Volunteers in Atlanta's Orthodox Jewish community coordinate homes for evacuees from Hurricane Irma, which is set to hit Florida this weekend. Photo courtesy of Adam Starr

Jews fleeing Hurricane Irma are taking refuge in Atlanta’s synagogues

Rabbi Adam Starr was returning from an emergency trip to Houston, where he had helped a colleague clean up his synagogue after Harvey swept through that city, when his phone began to buzz. Jews from Florida had begun contacting Starr’s Atlanta synagogue seeking a safe haven from Hurricane Irma.

So on Tuesday, right after Starr got back from pulling out drywall and moving holy books in Texas, he began organizing his own relief effort back home. By Thursday night, he and a team of local volunteers were sitting around folding tables in Beth Jacob, a suburban Atlanta Orthodox synagogue, each working on laptops to coordinate shelter for Florida Jews.

“We were starting to get inquiries about Irma – two, three, four people asking about coming for Shabbat,” said Starr, rabbi of the Young Israel of Toco Hills, near Beth Jacob. “We realized this is going to be a real need, and instead of dealing with a one-off, let’s open our community.”

Irma, a Category 4 storm, has been called one of the worst hurricanes in decades. It ravaged the Caribbean this week and is expected to make landfall in Florida late Saturday.

The number of families seeking refuge in Atlanta’s Orthodox community is up to 250 — and growing. The community has turned into a landing spot for religious Jews from Florida seeking home hospitality, a local synagogue and meals for Shabbat funded by the Orthodox Union. Starr estimates that about 600 Orthodox families live in the area; many of them will be hosting impromptu guests on Friday night.

“What’s been going on for the past 36 hours is making shidduchim,” Starr said, using a Hebrew word for matches. “We’re the largest [nearby] Orthodox community that’s not directly in the path of the hurricane. We can do a tremendous kindness in assisting these people who want to get out of harm’s way.”

The Orthodox synagogues are two of nearly a dozen Atlanta Jewish institutions that have pitched in to help Irma evacuees from Florida, which has one of the country’s largest Jewish populations. Members of B’nai Torah, a Conservative synagogue, are hosting about 150 people, including some non-Jews. On Saturday morning, a few dozen members of the Conservative Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center, on Florida’s coast, will attend services and lunch at B’nai Torah.

A few other synagogues have opened their doors, as have three nearby Jewish camps that are hosting evacuees. The campus Chabad at Georgia Tech is welcoming students from out of state, and the local Jewish community center is offering free passes to evacuees. Jewish Family and Career Services has a hotline where evacuees experiencing trauma can talk to clinicians.

The rabbis aren’t sure how long they will have to host the Floridians, though Heller estimates they will be in Atlanta at least until Wednesday. And though Atlanta is inland, there is a chance that Irma could bring damage there, too. Savannah, Georgia, and Charleston, South Carolina, are also in its path.

“All of Florida is trying to come to Atlanta at the moment, and Savannah and Charleston are close behind,” said B’nai Torah Rabbi Joshua Heller, who was up at 1:30 a.m. Friday inflating air mattresses in his basement for evacuees.

This isn’t the first time Atlanta’s Jews have mobilized to help out-of-state hurricane victims.

Melissa Miller, public relations manager for the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, recalls the community making a similar effort in 2005 to shelter Jewish victims of Hurricane Katrina as it swept through New Orleans. Some of those evacuees never left Atlanta.

“We had whole families in the middle of the night who came to Atlanta, left all their belongings,” Miller said. “There’s a tradition of loving kindness and Southern hospitality that all goes hand in hand. We’ve just always mobilized.”

Screenshot from WSB-TV 2

Atlanta private school students expelled, suspended for Jews vs. Nazis beer pong

A student from a private high school in Atlanta was expelled and four others were suspended after a photo on social media showed them playing a game of Jews vs. Nazis beer pong.

The student who hosted the party earlier this month was suspended and can reapply to The Lovett School. Two other students who were watching the game but not playing were banned from extracurricular activities for the first two weeks of the new school year, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Wednesday.

Among the nearly dozen guests at the party, 19 are entering their senior year at the school. There were also some alumni, and some of the guests were minors.

The school learned of the game when a local rabbi, Peter Berg, told the headmaster about the party after receiving the photo in an email from several people.

“The fact that someone could even conceive of such a game and then play it and think it’s funny is beyond words,” Berg told WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News. “To see that image as a Jewish person is something that the Jewish students in that school, it’s gonna take a long time to get over, if ever.”

The photo shows large red beer cups laid out on a table in the shape of a swastika and a Star of David.

In a statement sent to the news channel, the school said: “Character education is at the heart of all we do at Lovett, and we deeply appreciate the individuals and organizations across our community who are helping us to continue to learn and grow from this very troubling incident.”

Real Housewives of Atlanta Reunion Recap Part 4

Typos are lovingly brought to you by Jose Cuervo.

The entire season has been built around a lie and it all finally came out. Phaedra told Porsha that Kandi and Todd were going to drug and rape her. It came directly from Phaedra, not a third party, like Phaedra wants us to believe. She was so angry at Kandi she decided to try and destroy her. Who does such a thing? It is truly shocking. Phaedra should have gone to prison along with Apollo.

We are twenty minutes in and nobody can wrap their heads around what Phaedra has done. Andy is brilliant in laying it out for Phaedra so she can see all the time she should have come clean and stuck with the lie. It is fascinating. Porsha is dumb as shit, and so one could say she was in it with Phaedra, but she is not so stupid she would go along with this. Not sure whether to laugh or cry.

Phaedra insists she heard it from someone else and Andy is calling her out because she has known Kandi for years and knew this would have never been true. Phaedra now admits to not only making up the shit about Kandi, but she also made up the story about Todd being Marvin. Dear Lord. Phaedra says she was not mad at Kandi, and Andy says it sounds like she’s lying. I love Andy Cohen.

Cynthia does not understand why Phaedra didn’t come clean at any point during the season. It is exhausting to hear the truth so I can only image how hard it was for Phaedra to carry the lie for so long. Todd says the truth hurts enough without having to lie, and to that I say Amen. I am thrilled Phaedra will be gone next year and Nene is back. The show will get back on track. Hopefully.

Andy recaps the season of Kandi and Phaedra and it is obvious Phaedra has had a hard on for Kandi since the beginning. This is all about Phaedra thinking Kandi called the Feds. I don’t think Kandi made a call, but she should have. Phaedra is denying everything, Kandi is clarifying everything, and if Phaedra is invited back it will be a huge mistake. The only good news is Nene will eat her alive.

I am watching with Jose and we just don’t get how someone goes down this path on national television. Especially a licensed attorney who knew what the impact would be on her reputation and business when it came out. There was no way Phaedra could have believed this was going to stay under the rug. This was explosive and it was always going to come out, on camera. Phaedra did this to herself.

Sidebar: I have said from the first episode of the first season that Phaedra Parks was not to be trusted. There was something unsavory about her from the start. After all the years of being lucky, she simply should have known better. She dodged a bullet by not getting sucked into Apollo’s charges, so one would think she would be careful as the only free parent to her children. Shame on her and blessings to her beautiful kids.

Andy gives Phaedra one last chance to really, really, really come clean, but she doesn’t do it. Porsha won’t 100% walk away from Phaedra, which makes me think Porsha should not come back either. Ugh. Whatever. This was the best reunion ever and the women are at a loss for words, like we all are, yet not surprised. Phaedra is a pathological liar. Thankfully Nene is coming back to keep it real.

Real Housewives of Atlanta Reunion Part 3 Recap

Typos are lovingly provided by Captain Morgan

We are back in what they have promised will be explosive. We’ll see, but it looks like we are finally going to get some good stuff. Important to note that I think it is idiotic that Bob is being given a platform. I also think it is ridiculous that Peter is here. Ugh. I’ve had a cocktail, with another one on the way, so here we go.

  • Bob is gross to me
  • Peter is gross to me
  • Todd is invisible
  • Bob says an apology is not enough
  • He can’t believe what he said
  • Say you’re sorry asshole
  • He still does not say sorry
  • Sheree is forgiving of him
  • I can’t
  • Bob hasn’t told his kids about hitting their mom?
  • Bob is mentally deficient
  • Football brain damage perhaps
  • Peter would hit Bob, but they’re friends
  • Really?
  • Hit him anyway
  • Lots of excuses going on here
  • Ugh
  • Sheree says she wants a friendship with Bob
  • Because HE is not where she needs him to be
  • That is sad and pathetic and heartbreaking
  • Peter says Hawaii was weird
  • Peter is clearly angry
  • This is awkward
  • Cynthia says they broke up for a lot of reasons
  • She was resentful of Peter
  • She was mad all the time
  • She does not handle stress well
  • Peter denies sleeping around
  • Cynthia went on a date
  • Peter is banging lots of people
  • He likes someone a whole lot
  • Peter will always love Cynthia
  • This is creepy to watch
  • Over to Riley, she is spending time with her dad
  • Brutal storyline
  • I wouldn’t have allowed that for one second
  • Porsha’s “boyfriend” Todd is not there
  • He’s also not her boyfriend
  • Come on now Sweetie
  • Not buying it
  • Cocktail #2 is done
  • Amen
  • Make me another!
  • Peter is talking under his breath
  • He has a hard on for Porsha
  • He also has a hard on for Phaedra
  • Peter is ready to blow up
  • So exciting
  • I’m suddenly glad Peter is there
  • Porsha’s Todd is a fame whore
  • He was never that into her
  • Peter leaves the set
  • Damn it!
  • Come back Peter!!!
  • Peter says Phaedra and Porsha are full of shit
  • Peter says he wishes Cynthia was stronger
  • Peter is bitter
  • Oy vey
  • Peter is a loser
  • I lost sight of it for a second
  • Bye
  • Sheree is the bone carrier
  • Shamea joins the ladies on the couch
  • Pretty girl
  • Porsha is no longer talking to Shamea
  • Porsha says she never slept with Riley’s dad
  • Porsha wants us to know she is not a whore
  • Blah, blah, blah
  • Porsha feels no loyalty to Shamea
  • Blind support of Phaedra though
  • She is as dumb as she is pretty
  • Porsha is yelling at Kenya to shut up
  • Andy is loving it
  • So am I
  • Kenya calls Porsha Elvis
  • I love this show
  • Finally
  • Porsha wants Kenya to be done
  • Kenya needs to be quiet
  • Porsha apologizes to Shamea
  • They declare love for each other
  • Kandi is not having it
  • Kandi wants to talk about the Shamea bi rumors
  • Kandi says then Porsha is bi too
  • Hilarious
  • Andy changes the subject real quick
  • Time for the Frick and Frack review
  • Yawn
  • Shamea warns Porsha against Phaedra
  • Porsha is too dumb to get it
  • Bless her
  • Phaedra says she never thought Porsha was dumb
  • Really
  • Phaedra uses Porsha
  • Know it
  • Phaedra says peeps are jealous of her and Porsha
  • Nobody thinks their friendship is genuine
  • Shamea tells Porsha to hide her credit cards
  • BOOM!
  • Phaedra tells Shamea to stop lying
  • No way Phaedra didn’t know what Apollo was doing
  • Not a shot in hell
  • Porsha says Phaedra said Kandi was banging Shamea
  • Phaedra pretends to be shocked
  • It is about to go down
  • Shamea shuts up Phaedra
  • Phaedra calls Shamea a hooker
  • Phaedra and Shamea are yelling over each other
  • I’m losing interest
  • Get control Andy!
  • Phaedra is using plastic surgery groupons
  • Porsha is crying
  • Shamea calls Phaedra a fraud
  • Phaedra calls Shamea a whore
  • Phaedra has manipulated Porsha
  • I feel sad for her
  • She is too weak and too dumb to stand strong
  • Time to talk about all the lesbians in Atlanta
  • Todd is back
  • Kandi admits to hooking up with a few women
  • Andy is loving it again
  • Porsha is on the defense
  • Kandi is not sure why she won’t fell us
  • Phaedra denies any part of the rumor mill
  • Phaedra’s desire for revenge will be clear in three, two, one
  • Word on the street!
  • Blah, blah, blah
  • Todd throws out that the Feds are still watching
  • That’s a wrap!
  • Bravo Todd
  • They are watching and they will catch another thief
  • Know it
  • Andy wants to know if they’re homophobic
  • Porsha insists she is not homophobic
  • Todd confirms Porsha made a proposition
  • Porsha denies
  • Kandi clarifies it again
  • Kandi is holding her own
  • Porsha is faltering
  • Porsha is also a journalist
  • Hang on… choking on my cocktail… laughing too hard
  • Porsha says Phaedra told her Kandi wanted to drug her
  • There you have it folks
  • It was Phaedra all along
  • Phaedra thought Kandi called the Feds, so she made shit up
  • Phaedra should be fired
  • She should also be banned from practicing law
  • Next week will be interesting
  • I’ll be here, with Jose, keeping it real














































































Real Housewives of Atlanta Reunion Part Two Recap

Typos are lovingly provided by Jose Cuervo.

  • Oh. My. God.
  • Make it stop
  • We did not need 4 parts
  • They are stretching
  • I need a drink
  • A shot and a drink
  • Porsha is mentally deficient
  • Kandi is scary when she goes off
  • Phaedra’s injections are distracting
  • My 21 year old son just walked in
  • He says this is the best looking cast
  • He’s admiring while I take a shot
  • They are beautiful women to be sure
  • Time to trash Matt
  • Again
  • I feel bad for Matt
  • Kenya too, but Matt is being damaged
  • Not cool
  • Matt and Kenya were dysfunctional
  • Run, don’t walk
  • I’m done with Matt bashing
  • I’m bored
  • By bored of course I mean drinking
  • Blah, blah, blah
  • We need to wrap this up
  • 4 parts is suddenly sounding painful
  • I want to be friends with Kenya
  • I want to punch Porsha
  • I want to push Phaedra
  • I want to look like Cynthia
  • I want to avoid Kandi
  • I want to hang out with Sheree
  • Phaedra paid Apollo 100K
  • Cheap considering she was in on his scam
  • Phaedra is not dating
  • Whatever
  • Mana Joyce is a fool
  • Kandi and Phaedra are ready for blows
  • Hurry up and swing ladies
  • Girl!
  • Girrrrrrl!
  • Gurl!
  • Ugh
  • Talking about the kids
  • Yawn
  • Sheree used Bob for a storyline
  • Sheree buried Bob under her storyline
  • Bob is a pig
  • Bob is coming on the reunion?
  • Bob is also an idiot
  • I’m skipping over the Bob thing
  • I’ll catch it all when he’s on
  • This is sad
  • Part two is done
  • Could’ve skipped this one
  • I’ll be back next Sunday
  • With Jose
  • Keeping it real











Real Housewives of Atlanta Finale Recap

Typos are lovingly provided by Absolute.

This show is finally over. Zit has been a struggle to stick with it because there were no storylines, but we did it! I would like to thank Jose Cuervo for making this blog, and all the blogs for this season, possible. It has been a pleasure to drink you and I look forward to joining you for the reunion. I am in London this week and have Atlanta, Beverly Hills and New York City to get through so buckle up and enjoy the bullet points of what will perhaps be my final blog for Atlanta. To be clear, unless Nene comes back I am done. Atlanta needs Nene to lure me back.

  • Sheree’s house is beautiful
  • It is not done
  • It is way too busy a street for my taste
  • It is also very close to other houses
  • Five years of the same storyline
  • I’m over it
  • Kandi and Riley are having dinner with her dad
  • Kandi should NEVER have done this
  • Riley is just not that into her Dad
  • This is painful to watch
  • Riley is beautiful
  • I’m skipping over this bullshit
  • Phaedra is helping Johnny sue Kandi
  • Without legally helping him
  • Phaedra is a sociopath
  • She cannot be trusted
  • She is not a Southern Bell
  • She had a hand in Apollo’s crimes
  • Allegedly
  • I’m skipping over this too
  • I am starting my second drink
  • Sheree is having a housewarming
  • Her house is not done
  • Whatever
  • Porsha is visiting her Dad’s grave
  • If there are no tears, it is not crying
  • Porsha is unappealing
  • This won’t help
  • I’m skipping over his too
  • Kandi finds out about the lawsuit
  • Phaedra does not know how to dress
  • Dwight looks good
  • Sheree’s house is huge
  • Why does she need this much house?
  • Porsha’s boyfriend has forgiven her extortion
  • Sheree’s mom is stunning
  • Sheree’s outfit is not working for me
  • This party is so fake
  • These women are so fake
  • This show is so slow
  • Cynthia and Peter are creepy
  • They always were
  • Everyone is talking shot about everyone
  • Kim and Kroy arrive
  • Blah, blah, blah
  • My friend Justin is there and he is gorgeous
  • Sheree looks good as a redhead
  • Kim has had A LOT of work done
  • A LOT
  • Seriously
  • A LOT
  • Kenya goes looking for trouble
  • She’ll find it in three, two, one….
  • Kandi says hi to Kim
  • Kim is a twat
  • Sheree is pissed people saw her basement
  • Kenya is being a bitch
  • Kim goes after Kenya
  • Kenya fires back
  • Really?
  • How old are these bitches?
  • Too old for this shit
  • Porsha is trying to sound like Nene
  • Not working
  • Phaedra is learning about Apollo’s girlfriend
  • She’s not a good enough actress to act surprised
  • Cynthia talks alone to Peter
  • He’s not interested in her anymore
  • She is thirsty
  • Kandi talks to Phaedra
  • It is so stupid and weird
  • I don’t get Kandi
  • Phaedra is pathological
  • This season was a waste of time
  • The reunion will be everything
  • Shit is going down in the ATL
  • I’ll be back to keep it real









































Real Housewives of Atlanta Week 19 Recap

Typos are generously sponsored by Jose Cuervo.

I have lost interest in these women and unless Nene comes back next season, I will no longer blog it. I will watch of course, just not bother with the recaps. It is one thing to watch for fun, have a cocktail, and blog with a smile on my face. It is a completely different thing to watch without any investment, while pummeling my liver in an attempt to make it end faster. It’s been fun Atlanta, but without Nene I’m going to pass. I’m also going to bullet point while sipping Jose.

  • Kandi’s restaurant is almost done
  • Who cares?
  • Anyone?
  • Hello?
  • Ace is divine
  • Todd and Kandi are boring
  • Blah, blah, blah
  • Sheree is finishing her house
  • What season is this?
  • Same thing over and over again
  • I simply do not care
  • Sheree is done with Bob
  • Kenya is done with Kenya
  • Matt wasn’t Kenya’s best sex
  • Yet she banged him in his truck
  • That’s a lot of effort for mediocre
  • I call bullshit
  • Peter is hanging with Todd
  • Dear Lord
  • Apollo calls from prison
  • Apollo is a liar
  • Phaedra is a bigger liar
  • Their kids are perfection
  • Poor kids
  • Phaedra says she is divorced
  • Apollo confirms she isn’t
  • Shady
  • Cynthia is STILL talking about her divorce
  • I can’t
  • They are filming Peter alone?
  • I can’t
  • Back to OLG
  • I can’t
  • Sheree is moving
  • Allegedly
  • She’s been moving for years
  • Porsha and Phaedra
  • No
  • It’s Phaedra’s birthday
  • No party because nobody would go
  • OLG commercial time
  • Porsha is mentally deficient
  • Phaedra is sociopathic
  • Frick & Frack = Dumb & Dumber
  • Kandi is a great singer
  • Apollo’s girlfriend comes to OLG
  • She looks like a Cheetah Girl
  • She was with Apollo when he was with Phaedra
  • Phaedra is full of shit
  • Kandi isn’t into the prison skank
  • I don’t get all the support of Apollo
  • Apollo outs Phaedra’s divorce lies
  • One week left
  • Plus a 4 part epic reunion
  • Ugh
  • I need it to be over
  • Nobody in the ATL is keeping it real

Real Housewives of Atlanta Week 17 Recap


Typos are lovingly provided by Grey Goose.

The ladies of Hawaii have managed to ruin Hawaii. I’m done and ready for these people to go home. They are managing to suck all the joy out of the Aloha state. Oy vey. On a good note, I have recovered from my first English cold and am joined for this blog by a very beautiful Grey goose. I am jumping in with a cocktail and a shot on standby just in case. Cheers!

We start with Kandi Facetiming her kids, Sheree “editing” her book, Porsha faking a relationship with her fame whore, and Kenya and Phaedra pretending to play tennis.  Phaedra hasn’t turn the ladies her divorce is final. Oh. My. God. Who cares? That marriage was over long before he went to prison so to be trying to make it a storyline is pathetic.

Cut to Cynthia bringing breakfast and a gift to Peter for his birthday. She gives him a bible. What? Peter does not care about the bible, he just wants to get laid. I am painfully over Peter. Ugh. This is ridiculous and I’ve poured a second shot. Jump to a group birthday dinner for peter. Todd wants it to be a roast with everyone saying something about Peter.

Kandi is not talking to Porsha or Phaedra, and Bob arrives saying Sheree is not talking to him and she may not come to dinner. Sheree is not missing camera time for give it a minute. He’s coming. Sheree arrives and everyone wants to know how she is, but she does not want to talk about it in front of the men. I feel for Sheree, but she looks silly milking this storyline.

The roast of Peter begins. Are we supposed to believe that they did not know about the roast and they made this stuff up on the fly? I call bullshit. This was a waste of our time. Kenya is planning a divorce party for Cynthia and Phaedra. I’m not two shots in and halfway through my cocktail. Not one single person on this show has a storyline and I am offended as a viewer.

Sheree and Bob are talking. By talking, of course I mean Sheree is humiliating Bob, who is garbage. I don’t get what is happening here. He did really horrible things to her and taking him back should never have been an option. Sheree is done with Bob. Translation: Sheree is not done with Bob. We are almost done and nothing interesting has happened. Why bother watching?

Time for Kenya’s divorce party for Phaedra and Cynthia.  Cynthia arrives and wants to cry at the thought of a divorce party. Dear Lord. Phaedra arrives and she is not into the party either. Kenya is trying to make a fun night but it is tanking.  Phaedra says she is sick and the girls are making fun of the holiness that is marriage. Is Phaedra high right Now? This is so stupid.

Phaedra was hooking up with another man while she was married and now she is mad? Phaedra leaves the arty and texts Porsha that she will not celebrate the breaking up of a family, plus Kenya was trying to get with Apollo. This show is stupid and these women are giving us nothing. Kenya and Apollo was two years ago so why the hell talk about it again now?

Phaedra is full of shit. She is using Kenya to deflect from how dirty she really is.  Is Phaedra blaming Kenya for her husband being a pig? I like Kenya and of this entire cast, she is the only one I would want to be friends with in real life. I am sick of these itches turning on Kenya whenever they need to deflect us off the fact that they have nothing to talk about it.

Kenya is calling out Phaedra on her shit. I would have hit her too, but that’s just me. Lenya suggests they pray, but Phaedra doesn’t want to pray. Really? The woman of God doesn’t want to pray? Phaedra is full of shit and her time on this show should be done.  Porsha lets the girls know Phaedra’s divorce is final. Oops. Porsha is so stupid that it is actually funny.

Hawaii comes to an end and not a minute too soon. I did two shots and one and a half cocktails. Not good people. These women are so thirsty it is sucking the life right out the show. We need Nene back to fix what is broken.I”m not believing what hate say and more importantly, I am not invested as much as I am simply addicted to their not keeping it real.





Jordan Farmar waived by Hawks, to play in Turkey

Jordan Farmar was waived by the NBA’s Atlanta Hawks and reportedly will continue his professional basketball career in Turkey.

Farmar and four other players were traded to Atlanta last week from the Brooklyn Nets. The Jewish point guard reportedly asked the Hawks to buy out his contract, leaving the team room under the salary cap.

The Star Ledger of New Jersey reported that Farmar intends to play in Europe with Anadolu Efes of Istanbul, which reportedly has offered him a three-year contract.

Farmar played for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel during last summer’s NBA lockout.

Messianic Jewish groups claim rapid growth

About 200 congregants filled the stain glassed-windowed sanctuary on a Shabbat morning this spring, praying, singing and welcoming new members. Among the newly welcomed members was a young Israeli man, named Yoav. Not really extraordinary news, except Congregation Beth Hallel in a northern suburb of Atlanta is not a typical synagogue. Indeed, it is a member of the International Alliance of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues (IAMCS), the largest ordaining body in the messianic Jewish movement.

Beth Hallel is only one of a number of messianic Jewish congregations in the Atlanta area – and one of some 800 messianic Jewish congregations in the world, according to Joel Chernoff, CEO of Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA), up from zero in 1967. “Messianic Judaism is the fastest growing stream of religious Jewish life since 1967,” said Chernoff, who said he grew up in a messianic Jewish family. Sharing his extrapolated and complicated arithmetic, Chernoff credited the Council of Jewish Federation’s 1990 National Jewish Population Survey for his belief that there are now more than one million messianic Jews. “Jews are becoming believers in Yehoshuah,” he says, referring to Jesus.

How can one be Jewish and accept Jesus?

Of course, mainstream Jewish leaders argue that messianic Judaism is not Judaism at all. How can one be Jewish and accept Jesus as the Messiah? Messianic Judaism, says Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president emeritus of the Union of Reform Judaism, is “built on a lie. They are lying about us and lying about themselves; they distort both.”

The rabbi of the Reform congregation not far from Beth Hallel says he rarely sees any of the messianic congregation’s members—“except those who want to see what a normative Jewish experience looks like,” says Rabbi Fred Greene of Temple Beth Tikvah. Greene expresses more concern about a local Baptist mega-church whose members approach Jewish teens and challenge them: “if you don’t find Jesus, you’ll go to hell.” Area high schools host rallies sponsored by the Fellowship for Christian Athletes. Other rabbis in the Atlanta area, even those who gladly share stages for pro-Israel rallies with evangelical groups, draw the line with messianic Jewish leaders, who also call themselves rabbis.

Still, while that line between evangelicals and messianic Jews may be distinct in the United States, in Israel, it has become fuzzier as the country reaches out for political support wherever it can get it.

Beth Hallel’s Rabbi Robert Solomon says his congregation is the oldest and largest messianic Jewish synagogue in Georgia and one of the largest messianic congregations in the world. “The congregation comes from many different backgrounds, including all branches of traditional Judaism as well as many denominations. While the majority of our member families come from a Jewish background, we have a strong minority of non-Jewish members as well.”

How many messianics are Jews?

Al Lopez, the leader of the Olive Tree Messianic Congregation in the Atlanta area, who, in contrast to Rabbi Solomon says he was ordained as a pastor, says most of his congregants are non-Jewish. Both messianic Jewish leaders say congregants come to them through word of mouth, through friends who spread the word. They claim they do not go into the Jewish community looking for new members.

Joel Chernoff, CEO of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America.

They say, that in many cases, intermarried couples find their way to messianic congregations. In other cases, they assert, Jews who feel alienated from their heritage and traditional Jewish synagogues are attracted to messianic Judaism. Atlanta’s Beth Ha’Mashiach calls itself a congregation of Jews and Gentiles “together worshipping Adonai in a unique blend of church and synagogue.”

At Beth Hallel, beyond the Israeli new member, congregants were comprised of many nationalities and races, oftentimes couples with small children, all raising their hands to the Lord as they sang along with words provided on an overhead screen. Some messianic Jewish leaders acknowledge that, not only is the combination of religious practices confusing for potential new members, but it is a real problem for the movement.

According to Needham, Massachusetts-based messianic Rabbi Richard Nichol, this underlines a “foundational weakness in messianic Judaism. If there are a significant majority of non-Jews, this trivializes the enterprise. This is a problem for us. We must be consciously aware of who joins our synagogues and make it clear that this is a home for Jewish people. It needs to be Jewish space.”

Jewish space? While some some traditional Jewish prayers are recited on Shabbat and tallit, kipot and tefillin are worn by some, the Beth Hallel congregants also praise Jesus as the Messiah and are asked to place money in envelopes that were then collected at the end of the aisles.

Jan Jaben-Eilon is a long-time journalist who has written for The New York Times, Business Week, the International Herald Tribune, the Jerusalem Report and Womenetics. She was a founding reporter for the Atlanta Business Chronicle and was international editor for Advertising Age before she fulfilled a lifelong dream of moving to Israel. Jan and her Jerusalem-born husband have an apartment in that city, but live in Atlanta.

The ADL and America’s worst case of anti-Semitism

From Nov. 13-15, the Anti-Defamation League will hold its annual conference in Los Angeles. In the essay below, author Steve Oney recalls the historic event that galvanized the organization: the Leo Frank case.

The elements could hardly have been more volatile. On Confederate Memorial Day, 1913, a 13-year-old child laborer named Mary Phagan was strangled to death in the Atlanta, Ga. pencil factory where she worked. The last person to admit to having seen her alive was the plant superintendent, Leo Frank, an Ivy League-educated Northerner and, of vital importance, a Jew.

Local newspapers led by William Randolph Hearst’s Atlanta Georgian ran wild with the story, setting the stage for a sensational, month-long trial during which Jim Conley, a black man with an extensive criminal record, accused Frank of murdering the Phagan girl after she repulsed his sexual advances. Astonishingly in the Jim Crow South, an all-white jury believed Conley’s testimony, convicting the factory boss. The presiding judge sentenced Frank to death, instigating one of the 20th century’s most memorable cause célèbres.

In the aftermath of Frank’s conviction, Dr. David Marx, rabbi of The Temple — Atlanta’s old-line Reform synagogue — traveled to New York to alert the leading lights of American Jewry to his belief that the plant superintendent had not been so much prosecuted as persecuted. The degree to which anti-Semitism played a role in Frank’s trial was a matter of debate. So, too, was the issue of how the nation’s Jews should respond. Constitutional lawyer Louis Marshall, president of the American Jewish Committee, believed it would be best to work behind the scenes. Others, though, advocated a more public approach. Soon, a group that included Adolph Ochs, publisher of The New York Times, Chicago advertising baron A.D. Lasker, and Sears Roebuck amp; Company chairman Julius Rosenwald joined the fray. The Anti-Defamation League, which had just been founded in 1913, supported this activist position. During an appeals process that ultimately led to the United States Supreme Court, American Jews spent in today’s dollars untold millions in an attempt to exonerate the factory superintendent.

The efforts of Frank’s wealthy Northern allies produced an unintended negative consequence across the South, particularly in Atlanta. In a region still reeling from defeat in the Civil War, any hint of what was known as “outside interference” risked inspiring violent resentment. In the pages of his influential weekly newspaper, The Jeffersonian, a fierce Georgia demagogue and future United States senator named Tom Watson attacked the plant boss’ supporters. As he saw it, Northern Jews were trying to subvert the judgment of the Georgia courts to free a “lecherous Jew” who had raped and slain a child laborer who toiled in a dehumanizing setting for pennies an hour. Watson, the embodiment of the unreconstructed Southerner, despised industrialization, loathed Wall Street and resorted to anti-Semitism in the battle. “Jew money has debased us, bought us, and sold us — and laughs at us,” he wrote. “In the name of God, what are the people to do?” Such were Watson’s rhetorical gifts that he inflamed many readers with his dark passions.

From 1913 to 1915 — the time it took for Frank’s appeals to wend their way through the courts — America was transfixed by the case. Not only was it regularly on the front page of The New York Times and featured in weekly magazines, but it was the topic of newsreels and a documentary film. There were petition drives, mass meetings and public protests. Through it all, a stoic and largely silent Frank sat in an Atlanta jail, supported by his wife, Lucille, and a close circle of friends.

In June 1915, on the eve of the execution date, Georgia Gov. John Slaton, long plagued by doubts about Frank’s guilt, came to the conclusion that he was innocent and commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment. This action, far from tamping down hostilities in Georgia, brought them to a hideous climax.

On August 16, 1915, a well-orchestrated mob abducted Leo Frank, without a shot being fired, from the Georgia State Prison Farm in Milledgeville, just south of Macon. Driving Model Ts and traveling on dirt roads in the dead of night, the group transported Frank some 125 miles to Mary Phagan’s ancestral home of Marietta, just north of Atlanta. Shortly after dawn on Aug. 17, the vigilantes marched Frank into an oak grove and lynched him. By mid-morning thousands of spectators had gathered. A local judge who was actually part of the conspiracy rescued Frank’s body, which was then transported to Atlanta and taken by train to New York for burial. The lynching remains the worst outburst of anti-Semitism in American history.

Today, nearly 100 years later, the Leo Frank case poses many difficult questions. There is, however, no ambiguity when it comes to why the story matters and why it merits continued attention. The issues that came into play in the affair — class anxiety, yellow journalism and the exploitation of labor — are of enduring significance. The case also marked the beginning of a crucial, ongoing discussion regarding the proper response to American anti-Semitism. In the aftermath of the lynching, Atlanta’s Jews turned inward. Rabbi Marx, long an advocate of assimilation, forbade the use of the traditional canopy in wedding ceremonies and attacked the idea of a Jewish state. Nationally, however, Jews became more outspoken in their own defense. The Anti-Defamation League was decisively shaped by the events of 1915. Unlike previous acts of American anti-Semitism — restricted hotels and resorts or crude stage caricatures — the Frank lynching was a deadly assault upon both a faith and a man. The ADL’s current, no-holds-barred posture can be traced directly back to the shock and pain.

That a group as aggressive and well organized as the Anti-Defamation League was needed became almost instantly apparent. On Thanksgiving eve, 1915, the long dormant Ku Klux Klan held its first, modern-era cross burning atop Stone Mountain just outside of Atlanta. Several men who took part in the Frank lynching were said to have been present.

Steve Oney is a senior editor at Los Angeles magazine. “And the Dead Shall Rise,” his book on the Leo Frank case, won the 2004 National Jewish Book Award for history. It is now available in paperback from Vintage Books.