It's the timeless tale: An American Jewish girl goes on Birthright, meets a solider, they fall in love...and the rest is history.
The Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans unveiled a permanent lobby exhibit honoring the life and memory of Oscar J. Tolmas on June 12 at the Goldring-Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus in Metairie. In September 2017, the Federation and the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust announced an agreement to rename the space the Oscar J. Tolmas L’dor V’dor Lobby.
The lobby has been revamped with a curated exhibit exploring Tolmas’ colorful life in New Orleans, as well as highlights of his posthumous philanthropy through the Trust. The derby-themed reception celebrated the formal opening of the renovated lobby, and included a presentation to Lisa Romano and Vincent Giardina, trustees of the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust, to whom the Federation is tremendously grateful for their continued philanthropic outreach across the region.
Oscar was a lifelong New Orleanian, born in 1920. He graduated from Tulane in 1941 with a bachelor’s degree, and again in 1943 with a Juris Doctor. He was incredibly proud to have been a member of the Louisiana Bar Association for over 70 years. After law school he served as a naval officer during World War II, before embarking on careers spanning from law to real estate development. Oscar’s great passion, however, was horse racing, which led to the creation of the Tolmas Racing Stables. In 1992, he was asked by the governor of Louisiana to serve as chair of the Louisiana Racing Commission.
Oscar was raised to believe in the Jewish value of tzedakah, which encourages charitable giving to those most in need—so much so that upon his death in 2013, his entire estate was left to the Oscar J. Tolmas Charitable Trust, which supports innumerable local organizations in their quest to help our community. A number of beneficiary agencies aided by the generosity of the Trust were represented at the reception, including the Jewish Community Center, the Jewish Community Day School, Jewish Children’s Regional Service, Jewish Family Service, the Oscar J. Tolmas Louisiana Mivkeh, JNOLA, National Council of Jewish Women, St. Michael’s Special School, Upturn Arts, Kingsley House, and Volunteers of America, among others.
From Hebrew, L’dor V’dor translates to “from generation to generation.” This exhibit will celebrate Oscar’s life and legacy of tzedakah for generations to come, and we hope you’ll visit it soon.
Dr. C. Reynold Verret, President of Xavier University was the keynote speaker at the May 2 event honoring Alysse Fuchs, the second annual awardee of the Marion B. Steeg – Harold Grinspoon Award for Excellence in Jewish Education. Dr. Verret spoke of the similarities between the African- American and Jewish communities, and the challenges faced in education.
Other speakers included Arnie Fielkow, Jewish Federation CEO, host Robert Steeg, and Rabbi Robert H. Loewy, the Chair of the Steeg – Grinspoon Selection Committee.
Alysse Fuchs was nominated for the award by her supervisor at Avodah Jewish Service Corps, New Orleans, Dani Levine. Alysse’s passion for social justice and Jewish education impressed the Selection Committee, as well as the attendees at the reception. Alysse spoke eloquently and enthusiastically about her efforts to blend education and social action in her work as the Program Director at Avodah and as a previous religious school teacher at Touro Synagogue. The event was hosted in the home of Federation supporters Rob and Pamela Steeg.
The Marion B. Steeg – Harold Grinspoon Award for Excellence in Jewish Education is an award that highlights the value of Jewish education in its many varieties in our community. To be nominated, educators must be involved with a group of Jewish students and/or Jewish learning community on a regular basis, meaningfully imparting the treasures of Jewish life.
A trip to Israel is one of the most important formative experiences in your child's Jewish development - and the Edie and Paul Rosenblum Gift of Israel Program can unlock this experience. Together with the the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans and area synagogues, your child's Israel experience is closer than you realize.
With support from Federations’ Negev Now initiative, the emerging field of creative placemaking has helped these Israeli kids transform from victims of trauma to creative builders and designers of a better future.