Karen Baker’s ‘Slice of St. Tammany’ column, April 4, 2013

By Karen Baker

Special to The Advocate

Last June, I had the great blessing of traveling to Jerusalem. On our group’s last day, we visited Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust museum.

It was an overwhelming experience to stand amid the pictures, the stories and the memories; and our time there was much too brief. But even my short visit reminded me of how important it is to remember what happened to the Jewish people.

That need to remember, in fact, grows as each year passes.

“As the number of Holocaust survivors grows smaller every year, the need to remember increases,” said Rabbi John Nimon, of the Northshore Jewish Congregation.

On April 9, Nimon’s congregation invites the community to observe Yom Hashoah, the international day of remembrance for the victims of the Nazi Holocaust of World War II.

The program will include a talk by Gerd Oppenheim, a resident of Norwood, who grew up in Nazi Germany.

He lived through Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass,” the anti-Jewish riots sparked by Nazi officials in November 1938. Kristallnacht derives its name from the shards of broken glass from Jewish synagogues, homes and businesses that littered the streets of Germany and Austria following the riots.

Oppenheim, 80, escaped Germany in 1940 with his mother and cousin after his father was arrested and imprisoned in the Buchenwald concentration camp. His father survived a yearlong internment in the camp while many other members of Oppenheim’s family perished.

The program also will feature several interactive sessions presented by the teens of the Northshore Jewish Congregation. Two of Oppenheim’s grandchildren, both students at Mandeville High School, are helping to plan the presentations.

Rabbi Nimon noted the significance of combining a talk by a Holocaust refugee with a presentation by teenagers whose families belong to the congregation.

“We hope that message is conveyed by the participation of the teenagers. Although the Shoah, or Holocaust, did not occur in their lifetime, we all need to remember what can happen when bigotry is tolerated.”

The program is free and open to the public.

The Northshore Jewish Congregation is located at 1403 Causeway Blvd. in Mandeville. For information, call (985) 951-7976.

Covington toots its horn

For its 200th birthday, Covington is getting ready to toot its own horn — or its own siren, to be more accurate.

In honor of the big birthday, Covington is bringing back a sound from the past — the old siren that sounded at noon every day.

The city will host a dedication ceremony at the Covington Trailhead at 11:30 a.m. Saturday , just before the siren sounds off for the first time in more than 40 years.

Among the speakers will be Mayor Mike Cooper, Covington City Councilman Sam O’Keefe, Covington fire Chief Richard Badon, former City Councilwoman Pat Clanton and former Fire Department employee Earl Revere.

The public is invited to attend the siren dedication ceremony, which is being held in conjunction with other activities at the Trailhead that day, including the Covington Art Market and the Lions Club Car Show.

“Beginning on Saturday, April 6, the siren will sound once at noon every Saturday. What once served as an important means of communication for our community will now serve as a nostalgic reminder of our city’s past,” Cooper said.

The siren sounded twice daily, at noon and 1 p.m., to signal the beginning and end of the lunch hour.

“The siren was such an important part of our community. It alerted us to the fact that 12 o’clock had arrived each day. It was also the fire alarm siren. And during the war, it was what alerted us to air raid drills,” said Clanton, longtime Covington resident and former city councilwoman.

For information on the siren and other trailhead activities, call (985) 892-1873 or email Sarah Chambless at schambless@covla.com

Golf benefit for Allen Little

A benefit golf tournament for Allen Little and the Krewe of Perseus will be held Saturday at Pinewood Country Club in Slidell, with tee time at 1 p.m.

Little, captain of Perseus and an active member of Slidell Little Theater, will have a kidney transplant later this spring.

Entry fee for the four-person scramble is $65. To register and for information, call (985) 707-4858.

Attention car showoffs

The Mandeville Northshore Kiwanis Club will host its inaugural car show from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. April 13 at the Clarion Inn and Suites Conference Center on U.S. 190 in Covington.

Owners of cars, trucks and bikes are invited to register for the event for a donation of $20. The money raised from the car show will be used to buy and install a storage building for St. Tammany West STARC.

STARC needs a storage building for their year-round project of collecting and recycling Mardi Gras beads. For information, contact Mike Pausina at (985) 966-3165.

Juried art shows

The St. Tammany Art Association and the city of Slidell are announcing a call for entries for two art shows.

The STAA is calling for entries to its 48th National Juried Artists Exhibition. The annual competition of contemporary art opens July 13 and runs through Aug. 10, with up to $2,500 in a cash prizes including a $1,000 prize for Best of Show.

Slidell and Mayor Freddy Drennan are inviting artists to submit their works for the Slidell Cultural Center’s upcoming Mixed Media juried exhibition.

Entries must be submitted no later than April 15. For information, go to http://www.slidell.la.us.

Slidell Cultural Center exhibit: Mixed Media will be displayed in the Slidell Cultural Center at City Hall, 2055 Second St., in Olde Towne Slidell.

The exhibit opens April 26, with an opening reception and awards presentation from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The St. Tammany Art Association’s summer show includes visual art completed within the past two years and not previously exhibited at STAA. The deadline for entries is April 30. Go to http://www.sttammanyartassociation.org.

LPO fundraiser

A fundraiser to benefit the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra on the north shore will take place from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the home of John and Mary Jane Becker, 200 Fountain St., in Mandeville. Tickets are $50 per person. For information, call Anne Marie Fargason at (985) 626-8117. The evening includes food and music provided by LPO members.

Karen Baker writes about St. Tammany Parish. She can be reached at sliceoftammany@gmail.com.