Rosenwald, Simchat Torah: This Week in Southern Jewish Life, Oct. 2

Above: JNOLA held a family-friendly Safari in the Sukkah at Audubon Zoo in New Orleans on Sept. 30.

Around the South: Week of Oct. 2, 2015

“Rosenwald,” a documentary about a partnership between Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, and Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee Institute, will screen in the region this month. Through their efforts, 5400 “Rosenwald Schools” for blacks were built throughout the South from 1912 to 1933. An Oct. 10 screening in New Orleans is being coordinated by the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, with Rosenwald’s great-grandson, Bill Hess, as speaker. The film will also be in Birmingham in late October.

BBC aired a documentary this week, “KKK: The Fight for White Supremacy,” which included an Alabama Klansman talking about how concentration camps were actually summer camps, complete with a swimming pool at Auschwitz.

The Nashville Jewish Film Festival opens on Oct. 13, with three weeks of offerings, including visits by “Deli Man” Ziggy Gruber and the host of Israel’s version of “Big Brother.”

If you’ve wanted to view “Deli Man,” it is now available on Amazon Prime. For a free 30-day trial of Amazon Prime, click here.

A Baptist Church in at Wake Forest in North Carolina cancelled hosting a conference of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, saying “there is a fine line between inflammatory speech and healthy dialogue” on Israel and the Palestinians.

Travel agents report that tourism to Iran is hot right now — even among Jews, according to a Jewish tour organizer in North Carolina, who feels it is a “mitzvah” to bring tourists there.

Amy-Jill Levine will speak at several Christian and Jewish venues in Mobile as part of a Mobile Christian Jewish Dialogue program starting Oct. 8. Levine, a self-described “Yankee Jewish feminist who teaches in a predominantly Christian divinity school in the buckle of the Bible Belt,” is University Professor of New Testament and Jewish Studies, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, and Professor of Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University Divinity School and College of Arts and Sciences in Nashville.

The Anti-Defamation League office in Atlanta condemned Alabama’s move to close most Department of Motor Vehicles offices throughout the state, especially in every county where the population is at least 75 percent black, not long after passing a photo voter ID law.

Gambit endorsed Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne in the Louisiana governor’s race. A Republican, he is a member of the Baton Rouge Jewish community. The weekly paper also endorsed incumbent Buddy Caldwell for Attorney General; his mother was a life-long member of Anshe Chesed in Vicksburg.

Kelly Horwitz, who ran for Tuscaloosa City school board in 2013, won an Alabama Supreme court ruling overturning the dismissal of a lower court voter fraud case. She alleged that University of Alabama students with residency elsewhere were brought to the polls in an orchestrated effort and cast 159 illegal ballots in support of her opponent, who won by 87 votes. The case goes back to the lower court, which had previously said there were only 70 votes that were contestable.

Rabbi Loren Sykes, founding executive director of Ramah Darom in Clayton, Ga., will become principal of the URJ’s NFTY-EIE High School in Israel program on Nov. 1. He is succeeding Baruch Kraus, who has led the program for several decades and will be retiring at the end of December.

Lex Rofes, formerly of the Institute of Southern Jewish Life, was in Hot Springs, Ark., and witnessed a Confederate flag demonstration — that also included an Israeli flag (which, he noted, for many people belong together, as it has the same connotation for Palestinians that the Confederate flag has for African-Americans).

Commence eye-rolling now: The Forward has a list of the 10 “most Jewish hurricanes” in history.

Tennessee’s governor spoke to the Chattanooga Jewish community about his September trade mission to Israel.

Recently, we did a profile on Birmingham’s Sam Tenenbaum and his experiences as a pro wrestler. His biography, “The Unmasked Tenor: The Life and Times of a Singing Wrestler” was just published and is now available. Book signings will be announced soon.

St. Louis resident Anna Baltzer, head of BDS for the U.S. Campaign to End the Occupation and who is Jewish, traveled to Malaysia (which banned “Schindler’s List” in 1994 because of its sympathy toward Jews) and spoke at an anti-Israel forum where she praised Malaysia as an important ally in the fight against Israel, more so than the U.S., where too many people’s “ignorance and racism” keep them from understanding “what is happening in Palestine.”

Friends of the Israel Defense Forces will have an event in Nashville on Oct. 12 at the Gordon JCC, with FIDF Southeast Region Executive Director Seth Baron as guest speaker. A similar event will be on Oct. 13 at the JCC in Memphis. The evenings also feature Staff Sgt. Yonat Daskal, a paramedic with a special unit of the Nahal Brigade and a veteran of Operation Protective Edge. She is one of only four women to serve inside Gaza during last summer’s operation. The programs are open to the pro-Israel community and are complimentary, but for security reasons reservations are required by Oct. 9 by calling (678) 250-9030.

The annual Anshei Sphard Beth El Emeth World Kosher Barbecue contest will be Oct. 18 in Memphis. This is the 27th year for the contest, which last year drew 40 teams and 3,000 spectators. 

Bidding has begun online for auction items at the B’nai Israel Art and Soul gala in Baton Rouge. The event is Oct. 22, but bids for a wide range of items are already being taken. Items include merchandise and gift certificates from some of the area’s most popular restaurants and retailers, along with artwork, luxury and box-seat tickets for select Saints, LSU football and LSU baseball games, a Les Miles-signed LSU football helmet and other sports memorabilia, and a luxury chartered fishing trip off the Louisiana coast. In addition, several vacations are available to destinations like Crested Butte, Col., and Woodstock, N.Y.

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

Sukkot Events

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 musical Havdalah, campfire and s’mores on Oct. 3 at 7:15 p.m.

Bais Ariel Chabad Center in Birmingham will 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.

Springhill Avenue Temple Men’s Club in Mobile: chefs Nate Ginsberg and Mike Pereira will be cooking up hot dogs with all the trimmings for a Sukkot Picnic after the 6 p.m. service on Oct. 2. For those who prefer no meat, a spinach lasagna will be served.

Beth-El in Pensacola will have its Shabbat Under the Stars on Oct. 2 at 6 p.m. at the Fleekop home. 

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

Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge Brotherhood will host a Simchat Torah deli dinner on Oct. 5 at 6 p.m., followed by services and Consecration at 7 p.m.

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. 

Beth Israel in Metairie will also have 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.

Shir Chadash in Metairie will have Sukkot services and dinner on Oct. 2 starting at 6:15 p.m. New Orleans Touro Synagogue will have Shabbat Sukkah: Vintage Wines and Harvest Moon in Bowsky Garden on Oct. 2 following services.

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.

At Temple Sinai in New Orleans, 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.

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.

Chabad of Southern Mississippi will have a Simchat Torah celebration will be Oct. 5 at 7:30 p.m. 

Beth Israel in Jackson will have Simchat Torah on Oct. 4 with a potluck dinner at 5:30 p.m. and services at 6:15 p.m. Dinner reservations are requested.


Nancy and Allen Meisler will speak about the 10th anniversary of Birmingham’s Mitchell’s Place, a comprehensive center for the treatment of children affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders, at the Temple Emanu-El Shabbat service on Oct. 9 at 5:40 p.m. The Meislers founded the center, which has an Early Learning Program starting at age two as well as speech therapy, occupational therapy, ABA services, psychologists, psychiatrists and many other services for children. It was named to honor their son Mitchell, who was diagnosed at age two.

Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem in Montgomery will have “Pray in Pink Shabbat” on Oct. 2 at 6 p.m. Services will be in the sukkah. The evening is an opportunity to honor breast cancer survivors and provide information about breast cancer to the congregation. Karen Herman will be the guest speaker. As part of the evening, there will be the drawing for the congregation’s fall fundraiser; ticket stubs are due by 3 p.m.

Artist and stand-up comic Christopher Davis is hosting what the Birmingham Public Library is calling the ‘main course’ of their free Eat Drink Read Write Festival at the Central Library from 6 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 7. Stories by people of varied backgrounds and cultural traditions will be told. Rabbi Laila Haas of Temple Emanu-El will talk about a Jewish family’s love for celebrating holidays with food, and samples from each presenting tradition will be served.

The Eastern Shore Havurah will meet on Oct. 10 at 6 p.m. for lasagna, movie and dessert, at Westminister Village in Spanish Fort.

The Birmingham Holocaust Education Center will have rededication of its library, Oct. 11 at 3:30 p.m. Librarian and historian Mark Skinner will discuss the importance of special collections libraries, and summer intern Melissa Young, a PhD candidate at the University of Alabama, will present her summer research on the experiences of local Holocaust survivor Dora Nesselroth.

Springhill Avenue Temple will have its “First Annual Blessing of the Pets” in honor of Helen Small. All members of the Jewish community are invited. The event will be on the Temple’s front lawn on Oct. 18 at 11:30 a.m. (rain date is Oct. 25). All pets must be on a leash or in a crate or box because of the busy street.

The Temple Beth Or Sisterhood in Montgomery is doing a cheesecake fundraiser, with cheesecakes from the Carnegie Deli in New York. Orders must be received by Oct. 30, and can be picked up on Nov. 17 or 18 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Six-inch cheesecakes are $25, while 8-inch cheesecakes are $35. For information, email here.

The next event for the L’Chaim League in Montgomery will be a tour of the High Ridge Spirits Distillery in Union Springs. This tour highlights the illegal moonshine trade that once existed in that area, which now houses a legal distillery. This tour is followed by lunch at Red’s Little Schoolhouse in Grady. The group will meet at the Temple Beth Or parking lot on Oct. 14 at 9 a.m., and reservations are requested.

A new Havrutah study group is forming at Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center. Starting Oct. 12, the new study group will meet at 5:30 p.m. on the second Monday of the month. Havrutah is a classic Jewish way of learning in pairs. Topics will range from the current week’s Torah portion, to current events, to whatever happened in the day as it relates to the spiritual text.

Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El is introducing a Children’s Sukkot Camp for infants and school-age children, offered to any Jewish family where parents have other obligations on days when the N.E. Miles Jewish Day School is closed for the holiday, or parents who want to attend services, or who just want to provide a Sukkot experience for their children. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 28 and 29, and Oct. 5 and 6, there will be Jewish learning experiences, including a children’s service, an opportunity to sing in the adult service, monitored free play and games, and holiday-specific activities. Reservations are $35 for full day, $20 for half-day. Drop-ins are welcome if there is space available. Contact the office to sign up.

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. Contact Horwitz for more information.


The second annual Temple B’nai Israel Sisterhood Rummage Sale is taking place in Panama City on Oct. 16. Furniture, clothes, housewares and other items can be brought to B’nai Israel on Oct. 4 or 11 from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Plastic bags, boxes and clothes hangers are also needed. The sale will be from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 16.

New Orleans/Louisiana

Gates of Prayer in Metairie will have a Jewish Ethics course on Thursdays at noon, starting on Oct. 8. Rabbis Bob Loewy and Alexis Pinsky will lead discussions on Jewish teachings and their application to today’s situations. Participants can come weekly or as they can.

Shir Chadash in Metairie will have a kumzitz musical gathering in the Linden/Kornfeld sukkah, Oct. 3 at 8 p.m.

The neo-Chassidic soul trio Zusha will be at Beth Israel in Metairie for the end of the holidays, from Hoshanah Rabba through Simchat Torah. They have been making big waves in the music scene around Israel and the U.S., including having a song listed on Billboard’s World music list. They’ll be performing with instruments on Oct. 4 at 10 a.m., and then will help with Simchat Torah celebrations.
The Gates of Prayer Sisterhood in Metairie will have “Girls Hanging Out for the Girls” as its opening program on Oct. 11 at 10:30 a.m. There will be Bra Pong, Bra-decorating stations, Mammo-grahams and bra-fitting services by SOMA. Cost is $10 for members, $18 for non-members. Bring two bras — one to decorate and one to donate to the New Orleans Women’s Shelter.

Jewish Children’s Regional Service will hold its annual Gift Wrap-a-Thon on Oct. 11 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Goldring-Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus in Metairie. Volunteers are needed to wrap thousands of gifts that will be distributed to Jewish children in the region this Chanukah. Pizza and refreshments will be served at the Wrap-a-Thon, and the Saints game will be televised.

Temple Sinai in New Orleans will offer Beginners Hebrew, Wednesdays at 6 p.m., Oct. 14 to Dec. 16. The course is free.

Rabbi Alexis Berk of Touro Synagogue will have a twice-monthly lunchtime study group, News and the Jews, discussing current events through a Jewish lens. The noon sessions are open to the community at the Mautner Learning Center. Upcoming dates are Oct. 8 and 22, Nov. 12 and 19, Dec. 3 and 17 and Jan. 7 and 21.

Temple Sinai in New Orleans will offer Chai Mitzvah this year. The national non-denominational initiative, founded in 2008, offers a core curriculum for learning how to lead an engaged and meaningful Jewish life. The nine-session course uses Jewish texts to explore contemporary issues on a range of topics, and is accessible to all levels of Jewish background. The class meets once a month on Saturdays at 9 a.m., starting Oct. 10 and going through May. Cost is $25 for course materials. 

Chai Mitzvah in Shreveport resumes on Oct. 15 at 7 p.m. at B’nai Zion.

The Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning starts its year on Oct. 13 at the Uptown Jewish Community Center. In a relaxed setting, without homework, tests or prerequisites, this pluralistic, interactive program provides spirited dialogue and meaningful study, leading to a deeper appreciation of Judaism — past, present and future. The first year curriculum focuses upon the ‘Rhythms of Jewish Living’ and the ‘Purposes of Jewish Living.’ The second year curriculum explores ‘Ethics of Jewish Learning’ and ‘Crossroads of Jewish History.’ For additional details, visit or contact Liba Kornfeld, Director of Jewish Family Life, at 897-0143, or Students may register online here.

On Oct. 7 at 5:30 p.m.,Tulane University will host a free public presentation and screening of Susanna Zaraysky’s documentary, “Saved by Language,” about a Sephardic boy who saved his life in the Holocaust by speaking in Ladino in the former Yugoslavia. The film and Q&A will be held in Tulane’s LBC, Room 213.

New Orleans Hadassah will have a Mad Hatter Tea Party and Silent Auction on Oct. 18 at the Pavilion of Two Sisters at City Park. This year’s champagne jazz brunch will highlight all of the great works of Hadassah and honor the memory of Libbye Katz Gordon. Funds raised will help continue and improve upon Hadassah’s breakthroughs in the treatment of cancer, HIV/AIDS, cardiac disease, pediatric cardiology, ophthalmology, orthopedics, and neurological diseases. In keeping with the theme, festive hats are encouraged. Music will be by the Or Shavaly Trio. The brunch will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tickets are $180, or $100 for age 36 and under, and are available here.

Rabbi Jordan Goldson is teaching a Taste of Judaism class at B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge, on Oct. 14, 21 and 28 from 6 to 8 p.m. Sponsored by the Union for Reform Judaism, the free outreach class is for Jews and non-Jews.

The series of Jewish ethics classes for professionals continues at Touro Synagogue on Oct. 6 at 6:30 p.m. with ethics for physicians and health care providers. Rabbi Alexis Berk will lead the session on how to bring Jewish ethics to professional lives.

The Greater New Orleans Section of National Council of Jewish Women will celebrate nature during Sukkot with a program about City Park. In an event that is open to the community, City Park CEO Bob Becker will speak about the park’s history, including its Jewish connections, and discuss details of its post-Katrina renaissance. The event will be on Oct. 4 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. — contact NCJW for location.

As part of the NCJW opening event on Oct. 4, the group is partnering with Girls on the Run to collect gently-worn shoes for a Funds2Orgs campaign. Funds2Orgs will pick up the shoes that Girls on the Run and NCJW collect. They will then pay GOTR for each bag of shoes, and the shoes are distributed to individuals living in 26 developing nations around the world.


The Beth Israel Congregation Ensemble will perform at “Singing Together Jackson,” an evening hosted by Working Together Jackson. The group is a coalition of religious and nonprofit organizations in the Jackson area that is working to achieve community change, as part of the organizations’ common call to justice. Jackson’s Beth Israel has been a member for several years and is part of the executive board. The event will be on Oct. 8 at 7 p.m., at St. Andrews Cathedral.

After the 6:15 p.m. service on Oct. 2, Jackson’s Beth Israel will welcome Senator David Blount of Jackson to share information about Proposition 42 in the upcoming November election. Proposition 42 will create a pathway for fully funding public school education under the current MAEP formula. Blount will speak with congregants in the Social Hall about the details of the proposition, how it is worded on the ballot, the process to vote on the initiative and what is passage will mean for the children of Mississippi.

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