Local News Briefs – Week of Feb. 6

Local News Briefs – Week of Feb. 6

Diversity Grant Brings Together SOJOURN, GroundSpark

The Southern Jewish Resource Network for Gender and Sexual Diversity (SOJOURN) has been awarded a $20,000 grant from the Mandel Foundation to create gender and sexual diversity educational programming in partnership with the national documentary filmmaking and educational nonprofit GroundSpark.

“GroundSpark’s films are the perfect complement to the work that SOJOURN does throughout the Southeast,” SOJOURN Executive Director Rebecca Stapel-Wax said. “They tackle issues surrounding gender normativity and identity, homophobia, and family relationships in a real, down-to-earth way. Each documentary features children and teens who are living these experiences daily.”

Programming will take place throughout the Southeast, including Atlanta, Blue Ridge, Birmingham, and Asheville, N.C., and will be centered on GroundSpark’s “Respect for All” documentary films, including:

  • “Let’s Get Real,” a look at bullying and bias through the eyes of middle-schoolers.
  • “Straightlaced — How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up,” an exploration of how gender roles and sexuality pressures affect teens.
  • “That’s a Family!,” an exploration of what children growing up in a wide range of family structures would like classmates to know about their families.
  • “It’s Elementary — Talking About Gay Issues in School,” an exploration of how all young children are affected by anti-gay stigmas and the role adults can play to ensure that every student is safe and welcomed at school.

“We are thrilled to be able to reach new audiences in the South through this partnership with SOJOURN,” GroundSpark President Debra Chasnoff said. “There is exciting work happening now in Georgia, North Carolina and Alabama to support all students to be their best, fullest selves.”

Initial programs are scheduled for Feb. 19 to 23 through public school districts, independent schools and Jewish community organizations. Visit sojourngsd.org/calendar for details.


Birthright Registration Opens Feb. 3

Registration for free summer trips to Israel through Taglit-Birthright Israel opens Tuesday, Feb. 3, at 10 a.m.

Any Jew ages 18 to 26 who has not been on a peer educational trip to Israel since turning 18 and has not lived in Israel after age 12 is eligible for the 10-day trip.

If you previously registered but did not go on a trip, you can renew your registration as early as noon Feb. 2.

Visit www.birthrightisrael.com for more information and to start the registration process.


Kol Emeth Renews Rabbi Boxt’s Contract

Temple Kol Emeth has signed Rabbi Erin Boxt to a three-year contract renewal, effective in July, the East Cobb Reform synagogue announced Jan. 23.

Rabbi Boxt joined Kol Emeth as the second rabbi, supporting longtime spiritual leader Rabbi Steven Lebow, in June 2012 after being ordained at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion.

“I am very blessed to have the support of such an amazing congregation. The community has embraced me and my family, and we are excited to continue to call TKE our home,” said Rabbi Boxt, a South Carolina native and University of Georgia alumnus.

A congregational meeting in the fall voted to open contract renewal talks with Rabbi Boxt.

“Temple Kol Emeth and the board of trustees are very pleased with the extension of Rabbi Boxt’s contract and look forward to the next three years of growing together and meeting the needs of our diverse congregation,” Kol Emeth President Henry Hene said. “We feel that our clergy team of Rabbi Steven Lebow and Rabbi Erin Boxt will continue to provide the strength and stability that we all seek as a part of making TKE our Jewish home.”


Federation Neutral on Scholarship Funds

The Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta is neither for nor against an increase in the cap on the tax credits granted statewide for donations to student scholarship organizations such as the ALEF Fund, which works with 10 Jewish preschools and five Jewish day schools.

The state program to support scholarships at private schools hit the $58 million cap this year on the first day of applications, Jan. 1.

Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul, who is doing lobbying work for Federation at the state Capitol, incorrectly wrote in a message to Federation’s email list Jan. 22 that Federation supports additional tax credits. While the program has been beneficial to Jewish schools, Federation is staying neutral because some members of the Jewish community oppose diverting potential income taxes to private schools.


Neuman Hearing Focuses on Privilege

Hemy Neuman’s appeal of his murder conviction before the Georgia Supreme Court on Jan. 20 included the issue of perjury by the victim’s widow but concentrated more on whether the state violated the defense’s attorney-client privilege.

Neuman attorney J. Scott Key and DeKalb County Assistant District Attorney Anna Green Cross did address the issue of whether Andrea Sneiderman’s perjured testimony helped convict Neuman of murder in the shooting death of Rusty Sneiderman outside a Dunwoody preschool in November 2010.

But despite Key’s contention that Sneiderman was a vital witness and that her denials concerning a romantic relationship with Neuman undermined the defense’s claim that their affair started his descent into psychosis, Green seemed to satisfy the state justices by detailing how the prosecution and the defense challenged, impeached and mocked Sneiderman’s testimony.

Justices David Nahmias and Keith Blackwell spent much more time questioning Green on the state’s subpoena and use of evidence about evaluations of Neuman conducted by two psychologists the defense hired as consultants about his mental state.

Key argued that the consultants’ notes and conclusions from their meetings with Neuman in jail were covered by attorney-client privilege because they were hired by the defense attorneys. Cross countered that the state has such a narrowly defined privilege that only statements Neuman made in response to questions sent by the attorneys through the consultants should be protected.

“I don’t know how you could ever have an expert in confidence evaluate your client” under such a narrow privilege, Nahmias said.

Neuman is serving life without parole after being found guilty but insane. The Supreme Court decision on his appeal for a new trial is expected within a couple of weeks.

Compiled by Michael Jacobs

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