The Jewish Temple of Alexandria, Louisiana

Founded 1859



Art Williams is president of Gemiluth Chassodim-the Temple 
See biography below. 

The business of the Temple is directed by the President and a Board of Directors. The current leadership (and their terms) is as follows:


1st Vice President - TOMMY WAHLDER  (2017)
2nd Vice President - MICHELLE BOURSTEIN (2017)
Secretary -  HELEN CALETKA (2016)
Treasurer - MARTIN HEYMAN (2018)


LEE FINE (2017)

Immediate Past President - MARILYN WELLAN
Sisterhood Representative - VICKY BERGMAN, NAT MARKS, PAM RUBIN

LIVING PAST PRESIDENTS - Past Presidents' Council:

MARILYN WELLAN - 2011 - 2014
DR. RONALD MARKS - 2008-2011
LEE RUBIN - 2005-2008
CAROLE DAYAN - 2003-2005
TED SILVER - 1994-1997
EDWIN CAPLAN - 1989-1991
MARTIN HEYMAN - 1986-1989
JACQUE CAPLAN - 1983-1986
DAVID CAPLAN - 1981-1983
EDWIN CAPLAN - 1968-1969
ALVIN MYKOFF - 1965-1968
HARRY SILVER - 1957-1960



Dear Temple Family and Friends,

Every three years, the month of February gains stature in the year’s calendar. It is the month of transition for the Congregation at we take a look at where we have been and where we are going. It is a month of transition for the Officers of the Temple, as all terms expire and new officers are elected. And this year it is the month when a new Temple President is elected and begins to serve.

Three years might seem a long time, yet in a way the time has sped by for me, from Shabbat to Shabbat, monthly Board Meeting to Meeting, and Annual Meeting to Meeting. And now, here we are inviting you to this year’s Annual Meeting of Members, where I will have the honor of presiding over my last event as Temple President.

At the meeting, we look forward to sharing information about the challenges and successes confronted by the Board of Directors and Committees as we carried out our duties on behalf of the Congregation. Also, you will be asked to elect three new Board Members (see page 1) to replace these members whose terms expire and who have served so well for the past three years:  

Norrine Caplan, who has served first as Secretary, then Treasurer and Chairman of the Finance Committee, Membership Chairman, and in so many other ways including the planning and facilitating of most of our meals and social events;

George Fine, who has lent his attorney skills to help us through many issues including the British Petroleum issue, the sale of tax credits for building preservation, the acceptance of property donation, the bequest of an out of state deceased member, and the review of our new Temple Bylaws and Articles of Incorporation; 

Dr. Stephen Katz, Temple first Vice President, and President of the newly formed Temple Cemetery Board, which is the reason the cemetery will be well cared for, that records will be efficiently kept, and that funds will be perpetually available for maintenance and upkeep -by the initiation of his Annual Cemetery Fund Drive.

This, being my last column as Temple President, is where I would like to say ‘thank you again’ to so many whose contributions through the year—and the past three years, need to be celebrated. Yet, that would require more space than I am allowed.

However, I must heap loads of praise and admiration for the mammoth accomplishment that was the 2014 Jewish Food Festival. Pam Rubin and Mimi Kirzner made it seem so easy, with their organizational skills and ability to gain the help and support of almost every Temple member. We all owe them a debt of gratitude; and we must extend those praises to the entire Congregation for a job well done.

Much of the past year was swallowed up by the search for and hiring of a new Rabbi for our Congregation. We are still in an important “getting to know you” period. I encourage you all to continue to welcome Barbara and Rabbi Harley to Alexandria. I encourage you to spend time and effort getting to know him and allowing him to get to know you. I encourage you to take full advantage of the spiritual leadership he is charged with bringing to our Temple family.

I would like to express my great appreciation to Rabbi Arny Task and Judy Task for their strong yet gentle support through the transition to a new Rabbi this year. There are a multitude of other reasons to thank them—he for his phenomenal work with the Holocaust Memorial and Commemoration; and she for her great success chairing the Tree of Life (with 25 new leaves this year!) and for helping so much with Yahrzeit and other archival matters; and to both for their many, ongoing acts of “lovingkindness.”

Thanks to Sisterhood and its Co-Presidents Vicky Bergman, Nat Marks, and Pam Rubin for their leadership, and for the many gifts made by Sisterhood to the Temple—gifts which have greatly enhanced our Temple lives in so many ways.

And finally, I would like to thank all the members who served with me on the Temple Board of Directors for  the past three years. They have been smart, active, participating, and totally committed to the Temple and the work that was on our agenda. It has been a great honor and a great pleasure to serve with you.

Thanks to all of you for allowing me to serve as your President. I  look forward to sharing a delicious dinner and an enjoyable evening with you on Sunday, February 16th at the Annual Meeting.

My best to you and yours.


Marilyn Wellan



Biographical information for Arthur S. Williams

The son of Arthur V. Williams, Jr., M.D, and Mary Jane Mendelsohn Williams, Arthur S. (Art) Williams was raised in Charleston, South Carolina. With his family he attended Kadol Kadosh Beth Elohim Synagogue where he was confirmed in 1965. Art attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he belonged to Zeta Beta Tau fraternity, participated in the Honors Program and Naval R.O.T.C., and played on the freshman tennis team. Following graduation from college in 1971, Art served on active duty as a junior officer in the United States Naval Reserve before launching a teaching career in 1972. He earned a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from The Citadel in Charleston (1973) and a doctorate in English literature from Emory University (1979). He has taught in several schools and colleges in South Carolina and Georgia, including both Oxford College and Emory College of Emory University and the South Carolina State College. In 1984 he joined the faculty of the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, which he has served as a faculty member, former Director, and board member. He became a member of Congregation Gemiluth Chassodim in 1989 and has served three terms on the Temple’s Board of Directors.

Art’s wife Sharon Sturdivant Williams was raised in Norphlet, Arkansas and holds a doctorate in Education from the University of Mississippi. His daughter Sarah became Bat Mitzvah at Gemiluth Chassodim in 2002 and is currently a graduate student in communications disorders at the L.S.U. Health Science Center in New Orleans.  Art, Sharon, and Sarah had the unique experience of driving fifty miles to Sunday school almost every week where all three benefited from the kindly attention of Rabbi Arnold Task.


As Art Williams prepares to take the reins as President of Congregation Gemiluth Chassodim, and gets his organization up and running, I am helping to get one more bulletin in the mail and into your hands. I would like to use this opportunity to tell you more about Art than you would learn from the biographical sketch that he provided, especially as I came to know him in the past three years.

As mentioned earlier, Art has served three terms on the Temple’s Board of Directors. In his most recent term, he served as a Vice President and as a member of the Board’s Executive Committee. He is a founding member of the Cemetery Board. He played an important role in the search for our Rabbi as a member of the Search Committee. He served the Arts & Architecture Committee when we made plans in early 2013 to apply for National Historic status.

Service at that level, not only as a member of the Board, but also as an officer and member of the Executive Committee, has given him unique insight into Temple operations and the experience to lead. Art’s contribution as a key member of the Cemetery Board has been invaluable. His service on the Search Committee demonstrated his ability to analyze a situation, to express himself concisely, and to quietly and deliberately help the leadership come to conclusions.

This might not be the best time for Art to serve as President as he has not yet retired from the Louisiana School for Math, Science and the Arts at Natchitoches.  However, even as he knew the demands of the position of Temple President, he could not turn down an opportunity to serve his Temple when the top job was offered. His bio—and the fact that he and his wife Sharon regularly travel 50 miles to worship and to work on behalf of the Congregation reveals his dedication to his faith and to the Congregation.

For all these reasons, I am very pleased to introduce the new President of Congregation Gemiluth Chassodim, Arthur Williams.                                                                                  Marilyn


Congregation Gemiluth Chassodim
2021 Turner Street Alexandria, LA 71301