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!
I’m a cat person. I currently have a sweet cat named Ella, who moved down to Mississippi with me last year. (Thank goodness for pheromone collars, or she might still be in New York!) She has adjusted well to being a Southern cat… and recently, I was reminded how small the world can be, thanks to another Southern kitty.
When I was in college, my roommate and I rescued a lost kitten and named her Georgia. (Funny side note: For much of the year, we thought she was a George. When she went into heat during the spring, we switched the name.) As graduation approached, we needed to make sure our cat would have a good home—we were each going to new places, I was heading to France, and the cat’s future was uncertain. Luckily, my thesis advisor and his wife did me a huge favor and adopted Georgia.
I went to France, and later Michigan, and New York, and Mississippi. I got my new cat, Ella. And then this spring I got an email from my undergraduate thesis advisor’s wife.
Turns out, this lovely woman Googled my name just to see what had become of me, and was thrilled to find out that I am the historian for the ISJL. She is Jewish, she and her husband now live in the South (they relocated to North Carolina), so they knew organization for which I work quite well– and, of course, they brought their cat down South with them.
It also turns out that, just like me, little rescue kitten Georgia wound up in the South, too. Imagine my surprise, learning that Georgia is still alive and well! I graduated from college in 2001, and with so much time gone by, I was a little shocked but thrilled to know that Georgia continues to thrive. Who knew, when we parted ways in the Northeast, that we would both find our way down to the South for the next chapters of our lives? I also realized it had been far too long since I had spoken to the wonderful people who took her in for me.
It was fun to reconnect with that part of my past, and I plan on visiting Georgia and her two-footed companions the next time I am in the Tar Heel state. All too often, when we move away, the close friendships fade due to distance. When we get to reconnect, with people, pets, and places—it’s pretty special. I’ve had a lot of amazing people come into my life, and I am sure you have as well. This Southern and Jewish “tail” is also a reminder to us all to pick up the phone, send an email to that special someone, and always to honor and value those relationships.