JCCA Bienniel Set for New Orleans

In May, over 600 Jewish professionals and volunteer leaders from across North America will converge on New Orleans for the Jewish Community Centers of North America Biennial.

The May 6 to 9 conference will be at the Hilton Riverside downtown, right as the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival concludes. There will be over 70 sessions for delegates.

Keynote speakers include Chris Brogan, president of Human Business Works; educator Erica Brown, scholar-in-residence for the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington; and Scott Cowen, president of Tulane University.

At the awards luncheon on May 7, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band will perform, and founder Sandra Jaffe and her son, current director Ben Jaffe, will speak about the venue’s history and Jewish connections.

That night, the delegates are invited to a party the New Orleans JCC will be throwing at Tipitina’s.

The JCCA includes over 350 JCC, YM-YWHA and camp sites in the United States and Canada.
Members of the New Orleans Jewish community are urged to volunteer at the conference. Volunteers receive free admission to the conference on the days of their shifts, though that does not include meals.

Volunteers are needed to serve as ambassadors and welcome guests, provide information about the biennial and about New Orleans to delegates, direct participants to sessions, and help set up a conference-wide luncheon.

Volunteers may sign up online at nojcc.org or download the form and drop it off at the Uptown or Metairie JCCs. For further information, contact Ashley Kirschman at Ashley@nojcc.org or (504) 897-0143.

New Israel Air Force Chief an Auburn-Montgomery Grad

The new commander in chief of Israel’s Air Force has Alabama ties.

Jaffa native Amir Eshel graduated from Auburn University at Montgomery in 1991, after also attending the Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery. He was appointed commander on Feb. 5 after serving as head of the Israel Defense Forces Planning Directorate.

Eshel will replace current IAF Commander Maj. Gen. Ido Nechushtan, who is retiring in May after four years manning the post, Israel Hayom reported.

“Thank you all for your congratulations. I am aware of the magnitude of the responsibility and intend to do everything in my power to be deemed worthy,” was all Eshel was willing to say upon his return home that day.

In 1977 Eshel was drafted into the IAF pilot’s course and completed training in 1979. He participated in the Lebanon War, then commanded a squadron at Tel Nof. He later became commander of Tel Nof.

In 2003, he led a formation of three Israeli F-15s on a flyover of Auschwitz while in Poland for the Radom Air Show, which was part of the Polish Air Force’s 85th anniversary.

The son of Holocaust survivors, Eshel stated during the flyover “We pilots of the Air Force, flying in the skies above the camp of horrors, arose from the ashes of the millions of victims and shoulder their silent cries, salute their courage and promise to be the shield of the Jewish people and its nation Israel.” A picture from the flyover remains in his office.

In 2006 he became chief of staff for the Israeli Air Force, and the 2006 Lebanon War took place while he was in that role.

Eshel also holds a Masters in Political Science from Haifa University from the National Security College.

His appointment comes at a time when the Air Force may be called upon for a possible strike against Iran’s nuclear capabilities, and in a Jerusalem Post interview he also warned about the possibility of Syria’s chemical weapons winding up in the hands of Hezbollah.

Most online biographies of Eshel, including on the IDF website, list him as a graduate of Auburn University, but he actually attended the branch campus in Montgomery.

The Eruv is Now Up in Birmingham

When Rabbi Eytan Yammer of Birmingham’s Knesseth Israel is on the phone with a potential family looking to relocate to Birmingham, two quality of life questions about Jewish infrastructure inevitably come up — are there kosher restaurants, and is there an eruv?

The kosher restaurant component is a reality now, with the opening of Sababa. And as of Feb. 14, there is now an eruv encompassing two square miles around the state’s only Orthodox congregation and Birmingham’s Chabad center.

Tuscaloosa Holding 10th Jewish Film Festival

The Tuscaloosa Arts Council will present the 10th Annual Tuscaloosa Jewish Film Festival March 24 to 27 at the Bama Theatre. The festival was established in 2003 with the goals of introducing local audiences to the best of Jewish filmmaking and expanding cultural and social understanding.

Musical Mitzvah for New Orleans Kids

Hannah Weiss has always been into music, so it isn’t a surprise that her Bat Mitzvah project has to do with sharing music. After all, her cantor at Touro Synagogue in New Orleans told her that when she decided on a mitzvah project, it should be something that has meaning to her.

JCRS Gala Explores Jewish Jazz

Jazz is woven through the fabric of New Orleans, so it is not surprising that there were members of the Jewish community involved in that American musical form.

The Jewish Children’s Regional Service will celebrate that history with “The Jewish Roots of Jazz,” a gala event at the Ogden Museum on March 17. The event is part of the organization’s annual meeting weekend; the business sessions will be March 18.

Opinion: Time for Presbyterians to Say "Not in Our Name" to Anti-Semitism

Here we go again.

Long-time readers may remember our coverage of the Presbyterian Church (USA) biennial in Birmingham in June 2006. A small group of activists used the church’s passion for peace to attack Israel and make the conference a major battleground in the effort to boycott and isolate the Jewish state, for presumed oppression of the Palestinians.


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