Expanding NOLA’s JCC; Hebrew graffiti on Louisville Mosque: This Week in Southern Jewish Life, Sept. 18

Dothan’s Temple Emanu-El

Sept. 20 is the annual memorial service date when it is traditional to visit cemeteries between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Most congregations have an organized time for visiting. Metairie’s Gates of Prayer will dedicate the new Plotkin Pavilion at the Joseph Street Cemetery, starting at 4 p.m. The Canal Street Cemetery visit will follow at 5:30 p.m.

The New Orleans Jewish Community Center is embarking on a major Uptown expansion, and is launching a capital campaign with a goal of around $8 million.

The Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust gave a landmark $1.5 million gift to the JCC campaign, among other recent gifts to numerous groups. Here’s a piece on the Trust and its huge effect on New Orleans in a short time.

Louisville community stunned by vandalism at local mosque, which included spray-painted Hebrew words and Stars of David, along with the message “leave the Jews alone.”

An Update piece by Samantha Dubrinsky, director of community impact and special projects at the Birmingham Jewish Federation, is now on Times of Israel. In it, she writes about being in an interfaith, interracial relationship.

With an updated science standard passed by the State Board of Education, for the first time, Alabama students will be required to learn about evolution and climate change. A public hearing on Nov. 9 will discuss removal of a 1995 disclaimer sticker in Alabama textbooks, which asserted that evolutionary teachings are controversial.

After praying about the issue, a councilman in Dadeville, Ala., introduced a bill that would ban saggy pants, saying that is what God would want.

U.S. veterans in wheelchairs will be the first to benefit from the Israeli company SoftWheel, whose suspension wheels allow the user to go over rough terrain or stairs with the wheel absorbing the impact and not passing it on to the user. The company is working with partners in the Carolinas and Savannah, Ga.

From Teaneck to Tennessee: A recent transplant touts the benefits from his family’s recent move to Memphis.

The annual Taste of Jewish Memphis recruitment weekend will be Oct. 15 to 18. 

Mississippi State Hillel is hosting a golf tournament to raise funds for the Jewish student organization. The Sept. 20 event will be at the Mississippi State golf course. Registration is $50 per player or $100 per team. Sponsorships are available starting at $75. The Hillel was founded in 2010 and seeks to grow Jewish life at the Starkville campus.

The Declare Your Freedom festival, an on-campus Zionist showcase that began at the University of New Orleans and Tulane, and has spread to Central Florida and Indiana, is online with its crowdfunding effort for next year. Last year’s festival featured Matisyahu and drew 1500 at Tulane, and was cited by anti-Israel activists in the attempt to bar Matisyahu from a Spanish music festival last month.

Auburn Hillel will host the Mississippi State Hillel at a tailgate before the Sept. 26 football game. 

Sukkot Events

Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center will have Shake Your Lulav in the Sukkah, Oct. 1 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. There will be pizza and milkshakes, and children’s activities.

Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El will have Pizza In Our Hut and Lulav Shakes, Sept. 30 at 5 p.m. Reservations are requested by Sept. 25, and cost is $6 per person.

Temple Beth-El in Birmingham will have a dairy Potluck in the Sukkah following 5:45 p.m. services on Oct. 2. There will be a Simchat Torah service and spaghetti dinner on Oct. 5 at 6:30 p.m.

Birmingham’s Knesseth Israel will have a first night dinner in the Sukkah, Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. There will be a Sukkah Hop on Sept. 29, starting at 4:45 p.m, and a musical Havdalah, campfire and s’mores on Oct. 3 at 7:15 p.m.

Bais Ariel Chabad Center in Birmingham will have an adults-only Sushi and Scotch in the Sukkah, Oct. 1 at 7 p.m. Reservations are $18, or $5 for members of You Belong in Birmingham. Chabad will also have a family Sukkot extravaganza, Oct. 4 from noon to 3 p.m., with inflatables, mechanical rides, face painting, a foam pit and barbecue.

Temple Emanu-El in Dothan will have a Sukkot family service and potluck on Oct. 2 at 6 p.m. 

Temple B’nai Sholom in Huntsville will have a family sukkah raising on Sept. 27 at noon.

Ahavas Chesed in Mobile will have a Sukkot dairy potluck dinner on Sept. 27 at 6 p.m. with Yehuda on guitar. “Shake Lulav and Leave” will be on Sept. 28 and 29 from noon to 12:30 p.m.

Montgomery’s Temple Beth Or will have a Sukkot outdoor service on Sept. 27 at 6 p.m.

Beth-El in Pensacola will have its Shabbat Under the Stars on Oct. 2 at 6 p.m. at the Fleekop home. There will also be a Young Jewish Pensacola Dinner and Game Night in the Fleekop Sukkah, Sept. 30 at 6 p.m.

Beth Shalom in Fort Walton will have its Sukkot service on Oct. 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Chabad of Baton Rouge will have a community-wide Sukkah party on Sept. 30 at 5 p.m.

Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge will decorate the Sukkah on Sept. 27 at 5:30 p.m., followed by a dairy potluck at 6 p.m. and services at 7 p.m. The Brotherhood will host a Simchat Torah deli dinner on Oct. 5 at 6 p.m., followed by services and Consecration at 7 p.m.

B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge will have a Sukkot family barbecue on Sept. 27 at 11:45 a.m., and Shabbat Dinner in the Sukkah on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m., following the 6 p.m. service.

Anshe Sfard in New Orleans will have Study with a Buddy Night in the Sukkah, Sept. 30 from 7:30 to 9 p.m., as the first in a continuing education series. English source sheets will be provided, and those without a study buddy can be matched with one. The evening’s study will be Talmudic sources describing the meaning of Sukkot.

Anshe Sfard in New Orleans will have a Simchat Torah Second Line, with the first line being a Torah instead of a band. Services will start on Oct. 5 at 7:15 p.m., followed by the Second Line to The Avenue Pub for pre-paid drinks. The procession will then return to Anshe Sfard for the Torah reading, jambalaya and local craft beer. Reservations and contributions are encouraged for the bar tab.

Chassidic soul band Zusha will be at Beth Israel in Metairie for the end of Sukkot. Their self-titled debut EP reached No. 9 on Billboard’s World music chart. They have played to sold-out audiences in New York, Washington, Chicago, San Francisco and Jerusalem. Guitarist Zachariah Goldshmiedt told Huffington Post that they seek to promote the joy in Judaism. “Chassidic teachings are about being happy, being truthful. We want to reconnect to what it means to be a person, and our music is coming to bring back the raw emotion of what everything is about.” There will be a Hoshana Rabbah service and concert at Beth Israel on Oct. 4 at 10 a.m.

Beth Israel in Metairie will also have a sukkah build and dinner on Sept. 24 at 6 p.m., a men’s event on Sept. 29 at 6 p.m., a women’s event on Sept. 30 at 7 p.m., Shabbat dinner in the sukkah at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 2 following the 6 p.m. service, Sukkah Hop on Oct. 3 at 3 p.m., and a Simchat Torah buffet dinner on Oct. 5 at 7:15 p.m. Reservations are required by Sept. 25 for the Oct. 2 Shabbat dinner.

Gates of Prayer in Metairie will have a Sukkot picnic on Sept. 27 at 5:30 p.m., bring your own dinner.

Chabad Uptown will have Sukkot Under The Stars for Young Jewish Professionals, dinner and drinks on Sept. 27 at 7:30 p.m.,

Chabad of Louisiana will have SukkahFest 2015, Oct. 1 at 5:30 p.m. The event features a large sukkah, food, shaking the lulav and music from Ben Schenck and the Panorama Jazz Band.

JNOLA will have Safari in the Sukkah at Audubon Zoo. The family event on Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. will be in the Dominion Room, and area rabbis will be there to explain Sukkot rituals. Some of the zoo’s friendlier animals will attend. A light, kosher dinner will be served. Cost is $5 per family.

Shir Chadash in Metairie will have Sukkot services and dinner on Oct. 2 starting at 6:15 p.m. Dinner reservations are taken through Sept. 30, and are $12 for adults, $6 for ages 6 to 12 and free for 5 and under.

New Orleans Touro Synagogue’s clergy will host brown-bag lunches in the sukkah at noon. Rabbi Alexis Berk will host on Sept. 29, Cantor David Mintz will host on Sept. 30 and Rabbi Todd Silverman will host on Oct. 1. After services on Oct. 2, there will be Shabbat Sukkah: Vintage Wines and Harvest Moon in Bowsky Garden. Touro Synagogue will also hold Simchat Torah in the Park, Oct. 4 at 9:30 a.m. at Danneel Park, featuring the Panorama Jazz Band. The day will start with a brunch picnic, followed by dancing and celebrating with Cantor Mintz and the band at 10:15 a.m. At 10:45 a.m. the Torah will be unrolled, with Rabbi Berk and Rabbi Silverman going through the entire Torah in 10 minutes. After the Torah ceremony, there will be free time to enjoy the park.

Temple Sinai in New Orleans will have Sukkot text study for all levels, Sept. 30 at 6:30 p.m. In addition, every evening there will be Sukkot Under the Stars starting at 6:30 p.m., hosted by the Brotherhood on Sept. 27, Sisterhood on Sept. 28, the Dodd and Gold families on Sept. 29, and Carla and Adam Jacob hosting younger adults on Oct. 1. A “Walking, Talking Torah” family service and Sisterhood dinner will be Oct. 2 at 6:15 p.m.

B’nai Zion in Shreveport will have a Many Celebrations Harvest Shabbat Dinner on Oct. 2 at 6 p.m. for Sukkot, Simchat Torah, the monthly Simcha Shabbat and Consecration. Reservations are requested by Sept. 25, and are $10 for adults, $6 for ages 3 to 12. Rabbi Jana DeBenedetti will be in the sukkah for those who want to bring dinner on Sept. 30 and Oct. 1, starting at 5:30 p.m.

Gulfport’s Beth Israel will have a First Friday Family Fun Shabbat Meets Sukkot, Oct. 2 at 6:30 p.m., followed by pizza in the sukkah. There will also be a Simchat Torah dinner and service on Oct. 5 at 5 p.m.

Beth Israel in Jackson will have Pizza in the Hut, Sept. 27 at 5:30 p.m., followed by outdoor services. Simchat Torah will be on Oct. 4 with a potluck dinner at 5:30 p.m. and services at 6:15 p.m. Dinner reservations are requested.


Tuscaloosa’s Temple Emanu-El will dedicate a community Holocaust Torah on Sept. 20 at 2 p.m. The Torah is one of the 1,600 that were stockpiled by the Nazis in Prague, and are now being distributed worldwide by the Westminster Synagogue in London. A reception will follow at the Bloom Hillel House.

Birmingham’s Bais Ariel Chabad Center will dedicate a Torah in memory of Brian Grodner on Sept. 20 at 5 p.m. The ceremony will start with the dedication and dancing from the Overton Park tennis courts, followed by dinner and children’s activities. The community is invited.

On Sept. 20, Cantor Harvey Bordowitz will present “The Jewish Soul,” Jewish music from classic to Klezmer, at Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El. The 4 p.m. concert is open to the community. Bordowitz moved to Israel in 1976 and was founding music director and conductor of the Herzliya Chamber Orchestra. He lectures widely on a wide range of musical topics.

Chaplain Michael Horwitz is in the process of organizing “Torah Triage: CPR from an Ancient Text,” a bimonthly program at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital. It will be co-sponsored by the UAB Department of Pastoral Care and Temple Beth-El. The plan is for it to be a 45-minute to one-hour lunch session, starting in October.

The traveling exhibition “Darkness into Life: Alabama’s Holocaust Survivors Through Photography and Art” begins an eight-month run at Vulcan Park and Museum in Birmingham on Sept. 25. Originally created in 2007, the exhibit combines paintings of the recollections of Holocaust survivors in Alabama with present-day photography and stories of how the survivors rebuilt their lives. The paintings are by Mitzi Levin and the photography is by Becky Seitel. The exhibit will be displayed through May 16.

Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El will welcome Julian Resnick to its Shabbat service on Sept. 25 at 5:40 p.m. A South Africa native, Resnick moved to Israel in 1976, and has served as an Israeli emissary in San Francisco, London and New York. Over the last five years he has guided three Friendship tours in Israel of Christians and Jews from Birmingham.

The next Osher Lifelong Learning Institute class at the Levite Jewish Community Center in Birmingham will be a wine tasting forum, Sept. 30 at 5:30 p.m., led by Foster Smith of Foster Wine. Reservations are $7.

New Orleans/Louisiana

The seventh annual JCC Super Sprint Triathlon will be held on Sept. 27, at the Uptown JCC in New Orleans. Heats begin at 8:30 a.m. Triathlon participants will swim 17 laps (.25 miles) in the pool, cycle 6.2 miles on a stationary bike, and then run 2.2 miles down St. Charles Avenue. Prizes will be awarded to the top three finishers. Triathlon experience is not necessary. Registration is $40 for members and $60 for non-members. Individuals must sign up before Sept. 23 to be eligible to compete.

The next 92nd Street Y program simulcast at Temple Sinai in New Orleans will feature Harold Kushner and Rabbi Peter Rubenstein, discussing “Nine Essential Things I’ve Learned About Life.” They will be joined by Rachel Cowan, author of “Wise Aging.” The program will be Sept. 30 at 7:15 p.m.

Jessica Greenberg will share the story of her grandfather, New Orleanian Harry Nowalsky, at the National World War II Museum on Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. As a young Jewish American GI, Nowalsky was instrumental in resurrecting the Jewish community of Berlin by helping to reopen the first synagogue in postwar Berlin. Through her research, which includes her grandfather’s photos, documents, and letters, Ms. Greenberg will tell of her discoveries of her grandfather’s role and how he helped in the adoption of a German Jewish orphan who would receive “Visa #1” to enter the United States after the war. Jessica’s research and journey culminated in connecting with and meeting this Holocaust survivor 70 years later. In appreciation of his work and assistance, the American Joint Distribution Committee held a banquet in Nowalsky’s honor, and the Jewish community of Berlin presented him with a large collection of Judaic objects, which had been hidden at the beginning of the war. These items will be on display at the Museum on Sept. 30. Reserve here.

Building on a meaningful experience last year at Shabbat Shuvah, Cantor David Mintz at Touro Synagogue in New Orleans is leading a Shabbat Kumzits, an intimate gathering of communal singing and a community dinner, following the 6 p.m. service on Sept. 18. He plans to have these monthly this year, with the next one on Oct. 9.

There will be an oneg following the 9:45 a.m. service at Shir Chadash in Metairie honoring Sara Stone on her 100th birthday.

Occupational Therapist Ellie Streiffer will lead this month’s Jewish Babies Club at the Jewish Community Day School in Metairie, Sept. 25 at 1 p.m.

The Jewish Community Relations Council will be discussing new collaborative initiatives with the Urban League of Greater New Orleans and Archdiocese of New Orleans at a Sept. 24 program. The discussion will be about the need for greater community relations in the wake of violence and blind hatred as exemplified in Ferguson and Charleston, among other recent events. The event will be at the Uptown JCC at 7 p.m.

On Sept. 18, Temple Sinai in New Orleans will have “A Look Back, A Look Ahead,” as past president Sheila Gold interviews Rabbi Edward Cohn about his years at Temple Sinai. Congregants will also be able to ask questions. Cohn has been at Temple Sinai for 28 years and will be retiring next year. The service will be at 6:15 p.m. An April 9, 2016 date has been announced for Gala 2016, which will honor Cohn.


Beth Israel in Jackson will host Fish Rhythms’ Drum Circle on Sept. 20 at 5:30 p.m., in conjunction with the Shalom Group.

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