Finding the Virtual Jewish Community during Social Distancing

Rabbi Mendel Rivkin leads minyan from Chabad of Louisiana on Facebook.

Here are some online activities being organized nationally and by congregations in our region. We will continue to update as we learn of more opportunities. Because of the prevalence of Zoombombing, we have removed all Zoom links in this piece. Check the congregations’ websites or Facebook page for links.

Unless otherwise stated, all times are Central. Updated May 3, 1:05 p.m.


PJ Library is hosting Storytimes and Craftalongs, weekdays at 10 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. There are also Virtual Field Trips at 11 a.m. Family activities are also available here.

Rabbi Barry Block of Little Rock, New Orleans native Rabbi Judith Lazarus Siegal and Mississippi’s Rabbi Debra Kassoff will lead a zoom discussion for parents and alumni on “Spiritual Resources for Facing the Pandemic and the Cancellation of Jacobs Camp Summer 2020: Lessons from the Mussar Torah Commentary.” The session will be May 7 at 7:30 p.m. Register in advance here.

Yom Limmud Day will be May 24, with some of the best scholars in North America. The day of virtual learning will be from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with Mayim Bialik kicking off the event. There is a variety of one-hour workshops every hour. Registration is $25 by May 8, $36 after.

The Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life is coordinating a virtual Jewish Culture series for 15 smaller communities in the region. On May 3 at 6 p.m. Central, there will be a Jewish blues concert featuring Saul Kaye, and on Thursdays at 7 p.m. from May 7 to 21, Bible scholar Joel Hoffman will lead sessions on “Jewish History: From King David to Modern America.” The series is being coordinated by ISJL with sponsorship by the Jewish Federation of Northwest Louisiana, the Jewish Federation of Chattanooga and the Jewish Federation of Tulsa. The Network of Independent Communities is also sponsoring the series for Federations in Mobile, Montgomery, Pensacola, Tallahassee, The Villages (Fla.), Columbus (Ga.), Macon, Jackson, Brevard, Charlottesville, Wilmington, Winston-Salem, Corpus Christi, McAllen and Waco. For the Zoom link, contact a participating Federation or Ann Zivitz Kientz with ISJL.

Miriam Lipskier, co-director of Chabad at Emory, will lead a Zoom event, “UnOrthodox: Unpacking the Secrets of the Jewish Perspective on Marriage and Intimacy,” May 5 at 7:30 p.m. It is a joint program of the Chabads of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Metairie, Tulane Grads and Southern Mississippi. For Zoom information, reserve here.

Jewish Learning Institute, Cteen and Ckids are hosting “Supporting Teens Through the Crisis: An Online Training for Parents,” May 5 at noon Central. The interactive training will provide evidence-based guidance from the experts about how to be present for children and teens to keep them emotionally safe during these turbulent times. Presenters are Jonathan Singer, president of the American Association of Suicidology; and Bella Schanzer, chief medical officer of Telehealth On-Call. Registration is $18 and space is limited.

Hillel has launched Hillel@Home for college students, with meetups on various topics and many scheduled speakers.

Camp Ramah Darom continues its Ramah Darom at Home programming

The Henry S. Jacobs Camp has launched HSJ365, with numerous community events along with events tailored to individual age groups.

BBYO has launched BBYO On Demand, a “Jewish Netflix” of live-streamed activities, programs and content that any Jewish teen or young adult, regardless of BBYO membership or affiliation, can tune into and enjoy from anywhere in the world. There are many activities, discussions and presentations each day.

KCET-TV has made “Dreams of Hope,” the documentary about the Violins of Hope concert at Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, available for streaming. Violins of Hope belonged to musicians in the Holocaust and have been restored by Israeli violin expert Amnon Weinstein. The documentary debuted nationwide in February.

The Hadassah Tri-Region “Plug In and Power Up” conference that had been scheduled for Atlanta will be held virtually. The conference brings together the Southeastern, Southern and Southern Seaboard regions. The virtual meeting will be on May 17 from 10 a.m. Eastern to 12:30 p.m., via GoToTraining. The event will feature Rhoda Smolow, Hadassah’s new president, and Steven Frank, Hadassah social media expert. There is no charge, but registration is required.

The National Museum of American Jewish History is closed, but has virtual tours available, as well as tours of current and past exhibits, and videos of lectures and presentations.

CKids is doing a virtual Chabad Hebrew School, Sundays at 10 a.m. (time zone is not specified, it may be 9 a.m. Central)

In The Region:


Beth Shalom in Auburn will be livestreaming service via Zoom on Fridays at 7 p.m. and Torah study on Saturdays at 9 a.m. Book Clubs will meet on May 7 at 7 (“Mrs. Everything“) and May 17 at 3 p.m. (“Up From Orchard Street“).

Danny Cohn, the new CEO of the Birmingham Jewish Federation, does a children’s story time online, Mondays at 2 p.m. on the Federation Facebook page.

The Birmingham Holocaust Education Center will have two Zoom programs. On May 7 at 7 p.m., Amy McDonald of Shades Valley High School will lead the Community Education Series’ “Rescuing Jews — Means and Obstacles,” based on the book “How Was It Possible? A Holocaust Reader.” On May 14 at 7 p.m., Esther Levy will present “My Mother’s Story: Tobi Komornik Gerson,” a Holocaust survivor from Poland. Register here.

The Birmingham Jewish Federation will have a Zoom lunch program with leadership from the Southern Division of the Anti-Defamation League, May 6 at 1 p.m. They will share information on the state of antisemitism in the U.S., and how the work of fighting hate has shifted during the pandemic. Reserve here.

The Levite Jewish Community Center in Birmingham is hosting “Parenting Through Quarantine,” May 5 at 11:30 a.m. Debra Atchison will discuss balancing and coping strategies to help gain a better handle on this “new normal.” Parents and kids are welcome to join in.

Birmingham’s Levite Jewish Community Center is offering virtual activities. At 8 a.m., the Early Childhood Learning Center holds Circle Time and ECLC Storytime at 4 p.m. Also, members and the general community can access Les Mills International virtual fitness classes. The Circle of Life Knitting Club meets on Zoom Tuesdays at 11 a.m. On Fridays at 11 a.m. there is Coffee and Conversation for seniors. Over 60 virtual fitness classes are available from the LJCC each week. Equipment needed for some fitness classes can be checked out. The LJCC is also offering Netflix and Kibitz, Mondays at 8 p.m. Additional activity suggestions are here.

Chabad of Alabama is offering numerous online classes taught by Rabbi Yossi Friedman, Mondays to Thursdays at 11:30 a.m., and the Jewish Course of Why on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7 p.m.

Birmingham’s Temple Beth-El is livestreaming services for Shabbat, Fridays at 5:45 p.m. and Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. Minyan is being done on the Beth-El Facebook page by individual members, mornings at 7 and afternoons at 5:30. Virtual Havdalah is on Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. on the Facebook page. The congregation is offering Zoom classes, JewCurious with Bethany Slater, Wednesdays at 7 p.m.; and Beit Midrash 2.0 with Rabbi Stephen Slater on Thursdays at noon. Contact Beth-El for Zoom information.

Temple Emanu-El in Birmingham is streaming services on Fridays at 5:45 p.m. Zoom classes include Torah study on Wednesdays at noon and Saturdays at 9 a.m.Coffee with the Rabbi is Tuesdays at 10 a.m. A Pirkei Avot class is on Thursdays at 7 p.m., starting on April 2.

Knesseth Israel in Birmingham is Zooming Kabbalat Shabbat, up to Mizmor Shir, Fridays at 6:30 p.m. A virtual community Havdalah is at 8:30 p.m. Saturdays. On Sundays, there is a “Revival of the Dead” Talmud class at 9:30 a.m., and the Science and Torah Club 2nd Edition, discussing “The Great Partnership: Science, Religion and the Search for Meaning” by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, at 2:30 p.m.

Birmingham’s Collat Jewish Family Services is holding Zoom sessions of its Dementia Caregiver Support Group, Thursdays at 7:30 p.m.

Dothan’s Temple Emanu-El is broadcasting services via Zoom on Fridays at 7 p.m., Torah study on Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. On Tuesdays, there is a different Virtual Fun Night at 7 p.m., starting with comedy night on May 5. On May 14 at 7 p.m., there will be virtual adult education with Cantor Neil. Shavuot Yizkor will be at 10 a.m. on May 30.

B’nai Israel in Florence is livestreaming services on Fridays at 7 p.m. via Facebook Live.

Etz Chayim in Huntsville is not livestreaming, but encouraging members to check out services at Temple Beth-El in Birmingham or Agudath Achim in Atlanta.

Temple B’nai Sholom in Huntsville is streaming Shabbat services at 7 p.m. on Zoom and Facebook, and the first Saturday of the month at 10 a.m. Torah study is held Saturdays at 11:30 a.m. Coffee with the Rabbi is 10 a.m. Sundays, except 11 a.m. on May 10. Adult Happy Hour study is 5:30 p.m. Wednesdays. After the May 29 Shavuot service at 7 p.m., there will be a Streaming Shavuot Sundaes at Sundown Social Oneg. Shavuot services will also be held May 30 at 11:30 a.m.

Ahavas Chesed in Mobile will stream Shabbat services on their Facebook page, Fridays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m. Shabbat candlelighting will also be streamed, Fridays at 7 p.m. Torah study will be held Mondays at noon via Zoom, and the Tuesday pizza and beer study will take a hiatus, meeting virtually at 5 p.m. A two-minute morning meditation is Mondays at 10 a.m., and a Thoughtfulness message is Thursdays at 10 a.m. Storytime for Kids and Others is 4 p.m. Thursdays. “No More Matzah” lunches are Friday at noon with Rabbi Silberman.

Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile will be conducting services via Zoom, Fridays at 6 p.m. Tea and Talk with the Rabbi starts on May 4 at 3:30 p.m. and meets on Mondays. Torah study is Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m.

Agudath Israel-Etz Ahayem will broadcast services through its website on Fridays at 6 p.m., Saturdays at 9:30 a.m., and Mondays and Thursdays at 7:15 a.m. Virtual Havdalah is 8 p.m. Saturdays on Zoom. Torah study is Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on Zoom. Downloadable siddurim are available on the website.

Temple Emanu-El in Tuscaloosa is now holding Zoom Shabbat services on Fridays at 6 p.m. Virtual Torah study is Sundays at 10 a.m.


Chabad Emerald Coast in Destin will have its weekly Torah class by Zoom, contact Chabad for the link. There is also a pre-Shabbat service, Fridays at 6:45 p.m.

B’nai Israel in Panama City will have Virtual Shabbat weekends, with Institute of Southern Jewish Life Education Fellow Margo Wagner on May 8 at 7 p.m., and Rabbi Bruce Aft on May 22 at 7:15 p.m. On May 23, Aft will lead a Lunch and Learn at 11:30 a.m. and Havdalah at 7:15 p.m.

Chabad of Panama City Beach is holding Zoom Torah classes with Rabbi Mendel Havlin, Wednesdays at 8 p.m.

Temple Beth El in Pensacola is holding services Fridays at 7 p.m. by Facebook Live and GoToMeeting. Torah study on Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. on May 2 and 16, Havdallah at 7:30 p.m. “Two Jews, Three Opinions” discusses two articles with different perspectives of the same issue, Tuesdays at 11:30 a.m. A Pirkei Avot Happy Hour will be on Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. Virtual Torah on Tap will be May 5 at 5 p.m., with Rabbi Joel Fleekop leading “Personal vs. Communal Responsibility.” On May 9 there will be a Havdalah Musical Tribute to Mothers, led by Ed Siegel, at 7:30 p.m.


Gemiluth Chassodim in Alexandria will have virtual services over Zoom, Fridays at 6 p.m. Coffee with the Rabbi is Wednesdays at 10 a.m.

Chabad of Baton Rouge is holding interactive virtual classes, Mondays at 11 a.m. on the Torah portion, and Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. on the Jewish Course of Why, on Facebook Live.

Beth Shalom and B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge will have a joint virtual Shabbat service, May 8 at 6 p.m. Check with the congregations for Zoom information.

Rabbi Natan Trief of Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge and his wife, Rabbi Samantha Trief of Temple Sinai in Atlanta, will lead a joint Shabbat morning service on May 9 at 9 a.m. Central. The service will be in Sinai’s Zoom room, and a 10:30 a.m. Covenant and Conversations Torah study will be in the Beth Shalom room.

Beth Shalom in Baton Rouge will have virtual services and classes, Fridays at 6:30 p.m. and Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. There will also be an interactive Tot Shabbat on Fridays at 11 a.m. Zerem Young Professionals Virtual Game Night and Happy Hour will be on May 13. Old Fashioned Judaism will take place on May 16 at 7 p.m. Israel Institute returns on May 17 at noon. The Miriam Meeting will focus on the Zohar, May 19 at 6:30 p.m. There will also be a virtual oneg following services on May 22.

B’nai Israel in Baton Rouge is holding services via Zoom on Fridays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 10 a.m.

Temple Sinai in Lake Charles is streaming services on its YouTube channel, Fridays at 6 p.m.

Rabbi Judy Caplan Ginsburgh, who serves B’nai Israel in Monroe, leads virtual services Fridays at 6 p.m. over Zoom. She also does a Tot Shabbat on Fridays at 4 p.m. on her Facebook page. She will also lead Zoom and Schmooze on Sundays at 10 a.m., skipping May 10. The congregation is exploring having a large screen in the multi-purpose room so those unable to access online services can come and view at a social distance.

Rabbi Aaron Rozovsky will virtually visit B’nai Israel in Monroe, leading a Shabbat service on May 8 at 6 p.m. Tot Shabbat on May 9 at 9 a.m. and Torah study at 10:30 a.m. He will speak at 5 p.m., followed by Havdalah.

Shir Chadash in Metairie is livestreaming Thursday minyan at 8 a.m. and Sunday minyan at 9:15 a.m. Kabbalat Shabbat is on Fridays at 6:15 p.m. Havdalah is planned on the Shir Chadash Facebook page at 8:30 p.m. on Saturdays. The congregation is also doing a Family Kabbalat Shabbat service on Friday at 4:30 p.m., consisting of songs and stories, candle lighting and Kiddush. A Sisterhood Tanach class meets Wednesdays at 10 a.m. Yoga with the Rabbi is Tuesdays and Fridays at 9:30 a.m.

Beth Israel in Metairie is holding classes virtually, with Rabbi Josh Pernick leading a Talmud class via Zoom on Mondays to Thursdays at 4 p.m. On Thursdays at 11 a.m. he is leading “Tanach Chabura: Divided Kingdoms.” Beth Israel is also doing a livestream pre-Kabbalat Shabbat at 6 p.m. Friays and Havdalah on the Beth Israel Facebook page, at 8:30 p.m. on May 9 and 8:45 p.m. the rest of May. Minyan is livestreamed Sundays at 9 a.m., and at 10 a.m. Pernick leads “Jews in the News.” Tuesdays and Thursdays at 1 p.m., Bubbe Susan Green leads arts and crafts. Jordan Lawrence leads Youth Learning on Mondays and Wednesdays at 11:30 a.m. On Wednesdays at 7 p.m., Pernick leads “Shtisel 101: Season 2.” The congregation is also promoting Kavod-19, an effort to reach out to 19 people every week while the social restrictions are in place, preferably by phone or Facetime, or by text or email.

Gates of Prayer in Metairie holds Women in the Bible with Rabbi Lexi Erdheim on Wednesdays at 7 p.m., The Top 10 with Rabbis Erdheim and Gerber, Shabbat services on Fridays at 6 p.m., Torah study Saturdays at 9:15 a.m. and Havdalah at 6 p.m. Because services will not be in the sanctuary, the usual livestream does not work, one must use Zoom or Facebook Live. The Louise Hayem Manheim Center for Early Childhood Education will have 9:30 a.m. activities, including Song Session with Miss Tory on Tuesdays, Hebrew with Rabbi Lexi on Thursdays and Shabbat with Rabbi Gerber on Fridays. Rabbi Story Time is also available on YouTube. The congregation also instituted Drive In Movie Night on Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., with “The Sandlot” on May 9.

Anshe Sfard in New Orleans will have minyan via Zoom on Sundays at 9:30 a.m.

Touro Synagogue in New Orleans is livestreaming services, Fridays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. Virtual Shabbat Rocks is at 9:30 a.m. Past services are archived. Rabbi Silverman leads “Exploration of the Megillot,” Tuesdays at 8 p.m., May 5 to 19. Rabbi Bauman leads “News and the Jews” on Thursdays at noon, except May 28. On Thursdays at 7 p.m., Cantor Margolius leads “Short Stories by Sholom Aleichem, Peretz and Malamud,” except May 28. There will be a Tikkun Leil Shavuot on May 28 at 7 p.m.

Temple Sinai is livestreaming services, Fridays at 6:15 p.m., after a 6 p.m. Shabbat Schmooze, and Saturdays at 10:15 a.m., following 9 a.m. Torah study. Past services are archived. There are various events on Sundays at 10 a.m., including Sinai Connect and a Sisterhood meeting on May 10. Rabbi Sherman leads open conversations at Wednesday Night Live, at 7 p.m. At noon on Thursdays, there is Thursday Lunch with the Rabbi.

Chabad of Louisiana is offering a Quarantine Kaddish Service, so Kaddish can be said in one’s memory even if the person saying Kaddish can’t make it to a minyan. Virtual morning services are held weekdays at 8:30 a.m. A Farbrengen is held at 9:15 p.m. on Saturdays. Sholom Rivkin leads a class in Jewish law, Mondays to Thursdays at 5:30 p.m. Breakfast with Maimonides is Sundays at 9:30 a.m., and the Kabbala of Second Chances is Wednesdays at 8 p.m. Malkie Rivkin has led a daily gathering online at 9 p.m., and Chabad in Metairie is doing a Five Minute Inspiration at 2 p.m. daily.

Kenneth Hoffman, executive director of the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience, will be the speaker at the New Orleans Jewish Community Center’s Morris Bart Lecture Series, May 11 at 12:30 p.m. via Zoom. He will speak on “Everything You Wanted to Know About the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience (but were afraid to ask).” He will speak about the museum’s progress, show some recent acquisitions, and do a Southern Jewish quiz.

Agudath Achim in Shreveport is having Likrat Shabbat streamed on YouTube Live, Fridays at 6 p.m., Morning services led by Rabbi Sydni are Sunday to Friday at 10 a.m. There is an Overview of Judaism class on Wednesdays at 7 p.m. Shavuot will be observed on May 28 from 5 to 8 p.m. with a program in the style of the traditional all-night learning, as congregants will do 15 to 30 minute presentations on a range of topics. Use the Facebook link to get YouTube links to individual events.

B’nai Zion in Shreveport is streaming its services and classes on its YouTube channel. Services are Fridays at 6 p.m., with a Zoom oneg at 7 p.m. On May 15, historian Gary Dillard Joiner of the Red River Regional Studies Center will speak, and on May 22, Josh Parnell, director of the history department at the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, will speak. The Bible Players are doing streaming improv comedy events at 3 p.m. on Sundays. A virtual version of Together Tuesdays will be at 6 p.m. on the first Tuesday of the month. On Wednesdays at 4, Rabbi Judy Caplan Ginsburgh holds music lessons.


Beth Israel in Jackson will livestream services on Fridays at 6 p.m. and Saturdays at 9 a.m. Torah study will be at 10:30 a.m. via Zoom. Tot Shabbat with Rabbis Rosen and Dreffin will be at 8 a.m. Refuge Meditation is on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m., and Mussar classes will be led by Rabbi Rosen on May 7 and 12 at 5 p.m.