in that when others are ready to go to events and socialize in the evenings, “we’re working when a lot of people are off work.”

The orchestra rehearses three or four times a week and performs two to four times a week. He said the Louisiana Philharmonic is “a terrific orchestra” and “to be able to play music as my full-time job is a real thrill, especially at this age” of 24.

He became enamored with the cello at the age of two and one-half, when his mother brought him to a demonstration of sound. “There was a cellist at the science museum who drew the bow across the strings” to demonstrate sound vibration. At the end, the children were invited to feel the top of the cello while he played.

After that, “I said I must play the cello,” he said.

It wasn’t until two years later that he actually started to play. After “talking about the cello incessantly my parents realized I was quite serious.”

He studied in New Hampshire with Donna Denniston for 10 years. “Not only did the novelty not wear off, it increased and I became more enamored with the cello and with music,” he said. “Every day is equally if not more interesting and thrilling and enticing as the day before.”

He began playing with the youth orchestra in Boston, studying with Sato Knudsen.

At Indiana, “the greatest musical school in the world,” he studied with Eric Kim and was principal cello of the Indiana University Philharmonic and Opera orchestras.

At the invitation of Prince Nicolò Boncompagni Ludovisi, he gave a series of solo cello recitals at the famed Villa Aurora in Rome.

While playing at the Castleton Festival, he met “wonderful people” from the Qatar Philharmonic Orchestra and was invited to be a guest cellist. He also has performed at the Royal Opera House Muscat in Oman.

Lelchuk said despite Middle East politics, there are some Jews in the Qatar orchestra. “I don’t know if they’re advertising their Jewishness, but they’re there.”

It wasn’t his first experience in the Middle East. He spent Kindergarten in Israel as his mother finished a book on the Dead Sea and his father was a visiting professor in Haifa. When he went to the Emirates, friends in Israel said “you haven’t been here in a decade and a half, and you’re going to Oman and Qatar to play?”

He added, “Of course I’d love to get back to Israel as soon as possible,” but it is difficult to find time to do something that is not related to music.

One avenue he would like to pursue is the performance of music written by Jewish composers who were killed in the Holocaust, simply because it is of “extremely high quality” and is little known outside the circle of musicians.

He is interested in three particular composers — Gideon Klein, Erwin Schulhoff and Viktor Ullmann, and would love to do a performance highlighting them in New Orleans or elsewhere in the region.

He also wants to spread the word about classical music, believing that “everyone loves classical music, but not everybody knows it yet.”

He said the idea one must be well-versed on classical music or that it is for the elites “is absolutely a falsehood.” He routinely urges people he meets to go to a concert and give it a chance, and “they say, where has this been my whole life?”

Classical music speaks to everyone, he said. “It was not written to speak to educated or uneducated people, it was written to appeal to anybody.”

“If people open themselves, then the music will speak to them in ways they didn’t think was possible.”

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Lorig: Another Jewish Saint
SJLMAGThursday, March 20, 2014

It turns out that Auburn University wasn’t the only place in the region to sign a Jewish sports personality this week.

On March 18, the New Orleans Saints signed unrestricted free agent fullback Erik Lorig to a four-year contract. He is one of seven players in the NFL last year who identified as Jewish. His father is Jewish, his mother is of Scandinavian descent.

Last December, he and fellow Buccaneer Gabe Carimi participated in the Chabad of South Tampa Chanukah menorah lighting before Jewish Heritage Night at the Tampa Bay Lightning hockey game.

Lorig was drafted in 2010 by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the seventh round. Known as a blocker, the Stanford player from Rolling Hills, Calif., started nine games last year and appeared in 15 games. He had 11 receptions for 47 yards. In 2012 he was the lead blocker for running back Doug Martin, who broke the team’s rookie rushing record.

In an interview with a yoga clinic where he practices when home in California, he said he is “the most athletic mensch you’ll ever see in the studio.”

By going to the Saints, he leaves the only NFL team with two Jewish players to make the Saints the only NFL team with two Jewish players — at least for now. Center Brian de la Puente is a free agent and is currently exploring other options.

While de la Puente is mentioned on several lists as Jewish, the Jewish Sports Review dropped him from their list in 2012. In an interview with the Review, de la Puente said his maternal grandmother was Jewish but his maternal grandfather was not, and he considers himself “nothing” in religious terms. The Review lists athletes with one Jewish grandparent only if they otherwise identify as Jewish.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Auburn hires Bruce Pearl, Maccabi gold-winning basketball coach
SJLMAGTuesday, March 18, 2014

Newly-announced Auburn University head basketball coach Bruce Pearl made a name for himself in the sports world with his years of success at Tennessee.

He also made a name for himself as an active part of the Knoxville Jewish community and beyond, coaching the U.S. basketball team to a gold medal in the 2009 Maccabi Games in Israel. He is also serving as president of the Jewish Coaches Association.

Auburn confirmed his hiring this morning.

"I'm humbled and blessed to back in the game that I love," Pearl said on Auburn’s website. "I don't know how long it will take, but it's time to rebuild the Auburn basketball program, and bring it to a level of excellence so many of the other teams on campus enjoy."

After arriving in Knoxville in 2006, Pearl started getting involved with the local Jewish community, teaching a Hebrew Bible class and speaking at Jewish Federation events in the region. Two of his children had their B’nai Mitzvah in Knoxville.

In 2008 he spoke at Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El just before the annual Southeastern Conference basketball media days.

In 2009, he fulfilled a lifelong dream by leading the U.S. “dream team” in the Maccabi Games, a worldwide competition regarded as the “Jewish Olympics.”

To get the gold, the U.S. team had to take down defending champion Israel, 95-86, in overtime. Among those on the team was Pearl’s son, Stephen, who at the time was a top high school player in Knoxville and averaged seven points per game during the Maccabi tournament.

In his first season at Tennessee, he took over a team that had gone 14-17 the previous year and led them to a 22-8 record and first place in the SEC East. They lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament, but made the Sweet 16 the next two seasons.

His time at Tennessee started to unravel after a 2008 incident where he hosted three recruits at his home for a cookout. A secondary violation under NCAA rules, it became a major violation when Pearl was found to not have been forthcoming when the NCAA was investigating it in early 2011.

Because of the violation, he was fired in 2011 after leading Tennessee to the NCAA tournament for each of his six years there.

In the three years since, Pearl has been an analyst on ESPN and marketing manager for a Knoxville company.

In 2013, he spoke at a basketball tournament for Cooper Yeshiva in Memphis, where he apologized to the students, saying he felt that he had let those students down by reaching the pinnacle of the basketball world as a Jewish coach, and then with one bad decision threw away his position as a role model.

A Boston native, Pearl was the second-fastest coach in NCAA history to reach 300 wins in men’s basketball. Before going to Tennessee he was head coach at Milwaukee for four years, and before that led Southern Indiana to a Division II national championship.

In 2008, Tennessee basketball was No. 1 for the first time in the program’s history.

Sources say Auburn’s recently-hired assistant athletic director of compliance Dave Didion was the lead investigator on the Pearl case for the NCAA, making his hiring by Auburn more acceptable.

Pearl is now finishing his time under a three-year NCAA “show-cause,” where a school that hires him must make its case for doing so to the NCAA. He is also not allowed to recruit until the show-cause expires in August.

Auburn fired head coach tony Barbee last week immediately following the team’s first-round loss in the SEC tournament. The team went 14-16 overall, 6-12 in conference.

Auburn’s Jewish community is substantially smaller than Knoxville’s. According to the Tennessee Hillel, there are about 80 Jewish faculty members at Tennessee. Knoxville has two moderate-size congregations and a Chabad house, with roughly 2,000 Jews.

Auburn’s Jewish student enrollment has gone from 50 to 125 in the last six years. The city has one small congregation, Beth Shalom, which was founded in 1989.

An hour down the road, Montgomery has a Jewish community of 1100, and nearby Columbus, Ga., has a community estimated at 600. Birmingham and Atlanta are about two hours away from Auburn.

Rob Kulick, faculty advisor to Auburn Hillel, said he is "thrilled and excited" at the hiring, adding that Pearl "will be great for Auburn and great for our community."

In a 2009 interview with this publication, Pearl noted “I wear my Judaism on my sleeve,” he added. “Let me amend that. I wear my Judaism and the Tennessee Vols on my sleeve.”

Now he has a sleeve with a different shade of orange.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Exhibit on "French Anne Frank" in Mobile
SJLMAGMonday, March 17, 2014

“Helene Berr, A Stolen Life” will be displayed at Spring Hill College in Mobile from March 28 to Aug. 10, at the Marnie and John Burke Memorial Library.

Berr is regarded as “the French Anne Frank.”

This exhibition is based on the journal written by Berr, a young Jewish French woman, whose promising future was brutally cut short by Vichy Government’s laws and the extermination plan imagined by the Nazis.

Berr was 21 years old when she started her journal. The exhibition follows her steps through Paris under the German Occupation, perceiving the daily experience of the unbearable, oscillating between hope and despair, until her arrest and deportation to Auschwitz in 1944.

After her death, her diary was given to her fiancé. In 1992, Berr’s niece found him and urged publication of the diary. It was given to France’s Holocaust museum in 2002.

In 2008 the diary was published in France and the first printing sold out immediately.

This exhibition, curated by Karen Taieb and Sophie Nagiscarde, was designed, created and circulated by the Mémorial de la Shoah (Paris, France) and made possible through the support of SNCF Railroad. SNCF had been requisitioned by the German occupying forced to transport 77,000 Jews and other Holocaust victims to the German border, where they were ultimately taken to Nazi extermination camps.

“We are thrilled to be hosting such a significant Jewish history exhibit in the Burke Memorial Library that reflects global humanity issues important to all,” said Gentry Holbert, Director of Library and Information Resource Services at Spring Hill College. “This exhibit feeds into our Jesuit mission of maintaining an informed dialogue with the world’s cultures and religion while providing our students and community with active learning and involvement activities concerning social justice and the dignity of all human lives.”

The exhibit opened at the Alliance Francaise d’Atlanta in Georgia on Jan. 22. It has also been displayed at the French Embassy in Washington and at the United Nations.

“Hélène Berr, A Stolen Life” will be open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. most weekdays; 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursdays; 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays; and 2 to 6 p.m. on Sundays.

Friday, March 14, 2014

March 25 debut for group that seeks to strengthen Alabama-Israel ties
SJLMAGFriday, March 14, 2014

Israel Major General Eyal Ben-Reuven spoke at The Rock Worship Center in Huntsville in late January


A new organization plans to build on the legacy of Alabama’s pro-Israel passion, kicking off with a statewide Alabama Celebrates Israel gathering in Huntsville on March 25.

The event will be the public launch of the Alabama-Israel Task Force. Laura King, former president of the Jewish Federation of Huntsville and North Alabama, said the organization has evolved out of dialogues about Israel that have been ongoing with the Christian community in north Alabama.

To start the ball rolling, two Israeli speakers came to Alabama for a series of meetings in late January, some of which turned out to be reunions. Eeki Elner, founder of the Israel Leadership Institute, and Major General Eyal Ben-Reuven visited churches in Huntsville, Birmingham and Montgomery, and Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El.

The Institute is an Israeli partner of AITF.

In January 2013 King had hosted Elner in Huntsville, and one of his talks was at the Dwelling Place Church. The programs were to introduce ILI to the area, Elner noted.

During his talk at Dwelling Place, “In the middle of it while I was presenting… Pastor Patrick (Penn) disappeared. He came back with a picture” that turned out to be of them meeting in Sderot five years ago, along with Bob Sommerville of Awareness Ministry in Huntsville.

“Laura invites me here to get to know the Jewish partners and her Christian friends… and as a matter of fact I met them before,” he recalled.

Elner founded the Israel Leadership Institute in 2006, seeking to develop future generations of political, civic and business leaders for Israel.

He decided to located the institute in Sderot, which is better known as the town near the Gaza Strip that in recent years has been subjected to missiles from Gaza — over 12,000 since 2001.

Because in Israel leadership is done by personal example, he moved to Sderot, and after less than a year a missile hit his home, landing where he had stood less than a minute earlier. Nevertheless, the first ILI class started in 2008.

In addition to heading the Institute, Elner has served as a special envoy for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, speaking at the AIPAC Policy Conference in 2012 and at numerous pro-Israel Christian conferences.

When Ben-Reuven retired after over 35 years in the Israeli military, he was second in command only to the Chief of Staff.

Ben-Reuven was battalion commander in the first Lebanon War, then was commander of the first digitized division of the IDF.

He reformed the ground forces as head of the IDF Field Corps, then became head of military colleges from 2000 to 2006. During the Second Lebanon War he was commander of the North Corps until his retirement. Currently in the reserves, he is deputy commander of the Northern Front.

Their January visit was the culmination of a year of discussions, said John Buhler of Mission Huntsville.

“There are many in the Christian community who care deeply about Israel’s future because of the tremendous blessing Israel has been to our heritage and faith,” he said. They started to discuss, “how can we partner, how can we explore possibilities.”

As they began, one thing that “began to stir in our heart” was the 70th anniversary of the famous 1943 resolution by the Alabama Legislature calling for “the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine.”

Buhler said they asked “how could we embrace the legacy that our state has? There are many things in our state’s past that we might be ashamed of, but there are also moments worthy of remembrance and honor.”

They started discussing doing more than just an event, “and really allow the history of our state to become a catalyst for us and to inspire us to go beyond.”

The AITF will be a way for the Christian community to partner with the Jewish community and help strengthen the Alabama-Israel relationship on a grass-roots level. Buhler said the idea is to take existing relationships, like Birmingham’s sister city relationship with Rosh Ha’Ayin and “multiply it throughout the state.”

Elner said AITF “is partnering with our leadership institute to build bridges and present opportunities for the people of Alabama — both Jews and Christians — and the people of Israel, to connect, cooperate, exchange and get involved.”

He said the Institute feels “there is a lot of ready-to-go support for Israel in Alabama, support which has been expressed in many initiatives,” Elner said. The Institute wants “to look at all aspects, all sides, and strengthen them to make Alabama and Israel closer than ever.”

AITF’s first project is raising resources for an Emergency Preparedness and Disaster Response Center at ILI, “which will be serving both states,” Elner said.

The center will train emerging young leaders in Israel in emergency and disaster response. In a later stage, Alabama young leaders will be invited to train and share workshops with their Israeli colleagues.

“We want to give something in return.”

Another important aspect of the leadership training is that “future leaders of Israel must have the channels to be able to communicate with people in Alabama, or Ohio,” Elner said.

Buhler sees AITF as bridging relationships and networks of pro-Israel activity in the Christian and Jewish communities, “when it makes sense for the Jewish and Christian communities to co-labor in some type of area, and particularly in regard to the Alabama-Israel relationship.”

Buhler said he knows of many pro-Israel efforts in the Christian community, from Christians United for Israel to the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, to individual churches. Especially in rural areas, “many of them don’t know anyone in the Jewish community. If there are opportune times or desires to unite in some kind of Alabama-Israel endeavor, we want to have an organization that at least has contacts, has relationships so we can mobilize that extra level when and if it makes sense to do so.”

Elner sees it as “an incubator of ideas.”

Elner and Ben-Reuven also had a luncheon with 21 pastors in Huntsville, spoke at Redstone Arsenal and met with several politicians.

Ben-Reuven said he was asked by Elner some time back to accompany him on the nine-day trip to Alabama. He was reluctant at first. “I have six kids, I live in the north of Israel, I am so busy with so many projects,” he said.

“When he told me about John and Laura, and the feeling you get here… it influenced me,” Ben-Reuven said. “I am here and I am very happy to be here.”

Ben-Reuven said Israel’s mentality has changed recently. In the past, Israel regarded itself as a small, lone boat in a stormy sea, needing to trust only itself. Today with globalization, “we are all on a big ship with lots of rooms. There is no captain” and the direction comes from coalitions of groups.

“We still have to trust ourselves, of course… but we understand that we are not alone, and we need support, we need states which will support us and we need people in these states to understand what we are facing and give us the feeling that we are doing well.”

In his Alabama appearances, Ben-Reuven spoke about his service in the Yom Kippur War, where he and one other soldier were the only survivors of an attack on their tank in the Sinai. Surrounded by Egyptians, he stayed the night guarding his wounded comrade until they could be retrieved.

He then was immediately sent to the Golan, where his father was also fighting, unbeknownst to each other at the time. Afterward, his father visited him and said that when he fought in 1948, “he couldn’t dream he would have to fight beside his only son and to be so worried.”

Ben-Reuven said he does not dream like that, because he knows his children will continue to experience war “because this is our life.”

The military’s most important job, he said, is to try and prevent war because “war is tragedy.

“I an doing whatever I can to prevent war. In our area it is very difficult,” he observed.

For the battle-tested general, what got to him emotionally was having to pick up tiny gas masks soon after his children were born. “It is very difficult. Even for a general.”

He noted that the last time Israel fought an actual army was in 1973, and each war has a different set of parameters and needs different solutions. Places like ILI teach the tools to enable leaders to come up with the right answer to a particular situation. “That’s why this institution is so unique.”

The Huntsville event will start at 7 p.m. on March 25 at the Von Braun Center. The evening will “honor and celebrate” the history of Alabama’s relationship with Israel, including the 1943 resolution.

Buhler said the event will use the state’s history with Israel to “inspire us to great things going forward.”

It will also be the formal kickoff of the “People’s Resolution of Reaffirmation and Renewed Commitment in Our Generation” of the 1943 resolution.

The evening will include political and religious leaders from across the state, and there will be an Alabama-Israel State Leadership Roundtable the next day.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Student groups plan major pro-Israel festival at Tulane
SJLMAGWednesday, March 12, 2014

A coalition of student pro-Israel groups in Louisiana is putting on Declare Your Freedom 2.0, the second annual student-run pro-Israel festival.

Chloe Valdary of the University of New Orleans and Maor Shapira of Tulane University are teaming up for the March 30 event, which will feature a range of speakers and musicians. Valdary said it is a declaration “without compunction or reservation our support of the Jewish state’s right to exist, the Jewish people’s right to live freely, and it is a celebration of the freedoms enshrined in both the great American experience and Israel’s.”

The group’s Indiegogo fundraising campaign received support from around the world, and there is talk of replicating the festival in other states. The most recent campaign includes an endorsement video by Alan Dershowitz, who said “DYF 2.0 speaks truth to power — the best kind of answer to the defamation being heard across the country at college campuses about Israel, Zionism and the national liberation movement of the Jewish people.”

This year’s event will be at the Lavin-Bernick Center Quad at Tulane, starting at noon.

Shi 360 will be a featured guest. The Israeli-born Canadian rapper introduced hip hop culture to Israel after making a name in the Montreal music scene, taking the moniker Supreme Hebrew Intelekt. He quickly learned to rap in Hebrew, released Israel’s first hip hop mixtape and hosted a hip hop radio show.

DJ Booth named him one of “20 Dope International Artists” that are a “must-listen.”

His 2012 album, “Shalom Haters,” decried the lack of media attention given to rocket attacks against Israel and a plea to stop the violence in the Middle East. He said the title states that “there is no energy to be wasted on haters. Just say ‘shalom’ and wave.”

Able to switch among English, Hebrew and French, he has become involved in many cross-cultural initiatives.

“People from different places might not agree on everything, but in the end, we all want the same things as human beings. I’m not apologetic for who I am” he says. “People will only respect you if you respect yourself first.”

Also scheduled to perform is the Ori Naftali Blues Band, the first Israeli group to reach the semi-finals of the International Blues Competition in Memphis.

Simon Deng will also speak at the event. A Christian native of the Shiluk Kingdom in southern Sudan, Deng spent several years as a child domestic slave to a Muslim family in northern Sudan. He escaped after three years. Now an American citizen, he is a noted human rights activist.

By focusing on the Palestinians, he said, true genocides in Africa, perpetrated by Muslim regimes, have been ignored by the international community. He speaks out against anti-Semitism and the demonization of Israel.

Alan Mendoza, founder and executive director of the Henry Jackson Society, is also scheduled to speak. The British think-tank is named for Henry “Scoop” Jackson and promotes “the rule of law, liberal democracy, civil rights, environmental responsibility and the market economy.”

The event, which is also being coordinated with the Israeli Alliance at McNeese State, will include food, a cultural exhibition and giveaways.