I spent this semester working with my students in “Southern Jewish History” to curate an exhibition of southern Jewish family photographs using materials from the Jewish Heritage Collection. The class got very excited about the project, which will be displayed on the third floor of the Jewish studies building beginning in January. Special thanks to Dale Rosengarten, Alyssa Neely, and Brandon Reid for assisting my students in their archival research. I am also very grateful to Larry Simon, Jane and Burnet Mendelsohn, and Jack Bass, who spoke to the class as part of a panel on native southern Jews and to Anita Moise Rosenberg and Randi Serrins for giving us a tour of the historic Coming Street Cemetery. Our class was also lucky to host Dr. Joshua Parshall as a guest speaker in September. Dr. Parshall, historian at the Institute for Southern Jewish Life in Jackson, Mississippi, also gave a wonderful Sunday morning talk on Labor Day, focusing on the history of the Arbeiter Ring, or Workmen’s Circle, in the South.
Spring 2019 is shaping up to be something of a whirlwind. In August it was announced that we won a competitive six-figure grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to host a summer institute for college and university professors, entitled “Privilege and Prejudice: Jewish History in the American South” (learn more at jewishsouthsummer.cofc.edu). The Institute was scheduled to coincide with “A World of Jewish Culture” at Piccolo Spoleto, which this year will have a southern theme.
While we finalize preparations for the Institute, we will also be hosting some major speakers and thinkers. As part of Jewish studies’ celebration of the College’s “Year of the Woman,” Dr. Pamela Nadell will be speaking on Sunday, March 31, on the southern dimensions of her important new book on American Jewish women’s history. On April 9, we will be presenting food historian Marcie Cohen Ferris and James Beard Award–winning chef and author Michael Twitty, as part of a College-wide initiative on “Global Foodways.” We will also host two Charleston Research Fellows, Dr. Melissa Klapper of Rowan University, and Lucas Wilson, a graduate student at Florida Atlantic University. I’m exhausted just thinking about all that is going on, but also exhilarated about the work we are doing to develop southern Jewish studies at the College and beyond!