Jewish Federation of GNO Launches Community Outreach Initiatives
NEW ORLEANS – The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans said it is kicking off two “groundbreaking, flagship programs.” With the goal of serving the Greater New Orleans Jewish community and broadening its mission to develop deeper relationships in the wider community, the Federation is announcing the debut of the Goldring Family Foundation Center for Jewish-Multicultural Affairs and the Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation Center for Interfaith Families.
“I am very excited about the launch of these two new Centers,” said Arnie D. Fielkow, CEO, Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans. “These two initiatives are critical to forming mutually beneficial relationships between the Jewish community and the Greater New Orleans community at large, as well as tackling many of the most important topics facing all of us in this current environment. We are grateful to the Goldring Family Foundation and the Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation for making this work possible, and are excited to continue evolving to serve the needs of Jewish New Orleans.”
The Center for Jewish-Multicultural Affairs is being led by an advisory council as well as a full-time executive director, Mithun Kamath. The CJMA was made possible by a generous gift from the Goldring Family Foundation, which has funded it as a three-year pilot program.
The CJMA will initially focus on four primary outreach areas: Jewish/African-American relations; LGBTQ relations, through the existing Jewish Pride New Orleans program; Jewish/Latin-American relations; and multi-faith relations. Additional outreach areas may be added over time. Chaired by community members Bradley Bain and Ina Davis, programming for the CJMA is already underway.
In the coming weeks, the Center for Jewish-Multicultural Affairs will present several opportunities for engagement. The CJMA is continuing the Federation’s partnership with WBOK radio (1230AM) to highlight and explore Jewish/African-American relations, with a show entitled Shalom: A Cross-Cultural Conversation co-hosted by Federation CEO Arnie Fielkow and Oliver Thomas. At 8 a.m. on Oct. 8, Shalom will welcome Anthony Bean of the Anthony Bean Community Theater to preview an episode of his show “Reality Teen Talk TV.”
Airing at 12:30 p.m. on Oct. 11 on WUPL-TV (Channel 54), this episode will feature six Jewish teens and six African-American teens engaging in an honest discussion on issues of race, culture, bigotry, anti-Semitism, and their communities’ commonalities and differences.
At 5:30 p.m. on Oct. 12, the CJMA will host a virtual event entitled Crossing Bridges: the Latinx and Jewish Immigration Experiences, a special Hispanic Heritage Month event in partnership with Puentes New Orleans. This fascinating virtual story-telling event will include Latinx students who recently arrived in the United States, a brief historical overview of Jewish immigration to our country, and a presentation from New Orleans’ own Anne Levy, a Holocaust survivor.
A virtual Civil & Human Rights Mission, geared toward middle and high school students but open to the entire Greater New Orleans community, is planned for December, with topics including: the Holocaust; Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement; ongoing humanitarian crises around the globe; and the uptick in hate crimes targeting vulnerable populations in our country, from the Latinx experience to the LGBTQ community.
“I am honored to serve as a Co-Chair of the Goldring Family Foundation Center for Jewish-Multicultural Affairs, an initiative that is truly innovative in its structure, mission, and focus,” said CJMA co-chair Bradley Bain. “I look forward to the challenge of building the CJMA into not just a Jewish community institution, but a New Orleans institution.”
The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans also recently announced the appointment of Erica Golden as the first executive director of the groundbreaking Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation Center for Interfaith Families, which also launches today. The primary purpose of the Center for Interfaith Families is to provide a centralized resource and support system for interfaith partnerships and families in Greater New Orleans. According to the latest research from the Pew Center, interfaith marriages now affect 58% of the entire Jewish community. Working in collaboration with area synagogues and area Jewish organizations, the Center’s goal is to create a nurturing and inclusive opportunity for people to connect to Jewish values and traditions in a self-selected manner. The Sherry and Alan Leventhal Family Foundation Center for Interfaith Families is co-chaired by Alex Gershanik and Teri Hunter.
“Our hope is that Jewish interfaith couples and families in New Orleans find a welcoming manner in which to explore their Jewish values and traditions,” said Sherry and Alan Leventhal, in a statement earlier this year announcing the creation of the Center.
Alex Gershanik, co-chair, emphasized the importance of interfaith support in New Orleans. “The opening of this Center is a watershed event in the history of the Greater New Orleans Jewish community. For generations, members of the New Orleans community have yearned for education and support in navigating the opportunities and the challenges of interfaith relationships.”
“Thanks to the generosity of the Leventhal family, this center will be positioned to provide nurturing and inclusive opportunities for people of all backgrounds to explore and connect to Jewish values, traditions, experiences, holidays, and culture in an open environment,” said fellow co-chair, Teri Hunter.