We held the first Charleston Research Fellow Workshop on Wednesday, March 23 in Arnold Hall. Our speaker was Sandra Fox, a PhD candidate in American Jewish history at New York University. Sandra received the Center’s new Charleston Research Fellowship to facilitate her research on Jewish summer camps in the South.
Sandra presented “‘Here, We Are Real Jews’: Zionism, Yiddishism, and the Production of Authentic Jewishness in Postwar Summer Camps, 1945-1970.” Her dissertation examines how postwar American Jewish educators and leaders combined forms of Jewish nationalism, mainly Zionism and Yiddishism, with opportunities for youth to “perform” authentic Jewishness at Jewish summer camps and youth movements throughout the United States. Utilizing dramatics, language learning, song, and memorialization, camp and youth movement leaders sought to strengthen American Jewish youths’ identifications with Jewishness through simulating Jews from other times or places. Together we looked at some representative sources, and considered this trend within the postwar historical context, a period marked by growing Jewish acceptance into the mainstream, increasing affluence, and suburbanization on the one hand, and the post-Holocaust moment on the other.