Staff Spotlight: Tana Velen



Tana Velen serves as the Federation's Next Gen and Programming Manager, and is responsible for administering JNOLA (our next gen program), JP Nola (our LBGTQ outreach), and our brand new mentoring program. She moved to New Orleans in 2015 and through luck and opportunity, began her career at the Jewish Federation of Greater New Orleans at the same time.

She is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and like most Arts majors, ended up in a field barely related but one that she also thoroughly enjoys. Her professional interests include mastering spreadsheets, creating emails with zero typos, and planning events and programs that leave a smile on the faces of the Jewish community members who attend. Her personal interests include Harry Potter, writing stories influenced by Harry Potter, and learning to have conversations with her peers and colleagues that are unrelated to Harry Potter.

Connect with Tana at 504-780-5628 or at, and visit to learn more about next gen Jewish initiatives in New Orleans.

Upcoming Events



by Tana Velen


The JNOLA Board, comprised of 23 lay leaders and Co-chaired by Julie Wasserman Green and Michael Finkelstein, met on Wednesday, November 7. Guest speaker Aaron Ahlquist, Regional Director of ADL’s South Central Regional Office, spoke on the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and discussed ways to address antisemitism. Federation CEO Arnie Fielkow called in to discuss his vision for 2019 and the Federation leadership's support of JNOLA. The Board also voted to create a committee focused on local and national politics and legislation that will work in conjunction with the Jewish Community Relations Council.


Looking forward, board members are excited for JNetwork on November 15, JNOLA's largest professional networking event (sponsored by Hancock Whitney Bank), Shells & Shores: A Coastal Restoration Project on Sunday, December 2, and JNOLA's signature event, the Light It Up Chanukah Gala featuring delicious food from Jewish-owned restaurants, an open bar, and more! The Gala takes place on Saturday, December 15 at Generations Hall where JNOLA will also be fundraising for Second Harvest Food Bank. Please visit for more information or email Tana at if you have questions. 

Jewish Community Relations Council

by Mithun Kamath


In concert with our national parent organization, the Jewish Council on Public Affairs, the JCRC is specifically addressing the issue of criminal justice reform. The committee is ecstatic about last week's overwhelming passage of Amendment #2, which will require unanimous juries for felony convictions in Louisiana starting on January 1, and was proud to play a role in what was one of the most meaningful civil rights victories in Louisiana in decades. Thanks to all who supported this measure!
Last month, the Federation / JCRC launched a formal partnership with WBOK 1230AM to highlight and explore African-American/Jewish relations, with a show co-hosted by Oliver Thomas and lay leader Lynne Wasserman. The second segment aired this morning, and it featured Rabbi Emeritus Robert Loewy of Congregation Gates of Prayer and Reverend Mark Mitchell of New Hope Community Church engaged in a fascinating discussion about the shared history of and commonalities between the Jewish and African-American communities in New Orleans. You can download the show here.
The WBOK partnership is just one piece of the Federation's larger African-American outreach initiative. A second major piece is our new annual Youth Civil Rights Trip. This day-long educational field trip will take both Jewish and African-American middle school students to various sites in Alabama that are significant to the civil rights movement. This year's trip will be held on November 20, and students will be visiting: the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma; the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham; the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute; and the Anne Frank Tree in Birmingham. They will also be joined by famed local activists Ruby Bridges (pictured, above left) and Keith Plessy, who will talk about the role that New Orleans played in the civil rights movement. Transportation, meals, and admission fees will be provided. If your sixth to eighth grader is interested in participating, please contact Michelle Neal at This trip has been made possible through the generosity of Jones Walker LLP, Emily Schoenbaum, and other members of our Jewish community.
To learn more about JCRC, please contact Mithun Kamath at

Jewish Education and Social Action

by Michelle Neal


Nourish’s mission continues to evolve as Federation includes more partners in our efforts to reach out to and assist our underserved neighbors. Our objective is to feed both the body and the soul.


On November 1, Nourish partnered with Grace at the Green Light, an organization that provides meals to New Orleans’s lowest-income residents, to serve dinners and host a concert! Federation brought in local jazz pianist Matt Lemmler to perform, and in total 50 people received a hot dinner.

To further assist Grace at the Green Light's clients, Federation led a sock and oral care drive through November 8, with an Amazon wish list and drop-off boxes at Slater Torah Academy, the New Orleans JCC, and the Goldring Woldenberg Jewish Community Campus.


Because of the community's generosity, Nourish was able to donate just over 100 pairs of socks, approximately 150 tubes of toothpastes, and almost 300 toothbrushes!


Thanks to those who participated.


Please be on the lookout for the next Nourish community service program in the spring. 

To learn more about Jewish education and social action initiatives, contact Michelle Neal at


Amiel BaKehila brings art and spirituality to New Orleans
by Michelle Neal


Amiel BaKehila is an educational program designed to help New Orleanians feel more connected with Israel. New Orleans is one of three cities in the South that partners with educators, artists, and rabbis who live in Israel.  Every other month, for a total of six visits, Israeli guests come to New Orleans to spend two days working and interacting with various Jewish groups. Last week, the Amiel visitors spent Shabbat weekend here.  The focus was on spirituality, and the guests were Rabbi Aaron Goldscheider, the Community Educator, and Sheva Chaya Shaiman, a spiritual artist, whose paintings and glasswork are displayed throughout Israel.

On Friday morning, Sheva Chaya and Rabbi Goldscheider visited both the Jewish Community Day School and the Slater Torah Academy to make art projects with the schools’ upper elementary students.  The project was titled “Heart Art - Inside/Outside” and focused on emotions students have in their hearts, and those they experience all around them.  Over 40 students between the two schools participated in this activity. 

Shabbat events included: 

  • Sheva Chaya visited and worked on a project (before Shabbat) with the women of the Metairie Chabad.  The event was generously hosted at Rabbi and Mrs. Yossi Nemes’ home.  Later that evening, Sheva Chaya walked over to Beth Israel and joined Rabbi Aaron Goldscheider for evening services and Shabbos dinner. 
  • On Saturday afternoon, Rabbi Goldscheider and Sheva Chaya Shaiman attended a lunch session at Shir Chadash Conservative Congregation.

Following Havdalah, JNOLA hosted an event at the Healing Center on St. Claude Avenue. JNOLA guests discussed with Sheva Chaya how her art intertwines with her spirituality. 

Sunday morning, area religious school parents and community members attended a brunch at the studio of local glass artist Andy Pollack. The standing-room only crowd witnessed Sheva Chaya as she practiced her craft of glassblowing. That afternoon, Sheva Chaya displayed her work at the Garden District Marketplace where she met and talked with local art aficionados and artists.

The Amiel delegation will be returning to New Orleans January 8–10.  Visitors Rabbi Aaron Goldscheider, Israeli chef and television personality Yahav Kriti, and feministic and activist Sagit Peretz Deri will be discussing the topic of Multiculturalism. To learn more about this and other Jewish education initiatives, please contact Michelle Neal at

Mentoring Program

by Tana Velen


The Jewish Federation’s Mentorship Program will launch this month. This unique program combines face-to-face mentorship experiences with an online forum to ask virtual mentors career questions and microgrant opportunities to help Jewish young professionals succeed in their professions and stay in New Orleans. For more information, contact Tana Velen at


by Tana Velen

JP Nola seeks to provide information, resources, and affirmation to Louisiana’s LGBTQ Jewish population. We do so through relationship building with local synagogues, agencies, and other organizations to support, partner with, and promoting LGBTQ-related programming and events. JP Nola also works on LGBTQ legislation and advocacy with the goal of being the centralizing resource for Jewish LGBTQ activities in the Greater New Orleans area. JP Nola is currently planning  fall/winter events. To get on our confidential email list and be kept up to date with the Jewish LGBTQ community, please email Tana Velen at or Marc Behar at


by Michelle Neal


Established in 2006, the Jewish Newcomers Program seeks to help Jewish newcomers to our area carve out meaningful community roots. From welcome events to a voucher program featuring discounts to local organizations and businesses, this program has continuously evolved to serve the needs of the Greater New Orleans Jewish community. To learn more about the program, click here.


The Jewish Newcomers Program will hold a reception on December 4.