I’m prepping for the trip: 20 young Jews from across the country are going to meet in New Orleans
on October 19th and travel together through Mississippi and up to Memphis for a week of learning and adventure. During that time, I’ll be posting updates of our progress on Twitter and Facebook pages.
But until the TENT participants get here, I’m working hard, getting ready for their arrival – lining up speakers, prepping material, and of course, planning out where we’ll eat.
Dr. Eric Goldstein, American Jewish History professor at Emory University, will be our lead scholar, teaching two hour seminars on Southern Jewish history each day. He’s working to compile a list of academic readings for each session (I’m happy to share that list with anyone interested!) but to orient the group, many of whom have never traveled South, I’m also gathering some of my own favorite materials—films, books, websites—that explore Southern history and culture.
Curious? I thought you may be. Below are five from the list.
5. Delta Jews and Shalom Y’all
Two documentaries that we will be showing on the bus, Delta Jews and Shalom Y’all. Mike DeWitt’s “Delta Jews” focuses on small, rural communities in Mississippi Delta towns. Brian Bain’s “Shalom Y’all” covers the diversity of Jewish experience throughout the American South.
4. The Bitter Southerner
The Bitter Southerner is a beautiful website publishing original, insightful stories about the South once a week. This one about Southerners taking photos in front of azaleas is my favorite. And fair warning, this one about the Southern Foodways Alliance will make you hungry.
3. Eyes on the Prize (Part 5)
I had never seen Eyes on the Prize until I moved to Mississippi and started to study the events of the Civil Rights Movement. In Eyes on the Prize Part 5: Mississippi: Is this is America? 1962-1964, what blows me away is the amount of video footage that was captured during monumental events in the struggle for civil rights. I recommend going through the 14 hour documentary, but this hour in particular covers the events of the Freedom Summer in Mississippi 1964.
2. The Provincials
The Provincials: A Personal History of Jews in the South, by Eli Evans, is the book that I read before beginning my own Southern Jewish experience with an internship at the ISJL seven (7!) years ago. I now recommend it to my own summer interns for a great, personal look at growing up Jewish in the South.
1. The Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities
Well, this one is obvious… but that doesn’t make it any less amazing! The ISJL’s own
Encyclopedia of Southern Jewish Communities is the best resource for learning about the Southern Jewish experience. Our new historian, Dr. Janet Bordelon, has been hard at work updating our Mississippi entries and sharing some 21st century stories about Southern Jews.
These were my top five, but you should also check out Matzoh Ball Gumbo, ReThink Missisippi, the Southern Foodways Alliance, Garden and Gun Magazine. Clearly this is not an exhaustive lists of all the good stuff coming out of the South these days. If you have a favorite, please share! I’ve still got a few weeks to add to the list!
There are two words powerfully associated with the Southern Jewish experience: Shalom Y’all.
In just two little words, so much is conveyed. A greeting of peace, a connection with the Jewish people, an instantly-recognizable Southernism, a welcoming, a phrase that is naturally plural and inclusive.
It’s hard to think of any other two words that, when paired together, express so much with so little.
It’s also hard to picture anything cuter than this baby in a Shalom Y’all baby onesie.
Here’s to everything our favorite phrase so quickly conveys! Shalom, Y’all!
Howdy, y’all! As the leaves turn colors and the days cool down, we’re gearing up for Hanukkah and Thanksgiving — and, of course, Thanksgivukkah. In the holiday spirit, we’ve come up with a gift guide for Southern Jews and all Jews who appreciate the slower lifestyle (with a biscuit on the side).
This blue ceramic “Shalom Y’all” Door Plaque ($16) is the perfect dose of Southern Jewish hospitality to adorn your home.
Keep those sun rays out of your eyes and sport your Southern charm with this “Shalom Y’all” Baseball Cap ($16.50).
And yet another Shalom Y’all item which will likely get you many smiles as you walk down the street. This “Shalom Y’all” t-shirt ($17.00) comes in pink and blue.
Jewish life in the United States is far too often told from an East Coast perspective. Lone Stars of David: The Jews of Texas ($24.75) tells the story of Texan Jews who forged their own Southern Jewish trajectories.
This coffee table book, Shalom Y’All: Images of Jewish Life in the American South ($9.98) is truly the perfect gift for any person in your life who appreciates photography and more so, the South.
Richly illustrated, Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South ($20.70) is a lovely fusion of history and recipes, and will make a great gift for the kosher Southern cook in your life.
This rabbi spent his sabbatical cycling through the South, and wrote this memoir of his journey: The Jewish Pedaler ($12.30).
Hope you enjoy our picks. Here’s wishing a happy, healthy, Thanksgivukkah to you and yours!