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Books of interest
on Southern Jewry.


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[book] [book] SHALOM Y’ALL
THE VIBRANT WORLD OF SOUTHERN JEWISH LIFE
Images of Jewish Life in the American South
Photographs by BILL ARON
Text by Vicki Reikis Fox and Marcie Cohen Ferris. Foreword by Alfred Uhry (Driving Miss Daisy, Parade)
October 4, 2002. The South is more than bagels and grits, turnip greens kugel, and definitely not crawfish gefilte fish. Alfred Uhry writes, “as long as there is a South, there will be Jews inhabiting it.” Have you ever been to Kaplan, Louisiana; or Felsenthal, Arkansas? This is an evocative coffee table book of 137 b/w photos by the famed Bill Aron. My favorite pics are of the old Jewish cemeteries; Rabbi Gurvis and his family over Shabbat in Jackson MS; Avram Aizenman, praying with tefillin on the sand of Myrtle Beach; the two grinning brothers in striped polos with huge challahs; Cheryl Spain’s bat mitzvah in Mobile Alabama; Harold and Lucille Hart at their liquor store in Eudora Arkansas; the daily minyan’s group photo from Birmingham; and Aaron Kline in front of his store in Alligator, MS. CLICK To see more info and pics.









[book] SHALOM Y’ALL
My Father's People: A Family of Southern Jews
by Louis Decimus Rubin, Jr. (Professor Emeritus/UNC, and founder of Algonquin Books)
Fall 2002. LSU Press. Rubin's quest into the culture and psychology of his first-generation immigrant relatives. Louis Rubin's people on his father's side were odd, inscrutable, and remarkable. In contrast to his mother's family, who were "normal, good people devoid of mystery," the ways of the Rubins both puzzled and attracted him. In MY FATHER'S PEOPLE, Rubin tells "as best I can about them all--my father, his three brothers, and his three sisters." It is a searching, sensitive story of Americanization, assimilation, and the displacement--and survival--of a religious heritage. Born between 1888 and 1902 in Charleston, South Carolina, their father an immigrant Russian Jew, the Rubin children suffered dire poverty, humiliation, and separation when their parents became incapacitated. Three of the boys were sent to the Hebrew Orphan's Home in Atlanta for several years. Yet the sons all managed to build long, productive, even notable lives and livelihoods, becoming, variously, a newspaper editor, Broadway playwright and Hollywood screenwriter, businessman, and--in the case of Rubin's father--a far-famed long-range weather prognosticator. Private people, reticent to discuss their painful early years, the Rubins were not easily knowable. Still, the author draws a strikingly candid portrait of each, using memories, stories, keen insight, and broad empathy--fascinating character studies full of individual propensities and peculiarities that together reveal the wider family resemblance. Although the Rubins were mostly nonreligious, their family's rabbinical tradition and their experience as southern Jews were key to their vocational fervor and the lives they made for themselves. "They were Americans, and they were Jews." Rubin concludes. "These were enough." Told with Louis Rubin's signature eloquence and wit, MY FATHER'S PEOPLE is a testimony to the courage of immigrant southern Jews and their gifts to their chosen country. CLICK To see more info and pics.









[book] The Peddler's Grandson: Growing Up Jewish in Mississippi By Edward Cohen.
University of Mississippi Press. 1999. No. Aryeh O'Sullivan of the Jerusalem post is not the only Jewish son of Mississippi. Edward Cohen grew up in Jackson, Mississippi, the heart of the Bible Belt, a thousand miles from the northern centers of Jewish culture. As a child he said "Dixie" in his segregated school and said the sh'ma at temple. While the civil rights struggle exploded all around him, he worked at the family clothing store that catered to blacks. USA Today wrote, "anyone who has found himself a stranger in a strange land will find Cohen's portrait of an artist as a young outsider a sometimes painfully funny, sometimes painfully honest, always articulate exploration of childhood waters dammed off from an exclusionary mainstream. Click to read the dozens of reviews.
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[book] The Jew Store by Stella Suberman .
Hardcover - 312 pages (October 1998). Suberman tells the remarkable story of her family's sojourn as the only Jews in a small Tennessee town during the 1920s with such sparkle it reads like a novel. Her parents, poor Jews from the shtetls of Eastern Europe, first made their way to New York City, then boldly down to Tennessee where they hoped to establish a dry-goods business, the so-called Jew store Click to read the dozens of reviews.
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[book] Heart of a Wife : The Diary of a Southern Jewish Woman by Helen Jacobus Apte, Marcus D. Rosenbaum (Editor) .
Paperback - 222 pages (November 1998). Decades ago, in a time when life-styles were far more conservative than now, the women we know as our mothers, grand mothers, and great-grandmothers were young and faced hurdles that many women today no longer have to clear. We may never be able to grasp completely what life was like for them as they survived the Great Depression and two World Wars. Heart of a Wife offers a glimpse into the past. In so doing, it may dispel some of the comfortable, stereotypical images we have held of the women Click to read the reviews.
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[book] The Provincials : A Personal History of Jews in the South by Eli N. Evans .
Paperback - 416 pages Revised edition. The quintessential book on Southern Jewry Click to read the reviews.
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[book] Kosher Southern-Style Cookbook by Mildred L. Covert, Sylvia P. Gerson (Contributor), Alan Covert (Illustrator)
Who knew? A great addition to any kitchen. Click to read the reviews.
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[book] Mazel Tov Y'All : The Ultimate Southern-Jewish Bake Book by Sara Kasdan
Who knew? A great addition to any kitchen. Click to read the reviews.
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[book] The Quiet Voices : Southern Rabbis and Black Civil Rights, 1880s to 1990s (Judaic Studies Series) by Mark K. Bauman (Editor), Berkley Kalin (Editor), Hollace Ava Weiner (Contributor)
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[book] Business of Jews in Louisiana, 1840-1875 (Judaic Studies Series) by Elliott Ashkenazi)
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[book] Last Order of the Lost Cause: The Civil War Memoirs of a Jewish Family from the 'Old South' by Raphael Jacob Moses, and Mel Young
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[book] Jews of the South: Selected Essays from the Southern Jewish Historical Association by Samuel Proctor (Editor)
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[book] The Last of the Jews by Myron Berman.
Hardcover - 192 pages (December 1, 1998)
A study of the Jewish experience in the Southern USA, including chapters on "Jewish survival and assimilation in the ante-bellum South"; The Warrenton Female Academy; Social relations between Jew and Gentile in a small Southern Jewish community; and Intermarriage and assimilation among 19th Century southern Jewish families. Click to read the reviews.
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[book] Ladies' Auxiliary: A Novel by Tova Mirvis
Hardcover - 352 pages (October 1999) WWNorton. A tale told in third person plural ("we, the auxiliary"). A tale is a society that is unchanging, or so it thinks... This is Tova's first novel and it is highly anticipated. It resides in the intersection of Kaaterskill Falls and the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. Tova, aged 27, was raised in a Yiddish speaking Orthodox household in Memphis Tennessee, y'all. She now resides in Memphis on the Hudson... New York City (and yes, she is married and has a bambino). This book recreates Southern Orthodox Jewish life that can be both warm yet suffocating, sensitive yet insular. The protagonist in this novel is a 34 year old Jewish woman named Batsheva Jacobs. A blonde convert to Judaism, she is a widowed painter with a five year old daughter, Ayala. Batsheva dresses smartly, sings loudly in shul, and washes at the mikva. These things are just not done in Memphis. She lets her art students wear makeup. And then there is a rumor that Mimi Rubin's boy, the Rabbi's son, "notices" Batsheva. Batsheva's approach to spirituality and her role divides the community and embroils it in a fight for its soul and mission. Click to read more.
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