Jewish Community of Louisville Together in Life, Learning and Leadership Fri, 22 May 2015 18:35:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 ELC Spring Sing Grows To Raise More Money Fri, 22 May 2015 18:35:01 +0000 Read More >]]> The JCC’s Early Learning Center Spring Sing has grown immensely in recent years.

This year, funds raised in the auction and raffle have topped $7,500, which is a huge success, over $1,500 just two years ago.

“The parent committee worked so hard, bringing in items for the auction and helping set up,” said Angie Hiland, ELC assistant director. “It wouldn’t be possible without all their hard work.”

“And it wouldn’t be possible without the sense of community we have here,” ELC Director Norma Cahen added.

At the Spring Sing, ELC children go on stage and sing songs they have learned and practiced for their parents and other family members. Each class got up and sang a song or two, including “On Top of Spaghetti,” “Zipadeedoodah,” and “You are My Sunshine.”

At the end, they all sang “Shalom Chavarim,” the “Goodbye Friends” song.
As children got on stage, they all looked for their parents, who waved back at them.

The set on stage was especially fun this year because CenterStage left the “Seussical, Jr.” set up and allowed the children to sit on the risers.

“It made such a beautiful backdrop to the show,” Cahen said. “We are so thankful to John Leffert and his staff for leaving that for us.”

The funds raised will help the ELC purchase higher-priced items for the classrooms such as art easels. “It will help us have age- and developmentally appropriate programming for the children,” Cahen said.

Parent committee members were Chair Nikki Grizzle, Keren Benabou, Angie Distler, Jenny Graff, Aude Johnson, Lenae Price, Liz Rhodes, Kim Roberts, Stephanie Rosenthal, Robin Rueff, Beth Snowden, Kate Stratman and Anita Williams.

]]> 0
‘Nothing Like a Dame’ Delights Fri, 22 May 2015 18:33:35 +0000 Read More >]]> When I hear the words “Nothing Like a Dame,” the tune from one of my father’s old records runs through my head and continues, “nothing in the world. There ain’t nothing like a dame that is anything you can name.”
So when the JCC announced a Mother’s Day brunch on May 10 with food by Café Fraiche, a short revue with some favorite CenterStage performers and a special presentation by Eddie Shapiro, author of a book titled Nothing Like a Dame with stories about some of Broadway’s leading ladies, of course, I wanted to go.

I was not disappointed.

The auditorium was bustling with people celebrating Mother’s Day. The mimosas served by CenterStage personnel and volunteers were the perfect compliment to the elegant brunch buffet. CenterStage Artistic Director John Leffert emceed the revue, during which four members of the company performed with the panache audiences have come to expect at the JCC.

Glenna Godsey performed “Everything’s Coming up Roses” from Gypsy and famously played by Ethel Merman, Angela Lansbury, Betty Buckley and Patty LuPone. Tymika Prince presented “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” from the play of the same name and played by Chita Rivera. Jessica Adamson did “Life of the Party” from The Wild Party from a role played by Idina Menzel. And Kate Reedy rounded out the set with “Astonishing” from Little Women famously played by Sutton Foster.

Shapiro, whose book includes interviews with all of these women, was a delight. Outgoing and candid, he gave a brief introduction about how the book came to be – how a brazen, young, aspiring writer managed to get interviews with stars from Idina Menzel to Carol Channing. And then spent the rest the time fielding questions from the audience. He had such a good time doing it that everyone in attendance had a good time, too. And when it came time for his book signing, the available books were snapped up within minutes.

]]> 0
LBSY Teachers to Attend Partnership Seminar in Israel Fri, 22 May 2015 18:27:57 +0000 Read More >]]> Three teachers at the Louisville Beit Sefer Yachad (LBSY), Amy Danino, Karen Feder and Rachel Goldman, have been accepted to be among the dozen American teachers participating in the Partnership2Gether Teacher’s Seminar in Israel this summer. The seminar, designed to expand the twinning program between American and Israel students, will take place in Nahariya in the Western Galilee during the second week in June.

Currently, LBSY students in the 2nd, 5th, 6th and 8th grades participate in twinning activities with Israel students. The 8th grade is paired with an extracurricular photography class from Akko, and the other LBSY students collaborate with students at the Shalom Aleichem School in Betzet.

Amy Danino (5th grade) and Karen Feder (8th grade) are already involved in twinning activities and hope to use this experience to strengthen the ties of their classrooms to their Israeli counterparts and to reinforce their relationships with their Israeli counterparts. Rachel Goldman will be teaching 4th grade next year, a class to which she and LBSY plan to expand the twinning experience. The school hopes to expand and strengthen its ties with the partnership region as a result of its teachers attending this seminar.

Funding for this trip has been made possible by the Jewish Foundation of Louisville and contributions from clergy of the congregations served by LBSY.

]]> 0
Louisville and Israeli Teens Collaborate on Yom Ha’atzmaut Festivities Fri, 22 May 2015 18:23:33 +0000 Read More >]]> Louisville’s Jewish community celebrated Yom Ha’atzmaut on Wednesday, April 22, with an Israeli shuk and festival, delicious food and lots of singing and dancing.

The party had to be moved indoors because of chilly weather and the potential for rain, but it didn’t damper the evening’s fun.

A group of four singers from our Partnership2Gether region, Israel’s Western Galilee, sang Israeli songs in Hebrew, while participants danced and sang along with the songs they knew. The singers were Simona Koren Mizrahi, Lee Koren, Metar Katz, Avihai Balahsan and Anat Elbaz.

Louisville’s BBYO planned the event along with teens from the Partnership 2Gether region in Israel, and the group made lifelong friends in the process.

“The Israeli teens had a great visit,” said Mike Steklof, BBYO director. “The BBYO teens really connected with the teens and are staying in touch with them via social media.”

The Israeli teens visited Presentation and Atherton High Schools and enjoyed learning what it’s like to be an American high school student. They also went to two malls and the Kentucky Derby Museum for a dose of Kentucky history and culture, he said.

“The event was a great success, and everyone said they really enjoyed the food and the singers,” Steklof said. “We have invited another group from our Partnership area for next year.”

Partnership2Gether (formerly Partnership with Israel) is a Jewish Agency for Israel program that promotes regional development in Israel by matching communities there with those in the Diaspora. Louisville has been an active part of the program since its inception in 1997.

Jon and Laura Klein are Louisville’s Partnership2Gether chairs.
For more information about Partnership opportunities, contact JCC Senior Vice President and COO Sara Wagner,

]]> 0
Bellarmine Hosts Fulbright Scholar LBSY Held Picnic and Awards Ceremony Fri, 22 May 2015 18:11:50 +0000 Read More >]]> On Sunday, May 17, LBSY marked the conclusion of its 8th grade students’ experiences at LBSY with a Siyyum ceremony at 10:30 a.m. at Anshei Sfard Congregation. During that ceremony, students throughout the school were also honored for their achievements during the past school year.

Following the ceremony, LBSY hosted a barbecue /picnic on the grounds with games and activities for families and students.

Tamar Blue, Lucy Calderon, Emily Callam, Ian Ford, Tovah Frockt, Amy Niren, Julian Shuster and Lilah Weiss marked the conclusion of their years at LBSY.

Agudath Achim Awards for Excellence in Hebrew Studies were presented to Kendall Geller, Gimmel Class (3rd grade); Nicki Kaplan, Daled Class (4th grade); Jacob Hyman, Hey Class (5th grade); Miriam Bird, Sophia Goldberg and Yael Wagner, Vav Class (6th grade); and Zack Felsen and Madison Monsky, Zayin Class (7th grade).

Anna Cohen received the Anita Zeiden Memorial Award; Sam Rosenthal received the Marilyn Berman Memorial Award; and Tovah Frockt received the Herman & O.H. Landau Memorial Award.

Emily Callam received the Rose Sherman Memorial Award; Julian Shuster received Charles D. Levitch Memorial Award; and Amy Niren received the Margie Kohn/Joannie Lustig/Craig Lustig Past Presidents Award.

]]> 0
Third Graders Receive Their Siddurim Fri, 22 May 2015 18:09:33 +0000 Read More >]]> Each year, Louisville Beit Sefer Yachad presents a siddur to each member of its third grade class demonstrating the proficiency each student has developed and their readiness to study more deeply the prayers found within it. This year, LBSY began the process of presenting the prayer books at the home congregation of each student to further demonstrate the prayer community to which each student is becoming a part.

The siddur presentation ceremony at Keneseth Israel took place during Erev Shabbat services on Friday night, April 17. Prayer books were presented to Jenna Catapano, Lauren Rowe and Leah Schuhmann.

Students at Adath Jeshurun received their books during the Short & Sweet service on Saturday, April 18. Anna Cohen, West Franklin, Kendall Geller, Joshua Gitter, Emma Hales, Levi Koby, Ryan Marks and Blake Tasman participated.

Israel Gates, Elijah Harper, Nathan Kaplan and Ethan Schwartz received their prayer books at Temple Shalom during services on Friday night May 15.

]]> 0
Reflections on Historian Lee Shai Weisbach’s Retirement from UofL Fri, 22 May 2015 18:07:52 +0000 Read More >]]> It is with significant sadness that I mark the loss of a cherished colleague. I have been aware of Lee Shai Weissbach’s groundbreaking work since my grad student days. Among his colleagues in the vibrant field of Jewish Studies, he enjoys a stellar reputation for his energy and enthusiasm for the historical profession, his eagerness to engage with colleagues no matter what their specialization, and his ability to make connections and forge intellectual ties across the boundaries of field and discipline. Indeed, for anyone active in the field of Jewish studies, he represents a truly exemplary model even though that specialization is only a part of his myriad accomplishments over a truly expansive career.

For instance, he was trained at Harvard as an historian of French history; his 1989 book Child Labor Reform in Nineteenth-Century France: Assuring the Future Harvest addressed the crucial cultural changes in the view of children that led to early child labor laws.

But (perhaps in part owing to his studies with the late Yosef Yerushalmi, the preeminent Jewish historian of recent generations) unlike many scholars who remain dedicated to the familiar, Lee Shai challenged himself by exploring new trajectories, including a fascinating immersion in the local.
His 1995 work, The Synagogues of Kentucky: Architecture and History has been rightly praised as one of the first major academic studies to address Jewish American life outside the major urban centers. With a keen eye to detail and to the historical importance of the built environment, Lee Shai explores how Jews used physical space and local geography to announce their presence. How did Jews, for most of their history immigrants from abroad, negotiate through these buildings their desire to be part of local civic life and their abiding concern to be different?

In renowned historian Hasia Diner’s warm praise, she remarks that “Weissbach’s book offers a compelling example of how space mattered historically and how a building – or a set of buildings – tell a crucial story of adaptation, retention of cultural norms, the aspirations of a group of people deemed to be (and who saw themselves as) both different and imbued with full rights.“

And Todd Endelman declares simply that “One cannot understand the history of American Jewry without reference to this book.” And that was followed by a similarly groundbreaking work, Jewish Life in Small-Town America: A History, published by Yale University Press. And this work will likely be considered absolutely essential for many years to come for it has utterly changed the nature of the discourse in American Jewish history which had long been totally big-city focused.

Not content with fulfilling such vital gaps in Jewish American studies, my tireless colleague lately devoted himself to the translation of an unusual Hebrew memoir by his grandfather, Menachem Mendel Frieden, under the title A Jewish Life on Three Continents, an enthralling work that illuminates the transnational nature of the Jewish immigrant experience at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. This important work helps us understand the wrenching transition between the old world of Eastern Europe and the new American setting.

In Emory Historian Eric Goldstein’s praise for this work he singles out how “it extends the importance of looking beyond national boundaries by following the protagonist to Palestine, showing that while the United States was the Promised Land for many Eastern European Jewish immigrants, it was not the only one. Prof. Weissbach’s careful editing and commentary make the memoir a crucial tool for the teaching of Jewish immigration, and indeed the teaching of the entire modern Jewish experience.”

This book was featured in Stanford University Press’ prestigious series on Jewish History and Culture and it seems likely to attract the interest of scholars and other interested readers for years to come.

In addition to these seminal works, it should be noted that Lee Shai has served as chair of his department and as associate dean. He has been a member of the Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society, a trustee of the Southern Jewish Historical Society.

Moreover he has lectured around the country and the world, entrancing audiences from Europe to Israel and Africa with his passion for the importance of history. He has received numerous awards, including the NEH and Fulbright, and served as a scholar in residence at the University of Haifa, quite fitting since that city was his birthplace before the founding of Israel.

In spite of his retirement, I am confident that he will continue to create new paths in historical scholarship (indeed we’ve talked about a fascinating project that I hope he will pursue) so that we will have the opportunity to coax him back to give a talk in future years.

I wish both Lee Shai and Sharon many years of good health and happiness.

]]> 0
Tuvlin Revives, Expands Newcomer Welcome Program Fri, 22 May 2015 18:05:34 +0000 Read More >]]> Jennifer Tuvlin, who has been serving as the JCC’s director of the PJ Library and Shalom Baby programs, is taking on a new responsibility – welcoming newcomers.

She views it as a natural outgrowth of her current responsibilities. “It’s engagement similar to PJ Library and Shalom Baby,” she said, but for a different group of people in the community.”

A number of years ago, Louisville used to have a program to welcome newcomers that brought people together for a big brunch and introduced them to the community and to some people. This time, Tuvlin is taking a different approach.

She began by researching what other communities are doing before deciding on the best way for Louisville to move forward.

First, Tuvlin is redefining who is a newcomer. “A newcomer can be someone who is Jewish who just moved to Louisville, or someone who has been in Louisville but has not practiced Judaism. Or, a newcomer can be someone who is Jewish but has just now taken an interest in the Jewish Community. The definition of a newcomer is really very open,” she said. “We just want to be welcoming to all.”

Once a newcomer has been identified, Tuvlin plans to meet with that person individually, identify their needs and interests and connect them with people with the same needs and interests. For example, if the Jewish newcomer has children who will attend the public schools, Tuvlin will try to connect that person with another family with Jewish children around the same age who attend the public schools.

It’s not about pushing newcomers toward activities or synagogue memberships, but rather about providing information and making connections that will enable them “to become part of our quilt or patchwork” that is the fabric of our community.

If you know of a newcomer, you can help them learn more about Louisville’s Jewish community by referring them to Jennifer Tuvlin, 502-238-2719 or

]]> 0
Marking Thomas Merton’s 100th Birthday Fri, 22 May 2015 18:02:54 +0000 Read More >]]> 20th Festival of Faiths Offered Spiritual Journey

One of the things in which the city of Louisville takes pride is its rich diversity of skills, talents, interests, national backgrounds and religious faiths. In fact, Louisville celebrates its diversity in many different ways.

For the past 20 years, the Center for Interfaith Relations has organized the Festival of Faiths providing a showcase for the rich tapestry of religions in our community and a forum for open discussion and spiritual exploration.

Always informed by the wide-ranging work of Thomas Merton, a Catholic monk at the Abbey of Gethsemani who sought an understanding of the faiths of others to appreciate and understand his own faith more deeply, this year’s Festival of Faiths, was held May 12-17 at Actors Theatre of Louisville. Through its theme, “Sacred Journeys and the Legacy of Thomas Merton,” the five-day gathering offered lectures, discussions, performances and prayer opportunities that celebrated both the Festival’s 20th anniversary and Merton’s 100th birthday.

The journey began with an interfaith prayer service, “Sacred Journeys: Our Stories, Together” at the Cathedral of the Assumption. The stories of a variety of faith traditions were told through music, dance, text and the spoken word.

While I was unable to attend most of the sessions, I was able to attend “Art and the Sacred: Sacred Journeys through Music” curated by Teddy Abrams. The Festival also made its programming available through live streaming, and I was able to hear Rabbi Rick Jacobs’ presentation during the “Sacred World: Secular and Sacred” panel discussion.

As silence can be a vehicle of both communication and understanding, each 2015 Festival of Faiths session began with a period of silence. For Louisville Orchestra Music Director Teddy Abrams and his friends this was a natural lead-in to a performance of John Cage’s work 4’33”. As he described it, Cage turned how we think about music upside down. The piece is for any number of musicians and any combination of instruments. The score instructs them to go to the instruments and sit in silence for four minutes and 33 seconds. Since any sound can constitute music Cage’s piece uses ambient sound and reflects the influence of Zen Buddhism.

From the music of silence, Abrams and his friends took the audience on a spiritual journey that wound its way

through the powerful gospel music Jason Clayborn regularly presents at St. Stephen’s Church through a contemporary rap presentation with excursions into Guyana traditions with Indian origins and Brazilian music.

Audience participation was encouraged in several places, and the crowd was eager to join in.

During the Friday session on Secular and Sacred, a panel moderated by Dr. William F. Vendley, explored how issues of rising inequality, war, the climate crisis, nationalism and extremism are diverting us from sustainable development. The panelists were Prof. Jeffrey D. Sachs, Cardinal John Onaiyekan, Fr. Michael F. Czerny and Rabbi Rick Jacobs.

All agreed that global warming is a major issue and the world is quickly approaching the red line, which if surpassed, may mean permanent climate change and damage to the world. The goals have to be sustainability and pulling back from the edge of destruction.

“Some believe we can pray our way out of this mess,” said Rabbi Jacobs. “Prayer can awaken us to issues, but it is not a substitute for action.” His message: it is incumbent upon all of us to act.

Rabbi Jacobs is the president of he Union for Reform Judaism.

]]> 0
Margalit Weaves Together Jewish Teaching, Environmentalism Fri, 22 May 2015 18:00:46 +0000 Read More >]]> With a focus on sustainability and environmental responsibility, Spalding welcomed Rabbi Dr. Natan Margalit as guest speaker at the 34th Keenan Lecture on Thursday, April 23.

With the topic “Organic Torah: Spirit, Systems and Sustainability,” Rabbi Margalit focused on changing approaches to addressing environmental issues.

He described early attempts at environmentalism as reductionist science – if you keep breaking down a problem to it’s smallest components, you will find the answer to the problem. That, he pointed out, was very simplistic and often resulted in unintended consequences.

A classic example he cited happened in Borneo where there was an outbreak of malaria. Since malaria is spread by mosquitos, experts decided that the answer to the problem was to spray DDT. After they were sprayed, the mosquitos were eaten by the geckos, which were, in turn, eaten by the cats. When the cats died, the rat population increased leading to an outbreak of typhus. To combat the typhus, cats had to be reintroduced into the area.
Today there is a realization that the world is complex and systems are interrelated. We can learn from breaking systems down to their elements, but then, to truly understand it, he cited Denis Noble that we must put it back together and look at the network of connections. Rabbi Margalit compared it to the relation of a note or a chord to a total musical composition.

He posited that the whole systems approach also opens the door to dialogue between science and religion. As he expanded upon his thesis, Rabbi Margalit presented quotes from a variety of sources, many of them from religious sources.

He pointed to Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel’s concept of radical amazement and Rabbi Naftali Zvi’s contention that the whole Torah is a song so to extract the full meaning we need to examine it from different perspectives and look for patterns.

He concluded to understand the world around us we need to pay attention to the shift from breaking things down to their smallest elements to paying attention to wholeness and how things fit together. All things are nested in interrelated patterns, he said. We can belong to more than one group and one little thing can make a difference in the whole.

Spalding President Tori Murden McClure welcomed everyone at the beginning of the lecture and Dorena Miller Parminter provided Rabbi Margalit’s introduction. The school provided a dessert reception for the event.

]]> 0