Rabbi Linden to head Ramah Berkshires: This Week in Southern Jewish Life, March 4

Above: About 300 attended the New Orleans BBYO reunion weekend. More photos will be uploaded at the Southern Jewish Life Facebook page next week.

Around the South: Week of March 4, 2016

The Roots of Celebration Gala for Jewish Children’s Regional Service will be March 5 at 6:30 p.m. at the Hyatt Regency in New Orleans. JCRS will be honoring the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust and author Marlene Trestman, and the dinner will come from four of New Orleans’ most celebrated chefs, all of whom are Jewish.

The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life in Jackson has received a challenge grant commitment, a 1:2 match of up to $500,000. The ISJL’s campaign to access the grant by raising $1 million goes through March 20.

Rabbi Ethan Linden of Shir Chadash in Metairie was officially named the new director of Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, in New York.

Food festival season started on Feb. 28 at Temple Beth Or in Montgomery with huge crowds. Upcoming food festivals include corned beef events at Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge March 13 to 15, and Gemiluth Chassodim in Alexandria on March 15, and a hot dog lunch at B’nai Israel in Monroe on March 15.

Hadassah Hospital has always been touted as a model of coexistence, but with so much random violence being perpetrated by Palestinians, expectant mothers on both sides are reluctant to give birth there. The reporter, Shaina Shealy, grew up in Birmingham.

A children’s playground at Beit El came under sniper fire, believed to be from a nearby Palestinian refugee camp. There were no injuries. Beit El has a sister city relationship with the Shoals area of Alabama.

The newly-elected leader of the Republican party in Travis County, Texas — where Austin is — has some radical views, including praise for Holocaust deniers and scorn for Israel andJews. Local Republicans are “apoplectic” about it.

A third anti-Semitic incident in less than a year at the University of Missouri.

Registration is open for American Hebrew Academy’s prospective student weekend, March 18 to 20 in Greensboro, N.C. The academy is an international pluralistic Jewish college prep boarding school.

The George Lindsey Film Festival at the University of North Alabama will include an Israeli film, “The Self Deception Artist” by Maya Zaydman, screening at 11:30 a.m. on March 4. The film is about off-beat Israeli musician Yehu Yaron, who sets out to record a new album, an ambitious all-out magnum opus. His songs and lyrics tell his story out-loud. They are lit with the light of his newly founded family. All the while, his declining health lingers about (he is diagnosed with Multiple sclerosis), shedding darkness into his home and music.

Gulf Coast Bank is doing its 4th annual Community Rewards program, with $50,000 going to the 10 non-profits that get the most online votes. The only group in the Jewish community participating this year is Hadassah in Baton Rouge.

The historic Temple Beth Tefilloh in Brunswick, Ga., is hosting a Jewish Food and Culture festival on March 20 at the Morning Star Marina, in the courtyard near the Coastal Kitchen and Raw Bar, on St. Simons Island, Ga., just off the Causeway. There will be music, dancing and a mock wedding. Proceeds will benefit the Temple’s restoration fund for its historic building. Admission to the event is free.

The Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana is administering the Goldring first-time camper incentive grants of up to $1,000. The grants are available to those in Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and the Florida panhandle attending a sleepaway Jewish camp for the first time.

The University of Alabama’s Psi Chapter of Zeta Beta Tau will hold a centennial reunion weekend from March 4 to 6. The weekend will celebrate “100 years of vibrant Jewish life on the University of Alabama campus,” including ZBT legacy organizations Kappa Nu and Phi Ep. A Founders and Leadership luncheon will honor those who founded the three fraternities, served as officers or were in the Student Government Association. Information is being requested to help identify all of those individuals. Photos are requested for the event’s Facebook page, and for use in a program and video.

Birmingham’s Knesseth Israel is holding a fundraising raffle, with 500 tickets available at $100 each. The winner will have the option of a Jewish or Christian tour of Israel for two, or $5,000. The tours include airfare. The winner will be drawn at a reception on May 12, one need not be present to win.


Montgomery’s two congregations, Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem and Temple Beth Or, will have separate members-only congregational meetings on March 6 to discuss the status of merger talks. Five task forces have been exploring different aspects of a possible merger. The March 6 meetings will be informational in nature and for the answering of questions. There will not be any voting or final decision made at the meetings.

The Birmingham Holocaust Education Center is partnering with Birmingham AIDS Outreach for “Remember Their Voices,” two musical performances at the newly-renovated Lyric Theater, on March 5 at 7:30 p.m. The Birmingham News has an interview with director Dane Peterson about “For a Look or A Touch” and how the Nazis persecuted homosexuals.

This month also marks the BHEC annual lecture series at the Birmingham Public Library’s main branch. On March 9 at noon, Guardians of Remembrance speaker Denise Lewis will tell the story of her father, Roger Nathan Blum. While visiting a cousin in the U.S., Blum’s parents, sister and cousin were captured by the Nazis and taken to Struthof. After deciding to remain in the U.S., Blum was drafted and sent to fight in France. On March 14 at 6 p.m., James Sedlis will present the story of his father Gabriel Sedlis, a Jewish Partisan during the Holocaust. In the BHEC film series at Emmet O’Neal Library: The film “Radical Evil,” on March 13 at 2 p.m., is Oscar-winning director Stefan Ruzowitzky’s exploration of how ordinary people can become mass murderers, concentrating on Nazi soldiers in Eastern Europe who murdered Jewish civilians with pistols and rifles between 1941 and 1943.

Israeli comedian Benji Lovitt, a Texas native, will perform in Mobile on March 6 and Tuscaloosa on March 8.

Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center is holding a health screening with Baptist Health System on March 8 from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Cost is $35 but those participating in a survey can have a free screening.

Opera Birmingham will feature two chamber operas by Jewish composer Ricky Ian Gordon, “Orpheus and Euridice” and “Green Sneakers” next weekend. He will be in town for the production. Our interview with him is here.

Auburn Hillel will participate in Shabbat Across America and Canada by having a Shabbat dinner at Acapulco’s Mexican restaurant at 6 p.m. on March 4.

Temple Beth Or in Montgomery will have Huntingdon College Shabbat on March 11. Rabbi Stevens will make an opening presentation to the guests at 5 p.m. in the sanctuary.

Dothan Hadassah will have its first meeting of the year on March 12, welcoming new Hadassah South Regional President Bonnie Boring.

Holocaust survivor Allan Hall and his wife, Lori Gold of Miami Beach, will visit Mobile this Shabbat, speaking at Springhill Avenue Temple’s 6 p.m. Shabbat service on March 4 and at lunch following Ahavas Chesed’s 9 a.m. service on March 5. Hall and his family hid under the Luftwaffe headquarters in Lvov, Poland, for two years.

Deborah Dash Moore will be scholar in residence at Temple B’nai Sholom, Huntsville, the weekend of March 11.

The next Table of Abraham panel discussion in Mobile will be “How Does Faith Respond to Extremism.” Speakers include Springhill Avenue Temple Rabbi Dana Evan Kaplan, Imam Aed El-Saba and Reverand Michael Farmer, at the First Baptist Church of Mobile, 806 Government Street, on March 8 at 6:30 p.m. A dinner will be served at 6:30 p.m. provided by The Istanbul Grill. This is a free event, but reservations are requested for planning purposes.

The Birmingham Welcoming Communities will celebrate its first anniversary with a continuing discussion of the film “Straightlaced: How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up,” March 10 at 7 p.m. at the Levite Jewish Community Center. The group aims to help regional synagogues, schools, and agencies become welcoming places for gender and sexually diverse Jews, in theory and in practice. The group works with Atlanta-based SOJOURN: the Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity. At the program, which is open to the community, facilitators from Groundspark will lead an interactive workshop on advocacy for LGBT youth.

Collat Jewish Family Services is seeking volunteers to serve as substitute teachers in its ESL program. Classes meet on Mondayand Wednesday mornings, but volunteers will not need to volunteer for all of those dates. No prior teaching experience required. Substitute teachers will facilitate reading aloud and lead discussion of articles on various topics. For information, contact Amy Peetluk at 879-3438.

Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El will have guest speaker Rev. Barry Vaughn at its March 4 5:40 p.m. service. A native of Blount County, J. Barry Vaughn has served as rector of Christ Church Episcopal, Las Vegas, Nev., since 2013. He has also served congregations in Alabama, Pennsylvania and California. Rev. Scott Douglas will be the speaker on March 11.

The Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra has one Alabama appearance on its upcoming U.S. tour. The orchestra will perform at the Opelika Center for the Performing Arts on March 5 at 7:30 p.m. The tour features conductor Dmitry Yablonsky, and Danielle Akta on cello. The program includes Tchaikovsky’s “Khojaly Requiem,” Saint-Saens’ Cello Concerto and Rachmaninoff’s Symphony No. 2. The orchestra will have just performed in Tallahassee on March 3, and some members of the orchestra are expected to attend services at Beth Shalom in Auburn on March 4. Rabbi Elliot Stevens of Temple Beth Or in Montgomery said their Israeli son-in-law, Yonah Zur, will be performing as one of the lead violins.

Florida Panhandle

The next Nite on the Town for Beth Shalom in Fort Walton Beach will be on March 12 at 5:30 p.m. at Magnolia Grill.

New Orleans/Louisiana

Temple Sinai in New Orleans will welcome Bryan Hymel for a benefit concert on March 13 at 6 p.m.
Touro Synagogue will have a camping weekend from March 11 to 13 at Tickfaw State Park. There will be Shabbat potluck under the stars, Shabbat morning Torah in nature, picnic lunch, afternoon hikes, canoeing and fun, a campfire Havdalah and more. Cabins and tent campsites are available. Contact the Touro office for details.

On March 6 there will be a “You’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bowl” chili cookoff at the Kenilworth Club in Baton Rouge, to benefit Camp Dream Street at the Henry S. Jacobs Camp. The contest will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and there is a $20 entry fee per team or participant. The tasting charge is $5, with public tasting and voting from 1 to 2:45 p.m. Dream Street is a camp for children ages 8 to 14 with physical disabilities, and is free for participants.

The Chabad Center in Metairie will have a DIY Sushi Night on March 12 at 8 p.m. A professional sushi chef will teach how to make sushi, and sesame noodles and Japanese cabbage will also be served. Suggested donation is $7 per person.

Acts Theatre in Lake Charles will have a production of “The Diary of Anne Frank,” March 11 to 20, at 7:30 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays. “The Producers” will run from May 27 to June 12.

Shir Chadash in Metairie will have a concert featuring Nava Tehila, a Jerusalem-based NGO for Jewish renewal. They create musical and engaging prayer spaces where people feel comfortable to come as they are. The 7 p.m. March 9 concert is sponsored by The Lagniappe Fund in honor of Stan Bleich.

The Gates of Prayer Nursery School in Metairie will have its Under the Big Top fundraiser on March 6. There will be a brunch at 11 a.m., followed by a family fair from noon to 3 p.m. The brunch is $25 in advance, $30 at the door, $10 for children, free for ages 5 and under. Fair tickets are $8 or four for $20, free for nursery school families. A raffle will feature a $1,000 grand prize. The fundraiser features a silent auction, pony rides, face painting, petting zoo, live dessert auction and more.

B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge will have its 17th annual Magical Mitzvah Day on March 6, with projects throughout the community.

Rabbi Gene Levy of Little Rock will be the visiting rabbi at Northshore Jewish Congregation in Mandeville, leading services on March 4 at 7:30 p.m. and March 5 at 10 a.m., and a roundtable discussion of the presidential election that evening. He will also visit the weekend of March 18.

Torah Academy of New Orleans is accepting applications for the upcoming school year. Early bird discounts on tuition will be given to students who register before March 18. To book a tour or to register, contact Torah Academy at (347) 356-4714, email or visit the website. Space is limited, and scholarships are available for eligible students.

Touro Synagogue will have a Shabbat Kumzits following services, March 4 at 7:30 p.m.

Chabad of Metairie is hosting a three-part parenting series,“Raising a Mensch,” with New Orleans Hadassah and PJ Library. Mark Sands, director of psychiatry at Mercy Family Center, will facilitate. The series will be on Mondays from 7 to 8:30 p.m., with babysitting available with advance request. “Raising Children who Strive” will be March 7, “Raising Children who Thrive” on March 14 and “Striving and Thriving With Limits” on April 4.

A choir is being formed for the Shabbat evening service of Limmud weekend, March 18 at Gates of Prayer, and the community is invited to participate. There will be three rehearsals — Feb. 28,March 6 and 13, at 4 p.m. Participants must be able to attend at least two of the rehearsals. For more information, contact Tory May.

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