"Gathering brings Coast’s Reform Jews together" -- Published In the Sun Herald, South Miss
BY TAMMY SMITH
Once a month for more than a year, Reform Jews have been meeting in Jackson County homes for fellowship and teaching.
This month, the gathering will be in Harrison County, where one of the organizers hopes the Reform Jewish community can gain more visibility to those interested.
Cal Ennis of Pascagoula is a member of the Springhill Avenue Temple in Mobile, where Dana Kaplan is the rabbi. Kaplan comes to the Mississippi Coast monthly for study, which focuses on the Jewish Bible and Jewish holidays.
The February meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Wingate by Wyndham Hotel in D’Iberville just off Interstate 10.
“The topic is the New Year for Trees, which is an ancient Jewish holiday,” Ennis said. “Here in America, we call it Arbor Day. Arbor Day has its roots in the Jewish Testament, what you would call the Old Testament.” Tu B’Shevat, the Hebrew name, begins at sunset Feb. 10 and ends at nightfall Feb. 11 this year.
“The rabbi comes over and we eat first, then he talks. We do have potluck. The rabbi is a wonderful speaker and very knowledgeable. You know, his last pulpit job before Mobile was in Jamaica.”
The monthly meetings,which began in November 2015, have been held in homes in Ocean Springs and Pascagoula, including Ennis’ home. About 14 people regularly attend, he said, “but we would really like to have more. We welcome people who are interested in the Jewish faith.
“I have lived here for 38 years, and during that time I know a number of Jewish people have moved to the Coast. Many of them come to work in the casinos, to work at Chevron or Ingalls, or are at Keesler. But it’s hard to identify them or let them know about us, that we are here.”