.

A Pelican in Israel: This Week in Southern Jewish Life, July 24

Above: Pastor Milton Saffold of Stone Street Baptist Church in Mobile spoke about racial reconciliation last Shabbat at Springhill Avenue Temple.


Around the South

Sen. Bernie Sanders will hold a campaign rally in New Orleans on July 26 at 6 p.m., at the Pontchartrain Center in Kenner. The night before, he will speak at the Louisiana Democratic Party’s Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.

Food Republic asked New Orleans chef Alon Shaya to share what he found on his culinary trip to Israel this summer.

Israeli NBA star Omri Casspi is bringing a delegation of NBA players to Israel this week as part of a foundation he established to fight BDS. Tyreke Evans of the New Orleans Pelicans is among those on the trip.

Chabad expanding its presence in Shreveport.

Rabbi Barry Block of B’nai Israel in Little Rock talks about being moved from the Greene Family Camp, where he has gone since 1977, to the Henry S. Jacobs Camp when he moved to Arkansas, and how Jacobs has now become home.

Al Benn of Selma’s Jewish community was profiled as the “James Brown of Alabama news.”

A newcomer to Mississippi, working for the Institute of Southern Jewish Life, relates how many people told him he was crazy for moving to Mississippi. While trying to furnish an apartment, he answered a Craigslist ad — and was shocked at the seller’s reaction to meeting him.

Police in Louisville, Ky., arrested a man for leaving a threatening note at the Jewish Community Center.

The Southwest District of Women of Reform Judaism will have an Area Day for Sisterhoods in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Jackson. A wine tasting and light lunch will be held at Bin 428 in New Orleans on July 26 from noon to 2 p.m.

A Jewish community Day of Service will commemorate the 10th anniversary of Katrina, with volunteers working with the St. Bernard Project to rebuild homes on Aug. 9 in New Orleans.

Touro Synagogue in New Orleans is livestreaming its services, and is hosting the community's July joint Reform services. The full service will be available for a week and the sermons will be available beyond that. Livestreams from the Forgotson Chapel are here and from the Main Sanctuary here.

The Hillel at Mississippi State is running a GoFundMe campaign to increase programming and Jewish enrollment.


Tisha B'Av

Birmingham’s Knesseth Israel will have “Tisha B'Av: Fast for Feast” on July 26 at the Friedman Center. The money one would spend for food on the fast day is recommended as a donation toward feeding hungry children in Alabama. At 6:15 p.m., KI will screen “A Place at the Table,” then hold a 7:45 p.m. class on hunger in Judaism. After evening services at 8:15, there will be a break-the-fast at 8:33 p.m.

Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El will have Shabbat mincha at 5:30 p.m. on July 25, moving Ma’ariv to 8:30 p.m., with the reading of Eicha.

Temple Emanu-El in Dothan will have a brief service at 8 p.m. on July 25. Ahavas Chesed, Mobile, will have a “somber and meditative service” on July 25 at 8 p.m.

The Chabad Jewish Center in Metairie will screen a new documentary, “With My Whole Broken Heart,” at the start of Tisha B’Av. The film will be at 9:30 p.m. on July 25. The film details valiant parents who lost children to terrorism, and also follows the lives of two of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, who changed the Jewish landscape. The film is framed around the Lubavitcher Rebbe's response to the 1956 terror attack in Kfar Chabad that claimed lives of 5 students, and features interviews with Daniel Pearl's parents, Ruth and Judea Pearl; Sherri Mandel, mother of Kobi Mandell; former Israeli chief rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau; and Rabbi Nissan Mangel.

Beth Israel and Anshe Sfard will team up for joint services on Tisha B’Av. On July 25, there will be a 9:15 p.m. service and reading of the Book of Lamentations at Beth Israel in Metairie. The July 26 service will be at Anshe Sfard at 9 a.m., followed by Rabbi Gabe Greenberg of Beth Israel and Rabbi David Polsky leading and explaining selected kinnot, the special dirges recited on Tisha B’Av.

Shir Chadash in Metairie will have a pre-fast Seudah Shlishi at 7 p.m. on July 25, “accompanied by learning and soulful singing to transition from the joy of Shabbat into the mourning of the fast day.” Havdalah, Ma’ariv and Eicha will follow at 8:40 p.m. On July 26 there will be Shacharit, Torah reading and Eicha at 9:15 a.m.


Alabama 

On July 31, You Belong in Birmingham will have a Shabbat at Temple Emanu-El, with cocktails at 5:15 p.m. and dinner following the 5:45 p.m. service.

Birmingham native Kevin Berkowitz will speak about "Jews in Greece" at the July 24 Shabbat service at Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El, at 5:40 p.m. An oneg will follow. Berkowitz has lived in the Balkans for the last 12 years — two years in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and 10 years in Thessaloniki, Greece. He works as a tour guide specializing in the history of Greek Jewry, the Balkans and the Near and Middle East. He also teaches robotics at a Thessaloniki primary school.
 
The W.C. Handy Festival runs from July 17 to 26 in Florence, and once again Temple B’nai Israel will be a venue. On July 25 at 2 p.m., “Pickup Shticks” will feature Rabbi Nancy Tunick, and Scott Whitehead and family.

Chabad of Mobile will hold a Jewish Learning Institute course, “Justice and the War on Terror.” Part 2 is July 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the Hampton Inn on Providence Park Drive. The sessions, “Negotiating With Terror” and “Torturing to Save Lives” are CLE accredited.


Florida Panhandle

The eighth annual Temple Beth-El Poker Tournament in Pensacola will be on August 15. Due to renovations, the event will be held at 917 North Palafox. Doors will open at 5:15 p.m. and no-limit hold’em play begins at 6 p.m. The buy-in is $100 for the first 100 who pre-register, or $110 at the door. Re-buys of $100 are taken until 8 p.m. Registration and re-buys are for $3,000 in chips, and there will be a one-time add-on of $5,000 in chips at 8:15 p.m. for $100. There will be free food and a cash bar. The top nine players will receive non-monetary prizes, with first place being a Large Green Egg and second place being a flat-screen television.


New Orleans/Louisiana 

The Synagogue Softball League playoffs in New Orleans will be held on Aug. 2 at Miley Field in Metairie, weather permitting. The 8:30 a.m. match pairs second-seed Shir Chadash with third seeded Gates of Prayer. Top seed Temple Sinai meets fourth-seed Beth Israel at 10 a.m. The higher seeded team is considered the home team. The championship game will be played at 11:30 a.m. Last year, Gates of Prayer won the championship over Touro Synagogue.

Basic J, the Introduction to Judaism course at Gates of Prayer in Metairie, will begin on Aug. 5 at 7:30 p.m. and continue on Wednesdays through the year. The course is taught by Rabbi Bob Loewy and Rabbi Alexis Pinsky, and is open to all interested in learning primary beliefs and practices in Judaism, especially those interested in being supportive of a Jewish family or conversion.

B’nai Zion in Shreveport is holding a summer film series following the 6 p.m. Shabbat services. Pizza, popcorn and drinks will be served, and each film has a Judaic tie. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated before or after Shabbat. The July 24 film will be “O Jerusalem,” and the 1977 classic “Oh, God!” will be on July 31.

Anshe Sfard will celebrate the ancient holiday of Tu B’Av on July 30 with a white linen party at Richard Fiske’s Martini Bar. Rabbi David Polsky said Tu B’Av was seen as one of the happiest days of the Jewish year, as single women would borrow white dresses and dance in the fields. Moishe House New Orleans is co-sponsoring the event, which will start at 7:30 p.m.

B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge will have its Trash and Treasure Sale from July 31 to August 14.

Anshe Sfard and AVODAH will have a joint Shabbat event on July 24, starting with a Carlebach-style service at 7 p.m., led by AVODAH member Aaron Leven. A dinner for young Jieux-ish professionals will follow at 8, with a discussion on "Isaiah's Vision and Ours: Envisioning Social Justice Today." Discussion leaders will be AVODAH corps member Rob Greenberg and AVODAH New Orleans Program and Development Associate Alana Himber.

The Chabad Center in Metairie will have a Hebrew reading crash course for beginners, starting Aug. 2 and running for six Sunday mornings.

The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans announced the launch of its new Strategic Impact Fund. All Jewish organizations, including synagogues, in the Greater New Orleans area are welcome and encouraged to apply for grants up to $5,000 out of a pool of $25,000 for programming that addresses one or more of eight community priorities that are listed on the application. Applications and supporting materials are due by August 12. Contact Allison Kushner with any questions.

New Orleans Section of the National Council of Jewish Women is looking for six women who want to learn, network and take action for progressive social change. Starting this fall there will be six seminars about NCJW, culminating in the NCJW Washington Institute. Applications are available here.



---
Sign up here to receive the full 'This Week in Southern Jewish Life' email direct to your inbox. It includes even more content including topics of Jewish interest from around the world, opinion, careers board, candlelighting times, special offers, and more.

Moishe House Builds Community Without Walls in Jackson


In larger communities across the country, including New Orleans, Moishe House has set up a presence with Jewish 20-somethings living together and providing a “hub of Jewish life.”

But what about smaller communities that can’t sustain a full-fledged residence? In Jackson, Moishe House Without Walls debuted a few months ago.

Lonnie Kleinman, the Institute of Southern Jewish Life’s first Community Engagement Fellow, became a MHWOW host by virtue of having studied for a year at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.

Alumni of resident Moishe Houses, retreat participants and select others are eligible to become MHWOW hosts. Though Kleinman is the local host, she said in Jackson it has been “more of a collaborative effort” with a “good number” of young Jewish adults in the area.

 In February, Kleinman and Arielle Nissenblatt hosted a Tu B’Shevat Seder with a discussion about sustainability.

 They plan two events per month — a monthly Shabbat dinner and an event that changes month to month. For example, for Purim they did hamantaschen baking, an event that was sponsored by Jackson’s Beth Israel Congregation.

“Beth Israel has been awesome, they called us and want to support us,” she said.

Kleinman said the goal isn’t just to “give young Jewish adults in Jackson a chance to get together… but also make these events open to the public so our friends are exposed to Jewish holidays and events.”

 She is also looking for ways that MHWOW can do some community engagement, which is also what she does at ISJL.

West Blocton's Congregation Ah-Goodies Ah-Chem Continues Legacy of Jewish Learning

SJL West Blocton Sign

Congregation Ah-Goodies Ah-Chem in West Blocton may have closed 80 years ago, but it will continue to have a legacy of Jewish learning.

The lot where the synagogue once stood and where an historic marker was dedicated in 1997 has been sold and the proceeds are going to the University of Alabama to establish a support fund for students in financial need who are minoring in Judaic studies.

The Jewish community of West Blocton started around 1881, and in 1905 the congregation organized, using a phonetic spelling of Agudas Achim. They built a simple white building on Main Street in 1905.

The synagogue had one of the first tennis courts in the county. The community peaked soon thereafter at 125 individuals, starting to decline in the 1920s.

Soon, services were held only on High Holy Days, with attendance boosted by University of Alabama students who were recruited by cousin Melvin Israel, a fellow student who later became a sports radio announcer for Alabama and went on to become Mel Allen, the legendary voice of the New York Yankees. The synagogue was damaged by a storm in 1936, then by fire, and with the community down to 15 people a decision was made not to rebuild. The building was demolished in 1938, with the ritual items given to Birmingham’s Knesseth Israel.

Janet Beerman, great-granddaughter of Wolf Israel, one of the congregation’s founders, said her great-grandfather lived across the street from the shul and her grandfather, Samuel Israel, lived next door. Wolf was also founder of the I and N Quality Store, which now houses the Cahaba Lily Activity Center. When Wolf died, Sam became caretaker of the synagogue property next door, a job he later handed over to his son, Elmo Israel Ellis, who became a radio legend in Atlanta. After Sam died in 1967, his home was sold to the mother of Tammy Donner, and now belongs to Tammy and husband Gary Donner, who has been fire chief and mayor of West Blocton.

Every so often, Donner would contact Ellis, and after Ellis’ death, Beerman, asking to purchase the synagogue property next door. “Out of the goodness of their hearts, they were maintaining the lot, mowing down the weeds, keeping watch over it,”

Beerman said. “Understandably, the Donners were willing to pay the going rate for property on Main Street in West Blocton.” But Ellis had instructed his daughter not to sell the property for less than $10,000, “which was several times greater than West Blocton real estate was bringing.” A couple of years ago, Tammy contacted her again, and Beerman replied “Tammy, I’d love to sell it to you, but I promised my Daddy, on his death bed, that I wouldn’t take less than $10,000 for it.”

Tammy said she understood, but Beerman could hear her disappointment. “Ten minutes later the phone rang again. This time it was Gary. He said, ‘Miss Janet, we’ll give you $10,000’.”

It took some time for Beerman to establish clear title to the property, and part of the sale condition was that the marker would remain.

Gary Donner told SJL that though the marker is currently down from its original pole, he plans to have a waterfall on the property with the sign placed on it.

With the proceeds from the sale, Beerman looked for a naming opportunity to keep the congregation’s name alive. She contacted Knesseth Israel and spoke with Rabbi Eytan Yammer about the items that had been given to the Birmingham congregation in the 1930s. Yammer noted there was an old Torah in poor condition that they did not know any history about, and she thought restoring that Torah, which they figured came from Ah Goodies Ah Chem, would be a fitting tribute.

But while the property title issue dragged on, KI went ahead and did a restoration of its Torahs.

Beerman then contacted the University of Alabama and found out why her father had insisted on $10,000 — it is the minimum amount needed to establish a named fund.

“Kathy Yarbrough, the University’s Director of Development, came to my home in Atlanta and helped me sort through all sorts of options,” she said. Beerman and her brother, “as Representatives of the Successors of John Krentzman, Wolf Israel, and Sam Baer,” established the Ah Goodies Ah Chem Synagogue of West Blocton, Alabama Support Fund.

The earnings from the sale proceeds will pay an annual award, in perpetuity, to a student who has chosen to minor in Judaic Studies. The financial assistance will go toward books and other study needs.

---
Masonic Lodge being demolished

Another West Blocton landmark with ties to the community’s Jewish history is being dismantled.

Charles Adams, who organized the 1997 marker dedication for the synagogue, said heavy rains in November led to an exterior wall of the Masonic Lodge sloughing off. Because there are no funds for repair, a demolition company is taking the building down for the bricks and other building materials.

Adams noted that the cornerstone, which lists Sam Israel as a member of the building committee, will remain and in the near future there will be a ceremony to open it.

The 1900 Episcopal Church was recently dismantled, an old bank building caved in and the company dismantling the Masonic Lodge wants to do the Strand Theater next. “It really hurts to see the old town landmarks disappear,” he said.

One story told about the Masonic Lodge has to do with a large portrait of Sam Israel that was dedicated in the 1950s. As family members came to tour the building, the person conducting the tour noticed that Israel’s portrait was placed facing a large portrait of Jesus and worried how that would be received. According to the story, Ellis reassured him, “that’s fine, after all, they were brothers.”

Chattanooga, Atticus — and Rosh Ha'Ayin's Wonder Woman: This Week in Southern Jewish Life, July 17

Around the South: Week of July 17, 2015



Three Flags, Blountsville AL
Three flags: Camp Darom, the Orthodox camp coordinated by Baron Hirsch in Memphis, settles in at its new home near Blountsville, Ala.


Rabbi Jonathan Miller of Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El wrote this piece for al.com on why the Iran deal is bad for the U.S., Israel and the Middle East.

Marking the release of “Go Set A Watchman” this week, Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile is hosting Pastor Milton Saffold at the 6 p.m. Shabbat service on July 17, to speak on racial reconciliation. He is minister of Stone Street Baptist Church. The congregation was established in 1806. The church itself was established in 1843. The African American church was established from the Saint Anthony Baptist Church when white representatives of the church purchased a piece of land for a separate African American church.

Roy Hoffman of Mobile had a piece in the New York Times, “Harper Lee, My Daughter and Me.” 

That daughter, Meredith Hoffman, has a piece at Vice this month on the abuse of transgender immigrants in U.S. detention centers.

The “only journalist alive who interviewed Harper Lee” relates how she referred to Gregory Peck as a “mensch.”

Birmingham native Dale Russakoff has a piece in the New Yorker about “The Atticus Finch We Always Knew,” saying the “two Atticuses” could coexist, and did so in Birmingham.

Mohammad Abdulazeez, who killed four Marines in Chattanooga, spent seven months in Jordan last year. His father, who was on a watch list, is Palestinian, from Nablus.

As a teen, Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke was a regional board member in Cotton States AZA of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization.

Meet Gal Gadot, the new “Wonder Woman” who was born in Rosh Ha’Ayin and says serving in the IDF helped prepare her for Hollywood.

The Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee received a $13,000 grant from MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger.

An article pointing out how Reform Jews can die for Israel but not be buried as Jews centers on Seth, who was raised in Charleston, S.C.

The Anti-Defamation League office in Atlanta sent a letter to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, urging the removal of the Confederate battle flag from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency emblem.

The Southwest District of Women of Reform Judaism will have an Area Day for Sisterhoods in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Jackson. A wine tasting and light lunch will be held at Bin 428 in New Orleans on July 26 from noon to 2 p.m.

Democratic Presidential Candidate Bernie Sanders will be in New Orleans on July 25 for the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner.

A Jewish community Day of Service will commemorate the 10th anniversary of Katrina, with volunteers working with the St. Bernard Project to rebuild homes on Aug. 9 in New Orleans.

Two regional Jewish singles weekends are upcoming — in Austin this weekend and Memphis in August.

Touro Synagogue in New Orleans is livestreaming its services, and is hosting the community's July joint Reform services. The full service will be available for a week and the sermons will be available beyond that. Livestreams from the Forgotson Chapel are here and from the Main Sanctuary here

Fundraising continues for Houston's Jewish community in the aftermath of flooding. In New Orleans, the Force family did a $2,000 gift in honor of Morton Katz's presidency of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. Another match of up to $25,000 by the Goldring family and Woldenberg Foundation was announced. The Federation and Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana also sent $5,000. NECHAMA and All Hands are looking for volunteers to assist with cleaning, packing and addressing needs of those affected by the flooding. To volunteer, contact Michael Kahlenberg at (281) 630-4926. To contribute, click here.

The Hillel at Mississippi State is running a GoFundMe campaign to increase programming and Jewish enrollment.



Alabama

Birmingham’s Knesseth Israel will have “Tisha B'Av: Fast for Feast” on July 26 at the Friedman Center. The money one would spend for food on the fast day is recommended as a donation toward feeding hungry children in Alabama. At 6:15 p.m., KI will screen “A Place at the Table,” then hold a 7:45 p.m. class on hunger in Judaism. After evening services at 8:15, there will be a break-the-fast at 8:33 p.m.

The W.C. Handy Festival runs from July 17 to 26 in Florence, and once again Temple B’nai Israel will be a venue.  On July 25 at 2 p.m., “Pickup Shticks” will feature Rabbi Nancy Tunick, and Scott Whitehead and family.

Chabad of Mobile will hold a Jewish Learning Institute course, “Justice and the War on Terror,” July 22 and 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the Hampton Inn on Providence Park Drive. The two sessions, “Negotiating With Terror” and “Torturing to Save Lives” are CLE accredited.



New Orleans/Louisiana

Hadassah of Baton Rouge and The Red Shoes Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth are partnering for an inspirational retreat featuring Rabbi Yael Levy. “Sabbath of Psalms: A Deep Yearning” will be held July 17 and 18. It will be an interfaith exploration of the Psalms under the structure of Shabbat. The weekend begins at 6 p.m. on July 17 with Shabbat dinner, followed by teachings, reflection, meditation and song. The sessions on July 18 will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with prayer, guided meditation, Torah and Psalm study. Registration is $50, including dinner and lunch. Levy is director of “A Way In: Jewish Mindfulness Center” and author of books on the Omer and Chanukah. The rabbi at Congregation Mishkan Shalom in Philadelphia, she was also named by the Forward as one of America’s most inspiring rabbis.

The Chabad Jewish Center in Metairie will screen a new documentary, “With My Whole Broken Heart,” at the start of Tisha B’Av. The film will be at 9:30 p.m. on July 25. The film details valiant parents who lost children to terrorism, and also follows the lives of two of the youngest survivors of Auschwitz and Buchenwald, who changed the Jewish landscape. The film is framed around the Lubavitcher Rebbe's response to the 1956 terror attack in Kfar Chabad that claimed lives of 5 students, and features interviews with Daniel Pearl's parents, Ruth and Judea Pearl; Sherri Mandel, mother of Kobi Mandell; former Israeli chief rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau; and Rabbi Nissan Mangel.

Beth Israel and Anshe Sfard will team up for joint services on Tisha B’Av. On July 25, there will be a 9:15 p.m. service and reading of the Book of Lamentations at Beth Israel in Metairie. The July 26 service will be at Anshe Sfard at 9 a.m., followed by Rabbi Gabe Greenberg of Beth Israel and Rabbi David Polsky leading and explaining selected kinnot, the special dirges recited on Tisha B’Av.

B’nai Zion in Shreveport is holding a summer film series following the 6 p.m. Shabbat services. Pizza, popcorn and drinks will be served, and each film has a Judaic tie. Admission is free, but donations are appreciated before or after Shabbat. The July 17 film will be “The Jewish Cardinal,” followed by the 2006 film “O Jerusalem” on July 24 and the 1977 classic “Oh, God!” on July 31.

On July 18, the Shabbat speakers series at Anshe Sfard in New Orleans will feature Allison Padilla-Goodman, the South-Central Regional Director for the Anti Defamation League. She will speak at the conclusion of the 9:15 a.m. service, around 11:30 a.m. A buffet lunch will follow.

Anshe Sfard will celebrate the ancient holiday of Tu B’Av on July 30 with a white linen party at Richard Fiske’s Martini Bar. Rabbi David Polsky said Tu B’Av was seen as one of the happiest days of the Jewish year, as single women would borrow white dresses and dance in the fields. Moishe House New Orleans is co-sponsoring the event, which will start at 7:30 p.m.

The New Orleans Synagogue Softball League’s playoffs have been pushed back to August 2 as the season was extended due to rainouts.

B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge will have its Trash and Treasure Sale from July 31 to August 14.

Anshe Sfard and AVODAH will have a joint Shabbat event on July 24, starting with a Carlebach-style service at 7 p.m., led by AVODAH member Aaron Leven. A dinner for young Jieux-ish professionals will follow at 8, with a discussion on "Isaiah's Vision and Ours: Envisioning Social Justice Today." Discussion leaders will be AVODAH corps member Rob Greenberg and AVODAH New Orleans Program and Development Associate Alana Himber.

The Chabad Center in Metairie will have a Hebrew reading crash course for beginners, starting Aug. 2 and running for six Sunday mornings. Chabad in Metairie is having a community Shabbat dinner on July 17. Services are 7:15 p.m, followed by dinner at 8 p.m. Reservations are $18 for adults, $10 for ages 3 to 12, $50 for families. Reservations are due by July 14.

Shir Chadash's annual Nearly New Sale wraps up with a half-price sale on July 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and July 20 with a Sunset Savings Clearance Bag Sale from 6 to 9 p.m.

The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans announced the launch of its new Strategic Impact Fund. All Jewish organizations, including synagogues, in the Greater New Orleans area are welcome and encouraged to apply for grants up to $5,000 out of a pool of $25,000 for programming that addresses one or more of eight community priorities that are listed on the application. Applications and supporting materials are due by August 12. Contact Allison Kushner with any questions.

New Orleans Section of the National Council of Jewish Women is looking for six women who want to learn, network and take action for progressive social change. Starting this fall there will be six seminars about NCJW, culminating in the NCJW Washington Institute. Applications are available here.



Mississippi 

Rabbi Debra Kassoff will lead a “how to” class for Beth Israel in Jackson on doing a Havdalah service, at the home of Amy and Arty Finkelberg. Dessert will be provided for the event, which is July 18 at 7 p.m.

Chabad of Mississippi will have a program on the History and Mystery of the Holy Land, July 22 at 7 p.m.


---
Sign up here to receive the full 'This Week in Southern Jewish Life' email direct to your inbox. It includes even more content including topics of Jewish interest from around the world, opinion, careers board, candlelighting times, special offers, and more.

Gift Enhances Judaics at South Alabama


Longtime University of South Alabama philanthropists Fanny and Bert Meisler of Mobile announced a gift to establish an endowment to enhance Jewish Studies at USA.

The Fanny and Bert Meisler Endowed Professorship in Jewish Studies will expand and deepen the university’s relationship with Mobile’s Jewish community, focusing on the history, religion and culture of the Jewish people.

The professorship position extends a program the Meislers had already helped to establish. In August, the university will welcome a new faculty member to USA, David Meola, who currently is a visiting assistant professor of history at the University of the South, where he specializes in German and Jewish history from the Enlightenment through the 19th century with a focus on public expression and popular culture.

 Meola will serve USA as the Fanny and Bert Meisler Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies.

The Meislers’ latest gift will establish a permanent endowment to support a faculty position in Jewish Studies.

“Bert and I have long thought about the need to further research and document the history of Jewish people in the Mobile region,” said Fanny Meisler. “It’s our hope and expectation that university students will take advantage of the opportunity to chronicle this history before it’s gone.”

 “USA is a tremendous asset to Mobile and to the Gulf Coast region,” said Bert Meisler. “We are indebted to the University of South Alabama for providing Fanny and me the means to make this happen.”

 “Fanny and Bert Meisler have supported the University with substantial charitable gifts, including a leadership role in establishing the Ripps-Meisler Endowed Chair in the USA College of Medicine, providing necessary funding to name the student services center Meisler Hall, and giving extensive support to the University’s athletic programs,” said Joseph F. Busta Jr., USA vice president for development and alumni affairs.

“The Jewish Studies Program at USA will bring greater awareness of the impact of the Jewish people on our community, state and region,” said Clarence Mohr, professor and chair of history at USA. “With the generous support of Fanny and Bert Meisler we will explore in greater detail the important issues such as identity, genocide and cultural survival. USA’s classes in Jewish history will be of interest to all those who seek a richer understanding of the Jewish experience.”

Around the South: Week of July 9, 2015

Mt Sinai Congregation, Texarkana TX Above: Facing dwindling numbers and not having had any events in over a year, members of Mount Sinai Congregation in Texarkana officially shut the doors and listed the property for sale. 


Around the South: Week of July 9, 2015

A Jewish community Day of Service will commemorate the 10th anniversary of Katrina, with volunteers working with the St. Bernard Project to rebuild homes on Aug. 9 in New Orleans.

Two regional Jewish singles weekends are upcoming — in Austin this month and Memphis in August.

The Canadian Jewish News has a piece on resignation of Adam Bronstone as CEO of the Jewish Federation of Winnipeg. Bronstone, who followed a CEO who had been in that role for 27 years, was the director of community relations at the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans from 2001 to 2006.

In Houston, a non-Jewish single mother had moved to a new home just before the Memorial Day flood, not realizing it was a largely Jewish neighborhood — and found “over 300” of her Jewish neighbors rallying to her aid after her house was flooded and they had lost everything.

Mickve Israel in Savannah is opening a new museum about Savannah’s 282-year Jewish history.

On June 25, the Anti-Defamation League’s Southeast Region presented the 2015 Stuart Lewengrub Torch of Liberty Award to Birmingham’s Mike Slive, former commissioner of the Southeastern Conference.

The New York Jewish Week has a piece on the Rise and Fall of JONAH, the Orthodox-oriented group that claimed to “heal” homosexuality but was just found guilty of fraud in a suit that was brought by Alabama’s Southern Poverty Law Center.

Touro Synagogue in New Orleans is livestreaming its services. The full service will be available for a week and the sermons will be available beyond that. Livestreams from the Forgotson Chapel are here and from the Main Sanctuary here.

Shira Moskowitz writes how Jewish summer camping got her to move to Mississippi.

Rabbi Avi Weiss: Saying Kaddish in Charleston for slain church members.

High Holidays time? Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem in Montgomery is selling “Honey from the Heart, in cooperation with ORT. Cost is $11 per jar, and shipping is free if ordered before July 13. 

Fundraising continues for Houston's Jewish community in the aftermath of flooding. In New Orleans, the Force family did a $2,000 gift in honor of Morton Katz's presidency of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. Another match of up to $25,000 by the Goldring family and Woldenberg Foundation was announced. The Federation and Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana also sent $5,000. NECHAMA and All Hands are looking for volunteers to assist with cleaning, packing and addressing needs of those affected by the flooding. To volunteer, contact Michael Kahlenberg at (281) 630-4926 or email. To contribute, click here.

The Hillel at Mississippi State is running a GoFundMe campaign to increase programming and Jewish enrollment.

The Reform movement’s Greene Family Camp in Texas will have a 40th anniversary and reunion the weekend of July 10.



Alabama

After two decades of growing roses, Mobile’s Bernie Malkove has donated most of his bushes to the Mitchell Cancer Center.

You Belong in Birmingham will have several activities in July. On July 12, there will be a brunch at Jackson’s in Homewood at 11 a.m., with participants asked to bring a new or gently used children’s book up to third grade level for the Hess Family Library at the Levite Jewish Community Center. A volunteer reading opportunity is available with the preschool on July 22. The YBIB Summer Party will be at Cantina in Pepper Place, July 16 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. There will be margaritas and appetizers, along with Cantina’s happy hour specials. Guests are welcome.

Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile has named Rabbi Dana Kaplan as interim rabbi for the coming year, starting Sept. 1. He will also be in Mobile from July 7 to 20 and Aug. 11 to 24.

Eva Wilensky will be teaching Mah Jongg at Temple Beth-El in Birmingham for four Mondays, starting July 6, at 9:30 a.m. There is no charge for Sisterhood members, $5 for non-members.

Chabad of Mobile will hold a Jewish Learning Institute course, “Justice and the War on Terror,” July 22 and 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the Hampton Inn on Providence Park Drive. The two sessions, “Negotiating With Terror” and “Torturing to Save Lives” are CLE accredited.

Diamonds Direct in Birmingham will have a Designer Showcase on July 10 and 11 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and July 12 from noon to 6 p.m., with 20 percent discounts and access to some of the industry’s top designers. On July 10 there will be cocktails and hors d’oeuvres from Vecchia from 5 to 7 p.m.

Montgomery’s L’chaim League will have a program with Raymond Cohen speaking about the life of Nat King Cole. The July 14 luncheon will be at Temple Beth Or at 11:30 a.m., featuring soul food from Down the Street Café. Reservations are $10 per person and are due on July 11.



Florida Panhandle

Temple Beth-El in Pensacola will have a “Summer Lovin’” Talmudic learning series on Jewish views of relationships, intimacy and physical desire. Three Wednesdays, starting July 8 at 7 p.m. Beverages, light appetizers or desserts to share are welcome. Contact Temple for class location, etc.

On July 10, Beth Shalom in Fort Walton Beach will welcome Rabbi Joel Fleekop and members of Temple Beth-El in Pensacola for Shabbat services at 7:30 p.m. Beth-El is currently undergoing a major renovation (above) and is currently meeting at First United Methodist Church most weekends. 

B’nai Israel in Panama City will have Havdalah on the Beach, July 11 at 6 p.m. at Richard Seltzer Park.



New Orleans/Louisiana

Hadassah of Baton Rouge and The Red Shoes Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth are partnering for an inspirational retreat featuring Rabbi Yael Levy. “Sabbath of Psalms: A Deep Yearning” will be held July 17 and 18. It will be an interfaith exploration of the Psalms under the structure of Shabbat. The weekend begins at 6 p.m. on July 17 with Shabbat dinner, followed by teachings, reflection, meditation and song. The sessions on July 18 will be from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with prayer, guided meditation, Torah and Psalm study. Registration is $50, including dinner and lunch. Levy is director of “A Way In: Jewish Mindfulness Center” and author of books on the Omer and Chanukah. The rabbi at Congregation Mishkan Shalom in Philadelphia, she was also named by the Forward as one of America’s most inspiring rabbis.

The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana announced their annual meeting will be Sept. 17 at 7 p.m., at the Uptown Jewish Community Center. Dr. Edward Soll will be installed as Federation president. Julie Schwartz and Dr. Julius Levy, Jr. will receive the Anne Goldsmith Hanaw and J. Jerome Hanaw Tikkun Olam Award for Campaign Excellence. The 2015 Herbert J. and Margot Garon Young Leadership Award recipient is Joshua Rubenstein.

The North Louisiana Jewish Federation’s annual meeting and dinner will be July 15 at 6 p.m. in Lefkowitz Hall at B’nai Zion in Shreveport. Reservations are required by July 7.

The Chabad Jewish Center in Metairie will host “Toward a Meaningful Life: A Soul-Searching Journey for Every Jew,” led by Rabbi Mendel Ceitlin. The free course meets for four Wednesdays, starting July 8, at 7:30 p.m. Topics will be Body and Soul, Birth and Childhood, Home and Family, and Work and Productivity. Each is self-contained, so one need not attend all sessions. No background knowledge or affiliation is necessary.

The Bart Family Film Series is back this July at the Uptown JCC in New Orleans. The first film, Gett: the Trial of Viviane Amsalem, was on July 7. “Ida,” the 2015 Academy Award winner for Best Foreign Language Film, is the July 14 film. Described by Keith Turan of the Los Angeles Times as “a film of exceptional artistry, whose emotions are as potent and persuasive as its images are indelibly beautiful,” “Ida” is an intimate drama about a young novitiate nun in 1960’s Poland. On the verge of taking her vows, she is shocked to learn that her parents were Jewish and had been murdered during the Nazi occupation. This discovery leads her on a journey into her own past, evoking the legacy of the Holocaust and the realities of postwar Communism. The 7 p.m. film is free and open to the community. Popcorn and movie snacks will be served.

Chabad in Metairie is having a community Shabbat dinner on July 17. Services are 7:15 p.m, followed by dinner at 8 p.m. Reservations are $18 for adults, $10 for ages 3 to 12, $50 for families. Reservations are due by July 14.

Shir Chadash is holding its annual Nearly New Sale. The sale offers a wide variety of items including fashions for the entire family, housewares, furniture, art, books, toys and more on July 12 to 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Shir Chadash in Metairie. There will also be a half-price sale on July 19.

The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans announced the launch of its new Strategic Impact Fund. All Jewish organizations, including synagogues, in the Greater New Orleans area are welcome and encouraged to apply for grants up to $5,000 out of a pool of $25,000 for programming that addresses one or more of eight community priorities that are listed on the application. Applications and supporting materials are due by August 12. Contact Allison Kushner with any questions.

New Orleans Section of the National Council of Jewish Women is looking for six women who want to learn, network and take action for progressive social change. Starting this fall there will be six seminars about NCJW, culminating in the NCJW Washington Institute. Applications are available here.



Mississippi 

Beth Israel in Jackson welcomed Rabbi James Simon as interim rabbi at the July 3 Shabbat service. 

Chabad of Mississippi will have a program on the History and Mystery of the Holy Land, July 22 at 7 p.m.



---
Sign up here to receive the full 'This Week in Southern Jewish Life' email direct to your inbox. It includes even more content including topics of Jewish interest from around the world, opinion, careers board, candlelighting times, special offers, and more.

Day of Service to highlight Jewish community Katrina-10 commemorations

As the 10th anniversary of the storm approaches, the Jewish community of New Orleans is organizing a service day to commemorate 10 years of rebuilding.

On Aug. 9, a group of volunteers from the Jewish community will participate in TikkuNOLAm, based on the Hebrew phrase for repairing the world.

The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans is coordinating the day with St. Bernard Project, which has built over 600 homes in the area since Katrina. The Project currently has a waiting list of 110 clients, and states there are still 6,000 families that owned homes pre-Katrina who still do not have the resources to rebuild.

The project day will start at 8:30 a.m. and go through 3 p.m. at several houses in Orleans Parish. Breakfast, lunch, water and snacks will be provided.

There is no charge to volunteer, but contributions are welcomed to defray costs to St. Bernard for materials and staffing. It costs the organization roughly $50 per volunteer for insurance and staff oversight support, and it costs roughly $25,000 to remediate the average house.

Donors who give $54 or more will receive a TikkuNOLAm water bottle and T-shirt. Those giving $250 or more will have their name or logo on the items, and those giving $2500 or more will receive prominent placement and be thanked at the launch event the morning of Aug. 9.

All donors will be thanked in the Federation’s 2015-16 Annual Report.

Those who want to volunteer and/or contribute are urged to contact the Federation or register online here. Though the volunteer registration page linked to that site states at the top that they are full for August, the “JewOrleans” group registration is further down the page and is accepting submissions.

On Aug. 30, the weekend of the actual anniversary, a Jewish community commemoration will be held at the Uptown Jewish Community Center at 5 p.m.

Commemorations began on June 16 with “A Celebration of Community and Jewish Women’s Leadership” at Touro Synagogue, a panel discussion of women in the Jewish community, presented by Hadassah, the National Council of Jewish Women and the Jewish Women’s Archives, which recently debuted a new online portal for its collection of Katrina-related materials.

Regional events in Memphis, Austin seek to draw Jewish singles

Photo from last year's Chosen Weekend

Jewish singles have their pick of two upcoming regional weekends, as The Chosen Weekend returns to Austin on July 17, and the Bluff City Bash debuts in Memphis on Aug. 28.

The Chosen Weekend brings together Jewish young adults, ages 22-40ish, from across Texas and beyond to provide an opportunity for Jewish young adults to meet each other in a fun, dynamic environment, and connect with other Jews from across the region.

After over 250 people attended last year, this year’s organizers expect over 350. The Chosen Weekend is an independent event hosted by an Austin-based committee of community members. Co-chairs of this year’s event are Samantha Tugentman and Leza Abramov.

The weekend’s events will all take place at venues throughout downtown Austin. The weekend kicks off with a Shabbat dinner in a hip downtown restaurant, followed by an after party. A Saturday afternoon pool party is followed by a “Party of 8 Dinner,” where participants are matched into groups of eight to meet more people from other cities with similar interests.

The Chosen Night Party is the crown jewel of the weekend and features an open bar, DJ, dancing, prizes, and networking.

A Sunday morning brunch concludes the weekend.

Attendees can pick and choose which events they want to buy tickets to based on their particular interests.

More information here.

The Memphis event was aimed toward Jewish singles ages 21 to 39 in Southern communities, but has been opened to New York and Los Angeles “by popular demand.” After a Shabbat dinner of Corky’s barbecue, there will be late-night socializing downtown.

On Aug. 29, there is a catered brunch at a South Main Historic Art District gallery, followed by free time to explore Memphis attractions. That evening there is a party at an underground club, and a farewell breakfast on Aug. 30.

Registration for the weekend is $50. For more information, visit here.