Conventions, termites and Duke: This Week in Southern Jewish Life, July 29

Above: Over 125 Conservative youth visited Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El as part of the USY on Wheels and Camp Ramah programs. They overnighted, visited civil rights sites and led minyan on July 27. 

Around the South: Week of July 29, 2016

As candidate qualifying ended in Louisiana, former Klan leader David Duke declares in crowded U.S. Senate race.

Former Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney is back — this time, touting a video that claims Israel was behind the recent attacks in Nice and Munich.

Meanwhile, Georgia Rep. Hank Johnson, who is on the House Armed Services Committee, launched into an anti-Israel tirade and compared Jews living in the territories to “termites.”

 Israel is sending a record delegation of 51 athletes to the Rio Olympics. Included in the team is Ziv Kalontarov, who is a member of the Auburn University swim team.

The biggest Israeli winner in Rio? A large presence for Israeli technology, security and sports equipment.

In the Jerusalem Post: Linda Grodner and daughters Gila and Kayla have made aliyah. They lived in Birmingham until 2009, when they moved to Houston after Brian Grodner was diagnosed with cancer. He died three years ago.

Rabbi Barry Leff, who is interim rabbi at Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El this year, writes about his early experiences in this “exotic” location.

Rabbi Eytan Yammer of Knesseth Israel in Birmingham is among those who signed an op-ed from Yeshivat Chovevei Torah graduates seeking to “bring together parts of the Orthodox community that are becoming estranged from each other,” addressing in particular the divine authorship of the Torah and the acceptability of Partnership Minyanim with greater female participation.

The Techstars global accelerator in Atlanta just selected 10 startup companies from around the world for an intensive three-month workshop. Two of the 10 are Israeli.

“Nice Jewish kid from New York” now serving in the Israeli military as a sharpshooter — and playing Mississippi Delta blues on slide guitar.

A Jewish inmate on death row in Kentucky sues for access to kosher meals, they were revoked after he purchased a non-kosher rotisserie chicken from the prison commissary.

The New York Times highlights Bayer Properties’ redevelopment of the historic Pizitz building in downtown Birmingham in an article on “The Many Faces of Innovation in U.S. Cities.”

A Texas Klan group apparently distributed flyers in some Houma neighborhoods.


Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center continues its Lunch and Learn with the Rabbi series on Aug. 3, with guest speaker Robbie Medwed from SOJOURN.

The Cohn Early Childhood Learning Center at the Levite Jewish Community Center in Birmingham will be having a big wheel race at Cahaba Brewery to raise funds for the ECLC’s Healthy Lifestyle Initiative. While this is a family friendly event, all racers must be adults. Prizes will be awarded to the winners of the race. Each team will be provided a big wheel and will be able to take it home and decorate it however they would like. On Aug. 7 at 2 p.m., the teams will bring their big wheel to Cahaba Brewery and compete. T-shirt sponsors are $500, Big Wheel teams are $150 and a limited number of racer slots are $50. To participate, contact Beth Lovett or Stephanie Salvago at the LJCC. 

Birmingham’s N.E. Miles Jewish Day School was given a large shipment of fashion jewelry. The school will have an accessory show and sale on Aug. 3 from 4:30 to 7 p.m. in the school gym, with earrings, bracelets, necklaces and more. Wine and snacks will be served. The sale will be cash or check only.

The Jewish War Veterans Post 608 will host their next meeting on Aug. 7 at 10 a.m. in the Levite Jewish Community Center Board Room in Birmingham. Rabbi Barry Leff, interim rabbi at Temple Beth-El this year, will speak on “Taharat HaNeshek: Purity of Arms, the Israeli Defense Force’s Doctrine of Ethics.” Leff served in the U.S. Army Security Agency from 1972 to 1975. The meeting, which had originally been announced as later in the month, is free to the community. There will be a light brunch of bagels, cream cheese, coffee and water served. Reserve to Donna Berry, (205) 879-0416.

You Belong in Birmingham will have its annual Cantina Happy Hour on Aug. 3 at 5:30 p.m., with complimentary appetizers and happy hour specials on margaritas.

Sam Tenenbaum will sing the National Anthem at the Birmingham Barons game on Aug. 4.

The next Torah On Tap with Rabbi Steve Silberman of Ahavas Chesed in Mobile will be on Aug. 4 at 5:30 p.m. at Alchemy Tavern.

At Birmingham’s Temple Emanu-El, Alison Levin will be the guest speaker on July 29. She is the granddaughter of Charlotte Goldberg and daughter of Tracy Levin. While she was raised in Birmingham, she “grew up” in Vanuatu. She spent the last 2 years serving as a Peace Corps volunteer on an island in the archipelago of Vanuatu in the South Pacific. Her primary assignment was literacy development, and her secondary projects focused on environmental education, gender equality, and community wellness. She lived without running water, electricity, or other basic conveniences, but always felt she had more than enough. Throughout the inevitable ups and downs of her service, she learned invaluable lessons from the Ni-Vanuatu about resourcefulness, generosity, and, of course, kindness. Levin will be sharing her experience with the congregation during the 5:40 p.m. service. 

The Huntsville Community Chorus Association is presenting “Fiddler on the Roof,” July 29 to Aug. 6, with community members Jeff Lapidus as Tevye, Paul Kunitz as Lazar Wolf and Gabi Lapidus as Shandel. A block of tickets has been reserved for Temple B’nai Sholom for the 2 p.m. performance on July 31. Contact Pam Rhodes to be part of the group.

Birmingham’s Collat Jewish Family Services states that the summer slowdown has hit the CJFS Food Pantry. Especially needed are high-protein items such as canned tuna, salmon or chicken; canned (not dried) beans, peanut butter and soup, but all shelf-stable foods are welcome. Taking advantage of sale items is a great way to extend the mitzvah. The CJFS Food Donation Box is in the Levite Jewish Community Center lobby, and the food pantry is at the CJFS office. To help, contact Jennifer Nemet by email or (205) 879-3438.

Florida Panhandle 

The next Nite on the Town for Temple Beth Shalom in Fort Walton Beach will be on July 30 at La Famiglia at Harborwalk in Destin, starting at 5:30 p.m.

The Pensacola Jewish community will have a farewell to Tal Itzhakov, who has been the community Shlicha for the past year. The event will be at the home of Cindy and Terry Gross on Aug. 6 at 6 p.m. 

The next Pensacola Torah on Tap will be on Aug. 2 at 5 p.m. at Gulf Coast Brewery. The topic will be “Judaism and Sports: The Good, The Bad and the Foreign.”

New Orleans/Louisiana 

Shir Chadash in Metairie will have Shabbat services and dinner to welcome Rabbi Deborah Silver on Aug. 5. Services will be at 6:15 p.m., with dinner to follow. Reservations by July 29 are $12 for adults, $6 for ages 4 to 12, $40 maximum per family. Vegetarian options are available and must be requested when making the reservations. Shir Chadash will also have a minyan and men’s club breakfast on Aug. 7 at 9:15 to welcome Rabbi Silver.

JNOLA and the Jewish Community Relations Council of New Orleans, part of the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans, will partner with the ADL on “Reflections on Law and Race: a Candid Discussion on Public Safety” on Aug. 4 at 6:30 p.m. at the Ashe Cultural Center, 1712 O.C. Haley Blvd., New Orleans. This event will highlight three area experts, who will be speaking on race relations and law enforcement from three different perspectives, especially in the aftermath of the shooting of Alton Sterling, followed by the killing of three Baton Rouge police officers. The speakers are Marjorie Esman, Executive Director of the ACLU; Raphael Meyers, Criminal Investigator for Louisiana State Police; and Ethan Ashley, Director of Community Engagement at the Urban League of Greater New Orleans. The evening will include comments from the speakers, a Q and A, and an open discussion. RSVP here.

Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge will have a Shabbat service and oneg welcoming Rabbi Natan Trief, Aug. 5 at 7 p.m.

New Orleans attorneys Sam Winston, Jonathan Friedman and Rose Sher have been busy developing and planning with their Israeli counterparts in their Partnership 2Gether sister city of Rosh Ha’Ayin a series of video conferences to discuss and highlight American and Israeli law. “American Law Structure and Practice” is the first in a series of video meetings that will take place over the next 12 months. Future video conferences will deal with Israeli law, military law, religious law and structure. The first video meeting will take place on Aug. 8 at 8:15 a.m. at Jones Walker, LLP, and will include a light continental breakfast. To RSVP, e-mail here.

The Uptown Jewish Community Center in New Orleans will have its next Lunch and Learn with the Rabbi, featuring Rabbi Rivkin, on Aug. 4 at noon. Reserve by Aug. 1.

The next Morris Bart Sr. Lecture Series event at the Uptown Jewish Community Center in New Orleans will discuss HIV in New Orleans. Narquis Barak, a Harvard-trained anthropologist, is coordinator of the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance Project in New Orleans, one of 20 metro areas involved in the study. At the 11:45 a.m. talk on Aug. 8, she will discuss populations at high risk for HIV in New Orleans and the social, economic, and political factors that affect behavioral risk. She will also present findings from research conducted from 2009-2015 on injection drug use and opiate overdoses in the city. Lunch will be available with reservations by Aug. 4. There is no charge for members, $10 for non-members.

Jewish Community Day School in Metairie will have a free open Sunday Swim Day for families at the JCC Metairie pool, July 31 from 10 a.m. to noon and Aug. 28 from 1 to 3 p.m. There will be light refreshments served.

The New Orleans Jewish Community Center will have Free Yoga in the Park on Aug. 7 at 8 a.m., at Audubon Park at the corner of Magazine and Exposition. JCC yoga instructor Kelly Bond-Osorio will lead Neighbor Namaste, a beginner-friendly morning vinyasa practice outside. All levels and abilities are welcome. Neighbor Namaste is free and open to the public. Children and dogs are welcome as long as they are supervised.

Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans is offering a structured 4-week session to help identify, manage and alter unhelpful thinking patterns. Through Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, participants can build awareness and recognition of negative thinking to respond to challenging situations in a more effective and efficient manner. This group will meet Wednesdays at 4 p.m. from Aug. 10 to 31, at the JFS office in Metairie. The cost is $225 for an individual assessment, plus 4 group sessions. Sliding scale fees based on household income are available. To register, contact Lauren Miller, LMSW by calling (504) 831-8475 ext. 163, or email here.

The next TRIBE Shabbat will be on July 29 at The Columns Hotel. TRIBE is for members of the 20s/30s community. There will be shmoozing, food, drinks at 7 p.m. and a musical Shabbat service at 7:30 p.m.

Temple Sinai in Lake Charles will have a Family Night Film and Reuben Dinner, July 29.

Mind Matters at the Uptown Jewish Community Center in New Orleans is enrolling for the fall. The group is designed specifically for those concerned about their memory. In this boot camp for the mind, participants will discover techniques to improve memory, participate in stimulating discussions and learn from others undergoing similar challenges. It runs from Sept. 13 to Dec. 6, Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. For more information or to register, contact Allison Freeman, Mind Matters Director, at (504) 897-0143 or here.

Gates of Prayer Sisterhood in Metairie will host a Family Havdalah, Mitzvah and Movie Night on Aug. 6 at 6 p.m., to assemble school supply bags for underprivileged children. Pizza and snacks will be served, followed by a screening of “Zootopia” while adults schmooze. Cost of entry is school supplies.

Zoe Jick will lead a scholar in residence weekend at Beth Israel in Metairie on Aug. 5 and 6. Jick is the director of the English Beit Midrash at the Secular Yeshiva at BINA: The Jewish Movement for Social Change. She received a MTS in Jewish Studies from Harvard Divinity School. Jick is a Wexner Graduate Fellow, and an alumna of many Jewish programs including Pardes, Yeshivat Hadar, Kivunim, and EIE. She currently lives in Tel Aviv. On Aug. 5 there will be a community Shabbat dinner following the 7 p.m. service, reservations are required. Reservations are $18 for member adults, $9 for ages 5 to 12; non-members are $25 and $18. On Aug. 6, Jick will lead a text study following the BINA model, following the morning service, at approximately 11:30 a.m. Her weekend is co-sponsored by Limmud.

Gates of Prayer in Metairie announced it will start hosting the monthly meetings of PFLAG on the second Thursday of each month at 7:30 p.m., starting Aug. 11. Monthly meetings are a way for parents, family and friends of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people as well as members of the LGBT community to meet in a loving, non-judgmental, confidential and understanding environment. Anyone in the community is welcome to attend.

The joint Reform summer services in New Orleans are at Gates of Prayer in Metairie in July. On July 29, there will be a potluck dinner at 6:15 p.m., with the service to follow at 8 p.m.

Sharknado 4 will take over Pizza Nola on July 31, starting at 1 p.m. Scheduled guests include Ann Mahoney from “The Walking Dead,” Rob Kerkovich from “NCIS: New Orleans,” Kerry Cahill and Thomas Murphy from “Free State of Jones.”

PJ Library and Torah Academy are partnering for Babies, Bubbles and Bagels, for all kids aged 0-3. The next morning of parent-toddler fun is on Sundays, July 31 from 10 to 11 a.m. at Torah Academy in Metairie. Activities will include sensory-motor play, water activities, music time, bubbles, story reading, and crafts. The cost is $5 per session, per family. Contact Bonnie Lustig or Rivka Chesney.

Jewish Community Day School in Metairie has a unique opportunity for its upcoming 2016-2017 school year. Through a generous donor’s contribution, one 2nd grader and one Kindergartner will each receive a 50 percent tuition discount. Eligibility is restricted to any child new to the school, entering Kindergarten or Second Grade, with synagogue membership. Email to learn more.

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