Shir Chadash Conservative Congregation in Metairie will honor nine congregational “mensches” at the “Mensches and Merriment” gala on Nov. 5 at 6 p.m.
President Peter Title said “This will be an evening of fine cuisine, cocktails, music, fun and friendship, all to support the important work of Shir Chadash.”
This event will include a reception with hors d’oeuvres, with libations courtesy of Sazerac and the Goldring Family Foundation, followed by a seated Kosher dinner with wine, cuisine by Dvash Catering, entertainment by The Top Cats, and a raffle featuring restaurants from throughout the Greater New Orleans Area.
The honorees are being honored for many decades of contributing to Shir Chadash. The honorees are Fran and Barry Ivker, Diane and Mark Schleifstein, Rochelle Sackett, Janice and Dr. Louis Stern z”l, and Judge Miriam and Bruce Waltzer.
Barbara Kaplinsky and Carole Cukell Neff are co-chairing the event. Committee chairs are Elissa Bluth, Tana Coman, Sylvia Finger, Leslie Fischman, Joyce Golden, Esther Hendler, Harriet Hillson, Dashka Roth Lehmann, Carol Newman, Mark Rubin, Charisse Sands, Peter Title, Sheryl Title, Eileen Wallen and Liz Yager.
Underwriters include Goldring Family Foundation, Woldenberg Foundation, Lupin Foundation, Louis A. and Lillian L. Glazer Family Foundation, Sessions, Fishman and Nathan, LLC, Lake Lawn Metairie Funeral Home and Cemeteries, and Metairie Bank. Lead donors include Hugo and Lis Kahn, Dashka Roth Lehmann and Larry Lehmann, Carole and Richard Neff, Sanford L. Pailet, and Karen and Leopold Sher.
Barry and Fran Ivker
The Ivkers have been engaged synagogue members since 1968 with their three children, Mark, Sharon and Josh. They are a three-generation synagogue family with Fran’s mother, Ida Shapiro, celebrating her Bat Mitzvah at age 70. Even though they moved to Birmingham after Katrina, they are monthly regulars for Shabbat services.
A psychotherapist and a professor of literature by trade, Barry had a rich creative side. His artwork lines the halls of Shir Chadash, and he produced a Passover Haggadah with 111 of his illustrations. He also can be found dancing to international folk, Contra and Cajun music. Barry has been a constant presence on the Bima of Shir Chadash, where he serves as a lay leader, reading Torah and actively participating in Torah study. A lifelong learner of Jewish studies and ritual, Barry served on the ritual committee, and taught B’nai Mitzvah students.
A professor of biology for many years, Fran was a pioneer as she pursued her medical degree while raising her three children. She continues to practice gynecology, having delivered thousands of babies. Over the years, she has served as a mohelet for the Jewish community. Fran was an integral part of the much-anticipated creative Ivker family Purim skits, from sewing costumes to being a main character.
Mark and Diane Schleifstein
The Schleifsteins joined the synagogue in 1984, and are parents of Michael and Rachel.
A three-time Pulitzer Prize winning journalist, Mark describes his work as “mitzvah journalism” where his environmental reporting continues to focus on Tikkun Olam, repairing the world. Since Katrina in 2005, Mark has been a leading member of the M’sadrim Team, engaging with congregants as they accept ritual honors in synagogue service. For decades, Mark served on the ritual committee, the rabbi selection committee and as a board member for three terms.
Diane, a computer systems analyst by trade, became involved in Sisterhood, participating on weekends and evenings while balancing her career and motherhood. Diane served on the board as recording secretary until she became co-president of Sisterhood in 2006. She then chaired the Nearly New sales for 9 years.
In addition to her leadership roles, Diane continues to volunteer her time to help with needed tasks. Diane has most recently taken on the task of new covers for the synagogue Torahs. Within the community, Diane was president of the Friends of Jefferson Public Library and currently enjoys teaching mahjong at the People Program.
Rochelle, along with her husband Hyman of blessed memory, joined the synagogue 63 years ago. Her family has been members for five-generations, with Rochelle’s parents (the Greens), her grandson, Justin, and now, Baby Zoe.
Balancing her real estate career and motherhood in her younger years, Rochelle has made herself available for any task or project that needed to be done. She has served on the board for many terms and is currently serving as chairperson of the Caring Committee. Rochelle staffed the gift shop, prepared meals in the kitchen, and for many years, worked in the boutique department within the Nearly New Sale. A lifelong member of Hadassah, Rochelle served as chapter president for 3 years in the 1980s and continues to support JCRS with Chanukah wrapping and their gala.
Rochelle fondly remembers marking her 80th birthday by surprising her family and friends when she read from the Torah for the first time. Whether it be volunteering on a committee, participating in Shabbat services or welcoming new members, Shir Chadash continues to be an integral part of Rochelle’s life.
Janice and Louis Stern (of blessed memory)
Janice and Louis Stern z”l moved to New Orleans from Montgomery after Louis retired as a Major in the U.S. Air Force, and joined what was then Conservative Congregation of New Orleans in 1968. With three sons, Martin, Howard, and Michael, and later grandchildren, they were active in religious school and Jewish life throughout the years. Janice’s parents, Pinky and Ann, later moved from Shreveport to the area and joined, to create a three generation synagogue family.
Janice’s first passion within the Jewish community life was volunteering for the Chevra Kadisha. While on the synagogue board, she established and chaired the Caring Committee, a position she held for decades; Janice’s sharing a warm smile and kindness as she reached out with words of concern to help congregants after a loss in their family. Janice was awarded the Sisterhood Southern Branch Light of Judah in 1990, co-chaired the Jewish Federation Annual Campaign in 2009 and served on the JCRS Board.
Louis was a renowned anatomical and clinical pathologist as well as a professor at LSU Medical School. Louis served on the synagogue board and was an active member on many rabbinical search committees. Within the Jewish and broader community, he shared his passion on the boards of JCRS, Communal Hebrew School, Camp Ramah Darom and the Blood Center. Janice and Louis were fortunate to celebrate 64 years together.
Bruce and Miriam Waltzer
Bruce and Miriam Waltzer have been icons in the New Orleans community since they joined then Conservative Congregation of New Orleans in 1960. With their two children, Joel and Laine, they attended shul regularly and celebrated many family simchas and milestones.
Bruce has been recognized for his outstanding commitment to seeking justice in the world, both professionally as a civil rights attorney, and within the Jewish community, being a recipient of the prestigious Avodah Partners in Justice Award. He was the first president of the Men’s Club and the first president of Lakeshore Day School. Now in his 90s, Bruce is a regular at Shabbat morning services, where he can recite all the prayers by heart.
Judge Miriam Waltzer was the first woman elected to a judgeship in Criminal Court in New Orleans. She continues to work tirelessly to ensure that everyone, including the formerly incarcerated, has the right to vote. She has been honored both professionally and civically, including being a recipient of the NCJW Hannah Solomon Award. At Shir Chadash, she has been an advisor to the board, an ardent fundraiser and a member of the rabbi’s selection committee.