This Week in Southern Jewish Life: September 18

Around the South: Week of September 18, 2016

NECHAMA Jewish Response to Disaster announced that it will continue operations in Baton Rouge at least through the end of October. Thus far, NECHAMA has welcomed over 300 volunteers, provided over 6,000 hours of service and assisted 43 families in need.

An out-of-town anonymous donor is reaching out through Chabad of Baton Rouge, offering to cover half the cost of new mezuzahs for those affected by last month’s flooding, for their new or temporary homes. For those not affected by the flood but who want to put up mezuzahs, the donor will cover 25 percent of the cost. The only catch is the mezuzahs need to be up by Rosh Hashanah. To participate, contact Rabbi Peretz Kazen.

New Orleans Moishe House, AVODAH Jewish Service Corps, JNola and Touro Synagogue are in Baton Rouge on Sept. 18 to help with flood cleanup.

Fundraising continues for the Jewish community’s response to recent flooding in Baton Rouge. The national Federation campaign is here.

A man has been arrested in the arson of a Florida mosque where the Orlando nightclub gunman had attended. While media reports initially stated he is Jewish, it turns out he is “messianic.”

The Houston Astros’ Alex Bregman, formerly a player at LSU, made history by hitting the 3,000th home run on Sept. 10 — not his 3,000th, but the 3,000th home run hit by Jewish players in the major leagues.

New Orleans’ Chloe Valdary has a new viral video out, called “Israel Forever.” Through video she hopes to empower students with a sense of pride. This is her first video as spokesperson and director of partnerships and outreach at Jerusalem U.

A Texas A/M professor said brisket is actually good for you, by raising the level of the good kind of cholesterol.

The 4th annual Atlanta Kosher Barbecue Competition and Festival will be Sept. 25 at Brook Run Park, from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The Jewish Federation of Arkansas will have its 13th annual Jane Mendel Tikkun Olam Awards ceremony on Sept. 25 at 5:30 p.m. at the Marriott Little Rock Downtown. Dedicated volunteers from the state’s congregations will be honored, and Richard Williams will be the Grand Honoree.

Etz Chayim in Bentonville, Ark., will have the conclusion of Project 613, the restoration of a 200-year-old Torah scroll from the Holocaust, Sept. 18 at noon at the Doubletree. Reservations for the luncheon and program are $36.

With “Denial” about to hit screens, Kenneth Stern talks about his role in the Deborah Lipstadt trial, where Holocaust denier David Irving sued her for libel in Britain.

Israeli bestselling author Tuvia Tenenboim, author of “Catch the Jew!” has a new book based on his experiences touring the “real” America, and finds a lot of hidden racism, hypocrites on both sides of the aisle, disconnects from reality and an undercurrent of anti-Semitism, especially from Jews. One of his speaking tour stops was Montgomery, though Alabama is not mentioned in this piece.

It’s football season, so you’re likely to hear “War Eagle” at some point in the coming months. The Auburn fight song was actually written by a couple of Jewish New Yorkers.

We will be posting a list of Selichot events in the region on our website by mid-week.


Birmingham’s N.E. Miles Jewish Day School is joining 50,000 groups in 80 countries to celebrate Character Day 2016 on Sept. 22. The community is invited to the 8:20 a.m. shofar blowing, the 8:25 a.m. screening of “Making of a Mensch” with grades 4 to 8, and a global livecast with author Julie Lythcott Haims about her book, “How to Raise an Adult: Breaking Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepring Your Kids for Success” at 9 a.m.

The annual Levite Jewish Community Center Friedman Family Foundation Jewish Food Festival will take place on Sept. 25 at the LJCC. The event, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., will feature a range of traditional Jewish foods, including brisket and kugel, corned beef sandwiches, cabbage rolls, falafel, matzah ball soup, potato burekas, hummus and pita, Black and White Cookies, and much more. Food items are prepared under the supervision of Chabad of Alabama. The family-friendly outdoor event will be held on the Levite Field where there will also be a market place for local vendors and craftsman to sell their wares, children’s games and activities, as well as live music. The festival is open to the community, and admission is free.

Rabbi Barry Leff of Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El is teaching a 30-session “The Essential Judaism” course on Tuesdays at 6 p.m., starting Sept. 20. For those not able to attend in person, the class will be available by video conference. Free and open to the public, the course is aimed both Jews interested in deepening their knowledge and non-Jews interested in learning about Judaism, or interested in conversion. Topics include Jewish beliefs about God, the Messiah, holidays, rituals, Israel/Palestine, prayer, and contemporary ethical issues. Registration limited to 30 people.

Lauren Schwartz, executive director of Collat Jewish Family Service in Birmingham, is one of the honorees in the Women’s Fund of Greater Birmingham Smart Party, which will be Oct. 13.

Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center will host a monthly visit by the Be Well Mobile Clinic for those needing a primary care physician. The Be Well Mobile Clinic is a full doctor’s office on the go. The first visit is Sept. 20 and appointments can be scheduled here. The next visit is Oct. 18.

The Jewish Federation of Huntsville and North Alabama will have its annual kickoff with “The Spirituality of Laughter,” an evening with Rabbi Bob Alper. Alper is the only rabbi practicing stand-up comedy… intentionally. The event will be on Sept. 18 at 7 p.m. at a private residence. Contact the Federation for details.

The Eastern Shore Torah Study Group of Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile will meet on Sept. 20 at 6 p.m. at a private residence. Rabbi Dana Kaplan will lead a session on “Preparing for the High Holy Days.” It is customary for those attending to bring a savory appetizer or sweet item.

Chabad of Alabama is holding a screening and panel discussion of “The Lost Key,” a film about rediscovering intimacy and looking at sexual relations in today’s society. The film centers on a divorcee who sought out Rabbi Manis Friedman, author of “Doesn’t Anyone Blush Anymore.” The screening is Sept. 18 at 7 p.m., with a gourmet popcorn bar, light hors d’oeuvres and a bar. Cost is $5.

Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center is launching Mishpacha Chadasha, a weekly group for new families, starting Sept. 29. The group will facilitate meeting other young families, creating an instant support network. They will share parenting celebrations and challenges, experience developmentally appropriate activities and milestones, attend talks in a small setting with experts in the field, and more. These meetings are for new family units and are for everyone, including the children. The talks will be targeted to new families with children under 9 months. For information, email Emily Hausman.

Chabad of Mobile will dedicate its new building, at 812 Downtowner Blvd., on Sept. 21 at 6:30 p.m.

The N.E. Miles Jewish Day School Young Adult alumni in Birmingham will have an evening at a teacher’s home (contact the school for details), Sept. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. Families are welcome, and reservations to the school are requested.

Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center will have its first Health Expo on Sept. 19 from 3 to 7 p.m. This free event will include vendors from the community, demonstrating products and giving advice.

Birmingham’s Knesseth Israel will have The Great KI Estate Sale, Sept. 18 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition to household goods, donated services will be sold, such as babysitting, tutoring, work related services, repair or maintenance, cooking and so forth.

Florida Panhandle 

Chabad Emerald Coast will have its pre-Rosh Hashanah challah bake on Sept. 25 at 3:30 p.m.

New Orleans/Louisiana 

Noted Israeli author Etgar Keret kicks off the Cathy and Morris Bart Jewish Cultural Arts Series, Sept. 19 at 7 p.m. at the Uptown JCC in New Orleans.

Jewish Community Day School in Metairie announced “with a heavy heart” that Gwynne Bowman died on Sept. 16. “Gwynne has left a rich legacy here at Jewish Community Day School; one of compassion, warmth, thoughtful leadership and friendship. Her memory will live on in the teachers, families, board members, and students she touched with her loving nature and dedication to our school.” A New Orleans native, she retired as head of the New Orleans Jewish Day School in 2005 after four years, and came out of retirement to help re-open the school in the fall of 2006 after post-Katrina flooding, before retiring again in 2009.

The five Chabad branches in New Orleans and nearby areas are combining forces to get as many Jewish men as possible together for a Mega Tefillin Wrap, Sept. 25 at 11 a.m. at the Audubon Tea Room in New Orleans. There will be music and refreshments. Participating Chabads are Uptown, Metairie, Tulane, Baton Rouge and Biloxi. All Jewish men of Bar Mitzvah age and above are invited. 

The New Orleans Jewish Community Center announced a $2 million gift from the Goldring and Woldenberg Foundations toward its capital campaign, as work begins on the renovation project and expansion.

The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Louisiana will hold their 103rd annual meeting, “Fete de Federation,” on Sept. 22 at the Audubon Tea Room at 6 p.m., with presentations of several annual awards.

Jewish Family Service of Greater New Orleans will have a Fall Professional Continuing Education Workshop, “Engaging Caregivers in Play Therapy,” Sept. 23 from 9 a.m. to noon at Beth Israel. Erin Dugan will be the facilitator, and continuing education credits are available. Register here.

U.S. Navy Reserve Lieutenant Commander Laurie Lans will speak about her experiences as a Jewish veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan and the wife of a rabbi who serves as an active duty chaplain, during “Red, White and Blue Jew: A Shabbat of Inspiration, Humor and Jewish Pride.” Her presentations will be at the Chabad Center in Metairie. On Sept. 23 there will be a Kabbalat Shabbat service at 7 p.m., followed by dinner and her program. A children’s program will take place during her talk. Dinner reservations are $25 for adults, $15 for ages 3 to 12 by Sept. 18, $36 and $20 after. Services will be at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 24, followed by a Kiddush lunch at noon.

On Sept. 23 at the 8 p.m. service, Gates of Prayer in Metairie will have “Back From Israel: Impressions from our Teens and Birthright Travelers.”

JNOLA will kick off the Jewish New Year with its eighth annual Rosh Hashanah New Year’s Toast, Sept. 29 at 6:30 p.m. at NOLA Brewing Tap Room. The first drink is complimentary, and there will be apples, honey, challah and appetizers. There will also be a gift card drive for Baton Rouge flood relief, with Home Depot and Lowe’s cards especially needed. Bring a gift card and the second drink is free.

On Sept. 25, Gates of Prayer in Metairie is taking part in the Concert Across America to End Gun Violence, a national series of concerts brought together by social media. The 7 p.m. event at Gates of Prayer will include a non-denominational sing-a-long, with additional songs and readings. 

The New Orleans Section of the National Council of Jewish Women will present the Hannah G. Solomon Award to Ana and Juan Gershanik. The awards lunch will be on Sept. 26 at the Westin New Orleans Canal Place, with a cash bar opening at 11:30 a.m. and lunch at noon.

The Harriet Kugler Memorial Mah Jongg Tournament at the Uptown JCC in New Orleans is Sept. 18 from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. There is open seating for the three-round tournament.

A “Taste of Melton,” the Florence Melton School of Adult Jewish Learning, will be at the Uptown JCC in New Orleans on Sept. 27 at 7 p.m. The Melton School is a two-year program in pluralistic, interactive Jewish adult learning with no homework, no tests and no prerequisite knowledge required. The courses, which meet weekly on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. starting in November, will be taught by Rabbi Gabe Greenberg and Rabbi Deborah Silver. They will both give an introduction at the Sept. 27 event, for those interested in learning more about the program.

All Jewish kids ages 8 to 11 from New Orleans are invited to a swim party for PJ Our Way on Sept. 18 at the Goldring-Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus in Metairie from 4 to 6 p.m. The celebration will include pizza, games and a special Skype interview with the author of the popular PJ Our Way gift book, “Jordan and the Dreadful Golem.” PJ Our Way is the latest PJ Library initiative, providing free books to Jewish pre-teens, offering a choice of four Jewish-themed books every month, plus opportunities to plan and participate in social events. All area Jewish kids ages 8-1/2 to 11 are eligible to sign up, even if they are still receiving PJ Library books. Sign up here or contact Bonnie Lustig at (504) 828-6334. PJ Our Way is sponsored by the Harold Grinspoon Foundation and administered locally by JCRS.

Chabad in Baton Rouge is presenting a two-part course on non-partisan Jewish views of 2016 election hot-button issues. The second session, on immigration, is Sept. 21.

Malkie and Rabbi Mendel Rivkin will be at Whole Foods Arabella Station on Sept. 19 from 4 to 8 p.m. for Kosher Awareness Day. They will have a table in the breezeway. There will be kosher items to sample, as well as information on Kashrut and Rosh Hashanah.

The annual Oscar J. Tolmas Chanukah Gift Wrap-A-Thon for Jewish Children’s Regional Service will be on Sept. 25 at the Goldring-Woldenberg Jewish Community Center in Metairie, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Volunteers are needed to wrap thousands of Chanukah presents that will be sent to Jewish children in need across the JCRS seven-state region. All gifts and wrapping materials are supplied. There will be pizza and refreshments, Chanukah door prizes for each household, community service hours for students, and awards for the best wrappers.

Baton Rouge Chabad Jewish Women’s Circle will have Loaves of Love, making challah from scratch, on Sept. 25 at 7 p.m.

Jewish Community Day School in Metairie will have a Family Fun Day, Sept. 18 from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at Bart Field. There will be kosher sno balls, pizza from Waffles on Maple, bouncy houses, STEAM activities, music, friends and family. The event is free and for all ages. Tzedakah for Baton Rouge flood victims will be accepted.

Chabad of Louisiana in Metairie is launching CTEEN Junior, a group for grades 6 to 8, meeting 12 times during the school year on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. starting on Sept. 18. The students will make lunch together and do social action, off-premises activities and have discussions on Jewish topics. The program is open to the community.

The Jewish Family Service-Jewish Community Center Older Adult Speaker Series will present Carole Cukell Neff on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. “Why Everyone Needs Estate Planning” will discuss the benefits of planning ahead for people of all ages. The program will be at the Goldring-Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus in Metairie, is free to the community but reservations are recommended. Neff is a board-certified estate planning and administration specialist.

AIPAC Southwest Political Director Jerry Greenspan will speak on “Why Politics Matter: Making a Difference in Israel Advocacy,” Sept. 19 at noon at the Mautner Learning Center at Touro Synagogue. He will lead a discussion on how the November election will affect the U.S.-Israel alliance.

Touro Synagogue will have its Elul Walks in the Park this month, Wednesdays at 8 a.m. through Sept. 28. Walkers will meet at the St. Charles entrance of Audubon Park for conversation and contemplation. Dogs and strollers are welcome.

There will be an informational program on the Edie and Paul Rosenblum Gift of Israel Program on Sept. 18 at 4 p.m. at a local residence. All parents attending will receive a $100 gift certificate redeemable toward the cost of their teen’s summer trip expenses, one per family. Reserve here.

The Goldring-Woldenberg Jewish Community Center in Metairie is running a fall membership special, just $45 a month for new Gold members who join by Nov. 14. Restrictions apply. Email here for details.


Beth Israel in Gulfport and Chabad of Southern Mississippi will have a Day of Jewish Unity on Sept. 18 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at the Courthouse Road Beach in Gulfport. The event will feature a kosher barbecue dinner, bonfire and s’mores, and games for children. The event is organized “in the spirit of Hakhel,” which was celebrated every eight years in ancient Israel as a time for the entire Jewish people to unite in Jerusalem.

Beth Israel in Jackson will have a drum circle for “mindful meditation and contemplation,” Sept. 18 at 5 p.m. before the Shalom Group meeting. There is no charge, and instruments are provided.

Hillel at Mississippi State will have Kosher Kick-Back on Sept. 22 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Student Union Dawg House. The event is an opportunity for non-Jewish students to ask questions and speak about Judaism with Jewish students, in an informal setting.

Chabad of Southern Mississippi in Biloxi will have a pre-election program on hot political topics from a Torah perspective, Sept. 25 at 5:30 p.m. The first session will discuss marijuana legalization and abortion in Jewish law. After a break for dinner, the second session will touch on Judaism and sexuality, gun control in the Talmud, and immigration and border security. The program and dinner are $10, and all issues will be discussed from a non-partisan religious perspective.

The Western Shore Torah Study Group for Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile will meet on Sept. 27 at 6:30 p.m. at a private residence in Ocean Springs (contact the Temple for details). The discussion topic is “Preparing for the High Holy Days.”

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