Monthly Archives: August 2012

Jewish in the South, Sikh in the Midwest, Americans Everywhere

Along with the nation, we mourn for the loss of life at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin. We mourn, too, for the shattered sense of security and community. We pray for peace and healing, not only with sympathy but also with deep empathy.

For so many of us, living as minorities in America, stories like these are particularly heart-wrenching. As a Jewish organization in the Deep South, we feel a kinship with the Wisconsin Sikh community. We know what is to be a minority, one that is both a part of,and yet often seen as apart-from, the surrounding society. Our heritage is central to our being, and we are also proud Americans. Neither of these identities should be compromised.

When Beth Israel Congregation in Jackson, Mississippi, was bombed in 1967, the Greater Jackson Clergy Alliance “expressed their sorrow and support for the Jewish community” by organizing a “Walk of Penance.” They took a stand to say that the actions of a few angry individuals did not reflect the views of the entire community.

At a time like this, we must strive to remain a part of and not apart from. We must educate ourselves about our neighbors, so we can be advocates for them as well as for ourselves. We must continue to work for peaceful progress.

May the Sikh community of Wisconsin find similar support and peace in the wake of their tragedy. And may we all renew our commitment to be good neighbors, and good friends, to all of our fellow Americans.

L’shalom – to peace.

Posted on August 6, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

The ISJL Conquers Texas

At first, it seemed crazy: writing the histories of 55 different Texas Jewish communities for our Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities. The idea of creating an online resource with the histories of every southern Jewish congregation and community was ambitious enough when we were dealing with Georgia (19 communities) or Alabama (20 communities).

Tackling Texas, though? That was an intimidating task.

It’s … well. Texas. (Read: BIG.)

Jacob DeCordova, one of the many colorful characters in Texas Jewish History, built Waco, TX.

But after 21 months of traveling Texas with two different sets of summer interns, and countless visits to small town libraries, old synagogues, and cemeteries, Texas is done!

Funded with generous grants from the Texas Jewish Historical Society and Humanities Texas, the Texas section of the Encyclopedia is our largest, and we think, our best yet.

Since we finalized the Texas section, we have been hard at work on Oklahoma.  Stay tuned for an exciting announcement about our work in the Sooner state … and in the meantime, dive in to the histories and learn more about the Lone Star State!

The ISJL Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities is designed to present a history of every congregation and significant Jewish community in the South. Currently, we have completed eight states- and will add other states in the future. Click on the highlighted states above to explore each state’s rich Jewish heritage. The Encyclopedia is designed to be a continual work-in-progress. If you have additional information about any of the communities or congregations, please contact us at: rockoff@isjl.org.

Posted on August 1, 2012

Note: The opinions expressed here are the personal views of the author. All comments on MyJewishLearning are moderated. Any comment that is offensive or inappropriate will be removed. Privacy Policy

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