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!
The Jewish people has survived over the centuries for many reasons. One reason is our ability to adapt to the culture of the community in which we find ourselves and still maintain our identity. As a nice Jewish girl from New Orleans, I know a little something about that.
New Orleans is a culturally-Catholic city, filled with a gumbo of ethnicities and religious identities, all interdependent on each other and all fiercely proud of their individuality. With food and music festivals happening all throughout the year, we celebrate together. The most famous event of all, of course, is Mardi Gras!
Contrary to popular belief, Mardi Gras isn’t just about Fat Tuesday; it is a city-wide celebration of parades known as Krewes that start a couple of weeks before the big day and steadily builds. We’re in the midst of the celebrations right now! For many locals like myself, the days immediately preceding Mardi Gras Day are the biggest celebration with parades of the very large or “Super Krewes.”
Unless you foolishly decide to diet this time of year, there is the delicious and fun holiday tradition of The King Cake. And though the story and tradition is decidedly NOT Jewish, you can even buy Kosher King Cakes here, so obviously we all partake in the fun! There are Jewish Krewes, our congregation attends parades together – although the traditions are decidedly not-Jewish, our Jewish community loves celebrating together and with our neighbors.
A couple of years ago, my husband and I enjoyed sharing Mardi Gras with some of our Israeli friends from our Partnership2Gether sister city, Rosh Ha’Ayin. They LOVE New Orleans and LOVED Mardi Gras as you can see from the fun pictures. This year a few more of our friends are coming in town for the fun, and we can’t wait to continue introducing friends to our city’s biggest celebrations.
Does your hometown have a not-Jewish, but all-inclusive tradition that you and/or your Jewish community has embraced? Share your stories in the comments!