Jan Meisels Allen
The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience is located in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Museum is devoted to the Jews of the South- those who came to the south through Charleston, Savannah, Mobile, New Orleans and Houston. Those who moved inland, peddling their wares from farm to farm through the Appalachian Piedmont and the Mississippi Delta. The Museum is now open.
The Museum website says, “The Southern Jewish experience is 19th century immigrant peddlers traveling unpaved roads, carrying hard-boiled eggs with them as they struggle to keep kosher in the land of pork. It’s small-town merchants keeping their stores open on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, because that’s the day everyone comes to town to shop. The Southern Jewish experience is driving your child from Natchez to Baton Rouge every Sunday for religious school because there is no religious school in Natchez. It’s taking Jewish athletes from across the country competing in the Birmingham Maccabi Games to visit the Civil Rights Museum, cheering for the local high school football team, even though Friday Night Lights has a very different meaning, and debating whether to have a bluegrass band or a klezmer band at your wedding.”
Although representing less than 1% of southern states’ population, and only 2.1% of America’s Jewish population, Southern Jews have made a substantial mark on the communities where they lived and the nation as a whole. Southern cities and towns have had Jewish mayors, sheriffs, council members and civic leaders, in highly disproportionate numbers.
The Museum has more than 4,000 artifacts in its collection, including Judaica, household items, business records, photographs, letters, and other ephemera. We even have Fred Galanty’s prosthetic leg and a Ku Klux Klan hood and robe found hidden in the attic of a Mississippi Delta homeowner. While being selective it continues to grow its collection through donations of items.
If you are interesting in donating see:
The 13 states that the Museum covers are: AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MS, NC, OK, SC, TN, TX, VA
To read more see: https://msje.org/
Jan Meisels Allen
Chairperson, IAJGS Public Records Access Monitoring Committee