Southern & Jewish
Southern & Jewish celebrates the stories, people, and experiences – past and present – of Jewish life in the American South. Hosted by the Goldring/Woldenberg Institute of Southern Jewish Life, posts come from educators, students, rabbis, parents, artists, and many other “visitors-to and daily-livers-of” the Southern Jewish experience. From road trips to recipes to reflections, we’ll explore a little bit of everything – well, at least all things Southern and/or Jewish. Shalom, y’all!
For many of us at the Institute of Southern Jewish Life, Mississippi is our home by choice rather than our home by birth. But no matter whether we’re a native Mississippian or a transplant from a distant locale, we are all Southern Jewish ambassadors. We spend a substantial amount of time answering questions about both the South in general and Southern Judaism in particular.
For some of our staff, the constant Southern Jewish ambassadorship is new; but for our founder, Macy B. Hart, it’s been a lifelong journey.
Macy, a native of Winona, Mississippi, is used to traveling the country and representing (for many) the face of Southern Judaism. One of my job roles is to help organize his calendar and make his appointments. While his destinations change all the time, his travel apparel remains the same: He always travels with a Shalom Y’all hat.
People can’t help but notice Macy’s, “Hey, I’m Southern!” and, “Hey, I’m Jewish!” head gear, and it is the perfect conversation starter. He will tell you that, once people notice his hat and start a conversation about it, he’ll always ask them if they have been to Mississippi before. If he’s sitting next to them on the airplane and they are heading to Mississippi, he’ll give them advice about where to hear the best live music or where to eat the best local food. He never lets the opportunity to share the marvels of the state pass him by, and he gets the opportunity to share quite often, all thanks to his hat.
Sometimes he’s also carrying the travel mug for good measure.
You can, of course, get your own Southern Jewish conversation starters so you can break the ice the Macy way. And of course, to everyone else who serves as an ambassador of Southern Jewish Life – todah rabah, y’all!